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Monday, September 26, 2011


Hello! It's been awhile since I've had a chance to update on here. Lets cut right to the chase, since I have 30 minutes left on this computer.  It's about the bump thats developing in the navel is not the potatoes alone that I have craved, nope, and it's not even just the pasta that even the meanest of midwives could not stop me from eating. It's the rainbow baby. The 4 months gestated rainbow baby, actually. I realize that many of you who may be reading this may be caught offguard and are likely wondering why I have not told you in person, but as the mother of a baby who was laid in her grave not six months ago I reserve the right to be wierd and nonsensical.
   Truth is, I am not up to facing the many opinions that will undoubtably wind their ways through the small town where I was born. I'm not up for the assumptions of how I must be feeling now about this baby. Of the scattered, random assortment of people I have let in on the secret I have already noticed a variety of assumptions  - "Oh no! Be careful! You never know, maybe this one will be ok if you try hard!" or "Wonderful, now everything is happy for you again!" or "You must be worried sick." It's only natural to imagin how you would feel in this situation. Thus, I've chosen to keep it as much to myself as possible and feel about it no other way than the way that I feel about it. I feel fine, and I'm not worried, but no; everything is not happy for me because I am now expecting a baby that is presumably going to be perfectly healthy.
   There is also an undeniable humility that accompanies the 7th pregnancy of someone who, as a student of midwifery, spends a great deal of time preaching on the normalcy of pregnancy and birth. I feel a bit lame and pathetic because I have only managed to pull off what I openly believe once of the seven attempts. Shopping in the maternity section feels like I'm trying to hang with the big girls, like I have no place there at all. You know that one fat kid who knows everything about basketball and tries out for the team every year while the whole school shakes their heads sadly since they know he will never make the cut? Yeah.

   Not to sound depressing! No, I'm just trying to explain away why it took me nearly half my pregnancy to tell people. And my apologies do go out to those who I should have called weeks ago. Or at least before posting this. But I've started to have a bump and I still don't really feel like talking about it, so this is the way it's going to be. There is a strange and glorious feeling in the calmness of this pregnancy. Nothing awful is happening, nothing. By this time with Phoebe I'd already spent Christmas week on bedrest and would be learning of the heart defect in three more weeks. It's almost eery how calm the seas have been. Normal... 

So yes, thats where I'm at. I've made this special effort to get to the library to write this blog because well, a grief counselor told me too. I enjoy writting in here, getting ya'lls feedback and support. I want to be in ship shape by the time this baby comes, and hopefully not have too much emotional baggage around my neck. For whatever reason blogging seems to help.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

An Extra Dimension

Eeep! It's been awhile. It's August already. Phoebe would have been pretty big by now! I was caught off guard recently when a mom and her baby came for their final postpartum appointment - 6 weeks since the birth. The baby had been due within days of Phoebe's due date. Weird. The baby has added another dimension to the happy family, as all babies do, even dead ones.
   My family has settled into a comfortable place of acceptance. We have another dimension that most families don't. It is actually pretty cool having a family member on the "other side". She's officially not silent, go on and think I'm a crazy mother of a dead baby wishing for some significance to this sad story, but things are the way they are, and we get little messages pretty regularly. Usually by way of her big brother. I can pshaw that feeling of spiritual presence til the end of the world, but the things Jonah comes up with are not pshaw-able.

   Recently he woke from a long nap with a peel of his own laughter. I poked him and said, "Well why are YOU so happy?!" Giggling, he replied, "It's Phoebe!"

    The kid is two years old....there isn't much we say to him about this. The question loomed before us of how to explain death to him once we found out she would die; we settled on a simple "She's at Jesus' House" without elaborating. The last blog entry I put in told about how he explained to me that she's at a playground and laughing and all. More recently, when he chattered on about his baby "brudder" (brother....haha) the conversation went something like this,
   "She's laughing, but she misses Jonesy. And she misses mommy and daddy. And, hey! She's...." *leaps from coffee table to couch pretending to be super hero* "She's waitin' for mom. And she's my baby brudder."

    I was so jealous when I read, shortly after the birth and death, about a mom who had lost a baby and found the image of a cross on the baby's chest. It was a bruise on the baby, but it was a perfect little cross and it gave her comfort because it seemed to be a sign that the baby belonged somewhere else and with Someone else. I have always been so impatient....
   So yea. That's all I have to share today. Life with a little spirit hanging around is exciting! Every morning I find myself hoping Jojo will have more to tell. I'm guessing the messages can't last forever...he'll reach the age of reason and sending them might not be as easy since it takes the doubtless faith of a child to not think it's "just a dream" or one's "imagination" or whateva' I hope he talks bit more before then so we don't have to wait til we see her on the other side.

Friday, July 15, 2011

More Than Just Intuition?

 I was recently reading a book, and I came to a part where a woman remembered miscarrying her baby. Those things always make me remember MY losses. Jonah was happily watching an old Gumby cartoon, but he then turned to me and said sorrowfully, "You miss Toebe, mommy?" I wiped the tear off my face that had slipped out. "Yea, I miss Phoebe." Jonah replied, "Don't worry mommy, she's alright." A chubby hand grabbed my chin and turned my face so that I was looking him squarely in the face. "She went to Jesus' house. And she's like...laughing.  Like she's at a playground." He just turned 2 years old in April, so this is one of the better sentences he has put together.
   Ten minutes later, once we had returned to our respective activities (me to me book, he to his cartoon), he turned to me and said, "Toebe's sad wif mommy." "Sad?" I asked, " But you said she was laughing!" Chubby face serious, he said, "Mmhmm. Sad wif you, mommy." A dimpled hand was then placed directly over my battered heart, "She sad wif you right der."

Friday, June 17, 2011

Attitude Adjustment

  Oh dear, oh dear. Lets just say it like it is: I've been pretty bitchy lately. Ungrateful for the many ways God has blessed me, and cranky about the ways He has tested me. I know it wasn't long ago that I blogged in a state of euphoria about how He held me close and comforted my broken heart, but things changed as time grew between Phoebe and me. It seemed that God was nowhere to be found, even when I begged for just a little "sign" of sorts... I kept thinking to myself that once we dealt with our loss of Phoebe as graciously as we could, He might give us some awesome break. Win the lotto or something. I've never once doubted that He exists, but recently I have asked myself, "Whats the point of praying if apparently He never listens?" Silly me.
   Here's the back story: I thought God was giving us our "break" when we found our dream home for sale. It was a gorgeous old farmhouse on a few acres of land perfectly suited for a few horses, chickens, and a cow. It even had another building on site that would have made a perfect shop for Paul's future woodworking business. $67,000.We prayed and prayed, faithfully asking Phoebe's intercession and believing she would "find a way" since she owes us big time. We put in our offer the very first business day after we saw the house. Paul drove out to Winchester to place the offer and was told if he'd been there just two hours earlier we would have got the house; meanwhile, I was checking my email and learning that our tenant was ditching us 4 months into a year lease and had no plans to pay us for the last month. Earlier that same day another important event took place, one that was so close to our hearts - I went to get my blood tested to try to find out why I miscarry like I do. We had hoped it would just be low progesterone, because that is a common problem and pretty easy to fix. The blood work came back perfectly normal, with no answer for our problem.

   So it came to pass I arrived at a point of despair and hopelessness. I couldn't remember how to pray, what to pray, or why to pray. I bitched and bitched - ask Paul! Crazy bitchy... I envisioned all those babies I carried and ache for every day partying it up in Heaven with God, and all of them having too much fun to hear me when I cried for help.
  Then there was this homily by a guest Priest last Sunday. He said, "If it's clearly not the voice of the Holy Spirit you hear, then obviously it's somebody else...if it's saying evil things about our Lord, then you can bet it's not a Heavenly being." Creepy huh? And me, such a sucker. Of course God is listening, and as for the break....well, I still think He could handle giving us some magical sign or something fun like that, but if the break is simply peace of heart that comes with leaning on Jesus, why then, it's been within my reach all along!
   I told the girls at our Women's Bible Study about my hard headedness. It's so clear from another's perspective. They all agreed I should simply tell Satan to get the crap away from me and don't come back. Ah! Novel idea. Why didn't I think of it myself? I'll just tell him where to put it. Problem solved.
   The Magnificat must have been designed by God for me personally. (Sorry, fellow Magnificat Bible Study was just last night, so in my first return to it this morning this poem was the beginning of the devotion:
Come, let us to the Lord our God
With contrite hearts return;
Our God is gracious nor will leave
The desolate to mourn.
 Seriously? I mean, really! Does that not fit my current situation to a T? Following was Psalm 6, and this is definitely what jumped out at me, after having been advised by the bible study girls as mentioned previously:

Leave me alone, all you who do evil;
For the Lord has heard my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
The Lord will accept my prayer.
All my foes will retire in confusion,
Foiled and suddenly confounded.

