Insomnia

I’ve gotten to that point in pregnancy where, despite exhaustion, sleep has become elusive because I can’t maneuver myself in bed quite as nimbly as I once could. 3-4 hours a night is nice, compared to the amount of sleep I had in most of 2013, but it gives my mind much too much time to wander aimlessly into it’s darkest corners at these quiet hours of the night.
The nesting urge has been overwhelming lately. I’ve been trying not to fight it as much. I’m stuck somewhere between being terrified to jinx myself, and needing desperately to do something that makes me feel like this pregnancy isn’t doomed to repeat history. I’ve been insistent, and remain so, that I don’t want anyone to purchase anything for this baby. Not until it is here safe and sound. There won’t be a baby shower. In fact, I’m pretty confident in the fact that I won’t ever be attending another baby shower, ever. But despite that, part of me feels the need to make a few purchases, just to convince myself that this isn’t just some elaborate lie I’ve made up in my head to ease myself of the pain of losing Everlee. I’m stuck somewhere between a rock and a hard place, so I’m trying to find a comfy piece of grass to curl into the fetal position in between.
In the meantime, the isolation is slowly eating away at my brain. The best rest isn’t so bad, but the loneliness is exhausting. It’s hard to have people visit too when you’re in no state to play hostess to them. The idea of having people in my house and not entertaining them is stressful to me. I feel like I should have food and drink and things for them when they’re here, and I’m just not capable of that. An every so often I just feel myself fall to pieces from the loneliness of it all. But my wonderful nurses, they see that. They see that living in a constant state of being an incubator can take a toll on the mind, and they assess the situation and every so often grant me a short spurt of parole where I can ride in the car and get my own coffee at Starbucks, so I can see normal humans interacting and be assured that the world continues beyond the walls of my house and the hospital, the hospital and my house. Lather, rinse, repeat.
I’m not complaining. I’m taking every possible second to enjoy the mechanics of this pregnancy. Every wiggle and every poke. I revel in the shadow of my swelling belly, and I enjoy every moment of singing and talking to my wriggling belly. I don’t take a second of my time with this growing baby for granted, because I realize in a heartbeat it could all change. I just wish sometimes that I could live in that place of ignorant bliss where being pregnant and having a nursery and feeling kicks and picking out names actually means you’re coming home with a baby. But I know better. I just hope for better.
But it’s 6:25am. I’ve been awake since 2. It’s probably time I try to sleep for another hour, and dream sweet dreams where nothing’s real, and nothing hurts.

My Health Hero

(the following entry was written at the request of the American Recall Centre

The folks over at the American Recall Centre contacted me earlier this month and asked me “who is your health hero?”. When I was asked to write this piece, clearly the answer for me was simple. When I think about the person who has motivated me the most to become master of my own health destiny there is only one clear answer: my beautiful daughter Everlee.

To understand why this is we have to look at this story in three parts, the before, the during and the after.

Before Everlee I had always known I wanted to be a mom. I was born to be a mother. But we don’t always manifest our own destiny without a lot of hard work. Shortly after I was married in 2010 I discovered I was part of a large but seemingly silent group of women who suffered from infertility. Although doctors have never been able to give me a reason for this, in my quest to become a mother I became more in tune with my body, especially in the most womanly of ways, than I had ever been in my life. I got to know intimate parts of my own life that I had never dared explore before. I knew more about cycles, and ovulation and implantation than most OBGYN students. I learned that sometimes in a quest to fulfill oneself, you have to learn to check your dignity at the door. I got to know myself better than I could have ever imagined possible. It look a long two years and a lot of emotional turmoil, but in July of 2012, to my surprise, I found myself pregnant with my first child.

As any mother of a biological child will tell you, during pregnancy your body becomes anything but your own. My daughter, my very reason for being, was living inside of me, being nurtured and growing healthy and strong in preparation to life the life of love and happiness I longed to give her. Because of her I became more healthy and more aware of my body than ever before. Every single decision I made was no longer for myself, but for the survival and health of my child. My body was no longer just a vessel that got me from point a to point b, it was a home. I was so blessed to feel her kicks and tumbles every day that told me she was happy and healthy in the cozy little home I was making for her.

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32 weeks pregnant with Everlee

But some things never work out as planned. Early in my third trimester, despite my best efforts to provide my baby girl with the most healthy body possible, I was diagnosed as preeclamptic. And on February 12, 2013 I suffered a complete placental abruption. February 13th at 1:16pm I gave birth to my gorgeous baby girl. Stillborn.

