Thursday, June 24, 2010

Just Thinking About It

Everything must start with a thought, no matter how tiny or how large, just a thought. That's where I am right now. The thought is there, kind of small in this case, like a little seed. And like a seed it could grow, or it could not, only time will tell.

So for now, I'm just thinking about it.

"What," you might ask, "is it?"

Well, I hesitate to put it into words, because then it becomes a "thing" hanging out there waiting for me to actually do something. Not just think about it, do it. That's still a bit scary to me right now.

But I'm going to bite the bullet (otherwise this would be kind of a pointless post, wouldn’t it). Don't laugh, it may not seem all that big a thing to you.

I've actually been contemplating pulling my clarinet out again and playing. The last time I played was in December of 2008. This has been the longest break I've ever had in over 20 years of playing.

On the one hand, I can't believe it's been that long! On the other, I haven't missed it as much as you would think. The last time I played was for an (almost) all Wagner concert that December. I hated that concert!! Every. bit. of. it. I also had a built in break right after the concert. I had a professional conference to attend in February of 2009 that was going to conflict with the next scheduled concert. So I was already going to be taking a temporary break from playing with that group and was supposed to return in March. (I also hadn't played at church in a long time and wasn't expecting to get called for anything.)

But things changed. In a big way!

Just about a month after that dreadful concert was when Zachary died. After that I couldn't even fathom picking up my horn and trying to play something. I knew even an Irish jig would sound like a dirge coming from me; or that a sad piece might cause me to break down in tears. March came and I decided not to return to the band and not to play the summer series of concerts. Several months later, fall approached and I again decided not to play. Part of that was now fear; fear that I would sound horrible, fear that I wouldn't be able to play more than 10 minutes without my face falling off, fear that I might have “lost” something that no amount of practice could get back, and fear that every reed I owned would be warped and useless. (Okay, so that last one is easily fixed, but rational thought is not always my forte.)

I also had a diversion. My husband had wanted to do a Thursday night Bible Study that was starting that fall. So I joined him, thus creating a Thursday night conflict, the same night the band rehearses. The diversion was a good one. It was nice to do something different, especially one where I learned something! It was a good experience, but we’re also not planning on doing it again this coming year.

So instead this thought is creeping into my head now. And then I ran into some fellow musicians the other day and they got me thinking about it again. Those darn church music people!!

I had a day off this week and swung by my church to drop off an envelope we had forgotten to bring on Sunday. Our music director and assistant director were standing outside the office and when I came back out we started chatting. The director wanted to know when I was going to play with them again, if I was interested in working up a recital sometime (yeah, right!), and the assistant director was talking about arranging a part for me to some piece they had. It was a little too much to think about.

But it’s quite possible that seed in my head grew just a bit more. Just a bit.

I know if I started again I would need a lot of practice before I play in front of anyone. I’m sure it won’t be pretty. I’ll have to buy my husband some ear plugs. It has been eighteen months, afterall.

I do find it interesting that after losing one baby I couldn’t go back to playing. Now, just after losing another, I’m actually thinking about it. I haven’t quite figured out what’s wrong with me. That’s a whole other thought process I’m in no position to try to figure out yet. I’m open to outside diagnoses if you have one! :)

So I’m thinking about it. Just thinking about it. Maybe I’ll even retrieve the case from the guest room closet and put it out in a visible place. Only time will tell.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Saying Good-bye

Monday we said good-bye.

Good-bye to another hope, another future that is not to be, and another child.

This was the third time we've had to deal with all the loss that comes when a child dies. This was the third time we felt the power of prayers and support from so many people around us. And this was just the second time we had the opportunity to bury one of our children.

Monday was a beautiful day. We've been having storms/rain showers on and off all month, but luckily that morning was beautiful. We gathered at the cemetery at 11am for a short burial service. About 20 people joined us, both family and friends, including our priest who has been with us at some point through all three of our losses.

A small table covered in green velvet stood over the grave site. Brigit was in a beautiful little box I had bought, which was decorated with flowers. Inside I lined it was a pink blanket, put inside a small, soft, pink puppy-rattle, and Brigit was wrapped in a small crocheted pink blanket made by one of her aunts. In front of the table I set a pot of flowers, pink of course. And, in front of the flowers was Zachary's grave.