   Yes, an attitude adjustment is in order. What I need to stop believing is that something incredible will happen to Paul, Jonah, and I just because we were pretty good sports about losing Phoebe. No more hoping for a jack pot lotto ticket that will pay our way into a gloriously distracting vacation, no more setting hopes on dream homes. Nothing more like that because the thing is - and God knows it  - they wouldn't help anyway. 

PS -
I especially like the idea of sending off my foes confused, foiled, and suddenly confounded. Mwahaha!



Wednesday, June 1, 2011


   Over Memorial Day weekend I went to my first birth since the birth of my own baby. So lovely. A long, difficult labor that was all worth it in the end when an absolutely flawless baby girl entered the world wide eyed and just beautiful in every way. Long labors are obviously hard for the mom, but let me tell ya something, it ain't easy on the midwives and assistants either! Forty one hours after we arrived at the birth center we left, and the parents left with their little one.
    I have to ask: what sort of God tells someone to enter the birth profession who has also been asked to bury their newborn baby? Trust me, if it weren't that I knew better, I'd have to say that He must be a real butt-head, but seeing as, in addition to requiring much of me, He has also treated me to all sorts of nice things I will go with saying He must be awfully "mysterious". I remember when dawn came on Monday morning as the mom continued to labor on and on. The birds started chirping a little while before the sun came up. As hard a time as she was having I wished with all my heart that I could be in her shoes instead of mine. The birds chirped just before the sun came up on that grave morning as I was wheeled slowly out of the hospital, arms empty except for a little purple box with her blanket, hat, footprints, and a book on healthy grieving.

   I just love birth. It's not fair that after witnessing such an awesome event I leave crying and feeling lonelier than ever. It's not fair that I have been brought to this place in which I understand to some extent the miracle of what is going's not fair that it's for everyone else, but not for me. I wish I could have known all of this before Jonah was born. I would have relished every minute of it.
   There came a time 2 and 1/2 hours after that adorable little person was born that I indulged briefly in allowing my mind to return to my recent experience of birth, and I was so glad that baby was still alive and so alert, not cold and dead.

   I got home at 3AM and didn't see Jonah til the next morning of course. When I did see him I explained why I'd been gone the past few days by saying that I was at the birth of a new baby. It's not fair that his response was, "Oh. Baby go to Jesus' house?"

I don't know about this whole thing. I must be insane to do this midwifery stuff. But I'd be insane not to, too... 

Perfect. Just perfect. Exactly what I need right now....another reason to bawl my eyes out! As I sat her crying and writing this, Jojo walks up and hugs me, and said sadly "I miss Toebe too." Intuitive lil guy. Then, with a hopeful and encouraging smile he looks me square in the eyes exclaiming: "Jesus' House!!" UGH!!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fearfully, Wonferfully, Skillfully Made

     Hey guess what? I think I'm out of the initial postpartum phase. Yay! If I lived a hundred years ago I would take out my regular clothes and put away the black dress. I'm ready to head on with normal life while cherishing a memory of a day gone by. The hormones (blasted lil bugars) have made moving on without a baby quite a lot worse. My mind can rest easy, but I'll say it again - God made us moms to love those babies a whole lot. I mean, for the past 6 weeks I couldn't drive past a pet store without considering stopping just because my body is wired to be holding a baby and heck, if I don't have my own, a puppy or chubby little hamster must be better than nothing, right? The good news is, I believe my body has caught up with my mind and no longer is producing hormones that make me physically miss her as well as emotionally. Goodbye and good riddance! 

   What I've been thinking about lately is how there is not a second of this experience that I would wish away. I know I've blogged on that line of thought before and this is becoming very redundant, but for whatever reason it seems to help me, so...redundant it shall stay. I just, well, I dunno. I browse other blogs and read books for people who have lost babies. It seems to me that the standard way of viewing the death of a baby is by looking at it as though it is a huge tragedy that should have never happened, and by golly that baby should be alive. I'm addressing you other mama's of "defective" babies when I say this: I believe our babies were made perfectly, lovingly, meticulously woven in our wombs just exactly how they were. I find myself almost defensive about Phoebe's little deformed heart. It was a perfect little heart! So what if it wasn't compatible with this life. She was just different - and now I know why we use the term "special"  - her heart was a special heart that God blessed her with. I don't like people calling it defective. If you could have seen her...she was perfect. Not defective. What I'm trying to get at is that it doesn't matter if she couldn't live because of it. She is living with it still; it's pure and perfect and as happy as can be. Gosh. How do some of you make it through this without taking a look at the promises of Jesus?

    So, the tragedy thing. I guess it's a tragedy for our family. I mean, yeah, we're all devastated. But then again, the whole experience was a wild ride - a huge blessing! We rejoiced in finding out that I was expecting. We counted down each week. We felt her kick - saw my belly moving around when Paul would talk real close. We chose adorable little girl onesies. We saw her twiddling with her fingers on the ultrasound screen. Labor, birth. We had a new baby last month. And then, we gave her back to God. Whirlwind!!!! I mean huge, right?! It's something else, being present at a death. Similar to birth, I suppose. I just keep trying to imagine myself being inside a womb and helping the baby out from in there. She was born into a world that I know nothing of yet. She's gone from my sight until the day of MY birth....and then it will all make sense and I will know how right I was in thinking it's all going to be okay. ( : 

   Phoebe is a nice addition to our family. She sure changed us.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Jonah's Reminiscence

Jonah, my son, is two. He turned two just a week after Phoebe was born. He did get to meet her while she was alive, but it was the middle of the night and I have wondered and worried that he wouldn't remember his little sister.
  Tonight as I held him he fiddled with a necklace I wear that was given to me by a friend to remember Phoebe by. It has her name inscribed on it. (I love it!) He fiddled with it, and I have told him over and over that I wear it so we can remember Phoebe. He played with it and said "Phoebe" a few times, but then to my great joy he went to her picture and said "Phoebe!" And THEN - now this just breaks my heart - he reached his hand under my shirt and peered down to the only place he had ever seen his little sister; resting on my chest. I guess he was looking for her, but she wasn't there. 
                             Is it just me in my mommy pride or is this story super cute?

It gets better! He went back to the picture of his tiny baby sister and cried proudly, "My brother!!!"

Jonah closed out the conversation with this keen observation, "Phoebe's sleeping."

Saturday, May 14, 2011


  I'm feeling sorry for myself this gray morning. It's saturday and Paul is off working. We've had some unfortunate obligations that have taken up like the past months worth of weekends.

   I had a dream last night that I was heading to the hospital to deliver another premature baby that was going to die. Of course that is unlikely, but I woke up and started thinking about things like that and it occurred to me that while having another with another congenital heart defect is unlikely, I can basically count on having a miscarriage. My babies die. They just do - they die. One out of six is a crappy statistic.

  Some good friends had their perfect little baby girl this morning. Please don't think that it is their happiness or their wonderful outcome that hurts me... I am thrilled, SO thrilled, that their precious little one made it safely (and naturally!) into the world... but seeing the adorable pictures posted on facebook is not easy. We were excited when we found out we were both expecting, and both due around the same time. Now we both have baby girls, but they can never be pals like we'd hoped. The thought of having a healthy baby has been so far from my world, so surreal to me for these past weeks.

Honestly, I have to wonder if grief can kill someone! It just seems like so much stress on one heart couldn't be healthy...I kinda wish it would just explode and I could go into like a coma or something for a few months. (I'm kidding, for Pete's sake...chill out!) Like when you have the flu and you just wish you could throw up already.   

Read this Psalm. Can I sue God for plagiarism? It is like He took the words right out of my heart.

I cry aloud to God, aloud to God that He may hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched
out without wearying;
My soul refuses to be comforted.

I think of God, and I moan;
I meditate, and my spirit faints.

