Monthly Archives: March 2013

Lifetimes

Yesterday, the Hub’s bro officially became a daddy. My sweet SIL gave birth to their beautiful baby girl.

Throughout the course of their pregnancy, they referred to Baby Girl as “America” because, from their calculations, she was conceived on the 4th of July.

Hudson’s due date.

An entire pregnancy has come and gone in almost exactly the amount of time it has been since Hudson was born. It seems like an eternity.

Another pregnancy freed up for me, I suppose.

And it all has me contemplating, as I often do, the passing of time.

An entire baby (a cute one, at that) has been baked to perfection since Hudson was born and died. When my SIL shared the good news that she was preggers, I thought to myself that surely I’d be pregnant by March, and we would be pregnant at the same time, at least for a little sliver of overlap. I guess, technically, we were pregnant together for about a week. Other friends of mine have since “fallen pregnant” and each time they make their announcements, my inner voice assures myself that I, too, will be pregnant soon, that I’ll get to be pregnant with them, even though I’m a few weeks or months behind them.

And here we are…. literally lifetimes away from Hudson.

I remember how agonizingly long my pregnancy with Hudson felt. How long those last days were. Then, after, when Dr. M told me to wait 6 months before we start trying for Baby Dub Dos, I was absolutely incredulous.

Six months is a lifetime, I thought.

Nope. THIS is a lifetime.

This is taking freaking forever.

I remember being told to appreciate the last days of pregnancy, because once the baby arrives you won’t be able to do all the stuff you once could. But none of that stuff sounded like any fun. I just wanted our baby.

And now, as we stare in the face of NINE MONTHS since Hudson was born, I feel the same way. I’m trying to make nice with the fact that right now, we do not have our baby. We are unencumbered by a small and dependent life form, so we should take advantage of these last weeks/months that we can just pick up and take impromptu trips, go grab a cocktail with girlfriends, etc. But I just want our baby.

You feel almost guilty doing those “things you can’t do once you have a baby.” These shouldn’t be possible right now, so is it bad if you enjoy them? I mean, it isn’t like I’m GLAD I have this bonus time with just me and the Hubs. I would give anything to have Hudson with us right now, or at least be working on Baby Dub Dos. If we dash off on a spur of the moment getaway, or if I have nothing but soft cheese and wine and caffeine for the weekend, is that really the definition of “embracing the moment”?

No.

I just want our baby.

I embrace that and do the other stuff grudgingly, halfheartedly.

I still can’t really throw myself into this life. There’s always the part of me that wants to be doing MOM stuff right now, so even though I’ll probably look back on this time and wish I’d embraced it more, the best I can do is that awkward side hug you give to people who you don’t know if you are on hugging terms with.

I’m not on hugging terms with this part of my life. And there are lifetimes between where I am now and where I want to be.

But, there’s always that annoying pep-talk version of me that encourages Harsh-Reality Me to “Live in the Now!”

But she does it like Garth in Wayne’s World.

And just like that sweet guitar Wayne dreams of, the life I want will be mine.

“It will be mine. OH YES. It will be mine.”

 

 

 

 

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The Baby Dub Blog Book

I have been encouraged by many people, some close and some not-so-close, to turn this blog into a book.

I am going to do that.

In planning said book, I wanted to include some of the stuff from when I was pregnant with Hudson, some of the blissful-unawares, the funny musings of a pregnant woman who didn’t know what kind of hell was coming next. But I’ve been putting off the project because, quite frankly, I wasn’t sure how well I would handle reading back over the early writings. To read what it was like to be pregnant, to be reminded of all the beautiful fun, to see what I thought was so rough, well, I didn’t know if I could take it.

But this afternoon I spend some time editing the first part of the book – the Pregnancy part.

And I LOVED reading it.

I miss being pregnant with Hudson so much, and I am so glad that I captured so much of the experience here in this blog. The first doctor’s appointment. The first time the Hubs felt her kick. Sharing the news we were having a girl. The last hour has been spent alternating between laughter and tears, all a pretty amazing trip down memory lane to a much better time, a different me.

And then, I came to this post, from my birthday last year, from the day my Grandpa died.

