Tag Archives: pregnancy after loss

What’s different the 2nd time around?

I haven’t done a very good job of documenting this pregnancy.

I started with a wealth of enthusiasm, with worlds of post ideas, with creativity coming out of my fingertips like hot bombs of awesome.

And then I got tired.

So, so very tired.

I feel this intense pressure to write EXCELLENT stuff, to put something out there that is truly meaningful, that captures the immensity of the Bullet, being in this place after all we’ve lost. And honestly, I don’t know that I am capable of it.

I’m tired, and I’m happy, I’m stressed and I’m a little bit nervous. With Hudson I didn’t even think about the unthinkable, but this time I’ve faced it and I know how real it is, how unexpectedly it can strike. After Hudson and pre-Bullet, I was okay with facing the darkest places of my grief, with exploring hard topics and going to places that might make me cry, because I found all of that to be cathartic and healing. Now, with Bullet on board, I don’t want to go to those places anymore. I am happy and I want to just BE HAPPY.

A tiny nagging little bit of me feels guilty for this new level of happiness. The only tears I’ve shed since June 13 were tears of happiness. I didn’t cry on Hudson’s birthday or on the anniversary of her death. I’ve been too happy to be sad. And for the most part, I’ve been too happy to feel guilty. And even though there’s that guilty nag, I know that Hudson would want me to be happy, not guilty.

I have felt inadequate as a writer because I’ve been unwilling to go to the places that differentiate this experience from the last. With Hudson, I could write silly little posts about craving ice cream and about being itchy and about getting fat because I was under no pressure to be profound. After Hudson, I could write unabashedly about the grittiest parts of loss, because I was under no pressure to beautify the experience.

I can’t go back to silly, and I don’t want to stay gritty. I feel like there is a lot to be said about pregnancy after a loss, but I don’t feel equipped to write it. Or at least, to write it and do it justice.

I know that not everything I write can be profound, nor should it be. I knew that when I got pregnant again, I couldn’t spend all my time worrying about the worst. I also knew that I’d never be able to go back to the innocence of Round 1, when everything was fresh and hopeful and you just knew that every pregnancy ended with a bouncing baby to bring home with you.

I don’t feel equipped yet to write about the emotional differences, so perhaps I can focus on some of the physical differences. We’ll dip a toe or two in the waters and see if we can’t get into a comfort zone.

#1. Um, you get fatter faster.

No ifs, ands or big-butts about it, I’ve been rocking maternity shorts since 8 weeks along, and I have a 20-week bump at 14 weeks. I was talking about the phenomenon of the “warmed up effect” with a friend of mine who is also on her second pregnancy, and she said it best:

“Your body is like, Oh I’ve been here before.*”

*This was accompanied by a “rotund belly” gesture and said in a deep, Walrus-like voice.

#2. You feel baby move sooner.

I’m sure I will get a few people telling me that this is impossible, but I will tell you with certainty that I have felt Bullet move since 11 weeks. I defy you to contradict me here. I told my doctor about it and she said it was totally possible. Then we saw Bullet on the ultrasound screen, twirling and flipping around, and I was like, “No wonder!”

#3. You’re more tired.

But I maintain that this is also because you are older. Inevitably you are older the second time you get pregnant, right? It’s science. Older = less vim and vigor.

#4. No two pregnancies are the same.

I didn’t have any food aversions with Hudson. With Bullet, I developed a disdain for unmelted cheese. Those who know me understand that this is a true travesty, and that under normal circumstances cheese would be on the menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, not relegated to the “only melted and if I can’t see it” camp. What the?!

Also, one day the only thing that sounded good to me for dinner was mashed potatoes. So I ate JUST mashed potatoes for dinner. I ate anything and everything when I was pregnant with Hudson.

Weird.

#5. You aren’t so concerned with rushing to every milestone.

This time around, I don’t believe in a “safe zone.” I’ve made it full term and still not brought my baby home, so there are no milestones that sing to me “We’re home free!” I’m enjoying every week of this pregnancy, relishing the lemon-sized status we are at today. Sure, I’m still a little preoccupied with time passing (Shoot man! I gotta wait until February to have this baby? I can’t find out gender until OCTOBER!?) but I don’t feel like “GOD, this pregnancy is taking FOREVER” which was how it felt a little bit with Hudson.

