Friday, July 25, 2014

Taking back the reigns

I can't remember the last time I felt truly in-control.

It must have been before we lost Hayden. It must have been before the single most important thing I have ever done failed miserably and completely dissipated at my feel at the last minute before it was due to complete. Having that happen really sets the tone for your ability to perform normal tasks afterwards. Simple tasks....1.Go to the cupboard and find a pot 2. Put the pot on the stove 3. No wait, put water in the pot first 4. Okay, now turn on the burner..wheres the lid? Oops that might be too much water... "OK, screw it.. I am not making Kraft Dinner, I'm not even hungry, and I don't remember how to use a fork".
Literally, every day, things were re-learned. I didn't drive my car for a long time after. As soon as my hands were on the wheel and the other cars were moving past me I felt like I was going to cause an accident, I was going to fail at this too...I can't drive, I can't cook, I couldn't deliver a living child so how can I do anything else?

When the reigns have been violently grabbed from your hands during the most important event of your life and the direction you were headed suddenly is not the place you want to go everything changes, YOU change.

My brain is firing neurons in random directions at all times. I try to stay focused on one thing, sometimes I can but many times I am sitting in the middle of a million things I have to do staring blankly into space. Watching a single dust particle dance in the light of the sun coming in through the window. Not really thinking about anything at all just the stillness. Still after Stillbirth.

 I am slowly figuring out how to be "Sam" again... passionate, impulsive, funny....creative, attentive,
I stand in front of the tomatoes in the produce section getting anxious trying to figure out whether I should get the "On-the-Vine" type or not. The same indecisiveness that overwhelms me when staring at my son's urn contemplating removing the screws and taking his tiny bag of ashes out to look at them and hold them for the fist time. My anxiety spreads even over all aspects of my life these days.

Change is taking place, though slowly and inconsistently. Last night I met with 2 amazing women over lattes and chocolate milkshakes. We told our stories and talked about the possibilities for the Support Group we are planning to start in our community. We shared ideas and resources and got excited about what we could do to help others. I am a leader, or at least I was at one time. I CAN do this.
I have been called inspiring, strong, amazing lately, all sorts of things I don't necessarily feel. Taking this group, this project with my sisters in grief, taking it on full force will be something I can grow with, grow back into who I was with. I want to be a place of refuge for other women, I want to be someone who makes changes in the way our health care treats these tragedies. I want to be more than Still.

So, now, almost 4 months later, I remember how to get in my car, start the engine and commute without causing fatal injuries. I remember how to use a fork, in fact, I remember how to use chopsticks. And I don't give up cooking Mac n' Cheese because it's too complicated, I've went back to making spaghetti sauce from scratch and cutting Julienne carrots for salads.

I can't promise I will not break down at the sight of myself in someone else. I can't say that I will follow the rules learned in that Grief Counselling course I took years ago. I will be human. I will be a grieving mother just the same. I will be unapologetic about my inability to stay Still and silent in the face of another woman's pain. Anyway, that is not what I would want to offer her. I would offer my own tears so that somehow they can take away some of hers, I would offer open arms and a strong grasp. These are the things we are made of now.

Somehow, in my attempt to take the reigns back, my uncontrollable amount of love and desire to support will teach me how to be in-control once again.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Guest Post: "Jacob's Story"

My baby’s 6 month birthday is next week, and I have never had the opportunity to buy him anything.  I never bought him an outfit to come home from the hospital in, or a blanket that he will still love when he’s a toddler, or a baby outfit for his 6 month pictures.. But yesterday we purchased his headstone. My baby died inside of my body at 20 weeks old. A part of me died with him.

I am the mother of three boys, Jayden is 9, Joshua is 5 and Jacob is my angel in heaven. I struggled with secondary infertility for almost four years before finally being blessed with my third pregnancy. I found out about our little miracle October 2013.  We were all so excited! We took our boys with us to our first doctor appointment and they were able to hear their little baby’s heartbeat and see him wiggling during the ultrasound.  I had a healthy pregnancy, I felt nauseous daily but never threw up. I was concerned that I had a fever almost every night but dismissed it because someone was getting sick or just over getting sick. It was winter, so I figured there were just normal winter germs going around.

 On January 21, 2014 we all went together again for my 20 week ultrasound, excited to finally know if we were having a boy or a girl. Within seconds of my baby’s image being up on the screen, the tech said “I don’t have good news, do you want your boys in here?” The sound of my screams and cries still haunt my boys as my husband ushered them out of the room. There was no heartbeat, my baby was dead.  My world literally stopped in that moment. How could this be possible? How can I go back in time and change this? How am I ever going to breathe again?

