Monthly Archives: July 2014

Picking up the pieces

Just when we started easing back into some kind of a routine and life was somewhat returning to normal, this past week the hospital bills started showing up, we had to go pick up Charlie’s death certificate and after months of super clear “pregnancy” skin, I started breaking out like a teenage boy. We were quickly reminded that this will be our life for awhile, because:

We’re still in the early stages of the grieving process. J and I are working through all of the emotions “appropriately” (whatever that means) but we have a long journey ahead of us. Even when we have a good day or two, out of nowhere, something will catch us totally off guard. Like reviewing Charlie’s death certificate or planning an upcoming trip for a family wedding and thinking about how the day of the wedding was supposed to be my due date. I saw this article the other day and it really hit home.

I gave birth.  I’m still physically healing from surgery. The recovery process doesn’t speed up just because you experienced a loss. I spent the last week thinking about how most women recover from a caesarean while trying to take care of a newborn at the same time and therefore mentally beating myself up every time someone asked if I was back at work yet and I replied “no.” It took some wise words from a friend and the book “The Gift of Time” to remind me that I had major surgery and to be kind to myself.

My body knows that I gave birth. But it doesn’t know that I don’t have a baby to take care of. So almost a week after I delivered, my milk came in. It’s another thing I had prepared myself for but it was still hard to deal with. I read somewhere that for some women who have experienced a loss, this can cause a “second grieving” and I can understand why, especially since breastfeeding was something I was looking forward to.

And then there’s the baby weight. Because of all of the extra fluid I was carrying around, I had already gained around 40 pounds when they last weighed me at 29.5 weeks (and that was after my water broke). At my appointment last week, I had lost 27 pounds, which means I have 13 pounds to go to be back at pre-pregnancy weight. Right now, I’m not able to exercise (hoping I get the go ahead at my six week follow up appointment) but I’m also not ready to really start watching what I’m eating, either. I’m not too concerned about it actually. The hardest part about the extra weight and my changed body really comes down to this: when I look in the mirror, what I see is a reminder of losing Charlie — and that’s hard.

On a positive note, we got some good news this past week at my two week follow up appointment. The doctor said that the takeaway message for us is that what we went through was likely an isolated, extremely rare thing and that we should be able to treat any future pregnancies as “normal.” It’s hard to think about the future right now, but it was reassuring to hear.

Advertisements

Charlie’s Birth Story

After going back and forth about how detailed I wanted to be in Charlie’s birth story, this is what I landed on. I wrote a more detailed one for J and myself to have but decided to keep that private.

It would be an understatement to say that so many things about my pregnancy didn’t work out anywhere close to what I had imagined or hoped for (I realize that they rarely do). One of those things is that all along I wanted nothing more than to have a vaginal delivery if it was possible, but once it became clear that we were going to need to deliver Charlie to be able to give him a shot at life, that option went out the door. The doctor strongly recommended a C-section because she was worried about Charlie being able to tolerate labor.

The events leading up to the decision to deliver Charlie all happened very quickly and once we made that decision, things continued to move quickly. The conversation with the doctor took place at 10:26 p.m., the anesthesiologist was in the room less than ten minutes later, and then before we knew it, it was go time. The rest of the team was in place, and they got Jesse suited up. The adrenaline started kicking in and I couldn’t help but start shaking uncontrollably. They took me up to the OR first and got me all numbed up (luckily I was able to hold still for long enough that they got my spinal in without any issues or pain). They brought J in shortly after and at 11:12 p.m., Charlie was born. J then saw them whisk Charlie away.

The anesthesiologist went to check on Charlie and came back to let us know that the neonatal team was working on inserting a breathing tube. He also let us know that he was struggling and that his heart rate was quite low, around 60 bpm. Minutes later, one of the neonatalogists came in and I think we knew what she was going to say even before she said it, but her words still hit us like a ton of bricks: “I’m so sorry, but Charlie isn’t going to make it.”
They cleaned and bundled Charlie up, brought him into the OR and handed him to me so we could  hold him while he was still alive. I was starting to feel nauseous from all of the pulling and tugging, so J then took him into his arms and we held our precious baby boy until they came back to check him again, at 11:46 p.m., when they let us know they could no longer find a heartbeat. Our sweet boy passed away peacefully in our arms.

Once I was all stitched back up, we were moved into recovery, where we took turns snuggling Charlie some more. As the shock started to wear off (slightly), we were able to admire just how cute our sweet baby boy was.

Just before 2 a.m., after a couple of hours in recovery, they brought us to our room and got us settled in. Jesse’s family joined us in the room and my parents arrived a couple of hours later, around 4:30 a.m., to meet their grandson.

The rest of Friday (the Fourth of July) was busy, the hospital chaplain that I’d reached out to after we got Charlie’s diagnosis, came to perform the naming ceremony that Jesse and I had picked out. Shortly after, Megan, a professional photographer volunteer with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep arrived to take some photos of Charlie and of Jesse and me with Charlie. The day was mostly a blur, I had barely slept at all since we were first admitted to the hospital and I remember not wanting to sleep, just to spend as much time with our little family as possible.

