Bonding with the Rainbow Baby after Loss

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I never thought I’d be here, but here I am!  In my life, I pictured a husband, house, dog, and two beautiful kids.  I didn’t picture a husband, house, two dogs, one baby who died, and who knows how many kids we’ll decide to have now (maybe a whole litter).  I never pictured my life with loss, but here I am today facing pregnancy after loss.

I’m 16 weeks (time’s flying by).  My baby can now hear.  I told my husband that he could only whisper sweet nothings to me from now on since the baby can hear him (or more-so yell them so the baby can hear through my tummy and all the fluid).  Since the baby can now hear me, I’ve started reading again.  For quite some time after Joshua died, I still read to him.  I read to him so much while I was pregnant, it was a way for me to keep that bond.  As life caught up with me, the reading slowed from every day, to every week, to maybe every couple weeks.  I’ve started it back up.  I want our new baby to know my voice and know the same love Joshua did.  Although, I admit it’s odd to be doing the same things again.  I should be reading to an 8 month old, but now I’m reading now to Joshua and his sibling.

At 17 weeks, I felt Joshua move for the first time.  It was like someone was lightly sweeping their finger on the inside of my stomach.  I’ve started feeling movement with this baby!  It’s not like the light sweeping finger of before, it feels more like someone is gently tapping my stomach from the inside.  It’s comforting to feel the baby move and to have a reminder that the baby is alive.  It makes the pregnancy feel that much more real.  No, I’m not just getting bigger, I’m growing a baby…a baby that’s moving and interacting with me.  I’m excited to feel the baby move and see how differently the baby moves compared with Joshua.

Every morning in the shower, just as I did with Joshua, I suds up my loofah and rub my ever growing belly.  I think about how much I love the baby growing inside of me and revel at my tummy.  However, instead of focusing just on one baby now, I have two.  I tell my rainbow that I love him or her, but then I always remember that I have another baby to tell that I love.

When I was pregnant with Joshua, everything was new.  Everything was so exciting.  As with many second pregnancies, things aren’t as eye opening as they once were.  I’m trying to experience everything with those newly pregnant eyes that I did with Joshua, but the reality is, it’s different.  I rub my belly, I talk to my belly, but in the back of my mind, I can’t help but think of Joshua and that I was doing the same things with him just 13 months prior.  When I imagine life after pregnancy, with a baby in my arms, I see Joshua’s face.  I know this baby is not Joshua and never would this baby replace him.  Heck, this baby may not even look like Joshua.  But when I pictured my life after Joshua was born, I pictured a generic baby.  When Joshua was born, I saw what my husband and I had created.  So now when I picture our future baby, I picture an image like Joshua since that is what I know of what we are capable of producing.

Bonding with this baby has been different.  Part has been a normal bonding that many mothers experience with the excitement of having a new baby.  Part of the bonding has been scary, like I’ve wanted to forget that I’m pregnant until the baby arrives and is in my arms.  But I know the greatness of bonding that I experienced with Joshua and I want that for this baby as well.  I want to experience as much love and knowledge of this baby before his or her arrival, just as I did with Joshua.  I don’t want to miss out on the bonding, no matter how hard it can be, no matter how much I need for force myself to do it.  Sometimes it’s a conscious effort to bond with the baby.  Other times I surprise myself and realize I’ve been rubbing my belly just as many do out of love.

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Scary Day Yesterday

Yesterday was a weird day.  Everything was normal, ate my normal breakfast, went to work, then at about 10:30, my heart started beating out of my chest.  My heart was thumping so hard, not at a normal rhythm.  What felt like skipping beats.  Then I felt faint.  I called out for my coworker who sits across from me but he was so enthralled with work, he didn’t hear me.  Then, it was done.  My mind was going a million miles a minute.  I’m going to faint and fall out of my chair, the ambulance is going to come, I’m going to go to the hospital.  Then what?  Am I going to be okay?  Is the baby going to be okay?  

It happened and was over so quickly, maybe a total of 30 seconds, but I was shaken.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I went home…yes, I drove.  I live close to where I work.  I can feel when I am about to faint and I would pull over if I felt it again.  I made sure to stay on the phone with my husband the whole way home.  He was working from home at the time, so I figured he could “watch” me the rest of the day.  If I was going to faint, I wanted to faint at home, with one person around than hundreds!  Then my husband told me he had to go into work, so I called my mom to babysit me the rest of the day.  She did, happily!

We went to my OB to make sure everything was okay.  The doctor said it was probably a one time thing and if it happens again, I should go see a cardiologist.  My blood pressure was good, my pulse was good, I was okay!  I felt silly going to the doctor for her to just say, “you’re fine”.  But I’m living life on the safe side.  The doctor said, “you just had an appointment a couple weeks ago, do you want to hear the heartbeat again?”  Um….is that even a question?  YES!  Absolutely.  I can’t wait another 2 weeks to make sure the baby is okay.  I need to know now!  We heard the heartbeat; she found it right away!!!  The doctor said the baby’s heart was beating at a normal rhythm and sounded great.  Little victories!!  This news made me so happy.

