Thursday, October 28, 2010

Easier, but . . .

Despite my meltdown of the last couple of days and the angst about scheduling my c-section, this pregnancy has been much easier than my last.

I can actually look ahead and think about having a baby.

Last time I couldn't order diapers or get clothes out of the attic or imagine bringing a baby home, certainly not right away. All I could do was fill up my freezer, easy meals would be good no matter what. When I packed my bag for the hospital, I wanted to bring a bunch of extra clothes in case we didn't come home right away. Brian had to convince me to just put a pile out on my chair for somebody to pick up if they needed to. When I went to the hospital, I made sure I had Carol's number. Just in case.

This time I have diapers back from the friend we borrow from, and the newborn clothes are in the closet. I'm trying to figure out where to fit the swing amid Kathleen's things. I've found coverage for my one on-going freelance gig. This time I'm not thinking about bring stacks of clothes for my self, but of packing my Henry book and the yellow blanket to get through the 17th. I'm thinking about having Kathleen come to the hospital to see her new brother or sister. "Bay-beee," she'll say. "Eyes! Noooose!" It is one of those bittersweet moments, and I fully expect it to happen.

I am better able to believe that this baby will be born alive and healthy, that we will stay in the hospital only the normal number of days post–c-section. So the anxiety sneaks up on me sometimes. Of course it is still there, but so is hope, a calmer, brighter hope than last time, a less desperate hope.

I actually had that OB visit today. Everything looks good, sounds good. Baby is moving, moving, moving. "Everything is okay." It's what you want to say when come through the door after an OB appointment, whether you're crying or not.

Today, everything was okay. The baby seems fine. I baked cookies. Kathleen pointed to the stool next to her and told me "Seat," so I sat with her while she colored. The sun shone. Today I held it together and it wasn't so hard.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Meltdowns and Venting

Last night, I broke down crying. Brian asked what was wrong, if it was the anniversary of when Henry coded and ended up back in the CICU. I really didn't know, but that's where we were this time of year. Either he was struggling and heading toward that code or he had coded and we were back to square one, but all more worn out.

Last night, I slept with Henry's blanket, the one my grandmother knit, the one we wrapped him in after he died, the one I slept with every night for the first year after he died. I haven't slept with it for a while. It's been tucked at the foot of our bed, unused, but last night I felt the need to curl up with it again.

Yesterday afternoon, I started losing it. I was irritated and angry at Brian for taking more time with a project than he anticipated. I was feeling overwhelmed by work and frustrated that I was stopping to take care of Kathleen while he worked on it. I felt guilty for not enjoying the time with her because I've been feeling like I don't get as much time with her lately. I stepped outside to take her for a walk, and I started blinking back tears.

My neighbor, J., saw me having a hard time. "Take some time," she said. "Take a walk, do what you need to do. Kathleen's fine with us." So I did. I drank some water and blew my nose and walked around the block. I came back borderline composed. She had a visitor, a woman and her son. Her son is three. I thought yesterday that his birthday was the same as Henry's, but I think now that her son was two days younger. I remember J. running into this woman in labor when she came to visit me as I waited to be discharged. I remember meeting this woman at the baby group and putting that together. She introduced herself, and I told her my name and started to say, "We've met" and she overlapped with "at the baby group." I don't know if she knows Henry died. I'm guessing she does because she didn't ask about him. We talked about due dates and waiting to find out if you're having a boy or girl (she's pregnant again too), but all the while I was half watching her son, knowing I should have a three-year old.


"Everything is okay." 

This is the right thing to say immediately upon walking in the door when you have gone to an OB appointment and come back crying. 

It is true everything is okay, or if it's not I don't know it. I didn't actually see my doctor today. I drove the 40 minutes or so down there, found parking, waddled, back aching into the office, tried to check in. And they told me my appointment is tomorrow, which I know it wasn't.  I insisted that my appointment was supposed to be today, and then I burst into tears, because I have better things to do than waste an hour and a half going to a non-existent appointment, only to do it all again tomorrow. They told me they could probably squeeze me in this afternoon, but somehow driving home and then driving back this afternoon felt worse than just going back tomorrow.  I drove home crying and cursing and knowing that I should really calm down. 

I've been stressed and overwhelmed lately, trying to get my work done, trying to get ready for this baby, trying to spend time with Kathleen, trying to enjoy the fall. This wasted trip didn't help. It also doesn't help that simply driving to my appointments galls me. Spending 40 minutes in the car each way, when if I went to my first practice I'd spend 30 minutes total getting to and from my appointments irritates me. It's one more reminder that my baby was born sick, that I don't have enough trust to deliver in a hospital without a NICU. 

I messaged a friend about my woes, and she said it must be hard with my memories this time of year and pregnancy hormones and anticipation/anxiety about the next couple of months. I was strangely relieved to have her put all that together. This time of year is more stressful than I realize. I'm not constantly replaying the memories of Henry in the hospital, but it's there. That's what this time of year is for me now. This pregnancy is easier in many ways than my last, but I still dread going to appointments, worried what we might discover. I've resigned myself to my scheduled date, but in the back of my head I see myself lying in my hospital bed on December 17, images of another wing, another floor, another bed with a little, still body in it. Throw hormones into that mix, and I'm a mess waiting to happen. 

When I was pregnant with Henry, I was the master of letting go. Before I got pregnant I overdid all the time. I made long lists and made sure I finished them. When I was pregnant with Henry, I threw them out, or I made lists and then looked at them and realized that I didn't need to do most of the things on them and I let them go. I rested when I was tired. I took care of myself, and I let go of expectations—mine or anyone else's. 

I'd like to do that again, but I can't quite seem to get there. So I get stressed and I meltdown and I hate feeling so out of control. This is where I am right now—taking deep breaths, trying not to let it all get to me. 

I came home from my non-appointment, too irritated to focus on work, so I sorted papers to clean up my office. While I did, Brian put Kathleen into her Halloween costume for the first time and she walked around the house roaring. And I couldn't help but smile. I need more of this. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Among the Stars

Henry among the stars

This showed up in my inbox today from Jenni. Henry among the stars. 

Two summers ago, when Henry's loss was still very fresh and very new, when my belly was beginning to swell with the growing baby who I didn't yet know was Kathleen, Brian and I went up to Maine. We spent a week with our neighbors in their rustic A-frame. We walked and canoed and ate well and rested. One night after dinner, we went out for a late canoe. It was clear with little light to obscure the stars. As I looked up into the darkness and felt the immensity of the universe, I felt tears rise, thinking that Henry would never see this, never experience this. And then that feeling eased and I knew, understood, that he was part of it. He was experiencing it more fully than I could. 

There are images we create to comfort ourselves (Brian's sister holding Henry). There are things we say to try to find a bit of peace (he's always with us because we carry him in our hearts). I don't know where Henry is or what he is or how to picture him, but sometimes I get a moment like this where I just know he is part of something bigger, not among the stars but of the stars. 

Thinking of my boy tonight and Jenni's Angel Mae, and all the other babies I've met who are among—or of—the stars.