Interlude, Part 2

My name is Heather.  I am 31 years old, I love to bake, love to laugh, love to travel and I am wife to a wonderful man that I have dated since I was 16 and mom to a sweet, funny 3 year old son.  On December 17th I also found myself as mother to a beautiful stillborn daughter named Charlotte Kathryn (or CK for short).  I like to think that she was too perfect for this world because without any type of reasoning, I can’t wrap my head around it (still can’t) and it would be a lot harder for me to go on breathing every day.

I have found myself quickly “one of those moms” that pregnant people  and anyone else with children talk about in hushed tones and don’t really think about for fear that whatever those undeserving women did (i.e. me) won’t rub off on them.  My own family doesn’t really know what to do with me and that terrifies me.  Many of my “friends” have already stopped checking in and my always optimistic, bright and shiny personality has lost part of its sheen.  There is a chink in my heart that will never be filled even if we were to have a dozen more children.  I am scared to death about ever trying to get pregnant again because I was a basket case this time and will probably need to be sedated for 9 months if we tried this again.

I never wanted to start this blog and despite being a hypochondriac and one that always assumes the worst, I would have never in my life imagined that I would be a part of this statistic.  This is still new to me, I still have signs and symptoms of pregnancy, but I have already learned that I would never wish this on my worst enemies.  Babies are supposed to inspire hope, new beginnings and life, not death.

I am starting this blog for me (I think).  I have had a lot of time to do some real hard thinking.  It has only been a little over two weeks since I started it, but it feels like an eternity.  Sleepless nights, the holidays when I’m not in the mood for celebrating, and several nights in the hospital will do that to a person.  Writing is cathartic for me and this will keep the memory of Charlotte alive as long as the Internet is in existence.  I’m not going to promise that this will be a fun or optimistic blog, but I hope to heal every day and maybe get back to my old self (or as close as I can get to it) soon.  Some of the posts will be hard to write, harder to read and I’m sure I will make some people mad, but I’m quickly learning that life isn’t perfect and this blog won’t be either.  I may repeat myself.  Some posts will be long, some will be short, and all of them will be brutally honest, but I hope with every word I write, I can bring Charlotte and my experience to life and maybe, just maybe, help someone else going through this.  At the very least, I hope it helps me.

I will be taking a break from Beach Tink for a while.  I promise I will return one day with funny stories, good recipes and the optimism you’re used to.  Until then, feel free to follow me at my new blog (www.lifewithoutck.wordpress.com) or at the very least, send someone suffering with pregnancy loss my way so they can see that what they are feeling is completely normal.  Maybe they can help me, too.

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Lost

Writing and running have long been my outlets.  I am writing this not for pity, sympathy or attention, I am writing for myself and also in the off chance that someone going through a similar situation who is as lost as I am feeling, may find something helpful in this post.  And I’m writing it now because I’ve had a lot of time to think in the past 51 hours.

Pregnancy is all about statistics.  Numbers are thrown around all the time.  80% of all couples get pregnant within six months of trying.  40% of all pregnancies end in a miscarriage.  Once you hear the heartbeat, the percentage of miscarrying goes down to 5%.  There is 50% viability at 24 weeks.  And a 0.59% chance of having a stillborn baby.  We were the 0.59%.

Everything this time was perfect.  My out of control white coat hypertension was minimal (meaning my blood pressure in the doctor’s office was closer to normal than ever).  At 15 weeks my favorite ultrasound tech snuck me back and told me that we were having a girl.  It was easy to pick out a name, Charlotte Kathryn.  Charlotte because I have always like that name and Kathryn was the name of my grandmother.  She was due in the spring, right smack in between Chase’s third and fourth birthday.  I pretended that I was nervous about having a girl.  I am a tom boy, I love sports, hate hair, and have loved being a mother to a son.  Secretly I was ecstatic about the prospect of having a mini me.  A blonde haired, blue eyed little person to follow me around the kitchen baking cookies and cupcakes.  Someone who would have the same relationship with me as I had with my mom.  A little girl born with a protector, her big brother ready to look out for her and at the age where he would be a huge help to me.

Despite everything seeming fine, at the same time, I had a feeling of dread about the entire pregnancy.  I had three or four dreams about miscarrying and I never had a single dream that I was pregnant.  No milestone was enough to ease my mind.  Time DRAGGED by.  At 11 weeks, 4 days, I thought I was having contractions, so I went to the doctor.  I wasn’t.  At 19 weeks, my ultrasound was fantastic, but they wanted me to get another ultrasound to monitor some fluid back up in her kidneys.  But other than that, things pointed to everything being ok.  I started feeling her move at 14 weeks and felt her every single day from that point on. At 18 weeks, she was moving so powerfully, that you could see my tummy bump multiple times during the day, but that feeling never subsided.

