Thursday, May 30, 2013

How to Shower

I shower religiously. As in, I shower as though obeying an unseen hygiene deity with whom I do not have a personal relationship beyond blind obedience to the cardinal rule: the sun shall not set upon the unbathed. Or something like that. And when the weather is hot, as it finally is, I sometimes indulge in such ablutions twice.

"Katie... how do you do it??" you ask in amaze. Lucky for you, I am finally ready to divulge the secrets of my ritual cleansings:

Plan A: Wake up before everyone else.
  • If you succeed, the noise of the water will wake them up anyway.
  • In other words, you're gonna fail. So never mind this one, try:
Plan B: Wait till you are alone in the house.
  •  But you live with four kids!
  •  Hahahahahaha... Yeah right... Waste time like that on a shower?!? I'm crazy but not insane.
Plan C: Turn on Yo Gabba Dora Dora Caillou. Make sure this show is followed by the equally beloved Ni Hao Charlie and Peppa Pig.
  • Note placement of kids in front of screen, ascertaining that they are surrounded by mounds of their own toys, games, play-doh, and semi-washable acrylic finger paint.
  • Remove open containers of bleach, large steak knives, or any choking hazards. Get distracted and start tidying up the house in general. Spend 20 minutes doing this.
  • Spend 10 minutes settling fights over whose identical doll is whose. 
  • Realize they have already started their second show, so commence the following steps:
1. Walk to the shower.  Sigh. Remove shirt. Hear screams.

2.  Put on bathrobe. Settle dispute where baby chewed on remote and changed the channel. Oldest is thirsty. Get her juice. Youngest wants some too... But now you are out of juice. Get more from freezer, add water, find sippy cup, deliver juice. Get oldest a refill.

3.  Return to bathroom. In a fit of optimism, finish disrobing and turn on the shower. Test water with hand.

4.  Answer knock on bathroom door. Preschooler needs the potty. Toddler wants to go to. Break up fight over who gets to use the toddler-sized pink potty. Position both on appropriate potties. Praise them loudly and encouragingly. Wipe their bottoms. Replace their soiled undergarments. Deposit them back on couch. Realize its time for another show... Find Wow Wow Pocoyo's Princess School for Tools.

Run to shower. Jump in.

5.  Squeal with cold. See that toddler has magically appeared and is gleefully flushing the toilet. Repeatedly. Because you left the door open in your impious haste. Hand her a bottle of shampoo you know she can't open, hoping to distract her enough to shampoo your own hair.

She opens it readily, squirts it over her person, the toilet, and the floor. Slips, falls, screams.  You realize you handed her your Pantene Pro-Omega 3 Power-Punch Perfection and are currently applying Suave Strawberry Shortcake scent to your split ends.

Preschooler bolts in to yell: "Mom! The show stopped! Mom! Baby's crying! Mom! I want to take a bath too!"

6.  You see the writing on the mirror, done in a azul toothpaste hue. Decide you can dig out some leave-in conditioner later. Surrender the tub to your brood whom you supervise for an hour-long warm bath, in which you forget to do anything with your hair at all.

7.  Repeat daily.

(Next time, take shampoo to the spray park.  :D)

Friday, May 24, 2013


"He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak." Isaiah 40:29

Glad about that. :)

You know you're a mom when an MRI appointment feels like a vacation.  Hours of quiet alone!  The bliss of waiting in a child-free office!  The prospect of lying down on a table for a full hour, with strict instructions not to move!!  :)  And I was happy right up to the point where I was told they were going to (very slowly, they assured me) inject me with a substance that was to "paralyze my intestines, just for a few minutes." 

Say what?  Swell, guys.  Way to ruin my mini vaca.  I inquired as to whether this substance would stop any other of my vital organs "just for a few minutes."  I was assured it would not, but that I may experience some nausea.  I sighed, moved my head back two inches to where I was strapped and nested onto the narrow table, ready to be slid back into the tube called an MRI. 

A tough looking male nurse was on standby on my left, adjusting the tubes for the infusion machine.  The 20 something girl on my right began the injection into my IV lead, glancing at me with a partially reassuring smile.

"If and when I puke, do I turn to port or starboard?"

The guy on the left grinned and brandished a large plastic bin at me. "Turn here! I've got three kids; I'm a pro."

Three kids.  I have six, right?  Or four?  Almost five?  It's hard to decide how to answer that simple question sometimes... I stopped my sinking thoughts, smiled, and asked for their ages.

The tiny girl with the needle keep asking "Are you doing okay?"  Every ten seconds or so, which tread the line of sweet and annoying.

Well... Yes and no.

