Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Day Matthew Was Born...And Died--Daddy

Matthew,

This is the story of your life, however short it was, though my eyes. I do not claim to have an intimate relationship with you like mommy did. Only mommy, who carried you for 10 months can claim that stake, however, from the moment that I knew you existed, I could not have been more proud of you and excited to eventually meet you. Many people have talked about how only a mommy could have loved a baby before it was born, and that daddies just wait for the day to come when they can hold their child, and that is the day when a daddy and child begin to bond. I couldn’t feel that these ideas are more wrong. When I first saw your heartbeat, I felt it in my heart. When mommy started to grow a belly, I marveled every day at the change. Every time that I saw you wiggle in mommy’s belly, I giggled inside with joy. But I am not going to talk about the time leading up to your birth. Right now, I am going to talk about the few days surrounding your birth as a celebration of your life.
You were due on 24 November, 2009, but you decided that you loved your warm and cozy home that mommy had provided for you. So, we were scheduled to come into the hospital a week later and help you with your decision on whether or not to come into this world. However, we received a call a few days later asking us to come into the hospital on the 27th because it would not be as busy. Since I was so excited to meet you, I jumped at the opportunity. Mommy was a little scared, because she couldn’t bear the thought of you not being as close as you already were. So, we scheduled the date and made sure that our bags were ready. I had already packed the car about 2 weeks earlier to include a cot, sleeping bag and many other things. Finally, the evening had come for us to go into the hospital.
On the drive to the hospital, mommy admitted that she was scared. I tried to calm her fears and she understood that I was so excited to meet you and hold you. When we got to the hospital, I took a picture of mommy holding all of her bags. I will always remember that picture. She looked both excited and scared.




We checked into the birthing ward and were placed under the care of a very nice and reassuring nurse named Jade. We got settled into our room, the room where we would stay for the next 24 hours. In short time, the induction was begun. The one thing that I remember most about this time was the sound of your heartbeat. The machine that monitored your heart pulsed with every beat, making a whoosh, whoosh. That night was a very long night. The induction made mommy have contractions every couple of minutes.
We both tried to sleep that night. I am not sure if mommy was able to sleep much, but I was not able to sleep very much. It was the whooshing sound. I was hearing that all night long. On occasion, your heartbeat would undergo decelerations. The nurses would come in the room and have mommy change the way that she was laying. This seemed to have the desired effect however, ever time after, it was like my mind was a metronome and when you heartbeat slowed down, I was alert. It was a very long night.
In the morning, I got up, took a shower and left for a short amount of time to get something to eat. It wasn’t very good, but maybe that was because I was focused on one thing, and that was seeing you come into this world. I am not sure on many of the events during that day, but I do know that mommy took a shower, and tried to get comfortable. What I do know is that things weren’t progressing as quickly as we had hoped and mommy was in pain from the contractions. So, the decision was made to give mommy an epidural to help ease the pain. The doctor that did this was a very nice man even though he was a Wahoo. It must have been a hard thing for him to come into work on that day because, his team was fighting a loosing battle to the Hokies, a team of which you got to see play during a very rainy day in October. We didn’t know it at the time, but something in the back of his mind told him that he should stick around the hospital because he thought that he might be needed later.
It was sometime around then when grandma showed up to visit with us, and stay for most of the rest of the evening. As mommy would tell you, my stomach usually speaks up and I have to answer to it. Grandma got some pizza for the two of us. We could not finish most of the pizza and ended up giving the rest of it to the nurses. For the rest of the time, I tried to read while mommy tried to sleep.
Shortly after this, our doctor arrived on the scene. She had been around several times throughout the last day but I guess that she decided to that her services would be required soon, and she was right. Our doctor was pregnant herself. The thing you should know is that over the last few weeks, mommy figured that she would be the one to deliver you and she had been buttering the doctor up with all kinds of goodies and treats.
Based on the examination, the doctor decided that she would move things along and break the water. Your mommy didn’t want this because she was afraid that this would result in a mess and the nice nurses would have to clean it up. But, that’s your mommy, always thinking of others even in her hardest times. The other issue was that the heart monitor was increasingly difficult to adjust and we had a hard time getting a good accurate reading of your heart rate. So we were going to attach a sensor to your head so that we could keep a good eye on your progress. During the exam, the doctor was able to touch your head and you wiggled as if to say, “don’t take me from here. It is nice and warm and mommy eats milkshakes for me. “
The membrane was broken and water came out. The sensor was attached to your head and as the doctor turned back around to finish her work, there was a sudden gush of blood. The doctor very calmly said, “Mr. Matthew, you forced my hand.” She was very collected however, based on the fact that she was pushing mommy down the hall to ER, I knew it was serious. I was not allowed to follow into the ER until mommy was prepped and I was asked to put on a paper gown and mask. I sat in the hall scared and grandma comforted me. I was not prepared for these moments. When I was finally allowed into the ER, you were on a table. The doctors were working very hard to rescue you. I watched in horror as they performed CPR and gave you breaths. I held mommy’s hand, but I must have not been very comforting to her. She asked me what was going on and I said I didn’t know but I didn’t think that it was good. She kept saying that it would be OK. She just knew it and she prayed. I prayed in my head. I so wanted you in my life. Eventually, you were taken out of the ER into the nursery.
I had promised mommy earlier in the pregnancy that if something happened, that I would always stay with you, so I did. I wasn’t allowed in the nursery but I was able to look through a crack in the blinds. They continued to work on you and the whole time, more and more people showed up to help. Eventually, I could see that you had a heartbeat and their tasking turned from CPR to working to stabilize your condition. There were lines and tubes and sensors all over you. I am not sure how long you were in the nursery, but it seemed like it was 20 hours. Eventually, one of the nurses came to me. I was exhausted and I was crying. I said to her “can you believe I am a Marine?” She said “yes, but tonight you are a dad.” I will tell you—I have since seen many Marines crying over you. I have learned that to weep is not a sign of weakness rather, a sign of love.
The nurse asked me if I wanted to go into the nursery and see you. Absolutely! I got my camera and we went into the nursery and I was able to sit and touch you. You opened your eyes and looked around as if to say, why are these people here doing these things to me. You gave me a great gift there in the nursery. You squeezed my finger as I offered it to you. That is something that I will never forget.

I took pictures into mommy who by this time was in recovery. She was glad to see them.
The decision was made to medevac you to Georgetown University Hospital by air. It seemed like it took forever for them to get here, but I know that it was not that much time. They wanted to perform a procedure at Georgetown that would cool your body temperature down and allow you to recover. When the aircrew arrived, they went into action. They had to do a couple of things before they could transport you in the helicopter. I remember observing all of the people in the nursery that night. There were lots of people that although could not actively help, were just staying there just in case. I also remember that the Georgetown crew needed some fine sutures. I don’t know who it was, but I watched as a small, young nurse ran at a sprint from the nursery and shortly returned back. I imagined that she ran the whole way, and I knew that even though the staff at St Mary’s might have not had the state of the art NICU facilities, there is not a thing that they wouldn’t have done to save you.
Soon enough, you were loaded into and isolette and prepared to transport down to the helo pad. But first, mommy wanted to see you. The helo crew was in a hurry, but I think they realized that this is the last time mommy might see you. When they brought you into the room, mommy got up and stood on her feet and touched you head and your hair. It was almost as if Jesus had walked on water for mommy to stand.
I followed the isolette down to the aircraft and watched them load and depart. As I watched, I thought about how I could fly the helicopter and I would fly it as fast as it could go. Maybe one day I will have a job where I can rescue people in need and fly a helicopter like that. After you left, a good friend of the family, Jeff drove me to Georgetown. Matthew, you would have had friends in your life that would have responded in times of need as Jeff did. Again, this ride seemed to take forever but eventually, I made it to the hospital. Jeff offered to stay but I thought that this was going to be long trip, maybe even weeks. I had hope. I had prayed during the entire trip up there. Pleaded with God to heal you.
I found the NICU and was asked to scrub up. When I entered the NICU, I was greeted by several of the staff, but I knew that things were not good. I was taken to a room where they told me the bad news. During the helicopter ride, your heart had stopped beating several times. Each time was harder and harder to resuscitate you. I was told that you would not make it. They could try to resuscitate you every time your little heart stopped, but eventually it would not be possible and already, your brain was not working. My world was crushed. I had to talk to mommy and others that could support me during this time. In desperation, I tried to reach out to whomever I could. I sent a message to our friend Bill who was able to supply phone numbers to our pastor. Also, I got the number for Bert, who was a friend of the family and a former pastor of our church. I also made sure that grandma was taken back to the hospital to be there to support mommy when I told her that you were going to die, but I had to do it soon, because the doctors were not sure how long they could keep you alive. Grandma had to be driven to the hospital by Connie because she was exhausted and emotionally drained.
Finally with everyone assembled, I called mommy and I explained to her that you would not make it and that the best and only thing that I could do was to hold you until the end. So, I went back into the NICU and you were given to me. I cradled you and kissed you on the head. Bert was conferenced in and he read a few Bible verses to us. I stayed on the phone with mommy and eventually, a doctor listened to your heartbeat and said that you were gone. I still held on to you for a while. One of the nurses took some pictures of me holding you. Now that I look at them I realize how tired and exhausted I was. Eventually, it was time to put you down. When I turned around, one of the nurses asked if someone had hugged me. I said ,“No,” and told her that I was alone. She then gave me a hug. It really is amazing how comforting it is for a total stranger to share in your grief.
Since I was alone, I had no way to get back home. Fortunately, mommy’s sister, Heather and her husband Shan had driven to our house and Shan got in his car and started driving to Georgetown. Meanwhile, I sat in a small room that was set up for daddies to get rest when visiting their babies. It was a cold, lonely place. Eventually, I could not sit there any further and I went down to the hospital lobby to wait. Again, this seemed to be the longest wait of my life, but finally, Shan showed up and got me to the car. Most of the rest of this night was a blur to me, but I do remember glancing up to the sky driving through D.C. There are lots of lights in D.C. and you can almost never see stars, but on that night, I saw a brilliant shooting star sail across the sky. This was my sign. You were OK in the hands of God. Our pastor preached to church one day that God heals by miracles, through divine guidance of skilled doctors hands and finally through death to be made whole in Heaven. I know unfortunately for me and mommy that you had been healed through the latter, but that you are whole again.
I got back to the hospital where mommy was and I was exhausted. I knew that I was not going to be able to sleep that night so I took a sleeping pill. As I fell asleep, I heard the whoosh whoosh noise that your heartbeat made. In fact, I heard this noise in my head for several more days. I am not sure when I stopped hearing it, but I was glad when I did because it was starting to haunt me.
I never knew that I was capable of feeling such deep sorrow, but every morning when I showered, I sobbed uncontrollably as I stood there in the shower. I did not want to do this in front of mommy because she had a lot of healing to do and I thought it would upset her. I had to be strong for her. I later found out that she had known all along that I was doing it. I also found out who were important friends in my life. There were lots of amazing displays of compassion from many of people. I have mentioned many of them. Craig called me every day for about a month. Barb and other women made an album of your life. And Allison, Andi and Marilyn pampered and nursed mommy back to health. I know that I can never repay your cousins and aunt for all the help they gave us then, but I am thankful to have them. And speaking of aunts, your aunt Amy got a ticket and rushed to be with us for when we buried you.
Matthew, I don’t know what to expect when I meet you in heaven, but I am sure that you will be there with all of the other loved ones of my life. Will I get to learn about what kind of a person you would have been if you had survived or would that even matter? I know on this day, I will be happy.