I acted weird the entire pregnancy.  I had written my usual Christmas letter to go with our Christmas cards and had stuffed, stamped and addressed the envelopes a week ago, and had left them sitting on the island in our kitchen.  Although I was thrilled at the prospect of having a girl, I had hardly purchased anything.  At this stage in my pregnancy with Chase, I had already registered two places, purchased a crib, mattress and a changing table.  This time, I had bought one single pair of pajamas.  It was almost impossible for me to admit that I was pregnant.  I am not sure I said the words, “I’m pregnant” more than a handful of times.  I still tried to hide my quickly becoming visible bump from everyone.  I almost begged my husband to not go to his company holiday party last weekend.  No milestone was enough and most of my google searches were related to fetal viability, miscarriages and even stillbirths.

I was obsessed with advancing through the pregnancy.  I had four different countdowns in spreadsheets to march closer and closer to my due date.  I had little reminders of everyday passing by everywhere.  I had enough cotton balls for removing makeup set out to take me until late February (I counted them), I rationed body wash so that it would last for months.  Chase was born at 34 weeks, and I kept thinking, “if I just make it to 34 weeks…”  I didn’t mind being pregnant (my only complaint was heartburn), I just couldn’t get to March or April fast enough.  I was obsessed with getting to six months or 23 weeks because I felt like it would be harder for things to go wrong after that.

At twenty-two weeks, three days, I noticed that this crazy child (who I could feel move every hour day and night), hadn’t really done much moving.  I had been on my feet most of the morning, which makes it harder for me to feel, so I took a shower and laid down and she started doing her crazy kicking and punching again. Unfortunately that was the last time I truly, honestly felt her. Two days later I asked a friend if I could borrow her Doppler because everything I perceived as movement could have been digestive.  I was stuck back in the, “was that a kick?” constant questioning of the early second trimester.  After thirty minutes of searching for a heartbeat we couldn’t find it and decided to go to the hospital.  At 22 weeks, 5 days, our girl was gone.  A reminder that sometimes statistics don’t work in your favor.

I am a very optimistic person.  I am always looking for the silver lining.  I’ve thought of a couple.  First, I’m having a huge glass of wine at every meal over the holidays.  Maybe even breakfast.  Brad and I can go on our annual anniversary vacation in April.  We can take Chase to Disney World for his fourth birthday.  We could be at the viable stage.  Or even full term when this happened.  But the truth is, I am completely heartbroken.  I try to be strong for myself and Brad and my family, but here I am days later and still struggling to hold it together all the time.  Which I totally realize is normal.  Although I hate to get emotional in front of people, I am allowing myself to grieve, which is probably the toughest part of all.

I’m not only mourning this baby, I am devastated for so much more.  All I wanted was a normal pregnancy.  One that went full term, with a healthy baby that can stay in our room as soon as it was born.  Maybe I could see what labor was like.  When we checked into the hospital on Tuesday, and I caught whiffs of all of the familiar smells of Labor and Delivery, I was suddenly hopeful.  This was just some fluky thing, she was facing the wrong direction, kicking my internal organs, and everything was fine.

Even though deep down I knew something was wrong.  We went to a Christmas themed park the night I started worrying and I was irritated at all of the kids running around.  And all of the babies, in all of their adorable snowsuits.  There was even a little girl in front of us named Charlotte.  Then Monday, I cried all the way home because I was so worried that there was something wrong after not feeling any movement.  On Tuesday, I called the doctor and despite a reassuring fetal kick test (so I thought), I was second guessing myself and still was worried that something was wrong.  Sometimes a mother’s instinct knows best.

The Labor and Delivery wing is not made for parents of stillborn babies.  The bulletin board in my room says “We are having a BOY/GIRL/ It’s a SURPRISE!”  It talks about labor progress, and asks for “Name Chosen.”  There is a cart filled with diapers and wipes.  A warmer for when the baby is born.  The entire room mocked me.  Happy families in the hallway. Carolers singing because of the holidays. A lullaby over the intercom comes every time a new baby is delivered. There are baby pictures down the hall and babies crying in the room next door.

Worst of all, there is a scarlet letter placed on our door as a bereaving family.  A small postcard with a leaf and a single raindrop in the middle to signify “Death Within”.  We are outsiders there and it warns the nurses, “Careful with this room, they don’t have anything to celebrate.”  I feel like I am going to be branded with that for the rest of my life.

And here is the cruel irony. No labor for first child (he arrived via c-section before I could go into labor), full labor for the second stillborn child. It’s the dirty little secret that they don’t tell you about. If your child dies inside of you, there are very few safe ways to get it out. The main way is the way that you would deliver any baby. Induce labor. Pain and pushing. Delivery. The only difference is that normally you reach with open arms for a bundle of joy that is crying for your comfort. Meanwhile, we asked them to take Charlotte away so that we could do the crying. She lay on an inactive warming machine less than five feet from us for over an hour. She looked like she was sleeping with nothing wrong with her. We kept waiting for her to cry out for us.   In the end we left the hospital with a small box of keepsakes including feet/hand imprints, hair snippets, photos and a death certificate.

