living after the death of a baby, living with Autism, living as a family of six, living on our organic homestead, living miserably, hopefully, and with joy, and somedays just living

Archive for the ‘Preganacy and Birth’ Category

Certainty

Last night I woke nearly hourly, at 9 months pregnant (tomorrow is my due date) that is hardly abnormal. I either had to pee or my hip was screaming at me to roll over. At 5:20 I had to turn, I noticed the baby wasn’t moving and thought “Well that should make it easy to fall back asleep”, but as a parent who has had a baby die at term in utero I placed my hand on my belly to wait for him to move. I fell asleep again before I noticed any movement.

This morning when I woke up around 6:15 I noticed he was still very still. I calmed the panicky voice in my head, rolled on to my left side, and waited for him to move. The alarm to get up and get the kids ready sounded, and I could wait no more.

“No matter” I thought. “I’ll get the kids dressed and make lunches. Surely, the distraction is what I need, and moving around is likely to get him rolling about.”

I made it down the stairs, peered into the kitchen and told Kyle right away, even though I had told myself I would wait to worry him. Kyle made me a coffee, that the toddler took an infinitely long time to stir for me. I wanted that coffee now. I took a few sips, then decided downing the whole thing at once would be best. A hot belly full of coffee would warm his toes, he would move, and that would be the end of the shallow breathing I had adopted. Fifteen minutes later, as I made grilled cheese and washed strawberries for lunches, there was nothing.  After three glasses of full strength orange juice with no indication of a slight wiggle, I couldn’t take it anymore.  I couldn’t pretend to be okay in front of my kids, who were being particularly sweet this morning.

I went upstairs to get dressed and called the midwife. I told her our baby was dead, a huge bubble of sobs poured out, she thought I had delivered and I corrected her. Arrangements were made for me to go to the hospital. I stopped crying, and pulled on the first pair of pants I could find, a pair of capris, even though the weather called for long pants.

The school bus had not arrived yet, it was 7:45, and I couldn’t bear waiting any longer. I told Kyle he could bring the kids to the hospital or stay and wait for the bus. He opted to wait for the bus. A flame of resentment flickered up.

I couldn’t find my glasses, so I borrowed Kyle’s to drive.

As I walked out I told Kyle “Today is going not going to be a good day” and left.

All this time I thought (hoped) any minute now I’m going to get a kick that tells me I’m being ridiculous. It didn’t happen.

The hospital is a 30 minute drive. About 10 minutes in I hit a point of resignment.  It was all over. It had been hours since I felt him move. I was sure he was dead. I’ve never been sure before.

On my third subsequent pregnancy since Kate was stillborn. I’ve had plenty of scares. It was a fear more constant with the twin’s pregnancy, and less so with the last. I made 17 trips to the LD ward with the twins for non- movement, never for such a long periods of non-movement, and usually on the way someone would move, and I would head in just to be sure. With Natalia and Micah I never actually made a trip in to the hospital, or stopped in to see my midwife to be reassured. I feared they would die all the time, but I never felt they had, or were at risk, warranting a trip in.

This baby is a wiggler, perhaps the wiggliest, at least as wiggly as Kate was. Now it was going to be the same end.

Today I thought of things I haven’t thought of this time around. I have every other time. This being an unplanned pregnancy I have spent a lot of time thinking about how I was going to deal with a 5th living baby, not what we’ll do if he dies. Driving calmly without tears, poking at my belly in less than gentle ways, hoping, waiting for him to move,  proving this trip was unnecessary. I thought of all the things I had avoided.

Where will we bury him? With Kate? With us?

I have to cancel a presentation.

We haven’t found a home church, who would do the funeral?

I’m just going to Facebook and Twitter. I can’t bear phone calls. Everyone finds out the same way this way.

Why was God doing this? Two dead babies and a kid with Autism who is currently not adapting well to school? Really what was I supposed to endure?

How was I going to convince the the hospital staff I could not wait for an induction? It would have to be today.

Who would pick up my kids from school? How would we tell them. Would they be okay?

