Friday, April 29, 2011

Sadness (Part 1)

Last night I learned that a friend of mine lost her nephew this week to stillbirth. Another full term, beautiful little boy, lost to a cord accident. Dreams shattered for yet another family. I went to my monthly support group last week and we had four NEW families present who had losses just within the last month, and apparently there had been a total of 13 losses in the past month alone at the hospital where I attend my group. This is just one of many hospitals in our city. How many other losses had there been at the others? It would make me crazy to try and think of it, so I won't.

With all these new losses surrounding me, I can't help but think about those days, or weeks, leading up to Everett's death and everything that followed. I remember how terrified I was every time I was admitted to the hospital. I remember feeling scared, and lonely, and so unsure of what was happening around me leading up to the weeks before Everett died. Then the day came where we thought our dreams were coming true and he would FINALLY be delivered and they couldn't find his heart beat.

I haven't written about what we experienced in the moments after learning that our son was gone, for a couple of reasons. I wasn't ready to go there. I wasn't ready to put myself back into feeling that pain, that unbearable, awful pain we experienced when I made my doctors tell me out loud what I could already see on their faces. The horror of the words spoken out loud to us. I knew it in my heart he was gone before they said it, but I needed to hear them say it. All Dave and I could do was cry in horror and shock and hold each other. I remember crying to the point I felt like I could no longer breath, and just saying no, no, no... saying, how could this happen, he was just alive this morning, I heard his heart beat this morning, I felt him move in the lobby this evening, how could this happen?!? Then I said it, We were so close! I was supposed to be induced right then and there. We were so close to him being here, and he was gone.

We had a Chaplin come in and visit with us for a while before they started the induction process. He did a blessing over Dave and I and Everett and then we were left to start the induction process. I begged my doctor for a c-section. It was too unbearable to think about going into labor and delivering my dead child. I just wanted him out of me. But they wouldn't do it. Too much risk for an "unnecessary" surgery. I started having contractions on my own very shortly after it was determined Everett's heart was no longer beating. Kind of like nature was taking it's course. I still had to be induced in all the typical ways, cervical ripening, pitocin drip to speed up contractions, and then the hook to break my water. After my water was broken things moved very quickly. In fact a little too quickly. They did a slow drip on my epidural, which had to be performed twice (ugh). The pain meds hadn't caught up with the level of pain I was in from the contractions. I begged for them to give me something. I was screaming out in pain and agony. Pain from the contractions and agony from what was about to happen. I kept thinking throughout the labor process, Maybe they made a mistake, maybe he will come out crying and screaming and things will be OK. I think part of this was hope that I needed to hold onto to get through the delivery process and part a protecting mechanism in my brain to help me deal with what was going on.

It was finally time to push. I pushed for what felt like an eternity. One of the few times in my life where I felt so incredibly weak. I was weak from emotional distress, weak from all the meds being pushed into my body and weak from going through labor all night. I just wanted it over with. I wanted to see my baby boy that we wanted so badly to be in our lives. I remember asking my sister, who was there with us during this process, if she could see his head. I needed to know it was almost over. A few more pushes and he was partly out. I had to wait, yes wait, for him to come the entire way out so my OB could inspect him to see if there were any obvious reasons for why he died. Then Dave watched as his cord was unwrapped (tightly) from around his neck and there was the smoking gun... Those two cord knots in his umbilical cord. My OB stated they were the tightest he had seen in his experience.

Everett was placed on my chest, just as Lilli was when she first came out. For a brief moment I forgot that he was gone. I just marveled at this beautifully, chubby, red headed little boy, who in our eyes was beyond perfect. He had skin tears from being gone for several hours and going through the birthing process and his lips were a dark shade of purple, but that didn't matter to us. He was ours and he was beautiful. The nurse took him and cleaned him up. Just like any happy and anxious mother I was excited to hear his birth stats. Then they let us know he was 8lbs, 1oz and a very long 22inches. What a big boy he was.