I still can’t wrap my head around it.  We had less than a 1% chance of this happening and of all of my friends, family and even acquaintances, there is only one other person that I know who has had a stillborn baby.  Of course I wonder if it was something I did.  Did I take too many Tums?  Is it because I didn’t stop drinking coffee?  Was it because I slept on my right hand side and not my left? Were my showers too hot?  What about the glue they were using on the roof at work when I was four weeks along?  Did I want it so badly that I caused this to happen?  How could it be that just two days earlier I felt her and even saw her moving around?  What on earth happened in those two days?

At the same time, I am so grateful that this happened at this time of year.  We always have a strong family support system, but it’s even stronger around the holidays. It is a time filled with family and love and that is exactly what we will need.  Any earlier or later in the year and it wouldn’t be quite the same.  Until the holidays, which will be tougher than I could have ever imagined, we have so many amazing friends and co-workers who are going out of their way to express their concerns and condolences.

It is going to be tough.  Really tough.  I didn’t know I was capable of producing so many tears for a complete stranger.  Or for anyone for that matter.  But again, I am trying to look on the bright side.  We have a beautiful, wonderful little boy who owns my heart.  There are so many others who don’t have that much to show for it.  I am reminded of the quote, “Is it better to have love and lost than have never loved at all?”  Worst things could have happened and happen to countless others every single day.  Maybe I will decide that this is it and we won’t try again for another baby.  I’m not sure I can take the stress and worry all over again.  That it could all still end in heartbreak.  It would be easy to say I’m done, but I don’t know if I am ready to throw in the towel.  I really wanted another baby.  I really wanted a little girl.  I was so happy that we were heading in that direction.  I do know this, I am going to hug my husband a little closer (he has been amazing through all of this), snuggle a little more with my little guy and enjoy some time at home with friends and family for the holidays.

As hard as this has been for us, I have still been blessed with an amazing, active, sweet son and my life doesn’t stop just because someone else’s has.  There will still be tears, sadness and grieving, but life goes on.  Chase is very much alive and depends on me to be there for him.  Despite the time of year when this happened, it is a season of joy and love.  Thank you for all of the thoughts, prayers, love and overwhelming support we have received from everyone.  Enjoy the holidays and be sure to hold your loved ones extra tight : ).

The Only Way to Travel

Ok, maybe not the only way, but I have found a new great avenue for getting up to DC, the Great American Railway. Maybe I am a little late to the party, but so far, this is the way to get up to see my sister.  It is especially awesome when it is just me and I can book the trip far enough in advance that it costs me less than a tank of gas to get there. It doesn’t hurt that at the end of this trip is a ticket to see New Kids on the Block, 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men.

Let me count the ways that the train is amazing:

1. The car isn’t that crowded so I can spread out and the seats are comfortable.

2. No worries about the weather or traffic.

3. Free wi-fi and electrical outlets.

4. Two words: Quiet Car

5.  Unlike air travel I can get up and move around at any time. I am not worried about missing my connection, or turbulence or getting through security or losing my bags. sure it takes longer, but that is sometimes the point. Which leads me to the best part.

6. Over 4 hours of luscious time for just me. I could read, watch something I want to watch on the iPad, look out the window, listen to music, sleep, blog or do nothing at all and will still make it to Nova.

This I know, I will not be driving up to DC by myself EVER again!

Greatest Hits

Aside from the extra snuggles, hugs, kisses, laughs and obvious beach days, being off the past two(ish) weeks has also afforded me 24 hour time with Chase.  I get to hear every crazy, hilarious thing that comes out of his mouth, uncensored, real time.  I am biased when I say that I think he is a really funny and smart kid, so obviously some of these things are more amusing to me than they would be to most people, but I think you’ll agree that he is pretty entertaining.

 Here is a compilation of classics from the past couple of weeks, with some context.

Being particular: We went to a beach over the weekend and the water was beautiful, clear (as clear as Virginia Beach can be), and blue.  Another beach two days later had our typical brown, brackish water.  When asked about what beach he wanted to go to for our last beach day, this is what he said: “Mommy, I want to go to the beach with the blue water and the blue waves, not the brown water and brown waves.”

Being helpful: I mention calling my dad to ask him a question and Chase says, “There is a phone in my kitchen in the playroom.”

On naps: While he is almost falling asleep in his car seat on the way home from where ever and I tell him to wake up, “I’m not tired, I’m just laying here.”  The toddler equivalent of “I’m just resting my eyes.”  

Being careful:  Is constantly telling us to “watch your head,” “be careful on the edge of the bed,” if he thinks we are in any danger.  Then tells me “don’t worry about me,” when I was telling him to stop doing something. 