Like when I went for the intake for the MRI... they read the order and asked, "Oh... boy or girl?"  Apparently updates had not been made...

Oh. A little wave of quiet sadness.  "It was a girl.  But I lost her."

Gosh that spoiled the mood... Her face dropped.  We had previously been engaged in witty sarcastic banter about how delightful it was to be on a basement on a gorgeous May morning. 

"I'm so sorry."

"Thank you."  I really try not to say "it's okay," because I mean, it's really not.  And it doesn't seem to make sense to just say "it was a girl," because then she might ask more questions and I may have to tell her anyway.  Seems best just to say it. But I haven't figured out a way to say it " gently" enough it seems... And then the reaction to the bad news reminds me, again, how much I lost.

The MRI is the first of a bucket list of "after the baby, I need to check out this or that random part of my body that is acting up."  At the risk of sounding like a hypochondriac... there's plenty wrong with me at the moment, being the queen of auto-immune issues that I am.  Fortunately, my swelling hands responded to prednisone, but with increased aches and pains I'm now I'm supposed to switch from Humira to Remicade... I'm going to try a more natural route first.  The sharp pains in my abdomen that pre-dated my pregnancy have now been "MRId" and then I have to have my fav: a colonoscopy. My fifth.  It's a special treat reserved for Crohn's patients: every two years instead of ten for that procedure.  Oh yes, not to mention the geneticist and my dear Napro-tech doctor, who spends so much time reading my charts, autopsy reports, genetic findings, interpreting them, encouraging me to take even more thing, but good things, like magnesium and Vitamin D... which I severely overdosed on, mistakenly taking a "once a week" tablet once a day... but I'm not glowing like the sun yet, so all's well that end's well, I guess?  But man, doctors, tests, meds: I'm exhausted just thinking about all this. 

It's worth it to me to discover and rule out causes though, making sure I'm healthy as possible in the future for... whatever.  I'm glad I didn't have the MRI during my pregnancy, like the doctors had wanted me to.  One less thing to wonder about.

I didn't puke.  My infusionist was pleased.  The machine slid me in, and I was left alone.  After the initial, "Eeeek!  I'm in a tube!" feeling, I don't mind my MRI's.  I bring my own ear plugs though... the first time I panicked and was sure the machine was malfunctioning but no, it's supposed to beep loudly and honk and groan. 

Through my headphones: "Take a breath. Hollld it."

I did.  I am.  Holding my breath. Waiting to "get better." To not break down in public. To not have the bad dreams. To not play Taboo and, even while having a blast, somehow wanting to guess "baby" or "pregnant" every few cards or so.  Even when I think I've really moved on, I'm learning that there are just going to be bad days.  And it will be okay. 


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Okay fine

Us, in kids' caps.  But the photo quality is awful... really, we looked much better in person. 
Really we did.  :D

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I'm here!  I'm here I'm here I'm here.  Okay good.  Wow.  I will try not to mention that I have locked myself in the bathroom to write...  Finally.

And I'm okay!  I had an awful day, blogged, and then totally left this on a downer.  Geesh.

Here's some things that perked up my mood: 

1. I've gotten more child care.  I had to.  It is good for my sanity.  I love my kids, but I need more quiet these days. 

 End of story.

2. Here's a weird one: guess what was on the bottom of my jewelry box?

Duh, you say.  But here's the catch: I was wearing it in MA, at the MASS Hope conference for homeschoolers.  And at a playground.  I remember debating whether to wear it that morning, and going with it.  I remember playing with it on my neck in the van.  My husband--my compass of sanity these days--remembers it on me that day.  I remember reaching up to my neck later and gasping because it was bare.

And... it's right here, back again.  So... either my husband and I are getting crazy and forgetful with all the stress or... huh.  Let's just say that's cool, and I must have someone looking out for me these days... :)

3. After much hassle with babysitters canceling and other heroes stepping in to fill the gap last minute, Dan and I got childcare for a day and took a long drive to New Hampshire.  Didn't talk much, just absorbed the quiet and some non-kiddie CD's, including the "sound track" to my honeymoon.  Wanna guess?  Pep Shop Boys.  Yes, I am totally embarrassed, thanks.  But I found their songs both catchy and hysterical when I was a young bride of 23, and while we drove to California for untold hours and ate beef jerky out of bags (yeah, eww) Dan and I listened to "Go West!"  I was going to post the link but it's even more cringe-worthy that way... ha...

