Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Dreaded Baby Shower Invitation

I knew it had to happen eventually. I've been invited to a baby shower. It's not the first one I've been invited to since losing my son. I had a friend who was due a month after I was and my son died just as her baby shower invitations were sent out. So in the midst of all the sympathy cards was that invite. Talk about a stab in the heart. Obviously I declined that one and everyone understood since it had only been a week since my son's death.

This one is different though. Partly because of who it's for, but mostly because it's been over a year now and I think people think I'm mostly "over it" now. Over it,,,, I actually laughed out loud when I typed that. As if I will ever be over the death of my firstborn son.... but that's another topic for another day.

I haven't received the actual invitation yet, just a save the date for mid-January. I guess the hostess wanted to reach out to everyone before the madness of the holidays (that's Christmas to you Brit's,,,, not vacation). Obviously I don't have to respond to a save the date, I just need to save the date. So for the moment, I have a reprieve on making the decision on whether to go or not. And it is a big decision.

You see, the last baby shower I went to was mine. I was 33 weeks pregnant, blissfully unaware of the ticking time bomb inside me. Blissfully unaware that my son was slowly being starved and deprived of oxygen by his placenta. Blissfully unaware that just a few short weeks later I would go in for an ultrasound and be told that his heart was no longer beating.

I was "all clear." My son was almost "cooked" and I would soon be bringing him home. My Mom and Grandmother had flown over from the US to attend. It was one of the happiest days of my life. My life was perfect that day,,, nothing could go wrong.

Until it did.

I'm not sure I'm ready to go to another baby shower just yet. A day filled with happy people, baby stories, and the hopes and dreams of the Mother to be. Of course she will be happy, she deserves to be. It's her day to feel special and be surrounded with nothing but positivity. To listen to other people's stories and well wishes. It should be her perfect day, one of the happiest of her life.

I'm afraid I might spoil all that.

After all, no one wants a Debbie Downer at her baby shower. That woman who's baby died 3 weeks after her own baby shower.

So that's my dilemma. I have no idea how I will react on the day. On the one hand I may be fine. I could be swept up in the happiness of the day. I could see this as a hurdle that I can overcome. I could suck it up and be there to support the Mother to be.

Or it could all go terribly wrong. I could have flashbacks and start freaking out. Or I could just start feeling really down and then feel like I'm stuck there trying to fake being happy. My presence could make the other guests feel uncomfortable. Maybe they will feel they can't be as happy for her because they don't want to hurt my feelings.

I know for a fact that they already feel like this. One friend even asked if I was happy for the Mother to be (M2be) a while back. She said she always felt weird asking M2be about her pregnancy in front of me in case that made me feel bad. I'm sure the baby shower will be slightly different because by then they will all know that I am pregnant, but still,,,, I don't want to be a damper on M2be's special day.

There is also the issue of who M2be is. I wrote about her before here and here. She was Friend A in the story. In a nutshell, we were close friends for a while but over time things started happening that made me question our friendship. As I got to know her, I learned things that made me feel like I couldn't trust her and maybe she wasn't such a good friend after all. Then she got pregnant and said some insensitive things which really hurt me.

As a result of this, I've really backed off her. I didn't bother to have a confrontation with her because I didn't think it would help. I've just gradually stopped calling her and emailing her. I still see her in group settings but not one on one. It's worked out very well. We are pleasant when we see each other and there is very little tension between us. Of course there's a little,,, but as predicted I think she thinks it's because I have a hard time dealing with her pregnancy.

If it were someone that I'm closer too I may have more of an incentive to try and suck it up and be the better person. Something that I think all of us baby loss mom's have gotten really good at. It's definitely a skill I wasn't expecting to become so adept at. But since it's someone I'm already feeling detached from, there is less motivation to take the risk.

But at the same time, I know I can't hide from baby showers forever and maybe now is the time to do it. To jump in the deep end and hope I can remember how to swim.

Ugh,,,, I really don't know what to do.

*Pouring my heart out today with Shell.

Monday, 28 November 2011

It's Hard To Be Happy When You're Terrified

I seem to have some sort of bloggers block. There is plenty of stuff going on in my life these days but I can't seem to get them out of my head. Normally the words come freely but for some reason the past week I've had nothing to write about. I do know that I'm in a lot of denial about actually being pregnant and perhaps that's the problem.

My blog posts are mostly written in quick short bursts. Very train-of-thought with hardly any editing. I sit down and let the emotions and words flow out of me. Denial and repression make this more difficult. Because if you're trying hard to not think about things too much then there's not much left to write about.

We have told a few very close friends about this pregnancy. Each time the response is joy and happiness which I am not always able to reciprocate. One person actually asked me if I was happy about being pregnant again. My response was that it's hard to be happy when you're terrified. Which is not to say that I'm not absolutely thrilled to have another chance at a take home baby. I am, but it's hard to allow myself to go there just yet.