DADDY

Friday, May 28, 2010

Matthew's Birth Story....Mommy

Thanksgiving Day, 2009, was November 26. As Matthew’s due date was the 24th, and no one could believe that I’d go that far considering how big he was getting and how little I’d started, I felt fairly safe in buying the sweetest little “My First Thanksgiving” outfit.

As I sat at Thanksgiving dinner with John, Mom and Andi...swollen, back aching and ribs hurting, I gratefully thought in my head, “That little turkey…already outgrowing clothes and he hasn’t even been born yet!”

Dr. Shonekan had taken mercy on me earlier in that week, and we’d scheduled Matthew’s induction for the Monday after Thanksgiving. Imagine my surprise when one of Matthew’s L & D Guardian Angels (unbeknownst to me at the time, of course!) called and told me that they had been looking through the files and mine was one that Dr. Shonekan had said would be a good one to schedule earlier if I wanted. She said that they’d love to have me come in on Friday night. While she didn’t say it, I got the impression that Monday may have been busier than Friday was shaping up to be, and Dr. Shonekan expected me to be one of those deliveries that may have needed a little more hand-holding and I would probably have that coming in Friday.

I remember what I was wearing as I hung the phone up. I started to shake, and teared up a bit. I was at the top of the stairs and called John to the bottom. I told him the hospital wondered if we wanted to come in early, and without skipping a beat, he told me, “Let’s do it!!!!”

Of course he was excited! I was scared to death.

I called back and told them we’d see them the next day. I don’t know how I slept that night, or remember much of the next day other than I wrote out the last of the thank-you notes I needed to write. THANK GOD I kept up with those…I’d never have been able to write them after.

Before we left, I hung Matthew’s stocking on the mantle. I wanted to have it there when we got home.





Mom took one last family photo of us before we left and we were off.


Still terrified.

The hospital is about 20 minutes away. I shook the entire time. John was near giddy and I was just shaking with anxiety. I had all the music I’d been listening to throughout my pregnancy playing, and I was trying to sing with each song. The only song I remember, though, is the Brad Paisley version of “When We All Get To Heaven.” I sang that song, in tears of fear and nerves, over and over as I looked out the window. I couldn’t believe we were finally about to meet my sweet boy.

When we got to the hospital, and walked through the L & D doors, my knees nearly buckled. They took us into our room, and it was the same room we’d been in about two weeks before when my blood pressure was so high. At that time, there had been some crazy CD left in the player—Heavy Metal songs done in classical lullaby type renditions. It had cracked John and me up then and as I was again in that room, it gave me a smile.

We started to get settled and my sweet, sweet night nurse Jade said, “Are you okay? You look like you’re very nervous.” I was still shaking and very jittery and I told her I was scared to death. She told me everything would be fine. There was such a sweet and familiar way in which she spoke with us, I totally believed her.

I had brought a ton of chocolate and every time anyone came in, I made sure to offer some. I knew I was going to be high maintenance and wanted to apologize in advance for being so!

It’s here where things start getting blurry for me. The plan was to give me the Cervidil in hopes of helping me dilate some. I was pretty much Fort Knox as Dr. Shonekan had said, and we hoped that would make a difference. I think I started having some contractions, but honestly, I don’t remember being in any pain. In fact, I remember having some cramping and John telling me that I was having contractions and I thought, “Hmmm….that’s not that bad! I felt worse when Matthew kicked me!” Someone had advised me to ask about Ambien for the night so I could get some sleep, and I asked Jade whether she thought that was a good idea. She said she’d ask the doctor, and Dr. Shonekan was fine with it. I honestly don’t remember whether or not I took it because I’d done all the reading about medications and not wanting the baby to be sleepy when born. I don’t think I did take it, but we did talk about Stadol since sometimes the Cervidil could make one uncomfortable and I’m pretty sure I forsook the Ambien in favor of the Stadol. What I remember most about that night is that neither of us slept much—the monitor kept going off for no reason and I just couldn’t sleep. I wasn’t in pain, even though John said the contractions were fairly strong and close, I just couldn’t sleep. As the morning came, I remember wondering where the night had gone because time seemed to just disappear. Jade told me she’d see me and our sweet baby that night because she’d be coming back and though I’d be on the post-partum side, she’d make sure she saw me. Before she left, she introduced me to Ruth, and I remember thinking, “Oh good…another sweet smile.”

The day wore on. Everyone said my contractions were closer and fairly intense, but I didn’t really feel much pain. I kept waiting for the pain! I knew it was coming…and had thus far been surprised by labor! I was exhausted and wanted desperately to sleep, I just couldn’t. I think I dozed in and out because time passed, but I don’t remember really sleeping. My friend Deb came that morning and brought a sweet little sock monkey for Matthew. Dr. Shonekan came and reminded me of how stubborn my boy was because I still wasn’t progressing much at all. We talked about my epidural even though I was struggling to get to 4 cm. She said to go for it, so the anesthesiologist was called. Everyone told me that he was wonderful and I was lucky he was on call. When he came in, he sat me the way I needed to sit and as I looked down, I saw his UVA crocs! I had forgotten that it was the big Tech/UVA game and he was all dressed for it! We made the appropriate Wahoo/Hokie jokes and I thanked God for such a good-natured anesthesiologist. I had been worried about the epidural and felt completely ok with him. He complimented me on how still I was able to sit and how easy it was to get where he needed to go because my back was so lean! Ahhh….music to a very large pregnant lady’s ears! He gave us his best wishes, in spite of our Hokie loyalties, and I finally felt like we might be close.

I do not really have any idea of the time factor. I had no cognizance of what time it was but I knew it was getting on in the afternoon. Mom and John had just been biding their time and I think it was a little after 4 when Dr. Shonekan came in and said that she thought we were going to have to go in and get him! There had been some weird readings on the monitor, which didn’t really faze me because that monitor had been acting sort of weird anyway and earlier in the day they’d had me lay on my left side and things were fine. She told me she wanted to put the little monitor that screws into his head on so she could see what was going on and I started to cry a bit. Not because I was worried but because I had seen that little hook in our birth class and I didn’t want my sweet boy to have to have that in his head! She also told me she’d go ahead and break my water while she was in there. I asked if she had to, because I really didn’t want it broken, especially if we were going to go the c-section route anyway. She said it didn’t make a difference either way, and I told her I’d rather not—I didn’t want to make a mess for my sweet nurses. She started to do whatever it was that she was doing with that hook thing and said, “Well, he didn’t like that! He has really good scalp stimulation! In fact, put that on the board,” and Ruth started to write it on the white board. She said she was breaking my water while she was there and I said, “Oh, ok…” and in what seemed like seconds, she said, “Well….Mr. Matthew is calling my bluff.”