I went home and relaxed the rest of the day.  I took a nap, drank lots of water, and just did nothing.  It was great.  My mom was about to leave and as I was thanking her for staying with me, I told her how my heart really scared me.  She looked at me and said, “I know.  We just have to believe that everything is going to go well”.  I agree.  I need to trust that God will provide.

My husband came home and made me dinner.  He wouldn’t even let me think about helping with dinner.  Then at about 8:30, I started seeing a spot.  Almost like I had looked at a light too long.  I just tried to make sure not to look directly at a light and figured it’d go away.  It didn’t.  It got worse.  My whole right peripheral vision was blocked by a colorful strobe.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  I cried in frustration at my day and went upstairs to get ready for bed.  By 9:00, it stopped.  Thankfully!  I went to bed and prayed that today I would feel 100% and I wouldn’t have another “episode” like I did yesterday.

Today I’m feeling fine.  I’m praying my heart doesn’t race again.  I’m praying my vision isn’t impaired again.  I’m praying my baby will be born alive and we’ll be able to grow old together; healthy and happy!

14 Week Appointment

On Monday we had our appointment and all went well!  We saw the doctor who delivered Joshua.  People always ask me if I feel comfortable with her, but I don’t believe she did anything wrong during labor.  Just like all of our lives, I believe Joshua’s death was written before he was even conceived.  I feel comfortable with this doctor.  She knows what happened and it so understanding of all my worries and questions.  I asked about 100 of them at the appointment.

She started out saying that it would be okay if I did a vaginal birth again.  Typically after the first, births are faster.  I started thinking about it again and stopped myself.  I’m just not comfortable with going through a vaginal birth again and she understood.  Joshua died during birth and if there’s anything I can do to prevent that from happening again, I will do it.  And quite frankly, I’d be a nervous wreck the whole time.

We talked about the ultrasounds.  The nurse at my 9 week appointment told me we’d have our ultrasound at the OB’s office as well as the ultrasound at the Perinatal Specialist.  At the appointment Monday, we were told that they are looking for the same things, so we will just be visiting the Perinatal Specialist.  Darn it!  I was hoping to see the baby in the next few weeks, now I’ll have to wait until the end of July.  We are so busy between now and then, I’m sure it’ll come up quickly!

They always keep the best for last…we got to hear the heartbeat again!!!  159 beats per minute.  Music to my ears!  My husband recorded it on his phone.  We have a recording of Joshua’s heartbeat as well.  In the middle of listening, there was a little blip.  I asked the doctor what it was and she said it was a kick!  I cannot wait until I can feel the baby move.  That was one of my favorite parts about being pregnant with Joshua!  I wonder if Joshua’s brother or sister will move the same or have hiccups as often as he did.

On Tuesday morning, I asked my boss if she had a moment to chat.  We walked into her boss’s office and I told them I was expecting.  They were excited and then it was down to business, “when are you leaving, how long will you be gone, do we need a temp?”  After the short meeting, I told my other coworkers.  It was such a relief to have the secret out!  It makes it feel so much more real!

I’m struggling to release my fears to God.  I know He will be able to take any fears from me and know my life is in His hands.  I want this baby to feel the joy and love that Joshua felt, but it’s so hard knowing something could go wrong again.  That joy is stolen from you when you experience a loss.  I have to work hard to set that fear aside and live in the moment, knowing God will take care of us.

Boy or Girl?

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I have my 14 week appointment today.  I get to hear the heartbeat again!  I’m hopeful that everything goes perfectly at our appointment; we hear the heartbeat and it sounds strong and fantastic, we get some answers from the doctor regarding my c-section, and we schedule our ultrasound (hopefully sooner than later!!).

We didn’t find out the gender of our first child.  This time we’ve decided to find out.  The first time around was so wonderful.  I didn’t care which gender we had.  I figured that I had waited 20 weeks before I could find out the gender on the ultrasound, I could wait another 20 weeks until the baby arrived.  It was the best feeling to hear the nurse say, “It’s a BOY!” when he was born!  Such a surprise because I was convince he was going to be a girl.  This time I feel differently.  I’m pregnant so soon after our first, I don’t feel I can wait another 40 weeks.  And although I bonded greatly with Joshua, I feel this pregnancy is different.  This pregnancy is filled with much more fear and anxiety than the last and I’d love to know the gender to bond in a different way with this baby.  I want to be able to give the baby a name and imagine my life not just with a baby, but with a baby girl or baby boy.