My in-laws arrived with Lilli to meet Everett. Lilli didn't understand that her brother she had waited so long to meet was gone, she didn't understand why everyone was so sad, and crying, wasn't this supposed to be a happy time? She held him and wanted to see his feet. She LOVES baby feet. We unwrapped them from his blanket and she touched them. Everett was still slightly warm at this point. Another Chaplin came in, one I had seen just weeks earlier while on the high risk unit when I was feeling so scared. She baptized Everett with his Mommy, Daddy, big sister, Nanny, and Deda (Deda is Serbian for Grandfather) surrounding him. My parents arrived by plane from out of state that evening and got to spend some much needed time with their grandson too.

I remained in shock the remainder of my hospital stay. Going into "crisis mode" and doing what needed to be done for our son. Making funeral arrangements, contacting the funeral home, florist, letting friends and family know what happened and what the tentative arrangements were going to be, things like that. The middle of the night when I was in the hospital was the hardest for me. I was moved to a different unit, so I wouldn't be around other happy new moms, and have to hear baby's crying. Although I did have to experience that while in labor and delivery. I could hear a mom giving birth to her alive baby in the room next to me. It was unfair and felt a bit torturous at the time.

The unit I was moved to was quiet. They put me at the end of the hall away from people and I felt a lot like the red headed step child. It was as though I hadn't been pregnant the entire year and everything had been erased. Except that it hadn't. When it was time to go we got a box of mementos some nurses had made for us. It was in a box they had picked out, with (of all things) a sail boat on it. Everett's room was sail boat themed and they didn't even know that. We said our final goodbyes to Everett, after spending the next morning holding him and rocking him in my room. I asked to clip some lockets of his beautiful hair so we could have that to touch later on, and I'm glad we did. As we rode down the elevator with my nurse she held our box of mementos. There was a well meaning volunteer in that elevator ride with us, who kept commenting on how beautiful the box was and what was it for, etc. Our nurse just tried to get her to shut up, but in a polite way! And then we exited the hospital, empty handed and the epitome of broken hearted. Tears welled up in my eyes as we left the hospital with no baby in hand.

~Steph

Part 2 to come later

Monday, April 25, 2011

Update

Run 4 Everett is now only 116 days away. That's just over 3 1/2 months! But who's counting? Me! I'm counting! We've had a few registrations so far, but still a long ways to go to make it a successful event. I am hopeful we will get there with the participation! We've had some final sponsorships come in this past week and hope to be winding down with that soon so that we can get our race brochures printed. If you are interested in registering for Run 4 Everett, or would like to make a tax deductible financial contribution, feel free to visit our website at run4everett.com. You can register by clicking on the race info tab, then clicking on the online registration link.

Dave and I are incredibly grateful to so many people who have helped us with the event, either through sponsorship, general donations (many of the folks we do not personally know), or support in other ways. We would like to thank each and every one who has helped us out in one way or another. Without you and your support, this event would not be possible.

Easter was yesterday and my sister got married the day before. It has been a busy week surrounded by family. I am pretty certain this is the first Holiday that I haven't bawled like a baby. It helps me to know that our beautiful baby boy is surrounded by love and got to participate in awesome celebrations up in Heaven.

We hope all of you had a wonderful Easter, or day if you don't celebrate. And hope to see many at Run 4 Everett!

~Steph

Friday, April 15, 2011

Peaceful Evening

So my husband has been out of state for business all week, and we survived just fine last time. Why should this time be any different? Well, it was. My three year old decided to have major behavioral issues all week, blaming it on missing her daddy. There's no excuse for her behavior this week, missing daddy or not. Everything seemed to come to a head Wednesday with bad behavior out in public, downright embarrassing actually. After a long timeout at home, some silent treatment by me, taking away several of her prized possessions, and several talkings to, I decided to take her to the park to meet up with a friend of mine and her children. This was not a reward for her bad behavior, this was for MY sanity. I needed for her to run off all that extra energy and be able to go to sleep extra early. Maybe some fresh air would do her some good.

Things seemed to be going according to plan. She was running, and climbing and generally just happy, something I really hadn't seen all week from her. She wanted to swing and laughed as I pushed her higher in the sky. Then it happened. Her little behind slipped out of seat of the swing. She was mid air as it happened and she grasped desperately to the chain of the swing. It was like a slow motion event happening right in front of me that I couldn't do anything about. Then she let go. She landed head first on the padding below the swing. I was horrified! I scooped her up and held her tight, feeling for bumps or other signs of trauma. There didn't seem to be any. She cried briefly and was up and running before I knew it. I consulted with my friend about whether to take her to the hospital to get checked out. We both decided I probably wouldn't sleep a wink unless I did.