In an instant, everything…EVERYTHING changed. She started moving like I’d never seen (and she was nearly 9 months pregnant herself!) and started prepping me for a c-section. She was giving orders, people were moving and Dr. Finkleston, the anesthesiologist came back in. I didn’t know what was going on, but it was very apparent that Dr. Shonekan wanted people to MOVE. Dr. Finkleston told me he was going to get me ready for surgery, and I reminded him he’d already given me my epidural. He said, “Oh honey, you’re going to get a few more things for this.”

The next thing I knew, Dr. Shonekan was pulling my bed out of my room and to the OR HERSELF!! We banged against the door, and I realized this was not right. I started praying to God to bless each and every hand that touched me and that touched Matthew…to give them wisdom and courage.

I have to say that I did NOT DOUBT for ONE SECOND that this would not be anything but a dramatic entrance…and all would be fine. I was still joking around, and started to get a bit nervous that no one was joking back with me. When Dr. Finkleston and the other nurses were trying to get me onto the table from my bed, he said, “How much do you weigh? About 160?”

I died laughing. As a woman who barely broke 100 pounds for most of my adult life, I couldn’t BELIEVE he was guess-timating me that heavy. (In reality, he was only about 13 pounds off!) He then apologized for ‘insulting’ me and told me he was just asking to know how much medicine he needed to give.

I was still jovial.

I was still unaware of the severity of the situation.

But everyone else knew.

One of the surgical technicians, Margaret Ann, came to me and held my left hand. She asked me if I believed in God. I told her, “Yes.” She asked me if I believed in Jesus Christ. I told her, “Yes.” She asked if she could pray for me. I begged her to do so. I don’t remember what she said, but I do remember thinking, “Wow, they all think this is really serious.”

But I didn’t.

Because God was faithful.

He’d promised me Matthew; He'd shown him to me in dreams and given me his name. He’d blessed us with this miracle after 10 years of heartache.

I was not worried.

Someone asked the time and I heard, “4:50.”

John came into the OR and sat up by my head. Before he came in, Margaret Ann had been holding my left hand and Dr. Finkelston my right. John took my right hand and I kept asking what was happening. I saw Dr. Shonekan lift Matthew out, though I didn’t see him, and hand him to the nurses. I still couldn’t see what was going on but it was very, very quiet. I kept asking what was happening and finally, John said, “They’re doing CPR.”

I did not like the sound of that, yet told John, “He’ll be fine. He’s going to be fine. I know he is going to be fine.” I kept telling John and anyone else who would listen that Matthew would be fine.

I asked what his birth time was. “4:56,” is what I was told. That amazing pregnant woman had the nerves and strength to that baby out of me in 6 minutes. I was awestruck.

It seemed like it was about two or three minutes and then I saw the backs of two nurses whisking Matthew away. That was my first glimpse of him—the back of his sweet little head with dark hair and a wavy pattern. I told John to follow him and NOT leave him, that I’d be fine.

No one was really saying much…I guess there wasn’t much to say. The surgery had been so fast they had not been able to do the instrument count, and had to wait for an x-ray of my insides to be sure nothing had been left. I was pretty impressed with their thoroughness.

From what I remember, Margaret Ann continued to hold my hand and Dr. Finkelston sort of went back and forth from the nursery to me to give me an idea of what was going on, but in truth, I think everyone was so shocked and surprised that they were all on autopilot. I saw Dr. Shonekan and another woman in the corner of the room looking over something, which I later figured out was my placenta. I guess they also were just trying to figure out what the heck had happened.

After the X-Ray, someone I didn’t know or recognize came and wheeled me into a different room. I wasn’t really sure of where I was in relationship to the room they’d just wheeled me out of not a half hour before. I think the poor person wheeling me in there was sort of shell-shocked and didn’t really know what to say, and I feel bad for her because I just kept telling anyone and everyone who kept popping in and out of the room that Matthew was going to be fine. She must have thought I was nuts.

Time again gets very, very blurry here. I remember John coming in and out with some details…Matthew peed all over the nurses and they were glad! Matthew was holding his hand. Deb came in with pictures for me and said he’d given her the look we call “The Stink-Eye” in our family. They said he was fighting and that they were going to have to med evac him to Children’s.







In hindsight, I do not know what on earth kept me in that room. I needed to be in that nursery. I know John was torn about leaving me, but we’d already discussed that he needed to be with the baby at all times. I just wish I had gone to the nursery myself.

Other news came in…they had a hard time getting a line in to Matthew…something about not being able to give a transfusion…Children’s wasn’t available so it was going to be Georgetown. I remember telling John he couldn’t go by himself and he’d called our family friend Jeff to take him up there because there wouldn’t be room in the helicopter. How ironic…my husband could fly that aircraft but there wouldn’t be room for him to be with his son.

I told anyone who would listen that before Matthew left, I wanted them to come into my room. I guess one of the reasons no one had helped me to the nursery was because I’d just had an emergency surgery and the Duramorph left me pretty much unable to move. Jade was back with me, as Deb had switched her so she could be with me that night also. The little things that those women and men did that night are priceless to me.

When the Georgetown people finally came in with Matthew’s huge isolette, I couldn’t believe how big it was. It was hard to move close to my bed and the Georgetown doctor seemed pretty much in a hurry to get out of there. She told me over and over that he was a very sick little boy and they would do all they could to help him. In my head, I barely heard her words because I was screaming, “You’re WRONG! He’s going to be fine! He’s perfectly healthy!!!! God promised him to me! He is going to be the miracle you all talk about! YOU WILL ALL BE TALKING ABOUT MY SON FOR YEARS TO COME.”

I don’t think I was entirely wrong, sadly.

I told them I wanted to touch him…there was no way that baby was getting out of the hospital without his mama feeling him and letting him know I was there. The Georgetown doctor looked skeptical, as I couldn’t move and they couldn’t get him close to me.

I didn’t care and neither did Jade, since I saw her look at the doctor in a way that said, “Seriously? We’re going to get this lady to touch her baby!” I asked Jade to help me, and I got out of that bed. As I did, a gush of blood went everywhere and I felt awful. I just remember saying, “I’m sorry…I’m sorry” and again, those sweet people told me it was ok. I used a chair or maybe Jade’s arm to sort of hold on to, but I walked the couple of steps over to his isolette and reached in the little circle that was where his head was. I touched his shoulder and caressed his sweet little face. It was so amazingly soft…I couldn’t believe it. I had expected that since he was overdue, he’d be a dry and leathery little baby boy…and he had the softest, creamiest skin I’d ever touched.

Still…I still felt that it was only a matter of time until we’d be home and that he’d be fine.

I honestly don’t know how I had gotten out of that bed, because as soon as he left, I got back in the bed and literally couldn’t move my legs. Someone had to move them for me back into the bed.

As they took him out, I blew him a kiss. I remember thinking, “Wow. A little melodramatic, Lori. He’s going to be fine and you know it.”

I of course wanted to leave and go to Georgetown. Dr. Shonekan told me she couldn’t discharge me with the procedures and medicines I’d just had. I asked about just leaving and she said I could, but then insurance would have a field day in not paying considering I’d be leaving against medical advice.
So that amazing woman said, “I’m going to get you into post-partum at Georgetown but we have to get you up there with an ambulance. I’m going to go work on that right now.”

And she did. As she did, various people kept coming in and out. The pediatrician and I had a long, long talk. I asked her the same question I had earlier asked Dr. Shonekan about survivability. Both had told me that there would probably be issues, as Matthew had lost a tremendous amount of blood and some oxygen, but they were fairly confident he’d survive. As the pediatrician and I were talking, she got called out for a phone call. I now know that phone call was Georgetown telling them that things were not good.

Time is blurry here too…It seemed to me that she left my room and a few minutes later, mom and my neighbor Connie came in my room. Seeing as mom had been gone for a while, her coming back was not encouraging to me. She told me I needed to call John.

I called John and he told me that there was basically nothing they could do…that they were telling him we’d probably have to make a decision about Matthew. He’d apparently crashed 5 times on the helicopter ride out to Georgetown and whatever procedure they’d wanted to try with him was simply not going to be successful.

I was in shock. I did not believe him and told him there would be no making of any decision. There was no decision to be made. Matthew was living. Period.

I don’t remember much more of that conversation, only that mom said she’d gotten in touch with Bert, a family friend and pastor. It was a little after one in the morning and John called back. He told me that there was nothing else to do and no decision to be made…Matthew was making the decision.

He was dying.

John was alone, holding Matthew, as he was dying.