The weather was lovely, and we drove up to the White Mountains,

and then back around Lake Winnipesaukee.  I first saw the Lake when I was 14 and just fell in love... granted, I hadn't traveled further than Cape Cod till that point.  My siblings and I were swimming and I dove right in the icy water and swam straight to the furthest dock.  This greatly upset my Dad... poor Dad's had a fear of the water since his brother almost drowned in Spring Lake as a boy...  But he didn't, and one day he explained to my father the meaning of John 3:16... and then, quite suddenly, my family became serious about faith.  Which I'm really glad about you know, these days...

Anyway... mountains, lake, and ocean!  We stopped to walk by the surf and wade (well, I did... other people don't like sand on their feet, hee hee), watching fog rising off the cold water and the crazy surfers.

The sea reminds me so much of its Creator, and just seems big enough to absorb all of my sadness.  My greatest comfort is knowing how very well she is doing now in the hands of my God. 

We never put the top down... oh, I forgot to mention my husband had rented a convertible, a vehicle I've only been in for like an hour before...  They are like... way cool. :)

Note the blanket. :)  Last minute, we realized we probably should wear hats to preserve our youthful skin, so we stole some of the kids and looked... less than cool.  Luckily, my server will not allow me to download those photos at this time... :D  As the evening wore on into upper 50's territory, we removed the caps but continued to look like absolute idiots, being blown around by cold wind while wrapped in coats... :) As we drove home, I looked at the sky for hours--longer than I ever have I think--watching the cloud shapes melting into each other, layers of filmy white on purest blue.

After dark, I watched the stars... if you just look straight up, it looks like the sky is rotating while the car is still. "Isn't it beautiful, Pepper?"

In my heart, I felt her whisper back from perfect joy, "Mom, wait till you see it from here!" :)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Just sad

A stream of profanities issued from behind the laptop--suspiciously from where my husband was sitting--while I sighed and shook my head, staring into my mug as though hoping to find the answer in my tea.

"This isn't fair!  This isn't right!  What happened?!?  What went wrong?!?  Grr..."

No, we were not discussing the loss of our daughter, but the loss of my last post.  Yeah, I kept hitting save... but Blogger was ornery I guess.  It just wasn't there when I hit publish, the post I'd made using the only current hours I have: the ones before and after midnight.  After I drank a coffee at 10 PM so I could be clear-headed enough to do it.  It stinks to only have time for one post this week, but you know, it's easier losing anything that isn't a baby these days. Not as bad as going through the worst months of pregnancy with nothing to hold afterwards. 

It has been acutely painful not to have time to write and to think this week. My babysitter had been on vacation, my parents have been busy, my husband's work continues apace, and I haven't had much opportunity to sort through this dull grey that seems to surround me. 

I fear I am being negative, huh? Well, on a small positive note, the loss has made organizing much simpler for me.  Puts things very much in perspective.  Makes cyberspace eating a nice writing session less painful. And now I can totally get rid of this extra teapot I've been hanging on to for, I dunno, in case I need to drink two gallons of tea all at once... could happen, right? :)  And I'll just write something else... Let's see...  I know I had included the following quote in my former post:

you grew in me
and I grew too
you were you
and I was me
but we were one
our lives flowing
entwined in each other
connected with love
with tissue and blood
in body
and soul
and then
the end.
how can it be that one
so young
so full of life
waiting to burst into this world
slipped out so quietly
over before even one breath
you slipped away in the night
you didn't even wake me
you left me there sleeping
left me there all alone
for what would never come

Those words were written by Stephanie Cole, in her poem "Untitled II," which commemorates the loss of her daughter Madeleine.  She was kind enough to send me a copy of her book "Still." While desperately sad, her writing and poetry captures the feelings well, so I find it oddly comforting to read them.  And yes, you may bill me for the tissues.

So the answer to, "Hey Katie, how are you?" is currently, "Hanging in there, thanks!"  I'm going through the motions of normal child care and driving to lessons and stuff, but you know that commercial where this little cloud is following you around?  Except I'm in the cloud.  But this isn't some plain old depression; it's just part of the roller-coaster called grief.  I'm strapped in for this ride for a bit... and yeah, I did hope I'd just be writing humorous posts on current events and witty moments of motherhood at this point.  But I'm kinda stuck here for now.  This ride is going around again... yay.  Thanks for bearing with me.  :)

There are still delightfully absurd moments of motherhood to enjoy over here.  Like when I last picked up my little ones from child care at the gym, I found Cecilia surrounded by all the plastic dinosaurs in the place, officiating a wedding between a brontosaurus and a T-Rex.  Because that's just her.  She greeted me with, "Mom!  It's almost my BIWTHDAY!" (mid-September) "Then I will be BIG!  Then I can dwive a BULLDOZER! And my cake will be wery, wery PINK!" 

