Monday, November 17, 2014

2 years

The truth is, I don't know how to do this. 2 years since he died, 2 years since I heard him say I love you, 2 years since we hugged, 2 years since he hogged the bed, 2 years since he played with his brothers. 2 years and while I'm not screaming out loud, the agony is still here, just as fresh, just as raw. My son was killed because of a driver's negligence, he doesn't need to be dead. And I still see it everywhere, the distracted.

This weekend as I half heartedly prepped for bramiversary I held my boys as they sobbed for their brother. I hear the words no child should say "I wish my brother was never killed." I fought sleep in fear of another prophetic dream. I tried to fill the holes. We hurt, we bickered, we hugged, we struggle. So often it's a struggle.

We've lost 2 years of our lives, and maybe this next year will be better, they there's firsts we will face this year, like him being dead longer than he lived. I'm not ok today. I'm not healed. We're not healed.

My stomach hurts, my heart hurts. I don't know how to carry this. I don't know how to breathe through this. Contrary to Bram's "that's too much" meaning more, this is actually too much. I avoid the grief, I avoid and fill. I have to fill the holes, with food, with obsessions, with sarcasm, with anger and bitterness, with apathy. Plug up those holes, even temporarily and I can numb the hurt. but it doesn't matter how hard I try, the holes, the bleeding oozing Bram shaped crater in my soul stays. I've learned that I have to face this pain. I've realized I need to use love for the holes. Not fillers.

All of us miss Bram, and I don't want to imagine a future without him. I want him there, I want to see him grow up, I want to know who he was meant to be. How do you ever except a future without your child? How do you hold hope for a future without your baby there?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Birth story part 3

Immediately buttercup cried. I lifted my leg over her cord, rolled over to see her. Bright pink baby, I scooped her from daddy's hands and took her onto my belly. She was gloriously covered in vernix, I rubbed it into her. I was amazed. My baby, my baby girl, my buttercup.

My mom dashed, as quickly as she could being less a week post op, up the stairs and snapped a few pictures with my phone. I asked hubs the time: 1:49am. 

I did it!

No one interfered, no one touched me, no one talked or tried to put a hat on her, my cervix was untouched my entire pregnancy and birthing time. No one scrubbed her with rough blankets, or tried to suction her, or forced her to rush her her physiology. Our first moments were only with buttercup'ss family. Two older brothers watching it unfold (one snoozing in the next room, and one hopefully there in spirit), daddy's hands supporting her, and mom trusting her journey. 

We did it!

It wasn't long after I started feeling really uncomfortable. I asked hubs to get in the tub so he could hold buttercup. It's good we tested the pool before labor to makes sure we both fit. But wow, The pain was getting worse, I had never had a placenta hurt so I was worried it was a surprise. My mind said "that better not be another baby!" 

I was very thankful it was just the placenta. But it was a beautiful placenta. 

Our oldest, T, had fetched our bowl for the placenta. I plopped the placenta in. I was ready to get back into bed with our new baby.

We stayed up for a few hours. Falling in love, watching I Love Lucy, learning to nurse, snuggling skin to skin, noticing all the ways she looks just like Bram.

After we rested and the sun came up we weighed her for fun, a healthy 10lb girl. We kept her cord attached until it naturally fell away. The big boys were in love. Hubs was and is so excited and proud. 

I'm so proud, content, and thankful for the gifts this baby brought us. Thankful for her connection to Bram, and all her brothers. Thankful for a chance to be her mom. 

Birth story part 2

There's this limbo land that exists at the end of pregnancy. The way I experience this doneness is that I'm convinced I will be pregnant forever, where I plead with the person in my belly that they should just come out. Where I seriously offer things like tacos, or a pony, if baby would just come.

Of course, I've never been pregnant forever, rationally I know I wouldn't be. But pregnancy isn't a rational experience. Baby never takes me up on my offers either. They've all been stubborn like that, always picking their own birthdays.

As I laid in bed, minutes past midnight, a full moon in the sky. I was ready for my baby. I finally had contractions that felt big, big enough to bring a baby. I could feel my skin pickling up into goosebumps. Another contraction was big enough to pull myself and my fully bloomed belly out of bed. I didnt get my hubs out of bed, I wanted him to rest. I knew I'd need him once baby was actually coming, I wasn't convinced this would be it.

