Archive | November 2012

I Survived the Weekend

I’ve always been a self-reflective person.  Much of my mind is occupied with replaying life’s events and evaluating.  Did I make the right decision?  Was I productive?  Did I waste time?  Was that worth the effort?  What could I have done differently?  How did it go?  I do this multiple times a day and often reflect on the same thing over and over again.  You can bet I’ve reflected on the days leading up to and the day of Maya’s birth and death thousands of times.  So, this being the end of Thanksgiving weekend, I find myself reflecting – How did it go?

Overall, the holiday and the weekend were fine.  On Thanksgiving day, I spent the morning watching the parade and helping my mom.  When the rest of my family arrived, I felt joy from interacting with my nephews.  It was nice to see everyone.  I sat down for the meal and felt the strength to make it through.  I really wanted to.  My family has a tradition of going around the table and saying what we are thankful for before we start eating.  I pondered this for about a month before Thanksgiving day.  Every time I thought about it, my eyes welled up.  I AM thankful for Maya, but I wish so badly I could be looking at her smiling and laughing as I said it.  We rounded the table and as my turn came up, I started shaking and my eyes welled up.  I wanted so badly to say what I had planned to say without losing it.  And I did.  I said that I was thankful for my family, Hackie, my mom, my dog, my new job, and my little angel that sits on my shoulder and gives me strength to carry on through life.  At that point, I knew I would make it through the rest of the day.

I think another thing that helped was that I was slightly distracted.  I had myself fully convinced that I was pregnant.  Yesterday, it was confirmed that I am indeed not pregnant.  I was pretty devastated.  I cried a lot and threw a nice pity party on myself.  Then I felt guilty that I spent Thanksgiving thinking about being pregnant with my next baby rather than properly grieving the baby I already had who was missing from the table.  It’s very frustrating to have such conflicting emotions, but I realize that grief is complicated and unpredictable.

As I reflect on the weekend, I’ve decided that the anticipation of Thanksgiving was far worse than Thanksgiving itself.  There is so much pressure that comes with holidays – whether you are hosting or not.  Pressure to be happy, pressure to socialize, pressure to ‘celebrate’, which feels impossible at this point.  It was an emotional weekend, but it wasn’t so hard to get through.  I only removed myself from a social situation once and that was mainly because it was getting late and I was tired and needed to wind down.  While it will not go down as the best Thanksgiving ever, it was a milestone in this journey called grief and I am proud of the way I lived through it.

Today, I woke up feeling motivated.  Honestly, I’m pissed that I am not pregnant.  I thought I would be able to get pregnant right when I wanted to and it frustrates me that it still hasn’t happened.  However, there is nothing I can do about that right now.  It’s something we have little control over.  So, I have to keep on living.  I have written down a list of short and long term goals for this month.  I have some strategies for dealing with Christmas and the holiday season.  I’m finding that I’m not as bothered by the music and decorations as I thought I’d be.  I have a feeling of general numbness when it comes to the holidays and that’s OK.

So, on this night, as I reflect, I am feeling content and pleased with myself.  I made it through the weekend just fine, and I feel excited and motivated for the month ahead.  I’m chugging along as I continue to climb.  I know I will still have my setbacks, but after this weekend, I feel I’ve made some progress.

Happy Thanksgiving Maya

Dear Maya,

You get an extra letter this month!  Today would have been your first big holiday.  We’re here at Mima’s and you would have been here with us.  Everyone would have been so excited to see you laugh and smile.  Since you died, I have spent a lot of time thinking about all the things that you won’t get to do.  It’s painful.  As I dig today and reflect to identify what I’m thankful for this year, I find myself thinking about this time last year – the start of my pregnancy with you.  We did many wonderful things together throughout those 8 months.  So today, I’m going to share what I’m thankful for – our time together.

November 2011 – I found out you were growing in there.  We told our family and close friends.  We celebrated Thanksgiving and entered the holiday season so happy and so excited.  You were with me and gave me the strength I needed to say goodbye to your Great-Grandfather.  You gave our family hope for a bright future in a time of such sadness and loss.

December 2011 – We decorated the house and the Christmas tree.  We went shopping and bought gifts for Daddy and all our close family and friends.  We celebrated the holidays and talked about how excited we were to share this holiday season with you.