However, I’m nervous.  I have mixed feelings.  I want another boy so we experience all those fun things we’ve missed out on with Joshua.  Yet, I want a girl so I can experience new things and not have to feel like the baby is filling Joshua’s shoes.  I want a baby; a living, breathing, crying, sleeping, eating, pooping, healthy baby.  I don’t care what gender the baby is.  The thought of having another boy makes me excited to experience all those boy things that raising a boy brings, but nervous that it might happen again.  The thought of having a girl makes me excited for frilly dresses and a new best friend, but scared I won’t ever give my husband a boy like we lost.

I’m so excited for our appointment!!  Granted we hear the heartbeat, I’m finally breaking free of this secret and sharing the news with everyone (although my belly is pretty much sharing the news for me!).  Can’t wait to see when our ultrasound will be to see if I’m carry another boy or a girl!

Kids are so much fun…

As my husband and I were driving home after running errands yesterday, we started chatting.  I was telling my husband how my mom recently told the family we were expecting again and one of my aunts told her she’ll just love being a grandma because grandkids are so much fun.  When my mom told me that, I wanted to blurt out, “sorry, I let you down.”  I know it wasn’t a malicious statement by either my aunt or my mom, but I felt a jab hearing it because I tried to give her a grandchild – I did give her a grandchild.  I’m sorry, he died.

My husband is seriously just so sweet.  He did his best to try to find the words to comfort me and “mediate” the situation, letting me know that I’m not crazy for thinking that, but also that my mom didn’t mean any harm by saying what she did.  I went on to tell him how I feel the same when people tell us that kids are so much fun.  So many people have asked, “are you going to try again soon?”  When we would say yes, their response would be, “good, because kids are so much fun!”  This doesn’t help me feel better about what happened.

Then I was overwhelmed with fear and started to cry.  He put his hand on my knee to try to settle my nerves.  I couldn’t hold back the tears.  I was telling him how excited I am about this pregnancy, but so scared it will end up the same.  We’ll get to the hospital and have the baby and the baby will die.  I feel like I’m as scared as I am excited.  So excited to bring home a baby, yet so scared it won’t happen.

We were pulling into our neighborhood on a lovely night.  There were so many people outside.  I tried to wipe my tears.  And of course, we passed two new parents pushing their babies.  One who had their baby in March and one just last week.  I tried to act normal and wave, hoping they didn’t see the pain in my eyes.

I’m so happy I have my husband to talk to.  He’s someone who understands exactly what I went through and someone I’m comfortable talking to about my feelings, no matter how silly they sound.  I appreciate him for that!

Buy Buy Buy

This baby is going to have an overabundance of things.  I can’t stop buying!  From the moment I found out I was pregnant again, I started my spending spree again.

I can’t stop buying baby clothes.  They are so cute and little.  It doesn’t matter what it is, the sheer fact that it’s so tiny makes it cute.  I need to stop and wait until I find out if we’re having a boy or girl, otherwise my child will only be wearing neutral colors like red, gray, and white.  I need to block the Baby Gap’s site on my computer so I slow down my spending on these cute baby clothes.  I’ll have to change my baby’s outfit 5 times a day to make it through everything before the baby grows out of it.

Diapers and wipes.  You can never have too many diapers and wipes.  I had only opened one box of newborn diapers, all others I returned when Joshua passed.  I’ve already started buying them again.  I came home at about 10 weeks with two boxes and a big box of wipes.  I prepped my husband, “I know it’s early, but I couldn’t pass up the deals.  Might as well buy them when I can find them cheap, because you know we’ll be going through them.”  He just laughed and agreed with my craziness.  I don’t know how many wipes I’ll be going through, but it feels like I already have enough to last me through 6 months worth.  Diapers on the other hand, I need to keep stocking up.  I want to buy a variety so I can test out different brands to see what I like best.  I’m waiting for a good coupon for Costco to stock up on their brand of diapers.

I’ve started buying things I returned when Joshua died.  I returned most items that I bought for myself (the high dollar items that get left on your registry).  I returned my pack n play, monitor, breast pump, jumperoo, extra car seat base, etc.  Two weeks ago, I got a 20% off coupon that I just had to use.  Why not!?  My husband and I went to re-buy the extra car seat base.  I mean, we are going to need it in only 27 weeks.  OK, I’m an overanxious planner.  But, I’m only allowing myself to buy things on sale or with a coupon.  Might as well.  I have 27 more weeks to do it!

It’s crazy to think that I have 27 weeks left.  One part of me feels like 27 weeks if a lifetime away, but another feels it’s so close.  I simply cannot wait.  Between now and 27 weeks from now, I’ll get to find out the gender of our baby, go on vacation, attend many weddings (we have 7 this year), watch my belly grow week after week, feel the baby kick and stretch in my tummy, and finally welcome our new baby into this world come late November or early December.