Sunday, May 25, 2008

Belated Mother's Day

Mother’s day this year pretty much went unnoticed and I was a bit upset and surprised about that but had no idea how to even approach the subject. I knew that Dug knew mother’s day was approaching because he mentioned that we had to send his mom her birthday and mother’s day gifts soon but I didn’t really know what he was thinking in regards to me. Anyhow, mother’s day came and went and nothing. Even an entire week went by and nothing. Well, a week and a half later, this past Wednesday afternoon, we went to the BFO office to meet with a lady, Debra Davidson, to talk about our loss and get us connected with a grief group. At the meeting we talked about our story and how we were feeling. At one point she asked how mother’s day went and I just looked at Dug and we both responded that we ignored it and left it at that. Later that day, as Dug and I walked through the mall looking for a birthday gift for a friend I realized that I was really upset about this mother’s day issue and wanted to bring it up but didn’t know what to say. I started tearing up because it was really bothering me but at the same time I didn't want to upset him or have him feel guilty. I mean I wasn’t really sure if I was even entitled to celebrate mother’s day. Was I a mother? Did HE think I was a mother? Dug noticed I was crying and said what’s wrong and I just blurted out “Don’t get mad but I just want to know why you didn’t get me anything for mother’s day?” Not that I wanted a present, but a card or a gesture to show me that he felt I was a mother was what I really needed to feel validated. Well, he was quiet for a moment after I asked and I could tell that he was surprised by my question, especially as it may have seemed to him to come out of the blue. I think that I made him feel guilty and uncomfortable like he had failed me and I felt so horrible that I had made him feel that way. He finally responded that at the time of mother's day he didn't want to make me feel worse so he just ignored it. He then reminded me that he always got me stuff for mother's day from our Dog and Cat, Lacey and Miss C, and that this year he had planned on getting me a video camera. I had mentioned I wanted to get one so that we could tape the birth of our children and all the wonderful things they would do as they grew up, but after what had happened he thought the gift would just make me more upset and remind me of all the things we would miss out on now. Finally, and most importantly, he said that he DID think I was a mother and was sorry if he hurt my feelings by not acknowledging that. I felt somewhat comforted and understood his reasoning but also sad that I had made him feel guilty and made him feel like he had let me down.
The next day, when I got back from my morning meeting at the BFO with Debra and two other grieving mommies I was surprised. There it was, on the kitchen counter, a big Winnie-the-pooh gift bag and an envelope leaning against it that said Mommy. The card read “Mommy, happy Mothers Day!! Sorry this is late but you know Daddy he’s a bit slow. We love you so much mommy and we are thinking of you. Love Forever, Breanna, Cole, Lacey and Miss C”. I cried so hard when I read the card. It meant so much to me. I was finally validated. I AM a mommy. In the bag he had bought me two little stuffed animals; a little Winnie-the-pooh and a little Eeyore, the same ones we bought for Cole and Breanna to go in their casket. They were the perfect gift and memento of my little angels. I felt bad that my little break down the day before made him get up early, run to the store and get me a gift before I got back from my meeting, just to make me happy but at the same time I felt so lucky to have such a wonderful husband that would do that for me. I realized that he would do anything to make me happy and that I just have to be more open about how I feel so that he knows how to help me. It felt like such a hard subject to bring up but in the end it was easy to talk about and I feel so much better now. And best of all I think I finally have a good idea of something to get for him for father's day.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

TTC in August?

I was due in August and the bereavement books said that you should wait 6 months before trying to conceive which would be November but I went to see our fertility doc last week (who was shocked to see us, not having known what had happened... the clinic just gets you pregnant and through your first trimester and then ships you off to an OB and seeing as everything was perfect and best case scenario he figured he'd never see us again). Anyhow, he said we could start trying again in August. As soon as he said that I was soooo excited and felt ready!!! He said that because I didn’t go full term, there is no reason medically to wait that long. But what if I'm rushing into trying to get pregnant again too soon... not physically but emotionally. I feel like I've been handling my grief okay but I've been off work and not really seeing anyone. And a get together we went to this weekend was disastrous. Here’s what happened.

