Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Heavenly Connection (gender revealed)

I've written in past posts about the connection Lilli has had with her baby brother since his death. She's informed us, at different times, how Everett communicates with her. The thought of it warms my heart that not even Heaven can stop them from having a beautiful relationship. However, the older she gets the less we hear about adventures she and Everett have in her dreams together. A couple of months ago, Lilli was spending the night at her grandparents house and woke up to a bad dream. She told my mother in law that she dreamed Everett couldn't find her, because she wasn't at home. He kept looking and looking, but didn't know where she was. We let her know that he'll always be able to find his big sister, where ever life takes her.

Two weeks before we found out we were pregnant, Lilli came to my husband and I and told us that Everett told her a little girl was waiting in Heaven for us. She said I was supposed to be this little girls mommy, Dave, her daddy, and Lilli was to be her big sister. We went through so many fertility woes and weren't sure if a pregnancy was going to happen for us, at this point. It sounded nice though. Then on Everett's birthday, when I took a pregnancy test and it came back positive, we thought there might really be something to what Lilli was telling us. Everyone we told about what she had said took thier bets that Lilli would be right. This would be a little girl meant for our family. Since we've let Lilli in on the pregnancy, she has been adamant about having a little sister and has always referred to the baby as a girl.

Since I'm high risk pregnant I get to have lots of extra testing done, that other people might not have or choose to have. We would rather know ahead of time if something is wrong and chose to have non-invasive genetic testing done on our baby. At this ultrasound (around 12 weeks), if the baby decided to cooperate, we would get a sneak peak at the gender. The very experienced tech took several profile pics and asked us if we wanted to know. We said yes. She said she was 75% sure this baby was going to be a boy, based on what she saw. We couldn't believe it! We had been thinking and planning up to this point for a girl and had to let the shock set it. My husband and I didn't have a preference on gender, we truly just want a live, healthy baby. I have to admit that I was nervous when I heard it was a boy. Boys tend to be more hyper active in the womb than girls and we were told that's what caused Everett to become so tangled up in his umbilical cord. On the plus side, we saved all of Everett's clothing and would finally get to use them on a little boy. We also worried that another boy would feel that we were trying to replace Everett with him. We actually worry that any child will feel that way. No one can replace our Everett and we would never expect, or want them too. We love each of our children as their own individual selves.

We let Lilli know that they said this was going to be a boy and she looked at us crossed eyed and told us that it wasn't. We let her know that they said they were fairly certain this was another baby boy and began referring to the baby as her brother. She still wasn't buying it. She finally started referring to the baby as her brother, instead of sister. She kept telling us, though, that there is a little girl on earth still waiting for us. Dave and I wondered if that meant we were supposed to adopt a little girl, as I'm not sure my body can handle another pregnancy. Plus I'm getting close to that "age" where more things can go wrong. Lilli calmly referred to the baby as her brother until about a week before my 16 week ultrasound and started talking about her "sister" again.

At 16 weeks, I went in for an ultrasound with my new OB. The tech asked if we wanted to know the gender. We told her what had previously been told to us. She looked and looked and got a really good look between the legs. She informed us we were having a girl! I must have asked her 4 or 5 times if she was sure. I couldn't believe it! Here we had been searching for boy names for a month and thinking of another boy and Lilli was right all along. Or I should say that Everett was right. I couldn't stop crying. I just cried and cried. Lilli asked me why I was sad and I let her know that it wasn't sad tears, they were happy tears. We got confirmation that the baby looked really good, measuring in at 5 oz and only measuring 3 days ahead of schedule. It's important she doesn't grow too big too fast, as Everett did. At the end he was measuring 4 weeks ahead of schedule. They'll keep a close eye on her growth each month. As of today, our baby girl (yes we had it confirmed again) looks good and is only measuring 4 days ahead of schedule. Still within normal range! :)

I feel this brought me (and my husband) offical confirmation that my children, in fact, do have a Heavenly connection. Not that we doubted them before, but to know for certain is a wonderful feeling. Love truly knows no boundaries. Love you Lilli and Everett! You two are the best! Can't wait for you little sister to arrive next year!


