*Boys*

Warning: This post is about a pregnancy.
I wrote it in February but I for some reason never published it, so here it is now after the safe arrival of Malou’s second little brother. 

I am overjoyed
to be pregnant again.

It is very different this time.

Very different from being pregnant with
Malou
and with Liam.

I am now a “working mom”…
so my days are very full.

I don’t have the time to
think about every little move
this baby makes.

Maybe that’s a good thing.
Probably.

As I worry less.

My biggest fears were in the beginning,
but that is because
I had two miscarriages
(one at 5 weeks and one at 9 weeks)
earlier last year.

Both were spontaneous pregnancies,
as was this little boy moving inside me right now.

Hard to believe, right?
After all our struggles
to get pregnant with Liam?

Months of hormones, IUI and eventually IVFs…

Anyways,
I was very worried I would miscarry again.

But fortunately
this baby has given me nothing
but peace of mind,
with not a single bit of spotting
(something all of my other pregnancies have had,
at least a bit)
and with lots and lots of movement!

I am over half way now…
almost 24 weeks.

I have made a lot of plans
for our future,
for this baby’s future…
sometimes that feels scary,
usually it feels good.

Exciting.
Hopeful.

But not the same.
I am not naive,
like I was when pregnant with
Malou.

I am not terrified,
like I was when pregnant with
Liam.

I am cautious,
but not overly so.

I am anxious,
but it is manageable.

Surprisingly,
I am finding I have more anxiety and worry
about something happening to
Liam
than I do about something happening to
his little brother.

A part of me feels guilty about this,
as if I don’t love baby boy #2 as much.

But I know this isn’t true.

Another part of me feels guilty
that I (still) want another daughter.

I am incredibly happy
to be having a seemingly healthy baby boy,
and really excited to see him and Liam
grow up together,
and hopefully be good friends,
as they will be less than 2.5 years apart.

But as happy and excited I am about that,
I can tell I am still grieving
the loss of a daughter.

Having another girl
would in no way make up for
the loss of
Malou.

But it would give us the chance
to raise a daughter.

An experience
I feel I lost.

I don’t like it when people tell me
how much easier boys are
(during the teenage years, at least ;))…
as if I should be happy I am having
another boy for this reason.

I am happy to be pregnant.
Period.

I am happy to be having a
(by all indications, so far)
a healthy baby.
Period.

I am happy we were lucky enough
to get pregnant naturally.
Period.

It has nothing to do with
the gender.

And everything to do with
appreciating the miracle of life.

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Published in: on July 16, 2012 at 22:01  Leave a Comment  
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One week

In one week
it will be two years.

My mind is consumed with
Malou
these days.

Everything reminds me of her.

I am having trouble falling asleep,
because my mind races
with thoughts
and sad memories.

***

I am going to the dentist next week.

The same dentist
who asked me,
when I was pregnant with Liam,
if I had any other children.

I reminded her of
Malou
and she dismissed her
as if she didn’t count.

I was thinking of that today
and I realized the irony of it…

how many people
ask you,
when you are pregnant,
“Is this your first?”

When they can see
the baby bump,
they consider that baby “real”
even though it’s not yet born.

But when that bump disappears,
when you’ve actually birthed a baby,
held a hand,
kissed a cheek,
and then buried
all your hopes and dreams in the ground,
that baby ceases to exist
for so many people.

Why is a baby real to so many people
only when he or she is alive?

Why,
when I was pregnant with Liam,
would people say he was my first,
even though he wasn’t yet born…

and my first child,
who was already born into this world,
was forgotten, dismissed?

Why would someone who wasn’t born yet
“count”
and someone who was born
not?

(To be clear,
I personally don’t distinguish between these two)

Did
Malou
only “count” when she was alive
in my womb?

No, of course not.

I just don’t know why
so many other people
can’t understand that.

My children matter.
(All children matter.)
They count.
They are loved.
They are real.
They are both my life, my loves.

(P.S. And I love my frozen embryo babies too…
and waiting for the day that I can take them home as well.)