Pregnancy is no longer a means to an end. I’m just enjoying every day with my baby.

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It couldn’t have happened any other way… Conception IPA

I’ve long thought about how my writing would change once the Hubs and I were knocked up with baby number two. Will my less-desperate nature carry through in the tone of my writing and the subjects I reflect on?

I also have cherished the writing I did before Hudson was born and died, as it captures some of her personality as it developed over the 9 months I carried her, and it captures the happiness the Hubs and I experienced as we got to know our daughter. So I knew that when I got pregnant again, the writing couldn’t stop.

I just wouldn’t publish it right away.

If you’re reading this today, you are reading something that was written weeks ago, and you get to catch up with the development of Baby Dub Dos, or as the Hubs and I have newly nicknamed him/her: Bullet.

It couldn’t have happened any other way.

There were desperate days in the last 11 months… and on those desperate, low days, I would comfort myself with the thought of that day when I would take a pregnancy test and I would see a positive result and I would know that we were on the way to growing our family. I loved imagining the happiness. It brought me through.

The real deal did not disappoint.

This might sound new-age-y and weird, but I knew I was pregnant. I laid in bed last Sunday night and I couldn’t sleep and I was confident that it was because we had accomplished our mission. I was determined not to test early, not to get too excited, but I did make sure that I had a two-pack of EPTs in the house for the day that would inevitably arrive when I could find out for sure that my intuition was correct.

On June 13, I went and got my hair cut… like 6 inches cut off. I told my stylist, “There’s this weird superstitious part of me that is thinking, the last time I got pregnant I had short hair…” a statement which got a few laughs because it is truly ridiculous.

I was planning to head up to see the Hubs in Yakima that night, and I had to run home after the hair cut appointment to grab a few things, and I thought to myself, “There’s this two-pack of EPTs…”

And as I peed on that stick I was thinking, as I’ve thought many times before (I’ve probably peed on at least $100 worth of pregnancy tests in the last 11 months), “This could be the day that I get that feeling…

And this day, I knew it was true.

I forced myself to keep my eyes off the test for at least one minute (it required two), and then I just happened to glance and it was a plus sign.

A plus sign, dammit.

This time I did not drop a single eff bomb. I laughed and I cried and it was almost as awesome as I’d imagined it. The only thing that would have made it more awesome was if the Hubs had been there to laugh and cry with me.

We’ve been talking about how we would break the news to our family and friends when Baby Dub Dos aka Bullet made their first appearance. It was determined that our homebrew hobby would be the vehicle for the news, and we would present people with bottles of Conception IPA. So, I made an impromptu label, slapped it on a bottle of our latest batch, and headed up to Yakima to break the news to the Big Bear.

That part was just as awesome as I’d imagined it, too.

And as predicted, This changes everything… again.

Screen shot 2013-06-15 at 8.50.10 AM

The back label reads:

After months of anticipation, the Dubs are pleased to announce the release of their latest batch of “homebrew”… Conception IPA!
Enjoy the heady aromas of long-awaited good news.
Savor the flavor of a mission accomplished… most likely in a trailer park.
A full body can be expected…
February 2014!

Alcohol: 0% for the next 9 months

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Not so perfect… 10 months

Recently I fooled myself into believing that I was getting on a new plateau with my whole grief/loss/coping thing.

I met my new baby niece, and she’s beautiful, and it didn’t even wreck me to hold her; to be honest, I really loved it. I spent a good hour in Hudson’s room, and it made me more happy than it made me sad to go through her things and remember how wonderful it was to be pregnant with her. My new job is going so well. I felt like I got okay with “when it happens, it happens.”

I turned 30 on April 24. Our family celebrated by taking a trip to Maui. The Hubs, Me, Grandma and Grandpa Shiz, Grandma and Grandpa Dub, Auntie Shiz & her E, Uncle Shiz & his pregnant wife M and their sweet daughter N. The whole gang traveled to far-off lands to celebrate the dawn of my next decade.