~Steph

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Being Thankful

Today is Thanksgiving and a time for me to reflect on things I am thankful for this year. This time last year, I could barely function and honestly I just had to sit and try to remember what we did for Thanksgiving in 2010. Did we have it here or go somewhere? Then I remembered that we decided to spend it with family in Florida. The holidays last year are such a blur to me. I just wanted them to be over.

There is no way I could have gotten through this past year, if it weren't for some amazing people in my life. We only met because we had something awful in common. We all have lost a child. My fellow baby loss moms (and dads) have been a source of strength for me over this past year. I hate we had to meet the way we did, but I am so incredibly thankful to have these people in my life. I have learned so much from all of them about their beautiful baby's, their grieving process and how no one else "gets it" like they do. I am also thankful for the amazing grief and loss nurses I've had in my life this year. Their knowledge, skill, understanding and patience is greatly appreciated.

We have so many other people to be thankful for when it came to Run 4 Everett 2011. There were so many people who came to participate, volunteer, support and donate to this important event. I have to say, Run 4 Everett became our lives over the past year. It was our passion and mission to bring awareness to the issue of stillbirth. It is our son's legacy. So many people helped spread the word, donated or came to the event and for that we are forever grateful. To raise $10,800 for a first year event was unbelievable. That money will continue to help the mission and families who are helped through the Kate Cares Program.

Finally, I am also so thankful for a husband who has stood by my side during thick and thin and a daughter who has compassion and understanding at such a young age, unlike anyone I've ever known. They make my life such a brighter place every day.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

~Steph

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A little bit of crazy!

Well, I've been working my way, for a little while, into my first (un-official) breakdown. At 15 weeks I started feeling this little baby moving periodically. I wasn't expecting big kicks, just some swishing, rolling, and a foot here or there. Maybe once or twice a day and I was happy with that. Then something changed. I'm not sure if it was the position or what, but I've been feeling increasingly un-easy this past week. For the last three days, I've been feeling nothing, nada, zip, zero movement. Not good for a woman who had a stillborn baby only last year! My mind has taken me all kinds of ugly places this week and I have gone back and forth from being OK to feeling like I'm going to loose it. Just needing a little something from the baby to let me know that beautiful heart is still beating. I don't think that's too much for a mama to ask for.

I figured once I started feeling some sort of movement, I would be less anxious. Finally, I would be getting reassurance this little one was alive. But as it turns out, this pregnancy has been very different from the previous two. I've had elements of both pregnancies wrapped into this one. I had no morning sickness with Lilli and overall felt pretty good, tired, but good. With Everett I developed a very strong gag reflex in my throat and would throw up most mornings. I've had the gag reflex with this one, but it hasn't been as bad, only getting sick once or twice a week and at 17+ weeks, it appears to be subsiding (where it lasted the entire time with Everett). I felt Lilli move for the first time around 16 weeks and she was pretty regular with her movements. I felt Everett around 15 weeks, probably because I knew what to look for. The movements never stopped with either of them and got stronger the further along I got. This baby, however, is throwing me through a loop.

I've been on edge for the last few days with feeling nothing from this baby. I've been having bizarre dreams about the pregnancy when I sleep at night, and wake up with my mind focused on worrying why I'm not feeling any movement. After I eat dinner, I'll lay quietly on my side trying to feel something, anything and have gotten nothing. My fears got the best of me today so I ended up contacting the grief and loss nurse at the hospital where I switched my care. She was really supportive and positive and told me to contact my on call Dr., which I did. I went in for some reassurance to listen to the heart beat, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. It's what you do when you've gone through what I have.