We decided to be induced that day, and left the ultrasound still not knowing if our baby was a boy or a girl. Honestly, I didn’t want my baby to be dead inside of me any longer. I expected my labor to be quick and when we left our boys with my in-laws to go to the hospital, I kissed them and told them I would be home before bedtime. My labor took much longer than I expected and they had to give me double doses of the medication to induce labor. The hospital’s social worker came to talk to us about our options of what we can do with our baby’s body. That was the moment that it sunk in: my baby is truly gone. There’s no going back, there’s no fixing this. We started to plan for a burial before we ever held our baby.

I’m a religious person and I believe in life after death. I could feel my baby’s spirit near several times during labor. It was by feeling this spirit, that I knew we were having a boy. We didn’t have any boy names picked out, I was hoping for a girl and have a beautiful girl name, but I told my husband that we were having a boy and that his name would be Jacob Michael.

As my labor progressed, the pain became more intense.  I didn’t want any medication, although I had epidurals with my previous children. I wanted to feel this pain. I wanted my physical pain to match my heart. I felt like the pain was all I had left of my baby.  Because I was only 20 weeks along, I didn’t have to fully dilate.  I can recall hearing the sound of a heartbeat from the other room, and a woman crying out in pain as she birthed her healthy, live baby.  The pain my body was feeling didn’t come close to the aching in my heart.
Sometime after midnight my water broke. From there, everything progressed quickly. My sweet nurse stayed right by my side once my water broke. I was dilated to a four when I passed a huge blood clot. Soon after, I could feel my baby’s tiny body slip from my body and I cried out “my baby”.  Jacob was born on Wednesday January 22, 2014 at 1:53am weighing a teeny 3 oz. He was here, but will never really be here.  I didn't see him right away, I was so scared to, and I will always live with that regret.  They confirmed that he was a boy. My doctor then had to deliver my placenta which wouldn't detach. That was the most horribly painful experience. Eventually they decided they needed to perform a D&C to remove my placenta and began prepping me for an epidural. I remember sitting on the edge of the bed, leaning into my husband while they prepared me for the epidural, and hearing a dad from the other room coaching his wife through labor. It was too much. I lost it. My baby was gone. My heart was broken. As I was laying on the bed during the D&C I kept thinking someone should be checking on my baby, and then I would remember that he didn’t need anything. But it was so hard to look over to the counter where he was, and know that he didn’t need me, he didn't need anything. My blood pressure dropped dangerously low and that kept me further from finally seeing my baby.

Finally, after a few hours after his birth, my baby was brought to me, already dressed in a little outfit donated by Share Parents. I was so scared to see him. I envisioned him to look like my other boys, only smaller but that wasn't the case. His skin was dark and his body was already changing from death. But all I was aware of was how cold he was. My baby shouldn't be cold. I tried to wrap him tighter in his blanket and hold him closer to me, I even breathed my warm breath on him. But he remained cold.  My husband and I spent the morning with Jacob, holding him, talking to him, loving him. Around 8:00am we asked my in-laws to bring our boys to say hello and goodbye to their baby brother. We spent an hour together as a family of five. I knew it was time to let him go and I will never forget the looks and sounds of my boys crying as the nurse carried Jacob out of the room.

We buried Jacob two days later, on a cold January afternoon.   Leaving his little casket to be put in the ground was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. For days I wanted to go back and dig him up and take him home with me. I find peace now in visiting his resting place, tending to his spot, and decorating it. To me, it is sacred ground.

I found out three weeks after I lost Jacob that the reason he passed away is from a virus called CMV. I had never heard of this virus before. It is called the silent killer because there are no symptoms.  I believe the fevers that I had daily were a sign of this virus. But my doctor said there was nothing that could have been done. There was no way to treat the CMV virus.

It has now been almost 6 months. I don’t cry every day anymore, I sometimes even laugh now. But I know that I am not the same person I was before January 21. I will never be that same person. I am forever changed by the death of my unborn baby. We celebrated Jacob’s due date on June 13. That was a difficult day. My boys miss their baby brother and are starting to talk about him more now.  I have met amazing moms and dads that have also suffered a loss and I am so grateful for their examples and friendship. It’s bittersweet because I know I would never have met them if my baby were still alive.  I try to live each day in a way to honor Jacob. I want to keep his memory alive and a part of my family forever.  I don’t know if we’ll have another baby or not, but I will always count Jacob as one of my sons.  I know that one day I will have my Jacob again, I know that all is not truly lost, it’s just so hard to wait. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Guest Post: Lily's Story

My story begins on October 5th 2013. My boyfriend of 8 years and I had just moved in together 5 months prior and kids were definitely not something on either of our minds.  We had a comfortable lifestyle of being spontaneous and carefree.  All that changed when my stomach bug wouldn't go away.  After a day of rock climbing and feeling like I was going to throw up on a mountain, a friend of mine suggested I take a pregnancy test.  Although we laughed it off, deep down I somewhat knew that I could be pregnant.  The next day while my boyfriend was at work, I took a test. And another test...and another test. I prepared myself for the talk we would have to have when he got home.  Although I was 29, I was absolutely terrified to tell him and to actually take that step in our lives.  I have never been the maternal type and I always thought I could live a life without kids and marriage.