Thou dost hold my eyelids from closing;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak
 Psalm 77:1-4

Hot damn! If that ain't exactly what I wanted to say then I don't know what is. It fits just perfectly! Every word. I call to the Lord and I guess I'm too stubborn to be comforted.
   I think it is rather interesting that is says "I think of God, and I moan. I meditate, and my spirit faints." Anyone who has prayed and meditated deeply knows that a Catholic kids serious (can't remember the name) it is described by calling it a hug from an angel. It's that overwhelming saturation in God... he hit the nail on the head when he said "I meditate, and my spirit faints". It's the presence of God, no doubt, but I've been taken off guard since Phoebe because I can feel the presence and still be super sad. It used to be that I felt really happy when I felt His presence, now I can feel it and still miss my baby something terrible.
  And it seems God thinks it's some kind of funny joke to put in there that "Thou dost hold my eyelids from closing" --- least Ya could do, Lord, is let me sleep without having miserable dreams of dead babies! Seriously though, that strikes home with the feeling I've talked about here of constant beatings and no time to take a breath of air in between; no time to rest. And last, and maybe most fitting, "I am so troubled that I cannot speak" - my attempts here on this blog don't cut it, not even close. I feel dumb. Words completely fail me. I might as well quit trying now before I write any more and look back feeling like I wrote a bunch of bogus that can't hold a candle to what is really going on.

One more thing. I desperately need to do something RASH! I already chopped my hair short. I suggested going to the Dominican Republic and not coming back until we have a's dangerous business saying those things with a laid back hubby like Paul because he always says, "Uh...ok. Sure." For the first time in my entire life I feel like the credit card is in grave danger of being abused. Buying what? I have no idea, but I just know that I want to abuse it and spend like a million dollars doing something rash.
Yikes, huh?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Major Little Victory!

   I guess I've been having a pretty hard time. I can't deny it! I'm sick and tired of my baby being dead and gone. How long is every square inch of my body going to ache, ache, ache? I have been spending way too much time buried under the blankies with one those giant coronas you get at gas stations in hand. My appetite is history! If I don't put "eat lunch" on the schedule I completely forget to do it. Losing a baby SUCKS! I mean, really, really sucks.
vvvI have found that grief comes in waves, and also that my awareness of God's presence comes in waves too...which is particularly poopy because sometimes the waves match up just so and grief comes when it seems that God is nowhere to be found. Is it even remotely possible that God is trying to test my love for Him AGAIN?? (Just goes to show that there is indeed a feminine side of God...)  I feel like I have to hang on for dear life while the beatings continue. I'm so tired!!!!
   One of the hardest parts of this is that now a whole month has passed and it's no longer acceptable in my mind to talk about myself and my own problems non stop, but I still want and need too. I'm back in the swing of normal life, but I'm still having a hard time staying afloat. What I mean is-- I don't feel that I can burst into tears anymore without people thinking I should be getting over this already. I know you kind souls are going to comment and say that I can talk all I want and cry all I want, but it's just not as easy as it sounds. I want to be able to talk about what I'm feeling but I truly can't control my emotions. I don't enjoy making scenes and being dramatic. And I don't  enjoy having red poofy eyes either. As a result, I just can't talk about it to anyone. If I talk enough to actually tell the truth about how I'm feeling than I cry. When I cry I don't make any sense, so it just defeats the purpose altogether and I get red poofy eyes for nothing. Hence, the blog.

    I do have a major little victory under my belt that has made me very proud of myself. : D   I have felt immense guilt when I have told people I only have one child. I have never realized how incredibly often the question comes up among people my age. It seems so constant...ugh. I haven't had the strength to tell people that I have two babies - one of them here and one in Heaven. Last thing I want to do is cause a scene while talking to someone who knows me so little that they don't even know how many kids I have! Well, the victory is in the fact that yesterday I managed to coolie answer the question by telling the truth. First time since she was born! I knew I was in grave danger of bursting into tears and making that poor sucker feel awkward butI took the chance and it was fine. She didn't have to know that the one in Heaven only went there a month ago.
Yay me!
   Obviously it has come up in my mind about how that question should be answered when one has miscarried so many babies. I've decided that if I said, "Oh, I have one son, one daughter who died right after she was born, and four babies who I never even got to meet" it would just be too much. They can stay in my heart where God put them. They know I do remember them without me having to make a big deal about 'em in small talk.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Shit Happens

   I took my Neonatal Resuscitation course the other day, in pursuit of a career as a midwife. It's one of those things that must be under your belt if you want to be a worth while apprentice and assistant. The problem is, most instructors are in the hospital birth mindset...I really, really wanted to be taught by a particular teacher named Karen Strange who is a midwife and has a good reputation as an instructor. Sucks for me that she came to our region only two weeks after Phoebe died...there was hardly any other choice than to take the course while I had the opportunity.

   I was worried before the class that my heart would be pulverized when the day was over. When Phoebe was with us there was nothing more to do except allow all the NNR "no-no's" to follow their natural sequence of events: She turned blue, her respirations were labored, her heart rate slow, and then slower until it stopped altogether. The class was bound to bring back those recent memories.

   I did fine, really, for the most part I was able to put my own experience from my mind and think more in the caregiver mode rather than the mother mode. There was one thing, ONE little thing that I found remarkably here are my remarks on it ( :

  It was when Karen told the class this: " Most of the time the compromised baby will need 4 or 5 inflation breaths, and that is all. Babies are almost, almost, almost always in good shape to be breathing alone without help....then again, occasionally shit happens." In the space of a few seconds my throat constricted and my eyes welled up against all my inner strength telling them not to. At that same instant the class around me giggled and snickered... I guess thinking, "Karen said shit. Teeheehee!" I don't mind, I don't care, I know without a shadow of a doubt that nobody meant anything by it. It's just that if anyone could comprehend just what it is to be the rare situation in which Shit Happens then there would be no snickering. That will never happen, and I don't care about that either. I'm not "remarking" in a vain attempt to get the whole world to be sensitive to my situation. It's so uncommon, I know. In all those 26 careers as birthing professionals maybe not even one will see true Shit happening. 

 As for me, though, I'll be sensitive to those rare situations when Shit Happens.

  I feel like an entirely different person than the person I was before Phoebe. (After all, Shit is a funny word, right?) The more time that gets between me and the 2 and 1/2 hours that I held my 2lb dying baby, the more I realize how my character is in the process of being formed. As someone recently put it for my benefit, I am the "pottery being fired." God is the potter, of course. It was going to take a lot to make me a more serious person. Without Phoebe I would have been becoming the midwife who blows off every symptom of a complication because my belief was that birth is normal....and complications rare....and I would have never expected to actually witness a true complication. Without Phoebe I wouldn't look at newborns and think about what a tremendous blessing and miracle each one is. Before Phoebe (and the miscarriages)  I had a plan for my family - as though we can plan such things. Phoebe will make me a better birth professional, that I can know now without a doubt! When I was expecting her with such a bad prognosis people would try to tell me that I would be a better midwife someday for it...I said no way man -  I'll suck at being a midwife because I'll be a little sad at every birth. Now that Phoebe has come and gone, and I brought her into the world and handed her right back over to God, I am able to relate to anyone who has lost an infant. I will be a little sad at every birth, to be sure, but I'll also be happier than before at every birth because I know now just how lucky that mama is that her baby is healthy and that she gets to keep it, cuddle it, nurse it, and get to know it.

  Nobody wants to be the one who tears up a little when someone says Shit Happens...wouldn't you rather be giggling? Then again, doesn't everyone (and now I mean those who are birth professionals) want to have plenty of experience? Very few midwives and doctors are able to truly relate to a mom who is losing or has lost her infant *Sigh*

Oh, I just thought of the corniest thing ever!! I must stick it in my blog as the ending sentence to this post. Please envision this last line being said with an air piety...

 The grass is always, and will always be, greener on my side of the fence so long as I allow God to water it. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

That's the Lord for ya...

   I keep discovering just how close God was to me even when He seemed so far off. It's pleasant to discover these little surprises but also a bit I was whining about how He wasn't listening to me crying out to Him when clearly He was there all along.

I read this lil prayer book everyday called Magnificat. It has the Scripture for each individual daily Mass written in it according to the Liturgical year. On the days that Phoebe was born and died, I did not read my Magnificat since I was rather preoccupied. Tonight I decided to look back on those days and this is what I found: 
  • The Psalm for the day that Phoebe was born, April 11th, was Psalm 23. My faithful midwife played it for us on her computer after Phoebe was born and I was so hooked that I got my sister to sing it for the funeral. The song has been stuck in my head ever since!  Here it is:
Psalm 23
The Lord is my Shepherd: I shall not want. 
In verdant pastures He gives me repose;
Beside restful waters He leads me;
He refreshes my soul.