My birthing pool sat in our living room, pictures of Bram all over the walls. Affirmations from my blessing hung in my bedroom. Pieces of my community filled my home and birthing space; my necklace and bracelet made for me, a dear one sent my pool liner that I wrestled onto my pool, my belly binder, candles that remained unlit, cards, love touching all our spaces. I was safe, I was surrounded by love and comfort.

I decided the birth pool should filled, it would at the very least be a good test to check for leaks. I pulled the hose out, got it connected to our shower, but the next wave stopped me and forced my attention toward my body. I still hadn't admitted it to be real labor, I was still sure that at some point the waves would stop and I'd go to bed to greet another sunrise with a baby tucked beneath my heart. Hubs stepped in and did all the things I needed him to do.

My A, at 2.5 years, was very excited that we would "him" (swim) in the living room. I stripped naked and lifted my aching legs into the pool and let the water fill around me. A joined too so he could "him him." It was quite and beautiful being in the tub. The contractions were coming, I have no idea how often or how long, but regularly. I cried "what if it's too soon to be in the water" but what if it's not. I asked hubs for the time, 12:50am. The tub was full and warm, it felt so good.

I suddenly needed to throw up. I asked for a bowl and hubs quickly found a large one in the kitchen. I threw up and A was so disgusted he started gagging. Through my retches, I asked TJ to get A out of the tub. As soon as he did, A threw up next to the pool. Poor hubs cleaning up everyone's vomit. He brought me an electrolyte drink to help my belly after throwing up.

The next contraction that came was huge and I yelled louder than I had been at this point. I couldn't get comfortable. I very obviously was feeling waves in my sacrum. I was rolling and squirming all over the pool. My legs kicked wildly without much direction from myself trying to open my pelvis more to help baby move her back away from my back. I leaned over the edge and screamed. Every contraction I screamed louder. I screamed how much I hated labor. I screamed how I didn't want to do this any more. I screamed for an epidural. I screamed for sleep. I screamed swear words over and over and over. I screamed help me. I screamed until the screaming didn't help. I cried and said I needed the hospital but I knew I couldn't and wouldn't be getting out of that tub.

Oh the back pain was so intense and consuming. When the screaming stopped helping, biting was the next option. I squeezed hubs hands and chewed on him. But I wanted to bite harder to get through the pain. So he handed me the hose, and I bit down with every wave until I couldn't take another wave. I was done. I held hubs hands and pleaded that he help me, he assured me I was doing it, anything I wanted he would do for me. I cried. I hurt. I needed my baby out. 

I felt my water burst, it felt so good for it to flow. And then I growled a deep gutterly growl. I rolled over floating on my back, legs pressed against the pool walls holding my labia wide and I pushed. I swore my butt was going to explode. I chanted I love pooping I love pooping. Hubs giggled, I can't blame him. After a few pushes I reached down to feel my baby and couldn't tell if it was a head or a butt. With my next push I felt and knew it had to be baby's head. Another wave and I had to move before my body pushed again. I've always thought it miraculous for women to move with baby  half way out. Still I was able to move my body, flipping myself over, all while her head hung from me, the rest of her still inside. Such a phenomenal feeling. I got back to my hands and knees and told hubs to catch his baby just like I had told him for Bram and A. I wanted him to take her out, he held her head and shoulders as I pushed the rest of her plump little body from mine, into his hands. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Birth story part 1

This isn't the first birth story I've written, this is the fifth. My fifth child, my first daughter, our rainbow baby.

"A rainbow baby is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm need happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy, and hope."

The journey to her has been a long one, so her story here is a long one. When we lost Bram on November 17, 2012 our world collapsed. Not just my world, or TJ's world, but our sons' worlds. As those familiar with the story know, it wasn't a gentle passing. Bram was the 3rd boy in our family. His birth changed me in ways I can't explain. It was painless, it was ecstatic, it was my dream birth and you can read it here.

Our family was there for his death, he was hit by a distracted driver while waiting to go get family pictures. His body was broken beyond repair. When he died his youngest sibling at the time was 9 months old and still breastfeeding. My body went into shock. My milk supply was minimal, and my cycles stopped for the next 9 months. I feared that my fertility died with Bram, as it seems many things died or were forever changed with his passing. I hoped beyond hope that I would find out we were having a rainbow baby on the first anniversary of his passing. But it came and went, many of my friends announcing their own pregnancies. Pangs of jealousy rose in me as happy as I was for them, and I got very quite. Christmas came, and the solstice came,  and I got sick following the new year. A horrible tooth infection, a stomach bug, and waiting for another flow showing me that I'd never have another baby. I'd never have a rainbow.