We were invited to a potluck-bbq-get together at a friend’s house (Susan and Alan) for another friend’s (Geoff) bday on Saturday. We are very close with all three of them, Susan was my matron of honour at my wedding and Geoff was a groomsman, and the 5 of us always get together but Susan mentioned that other people that went on this trip with Geoff and them would be there too but we didn’t think anything of it and figured it would be fine. We got there early and it was just the 5 of us. Things were normal. Then another couple showed up and I was okay. The girl said we had met once before at her stagette that I apparently went to. We made small talk as we got our potluck items prepared. Then another couple arrived that I did not know and they brought their baby with them. OH MY GOD… I froze with a fake smile on my face for about 2 minutes, not speaking or making eye contact with anyone. But I just couldn’t hold it in and I ran off to the bathroom and tried to pull myself together. As I got out of the bathroom I ran into another girl that just arrived that I had met many times at Susan’s get-togethers. I don’t think she knew about our loss or even that I was pregnant because I had not seen her in months. I tried to make small talk and ask her about the trip they all went on but I just could not concentrate on the conversation. Everyone around us was talking about and passing around the baby and the first girl that arrived was talking about her baby that was being baby sat by her mom because she was sick with a cold. Then another couple I didn’t know walked in the door and that was it. It was too much. I could not take it. I grabbed my purse and my coat and walked out. It was nice out so I thought I’d just take a little walk, collect myself and be fine. But then I thought about my poor husband that I had just left sitting there. Was he just as uncomfortable as I was? How was I going to save him? I took out my cell and called him on his cell. All I said is “I’m outside” and he said “I’ll be right there”. When he caught up to me down the street I felt so stupid that I could not hold it together for some silly get-together. There was just too many people that I didn’t know and I was worried that in making small talk someone would innocently ask me about kids and I would make everyone uncomfortable. Anyhow, Dug said that if I was uncomfortable that Susan would understand if we just left, so we did. When we got home Dug called Susan and apologized for leaving so abruptly, told her where we had left Geoff’s bday gift and that we’d pick up the stuff we left behind the next time we got together.

So now I’m wondering if all this time that I’m just staying home (since we have both been off work since I gave birth) and running errands with just my husband is actually helping me grieve or am I deluding myself into believing that I’m dealing with my loss when all I’m actually doing is hiding out. I mean I don’t feel like I’m hiding out. I have been out of the house, gone shopping at the mall and gone to the grocery store and been to the doctors. But I’m always with my husband, just the two of us. We don’t seem to be doing anything with anyone else. Am I just scared to see other people because I make them sad? Do I just want to TTC as early as possible to fill the void? To have something positive to talk about so that we’re not the depressing couple that everyone has to tip toe around? We could say "it's okay, we're already expecting again and are thrilled" I would love to start in August because then I could start the school year pregnant and not be so depressed. When people (and especially my students) see me for the first time in September and give me that “I’m so sorry sad face” I’ll already know that I’m on my way to having a baby and I won’t be so sad. I kind of did that the last time. I had an ectopic that they got rid of with a methotrexate shot at 8 weeks in the first week of July 2007. At our last fertility attempt in November 2007 I was DESPERATE to get pregnant this time. It would be that last chance for the year and I really wanted to be pregnant in January, when my first pregnancy would have been due. I felt that would not make me so sad about the loss. So at the last minute we did IUI for that extra chance of getting pregnant… and it worked!!! I got pregnant with twins and the due date of the first baby went by without a tear. I was too excited about my new babies which were doing really well and were past the point where I lost the first one.

But I’m also worried that August might be a really hard month for me emotionally because that was the expected due date for my twins. And losing them was so much harder than the first. I actually gave birth to them, held them, have pictures of them, named them and buried them. Their due date can’t possibly go unnoticed like that of the last. Maybe I should wait until September but then I have to deal with the sad faces at school and I’m not getting any younger. I’m already 35 and every month that goes by make my chances of complications higher and higher.