Oy.  She's fun.  They all are fun.  But oddly enough, I usually have a hard time enjoying them these days.  Oddly enough, I'm missing the baby I would have had too much, sometimes, to listen clearly to the kid who is wailing about a broken crayon.  I would have been 25 weeks this Wednesday, as my pregnancy app reminds me.  That's just about viable.  No, I don't keep it to make me sad, but to remind me that it was real, that I programmed the app for her.  I think she deserves to at least have an app blindly and happily remembering what would have been.

On Tuesday, a mom's group friend of mine announced that she was having a boy on my erstwhile due date.  I am truly happy for her.  I'm just really sad for me, and my family.  Despite the fact that four seems like a vast number of children to have these days.  She's wearing maternity clothes openly now, while I try to lose pregnancy weight with nothing to show for it.  I'm still seeking to answer the question "How many kids do you have?" in a way that feels right and okay.

I'm making efforts to get more sleep, which will help.  I had a nap yesterday, unfortunately at the same time someone had driven out to try to drop off a meal I had completely forgotten about.  Sorry! :( I need post-it notes taped to my wrists these days for reminders.  Somewhere between the nightmare du nuit, and a recent trend where all children under five continually (after being put back in bed, yup) return to sleep in their parents' bed perpendicularly: feet in mom's side, head on dad's chest, and a zillion different combinations therein... somehow I'm not sleeping quiet enough.  It doesn't help that I seem to need about two hours to get myself to bed, trying to make sure I'm so tired that I won't be up thinking about sad, distressing things. 

Like on Mother's Day.  And I actually had a great day, thanks; hope you did too!  My sister and mom took me out to some beautiful gardens, and to lunch.  I spent time with my children and uncles and aunts and grandmother, who has been a mother for over 70 years now, whew! :)  I went to bed congratulating myself on getting through the day without getting weepy, then realized I was crying because--somewhere in all the rush and business--I hadn't made it to her grave yesterday.  And at 11 PM, that was crushing.

So on Monday, we went.  We brought sampling of every flower that is in her backyard, and from what would have been her playground.

Apparently we also provided Cecilia with the opportunity of carting off other grave decorations... I didn't notice she had done this till I looked at this photo later.  See that big bouquet she's walking off with?  Yeah, not ours.  Oh dear.  Where did it come from, where did it go... haven't a clue. :S  I will leash them next time I think... they love "Babyland" with all the pretty d├ęcor.  It really is a peaceful place, with lots of birds and butterflies, which I'm glad of.

I'm also grateful for the way my little angel has highlighted all the angels already in my life.  For all of you who are patiently praying me through this.  And recently, for the dear friend, after a full day of teaching school, who came over to watch my kids so I could go to a baby-loss support group.

Never been to those before, you know.  You'd think it would be depressing, but it is comforting to acknowledge the short lives of these children, and the love that survives them.

I had been trying to "talk myself out" of being quite so sad for a bit... like, it could have been worse, right?  I have heard stories of stillbirth and SIDS and losing children to cancer that would break anyone's heart.  But in the end, I find grief comparisons useless. To be extremely non-profound: it is what it is.  Losing a child at any stage is a loss to be acknowledged, processed, and grown through in ways as individual as each unique human heart. 

Today, I'm just trying to get through all this... hanging on to my faith in God, my hope for heaven, my love for my little ones.  Wishing both you and I a peaceful, beautiful weekend.

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted,
and those who are crushed in spirit He saves." Psalm 34:18

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Messy Mother's Day

Quiet dark room, me sleeping.  BAM!  Door flies open, sunlight spilling in, squeals of delight. 

"MOMMY!  WAKE UP!  We MADE something for YOU!"  Toddler has been placed on my bed and is jumping with glee.  Grade schoolers are whooping with delight.  Preschooler is trying to manually open my eyes with very sticky fingers.

Meanwhile, I had been in a very deep sleep (finally, after a pre-dawn coughing fit from one sniffly kid).  And I had been dreaming that I was kissing one of the cutest guys from my college years, whom in real life I had been too shy to talk to.  I didn't know the day nor the hour.

"Uhh... whatsuhthis?  Wha..."

"HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY MOM!"  They apparently started a day early.  Cheers of delight.  Preschooler shrieking, "Come on Mom!  Get up!  Walk.  Don't look!  Close your eyes!"  No problem there...

Sleepwalking to the living room, I beheld the following scene.  Naturally, they wanted to take pictures of my joy, which is apparent I think from me there, wrapped in Dan's bathrobe:

Ah.  Bliss. LOL  Here's the lovely hostess of the "tea party"

As I age (in wisdom and grace of course), I see my own mother coming out in me more.  One of those ways is the answer to, "What do you want for Mother's Day/your birthday/Christmas, Mom?"  And the answer truly is, "A clean house and happy kids.  Please!!"  (Read well-behaved in "happy.")  But somehow, these are the very days when the most heartfelt (read "messiest") crafts are needed to express their love and affection.  The most recent: dipping their hands in glue so that they could make a glitter handprint.