January 2012 – We were elbow deep in thesis writing!  I was rounding the corner and approaching the finish line of my graduate program.  You kept me company as I worked hard and produced a thesis that I was so proud of.

February 2012 – We finished up that thesis!  You were there with me when I presented my project and I was so proud!  I’ll never forget bringing the final product to the post office.  I felt so relieved and so excited to have accomplished a lifelong goal of getting my Master’s degree.  You were with me the whole time.  This month, my belly grew too and you were officially showing yourself.  We had our anatomical scan, and then another one because you weren’t very cooperative.  You were dancing away and it was so fun to watch you moving around in there!  We celebrated Valentine’s Day and then Daddy’s birthday.  We went bowling – I think you would have loved learning to bowl from your Daddy.

March 2012 – Always a tough month at school.  It was so busy and I was very stressed.  I’m sure you knew how I was feeling.  The show we were working on performed and was wonderful!  It was fun to have you with me while working on that show.  Daddy continued to work on your nursery and we started to feel you move around – that was so fun!  I was very tired, but excited for springtime.

April 2012 – Your first trip NYC!  Your Mima took us to NYC to see some shows, shop, and enjoy the city that I love so much.  We saw Newsies and you danced along with the music.  We saw Once, which was so good!  The last show we saw was War Horse.  It was a very sad story and I was very emotional when it ended.  I remember thinking that it was the last time I would take a trip like this with my mom, but then looked forward to the first time we got to take you.  We also walked around the botanical gardens and I took lots of pretty pictures of flowers.  It was a perfect trip and I am so grateful that I got to share it with you.

May 2012 – This was a busy month!  We hosted the family Mother’s Day gathering.  It was the first time in a while that our family got to see my big belly.  I was glowing that day.  Your nursery was done and we got to show off Daddy’s beautiful mural to your family.  It was so fun to celebrate Mother’s Day knowing that I would soon be joining the group of Mother’s.  The following weekend, you walked with me as I graduated from Lesley and received my Master’s Degree.  Whenever I look at the pictures of me in my cap and gown, I see you there with me and I am so proud that you got to share that moment with me.  At the end of the month, we celebrated Mommy’s birthday.  You really loved that ice cream cake.

June 2012 – This month started with my baby shower.  You received so many wonderful things and it was so nice to see everyone who was so eagerly anticipating your arrival.  It was a beautiful day and so much fun.  The following weekend, Daddy and I bought some more things for you.  Your crib arrived, your shelves were filled with books, and your changing table (made by your Grandpa) was in place and ready.  We went and bought a fuzzy green rug and laid on the floor dreaming of having you in that room and playing with you.  The day before you were born, we bought your glider – the last big piece of that beautiful nursery.

On this day of giving thanks, I am so thankful for the time we had together and all that we got to do together.  You were a huge part of our lives long before you physically arrived in this world.  I am thankful for every kick and punch you gave me to remind me that you were with me.  I am thankful for the strength you provided me to get through a tough school year.  I am thankful for the experience I had with the doctors throughout my pregnancy and delivery.  I am thankful we had the time that we did.

It takes a little more effort and energy to be thankful now that you aren’t here.  However, I am able to be thankful for some things.  I am thankful for your Daddy.  Without him, I’d be so lost.  I am thankful for your Mima, who has been so strong and who’s strength is contagious.  I am thankful for your big sister Halee.  She has been an absolute joy and sometimes lays in my arms like a baby and looks at me reminding me that everything will be OK.  I am thankful for friends and family who have been supportive and continue to remind us that they will never forget you.  I am thankful for my new job, which provides me with joy and something to look forward to every day.

Finally, I am thankful for you, my precious Maya.  You have taught me that life is a gift.  You have taught me what’s important in life.  You have taught me to find some kind of joy in every day.  You have taught me to love life and be grateful for all that I have.

Thank you Maya.  I love you always and forever.

Love and gratitude,

Mommy

Five Months

Dear Maya,

You would have been five months old today!  Such a fun age!  We would know all the things that make you laugh and all the things that make you mad.  We would have gone shopping for a winter wardrobe and picked out a cute Thanksgiving outfit for your first Thanksgiving.  We would be getting ready to send you to daycare, which would have been so hard for mommy, but so exciting for you.  Life would be so good.

