Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Shocking Internet Sensation That Will Turn Everything You Know On Its Head

misleading blog titles, calculated to make you get up in arms until you read what is actually written. Who doesn't love confusing, controversial, ridiculous, sarcastic, grandstanding headlines? Wouldn't it have been better if Dickens had used the title, "The Guillotine Was Awesome" instead of "A Tale of Two Cities" ? I bet it would have been famous then, instead of dropping into obscurity. Oh, wait.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Love, Sandwiches, and K-Drama

An abrupt change of topic here, because I am not really ready to post anything more about my health saga, largely because I don't know any more yet. Hopefully September will bring something to light. In the meantime, a post about the serious and frivolous things I am doing.

Part of my intentions for this summer was to improve our food spending as well as eating healthier. I am making baby steps in this area, and one of my early focuses has been packing lunch for my husband. And here is my confession: I have been packing him a lunch for every day out of the house since last Monday save one, and that is the longest streak I have had in our 5 1/2 year marriage of doing so. Which means he has had to eat out almost every weekday lunch of our marriage.

This makes me sad, probably a lot moreso than him. He enjoys healthy food if tasty, but he really likes "grub" and junk food too, having been a bachelor for 35 years before I joined him in this life adventure. But I've long wanted to do this for him, especially since having breakfast together is not important to him. The reasons for not doing it seem paltry now that I am doing it. He didn't like the bread to get moist from the mayo if I did it ahead, and he gets up sooner most days than I do, since I need more sleep of the two of us, so I didn't want to get up in the morning to do it. Basically it came down to a mild pickiness on his side and a decent amount of laziness on mine.

How did it change? Determination, and feeling convicted that I ought to be doing better. Convicted to act out of love more than self. Convicted to be a helper more suitable to him and the life he leads and the work he does. Convicted to do a better job taking care of the one I love in the ways that fell to my responsibility. Desiring to show love to my husband in a tangible way. After all, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. ;)

How is it working out? I do mainly make the sandwiches of varying sorts the night before, but so far, since I am packing him lunch with fun sides and accompaniments, he isn't complaining. When I forgot to do so the night before, I got up when he did, made it while he got ready, kissed him goodbye, and went back to bed. The average lunch takes me 10-20 minutes to prepare, depending on things like if there is cheese already sliced or if I am going with something more simple or complex. So, I stay up 15 minutes later, and he gets a fun, hopefully more healthy lunch. Why didn't I do this sooner? He also made comment that he feels fuller lately for some reason. Hmmm...


Korean Drama review: Scent of a Woman

I watched this series on Netflix, and I really enjoyed it. The story is about a 34 year old woman, Lee Yeon Jae, who discovers she has terminal cancer and tries to figure out how to spend her remaining days.

The male lead character, Kang Ji Wook, and second, Choi Eun Suk, are both really good, though the lead male has a hint of dead fish to his neutral expression. Yet when he emotes he does so well, in my opinion. The second goes from kind of a porcupine personality to someone you really admire and feel for. The second female, Im Se Kyeong, is an interesting character, wavering between scum of the earth and someone you feel compassion for. The mother is loving but occasionally sharp, and her story is an enjoyable part of the series. The best friend is very sweet, though her morality seems a bit inconsistent late in the series. "Ramses" is a funny element in the story.

The story itself was moving, as a story of dying well done would be. I don't tend to be a crier, but between my hormones and the touching scenes of grief in the process, I cried fairly often. Aigoo! I thought the pacing was the best of any of the series I have watched. The acting was decent, the English phrases sparse and not too embarrassingly bad, but then with the tango, they introduced botched Spanish that was rather amusing to me, haha! My only beef with the story is there should have been a third wedding. It seems like it would have completed things and make sense given the devotion of the couple, yet it never even came up, much less happened. Boo. But overall, the thought provoking nature and sweetness of the series makes it worth the watch, to me.

Content warnings, for those who mind: Toward the end of the 13th episode, there is clothed foreplay and a wakeup afterward scene. You know what happened but don't see it. You can fast forward through it easily. It does do a flashback of waking together early in the next episode, number 14. There is talk of moving in together, and it happens in the last episode, though not much is shown about it. One person, who was condemning of adultery, gets pregnant out of wedlock and rushes her wedding. There are tango classes and performances, so occasionally notable tango moves show up. Modesty is an issue, lots of thigh seen, an episode or two with swimwear, and flirty tango outfits on occasion. That all said, it is largely clean, with little language in the subtitles, and the society there in general seems to have more reserve in sensuality than our own.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Losing Benjamin

Trigger Warning: I have another story of loss to share.

My last post announced we were expecting again. I am now a little over a week past the day I miscarried again, a precious little boy. We named him Benjamin, and this is his story.

We were surprised to find we had conceived so soon after losing Enoch. It was only six weeks later, and I was still reeling a bit. But we were glad and hopeful. At 5 weeks pregnant, in April, I had a weird pain going on. I went to the doctor, and they didn't really find a reason. My pain, of course, took a break when I went in, so they weren't super concerned about it. Later that day, though, I was feeling worse with every moment. My sister had spent the night, thankfully, so when my husband could come home, he took me to the ER. I was vomiting from pain, it was so intense. They gave me pain relief and did some minor testing, and all they found was a small subchorionic hemorrhage near the implantation site, but there was a baby there. But there was no explanation for the pain, so I left the hospital with only something new to worry about, my first experience in the ER and with powerful drugs, and a big bill. The only thing I found out from my doctor visit that day was I had group B strep and they wanted me to get it in hand before I got to term.

