Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Boys Will Be Boys

20 week Level II ultrasound.

The heart remained illusive, which means that I have to return soon to get a look at the 4 chambers.

The spine looked good, and all measurements were within 1 week of my due date.

In the midst of measuring the femurs, I saw a peek-a-boo, confirming what I knew to be true from the get go. He is a boy.

I remembered when we found out Ronan was a boy. I remember being happy, scared, and a million things. Now I feel mostly scared. Scared that I won't bring this one home either. It didn't help that they made an appointment for 28 weeks to look at the heart. It was too deja vu for me. I have a regular appointment in a couple of weeks. I am going to ask my OB to schedule an ultrasound before then to look at the heart. (Ronan's heart had a ventricular septal defect, and I just want confirmation that this baby's heart looks good).

I know this baby is a different child, but there are feelings that linger, and will always linger. I just hope I am up for the challenge. Because today it just seems like too much for my poor soul to bear....

Saturday, June 11, 2011

1230 Days Later

I remember being about 10 days into this new life. I was completely post-partum, bleeding, breasts sore, filled with milk with no baby to nurse. I felt I had been ripped physically from the life that was rightfully mine. I stood in the cool February evening, and I thought if the world swallowed me whole, I would not ever fight it. How does anyone move from that place? How does anyone ever laugh or smile again? The world seemed so different at this point. I equated it to being dropped at the top of the mountain and told to climb down. The first inclination was to say f-it and just jump. It would’ve been so much easier.

People closest to me buzzed around me lost, not knowing how to cope with witnessing their ‘rock’ crumble to pieces. I had one friend called me up hysterically crying telling me she felt useless to help me, and begged me to help her help me. And I all I could do was sit down and exhale. Numb. Defeated.

The world moved forward. My friends started to give birth and produce the shadow babies that would follow me and remind me further of what I lost. My best friend from childhood took the prize home for the most gut-wrenching blow when his son was delivered healthy on Ronan’s due date that April. He wrote me an e-mail and said that he understood if I hated him forever. When I read his words, and saw my gentle friend offer his heart and our almost 30 year friendship up as a sacrificial lamb in hopes to take away some of my pain, I crumpled to the ground and left that grief-strickened, heart-sick girl there on the floor. And a new Reese stood up.

The road was filled with hellacious downs, and seemingly ok days. Part of the really low times were hormonal. Those first few months, especially when the evil period showed its head again, I could feel the roller coaster making its ascend up the scary incline. And I was powerless to stop it. I learned very quickly that I just had to buckle down and let the horrid ride finish its course. It was then for the first time that I understood the power of the chemicals in my body. These hormones that excacerbated my grief 1000x, bringing to light all the minor details my brain tried to hide from me in my day-to-day existence (Remember his red lips? He had your nose. Do you remember how you thought he was thrashing around earlier that day? That’s probably when he died, and you did nothing about it). The ride was evil, harsh, and there was more than one occasion when I wanted to put a bullet in my head to stop the video of his silent birth being played over and over again in my mind.

We went through the motions of my surprise pregnancy with my daughter with the idea that we would not get attached and when and if disaster struck, we would at least salvage the small part of our heart we had begun to reconstruct. Dr. S was ecstatic for me on that first appointment, congratulating me to the point that I had to run out of the room to throw up in the adjacent bathroom. I was numb again. He sighed said that it was going to be a long 9 months. Little did we know.

There were appointments with high risk docs, tests and more tests. Scans and more scans. All of them showed a healthy baby. A healthy baby due on the date that Ronan was born---January 26th. None of it made me feel less anxious, less doomed. There were all the problems of incompetent cervixes, cord accidents, placental abruptions, etc. etc. that still had to be overcome. Every month I came back to my OB with a list of complications that I wanted to be assured I didn’t have. I’m sure he kept a 5th of vodka in his bottom drawer just for me those days he saw me. Then she started to move, and I eased up a bit, but then she never kept a pattern and I began losing my shit on a daily basis. I would constantly poke, dig, drink coffee, whatever to wake this child up. And then on a scary ride into work after Thanksgiving, even after eating a sugar breakfast, coffee, nothing woke her up and I was convinced she had died too. I sat in my office not knowing what to do. In a last ditch effort I placed a cold Coke can on my belly, exactly like I did on the day I discovered Ronan died, and after 2-3 minutes of nothing, she awoke with a start and kicked the hell out of me. I sat on the floor on my office and wept.

By Christmastime P and I would lay in bed and talk to her, tell her we loved her, begged her to please hang on so we could meet her. The self-protect shields were down. We wanted our baby. And if we lost her too, I honestly didn’t know what the fuck we would have done.

Her birthday came earlier than expected, and in that wondrous moment of meeting her and bringing her home and getting used to everything, we cried and wept as the 1 year anniversary came and went, saddled with grief for him and a loads of guilt for her. We were mourning all over again, but with hope this time and not desperation. It was such a bittersweet moment.
As I was rightfully distracted, I can tell you that in those moments of quiet when the baby, husband and dog were asleep that I found time to sit with my son. And I would remember him, talk to him, tell him that I miss him. And in those moments where I felt I was falling back down into a pit, he would send a sign to me---a crazy bird following me around, dragonflies buzzing, or a deep need to look at the moon which would be revealed to be a sliver moon (my favorite), and I knew he was never far from me. The more I mention him, the more that people came to understand that he was not this tragedy that happened to us, but rather a part of us indefinitely. And that’s all I could ever hope for.

I am pregnant again. And I suspect that it is another son. I walk around less scared about losing this baby, despite the scares we have had already, 17 weeks in. Maybe it’s the belligerence in me, to try to have a ‘normal’ pregnancy, or maybe it’s because I’ve already been through hell, and a repeat visit would suck, but I think I could do it if I had too. I worry more about losing P or the girl, because that would be devastation. I worry about dying and leaving those that love and depend on me behind. If I am honest, I will say that it’s another ruse, another way to be distracted. As this one starts to grow and move, I really can’t wait to meet him, but know that if he resembles Ronan, it will be another mental battle to overcome. That’s basically what this life feels like now---a series of infinite mini battles that still peck at you to remind you that something inherently changed in you, and it will never be 100% alright. And I am resigned to that. It’s a lot more liveable than the all-encompassing grief that I was in those early days.

If you have stumbled here raw and red from this just happening to you, I would like to tell you that I am sorry you have to go through it. It is indeed the most horrible thing you will ever feel. You will hate the sound of your sobs, the taste of your tears, and you will ache like you have never ached before---mind, body and soul. But if I could sit with you, I would hold your hand and tell you that time is the only answer. You are incapable of thinking past the day 1 or 20 of this journey. But somehow you keep moving, and day 10 turns into over 1000 days behind you. You wake up one day and decide that maybe today will be an ok day. You will stop and admire something small in life, and it will move you to remember that life is worth living. You will smile, you will hear yourself laugh, and you will find yourself happy for someone again.

But you will never be the person you were. The new you will probably be more sympathetic, more cautious, more aware of the fragility of life. And all in all, that's not such a bad thing.