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Beautiful Life

Two years ago Charles and I were talking about how excited we were for tomorrow as our daughter danced in my womb. We were so incredibly and blissfully happy. Everything was ready to go for the morning. We knew it would come fast but we just couldn’t fall asleep! We were too excited.

Tonight, two years later, I hold my son. He’s sleeping soundly and I’m tracing his beautiful face with my finger. He is an incredible little person. He has such an infectious smile and a laugh that instantly makes your day a thousand times better. I hold him a little closer.

Sophia. My lovely daughter, I had no idea that today two years ago would be your last full day of living on Earth. I’ll never understand why you had to go so quickly. You were here for 39 beautiful weeks. 39 weeks that we spent every moment together. 39 weeks of growth, physically and emotionally. 39 weeks of joy and happiness. You have gone to Heaven, my beautiful baby, but your story does not end there.

Yes, I cry when I talk about you; the tears I cry are for your death. Your life was painfully short. We had to prepare to say goodbye before we even held you in our arms. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about that day our entire world came crashing down… you’re terribly missed.

I promise I’ll always share your beautiful life, Sophia. The 39 amazing weeks here on Earth and now from Heaven how you’re still able to spread love and light to others through us. I am so incredibly happy and thankful for your life because you have brought so much love into this world. I am forever grateful you’re my daughter. I’ll love you forever!

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At the End of the Day

I never thought I would smile again. When I say that I mean I never thought I would genuinely smile again. I never thought I could be happy again. I thought I would always feel like I was dying inside; like I couldn’t breathe. There are times I still do. It all rushes over me at once and I cannot help but go back to that morning in the hospital. The day my daughter died.

It’s always there, the wondering what she would be doing, what she would look like. I constantly am thinking about her, my Sophia. It’s complex. I think about my daughter and I smile but I also cry. I smile because she is my daughter. I am so glad she’s mine. She is a wonderful person; I know this because I’ve known her from the beginning of her life. She made me a mother, how could I not be eternally grateful for that? I will suffer this pain because it means that I am your mother.

I cry because she died. I cry because she left this Earth way too soon. I never got to see her eyes or see her move outside my womb. I never heard her cry or laugh. I miss out on her achievements every single day. I cry because my son should have his older sister here to play with. I miss her terribly.

I look at my son and I have such a deep love for him and everything he does. I am so thankful he is my son, eternally grateful that I am his mom. He brought joy back into my life; something I never thought I would have again. He has me smiling so much every single day my muscles hurt! I cry tears of joy looking at him, holding him and kissing him.

At the end of the day, I simply thank God that He chose me to be my children’s mother.

Purple Carseat

What a beautiful little girl you have!” a lady exclaims looking at my son, Oliver, in his carseat.

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His carseat handed down to him from his sister. Her carseat that she never got to use… It is purple and has flower-like designs on it. I remember how excited I was that the system we wanted was purple! Sophia’s color. It was perfect for her. 

I understand people’s thought process: girly carseat must mean a girl, right? In our case, no. We get these comments a lot. Could we have gotten a different carseat? Yes. Did we want to? No. To us, using her carseat is a way of honoring and remembering Sophia.

It’s hard sometimes thinking about it. Thinking about how we drove that carseat home, empty, on July 1st, 2016. Then, leaving the hospital with our second child in it on July 30th, 2017. I remember both drives home; both very different and yet they had two things in common. They were both very emotional rides home and the carseat. 

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I reply, “Thank you. His name is Oliver.” (Subtly and kindly correcting her.) She smiles and we both carry on with our business. Seeing Oliver in their carseat brings so many emotions. One thing is certain: I am so happy he’s here with us and using it as his sister never got to and that crushes me.

(Do)n’t Grow Up

Don’t grow up. A saying I have heard my entire life. A saying that makes me cringe now when I hear it. A saying that makes me tear up. A saying that makes me think about Sophia instantly and how I’ll never see her grow up… I want nothing more than to see her grow up. 

Every day I have with Oliver is not taken for granted. As much as I love him being tiny and small, I love watching him grow up. Watching him grow up so fast is hard, but it’s way harder not watching Sophia grow up. We’ve said throughout our entire pregnancy with him, “Keep growing big and strong!” We still say that to him every single day. I love watching him grow and learn new things. Things I’ll never see Sophia do. 