I foresee months of glitter in every corner of the house, and oddly appearing on my hair and face, particularly when I am out and trying to look professional.

It's worth it.  All the glorious mess, though I still want a clean house and some peace and quiet (which I have right now, so I'm spending it with you.:)  But their love for me is about as needed as sleep for me right now.

It's been a rough few days.  I went out once every day since Wednesday, and broke down, in public, each time.  The first was when I determined to go to the last Bible study session; there's a morning and an evening session available, and this was the first time I went to the evening session, so I didn't know anyone.  This normally doesn't faze me, and I wanted to see the last video segment.  I mean, it was Beth Moore!

But I should have been tipped off that I was not as well as could be hoped when I stopped at Walgreens for one thing and one thing only: dinner.  Looked like this:

Yeahhh.  So, we were discussing questions like, "How do you see God working in your life?"  And I had been quiet, and taking notes, and pretty fine.  Then the leader looks over at me pointedly and says, "This side of the table's been awfully quiet."  So I smile, and start to talk... but my voice sounds oddly quavery, and quite before I know it I'm sobbing out my story to a room full of strangers.  Me, who can stay dry-eyed through "Steel Magnolias" and "Old Yeller" played back to back.  Me, who likes to listen primarily, and mostly talk when I think I can make people laugh.

Oh dear.

I finished my story.  Sighs of sympathy all around.  Some confused looks.  The leader says, "Your faith is beautiful.  What's your daughter's name?"  I think, while blubbering, it sounds like "Purr-fect-chewa"; they seemed further confused.  Then, "And... I'm sorry... I realize I don't know your name honey..."

Now I'm chuckling and sniffling.  "That's funny... I was thinking the same about all 25 of you."  So now 26 of us are laughing.  Whew.  Time to sneak away to the bathroom, fix makeup, grab more tissues, take deep breaths in the mirror.  Open the door and find two women had followed me to make sure I was "all right" and give hugs and share their own sad stories.  (So many people have gone through this!!  Virtual hugs to them/you all!!) Giving me their phone numbers in case I want to talk.  I'm apparently collecting the phone numbers of strangers who have been through pregnancy losses... but I'm not a phone person.  Talking to a stranger feels strange... But nothing strange about grieving on the world wide web, right?  Ha.  I might as well give up my selective Facebook "I've posted" group and just open it up to all my friends... if I keep going around blubbering they might as well see why in the blogging.  :S

Speaking of which, so, in the morning, I go to a mom's group.  "MOPS: Mother's of Preschoolers."  Coffee and childcare, my favoritist!  And I'm fine through most of the meeting.  But then someone's giving away a dress... a tiny blue sailor one, that matches the ones Cecilia and Felicity have.  One I would have tried to find to buy if...  I blinked through that one, but then we were supposed to write prayer requests down and... strike two.  Tears.  Hugs. 

"What can we do to help?  Really... let us know, something?"

Retroactively fix my placenta?  I mean, other than that... the three c's: chocolate, cash, child-care?  What makes this "better"?  Prayer always helps...  And, the newsletter offered meals for moms in trouble...

So I'm getting more prayers.  And I'm back on a meal train.  :)  Welcome back to the seven pounds I managed to lose.  :)  Ah well.  It does make things easier for my family, since I now have doctor's appointments so frequently it's a part-time job.

And... I'm sooo not myself.  I don't usually cry in public... I'm simply not leaving the house today so I can assess how I actually am doing.  Unfortunately, finding out the autopsy results was close to as bad as finding out she was gone, for me.  Because, when I sat on the exam table looking at that quiet ultrasound, the first question was, of course, "Is she really gone??"  But the second was, "What happened?"  And my body failing her was my "worst case scenario."

So my triggers for breakdown have increased by a zillion... suddenly it's not just the "before... after" stuff of when she was alive, and now she's gone... Now it includes breathing air... because it has oxygen and... And food, because it has nutrients and... Trimming the stems of the bouquet I got today because I think too much and I have looked up so much about vascular processes and how preeclampsia deprives the... "Normal fetus."  "Diseased placenta."  A seeming ocean of tears left to cry.