My natural response this time around is self-protection. Logically I know that even if I do "deny and protect" it won't hurt any less if things go wrong. I know that allowing myself to feel joy won't make it any more or less likely that something bad will happen. But at the moment I'm still feeling very guarded. It's almost as if keeping the news to myself and not starting to get prepared will somehow protect me and this baby from harm.

Just putting the pregnancy ticker on this blog page was a huge step for me. I actually got nervous before hitting the publish button. I have yet to submit my good news to LFCA (which is a great site if you haven't checked it out before) for fear that somehow it's still not real. I haven't bought any pregnancy or baby books yet either. My old books were tossed out when we lost our son. I just signed up for the babycentre weekly updates and it still feels weird.

I just can't seem to wrap my head around the fact that it is indeed happening. I am growing a baby in here.

I know I'm all over the place and perhaps that's to be expected. I also know that this baby deserves all my love and support and all the things I did for his/her older brother. So I need to get over this denial and start accepting what's happening. And perhaps even allowing myself to be happy about it without the stabs of fear that are accompanying it right now.

Monday, 21 November 2011

A Weekend Scare

I am quickly learning that in my new normal as a pregnant woman I am completely paraniod. Both myself and The Hubby have to come to terms with our new, not so calm selves.

We had a scare over the weekend. I started spotting on Saturday night. Now I know that no 8 week pregnant woman wants to see blood on the toilet paper, but this really put me in a tailspin. I quickly called the emergency line at my fertility clinic and the nurse on the other line did her best to assure me that spotting is common and not necessarily a sign of impending doom. She went through the list of symptoms including cramping and I didn't have any of them. She advised me to take it easy and call back on Monday to schedule an ultrasound.

The spotting was done by Sunday morning but my paranoia was not. I was in a panic everytime I had to go to the bathroom. The Hubby was asking for "status reports" after every pee. "All clear?" he would ask me. Each time the answer was yes, but I couldn't believe this was now my life. Frantically checking the toilet paper and then screaming out the results to The Hubby who would be anxiously awaiting my answer. It would have been really funny if it wasn't so amazingly scary.

On Monday morning I called to my new OB (although they call them Consultants over here) to ask for an emergency scan. I had an appointment for next week but they happily pushed it up a week. I was a wreck all day waiting for the appointment. Even though I'm riddled with nausea, exhaustion, and a super sniffer I was so scared that something would be wrong. I worried that all these pregnancy symptoms were somehow in my head. My mind playing tricks on me.

Thankfully all is well. My doctor inserted Mr Wandy and within seconds reassured The Hubby and I that there was indeed a heartbeat. Frosty is fine and doing well. No sign of where the bleeding was coming from. He seems to think it's the Endometrin irritating my cervix. He wants me to stop taking it and is switching me to another form of progesterone.

So the good news is that the baby is fine. The bad news is that this new form of progesterone needs to be inserted rectally!! Yikes. So from now until the 13th of December I will be inserting a progesterone suppository up my butt twice a day. No fun! I thought my days of utilizing the "back passage" as they like to call it over here were over. But nooooooo.

If you've been following my blog for a while you will remember my reaction the last time I had to use suppositories. If not, take a quick read  and enjoy the music video that makes me laugh everytime I see it. Oh, but it's not completely safe for work so you may want to wait until you get home.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Random Crying Jags

So here's a pregnancy symptom I didn't have last time around.

Random crying jags.

I thought my days of randomly crying in public were over but apparently I was wrong. It's the strangest thing. I can be doing anything, riding the bus, watching tv, walking down the street, or even sitting on the toilet. Sometimes I've allowed my mind to wander to dangerous places... thinking about my son, or even worse, dreaming about this new pregnancy having a good outcome. Sometimes I'm not thinking about anything related to pregnancy or pregnancy loss. Just doing normal day to day things and BAM, the tears start.

Mostly they don't last long and mostly I can hold them back if I'm in public, but still it's driving me crazy. I'm sure it's just those lovely pregnancy hormones at work. The same ones that are making me tired and giving me that nausea that assures me I am in fact pregnant. But this one is making me feel a bit crazy.

I'm not sure if maybe it's just my fear and anxiety bursting through, or something else. But I wish it would stop. Because the tears and crying jags remind me of life shortly after losing my son. When I had no control over my emotions. When I was a slave to them. And I don't want to have to go back there,,,,, ever again.

I guess that's all for today, apologies for being brief and yet all over the place at the same time. What a mess I am.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Husbands Struggle Too

This is harder than I thought it would be. Not just for me, but for The Hubby.