I had Bert on mom’s cell phone speaker and John on my cell phone speaker, and together, with mom and Connie (and I think Jade, but I’m fuzzy), Bert read verses and ushered Matthew into Heaven.

Matthew died at 1:26 am on November 29.

My precious miracle left this earth, without even knowing me…and I was shattered.

I don’t remember much more other than John crying, “Lori, I’m sorry….I’m so, so, sorry. Please don’t leave me. Please don’t leave me.”

That broke my heart, and still does. I didn’t understand what he meant at the time, and later realized he was worried that in losing Matthew, he’d lose me.

At the time, the initial guess was that it was a placental abruption that caused Matthew to lose so much blood. We of course found out a couple of days later that it was vasa previa, and more, a sort of rare presentation of vasa previa.

In all my planning and all my research and all my worrying…never had I even heard of that.

Why would I? It’s that thing that doctors read about in medical school and think, “Hmm…doubt I’ll ever see that, thank goodness,” because it’s just rare.

Really, it didn’t matter why.

Matthew was gone. Is gone.

And my world is forever changed.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Matthew's Going To Have.....

...a sister or a brother!

This morning, we saw one sweet little fluttering of a precious little heart and I was just so, so thankful. Dr. K said everything looked lovely and we'll go back in two weeks for another ultrasound and to graduate!
This baby looks so different than Matthew did, even at this early stage. Matthew looked like little jelly bean. Little Miney looks like a diamond ring!! In fact, when Dr. K was showing us what was what, that's what he said, and the heart beat was where the diamond was. It was precious.

And miraculous.

And scary.

It's been a wonderful but hard day. I'm THANKFUL that I have so many people praying for us. I am SO thankful that we have doctors and nurses who reassure us. As happy and joyful and hopeful as we are...this is hard.

I asked John to give me one good reason to believe this baby would be born and would live and we'd get to bring her home and raise her.

He said it happens all the time, every day.

Babies die all the time, every day too.

One million and four babies can be born and only one dies....and if you are one of the one million and four, that's FABULOUS.

When you're the one million and fifth...the others don't come close to reassuring you.

So, if you pray, and you pray for me, please pray for my peace. I am wracked with worry and anxiety, and trust me, I know that's not good for me or the baby. I purposely and deliberately make choices and try to live as if this little one will also live and come home with us.

But in my heart, I know that it may not happen. So please, pray for me and my anxiety and pray for my little diamond ring--that she or he grows healthy and strong and lets her or his mommy hold, cuddle and kiss her (or him)!

Without further ado, here's Miney...


Cute, huh?

Monday, May 24, 2010

6 Weeks...25 Weeks and Two Days...

Will the rest of my life be spent counting weeks?

Will this be another pregnancy that starts with me counting the weeks of life, and ends with me counting the weeks since death?

Will I be able to bear it if it is?

Obviously, I am worried.

I'm trying very, very hard not to be. It may not seem like it, but I am. The last thing I want is something to happen and then to have to suffer the guilt of thinking it was my worry.

Not to mention I don't want to waste a second of another miracle to be wasted with worry.

I was on one of the IVF boards I frequent and a woman wrote about how she'd had high betas and was expecting to hear twins when she went in for her 6-weeks ultrasound. Instead, she saw no yolk, no baby. Our ultrasound is Wednesday so I've been praying that doesn't happen to me.

The Internet is wonderful. It is full of boards and forums and blogs of women who TOTALLY get my life. SO many understand the frustration and heartbreak of infertility, or adoption, or failed adoptions, or child loss, or infertility after child loss, or of pregnancy after child loss...or, like me, ALL of that in some way.

And there is comfort in *meeting* them and sharing with them; encouraging them and being encouraged by them because they remind you that YOU ARE NORMAL even when others in the world who *think* they get it, don't--and make you feel like you ought to be dong something else.

But like EVERYTHING in my life, these blogs and groups and boards are also bittersweet. They are in-my-face reminders of all that could go wrong...and educators about things that could go wrong that I didn't even KNOW about! It's very easy to look at and know some of the many, many stories and think, "But that's not the norm. That's not usually what happens. That was tragic. That was unexpected. That was shocking. That is rare. That just doesn't happen."

But when YOU'VE BEEN that ONE....you know it does. And there's nothing to say it won't again.

And so I just try and remember that I'm not in control and that we are living through the worst thing we can possibly imagine...and if more sorrow is to come, God will continue to sustain.

While I understand the meaning behind being anxious for nothing, it's not easy. As I told a dear friend last night...with Matthew, I WAS anxious for nothing. I believed more than anything I'd ever believed in my life that Matthew would live and grow.

And look where that got me.

So, while I know that I WILL survive should anything tragic happen again...surviving is hard.

It's scary.

It's unimaginably painful.

And frankly, I don't want to be there. Again.

So, yes, I'm worried.

I get weekly updates from Silent Grief. At first, I didn't realize they were weekly--they just came at the right times. Always the right words at the right time. Even after I realized they were weekly, still seemed that way.

So this morning, what's in my email? Today's Silent Grief is titled, "When All You Do Is Worry."

And I got it not once...not twice...but three times. It was emailed to me three times. Weird.
It's not anything that I haven't heard before, but times 3, nice to know that again, God is telling me there's no use in worrying and that He will carry me.

Even if it is through more pain and more anguish and more heartache.
(Personal plea, though, God, please let's not go this route?)

SO...today is six weeks. I'm feeling more hungry than nauseated, though still queasy often. I'll be fine and then all of a sudden, feel like the flu is all over me. I keep saying it, but it is true. It is very different than Matthew.

I'm not a big believer in Old Wives' Tales, but I do think she's a girl. There's a lot of things I think about which I am very wrong, though, so...we'll just wait.

A sweet little guy (whose name I love) at church yesterday told me one of the nicest things I've heard in a long time...with a huge smile and a precious heart, he said, "I can't wait to see your baby in the nursery."

Neither can we, little friend...neither can we.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Can't Sleep...

In a few hours, I have to get up because John and I are driving to New York to help cousin Andi move down to Baltimore for grad school! We're very excited she'll be closer.

John got home today and was really surprised at how much I'm showing already. Seriously, it's crazy. Dr. Shonekan said that you show sooner with the second pregnancy. She's not kidding. We went up to bed early, in anticipation of our early wake-up, but I have not been able to sleep. I'm glad I'll have some sleep time tomorrow in the car.

There's so much on my mind.

I am terrified. Nothing more to say about that.

Funny how I titled my last post "Hard Day" and could easily do that today as well.

For different reasons. Days that make me truly get on my knees and thank God for His goodness are hard days too, and today was no exception.

I went to visit my friends at Labor and Delivery. I wanted to take them some goodies during Nurses Week, but that was right after the transfer, and before Mother's Day, and honestly, I didn't think I had the strength to do it.

So today, armed with a bowl of chocolate (and minus the stupid lemon bars that you just don't want to ask about), I went.

I had to take a couple of deep breaths in the elevator on the way up.

When I got there, the doors were open as someone else was walking in before me, and the first thing I see is the cutest girl at the front desk whispering to someone, "She's here! She's here!"

Talk about feeling like a rock star!

I walked in, sat my bowl down, and signed in. Instantly, I was enveloped.

And I cried.

Such bittersweet tears! Joy, joy, joy about this new little life I have! Sorrow, sorrow, sorrow over the sweet little life I lost...as many of those precious women lost him with me.

Honestly and truly, there is a tiny piece of Heaven God has placed on this earth, and it's in that Labor and Delivery wing. How else could such a collection of angels exist??

We hugged and talked and laughed and cried. They gave us a wonderful gift card for which they'd like to have a bench and placard for Matthew's grave. Their compassion is overwhelming.

They helped me remember things I didn't, and in doing so, made me realize that I'm going to have to write about all I remember from that night soon.

They shared their excitement and joy for us, and just lifted my heart.

As we walked out to leave (yes, escorted right to my car!!!), I got one last thing...

Rather, Matthew did.

They played--just for Matthew--his lullaby.

My Matthew got his song.

And there is no one on this earth that can possibly understand what that meant to me. I've had so, so many kind actions and gestures given in the last few months.

Hearing the song recognizing the precious birth of my son is truly one of the kindest and most generous gifts I've ever been given.

Thank you, thank you, thank you and thank you again, L&D friends. You made a mother's heavy heart beat just a little stronger today.


I also have to get this off my chest because it just keeps tossing and turning in my head. I'm feeling very irresponsible in that I need to clear some things up.

So many people tell me how strong I am.

I'm not. He is. He holds me up.

I'm told I am brave.
He tells me to be of good courage.

I'm told I'm inspirational.
I'm simply clinging to His promises.

I'm told I am amazing.
I am just a vessel.

People ask me (and I often ask myself) how I am able to do this.
I'm not. He does it for me. And through me.

People tell me I am encouraging.
I just want to bear the burdens of others, as SO MANY bear mine.