I miss you so much my dear girl.  The world has dulled slightly without you here.  Daddy and I are doing our best to stay busy and have hope for the future.  We talk about you constantly and most of the time smile when we say your name.  There is so much that we do that we wish we could share with you.  I’m often so sad when I think of the things you will not get to experience.

Today has been especially hard because exactly one year ago, Daddy and I found out you were growing in my belly.  We named you Boo for the time being and dreamed of what you would be like.  We immediately made lots of plans for you and discussed how we’d change our lives to fit you in.  I’ll never forget that day.

I’m sorry you don’t get to experience Thanksgiving.  It’s Mommy’s favorite holiday and involves lots of eating.  I’m not sure how much you would have gotten to eat of the Thanksgiving meal.  Perhaps some baby food, though I’m not sure we’d be there yet.  I think you would have been a good eater.  I think you would have been growing so well.

Daddy and I miss your cheeks.  We knew you’d have chubby, kissable cheeks because Daddy and I both have those cheeks.  We would have kissed them all the time.  I think by now you’d have those cute chubby thighs and the little line around your wrists.  Everyone would have been so excited to see you at Thanksgiving and your cousins would have had so much fun playing with you!

I love you so much Maya.  Please help Daddy and I get through our first big holiday without you here.  Sit on our shoulders and whisper in our ears that you’re here and that you’re OK.

It’s hard to believe another month has gone by.  Somehow, perhaps with your help, we are surviving and we are living.

I love you always and forever.

Love bunches,

Mommy

The Holidays, etc…

These past two weeks have gone by really fast.  They’ve been productive, I’ve been feeling better physically, I’m sleeping really well, and Hackie and I are very much in sync with each other.  Overall, life has been going smoothly and I think that helps time move.  However, I’m not all that thrilled at how fast these past two weeks have gone.  I feel like the holidays are fast approaching and I’m not ready.  I feel like I’m in a car, driving head first into Thanksgiving, trying desperately to come to a screeching halt and realizing that my brakes don’t work.  (If that doesn’t paint you a visual picture of how I feel, I’m not sure what will.)

Before I get to and then get through Thanksgiving, I have to get through tomorrow – I’m dreading it.  Tomorrow is the 16th and Maya’s 5 month birthday / angelversary.  It also marks one year since my positive pregnancy test.  For the past two weeks, I think at least once a day “at this time last year, I was pregnant but I didn’t know it”.  Starting tomorrow, I will think about what it felt like to get the positive test, to know that I was growing a human, to get excited about telling our parents and friends, to know that my life was changing forever.  I remember that day so well – it was busy, but so exciting.  Now, I will spend my days thinking, “at this time last year, I was pregnant and so eager and excited”.  I will remember how naive I was at this time last year.  I will think fondly of all the memories that go along with my pregnancy.  I will reflect on how different I am now and obsess over how long it will be before I can feel that level of joy and anticipation again.  Tomorrow will be a tough day.  I know that.  Having to work will help – I think.  Knowing that the day will end will help.  Hackie and I have planned a date for tomorrow night so I’m hoping that will make it a little easier to get through.

Thanksgiving is heavily weighted and I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do.  First, it’s my favorite holiday.  It sucks because I’m not looking forward to it and I can’t get excited about it this year.  I’m actually dreading it and trying to figure out strategies for getting through it.  Last Thanksgiving, we told everyone close to us that we were expecting.  We started with my parents, then Hackie’s parents, and then the rest of our families and closest friends.  Everyone was so excited and we were thrilled at how well our plans of telling everyone went.  Thanksgiving day, I woke up to my mom on the phone with the hospital – my grandfather had fallen in the middle of the night.  He hadn’t been doing well and had been in and out of the hospital.  He died that Saturday.  He was 88 and his body was failing his brilliant mind.  Still it was a great loss for our family and I was so sad that he wouldn’t get to meet his great-grandchild.  The roller coaster of emotions that weekend was hard to bear.  However, I was glad that I could tell my family some good news in a time of such sadness.  My cousin put it best when she wrote, “when one door of happiness closes, another opens” – Little did we know…

I remember making a comment last Thanksgiving of how excited I was that there would be another little one joining the table in a year.  This would have been Maya’s first major holiday, and I would have shared my excitement with her.  She would be at such a fun age, and it would have been so fun to watch everyone in the family ooh and ah over her cuteness.