So, Oliver, I do want you to grow up. I want you to learn new things. I want to watch you walk, hear you talk, see you go to school! 

Keep growing big and strong, little one. I love you.

So I’ll Hold You 

I stare at you while you’re sleeping and take in every tiny detail. I look at you and I see features of your sister. I wonder what she would look like at a month old; what she would look like now… Tears stream down my cheeks. Tears of relief, sorrow, happiness, anxiety, thankfulness, longing… Tears of love. The tears I cry, I cry for both of you. I cry for you in different ways and I cry for you at the same time.

I hold you all of the time. I love holding you and hearing you breathe. I love the way your chest rises and falls with each breath. I love the way you look at me. I love the way you seem to perfectly lay on my chest. I love the little noises you make. I soak up every moment I can with you. I always will. I love you so much, Oliver. 

I got such little time with your sister in my arms. I didn’t get to watch her move, I never heard her cry or take a breath. I never seen her eyes… She fit perfectly in my arms and on my chest, just like you do. You are both so beautiful. You are both mine. I love you both so much and I am so glad that I am your mother.

So I’ll hold you and take in everything about you, little one.

Delivering our Rainbow

Charles and I went to bed around 1:30AM on July 27th. I was 37 weeks and 3 days pregnant. We fell asleep fairly quickly as we were both exhausted. I suddenly awoke and I felt the familiar feeling of my water breaking. I reached over and shook Charles’ shoulder, “Honey, wake up. My water just broke.” He stirred a bit and said, “What?” I repeated myself and he questioned if I was sure. I told him to turn on the lights and lay towels down on the bed and the floor. I knew as soon as I stood up it was going to go everywhere. Sure enough, it did. Charles’ face was priceless. He said something about how the movies don’t exaggerate what that looks like. It was 4:30AM.

We had all of Oliver’s bags packed and ready to go but we didn’t have ours ready so we ran around grabbing things to head to the hospital. I was shocked, anxious and honestly had a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that my water had just broke on its own and we were going to the hospital. The drive felt like it took forever. I just prayed and tried concentrating on if I could feel him moving or not. 

We finally arrived at the hospital (after what felt like forever) and got roomed. I was having very minor contractions fairly far apart. They checked and I was 2cm dilated and 25% effaced. Since my water broke and I wasn’t really that far dilated and not having consistent contractions we started pitocin at 7:32AM to get labor going. I started having strong and consistent contractions but I wasn’t progressing much. I very slowly dilated to 4cm. During this time Oliver was having a variable heart rate. His heart rate was dropping with contractions. We had a hard time monitoring my contractions and his heart rate so we placed two internal devices to measure those things. When they placed the one to measure contractions, Oliver’s heart rate plummeted into the 70s. Normal is 120-160 and Oliver was in the 150s. A whole wave of people came running into our room. I suddenly had oxygen on my face and was being turned into all different positions trying to get his heart rate back up. I was so scared. I thought Oliver was going to die. I cried and prayed and finally they removed the device and his heart rate slowly came up a little bit. It was still low but a lot better than it was. Just thinking about it now I cry and cry. I just wanted him here. 

The doctors felt confident continuing the induction as long as we were monitoring his heart rate and contractions. This scared Charles and I very much. I was seriously considering an elective c-section because I just wanted him here. We were terrified as we continued. After several more hours I still was only dilated to a four. The contractions were strong and consistent but at this point I was getting exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. So I thought maybe if I get an epidural I could relax and my body would be able to progress labor more. I got the epidural and Charles and I got some rest. We had an amazing nurse; she took such great care of us. We were coming up on 24 hours after starting the pitocin. If I wasn’t going to progress anymore they wanted to do a c-section. They questioned if Oliver was so big that that is why I wasn’t progressing. I told them I thought he was going to be smaller than his sister. We didn’t know why it wasn’t progressing… It just wasn’t. 