And while we were there, I was certain: This will be the month.

“When it happens, it happens”  went out the window.

How perfect it would be to get pregnant on the birthday trip to paradise!? To be able to celebrate Mother’s Day knowing that there is already a sweet Baby Dub Dos on the way? Not only would I be able to “relax” a little bit on a vacation (the advice everybody seems to offer with infuriating consistency), but it would be my BIRTHDAY! What a wonderful present! It just seemed like the Universe owed me one, that I was due for something epically great, that 10 months would be long enough to wait, already.

But alas. You all have to wait at least another month for that good news.
The Hubs will be growing the HRW Memorial Beard for at least another 9 months.
The soonest we will be able to bring a baby home is February of 2014.

Worse yet is that my baby envy has returned. I see a chubby, sweet, not-quite-mobile-yet baby and I just ache to know how much cuter Hudson would have been at the same age. There was a period in the last 10 months where I could actually separate the “having a baby” thing from “missing Hudson” – and I was okay with the fact that we don’t have a baby, while I’ll never be okay with not having Hudson.

Does that make sense?

I try not to let myself jump to the conclusion that something must be wrong with my baby making parts. After all, I’ve been pregnant before, carried the baby full term, had no complications except for the labor. I’ve had some tests done to ensure that all my hormonal gear is not out of whack. Doc says all systems are go. So I try to push the nagging “What if…” questions out of my mind and let my uterus do it’s thang.

I try not to let myself get discouraged when each month and milestone passes. I have a very depressed day on the first day of each new cycle, which I think is fair, but then I pep-talk myself hard about how this is another month to get in better shape, another month to rededicate myself to some personal goals that would be great to accomplish before we have a baby to take care of, blah blah blah.

I try not to let myself imagine the fierce reality that ONE YEAR MIGHT PASS without getting pregnant; I might have to face Hudson’s first birthday without her sibling to look forward to. Can I even do that?

I might have to.

You find yourself capable of much more than you’d ever imagined when all you’re really doing is living.

And it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow.

What a shit weekend.

I mean, I’m trying my best not to let myself get all in a funk about it – by keeping busy, doing fun things with my hubby, and running a 10K for Team Hudson’s Heroes today! On what would be her 10 month birthday, I’m celebrating by donning my Hudson’s Heroes tee shirt and hoofin’ it 6.2 miles (the farthest I’ve run since running a half marathon in November).

I wish things were different. We all do. Mother’s Day should be celebrated with our jabberbox of a charming redhead. At the least it should be celebrated a teensy-tiny bit knocked up, thinking of cool ways to tell our family that Baby Dub Dos is on the way.

It’s been a beautiful week in Walla Walla. We brought Maui temperatures back with us, and have been enjoying 85+ degree weather perfect for golfing and early morning runs. I have always loved the summertime in Walla Walla, but the last week or so has brought back a LOT of memories of those last months of being pregnant with Hudson. I am dogged in my determination to focus on the lovely things, the things that were so special about being pregnant, remembering what it was like to be the Me before all of this Awful happened. But it has been a lot harder than I’d thought – and I think summer heat and beautiful Walla Walla mornings will always be a little bittersweet for me. For the foreseeable future, summer will be Hudson’s.

I’m realizing that there isn’t much of a way for me to pull this post together thematically… it’s just a brain dump of all the day’s thoughts and emotions, the cost of doing business when you don’t write for almost a month. I have other things to write about here, and I’ll pull myself together by then. But today, I’ll just cut myself off with this:

Hudson’s life was too short. We should have a 10-month old today; she would have been the most freakin’ adorable human being you’ve ever seen. She would have been the end of me once she hit her teenage years; she was the end of me when she died 10 months ago.

But Hudson lived; She died.

I’m alive… and more than that, I am living.

 

 

 

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Hudson’s things

This morning, I decided to brave Hudson’s room.