Losing a family member is never fun, but it does force you to reflect on the lives they’d led, on the way they’ve impacted who you’ve become, and on how you want to impact the lives of those around you. […] As hard as it is to lose somebody, death, just like life, should be a celebration. Where a new life gives us reason to celebrate potential, memories to be made, dreams to be dreamed and anything that’s possible, death gives us reason to celebrate the contribution of one person to the world, to celebrate the things that would never have been the same without that person, and celebrate our remaining chance to be important and make a difference for those in our lives.
Either way, celebrate.
If nothing else, life deserves to be a celebration.

When I first told my good friend and writing buddy TGF about the idea of turning the blog into a book, and expressed my concerns about what to include from the pregnancy, she told me this: “If you are editing things out, make sure that you put in the stuff that has a special meaning to you now… the stuff that means more because of your experience.”

Who knew I was so wise about how to deal with death? That passage I wrote while contemplating the passing of my “rogue rider” grandpa has a special, poignant meaning to me in the wake of my daughter’s death. We had to switch so fast from celebrating her life to dealing with her death, from dreams and potential to contemplating her contribution and realizing all the ways that our world was changed by her brief existence. It is hard to live these days without her, and writing about her helps to keep her close in my memory, and hopefully helps others who go through a loss. But when it comes to living life, I hope that I am doing more than just memorializing Hudson. I hope that I am celebrating her.

Because life deserves to be a celebration.

 

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Endorphins

One of my childhood friends grew up to be a doctor.

I know smart people.

She sent me a note yesterday from a conference she’s attending on breastfeeding. I’ve long been a “lactivist” but this info put me over the edge.

#1. Babies who are unable to swallow can still absorb the good early immunoglobins in breast milk through their cheeks. Fun fact.

#2. Breast milk concentrates endorphins. So when I fed Hudson my breast milk with a Q-tip, she was getting all those happy, proud endorphins I was feeling from being so successful first pump. More than what was in my blood.

We didn’t get to interact with Hudson the way we always dreamed we would with our firstborn. But I remember her sweet little shiver when she got that first taste of liquid gold. My heart sings thinking that Hudson got to feel the same happiness that coursed through my body that afternoon – our first best day with Hudson.

Hudson's first taste

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Two more down…

As we speak*, one of my dear friends who is pregnant with her second baby boy is being induced.

*Er… as I write this? I realize that once this is published and being read “as we speak” will mean nothing. Now that’s just blowing my mind….

My boss’s daughter, who is also hugely pregnant, was going to be induced today as well.

So that’s two pregnancies freed up for me in one day! Hooray!

I’ve written here before about people (many of them my close friends) using up all the pregnancies. That post was months ago. At this point, it is almost comical how many of the people closest to me are getting knocked up like “no big deal.” Hey, casual acquaintances! If you are interested in getting pregnant, and are having trouble conceiving, hang out with me for a few weeks! I bet you’ll get knocked up asap.

I’m not kidding, every time another pregnancy is freed up and I think “Oh yea, I’m next up!” that pregnancy gets snatched up faster than you can say babymaker.

My brother and his wife are having a baby in September. They’ve been married for almost seven years and they’ve wanted a baby for a long time, and I remember when we made our big pregnancy announcement feeling a little guilty as I looked at my brother and his sweet wife because I knew we had just effortlessly fallen into this thing that they wanted so badly. And I remember thinking, “You know, I really should have told them a little more personally.” But then my mom was screaming and hugging me and I was totally swept into thinking about me and the Hubs and our newest family member. I was a real asshole.

My brother and his wife were much more sensitive and thoughtful with me and the Hubs. My tenderhearted little brother came over to our house, skirted the issue for a bit, and finally announced that the reason he had come over was because they wanted us to be the first to know that they are pregnant.

For one of the first times since Hudson died, the first tears I cried over another person’s pregnancy announcement were happy tears, not selfish poor-me tears (don’t worry, I did indulge in some of those later).

My brother took the time to tell us personally, before the news was broken to the rest of the family, so that we could process it privately and not feel bad if we needed to do some of that selfish poor-me crying.

