Monthly Archives: October 2012

So it begins… baby costumes

I stumbled upon a box of baby goodies today. Mostly it was full of clothes that some friends had given us, the stuff that was going to be too big for Hudson for a while. But right on the top of the box were some baby costumes that Momma Sue bought for Hudson and gave me at my baby shower.

A luau get-up – grass skirt, flowered leis, sunglasses.
A little kitty cat headband and tail.
Baby Superhero: complete with red and blue and gold wristbands, winged cap and mask.

It gave me the tearchoke, seeing this forgotten treasure. Hudson and the Hubs and I should be trick or treating this Halloween. A heart-strangling wish for a different kind of Halloween overcame me as I imagined Hudson as a wild, red-headed Masked Hero, me and the Hubs in some kind of side-kick attire, unabashedly toting our baby girl to a few family-oriented photo ops.

My Facebook feed was flooded with friends’ pictures of their adorable babies in their adorable baby costumes. Baby ladybugs. Baby monkeys. Baby lions. An entire safari of adorable other-people’s-babies.

And so it begins. The wall that is the holidays has officially begun.

 

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You know what’s funny?

I just looked at the top searches that drove traffic to the Meet Baby Dub blog…

The first is “Erica Walter Baby Dud.”

Ouch.

Get her nickname right, people.

But the other two are “beard” and “groping yourself.”

So I’m glad that kind of qualified traffic is ending up here.

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Abbreviations and codes: TTC, OPKs, OMG LOL

In our text-message, Twitter, 140-characters or less culture, one cannot be bothered to spell things out.

U know?

OMG.

I have learned a whole new language in the last few months as my preoccupation with making Baby Dub Dos has grown into an almost full-time occupation.

My doctor informed me that she’d like us to wait at least 6 months before we TTC (Try To Conceive). At first she said a year, and, as my husband put it, “She saw you were going to slap her,” (LOL!) so she backed down a bit and said “But try to wait at least 6 months.”

I burst into tears when she left the room. SIX MONTHS? You’ve got to me kidding me, lady. At the time, six months sounded like six eternities.

So I turned to the Internet for a second opinion, which is, FYI, a horrible horrible idea. We’ll talk about that in another post.

And in my Googling I stumbled across several forums about TTC. How long to wait between pregnancies? How long to try before you talk to a specialist? And on and on…

The first few entries were basically incomprehensible due to the excess of abbreviations.

“DH and I BD’d 3 days after positive OPK. We are now 10 DPO, when is too soon for a HPT? I don’t want to get discouraged by BFN if I test too early.”

Er, wha?

Just like learning any new language, you get the best results when you go full-immersion. So I kept reading until I could decipher the codes. Evidently the lady above and her “dear husband” did the “Baby-Dance” after an “Ovulation Predictor Kit” told her it was go-time. Ten “Days Past Ovulation” and she’s wondering if it’s too soon for a “Home Pregnancy Test” because she doesn’t want to get a BFN… okay I haven’t figured out what the B and the F stand for in that one but I know it means “Not pregnant”…

Whew.

Just like nobody who has ever been pregnant before will understand you if you speak in weeks to them, nobody who hasn’t made it their business to get knocked up ASAP will understand you if you speak in this cryptic language of codes and abbreviations.

Which is cool, because it sort of feels like I’m in some sort of awesome secret baby club.

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Making it right

Everybody wants to find the magic words to make things okay.

There are no magic words to bring Hudson back, so words will always, ALWAYS fall short.

The devoutly religious often go with something along the lines of: “God doesn’t give us more than we can take.”

(P.S. This is thrown around a lot in grief situations, but the original Bible verse has nothing to do with loss/grief and more to do with temptation… Bible Bowl Champion calling you out!)

The non-religious folks will give me: “I’m sending you all my positivity and love.”

And then there are the people in the medical field, and they want to know:

“Do you think you have a lawsuit?”

Nurses. Doctors. People who took EMT courses. Anyone who’s ever seen a labor/delivery situation wants to find somebody to blame, and then they want me to go get ’em.

Right after Hudson died, this was the last thing I wanted to hear.