He keeps up a strong front most of the time and it's hard for me to read where he's at. We have a lot going on right now. In addition to this new pregnancy, my father in-law has dementia which is much worse than we thought. We know this because we just got back from a trip home and saw first hand just where he is. It's too much to go into here but The Hubby had to make some hard decisions while we were home and he didn't necessarily get the support from his siblings that I think he deserved.

So our trip home was very much an emotional rollercoaster. On the one hand we got the amazing news that I am pregnant again. On the other hand we were slapped in the face with the reality of life with dementia. By the time we got home we were both exhausted, physically and mentally. Add some work stress into the mix and the hubby is completely overwhelmed.

I knew he was stressed but had no idea how much until he shared his feelings with me the other day over breakfast. He is absolutely terrified that something is going to go wrong with this pregnancy. Apparently one of the reasons he's not sleeping (in addition to the jetlag) is because everytime I get up to pee he's worried I will have a miscarriage. Now I'm getting up at least once a night (sometimes two) to pee and had no idea that each time it sends him into a panic.

He also panics every time I call him. Each time he's about to answer the phone he's sure I'm calling with bad news. Of course I'm just calling with boring every day stuff and had no idea the sight of my name on his phone is having that effect on him.

The other night he was up much later than I was. Turns out he was looking through all our old pregnancy photos, old facebook posts, and back through the archives of my blog. He said he felt crazed, like he couldn't stop himself. He read the old posts, looked at the old photos, and cried.

It's as if he was driven to remember the pain. When I asked why he said that everytime he feels happy about this new pregnancy he instantly feels guilty. As if somehow being happy again is leaving our son behind. Like we're going to forget him and how sad we were when he died. We talked some more and cried a bit. I told him how glad I was that he shared his fears with me. He smiled and said, "Well now you have something to write about on your blog just in case you get writer's block." That made me laugh.

I wish I could take away his worry, but I can't. I wish he didn't have so much on his plate right now. My primary focus is dealing with the anxiety of this pregnancy, but he's doing a juggling act with chainsaws right now. I just wish that somehow I could step in and help him carry his burden. To lighten his load, even if only a little bit. So that he can sleep through the night without all the fear.

I completely understand where his fear is coming from and have been wondering the same thing myself. How can the happiness of this new pregnancy and the utter devastation of the last one live side by side? Is it possible to feel the joy and hope of this new life without forgetting the love and sadness we felt for the one we have lost? Are we somehow dishonoring our son by allowing ourselves the possibility of happiness again?

How do people manage pregnancy after loss?

I want to be happy about this but I don't ever want to forget about my son.
My firstborn.
Who we never got to take home.
Who we love dearly.

Is any baby going to be able to fill the hole he has left in our hearts? More importantly, do we want that hole filled?

pouring my heart out with shell

Friday, 11 November 2011

One Heartbeat!

Today was our first ultrasound and we have a heartbeat!!

As I wrote yesterday, I was freaking out about this scan. Freaking out a lot! I was up until 2am because I couldn't sleep. So to see that heartbeat was such a relief.

The hubby and I were both nervous wrecks today. You could see the nervousness on our faces as we waited for my name to be called. Once we were called in and the scan began it got even worse. I could barely breathe as the nurse slipped Mr Wandy (who was wearing his rubber glove again) in to take a look.

Immediately I saw something, and told myself that was good. A let out a little breath at that point. The nurse then showed us around. I didn't really hear anything until she said, "And there's the heartbeat." At this point I started crying and shaking so then she couldn't see anything until I held still again. She checked out the blood flow and all the rest of the stuff and told us all looks well.

The hubby had been squeezing my hand the whole time and it's at this point that I realized his hand was shaking. He was crying too, which made me cry even harder. So there we were, both crying hysterically in the ultrasound room. Only this time they were happy tears. Such a difference from the last ultrasound we had.

So I'm officially 7 weeks pregnant. Estimated due date June 30th 2012 which seems like a lifetime from now.

I just hope and pray that this baby decides to stay for the long haul and is able to come home with us in June. I also hope that the hubby and I don't have nervous breakdowns during this pregnancy!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

One Heartbeat Please

Tomorrow I have an appointment for my ultrasound to see if there's a heartbeat.

I'm so nervous about it.

I'm trying not to be but I can't help it. I've been having ultrasounds throughout my fertility treatments. Looking at my uterus, looking at my ovaries, and checking my lining. But this time there is a baby in there. A baby who either will or will not have a heartbeat. A pregnancy that will either be determined to be viable or non-viable.

I am freaking out. 

The last time I was in this situation was at 36 weeks with my son and I was told there wasn't one anymore. That's the day my whole life came crashing down around me. I've been trying to pick up the pieces ever since.

So now I feel like I'm back full circle. Looking for a heartbeat.