This weekend, we went out to breakfast with my brother and his sweet, pregnant wife. I’ve got a little “Make ’em laugh so they can’t see you cry” schtick that I do about this whole business of not being pregnant right now. I can’t help it, it’s my defense mechanism. So at breakfast I’m doing my routine about how hard it is going to be to keep another pregnancy a secret, since everybody is constantly asking me where we are at with the whole thing, scrutinizing my drinking habits, the size of my upper half, etc.

My sister in law said to me, “Doesn’t that just make you so mad when people ask you? I remember I would just go home and bawl.”

My big sister got married two weeks after Hudson died. And at the wedding, my husband ran into an old basketball coach of his from high school. This guy obviously didn’t know what we had just been through and asked the Hubs if we had any kids. I was off doing Maid of Honor stuff so my poor husband had to face this inquiry without me, but my brother was there. As the Hubs is trying to skirt the issue, ol’ Coach is starting to do some ribbing, like, “Oh man, you gotta get that wife of yours pregnant! You’re getting old!” or whatever kind of schtick guys give each other about this kind of stuff. Meanwhile, my brother is like, fuming. Later, my brother told me, “Man I wanted to punch that guy.”

Your good news can be a knife in somebody’s heart. Your casual question might make somebody spend an hour locked in the bathroom crying. What you think is just all-in-good-fun ribbin’ could make somebody’s normally docile brother-in-law want to punch you in your face.

Who knew?

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate good news, loudly and openly. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t show a genuine interest in someone else’s life. And it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give an old friend a little man-to-man ribbing. It’s just incredible to me how much I have said and done and questioned that was unwittingly pouring salt on an open, festering wound. I would never have known had I not experienced the most painful wound of all. But even though sometimes our pain is exacerbated by the good news of another, I’d kick myself if people we love didn’t feel like they could invite us to share in their good news.

Do not apologize for living life bravely.

Because when I snatch up one of these open pregnancies (DIBS!) I am going to (maybe literally) shout it from the rooftops: loudly, un-apologetically, joyfully, with probably very little regard for the feelings or decibel tolerance of others. I will be IN YOUR FACE with my joy and I hope you will share it with me.

 

 

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Loving your body

What woman doesn’t have body image issues?

From a very young age we ladies start to get an idea that what we are working with in the bod department is less-than-perfect. Over time and throughout cultural changes, the societal “ideal” for a woman’s perfect body has evolved significantly.  The same can be said of every woman’s personal journey with their body – from not being aware of it, to being painfully aware of it – from hating and hiding it to accepting it and hopefully, ultimately, loving it.

I felt like it was a sign of great personal maturity that I had come to really, truly like my body in the years before getting pregnant with Hudson. I’ve never been a Perfect Size 6 (or is it a Perfect Size 2 these days?), but I like how I look. And when I broke my neck and was paralyzed on my right side temporarily, I started to love my body. We’re not talking “Check me out in my string bikini” love. We’re talking, “Look how incredible it is that I can raise my hands up above my shoulders!” love. We’re talking, “My brain can once again tell my body to do something, and my body obeys.”

The human body is an amazing thing, and before I got pregnant, I had developed a very functional relationship with my own body.

And then, there was pregnancy.

Stuff happens to your body when you get pregnant, and not all of it is good, and let’s face it, some of it is frustrating.  But I determined early on that I was going to be the best ever at being pregnant, and part of that was staying active. I ran three to four times a week until I was about 37 weeks pregnant. I took care of myself, I ate well (but not perfectly), I avoided the stuff I was supposed to avoid. I kegelled. It was not all sunshine and roses, but I stayed in love with my body through the whole messy business of gaining 37 pounds (my lucky number!), a shoe size, and three bra sizes.

But lately, it has been harder to love my body.

All I want to do is be pregnant again… and so far, I am not. Every month, my uterus “refreshes itself” like a real asshole, and I get more and more frustrated with my body. It was so easy to get pregnant with Hudson – in fact, it was not on purpose – yet now that I want it so desperately, it seems so, so hard.

My body isn’t being all that loveable.

The way I see it, my body owes me, big time. I take great care of my body. I have made it a veritable baby sanctuary in these months following Hudson’s death. I follow all the steps necessary to get pregnant, every month, and yet there’s no guarantee it will happen this month or next month or the next. It just happens when it happens.