I trust my doctor. People wanting me to go find somebody to hold accountable always made me feel defensive, like maybe I was being naive to trust my doctor, like I was letting myself be taken advantage of. I also didn’t like the feeling it gave me… that sick, “What if?” feeling in your gut, the “If only…” path your mind can travel that makes you believe there could have been a different outcome, that teenage highschool angst knot-in-the-gut-region.

Can finding somebody to blame for Hudson’s death bring her back? Eye for an eye?

Nothing makes this right.

But I am no longer infuriated by the question:

“Do you think you have a lawsuit?”

Just like the religious gang wants me to know that God will give me strength, and just like the non-religious gang wants me to know that they are sending me their positivity, and just like some people just want to give me the big juicy heartfelt hug, this is just the medically-knowledgeable person’s way of saying: “I want to make this right for you, and I don’t know how.”

I’ve mentioned it before on this blog, that I’ve learned to cut people a little slack. Being close to somebody going through a difficult time is extremely hard.

How inadequate words feel.
How inadequate that carload of casseroles might seem.
How inadequate we are when we cannot change the hurts our friends and loved ones must face.

Just like everybody has their own love language (acts of service, gifts, etc.), everybody has their own grief-coping language too. Just because I don’t necessarily speak your grief-coping language doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate your intentions.

We want a different life. We want a different experience. We want a different outcome. We want a different perspective. We want to make it right.

Nothing will ever be right when you lose a child. It’s unfixable.

But the prayers, the positivity, the questions, the casseroles… help to make it bearable.

Precious Days

Remember me talking about the Mitch Albom book, The Time Keeper? That is a really fantastic book, people. Read it.

There is a line in the book that got me. If I knew how to do the “highlight text” thing with my Kindle, I would have highlighted this:

“There is a reason God limits our days.”

“Why?”

“To make each one precious.”

I remember distinctly a moment in the hospital with Hudson. I was walking through the NICU to get to her, rounding the corner into her room, and I had this out-of-body thought:

“Be present in this moment. You will want this moment again.”

Those three days with Hudson were so incredibly precious. And sure enough, I do want to go back to that moment, to live in those three days, where time just stopped for our baby girl, where work didn’t matter, bills didn’t matter, whatever you had going on at home didn’t matter, all that mattered were these precious days with Hudson.

My husband stayed up all night with me as I went through labor. Hudson was born at 3:50 am, whisked off in a helicopter to Spokane by 7 am. The Hubs and his parents drove after her, and the Hubs didn’t sleep. He got to the NICU, spent time with her as they waited for me to arrive, and he was urged to get some rest, get some sleep, you’ll feel better.

He told me his response was:

“What if this is her whole life? I want to be with her as much as I can, if this is all I get.”

Profound words from the Big Bear.

Because her whole life was spent in a hospital, and each one of those days was precious, and I’d trade the scant hours of sleep we got in that hospital for more time with our baby. If I’d have known how limited her days would be I would have skipped the sleep, I wouldn’t have taken that trip to the hospital cafeteria, I’d trade that lousy frozen yogurt for 5 more minutes with Baby Dub.

Thinking of my husband’s perfect words: “What if this is her whole life…” it applies whether you have 3 days or 300.

This is your whole life. This is your only life, right now, not after this, that or the other thing has happened or is accomplished. This is all you get.

Make each day precious.

One of my favorite pictures of Hudson

 

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“For your 4-Month-Old…”

I wish that marketers were as smart at picking up when a pregnancy ends badly as they are at picking up when somebody is pregnant.

Today I got an email from Diapers.com with the subject line “For your 4-Month-Old: Teething and Soothing Basics”.

Dammit, I don’t have a 4-month-old. Didn’t I unsubscribe from these emails back in July? These are unfair reminders of what I am missing! If I didn’t get an email with “For your 4-Month-Old” in the subject line this morning, I might have been able to keep plowing through my day without thinking about how I should have a teething baby right now.

When I was pregnant, I read a book called “The Power of Habit“. There was a whole chapter in the book about how Target has spent millions of dollars researching ways to identify a pregnant woman sooner and make her a loyal Target shopper throughout her pregnancy and into baby-grow-up time. I couldn’t believe all the little things they looked at to determine if a woman was in the early stages of pregnancy (or even TRYING to get pregnant). It kind of creeped me out.

