Friday, December 30, 2011

A few thoughts...

As the year quickly comes to an end, I can't help but look back and think of all the things we accomplished in 2011. Dave, Lilli, and I have come so far on our grief journey this year. There's still more work to be done, and honestly I think that will be the case for most of our lives.

February 2011, the six month anniversary of Everett's birth and death was the absolute most hardest for me. It's when the shock fully "wore off", and reality, or integration, set in. It was hard to breathe, it was hard to cope, it was hard to make it through a single day without crying and feeling miserable. As the year went on, that feeling became a little more tolerable each day. We focused on Everett's race and building a legacy for his life that will always mean so much to us. It felt like August would never get here and then somehow it did. We found out we were expecting baby number 3 and held the first Run 4 Everett. It was a huge success, raising around $10,800 for the Kate Carmichael Stillbirth Program, AKA: Kate Cares. It was more than we ever expected it would be.

The holidays have been tolerable this year, where they weren't at all last year. I felt like I could cope better, but the feeling of someone really important missing from our lives lingered all month long. It set in on Christmas day and I felt really depressed all day long. We planned to go to the cemetery to visit Everett and I just couldn't do it. I knew if I did I would break down, like really break down and I didn't want that for Lilli. She got to experience me doing that so often through the holidays last year and for a long time after. We chose to go to the cemetery to visit Everett the day after Christmas. My in-laws had gone on Christmas Eve and left a beautiful little tree and ornament for him. A tradition we started on Everett's birthday is to send balloons to him in Heaven. Lilli wanted to make sure he had fresh balloons to play with. So we went to the party store on the 26th and Lilli picked out 5 balloons. Three for us to send to Everett, one for her to keep, and one to bring to my grandmother.

When we got to the cemetery it was sunny and bright out. We let the balloons go one at a time and like to imagine that where ever the wind takes them is where Everett is in Heaven. We did our traditional blowing kisses to Everett and Lilli always sends him up big hugs. She also had Dave hoist her up to touch his name on the wall he's placed in. I'm not sure how much longer he'll be able to do that, she's getting pretty heavy.

I want a way we can make his resting place a little more personal. With him being placed where he is, there's not a lot we can do with it to make it personal for him. We looked around at some of the other names and wall spaces and have noticed that some people have pictures of them on the wall. We decided to do that for Everett. We will use one of the black and white close ups of his beautiful, perfect face to have mounted to the wall near his name. They make them out of ceramic, I believe. That makes me feel a little better to have a personal touch there for him.

As we cross into 2012 at midnight tomorrow, I can't help but feel excited about it being the year we get to meet our baby girl. It will be the second year for Run 4 Everett, and it will continue to be a year of change for us. Change for the better, I hope. We will always have an empty spot in our hearts for Everett, but know that our baby girl will fill our lives with so much joy, just like her big sister and big brother do. We can't wait to meet you in March, sweet baby girl!

~Steph

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Reassurance

My anxiety has been through the roof, to say the least, over the past several weeks. Mainly pertaining to my pregnancy. I felt our first, Lilli, moving around 16 weeks and it was fairly easy to distinguish and became regular movement very quickly. With Everett, I felt him for the first time around 15 weeks. Probably because I knew what I was looking for. He was very consistent with his movement until around 30 weeks and that's because there was a major problem going on, unbeknownst to us at the time...

This child, however, is giving me a total run for my money and causing me to skip heartbeats from time to time! Her movement has been inconsistent at best. At least that I'm feeling. My placenta is in a completely different place than it was with the other two (they never attach at the same location) and that is causing a pillow effect with her movements. The placenta seems to be taking the brunt of her moving and not allowing me to feel her. Very unsettling for someone who's experienced a loss! It wouldn't be so bad if I knew that was just going to be the way it was, but I'll have several days in a row where I feel amazing movement (because of positioning) and then other days where I feel pretty much, nothing! I will be 23 weeks in 2 days. I should be feeling more than nothing at this point.

I spoke to a couple of my baby loss friends about my anxiety levels and they recommended I get a fetal doppler at home. I had contemplated this very early on (13 weeks). I spoke to a nurse about it and my OB at the time and decided not to do it. Then I was glad I didn't get it because every time I went in, for a long time, they could never find this little girls heart beat with the doppler and I'd end up having to get an ultrasound anyways! I didn't want that stress at home. The further along I got, the easier it became for them to find her heart beat. I decided it was time to get the doppler.

I contacted the gal I had been in communication with back in the fall. She started and runs a non-profit out of California called Tiny Heartbeats. This program allows moms like me (who've experienced a loss) the opportunity to have a professional grade doppler at home to listen to their baby's heartbeat whenever they need reassurance, for free. The head of this non-profit had previously experienced a loss as well. They do require you fill out their waiver and you are required to have a prescription written by your OB. My OB had no issue at all writing that out. I will not use the doppler for self diagnosis, I'll be leaving that up to my OB and anyone else who cares for me during this pregnancy. I strictly want and need reassurance that she's alive in there!

I had a rather unsettling weekend with rare movement from our baby. I contemplated going in to triage at the hospital for a fetal heart beat check. Finally, after lunch on Sunday I started feeling some subtle movements. On Monday, when I got home from work, I found my doppler in the mail! I was so excited. I immediately had to try it out. I found her heart beat immediately and to be honest, could have listened to that sound all night. Our 4 year old thought it was pretty cool to hear her sister's heart beating.

Movement was better yesterday and I did not feel the need to use the doppler since I was getting my reassurance from the baby. One thing I did not expect was our Lilli needing reassurance too that her sister is OK in there. She asked me two different times to listen to her sister's heart beat, she needed a "fix" before she went to bed in the evening. I sometimes forget how unbelievably traumatic Everett's death was on her too. She worries from time to time that something will happen to her little sister because something happened to Everett. I know we all worry about that and feel like so many people, other than my husband and I, are holding their breath until she arrives safely next year.

In the mean time, I have my doppler to get me through the holiday's, since I'm done with OB appointments until the new year. I can't wait for January to get here, my OB will start seeing me weekly and I'll have her heart rate monitored twice weekly, the very first week of 2012. They are keeping such a close eye on this little girl, which makes me feel good about the care I am receiving. I start my official non stress tests in 5 weeks!

Happy Holiday's to all!

~Steph