I continued through the first trimester, being careful not to overdo it because of the SCH. It was frustrating, but was working. My little signs I had of the SCH had cleared by the end and I was beginning to be up for normal activity. At my 12.5 week appointment, in June, we heard the heartbeat. I was feeling motion. I started to feel like maybe this child was safe. How likely was it that lightning would strike twice? I even signed the Father's Day card with "Unnamed" at the bottom, which I did not remember until I looked closer at my fridge the other day. That stung.

I thought I was feeling less motions as my next midwife visit approached, but I was not sure. We talked and had a good visit, but I was nervous. This was the visit we didn't hear the heartbeat at with Enoch. It was my second son's second birthday, and I really didn't want bad news that day. I was 16 weeks, 4 days. We tried to find the heartbeat. No heartbeat. I was beginning to fear. Got up and moved around a bit, in case baby was hiding behind the placenta, which my second child with the anterior placenta tried to do. No heartbeat. I was beginning to get upset, this is exactly what happened before. Went to the bathroom and tried one last time. No heartbeat. Tears and sobs came. We scheduled an ultrasound for a couple of hours later just to know and be sure of whatever we could know. I was still trying to hold a small piece of hope in my heart that the baby was hiding, though I knew how unlikely it was. I was afraid to lose again, afraid it was more than I could bear.

My midwife joined me at the ultrasound. Our boys were playing nicely in the waiting room, so my husband opted to wait out there with them until we sent for him to come in once we knew. A brief moment after getting set up, and the man said "no heart activity." My heart sunk, but the tears held off because I knew how important the moment was. I asked him how old the baby looked based on size, if he could see any anomalies, and the gender. He told us that the baby looked about the right size for age, and even still had fluid in their bladder. It must have happened within the week prior. He saw no anomalies except one possible bump on the back of the neck, which he thought was possibly just the cord laying there looking odd from that angle. He said he could not tell gender for sure but thought it might have been a girl. One thing we did not see was that the hemorrhage played any role in this. In fact, there did not seem to be one where the placenta was at all. So, from what we could see, this baby was normal, and nothing we saw on the ultrasound was definite explanation. My midwife asked as he was cleaning up if I could have a photo, if I wanted. He said sure, and I said I did, because I had nothing like that from Enoch. It was then I broke down, overcome by the weight of two losses like this. The ultrasound photo looked so peaceful. But so sad. Babies are not supposed to be perfectly still during an ultrasound. He was in that same position the whole time. He was at rest, but, Oh, why did he die? How did he die? Did he feel pain? Did it take long? Was it totally preventable and we just didn't know? Those questions haunted me as we waited for delivery. They still haunt me now.

We decided to wait to deliver. We found out on the first of the month that baby was gone. We waited through the 4th. We waited through Enoch's due date on the 8th. We waited through my birthday on the 10th. We kept waiting, and I began trying herbal stuff under the direction of my midwife to start it. It did not work, my body wasn't ready. I thought knowing would bring things on faster, but it did not. A little over two weeks later, my body showed signs of preparation. Over the next few days, I had a little bit of contractions, my plug came out, and more contractions the day before he came. Three weeks and a day later, on the 23rd, I got up. I went to the bathroom, and my water broke. I knew he would be coming soon, and I texted my husband and midwife. I also texted the friend who was planning to come over that day, and instead of visiting me, she took my boys to have a playdate with hers. After my midwife and husband were there, and right after my friend left with my boys, he came. I was not in much pain, having taken ibuprofen, so I looked him over. It was a boy, after all. He was noticeably bigger than Enoch was. He was probably 5"+ from head to bottom, and his limbs were longer. Dainty and long fingers, pointy elbows, larger head, little ribs, man bits, I looked at him in a quiet awe, grief being manifested in quietude, not tears. I could barely contain him on my hand. Looking at him and knowing what I did from the ultrasound and from seeing his brother, I think all I saw wrong was the effects a three week wait has. I think both boys were likely normal, or at least not obviously not normal. I had been thinking of names, and my husband agreed that we could call him Benjamin. Benjamin was the son of Jacob. His mother died as the effect of his birth, and as she lay dying, she named him Ben-Oni, son of my sorrow. But Jacob renamed him Benjamin, son of my love, because that is what he thought of when he saw him. So it was for me, the sorrow of grief could not outdo the love I felt. My love for my children, living and lost, is the feeling I want to have dominance as I move forward, not sorrow.