I feel like my whole life rests around whether there is a heartbeat or not. I'm trying to prepare myself to hear those awful words again,,, just in case. Like maybe if I prepare myself then it won't hurt as much. As if that's even possible.

I am trying so hard to be happy and excited about this pregnancy but all I feel right now is fear. I can hear the happiness and excitement in the voices of my family and the few close friends I have told. But I can't feel that way yet. Until I see that heartbeat tomorrow.

Then maybe I can breathe for a while.

So if you're the praying type I sure could use a few.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

I'm Featured

One of my posts is being featured over at Hello Grief. If you've been following for a while you may recognize it, if you're a new follower then this will be new to you. It's one I wrote back in May and I consider it one of my most honest and vulnerable posts. It may change the way you think of me.

This is the second time that one of my posts has been featured at this site. I am still surprised when other sites want to share my thoughts with their readers but I'm happy to think that they are helping others through their grief journey.

Check it out here if you like.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Finding My New Normal - A Year On

Wow, I can't believe I've been blogging here at Finding My New Normal for a whole year now. Well, actually it's been a year and two days. The actual anniversary was on the 5th of November but I was on a plane flying over the Atlantic Ocean and was unable to post. I could have pre-planned something and have it scheduled to post on that day but I've been away visiting family and am not nearly that organized.

When I first started this blog I was a broken woman. My son had died and I was overcome with grief. Frozen in a lot of ways. We were getting ready to go home and visit the family. A trip that we did every year, except that this year was supposed to be different. We were supposed to be bringing our new baby for everyone to meet. But life had other plans for us.

Instead of bringing our new bouncy baby home, we were bringing his ashes home in a tiny urn. I still remember that feeling when I got the suitcase out of the closet to get ready to pack for that trip back home. I just couldn't do it. I couldn't pack for 2 people when I should have been packing for 3 people. That empty suitcase prompted my first ever blog post. And thus, Finding My New Normal was born.

It was rough going in the beginning. I was a total rookie to the world of blogging. Looking back I can see that I struggled to find my voice. Partly because writing down my thoughts was new to me, and partly because I just had too many thoughts to sort through. I was deep in the trenches of grief and filled with raw emotion. I can see it all in my early posts. The sadness, the anger, the devastation. It makes me cry to even skim through some of those early posts because it puts me right back there.

I've always written this blog for me, and in the beginning that's who was reading it,,,, me.

I didn't have any followers at first. For a long time I figured I wouldn't ever have any. I mean, who wants to read a blog about a dead baby?? If I had not lost my son I know I sure wouldn't have. But amazingly, this new version of me was hoping there were other women out there like me. So my search began to find some other BLM's (although I didn't know that's what we were called yet).

It's not easy to search for blogs,,,, did you know that? Especially when you have never read any blogs before. So my task was not an easy one. But somehow I managed to find a few women who were struggling like me. I stalked their sidebars and comment sections for others. And soon I had found a group of amazing women who were trying to move on with their lives after losing a baby. Women who understood how I felt. It was so nice to know I wasn't alone out there. I started following them, and to my surprise, they started following me back.

I have found so many amazing bloggers on this journey. In the beginning I connected most with women who had suffered a loss like mine. As time went on I reached out to my fellow infertiles for support as well. I have also connected with bloggers who aren't like me at all. Because we all struggle with something, and we all need support at times. I've found an amazing community here in bloggy land.

After a month or so of blogging I knew I was hooked. Inside my head all these emotions were flying around that I didn't know how to deal with. It was when I sat down to write that I was able to make sense of them.

It's almost like I have to take them out of my head and put them down on paper (or the computer screen) in order to sort them out. As a non-writer this concept amazed me. Not only was I able to figure out exactly how I was feeling, but I also got feedback from people who have walked in my shoes. I wasn't crazy,,, I was just grieving. I can't tell you how much that helped me.

A year on I am sitting in such a different place. A place I couldn't have even imagined a year ago when I was buried in the fog of my grief. I am still grieving my son of course. But it's not the overwhelming burden it once was. It's forced it's way into my life and found a way to fit in with everything else. I am able to feel joy and happiness again. I am able to have good days where I don't cry. I am able to understand that some days I still need to cry and that's ok too.

I am pregnant again. Wow, that brought out some tears,,, give me a minute or two to compose myself.

I am still in total shock about being pregnant again. It's still very early days and one thing I've learned is that a positive pregnancy test does not ensure a healthy take home baby. But I'm hopeful which is something I wasn't sure I could be after my loss.

So have I found my new normal yet? That really was the intended goal of this blog. To help me figure out what to do next. To figure out who to be next. To figure out how to live a life without my son.

I suppose in some ways I have. In other ways I've still got a long way to go. But life is about the journey, and this blog is