He guides me in right paths
for His name's sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for You are at my side.
With Your rod and Your staff
that give me courage.

You spread the table before me
In the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup overflows.

Only goodness and kindness follow me
All the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
For years to come. 

  • For the day that Phoebe died, April 12th, this is part of the Psalm used for the Mass (I'm not typing the whole thing because....well I have to wake up at 4:00 tomorrow morning...haha):
Psalm 102
O Lord, hear my prayer,
And let my cry come unto You.
Hide not Your face from me
In the day of my distress.
Incline Your ear to me;
In the day when I call, answer me speedily.
  • On the day that Paul and I went out at my family's property in search of a nice place to bury her, it was still gray and wintery looking. Within the space of that day and the day of Phoebe's burial, the cherry trees up and down the drive came into full bloom ( : 
  • I believe I've already mentioned so in this blog, but the day of Phoebe's funeral happened to land on the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. That really struck me because I had begun to understand in a small way what she had gone through as a mother who had to live to see her Son die. All through my sucky pregnancy I developed a stronger relationship with her because of her sorrows, and I knew beyond a doubt that she would be praying and praying for me as I endured a pain that was, again in it's own small way, somewhat similar to hers. 
   I could go on for quite awhile about how His hand was there at the birth also (pushing away the nurses and doctor...mwahaha) but I'm getting to tired. I may or may not continue this post another day [ :

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What now...?

  I don't know if I am beginning to resent that silly Memorial Ticker at the top of this page or if I'm beginning to love it. Right now it says it has been "1 week and 2 days since she went to Heaven".
   Aye me, so many emotions to keep under control. I feel like I look like a walking blob of tangled, messy emotions. One second I feel calm and content with the Master Plan, the next second I see a preggie and I get to feeling like my life sucks. I'm not pregnant anymore, my belly is flat and empty again. No more kicks, no more hiccups. No more peeing 4 times a night - never thought I'd be reminiscent of that -  no more shopping for baby clothes, no more sleeping on my left side all the time. No more baby. She's gone. Just like that - a life was brought into existence and taken in two seasons. She was here long enough for her parents to fall head over heals in love with her, and then she left us behind.
  I don't like recovering from childbirth with no baby. My mind can hold on to the fact that there is a good God caring for me, but my poor body is just now figuring out that there is no baby to take care of. I am reminded of those poor goats we had when I was a kid. They'd have their babies and we'd take the babies away because we wanted the milk for ourselves and we'd feed the babies formula or something. It hurts my heart remembering how the mothers' were SO fact it hurts my heart so bad I don't even want to think about it! *hum hum hum*

   Yesterday was my 31 week prenatal appointment turned 1 week postpartum appointment. It is a sad, sad, unnatural thing to be going to a postpartum  appointment with empty arms. My pregnancy is over, a thing of the past. The baby is buried, the postpartum appointment is complete, the milk is gone. I am left behind with a nature designed perfectly for loving my offspring. Trusting in God won't take away how He designed the heart of a mother. 
     Is there really nothing else to say? I don't have the words to say what I'm feeling. I don't want to abandon the blog because I don't want this to be over, funny as they may sound, I want to cling to the last drop of Phoebe. I am afraid of forgetting....

Monday, April 18, 2011

Holy Moly!!!!

   I would say I've been a faithful person my entire life, from the age of reason on up. In fact, I might even have considered myself a very faithful person. I've always said my prayers at night, trusted in the Lord, gone to Mass every Sunday and sometimes weekdays.

   The thing is, there has been something funny going on around here ever since Phoebe died a week ago tomorrow. How many times had I read Psalm 34:18 during my pregnancy when everything came crashing down on me? "The Lord is close to the broken hearted, He rescues those who's spirits are crushed." I read it through tears and received comfort by trusting those words. I thought that is what it meant - that He was near us but we can't see Him, we just need to trust His words. I never doubted the Lord was close to the broken hearted...but DUDE! I never knew He meant He'd be THAT close!!!!! Don't laugh, okay, but seriously I have felt such a Living presence with me since Phoebe died that...well, I caught myself feeling a tad bit embarressed using the bathroom!!!! Haha! Like, hmm...I could use a little privacy once in a while.... I know you're laughing! It doesn't make sense, but I'm just telling you that to impress upon you how incredibly real it has been.
   He has been so close to me this past week that I can just about feel His presence physically. It's honestly rather intimidating, it's a tremendously huge sensation all around me. The best way to describe it is to say that it feels like there is a protective barrier between me and the world, His loving arms surrounding me as if to say to the world, "Stay away from this one for awhile, she lost her baby and that is the most painful thing a mother can do".

"After you have suffered a little, the God of all grace, Who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you." ~1 Peter 5:10

   Phoebe has something to do with this, too. I think when she went to Heaven and gained knowledge and was able to see all my pain from the past few months, she probably felt sorry for me and asked God to comfort me. I know she is present, too, comforting me also...probably trying to tell me that it's not as bad as it seems from my point of view and that she is happy and well. Really, isn't it odd that I felt so comforted only after she left? Her prayers must have something to do with it. 

   Ya know, I could get used to these special favors. I'm getting treatment fit for a queen! I'm half worried that they will comfort me so well and efficiently that my broken heart will get healed, and then *gulp* I won't fit into the category of "the broken hearted", and God won't have to give me special treatment anymore! Eek! I like this feeling of being followed by Holy Beings who soothe my broken heart. One angel fetches Heavenly hot tea, while another rubs my neck, while yet another sings a hymn and dabs my eyes when they tear up. God holds one hand, and Phoebe, the other.

   I've never felt such an urgency to spread the word! It's like I've seen an airplane for the first time from eyes that never fathomed such a thing could exist. I didn't expect to get such tangible help. Don't take this the wrong way, but I don't really miss Phoebe because her spirit is with me in a way I never really thought was possible. I knew it was possible but I didn't think it would feel the same way it feels when someone is standing in front of you looking at you.

    I've believed myself to be a faithful person but what I've experienced in the past week has blown what I believed to be "it" out of the water.

Give God a try, I'm telling ya, you won't regret it. And also, you are missing out BIG time if you haven't received His loving kindness and been open to His ways of communication. Do it, do it, do it! There's no better time than now, Holy Week, to head on over to the Church!  

PS: Most people I know who are not Christians tell me that we create God in our minds in order to have "someone" to comfort us - in other words, He's a figment of our imagination. Sorry guys, I'm not even that imaginative.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Said and Done: Home from the Funeral

   Thanks to those of you who have prayed so constantly for us. Both Paul and I left our daughter's funeral with peaceful hearts, knowing that we had at last completed one of the most difficult jobs any parent could be asked to do. I'm certain it's only because of the prayers that we have been given peace at last.

   Here are my thoughts on it:
Heaven is spoken of so casually that the word can almost seem cliche. As humans here on earth we can never expect to grasp the beauty of being face to face with God, but when we hear the word used so often and so loosely it makes it even more difficult to understand the magnitude of what it means to be in Heaven. If Paul and I could even kinda/sorta understand what it means to have delivered Phoebe safely into the arms of God then we wouldn't shed a single tear. We're not supposed to understand, and we don't need to. What we know is that we can't imagine the happiness that Phoebe has right at this very moment, and knowing that makes every tear and every minute of bedrest worth it. We are proud because we feel as though we have joined forces with Christ and His suffering to bring Phoebe to that wondrous place. When we went into the Church today, one of the first things I noticed was the display of a crown of thorns that was set up for Lent. It reminded me that Paul's and my sufferings are intrinsically united with those of Jesus, and it was hard, hard work for all three of us.
   I relate everything these days to birth, since I am studying midwifery, and this reminds me so much of labor! The pain seems unendurable, but as soon as you see the "baby"  it's all worth every second of it. Paul and I will see the fruits of this labor of love when we go to Heaven and realize the gift we were able to participate in giving to our little one. *Chuckle* Another way I relate this to labor is that all along the way for these past few months I have had moments in which I cried and said I "can't do it" - in those moments the Lord was at my elbow saying "Yes you can, I know without a doubt that you can." Reminds me of a midwife at a birth! The midwife is always right about that, as was God when He persistently said I could it. I did it! I did it, and I'm right proud of myself ( :

     Late last week when I felt signs of labor coming on slowly, I wondered and thought it would be nice (if I had to deliver a baby who would die) to do it one Good Friday. I thought that would be a good day for it because it would have significance. Guess what? God had another secret surprise in store for me. Fr. Fasano introduced his sermon at the Mass today by saying, "Isn't it interesting that this funeral of a sweet innocent baby should land on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Sorrows?" My jaw dropped and that was the only time during the Mass that I cried! Me n' Mary have become real buddy pals throughout this pregnancy. I related to her seven sorrows so well; from the Prophecy of Simeon to the day she had to hold her Son's lifeless body in her arms. I knew that if ANYONE could understand my anguish, it would be her.
   There is a painting in the Church of Mary, pregnant with Jesus, greeting Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist. On some sundays when I was at my lowest I would look at it and say to myself, "They don't understand what I'm going through...they both went on to have healthy babies...". I looked at it today and thought to myself, "We all three saw our children die before us. NOW we all three have children in Heaven." 