After he came, my contractions started fizzling out. Clots came out, but not the placenta. We thought maybe, like last time, it had detached but not made its way out yet. My midwife checked manually. I pushed. We used herbs that usually help with placental detachment. More checking, more pushing, more pressure from the top to help try to find it, using a double breast pump and more herbs to get contractions starting, which had only slight effect... no placenta. My body had gotten tired from the work, and my vitals were good, so we considered that maybe my body needed to be taking that break. My flow was low, and after consulting with others and checking me, and giving me a list of reasons to go to the ER or call 911, my midwife left to go home and wait to hear from me again. She left me one of the herbs that can help bring on contractions when I was rested enough to try again. That night, my sister stayed with us to help me. At the end of the day, my contractions started coming back. I thought my body was ready to deal with the placenta now that it had rested. I went to bed, which is when things really picked up. I was actually having painful contractions again. I was passing clots. I laid there for an hour after bed to see if it would keep going. As I stood, the clots and a bunch of blood came rushing and I soaked a pad and felt dizzy. I knew that was not good, and I needed to keep alert. On the toilet, things would slow, but I checked each time, and no placenta, just clots, would come. I alternated back and forth between lying down and being on the toilet, now about every 20 minutes to keep better check on things. Being on the toilet would slow the flow but leave me dizzy a bit, lying down eased the dizziness but increased how much flow and clot built up. I went to the bathroom one last time, and was feeling dizzy and practically passed out even before I stood back up. I still had not clearly delivered the placenta, and knew until I did, this would continue, which was too much blood loss. So, I followed my intuition and the instructions my midwife gave me and I had my husband call 911. The EMTs showed up fairly quickly, and checked me. My blood pressure was low, but not terrifying, but because I was faint and borderline anemic and had lost a lot of blood, they said I made the right call. They put me into the ambulance and took me to the hospital, giving me fluid and taking blood samples on the way. They took more samples when we got there, apparently needing more than what was taken before. I ended up with a line in each arm, because of how much was going on and the possibility I would need a transfusion. They gave me a very unpleasant pelvic exam, and decided I would need a D&C. I had bled too much to just wait, and they were not sure what was going on with the placenta. They gave me morphine with Zofran for my pain, and got the OB on call to come see me. This was all in the very early hours of the morning. They started to get me ready for the OR, and the OB double checked with me that the baby had delivered already. Apparently there is a difference in the procedure and necessary training between a D&C and a D&E, which is what the procedure is when a baby over 16 weeks has to come out as well. She was not able to do a D&E, and I am pretty sure I know what happens to the baby then, so I was very relieved the baby had come naturally and this part could be handled without further complication. Before the OR, the anesthesiologist came to talk to me and answer any questions, and the nurses rolled me in. I made a comment about being a little afraid because I had never been under anesthesia before, and one of them said "It's like a good cocktail!" I replied I had never had a cocktail, and she came back with "We'll have to change that!", which made me laugh. They got me all set up, and the anesthesiologist said they had started the stuff, and then my memory was blank until I awoke.

I woke in recovery, feeling heavy headed and watery eyed, with stiff arms from the fluids, but no real pain. The anesthesiologist was there, and the OB there shortly after. In the first few minutes of being awake, they read Psalm 23 over the PA system, which was comforting. My procedure had gone well. The placenta and a good amount of clot had been removed. I did not end up needing a transfusion. I was anemic though upon arrival and they would recheck my levels before releasing me. I lay there with tears of gratitude and said a simple prayer in my heart, "You *are* my strength and my portion forever." The part about the valley of the shadow of death touched me. I realized that even with all the expenses we have had and will have because of my health this year, a mama who is alive and well is a better investment to my family than my student loans or a car loan would be. I would try not to be fearful of finance, but to be grateful that I lived. After a little while, they took me over to Short Stay, where my husband could join me again. I ate my crackers and drank my water and used the bathroom with no issue, so once they got the results of rechecking my iron numbers, took out the lines in my arms, and gave me discharge instructions and prescriptions, we were able to go. We ended up only getting the iron I was told to take, since my pain was fine and I had ibuprofen in lower dose at home. We stopped at Jamba Juice on the way home, at about 9:30am, and went home for much needed rest. My poor husband had been up all night after a busy day of work, and he actually napped even longer than I did. My mom came to join  my sister in helping so we could rest.

That day was Wednesday, which is when we usually go to a bible study with our church family. My parents took our boys to the class. While they were gone, I crocheted a sleep sack out of some of my handspun yarn to bury Benjamin in, and my husband prepared the hole. Since we knew ahead this time, we had already bought a rose for him, a pretty red rose. After last time, we knew we did not want to freeze him and wait until I was stronger to put him to rest. We also did not ever put him on a towel or paper towel, but wax paper, to help keep him from losing fluid. We put him in something in the refrigerator to preserve him until we were ready, which did not mess with how his flesh looked like freezing did to his brother. The morbid things you learn in these cases! But it was better this way. Saying goodbye to his body was the first chance I really had after all the intensity of those days to really cry for him. I grieved as I lay his body, so little and so big, into the sleep sack. We went out together, and I sat in the chair my husband had moved for me by the site. We laid him in the hole, and my husband prayed as I quietly wept. Then he buried Benjamin's body and planted the beautiful rose on top.

The support we have received has been truly amazing, both while we waited and after things happened. My general circle of friends and family has been really supportive and kind. My fiber arts friends gave me a shower of things to spin to keep me busy while I waited and now recover. My church friends have given flowers, cards, meals, visits, chocolate, and date money for when we can go out. My family has been ready to help with whatever as well, including my sister staying nights with us. Though I wish I did not have this happen to me, I have been placed in a circle of loving people, and am truly blessed in that.

Now is the time to heal, and to look for answers. We suspect something underlying in me, though what remains to be determined. Something that changed, as I went from two healthy pregnancies with healthy kids to two losses in a row. I pray we find answers and are spared future loss. I am determined to take good care of my body and use my life well in the meantime. I've signed up for a fun local 5k in October to give me something to work toward.

I'm having a hard time off and on emotionally. I'm sure my hormones are absolutely messed up right now. And being anemic means being tired. But I am leaning on my support network. And I love my husband, who, though tired from this being the busy season for his work, stayed up even later just to be with me and comfort me after a rough day. We will get through this together. But, if  you pray, please pray we find something, something fixable, and that we may have another live child join us someday.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Sunshine and Rainbows

Hello again.

