Category Archives: Child Loss

Third Trimester Recap: Weeks 27-28

Ohhh man, a part of me can’t believe we’re in the third trimester already, and the other part of me feels like it’s going to be forever until we meet our rainbow baby. (Rainbow baby. For those unfamiliar with the term, it means a baby born following a loss. I’m not a fan of the term, but sometimes it’s the best term to use.)

Right on cue, fatigue set back in last week, at the beginning of the third trimester. I napped both days of the weekend.

Oh, and remember our kitchen remodel project? Yeah, that’s still going on. Going on six and a half months without a proper kitchen! But it’s SO going to be worth it. It’s just hard not to be able to contribute as much to its progress these days.

Floor is grouted!

Floor is grouted!

I’m feeling pretty nesty these days, and inspired by this book, I’ve been tidying up like crazy. Also, we got some fun baby items handed down to us this past week. One big haul came from the lovely Laura, who I finally got to meet in person!

Mother’s Day was two weekends ago. I’m not going to lie and say that it was any easier of a day for me than it was last year, even with my little guy kicking away all day. Last year, it was especially rough, since it came less than two weeks after we got Charlie’s diagnosis. But this year, I felt caught in the middle of feeling like those who wished me a Happy Mother’s Day were referring to the fact that I’m expecting, and not that I’m already a mom. But some sweet and thoughtful messages from friends who specifically mentioned Charlie turned my day around and then there was this amazing gift from Jen:

IMG_3744

We also had our 28 week appointment. Baby’s heart rate was great and the doctor felt to see how he was positioned. He was head down, curled up with his backside near my belly button. He had us feel where baby’s head and butt were — it was so cool! I also had more blood drawn and scheduled my VBAC consult. Even though I had been going in for appointments every two weeks, we’re officially on that schedule now until 36 weeks, when it’ll change to weekly appointments.

Weeks 27-28 snapshot:

  • New symptoms – waking up in the middle of the night with hip pain.
  • More intense Braxton Hicks contractions.
  • Started Hypnobabies class.
  • Looking forward to: my baby shower in less than one month!
  • I started kick counting. I’m hoping this provides more reassurance than anxiety. So far, it’s a toss up.
  • Most relaxing moment: an amazing prenatal massage. Deborah is a magic-maker.
  • The weirdest moment: feeling what might have been a knee or elbow sticking out of my belly.
  • The most special moment was walking with friends and family in honor of Charlie at the Faith’s Lodge Hope Walks and Rolls 5K.

Even with our kitchen progress, we’re also managing to cross things off of the baby to-do list. Next up: After not even having one name we like at all, we are really close to picking one! Also, we are meeting with our doula next week and then we can get started on (and finish) our birth plan. Lots going on!

Advertisements

Walking for Charlie

This past weekend, 28 humans (including five tiny ones) and two dogs came out as part of Team Charlie to walk the Hope Walks and Rolls 5K to remember Charlie and raise money for Faith’s Lodge.

IMG_3712

It was so special to have so many people there, surrounding us! And of course, it felt extra special to be walking, 28 weeks pregnant with Charlie’s little brother.

IMG_0497

The course was, in fact, not a 5K, but more like 3.7 miles, but we all made it — including my friend who is 38 weeks pregnant (!!!!) and my dad who just had open heart surgery not even three weeks ago. Looking forward to making this an annual event.

After the walk, the parents and J and I went out for lunch and took a quick trip to the Garden of the Sleeping Angels to hang Charlie’s memorial.

IMG_0506

It was a special “Charlie” day I’m sure we’ll always remember.

Pregnancy After Loss (PAL) Awareness Day

PALRibbonMeme

In the United States, one out of every four pregnancies ends in miscarriage and one in every 160 pregnancies end in stillbirth. These numbers do not include infant death from preterm labor, diagnosis of life-limiting conditions, or SIDS. Here in Minnesota, Governor Dayton declared today, March 15, as Pregnancy After Loss Awareness Day, and March, Pregnancy After Loss Awareness Month. The amazing site Pregnancy After Loss Support has been leading the effort in raising awareness and acknowledging the difficult journey of balancing joy and grief during a subsequent pregnancy after loss.