He was absolutely supportive in any decision I made.  I decided to go to the doctor and first confirm everything was true because you never know if the baby is even growing correctly, if there is a heartbeat or if it was a false positive.  We went to the doctor the following week and she confirmed that we were 7 weeks along.  Then she pointed out a little flicker of light and said, "That is the heart beat".  That was the moment that changed both of our lives. I am a strong believer in everything happening for a reason and this was the time in our lives that this was supposed to happen.  We realized if we were going to do this, we were going to do this 100%.  After a surprise Disneyland proposal a few weeks later we got married. Everything just felt so right in our little world.

At my 19 week appointment we were told that that little bean in my belly was a girl.  I was over the moon excited because I am a daddies girl and wanted my husband to understand that feeling that a father has for his little girl.  I let my husband name her and he decided Lily would be the perfect name.  We both came to the middle name "Jay", a nickname I call my husband Johnny. I also think of a happy little jaybird when I hear that name. Everyone in our lives were excited for us and little girl things were being bought left and right.  This was to be the first grand child for my family so you can only imagine the excitement when I broke them the news! Unfortunately, that ultrasound would be the final photo I have of my little girl as they never sought to do another ultrasound again because I was healthy and there was no need.

Around 6 months I started having issues possibly related to anemia.  I would randomly black out and was having horrible migraines.  I called the advice nurse and they would ask me questions about passing out but never once was I told to come in to be monitored.  I didn't question them because I assumed they knew best and if feeling her move was all that was important, so be it. I had an appointment scheduled a day after I had a black out episode.  I told the dr. I was concerned for the baby and they sent me in for blood work.  Again, they didn't monitor the baby or my fluids or do an ultrasound.  My blood work came back fine but I was anemic which was true before pregnancy too.  I basically put myself on bed rest, quit my job and focused on resting.

Going forward I never passed out again and was feeling pretty okay throughout the rest of my pregnancy.  My 40 week appointment came a day after my due date (June 5 2014).  I was SO bummed that she hadn't come yet.  I was told not to worry because the first baby is usually late.  I was told to schedule being induced on June 12th if she doesn't come beforehand. That day I felt like I should have pushed for an ultrasound or to be induced sooner but I kept being told "You're young and healthy, don't worry".

On Monday, June 9th I started to have contractions. I called the Dr. to see if I should go in and I was asked if I felt her kicking.  Come to think of it, I didn't feel her much that day but I ate something sweet and waited for the kicks.  Lily Jay was a kicker the whole 9 months and on June 9th, she stopped kicking.  I thought it was weird but I was told it was probably because she had no more room to kick.  Fair enough, that totally made sense.  They asked if I wanted to come in or wait for the contractions to get stronger.  I decided to go in and start this process to finally see my baby girl.

I checked into the hospital and when they went to check the heart beat, there was no sound.  I was thinking, maybe that's not the right machine and they were looking for something else.  Then the Dr came in with the ultrasound machine.  That was the moment our lives crumbled, there was no movement.

The Dr. calmly said, "I'm sorry, there's no heart beat".  I couldn't even cry because I was in such shock, I didn't understand how this can even happen. The dr. said, "It just does, it can just happen".  He then explained that I would have to deliver her naturally since a c-section was pointless at this point. I begged to just have the surgery done because I didn't think I could mentally handle all of this.  Unfortunately my crying and begging was denied and I prepared myself to deliver my precious Lily Jay. 

The next day on June 10th at 5:17pm, after 24 hours of labor my little angel was born. Weighing 5lbs 15oz and 21inches, happiest moment of my life was the saddest day of my life. The baby I loved and carried for 9 months was gone.  My body was empty, my arms were empty and now my heart was empty.  She was literally the most beautiful baby I have ever seen and Im not just saying that because I created her.  She looked JUST like my husband did as a baby and had his beautiful full hair. My husband and I spent time with her the next day and promised her that she would never be forgotten and she would always be our little girl.

