Monday, January 9, 2012


One day, twelve hours, thirty-eight minutes.  That's how much longer I have to wait for the first ultrasound of my fifth pregnancy.

I remember the first ultrasound I had 15 years ago with J.  I was 7 weeks pregnant and still in denial.  At that point, I had no idea how far along I was, so we were able to find out based on that.  Thirteen weeks later I had my second ultrasound and found out she was a girl.  Definitely among the top 20 happiest days of my life.

I don't remember the scans as vividly with K.  I remember they were much clearer.  We were living in Boston by that time and the hospital and OB we were dealing with were world class.  I remember seeing her suck her thumb during one of them and I remember she had the hiccups at one point.  I also remember how much her profile looked like my husband's side of the family and I started imagining another blue eyed baby girl... and she has the most beautiful ice-blue eyes I've ever seen.

By the time G rolled around, he had two little sisters attending the majority of his scans.  I had full blown gestational diabetes with him, so I had ultrasounds frequently.  At one point, we were measuring his little noggin (and I say "we" like I had an active roll in the process...) and he very clearly stuck his tongue out.  K, who was 4 at the time, said, "Stop dat, brudder!" and stuck her tongue right back out at him!  The tech laughed herself silly.  To this day, those two have a rather unique relationship.

And then there was Andrew.  My first ultrasound with him was at 11 weeks at Maternal-Fetal medicine.  It was scheduled as an emergency scan due to the amount of time I had been dealing with bleeding.  (By the time I was seen, it was 2 weeks.  It started while we were on vacation.)  I was, as you can imagine, terrified.  But there he was, squirming and bouncing, little arms buds waving as if to say, "Ha!  Ma!  Made 'cha look!"  His heartbeat was strong, ranging between 140 - 150 beats per minute.  It turned out I had a small blood clot that was slowly taking care of itself.  At that point, there was no indication that we were going to have anything other than a successful pregnancy.

The last ultrasound I had was the worst moment of my life.  It was the moment we knew we'd lost Andrew. He wasn't waving anymore.  He wasn't squirming.  There was no heartbeat.  Two days later I delivered him.  Several hours after delivering and a subsequent emergency surgery, I held my baby.  So tiny.  So frail.  I remember thinking if I just hadn't had that ultrasound, it wouldn't have happened.  In my confused and denial-ridden state, it seemed to all boil down to that ultrasound.

And Wednesday morning I have to face another one.

I'm scared.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Tackling My Basement...

Procrastination is my downfall.

First I had to make a play list.  Here it is, should anyone be interested:

Then I had to move like Jaggar.  Except I can't dance, so I spent 10 minutes cracking myself up.  After doing my best Richard Simmons, I finally got down to the business of hating my laundry room.

Exhibit A:

It started out as a pile of disorganized yuck.  Toys everywhere.  A huge ironing basket hidden beside the dryer.  (Remember we had flooding the same weekend we lost the baby and this area became the catch-all for dislocated junk.)

See?  Most unpleasant.  

The first thing I tackled were the games.  I don't have much of an emotional attachment to games, so I whittled them down rather quickly.

Like I told my Facebook friends, some people prepare for the zombie Apocalypse by stockpiling food and water.  Clearly we have our priorities straight in this household.  (I'll save you the trouble... 54 games.  I found another 15 as I continued to excavate and there are at least another 10 upstairs.  Yeah... we have a problem.)

Then I had to call in reinforcements... and they came in the form of my little brother who had just raided my father's collection of professional grade tools.  His lovely wife came for moral support.  

And on the eighth day, the Lord said, "Let there be shelving!"  Only Adam told Him to shush because Adam didn't want to hang the darn shelving and that, boys and girls, is why we only have seven days in a week.

There you have it!  I am going to add a few little area rugs, but that's all she wrote!

Oh, and yes, there are four baskets up there dedicated entirely to ironing.  But that's another story.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Make Room for Baby (Part 1)

My laundry room is a disaster.  It's not just a mess, it's a danger-zone.  Hurricane Irene hit the weekend I gave birth to Andrew.  We came home with broken hearts to find a soaking wet basement.  The finished part of the basement was a smelly, mildewy mess.  We had to pull up all the carpeting and replace it with area rugs.  The back room ended up being the "toss it and forget it" area as we tried to salvage what we could of the living area.  I don't remember thinking about the laundry or the laundry room for the entire month of September and when I finally did get back into some sort of "new normal" there were so many other issues to address, the basement couldn't make it to the top of the list.

It's been four months since we lost Andrew and the basement.  And now it's time to regain control of parts of our lives.  So here's the plan:

1)  Buy a whole bunch of shelving stuff that I'm not entirely sure how to install.  Because logic and planning are my strong suits.  ($72... I saved the receipt.)

1a)  Snap "before" pictures

2)  Tackle all the laundry in the basement so it's out of the way.  (Bleh.)

3)  Empty the laundry room of everything except the washer and dryer.  This includes organizing my slightly obsessive collection of ironing materials and stain removers.

4)  Dispose of 50% of the junk because I know we don't use even half of what's down there.  (Yes, I will donate it if it's useful.)

5)  Bleach the floor (lots of ventilation and fans... no worries.  Plus, a little bleach goes a long way.)

6)  Figure out what will go on shelves.  Purchase containers if necessary.  Use label maker obsessively.