    It truly has been on honor to be chosen for such a job. Grieving is to be expected until the day we make it up to Heaven also, but that is part of the price we are happy to pay for Phoebe's eternal joy. When I think about it that way I'm like...oh dear, Lord, I want to offer myself as a vessel for more little saints if You want...but *shew* doing this ever again is a terrifying thought.
    If this blog is getting to long and boring feel free to stop reading anytime ( ; I'll keep on rambling and don't expect anyone to read it.
   I feel that perhaps my life's purpose has been fulfilled.

Oh what was that last important thought I wanted to put down? .....hmm I dunno. Anyway, I thank you because I know that everyone we know has bee praying for our peace of heart, and we got it. I know there are still many dark moments ahead. There will be tomorrow morning, for example, when I wake a few hours before everyone else feeling like my breasts will explode because my body thinks I have a baby to nurse. There will be the days in June when I will hear of the births of the babies that would have been born around the same time as Phoebe, if she were healthy. But I do feel assured that we've made it through the worst, and again, it has been a very high honor to be chosen to do it.


Phoebe's Wake

  Last night was Phoebe's wake. I'm glad that friends and family were able to see her little body, but for Paul and I....well, she just wasn't there. In a way it was a comfort, because I knew she was somewhere else. Her cute little body was just her old dwelling place; something of the past.
     Here is a poem I wrote in loving remembrance, and printed on the prayers cards:

                                  In Memory of Phoebe Leilani Clowes

From time to time among the flowers
A bud may never bloom.
While many make the garden bright,
One withers all too soon.

Of all the pretty roses
All scattered 'cross the eath,
Our precious child left us
Just hours after birth.

With ceaseless prayer and crying
We begged that she could stay,
But God's plans for her were bigger
So He took her anyway.

Still to Jesus we shall go and ask
For strength to carry on.
The road ahead seems bleak and bare
Now that our baby's gone.

With aching hearts and trembling hands
We lift sweet Phoebe's name,
And return our little rosebud
To God, from whence she came.  

    I'm glad that we are finished with the wake. I am so grateful to everyone who found time to come and extend they're support to us and bear witness to her short life. It really makes me realize what an act of charity it is to attend a funeral! Paul and I were both so pleased to see every face, whether familiar or not so familiar. Such a blessing. Thank you!

   I have been a part of the Mommy-of-a-Dead-Child club for awhile now, as I miscarried our first (Angela) shortly after our wedding. When you are one of us you learn about things to say and not to say to someone who mourns for the loss of a loved one. For some reason most support websites list the things you should NOT say to someone. I've heard 'em all by now, of course: "It's better this way - this is nature taking care of a problem", or "You are young, you will have another baby". The worst I ever heard was with my first loss, the loss of Angela at 11 weeks when I was 20: " Were you really ready for a baby anyway?" Someone last night told me that when she miscarried her baby at the hospital the doctor told her to stop crying or he would give her something to make it stop.
  Well, I don't think I heard anything of the sort last night at Phoebe's wake. Following are several comments that stayed with me and that have touched both Paul and I deeply. These are the RIGHT things to say to parents who have lost an infant:

  "I hope you don't mind, I touched her forehead. I couldn't help myself! I've never had the opportunity to touch a Saint."

  "Thank you for all your hard work. You have given us an Angel!"

   "Phoebe was obliviously content while you were going through all the suffering you did while pregnant. Even when she died she knew nothing but love. Now that she has died she is enjoying joy beyond our imagination - you are here to pay the price, but you could never have given anyone a better gift."

  "How are you feeling physically?"

  We received a gift last night that should be included in this list. It was a gift certificate to a nursery for a plant, specifically a "Bleeding Heart". This is the plant that is in my picture at the bottom of this blog. It will live on once planted. I intend to plant it on Phoebe's grave, not only for Phoebe but also to remember all the baby's who have died due to heart defects, and sadly there are many.

Now onward to the Mass of the Angels and the burial of my sweet lil peanut. *SIGH*  Paul made the casket himself, and  I am so looking forward to hearing my sister and honorary brother and sister play and sing for the burial. In the few days between Phoebe's birth and her burial, they have blessed me SO much by learning the same two songs that we played on the computer when Phoebe was born. <3

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Birth Story

  Surely you didn't think that just because my life is a train wreck right now that I would forget to post my birth story, did you? Well, I finally made it back to bed after yesterday and this morning running around making funeral arrangements for my little sweetie.

    I'm so pleased to have something happy to share; although it is sad to lose a baby, the birth was great. I'm pretty sure that God felt bad that He couldn't use all our prayers the way we wanted, so He went ahead and applied them to the birth itself. ( :
    One thing you have to understand about me in order for this birth story to make sense is that I'm...well, I'm pretty arrogant. I don't like be proven wrong. I didn't want to raise false alarm and drama by saying I was in labor only to be enduring regular pregnancy discomforts. I woke up at 3:30am on the 11th with bothersome contractions. They kinda came and went through the morning and early afternoon, and we went about our day normally. By mid afternoon they were causing me significant grief but I've got and excellent poker face so nobody knew, not even Paul, and me being so stoic I didn't say much about it. What I did was say that labor could be coming in the next few days or weeks, so we needed a plan. Around 7pm I called my midwife to work on that plan - and as if to confirm my worst fears and seal the deal for Worst Pregnancy Ever, she sadly told me that with my low iron and the amount of blood loss I'd had, she had to risk me out of home birth! She knows me before she got off the phone she warned me not to attempt an unassisted home birth because it really could be dangerous.
     By 9:30pm I was not a happy camper, but did I tell anyone I was in labor? Nope. Poor Paul, what a position to be in. Here I am, I'm supposed to be the one who "knows" these things but I wouldn't admit to anything still. He said to me around that time, "Ya know Gina, you're acting pretty labory if you ask me..." I kept pacing , kneeling, leaning but pshawed him for saying such a thing. I was wondering if having such low fluid was just making braxton hicks feel much worse. We took a few belly bump pictures in between contractions as a keepsake for this pregnancy, since we didn't have any yet.
    Finally at 10:00 we hit the dusty trail to Winchester Medical Center. We parked at 10:30, and I checked in at the Emergency Room. Perfect poker face. A lady had to wheel me up to Labor and Delivery (hospital policy) and we talked and joked all the way up. I provided all my information to the front desk without a single wince...oh but I'm sly, I just leaned this way and that when need be so that she wouldn't think I was being a big baby about a little pain. They took me to a weird little back room (that's when Paul came in) and asked me to pee in a cup. Looking back on  it, that was right during transition. I peed but....forgot to pee in the cup. Oops. I went out into the room again, they wanted me on a bed. do things that I had so dreaded about a hospital birth. I began to face the fact that I must be in labor. I started roaring, something I would be doing a lot of in the next 15 minutes or so. I roared at the nurse "Nooooooooo waaaay am I getting on that.....BED!!!!!" Ok, so the way they felt they could deal with that was to have me walk down the hall to another bed! The nurse told me that the doctor would check to make sure I was actually in labor. The plan was to do an ultrasound, and check my cervix. I did manage to get on that bed with great misery and loud roaring, but I was getting that little catch we get in our throats when it's time to push. They didn't have time to do those things. The doctor wanted me guessed it...another bed, the bed that I was supposed to deliver in lying obediently on my back. I made my way to that room, it was 11:25, and as the nurse and doctor bustled around as quick as they could to "set up" for the birth, I reached down and caught my baby girl before they had a chance to give me an IV, before they even turned on the bright overhead light (one of the things I really, really dreaded about a hospital birth), and before anyone had time to enforce the order to get in bed. Nobody even saw except Paul, the way I'd wanted it. My world had shrunk quite a lot, and at that moment I don't remember anything but the soft skin of my daughter finally in my arms and that sweet, miniature cry that meant she was still alive. However, Paul tells me I hadn't quite finished my roaring spree, for when the nurse came to take Phoebe from me to do whatever it is she wanted to do, apparently I roared one final roar: "She's MINE!!!!!", and then I snuggled with my daughter, content, in the bed assigned. I got to do the things that every mother should be able to do - I admired her tiny toes, delicate fingers, felt her soft hair, and kissed her incredibly soft face. Although the midwife who had supported me so constantly throughout my entire difficult pregnancy didn't make it on time for the birth, she was on the scene just minutes later to continue emotional support. Those few hours we had with Phoebe were perfect. 
   I'm pleased with this birth in many ways, one of them is that it turned out to be an unintentional experiment for my doula work. A successful one! I had actually been with that same doctor for a birth as the doula, and she was like any doctor then- making orders and not exactly including the mother in the decision. But I came in and since I was in transition I wasn't really thinking or caring about doctors, so I decidedly did things the way I wanted. The nurse and doctor were delightfully timid about their suggestions for the rest of our time there. Example: " Ma'am, do it ok if we uh, maybe try a shot of pitocin to get the placenta out? Or maybe you don't want that....", and "Gina the doctor wanted to know if you would let her check you one more time. Would that be ok with you?" Magical respect! As if  I was in charge! The only thing that made me feel like a patient in a hospital was the plastic armband. When the placenta was born I declared casually that I'd be taking it home with me and the nurse said, "Ok dear, I'll put it right in a container for you."  I'm not foolish enough to think that the circumstances being what they were didn't contribute to this impressive change of behavior, but I have concluded that the mother being 100% adamant about her plan and assuming the role as ring leader is the best way to have a good hospital birth.
    The hospital staff was very respectful about giving us our space. They just disappeared and left us to get to know our little one. The lights were dim in that room from the moment we walked in. It was very peaceful, and although there is a hospital policy that limits guests to only three, they never said a word when family began trickling in to meet the newest member.  I had been worried that there would not be the usual joyful energy that is a part of normal birth, but it was there. We were happy and smiling the whole time Phoebe was alive with us. I'll remember that birth every bit as fondly as I remember Jonah's birth.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Phoebe Leilani Clowes

