Monday, January 23, 2017

My PAL Journey: Weeks 27 to 32

I don't know why I'm having such a difficult time sitting down to write this.  There is nothing bad to say at all; it's just that the entire subject is activating (as in it triggers anxiety and grief).  I know I said my anxiety had improved - and while it has in the sense that it is not all-consuming, it certainly still exists.  Like that pesky gray hair that won't go away (not that I'm speaking from experience or anything, lol).  My goal in chronicling this journey was to bring awareness to pregnancy after losses and my hope is that by being real here someone will relate and feel less lonely as a result.  So here's my truths for these past few weeks:

I'm in a stage of pregnancy where I am sorta "damned if you do, damned if you don't."  I am a planner. I LOVE planning and enjoy thinking out every detail.  Not being prepared - over-prepared to be more accurate - incites a bit of anxiety.

Know what else triggers anxiety?  Planning for Baby Xander's arrival.  Yup. You can imagine my conflict here.  I have almost no leftover baby gear/clothing/supplies because we thought Bruce was our last baby and got rid of things as he outgrew them.  I've been purchasing items as I encounter good deals but leaving the tags on or keeping them in their packaging.  I did allow myself to wash a few used/garage sale clothing items in preparation and the entire time I was folding the basket I kept thinking "ohmygosh I just killed my baby."

No lie.  I don't believe in jinxing or a self-fulfilled prophecy that fearing pregnancy loss will actually cause my baby to die.  And yet... I know that having the STUFF here, in my face, costing money and taking up space, will make a loss more difficult in the aftermath.  So there is some truth to the fear that buying a car seat will cause me to lose the baby (more accurately it makes losing the baby harder later).  I know it isn't rational.  Knowing that doesn't erase the butterflies I feel or the heart racing fear.  

I can't NOT plan either.  That causes a panic that I won't have what I need when the time comes (i.e. a car seat and outfit to go home from the hospital in).  The opposite is also true - refusing to prepare is like saying I don't have hope that I will bring my beautiful, living son home.  I do believe that.  The excitement is creeping in and I am attempting to make room for that emotion.

I am working on finding the balance between what I need now and what can wait a bit longer.  It's emotionally exhausting.  Dan and I were at Babies R Us buying a car seat and I noticed all the other expectant moms around me, furiously scanning items to add to their registry and filling their carts to the brim.  None of them is going into this expecting it to end poorly.  And while I am not either, there is something different.  I think I envy their naivety.  I want that so desperately - to plan for the safe arrival of a baby that I will take home and raise to adulthood without an elevated and somewhat ridiculous fear that something will go wrong.  I wish shopping brought me the joy it once did instead of an irrational panic. 

Rainbow Baby Xander  - looks like I'm committed to the name now that I've personalized the crayon! 

 27 weeks

These past couple months of pregnancy have been relatively uneventful - compared to my prior pregnancies.  I've switched to a shorter acting blood thinner and now need to have a shot TWICE a day instead of once.  I go in to the Perinatal Clinic weekly for my P17 shot and monitoring.  Today marked my first weekly Biophysical Profile and Non Stress Testing for the duration of the pregnancy.

That means I get adorable ultrasound photos like this one even MORE frequently.  I love it.  I need it.  So much joy and peace is found on that black and white screen.  

I failed my initial 1 hour glucose test (for gestational diabetes) so I needed to go back in for the fasting 3 hour.  Here's the thing: Drinking pure sugar in a matter of minutes after 13 hours of fasting when I already suffer from Hyperemesis is a plan for Failure.  I kept the drink down maybe 20 minutes into the 3 hours.  I had already taken TWO prescription anti-nausea meds before the blood draws so I wasn't going to ever successfully complete that test, lol.  Long story shortened: I don't have GD for now.

The contractions are strong, the cramps are painful, the pelvic, leg, and back pain from Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction is brutal, my leg keeps going numb from sciatica and I feel nauseous, dizzy, and faint daily.  The bruises on my belly from the shots are turning my entire stomach black and blue. Yup, I'm pregnant.  I am so grateful to STILL be pregnant that these things are not a tragedy, however I AM pretty uncomfortable and struggling to accomplish as many physical tasks as I need. Oh, and I'm fat too. 

29 weeks

31 weeks

Today my husband and I took a hospital birth center tour.  I have never done this before with any prior pregnancy.  I've delivered 6 babies at 5 different locations and it never really worked out to take one.  (My first was born so unexpectedly early it was weeks before the prenatal classes I had registered for!)  I have actually delivered a baby at The Mother Baby Center at Abbott Minneapolis before - my son Oliver.  However that was different as he was stillborn and the experience isn't the same.  I didn't know hospital policies in advance (like today I learned about visitors, the NICU, food and laboring options, etc.) or what a post partum room looked like.

It was good we took the tour.  Here I was, standing in a Labor & Delivery room identical to the one Oliver had been born in last year.  I felt the huge wave of grief try to consume me as I stared at the empty isolette, awaiting the arrival of a living child, taunting me and reminding me that my dead baby had laid on those same blankets.  

Then the craziest thing happened.  As we moved on in the tour to the post partum recovery rooms and the guide began to talk about rooming in with our babies and how we would hold them while they were getting their hospital bands and being inspected, etc. the waves of grief calmed.  The grief was replaced with anticipation and healing delight.  "They expect my baby to live.  That is why she's telling me about the diapers located in the bassinet drawers."  I whispered to my husband.

Now when I go to this amazing birth center to deliver Xander it will not be my first time there since Oliver died.  The weight of the memories feels less heavy.  The location has less power now.  The grief will always be there but less startling and present.  Now I can move forward and replace grief with healing when I enter those doors and labor in those rooms.  I'm glad I went, despite the resurgence of sadness.  Because now the joy can be let in.  I was afraid to feel that emotion before but now I am open to soaking in as much joy as I can for as long as I can. For now, I choose Hope.

I'll leave you with this photo caption:
Bruce happened to be cuddling with me when Baby Xander started kicking. Bruce will now not remove his hand from my bare belly so he can feel all the baby's kicks!! It's been like an hour sitting like this with them! Bruce says "Xander says he wants to come out!!" #hope