I got a package of baby formula in the mail, and I was even more creeped out.

How do they know?

If marketers can figure out if I’m pregnant or trying to be, can’t they figure out that we lost our baby and we don’t need those diaper bag ads anymore? Can’t they take a look at my search history on Google, look at my purchase history and see that I haven’t bought any 3-6 month baby clothes? I’m spending a lot of time on sites like Faces of Loss and Glow in the Woods, not New Parent. If Gmail can serve up ads based on my email content, can’t they see that I delete the BabySteals and Zulilly emails without even peeking??

I’m sure that marketers could be making a killing off of me if they’d simply realize the situation. They could serve up ads for grief and loss literature. They could send me emails about organizations I can donate my time and money to, ways to make a difference in the lives of other baby-lost parents. They’d give me coupons for Ovulation Predictor Kits instead of Diapers.

Get it together, marketers. Not only are you pissing me off, you’re missing out on untold piles of money.

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Not drowning

My mom said she learned how to swim.
Someone took her out in the lake and threw her off the boat.
That’s how she learned how to swim.
I said, “Mom, they weren’t trying to teach you how to swim.”

– Paula Poundstone

A few years ago I purchased “The Book of Awakening” by Mark Nepo. It’s a spiritual daybook and it has from time to time made me pause and contemplate some larger issue of life. 30 second reading, deep thoughts. Not too shabby.

Today’s entry led with the quote above.

It ended with these words:

“We don’t need something to go wrong in order to change.”

I am a positive person. I like to focus on good things, brighter outcomes, bigger pictures. I believe that people at their core are good, not evil. I occasionally am let down, but I prefer to expect the best from life.

When you lose a child, all of a sudden good things, brighter outcomes and bigger pictures go out the window. You expected the best and got the worst. No amount of positive thinking can undo your grief, bring back your baby. So you live in a general haze while you try to justify it: How could this happen to me? To us? To our child? This can’t have happened, I have the baby room ready. Our baby can’t be dead, she has a wardrobe full of shoes and socks and cute headbands. I washed her clothes with the baby-friendly detergent. Hudson can’t be gone, she has a crib, the baby monitors are charged. 

Perhaps not logical justifications for how this can’t be real life, this shouldn’t be your life… but somehow more useful than the broader comforts offered by people further from the situation:

God has a plan.
Everything happens for a reason.
Hudson was spared the evils of this world.

And I won’t lie to you, before we lost our baby, I believed some of those very things that now seem just ridiculous to me, poor consolation prizes in exchange for the life of our child.

There is this thing we do in our lives, this reframing of our circumstance to make it feel less wrong. You lose your job: When one door closes, another one opens. You wreck your car: At least no one was hurt. You break your neck: I appreciate my body more and am in better shape. 

There is no acceptable reframing of losing Hudson.

I won’t lie, I can see positives and things to be grateful for in the situation.

We have such an amazing family.
At least I have the Hubs – our love is even deeper now.
Now everything in life has a new perspective.
We’ll be better parents because of this.
We got those three days.

But I already knew our family was amazing. I already loved the Hubs like crazy, and had a healthy perspective on life. We were going to be amazing parents no matter what – and we were/are (that confusing state-of-parenthood question continues to affect my tense here). Hudson’s life deserved more than three days.

We deserved more than three days.

Losing Hudson was our “thrown off the side of a boat in the middle of the lake”, and because we didn’t drown, we are somehow expected to be okay at this point. Stronger, even. People will say, “Look how your life has changed because of her, look how you have changed because of her, life is more full, you are choosing to live in the present, you learned how to swim,” reframe, reframe, reframe. And I can appreciate these things. I can see these positives, accept our changed life, our changed selves.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t wish we hadn’t been thrown off the side of the boat.

Because I’m not a strong swimmer. I’m more of a doggy-paddler. I don’t feel stronger.

I feel wet and bedraggled and out of breath.

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Rising temps… on taking your basal body temperature

At my six week check in, the nurse asked me if I wanted to get on birth control, and my answer was a firm and definitive: “No.”

We would like to begin work on Hudson’s baby bro or baby sis ASAP. Like, yesterday.