Being worrisome: Asking me “Mommy, what you thinking about?” when I zone off while it takes him 45 minutes to eat breakfast. 

Nightmares/dreams: He woke me up the other night to tell me that he had a dream, “the ducks were quacking at me.”  Last night he had a dream about “ambulances and ambulance men.”

Being dramatic: After having lunch with some of his friends and he was finished with his milk and I asked if his friend Finn could throw his milk away, and he said, “Yes,” he later told my mom, “BB, something happened today.  Finn threw my milk away.” 

It’s all about semantics.  When I tell him not to throw something he says, “I’m not throwing, I’m tossing.”  When I say not to hit something, “I’m not hitting, I’m banging.” 

Being brand specific: When he met my friend Robin the other day and I introduced him to her he said, “Robin, like Red Robin?”  Anything that is burnt orange belongs to Home Depot, anything yellowish orange belongs to Caterpillar and anything hunter green means it is related to John Deere.

Meeting strangers: Two people behind us in line at Target with nothing but a movie in their basket, “What your names?”  “What your dogs names?”  And I’ll be damned, they had three dogs. 

On music: His requests are Macklemore, Imagine Dragons, Queen, Afrojack, Rihanna, Phoenix, Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake.  I’m not sure if this makes me the coolest or worst mom alive.

I am so going to miss hanging out with you Chase!  Don’t worry folks, there will be more of these to come!

November 5th

I realize that this is a little late as I would have liked to have posted this on the actual date, but today will have to be the day…

1998:  At the regional cross country meet in Newport News park, I have the whole thing planned out in my head.  I am going to walk up to the starting line and tell the boy that I have been fawning over for nearly a year that “yes” I will be his girlfriend (after he had asked me in a note two days earlier) then kiss him on the cheek.  Instead I shyly walk up to him and say “yes” and he kisses me on the cheek.  It is official, I am dating Brad Sorgen.

1999:  We celebrate our anniversary by going out to dinner at one of the nicest restaurants in town where Brad presents me with a gorgeous yellow gold dolphin ring.  We then go to see a movie and hold hands the entire time.  Although college is looming, it isn’t something that we are thinking about much, yet.

2000:  Brad is on a cross country scholarship at Radford and I am figuring things out at Virginia Tech.  We aren’t really long distance, but aren’t really in the same town.  He gets us a hotel room for the occasion and we went to a nice Italian restaurant in Radford which had such heavily garliced food that if we weren’t 18, we wouldn’t have been able to be in the same room together.  We have a very rare night together with no roommates and it is nice to hang out just the two of us.  College has had its challenges, but we’re coping for the most part.

2001:  Brad and I go out to dinner at the fine dining restaurant on campus.  It is a Monday night, so we can only do so much, but we still get dressed up and have a nice meal together.  He’s at Tech now, we even have a class together, and it is so nice to be able to walk to his dorm to see him.  We still don’t spend every waking minute together, but now if we want to have dinner together, he’s just a ten minute walk away and in my carless existence, that’s something to be thankful for.

2002:  Tuesdays are our busiest day of the week.  I have classes from 12pm until 10pm with only a 45 minute break to get dinner.  I try to get through the day as quickly as possible, being so excited with giving Brad his gifts and being able to breathe after I was done with our last class of the day which we had together.  I have been getting weird comments all day.  One girl told me that my room looked so cool.  Another person asked Brad some strange question on our way up to his dorm room after class.  Five minutes after we got up to his room, he gives me something he has written and when I look up at him, he has gotten down on one knee.  Back at my room, my door is decorated by one of my residents, the entire room is full of streamers, confetti, bridal magazines, flowers and balloons.  We are going to get married!

2003:  I have Wednesdays off, so I spend most of my morning working on a scrapbook and getting all of the pieces and pages bound.  We celebrate by going to a Japanese restaurant and the bartender comps our drinks because we tell him it is our anniversary.  I wear my engagement ring with pride and can’t believe that we’ve already been engaged for a year.  Graduation is ahead of us, neither of us have any job prospects or have a clue where we are going to live.  We are enjoying our last couple of months of college and lack of responsibility.

2004:  Brad is gone Monday thru Thursday every week for his job.  We are living together and have adapted to his crazy work schedule.  I am working for my dad’s advertising agency and spending evenings and nights to myself, so we really look forward to the weekends.  We go out to dinner to celebrate our last anniversary before we get married in April.  We choose The Melting Pot and when the waiter brings our tray of dessert, there is a wrapped present on it.  It is a beautiful diamond pendant.

2005:  We are in Blacksburg for the game against Miami.  It is one of the biggest games of the year and we are trying to recreate the same exact game experience we had two years earlier when we crushed them.  We meet my sister there and crash in one of our friends’ rooms.  We spend the weekend visiting our favorite Blacksburg haunts and enjoying the unseasonably warm weather.  We lost badly, but we still have a fantastic time.  We are newlyweds with a new house and limited time together, but we’re doing ok.  I enjoy my free time and Brad enjoys his job.

