Wednesday, February 22, 2012

a year ago...

Oct. 23, '11 at 4:03 am.
First day.
How do you put into words what a year ago today means? It isn't an anniversary you want to throw a party to celebrate, yet it's a day I will most likely remember in vivid detail for quite possibly my whole life. As the years pass, it will probably haunt me less and less, but it'll never be forgotten. A year ago today I was lead to believe I'd lost my precious baby. Although he is beside me right now, healthy and happy and growing ever so quickly, the thought of this day last year still makes me shudder. Maybe it's silly, or perhaps therapeutic, but I feel the need to reflect on that day.

Going home.
Wrinkly newborn feet.
Proud to be a "lil bro."
First Halloween.
It was a typical Tuesday. I had dropped Spencer off at daycare and began my normal work day. I remember searching online for double strollers, trying to figure out which would be the best fit for our family. At lunch I had made a trip to Walmart to look through the baby department, wandering up and down the aisles, looking at the stuff I really didn't need since I had a plentiful baby supply boxed up in my basement already. Back at work after my lunch break, I had stood up from my desk to retrieve a document I'd printed. (Oddly enough, it hadn't been a work-related print-off. I remember distinctly that it was a receipt for a digital photography class I'd enrolled in through the community education program. It was still sitting on my desk a few days later when I returned to work. Then jump ahead a few weeks, I'd think about that print-off while sitting in that same digital photography class and rub my growing belly endearingly and gratefully.) When I had stood up, I felt a small gushing between my legs. I immediately panicked and fled to the bathroom. Sitting on the toilet, I was afraid to look at my underwear. I knew the second I did my life would be changed forever. I took deep breaths and prepared myself for what was inevitable. I simply knew what I'd discover.


And lots of it.

How is that even comfy?
I sat shocked, paralyzed, on that toilet for quite a while. I can't say how long for sure. I remember wondering what you're supposed to do in these situations. No one prepares for this. How do you know what to do when you believe you just lost your baby? Finally, I picked myself up and walked to my boss's office. I stood in the doorway and whispered (and I remember exactly because the words have haunted me), "I think I just lost my baby."
Mommy Photography.

Mommy's favorite outfit.
To my  boss's credit, she composed herself quite nicely and took control. It felt good to relinquish control, so I could succumb to the numbness my mind and body so desperately wanted, needed. I didn't want to think about what I found in my underwear. I wanted to rewind the day to the part where I was strolling happily through the baby aisle at Walmart, daydreaming about the new baby to take over our lives.

Who is that handsome fella?
She drove me to the ER where my husband met me. I answered question after question. I was examined. Blood drawn. More questions. Clenched my fists and averted my eyes through an ultrasound. Surely, I didn't want to see the nothingness on the screen.

Then we waited. And waited. And waited. It felt like lifetimes before someone finally uttered the words I was afraid to even think. Miscarriage.

Then came the tears. The desperate texts to my sisters and best friends. I needed support. I needed to acknowledge what had just happened. I needed to get out of that ER.

At home we carried on as normal. We had to. We had an 18 month old who didn't know any different. I made spaghetti for supper. Night time was the hardest. I remember the moments up until then. Then it becomes black. Blackness so deep with despair. My baby was gone. We wouldn't need that double stroller after all. All the baby stuff would stay boxed up in the basement.

I would never hold my baby. See his smile. Hear his cries and little voice. Feed him. Rock him. Change him. I would never say his name. I would never really know whether he was a boy or not. I was grieving a person I had never met, yet felt so very close to nonetheless.

My heart was broken.

First Christmas.
I took the next day off work to allow myself to let it all out. Mourn. Cry. Scream. Be sad. Be angry. Be depressed. Be whatever I needed to be in that moment. I spent most of the day alternating between crying sessions on the couch and frantically emailing my friends for support, to vomit up the emotions that were suffocating me like a heavy elephant sitting on my chest.

Dave attempted to go to work the next day. But even he was sent home early. Daddies grieve, too. We grieved separately at first and then came together. We had lost our baby. Our baby was gone.

The following days were a blur. I tried to move on. I focused on my beautiful toddler. My Spencer. He really is the reason I made it through those days. Seeing his smiling face, knowing he still needed me, loved me, made things easier. I was still someone's Mommy.

The little brother Spencer almost didn't have.
The thing that made it almost impossible to move on in those days following the miscarriage diagnosis is that I still felt pregnant. I was still nauseous. My breasts were still tender. I was still exhausted. I couldn't reconcile with the fact that I was forced to still feel all the glorious evidence of new life growing inside of me when I knew the baby was gone. Because of that, I couldn't allow myself to fully believe it. However unhealthy it was, I held a glimmer of hope that my baby was still there.

Crazy hair!
Then came my followup appointment with my OB/GYN. I dropped Spencer off at his old daycare (I had since stopped working in this timeframe) and went to the doctor alone. I thought it was a routine checkup. I didn't think I needed anyone there with me.

I remember my doctor kept asking questions and making statements that didn't jive with a miscarriage. I wanted to say, "Hold up, didn't you read my chart? I miscarried." He kept asking about my pregnancy symptoms. My hCG levels from the ER blood work were high. Etc, etc, etc. I numbed my mind again, kept chanting to myself not to get my hopes up. I couldn't go through another loss. I couldn't believe even for a second that this baby could still be alive. I was preparing myself so I wouldn't have to experience the miscarriage all over again. The emotions were still too raw.

Then came the infamous ultrasound. I tear up and get goosebumps just thinking about it. This is when my world was flipped upside down again. The doctor showed me a black and white dot that was beating. BEATING. My baby was still there. He was still alive, fighting. I really didn't hear much of what the doctor said after he confirmed the baby was alive. I was a sobbing mess. The nurse handed me tissue after tissue. I did manage to get the message loud and clear that we weren't out of the woods, so to speak. The pregnancy was still very tenuous. I had hemorrhaged due to a hematoma and the prognosis was only a 50/50 percent survival rate. After believing your baby was gone, ANY survival rate is better than none. I was given strict instructions to take it easy and made a radiology appointment for ten days later. Those ten days were some of the hardest of my life. The waiting. The uncertainty. The paranoia. The threat of losing the baby all over again. Stress. Hope. Fear. Gratitude. Lots and lots of prayers.
Blowing bubbles.

My husband was at the next ultrasound ten days later with the strictest instructions to ask a million questions because I knew once I saw my baby on that screen, I'd be mush again. The baby was fine. Better than fine. He was going to make it. Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! My baby was okay!

Now today a year later it's hard to believe the same baby that caused so much trouble in his first weeks gestation can be the same baby I gave birth to 9 months later. He is so easygoing. A complete angel. Definitely a blessing from God. My miracle baby.

Ashton today. A year later. Tomorrow he will be four months old. A true miracle.
Eating his Lovey, Mr. Grumps.

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