 April 11th at 11:25pm, Phoebe Leilani was born into this world. She had lots of dark hair and perfect, tiny fingers and toes. She weighed 2 pounds and 4 ounces. Paul Baptized his daughter shortly after birth, and we had two and a half hours to snuggle her before she slipped away into God's kingdom, resting peacefully on my chest where she could be lulled to sleep by the familiar sound of my heart. Her name means Bright Flower of Heaven - and we surely felt the impact of her prayers for us as soon as she opened her little petals for the first time in her new Home. What an honor it has been, Phoebe.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ultrasound Update

     Just got home from my ultrasound appointment with High-Risk pregnancy specialist, Dr. T.    As you know, I've been doing everything in my power to bring up amniotic fluid levels and get that baby to grow. No such luck. It wasn't good enough. When I was first seen by him in early February the baby was just barely over the 10th percentile, size wise. Several weeks later she was below the 10th percentile. Now she is around the 5th. I am almost 30 weeks now and Dr. T's estimate is that she weighs under 2 pounds. (As fate loves to take advantage of me, it made perfect sense that I should come home, get on facebook and be presented instantly with a friend's weekly pregnancy update. She is also 30 weeks so her update declared joyfully, "Congratulations! Your baby is now 4 lbs and almost 16 inches long!")

    To put it in simple english, my hope is basically unfounded. Things are progressing in a downward spiral just as the doctor had predicted. Here is the grand finale to this terrible post: I hadn't wanted to admit it because I liked holding onto my shred of hope, but all weekend my body has toyed with the idea of labor and balanced on the brink of evicting my poor daughter prematurely. All day saturday I layed miserably in my bed thinking "Wow this feels exactly like mid-labor" but remaining in denial. I took herbal tincures and things, and they seemed to slow down the contractions, but early early this morning I woke up contracting again (this time with lots of blood...sorry if you didn't want to know that), and it has continued all day. The ultrasound showed that the placenta previa has resolved itself, so the bleeding is presumably from the dilation of the cervix - which means these contractions are working effectively. Clearly it's been on again/ off again, so I'm not counting on anything immediately, but I guess there is no point in taking the tinctures to try and stop it anymore.

     So this is what is happening right now in my sad little world: there is a box of birth supplies sitting next to my bed that I need to begin joylessly rummaging through to make sure I have everything I need to for the birth. I remember packing up that box after Jonah was born and thinking that one day I would be reopening it for my second baby - I never imagined it would be under these circumstances. Paul is out right now collecting a few things that we will need, we lost our camera in the move and since I haven't been able to unpack all the boxes yet we're just putting a new one on the credit card as this is very important and possibly urgent. We are doing this all with the assumption that I will have a peaceful, private home birth, but the midwives are understandably nervous about assisting a birth that will inevitably end in infant death. The laws in Virginia are idiotic when it comes to midwives. My next stop is to sort out what the plan will be if labor kicks in and I actually do have to have this baby somewhere or another. What I mean to say is that I really have no clue where I will have this baby if it comes soon and who will be the care provider. The idea of a hospital birth in this situation  is utterly repulsive to me. I want my privacy to birth, get to know my daughter, and grieve without butt heads wanting to check my blood pressure every three seconds and stick me up with needles and things.

I remember my first prenatal appointment, in my own living room, it was like hanging out with girl friends. I thought to myself - this baby's birth is going to be great, might as well be a birthday party. I remember, also, New Years at 12:00am and my first thought was that this year would bring with it a new baby to snuggle. When we moved and I first saw our house I thought to myself, this is the room the baby will probably be born. in (leaving the possibility open for like, the living room instead...)  When I first start a new journal I always look ahead at the blank pages and wonder what they will be filled with, but never did I suspect that they would be wrinkled from so many tears and a story about a baby girl who wasn't made for this earth.

   I have sure had some incredibly horrible luck in my time. When I was eight-teen, Paul and I found a boy not much older than us shot through the head, lying in the streets of San Salvador. Not a sight that leaves you very fast. Just a year later was when a stranger busted into my apartment and brutally, vindictively raped and beat my poor roommate. I had all kinds of animals when I was growing up, and I cannot tell you how very attached I would become to them. Well guess what? So many of the ones that belonged especially to me died that when my family took in a stray dog, our neighbor suggested that it be licensed under anyone's name but mine since calling it mine would be like signing it's death warrant!!!! As you know, I have had four miscarriages. If you don't know me, you should see me - I'm fit as a fiddle and there really should be no reason for me to keep losing baby after baby.   I know I'm going out on quite a limb here, the reason I bring all this up is because Paul, knowing me well and my magnetism to bad luck,  recently suggested that I get LIFE insurance!!!!!!! He knows everything about me, and he is concerned enough with my streak of bad luck that he thinks a 23 year old better get life insurance. *S I G H* Sorry, I thought it was funny. Thought I better throw in some wry humor for ya.

   Again, prayers requested. This is such a hard time for my family. We don't know what to do, where to go. We don't know whether to plan for a baby who will need open heart surgery right away, or a funeral. Both require lots of planning...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pre-appointment Rambligs

    Well, tomorrow I see Doctor T again. It's been three weeks since my last appointment, the one that he sadly reiterated to me that things still looked the same - very low fluid means that the little lungs cannot develop, so she probably won't even make it to term. It was just a few days later that I decided to take this bull by the horns with my own bare hands. I'm not letting things just slide because someone says that an ultrasound shows little or no hope! There is more detail on that appointment in a previous entry.
      Anyways, I'm rather nervous about tomorrow's appointment! I feel pretty sure that things have improved despite the sucky prognosis. Remember I said before that my fundal height shot ahead in these past few weeks? I'm sincerely hoping that what I'm doing is working and the fluid levels have gone up. I feel like I'm getting ready for finals or something, the way I'm "cramming". You shoulda seen my grocery run today! I filled my shopping basket with coconut water and pedialyte (a slightly cheaper method of getting electrolytes), oh and clams for my low iron.  That was it: coconut water, pedialyte, clams. I'm pretty sure the check out guy was able to confirm every myth he has heard about pregnant women consuming only the strangest assortment of foods!
    I guess there is not much to say. I'm just nervous and excited. I know I keep holding out hope for the "next" appointment for a good reason! One of these appointments we'll hear encouraging news! Please, please, please send up a prayer tonight for this very special intention! Bombard the Heavens until He can resist the pleas of His children no more! Check back soon to find out how you're prayers have been answered.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Let's Call It "Exceeding Medical Expectations"...Just Cuz We Can!

