A little gift

 

From the individual who took cupcakes to my care teams on Mabel’s birthday

nurse

“As I walked out of Labor & Birth I heard someone call out to me. It was the girl at the front desk at the NICU where we had dropped off cupcakes earlier. She said one of the nurses wanted to see me. The nurse came out with tears in her eyes and gave me a huge hug. She told me that walking through Mabel’s life and death with her family was one of the most profound, beautiful experiences she has ever had. “It changed me and the way I practice. Please give Meghan and Chris my love and tell them I still think of them and Mabel every time I walk by that space.”

Labor memory triggers

Someone recently commented on here mentioning the tv show House of Cards. I was immediately thrown back to the day I went into labor. Valentine’s Day 2014. I was in the hospital, patiently passing the final weeks of my pregnancy, enjoying each day under continuous monitoring until I hit 39 weeks, the planned time for induction. At 36 weeks I thought I had plenty of time. Chris and I planned a romantic date in the hospital- he was going to pick up sushi (cooked rolls for me) and we were going to watch House of Cards, which was released that day. While he was at work I was having cramps on and off all day and when I saw a little bloody show, I called him, suggesting he come right to the hospital after work. I was scared something was happening. But as the day progressed and nothing seemed to move forward, I called him again, telling him to go ahead with our plan- get the sushi, but stop at home first and pick up Mabel’s blanket- the special one I had ordered, just in case. (just in case she died. I wanted her to have a special blanket to hold her in) Once he made the trek picking up all the necessities, we settled down to a nice dinner, each of us sitting on one side of the hospital tray table on wheels. I was a little uncomfortable with the cramping through dinner and so we decided to walk to the lobby and pick up some ice cream. The hospital café recently started stocking Ben & Jerry’s so we grabbed a pint of peanut butter cup, with full intentions of snuggling together in that one person hospital bed, chomping on ice cream and watching House of Cards. By the time we got upstairs to my room and I had a few bites, it became too uncomfortable to sit down. Labor had started.

Reading the House of Cards comment, brought me back to my labor- not in a bad way. It’s nice to be able to recount my labor in such a safe space. I don’t often tell my labor story outside the babyloss community because the follow up questions and comments can be rough- I didn’t realize you have a baby! Or How old is your daughter? I know I have every right to chime in, like any mom of a living child would do when something brings up a memory like that. But if a simple remark about how xyz reminds me of my labor then leads to my child’s death, awkwardness inevitably ensues- we all know what this is like. And I don’t want to seem like I’m fishing, looking for sympathy. Honestly, most of the time I simply want to remember and share my story- be a regular mom who can tell these things without consequence. I don’t want the awkwardness, or the pity- in some ways I just want the gentle laughing at how these seemingly random things remind me of childbirth. But it’s often just not the case.

I think of my labor whenever I think of sushi and Ben & Jerry’s peanut butter cup ice cream. I remember eating them and throwing them all up later. I think of my labor when I am reminded of House of Cards or Valentine’s Day. These are my little triggers (delightful triggers in a way) that remind me of that day. A scary day that led to a sad day, but it’s still part of her story, so I take pleasure in remembering it.

Do you have random things or associations that trigger memories? Do you share them?

Dream child

She was a child- a real child, seven years old maybe. Tow-headed and petite, with the button nose that was the same as in her newborn photos, she appeared in my dream. She didn’t speak much, but I imagined my mind was formulating how she would have been realistically, with the Down Syndrome and her health problems. In the dream she was healthy. She had two little boy friends, who also had Down Syndrome and she played baseball.

I have dreamt about her a few other times- mostly sad dreams, like trading her in for a health y baby. But this was wonderful- I got a true glance of the what-might-have-been.

Hi Mabel.

Sigh. How sad it is that we see our children only in photos, in memories and in dreams. I’m so thankful I have this one.

Have you dreamt about your lost love one? How would you like to dream about them?

identity struggle

I had two stints in the hospital, pregnant with Mabel.  The first was a long weekend to determine why I had no fluid (her kidneys weren’t working) and meeting with specialists to determine her prognosis (poor). The second was the final two weeks of my pregnancy for monitoring- it was supposed to be longer, but she had her own ideas and labor started weeks before my planned induction.

Both times I had my nurses, doctors and midwives visit me on a daily basis, mostly just for talking because there wasn’t much more they could do.  I essentially monitored myself, ensuring my baby was on the monitor when she was supposed to be, and the rest was just watching.  I had many conversations about the direness of my situation, often crying about how unfair it was that this was happening to my first child, my only child.  (not that losing a second or third or forth child is any easier!). I think I was lamenting not only the future loss of my baby, but the loss of the identity I was supposed to be taking- would I be a mother?  I thought if only I had a child,I would at least (there are those darn words I dislike so much!) know that I would be a mother.

I’m not sure who it was trying to reassure me, but I heard a few times, perhaps from a few different people- “Just think, if you had a kid at home, you’d be struggling with caring for that child and this one.”  At the time, I said, “you’re right,” trying to focus on things to be grateful for- that my only responsibility was me and this child.

This memory came back to me recently and it angers me.  Of course whoever the speakers were, their intentions were nothing but good- trying to find a silver living, to help me find some gratitude.  I am grateful that my decisions for Mabel were uncolored by any other life circumstances- they were made soley for her and us as a little family of three.  But I think I respectfully disagree.  I do wish I had another child.  It wouldn’t make the pain of losing Mabel and less, but it would let me feel like the mother I so badly wish I could be.

(Disclaimer: I know having living children through loss comes with its own set of struggles. I in no way mean to say that having living children makes it easier- I’m sure in some ways it makes it harder. My only intention is to highlight how I still feel like I don’t quite belong in either world- the mothers and the not mothers. )

Do you have flashbacks to little details?  Do you struggle with your identity as a mother?