So lucky

I took Muppet to a new vet- one a little closer and smaller, looking for a more personal (and cheaper?) experience than the VCA where we usually go. Right next to the vet was a groomer, so we popped in to ask about prices. As we stood in front of the counter, one of the groomers came around to look at her for a proper estimate. She saw Felix in the carrier and cooed a bit, asking a common question,

“Is he your first?”

“My second,” I answered easily.

“What is your first? A boy or a girl?”

“ I had a daughter,” I replied trying to put a little emphasis on the past tense. I seem to think people will pick up on it, but I have to find someone who actually does.

“Oh my gosh, you are SO lucky! I have two boys- but look at you, you got one of each! You are just so lucky!”

I almost told her.

But I didn’t.

I am so lucky. I am lucky to have Felix. I am lucky to have met Mabel- to have been given 36 weeks with her, to have gone into labor on my own, to have the precious skin to skin time I had hoped for, to have her born living, to have had her declare to us very clearly that there was nothing we could do to save her, that we could hold her as she died peacefully in our arms. Yes I am lucky in many ways, but not the way the groomer meant. I have my boy. I had my girl.

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again with the birth story?

Can I tell you my birth story? Oh, I already did? Are you sick of hearing it? Can I tell it again?

I love telling my birth story with Felix. As a midwife, I enjoy birth stories in general and know how important they are to women. Shortly after graduating midwifery school, I took a weekend retreat to a place called Omega. I had just been broken up with and my life was in transition from student to real world. I needed a weekend to regroup. I signed up for a Kabalistic Healing workshop at the retreat center, quickly found it silly and ditched the workshop for yoga and tai chi sessions and general R&R. I was nervous for the meals because they were communal and I knew no one, but I found that conversation flowed easily once people learned I was a midwife. Everyone had a birth story- they told me the stories of the birth of their children, of their sister of their nieces and nephews, of their friends and neighbors. I was a hit in telling some of the birth stories of my patients (no identifying info revealed, of course)

So you can imagine my excitement and sense of fulfillment when I finally had one of my own to share. But I both did and didn’t have one to share. I love my birth story with Mabel- how I was in denial about labor, how I held her in as long as I could, how I pushed her out in just three pushes. But it’s not one I get to share often, because telling the story involves sharing that I got an epidural- something I would have otherwise hoped to avoid, but when I was in so much labor pain without the reward or incentive of a take home baby, I caved easily. I would love to share how I got the epidural when I was in transition but didn’t know it, that once I lay down after placement, I was fully dilated, that I didn’t feel a darn thing until her head was practically peeking out. But these are all details that I only want to share in the right context- that I was giving birth to a baby that would likely die. I want to be able to share my birth story with Mabel easily, but since her birth is wrapped up in her death, there isn’t a happy ending. All that pain for what? I feel like if I were to tell that story I would garner sympathy- and that’s not what I want. I simply want to be part of the club, the mother’s club, where we share our birth stories, laughing, bragging and bemoaning every detail. People don’t laugh or ask details when your baby dies.

Felix let me into that club. I was in labor for 15 min. I delivered him myself. At home. Over the toilet. Isn’t amazing?

So you may get sick of hearing me tell my birth story with Felix, because it’s two birth stories. He came fast- very fast- because he was my second. His sister paved the way so he could literally fly out. I get to tell it over and over because I don’t get to tell Mabel’s story as much.

Hello…?

Hello blogworld, it’s me, Meghan.

Oh how I’ve missed you.

I have many reasons for my quietude. At first fatigue and an actual real live take home baby kept me from writing. Just as I was settling into the rhythm of motherhood (to a living child), I returned to work at my non profit job- Hope After Loss. I had started the job in April, learning the ropes of the position- coordinating pregnancy and infant loss peer support groups, facilitating burial/cremation financial assistance to those who cannot afford to lay their baby to rest and outreach and education initiatives. By May, we began planning for our annual walk that happens in October. It is our biggest fundraiser, as well as a chance for the community to come together to remember our babies during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. In June I went out on maternity leave (earlier than expected) and come August I hit the ground running, doing my regular duties as well as planning this walk. Soon it was all encompassing. I was trying to do in five months (minus six weeks), what the organization usually takes a year to do. Plus I was doing it for the first time on very little budget. I’m only hired for 10-20 hours per week, but ended up putting in 40 hours some weeks (in addition to my 20 hours or so a week as a midwife). I shed tears over the walk, worrying that it wouldn’t be a success- that I would fail in putting on an event that my baby loss community cares so very much about, that I would fail in raising the money the Hope After Loss needs to continue to do it’s work.

And last weekend, on a beautifully crisp Sunday afternoon, hundreds of people from across the state gathered as we put on our Footprints on Our Hearts walk, complete with activities beforehand (such as music, a kids art project and a remembrance table) and gathering for bubbles and food afterwards.

The totals aren’t in yet, but we raised a respectable amount of money and the day seemed to go smoothly, with well-received speakers and a remembrance program to boot. I have plenty of self-criticisms and ideas for improvement next year, but overall I think the walk was a success!

So the walk has kept me from you. I didn’t even have the time or energy to tell you about it beforehand. But now that it is done, I can catch my breath and return to blogging a bit. It may be sporadic, because there is still just so much to do, but I plan to give myself the time.

Hi there. It’s good to be back.