I pray every night for God not to waste my pain.
And He hasn't.

Because if people think all of those things about me, but KNOW that it is solely the grace of God that allows me to breathe from one minute to the next...

I'm humbled.

And grateful.

And blessed.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hard Day

Today was a hard day. I am so glad that it has been raining all day because we really needed it, and it totally matched my mood.

I am still unable to sleep. Just find myself tired, but can't sleep. Wide awake, actually. I am ravenous but can't stomach the thought of bringing any food to my mouth. I somehow get the gumption to eat and about a minute later, can't tolerate it. I have all the classic signs of morning sickness (though it is NOT restricted to the morning!!!!)--nausea, headache, metallic taste in my mouth, dry heave every time I brush my teeth, HOT then COLD, always feeling like I just need to ... spit. (So lady-like, huh?) Achy and lethargic but a burning desire to organize my silverware drawers.

I know everyone is thinking, "This is good!! Good sign! High HCG levels make that happen and are GOOD."

That's not necessarily true. My numbers with Matthew were higher than the numbers with M&M. And I was great! I bounced all over the place, had some food aversion, but really only to cheese and sugary stuff (my FAVORITE THINGS, that silly baby boy!!!). I did need to have most anything I drank be carbonated, but really---even with higher HCG levels, I was nothing like this! I was actually pretty worried for a bit with Matthew because I'd always read and heard that the higher HCG levels would make you sicker and that wasn't bad because higher levels are good. Of course I asked my RE about it and he said that was the case sometimes and sometimes it wasn't. It was obvious that with my numbers as high as they were, me not feeling sick was just the way I was. People with low levels of HCG can and do suffer 'morning' sickness.

And just goes to show that yes, EVERY pregnancy is different!

Which makes me happy. The things that are unique to Matthew are so limited...and as time moves forward, seem to become even more and more numbered. Miney &/or Moe will, God willing, have a lifetime to have things that are unique and theirs.

My Matthew only has what has already been his.

So I am glad that so far, this pregnancy is COMPLETELY different than Matthew's.

His can stay all his own.

He was such a good baby! He slept at night, and was up kicking me and wiggling around ALL day. He didn't make me sick, I had energy (mostly), I walked around feeling on top of the world (even when my back was killing me or my body was so swollen I had to LAY around feeling on top of the world!). His skin was perfect and soft...his cheeks were so full, especially for a little one who had lost so much blood. I dreamed and dreamed of kissing that foot that kicked me constantly...imagined changing his sweet little diaper in the middle of the night--me being tired, but heart melting when he looked up at me with a sweet little smile that only he would have.

He was such a good baby.

Today was just the first day of what I imagine will be many more days where I just completely and totally feel like I am betraying my son with this pregnancy.

I spent over 10 years wondering what it would be like to have a child, what it would feel like when I had another precious little life living inside of me. And then came Matthew! It was sort of weird, admittedly, to think that my body was the home of another living human being, but it was AMAZING!

And today, as I happily thought about the little life or lives living inside of me, I just burst into tears...and not happy ones.

It's Matthew's.

My body was for Matthew. It was his home. It was Matthew's.

I doubt that had Matthew lived, and we'd had more children, I wouldn't necessarily feel like allowing my body to be home for his brothers or sisters would be betraying him.

But because he's gone...and my body, for 99.9% of his sweet little life, was his...I just feel like such a traitor.

I am crying my eyes out as I type this. I've been crying for much of the afternoon.

Like I said, there's just so little that is his and ONLY his...and I feel like I'm just taking something that was special to just us and giving it away.

I knew this was going to be hard. I just didn't know how hard. And it's only started...

I miss my boy.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Another Day, Another Bloodtest....

So, first...I have to get this off my chest.

I am sorry.

If you are reading this and you have lost a child, I am sorry.

If you are reading this and you have lost a child, and are trying desperately to have another child, I am so, so sorry.

I now that what you are feeling is unique to you, but I promise you that I am somewhat familiar with hearing pregnancy announcements from everyone and their uncle (and I mean that--two words: PREGNANT MAN) since 1999. That's over TEN years. TEN years of cycling and charting and testing and proceduring and attempting (and failing) to adopt.
I know the desperation of wanting to be a mother.

I know the desperation of BEING a mother...only to a child you had to bury. Before you even got to hold him. And I know the desperation of being that mother--while trying to be a mother to another child...a child that you would give the world for the simple privilege of raising him or her. I know the desperation of literally begging God for His favor on this cycle, with this medicine. I know the deals you make with Him if He would just grant you another miracle.
I know how much it hurts when the deal isn't accepted.

I know how hard it is to put on the happy face with every new announcement (and there have been a lot of them, doesn't it seem?) and truly be happy for them--but so, so, so jealous at the same time. Desperate for that to be YOU. For you to be back in a club that isn't just FILLED with sorrow.

I'm so grateful that I have only had to know that unique desperation--infertility before AND/OR after a loss--for a few months since Matthew died...and not longer like so many.

And I am so, so sorry if you do. I know that sounds so surface--and I wish I had a way to convey just how truly heartfelt my sympathy is. I know I can't...words just don't do my feelings justice.

But I just want to say, that I am not sorry that I am pregnant, by any means, but if you are trying and are struggling....I am so, so, sorry that you are not.

I say this because I realize that reading about pregnancy stuff may not be easy, at least it often isn't easy for me. And while I haven't stopped reading any blogs because the writers were/are newly pregnant, there are often days that I just have to come back and share their joy a little later...after a few of my own tears.

I also say this because if you read this, and it turns out that you just can't stomach it, I get it. And I wish I was talented enough or had enough time to do what so many amazing mothers do and have separate blogs for their living children and their buried children, but I just can't. I started this blog mainly because we were going to adopt from Kyrgyzstan and I thought I'd just journal stuff. Along the way, I *met* and fell in love with so many different families and stories...I learned all sorts of stuff (like being able to upload your blog into a book for publishing!) and found some venting value in writing, even if only for myself. As Kyrgyzstan turned into the sad situation it still is, and IVF came into play, I kept writing to document for WHATEVER child would be our own. It turned out it was Matthew! And I wrote many posts so he'd know his mother...her heart, her love for God and her love for her precious little boy. Long after I was gone, I wanted him to always have something that was straight from my mouth and my mind.

When he died...he took such a big, big part of me with him. And I really didn't plan to write here any more because he was gone and so was my will to document ANYTHING....all I had to document was dark and hurting and frankly, I had enough on my plate as it was, without having to worry about what others thought of me if they really knew what was going through my mind.

But a good friend sent me a FB message and told me she prayed I still would...that this was our family's story...and it is sad and heartbreaking, but it is OURS...and one day, Matthew's brother or sister would treasure the brother they'd know because they'd know him through my words.

And so it went from Lori Does MD (in hindsight, I'd SO change the name...at the time, I was just thinking about how NOT fond of Maryland I was and how I was muddling through!) to Lori Does MD...And Waits For Matthew! to Lori Does MD...Our Family's Story.

And because it is first and foremost our family's story, it will be all about our family...our loved ones gone and our blessings to come.

So, if you find it hard to read or follow updates on Miney and Moe, I get it.

And I'm sorry. Truly, truly, I am sorry. To quote my RE, if I had a magic wand, I know SO many women with whom I'd use it...I just don't. Lacking the wand, know my prayers are solid and strong for you.


**********************************************

We had our second beta test this morning. My number today is 2971. A good, solid, strong number.

I am still feeling like it's one, still feeling she's a she.

Basically, these numbers monitor HCG (produced by the baby as it grows) and more specifically the rate, time and percentage of increase. A good indication of a nice, strong baby (or babies) growing can be made on these numbers, but not necessarily confirmed until an ultrasound (next Wednesday).

They'd like to see a doubling rate of every two days, or 48 hours (meaning that two days after the first number, the second number is double or higher).

My doubling rate was 1.59...meaning my levels are doubling a little faster (which is nice!), or every 38.3 hours.

Here's more info:
Assessment: The Two-Day hCG rise was 139 % and is considered adequate.
First hCG: 806 mIU/ml Second hCG: 2971 mIU/ml
hCG Difference:
2165 mIU/ml
Time Difference:
72 hours
Total hCG Increase:
2.69 % (3.7)
Daily Rate Increase:
54 % (1.54)
Two Day Rate Increase:
139 % (2.39)

1st Day hCG As If:
1241 mIU/ml
2 Days hCG As If:
1917 mIU/ml


I'm of the opinion that the rise is a little better than adequate, but I admit, I'm biased.

Here's another chart that gives an indication that my levels may be a bit higher/doubling a bit faster (mine's the little red line at toward the top).


A lot of people use beta numbers to make predictions of number of embryos implanted. It's not really as accurate, as the rate of rise is more important than the numbers themselves. For instance, though these numbers are high, they are not as high as Matthew's were on these days of the pregnancy. The clinic kept saying, "Two! Two!" and he was ONE perfect little bean. (Honestly, I just feel that my children are much like me--overachievers from the get-go...)