I find myself wishing for what I always wished for when I was younger. I just want to see a snap shot of my life when I am older so that I know that everything will be okay. Show me a picture from the future of me and my husband and our kid(s) in front of our house with our pets with everyone happy, healthy and smiling so that I know that in the end it will all work out. If I had the guarantee that in the end it will all work out then I’ll be okay with whatever sh!t life throws at me along the way. Where’s my time machine? :)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Name Plaques Arrived

A couple of days ago (Friday, May 16th) the door bell rang and as I got to the door no one was there. I opened the door to find a brown paper package leaning against the wall on the porch and then looked up and saw a postal attendant walking down my driveway into her truck and drive off. Dug came downstairs to see who was at the door as Lacey was still barking. I picked up the package and turned to Dug. I knew what it was. On Saturday April 12th, excited to be new parents in a few months, we went to the Baby Show at the International Centre near the airport. There we found these amazing custom name plaques made of wood and painted in whatever colours you wanted. Already having found out the genders of our babies and deciding on their names we ordered two; one for our baby boy Cole with a big letter C in navy blue with a black background and a gold star and one for our baby girl Breanna with a big letter B in beautiful pastel colours with two flowers. They were going to be custom made to our specifications and delivered in a few weeks. I thought about them a couple of times when I was in the hospital on bed rest worried that Cole was not going to have enough fluid to develop his lungs and die even if I made it to full term. I thought about what we were going to do with the plaque if that happened and how depressing it would be when the plaques arrived. We loved the name Cole so much I even considered, which now I can’t even believe I ever thought, that we would save it for our next boy that we would name Cole. Well, they had arrived and as I looked at the package I just froze. I didn’t know what to do. I gave the package to Dug and asked if it would be okay with him if we didn’t open it right then. He agreed and put the package in the babies’ room.

That day we went about our errands as usual. Later, my dad came over with dinner and while Dug was putting together the new TV stand we bought that day at Costco I considered bringing down the package and showing my dad what we had bought. But I decided that it might be too upsetting for my dad so I didn’t. That evening, as Dug tucked me into bed, I asked him to bring the package. I wanted to open it. He asked if I was sure and I said “yes, I wanted to be sad.” As we struggled to open the packages I couldn’t believe that the moment I was dreading had arrived. When we finally got the packages opened I was amazed at how well they turned out. They were so beautiful. Dug and I just stared at them in silence and cried. I thought about how I wanted to put the plaques above each of their cribs and how much they would have loved them as they grew up. Cole’s was perfect for a young boy. I imagined that as he got older he would want in on the outside of his bedroom door and then later keep it in a box of old toys and mementos when he went off to university. Breanna’s was so girly looking. I imagined her as she grew up in a frilly girly bedroom with her plaque always above her bed. But none of that was going to happen now. Instead I asked Dug “what are we going to do with these?” He responded that we would keep them in their memory box. I said that Breanna’s was too big and would not fit and Dug said we’ll get a bigger box then. Then Dug took them to the babies’ room and put them on the futon with the rest of their mementos. Eventually I will go through, sort and pack away their mementos but for now they will stay in the room until I’m ready.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

