32 Weeks: An Update

32 weeks!  Little Wilbur (or maybe we should say Wilburta to be more gender-appropriate?) is doing great!  We have been making weekly visits to the maternal-fetal specialists, having weekly biophysical profiles (BPP’s) and bi-weekly measurement checks.  So far, Wilburta has continued to grow and in my non-medical, very educated opinion I think she has gained some ground (although the doctors will never give me the satisfaction of saying that).  She is in the 27th percentile overall!!!  Woot woot!  Even though some of her individual measurements remain on the small side, 27th percentile overall is not bad at all if you ask me.

When I taped Wilburta’s ultrasound photo on our mirror after our first scary visit, I wrote the word “believe” underneath of it in lipstick.  It was a physical reminder to believe that anything is possible.  But I have to admit, it was really hard to believe in believing.  Make sense?

Hope was easier for me.  I hoped.  I wished.  I prayed.  But in the back of my mind, all I could hear were the doctor’s words:  She will be born early.  She will be born small.  I couldn’t quite get past that fear to allow myself to believe that he really could be wrong, to believe the best case scenario…I guess, because he didn’t really give us one at the time.

However, as more time has gone on, Wilburta has made “adequate” growth each time…nothing tremendous, but she’s slowly growing and growing.  The doctors say she could go the whole way if I keep doing what I’m doing, but with every visit they have always left me with that little kernel of fear.  Seriously, there has always been something every single visit to worry about.  After they measure her and she’s grown, I’ll say “That’s good!  I think?” and then they will say something like “Yes, but the blah blah measurement is still blah blah”  followed by at least one other worry-inducing statement such as “Change your appointments to Wednesdays or Thursdays so we know your doctor will be on call if we have to send you straight to delivery at your next appointment.” or “The baby made adequate growth, but your fluid levels are borderline low.  Come back in 2 days and let’s check on that.”  I go in to these appointments just bracing myself for bad news, trying to not let my hopes get to high.

I had a revelation this weekend though.  I realized that there is a HUGE difference between “hope” and “believing”.  Although I’ve been scared and worried about little Wilburta, I haven’t lost hope that she will be ok.  Never once.  The hope has always been there.  But believing it- well that’s another story.  That deep down knowledge that everything will be ok has escaped me.  I guess it has ever since we lost Callie.  It’s kind of difficult to have faith and believe again after something like that because your fear of being wrong has been justified in the most horrible way.

It’s so hard to believe in something that you have no control over.  It’s even harder when the experts give you reasons not to believe.  It’s scary because it’s not in your hands.  I think the hardest part is just handing it over to God and saying “Here is the deepest desire of my heart- please transform my hope into faith.”  What a battle that is!

Somehow, though, I’ve crossed over.  Despite all the worrisome visits, the good but never-quite-perfect reports, I have decided that everything will be ok.  In fact, here is what I truly believe:

  • “Wilburta” is FINE and because of our history and her little lag in growth back in December they have decided to watch us like a hawk to make sure she doesn’t become NOT FINE.  Which she won’t, because she is FINE!
  • “Wilburta” will be born on her scheduled C-section date.
  • She will be between 6-7 pounds.
  • She will be healthy and perfect in every way.

You know what?  I don’t even think she needs to be called Wilburta anymore.  She’s not a runt in my opinion. She’s just doing things her own way and when she comes out she will be like “Um, what was all the big fuss about?”

I’m not sure when or how I turned the corner, but I have.  Yesterday, I saw a rainbow in the clouds and it just cemented all those hopes I mentioned above into firm beliefs.  What is the good really of believing anything else?  I could be wrong, but why stress over that?  It does me absolutely no good and it robs me of all the joy and excitement that we should be having over this little one.

So, I’m done.  I’m done letting fear break my spirit.  I’m done stressing over what could be.  It is not for me to decide.  It is not for the doctors decide.

Nope, it’s between our baby and God now.

And, I believe in them.

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Baby #3

Charlotte, proudly announcing that we are expecting our third child, our second rainbow in April :)

Charlotte, proudly announcing that we are expecting our third child, our second rainbow in April 🙂

Baby #3.

How can I explain to you the roller coaster that has been Baby #3 this far?

I just spent this rainy afternoon reading back my old posts from Charlotte’s pregnancy.  I was blown away by how differently I feel this time around.  John and I were still very much in grief from losing Callie when I became pregnant with Charlotte.  I was so sad and so scared throughout it all.  I fought so hard to stay hopeful, face my fears, and maintain faith.

I’d like to tell you that this baby’s pregnancy has been the complete opposite…happy and carefree!  But, that’s not exactly true.

I’m not sure how to explain this time around…

When I first saw the positive test, we were on vacation.  I slipped back into bed and whispered to Charlotte that she was going to be a big sister and left the test there as a surprise for John unsure about my own feelings.  When he came back beaming, I had trouble beaming back.  I was happy, I suppose, but I just couldn’t bring myself to be excited.