I took her to the ER and she was seen very quickly. Outside of some scrapes and bruises she seemed just fine. This was her first trip to a hospital since we lost Everett and she was terrified. In Lilli's mind, sad things happen at hospitals. Her experience was turned around with some awesome nurses and a really compassionate ER doc. He listened to me and didn't treat me like the crazy mom I probably appeared to be. He left it up to us if we wanted to do a head scan, as she wasn't exhibiting any signs of a concussion and the radiation exposure isn't a good thing unless really necessary. He told us there was only about a 1% chance that it could be something more serious than what it appeared. I looked at him and explained that didn't give me much comfort as I have experienced first hand the 1% statistic and briefly explained what had happened in our lives 8 months prior. He understood. He didn't treat me like a crazy person. He left the decision up to me. Ugh... I had no husband here to confer with. I got some extra reassurance she was most likely OK and decided against the head scan. I also watched her like a hawk all night and had her sleep next to me just in case. I hoped I had made the right decision.


By morning it appeared I had as she was fine, bouncing around as usual, no headache or anything. She was in a much better mood all day Thursday. I had a chat with Everett Wednesday evening, asking him if he could have a little talk with his sister while she was sleeping, about her behavior. It must have worked. All on her own she told me in the morning that she wanted to go visit Everett. She picked up a toy saxophone she had and said she wanted to play him a song. We hadn't been to the cemetery in months and it was a beautiful day. So many things had to get done before we would go and in the evening we headed over to visit Everett.


As far as cemetery's are concerned he is in a beautiful one. It's well kept and it's quiet, even though it sits right off a busy road. And where he is over looks a lake and the western setting sun. In the evening it almost looks like the lake has glitter in it from the sun sitting lower in the sky. It's beautiful and peaceful.


When we learned Everett had died I was searching my brain as to what we would do with him. Not in your wildest nightmare do you think you'll have to plan a child's funeral. All I could think of when we learned of his death, was that I didn't want him to be alone. My husband agreed. Both my grandparents on my moms side are gone and they are buried in a mausoleum, close to our home, overlooking a beautiful little lake and the western setting sun. I wanted Everett with them. We asked the cemetery if it was possible and it was. So he was placed next to my grandmother's casket inside the wall. This gave me peace. I know he is surrounded by love in Heaven, but I wanted him physically next to someone who would have loved him very much on earth and is probably loving on him everyday now.


It's funny. I thought in the beginning I would be at the cemetery all the time visiting with Everett, but as it turned out I rarely go. I don't feel I have to be there to be close to him. I feel him in my heart and all around me every single moment of every single day. I can't explain the feeling, other than I know he's there and he's happy. So to me, the cemetery is a place where he just physically sits, not where he really is. I feel I can be close to him and talk to him almost anywhere. One thing I hate about going to the cemetery is I can't visit with crying. And I mean really crying. Probably what Oprah would refer to as the "ugly" cry. I try to hide it from Lilli, but she has gotten somewhat used to it. It just feels so, final. Seeing his name on a wall with a date, makes it that much more real. Not that it hasn't been real for a little over 8 months now. It's been very real. There's just something about seeing that name up there...


As we concluded our visit we said goodbye to Everett and Lilli wanted to "hug" him. So she gave a great big air hug to him. Then she wanted to touch his name on the wall so I hoisted her by her legs up high to reach his name. She gently rubbed her hands over it and told Everett she loved him. We got back to the car and she said she had to give him a kiss. Once again she got out of the car, went close to the wall and both kissed our hands and threw the kisses as hard as we could up to Heaven to reach him. This, of course, made me cry even harder. She asked if I was sad and I told her yes. On the way home it was quiet in the car and Lilli said she wished Everett could be at home with us and she missed him very much. I told her I did too. After the week we had it was a nice way to finish a beautiful, peaceful evening.


~Steph