2006:  I sleep in, wake up and read the paper and enjoy a cup of coffee, then we run errands to the bank, Costco and Best Buy because Brad has saved up enough gift cards to purchase an Xbox 360 and he spends the entire day playing on it and figuring it out.  He makes us enchiladas for dinner and we have a relaxing Sunday.

2007:  Brad leaves early in the morning to head to Philly, which is where he has been working for months and will probably continue to work for years due to so many contracts in the area.  I’m working at a new place.  Our agency closed over the summer and now I’m on the selling side of what I used to do.  I spend the day attending our sales meeting, going out to lunch with one of my new coworker friends, coming home, fixing dinner and finishing reading a book.  We’ve been discussing getting a dog to keep me company while Brad is on the road and to see if I can keep something with a heartbeat alive.  We’ve settled on a Westie, and we are slowly starting our search for one.

2008:  I sleep in, opting not to work out because I was up late the night before.  As usual I’m running late and Brad is out of the door a whole ten minutes before me (typical).  He’s working down the street from our house and is only gone two months out of the year, rather than every week.  We have a dog named Foster who we completely dote over.  After work we have leftovers for dinner, take Foster for a walk and enjoy a glass of wine.

2009:  Brad is out of town and will probably be out of town this time of year for as long as he works at his current company because there is a huge trade show going on at the end of October through the beginning of November.  I don’t mind it though, I spend the night picking up mac and cheese and wine from Target for dinner and watch a movie I’ve been wanting to watch and thoroughly enjoy watching with Foster curled up next to me.  We’re starting to talk about trying to have a baby.  The baby bug has bitten me hard, and although I want it to be a stress free process, it’s just about all I can think about all day, every day.  Maybe one day I’ll be more excited and not so worried.

2010:  Brad’s parents pick me up from my parents’ house and bring me to the hospital in time for me to feed our week old baby.  He was early, so he’s still in the hospital, so I spend every waking moment up there with him.  It is the first time they will be able to hold him and they are both ecstatic.  I’m extremely frustrated because Chase keeps having bradycardia episodes, which is when he forgets to breathe when he’s eating.  I feel like I’m suffocating my own baby.  This is not a good day, but the nurses keep threatening me that he’s going to be discharged soon.  I don’t know what I’ll do with myself when I can hold him whenever I want to with no tubes, no wires and no monitors.

2011:  We’re spending the weekend in North Carolina with my grandparents.  Nana is not doing well.  She was diagnosed with leukemia this time last year and she’s been having less good days.  I don’t want to think about this being the last time that we see her, but that day is coming sooner rather than later.  Today Chase decides to start walking.  Not going one or two steps, going more like 10 or 12.  It is quite a sight to see, and he is proud of himself.  I am so happy that Nana gets to see him walk for the first time.  When I talk to Brad later that day I wish him a Happy Anniversary.

Brad, thank you for 13 glorious years.  Thank you for always being the one thing I can depend on.  For being my rock.  For loving me despite all of my flaws.  For being my shoulder to cry on.  For always keeping me smiling and laughing.  For being a fantastic father and blessing me with an equally fantastic child.  For these things and so much more.  I look forward to the next lucky 13 and beyond.

Absent

Wow, so this chick has been busy!  I have gotten super far behind on my posts, but I’ve had some pretty good excuses…

1. Planned, implemented, executed and all that for a first birthday party (which I will point out was a smashing success, at least I thought so) for 32 people

2. Visited my grandparents down in North Carolina one weekend

3. One of my BFAW (Best Friends At Work for those not familiar with the acromym) had her baby 3 weeks early so I may have made some (read: many) visits to see little Chloe

4. Directed a wedding (with that verb being used very loosely).

5. Been baking, baking and baking some more for birthdays, holidays, potlucks

6. Preparing Christmas gifts

7. Allegedly getting ready to move, which was news to me as of this week.  Much, much more to come on this topic

8. Planning a trip out west to ski in 2 months!

9. Dealing with a now walking child

10.  Went on a road trip to Richmond for another one year bday party (this is the end for a while, I hope)

So, I get that it’s the holidays and all, but I will try to get better and get to writing!  Until my next entry, enjoy this picture of my one year old child making a mess : )

A Day That Will Live in Infamy

That was supposed to be day my child was born.  My due date was December 7th, “Pearl Harbor Day” as every man over the age of 35 reminded me of.  So when I headed to a pretty routine doctor’s appointment for a nonstress test due to some high blood pressure issues while I was pregnant, I had nothing to worry (or stress) about.  It was a gorgeous, crisp October day, and I had nothing going on at work except my baby shower and my end of the year review.  My boss was out of the office, my husband was out of town, it was Friday and I had a weekend of baby themed things to do.  I dressed super comfy because my feet were starting to swell and I was 34 weeks and 3 days pregnant, and being as cheap (and practical?) as possible, I was wearing as few maternity clothes as possible, but we were about to hit another season and I still had six weeks to go, so I knew I would have to make some pointless investments soon.  For the time being, I settled on some leggings, a long sweater and some wide gold flats.