Yesterday was my regular prenatal with my midwife. I'm twenty eight weeks along and ready to start going every two weeks now...crazy! It makes me sad that I won't be having the birth that every other mom who she sees will. Course, though I may not be having their births, I'll be having MY baby - and she is the most special of them all ( :
   Are you wondering what it is that I'm so ready to call "Against Medical Expectations"? Well!!! She grew!  It may be a small victory, but a victory of any kind is a lovely change of pace in my weary eyes. Since my last regular appointment, my fundal height has shot up a beautiful 5 centimeters.  How awesome is that? Sure, she's still smaller than she should be - I'm measuring 24 weeks only - but when the doctor said that she wasn't able to grow because her heart couldn't get blood to her body, well it puts a smile on a face that has been downcast for to long! And there is some feeling of empowerment at the thought that maybe all these crazy remedies I've been putting so much into  are working! Resting in bed, chugging stevia tea and coconut milk? I'm sure if my doctor only knew, he'd be raising his eyebrows asking himself where in the world these crazy home birth people get their ideas! Love it!!

    As my hope grows, it has manifested itself in the initiation of possibly going through all of this at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. CHOP, as they call it, (oh, how I despise that nickname!) is supposed to be the 2nd best hospital in the country for this sort of complication. I don't think I could live with myself if I didn't do the best I could in every way for my little girl. Going to PA for all of this sounds like a huge pain in the neck (especially with Paul's job....) but how could we not seek the best care that we can? I made the necessary calls and records will be faxed shortly for the Pediatric Cardiologists at CHOP to look over and let me know what they think.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Some Days You Fall, Some Days You Fly

Aye, me. My spirit continues to be tested. That is all part of it.
   The morning after writing that last invigorating blog entry, I woke up with blood everywhere....again. I feel like I'm back at square one, back where I started on Christmas Eve when this all began. I am back on complete bed rest. I am so bummed out, I can't even begin to express it! I felt that I was making some forward movement, and I was settling happily into believing that at least the placenta previa was not on my list of worries anymore. 

   You know what this means, right? This means that if I should go into premature labor as the doctor strongly suspects I may, then *gulp* I will probably need a c-section!!!!
   I'm going to pout a lot in today's entry. Sorry, quit reading if you want, but I'm gonna! I have to vent a tad bit about the practical realities of bed rest.

First of all, this house is a disaster. Seems my theory that I am the only one who cleans up around here has been proven true in these past few months of  Pregnancy Hell. I am so humiliated to say that the bathrooms have not been cleaned properly since the day we moved into this house two months ago. Also, the dog has fleas. I gave him his medicine for it but our new house is completely carpeted....and about the last thing I should be doing is pushing a vacuum cleaner. I'm envisioning fleas making happy homes in are carpet and curtains, the reality being that there is nothing I can do about it. Am I blaming anybody? My darlin' husband has been kept extremely busy, there is definitely not a second of the day he should spend vacuuming the blasted carpet.
   This leads us to the 2nd Practical Reality that stinks through and through. He is kept so busy taking care of Jonah, the dog, and me (and work) that we pretty much don't have any time together. Last night we had a total of 45 minutes of time spent together - he in an exhausted, vegetable state.
   Well, now, I should be in the safe zone now that I have poured my heart out about the misery this whole thing puts on enough, I hope, to not get in to much trouble for going on to the 3rd Practical Reality: Food. Wonderful as my husband is in thousands of ways, cooking is not one of them! (Sorry babe!) Not only that, but as a sub reality to the this PR, he simply doesn't have time to shop let alone put much time into meal planning, and as a result our diets suffer. Crappy time for that, huh!? Just as soon as I should be taking extra caution in nourishing my body. But that is the reality of it. Cooking is one of the things I really miss, too, not to mention EATING my cooking. [ :  But alas, what can be done expect hold your nose and bear it?
    Those are the three main bugars of bed rest that loom large on  a daily basis. Flithy house, no quality time with hubby, awful food. Oh, how I loved to micromanage my household back in the days of normalcy! When you are on bed rest, however, there is no choice but to just let it go.
Ready for more complaining?
Paul and I are plum tuckered out. Our exhaustions are opposite. Paul is physically tired and really doesn't have enough time to even start thinking about the lousy situation we find ourselves in yet again. My exhaustion is emotional. Both of us are just wondering when God will indulge us with a little break. Just a little one! Just one reason to be ecstatically happy. I know - don't you dare even THINK what I think you are thinking - that there are millions of reasons all around us to be happy, look at all the Blessings we have been given! Puleeeez. There is a time and a place, and I've been thinking that, same as you,  with strained nobleness for most of these awful is NOT the day for it! *GROWL* Today is the sulking day. The level of exhaustion feels awfully darn familiar, but I've only felt this way once. It feels JUST LIKE LABOR!!!!! I feel just how I felt when I reached the point of saying "I can't do this! I just want to go to sleep! I just want it to be over!!" Gentlemen, you have no clue. Labor exhaustion is like none other. And ladies....labor as you may have labored, I dare say you might still have no clue. I would do ANYTHING for a 36 hour labor!!!!!!!!!!!! This one has gone on for 2 months, not including the little pre-labor I had to deal with in December, and I'm only at 3 cms!!!!!!  I truly feel battered beyond repair and that all I can do is just lay here while the beating continues.

    But that is just my crummy state of well-being today. Maybe tomorrow I will find the strength to crawl under cover and pull out my pistol again. (Yes, pistol. If I have to imagine myself in battle I'd rather the old west kind. Oddly more appealing than most other kinds of battles.) Maybe tomorrow....I will.....


PS -Oooo I though of one more thing to whine about! Stinks to high heavens that my Bad Day had to land right on April Fools Day. It's a day I look forward to all year and now it's ruined! ) :

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Forget that last strategy I came up with! I've changed my mind, inspired by non other than that feisty little girl who keeps getting stronger. She's a fighter and for awhile I almost forgot that she gets it from me ( : I'm BACK and ready for battle!

  I went to the doctor again about two weeks ago. Bless their hearts, they are so nice to us there. Very compassionate indeed. When I enter a waiting room full of pregnant mamas, various office staff who I don't even remember meeting greet me by my first name and ask how I'm doing before I even sign in. I am treated like royalty because they've heard what a sad situation I'm in.  Kind of surreal, really...   I went in for my ultrasound and saw her there - doing what she's been doing every time we check in on her: playing with her toes, sucking her fingers, hiccuping, etc. Her little heart looks funny and lopsided but it keeps beating right on track like it should. The prognosis is the same, I am told, I should expect a stillbirth or possibly a baby born alive but who will die soon after birth. I was prepared for that. I asked him is he had any estimate on how much longer she might make it, and he sadly told me I could possibly be having this baby in 2 or 3 weeks when her little organs fail because of the heart being unable to pump blood down to the body.
    I went to the cardiologist as we had planned before getting the worst prognosis, and he told us all about Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and didn't seem to think there was any reason she wouldn't make it to surgery. Course, he wasn't looking at the rest of her body (which is small for dates), but isn't it rather interesting that  he didn't even see the leak that was supposedly responsible for killing her slowly?!? He was surprised when we told him Dr. T's prognosis. He said that as far as HLHS hearts go, this one had all the goodies necessary for a successful surgery. Apparently sometimes the valves and blood vessels are deformed as well, but not with this heart. He asked if I felt the baby move, and said that the fact that I do is a wonderful sign.