I've been busy enjoying as much of spring as I can, while feeling a bit unwell at times. Part of the unwell feeling is that I am low in iron and vitamin D, and part was and maybe still is the after-effects of loss, and a fairly big part is that I am expecting again.

I am due somewhere in the neighborhood of December 12th. Mine tended to be late before Enoch, but I am unsure if that pattern will continue. I've heard people call the baby after a lost baby a rainbow baby. Whatever term you use, I really desire this child to live, to be in my arms this winter, to eat, coo, smile, laugh, roll, crawl, sit, stand, walk, run, jump, dance, climb, talk, sing, draw, write, learn, grow, cry over schoolwork, grin with hard earned success, and love God and other people in the coming years.

Things are actually a bit uncertain this time too, though. Though the only diagnosis on my paperwork was "threatened abortion" (which is a sign of how horrid obstetric terminology is and how it should be canned), but from the description the ER doctor gave me, we are waiting to see if baby thrives despite a subchorionic hemorrhage, or SCH. Yes, I went to the ER with intense pain. The pain was mainly in the area of the ovary I ovulated on, so we were worried about ectopic pregnancy. But that doesn't appear to have been the case. Baby is in the right place. But at risk, for now anyhow.

I've not really had any traditional spotting, which is good. But a few times I have had another disconcerting sign I have overdone it, which no one on the interwebs seems to have had. To give TMI... Like the very beginnings of a period, where you don't see active blood, but tiny bits of lining stuff, but then I rest and nothing more happens. And neither the ER staff nor my doctor's office staff have a reason I felt like death with a pain, worse than childbirth, that hasn't come back since a couple minor bouts the next couple days after the ER day. So I am left wondering what on earth is going on in there. I'm still hopeful for the child, but also emotionally a bit aloof because of last time and the small risk this time. Part of me wonders if things are like this because there was still some unresolved healing after Enoch. Part of me wonders if the pain was that there was a resolved ectopic twin or something they didn't see because it was gone. And part of me wonders if my reproductive system is just scared. I don't know.

I do know that if I hear the heartbeat in June, I will be relieved. If I hear it again in July, I will be more relieved. If the ultrasound says baby is healthy, I will start feeling reality is good since I made it past the loss point of before. And this birth just may be the first one I cry when it ends well. I'm usually just contented and happy, but I have so much more inside this time around.

I also know the weather is fantastic, I need to plant in the amazing raised beds my husband built and filled for me, and I am really loved.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Of Yarn Shops, Goodwill Outlet, and Gardens

The last few days have been busy in a nice way. I did some fun things I will share with you all.

Thursday was the first day of the Rose City Yarn Crawl. My sister volunteered to watch my boys so I could have a fun shopping day with Mom. We started just after noon, and made it to six nice shops before dinnertime: For Yarn's Sake, the Knitting Bee, Kathy's Knit Corner, Pearl Fiber Arts, Knit Purl, and Twisted. Of those, the only one neither of us bought something at was Knit Purl, but they did have yarns I really liked, I was just saving money for something I wanted at Twisted. We also stopped at a local pizza chain for a late lunch, Pizza Schmizza, which has tasty New York style pizza and fun ecclectic decor. Here is my take from the crawl:

My crawl bag, with pins from the six shops I got to.
Alexandra's Crafts spinning fiber, 50% merino, 25% silk, 25% bamboo. Mom bought this for me at Pearl Fiber Arts as part of her payment for some knitting I did for her. She wanted to pay me in fiber, and how could I object???

Plymouth Yarns Boku I bought from Kathy's Knit Corner. 95% wool 5% silk. It was on her clearance wall, so it was only $3 a skein! $12 for a fall sweater for my toddler. I think it is striping like Noro.

Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Victoria in color Dark Shadows, I bought at Twisted. It is a little more teal than in the photo. 661 yards of South American Polwarth! Hoping to get a sweater out of this, maybe a bottom up raglan style so I can do an accent yoke if I do run low on yarn.

Teresa Ruch Designs handdyed rayon boucle' my mom bought for me at For Yarn's Sake. She had a trunk show there, and this photo cannot tell you how vivid and shiny this yarn is!!! 262 yards, probably will become a shawlette or poncho I think.

Squire Country Crafts wooden 1.5" buttons out of lodgepole pine, $1.50 each at Twisted!

Midnight Oils lavender rose soap Mom got for me when she got herself some, made by a local company using local lavender oil! He was a vendor at Kathy's Knit Corner.

~fiber foto finish~

On Friday I rested and enjoyed being a SAHM and did some fibery reading. My mind was full of yarny ideas, so that night I spun this batt I made on my drum carder by randomly adding bits of stuff as I had time over about 2-3 months:

with a yarn I had dyed, into this:

Saturday I picked up my Frontier co-op order. One of these months my shea butter will be in stock! lol. but I did get my Bronner's soap, Honeybee Gardens eyeshadow and mascara, Burt's Bees tinted lip balm, and Suncoat nail polish. Decided even though I threw out my old old Avon and Clinique and Mary Kay when I went more natural that a little natural eye and lip stuff now and then still sounds fun. No more foundation for me, though, my skin is healthier without it. After that, My 4 year old son and I hit the Goodwill Outlet. If you've never been to one, it is a cross between a regular Goodwill and dumpster diving. Ha! It is a bunch of big bins in the middle you dig through to find your buried treasure. Most of it you buy by the pound, really cheap. Bedding, clothes, toys, random junk, etc. Then there are a few things priced as marked, like furniture and bikes and stuff. I got some clothing, most of which ended up fitting (yay! You can't really try on there), a genuine suede jacket originally from Nordstrom and still having the tag from Goodwill retail for $20 for me, a corduroy blazer for my husband, a stuffed dinosaur for my boys, a pair of Western Chief boots with the rubber steel toe lowers and the leather upper parts, and a bench and chair that match for my deck that just need new cushions. About 21 lbs. for $1.39/lb. and the two patio pieces came to $25, making my grand total about $51. Score!