My positive pregnancy test and announcement.  The death of my grandfather.  Our first major holiday with no Maya.  It’s going to be very hard.  I know that.  I do not know how I will feel that day.  Hackie and I will be at my mom’s and my step–siblings and nephews will be there too.  I have already told my mom that I reserve the right to not sit at the table.  I have learned that in this journey called grief, I cannot predict how I will feel and I need to take what I need.  The last thing I want to do is ruin everyone else’s holiday and/or make anyone uncomfortable.  I refuse to sit at the table sobbing while everyone looks at me with pity.

I will get through tomorrow.  I will get through Thanksgiving.  It’s a process and if I’ve learned anything in these last five months, it’s that I cannot plan and I cannot prepare.  I need to live through it and intend to do the best I can.

Making Connections

I wanted to write this days ago, but life has gotten in the way.  This past Saturday, Hackie and I had the opportunity to go to an event at Children’s Hospital for bereaved parents.  We were nervous as we didn’t know what to expect.  The day was beautiful and we both left feeling so fulfilled.

The day started with a panel of bereaved parents who each shared their story.  They did not all lose babies.  Some lost older children who had been sick or been in an accident.  They each talked about how they cope and there were many things said that Hackie and I both felt we could relate to.  Following the panel, we were put into small groups for table discussions facilitated by the social workers from the hospital.  In our group were two other young couples.  Both had lost infants and one of the couples lost their son just three days before we had Maya.  The six of us clicked almost instantly.  We related on so many levels and I loved hearing about their babies and their journeys through grief.

I want to list some of the common themes of the day in hopes of educating my readers on this world of baby loss.

-There is no right or wrong way to grieve.  Though we would all love to have a manual, there is no guide to navigating this long road.  Those who haven’t experienced loss often have unrealistic expectations as to where we should be in our journey towards healing.  Please don’t judge us.  We have to take what we need and do what we feel is right in order to face life without our babies.

-We LOVE to talk about our babies.  We like to tell our stories.  We like to hear others’ stories.  Please don’t think that asking about our babies will make us sad.  When you ask me about Maya, you are acknowledging her life.  You are acknowledging that I am a mother and that you remember her.  Even if you want to know what happened, it does not make me sad.  I like to talk about my daughter.

-It is beneficial to talk about our journey through grief.  When we ignore it, it gets louder and takes over until we acknowledge that it’s there.  Most of the time, we deal with our grief in the privacy of our own home or car.  We don’t bring it up because we don’t want to make those around us feel uncomfortable.  However, asking sincerely how we are doing and just generally staying in touch goes a long way.

-All of the couples in our small group lost our first, and don’t have other living children yet.  We all agreed that parenting our angel babies is very difficult, but very much desired.  We all believe we are mothers and fathers; however, what that looks like is much different than the traditional understanding of the role of a parent.  We want our babies’ lives to matter.  We want them to be remembered and will do everything in our power to ensure they are not forgotten.  We just ask that we not be judged by those who have not walked this path.

After the morning small group discussions, we broke for lunch.  We had lunch with the same two couples and continued the discussion.  We felt such a connection and it was so comforting.  We had another chunk of time in the afternoon to continue the small group discussions.  I think we could have sat there for hours.  After that, we made a stepping stone for Maya and participated in a remembrance ceremony where we lit a candle for our precious angel.

Often times, this climb feels very lonely.  The world carries on as we struggle to get out of bed and make it through the day.  I left Saturday feeling less alone.  I left with two phone numbers of women who are walking a similar path, and who I feel I can turn to when the road gets real bumpy.

One thing I have struggled with is whether or not it was necessary to transport Maya to Children’s when she had such a slim chance at that point.  The neonatologist said that Children’s could say they did all they could whereas Emerson (without a NICU) couldn’t.  Still, I wondered if it was really necessary to put her and then myself through the trauma that went with being moved.  Now, I understand the purpose.