With that in mind, we aren’t supposed to start TRYING for a few more months, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be “sort of” working on it in the meantime.

I’m a checklist person. I like to plan my day, write down the things I want to accomplish, prioritize my task lists, vigorously strike through completed items.

Check. √ Sign of progress.

STRIKE THROUGH. One less step on the journey.

Baby makin’ has a LOT of steps and many of them are completely outside of our control. However, there are a few things I can check off, a few items I can strike through, and some things that I do daily in preparation for Baby Dub Dos.

Lose the pregnancy weight.

√ Eat healthy and exercise every day

√ Take that prenatal vitamin

√ Take my basal body temperature

What’s that, you ask? If you aren’t familiar with this concept, you’re not alone. The Hubs asked me: “Is that some sort of babymakin’ herb thing?”

BASAL. Not basil.

Your basal body temperature is the lowest temperature the body reaches when at rest, and a lot of women who are on the TTC (trying to conceive) bandwagon make best friends with their thermometer. Your BBT drops in the days prior to ovulation and then rises between .5-1 degree after you ovulate. You wanna know when you’re ovulating so that your babymakin’ efforts are well-timed.

And thus, I now have a new morning routine.

BRRRRRRING!!!BRRRRRRRRING!!! (imagine an annoying alarm sound)
*Grunting and wrastling about from the Hubs’ side of the bed as he attempts to push the snooze*
*Snorting and blind reaching for the thermometer on my side of the bed*
Beep (the polite sound of my BBT thermometer as I fire it up for duty)
Snore (me falling back asleep with the thermometer in my mouth)
Beep. Beep. Beep. (the polite sound of my BBT thermometer telling me its reading is complete)
*Grunting and wrastling about from the Hubs’ side of the bed as the three quiet polite beeps are mistaken for the second alarm*

image from: Fertilityplus.com

Like that, every morning. I don’t even look at the BBT reading right away anymore, since the thermometer stores the latest reading (convenient! high-tech!) so I can dig it out later when I’m a little more coherent. Then I chart it on the handy graph paper included with the BBT thermometer, and I proceed with my day.

There are all kinds of fantastic sites dedicated to helping women keep track of the signs of fertility and ovulation, from OvaOva to Fertility Friend. Or you can roll like me, with my handy graph paper. Whatevs.

In theory, after a few months of this half-awake routine, you can see a pattern and have a pretty solid idea of when you are ovulating, and then it is off to the races (if you weren’t racing before).

After a few months of doing this myself, I have not identified much of a pattern. What I have discovered is that I’m probably dying.

My morning temp is without fail in the 96’s. Hypothermia starts in the 95’s.

Follicular phase, luteal phase, whatever. I am now somewhat less concerned with when I’m ovulating, and more concerned with why I am so cold? To the Hubs, who claims my body is “like lava” when I try to snuggle him in the morning… I’m actually pre-hypothermic, and this post-snooze-button spoon session is a matter of life and death!

Okay, maybe I’m not dying. It’s possible that my $7 BBT thermometer isn’t the most durable piece of equipment. It’s possible that falling asleep with a thermometer in your mouth every morning isn’t a great way to get an accurate reading on your BBT (after all, I do tend to sleep with my mouth open). It’s possible that, while I’m not supposed to be actively TRYING to get knocked up 2.0, this morning ritual is less about identifying our “safe” zones and our “try to make a baby” zones and more about just having something to do daily that makes me feel like I’m making some sort of progress.

Whatever the case, I could always go for a post-snooze spoon session. Now THAT would be a good addition to the morning ritual.

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Captain of the Team

Here I am: Captain of Team Hudson’s Heroes!

Hey look! I don’t appear to be miserable!

This morning I did the Walla Walla Crush 10K for the third year in a row.

I couldn’t help but think about how a year ago, I ran this same 10K and I didn’t know I was pregnant (the timing was such that I think Baby Dub wasn’t technically conceived yet) and I was training for a half marathon and it was the longest run I did before tackling 13.1 the following weekend.

Me a year ago had no clue.

My amazing sister ran along with me, and at one point piped up:

“I miss Hudson today.”

I miss Hudson every day. But I did wish Hudson was there with us today.

For one thing, it would have gotten me out of the 10K!