Unfortunately, my appointment was at the furthest of the two locations of my OB, and I had made the appointment early, so I couldn’t sleep in and had to drive 20 minutes (as opposed to 5) in traffic.  So I drove there slightly annoyed at yet another inconvenience in my squished bladder, indigestion filled, swollen foot life.  I got there as on time as I usually was, and didn’t have to wait all that long for the nurse to call me back, get my belly set for the non stress test and leave me with my copy of Happiest Baby on the Block and nothing but time.  The first time she came back, she looked a little concerned, the second time, she brought the doctor with her.  He explained to me that when I indicated that the baby was moving (by pressing a button), the baby’s heart rate should go up 10 or 15 beats above the baseline and stay there for 10 to 15 seconds.  Instead it would go up 5 to 10 beats and stay there for a second.  They told me that they were going to send me next door to the hospital to do a contraction stress to see if that would get his heart rate moving.  Then things happened pretty quickly.

I called my mom and told her they were sending me to the hospital.  I called work and told them that I might be late for my own shower.  I got a text from one of my best friends telling me that she was going to be induced (she was 2 days past her due date).  The doctor told me that they were going to get an ultrasound to make sure everything was still okay in there.  I had the ultrasound done in 2 minutes (it usually takes 30 to find everything).  The tech gave me a dozen new 4D shots of my baby, but I couldn’t focus enough to really take them in.  My doctor sent me to get another meal and told me to be back in an hour in case I just hadn’t eaten enough.  My mom arrived at the office and she and I drove around and around trying to think of something that sounded remotely appetizing to me.  It was 10:30 in the morning, I had already had breakfast and my stomach was in knots.

An hour (and two cinnamon raisin biscuits and a large orange juice later), we arrived back at the doctor’s office, I was plugged in again and waited.  My mom was so sweet, trying to be as optimistic as possible, but I saw the writing on the wall, they were going to send me to the hospital.  And that’s exactly what they did.  We walked over there which was a long haul.  We hadn’t gone on our tour yet, so I had no idea where I was going, I was just walking.  When they got me all strapped in there and things started sounding better, I wondered if maybe it was a fluke and there was older, less technically advanced equipment at the doctor’s office because things were already sounding better.  Again, I waited.

An hour and a half later, still no pitocin (to start contractions), just me in the bed, Mom trying not to pace and the two of us talking.  Apparently they were down a person, which is why it was taking so long for the pitocin, so when my nurse returned, I asked if I could please use the bathroom.  Got up, did my business, back to the bed, got plugged up again and that is when it got scary.  The nurse yelled at me to lay down on my left side, put oxygen over my nose and mouth and paged the doctor to come to the room immediately.  Apparently my baby’s heartrate had been in the 70s for several seconds (it should have been close to double that).  Apparently my placenta was tired of supporting a baby.  Apparently, I was going to have this baby sooner than any of us thought.  Maybe, I should call my husband and let him know what was going on.

Six hours later, Brad was at the hospital (a miracle considering modern air travel and he was coming from Louisville), my sister had turned around 30 miles from home after taking 90 minutes to get there with no end in sight, Brad parents were at the hospital, my dad had gone and picked up our dog and brought him to their house, he was sitting in the parking lot because he had a hunch that something wasn’t right, dozens of phone calls had been made and received, there weren’t any more scary moments or seconds, they had recanted about the whole “you may not be pregnant much longer” and then they came in at 8:35pm, exactly 12 hours after my appointment that morning and said, “We’ve decided he is healthier outside of your womb rather than in,” and informed me that anesthesia would be in to administer my spinal block in 30-45 minutes.

I peppered her with as many questions as I could think of.  Am I going to puke?  Maybe.  Is he going to the NICU?  Yes.  It could be a “drive by” (a week or so) but probably until he was full term (three weeks) or even up until his due date.  Would I hear him cry?  Maybe.  Could I hold him after he was born?  No.  Well, that was that.  There was nothing I could do to change what was happening, so I stayed calm and so did everyone else.

Five minutes later, anesthesia showed up.  My first question to them?  Am I going to puke?

The c-section is a bit of a blur.  When they wheeled me in I was taken by how bright white it was in there.  I felt like I was in a movie studio rather than an operating room.  I had no problems with my spinal block.  And after I asked the third (or was it tenth?) person if I was going to get sick, I decided that I would not.  I was so tired of seeing all of those women on TV/reality shows complaining about how they felt, or wimping out and freaking out about c-sections when they need to be the strongest that they have ever been. So I made up my mind that I was going to be the strongest chick that they had ever seen.  No tears, no puke, no whining.  And that’s what I did.