Ignore the scrap chimney, but these are in good shape, just need the cushions replaced.

The way cool dinosaur!

My suede jacket! My first leather jacket of any kind.

Sunday we worshipped with our church family, and once my family (who worships with us) came over after lunch, I got gardening. I planted two pink lemonade blueberries and about 30 ranunculus bulbs (the package lied). Hoping they take well! I also learned that if you can't stand wearing gloves, take off your rings before using tools. If you need convinced, I can show you my blisters. I felt good and terrible after all that work, and was well able to go to bed much sooner than my usual last night. The terrible being my wrists and hands, I find it all too easy to give myself a repetitive stress injury in my wrists. I probably am doomed to carpal tunnel or arthritis, with my tiny wrists and the fact I have had problems since I was about 9. But the rest of me felt like I got a good workout. It is one month today after I miscarried, and I am glad that my body is healed enough to work without more than my usual repercussions.

Bringing some color to the front of the house!
I can't wait to see what these are like!
What will this week hold? Well, definitely laundry. And dishes. Probably some more yarn spinning and planting of things. Hopefully a make up date since we didn't do Valentine's Day. And lots of family love and little man snuggles. And hopefully the first half of Doctor Who season 7 discs will arrive. :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Different Kind of Homebirth - a loss story

Trigger Warning: This post is the birth story of a baby miscarried in the second trimester, and the opening up of the mother on what it is like to go through that and moving forward from there. PHOTO AT END (B&W) Sensitive readers or readers who have lost may wish to skip reading further.

When talking about homebirth, you usually hear one of two things: horror stories from those who are not fans, or glowing descriptions of how wonderful it is to birth your child surrounded by the people and things that comfort you most. And, having had two such experiences, I agree with those who say that homebirth is wonderful. To eat or drink what you want, to have your choice of position and room in the house, to have a waterbirth if you wish, or to birth on your bed, favorite rug, sofa, middle of the room, bathroom, wherever you wish, then to rest all snuggled up to your baby in your own bed with your husband and whoever you choose with you while you feel the surge of oxytocin flood you while you bond and someone else cleans you up and any mess... it is amazing!

But the probably more common homebirth is one we don't often think of because we use a different word for it. We call it miscarriage, stillbirth, or loss. I would imagine many more women have had this kind of birth at home than women who have chosen the other. In my experience, it is the most valuable time to be home and to have that level of support from family and a loving midwife. Yet we hear little of it. Why? Because it is sad. Because there is no surge of oxytocin, no cute cooing baby to hold, no happy family snuggled in the bed. Because those who have been there in that place of pain usually have a hard time talking about it, and before the internet, they had to relate their story face to face or over the phone, retelling it over and over, if they were to share. And that is a lot harder. But here I am, with a blog, an open heart, and a wish to demystify the pain and process of a loss. I think I can manage to write this down once, versus telling it face to face repeatedly. I hope it will help someone who may go through a loss in the future or who may be trying to support a friend through a loss.

Here is my story.


It seemed like a normal pregnancy for a while, I had morning nausea, food aversions, a few cravings, a growing belly, fatigue, and I heard the heartbeat at 12 weeks, which is right about when I started feeling movements. That movement actually was earlier than either of my other two boys, and it proved a valuable sign in the future. About 13.5 weeks, I got one of those terrible stomach viruses that hits you hard but is over in less than a day, though you take longer to rebuild because you were totally depleted. After that, the motions decreased.

I was just thinking I had felt him again now and then, when we had the 16 week visit. I had mentioned the decreased movement, and they sort of raised their eyebrows. I also said I thought I had felt him since, but couldn't be 100% what movements were his, things felt different than the early movements did. Everything had grown.

Then we checked for the heartbeat on the doppler. While my midwife thought maybe she had heard a beat or two and a splash from motion, there was nothing definitive to be heard. I went to the bathroom to see if that shifted him. Still nothing. They didn't say it was over, we weren't sure, but their faces were grim. I tried to make light, but I knew what was a possibility. I knew it was rare to lose a baby after hearing the heartbeat at 12 weeks. Rare to lose them in the second trimester, but possible.

I solicited prayers from a small group of friends. My midwife offered to let me come in whenever to try again, but I decided to wait until the ultrasound at 18 weeks. Two weeks of wondering with a definitive answer was what I felt up to, I wasn't sure I wanted to try the doppler again.

The day before the ultrasound, it happened.


I call it birth because it had resembled my other births in several ways. Miscarriage seems to not quite convey how it feels. This is a copy of my side of a conversation with a friend about his birth, touched up for typos. Not everyone will have it happen quickly like me. Not everyone will escape total confirmation and the waiting game that starts. Not everyone has it be uncomplicated for them. But this is how it happened for me.