How was I going to be a parent and grieve?

Have we actually settled on a name? Why haven’t we been using it?

Would I call Kyle to confirm he had died from the hospital, or just wait until he got there? How was he going to react?

Arriving at the hospital I let small tears roll from the corners of my eyes. My midwife met me at my car. I shook my head when I saw her.

“Nothing” I said, answering the question of if he had moved that she never asked, “It’s all over”.

She hugged me and walked me in. Calling for the elevator she said we’d know in a few minutes. I already knew.

After a coffee and three orange juices I went pee before laying down, so she could put the heart rate monitor on me. I stared at the curtain track and noticed that a couple of the hooks had come undone causing the curtain to sag in an nonuniform manner.

It only took a minute. A steady fast heartbeat.

“Is that me?” Certain it wasn’t, but I was sure it must be. I was still convinced I was about to get  confirmation of the terrible I already knew.

“No”

I sprang up to sitting.

“Then why isn’t he moving?” shot from my mouth without consciously forming the thought, and a flood of tears I didn’t know I was holding back sprang forth. The sheer volume seemed more appropriate to the opposite news. The midwife handed me my phone to call Kyle. I couldn’t. There were too many tears. The relief and sheer disbelief that I had been wrong still needed to pour out before I could even physically dial. I had been sure.

When I did finally call to say he’s not dead, Kyle made me repeat myself,  the sigh of relief from the other end of the phone told me he was as worried as I was.

So, I laid there listening to the thump of his heartbeat, in the silence, while waiting to find out what the midwife thought we ought to do next, knowing Kyle was on his way. Still wondering how it was possible my certainty was so wrong? Grateful it was.

Advertisements

Of Great Dissapointment Comes Great Joy

Instead of some beautiful birth story here, today you get introspection.   As I write this one handedly Micah sleeps peacefully at my beast, warming my body and heart.  I wonder at the meaning, or lesson(s) of his birth, not one I planned, one I am sorely disappointed with.

Yes, I know he’s here, he’s healthy, he’s beautiful.  More than most women, I am grateful for the up and down heaves of his chest, and the small squawks that reassure me he is alive and thriving.   He is rarely put down, usually wrapped snug to mine, or Kyles, chest in a snug wrap to free our hands to parent our other little ones.   Micah is a miracle, all babies are, and we are joyful at finally having him join our family as his own presence.

So why is that I can’t talk about his birth story, why is it that I try not to think about in in order not to burst into tears?   Because I feel like I failed, I failed my Birth Attendant, my husband, my children, my baby, and mostly because I failed my own expectations.

I believe women are designed to have babies,  that medical intervention has in many ways made women to feel as though childbirth shouldn’t be attempted without help, their brand of help. I believe that babies can safely be born at home, that women can overcome labour, and it’s intensity with strength.   A strength that has been stolen from us, by the reassurance of drug safety and an easier epidural birth.  I believed, because I had birthed beautifully at Natalia’s arrival, that I would be capable.

I collapsed.  I prepared for this birth, though not as thoroughly as I had previously.   I believed in myself, and although I had been denied midwifery care by my province, I felt capable enough to deliver at home with the help of a Natral Birth Attendant (NBA).  I was going to win the Gold medal in birthing as Kyle put it.  But I didn’t.  In fact I turned into the kind of mess I feel ashamed of.