It seemed like forever, but at 9:11pm (36 minutes after they told me they were going to get him), little Chase William Sorgen, weighing 5 pounds, 2 ounces and measuring 18 inches long arrived.  A new chapter of my life unfolded.  My life would never be the same.  I was a mom and the happiest woman on earth.

Happy 1st Birthday to my love, my heart, my life.  You make my life worth living and I can’t imagine a day without you.  I love you more than you will ever know.

Love,

Mom

Oh Dear (oh dear, oh dear, oh dear)…

I wouldn’t call myself someone that dwells on the past, but I am very nostalgic person and I like to be able to remember things.  I have always been like this, which is why I try to write everything down.  So I knew once it started cooling down and the smells of fall arrived, I would start to reminisce about Chase’s birth, how the whole thing all went down, him actually being born, experiences that I had in the hospital and tons of things that I have forgotten about.  My husband asked me if this was a type of post partum depression and that’s not it at all.  I’m not sad.  It is more about embracing everything that happened and knowing without a doubt that it is going to trigger a flood of memories.  I’m not sad about Chase getting older, but I know as every day passes, I will eventually get to the point where I won’t remember everything (or much) or we will have another child and everything will be different or it won’t be so fresh in my memory because it was just like this day (or that day or this week) last year.

It is the tiny things that are making me get all wonky.  This weekend I put on a perfume that I must have worn around the time Chase was born, I was throwing a baby shower (so I was already in a baby state of mind), it was chilly outside and one of the biggest songs of my pregnancy came on the radio.  It was a perfect storm.  But I didn’t break down, I just remembered.  Lying in the hospital bed before Chase was born, looking at the lights in the ceiling and thinking that NOTHING was going the way it was supposed to go.  The wet, chilly leaves in the parking lot after a rainy day on my way to the NICU to visit Chase.  The aching in my heart at not being able to hold my own child for the first couple of days of his life.  A physical pain that I did not ever imagine would exist.  My phone alarm going off in the middle of the night to wake me up to pump (which was the song I heard this weekend) and my husband climbing out of his bed in the hospital room to clean the pump parts and me painfully pulling myself up.  The pajama pants that I wore with my flip flops the five nights I stayed in the hospital because I WAS NOT going to wear those awful socks with the rubber on the bottom.  Feeling extreme hatred and jealousy towards all of the babies who were in the nursery.  How long it took for the hallway shower water to warm up while I was waiting to take a shower (and my room didn’t have one since it had two beds).  The LONG walk from the parking lot to the elevator to the Labor & Delivery floor to the NICU that I made five or six times a day that I insisted was the route that I would take because it was the same way I walked from my doctor’s office the day Chase was born. Looking on my “On Call” board or the hospital’s entrance and knowing that one day, I wouldn’t even remember what that board or my room looked like.  The first night in my bed hoping and praying that every “Code Blue” and “Code Silver” and “Code Anything” that they were announcing over the hospital PA was not related to my child.  Crying uncontrollably after talking to one of my friends and her hoping out loud that Chase would be home by Thanksgiving, which was about a month away because I knew that I couldn’t keep it up the fight or the appearance for that long, I was barely holding it together after a couple of days.  The multiple trips to the hospital every single day, the smiley, chipper me, and coping with a baby that couldn’t stand to be touched, much less stroked or held.  That same friend hesitating when two days after his birth (and one day after her son’s birth) I choked back the sobs as I told her, “I just want to hold him” because it was something she had taken for granted.  Running back to my room to tell Brad that Chase was going to be taken off of the ventilator.  The constant stream of visitors and endless phone calls from friends, coworkers and family.  Being greeted as “Mom” for the first time.  Rocking Chase in the NICU by myself and thinking that every love song on the radio was written for how I felt about him.

Then yesterday I went to Babies R Us with a friend of mine who is pregnant (the same friend who called me on the first cold morning of the fall to make sure I was ok, because she knew I was going to be like this) and again, it sent me into memory overload.  I remembered going to the same store the week Chase was born because I was having anxiety about not having a box of Newborn diapers in my house.  Going to Target and daring someone to ask if I had a baby so I could vomit my story on them and wearing my hospital bracelet like a badge of courage everywhere I went.  To me becoming a parent was something that only a select few people had gone through or would be going through and no one could duplicate my story.  Going hunting for preemie clothes because I only had 3 newborn onesies to my name.  The wild frenzy of getting everything together for Chase to come home.  Having him sleep in the same room as us for the first night and that every sigh, rustle or cry would wake us up.