As time went on, I tried really hard not to think about the fact that I was even pregnant.  I avoided talking about it with John and fake smiled when I did have to discuss it.  I felt relief upon seeing our little bean at the first ultrasound, but not exactly joy or wonder.  More like “blah”.

Before Callie passed away, John and I had always dreamed of having three kids.  It sounded like the perfect number.  I thought that losing Callie would make us want kids so much more, potentially leading us down the path to having a boatload of kids.  In actuality though, that just wasn’t the case-  for me, at least.

I realized that after being robbed of a future of Callie, I was taken down to the most fundamental and basic desires.  Lord, I just wanted a baby that would stay with us.  Please, God, just let me hold a baby.  Please, please let me hear a cry.  Let me change diapers.  Let me nurse her.  Oh, God if I could just have this one thing, please, please, please.  And then Charlotte came.  She never took Callie’s place, but she did answer so many of my prayers.

I was good.  More than good- filled with absolute contentment in every sense of the word.  You see, after having Charlotte, my heart was so full I just couldn’t possibly dream of having any more room left in it.

How in the world could I need anything else?

And it was in this mind frame that I went into Baby #3-  reluctantly, with the distant goal of giving the gift of a sibling here on earth for Charlotte to know and play with.  This sounds so horrible, but it wasn’t for me at all.  It was for Charlotte.  It was for John.  For our families.

Because like I said, I was good.

I spent much of the first trimester battling some pretty bad mood swings and a general feeling of discontent, mixed with strong nausea and fatigue.  I will also add that during this time, Charlotte was waking up in the middle of the night constantly and only wanting mommy, so I was downright exhausted.  I broke down in tears often and felt such guilt at my lack of ability to bond with my growing baby and feel excited and grateful for the gift that he or she is.  Finally, I had enough and went back to my therapist to talk things through.

And- poof!  I felt better!  I vented and she listened.  I started to realize that my lack of excitement, was really just my fear:  repackaged and redesigned.  Fear of not being able to handle two kids.  Fear of not being able to love each of them enough.  Fear of taking away my undivided attention from Charlotte.  Mix those fears in with some of the old fears… what if something happens?  why mess with a good thing?…and I was a just a ball of emotions.  Getting it off my chest and owning my feelings has helped me tremendously.  Oh yeah, and getting more sleep and having my hormones calm down a bit didn’t hurt either 😉

I’ll be 100% honest with you and tell you that, although I feel much happier, stronger, and less fearful, I am still not jumping up and down with excitement.  Maybe this is how it feels after experiencing pregnancy for the third time?  Maybe I’m too busy chasing Charlotte, teaching students, and managing a growing business to really even think about anything more than the moment right in front of me?  But I do know that I’m not alone in these feelings and that so many other mothers have felt the same way.  I’m not sure if I’ll start jumping up and down any time soon (or at all!) but I do know that each day makes me feel better, more ‘into it’, and enthusiastic.  I’m very much looking forward to more ultrasounds, more opportunities to get to know this little one, and the kicks that will make it feel “real”.

And here’s the other thing I’m going to be honest about.  I’m in this with my whole heart:  I want this baby and I know that after he or she arrives, I will never be able to imagine my life without him or her in it.

But…

…I can also completely understand now why some people choose not to have another.  Especially those who have experienced loss.  Because truth be told…I was good, allllllll good.  That intense satisfaction is an amazing feeling and I do not doubt that my life would have been very full and happy should we have chosen that path.

But we didn’t.  And I know that this path will be awesome… I just had to get my bearings first.

So, that’s me right now.  Happy to be past the black cloud that was the first trimester with a better outlook for the next two.  Enjoying Charlotte with my whole heart.  Letting hope slide into my heart in bits and pieces and preparing for it to grow and stretch to limits I never imagined were possible.

Love,

me

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Please join us tonight for the International Wave of Light in memory of Callie and other babies lost too soon.  Light a candle at 7 p.m. wherever you are.  We appreciate it so much!

3 Weeks Old

3 weeks old

 

3 weeks old, taken yesterday but posted today because the little lady kept me busy!  Charlotte is such a good baby.  She sleeps for long stretches at a time, she eats like a champ, she cries when she is hungry and tired, and best of all, she loves to snuggle.

I was looking at her yesterday as I was taking her picture and I was hit with this giant wave of appreciation that made me say out loud, “Thank you God!”.  With no one else around.  I’ve been thankful for the past three weeks, but I don’t think the depth of my gratitude hit me until yesterday.  It just came from out of the blue and for no particular reason.  As I wrote about last time, the hardest parts of this journey so far have had nothing to do with Charlotte.  More, just dealing with waves of lingering grief.  Thank goodness Callie sent us such a sweet baby.  I am savoring being able to act out the dreams of motherhood that I had envisioned for so long…even the hard parts.  Dressing her up like a baby doll.  Kissing her warm little cheeks.  Shoving bites of lunch down in between the ‘shh’s. Doing things with one hand and picking up dropped items with my toes!

So grateful.  Life is good.