Although I was offered to have an autopsy done to possibly determine a cause, I denied having that done.  I wanted my angel to rest peacefully untouched, unharmed and pure.  They sent in placenta for testing to see if that showed any cause. At my followup appointment I was told that my placenta was smaller than normal, which happens at around 42 weeks and can cause the baby to get less blood and oxygen.  I was dumbfounded, then why hadn't my baby been checked at 40 week if there was a possibility that this could happen? The answer I was given was that I never gave them reason for monitoring because I was healthy throughout my pregnancy. I hated hearing that because I knew in my heart I should have had better care, monitoring and ultrasounds done but trusted that the drs. knew best. I also kick myself for not demanding an ultrasound to see how big she was at 40 weeks. I know dwelling on these "what ifs" won't bring her back and will ultimately hold me back from moving forward, so I try my best to not do so.  Instead of dwelling, I want to be a voice so that more babies don't have to have their lives cut short. I filed a complaint with the hospital and demand that they start monitoring babies more, especially if the mom is having health issues.  Also, just because the parents are seemingly young, healthy and in physically "good shape", that doesn't mean that their concerns are less valid than parents who are sick, use drugs or are older. Nothing will bring my baby back but if my complaint can somehow fix the way the doctors are trained then maybe some babies will be saved so that another mom doesn't have to endure the pain that my family has gone through.

Again, I am a believer in everything happening for a reason and I like to see  Lily as only a positive in our lives.  Although the outcome was not ideal, she made me and Johnny way better people.  We got married, moved out of a less than ideal neighborhood, my husband went back to school at night and I left a stressful job. She made me realize how much I do need children to feel fulfilled and  she made us realize that things that seemed to matter and make us upset, don't really matter.  She made us appreciate life more, live life more and to not sweat the small stuff. We decided to have her cremated so that we can spread her ashes in places that make us happy.  We live in San Francisco and love to drive up and down the coast.  The weekend before she passed we took that long drive and talked about all the places we were going to take her. I will keep my promise and take her there, spread some of her ashes and just know that every time I see the ocean, she's there. Another way we want to honor her is to spread her ashes in the soil.
l and grow lilies. The most important thing to me is to not let her be forgotten and I will honor my little ones life the best I can. 

To all the mommies who are going through this, you're not alone. I feel alone a lot too but just know that at least in the U.S., that 1 in 160 babies are stillborn.  There are a lot of mommies out there who are feeling the way you do and if you can reach out to them, you should.  I have been using instagram as a way to connect with other moms in the same situation and it helps heal the hurt.

And to Lily Jay Lucatero, thank you. You have made both of your parents who they are today. Fly high my angel, mommy and daddy love you.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Since you left

Dear Hayden,

I know you're not going to read this. That's OK.

I just want to tell you about what Mommy has been doing since I last saw you. We have been apart for 107 days, 2 hours and 53 minutes.
That is 2,570 hours
154,253 minutes
This is all the time I have been given so far to try to process why this happened and figure out how to go on without you.
Your Daddy and I have missed you very much. We have missed you every one of those minutes. Our love for you keeps growing just the same as if you were here with us. I don't even know what you would look like now. Would you still look so much like me?

We lost you at the beginning of spring. There was snow on the ground then and we had to shovel the driveway most days just to leave the house. Now it's the middle of Summer and the buzz of the air conditioner hums as I write this. The mosquitoes are trying to get in through the screen window and my forehead is damp from the heat. Fiddle head season came and went, I didn't even bother to pick any this year. It's now too late to start the garden, I wasn't up for it I guess so the weeds are overtaking it like a tiny jungle (not only was I not up to it- I also thought everything I touched would die). I didn't even plant my favorite, Rosemary, I loved baking fresh Rosemary bread, come to think of it, I haven't even baked bread since you died.

Baby steps. That is what life is for me now. Just as you would be taking in the next few months, baby steps are what I have been taking in the wake of losing you.

Here are some of the things your Mommy has been doing since we said goodbye.

Only 2 weeks after we lost you I lost my childhood best friend. My great grandma died 4 days before her 100th birthday (you died 4 days after your due date) and on my way home to Bathurst for her funeral in the middle of the night at the gas station it cost $44.44 to fill my tank.

   In her casket I placed this note. I couldn't wait to introduce you to her. It was a family dream to have pictures taken of the two of you.
 Your Dad and I took up knitting! Yup!
It helped keep our hands busy and our heads focused. Your father is a VERY good knitter! He got really in to it for awhile and we sat through endless YouTube videos explaining different techniques.

We got Poppy a new bed from Costco, she LOVES it.

 We made a fire.