That is bullshit.

And in my darkest days, I can’t help but think that my body is to blame for all of this.

Hudson died from complications in labor. Or, as bluntly as I can put it, Hudson died because I could not push her out fast enough. I could run a marathon after being paralyzed, but I could not bring my beautiful 7 lb. 14 oz. redheaded daughter from womb to world safely. My body failed me, and my daughter, my husband, my family. My body didn’t do what millions of women of all shapes and sizes all over the world have been able to do for thousands of years, with limited medical intervention even.

It is safe to say that my relationship with my body has become a little dysfunctional in the last 8 months.

On my brighter days (which I admit is most days lately) I know that my body isn’t to blame for Hudson’s death. But I also am adamant that this wasn’t my doctor’s fault. There is no one person to point a finger at, no one to hold responsible. It’s just this senseless, inexplicable, effed up thing that robbed me and my husband and my family of a lifetime watching our baby grow up.

It fucking sucks.

My relationship with my body is much more complicated now.

Because my body made Hudson.

And I’ve never loved anything or anybody more than I love Hudson.

My incredible, amazing body housed the greatest miracle for 41 perfect weeks. My boundless, strong body provided the materials for the most beautiful person I’ve ever laid eyes on. My made-for-baby-makin’ body produced that red hair, that sweet nose, those chubby cheeks, those big hands and feet. She was made in love, and she was all the best parts of me and of the Hubs, and I have never been more proud of something my body accomplished.

My body was made for this. And I love my body for making Hudson.

Me and Mr. Whiskers make beautiful, beautiful babies. I know I can’t take all the credit. But any woman who has become a mother knows that the majority of the heavy lifting is done by the gentler sex. The male makes a major contribution, but then we pretty much take it from there.

My body is amazing. Even though it is harder than it has ever been to stay in love with my body these days (who thought it could ever be harder than high school?), I choose to love my body for all that it is capable of and for all that is has given me and for all that is has accomplished.

I cannot wait to see what my body does next.

My beach body, pre-baby

My beach body, pre-baby

The heaviest I've ever been (and in my opinion probably the best I've ever looked)

The heaviest I’ve ever been (and in my opinion probably the best I’ve ever looked)

The first time I ever laid eyes on what we created.

The first time I ever laid eyes on what we created.

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The Sharp Knife of a Short Life

Today, I was emotional.

I started my morning writing about Hudson’s eight month birthday. I made it through that process without too many tears, but then I went upstairs for morning devotional and bawled my way through it. I cried in the shower.

I am so painfully aware that today is the 11th.

The 11th of each month is going to do this to me, I guess.

And then I headed off to work, and as I drove along the highway I saw a rainbow.

It was faint, stabbing through a cloud like it came straight down from Heaven, not arching like most rainbows I see.

And I immediately thought of the lyrics to The Band Perry’s “If I Die Young.”

Lord, make me a rainbow, I’ll shine down on my mother
She’ll know I’m safe with you when she stands under my colors
Oh and… Life ain’t always what you think it oughta be, no…
Ain’t even grey but she buries her baby.
The sharp knife of a short life…. well, I’ve had just enough time.

Life ain’t always what you think it ought to be, that’s for sure. I’m not even grey (I do have a few stragglers), but I’ve outlived my own child. The short life of my daughter is the sharpest knife.

But she had enough time to make a lifetime’s worth of difference.

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Another one bites the dust – 8 months

This morning I woke up and I knew what I’d be writing about.

Hudson would be 8 months old today.

I can hardly wrap my mind around it. Whole babies are made and born in this amount of time (although it isn’t ideal). My sweet SIL will be having her baby at some point this month. Another good friend was due last week and is trying any and all methods to induce labor. My brother and his wife are almost out of the 1st trimester.

But we don’t have our baby, and she would have put all other babies to shame.

I allow myself a little bit of self-pity from time to time, a little “Why me?” moaning and groaning, a little petty and spiteful and small thinking because if I don’t let that out I tend to get a little angst-ridden. My sister and I were talking the other day and I just couldn’t help but unleash this particular beast: “Hudson was prettier than any other newborn ever, and she would be more adorable now than any other 8 month old.”