Which is why I'm not getting too worked up over a twin pregnancy.

The average hcg level for a single pregnancy 18dpo, which is what my first was, is 407 (mine was 806).
The average hcg level for a twin pregnancy 18dp0 is 801 (as I said, mine was 806).

The average hcg level for a single pregnancy 21dpo, which was today, is 1219 (mine was 2971).
The average hcg level for a twin pregnancy 21dpo is 2500 (again, mine was 2971).

The average doubling time for a single pregnancy is every 45.45 hours.
The average doubling time for a twin pregnancy is every 42.82 hours.

Again, my doubling time is every 38.3 hours.

So...I won't rule those of you saying twins out...but I'm still feeling one.

After what happened to Matthew, though, I don't trust a single, solitary thing I 'feel' and will just wait until the ultrasound to know for sure.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tinged With Sadness....

...that's what you'll find if you search long enough for a synonym of bittersweet.

A word that I use entirely too much, but don't really have anything else appropriate.

Tinged with sadness doesn't cut it, though...today has been drenched in sadness.

But also with so much thanksgiving.

A very, very sweet woman sent me something shortly after Matthew died. I've meant to write about it, and just cry every time I try. She had read in my blog that I was having a hard time listening to and singing to music--so many words seemed so significant and really, as significant as they were, they hurt and I couldn't listen to them or choke them out. However, certain lines from certain songs just kept running through my head...at THE * MOST * APPROPRIATE times...right when I needed to hear them. I heard them when I ventured to turn my radio on; I heard them as I went to sleep; I heard them in the middle of the night...I just couldn't get certain songs and words out of my head. This sweet woman reminded me that Matthew had loved music (oh, how he LOVED music!) and that she felt God was ministering to me through the words in those songs. She told me that God was talking to me, and that as I was in such a hurt place, His words were coming in the very way that had been so special to me with Matthew. She sent me MercyMe's Youtube video of their song, "Gotta Keep Singin'" and told me that I needed to keep listening and singing. For me and for Matthew.

Honestly--the day I got that message was the day I made sure my radio was always on...forced myself to sing in church even when I was crying, crying, crying through each line...found words that spoke to my soul and felt encouraged that they were from God Himself.

So today...this morning...going to church knowing that I have a sweet little brother or sister inside of me, I was just so thankful and grateful to God. And all the music mirrored that. We sang God of Wonders, This is the Air I Breathe, Forever (God is faithful) and It Is Well.

Every single one of those songs are on my iPod--songs I played in my car throughout my pregnancy and sang to Matthew all the time.

Oh, I was crying this morning...but singing. The words so spoke to me. From This Is The Air I Breathe--after Matthew died and I sang that, I broke down every time--crying because I WAS desperate for God...lost without God.

It Is Well...the version I have is a beautiful, beautiful a capella version and I just loved the purity in the voices as I listened and sang with Matthew. When he died, a special group of women put together the most amazing memory album...with the theme being, "It Is Well." I marveled at how those women could have NO IDEA how meaningful that song was to me...and yet, there it was...permeating this album...and admittedly, breaking my heart.

It was NOT well with my soul.
My son was dead.
My miracle was gone.
My heart was crushed.
It was NOT well with my soul.

But I desperately, desperately wanted it to be.

Today, 168 days after Matthew died, I was able to sing the words. All of them. Crying, but singing. And feeling that whatever is to come with this pregnancy will be well with my soul. God has been breathing for me for 168 days...He has sustained us and continues to do so. And though if I am really, really honest, it still isn't entirely well with my soul. I still want my son with me this very second.

I just have faith that one day, it will be.

On the way to Matthew's memorial, I cannot tell you how many songs played were songs that were on my Matthew playlist--songs that I played all the time and sang to Matthew throughout my pregnancy. God of Wonders, Thy Word, Forever, Awesome God...all songs Matthew heard his whole life. I sang and sang and sang. And then burst out crying.
John thought I was crying because we were on our way to his memorial but that wasn't it. I cried because I found it so amazing that all of these songs were playing and had been all morning. And I realized that these songs were playing because Matthew's brother or sister needed to hear them. I needed to sing these songs for Matthew's brother or sister. And I did. And will continue to do so.

Matthew's memorial was so precious. It was truly heartbreaking as the purpose was to memorialize babies...little ones that barely lived.

It was so evident, though, that in their little lives, those babies had touched so many people--and Matthew, though he was only at Georgetown for a few hours, was no exception. One of the two doctors who took care of Matthew that night was there! She remembered John, and embraced me like I was family. I thanked her for taking care of my sweet little boy and she told me she was honored to do so.

This woman came into John's and Matthew's life 168 days ago...in the very late hours of the night into the early hours of the morning. John and Matthew touched her heart. She remembered how long Matthew was. She remembered his big feet. She remembered how shocking his situation was and she remembered how long and hard we'd tried to bring a child into our lives. She told us she hoped we would be able to have more children and we told her we were expecting. She, and all the other staff who were there, truly couldn't have been happier for us.

She started asking all kinds of questions--"Where will we deliver?" "Why would we do a scheduled c-section prior to 39 weeks?" "Do we have appropriate monitoring in place?"

A true doctor at heart! There was no, no, NO reason for us to consider any hospital but St. Mary's. Labor and Delivery there have the best reputation for miles around, and I can now personally attest to the fact that it is a well-earned and deserved reputation. The need for a NICU was the farthest thing from our mind--he was healthy, happy and I was OVERDUE! Of course we could never know if a NICU would have made a difference, but several doctors, and now Dr. Ramesethu have suggested that we take no chances.
We are so torn.

Dr. Sweeney said between 37-38 weeks because he doesn't want me to get anywhere near to my water breaking. Personally, if the baby is healthy and ready at 37-38 weeks, I'd rather her be out sooner too. Dr. Ramesethu said that may bring problems we don't need necessarily have to have. Again, torn....but trust that Drs. Sweeney and Shonekan and Polko and Davis will do NOTHING that would not be safe...so we'll leave that to their decision making.

Do we have proper monitoring in place? YOU BET. I told Dr. Shonekan that I actually thought I would be able to relax a bit with this pregnancy because I knew I'd have so many OTHERS worrying for me! We go in for our 6 week ultrasound a week from tomorrow, and two weeks later we go in for another one and graduate from Shady Grove. Two weeks after that, we'll see our OBs and two weeks after that, Dr. Sweeney (unless I can talk him into letting us come sooner!)...from that point on, I'm thinking frequent visits will be in order. Proper monitoring is DEFINITELY on the agenda.

I plan to write a letter tomorrow to let Georgetown know just how priceless that service was. And I KNOW that my Matthew was there with me...at the front of the chapel, there were several little stuffed animals. A little bunny, frog, elephant, duckie, lamb, bear...and a BIG stuffed Monkey. Talk about twinged with sadness.

It has been a long day...as evidenced by this long post. And really, I didn't even scratch the surface of the things going on in my head today...because all of this went on as I carried around another precious miracle.

How is one to make sense of all of this?

One isn't. More and more presents itself simply as surpassing all earthly understanding.

Thank you, Lord...for the blessings of today and the grace You gave.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Joy Will Not Be Stolen...

I said it then and I'm saying it now:

I will not allow my joy to be stolen.

No matter what happens with this pregnancy, whether I get to bring home a child to hold and raise, I will soak up every wonderful and miraculous thing I can while I am able to. Lord willing, that's a lifetime.

I will not allow fear to prevent me from thanking God every second for this blessing, and for rejoicing in it.

I will not allow my finite mind to conjure up things that will keep me panicked for the next 34 weeks. Goodness knows that there's enough to rock my world that I never dreamed could happen...I do not need to add to that list.

I will not allow my worries about what people will think to stop me from indulging in lavishing all the love I can on the sweet little life I have been given.

Which means that no matter how it may seem or how big the smile on my face is, the Matthew-shaped hole in my heart will forever remind me that it is a bittersweet joy I am experiencing. I've come to the conclusion that many, many mothers who have had children die feel that if they are not in a state of perpetual mourning, their love for their child may be questioned, or that the world will forget their child.

And I TOTALLY get that. I've had those same thoughts in my own mind. As I've said many, many times before...to be able to smile when you have a precious baby buried simply doesn't seem right. It's like saying black and white are the same. It just doesn't seem appropriate.

But another conclusion I've come to is that I don't care. I know that I will never forget my son. I know that he will always and forever be priceless and precious to me. I know that a vital piece of my heart is in Heaven waiting for me to get there.

And while the rest of the world forgetting about how very, very loved and missed Matthew is would hurt...deeply...his place in our lives and our family will never be forgotten by US and that's most important to me.

Knowing that, and finding assurance in that, I refuse to let the heartache I have in missing my precious baby steal one second of the joy I have for Matthew's brother or sister.

Grief has won and will undoubtedly continue to win some of the battles, but I will win the war.

I have some really big guns on my side.

