Yesterday morning I woke up and did my usual routine: go downstairs, use the restroom, check my blood sugar, drink a half bottle of cold water and then go lay back down in bed to do kick counts with Oliver. I laid back down on my left side and waited… and waited… I woke Charles up and he went and got me some more cold water. I drank that; still no movement. Charles made me a piece of peanut butter toast and at this point I was starting to panic. We decided to just head to the hospital. I ate the toast as we scrambled to get dressed and run out the door.
That car ride was terrifying. I prayed and worried the whole way. I never experienced that sheer panic of not feeling my child move because with Sophia it all happened so quickly I didn’t have the time to realize… I tried to stay calm, telling my little Oliver to give me a kick, anything! He finally did two little elbows on the way there. They were tiny and not normal for Oliver.
We got to labor and delivery and they got us roomed immediately. We decided to go to Austin because it was close instead of going to our usual Rochester. Having the nurse pull out those monitors gave me horrible flashbacks to the day, just under a year ago, that the nurse couldn’t find Sophia’s heartbeat upon arrival for our scheduled induction. The nurse placed the monitor on my tummy looking for Oliver’s heart beat. There was silence; I held my breath.
Please, be alive.
She moved the monitor around and suddenly, like the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard, his heart beat blared across the monitor. I cried and cried. He’s alive. We stayed and were monitored with what is called a non-stress test. They monitored for I don’t even know how long because my eyes were just glued to his heart rate. He had a reactive test and we were sent home to rest where he moved around like nothing happened. I love you so much, Oliver.
It is so hard to be so scared but to be so hopeful at the same time. I am terrified we will leave the hospital with an empty car seat for the second time and yet I have hope we will bring Oliver home to raise him this time.
Charles and I went out to the cemetery to plant flowers in Sophia’s flower pot. We got done and Charles went to get a bucket of water for her newly planted flowers. I laid down next to Sophia on my left side and placed my hand over her tiny grave; my fingers intertwined in the grass. It all hit me and I couldn’t stop crying. This is as close as I’m ever going to be to her on Earth… touching some grass above her. I only got to hold her in my arms for two days. I gave her her last kiss before we “tucked” her in to her casket. I miss her so much. All of the hopes and dreams I had for her are now memories in my mind of events that will never take place. It’s messed up. I laid next to her and cried as Charles laid next to me and held me. The wind blew around us, the shine shining on her freshly planted flowers. In the middle of the cemetery I, a mother, cried for my first child on Mother’s Day.
She made me a mother when her life started in October of 2015. She was long awaited for and was our “miracle baby”. We had an appointment with fertility specialty the following month… cancelling that appointment was surreal! She is our firstborn, our daughter. For as long as we love her we will grieve her. A parent’s love is forever.
I’m 30+1 with Sophia on the left and 25+0 with Oliver on the right. The angle on the photos is different but if you look at the placement of my left hand in both photos you can see I’m literally holding under my belly with Sophia and I’m not able to do that yet with Oliver. I love my babies so much!
This picture (on the left) came up on Facebook’s “On This Day” last week. I am pregnant with Sophia, glowing. I remember taking that picture. Charles and I were organizing Sophia’s freshly washed clothes according to size and type. We had so much fun laughing, imagining her in all of the little outfits, watching her move around. It was a fun day filled with many smiles.
I put these photos side by side so I could compare them. There are a lot of similarities and yet a lot of differences. My hair has grown so long in one year! I thank Oliver for that; my hair grew with Sophia but nothing like how it has grown with Oliver. I am carrying a little lower with Oliver; Sophia was up a little higher. However, I am carrying out front with both of them. Then the biggest difference of all: my face.
The face on the left is that of a mother untouched by the devastating loss of her child, not worried every single day or hour. I am glowing, my smile radiant. Internally I have feelings of happiness, joy, and excitement. The face on the right is that of a mother who is pregnant after losing her first child just hours before her scheduled induction. My eyes are tired from sleepless nights and crying, my smile weary from exhaustion. Internally I am happy, sad, anxious, full of love, full of longing. These feelings are not always able to seen on the outside.
Only those of us who have experienced this loss and are pregnant again can understand the vast emotions that are present. It is complex. It is exhausting. Even then, everyone is different. My pregnancy with Sophia was a whole different experience than my pregnancy is with Oliver. I was so blissfully naive with Sophia. Pregnancy after loss isn’t a walk in the park; it isn’t like pregnancy before loss. It is its own experience; just as my children are their own person. They are unique individuals. I love my children more than anything.
I will always advocate and talk about both of these taboo subjects: stillbirth and pregnancy after loss. No one will ever understand unless they have these experiences. But I hope to open up on these subjects which are so rarely given thought to.
When Charles and I are around young children and they do something, well, something children would do (like eat dirt/throw it/etc.) the automatic response for that child’s parent(s) is to say “Oh, just you wait!” staring at my stomach, sometimes even pointing to our baby growing inside of my womb and laughing. Why? Even before we had Sophia people saying this to us would bother me. We have been waiting. We tried to conceive for fourteen months! If we weren’t ready for those things we wouldn’t have been trying.