Every parent thinks that their baby is the most beautiful thing ever created, but I am the only person who thinks this and is absolutely correct.

Today I cross off another milestone, another mini-birthday for our daughter. I embrace the reality of her absence, I yearn for the life I should be living right now, and I miss her so, so much.

Last week, I was chatting with some girlfriends about this whole business of getting pregnant again, and I realized that if I do not get pregnant this month, then my husband and I will not end up having a baby to bring home in 2013.

For some reason, this is wildly unjust in my mind.

For some reason, this is a milestone that fills me with panic.

For some reason, 2013 coming and going without Baby Dub Dos arriving seems too unfair for me to fathom.

I’m getting whole worlds of advice from people about how to make this happen. Lay off the caffeine, reduce your stress level, ease up on the intensity of your workouts, “just have sex for fun” (this is the direct advice of my doctor), practice meditation, repeat a fertility mantra 100 times a day, etc. etc. etc. I could do every one of these things, plus the 1000 things I’ve managed to stumbled upon in various Google searches, and I would still be at the mercy of a headstrong sperm and a lazy egg and a uterus with a mind of its own and a trillion other factors I have absolutely no control over.

Just relax and let it happen.

What about the passing of 2013 would make not having a baby right now more unjust than it already is? Our perfect, precious daughter died. The last number on the calendar being different doesn’t do anything to soften that blow.

I welcome a baby into my fertile womb.

Years changing, time passing, months and milestones between Hudson’s life and death and the present moment, it is nothing but time. Time is not an elixir that softens the pain of Hudson’s absence from our world. Every day, we get further from the moment we lost our baby. Every day, we get closer to the day we welcome our next. And with each day, we are better equipped (from sheer practice) to handle this reality. But it doesn’t make losing Hudson any less awful.

I envision the light of the universe passing through my body, cleansing my mind.

I miss our baby. I have missed her every day for 8 months. I will miss her every day for the rest of my life. It doesn’t get easier, it just gets further away. Another baby won’t make it better. I’m already putting WAY too much pressure on Baby Dub Dos, before he or she is even conceived.

Sometimes, it is good for me to just face these bald facts head on, no spin attached. All the positive affirmations and meditations and lights of the universe could not bring Hudson back to me. All the caffeine-free, less-strenuous activity-filled days between now and Baby Dub Dos won’t put a dent in the fact that Hudson only lived for three days. I desperately long for motherhood as it is meant to be experienced, but the fact of the matter is, I’ll never experience motherhood that way, because my firstborn died.

I’ve gone too long without writing about Hudson, I think. Writing gives me the ability to process, to reconcile my thoughts and my reality, all without the expense of therapy. If I go too long without writing, I actually start to feel tension in my chest. And as I write this today, I can feel that tension begin to release. Facing my darkest thoughts head on is oftentimes the only way to banish them.

I’ll never experience motherhood the way it is meant to be experienced, because my firstborn died.

When that thought is just nagging at the back of my mind, it can eat away at me unaddressed for days on end. But when I type it and stare at it and realize that it is part of my world now, I can deal with it.

I will experience motherhood in a deeper, richer way… because of Hudson.

Life is not fair. In case we needed more evidence: Kanye West and Kim Kardashian will have a daughter in a few months, but I won’t have my one-year old.

And yes, if I don’t get pregnant this month then I won’t have a baby in 2013.

Everybody send all their positive energy and fertile thoughts and “Dear Jesus please put a baby in Erica’s uterus” prayers my way.*

If I don’t get pregnant this month, then I will have Baby Dub Dos in 2014.

What’s another month? What’s another milestone?

It’s only time.

*In all seriousness, I do know that there are many people who pray for the Hubs and I daily, and for this I am so very very thankful. On the days when I have a particularly hard time “not stressing” about the whole business of trying to conceive a sibling for our daughter, I remind myself of the thousands of positive and fertile thoughts being sent in the general direction of my uterus, and I think, “Well, that’s gotta be enough to override my stress, right?” So thanks for taking some of the pressure off. It means more than I could ever tell you.

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