Even though I knew to keep my hopes cautious, it hit me blindside

Bob had not gone to work yet

So much of the bad was a blessing in this

I woke a little before six
in a generic horrible lower pain. I had no idea if it was gas, my uterus, my ligaments, a horrid UTI...

went to the bathroom, and only pee came out
no blood, no poo, no gas, and no pain relief

I went and lay down. After a little while, I couldn’t handle the pain quietly and was groaning
and got Bob's attention
I had him put his warm hand over where it hurt, and it regulated into contractions
about every two minutes

they were bad enough I had to moan through them, and felt like a cross between normal transition contractions and sharp afterpains
I knew then to contact my midwife, it was either premature labor, or what it was. She texted me back, and then called right after she did, telling me to go to the ER for an ultrasound and it may be the worse
as soon as I got off the phone with her, I started shaking uncontrollably between each contraction, so I couldn’t really get ready for a few contractions

after I thought about how I was going to get out of that bed, I decided to get up while shaking and head to the bathroom. I felt moisture descend, and had just started to bleed on my underwear as I got to the toilet

I saw it as soon as I sat, and knew, and cried. and my tears pushed him out

he literally slipped out

after sobbing uncontrollably for a couple minutes, my senses returned, and I had Bob get a towel and get him out of there before I freaked out

so I held his body on a towel between my knees while Bob called out of work and called the midwife over to help me with the afterbirth

the contractions eased for a bit as that all went on, which was good

and I kept waiting for the placenta or my midwife, whichever happened first

and I talked to his body, and cried

and Bob leaned his head on me, and prayed

and then he took care of the kids who were then waking up

and because the placenta was taking a while and the midwife was stuck in traffic a bit, I cut the cord so I could lay him down and try to shift around to help the placenta and work with the contractions that had started again

by the time the midwife came, I had hit a calm spot, but those didn’t last long that day

I was getting really tired, but the thing I thought was the placenta coming out was just a clot and she helped that out. she gave me Anjelica to try to help the placenta detach, too

after the clot came out, I started feeling a little dizzy, so she helped me to the bed

the contractions kept going
finally we were both wondering why it was taking so long, because I have never really had detachment issues

she reached to check


and it had detached but was small enough it got in a place where it rested on my pelvis and all she had to do was scoop it out

after that the contractions eased and I was able to get cleaned up and rest and I had her give me ibuprofen to ease afterpains

those didn’t last long, and I didn’t need more than one dose

but I did feel a phantom baby kick, which really was like a sock in the gut

the next time I went to the bathroom, I passed two huge ugly clots, and after that my bleeding has been fine like, period, or less

even with sitting a lot and not just laying down

because laying down was getting irksome

and lonely

I've been at peace that he passed since seeing his little body but I ache really hard thinking about the 180 this whole year has taken for me

I am totally crying for me

he is ok and I thank God for that hope

that I only have to hurt for those of us here

if this life was all I had, this would suck so much more

so... that is what happened and where I am at

I never had to leave my home

I didn’t have to sit and wait for it

I just had to take it when it hit me

~I wrote this February 6th, two days after he was born.~  

I could see his body, and he was a boy. I looked him over, and the only thing wrong I could see that waiting to be born wouldn't necessarily account for was some excessive looking fluid on the crown of his head and around his neck. He was a sort of tan flesh color, not disturbingly decomposed looking, but actually almost perfect excepting what the wait may have done to his skin and a little bloating to his belly. His head was moulded a bit from coming out. He was beautiful in a way. About 4" crown to rump length (so he lasted past the stomach virus, to about 15 weeks). Tiny perfect man bits, distinctive fingers and toes, head the size of a key lime, lengthening legs, a mouth that opened when I moved him around in the towel when I shifted... he was fascinating. But he was gone, I was just looking at his body. I named him Enoch, because he is with God now, and is not here.

This terrible day would have been so much harder without my midwife there. When she arrived, we hugged, cried, had quiet spaces, talked, shared stories and names of our lost babies, talked about future ramifications, and took care that I was doing ok. It was nice to have someone knowledgeable there who was also my friend, so healthwise I felt safe, and heartwise I had a confidante. Of all my births, this one really seemed the one I needed her most. All those good things a midwife does in a happy healthy birth are even more helpful when you have a loss. I was glad to be cared for by someone I knew and trusted. I even joked with her as she cleaned me up afterward and helped me settle into bed that she was one of few people I would ever let clean up my bum, a dubious privilege, but telling of how comfortable I am with her that it didn't feel as awkward as such a thing might. She also took photos on my phone for me, which I am grateful for.