Seventeen months ago when we stood at this same spot for Zachary's burial a train went by (the railroad tracks are very close by). One of my sisters-in-law mentioned it to me afterwards, referring to a little boy's love of trains and other transportation vehicles. I still think of that anytime I am at the cemetery.

During Monday's service for Brigit not only did a train go by again, but there was a lot of clattering and banging going on. I couldn't help but think that it was Zachary letting us know that he was watching over his special baby sister.

It means a lot to me that we were able to give Brigit a proper burial. This fact alone has given me a lot of comfort through this whole ordeal. Amazingly, I was in good spirits at the service, no tears. And if you know me, that says a lot! I'm usually a pretty emotional person.

Don't worry, I've had plenty of emotional moments. But this was an opportunity for closure. I've experienced a lot more comfort overall this time around, which I can't completely explain. The only thing I can link it to is the many, many prayers of so many people. Also my own prayers as well as the intercessory prayers of Mother Mary and all the other saints who have been called on by me or others for me.

Good-bye baby girl. Good-bye little Brigit Ann. May you rest in the comfort of Mary's arms, gaze upon the glory of God our Father, and stay close to both Casey and Zachary until the day when we can all be joined together again.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Another Appointment

This afternoon was another doctor appointment. Unfortunately she had no new information for me since my appointment last Friday. She had hoped to talk to the geneticist, but that person just got back from a long vacation. So that didn't work out.

In the meantime, though, my Beta HCG levels look good. The day of the D&C they tested at over 200,000. I asked today and found out that usually the pregnancy hormone, which is what the Beta HCG is, increases in the early stages of pregnancy and then plateaus around the 10th week or so. Usually it plateaus somewhere around 60,000 to 100,000. So yeah, my levels were off the chart!!

The good news is that in the two weeks since the surgery, they dropped to around 760!! So I went to the lab after seeing my doctor and gave more blood. We'll see what another five days does to it.

So I go back again in two weeks. Hopefully at that appointment we'll have all the test results back and some questions answered. My doctor still has questions she wants answers to as well, so I have to wait until she can talk to the right people before I can find out the whole scoop. So we'll see what I get at that appointment.

And when I'm there again in two weeks, I'll hopefully give my last blood sample for a while! If that blood test doesn't show my Beta HCG less than 5, then I'll have to go back at least one more time. I'm hoping that the positive drop this last time means that only one more blood draw is necessary.

My arm is getting tired and I think my veins are starting to hide.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Miscarriage Answers

It has taken me a while to write this post, but that's just because I wanted to be able to inform our families of all this stuff first. So now I think I have also processed things enough after explaining it several times in various formats that I can write something here that is coherent. At least I hope so. Let's see how this goes.

There really is no good news in any of this, but there is news that is better than other news. Plus, there is just the fact that for once we seem to have some answers. If you or anyone you know has ever had a miscarriage you know that answers of any kind are often few and far between. So in a way there is good news here. If you've never experienced a loss, it may be hard to understand how there can be good news; so just keep an open mind as you read.

Most of the answers I currently have are from a follow-up appointment I had last Friday (about four days ago). I have another appointment tomorrow (Wednesday) where I will get some more information. Last Friday we discussed the surgery, what the results of the chromosome tests were, and we learned that we had a baby girl.

So the surgery first. As I've mentioned earlier, the surgery did not go as planned, at all. My doctor told me that she had never had to deal with some of what happened during this particular surgery. I was never in any danger, but things did take much longer than expected. I was apparently intubated twice, there were problems that led her to have to use a scope, and I lost a lot of blood (not so much that there was any concern, but a lot more than would be normally expected). After that whole ordeal I wondered if I would ever do a D&C again, if we were ever in this situation again. I had been unsure about my answer to that, but as I got further in my recovery I felt that yes, I probably would. After discussing the D&C with my doctor I now think I definitely would! She said that with all that went on she feels that had I miscarried at home I probably would have ended up in the emergency room. So thank goodness I was in capable hands from the start.