So, today I bought an outfit. It's for a little girl, because that's what I think we are having. Her due date is January 16, but we will not deliver any later than 38 weeks, scheduled c-section. It's even been discussed that we'd look at between 37-38 weeks. That means that she will be born sometime, God willing, between December 26 and January 2. We know what we will name her, but will wait until we officially find out that she's a she to begin calling her that. That won't be until around the end of August.

If I felt any better, I 'd take a picture of the outfit. Honestly, though, I've been up since about 4:30--wide awake. I've been like that for a couple of days now--and I thought it was the anxiety of the test. Apparently, the really yucky nausea and sleeplessness and flu-like feelings were not the test (or the flu). Very, very, very different than how I was with Matthew.

In any event, maybe a picture for another day.

It was very hard buying that outfit. I instinctively went to the baby boy things. It broke my heart...so, so many little outfits I own and imagined my little Monkey in.

It broke my heart because everything I saw (except the Panda outfit, though that had rainbows all over it, so even THAT was significant) reminded me of someone...little cherries, little ladybugs, little birdies, little giraffes, little lambs, little bears, little dragonflies and fireflies....and the BUTTERFLIES!!! Oh...the butterflies I've been seeing and saw in some of the little outfits today. I was so very sad for every mommy I thought of.

And sad for me...because for every smile I got from one of the sweet little girl outfits, I winced a little more each time I saw a monkey...or a blanket, toy, lamp, bib, or host of other things we have upstairs in Matthew's room.

This is going to be hard.

But my joy will not be stolen.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Miney, Moe or both?

To GOD be the glory!!!!

I have been feeling really, really blech all week. The words food aversion don't even come close to matching the way my stomach has felt. Just the term "toss your cookies" makes me want to toss my cookies.

Probably because I am pregnant.

With a beta of 806.

Matthew's was 180.

The next beta is Monday.

And all I have to say is that there truly is a joy in my heart that surpasses all earthly understanding. To be able to say that I am thrilled and unbelievably happy while I know that my sweet little Matthew's room is empty during what would have been his naptime just doesn't seem logical, appropriate or right.

And yet, for the little life or lives that I have been given the privilege of mothering and hopefully raising, I have nothing, nothing, nothing but joy.

That, friends, is truly, only and solely the miracle given by the Hand of God.




Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hormones

Well, I think it should go without saying that having something life-changing and utterly devastating happen to you when you are so pumped full of emotion-affecting hormones is about 18 million and seven times more difficult with which to deal.

Apparently, that's not the case. People feel the need all the time to tell me where I should be and how I should be feeling. Thank you. Feel free to write a book; I'm a big reader and maybe I'll give you a little more credibility when you can tell me you know just what this is like because you've lived this life too.

So I was glad yesterday when in counseling, my therapist confirmed that this is NOT a 'normal' (if there is one) grieving process for a dead child. I'm chock-full of hormones that drive women to desperate, desperate things during periods of post-partum depression, or the death of their child. Don't believe me? Check this post of Kristin's out. You'll need tissues as you feel for those poor, poor women. At least I did.

Anyway, I'm glad she finally honed in on this for John. Not because I think John doesn't get it, though in honesty, I don't see how any man can *really* understand what effect hormones have on one's body--heck, even I didn't get it until I became pregnant. Seriously. I have never been one of those women who had, um...well, moody times due to hormonal goings-on in my body. John will testify to that. Even pregnant, hormones were raging, and John often said he was so glad that I wasn't what he was expecting--crazy woman. (Yes, friends, he REALLY does say these things.) I was just incredibly weepy. Really, really weepy. But purely HAPPY crying...always, always, always shedding tears of joy. Even when I was miserably uncomfortable, I was just so happy to be where I was in my life.

But...my point--my point is that while many, many people are watching me and monitoring me to see how I'm dealing with all of this, (and I know this is all completely and totally done out of love and concern)--I do not think that the gravity of this whole grieving picture is being fully measured.

I started back on hormones/fertility drugs at the end of January. Less than two months after Matthew died. So...remembering that the hormones a woman's body produces to maintain pregnancy don't often leave completely for 2-4 months after the baby has been delivered, and then factoring in the artificial hormones I have been pumping through my body in MASSIVE quantities and well, I am just going to go ahead and give myself a big pat on the back for putting my feet on the floor every morning. Seriously.

Grieving the death one's child is in and of itself something that is simply unimaginable if you've never walked in the shoes. Trust me, you *THINK* you can imagine it--I looked at the pictures on the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep site a week before Matthew was born and just cried and cried, *imagining* how those women felt...but I promise--WHATEVER it is that you imagine, when it is your life and it is real, it is a billion times worse.

Top it off with simultaneously pushing yourself through the arduous process that is IVF, and honestly, I'm surprised I have not just tucked myself in my bed for the last 165 days and been done with it all.

So when my therapist FINALLY realized that I have been, in light of the fact that I have TWO very difficult, very different, yet very much related situations (exacerbated by hormones on top of hormones) that are my day-to-day reality, doing an AWFULLY GOOD JOB of coping with all of this...I felt very vindicated. She then went on to tell me that unfortunately, as I probably have not been able to effectively deal with some of the things that go with missing Matthew because of the drugs and emotions of the IVF process, I'm still going to have to. At some point. And this 'process' (hate that word) will be longer.

Well.

I know that.

That's not news to me.

Just wish more people knew that too.

Tomorrow is our blood test. I am not feeling very optimistic. I want to--I am hopeful. I haven't taken a home pregnancy test because I WANT to MAINTAIN hope.

I'm really having a hard time believing that I'll get a phone call telling me we're pregnant again. I hope I am wrong.

And on Sunday, we go to Georgetown for a memorial service to remember all the babies who died in the last year.

SO:

>>>>Dead baby son. Still. Always.
>>>>Negative pregnancy test. Again.
>>>>Memorial service for dead baby son and other dead babies.
>>>>Hormones like you read about.
>>>>John goes out of town on Monday.

Sounds like the perfect storm to me.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day 2010

Wow.

I have been blogging since February of 2008 and I have not written a post on Mother's Day yet. Probably because Mother's Day hurts. It reminds me of my own mom not being here...as she died 7 years ago in April and I can't even remember if I spent her last Mother's Day on earth with her. I'd imagine I did, as she had just been diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer and I drove 12 hours round trip many weekends during the year she lived after her diagnosis...in fact, as I recall, John and I drove down and redid her bedroom for her--painted it a light lavender (still have that color on our paint tarp) and tried to make it comfortable for her.

For 10 years, it reminded me that I was STILL not a mother. In 2008, I was of the full faith and belief that I WOULD be a mother in 2009---to a sweet little girl named Emma, and who would be born in Krygyzstan. Though I believed it, I still didn't claim Mother's Day as it wasn't mine yet.

Last year, I OWNED Mother's Day! It was FINALLY, FINALLY mine!!!!!!! When the mothers were recognized in church, guess who stood up with her baby belly? YEP! ME! And cried, and cried, and cried some more with a thankful heart for the miracle of the baby growing inside of me. I can't believe that I didn't write about it, though I wrote a little bit in Matthew's journal. I think even then, maybe a teeny part of me was still holding her breath....waiting for THIS year when I actually had a sweet little one cooing up at me.

If I didn't know better, I'd say that maybe, some little piece of me still wasn't sure it was real.

And then today...what to write about for today? Actually, I already wrote something for today but I am not going to post it.

It is sad. It is full of the cemetery and longings and should-have-beens and a broken heart.

And though that's how today has been for me, I absolutely, positively will not let it end this way. We went out to Mom's this weekend for Mother's Day (another reason I will not post what I wrote earlier because I titled it, "What use do I have for Mother's Day?" and I am thankful, thankful, THANKFUL for the precious mother I have in John's mom. If for only her, I have a TON of use for Mother's Day.) and I was resigned to the fact that I was probably going to miss Katy and Kristie's radio show. I had seen my RSVP thing on Facebook and it said 4pm. We were en route (with HORRIBLE traffic, to boot!) at that time. I figured out how to stream the show on my phone (totally thinking when I heard Kristie say at 4:16, "Well, we are almost up for time," that some how I'd gotten the times REALLY wrong and then realized I was listening to the archived 1st test show--where I heard Andrea and Belle!) but couldn't figure out how to get the 'live' show and gave up. Imagine how HAPPY I was when I remembered, "CENTRAL TIME!" and we got home in time to give me 45 minutes with the show! (Oh, how I love Central Time--soooooo miss Central Time!)

Today's topic was Facing Firsts...and honestly, I don't think that this being the first or eighth or 34th Mother's Day without Matthew would make any difference to me....they are all days without my mother or my only child. Hence, not great.

But the support!!! The support!!!! The chat room that goes on while the show is heard is amazing! And eye-opening.

All day, I have been getting emails and texts and Facebook messages (in addition to cards and flowers galore) telling me how much I am loved and being thought of and reminding me that I am a mother. Not to mention that I have been smothered with love this week...and I use smothered so, so affectionately.

