Sunday, January 31, 2010

I don't want to do this anymore. I am spending so much time these days pretending to be unphased by all that I don't have. I can't even get on facebook without being reminded of all that I am missing. Where are my happy pictures of my sweet newborn? Where are my frustrated posts about late nights and fussy feedings? I want to feel happy again and I am not quite sure that I ever truly will be. My every waking moment is tempered with the loss of my son. I can't even begin to describe the nauseous feeling I get when I think of living the rest of my life with this loss. I feel like I am staring down a very long dark tunnel with no hope of an exit. I logically know that someday this pain and emptiness will lessen, but it feels very permanent now. How do you go on when your child could not? I feel so sad that his sweet body betrayed him and mine did not. I want to tell everyone I see that my son died. I want to wear a sign so everyone will ask me and I can tell them all about him and his too short life. But, I am becoming all too aware that this will be my secret from the rest of the world. I read a blog that a friend of mine recommended to me written by "babylost parents." One passage in particular seems appropriate here:

You look at your friend and all of a sudden her words are just a jumble of mumbles, because her language is no longer yours.

Oh, you will never know, you will never understand. How I can still put hot food on the table and get out of the house looking decent, when every muscle in my body is aching for my baby. You have no idea. You have no idea how much strength, and how much courage I need to muster, with clenched fists and gnashed teeth, in order to get through every second of the day, until I finally collapse at the end of it. Behind every thought is the question, “Why is he not here? Why can’t he be here?” Every cell in my body writhes in pain with the memory of the loss, and the void. Every glance I take is in search of my baby. Every breath I take is caustic with reminders of what I have lost. My skin burns to feel the softness of my baby against me; my arms ache to hold and nourish and love. My fingers stretch out in an attempt to hold, but I do not even have memories, except of the pain and shock. My loss is the front-page of my brain every time it gets turned on, even if many pages are running at the same time. Oh, you have no idea what it is, how it is, to live life like this.

But I don't tell the pregnant lady in the grocery store or the tired young Mom shopping in my store. I want to tell them how lucky they are or how thankful they should be because their baby didn't die. I wish I could have my blissful ignorance back. And just because I have lost mine, does not mean I should steal others.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Front Street,

I started back to work on Monday and effectively catapulted myself back into the real world. It feels sad and cold and scary being back out here without my little boo for the first time. For so long, he went everywhere with me. When I was having a bad day at work, I just reached down and rubbed my pregnant belly and felt my boy and instantly felt better and that I could get through whatever it was that was going on. Not so much anymore. Being back at work has been half good and half horrifying. Most days I am distracted from the rubble that is my broken heart by working. However, I am finding that for the first time since Drewbie died, I have serious alone time to let my mind wander. Mornings are hard since I am usually by myself and doing some mindless job, freeing my mind up to reevaluate every decision I made and every decision the doctor made. I have had to call Austin and Corinne many times to talk me down. Customers come in and ask me "how is that baby" and I then have to tell them that my sweet angel died. I tell Drew a thousand times a day in my head, "I'm sorry I have to tell them bad things about you." I strangely feel like I am betraying him by telling people the truth about what happened. I should be telling them how hard it is to leave him at Aunt Corinne's or how big his precious toes are or a million other happy things. But, no. Instead my talk is of ventilators, doctors, NICUs, and how "okay" we are. Even though I get a sick feeling when I see someone coming that I know is going to ask me about Drew, I want to talk about him. It is so much harder to talk to someone who knows but won't say anything about it. My baby has become the elephant in the room. No one knows what to say, but say something. Ignoring it makes me feel like I should be ignoring it. I can't make small talk when all I want to do is fall on the floor and scream and cry. Kids have it right...temper tantrums DO make things better.

We got the photographer's CD in of the pictures taken during Drewbie's baptism and after, when we took the ventilator out. Tim Cobb, the photographer, completely captured the beauty and peace of that day. I am so thankful to him for giving me such a priceless gift. I was fearful that the pictures would jack with my memories of his face and of the moment. Instead, I got a physical reminder of all that I felt and saw. His sweet face is perfectly the same as the one in my mind and heart. I want to wallpaper my house with these photos but I am working on reining it in. I love them and want to rub my face all over them.

I wrapped up one of the last little bits of this experience this week. I told Andrew that I would donate the rest of his breastmilk to a little kiddo who needed it via the Mother's Milk Bank of North Texas. I finally got my blood tests done to donate and now some other sick little man in LeBonheur will be able to get some mommamilk to make him feel better. The milk bank is a wonderful place and I am so glad that Andrew and I were able to help others. You can link your Kroger card to the charity by calling the number on the back of your card. Tell the operator that you would like to link your card to the Mother's Milk Bank of North Texas and a portion of your spending will go to the milk bank. Wonderful way to donate and help other little Andrews whose mommas can't nurse. Drewbie says thanks.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Andrew's Birth Story

I am going to try to write Andrew's birth story as best as I can remember it. The timeline may be a little off since I feel like I have lived two lives since that night. I haven't emotionally processed the entire thing since the actual birth was so traumatic. I am sure I will write another one at some point with a better grasp on my feelings.