The most important thing we learned was the results of the chromosome test. I've also done a little (very little) research and I think I can adequately explain this. So everyone has 23 pairs of chromosomes, making 46 individual chromosomes. When a baby is conceived it receives 23 from mom and 23 from dad, usually. A healthy baby girl would have a chromosome structure of 46XX, a baby boy of 46XY. There are often cases where, for a variety of reasons, an extra chromosome gets created or attached or something. Many people are familiar with Down's Syndrome which happens because of an extra 21st chromosome. Down's Syndrome is also known as Trisomy 21. There are many chromosome abnormalities that can happen, with varying degrees of results. There are also lots of names for them, but it seems that the majority of them, where there is a third chromosome in one of the "slots" are called trisomies. Our baby girl had a chromosome structure of 47XX+16. The 47 means she had one extra chromosome (remember you should have 46), the XX indicates that she was a girl, and the 16 is where that extra chromosome is. This is a trisomy called Trisomy 16.

Her chromosome structure also is what gave us confirmation that we had a girl. Because she had this abnormality they could distinguish her chromosomes from mine, thus ruling out maternal contamination. In the beginning I had been told they most likely would only be able to confirm the gender for certain if it was a boy, because he would have a Y chromosome that I don't have. Otherwise, maternal contamination plays a factor. But in our case, they could rule that out.

So what is Trisomy 16? Well, I've only learned a little about it. But so far what I know is that it is possibly the leading cause of miscarriage. Potentially 50% of all miscarriages are a result of Trisomy 16 and some researchers even put that number as high as 75%. As you can see, it is often fatal, and often in the first trimester. However, sometimes it is only present in the placenta and the baby is perfectly healthy. Other times it can be present in the baby but the cells some how correct themselves during the early stages of development, in which case the child can survive. There is a wide variety of possibilities with Trisomy 16 as there are with many other trisomies. And a wide variety of disabilities a child born with Trisomy 16 can have, from very minor to very severe.

There is a support organization I found online for parents of children born with Trisomy 16. They also provide definitions and explanations for the varying ways this can manifest itself. See their website at Disorders of Chromosome 16. I also found this website from on Trisomy 16 very helpful: Miscarriage-Trisomy 16.

Now the question is: is there any good news in all of this. Well, sort of. If you remember I said we had answers and that was a good thing. The first good thing for me is that I didn't do anything wrong. This sounds weird, I know. We all know that miscarriage is never anyone's fault, but if you've ever had a miscarriage you know that no matter how irrational it seems a small part of you still wants to find something you did wrong. I know I didn't do anything to cause my first miscarriage or to cause my pre-term labor with our second pregnancy, but I still think about it and question it. It's irrational, but it'll probably never go away. This time, I know for certain that nothing I could have done would have saved this baby. She was sick, she had no chance of survival. It's very, very sad, and I miss her, I think I'd have been a wonderful mother and would have rearranged my entire life in order to do what I needed to for a special needs child. But it wasn't meant to be.

The next good thing is that by knowing she was a girl we could give her a name. And by giving her a name we give her an identity. We have named her Brigit Ann. This coming Monday we will be burying her remains during a small burial service. She'll be buried next to big brother Zachary.

Finally, there is the big question of can this happen again. The answer isn't simple. Nothing is. Basically, the risk of chromosomal abnormalities increases with maternal age, but not necessarily because you've had it happen before. It can happen again, but not necessarily. If the same abnormality occurs more than once there could also be a genetic link (and this gets way more complicated than I'm willing to get into here). In my case, as far as I know, this is not the case. Like I said at the beginning of this post, I have another appointment tomorrow and expect to gain some more information from that one, so my answer here could change, but I have a feeling it won't. Basically, recurrence may not be an issue, but you just never know. This could very well have been a random, one-time event.

One thing we did not have on Friday was all the results of the genetic testing. So there is potentially more info to come. At this point though, I am satisfied with the answers I have gotten so far. They are way more than I had with either of the first two losses.

I still wish things had turned out differently, as I do with all my babies. But I take comfort in all the prayers being said for us and for Brigit. I also take comfort in knowing that my babies are now little saints in Heaven, praising God for all eternity, and capable of interceding for us with their prayers. I like to think of Casey, Zachary, and little Brigit together looking down at us from the comfort of Mary's arms.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Gift from my Daughter

About two weeks ago I received something in the mail. It really wasn't anything terribly special of unique, in fact I've received many similar items in the mail before. But this one stood out and at first I couldn't explain why. Instead of stashing it away somewhere, I kept it. Some small part of me knew I had to, even if I couldn't explain why.