At around 6AM on July 28th we were told we would be headed to the OR in an hour for a c-section as I had only progressed to 5cm dilated at this point. We were just so ready to hold our son, especially with all of the scares with his heart rate, that we very quickly accepted that was what had to happen. We just wanted him here safe and sound. Just before 7AM our nurse asked the doctor to check me one more time for dilation. Her face was total shock as she announced: “You’re complete. Let’s have you do some practice pushes with the nurse.” I went from 5cm to being completely dilated in less than an hour! We were so excited, this is the moment we have been waiting for. Oliver was still very high in my pelvis so they weren’t expecting him to come for awhile. I pushed three times during one contraction and our nurse was blown away, Oliver was coming down… and quick! The doctor came in to check and the nurse tells her “We’re going to impress you.” I did one more push and they told me to stop, he was coming right now! A whole slew of people rushed into our room. The nurse told me not to push as they had to get the room prepped quick. The next contraction started and I could feel him moving farther down. I called to the nurse and doctors, “He’s coming out! I’m not even pushing!” The doctor (literally within seconds) just got her gloves on and was able to grab his head which was already out and grabbed his body as he came flying into the world. She laid him on my chest and I cried and cried. Here is my child. My baby. I exclaimed how tiny he was as they whisked him away to the other side of the room to do some tests. Charles followed him. When they laid him on me he was moving but not crying… I thought maybe he needed suctioning or something before I would hear that scream but all he let out was a little squeak while they were doing his exam. As long as he was okay I didn’t care. I was just so thankful. So thankful he is here; so thankful he is alive. 

Oliver was born at 7:32AM, exactly 24 hours after we started pitocin, weighing 6lbs, 12oz and being 19 3/4 inches long. He is so incredibly handsome and we are elated he is here in our arms.

My (partial) “Guide” on my PAL Journey

Every family is different; everyone’s story, how they react to certain situations, etc is all different. I am going to tell some things that help me in my journey of pregnancy after loss. Only some for now as what I do is lengthy and changes all of the time depending on the day.

While they might be helpful to some, they might not be to others. That’s okay because we’re all on our own journey. 

1. Take each day as it comes. Even then, sometimes I need to take it hour by hour. Pregnancy after loss is stressful, terrifying, amazing, hopeful… Complex. I experience a lot of different emotions daily, hourly, minute to minute. It is hard. Try and breathe and try to relax. I’m not that great at trying to stay calm, myself. I’m so lucky to have an amazing health care team and husband who are always there. Which leads me to number two.

2. Get yourself an OB team who cares about you and your baby as much as you do. A team that is willing to put up with you calling and asking “stupid” questions whenever. A team that knows you and your history and who is compassionate about your family. I have heard so many horror stories of families not having a team that listened to their fears or worries and I couldn’t imagine being in that position. Our fear is real. It is terrifying. We deserve someone to take care of us that cares and validates our concerns while offering reassurance. 

3. Have that one person who you can pour everything to. For me, it’s my husband. I know not everyone is married or in a relationship and that’s okay because like I said earlier, everyone is on an individual journey. Have that person you can talk to, cry to, talk things through with. I have also met some amazing fellow loss moms/PAL moms online. I talk to them all of the time about anything and everything; because they listen and they understand.

4. Positive affirmations. Try and remind yourself: different pregnancy, different baby. Our children are their own unique individuals. It’s easy for me to distinguish their uniqueness from each other as people but where I struggle is different pregnancy… Because in my mind what happened to Sophia never should have happened in the first place. So how can I think any different when they only outcome I know from pregnancy and going to the hospital to have my baby is leaving with an empty carseat? I try and remind myself and those are the moments when I can breathe for just a moment… I will take my son home to raise him. 

5. Prepare for your child. Whatever that means to you. For me it is buying and washing his clothes, picking out his baby book, etc. It took me a long time to come to terms with changing the nursery. All of Sophia’s belongings were exactly as they were. My husband and I have slowly been working on it. It’s hard; exhausting really. We are so happy and excited for Oliver but we were for Sophia too and putting her things away is like a slap in the face. We were so ready for her… and now we are so ready for Oliver. We’re so close to bringing him home! (Positive affirmation)

These are just a few of the things I do that help me in my PAL journey. What are some things that help you? Leave a comment and let me know.