No, I'm not trying to dwell on it.  It just keeps finding me.  I know this will get better, and more answers will come through a bazillion blood tests and doctor appointments, and peace will increase as I process this news.  But as one dear sweet, trying-to-be-helpful older lady informed me, "Sweetie, you'll never get over this.  My sister is 66, and she still cries when she thinks about her miscarriage."  Note--This is not nearly as bad as, "God took your baby in His mercy because maybe, if she had lived, she would not have been saved."!!! (sadly, this was actually said to a friend of mine going through the same trial.  I'm glad it was not said to me, so I don't have to deal with both loss and homicide guilt.) I foresee a "things to perhaps try to refrain from saying" post in the future... Oy.

No, we don't get "over" losing our children, but I do expect to get through my some point...

Ah. I was given a helpful hospital hand-out visual I will share, just explains it all, eh?

There you are.  Just get like a "you are here" sticker to move through this lovely Xerox and you will find your way, huh? 

I do think, and am grateful, that my faith is kinda giving me a bit of a bridge over that "despair" part.  I don't feel despair.  I mean, even on the darkest night when I'm up crying and whispering to her how sorry I am, over and over, I can just see her smile and say, "But Mom, I'm not.  You have nothing to apologize for."  Love is what lasts.  Love is what matters.

I do, finally, feel quite a bit of anger, though it's all self-directed.  It's unreasonable, but hard to shake: I thought my body and I had an understanding, you know?  I mean, aches and pains and auto-immune shenanigans I expect, but you do not mess with my babies, right?  I gave up having a full-time career to be a stay-at-home mom, and darn it I expect to be crazy good at this, in every aspect (no, I'm not competitive at all, why do you ask?:)  And that certainly means providing all my kids their basic needs... and heck, I have been complimented on my placentas in the past... no really!  "This is one healthy looking..." okay, you probably don't need labor room details.  TMI.  But take my word for it, I thought my body had this pregnancy thing locked up... pride can sneak in the silliest places, huh?

I think it's a common mom thing really, in any situation: we expect that we will always give/be/act/provide the best for our children.  Because we want to so very badly, we sacrifice so much, and we try so hard.  What a shock to realize that that's not always the case.  How humbling to think that our children, actually, need more than we can ever give.  And how relieving that they have Him, too, because we're only human, after all.  :)

I wish we were currently all together on the beach with margaritas to celebrate... nevertheless, Happy Mother's Day, all you moms, grandmoms, mom-figures and aunts, moms of kids here and in heaven.  Let's live each day in love, loving on every day, so that we never have any true regrets.  Real love makes you a "good mom," no matter the circumstances.  And through the glitter and the spills and the missed nap times this weekend, see the love that comes right back at you. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

Which do you want first: the good news or the bad news?

The good news: we learned the autopsy results.  The bad news: we learned the autopsy results.  They weren't good.  Then again, are autopsy results ever really "good"? 

One real positive thing: I can officially tell you pregnant mommas who've been brave enough to keep reading all this that--as far as what happened to Perpetua--you have nothing to worry about.  Because, as it turns out, it was all me.

We were escorted to an office, a different one than before, with a shiny desk adorned with the remnants of a KFC snack bowl and medium beverage, condensation dripping down the side. "Oh.  Sorry about the clutter."  The doctor plopped into her wheeling chair, looked at her papers, sighed, and delivered the following:

"The results were significant.  Not that you are to blame, but your placenta... basically you had preeclampsia.  I've never seen it this early, so I assume it's caused by an underlying medical issue you have.  Possibly lupus.  Anyway, the fetus was normal, but was eventually not able to get enough oxygen due to the placental issues.  But don't worry... were you to get pregnant again, the solution may be as simple as a daily baby aspirin to help thin your blood and prevent clotting..."

I've never been in a free fall, but I think I kinda know how it feels now: I'm thinking that it gets really quiet from the rushing of the wind past your ears like white noise.  That you feel numb from the chill of the speed of your fall.  That it's cold, and numb, and quiet, and you wonder when it will stop.

I know it's not "my fault."  I know I didn't intend it, and would have done anything to prevent it.  But for the record, baby girl: Momma is so very, very sorry that her body failed yours.  I'm so sad I didn't know in time to fix it, if I could have.  I'm so sorry I didn't know that you were quietly getting too sleepy to survive and live to be my baby here, like I'd hoped you could...

As for my "free fall" comment, I actually stayed in my chair... couldn't have moved if I wanted to.  I really did think (and hope) the problem was some genetic fluke that meant the baby couldn't progress further than she did due to an inherent error in her chromosomes.  In other words, that she'd lived as long as she could.  I guess I wasn't prepared to hear the baby was normal, and I was not.