Recently I started reading a book that I had gotten shortly after Zachary died in early 2009. I started reading it back then, but never finished it. The book is called Naming the Child: Hope-filled Reflections on Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Death by Jenny Schroedel.

I recently finished the chapter on Signs and it was at that point (in addition to information I obtained this past Friday) that everything came together and the little surprise in the mail from a few weeks back suddenly made more sense.

Signs are an important way for parent's to cope with the loss of a child. And these signs can take many, many forms. Just every day occurrences can suddenly have more meaning as a reminder of their child, they can be a bit more supernatural in nature, or it can be something that occurs in a vivid dream. After both my first and second losses I had moments that I would now say were signs from God that my babies were safe with Him. I can never re-create those moments, but I remember the feelings of peace that I felt in my heart each time. Those were very special moments that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Each of my losses have been completely different. And any "signs" I have received have also been unique each time. I also don't go looking for them, which is important to say here. Don't think I went looking for some sort of sign this time around just because I had previous ones. I honestly did not.

Now about that little surprise in the mail. I do have to admit that during this entire pregnancy I had a feeling that the baby was a girl. I had no reason, rationally, to think this, but I did. Part of me didn't want to believe it, afraid that I would be disappointed if it wasn't. So I tried to remain neutral, but that feeling was still lurking.

Shortly after we found out that the baby had died I was home alone trying to process everything and make some decisions. I went out to get the mail one afternoon and went through to find the usual bills, fliers, and random pieces of mail from non-profit groups. We generally donate money during the year to a variety of Catholic organizations. As a result we end up on the mailing lists of other Catholic orgs and so we get lots of donation requests in the mail. We also get little gifts in the mail from groups we've donated to and from groups who are hoping to get a donation from us: prayer cards, rosaries, little crosses, and other small things that can be easily mailed. In this particular pile of mail there was an envelope that contained one of these gifts and I guessed correctly that it was a rosary. They are usually easy to identify.

I opened up the envelope and sure enough a rosary. Just a small, cheap plastic one, but it was totally pink. All the beads were tiny heart-shaped beads that were pink. And it had a tiny pink carrying case as well. Even the center piece of the Rosary is heart shaped with Jesus in the center. On the reverse side is a more abstract looking engraving of a mother and child. Upon looking at it, I swear my heart skipped a beat. I wondered again if the baby that was still inside me was indeed a girl and this was a way for God to let me know. I didn't really want to put much stock in it. So I put the Rosary in its carrying case, left is sitting on an end table in the family room, and tried not to think about it.

So there it sat, looking at me every time I walked by it, for two weeks or so.

Fast-forward to this past Friday and I am at my doctor's office for a post-op exam/discussion. Previously she had told me that they would most likely only be able to tell the baby's gender if it was a boy, otherwise they wouldn't be able to be sure because of possible maternal contamination. So, what a surprise when the doctor comes into the exam room and the first thing she tells me is that it was a girl!! That was a complete shock! But the first thing I thought, was "Well, yeah, I kind of knew that already!" And then I thought about the pink Rosary.

There is a lot more I learned at that appointment Friday, and there was a reason why we can be confident that this baby was a girl. But I'll save that for another post.

What I came to see, was that this simple little Rosary I got in the mail was a gift from my little girl, my daughter. This little sign from her is completely different from anything I experienced from my other two babies. But that's because each child is unique in their own little way.

I think I'll be cherishing this little Rosary for a long time to come!! Thank you, baby girl!!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Assembly Required

Nope we did not buy a new piece of furniture or electronic gadget. Instead we had dinner. It was really good, by the way, and we enjoyed it immensely. Some assembly was required, but really it was the preparations that were the real adventure!!

Hubby decided to make lettuce wraps for us. He likes Asian cooking and has experimented in the past with Pad Thai (which he can never get how he wants it), Asian dumplings (which were actually better the second day, in my opinion), and we often do stir fry or egg drop soup or other simpler things. Recently he decided he wanted to try Lettuce Wraps. I even found the recipe online for the Lettuce Wraps at P.F. Chang's, but he decided to use a recipe from one of our Asian cookbooks.

