Monday, January 19, 2015

Baby Paris

*I truly believe there is powerful healing that can happen when a person is able put words to what they are feeling.  For me, I struggle with voicing those words.  I always have.

And so I write...or I guess, I type.  Who knows if I will ever hit the publish button, or just keep this to myself.*

So here we go.

About the time I started having those urges to have another baby, we learned that Jared's hard work had paid off, in the form of a paid trip to Paris.  Whaaaaat???  So exciting!!!

Our fertility has always been a mystery, with our fertility treatment Kerrigan and 2 surprise babies.  So we decided to hold off on trying for #4 until that trip, to avoid a sicker than death Lindsey. 

Imagine our shock when 2 weeks after Paris we found out I was expecting.  I think the extra 6 months of waiting to try made those 2 pink lines even sweeter.

We were all so, so excited.  Kerrigan would tell me multiple times a day that the day the baby was born would be the best day of her life.

As morbid as it sounds, I have always assumed I would lose a baby at some point.  The miscarriage rate is high, and we want a big family.  I am always anxious (as are most women) that first trimester, with every pregnancy.

We waited the standard 12 weeks, breathed a sigh of relief, then shared our news with everyone.

The pregnancy was a little different.  I wasn't AS sick during the day (read: only throwing up a few times during the day, not every minute of every day), but really sick in the evenings.

I started feeling baby move way earlier than the others, around 13 weeks.  I was able to continue *lightly* jogging/exercising and to lower my RA medication (which isn't necessary, I just wanted to play it safe).  

My belly popped way earlier as well.  Looking pregnant and feeling the baby move so early allowed me to bond with my little love much sooner than in the past.  

I would talk to the baby when I could feel kicks, think of names and picture what the baby would look just all seemed more real earlier than usual.

On October 21st I went in for my 16 week check up.  I mentioned that I hadn't felt the baby move for a few days, and that I had cramped a little after a run earlier that week.  Neither seemed to worry my ob.  He struggled to find the heartbeat.  He said he wasn't concerned, the baby was small and my uterus was loud...but ordered an ultrasound for my benefit.

The ultrasound machine was not the best resolution, but I could instantly see my baby perfectly.  Little hands, little feet, sweet little legs tucked up.  I am no expert, but I could tell something was wrong.

I have never prayed for something so intensely in my life as I did as I stared at that tiny, motionless body.  Please move.  Please please please please move.

I was the first in the room to find my voice.  I whispered, "I don't see a heartbeat".  

Surprisingly, I held it together pretty well as my ob comforted me, talked to me about my options and asked me not to blame myself.  Then he asked if I had any questions.  I asked, "How am I supposed to tell my 5 year old?" and lost it.  The thought of facing Kerrigan and Tucker was heartbreaking.

Telling them was harder than anything I have ever done.  Kerrigan was crushed, I don't think I will ever be able to erase from my mind the look on her face the second she realized what we were telling her.

I honestly don't remember much else about that day.  I was numb.

The next day we had another ultrasound to confirm death.  They were able to tell us the baby was a girl.  I will be forever grateful for that extra time we got to spend with her.

Right after the technician told us she was a girl, she zoomed in on her profile.  I could see so clearly that she looked like her siblings.  My kids all share the same cute little nose, and this baby was no different.

Before that moment, I had never really had a firm stance on miscarriage.  I didn't know if those tiny spirits belonged to that family or if they would come back in a more perfect body later.

However, in that second, I knew.  This was my daughter.  She would be mine forever.  I will get the opportunity to mother her in heaven, but not in this life.

(I am not saying that is the case with every pregnancy loss.  I still don't know the answer to that question.  I only know that this was my experience with this baby.)

Kerrigan is currently obsessed with Paris.  One night she came to me holding her mini Eiffel Tower we bought her, and said she wanted to name the baby Paris so she could think of her every time she looked at her Tower.  I don't know how you argue with that logic.  So she became Baby Paris.

A week later her little body was removed from my body.  The decision of how to do so was the hardest decision I have ever made.  Both my ob and the late term miscarriage specialist recommended a D& E (like a d& c, but a little more complicated because of her size), for the faster recovery and much lower complication rate.

My head understood all those reasons, but my heart ached.  I wanted to hold her.  Kiss her.  Sing the song I sing to all my babies, the same song my mom used to sing to me.

I felt I only got to make this one decision as her mother on this earth, and delivering her seemed like the more selfless decision.

In the end, though, I had to do what was best for the whole family.  My children needed me to recover, both emotionally and physically, as fast as possible.  And 3 is not our number, so I needed to do whatever would be best to get the rest of our children here safely.