Charles-23
**All photos in this post are by Megan Crown with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep
On Saturday evening, we decided to keep Charlie in our room for one final night. After they got my discharge information drawn up and prescriptions filled, we started packing up and I got ready and put on some real clothes. We said our final goodbyes and Jesse went to pull the car up while the nurse wheeled me down a back hallway instead of by the rest of the postpartum rooms. Letting the nurses know that we were ready for them to take Charlie away and then leaving the hospital without him, was the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do.

Charles-32

We are so thankful for the outstanding care we received throughout this entire ordeal and for the amazing nurses (seriously, we can’t say enough good things about our nurses), doctors, care coordinators, social workers, our doulas and other members of our care team. The past ten weeks have been a roller coaster (to say the least), but it also made us cherish each day that Charlie was still alive and fighting.

We’re also very thankful that we were able to keep Charlie in our room with us for as long as we wanted. We’ll never forget that precious time we had that gave us the chance to snuggle him and give him lots of love and to take our time saying goodbye. His grandparents, aunts and uncles (both blood and not) and cousins were also able to meet and say goodbye to him.

Last Tuesday, J and I met with the funeral home in the morning. After that was over, we headed up to his family’s cabin, where we stayed until Friday afternoon. I’m so glad we decided to get away for a few days. And as hard as it was to come back home, we came home to beautiful flowers and sympathy cards and home cooked meals (seriously, thank you for helping me not have to think about cooking right now) and people wanting to stop by to visit with us. We’re so grateful.

Tomorrow I have my first postpartum appointment — I’m still sore, but recovering and feeling a little better physically every day. And I keep reminding myself that my body, like everything else, needs time to heal.

Pregnancy eats + summer snacking with Blue Diamond

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. Blue Diamond provided me with one 6 oz. can and one 4 oz. bag of almonds for free as part of the Blue Diamond Tastemakers program. All opinions shared are my own.

It’s been kind of a bummer summer so far since I’ve had to cut back on my physical activity pretty drastically ever since my hospital stay. Because of that, I feel like watching what I eat has become even more important than ever. I’m also trying to focus on upping my protein intake (I don’t think I’ve been super successful at that) and being mindful of my iron intake also. My hemoglobin levels checked out OK surprisingly, but it’s not uncommon for pregnant women to be a little low and mine was low when I was in the hospital.

And to add to that, truthfully, cooking has been the last thing that J or I want to do and it’s been that way, pretty much since we got Charlie’s diagnosis. So we’ve been going out to eat more than we probably should be, but each week, we do a little better at finding something to eat at home. Here’s a little sample of what I’ve been eating lately:

Breakfasts

Baked oatmeal – you can totally play around with this recipe by cutting back on the brown sugar and adding different kinds of fruit. I made a batch on Sunday night and had for breakfast during the week!

Fresh fruit – strawberries and bananas (trying to keep those pesky leg cramps under control!)

Puffins!

Scrambled egg with salsa, a little shredded cheese, spinach in a whole wheat tortilla

Lunch

Lunch is probably where I struggle the most. There have been quite a few Whole Foods salad bar salads and leftovers from dinners.

Dinners

Two good recipes that don’t require firing up the oven:

Crispy Gnocchi with zucchini, basil and sweet corn

Tilapia tacos

Snacks

Snacking has become really important because when I make good snacking decisions, I also make better meal decisions because then I’m not starving when it comes to eating lunch and dinner. As I’ve gotten more pregnant, I also can’t eat as much in one sitting (I think the hot weather is also a factor) so I find myself hungry shortly after I eat a meal. Some of my favorite snacks currently:

Blue Diamond almonds – The folks at Blue Diamond sent me the blueberry and coconut flavors to try. I loved them both — just a few after a meal will satisfy my sweet tooth and the toasted coconut flavor is not too “coconut-y.” But as a side note, my favorite flavor will always be salt and vinegar.

IMG_1689

Trail mix – especially loving this stuff:

IMG_1692

Cottage cheese

Again with the fruit!

Anything with peanut butter on it

Treats

I’ve been doing a decent job of keeping my sweets intake under control, but now that it’s officially summer, it’s been really tempting to treat myself to ice cream. Most nights I satisfy that craving with frozen yogurt bars, fruit bars (both strawberry flavored) or dark chocolate dipped bananas. But one special treat that the hubs and I enjoyed the other night was gelato with coconut and blueberry almonds as a topping — DELICIOUS!

IMG_1690

Instead of having to get the food processor dirty, I just threw a handful of almonds into my little food chopper.

IMG_1693

 

We went with good old fashioned vanilla gelato, but in my the head the flavor combinations are endless! I’m thinking the caramel macchiato would be especially good on chocolate or sea salt caramel gelato — yum.

Any good snack options I should add to my rotation?

What have you been eating lately?