Baby's First Christmas

I start first grade and feel apprehensive. I don't know that word yet, but I know what it means. My mother's ʻōpū swells around the baby she's carrying and I don't know if I want to be happy. I'm too big for her to carry now, she tells me. But I know it's actually because of the baby.

My cousin Candace asks me if I'm excited to be a big sister and I shrug.

"Well," I tell her plaintively, "I guess I won't be the baby anymore."

Mommy said I have some time to get used to the idea. It's only September and the baby won't be here until right before Christmas. She seems excited about it.

One Hundred Word Wednesday: Birth Day

In 1999, I became...myself. He was born and just like that, everything changed. He was born, and I was a mother.

I went to recovery while my little boy started his stay in the NICU. I got flowers while he got intubated. I got congratulated, and he? He got an incubator.

Twenty-six measly weeks. Five insufficient days. Two pounds, three ounces. The baby, my baby, fought every scrap of unfavorable odds.

There Will Be No More Babies

She seemed to be looking for something, as we stomped our way to the park. She'd pound her red-headed hammer against a telephone pole or a rock (don't bam bam the tree, sweet girl, it's alive) then peer into the grass; the rustling branches of a rosemary bush.

"What do you see?" I asked.
Instead of answering, she muttered into her dirt covered hand.

Trust, In Spite of Everything

Originally posted to Livejournal January 22, 2005.

I often wonder what would have become of me if Jonas had died, instead of lived. It was so hairy there for such a long time; prematurity is no laughing matter and each moment from the time he was born to the time he was released from the hospital sixteen weeks later was a knuckle-whitening struggle between faith and despair. In the sterile world of hospitals and neonatologists, faith is a precious commodity; despair endlessy lurking.

time

Originally posted to Livejournal November 7, 2009

I don't know the weeks and days off the top of my head anymore, but I still go back and count every once in awhile; I'd be 28 weeks along today if I hadn't lost the baby.

When I first got pregnant, I focused on getting past week 12 when the chance of miscarriage plummets as the placenta is formed.  After week 12, I turned my attention to week 24.  24 weeks is when a pre-term baby could potentially be viable, as their lungs are mature enough to react to the steroid treatments used to help them develop.  Beyond that is week 26, when I lost my first pregnancy to pre-term labor, and Jonas traded my womb for an incubator. 

The Un-Secret Secret of My Postpartum Depression

Anyone peeking into any given moment in the months after my children's births would see a woman in the midst of a life-and-death struggle. I either wept or nearly wept as I paced the floor with Jonas, terrified to be alone with him after sixteen weeks of support in the NICU. Uniquely attuned to his feeding apnea, I was the only one who could feed him for months; that quickly morphed into a belief that I was the only one who could care for him at all. I was so sleep deprived that I experienced hallucinations and so anxious that my hands chapped from repetitive washing.

A friend of mine recently had a baby. Okay, so she didn't just have a baby. She had the most bad-ass, hippy crunchy Earth mother birth experience and is rightfully buzzing with joy and empowerment. I am so happy for her. Like, elated. I think. Actually, I don't know. It's hard to tell because I am too busy feeling so pathetically sorry for myself.

Small Babies, Big Needs

In less than a month, my son Jonas will turn eleven. This would be a fabulous milestone for any parent, but to the parent of a NICU graduate, eleven is, truly, astounding.

The birth I had imagined for me and my son was pretty typical; an unremarkable hospital birth without an epidural but maybe with other IV pain killers to take the edge off those rolling contractions. After hours of labor and months of waiting, I’d finally push the baby out, his father gripping my hand with excitement and anxiety, and at long last we would hear our son’s rowdy cry. They’d clean the baby and he’d be laid on my chest while I wept with relief and exhaustion. The baby’s tiny fingers would instinctively wrap around the finger I’d place in his hand, and I would look down at the dark haired bundle, finally knowing exactly what I was going to do for the rest of my life.

Awareness

All month long Friday, October 15th was staring me in the face. Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance may not be as well known as Breast Cancer Awareness, but to the families who light candles at 7pm in honor of those small lives lost, October 15th is a date of great importance. I'd been thinking for weeks about posting something in memory of Christopher Robin and asking few of my fellow Babyloss Mamas for permission to mention their lost loves and the importance of their friendships since losing my son. I had meant to relate, not the awareness of pregnancy and infant loss, but the hyper awareness of these quiet tragedies. I wanted tell you all about my pre-tragedy awareness that loss is a possibility of any pregnancy, and how shallow and incompetent I found those feelings once I held my son's stillborn body in my shaking arms. I wanted to tell the story of trying to keep Jonas informed and aware of what we envisioned as the "facts" of pregnancy loss and how we congratulated ourselves as parents on preparing our son and ourselves for what we, despite our numerous discussions, still thought of as a topic to be touched on and then optimistically left behind. These things happen, we told ourselves while Jonas' brother grew inside my body. And we said sure, we'd be sad for awhile, but then we'd move on.

But then we'd move on.

It's almost comical to me now, how completely naive we were in trying to prepare ourselves for the imaginary possibility of a losing the much anticipated fourth member of our family. There really is no such thing as moving on or getting over losing the life that I had committed my own to nurturing. It's impossible to imagine or even long for a time when we will be done with our grief for the tiny baby that changed our lives. And I have to admit, it was actually a shock to me to learn how deeply wounded I would be upon being faced with the very real and ordinary fact of life that is pregnancy loss. I honestly never imagined that my life would be this fundamentally changed.

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