There are some days I hate that I did the D& E.  I think it was the better choice, but it still hurts that I will never see my child's face in this life.


The physical healing was quick.  My body is still trying to figure out what happened, which is a little frustrating, but there was little physical pain involved.  Except when my milk came in...that took a physical and emotional toll on me, but that's a whole other story.

Emotionally, the healing has been interesting.  I think of Paris every day.  I pray for her, that she knows how much I miss and love her, every single day.

Most days I am fine. Most days I am happy.  Life has gone back to normal.  I feel normal.

  Some days I am not fine.

Earlier I mentioned that moment when I knew Paris was my daughter.  She will be mine forever, and I can't wait to meet her in heaven.  In some ways it makes this trial so much easier to bear, to know that one day I will hold her.  

In some ways it makes it hurt more.  The little moments I have with my kids that make motherhood worth it...I don't ever get to have those with her.  When I think of all the moments I won't have with her, it almost hurts to breath.

I won't get to hear her first cry.  I won't get to rock her to sleep.  I won't ever wrestle her flailing arms and arched back into her car seat.  I won't get to wave to her as she rides the bus to school.  I won't ever comfort her when she falls.  Her eyes will never light up on Christmas morning.  I will never get to watch her blow out the candles on her birthday cake.

I never fully understood when women would talk about this intense mourning after a miscarriage.  I understood that they were sad, life is precious.  Losing that life is a terrible thing.  I am beyond ashamed to say I sometimes felt they were possibly dramatic or in some way embellishing their pain.  I was so, so wrong.

Sure, I miss being pregnant, feeling her kick.  Of course I am sad that I won't have my brand new baby to hold in a couple months.  But I am grieving the loss of a lifetime of the little moments I treasure as a mom.

I feel like people don't always understand that.  I wonder if people think I am being dramatic or a downer if I talk about her.  

So I usually don't talk about what I am feeling.  I don't want to make people uncomfortable or to wonder what they are thinking about me.  When really all I want to do is acknowledge that she is a part of me.  Part of our family.

Even though I never met her in this life, I miss my Paris.  I miss the experiences I will never have with her.  I didn't understand that before.  Now I do. 

Kerrigan has been asking some tough questions, and sometimes I feel inadequate answering them.  When she sees new babies, she tells me it makes her sad because her baby died.  She has asked why other people get to keep their baby and we didn't.  And I feel like I don't have the answers, so just cling to the fact that our family is forever and we will see her in heaven.

I struggle with the question "How many kids do you have?"  I feel like saying 3 is a lie.  It makes me feel like I am ignoring the precious soul who is waiting for us in heaven.  Saying 4 just opens up questions.  I don't know the right answer, and it makes me nervous to meet new people.  I wonder if that is normal.

I also have some fears when I think about being pregnant again.  The thought of this happening again is terrifying.  I won't be able to tell myself that I just have to make it through the first 12 weeks and then I can relax.  I won't be able to boost my spirits when I am sick by telling myself it means the baby is healthy.  I threw up until 3 days after my surgery.  That scares me.

I hope that my faith will be strong enough to overcome the fear I know will be there. 

ALL THAT BEING SAID, I feel blessed.  I feel loved by those around me.  I feel like I found a strength that I never knew I had.  

The night I found out she was gone I prayed for a long time.  Prayed for strength.  Prayed for peace.  Mostly I prayed that this experience would not change me.  I didn't want to be angry.  I didn't want to be jealous of women who get to keep their babies.  I didn't want to become a sad person.

My prayers were answered. 

Sure, I feel a prick of sadness with each pregnancy announcement I see.  I sometimes become more aware of the emptiness as I watch the growing bellies of the women I was pregnant with.  Luckily those moments have been fleeting.  Unusually frequent, but fleeting (seriously, is there anyone left out there who doesn't have a newborn or bun in the oven...anyone?).

I am not angry at God, or any one else.  I do occasionally feel angry at my own body.  I sometimes have to fight the feeling of betrayal...that my body failed and took away something I wanted so much.  I am working on it, and slowly making progress.

I have learned how powerful service is.  Before we even made it home from that first appointment, my best friends were out mowing our lawn and writing love notes on our driveway with chalk.  We had meals brought in.  We had many prayers given in our behalf.  We had beyond thoughtful gifts sent to us, some from people we haven't had much contact with recently.  Every single kind word and act of service strengthened us more than I thought possible.  I will always be grateful. 

I have felt the love of my Savior so strongly through each person who served us.

My journey to heal is far from over, and I think a piece of my heart will always be missing.  I love my baby and will always miss her, but I have learned so much through this experience.  

It's a little too soon to say I am grateful for this trial, but I am grateful for what I have learned and the strength I have gained because of it.