So, he got home from work and started preparing everything. Chopping up the veggies and meat, making the sauce, etc. I thought he had everything under control and I had other things to do tonight, so I wasn't paying a lot of attention at first. Then I noticed that everything had kind of stopped. Well, there were three major things that had to happen to pull this off and two of them required the cook's undivided attention, in other words you couldn't work on both at the same time.

Okay, no problem. I started helping with the lettuce, which wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. Ever try to pull apart a head of iceberg lettuce without breaking the leaves? It's not easy, and it gets harder as you proceed.

As I was working on pulling lettuce leaves apart and getting them washed, hubby had decided to work on getting the bean threads fried before cooking up the filling. Bean threads create quite a mess!! I didn't even realize what they were at first. We had this tightly knit pile of very tough, wire-like "threads" in a ball that had to be pulled apart. So little bits of them were flying everywhere as we tried to do that. Even using scissors didn't help the mess. I'm sure we'll be finding little bits of those things for a while!!

Once the oil was nice and hot hubby started putting small batches of this wire-like stuff in the oil. As soon as they touched the oil they puffed up into those stringy, styrofoam-looking things that you see served at Asian restaurants! It was so cool!! They literally didn't have to be in there for more than a few seconds. It happened so fast. I was enjoying watching it.

But of course they still created a mess. Hot oil jumping out of the pan, in addition to all the little bits of un-cooked bean thread getting all over the counter and floor. Yep, we'll be finding those things for days.

Obviously we couldn't work on the bean threads and stir fry the filling at the same time. So once the bean threads were done and on a plate, we turned our attention to cooking the last part. Hubby goes outside and finds that it has started raining.

Why outside?? I guess I should explain that.

I gave hubby a nice wok for his birthday one year, I think the first year we were married. It's the only birthday gift I've ever given him that has gotten this much use!! A worthy purchase indeed! Anyway, whenever he uses it, he does so on a small burner he has from when he fried a turkey years ago (before I knew him, thank goodness!). He hooks up the burner to the gas tank on the grill and then does his stir frying on that. When it rains, there is a problem. Unlike the grill, there is no cover and rain water getting into the wok actually makes it difficult to stir fry. You need the wok really hot and everything happens pretty quickly, so rain slows down the process and then it just doesn't work.

So, back to the story ... Hubby discovers it is raining just as he needs to cook the filling for our lettuce wraps. I suggest he move the gas tank, burner, and wok to the covered front porch (which he has done before) but he decides he's going to try staying where he is. So then I suggest an umbrella. I really need to stop with the suggestions!! I found myself standing in the backdoor holding an umbrella over the wok while he cooked. Smoke from the oil is filling up our living room, my arms are getting tired, and the heat of the burner is really hot when you're standing right over it. Just as we started, the rain seemed to subside, then it picked up again. Then just as we were finishing up it started up again REALLY hard!!

I have no doubt that we looked a bit strange with me holding an umbrella over the burner and hubby as he knelt on the ground trying to stir fry our dinner in his wok while it rained around us. Thank goodness we have a privacy fence!!

Once we were done, dinner was on the table and we sat down to eat, the rain stopped and the sun came out!! Isn't that always the way?

A little assembly was required as we ate, but nothing like the assembly of putting the meal itself together. Made for an interesting evening!!

Monday, June 07, 2010

The Impossible is Possible

Today a weight was lifted off my shoulders! And it felt good!! I was so worried that things were not going to work out with the hospital and the cemetery. I felt like I was asking for the impossible, though I knew it was possible, I was just made to feel like it was the impossible. Does that make sense?

I agreed, almost two weeks ago now, to undergo the D & C on the condition that we could have the baby's remains so that he/she would get a proper burial. I know this is possible because I have done so much reading and talked to so many people who have been in this situation, that I know it can be done. But my doctor seemed very unsure. But I made it clear that this is what I wanted, so she made some phone calls. It took a while, but she got it all worked out for me. She was great too, despite her uncertainty, she did everything she could to make sure I got what I wanted.

But despite her efforts, I was still worried about it. You just never know when you are dealing with a large institution. But things turned out great. I finally got in touch with the Pathology Lab at the hospital last week and talked to a very nice lady. You could tell she was unsure what to call what I was picking up. She finally settled on "specimen," which I didn't like, but I kept my mouth shut. I know the kind of culture we live in. But I talked to her on the phone three different times between last week and today and she was always very helpful.