First PBSO Meeting

Well the first meeting yesterday went well. We arrived early (even before the facilitators because I got the time wrong) and were so nervous sitting in this big empty room filled with couches lining the walls not knowing what to expect. When the facilitators arrived they were in a frenzy of activity setting up tables, pulling stuff out of boxes... it was like watching a tv show. Slowly other people started to arrive and the facilitators welcomed them and semi introduced us. In total there were 4 couples including us, a separated lady and the two facilitators (that constantly reminded us that this was not their normal group that they facilitate and that they have been having trouble finding someone to facilitate our group in this area and therefore for now our group will only meet once a month instead of every two weeks). This was the first meeting for all of the couples and the 4th meeting for the single lady.
We started by moving our chairs all around the big tables in the middle. Then one of the facilitators told her story about the son she lost 11 years ago, her involvement with the PBSO (perinatal bereavement services ontario) organizing the annual walk to remember she started in memory of her son. Then she pulled out her memory box and showed us pictures and mementoes she has collected over the years and the connection she made between her lost son and bees. She seemed so well adjusted I envied her.
The single lady went next and told us her story about her "husband" that said he would leave if she continued the pregnancy when they found out the baby had down-syndrome. I felt awful for her as she didn't want to end the pregnancy and seems now to still be having to deal with the grief on her own since they are now separated. I couldn't help but cry. She had brought a memory box that she was still working on that had pictures and notes. It was beautiful.
I was next and can't remember a thing I said although I felt that I was talking for so long. I remember being okay for the most part but at times breaking down into a blubbering mess as I tried to get the words out. My husband said he cried the entire time I was talking but I don't ever recall looking at him or looking at anyone for the matter. I just talked and stared into space, no eye contact with anyone, how weird? For my memento I pulled out my pictures of Cole and Breanna that I keep by my bed side and I talked about not being able to sleep until after the funeral because I needed everything to be done and perfect as it was my only chance to show Breanna and Cole that I was a good mommy and how I would have done anything to take care of them.
Next was a couple who had delivered a past full term seemingly healthy baby boy in April. But then a hours after his birth started seeing signs that something wasn't right and soon found out that the baby had a problem with his bowel/intestines and that there was nothing that could be done to save him. She brought an entire photo album of pictures of the day she had her son. I asked to see it later and it was so sad to see the first pictures where everyone was so happy and the entire family got to hold the baby and then a sudden change in the facial expressions in the photos with everyone holding the baby but tears of sadness in their eyes. The transition from sheer joy to utter devastation is logged in that photo album and it was sooo heartbreaking. They also wrote a beautiful poem that made my husband and I cry.
The next couple did not speak. I could tell she was just too devastated to say anything and didn't even want her partner to say anything on her behalf. I felt so awful for her and wondered how she was going to benefit from group if she did not talk but later during the car ride home my husband reassured me that even though he did not say anything he already felt a benefit from going to group and that she might feel the same as him.
The last couple lost their baby in March and mentioned it had taken them along time to finally decide to come to their first group meeting. The lady told her story about how at 18 weeks she found out the baby had died in her womb 2 days earlier. She explained the details of her car ride home that day and getting ready the next morning to got to the hospital to be induced... taking a shower and looking at her belly knowing that the baby had already past was devastating. I knew how she felt. It was like my 2 weeks in the hospital with Cole's fluid levels being critically low and knowing that even if I made it to full term he probably wouldn't survive because his lungs couldn't develop. She found out at birth that it was a girl and named her Dierdra which she said appropriately meant sorrowful. She showed us her baby's little hat and foot prints from the hospital. She talked about having wished she had a proper camera but on the day of thought the same as me... this is absurd, why would I want a picture of my dead baby? but now realizes that she wishes she had them. I found her and I also very similar in our thoughts about going back to work and seeing people that don't know what happened and getting that awful "I'm so sorry sad face" which will just make us break down and cry.
After the sharing of stories and mementos we did a craft... message in a bottle... where we decorated a little bottle with stickers, ribbons and beads with our babies' names. Funny enough the crafty side of me wasn't really interested in this. I wanted to talk more, try to make connections with the other couples and find out about specific practical things like what should we do with the baby's room? at what point does memento collecting get too obsessive and unhealthy?
Before I knew it it was time to go and I really didn't want to. I thought shouldn't we exchange emails or numbers? There is so much to talk about and share. I can't wait a month to meet again... that is wayyyyy too long. But everyone just left quietly with a general goodbye wave as they walked out the door and that was it. We got in our car and went home. I felt like I just poured my heart out to strangers and they did too and they are going to remain strangers. A month from now we will still be just as uncomfortable around each other and maybe feel embarrassed about how emotional we were at the last meeting but there will be no bond. How could there be? So much will have changed by then. I can understand that maybe in 6 months from now the group only meet once a month, but right now, so early in the process I feel it should be every week for the first month, then every two weeks for the next 4 months and then only once a month once we are more well adjusted.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nervous to Attend Group