I believe I was calm and monotone as I asked my questions, and requested copies of the pathology report.  The write-up's almost incomprehensible, every other word a complex medical term you feel you need a college course to understand.  Ever feel like you majored in the wrong thing?  Golly.  I've still been trying, Googling every word separately and in phrases to try to understand better.  Mostly getting studies on rat embryos, nothing particularly helpful.  Try these out for size: "Severe decidual vasculopathy." "Fibrinoid necrosis."  "Avascular villi." "Pervillous fibrin deposition." 

Now trying saying those in an accent. :)  Sigh...

And then there's the stuff that's easy to understand: "Markedly abnormal placental tissue."  And what I guess is typical pathology report style: a moment by moment description of what the researcher was doing.  Color, texture, weight in grams of everything... great appetite reduction literature really.  X-rays had been done.  Apparently there were pictures taken of her after all.  (!)  The baby was completely normal.  But concluding the perinatal report: "Severe preeclampsia with marked maternal vascular disease."

My friends, I will be going to doctor's appointments for a lonnng time it seems, blood tests, MRI's, the works... trying to find out what bizarre disease (if that's actually what it is) I have that can cause problems like this, or blood clots in me, to find out what happened with this pregnancy and how I should proceed for my own health.  In the doctor's words: "I've never seen anything like this, preeclampsia so early on, without high blood pressure or anything..."  Shhwell.

Wow.  I really did take my fertility for granted before all this.  It is just so darn easy for me to get pregnant.  (No, I didn't mean it that way... oh never mind. :)  After my second unplanned pregnancy within two years of marriage, I had been completely convinced that "Dancause" may as well be "Duggar," at least until I actually learned Natural Family Planning. :)  And overall, I really did think, that if I had two strong lines on a stick, and had awful morning sickness, and didn't smoke or drink or eat too much tuna, and made it to 17 weeks... that everything really was going to be okay. That it made more sense, at that point, to worry about getting struck by lightning.  But I was wrong.

We aren't in control, no matter how much we want to be, no matter how often we think we are.  Ultimately, we are wearing seatbelts on a sphere spinning through space, upheld by a Power far beyond our reckoning.  I'm grateful I have a personal relationship with that Power, and that He loves me.

I'm still not mad at Him.  I'm kinda surprised about that, waiting for the rage at the "unfairness" of it all to hit and me to go through the motions of trying to blame my Creator.  Who knows, maybe it will at some point.  I don't blame the people who are mad at Him; He can handle it and guide them on their own journey...  I mean, I was plenty mad during my first miscarriage: the early one, Gabriel.  I felt completely betrayed by God then.  The weight of the unanswered "why" was too great.  It took time to get through that and to let go of that primal anger at losing a child I was "supposed" to have. 

But now somehow it just seems that I don't have to know the "why" right now.  I have the medical "why" I wanted, or the beginnings of it, but the "why" of God allowing it... I'm leaving that to Him.  I am leaning on my faith that the God who loved my child into existence hasn't changed His mind about that at all.  She still exists.  And He still loves her.  And we'll all be together again someday, gloriously happy in eternity, the Whole that is greater than the sum of all the fragmented earthly parts of a much bigger and better plan.  Because hey, if this life is all there is, there is simply not nearly enough chocolate to keep me happy... I'm just gonna say it, cuz we're all thinking it.  :)

I was the careful mom that stayed far from the edge and yet fell off a cliff.  But somehow, God has been there to catch me.  Somehow, I love and appreciate Him more than ever.  Partly because this has been so awful that I've really had to "give" this whole situation to Him, because I just couldn't bear this on my own.  Even being cynical: doesn't it make sense for me to keep working on a relationship with Him, since He has full custody? :)

With all the sad things that can happen in this world, either the universe is a cruel joke run by a blind Deity, or our losses here are all part of a greater gain.  Even the shortest lives here are ultimately too precious to be a waste, too important not to matter. 

Nothing good is ever truly or permanently lost.  More than ever, every day, I remember what I have to look forward to.  More than ever, every day, I'm thankful

for the blessings

I got to keep.

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
'Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Have you ever given orders to the morning or assigned a place for the dawn?
What is the way to the place where light lives?'
And Job answered, 'Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.'"
Job 38:1,4,7,12;42:3

Friday, May 3, 2013

May Day

I'm tired.  The steroid treatment is over for my swollen hand and I kinda miss the overdrive if I'm being honest...  Instead of burning through more household piles in an organizing frenzy last time I found myself kid-free, I instead caught myself still sitting in my mini van, vaguely observing my gluten-free neighbor doing yard work while I ate a muffin.  She has had the nerve to get super-skinny.  I feel I've lost the unspoken over-sized-tee-shirt camaraderie we once shared from across the street.  Sigh.