There were couples with babies in strollers doing the 5K or the 1-Mile. I wanted to be one of them. I passed (twice) a new mom with her parents and her baby in the Baby Bjorn. I wanted to be her. There were little toddlers racing about during the post-race wait-around, one particularly precocious boy who kept smiling and toddling flirtatiously through our circle of women.

I didn’t break any land speed records today, although I did beat last year’s time by several minutes. I didn’t win anything, didn’t take home a bottle of wine in the raffle. But I felt like a winner.

Because I’m the captain of Team Hudson’s Heroes. And me a year from NOW might be pushing a stroller or proudly strapping on that Baby Bjorn.

Fingers crossed.

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The Incredible Human Capacity to Heal

This is going to sound weird, but I find a strange comfort in flipping through the pages of my old pregnancy literature.

You know, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” stuff.

I cracked the pages of “What to Expect…” this morning, and out fluttered the ultrasound pics from the day we found out we were having a baby girl.

There’s a picture of her little legbones and an arrow pointing at the crouch-al region and a caption that says “LITTLE LADY.” I remember the ultrasound lady saying, “Dad’s freaking out because now he knows there’s going to be a wedding to pay for.”

There were days following Hudson’s death when seeing these pictures would have made me burst into tears. It would have been an hour or two long set back in the day.

Today I’m traveling back in my mind to that day and remembering it with a lot of happiness, not with bitter regret.

I remember that ultrasound tech saying as she measured Baby Dub’s femur and took stock of our baby’s biceps, “You better hope its a boy, ‘cuz that’s one muscular baby.”

Hudson was a strong and remarkable and amazing baby. I get a lot of comments from people about how not-newbornlike she looked. She wasn’t HUGE but she was sturdy. She was never “newborn squishy”.

I brought a picture of Hudson to my hairstylist a few weeks ago, and inevitably it was passed around the salon to other stylists and their clients over the course of my appointment. Obviously one little old lady client did not catch on that this was MY baby in the picture. She asked what happened and I replied:

“Hudson was born without a heartbeat.”

To which this spunky older woman responded:

“Well, that sucks.”

Yes, it does suck. The conversation continued, and I overheard Spunky Client say to her stylist, “She must not have been that strong of a baby.”

Excuse me?

The fact that they were even able to resuscitate Hudson after she was born without a heartbeat is a miracle, a testament to the strength and will of our amazing baby girl.

The fact that she hung on to spend those three special days with us is further proof that Hudson was far from weak. She fought so hard. I know she wanted to spend a lifetime with us.

It was a small kick to the gut to hear that woman say Hudson just wasn’t strong… but I’ve learned to cut people like Spunky Client some slack. She wasn’t there, she didn’t see Hudson taking her own breaths despite being on the ventilator, she didn’t see our baby grasp my finger and respond to my touch, so she doesn’t know.

These little memories all came flooding back to me as I looked at these ultrasound pictures from 19 weeks 5 days gestation. More proof of Hudson’s vitality. Reminders of happier times.

But more overwhelmingly, HOPE.

I’m not weeping as I write this, although I’ll have to admit to a few welled-up moments. I’m so proud of the baby we made. I’m so excited for our next pregnancy, whenever it happens, and I can’t wait to meet Baby Dub Dos. The fact that I can focus on these things, just over three months after the loss of our firstborn, is a testament not to my personal strength but to the incredible human capacity to heal.

I suffered from “right-side-greater-than-left-side-affected-paralysis” after breaking my neck in 2007. And while I do give the occasionally weak right-handed high five,  you wouldn’t know that at one point I couldn’t walk if you saw me today.

The death of a child is the absolute worst thing that can happen in life, and while it doesn’t paralyze you physically, a loss like ours has emotional and physical effects that last a lifetime. But if you didn’t know – if you hadn’t followed the Baby Dub blog, seen me put on those 37 pounds, witnessed the Hubs’ proud smiles at those doctors appointments – you probably wouldn’t be able to tell that we were nearly paralyzed with grief just a few short months ago.

The human body is an amazing thing. The human will is even more incredible. And we look forward to creating a couple more incredible humans in our life together.

And we will never forget the super-human strength of the incredible little being we said goodbye to in July.

 

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