We took you home in the urn your Grampy built. It is in the same place where your crib was once set up

A June bug landed in my coffee. It's OK though, there was only one sip left.
I did our taxes 

I sent funny pictures to your Daddy during the day when we were apart. 

 I started taking some progress pictures, the belly sure has gone down but it                                                   is still very apparent that you were there!

Your daddy and I hung out with the largest axe in the world.

I bought a floppy hat

I put on a puppet show for my favorite little kiddies at the library

I took funny pictures with Hitch

I tried "Juicing"

Realized I truly enjoy solids. Made delicious veggie burgers with the gunk that was left from juicing.

Became OBSESSED with Civ5 and began world domination.

Went camping with your daddy and Poppy

Married your Daddy and became the official step mom to your big brother D

Took a wedding selfie

Survived Hurricane Arthur with minimal damage and only 3 days without power

Started corresponding with the Author of "Still." She told your mommy she is very sorry we have to live without you, she understands this kind of thing.

I try to sit outside in the mornings when the sun is shinning bright and listen to the birds. I imagine you as a sun ray on my eye lids and smile.

And most recently, I went strawberry picking! 

A lot has happened but nothing has changed. Not with the way I love you or the pain I wake up with. I am desperately waiting for a sign from you telling me this is all going to be OK, that you will make sure your Daddy and I have more babies and that you will watch over them and keep them safe and alive.

I miss you beyond rhyme or reason.


Your Mama

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"Cord Accident"

It has been over 3 months now.
I've been waiting to find out 102 days.
Edge of my seat, nervous thoughts, anger and paranoia moving in and out of me depending on the day and the minute. At least that part is laid to rest.

Cause of death: "Cord accident"

I am relieved that it was nothing I did or could have prevented. I am relieved to know I am capable of having healthy babies. But there is something lingering over this that hurts very deeply. He was perfect! I always knew it but now I have a doctor's words to confirm it. Hayden was well developed, well grown, every organ and every body part was absolute perfection. This was a freak accident. An unfortunate turn of events in the last few hours he was in my womb. How do you get that far in a pregnancy only to lose your baby at the last minute?

My son was eight pounds and three ounces of perfect.
He was 21 inches long of healthy.
He was ready to survive outside of me.
He should have came into this world screaming and kicking.
Instead he came in to it sleeping. A forever sleep.
I am not sure what this all means for me.
What will I become? Better or worse?
This will ALWAYS be here.
You don't lose a child and eventually get over it.

The doctor told me that sometimes the cord gets pinched a certain way. He likely did not suffer and that it probably happened very quickly. She said these things happen, rarely, but still happen. I am a statistic. I struggle with the ideas of random occurrences versus fate. Either this was just a result of something that had nothing to do with anything, just bad luck for me I guess, or, this was a burden I was chosen to bear. I can't even get in to this kind of thinking now, I am numb and my brain is in shock. I have no fancy words, I can't remember how to form sentences with metaphors and I can't think of any other word but "perfect" and am trying really hard not to sound repetitive.

I used to lay in bed an fantasize about time travel. I would think about the possibility that I could bargain my way in to going back in time to the day before we lost Hayden. It would be Nick and I making that trip together and I would think about all the occurrences that happened in the days and weeks since which we would have to go on pretending didn't happen. A little secret that only we knew. I would think about how I would go about convincing the medical staff that I needed an emergency C section even though he was alive and well. I would picture myself needing to put on a huge show of complete hysteria just to remain hooked up to the monitors. I even thought maybe we would have to approach our doctor before making the trip to the past and get her to agree to come with us so that there was no way anything could go wrong. She would know that we needed to evacuate Hayden right away before he died and everything would be fine. She would have to vow not to tell anyone and to go on like she didn't know the future even though she did. I fantasized about this all the time in the first few weeks. I thought of every detail. Now that it has been 102 days I am unable to think that way anymore. Too much time has passed now, I no longer dream of ways to bring him back. I guess that means, in a way, I have accepted his death. Now I am stuck in a place of grief and memory. Fading images of his little face close to mine, forgetting what 8.3 pounds felt like in my arms, trying hard not to but inevitable forgetting.

A cord accident. Simple as that. I think about all the times the garden hose became twisted and the flow of water to my plants ceased. How I would scowl and go up my lawn looking for the cause. My beautiful son. My first child. All of these things I make associates with, all comes back in full circle to this feeling.

I can't say anything else, I can't end this blog right because I am no longer able to think. I keep trying for a poetic way out or a literary Que to leave. These words are in shock just as I am, they can't finish their thoughts either or make sense. So instead of trying to find an exit strategy I will just end it abruptly.

- Hayden's Mama