So today I finally went to the cemetery to meet with the director there. She goes to my church, this is a Catholic cemetery, and I've seen her at many pro-life events, plus I know she has the adoration hour at our perpetual adoration chapel on Tuesday mornings after my husband's hour. So she has been wonderful!! The moment I got there she gave me a big hug; and then when we sat down she already had the map of the cemetery out with the section that Zachary is buried in. First thing she did was point to the exact plot next to his that I was thinking I wanted!! That was awesome!! I also told her I didn't know what exactly I'd be getting from the hospital, what it would come in, how big/small it would be, etc. But she knew. She told me how it would come and she was mostly right. She also showed me a sample of a box she had bought at a local store that sells home decor type things that is perfect for burying the baby's remains in. She was so helpful and totally reassured me that I wasn't doing anything totally off the wall. That was the first big relief today!

Then this afternoon I went to the hospital. The woman in Pathology was super nice. As I was finishing up the paperwork there was a spot where it asked what my plans for the "specimen" were. I told her I wanted to give the baby a proper burial. And I used the word "baby." And that's what she wrote down. This woman was a perfect stranger, I have no idea what her beliefs are nor will I ever. But if nothing else I hope I planted a seed. It would be nice if they offered this sort of thing at this hospital for those who want it. Yes, my request may have been the first, but maybe it won't be the last. Hopefully, it won't be me having to ask again.

But what a relief to finally go there and pick up what I had wanted from the beginning of this whole thing. And to know that this will all come together.

I still have a few things to do: talk to our priest and set a date, inform family of the date, buy some sort of box or something to use as a coffin, hopefully find out something from the chromosome test so we can give this baby a name (plus we need to agree on a name), and buy a baby blanket to wrap the bottle in before putting it in the "coffin" we buy. But I feel better knowing that the important steps are done and everything is in my hands.

Hrm. That kind of makes me sound like a control freak. But I hope you get me meaning!

Overall today was a good day. I'm just so happy that the seemingly impossible (which I knew wasn't) became possible. I have a follow-up with my doctor on Thursday and I hope to learn more from the test results then, plus be able to tell her that everything worked out perfectly with the lab and that we'll be having a burial service soon.

Another seemingly impossible task: planting seeds with my doctor. Over the course of three losses in two and a half years I have had to repeatedly make my beliefs on birth control clear, as well as other things. I'm not forceful, just clear, but I do sometimes wonder what kind of seeds I may be planting with her.

You never know! Even the most impossible things can become possible!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Review of The Loser Letters

I recently finished reading The Loser Letters by Mary Eberstadt. This was the book my new book club had chosen to read in May. Originally we were supposed to be out of town for the discussion, but circumstances kept us in town, though we still did not attend the book discussion. I'm kind of sorry I didn't make the discussion, because it would have been interesting to hear my friends' thoughts on this book.

I had heard this book discussed on the Catholic Radio station I listen to and it was discussed with so much enthusiasm I was really looking forward to reading it. I also knew to expect a surprise at the end.

Overall the book was interesting. I had a hard time with the very colloquial language of the 20-something set. I guess I'm older than I thought. It was not unintelligible, but all the abbreviations and such that I'm used to seeing on Facebook updates and on instant message conversations was a little weird to have in normal text. I got used to it after a while, but I certainly hope young adults aren't actually writing like this on a regular basis. Though I will say, by using the kind of language it did, the personality of the main character certainly came out quite strong.

The main character of the book is writing a series of letters to the main atheists of the day trying to explain her conversion to their side and what they are doing wrong, which if they could fix would convert more Christians to their side. I actually found the arguments for what the atheists were doing wrong quite good for why Christianity is the better option and makes the most sense. It was kind of a strange way to make those arguments, but it worked in its own weird way.

I won't ruin the ending, because it really is quite unexpected. Definitely worth the read to see how it finally wraps up. Though I will admit that I was a bit confused by the ending and needed to talk it out with my hubby to fully grasp it. Either I'm just a bit more dense than I thought (honor student status was many, many years ago now!!) or I just wasn't fully thinking while I was reading.