I went into active labor around 11:00pm on Saturday, December 5. Andrew was still in a posterior position so most of my labor was in my back. Sweet Austin stayed by my side during the entire time just waiting to rub my back when a contraction hit. I called Corinne and Melissa around this time to let them know that it was showtime. Corinne got here first. I had gotten comfortable in the shower at this point and was letting the hot hot water hit my lower back. I was working through the contractions pretty good. The shower felt wonderful and I learned that I could get through them much better if I swayed my hips around. I found out later that Austin had videotaped this on his phone. He didn't let me know then because he correctly assumed that I would be upset and my focus would have been broken. I am really glad that he taped a portion of it...I felt really proud of myself when I watched it.

I stayed in the shower for over an hour. Melissa arrived while I was in the shower. She asked me to get out so she could check my progress. I got out and laid down on the bed. At this point, I HATED the bed. The contractions were so much worse when I wasn't able to move through them. She checked me and I was only at 3 cm (I think) even though I had felt sure that I was much farther along. I feel like I pretty much just went from the bathtub to the shower to the bed for an hour or so during this point. Melissa was constantly checking Andrew's heart rate which remained within his normal range the entire time. I remember throwing up and pooping several times during this part of labor. Labor isn't always cute, ladies. I tried to sit on my birthing ball having remembered reading that sometimes that helps with the back pain. Corinne helped me sit down on it and I immediately thought that whoever recommended that for back pain must have been a liar. Sitting on the ball was crazy painful and I scrapped that idea. I finally decided that the bathtub might be okay. I got in and immediately felt a little relief. Austin and Corinne had my birth list playing on Itunes and had my favorite candles lit. The atmosphere was perfect. I soaked in the tub in the candlelight listening to my Dylan and working my sweet boy down. I found a really good rhythm in the tub. Austin sat by me holding my little red fan and my cup of water. He was a real trooper and I remember feeling very safe and loved. Corinne and Melissa came in and out checking heart tones and heating my water up with water from the kitchen. I think I threw up again into a bowl when I was in the tub. Austin said I kind of dozed in and out between contractions. I remember it like a trance, coming to when I needed to breathe through the contractions. I was being a good little birther...making my cow noises and breathing my cleansing breaths. Apparently Momma had arrived and I remember seeing her through the crack in the door. I remember thinking, "I hope she isn't scared and knows I am okay." Austin got up to take a little break and Corinne took his place beside me. As soon as he left, my water broke. Craziest feeling I had ever felt up to that point...a huge gush and release. I immediately sat up and heard Corinne say, "whole lotta mec!" (Meconium is the baby's first poo) Melissa and Austin came in and Melissa told me to get out of the tub so she could check me. I began to throw up, poop and pee all at the same time in my tub. Austin got my throw up bowl and tried to keep me calm. I remember wondering what I had eaten that would make my throwup neon green. I realized later that I was throwing up my stomach acid. Melissa told me again that I had to get up and into my room so she could check me. If I was almost ready to deliver, then we could stay at home and have Andrew. If I wasn't far enough along, then we were going to need to transfer to the hospital. I know now how much my husband really loves me because he stuck his hand in the bath water filled with my and Andrew's poo, teetee, throw up and amniotic fluid to drain the tub. I got on the bed and Melissa checked me and found I was only at 5cm. She said we were going to need to transfer and I needed to get dressed. Corinne got me these terrible blue cut off sweatpants and one of Austin's old tennis shirts and my stinky Rainbows. They somehow got me dressed as I was bellowing through my contractions. I kept trying to walk to the door but my contractions were hitting me one after another and they were HUGE and painful. I made it to the door frame that leads into the kitchen, grabbing it and staring at the floor and thinking, "they have drugs at the hospital!" I think that was the only thing that gave me to drive to walk to the car. I got in the backseat of Momma's Volvo. Corinne was going to drive me and Melissa...Austin was going to ride with Momma. Corinne and I were waiting in the car on Melissa who was inside getting all of the transfer paperwork ready. A giant contraction hit and I yelled "we gotta go NOWWWWW." Corinne laid on the horn and yelled for Melissa. She got into the car and Corinne got us to the hospital in about 3 minutes. Contractions and heart rate monitoring the entire way. Melissa had called ahead so an orderly was waiting for us once we got into the hospital with a wheelchair. We had forgotten my glasses so I really couldn't see anything. Corinne said the poor orderly was a young guy and he looked scared to death that he was going to have to deal with the shrieking woman coming his way. I got into the wheelchair while Melissa and Austin were getting me admitted. I was so absorbed in my body and what was happening to me that I don't remember anything about my surroundings except for how soft the orderly's stomach was. I kept rubbing my head into his stomach and he just kept patting my shoulders. Sweet boy...wish I could thank him for giving me comfort. I felt like I was going to have Andrew right there in the floor and I think everyone else did too. I was pretty noisy. Some scary, burly nurse woman came and took me from my soft tummied orderly and started pushing me down the hall to Labor and Delivery. For some reason, she kept her hand on my forehead, pushing against her stomach. I also remember being very irritated at whoever decided that the floor heading to L&D should be made of bumpy tiles. They got me to the room after telling me that no one could come with me. They wheeled me into the delivery room and started undressing me to put me in my gown. They asked me all of these random questions like "is your husband the father of this baby" and "have you been abused?" After they had me in the bed and hooked up to all of the fetal monitoring things, they let Melissa and Austin in. I got an IV and they checked me. I was only at 6 cm but I was feeling really strong urges to push. Melissa had me focus on her and to take good cleansing breaths. Andrew's heart tones were still well within normal during this whole time. I was feeling VERY strong urges to push and they checked me again and said I was at 9.5 cm. They were telling me that I couldn't push because I wasn't complete, but they also kept saying that I had to wait for the doctor to get there. I kinda think I was already complete because my body was physically pushing on its own. Dr. Smith finally got there, looked at Andrew's heart tone tapes and then left again. They had let me start pushing by this point. I did have one or two helpful nurses but, for the most part, they were all pretty snarky and unhelpful. One even told me that I had 6 minutes to have my baby. Apparently my birth wasn't convenient for them since it was shift change time. The pushing felt really good since I felt a little more in control of the process. I was really glad that I was unmedicated so I could really feel what was happening and I had better control of my pushing. I finally figured out that I needed to wait for the contraction to get really strong before I started pushing so my pushing could be more effective. After 1 hour of pushing, Andrew started crowning. Dr. Smith suctioned the meconium when his head was out. He then saw that the cord was loosely wrapped around Andrew's neck. Melissa thought that he would just try to loop it around his head, but he immediately clamped and cut the cord. He told me to push again and Andrew came tumbling out. I felt an immediate sense of relief and a great emptiness. I never saw them take him to the side...I kept waiting on them to put him on my chest and to hear him cry. Melissa told Austin to go to the baby. I asked her what was happening and she said they were just helping him get started breathing. I saw the look on her face and started to panic. I asked her what they were doing and what was happening. She told me to just pray for my baby. I heard the doctors and nurses calling out his heart rate which was only 40. They were talking about epinephrine which helps stimulate breathing and heart rate. After a few minutes, they took him from the room. Austin told me later that when he came out that he was grey and limp and lifeless. I delivered the placenta and Dr. Smith gave me a few stitches for my very minor tear. Then, they all left the room, turned off the light and left Melissa, Austin and me by ourselves in the room.