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And, I’m so grateful to all of you!  Thank you for keeping Kindness for Callie going for the past three months!  I’ve updated the K4C page with a few acts of kindness from Sarah, Christin, and Kerry.  John and I would also like to thank those of you who chose us to be recipients of random acts of kindness.  We received several sweet, sweet gifts that warmed our hearts and brought smiles to our faces.  Thank you for spreading the love!

xoxo

Mommy Meltdowns

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I have had exactly three  ‘mommy meltdowns’ since Charlotte was born.  The first was on her first night when we let the night nurse take her to the nursery and I felt guilty about it.  The second was when I got completely overwhelmed by too much information by a well-meaning lactation consultant instead of just listening to my own instincts.  And the third, came the other day, in our bathroom.  After a fussier than normal night, I stood staring at my disheveled self in the mirror after getting Charlotte down for bed.  My incision hurt, I felt like my stomach was getting stabbed from the inside out by horrendous gas pains, and my nipples felt like I had been given a hundred million titty twisters in a row.  So, I cried.

I’m sharing this because there has been something on my mind lately.  I secretly hoped that after having Charlotte, that I would be able to talk to other moms about being a mother and not feel different.  But the truth is, I am different.  Still different.  If I’m being honest, as I have fielded the usual questions that come with having a new baby, I have had to work hard to hide my annoyance and remain polite.  It has taken me a little while to dig beneath this emotion and discover it’s root.  Why would it bother me to be asked about how breastfeeding is going?  How is she sleeping?  How are you coping?  Didn’t I want to be a part of this club called ‘normal’ motherhood?  The only ones who seem to have been spared these feelings are my closest friends who have been with me ‘in the trenches’ and other rainbow moms.

I eventually recognized that old emotion bitterness creeping out from within.  It turns out I have a low tolerance for these types of conversations because typically those asking have never had to be in my shoes.  That the worst or hardest thing they have ever faced is how badly their boobs hurt or the frustration of a colicky baby who has robbed them of sleep.  I realized I resent them for it.  Isn’t that awful?  Saying it out loud makes me feel like a terrible person.  After all, it’s not their fault.  I would never EVER wish my experiences on anyone.  They are just well-meaning moms trying to welcome me to the club.

But, my club is different.  Rainbow moms know what I mean.

Instead of venting to you about the typical newborn baby issues, let me tell you about the challenges I have really found to be daunting.  Like getting out a baby item that has been sitting in the closet for a year and half and seeing that it is covered in dust.  Every speck of that dust pisses me off or saddens me depending on the day, but at the same time, I am so thankful to be able to finally put it to use.  Or, like plugging in the baby monitor that we spent a buttload of money on before Callie was born, only to find that the battery won’t charge and it’s been over a year so it’s out of warranty.  (A really nice man in customer service listened to our story and is sending a factory refurbished cord-  fingers crossed that it works!)  It makes me so mad!  Or, thinking about Mother’s Day and the bittersweet feelings it brings.  Or, accidentally saying Callie’s name instead of Charlotte’s.  Or, looking down at our amazing girl and simultaneously being overjoyed that she is here and depressed that her sister could not stay.  Or, staring at Charlotte and seeing a feature that reminds me of Callie.  Or, on the other hand, seeing her perfection and it reminds me of Callie’s fragility.  It’s just not fair.  I’m having flashbacks frequently.  I kiss Charlotte and remember kissing Callie right before she took her last breath.  And then I get scared that I could possibly experience that kind of loss again and I clutch Charlotte, afraid of what could be.  I imagine having to go through the loss all over again and how that would utterly ruin me to experience it twice.  That takes the whole ‘leaning over the crib to make sure your baby is still breathing‘ thing to a completely different level than your average mom.

I could go on, but I won’t.  Because really, although all of those challenges are difficult, they have not overshadowed the joy.  When I say that the past two and a half weeks have been amazing, I am not lying.  I am not glossing things over.  Because, to me, even my messy mommy meltdowns are a true gift from God.  I never said it has been a total breeze.  Just that it has been filled with tiny miracles.  Every cry.  Every breath.  Even the scabby nips.  Miracles.

Sometimes, when I write things, I worry about what people will think when they read it.  It is not my intention to make anyone feel bad if you have been one of the kind-hearted friends who has asked, “Hey, how’s it going?”.  And it’s also not my intention to make people stop asking.  Please, don’t stop.  You, be you.  No one should feel guilty for having a life I am envious of at times.  That is MY issue.  It is a delicate balance.  On one hand, I have to give myself permission to be a ‘normal’ mom.  To feel the same joys and frustrations as everyone else.  And on the other, I have to recognize and accept that I’m not your average mother and make peace with it.  (Who is, right?)  I was able to do that by the end of my pregnancy, and I am confident that I will work through those emotions again now that Charlotte is here with us.

Because this is my little slice of the internet, I write from the heart.  And this is what motherhood looks like for me right now, from the heart.

Scary.  Blissful.  Frustrating.  Amazing.  All at the same time.  Maybe I’m not so different after all….

 

 

**p.s. I have many Kindness for Callie updates coming soon!  Feeling blessed to be so supported in this effort 🙂

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