I go in there from time to time, just for a few minutes. I pick up one or two items of clothing, open and close the closet door, stare at the words “She believed she could, so she did” on the very green walls.

But today, I really WENT IN THERE.

Two strollers, two car seats, and a swing clutter the room, so you kind of have to tip toe around things, but today, I moved things around so that I could sit in our rocker, look through her big pink bin of toys.

I squeezed the hand of the little red Valentine’s monkey that my mom bought for us, and it started to sing Pitbull’s “I Know You Want Me”. I laughed imagining our bright eyed baby lighting up and giggling to this very inappropriate song.

I read for the first time a few of the books we were given, and I allowed myself a few tears imagining what it would be like to read to our sweet girlie in that rocker.

I found the little pink box that Hudson’s aunties bought for her, filled with colorful flowered clips to put on her stretchy white headband. I had thought it was left at the hospital, and was so  happy to see it.

I dug into the closet next, sifting through hanger after of hanger of tiny adorable outfits, organized from 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months. I realized she would have outgrown all of these outfits by now, and I mourned the fact she never got to wear the so so so cute little red white and blue bathing suit that Momma Sue bought for her.

Then I tackled the stack of blankets. Handmade quilts and hand-knitted blankets. Soft, store-bought blankets, some so ridiculously small I couldn’t even really think what they’d be for. I found the blanket that my Grandma (Great Grandma R) knit for the “next grandbaby” – wrapped in a pink and blue bow – and I thought I should probably give that to my brother and his wife now.

Then I moved to the dresser. I thought I was going for the shoe drawer, but it was actually the burp rag and bib drawer. I found the pink Boston Red Sox bib that we had bought during our babymoon to Boston, and I cried a little bit because these are some of the few things I personally bought for Hudson.

I did eventually make it to the shoe drawer, my favorite thing when I was pregnant. Tiny, pointless baby shoes. Little baby moccasins, pink baby Crocs, frilly gold Mary Janes. These shoes never made it on our daughter’s feet.

I read through every single one of the cards I got at my shower, and I cried a little more thinking of all the love I felt on that day, thinking about how loved Hudson was and still is.

I have two gifts from an old church member, beautifully wrapped, sitting on the changing table, unopened. I contemplated for the umpteenth time opening the gift now. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Maybe on Hudson’s birthday. Someday.

I looked around this room and I thought about how ready we were to have a baby, how ready we are. I cried. I’m crying as I write this.

The Hubs came upstairs and found me on the floor, digging through the baby shoe drawer. I had been allowing a few silent tears to trickle down my cheeks, but something about the sight of my sweet husband at the door, taking in the scene and probably assessing what kind of damage control he needed to do, made me burst into the “randomly gasping for air” tears that later result in the hiccups.

“I’m having fun!” I tried to explain through my tearburst.

I was having fun. Taking in all those unused things, all those unworn baby shoes, all those outfits and all the love that went into preparing that room… It took me back to the fun of our pregnancy, this surprise, unexpected thing that changed my entire life. And it got me excited, really really REALLY excited, about having another baby, being pregnant again.

Having a baby is going to be so fun.

Being pregnant is going to be so fun!

I’ve somehow gotten to a place recently where “having a baby” is just another thing to cross off the to do list of our “moving on”. The idea of being pregnant again is just a stepping stone to the baby part. “Ugh, I’ve got to make it through 40 weeks of pregnancy before I have another baby.”

But looking around that room, pawing through those drawers, made me remember how freaking awesome it was to be pregnant, how good I was at being pregnant, how delightful those 41 weeks really were.

Looking at Hudson’s things reminded me that there was so much more love in her life than the three short days she lived outside of me.  I’d been cherishing the mementos of Hudson’s life in Sacred Heart – the locks of hair, the Red Sox socks, the molds of her feet – all the while totally neglecting this room full of mementos of Hudson’s life when she lived inside of me.

The love affair with our daughter started so much sooner than July 11, and will last a lifetime.

And when we have another baby (oh my God, it’s going to be so so fun), Hudson’s things can become her siblings’ things,  hand-me-downs from big sis, a legacy of love that made us a family.

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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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