So as you can see, I've been busy.  Started the weekend off at Dave and Busters, also kid-free, attending a function called "Grill the Priests."  An awesome open-forum event where the crowd could ask anything they wanted about Catholicism from a panel of brave priests.  Sold out, packed event room.  Afterwards you could play arcade games with a Dominican in full garb while everyone whispers comments.  Wicked cool.  :)

On the not so great side, a favorite tree in "my" playground across the street is being terminated... seems Earth Day was sooo last week.  :S  More negative playground news: it seems I lost my necklace ("the" necklace) at a playground in... another state.  This has been a perfect excuse for online Mother's ring shopping whenever I miss it now.  Hoping to get all my kids' birthstone on a ring a tad too small for my finger--maybe one I kinda have to jam on--so there isn't a chance of it coming off and getting lost...

One positive playground note: a motherhood milestone was passed with my preschooler used a porta-potty for the first time! She did not touch anything disgusting, nor did she panic that "the toilet wasn't flushed."  Proud of her.

Those of you checking in for actual news will notice, no doubt, that I have not given any.  This is because I have none yet.  On May 1st, as scheduled, with a wonderful friend watching my kids and my wonderful husband taking a day off, we sat in the self-same office I'd been in in March (the one with the kinda creepy Ann Geddes babies emerging from sunflowers) and was told the following:

"Pathology isn't finished with the autopsy results from your D&E yet.  I'm sorry.  But don't worry, they still have slides of the brain, liver, kidneys, heart, and everything else.  They just aren't finished yet."

You can just imagine my "relief" at this non-information after a week's sleep full of odd nightmares like: "Perpetua died because you consumed too much mayonnaise.  Those are the autopsy results.  In future pregnancies, please refrain from the consumption of condiments."

I was assured I would be called when results were in, apologized to for the office keeping an autopsy review appointment when no autopsy results were available, and told to expect a call "soon."  I went home and dug in the freezer for the "Chocolate Therapy" a very dear friend had given me for just such an occasion.  Mmmmm.

Then this morning, as I was contemplating how to communicate my "non news" in this post, the phone rang with "OBGYN" on the caller ID.  Now, I had been planning my writing in the place I write best: the shower.  But this phone call was probably "the one," so I jumped out, grabbed my phone, lost my grip on it, fished it out from a puddle on the floor, frantically patted it with my towel, and said "Hello?!?" while trying to shut the shower off.  I was in "pre-rinse" stage.

"Is this Katherine?"  Cue screaming 1 and 3 year old at door.  "Yep, it's me."  I pull the door open, hoping I could quiet things down quickly.  A very dangerous diaper was drooping around little knees.  Swearing interiorly, I grabbed wet wipes and laid out fussing toddler on the towel I was supposed to be standing on.  With no other option, I tapped "speaker on."

"We have the pathology results.  The doctor would like to discuss the findings with you, and make sure you have your genetic blood work done prior to..."  Wiping furiously, I looked up at Cecilia, who was admiring herself in the mirror.  "Mommy, you are wery wet!" she loudly proclaimed.  "Mommy, you have soap on your arm!  Mommy!!! You have nothing o..."

I tossed a towel I had grabbed for myself over her head, and she roared in delight at the new game. "Speaker off." 

"Ha ha, I'm so sorry.  Please go on."

Felicity was upset not to be part of the game, and her wails necessitated a call back several hours later, after an 8 minute wait, to reschedule what May 1st was supposed to be.  Now, it's May 8th.


To go along with my little playground theme: this is exactly how I feel about finding out:

I want to know, because maybe I could fix something for the future for my own health or, possibly, for another baby should I be so blessed.  But that would mean I could have fixed something, possibly, for her.  Either way, this is going to be hard, and I'm not looking forward to it.  Either way, I'm definitely finding out, despite certain family member's encouragement not to.  I want to know everything I can about this child, whatever it is.  Especially with all this fuss and turmoil to get the information.

"Not knowing" is not terrible meanwhile, though, not really.  Trying to remind myself of that.  When I was in church choir as a teen, we sang this song once...  I haven't heard it before or since, but the words struck me.  It's loosely based on Scripture, written by Dan Schutte... who is not exactly my favorite songwriter, :) but the words give me something to think about during this time.  Here's the refrain:
Holy darkness, blessed night,
heaven's answer hidden from our sight.
As we await you, O God of silence,
we embrace your holy night. 

Basically, while I'd sure like to know more, I don't need to know everything right now.  But I'm glad He does. 

For your further entertainment, I'm attempting to attach a link here.  The song's pretty.  The words are profound at times.  The crucifix is apparently backlit by a Dreamlight... a kid's toy that changes colors every minute or so.  Still... :)  Enjoy if you will: