Oct 19, 2008
Sleep was broken, at best. A nurse came in every hour to check my vitals and administer more drugs. I woke up each time she came in, trying to smile to ease her discomfort. I didn't dream in between her visits, and often Ty was awake as well. Tuesday morning rolled around, and Ty and I looked at each other, but didn't speak. My mom arrived, red-eyed, around 9:00am, bringing flowers. Following her was my dad, Ty's parents, my grandparents, my older brothers, my Sister-in-law, and my Aunt. Each person stepped tenatively into the room, eyes red and puffy, and as each arrived they came directly to my bed, bent down and kissed me, saying softly, "I love you Chelsea, I'm so sorry." I was surprised to hear those words from my aunt, and to see my Grandfather's tears. I never knew these people really loved me, and yet here they were, grieving alongside me. My room quickly filled with cards and flowers, and I found myself plastering a smile on my face to show I was brave. My mother leaned into me and said, "it would be nice if everyone could see and hold Wiley, should I ask to have him back?" I cringed, imagining his body decaying and stiff, but nodded. He was brought in quickly, and Kay, our nurse, explained that she had not taken him to the morgue, believing we would want him again. Wiley was passed around the room, bringing fresh tears to already-swollen eyes, and finally put into my arms again.
I stared at him and felt my eyebrows pulling together in concentration. He didn't look any different than last night. He was cold, but not stiff. He was a little bluer than last night, but I still expected his eyes to open. My mind worked furiously as I tried to will his eyes to open. It didn't make any sense that this perfect little boy, who was only sleeping, wouldn't open his eyes and look at me. I laid him in my lap and opened his blanket. He was long everywhere. His arms and legs were long; his torso was long. He had chub everywhere, and I smiled to see how big his tiny hands and feet were. I pressed my lips to his forehead and smelled his baby smell. Even in death he smelled wonderful to me. I smoothed my thumb from the tip of his nose into his thick, dark hairline and repeated it. I couldn't stop the movement, his softness was a drug to me, and I swallowed lump after lump in my throat while I stroked his face. My eyes were the only dry eyes in the room. I blinked, trying to form tears so I wouldn't look cold, but my whole body felt dry. I felt cold. I touched his ears, his toes, his fingers, and his knees. I kissed his cheeks, and rubbed his chest. He was wearing a diaper, which made me smile at the irony, until I saw a reddish brown liquid seeping from his ears and nostrils. I wiped it away with the blanket, and looked up at my mom. She answered my unspoken question while helping me wipe the liquid away. It was fluid leaking from his organs as they atrophied. I realized the diaper was probably collecting even more of the fluid, and sighed. Looking back, I feel regret that I didn't remove the diaper. His butt had been so long positioned in my belly directly under my ribs where I could place my hand, that I feel sorrow now that I never took that diaper off to see that little butt.
My brother Jesse brought his digital camera, and took several pictures of Wiley. We had a few from a disposable camera from the night before, but Jesse's ingenuity was what carried me through many dark days in the future.
Finally, Kay, our nurse, came in and asked if we wanted an autopsy. We shook our heads no, and she gently suggested we consider it, and that if we did want one, we would need to give Wiley to her within the hour to take to the morgue before the warmth of the air further decayed his organs. Less than an hour later, we decided we did want the autopsy. I needed to know what caused the infection that robbed me ever seeing my son open his eyes. Before handing Kay our son, I kissed his forehead for the last time and looked hard at him to preserve the moment in my memory forever. I gently lifted his eyelids, and for the first and last time, our eyes met.
I've been looking so long at these pictures of you
That I almost believe that they're real
I've been living so long with my pictures of you
That I almost believe that the pictures are
All I can feel
You fallen into my arms
Crying for the death of your heart
You were stone white
Lost in the cold
You were always so lost in the dark
You how you used to be
You were angels
So much more than everything
Hold for the last time then slip away quietly
Open my eyes
But I never see anything
If only I'd thought of the right words
I could have held on to your heart
If only I'd thought of the right words
I wouldn't be breaking apart
All my pictures of you
Looking so long at these pictures of you
But I never hold on to your heart
Looking so long for the words to be true
But always just breaking apart
My pictures of you
There was nothing in the world
That I ever wanted more
Than to feel you deep in my heart
There was nothing in the world
That I ever wanted more
Than to never feel the breaking apart
All my pictures of you
Note: I won't post Wiley's pictures here, but if you want to see him, his website is here
Aug 21, 2008
That was the first thing that crossed my mind when the Neo-natal Doctor told us our son had died. She couldn't have meant that. There must be some way I could go back just five minutes and make him alive again. The second thing to enter into my thoughts was that our baby was a boy. We had a son.
When my first wave of nausea subsided, I looked back over at Ty. His face portrayed the stunned disbelief that I felt. The Doctor motioned for him to follow her, and a few minutes later he returned with our son in his arms. He came over to me and angled his arms so I could see our boy. He was beautiful; dark mounds of hair covering his head, and his face was flushed a deep red. His lips were tiny and hard to see, and his lashes were long and thick. I swallowed, looking at this tiny form whose movements I had known so well, but whose laughter I would never know. Ty whispered as he held him, "Chelsea, this will only bring us closer together."
Some time later I was moved to recovery and someone placed our son in my arms. He was heavy and the weight felt good in my arms. His body was still warm, and I felt baffled by his silence. My eyes were dry, and my throat felt clogged. Ty left to go break the news to our parents. The aftereffects from the spinal kicked in and my body began to violently shake. A nurse helped me to lay him next to me on the bed, and handed me the vomit pan as I threw up again and again. The shaking continued and I cradled our baby in the crook of my right arm. The door opened and my mother and father walked in, seeing the baby for the first time. They were both already crying, and came over and leaned over us both and hugged me long and hard. Mom kept whispering over and over, "I'm so sorry honey, I'm so sorry honey..." Dad took my son in his arms and stared down at him. Soon Ty came back into the room with his mother and step-father following him. They were both crying as well, and I could see fury building inside my Mother-in-law's red eyes. Each parent had their turn holding the baby, then our mothers took him and washed his hair together. When they brought him back to me, we all smiled at how abundant his hair was. It popped up in every direction, and grew long down his neck. I laid him once more against my chest and the hospital's Chaplain came to my bedside. Sister explained that there was no need to baptize the boy as babies' souls are already called to God's side, and instead she prayed over him and for our healing. She asked his name, and Ty and I responded together, "His name is Wiley, Wiley Reagan".
Aug 14, 2008
3:00 am: I wet the bed. Or maybe I bled the bed. Either way, it was warm, it was profuse, and it came from "down there". I woke with a gasp, and rushed to the bathroom. Flicking on the light switch and squatting on Old Faithful, it dawned on me that the liquid still rushing from me was neither urine nor blood. Hallelujah, my water had broken! I immediately called my mom. She laughed and said, "Finally! Now go back to bed, you'll need your sleep."
Go back to bed? Go back to bed? Did she actually want me to get back into bed after the single most monumentous event of my pregnancy had just occurred? I'll be dammed if I'm getting back into bed! I went downstairs and spammed everyone in my email address book: "My water just broke! I'm having this baby today!" Excited and nervous, I walked around the house holding towels between my legs and waiting for the contractions to start. Two hours later it appeared that labor was not imminent afterall, so caved and went back to bed. I assure you, I did not sleep.
12:00 pm: Mom hassled me all day with cooky tinctures: Cohosh, Evening Primrose Oil, Labor Start, etc. We'd try one method and wait. An hour later we tried another. Nothing was working! I drank some more castor oil, and later, as inticated in my previous post, I downed the fateful olive oil ice cream. Mom gave up and went home, assuring me that this would happen.
6:00 pm: The first contraction was mild, but strong enough to give me hope. Every three minutes another one came, and a few hours later they were painful enough to make me jump for joy...or would have could my enormous frame suspend in air long enough to qualify as a jump. I called my midwives, and told them the show had started: I was in labor! By the time they arrived, nothing exciting had happened, except that I was in enough pain that I requested they fill the labor pool we had set up upstairs. Mom suggested I get in the shower, which I did. The warm water felt amazing, and as each contraction would overcome me, I rested my forearms and head against the shower fall, letting the water pelt me on my back. I breathed in and out to an imaginary metrenome in my head.
8:00 am, August 13th: Light chased the darkness from the rooms, as well as my soul. My night had been frustrated by an agonizingly slow process. My contractions were still 2-3 minutes apart, and I was not even halfway dilated yet. The pain was unbearable, and I alternated laboring in the pool and on the edge of the bed. My midwives, amused at my intolerance and impressed with Ty's support, encouraged me to walk and try various acupressure points. I gritted my teeth against telling them what I really thought and obeyed. Every step was torture, and all I wanted to do was sleep. I wanted badly to lay on my side and rest, which they allowed me to do occasionally.
12:00 am, August 14th: Darkness came again. The midwives lit candles and I cried in the pool. Ty climbed in and sat behind me, holding me tight when each contraction would blind me. We climbed in and out of the pool together, until I whispered a confession to Ty that I peed in the pool about fifty times, and then he kneeled on the outside and held my arms. Mom put some God-music on until I begged her to turn it off. I wanted silence, I wanted to focus only on my pain. They forced me to eat and drink. When morning again shone through, I felt real despair. Why would this child not be born?
12:00 pm: I was finally dilated. Each contraction had me close to screaming and my exhaustion was acute. It was time to push. I should have felt elated, but each push felt more painful than the next. Where was the relief and wonderful feelings I had read about the pushing stage? I hated this more than the last 18 hours. We tried various positions; I squatted with the help from Mom and Ty, I sat on the birthing stool, I crouched in the pool, I got on hands and knees. A few hours later it was discovered there was a tiny lip of my cervix blocking the baby's head. My mom glowed at me, "I can feel the head sweetie, push as hard as you can!" With each push, one midwife or the other reached up and held back the lip of my cervix. The pain this brought me felt indescribable.
8:00 pm: My face was red and splotchy from pushing on and off for the last eight hours. The urge to push never visited me; each push was from energy I had to assume on my own. I would give an honest 1/2 hour's worth of my best effort, then collapse into an tortured heap of exhaustion on the bed, falling deeply into sleep for each two minute break between contraction. Ty laid behind me, pressing his hands intensly into my back when each contraction would start. It helped relieve some of the back pain I was having, but my mental state was slipping further and further out of reality.
10:00 pm: I didn't want to do this anymore. I wanted to beg my midwives to let me go to the hospital for a c-section. I couldn't bear the thought of pushing any more. Ty was visibily concerned now, and I could sense hesitation and unease in the faces of my midwives as well. They checked for heart tones every five minutes, and kept promising me that I was doing so well, that this was normal, and that this baby was so close to being here. I sobbed when it was time to push, and desperately wanted to sleep.
10:30 pm: After a push that took what was left of my strength to accomplish, a rush of meconium startled us all. My midwives quickly laid me on my side on the bed and placed the doppler on my belly to find a heart beat. Mom placed an oxygen mask over my mouth and told me breathe deeply. I was grateful to be laying down, away from the birthing stool I'd grown to despise. The baby's heart rate showed up on the doppler: 90 beats per minute. Mom threw it down, "That's it. We're taking her in." Her partner grabbed her shoulders and shook her, trying to reassure her I was fine, and we could do this at home. I sat up, and Ty helped me into some clothes. We didn't speak, but moved as one. We were ready for the transport, with or without them. My dad was downstairs, pacing for hours, and when he saw us he helped me into the car. We took off, the three of us, with mom and her partner in a separate car. We raced to the nearest hospital, each bump jarring me further into a senseless state. Suddenly I felt the urge to push. The first time I felt it all night. I breathed through it, the irony of holding in the natural urge not to push not escaping me.
11:00 pm: We arrived at the ER entrance at the hospital. Ty and Dad helped me out and supported me as we wobbled into the ER. The receptionist looked at us regretfully, "I'm so sorry, but you have to go around to the maternity ward, there's no access through here." We gaped at her, me visibly in pain, and turned back to the car. We drove around to the maternity ward, found a wheelchair for me, and entered. Nurses and aids swarmed around me instantly, wheeling me into a room. In less than five minutes I was naked and under a sheet, my feet in stirrups. A small, elderly Pueto Rican doctor entered the room and assessed the situation. He asked for forceps, and while he applied those, the nurse to my left tried to insert an IV into my hand. She requested a clenched fist from me while the doctor commanded me to push. A scream, louder than a siren, filled the air and shocked me until I realized I was the one screaming. Pain filled my vision and blackness filtered in. "Push!" He barked at me, nurses supporting my legs on either side. I could not do it. He threw the forceps to the ground and muttered something. Someone lifted me onto a table and pulled a sheet over my bloody legs. I was wheeled into an OR, and around me I could hear nurses arguing whether Doctor wanted general anesthesia or a spinal. Again I was lifted onto another table. A man pushed me forward and asked me to hold still. A bee sting in my back, a contraction leaving me breathless. I must be dying, surely I am dying. I lay back, and realized something incredible. I was no longer in pain. I smiled, feeling nothing. Ty came up behind me, tense and afraid. He touched my shoulder, "How are you?" He asked. I smiled at him, "I feel wonderful! I'm not in pain anymore!" And wondered briefly if I had died. There was complete silence in the room, despite the number of people. Nurses, doctors, anestetiologists surrounded me, working quietly behind a sheet. "Is the baby even out?" I asked Ty. "I don't know", he shook his head.
A female doctor came over to us from another room. "I'm so sorry to meet you like this, but your son is not breathing. We're doing CPR on him right now, but he doesn't have a heartbeat on his own. We'll keep working on him."
Ty and I stared at each other, stunned and wordless. Before we could register and discuss what she'd said, she was back before us. "I'm so sorry. It's been 19 minutes, your son is not breathing and does not have a heartbeat." I felt a flash of pity for her, having to deliver a message like that, before I realized what she was implying. I muttered something intelligible, turned my head and threw up into the basin waiting for me.
Aug 13, 2008
Pregnancy, ah, bliss! How exciting to hold life in my womb! How empowering to feel movement within myself that I have created! Each subsequent month on the ten lunar month calendar shows a larger belly with stronger and more defined "hello's" from inside. The end is drawing near, our due date is close, my anticipation is unmatched. Due date arrives! People on the streets and in the stores notice my swollen life-holder and ask nervously when I'm due. I grin excitedly and reply, "Today! I'm due today! Baby will be coming very soon!" The next day I am still pregnant. I am fine, I am content. Baby will come when Baby is ready.
Two weeks later I am not fine. My excitement has petered out with the sleepless nights; nights that do not allow for simple rolling from one side to the other anymore. No, it was not enough for a hip to just fall asleep, waking me from an already light slumber, asking me to kindly roll to the other side and give said hip a chance to breathe. Now hips are asking me to first crawl on hands and knees to roll over instead of using the original convenient side-back-side method. Bladder is asking for relief, and sciatica is begging for me to hold still. Whom do I obey? Bladder always gets first dibs, although I cannot deny temptation made a strong argument to make good use of the waterproof mattress protector that has been in place since 36 weeks, six long weeks ago.
Baby's mind is made up, Baby is clearly happy in my womb, my place of shelter. I have done too good of a job making Baby feel secure and loved. It is all up to me now. Nature had its chance and failed. Therefore, I read up on natural inducers. The usual offenders included Castor oil, blue and/or black cohosh, sex, nipple-stimulation, masturbation, and genuine licorice. I debated these. Nothing I had ever read about Castor oil from Anne of Green Gables made it sound remotely delicious. The cohosh had some negative side effects that I was unwilling to risk. Masturbation was clearly out of the question, as physically reaching the correct components would require a full-blown act of the Ringling Brothers. That left nipple-stimulation, sex, and licorice. I confess I tried the licorice first; it seemed the least humiliating option. Fortunately, I am fan of real black licorice, and the first box went down fairly easy. With the second box, I made myself comfortable in the Jacuzzi, got a good book, and dove in. It was not long before I was frantically scrambling to find a way out of the slippery tub, looking for leverage anywhere I could find, if only I could just get out and get to the toilet! Would I make it? I made it, and when labor did not follow the half-an-hour spent sitting over a gaping hole of licorice remains, I checked that option off the list. The next selection was nipple-stimulation. I had a hand-held breast pump I had received as a baby shower gift. I opted to avoid the death-trap Jacuzzi and made do with the couch for this experiment. Banishing my husband to another room, I attached the pump and gave it a tentative squeeze. Now, let me explain, Dear Readers, if you are not familiar with the sensation of a breast pump's suckling, that on an untrained nipple, this is not a particularly enjoyable sensation. I did try though and I gave it a good shot poor choice of words. I gave it approximately five pumps per nipple before the tears began, and my resolve wavered. I checked off that option and turned to my husband for the third inducer on the list, the Big Favor. He hesitated, as any man would faced with a wife who had put on 40 rapid pounds and an undisclosed amount of cellulite, not to mention had a child living very close to where the Big Favor would take place. But in the end he was game, and it was only when I started crying out of the sheer shame of wobbly-parts that were not cooperating that he stopped, and sex was crossed off the list too.
Then there was the Castor oil. Yes, it was time. Two more days had crept by, agonizing, distressful days of non-productivity. I read several forums on the best way to drink the Castor oil, and decided on root-beer. With a heaviness in my heart that had nothing to do with my new, massive bra size, I bought a little 2-ounce bottle of Hell-on-Earth. My brave husband put on his "you can do it!" face, and sat next to me the whole time as I mixed, sip by sip, a teaspoon of Castor oil with a chug of root-beer and swallowed. The bottle was soon gone, and we waited. Another day we waited, and when it was clear that 2 ounces was not enough, I repeated the whole grim process. Another day went by, and I eventually had to check Castor oil off the list as well. A new sense of desperation was calling to me, I wanted badly to avoid the hospital scene, but was rapidly running out of ideas. From some source came a new idea, olive oil. Dear Reader, you must understand my mental state at this point. I was beginning to envision the rest of my life in this condition, stranded forever, "The Woman Who Remained Pregnant Until She Died At Age 99", the headlines would read. Here was an untried inducer, and I needed to try it. I poured out a cup of olive oil- even now I can taste it- and put it to my lips. "Maybe it will taste like whiskey" I thought, tipping the cup. My throat immediately clogged; olive oil, as it turns out, tastes exactly like you would think that it would. I made it to the sink just in time to unclog my throat and most of my stomach. When I had composed myself, I debated this new situation. I was unwilling to cross it off the list when I had not given it a fair chance. I pulled out a container of ice cream while I pondered. Then it came to me! I mixed the oil with the ice cream, and while I will never again appreciate Moose Track ice cream in the same sense that I did before, I am happy to report that I was able to ingest a half of a cup of olive oil. I waited.
Whether the olive oil was the trigger, or Baby finally got tired of the strange new diet Mom was supplying, I will never know. But that night my waterproof mattress pad got some serious amniotic action.
When July 20th came and went, we were all patient. My mother the midwife calmly explained that I was a “Prim-ep”, a first time mother, and it was normal for first timers to go a week or two overdue. When July 28th came and went, I still felt patient. Ty and I played Texas Hold’em every night, just the two of us, with two other ghost players. I sat on my yoga ball and rolled around on it, hoping to loosen my hips bones.
Ty’s birthday is August 2nd, and I began to fantasize that I would have this baby on his birthday. His birthday arrived, and in my haste to start labor, I failed to remember to bake him a cake. It was his 40th birthday to boot, and when labor did not start and I did not present a cake, he felt neglected and unimportant. I tried to make it up to him by offering sex, to which he eyeballed my swollen frame, a wife he barely recognized, and politely refused.
Ok, my next goal was to go into labor on his mother’s birthday, which was August 9th. By now I was well over 2 weeks overdue, and after a consultation with the midwives, we all agreed that the early ultrasound’s due date of July 28th was most likely correct, so now I was only a week overdue again. At this point I was beginning to feel frustrated. People all around me were having their babies, why was mine being so stubborn? August 9th crept forward, and passed us by without so much as a courteous contraction. I researched old wives' tales on natural induction...
Aug 9, 2008
My emotions were running haywire as well. There were days when I would cry with anticipation of our son or daughter, and other days that would find my curled up into a nervous ball of worry wondering how we would ever manage to raise a child. We were the most selfish people I knew, how would there ever be room for another being in our lives? Futhermore, what if we messed this up? What if we raised a drug addict or worse? What if our child denied God some day? I was not nonchalant towards the issues, I knew we were being given something huge, and it terrified me.
Yet, when I closed my eyes, I could see the back of my child’s head as he or she slept, the way the his or her hair rested on their neck, and the gentle rising of their back. I could see tiny fingers wrapped around my larger ones, and blue eyes searching my brown ones. I could hear coos and gurgles of laughter, I could hear my child saying my name, “Mommy”, I could hear cries for hunger, cries for attention, cries from a good spanking, well-deserved. I could feel my child suckling at my breast, all of me pouring into this life, nourishing this baby. My Mom drew an outline of the baby on my belly so we could see how big he or she was getting. We listened to our baby's heartbeat and imagined future lectures. My impatience for the birth day grew, and when July 20th, my due date, came and went, my anticipation heightened.
Aug 4, 2008
My nocturnal escapades had only just begun. One particularly sunny morning I awoke, feeling blissfully rested and happy, and turned to greet the love of my life. Ty was looking at me uneasily, with concern and doubt covering his face. This not being his typical morning expression, I questioned him about it. He explained my antics from the night before:
Before falling asleep, I made sure to apply a Breathe-Right strip, because I had gained so much weight that the extra fat on my neck was choking me, not to mention all my swollen olfactory glands were slowly blocking off my air supply. The strips were a necessary tool to survival at that point. Apparently during the night I rolled towards my beloved, waking him, and pulled off my strip. At this point, I waved it at him and began to sing, "La la la la la!". Shocked, he asked what I was doing, which woke me up. I told him to be quiet, I was trying to sleep, and rolled over and went back to sleep.
All the rest of the day he looked at me oddly and kept his distance. I, on the other hand, chuckled over his rendition of the incident at intervals during the day, imaging how hilarious I must have looked, waving my Breathe-Right strip at him.
On a separate occasion, I had one of those fateful dreams from the depths of my early childhood. In my dream, I was using the bathroom. In real life, I was living out that dream... still in bed, of course. I woke up with a gasp, understanding that I was wet, but not grasping why. When it finally hit me I had just wet the bed, me, a 23-year-old adult, I was mortified. I glanced over at Ty, and was relieved to find he was still sleeping and didn't know about my accident. I crept into the bathroom, humiliated, and finished peeing in the proper receptacle. At this point I had fully waken up, and saw the humor in the situation. I grabbed a towel on my return to bed, and spread it over the small dark circle on my side of the bed. As I crawled back onto my soiled sheets (it was the middle of the night! There's always time for cleanliness in the morning) Ty woke up and asked what the matter was. "Nothing, Honey, I just wet the bed. It's ok."
For some reason this answer pacified him and we went back to sleep.
Jul 29, 2008
Ok, I'm kidding about that last one, but I really did have some uncanny dreams beginning with the very night I told Ty I was pregnant. That night in la-la-land, I gave birth to a fully developed baby. When we went to check whether it was a boy or a girl, there was nothing. No sex organs at all. I was confused, but not quite proportionately to how confused I should have been. I had all these baby clothes, and my height of confusion was, "Well should I dress this child in blue or pink?" So I pulled out a cute pink dress and put the baby in it. The poor child began screaming wildly, protesting with every nerve in it's body. So I took the dress off and put a blue jumper on. Immediately the baby calmed down, and even smiled. I felt my confusion wash away and turned to tell Ty we had a son.
I wonder if dreams have any meaning? Could we be having a boy?
Every pregnant woman complains about three things: odd cravings, not being able to sleep, and her crazy, wacked-out hormones. Now, I'm a very even-keeled person, and take great pride in being fairly predictale, and well as emotionally stable. And throughout this pregnancy I was not noticing any hormone changes to contridict that. Until the Milk Incident, that is.
I go through hobby phases. One-third of the year I'm obsessed with scrapbooking, another third it's beading. This particular season I was really into crocheting. These hobbies all drive Ty batty because of the bills I can rack up, and crocheting is no excepting to this rule. At this moment I was working on $60 worth of really nice wool-textured yarn, making one of my brothers an afghan. Ty and I were comfortable on the couch, watching something mindless on TV, (probably football) and I was working on the afghan. I had dairy cravings that day, so was alternating Milk Duds with sips from a large glass of milk. Football interests me about as much as any girl, and I was concentrating on my blanket. Single crochet, single crochet, chain three, turn - whoops! Knocked over the milk! Right...onto...my...lap! Oh! It gets worse! The other half emptied into my basket containing the remainder of the rolls of yarn!
It was a slow-motion moment, "Noooooo!", but I reacted quickly. I grabbed some paper towels and went at it, dabbing here and there, trying to salvage what I could. I was the most upset over the balls of yarn being soaked, because I wasn't sure how to wash those. A few seconds into my cleaning, I looked up expectantly at my husband, who was still focused on his football. He must have noticed me glaring at him, because he turned and said innocently, "What?"
"Well I don't know, why aren't you helping me?"
"(Snorts) You don't need my help, it's not that big of a mess!"
I finished without another word and stomped upstairs, seething. I changed into my pajamas, fully intending to go to bed without speaking to him the rest of the night, when something caught my eye.
Something purple, and creeping into my cleavage.
The dreaded stretch marks. Upon further investigation, I realized they were taking over most of my body. My frustration and anger morphed into humiliation and despair and I burst into tears. Ty, baffled by my stormy exit, was coming upstairs to find out what he had done. Seeing me now, sobbing on the bed, he gently sat down on the side of the bed and asked,
"Honey? Are these pregnancy hormones?"
May 30, 2008
My prenatal visits were at my mom's house. Like I'd mentioned before, as a young girl I used to love watching the beautiful ladies with their lovely bellies come over to my house for their prenatals. Our first prenatal was one of the most exciting moments of my life - it was a childhood dream come true! Ty and I arrived a little early, breathless and grinning from ear to ear. I was 12 weeks along, according to my calculations. My mom and her fellow partner Midwife and best friend, Terry, greeted us with their own silly grins. They were about as excited as we were to start this amazing mother-daughter bonding journey. Businesslike, they gestured towards our chairs, and we sat. It was all basic information, nutrition guidelines, and what they expected out of us as well as what we could count on from them. Finally we got to the good part, listening to the heartbeat! I laid on the physician's table and pulled up my shirt. Mom plopped some freezing cold gel on my belly, and turned the doppler on. She searched for the baby's heartbeat, spreading the gel over the better part of my exposed skin. We all listened hard, but didn't hear anything. Elusive child, stop playing around! Hold still so we can hear you!
We couldn't find the heartbeat that day, but Mom and Terry shrugged it off saying they didn't always find the heartbeat that early. Having the luxury of having my mom as my midwife, I could stop by in a week and we'd try again. Which we did, and still no heartbeat! It didn't worry any of us, but we were disappointed. A week later, at 14 weeks, we all felt sure we'd hear one this time. Again the gel made an appearance, and covered my belly with about an inch of gooey-ness. Still nothing. I looked into my mom's face, and saw her putting on her "so what" face, and knew that she felt concerned. She prodded the skin under my belly button, feeling for my uterus. I tried to stay calm, but felt alarm creeping up. I looked and Ty and knew he was feeling the same way. Mom cleared her throat. "Your uterus should feel bigger than this at 14 weeks, I think we may have our dates off." I shook my head, I was tracking temps, mucus, intercourse, and all sorts of unnatural sights; I knew exactly when this baby was conceived. "What else could it be?" I asked, knowing the answer. "Well," Mom replied, "I think we should get an ultrasound and make sure you're pregnant." I wasn't expecting that. Doubt that I was even pregnant? What about the pregnancy tests? I would have made a case for my absent period, but that in itself wasn't unusual for someone with PCOS. For the first time in this pregnancy, I felt unsure.
I had wait a few days for the order for the ultrasound. Mom had a friend who was a nurse-midwife, and could order them for me. On the drive over to my mother's house to pick up the order, I noticed a very young puppy on the side of the road. It was just starting to snow, and the puppy wasn't moving so I pulled over. He was dead, a hit and run, most likely. I pulled some plastic bags out of my car, wrapped the puppy in them, and put him in my truck. His tiny body was stiff, frozen in the cold. I cried on the way home, for the puppy, and for the life inside me that I wasn't sure existed. I buried the puppy in our side yard, and felt dismal and pessimistic the rest of the day.
Ty came with me to our ultrasound. We were nervous; afraid that there would be no baby, and simultaneously excited to see our baby if there was one. The technician was kind, and helped me lay back. She tucked a towel into the top of my pants and plopped some goop on my tummy. I smiled at the warmth, thinking that there were some benefits to this visit. The minute she placed the doppler on my stomach, we knew.
We were about to be parents!
That little baby wiggled around like there was nothing going on. The baby measured a week behind what we thought, and had a good strong heartbeat. The tech turned it up so we could hear it clearly. I pushed the puppy to the back of my mind and relished the beauty of life!
May 18, 2008
I have to admit something I'm not proud of in order to appropriately draw an important parallel. Earlier in life when I was dabbling in rebellion and "finding myself", I was tempted by the lure of drugs and alcohol. My first alcoholic drink was red wine, consumed at the wee hours of a New Year's Eve morning in the attempts to "catch up" to the rest of the party-goers, who, by the way, were already 90% passed out. I was running late because I worked that night, and was anxious to take advantage of the glorious (and naive) permission my parents had generously given me to attend this party. Arriving breathless and excited at around 3:00 am, my mostly drunken host offered me cheap red wine in a plastic cup - all that was left. He was the only one awake, and I was the only one sober. Both effects were resolved in the next hour, and my new status, one that stayed with me until dawn offensively crept in, was clutching the porcelain curves of a bachelor's dirty toilet.
Those particular party attendees were a group of people I wanted to fit in with, so a few years later when they introduced marijuana to me, I eagerly accepted. My first joint was remarkably unexciting. I didn't like the taste, and I hated the burning in my throat. But still, in the name of popularity I tried again. And again, and again, until finally the sought-for high hit me. We sat around and laughed at nothing, or just stared for hours at inanimate objects, intermittently giggling or reaching for another hit. Coming down from the high was the worst part. It was always followed by a headache and a sense of restlessness, and finally, I get to my much anticipated parallel.
Pregnancy is a little like getting high. It doesn't always happen on the first try. You have to try again and again for the drug to take effect, but once it does! There's nothing else like it; you giggle for no apparent reason, you're always rooting around for the next snack, and it's best shared with friends. There's a crash in pregnancy too, once you've gone around and told everyone you know that you're pregnant, there's no one else to tell. It's a little disconcerting, really. You find yourself purposefully rubbing your belly or pretending your back hurts just so someone will ask. You plead with your husband to take you into Babies R' Us to 'look around' when in reality you're just hoping the cashier will ask you when you're due. You join online blogs so you can chat with other women in the same boat...
So there, I've found a way to connect druggies with pregnant women. And you thought it couldn't be done!
My point is, now everyone knew that we were pregnant, and I wasn't sure what the next step was. Was I supposed to feel sick now? Where are the flutters? Should we start on the nursery? I was restless; I was excited with no where to expel my energy. Mostly, I was impatient. I wanted that baby NOW!
Feb 11, 2008
It was difficult deciding who to tell first, but we decided on my parents since, after all, my mother was to be my midwife. Thanksgiving Day was going to be our Big Day to share our precious secret with everyone. Since we were traveling to Ty’s family’s house first but wanted to tell my parents before his, we rushed over to my parents’ house beforehand. As we were pulling into their driveway, however, my dad was just leaving. We tried to flag him down, but he blithely waved and continued on his way. This put a momentarily kink in our plans, but we decided we would tell my mom anyway.
Mom was surprised to see us at her house so early, which I think aroused some intuitive suspicions. We chatted her up for a few minutes, asking nosy questions about where my dad had gone and what kinds of foods would we be enjoying later in the afternoon. She answered them cautiously, still not sure why we were there so early. Finally we cut to the chase, and I asked her if I could check out her midwifery wheel to find out when I was due. She laughed and said “No” and then gave us a second look and asked, “Really? Are you?” We grinned stupidly which was enough for her! After some hugs and light bouncing on her part, she did go get her wheel, and estimated our due date to be
Next stop was Ty’s mother and step-father’s house. We were having “first” Thanksgiving dinner with them, and had our approach all planned out. We kept our faces appropriately disguised throughout pre-dinner conversations and focused hard on not making eye contact with each other to ensure we would avoid bursting out in glowing smiles. Finally we all gathered around the table and began our traditional ritual of each mentioning something we’re truly grateful for. Ty went last, and when it got to him he thanked God for all of our many blessings, his family, his wife, and the opportunity we were getting to become parents. A shocked silence was quickly followed by unceremonious “Amens” and an uproar of delight, especially from my mother-in-law – who, later pulled me aside and confided to me that she was hoping it was a boy…”For Ty, you know.” I laughed and then stopped when I realized she was serious. “Well, I would like a boy too, but we’re just hoping for a healthy baby of course,” I grinned at her.
We both felt highly satisfied with that experience, and when it was time to go back to my parents’ house for “second” dinner, we decided to use the same approach. First we had to tell my dad though, it wasn’t fair for him to find out with the rest of my extended family. We pulled him into the office and with smiles told him he was going to be a grandpa. He moved quickly from excitement for us to another stage: “Oh, wow, Tweets! That’s so great, good for you guys! (Hugs us) Ok, now how are you going to tell everyone else? You know what you should do?” He asked, and mapped out a plan for us to announce it. We laughed at his thought processes and all went out to the table to gather in prayer. We ended the prayer circle with Ty again, and he repeated his gratefulness at our chance to become parents. Again, the “Amens” were mostly skipped over the cries of congrats from my grandparents and siblings.
We had a lot of fun with all the various ways we told the rest of our family and friends. There is something so unique in announcing a pregnancy; so different than announcing a new job or moving to a new house or even getting married. While all those things are fun to tell too, they just cannot compare to broadcasting a pregnancy. It is such an accomplishment, and even as commonplace as it might seem, it never fails to bring on genuine joy from your friends and family. It is the one time you can say – in so many words – “Guess what? We had sex!” and it will not feel dirty or embarrassing!
Feb 9, 2008
Being pregnant is vastly different than not being pregnant, and not just for the obvious reasons. Especially in the first few weeks when you haven’t told EVERYONE yet and this piece of knowledge is all your own – and hopefully your husband’s – and you can just savor it. I wondered how I could be growing a tiny individual with a heart beat already developed and coursing microscopic blood cells through near-invisible veins and not feel it. How was my uterus not on fire with this brand-new feeling? How were my fallopian tubes not dancing with the same intensity my own heart beat was? How was it possible that I could feel such choking happiness while my body still looked and acted like it always did? Every night as we lay down to sleep I would place both my palms over my womb, very low where I knew our baby was growing rapidly and would try to feel the process. I would feel my own heart beat there and momentarily get lost in the giddiness of believing I could feel the baby’s heart beat. I tried to listen inside myself – very quietly I would breathe – hoping to hear gurgles of movement. I became a new woman in those early weeks; no longer was I ashamed of my body or its limitations. I was feeling a new sense of pride and awe at my capabilities. It was a wonderful feeling! Ty and I prayed carefully each night for our child. We prayed for the baby’s health, happiness and faith. We prayed for an easy labor for me, and we especially prayed for patience! Eight more months seemed so far away!
Jan 25, 2008
We had Bible study that night. It was still a fairly new group, but we felt ready to involve them in our personal lives. Ty and I had not discussed our prayer requests before going to Group that night, and when he prayed for conception I ducked my head and smiled. I felt a little sheepish that I had not told him yet and my heart swelled with love for this man who prayed aloud in front of a new group of people for a child. Our friends were excited for us that we wanted to start a family, and prayed along with us. My secret felt warm in my womb and I felt motherly already.
The next morning I still could not figure out how to tell him. I wanted it to be memorable and creative. I wanted to see tears. I imagined him sweeping me into his arms-never mind that I weigh more than he does- and twirling me around the room sobbing happily. All day long I grinned absurdly thinking of various romantic moments that could occur. Night loomed and we decided to watch a movie. My creativity was failing me wildly and all I could think was that I absolutely had to tell him now. I ran upstairs, grabbed the positive pregnancy test and slipped it into my back pocket and ran back downstairs to rejoin him on the couch. After the movie – I could not tell you what movie it was! – I leaned over and asked him in my sweetest voice, “Would you like an early Christmas present?” He cocked his head inquisitively and smiled. “Close your eyes,” I directed, reaching into my back pocket and pulling out the test. He closed them. “Open your hand,” I said. He opened one and I placed the test in it. He opened his eyes and looked down blankly at the test. He held it up closer to his eyes and examined it. “What is it?” He finally asked, knowing but not trusting. Excitement pushed tears out of my eyes and I said quietly, “That is a positive pregnancy test.” He gazed up at me and asked, “We’re pregnant?” I nodded, squeezing my lips together tightly. He looked back at the test and let it sink in.
I didn’t get twirled around the room, but I did get tears and a bear hug. Better yet, for the first time in over a year, I felt like a woman. A woman who could bear her husband children.
Jan 24, 2008
Touché, it doesn’t work that way of course.
Metformin is a smelly drug. It is also packaged with such loving care that it makes you break a sweat and actively lose weight just trying to remove the smelly pill from it’s home. I started out on 500mg, the lowest dose. My cats and I created a love-hate relationship with each other over my daily ritual of drugging myself. The smell is so enticing to them that it brings all five of them rushing from their various cubby-holes, excited and salivating at the anticipation of treats. Imagine their surprise to see Mommy eating their “treats”! Never have I been held in such contempt as to see ten fully dilated sets of pupils glaring at me. I admit I was tempted on more than one occasion to see what Metformin would do to a cat, but figured curing hirsutism was not tops on their lists of things to do. So in the end, it was down the hatch with the fish-pill, disappointing all involved.
Again, the first cycle of Metformin I was not expecting any miracles. It was new to my system and I was skeptical to begin with. When AF showed up, I expected her and didn’t even waste any tests that cycle. I began my second cycle on Metformin in the middle of October 2005. It was more than two years after our wedding, and we had passed the one-year mark of actively
Towards the end of that cycle in the middle of November I had another appointment with my GP. I expressed my frustrations, and explained that I was not content to keep hoping every month. I wanted to try fertility drugs. I still was not positive that I was even ovulating, and my cycles were still irregular. Dr. suggested Clomid. I thought about it for 60 seconds and said yes. She asked if I thought I could be pregnant right now. I pondered that for a moment, thinking back to see if any of the trick symptoms had plagued me and realized that there weren’t even any trick symptoms. “No,” I said sadly, “I don’t think I am pregnant.” With that, Dr. wrote out a prescription for Clomid and gave me instructions on how to use it. I left her office feeling surprisingly down-hearted. I was disappointed in my body, and in my patience. I felt apprehensive about Clomid and reluctant to “give in” to fertility drugs. Most of all, I felt like God had abandoned me, and left me with no other choice than to depend on myself. My depression lasted all day, its sadness relieved only slightly by Ty’s understanding and comforting hugs. We were meeting some friends for dinner that night, so I tried to shrug it off and feel hopeful for my first cycle on Clomid.
Dinner didn’t go very well. They were fairly new friends that we’d met through church in our new Bible study and we were eager to make a good impression. My parents own the restaurant we were at, and the servers were all familiar with Ty and I. Our server greeted us and as she handed out our menus she said to me, “
I was shaky, as anyone who tried to replace their natural personality with alcohol would feel the next morning, and made my way to the bathroom. An unopened box of E.P.T.’s stared at me from the back of the toilet. I glared at them long and hard until I realized that I was on CD 38 or something absurd, and AF hadn’t shown up yet. I sighed, knowing the surest way to start a new cycle was to test. “Let’s get this over with” was my glum thought. With a practiced fingernail I deftly sliced through the shrink wrap and pulled out the test. Three minutes later I looked at the results, hope finding it’s way through my resignation. The test said +. I didn’t understand. I couldn’t remember suddenly what it was supposed to say. I set the test back down and reached for the instructions. Apparently a + sign equals pregnant. I picked the test back up. There was a definite positive sign in the window. As I sat there with my pajama pants still around my ankles I cried. The moment was too romantic and beautiful for the setting, but all I could think was…I’m PREGNANT!
Jan 18, 2008
I hit a new low. The weight gain had been bad enough with every month five pounds heavier it seemed, and no matter what crash diet I chose for any given month there was little hold on the gain. Now I was infertile, the very opposite of what a woman should be. I felt like I had tricked my husband; he had found himself a cute, young wife, and the minute he married her she ballooned up and crushed his dreams of offspring. I stepped cautiously in our marriage, waiting for him to announce that he was leaving me for someone good enough for him. Every day I felt more and more of a burden on my shoulders until I finally got up the courage to talk to him about it. As I expressed my fears, he stared incredulously at me, he had no idea I was feeling that way. He crushed me close to him and told me he loved me, that he married me for ME, not for future children. I hold those words in my heart still, so much relief they did bring me.
It didn’t ease up my yoke much though, instead, I felt anew how wonderful he was, and what a failure I was. I was determined to give him children.
I grew up under the natural wing of a hippie-turned-conservative midwife. Doctor visits were rare in our house, hospitals were non-existent. I was born at our home in
My homeopathic preferences and medical contempt followed me into adulthood. I found it the pinnacle of irony to marry a pharmaceutical rep, who, by the way, did not share in my disregard of medical doctors. Ty was agreeable about a home birth, as well as home schooling our future children, but I never could get him to take a homeopathic without rolling his eyes and giving me a ten-minute digression on why drugs are better. Consequently, when I was diagnosed with PCOS and given the option of taking Metformin to control it and possibly aid in conception, we had an argument. I knew that there had to be a better way. If I started taking Metformin, I argued, I would be on it for the rest of my life. I needed to change my diet and take different vitamins to make myself healthy. He gave up, and I followed my mother’s suggestion to see a Naturopath. The initial consultation cost about $150 in services and vitamins which I went home to take. I had a follow-up a month later – another lost cycle – to do a hair analysis to test for metal toxicities. That consultation left me in tears as my hands kept gravitating to the chunks of hair missing against my neck. It was a silly thing to cry over as it was all in the name of baby-making, but it was yet another piece to make me less of a woman. I had another supply of vitamins to fill up on; eighteen capsules of varying colors, sizes and tastes to take three times a day. Each month’s worth of vitamins cost about $200. The worst problem with preferring a natural route is the insurance company’s reluctance to agree with what is a medical necessity and what you are just doing for pleasure. Apparently $200 worth of vitamins falls under the “funsies” category.