I continue to believe in fate.  It was fate that she was transferred to Children’s.  Had she not been transferred, we would not have been connected to this hospital.  We would not have been invited to this event, and we would not have met these wonderful and supportive people.  It was truly a blessing to make these connections and I am so grateful.

Stupid Thyroid

Originally, this post was going to be called ‘Stupid Halloween’ and was going to be about how upset I was that I couldn’t dress Maya up and post cute pictures of her on facebook.  Originally, I was going to write this post yesterday.  However, yesterday was really hard – as in ‘I really couldn’t stop crying’ hard.  Because of the hurricane, school was canceled for three days.  Spending days alone in the house is not good for me.  I need my routine, and when I have the time for my brain to take over, it’s sob city.  So, needless to say, I couldn’t write yesterday.  And now, a rant about Halloween seems silly.

So instead, I will rant about my thyroid.  However, in the interest of keeping this interesting, I decided to let my thyroid tell its side of the story first… (excuse me, I’m feeling creative/silly this evening).

Hello!  I’m Annalee’s thyroid.  I’m not very effective.  It all started in February of 2010 (except not really).  Annalee went for a routine physical and was lectured about being overweight.  Now, with her wedding only 6 months away, I knew she was trying to lose weight, but I was making it difficult -haha!  On a whim, the doctor tested me and found that I was being slightly lazy (read underactive).  Annalee went on meds, felt better, lost some weight, got married, and lived happily ever after!  And I was off the hook… whew!  Well, not really.

Fast forward to June 2011.  Annalee had been off birth control for about 9 months and started actively trying to get pregnant.  Little did she know that I was mad about the changes in hormones and became even more lazy.  After a 72 day cycle, a trip to the endocrinologist, and some more blood work, we found out that it’s not my fault after all!  Annalee has antibodies that don’t like me and attack me (read Hashimoto’s).  It’s not very nice and it makes me under-perform.  A change in dose, a few more months, and Annalee is pregnant!  Woohoo!!!!

Throughout her pregnancy, I did pretty well.  There was one adjustment in the beginning and then I was perfect!  It’s been made pretty clear that I am not in any way responsible for what happened to Maya.

Thanks thyroid.  I’ll take it from here.  (I hope that wasn’t too corny).

My original plan was to keep this blog more as an emotional outlet, rather than writing about my physical ailments.  However, this is so much a part of my life right now and I need to get it out of my brain!

Typically, after a pregnancy, the thyroid dose is decreased.  However, Hackie and I are hoping to get pregnant again soon (there I said it), so I thought that I could just continue on my ‘pregnancy’ dose and be fine.  How naive and stupid of me.  After some longish cycles, I started to think that something was up with my thyroid dose.  I actually thought that I didn’t have enough in my system as the symptoms were similar to those I had last summer prior to the increase in dosage.  My hair has been coming out in clumps, I have been very tired, and I’m struggling to lose the rest of my baby weight.  I gave in and got my blood work done.  What was found was that my dose is too high and I am now overmedicated.  All of the symptoms I was having coincide with having too much thyroid hormone in my system, including long cycles.

So, I’m back to my pre-pregnancy dose and I’m hoping that within the next month or two I will be feeling better.  Like I said, I hesitated to write all this here and reveal so many personal details about myself, but it plays a huge part in my life.  I also remembered reading some other women’s blogs that reference thyroid disorder and pregnancy.  I found it so comforting and educational to read about others’ experiences.  Perhaps someone will benefit from reading mine.

Personally, I think that thyroid disorder is overlooked.  Doctors won’t test it until you complain of symptoms and even then it’s not consistently measured.  Mine probably went undiagnosed for at least 4 years, if not more.  At this point, I have come to terms with it and understand that there are much worse things that a person could be diagnosed with.  I am grateful that mine was caught when it was and is fairly under control.  I have learned that I need to trust my doctors and trust my body, rather than trying to self-diagnose.

There are days when I feel like my thyroid condition is yet another thing in my already massive pile of crap that I am dealing with.  I then remind myself of what I do have – a loving husband, a beautiful house, a gorgeous dog, a precious angel, and the ability to go to doctors, get the medicine I need, and live an overall healthy life.  For all of that, I am grateful.