I’m honored to contribute to the Pregnancy After Loss Support site as a Bump Day Blogger where I’ve been documenting my own PAL journey.

IMG_3254

We feel so lucky to have been able to get pregnant again, but it hasn’t been a joy-filled journey. We had our big appointment — the anatomy scan — last week. This is the appointment that, just under 11 months ago, we found out our unborn son was likely going to die. The one that changed our lives forever. But this time around, we got happier news, and with that, a small weight has been lifted. And in two days, I’ll be halfway done with this journey that, at times, has felt like it might kill me.

I’ve switched doctors twice, had three ultrasounds, more than a couple frantic calls to the doctor and quite a few panic attacks. And unfortunately, these are all very common and normal things to happen in subsequent PAL. But sometimes you feel like something is wrong with you, especially when those around you are telling you how excited you should be that you’re pregnant again and that you shouldn’t worry because it’s bad for the baby, or chances of what happened before are low, so it likely won’t happen again and that you need to think positively. Those things aren’t helpful because I know all of those things. But trauma is a very real thing. And those who suffer from it have very little control of the after-effects.

So that’s why this day and month are so important — please help spread the word to help support women and their partners who are navigating this, sadly all-too-common journey. Find out how, here.

A break + Walking for Charlie

Well, it’s been awhile. I hit a bit of a rough patch and decided to take a bit of a break. I also took an extended break from running after my fall and due to some other medical reasons. Then, as soon as I was about to start easing back into things, I got the WORLD’S WORST HEAD COLD EVER! (OK, I’m obviously exaggerating, here, but it was pretty bad). It also doesn’t help that the weather in Minnesota is still annoyingly cold, but I did get out for a 2.2 mile walk yesterday. The temperature was around 30 degrees, but there was a terribly cold headwind. I can’t wait for spring.

Since there hasn’t been any running going on, I’ve been focusing on making my 10,000 steps/day goal. It doesn’t happen every day, but I’ve been doing okay.

IMG_3226

I’m also signed up for a few races. The race we do every year in Wisconsin is coming up quick. It’s five miles, so I don’t anticipate I’ll be running it at this point, but depending on the weather, that’s a long ways to walk, so we’ll see. Hopefully it won’t be a DNS for me, but it could happen. I also have Goldy’s 5K coming up and the Faith’s Lodge Hope Walks and Rolls 5K! I’m putting together a team and doing some fundraising in memory of Charlie. If you’d like to join our team, you can register here. Or to donate, click here!

Since my training has been lacking, fill me in on how yours has been going!

A Healing Weekend at Faith’s Lodge

IMG_0441

After Charlie died, we had multiple people (caregivers, counselors and social workers) recommend that we go spend a weekend at Faith’s Lodge. So, sometime in late September, we filled out an application and found a weekend that worked — November 14-16 — and made our reservation. As the date drew closer, I felt myself getting more and more anxious about going. I was nervous about telling our story. And I was worried about connecting with the other couples there.

Faith’s Lodge is about two hours away from the Twin Cities and its mission is to provide a place for families and parents to go if they have a child with a serious illness or have lost a child. There are designated weekends for families with children who are ill vs. bereaved families and further designated by what age the child was when they passed away.

We took a half day off of work on Friday, dropped off Cole at my in-laws’ and crossed over the Wisconsin border.

IMG_0446

IMG_0451

As we pulled up to the lodge, I was totally blown away by how much more beautiful the lodge and property were in person, but I could also feel my anxiety building. To make matters worse, I knew we were going to be the last to arrive — the other couples had nearly 24 hours together prior to our arrival. But once we walked in and were greeted by name by the lodge manager, Lisa, I started feeling more at ease. She gave us a tour around the gorgeous 12,000 square foot lodge — there were multiple rooms where groups could gather or we could go to be alone (all with fireplaces), an arts and crafts room, a theater room and a huge kitchen and dining area.