I get it.  My whole story is not nearly as traumatic or tragic as some.  But it is my story and my memories and it was not what I expected would happen or anything that I was prepared for, so it still took me by surprise and there are things that I want to remember from the whole thing.  Not for me, but for Chase.  I want to tell him every detail if he wants to hear it when he gets older and I know the more time that passes, the more I will forget, so I revel in the memories and let everything come flood over me.  I hope that for the next child (or children) that we are blessed with will have less of a story, will be more “normal” birth and first several weeks.  It was ten days of my life and he will have no memory of those first days and then weeks and now months of his life, so I have to be the one to preserve those for him.  Although not all of them are pleasant or good memories, I am enjoying every second.

Preggo Brain

I had always heard things about becoming a mom.  Nothing else matters.  Your husband will cease to exist.  You will never love as much as you love your child.  I sat at dinner in a restaurant one night with my mom and beside us was a table of 6 or 8 pregnant woman.  All they talked about the ENTIRE meal was being pregnant.  I resolved that I would never be one of those women.  How could it be that important or that time consuming?  I mean millions, billions of woman have had children over thousands and thousands of years.  Good grief.

As with just about everything involving pregnancy and parenthood, I fell right into every stereotype that I had used the n word about before these things actually happened (you know, “never”).  By some twist of incredible fate I was pregnant at the same exact time as two of my closest friends from high school and the three of us were due within 6 weeks of each other.  When we got together, all we talked about was our impending new additions.

The worst pregnancy/motherhood cliché was the labor story.  We have all met those women that can parrot in very excruciating detail every nuance of their 47 hour labor.  And these chicks had babies 20, 30, 40 years ago.  I knew, knew that I would not do that.  Nope.  I didn’t care if I went natural or had three epidurals or delivered in a Target, I was not going to recount my story to friends, let alone complete strangers.

These days I find myself telling anyone and everyone my “labor” (there’s a reason it is in quotes, and don’t worry, you will all hear it one day) story.  My poor mother has had to endure it at least a dozen times.  There are seldom conversations that I have with anyone that don’t involve my pregnancy or Chase being born.  How did this happen?  Why am I this way?  What is so special about my child or my experience with him?  Again, scores of women have babies every single day, what makes my story any more impressive or interesting?  Because he’s mine.  And I haven’t been so happy in my life.  I love relishing every single second of him being here and him being in utero .  I love thinking about what I was doing last year at this exact time.  Remembering the exact day that I felt him move for the first time, or the three day stretch where he literally sat on top of my bladder, knowing he was awake in the morning when he had hiccups, or collecting all of my urine for 24 hours because doctors were concerned about my blood pressure.  I love hearing a song on the radio and it making me feel nauseous because I was so early in my pregnancy when it was all over the airwaves or the songs that I heard on the way to the doctor on the day he was born.

In fact if I could have my way I would be able to relive that day.  I wish I could remember every single detail.  From the smell of that fall day to the every detail about the hospital and my room and the doctors and the nurses and the timeline of the entire day to the calls that I got to how I felt to the weather.  I had no idea that the things that happened that day were going to happen the way that they did so I didn’t give much thought to anything until it was too late.  I wrote it all down in a 10 page word document, but that still isn’t enough. I want to live through it all over again.

So I go over that day in my head as much as I can.  Some days I can’t get it out of my head and others I can’t remember small aspects of it that used to be crystal clear.  Which may have a lot to do with a lot of other women.  You have to hear yourself say it so you can admit that the day actually happened and better yet, you have a very clear memory of the best day of your life.

Autumn Autumn Autumn Time

You see, it just does not have the same ring as “summer”.  There is nothing to get excited about when it comes to fall.  Let’s be honest, who is so stoked about it getting cold and the sun setting super early.  You know all of those fall bbqs and cookouts, laying out at the beach in long sleeves and drinking cold beverages in the chilly temperatures.  Sign me up!

I love summer.  Love it.  Can’t wait for it.  Spend most of the year wishing it was summer. Despite that, and against my better judgment, I don’t hate fall.  In fact, I kind of enjoy it (but don’t tell anybody).  I like the smells of fall.  I get excited about pumpkin flavors (which clearly don’t have a place in the summer, trust me, I tried to do it the other day),  the crispness in the air, breaking out some of the cooler clothes, the foliage (I’m getting old, I know), the lack of tourists at the beach and the fact that I can bring my dog down there, Virginia Tech football, Thanksgiving, and now the best part of fall is my son’s birthday.

I don’t know if it is a mental thing or literally happens the Tuesday after Labor Day.  The humidity starts to drop, the mornings are chillier and darker, the brilliant green of the leaves starts to fade and the Pumpkin Spice Latte makes its debut (and of course, I’ve already had one).  People start to break out the jeans, sweaters and blankets, tans fade immediately and just like that, it’s fall.

So although you may mourn the end of summer, embrace the fall.  It took me close to 25 years to finally come to grips with it, but I enjoy the vineyard trips, changing leaves, pig skin and giving birth in October.

Here’s to hoping you have a great fall…