Life after Everlee was, and continues to be devastating. There isn’t a day that passes that I don’t miss her gorgeous little face and think about not only the loss of her life, but the loss of all of the potential that died with her. But in order to continue to strive towards my dream of being a mommy. Every single moment with her was special. Her entire life she was inside of me, being nurtured and loved. She was conceived, lived and died within my body, I was her world, I was with her every second of her existence and I am endlessly honoured. I see the beauty in it.

Since Everlee, I have learned that I have to love and understand my body better than anyone else if I’m going to bring her little brother or sister into the world safely. Now at 25 weeks pregnant I am more in charge of my own health than ever before. I owe that to Everlee. Because of her I have no problem with standing up for myself and asking the questions I may have been afraid to ask in the past. I’m not afraid to ask for help, and speak up when something just doesn’t feel right. Before Everlee I never would have done that. But because of her, because she was here and because she mattered, I now matter more to myself. She may not have been here for very long, and she may have been the tiniest little being, but that little life spoke volumes. She is, and always will be, my hero. I love you Everlee.

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Envy

I’ve been struggling to write here since finding out I am pregnant. Not because I have a lack of thoughts or feelings, but because I always saw this as Everlee’s sacred space. I have been feeling that writing here about being pregnant was somehow me moving on and leaving her behind. However, after much consideration I have realized that Everlee becoming a big sister is every bit as much about her as it is about the baby growing in my tummy.  No matter how many other children I go on to have, I am, and always will be Everlee’s mom. 

I am going to try my hardest to spend some of my very long days writing here about my experience with pregnancy after stillbirth. 

I’ve been sentenced to bed rest since 18 weeks. I am now 23. There is nothing pressing wrong, it’s more of a preventative measure to protect me from slowly rising blood pressure, and my own anxiety. I have a nurse that calls me every day, and visits every 3 days. They do all of he normal pre-natal visit sort of things – urine dip, blood pressure check, fetal heart rate. Can I tell you how reassuring it is that I get to hear that steady clack-clack-clack of the heartbeat every few days? Still nerve wracking every time, but it gives me some peace. I’m also seeing my OBGYN once a week, and getting bi-weekly ultrasounds/biophysicals. As nervous as I am about everything, I honestly couldn’t be more grateful for the world class health care I am getting. (and in reading some of my american friends‘ blogs, may I also say how thankful I am for the Canadian health care system?) After 5 weeks of bed rest – and almost 3 months to go I’m at a oint now whwere I can’t tell you what the weather has been like, or how much gas costs right now, but I can tell you who was arrested in last night’s episode of cops, and how many hours it is until my next doctors appointment. 

 It has been a long 5 weeks, but I have been able to fill my days and occupy my time. I have some wonderful people who have helped me in doing that. To all of those who taken the time to visit me (sometimes with puppies!!), call, text, facebook, tweet.. thank you! You’ve helped the days pass more quickly, and gave me the strength I need some days to get through and mark another x on the calendar. You’re amazing. 

But what happens when the fear creeps in? What happens when you have so much joy, you become afraid you’re not supposed to grieve anymore? Quite frankly the journey is wearing me out. The ups and downs, twists and turns and then it all stops and spins again. This portion of the journey to becoming a mom of two seems to just spiral out of control sometimes – all while rarely leaving my couch. Everyone is having first birthdays that I just sit on the outskirts of – never forgetting the first birthday we never got to have. I am trying so hard to basque in the brightness and the joy of this pregnancy, but sometimes the fear just takes over, and 5 minutes without a kick in the belly makes me want to run screaming to the case room just to check. 

The bed rest is catching up to me. I can’t go to meetings, or out with friends. I have entirely too much time on my hands. You would think I would write more, but I have built walls around this pregnancy. I’m so focused on getting this baby here safely, I have had to block out some of my grieving. But then, the guilt of realizing I’m not grieving as much seems to make the pain that much more intense when I let my guard own. But then I have to box it up and put it away again because I know I have to focus on this pregnancy and this baby. 

It’s a vicious cycle that is leaving me breathless and a little stir crazy. This is part of a double sided journey. And it makes me envious of all of those other women I know that are blissfully pregnant, and unaware of all of the horrors that I know. How I long for those days of innocence when I didn’t feel like I was jinxing something to want to hang a picture on the nursery wall or post a picture of my growing belly for all to see on facebook.  I hope this pregnant lasts at least 13 more weeks, but at the same time I hope they go by as quickly as possible and that I can embrace both of my children; this baby in my arms and Everlee in my heart.