IMG_0436

IMG_0437

IMG_0442

Then, Lisa showed us to our cozy, yet spacious room and let us get settled. I laid down for a quick nap and then we headed upstairs for dinner. Lisa showed us where we could put the pictures we brought of Charlie — on a table with photos of the other couples’ beautiful children. We made our plates and joined a few other couples for a comforting dinner of soup and sandwiches. We all introduced ourselves and one of the other couples asked if we would be comfortable telling our story. I took a deep breath and told them about that ultrasound, the waiting, the specialist appointments, the roller coaster of emotions, the hospital visits, Charlie’s birth and finally, how we eventually said goodbye. It wasn’t long before tissues were being passed around the table and the other couples took turns sharing their stories with us. They were incredibly sad and moving stories, but they were also beautiful in how these parents are remembering their children.

After dinner, we had a group-led discussion with a social worker. We shared our story again and got to know the stories from the couples who weren’t at dinner. We all cried together and after that, we were all so emotionally exhausted that we went retreated to our rooms for bed.

The next morning, J and I slept in and made our way upstairs for some breakfast and arts and crafts.

IMG_2793

Mid-afternoon, we decided to go into town to catch the end of the Gophers vs. Ohio State game and get some burgers and beer. We found a dive bar with friendly service and some pretty darn good food! And of course, I ordered a Spotted Cow.

IMG_2792

Our last night at the lodge was one I’ll never forget. After dinner, we gathered in a room upstairs, downloaded Catch Phrase on my phone, divided into two teams (girls vs. guys, duh) and sat in a circle. For the next two hours, we laughed more than I’m sure a lot of us have in months. It was then that I realized just how familiar everyone seemed and how comfortable I felt with them, even though we had just met 24 hours earlier. The internal “I don’t fit in anymore” feeling that’s become a new part of my identity disappeared and I felt at ease.

We said our goodbyes the next morning and by the time we got home, there was already a group email chain going with all of our contact information in hopes of staying in touch.  I realized that while it’s not a bond that we wish we had, we do have something significant in common and whether or not we ever see each other again, I know we won’t forget one another.

IMG_0450

September 13, 2014

It’s a date that I’ll remember the rest of my life. My due date. In the past weeks, as J and I would think about how much we’ve been through, it seemed almost impossible that my due date still hadn’t come and gone. And now that I’m feeling almost back to normal physically, after my c-section, it’s so strange that other women with due dates around the same time as me are now having their babies or are still pregnant.

I think what’s throwing everything off is that (sometimes unconsciously) I’m constantly thinking about how my life is supposed to look really different right now. My maternity leave at work was in place — at this time I should already be on maternity leave or counting down the days. We were looking forward to going home for the holidays with a new addition to our family. We had a plan for daycare. But instead, I celebrated my birthday this year with an alcoholic drink in hand. I’ve been spending way too much time unsubscribing to emails from Babies R Us and The Bump and recycling all of the coupons and registry reminders we get in the mail. I’m back to work. And what was supposed to be the nursery has been turned back into a guest bedroom.

The hardest part of the grieving process for me right now is that I can never predict how I’m going to feel at any given day or moment. Some days seem impossible to get through and some days I feel almost “back to normal” — whatever that means. Some days, things that remind me of being pregnant or make me think of Charlie can be comforting and other days those same things can catch me off guard and make me sad. Danielle from Against All Grain said it really well:

There’s both painful and joyful reminders of her surrounding me daily – pregnant women, babies being born, my closet of maternity clothes, her empty room in our new house, and even Asher’s little nose that looks identical to hers. Some days I’m grateful for those reminders. So the dream aspect is brought to reality; I can be reminded that she really was here and I’m not just imagining. But other days, the days where I’d rather just push forward with life and not be in tears all day, I’m resentful of those reminders.

But we continue to be patient with ourselves and find comfort in knowing that on September 13 this year, we’ll be with family celebrating my cousin getting married. And I know that other dates will be tough as well but we’re going to just have to take them one by one as they come.

Thanks again for all of your support and love, everyone.