7)  Hang shelves.  (Those are small words for such a huge project.)

8)  Load junk back into laundry room NEATLY

9)  Take "after" photos

10)  Bask in the glory of a job well done.

Okay, how long is it going to take me to do this?  Well, I'm not working Friday or Monday, so if all goes well... no more than 6 months.  No, really, I'd like to have as much if it done by Monday as possible.

So why am I still sitting on the couch, writing a blog, and putting off getting this project started?  Yeah... I dunno either.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Pocket Size Saint

I returned to work a month after I gave birth to Andrew. I went back with mixed emotions. Crawling out of bed and coping with the realities of my "new sense of normal" was like admitting to myself that I really could go on living without my youngest son. At the same time, it was also reassuring to know that I could put away my Mickey Mouse PJs and do something more than feel sorry for myself. It wasn't easy, that I knew for sure.

I work for a Catholic social service agency where people aren't afraid to talk about things like loss. So many of our volunteers consoled and hugged and cried with me those first few weeks back. I appreciated the love and took strength from it. It almost started to feel as if they were doing all the feeling for me. Surprisingly, I was okay with that; it offered me a bit of a reprieve.

About two weeks after I returned, a frantic young mother came through our front door. She was clutching a newborn dressed in a blue jumper. She had run out of baby formula the night before and WIC wasn't open. I found formula for her, held her baby while she put it in her diaper bag, and then proceeded to excuse myself and have a complete breakdown in another room.

God and I had it out at that moment. How was it fair that I, an employed married mother of three who was prepared to provide everything a little boy could need, had to lose my son? Why was that woman allowed to keep hers? Thinking back to that day, I'm not proud of how selfish and judgmental I was. One of the volunteers found me, knew what was going on, and held me for a while. Then she sweetly reminded me that I'm not the only person to ever lose a son.

St. Mary joined us for my oldest son's birthday... reminded me to cherish the moments I have with my children.
The next day I found a pocket-size statue of St. Mary in my pocket. I'm not entirely sure how she got there. The volunteer with the wise words wasn't in that day. Regardless, I've taken a lot of comfort in my pocket-size saint over the last few months. Occasionally I snap a photo of her when I'm particularly grateful for something. I plan to have Mary with me at all of my appointments and check-ups. With any lucky, she'll grant me peace and calm as we deal with the next 8 months.


You know what I haven't done with this pregnancy in the month that I've known about it?  Hope.  So far I've:

Dreaded the thought of another loss
Mourned the failure of my last pregnancy
Doubted my ability to actually do this
Cried (a lot) over how I'm going to tell my family without hurting my sister
Feared every twinge and tingle
Denied myself the happiness that should come with pregnancy

So here's what we're going to focus on now:  new verbs.  Now I'm going to:

Pray because it brings calm and strength
Love this baby because s/he's a gift
Celebrate what's going to happen
Enjoy the coming months, because there's no knowing what they're going to bring
Hold the memory of my youngest son and my nephew close

But mostly I'm going to hope..

For a healthy child
For a successful pregnancy
For a healing and love for my sister

Monday, January 2, 2012

This and the Other

I currently find myself living in two worlds:  This World and The Other World.  In The Other World I am still pregnant with Andrew and whining about feeling huge and uncomfortable and counting down the weeks. I'd be 34 weeks right now instead of  closing in on 8, Christmas would be about baby showers and getting ready for the baby.  I would have used this time to set up his bassinet and make space for his teeny tiny things.  I was supposed to be watching my sugars and counting carbs.  But I'm not... at least not that anyone knows.

And I suck at keeping secrets... hence the blog.

Instead of obsessing about what should have been, I've allowed myself a few luxurious moments to think about what will be.  Thinking like this, imaging where we'll be a year from now, is risky.  I did that nonstop with my last pregnancy.  By the time you reach 18 weeks, it only makes sense to start picturing the changes, right?  I'm trying not to do that as much this time so maybe it won't hurt so deeply if... well, let's just leave it at "if".

Next year at this time, if all goes as planned, I will have a 9 year old, a 13 year old, and 15 year old... and, oh yeah a 5 month old!  I can picture my current children without too much trouble.  G will have lost even more of his baby face and he'll be busy with the new third grade basketball team and friends.  K will have grown a few inches (I hope!) and be well versed in the glory that is the young days of teenagedom.  Soccer will have finally wound down for both of them.  And J will be leaving those early days of her teenage years behind her as she prepares to turn 16 and start looking at colleges.  She'll be working the 10th grade musical, putting her artistic talents to work on the stage crew again.

Where will the baby fit into all of this chaos?  Where will I find moments to make my own baby food and go to story time at the library?  How do I make it to every soccer and basketball game?  How do I juggle helping with 3rd, 7th, and 10th grade homework while still loving a newborn the way s/he'll need to be loved?  We're naturally inclined to a fair amount of disorganization to begin with.  Am I seriously going to add the stress of another risky pregnancy to all of this?  (Yeah, clearly I'm asking that question a little too late.)

There's a saying I keep coming across on Pinterest:  What screws us up the most is the picture in our head of how it's supposed to be.  I am going to make my own framed versions of this and post them throughout my house.  Maybe over the next several months I'll get better at visiting the "other world" less often and ground myself firmly in this world again.  Maybe I can let go of what's supposed to be and focus on what is.  Maybe picturing what's to come will feel less risky.