I knew going in that the first month and cycle of vitamins would probably not be successful. It would take a while for the vitamins to balance the metals in my body and get my reproductive system to function normally. When the witch showed up at the end of that expensive cycle, I expected her. I started the next cycle with a determination close to desperation, anticipations high and expectations running along the two-pink-line kind. It wasn’t enough though, and another $200 and seven thousand attempts to manually choke myself on a handful of grass-tasting pills later and I was running back to the store for more tampons. This time I was frustrated. I was willing to give the vitamins one month to get settled in and adjusted. But the second month I expected results. We could not afford to do this month after month, and frankly, my self-esteem couldn’t handle one more conversation where I let my husband down. “Not pregnant!” Was the standard call from the bathroom following a Big Fat Negative (BFN) on a pregnancy test; AF showing up ten minutes later as if she was just waiting for me to waste a test.
With an attitude and a facial expression suited for eating crow, I called my GP and requested a prescription for Metformin.
Jan 17, 2008
We entered our second year of marriage. Things had improved greatly with my new sense of responsibility, and there weren't very many arguments anymore. We decided we were ready to start a family! I had never been on birth control, and we had never prevented conception, so it was a little surprising to us that I had not gotten pregnant yet, especially since it WAS our honeymoon year *wink wink nudge nudge*. We made a doctor's appointment just to make sure that we were "ok". Routine blood work on me tested fine, and there was nothing obvious that was blocking our way. We were sent home with instructions and hints for baby-making. (Just when you think you know it all, right?)
The results came back normal, except for one piece of blood work showing that I had insulin resistant tendencies. Dr. assured me that the PCOS would show up later in life, and that I had every other symptom. Thus, I was diagnosed: The infertile woman.
Jan 13, 2008
My mother perfected being a housewife, so you would think I would have had a great role model. She raised 7 kids, even home schooling most of us. Our house was always clean due to her strict dictation, and meals were always at home, cooked with love by dear mom. But I wasn't interested in any of that, try as she did to teach me. I hated cooking, I hated cleaning, and I especially hated my Midnight curfew. I LOVED being an adult! I loved not being told what to do, where to be, and how to act! There was only one problem: I had married a rare form of man, one who regularly cooked his own meals, kept a clean house, and preferred to stay in at night. I distinctly remember an argument a few months after we married, one where I was receiving an honest frustration from a man talking to a grown child: He was doing all the work, I needed to step up. Ok, I accepted that. It hurt, but I could see his point. I was still in college, working towards a degree in Pyschology, but I didn't have a job, so there was plenty of time to work on being a better wife.
Enter church. Ty had for a few years been going to a relatively new church in the area. Later it would go on to become a megachurch, but for now it was just a regular, large church. We didn't go regularly by any stretch of the imagination, but we did manage to catch a crucial series. For three weeks, we were drawn in by our pastor's teachings on marriage. He made some excellent points that stick with me still.
- Don't put each other down, even if you're teasing, and especially in public.
- The man is the head of the household, and he'll be better at it with your support, wives.
- The Bible says, Women, honor your husbands, Men, love your wives. Men don't need love from their wives, they need respect, obedience, and honor from their wives. Men's mental make-up thrives better on those three things than on love. They need their women to adore them, trust them, and to need them. They don't need romancing, they need respect. Women, on the flip side, aren't as caught up in that side of the ego. We need love, we need romance, we need to hear that they only think of us, and that they couldn't live without us. We don't care as much about their obedience or respect, we care that we're being worshiped and adored.
It made a huge difference! It made me more motivated to please him, and to pick up the slack that I was causing. I loved the changes it made in me, and I could tell he loved it too.
I hadn't come across this book at this point, but if you're at this point in your marriage, then I highly recommend it:
Created To Be His Help Meet, by Debi Pearl. Check out the Pearl's website!, they have tons of amazing resources for all areas in your life! Sign up for their free newsletter!
Stayed tuned (or, rather, log back on...) for blogs on the TTC years!
Jan 11, 2008
But this isn't a blog about the present time, it's a blog about the last year and a half of my life. But to really grasp that time frame, I have to go back further. As they say in important documentaries (and Monty Python, of course)...
"The Year Was 2000":
I met my husband in the usual scandalous way; a coffee shop, pleather pants, and a textbook. According to his version, he was comfortably minding his own business seated inside at said coffee shop, people-watching. I walked in, in all my pleather-pants glory and ordered myself...surprise...a coffee. (Actually, I think it was probably a coffee milkshake...but who cares about specifics or calories?) Ty claims that I looked around the shop, spied him, and gave him my flirtiest smile. When he tells the story, this is the part where he puts his hand to his heart, gives his audience his best "surprised look", and completes the act by pretending to look behind him to ensure that I wasn't smiling at someone else. At any rate, my smile gets returned. As I walked out to the patio where I could study in peace, I apparently turned to smile at him one more time, "luring" him to follow. (I deny that part of the story, I'm far too innocent and sweet to be capable of such manipulation!)
Helpless, like a man, he followed. He casually chose a seat at the table across from me, and claims I did everything in the feminine trick bag to get him to notice me. (As if pleather pants weren't enough!) From the fake yawn to show off my young belly button, to the traditional eye bats and occasional eye contact, with of course, the smile. Fed up with my wiles, Ty looked at me and said, "All right, that's enough!" And the conversation began. I eventually moved over to his table and within minutes he asked me to marry him. I laughed, asked him to let me grow up a little first, and maybe in three years I'd be ready to marry him.
We were married August 30th, 2003.
Jan 5, 2008
I'm going to cover a lot of topics on this blog, but mainly TTC and getting through the loss of a child. Notice that I didn't say getting "over" the loss of a child, because that's of course, impossible. You can get THROUGH the loss, and even feel like yourself again, but let's face it: burying your child, whether physically, symbolically, or mentally, is unnatural for a mother or father to have to do. He or she will always be in your thoughts, and while it might get easier, your heart will always ache for your child.
I'm going to be starting from the very beginning of my own TTC and PG journey. A lot of my posts will be copies from a board that I joined on babycenter.com shortly after my son died so that I can accurately capture exactly what I was feeling at the time. That place was an online journal for me, and I didn't hold back any of the anger or grief I was feeling, so keep in mind that my posts may border on blasphemous at times, as well as show a lot of my weaknesses and shortcomings. But I think that, especially if you're new to this journey, you'll relate to a lot of my various emotions.
Wish me luck!