My husband was also awesome. At the beginning, he was there with me continuously, as soon as I woke him. Shortly after I delivered Enoch, the boys woke up, and he then tended to them, getting them breakfast, and keeping them from me so I could have peace and they didn't get exposed to too much. But he did keep coming to check on me, even periodically after the midwife came. He explained things to our 4 year old son as best you can for that age, and then we asked if he wanted to see the baby. He did, so we showed him the baby, and I think that was a good thing. He then knew more concretely what had happened to the baby in mama's belly, and it gave him a gentle exposure to death. We talked him through it, and he seems not harmed in the least by knowing.
After this, I lay on my bed pretty much all that day as my husband called people and I shared a little online. I had that one dose of ibuprofen and a warm rice pack for some afterpains, which thankfully did not last long this time. I was tired and needed to rest, but I was too busy processing what happened. It was all so fast that I needed to. Eventually I had thought enough and we had made all the connections we had intended, and I was able to turn my mind off enough to nap. That day, I alternated tears, peace, and even occasional laughs. I'm a person that would probably find something to laugh at on my deathbed if it were funny. I have a tendency to hold off processing negative emotions while encouraging happy ones to have free range. This time I knew it was so serious, I needed to let myself feel EVERYTHING. And I did feel everything. Highs, lows, sadness, gratitude, fear, hope, humor, pretty much everything but anger. I somehow did not feel that, perhaps because the hope I have of seeing my son in heaven, and the knowledge usually a late miscarriage is a sign something was wrong with the baby's body that is prohibitive of life or health.
The kindness of friends started that very day, and continued. Kind words on my Facebook were so very helpful to me. A meal, groceries, and flowers were brought, touching me and really helping. I was surprisingly hungry, despite being sad. I guess having been sick so much that month and the effects of pregnancy on my appetite left me ready to eat when it was all over.
The Next Few Days-  
I was wondering how the bleeding would be. It was rough the first couple times up, passing horrifying large clots that first time or two, then it slowed remarkably fast for me, and by the end of the week, I was hardly bleeding at all. I mistakenly thought I was going to get back to normal super fast. A few days of increased activity about a week after, and stress from being mom to two very energetic little boys while recovering got to me, and I started into the cycle of spotting and stopping.  The rice bag proved my friend once or twice again for varying discomforts. A little over two weeks out the spotting seemed to stop, but I know it could  possibly come back again if I overdo it. Or I could have menstruation return in the next couple weeks possibly. Not too excited at that prospect.  
Emotionally, I was all over the place a couple of days, then I started getting to where I would only cry maybe once in a day at some trigger. A trigger that surprised me was looking for some jewelry to remember him by on Etsy. None of it seemed appropos for my situation. If it was appropriate to my stage of loss, it creeped me out. The blue and pink loss emblem and jewelry inspired by it made me sad because I was far enough along I DID know the gender of my baby. I cried for about an hour looking at that stuff, then went to bed and removed myself from the trigger.  
I continued to reach out online, and I am glad I did. The private messages and conversations I had were incredibly encouraging. I got to know people better. I made a new friend from an intimate group I was in. I had dozens of comforting comments to read on my posts and blogs.  
More food, cards, and gifts came, which was wonderful. I'm really grateful to my friends and church family for how supported I have been through this.  
I read some Psalms. I looked at my flowers. I indulged in chocolate. I snuggled the two boys I felt so incredibly blessed to have, healthy and living, right next to me. I pulled closer to my husband. I let my feelings and thoughts range, trying to comprehend it all. I started putting things into a Word document early on while things were fresh. I am glad I did, it was actually helpful and will help me make him a nice memory book. I knit him a sleep sack about the size of an iPod cozy to lay him to rest in out of some beautiful blue handspun I had left over from knitting his brother some baby bootees. I really wanted to knit something for him, and this was the only thing he would ever wear, so I tried to make it something special. I also wrote a poem for him, which is in the previous blog post to this.

Really the hardest thing was, and is still, looking forward. I fear getting pregnant again sooner than I feel ready. I fear my fertility being disrupted a long time. I want a short break, but what that is, I don't know. I don't have a medical reason to wait to try again, but I am not so much into trying again as letting what happens happen. I'm in too much danger of overthinking and fear otherwise. We'll see what happens there. I am pretty sure the next pregnancy will be emotionally harder. I'm going to need those hour long midwife appointments.  
Laying Him to Rest-  
We waited until Saturday to lay him to rest (he was born on Monday), so we put him in the freezer in a container with his placenta. In hindsight, I wish we had put him in the fridge and taken care of him sooner. The reason is that the sight of him frozen before he thawed for being buried horrified me. He looked altered, and though he normalized some as he thawed, it was a bit disturbing. I put him in his little sleep sack. I had deeply regretted hardly directly touching his body when I had the chance for fear I would harm it, so I really wanted to do this part myself. I had thought I could possibly take an imprint of his foot, but he was in no shape for that after freezing. I may make a decorative mobile or a tie to close his memory book with a piece of clay the length of his body (maybe with a word on it) and one about the length of his foot instead.  
Before preparing him for burial, we went to a local garden center. For my older boys, I hope to bury their placentas (yes, still in the deep freezer) underneath a fruiting plant or tree a ways so that as it decomposes it enriches the soil. For Enoch, for obvious reasons I did not want a fruiting plant over him. So we decided on a beautiful, hardy, hybrid tea white rose. That trip was enjoyable and beautiful, and the only moment I was sad was seeing a mother with two boys walking beside her and a third in a baby carrier. I wasn't jealous so much as pained by a look at what could have been, and I kept walking. I haven't had that problem since, but I think the first sight was what got me.  
We got back home, ate lunch, and after I rested and my husband and son (the four year old saw Daddy working and wanted to help, he didn't quite know all that was going to happen but I loved that moment) prepared the hole, I prepared Enoch and we went out to bury him. I gently laid him down in the hole, put his placenta a few inches away, and my husband prayed. No other words, but no words felt needed. Then we gently covered him with a few inches of soil, and proceeded to plant the rose. Now his resting place will grow beautiful over time, which makes me happy. The bush was planted next to the 15' lilac in the corner of the yard that gets the sun, so it really will be a lovely spot.  
Moving Forward-  
It is now just over three weeks after as I write this. Since then, I have done a few things to help me move forward.    
I went shopping with my mom for supplies for his memory book. I worked on the word document with pages to print on cardstock for the book, and have printed the ones I have so far.  
I got amethyst beads for a bracelet, and made it. I liked amethyst before, but avoided it because it was the February birthstone and didn't want to confuse people. Silly, I know. But now, since it is his birthstone, I wanted some amethyst even more.  
I also bought a necklace with lyrics from the song "Three Little Birds", which a friend had shared with me to cheer me. It says "Every little thing is gonna be alright".  
I went shopping about a week after with my sister and a couple friends, and got some things to fill in my wardrobe for my now almost normal postpartum body and to make me feel better about the changes to me I wasn not hoping for. That was really fun and therapeutic. I got a sterling silver amethyst ring while there, a small one that doesn't command attention but is pretty and makes me smile, yet remember.  
I had my mom and sister come help me catch up on my housework, which was really behind.  
I got better about my supplements after talking to my midwife. I still forget sometimes, but I am taking my Rainbow Light prenatal petite, some chlorophyll caplets, and Garden of Life's Healthy Blood supplement. That helped me a lot overall, though I am still prone to headaches after stress, exertion, or being awake too long.