The first nurse came in and was very pleasant. She put the doppler on my belly and looked and looked and looked. She couldn't find a heart beat. I was trying to stay positive, but it was growing increasingly hard. Then another nurse came in for a try. She looked, and looked and looked. She tried all kinds of positions and angels with the doppler and after some hard prodding, I lost it, started crying and begged them to just get an ultrasound machine. My fears had overcome me. It was like flashing back to Everett all over again. I could see the worry in my husbands face. My daughter tried to tell me things would be OK and rubbed my arm. I wasn't so sure though. They paged the Dr. to come in and set up the ultrasound machine. The doctor put the probe on my belly and saw the heart beating. I breathed a sigh of relief. Then the baby started moving all over the place. I couldn't feel one bit of that baby moving! I finally had some reassurance. We left the triage area and I broke down in tears. I knew this road was going to be hard, but this is much harder than I imagined. Especially with not being able to feel this little one move!

I was able to come up with a plan with the grief and loss nurse for extra reassurance in between appointments, since apparently this little booger is going to be so much different than the big brother and big sister that came before. I love you little squishy, but please, please, be kind to your mama. Feel free to kick the crap out of me (while your in there) and I promise never to complain!

~Steph

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Long Road

I'm not gonna lie. This pregnancy after loss thing has been hard for me. It's not hard every day, but some days my mind is my own worst enemy. I've been trying to change that with more positive thinking, distraction, and anything else that will get me through the day. I'm hoping it will get better with more regular movement, and reassurance through the big anatomy scan, that things are looking OK.

I'll be 16 weeks on Friday. I have an ultrasound scheduled and it cannot get here soon enough! I will always have that image in my head of the last time we saw Everett on an ultrasound and that flicker, where his heart was, was gone. I worry everytime I go in for an ultrasound with this baby we might see the same thing. I've been told, by experts, this is normal. It doesn't feel normal. It sucks.

I struggle between wanting to be happy and cherrish every minute I get to spend with this baby, and having a protective bubble formed around myself to help ease the blow of something that "might" go wrong. No one gets to know what the future might hold for them and I am no different from that. We found out at my last ultrasound that they were 75% sure of the gender. We will find out 100% on Friday, if the baby cooperates. I am hoping this will help with the bonding process so we can finally put a name on this munchkin. Although we plan to keep the name to ourselves.

Lilli is starting to get very attached to this baby and likes to hold and hug my belly regularly. This was something we encouraged when I was pregnant with Everett so she could try and bond with her little brother. We didn't encourage it this time around for fear of the unknown and wanting to protect her from the pain, grief, and loss she felt after Everett was gone. She just likes to do it on her own and I no longer discourage her from doing so. If that gives her comfort, then so be it. A couple of weeks ago she hugged my belly tightly and told me she doesn't want this baby to die. She wants this baby to come home with us. I told her that daddy and I very much want the same thing. That about completely broke my heart to hear her say.

I ended up having to change some things around recently, mainly with a new OB. It was unbelievably important for me, and my husband, to get what we needed from our doctor. First and foremost, an understanding of what we had been through with Everett and how that affects this pregnancy. Because it does affect this pregnancy. Also, not holding me to a delivery standard, because if I've learned anything with my last two children, it's that I don't fit in the neat little bell curve of other pregnant woman (really there shouldn't be one). I happen to be way off in left field somewhere. We got into that with Everett, being told I HAD to make it to 37 weeks regardless of what was going on inside of me and with him. I'll be damned it that's giong to happen again. I want and need to be listened to! I never was with Everett. While it would be good for the baby to make it to a "safe" gestational age, I've never had a baby survive in the womb that long. Lilli came at 34.5 weeks and Everett died at 35 weeks 6 days. I think we are finally on the right path, which helps ease anxitey on that level.

This has certainly been, and will continue to be, a long road. One that we are willing to take, because the end result is so worth it. I can't wait for this rainbow baby to get here next year, but for now, I still have to take things one day at a time.


~Steph