Overall, the book is worth reading. It wasn't my favorite book and I expected it to be better than it was due to the hype I was hearing about it, but I did like it. I would recommend it and it is a fairly quick and easy book to read. My guess is that teens and possibly 20-somethings would especially "get it" and enjoy it the most.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The New Normal

My first day back to work and I was fortunate that it turned out to not be a full day. I usually arrive at work around 8:30 in the morning and leave around 5:00 in the afternoon. I originally had an appointment at the cemetery at 9:15, so I went there first and then got to work late in the morning. Turns out the woman at the cemetery was sick and now my appointment is next Monday. Either way, I didn't get into work until a little before 10.

The other nice thing was that I had a previously scheduled hair appointment this afternoon, so that meant I got to leave work early as well (3:30). I didn't plan it this way, but I think it worked out well. That first full day back can be so difficult!!

I think what makes it difficult is because nothing has changed for the people around me. This whole time that I've been gone, grieving the loss of another child, undergoing surgery, and trying to recover from said surgery, everyone else has continued going to work, doing their jobs and carrying on as normal. I know my coworkers feel for me, they care for me, and they are sad that I have to go through this again. But I'm the one that has really had to deal with the physical and emotional pain of all of it.

So for everyone around me what is "normal" hasn't changed. But my normal has.

That's the most difficult thing about entering your life again. It hasn't really changed, but it has changed. And it is a strange feeling.

I didn't have a baby, so I'm not dealing with sleepless nights and a new schedule that involves dropping off and picking up from daycare. I didn't lose a child that results in a change in my regular schedule. On the outside, nothing has changed. Those people who I don't work with very closely, who don't know my situation, see no change in me, my family, or anything around me.

And yet, I feel like so much has changed. Expectations have changed; plans have changed; dreams of changed.

I went into work today and proceeded with my day almost as normal. I did it with an emptiness inside, but I did it. I think today started the new "normal" of my life.

My old normal was as a librarian who likes her job, enjoys being challenged by it, and enjoys the people she works with. The old normal was as a happily married wife, knowing she had two children in heaven and hoping she would have living children one day too. The old normal was convinced that two losses was all she could handle and certainly she wouldn't be put through another or she'd surely lose it. And then things changed ...

The new normal is still as a librarian who still wants to enjoy her job despite her desires for a family. The new normal is still as a happily married wife, but now with three children in heaven. The new normal now comes with doubts about the future family that is so much desired, despite knowing that she is not in a place to think about it right now anyway. The new normal is now trying to understand how she is still standing and moving on after three losses when all she thought she could handle was two.

So much inner turmoil and yet I made it through the day. I know things will get better as each day goes by. I know my physical healing will improve. And I know my emotional healing will take time but will also improve as well.

It's just getting used to this new normal. I was hoping for a different new normal, sometime around mid-December, not this one. But life is full of twists and turns and now is one of those twisty times. It may never make sense in this life, but one day, in another place and another life, I will get to see all three of my babies and hopefully it will all make sense then.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Miscarriage Update

Today is my last day being at home, tomorrow I go back to work. Going back to work has always been hard after a loss. Each time I feel like the mourning period is supposed to be over and I have to be back to normal. I know that the mourning period isn't really over, but this step is a step back toward the normalcy of life "before."

In the meantime, I am recovering physically. My bruises from where IVs were attempted or placed, blood taken, and other mysterious marks are going down. I can get up and down from chairs, the couch, and the bed without any major pain. Where my incisions are don't bother me too much unless I lean against a counter or something. Then I notice them. I'm still tired, but not as much as previously.

The pain that was in my legs is also gone, although I did find some swelling just above the ankle on one leg. I spent some time one day and one night drinking lots of water and keeping my feet up. I've continued drinking lots of water and the swelling seems to be going down. It is no longer tender and the swelling seems to have gone down quite a bit. As long as it isn't bothering me I'm not going to worry too much. But I'll certainly be mentioning it to my doctor when I see her again a week from tomorrow.

I was also very surprised to find that my milk came in. This happened after our last loss, but I was 22 weeks then and delivered that baby. I was not expecting it to happen with a miscarriage. I asked about this on an online miscarriage forum and although no one had experienced this themselves one person found some sources online that mentioned this could happen after a loss as early as 12 weeks. Although our baby died at about 9 weeks, my body was at about 11 weeks, 5 days at the time of the D&C. So amazingly enough, this can happen. I'm wondering if my doctor will be surprised when I mention it to her. Although I was very uncomfortable yesterday and a bit today (and especially sleeping the last couple of nights) it doesn't seem to be quite as bad as the last time. I haven't felt the need to use any cold packs. I expect that by tomorrow I'll be feeling much better.