My water broke at 12:30am on Friday night.  That’s never happened before.  My water has always broken/been broken in labour.  I called my birth attendant, and tried to get some sleep.  By 3:00am my contractions were 3 mins apart and fairly strong at about 4:00am my NBA arrived, I took a shower and got into the pool we had set up in the spare room.  It was lovely.  I had a tray of snacks, and pulled out the good china teapot and cup and saucer, after all this was a special occasion, our baby was about to arrive.  I took in each contraction with the kind of deep breaths that I had learned form hyponobirthing classes, everything felt okay.  More painful than with Natalia but okay, I chalked it up to the fact that my water had broken and the baby’s head was lower down.  I was managing well.  By 6:ooam my contractions took a turn for the unexpected, suddenly there was a pain in my back that is hard to explain, but worse than that the pain started to shoot down my legs finally cumulating in the feeling that someone had physically grabbed the tendons and muscles in my thighs and pulled down sharply.  The uterine contractions were fine, manageable even.  The additional pain, not so much.  Finally feeling as though I could bear no more I feared the next contraction.  Obviously, the gateway to my failure.  Fear.  I couldn’t manage the pain in my legs I couldn’t stretch them far enough, or hold them in close enough to stop it.  I knew I had yet to experience transition,  the contractions, though very close together, never really felt one on top of another.  Would I even be capable of no let up feeling this way?  Fear did me in, something I felt I could manage,  in the end it was too much.  My natural gentle birth was torn apart by my own psychological weakness.  How could this be?  Me?  I have faced my share of psychological dragons and won, and this was my down fall?  Something I had prepared for?  Finally I had my NBA check my dilation, something I has previously requested not to do.  I knew if I was only half way, I was done.   How low that felt.  Asking her not to be generous she said I was likely 6-7cm with 10 needed to birth a baby.  With my NBA trying to reassure me that we were past half way, and with Kyles encouragement I got back in the pool, and committed to another half an hour.  Two contractions later I had hit my final low.  Far to painful.

In checking my cervix it seemed that the baby’s head was flexed and side presenting.  I still needed this baby to turn before I would likely progress much more or have the pain ease up.  I took two homeopathic remedies to help with relaxation and finally…  Gave up.  I had Kyle call the midwives to say I was coming in to the hospital for an epidural.  I needed a break.  I feel like I should tell you how this makes me feel here, but I don’t know if I have the words.  Right now as I type, tears roll,  I am so full of snot, and there’s this hole in the pit of my stomach or where my heart is. I abandoned my kids with the NBA and took off for the hospital to have exactly the kind of birth I worked so hard to avoid.  I gave up.

At the hospital I became the type of woman I never wanted to be.  Rolled into the delivery room in a wheelchair moaning in pain, begging for an epidural.  During drive to the hospital, the pain was not life ending, thanks to the homeopathics I took, but still far worse that when I was in the pool.  Once at the Hospital, they needed me to pee, to check my cervix, have a strip read, put in an IV, and wait to have the paperwork from admitting before they could call the anesthetist.  After checking I was only 5 cm dilated and baby seemed to be presenting flexed and sideways.  There was also mention that the baby might be compressing the Sacral or Sciatic nerves.  I conceded that I may not even be halfway and tried to wait while all the right boxes where checked off before the anesthetist could be called.  Finally it was all done, he was called, and he couldn’t come right away because he was with another patient.  I had this happen before, I voiced my concern that in waiting I would likely birth my baby with numb ankles and be frozen to my nipples postpartum, just as in the twins birth.  Nothing seemed like it was going right at all.  Suddenly I felt the need to push, a quick check showed I was ready, and three or four pushes later Micah was born.  Too exhausted to reach down and catch him, or lift him to me.  I sunk into the bed.  Just then the anesthetist came in, too late, thank God.  Micah was born in just over twenty minutes from arriving at the hospital.  Kyle pulled his shirt off, and scooped him up, I couldn’t even muster enough to hold him to me.

Coming upstairs to write this I can’t help but see the birthpool half deflated between the sunroom an the linen closet, waiting to be put away.  It lays crumpled, not having served its intended use, and it makes me feel sad.  Micah likely being the last means it wont have the chance to get it  right, and likely neither will I.

In telling my disappointment to Kyle, he reminds me to look down at the perfect living baby we have created, he tells me that it no longer matters how he got here, but that he is, to rejoice and celebrate that fact.  But it is not the looking down that I am disappointed in, in fact, I do rejoice at Micah arrival, he is perfect, I love him, I hope we get to keep him, but it is the looking back that is so hurtful.

Redundant?