Now, after losing our first, our little Sophia, it really bothers me when people say this to us about our rainbow, Oliver. I mean, really? “Just you wait“? We have been waiting for so long and just when we thought that wait was over it was again thrown at us with Sophia’s death.
We’ve been waiting.
We can’t wait for our children to throw a fit when we have to wipe their nose, rub mud on their new clothes, throw a tantrum over the littlest thing… we also can’t wait to hear “I love you”, to kiss our children goodnight, to watch them play in the backyard. Children are exactly that: children. They’re growing and learning. When we were trying to conceive and then pregnant, we knew what we were in for. We are so ready for every aspect of parenting a child on Earth. We have been for quite some time.
We know what we’re in for.
I pray every day for those moments to become our life. I have for a very long time. So, before you say “Just you wait” think twice. I know some people may not even realize the hurt that can be inflicted upon couples, but it can and it does hurt; a lot.
I woke up with a notification from Facebook: “On this day…” It’s kind of fun to look back and see things that you had maybe forgotten about or things that have a lot of meaning to you. Then there’s things you see that knock the wind out of you. That was my case today with my “On this day one year ago…”
I woke up to a picture of a rocking chair. A rocking chair that my dad bought my mother when she was pregnant with me. I was rocked in that chair countless times… as were my younger siblings. A year ago today my mom wanted Charles and me to come over as she had something she wanted to give us. It was the rocking chair. I was so excited and beyond happy at the thought of rocking my first born in this chair, just as my mother rocked me. I remember thinking if we kept it in good shape I would pass it on to her when she had her first child. We got it into our house and I draped the blanket my mom bought Sophia over it. I sat down and I rocked with her in my womb. I was simply happy.
Here I am, a year later, and I only ever got to rock with her while she was in my womb… I only ever rocked in that chair and cried, holding onto her clothes and blankets, I only ever rocked in that chair pumping breast milk in disbelief that Sophia had actually died. That this was actually my life. Here I am, a year later, and life is completely changed for us. My life is complex. I’m no longer simply happy. That may be hard to understand if you’re not a bereaved parent.
I saw this memory and I broke down. I’m terrified. I’m heartbroken. I miss Sophia more than anything! This memory is one that was once filled with so much joy and anticipation and now is filled with sorrow and longing…
I wake up every morning between 5-7AM to do what a lot of pregnant women have to do: go to the bathroom. But before I get out of bed I stay very still. I wait for Oliver to move. Sometimes he is already moving and some days I have to wait a little bit. Those days I have to wait I hold my breath until I feel his little kicks. I can only then breathe a sigh of relief for the moment. He made it through the night.
The nights are scariest for me. Losing Sophia in the night 1-5 hours before her induction has me terrified to my core. I know that at any moment, something horrible can happen to my child… and I have no control over it. That’s absolutely terrifying! I crawl into bed and close my eyes and the flashbacks keep me awake for hours. It takes a long time for me to be able to fall asleep. Even then, I wake up constantly, tossing and turning.
Pregnancy after loss is no walk in the park. The innocence and joy I once possessed walking into our appointments with Sophia is now gone, forever. I now walk into appointments feeling anxious and a lot of times sick to my stomach until I see his heart beating on the monitor. I can breathe for the moment but as soon as we leave that appointment the process starts all over again until our next visit. Pregnancy after loss is an emotional journey that has many different angles to it. I completely underestimated the feelings and emotions that come with pregnancy after loss.
I do feel all of these fears but I also feel excitement. I am beyond happy to be pregnant with our son. I love every kick he gives me. He has such a personality already (just like his sister did at this time). Pregnancy is when I have felt most beautiful in my entire life. I love being pregnant and I love the feeling of life growing inside of my womb. How amazing is that? To grow a human inside of you? It’s truly a miracle and one to be appreciated; and I do appreciate every second of it.
I woke up this morning to our rainbow moving around in my womb; I smiled. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks on my chest; I couldn’t breathe. We should have a nine month old. Nine. I can only imagine what you look like now… I bet your hair would be growing longer, I bet your curly hair grows like your dad’s. It grows a lot but it’s so curly it doesn’t look long (until it gets wet!) Little strawberry blonde curls… You should be learning and accomplishing so much. I can only imagine.
Sophia… we should be doing so much together.
I close my eyes and flashes to the hospital, funeral home and cemetery play over and over. It’s hard to sleep when your mind won’t let you. I am constantly aware that my daughter isn’t here. Doesn’t matter what I’m doing or where. I cry a lot… in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep, while watching a show and my mind wonders, the way the water hits you in the shower… the tears come.
Sophia, you made me a mother. You’re constantly on my mind and in my heart and I know you’re watching over us. You’re so beautiful, little lady. You are kind, smart and loving. I know all of these things because I am your mother; your personality shined through immediately and still does in all of the signs you send to us. We love you so much, Sophia! Today you’re nine Heavenly months, little lady.