I started shaking uncontrollably and thought I was just really cold, but later realized that I was probably in shock. We waited in the room for about an hour and a half before anyone came in to tell us any news on Andrew. Dr. Sanford and Dr. Smith came in and told us that although they had almost lost him several times, that they had his heart rate stabilized at 140 and had him hooked up to a ventilator. He said the situation was still very volatile...he even used the word "deadly" and that they were transporting him to Tupelo to the NICU. The nurses came in and got me ready to go to my post partum room.

As I said before, I haven't processed through my feelings. I want to see the medical records to get an official interpretation of what happened. I don't even know exactly what went wrong. I have my own instincts and feelings about what caused Andrew to crash. I am very angry that my precious boy who thrived inside of me was somehow harmed during his birth.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A new year...

Andrew has been gone from us for 13 days today...I have been without him for as long as I had with him. I have had so many emotions over the past 26 days. I have felt more anger, joy, sadness, guilt, pain, love, humility, happiness and emptiness than I have ever felt in my life. I don't know how I have made it through the things that we have experienced and most days, I don't know how I will make it one more moment without Andrew. I feel robbed and angry for the life that was taken from me. I am very aware that "time heals" and "God has a plan" but that doesn't take the anger away right now. I am reading a really great book on grief that the amazing people at Waller Funeral Home gave us and I have learned from it to feel my feelings and to not feel bad. I have a right to be angry. I know that the anger will pass and maybe in 20 minutes I won't be angry...I might be numb or happy or desperately sad.

When I think about my sweet Andrew that was physically with me on this earth, I feel peaceful and warm. I know that he spent his time on this earth feeling protected by all that surrounded him. I know he felt my thousands of kisses and the many times I rubbed my face all over his soft, sweet smelling skin. He felt our love and gave us even more back in return. My child was beautiful. I loved his fat toes and the chunky fat thighs that I am not ashamed to admit to nibbling on. He had a barrel chest like his Daddy and the sweetest little ball chin that God ever made. He always kept his precious hands clenched tight...I held those hands every second I was with him. He had a little stork bite right between his eyebrows that I rubbed and rubbed. I remember it always felt warm and a little sticky for some reason. Andrew gave me so many gifts while he was here. I know now how it feels to be a mother. Even if I could only physically mother Andrew for 13 days, I will always be his momma and we will always be connected. The sweet nurses at Le Bonheur put a little pottery heart in his memory box that says "those that live in our heart will never be lost" and I truly feel that he lives on inside of me. He and I were both at our happiest when I was pregnant and I feel like he is back inside...just in a different way. I can still care for him and love him and in a strange way, protect him again.

See, now the anger is gone and I feel extremely peaceful and loved by my angel. I am going to continue to update this blog even if I am the only one who ever reads it. I love a boy named Andrew Edward Mitchell and talking about him makes me feel closer to him and more peaceful inside.