   A few days after those appointments was when Paul and I decided to buckle down hard and get those assumptions of inevitable death out of our minds. We've taken things into our OWN hands, after all - she's our baby. I'm back on bed rest but it doesn't seem as boring this time because it feels like I'm fighting as hard as I can. I'm guzzling coconut water and stevia tea, both  being old unproven traditions in some cultures for increasing amniotic fluid. Coconut water is full of electrolytes, and stevia is so sweet that the baby is more likely to swallow lots and produce more urine.  This is what I can tell you about my baby right now, forget what the tests have told us: She kicks more everyday. When I poke a finger at her she pokes me back. My belly is getting bigger and bigger.....that could be her growing or it could be that the amniotic fluid is increasing. I'm happy with both those possibilities! One way or the other, it seems silly to assume that this person is dying....I think if we could tell her it would be news for her. She is getting STRONGER, not weaker, and BIGGER not smaller. And it's been two weeks now since the doctor said she might die in two or three weeks. It would be utterly insane of me not to join in the battle with her!
   On another important note, I'd hesitant to pray for her to live until recently. I just funny asking for anything from God....isn't that weird? I never realized I felt that way before because I've never had something this serious come up in my life. I had certainly prayed, but I was asking for strength to cope with His will that my baby would die. Then I found an article pointing out the obvious - that God is a generous God and He loves to give us things when we ask and abide by His commandments. The article used the example of the prodigal son. The son asked if he could be a servant at his father's house and the father excitedly planned a huge feast to welcome him back instead. Throughout history the saints have been known to ask God for sometimes very trivial things, because they knew that God delights in indulging his children. Awesome, man! So in addition to resting, drinking stevia and coconut water, and two gallons of water a day, I've been asking God everyday for my daughter to live a long, happy, healthy life despite the fact that her heart is deformed. I keep slyly reminding Him that He has already taken 4 of my 6 babies so it may be time to allow me to share in the JOYS of motherhood, and spare me the sorrows.

   I'm happy and hopeful. At the very least, I'm hoping that I can hold my daughter for awhile before she dies and look her in the eyes while we say hello and goodbye. <3    
   Bottom line is this:  we can't  assume she's dying when she is so alive right now.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Calling and a Cross

Eh, I'm doing better I suppose. I've developed a method of existence as I await the day that my baby will die. I can hold it all in soundly until around 5 or 6 when I start getting tired, then I'm toast - and the tears can come. The rest of the time I really  feel glad to accept this and oh so proud of my little one, chosen as she is to be with her Creator so soon.  I wouldn't trade her or this pregnancy for any other.
    You're not going to guess what my latest therapy technique is! Delving deeper into my midwifery books and getting down to the nitty gritty details that I need to learn but that have up until now made my eyes glaze over. The midwives I've come to know and shadow have graciously allowed me to attend more prenatal appointments, postpartum,  and last night I was invited to my first birth in the role of student midwife. People have expressed their concern to me about doing all of this while going through such emotional turmoil with my own pregnancy, but let me tell ya: pregnancy and birth has become infinitely more beautiful in my weary eyes. Sure, there is pain as a result of so many reminders that I'm the unlucky one of the bunch - but it doesn't outdo the glory I see shining even brighter in mamas waiting, carrying healthy babies. And the birth - Lord have mercy. How beautiful.  What a Blessing each birth really is. Truly a miracle. The Creator has been so generous with this gift that, though I can't even fathom why anymore, we have gotten used to the wonders of it. The lower I sink into the sadness accompanied by inevitable loss of my baby, and the more  my heart yearns and aches for a healthy normal pregnancy, the more pleasing it is to see  a mom get just that. Bittersweet, they might say.  Maybe the moms I will assist over the years will not have the realization that I have come to find, but if I am so fully aware of just how lucky they really are to be blessed as they have been blessed, I can work even harder to allow their experiences to be perfect. Never slack even for a minute. Study hard and learn my stuff well. My awe and reverence for this whole thing has climbed about a hundred miles high ever since I found out that it shouldn't be taken for granted.  

    Here's my concern: what about the sadness that will be part of  my presence at births for years to come? Obviously I won't bring it up to a mom in labor, and I won't show it of course, but it seems like birthing energy is so joyful......I hope I don't ruin it : /

Speaking of joyful birthing energy, it occurred to me last night that the energy of my own birth will be so different than any other birth I've been to. It will  be sad. How in tar nation am I going to get through the strong contractions without the joyful energy? And that moment when the baby is born....and everyone is surrounded by angels and filled with such a surge of awe and wonderment...what will that moment be like when my little one is born? I suppose the angels might still come. Yea...I guess I won't know til that day. There might be something victorious about it after all. Eventually, though, it will make way for tears and such a cold empty feeling.

Oh I don't know. So many questions that can't be answered! Just a new life and a bad prognosis, and lots of waiting. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Prenatal Diagnosis

I haven't been going to births lately, not since Christmas Eve. I haven't been doing much of anything, actually, just sitting around in my hubby's boxers and tee shirts wishing I could delete these next 5 years or so, or however long it will take to get back to my normal self.  I want to be able to talk and smile and joke around with people like I used to without that nagging worry that I will suddenly and unexpectedly burst into hot tears that make my eyes sting and my throat feel all swollen.

 How do I even begin to tell you whats making me this way? This feeling I have right now is the same feeling I have when I need to talk to someone about that horrible morning 6 years ago when my room mate knocked on my door at 5 AM covered in blood - she'd been raped right there in her own room next to mine. It was a terrible, terrible, sorrow filled day that I will never forget....but how in the world does one bring up such an unhappy conversation? Such a burden on anyones heart. Why would I put it there unnecessarily? It's easier in a blog; you may stop reading at any time if you don't want to know about things that happen, things you think never will happen in your life.

   Did you know I'm pregnant? I am! I was planning my second home birth. I have had a total of four known miscarriages, so once I got out of the first trimester I rejoiced in the assumption that my baby was well. I began telling people that I could now count on having a baby in June. I had already gotten myself all worked up and excited about the birth and the Blessing Way and the summer to come with a new baby.
On Christmas Eve, at a client's beautiful birth actually, I began to bleed quite alot. I was 14 weeks along at the time, so I thought I must have lost the baby a little later than I usually lose my babies. However, the doppler brought up a perfect, clear heart beat and I allowed myself to rest for several weeks and I thought it all blew over. A month later, though, the bleeding started again. I was on bedrest for three weeks. In that time we found out that placenta previa was causing the bleeding  - I saw my plans for my homebirth being potentially dashed to pieces.  That happened early February. Over the following weeks the  diagnosis was tweaked and tweaked some more: I was told the baby would die from a serious heart defect, then I was told that she (yup, it's a girl!) had an 80-90% chance of surviving the first and most major of three open heart surgeries she would need, then at the last appointment I was told that I should expect a stillbirth sometime between now and my regular due date. The cheerful little kicks and strong heart beat don't mean much - the baby is dying inside of me as I type. She has hypoplastic left heart syndrome and a bad leak which is depleting her little body of blood. There is just about no amniotic fluid in there because she cant' really pee that much since her kidneys hardly get what they need to function. Her organs will fail at some point.

   I am 25 weeks along right now. My little tiny baby is hardly big enough to give me a baby bump...but it's there, it's there alright. It's just enough of a bump that strangers notice. Those people who love baby's and pregnancy sometimes stop me and ask with a warm smile "When is you baby due?" One month ago they would just laugh and say something about how tiny I am. Now I'm to small to be normal at all....there is a look of surprise that crosses over their faces before they laugh it away and say good luck. I expect in another month it will be worse, and another after that will be worse, too. My baby isn't growing very much, and she never will, because she is dying.
   Nothing can touch the pain of helplessly carrying a baby who is expected to die. Looking into funeral arrangements while she is kicking me as if nothing is wrong. Envisioning the birth....will  she be alive for any amount of time or will she have been dead for while? Some baby's fall apart when they die in utero. Will my daughter.....fall apart? How will I explain to my almost 2 year old that the "baby inside" is here but she's dead?

   Praise the Lord, in cases like this He surely gives us strength. Not trusting Him is out of the question! I'm clinging to Him with faith I've never had before, not like this. But trusting Him and His plan also means trusting His plan for me as well as my baby. For her, He has planned a short life. For me He has planned deep sorrow. I'm not trying to avoid it, I've been letting it all flow. Let me tell you what I've learned about grieving though: It's exhausting. Crying day in and day out, not sleeping, fighting the tears when you're in public. Hard work. This is going to be one loooooog labor ) :