So I think this blog may be a bit repetitive in certain ways.  Yes I really do have more to talk about than Katie and Elijah, but they are thick threads woven into my life, so they surface often.  I’m not pathological.  I wrote this as a submission to this site.   I know most of my readership are my guy friends who also signed up to the blog challenge, so it may not be a site where you’d hang out.  But as women we need to work past the ridiculous unattainable stereotype, and accept ourselves in whatever way we can.  Sadly women are women’s worst critics, and their harshest adversaries.  I was hoping in a few days to simply post my submission with a nice screen shot, or link to my work, but submissions are running three to four weeks until publication.  So, all in all, I’m taking the easy way out and offering my submission as today’s blog post.  I do know I have Kim as a reader, and Pam (Cliff’s sister) has dropped by, thanks for the generous and touching comments Pam, so I have a few readers who secrete more estrogen than testosterone. But none the less, gentlemen if you chose to slog through this post you’ll get a tiny look into our womanly world.

Transformation

By Erron Anderson

Age: 31

Number of pregnancies: Seven pregnancies, two successful

The age of my children: 2 aged 4, 1 aged 2, and one on the way

Key words: child loss, growth, breasts, stretch marks, twins

When expecting our first baby I remember going to my 20 week ultra sound in my regular pants. I couldn’t wait to start looking pregnant.  After two years of trying, and waiting, we were finally on our way to having a baby light our house with his/her own brand of sunshine and happiness.  I delighted in my pregnancy, I consciously thought out my meals, so they were balanced, I took my vitamins, exercised lightly, and all in all had the perfect pregnancy.  At the end of my pregnancy I had gained 25 lbs and didn’t have a single stretch mark.   I should have been the world’s happiest woman, except I wasn’t.   Our Kate died just before she was born; our delivery room was silent when she arrived.

A week after she was born my body made that amazing Hollywood like change that would have left one guessing whether I was ever actually pregnant.  I was so sad.  I had absolutely nothing to show for my pregnancy.  People would later tell me “Don’t tell people that you made out so well, other women will hate you with jealousy”  who ever thought it would be me jealous of those who’s pregnancies left their bodies transformed.  I longed for one stretch mark to prove she had actually existed, just one tiny one.  My tummy only showed signs of the baby within for a few days.  The comments that, at least, I looked great at the funeral where a slap in the face, really is that what you chose to say, did I really look great? Because I felt anything but.

The truth is we’re all made up of different genetic material, I went on to have twins and another singleton, and amazingly enough I still have no stretch marks, I ate no special diet and slathered no expensive creams on my belly.  My body springs back quite quickly, with no extreme exercise regime.  I’m lucky, I guess.  Nursing three babies exclusively (yep you can nurse twins and never have to supplement, women you are equipped and powerful) have left my, never were A cups, in somewhat in dismal shape.  My hips have always been a bit on the largish side leaving my upper body super out of proportion.  I don’t love the way I look, but it’s how I’ve been remolded.

Some of us will go to accept, and eventually love our bodies, others will not, opting instead to change the outside to better live in their skins.  Instead of either group working to make the other one feel bad, or less valuable.  Let’s open our eyes to the bigger transformation, the one that takes no physical form.  The metamorphosis we make from women to mothers.  I love watching friends embark on the journey of pregnancy and motherhood.  I fascinate at the changes these women are able to make within their character to make way for a new being.  This is our biggest change, and it is our most remarkable undertaking.  No matter who we are on the outside, we all want the same thing for our children, room to grow, happiness, and love.  How we provide that, is as diverse as our physical appearance.

I know now, that no mark would make Katie more remembered, she lives within me, my husband, and my children.  I have grown as a mother in many challenging ways starting with stillbirth, then having a son who works harder than most to overcome autism, and its many challenges to him, and to our family, also by having two other little girls who are seeking to find their roles and carve out their spots in our family, and by the three other early losses, all at varying times in my life. Pregnant again, I wonder if there is any room left for me to grow, but I know the growth of a mother is ever expandable.   I wear my stretch marks on my heart, you can’t see them with your eyes, but ask me to show them to you, and I will share the stories that have changed my shape in seemingly impossible ways.

Embrace yourself as a mother, whether able to stand naked in front of a mirror boldly and love yourself, or as a woman who feels more comfortable undressing with the curtains tightly closed and the lights off, and do not forget to embrace other mothers,  whether they share your sense of self or not.

katie hand

Holding Katie’s hand

Twin tummy

Twin Tummy

Media permission granted, comments can be left open,

Edited October 27th 2010:

Wow, this was posted and I never went back to read the comments.  I really should have gone back.  I got some beautiful, meaningful, and personal comments.  The kind that make you feel all glowy. You can read them here

http://theshapeofamother.com/blog/transformation-erron/

So damn tired

I don’t know if it’s explainable, to those who haven’t or can’t experience pregnancy. The total exhaustion that a being the size of a chick pea, inflicts upon you, but it’s miserable. I spend most of my day wishing to close my eyes.  Lately since Kyle is home I have the privilege of an afternoon rest.  But, I think there’s still a certain amount of bitterness, or perhaps eye rolling about the fact.  This has been a hard one for me.  Part of me wants to drug the morning orange juice  of those who shrug it off, or tell me I’m gonna have to push through it, with Gravol or NeoCitron.  Deny them coffee and leave them with Elijah the energy drain, and two other kids while I shove off for a while.  Cheerily waving as I exit the house shouting behind my shoulder “Stay alert and tidy up while your at it, oh and don’t for get about lunch….byyye.”

Kyle starts work tomorow, and so at the height of my exhausted state I am going to have to push though it and the thought of that leaves me well…exhausted.

Catching up


This post has been writing it’s self for a awhile.  I’m so afraid I may hurt someone’s feeling with this one I’ve left it alone.  But I’m over run with it right now.  I guess if you’re reading this at any point and are offended you can just stop reading right?  It’s my blog, so it is about me.

Five years ago we had already been trying to get pregnant for nearly two years, and we had managed to get a stick to turn blue earlier in the year only to lose that baby that Easter, he or she would have been born somewhere around Dec 10th.  Most of our friends weren’t married or even dating their current spouses.  We were decidedly ahead of the game.  Joyfully we celebrated awaiting Kate’s arrival, most of you know that.  I loved my pregnancy, and in looking back I know I had terrible morning sickness, but I remember my pregnancy as blissful.  It was a sunkissed moment in my life.

Fast forwarding to now everyone is catching up.  I love it!  I am a self professed baby lover!  I love all things pregnancy and baby.  I know the miraculous joy babies bring.  I love watching these little beings change the people I love.  I love watching my friends become parents.  Being a veteran parent, the first, (though Kelly and Lorry have us beat in a practical sense) and a parent of twins I’m often bestowed with many comments such as…  How do you get through it, or more popularly how did you do it with two?  You guys are super parents.  And while I love the erroneous statement that were some type of heroes, and to share my experiences as a new mom of two and then one, of  how we managed, and hopefully share hope, and perhaps a useful parenting tip.  What I long to hear is something along the line of… My goodness now that our baby is here, how did you ever get though not taking Kate home?  How did you ever say good-bye?  How did you live through that?  I can’t believe you made it through?

You see, while were grieving during our most devastating days we knew very few other parents.  Those who were were often the most sympathetic, or perhaps, most sincere.  They knew what we lost.  When I felt lost, when I thought no one understood, I often held on to knowing that one day those I loved would one day hold their own little orb of light, and somehow catch a moment of better understanding.

Don’t get me wrong I never thought that I should be your first thought when the doctor handed you your baby, nor our sadness.  At least I hope not.  But somewhere secretly (perhaps selfishly?)  I hoped that Katie might visit your thoughts in the days that your baby is new.  That maybe there was a very dark ahh-haa moment.  And I know that speaking of Kate must be hard, or perhaps impossible to find a way to broach the subject. I know those comments will likely never be heard, nor do I hold it against you that such comments were never said. You’re happy and no one wants to invite misery to a time of utter joy. I understand, I really do. It’s just that sometimes in talking about diaper changes, sleep deprivation, and new baby scares and fears. I can’t help but think, oh but all that stuff is easy, it’s not getting to do it that’s hard. Now it would be a lie to say the first few month with Petra and Elijah were easy, in fact it would be a lie to say it’s easy now. Deep in me though, no matter how hard it is, no matter how scary it is, as long as their chests rise and fall, as long as their hearts beat, it’s manageable. I know it makes me a better parent, but I’d take being a lesser one any day.