A friend who was very pregnant and no longer needed her ovulation tests offered hers to me. I decided to use a few to see if there was any LH in my urine. To my surprise, they were REALLY positive. And they stayed positive for a few days. I ovulated on the 14th month mark without Bram, Jan 17th 2014. Ten days later we got a positive pregnancy test.

I was so excited. It was the happiest moment I had in a long while. I was pretty queasy the first trimester. I'm understating that. I was exhausted and sick all the time. It was miserable but I took it in stride and tried not to complain. I was just plain thrilled to have the opportunity to be pregnant again. Overall though the 1st and 2nd trimesters were uneventful and healthy. In the 3rd trimester though I began connecting and attaching to the baby inside. She had a name, we had things for her. I was able to get her co-sleeper set up and the corner it sits in decorated.

But pregnancy after loss is different. I was scared, I'm still scared. I was scared of a tainted womb, a toxic pain filled environment for a baby to grow in. I was very detached from my body. It was work to connect. Im really grateful to have close group of friends who believe similarly to what I do about birth, and I leaned on them heavily. They reassured me so often I can just imagine, their loving eyes rolling every time I came up with some new ridiculous thing to obsess over. But they helped me clear out the fear, or at least they gave me strength against those fears. At 33 weeks I got to travel to one of my best friend's homes in another state for a couple days. I was able to rest and be nurtured. I realized how important my self care was and how lacking I had been. I caught up on sleep, I swam, I was massaged and surrounded by love. I felt so safe, I felt a wall come down. I hadn't had a chance to really release while taking care of my family. I used my family as an excuse to not take care of me. I came home refreshed and my family was so happy to have me back.

When I came home I was anxious for the next weeks to get on, yet in no rush to have buttercup here. I felt like there was so much to do and so little time. My to-do list seemed to have more to-do added than I could check off in a day. Plus I was caring for my mom who had recently had a part of her kidney removed due to cancer. (She's cancer free now!) As we got into September, I felt like maybe she'll come early, as every mother thinks, but I thought too that maybe she'll be a week or so later. I kept telling everyone she would be later. Then I had my beautiful blessing. I felt ready, I wasn't going to worry about the to-do list, I wasn't going to stress about stocking the freezer. The house was as clean as it was going to get with all these silly kiddos. We had one more hurdle, one more surgery for my mom and our baby could come after that. She went in the first friday of October.

Through the 3rd trimester I had dealt with a lot of pelvic pain, a lot of sacrum pain, and leg issues. It felt like I was having back labor, but without contractions pretty much all the time. I went to my chiropractor quite a few times, got regular massages, did many magnesium baths. Finally I went to a crainosacral therapist, one who had done some body work after Bram died. I wasn't really open to the therapy then, but I was now and it helped as much as it could, which was a great deal. The feeling of being in constant back labor stopped. But I could tell that buttercup was bigger, and suspected that she was restricting a real improvement.

I had many break downs and sobbing fits while my mom was in the hospital. My due date was a week after my mom went in for repeat surgery and I hoped I wouldn't be in labor when she was ready to come home. My due date also happened to be just after a full moon, a full moon with solar eclipse. So of course I thought the moon would put me in labor. I couldn't sleep the night of the eclipse, so I watched it happen and it was lovely. I talked to my baby I told her to come whenever she was ready, she was safe, she's loved, and we couldn't wait to see her. I realized around 5am that the reason I couldn't sleep was because I was waiting for labor to start.

I decided after not sleeping most of the night I'd go get the guys some breakfast and come home before they got up. While I was out my mom let me know she was ready to come home. So I went and picked her up. I came home, caught a nap and went about my day. During that day I lost my mucus plug. Not a big deal, they can regenerate. Didn't stop me from incessantly checking the toilet paper every time I went to the bathroom.

I was pretty tired that day and my boys were pretty high needs through the day. Very energetic while I was recovering from a very long sleepless night. I was so looking forward to a full nights sleep. After dinner I noticed some light contractions. I texted hubs and let him know that I would be timing them. Only to text him about an hour later to let him know they fizzled out because the kids were requiring too much of my focus.

When he came home I had to send him out for a few things for my mom, because she couldn't go out and I was too grouchy and tired to be in public. He came home about an hour and half after he left and while I still had a random contraction every 20-30 minutes, it was nothing different that what had been happening for the last few weeks. We went to bed, around midnight, I closed my eyes and paid attention to the sensations in my body.