I'm a little nervous for my first perinatal bereavement group meeting that my husband and I are attending tomorrow night. I know I'm being silly but I'm getting all anxious and worried about the stupidest things like I'm worried that I might be too nervous to talk ,or worse, so nervous that I won't shut up. What if I don't like these people and I'm not comfortable around them... then where will I go for help. What if I can't handle hearing about their losses because it makes me more sad and start crying uncontrollably. My poor husband is going to have to sit there with me being a blubbering mess.
We were told that the meetings topic for the evening is "mementos" and we are supposed to bring something that reminds us of our babies to talk about. I have no idea what to bring. Should I bring their pictures or the clothes they wore in the hospital or the foot prints and hand prints the hospital made for us. I don't want to look stupid and bring all of it but I don't know what the right thing to bring would be.
I really hope that this group will help me deal with the grief but I am getting so nervous I feel like at the last minute I'm going to say "No, I can't go"

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Beginning

I was carrying twins and everything was going great. Then at almost 21 weeks my water broke. I was in the hospital on bed rest hoping and praying that all would work out but knowing that one of the twins (the boy) was critically low on fluids and would likely not survive even if I was to hold off labour for weeks (preferably months) because his lungs would not be able to properly develop.
But then at 23 weeks (Saturday May 3rd) the unthinkable happened... I went into labour (and didn't even realize it... I thought I had severe constipation and was screaming for a laxative or enema!!) I couple of hours later at 7:49am I gave birth to my first born son... Cole. I could barely comprehend what had happened. I was in shock and tried desperately not to cry hysterically as I felt that would induce my girl. My husband and I held Cole as he sucked his thumb and moved his perfect little fingers. He looked so small and yet so perfect... why couldn't they do anything for him I thought. After two hours of not going into labour again they shipped me off to another hospital in order to better the chances of the second baby (or so we thought) and I left my husband and Cole behind. Eventually, after Cole passed, my husband joined me at the other hospital and I was told that I was back to 4 centimetres.
Things looked good that I may be able to hold off labour for a few more weeks or better yet months. But the next day the cramps came back (nowhere near the excruciating pain with the first so I was not worried) and without even realizing it I was back to 9 centimetres. Eventually at 2:10 am on Sunday May 4th I gave birth to my beautiful little girl Breanna... she had my chin and looked just like me. Again, she looked so perfect but just small but we had discussed it and decided that her life would be horrible if we tried to sustain her. So once again my husband and I held her as she periodically gasped for air and less than 30 minutes later she passed.
The next few days are a blur of being at the hospital and planning the funeral of our two babies that we had all these hopes, dreams and visions of the future for. We dreaded the funeral and reception to follow, but actually found it quite therapeutic having people around us to talk about anything and everything... In fact as the last people left we almost didn't want them to leave. The next day I felt so much better. I had finally slept since I went into labour 5 days earlier. I think I finally could get some rest now that my babies were laid to rest. But since then I feel like I have reverted back to being a blubbering mess rather than moving forward. I have turned borderline OCD cleaning and organizing everything in my house and talking with my husband about our feelings... well mostly my feelings as he seems to have become emotionless but is very supportive in listening to me. We've gone to the store to run some errands and the stupidest things make me break down and cry which is so embarrassing and I feel awful for my husband and anyone around us.
It has now been a week since their passing I don't even know what to do with myself... we've left a message to join a bereavement group but are waiting to here back. Our friends were all really supportive at the funeral but I feel awful calling them and having them feel uncomfortable around us... especially with me on the verge of break down around any corner. I decided that maybe writing a message on here might help me deal with the loneliness and make me feel like I am actually talking to someone that I don't have to worry about their feelings and how my story might make them feel uncomfortable.
This was originally my first post on the Grief & Loss board which I wrote on May 11th at 9pm. I have since decided to keep a blog of my posts and my feelings.