And I have to be honest when I say that each time I read something that said, "Lori, you ARE a mother," I had to sort of giggle--like I would forget that!! In fact, I sort of wondered why so many people would make such a big point to tell me such. OF COURSE I am a mother.
I know that! Why would people be so adamant in their messages to me? Honestly, I found it sort of...well, definitely endearing, but a little odd.

Being in the chat room for the radio show turned the light bulb on. People want me to know that because the world seems to forget that if you don't have a child to show for it, you must not be a mother.

Further, if you didn't have a full-term pregnancy, you must not be a mother.

More, if you didn't even make it out of the first trimester, you CERTAINLY can't be a mother. Heck....it was probably only tissue or had something wrong that you wouldn't have wanted to continue growing anyway. (SERIOUSLY...people offer that as COMFORT. If you ever have, DON'T again. If you know someone who has, DON'T ever let them again.)

At least the rest of the world feels that.

MY world doesn't.

MY world loves me. MY world sends me encouragement in spades. MY world gives me Mother's Day gifts and cards and love. MY world cries with me and for me. MY world prays for me and tells me so. MY world surrounds me like a cocoon and fiercely protects me from anyone in the rest of the world who dares hurt my feelings or not give honor to me or to Matthew. MY world includes a husband who'd do just about anything he could to make this easier for me. MY world has a church that has shown more compassion to our family than I ever expected a church would. MY world is full of doctors and nurses and who treat us like family. MY world has support systems that others only dream about. MY world, though shaken to the core, is still a safe place for me because of the people in it.

MY world is, for the most part, amazing.

And I am so, so, so sad that there are women all over this country, and world, really, who have broken hearts and don't have the slightest idea of what it's like to live in MY world.

I cannot imagine what my days would be like without the support and the compassion and care I have. And yet, so many women don't have to imagine....they live it.

They are forgotten by their own husbands or mothers or best friends.

Their children are not even remembered, which I can say is nearly as bad as actually losing one's child.

They are beautiful women with wounded hearts and they suffer so often alone.

Save for those of us who sadly and all too intimately know....

So, I have not been able to post Happy Mother's Day to anyone here or on Facebook for several reasons. Mainly because I know so, so many women whose babies are in Heaven and it might take me all day to get to each of them, but also because I've sort of wanted to just forget that Mother's Day even existed.

Of course, the people in MY world would let that happen. I am much loved.

Yet so, so many other women would consider it a luxury to simply hear their little one's name spoken or to be given a hug and told, "I know this must be a hard day for you."

Friends, make no doubt that today has been a very, very difficult day for me. Probably one of the hardest in a long time. (I always seem to say that, don't I?)

But...my cup runneth over. I am grateful, from the bottom of my heart, to each and every person that loves me and supports me...whether over the computer or in real life.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you....

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mother's Day Memorial

Well, I think that the timing of needing to create a memorial for Matthew for my Pregnancy Loss Study (AMAZING, BY THE WAY!) and Mother's Day is sort of ironic.

Here's the memorial I made. I haven't done very much to honor Matthew, as I really just miss him and ache for him all the time. BUT, I felt that I could show how much he was loved; show how much he was wanted; show how very grateful for his life I am.

So, here it is. It came from snippets of the pregnancy journal I kept with him. I haven't looked at that journal since November 27. It's the same song that we used for the slideshow John put together for the funeral.

This has, as I said, been a hard week.




Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lots going on...

I feel like SO much is going on right now. In reality, it is.

But I also feel like there's nothing about which I want to write.

In reality, there is.

I just haven't really been able to bring myself to do it.

On Sunday, I had a near panic-attack. Truly. A breakdown. I had to make a decision that I have been seriously worrying about for a long while. And I had, simply HAD to decide that day. No more "Maybe," or "I hope to,"....had to decide, knowing and feeling like I was just in a NO-WIN (what's new?) situation.

If I just had a little more time...I feel stronger today than I did a week or two ago...which is stronger than I was two months ago.

Every now and then, I look in the mirror, and see a little, teeny piece of me.

It's only for a second...because then it IMMEDIATELY jolts me into the reality that the teeny piece of me I see I also see in Matthew...in his chin...or my eyes...in thinking about how he shared my love for music, or that the little smile I am able to muster is NOTHING like what I used to be able to beam thinking of all that was to come when my sweet boy was born.

If only I had a little more time to feel stronger and more up to it.

But I didn't.

So, I decided I was not going to go back to work. I have been planning to go back in mid-May...thinking that we'd have this IVF cycle out of the way and I could finish the year and give my sweethearts something other than, "Yeah, I had this teacher in 2nd grade and she had a baby who died and I never saw her again." I wanted to be able to do SOMETHING I chose...I controlled. I wanted to help take some burden off of John in being responsible for everything. I wanted to feel SOMETHING normal.

And Sunday, I realized that I had to chuck all those 'wants' into a very big bucket of unfilled wants I tend to every day...because the truth is that for me, there really isn't anything normal anymore.

This is all uncharted territory, and as much as John can say stuff like, "Honey, take your emotions out of it...think of it as just a job." I just can't do that.

Teaching has not ever been, nor will it ever be, just a job.

It's little lives, who expect you to be the same Mrs.Ennis who calls them "Honey" and "Sugar" and who bounces all over the building smiling and waving and making silly faces at every kid she sees. Little lives who feel like the world revolves around them because I TELL them that to me, it does! Little lives who have no idea that my life has changed forever and I just try and make it through each day the best way I can.

It's walking back into a world that WAS normal...and is now SO. VERY. NOT.

The thought sort of reminds me of opening up a coffin.

I know that if I went back, being the type of person I am, I would absolutely give them 100% and more...that's how I have always been--even when I certainly didn't feel happy with circumstances, kids NEVER should suffer for what's going on in the lives of 'their' adults. I have no doubt that they probably, after the initial novelty wore off, would not even know much of a difference between the Mrs. Ennis that left in October and the one who came back to them next week. I'd work my bottom off to make sure of that.

But at what cost? It takes so much for me to put on my game face every day. I'm getting better at it, but it still takes a lot.

If I gave my all to those kids, and I would, what would I have left for John?

For Matthew?

For more children?

For me?

And so, after literally torturing myself with what-to-do, John and I decided that it just was too early.

I have not even really been able to do what I've needed to do in grieving for and missing Matthew in the last few months because of the medicines I've been taking and the 'optimism' I've been forced to muster so that I don't have the guilt of sabotaging any of our IVF efforts.

It's just too early.

Couple these torturous feelings with the fact that Mother's Day is coming up and honestly, I've been a basket-case inside. Granted, I feel a lot lighter having made a decision that I really feel is the best decision for ALL involved. But it still breaks my heart in missing out on those kids.

I really wish that I could go to sleep on Saturday night and wake up on Monday morning.

Yes, I'd rather skip Mother's Day.


I celebrated one of the happiest days of my life last year when I had a sweet little Baby M tucked safely inside on Mother's Day. I got cards, flowers, lots of sweet little belly rubs...and I just couldn't WAIT until THIS Mother's Day, knowing that I'd FINALLY have a precious, precious little one after so, so many years.

I know everyone grieves differently, and honestly, I have ALREADY been so overwhelmed with so many people pouring out love and compassion for me this Mother's Day...letting me know they do not forget Matthew or me and that this is a special day simply for the joy of Matthew's little life.

But this is one of those days, things, times, situations...whatever you want to call it...I just want to be not happening.

At our support group last night, a great analogy of grieving was given. Imagine a little boy riding his bike, fast and furiously. He falls, tumbles and scrapes the heck out of his knee. Big time. He goes running to mom and dad and they plop him up on the sink, getting ready to clean it out. He's just sitting there, sort of numb and wondering how he messed up that bike ride. Then mom and dad get out the neosporin and bandaids, but first get the washcloth ready so they can clean the wound. The little boy SCREAMS! Why? He knows that as soon as that washcloth hits that big, gaping and gory wound, it is going to H*U*R*T! Of course the parents have to wash it out; if they don't, it will get infected. So, as painful as it is for him, they do clean and treat it and bandage it up, it heals.

It's a heckuva wound, though, so it takes a while. And eventually, it scars up and that little boy, even as an adult, every now and then will run his hands over the scar and remember, "Man...THAT was painful."

I'm looking at Mother's Day as the BIGGEST WASHCLOTH EVER. Headed for the BIGGEST WOUND EVER.

And I'm screaming. Like mad. Just on the inside.

I know it has to be done. I just don't want to do it.

I DID think of something I could do on Mother's Day, though.

It makes me cry just to type it. (Cry more, rather.)

I am going to go to Cheesecake Factory and have a piece of their Blackout Chocolate cake. I may have to choke it down, since I'm back to normal with NOT liking chocolate, but...

That was Matthew's absolute favorite, and since he's the reason I'm a mother, I feel it only fitting.