I think that being far away and not being able to share your joys in a tangible way, perhaps reaches deeper to stir up a bit of sadness.  I think being so far from Katie really engulfed me this Christmas, and I think all the new babies this month stirred to the pot too.  I miss not getting to press my cheek to the warm cheek of your new baby.  I’m sad that by the time I hold him or her, he or she will likely no longer be a new born.  I’m sad because I think I may never hold another newborn member of our family (a long post for another day) I miss you guys.  A lot.

I also feel a bit ripped off sometimes ,that my son was dealt a bit of a shorthand, and  that he has to work harder and therefore so do I.  Sometimes feeling sorry for myself comes in the way of just wishing I could have the easy go others get. Why do I have to take it all on?  And then some days I’m glad it’s us taking it on because we are committed with a resolution of steel to make it better.  That somehow Elijah is lucky to have us, because we will walk the hard road with him.

All in all though, I’ve been pretty happy lately.  My kids are turning into amazing people they have great senses of humour, and I really like them.  I’m pretty happy here in Chicago too, though homesickness does sneak in every now and then.    Unfortunately my headaches are back and everyone here is less tolerant of them.  I worry that somehow our littles are affected deeply by my constant wincing and such.  This morning Natalia gently reached up to my temple and softly stroked  it while saying.. ow?.  Oh my broken heart, how much they are truly capable of understanding.

I miss Katie, I miss you, I hope to be home soon

Is finding yourself pregnant more than once RED?

Okay so I used red as the anti-Green colour simply because it is the opposite of green.  I have so much to blog about our anniversary date, Natalia’s birthday and Elijah’s move into real underwear, but as I was gardening today this came to mind.

Sometime ago in the green movement it was said that it was ecologically unsound and very un-Green of you to have more than one child, that somehow reduce, reuse, recycle was applicable to children too.  The true Greenies will let you have more than one kid if you adopt, preferably internationally from a third world country, I’m not sure if this is reuse or recycle, reuse I guess, I’d hate to think of how we would recycle kids.  Actually the above is probably not true, the true Greenies will likely never have kids for fear that they might undo all of his/her good work.

So when people, may I ask, did the planet become more important that the people inhabiting it?  Should we encourage people to take drastic measures if their carbon footprint is above a certain level?  Don’t get me wrong I love our planet, and I am thoroughly disgusted at is abuse, I recycle, try and limit my purchases, hang my laundry outside to dry, and I unfortunately shower less than I’d like cause I often run out of time in the day, and sleep outrules dirty.  But I fail to see how my creating life, and life is beautiful, as a point that some feel they ought to use against me, to accuse me even, as being irresponsible.  If I have five kids who I teach to be good environmental stewards, and you have one who isn’t, don’t I win?

The point was recently brought to my attention that large families living on modest means are likely more sound environmentally unintentionally, by not having the extra money, lights have to be turned off when you’re not using them, clothes are bought second hand or simply passed down until the print on the t-shirt is so obscured by stains that one can no longer determine what it was, car pooling is a must, and food is not wasted, but rather made into that yummy leftover casserole every Friday night.  These things aren’t done solely to be green, but rather as a means to stretch a dollar.

The whole thing leaves me feeling like I no longer want to be apart of the Green movement, sometime ago I heard that some people where trying to make Blue the new Green because it’s the colour of the sky and the colour of our planet as observed from space. I sure hope that the Blue movement has room for my kids, so I can be Blue.  I also hope that the Blue movement will be about more than the finger pointing that some Greens are doing.