I've started planning projects. This break from pregnancy was unwelcome, but if I put it to good use, it will give it some meaning and purpose. I'm planning house organization and storage (we bought and remodeled a house last summer and projects still abound), and planning my garden, and hoping to get ready for chickens. All things I wanted to do anyway, but will hopefully have more ability to accomplish now.

I also am writing this, in hopes that it helps me process. Holding in thoughts and feelings sometimes slows healing, and while I have tried to avoid that, writing this has shown me there is so much that I had more or less kept held in myself.

  Advice For Friends of the Grieving-  
My friends have been really good about these, but now having been the receiving end of these, I can share what helps and use this in my own life.  
-Feel them out to see what they need.
-Offer to bring food or clean. Bring food that respects any dietary considerations they have.
-They may need an occasional boost longer than you might think, however minor. As long as seven other people don't have the same idea, a suprise meal or act of service or encouraging word may be helpful.
-Talk to them about normal stuff if you don't know how to talk about grief. They probably are ready for some normal conversation anyway. But if they want to talk about grieving, be a listening ear and judge what to say off of what they are saying.
-Be happy if you are happy, unless you see visible signs of sadness in their face. If they don't look like they need comforted, they may not currently, but will if everyone around them always acts sad. A kind word of sympathy isn't what I am meaning, but more protracted sad behavior. Avoiding happy interaction won't help them heal faster. If they do look sad, by all means comfort them!
-Don't ignore them, especially with extroverts. People need to know they are loved and thought of.
-Don't be too overpowering with sympathy, especially with introverts. People express their feelings differently and cope differently, so while sympathy is needed, keep in mind how you would usually interact with the person.
-Don't say anything stupid. Yes, that sounds funny, but sometimes people who don't know what to say will say something dumb. Things to avoid:
telling them things that could cause miscarriage (it has already happened, about all you will do is sound accusatory or make the mom feel guilty like it might be her fault),
telling them it is better this way (regardless of why it happened or the circumstances of the parents, it is sad and disappointing, and though the baby is in paradise, death is naturally sad and grieving is a process),
that they have other kids so loss isn't as bad (they don't have the baby they lost, who is a totally different child they hoped to know, kids are irreplaceable),
or any advice/nagging about having the next kid/comments about age gaps (different people heal differently and have fertility come back differently, and again, adjusting to the change to the expected family dynamic is hard).

I've come at grief from a Christian perspective, so I know the baby is in a better place, missing temptations, and since I can have more kids, and have had healthy kids in the past, I am not destitute or hopeless. But knowing is not feeling. It may be better this way, the baby had a problem. It doesn't feel better this way. So sometimes a comment meant encouragingly can still hurt to accept. Some things may help some women and hurt others. I have had frank conversations that did not hurt me to have. Reassurances that did sit well. But not every one is the same, and not every phase of grief is the same. Something ok to say two, three, four weeks later may be painful three days later. The level of sympathy shown one week later may be uncomfortable one month later. Like physical wounds, the fresher the wound, the gentler you go, and some people have different pain tolerances. Knowing the person you are talking to helps.    
I hope all I have written has been helpful or informative to someone. I am now going to add some related photos at the bottom of this post, the ring, the moment of my son helping his daddy, the rose, a belly pic/after, the sleep sack, the necklace, and one of him. Some are sweet or happy, some are sad. Only look if you wish.



Friday, February 8, 2013

For Enoch, A Poem

I am sitting here, thinking how to type this. My sweet baby boy has gone ahead of me to his rest. I carried him to 18 weeks, but we think he died around 15 weeks. I woke this morning with the beginning of the poem I wanted to write for him forming and swirling in my head. My poems seem to most often hit me in bed, but it has been a long time since I have written any. This one is for him, my Enoch. I may post more about losing him later on, but here is his poem.

My womb is small and empty,
A hole is in my heart,
For I just wasn't ready
So soon to have to part.

I dreamed of knitted sweaters,
Of snuggles while you nurse,
And many hopes now hopeless,
As I face their reverse.

I know you are now seeing
Hope's everlasting end,
But waiting here behind you,
I yet but slowly mend.

I know I'll someday meet you
After braving best and worst,
But in my heart I whisper,
"I wish I'd known you first."
 Your loving mother, Robyn Story