Speaking of tomorrow, I already have a busy day ahead. It'll be the first day I get to drive. I was told one week, tomorrow is one day short, but I feel ready. I first have an appointment with the cemetery in the morning following which I'll go into work. Since I haven't been there in a week and a half, I'm sure I'll have a lot waiting for me. But I get to leave early as well, I have a hair appointment scheduled in late afternoon. I'm kind of glad, I always find it hard to be back at work for a full day after going through something like this. So this has worked out well.

I'm not entirely looking forward to being back at work, but it must be done. Things may never feel the same as "before" but I guess that means I get to start another new "after." It's always a challenge.

The Sanctity of Marriage?

Notice the question mark in my title? I happened to catch something on TV this morning that really surprised me. Maybe it shouldn't have given how our society looks at marriage and family. "Sanctity" doesn't seem to exist.

I turned on the TV today and the Today Show was on. I don't normally watch it, but that's the station the TV had been on when we shut it off last night. Matt Lauer was talking to some woman (I never found out if she was a gossip columnist or a marriage counselor or what) and they were discussing the break-up of Al and Tipper Gore's 40 year marriage.

Apparently being married 40 years is a success even if you decide to break-up. Both Mr. Lauer and his guest seemed to think that after 40 years, deciding to go your separate ways doesn't mean your marriage was a failure. Really?? I thought marriage was for life, "till death do us part"? But apparently, they both felt that 40 years was quite an accomplishment and that they deserved to end things and do some new things. They also felt that since the children were grown, that wasn't an issue.

When did marriage just become a convenience that can be thrown out whenever you wanted? Whenever it no longer suited you? And who says it doesn't effect the children?

(I'm not naive, I know this sentiment has been around a long time, but it really hit me this morning.)

I remember my mother telling me that someone she knew in our neighborhood was very upset because her parents were getting a divorce. This wasn't a child, this was a grown woman with children of her own. I don't think it matters how old your children are when you divorce; it is still devastating to them. The issues are different (yes, if your children are adults there are no custody issues or anything like that) but there are still issues: holidays, can you invite both mom and dad to an event, doubts regarding your parent's relationship while you were growing up, and I'm sure many, many other things.

But more important to my point of this post, what happened to the sanctity of marriage? The idea that marriage is meant for life? When did we get to the point that at some later stage in life it is suddenly okay to divorce because your marriage lasted x-number of years? Whether it is 4 years or 40 years, a marriage ending is a sad thing, and not a success in my opinion. (BTW, I am not speaking about marriages that end because of abuse or some other awful thing occurring in the home. Marriages like that obviously need help and sometimes the best option is for it to end, for the health and well-being of the abused spouse and/or children.)

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1601:
"The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament."

The key words for me are "covenant," "for the whole of life," "ordered toward the good of the spouses," and "raised ... to the dignity of a sacrament." This is only one very tiny section in the Catechism on marriage. There is much, much more. The Church holds marriage up on a pedestal. It is the entire basis of the family and thus for society.

When marriage becomes nothing more than a convenience for two people who are open to ending that marriage whenever they feel it is no longer something they are interested in, it becomes almost like a business partnership. There is no security in that (for the spouses, the children, and everyone around them).

Really I'm just mostly amazed that because the Gore's were married for 40 years, their marriage can still be considered a "success" even if they split up. At what point can a marriage break-up and still be considered a success? Is it a number of years? Does it depend on whether there are children or not? How old the children are? What is it?

For me, coming at marriage from a sacramental point of view (that's no secret), the end of any marriage is something to be mourned. I do not consider the Gore's to have had a successful marriage just because, well, they made it 40 years and that's more than many couples these days. What a cop-out!!

This is just one symptom of how our society is quickly falling into complacency. It's really sad! There are no more standards and many standards that are around are sort of relational. There is no right or wrong any longer, it is all just up to individuals. If it feels right, then do it and what's right for one isn't necessarily right for someone else.

What a load of crap! Really? This is where society is going? It is scary and it makes raising kids very hard. This is one symptom, there are many, many more.