*A journey in love and hope*

From
hormones and acupuncture
to
amazement and hope
it’s been
8 loooooooooong months

of
love and fear
anxiety and excitement
hope and bittersweet memories
panic and happiness

but
Malou’s
brother is finally here.

After a very speedy induction,
and emergency post-partum surgery on me,
Liam Johannes
made his parents
the happiest they’ve ever been.


Liam looks like
Malou,
with long toes and fingers
and the same chin and nose and ears,
except Liam has
blond hair
and is more than twice the size of
Malou
(3200 g as opposed to 1400 g).

Published in: on January 31, 2010 at 10:31  Comments (15)  
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*Final stretch*

Malou’s
brother is almost here.

My induction is scheduled for tomorrow,
but it may take a few days
as they have a conservative method
of induction here in Denmark.

Overall, I’m doing okay.

Thinking lots about
Malou
and her birth,
and excited
but scared to get my hopes up too high
that this time
we will get to bring our baby home forever.

It feels too good to be true.
I hope and pray it isn’t.

Tom’s sister
gave us a baby gift yesterday
and also bought a
stuffed bear that says
“Somebody loves you”
and a sweet card for
Malou.

It’s nice to know
how many people
realize our son
is our second child,
a little brother
to a very special sister.

It’s especially nice
as I’ve been confronted
with the dreaded question,
“Is this your first?” a couple of times lately.

Once,
I paused and said Yes.
I still feel guilty,
even though this was a stranger
whom I will never see again.

Once,
I said No.
And the person then told me,
“Ah, so you have the diapers
and midnight feedings and all that
down pat.”
Ummm…not exactly, I said.
My daughter was stillborn.

Insert awkward silence.

I hate that question.
I hate that it will never go away.
Even if we are so lucky
to have living children,
I know we will be asked,

“How many children do you have?”

Right now,
my best answer is
“One living.”

How about the rest of you?
What do you say?

Published in: on January 27, 2010 at 09:05  Comments (9)  

*Fear and Sadness*

I didn’t expect my anxiety to increase
SO much during these last few weeks of pregnancy with
Malou’s
little brother.

Tomorrow I will be 36 weeks along,
and since – for my peace of mind –
they are inducing me at 38 weeks,
I don’t have long to go.

But sometimes it seems like the finish line
is just too far to reach.

If I don’t know, sometimes, how I am going to make it,
how do I know that Baby Boy will make it?

And that is the worst.

Knowing that lightning can – and does –
strike twice. And even more.

I can’t read many babyloss mama blogs right now,
because it reminds me that
this horrible, terrible thing happens
way too often.

We are all set for Baby Boy’s arrival,
and the same crib and the same pram
is all ready to go…
in the same place.

He is not a substitute,
not even in the slightest.

But seeing his things
in her space
reminds me
that maybe, please God forbid,
he won’t be coming home either.

I try not to dwell on these thoughts,
but it is hard to avoid.

Every time he sleeps in my womb,
I think,
“He could be already gone.”

So I gently push on my belly,
or drink a glass of cold water,
or as a last resort,
get out my doppler
(that almost always wakes him up…
I don’t think he particularly likes it,
so I try not to use it).

And then I am calmed,
until the next time.

But even hearing his heartbeat
or feeling his kicks
aren’t always enough.

I had to go to the hospital
on Sunday
because I was convinced he
was weak and wasn’t thriving inside me.

His kicks felt softer.

So they hooked me up to the monitors again,
and 40 minutes later,
assured me that he was okay.

Generally, I feel really good while pregnant.
I mean, except for the morning sickness
that lasted 22 weeks,
I only have mild aches and pains.

I just wish I could enjoy being pregnant more.

I wanted this for so long,
and I am so grateful…
but now I think of it as
an means to an end.

What I really want
is a living child, of course,
so I need to let go of having
a really happy, joyful pregnancy.

You wouldn’t really know it,
I don’t think,
by looking at me.

(Here I am last week, at 35 weeks, as we were setting up BB’s crib…you can see we have little animal decals for him around the crib, and then the dragonflies going up the wall…these are Malou’s and they’ve been there since we set up her crib. You can also see a little windchime plaque on the wall behind the crib…it says “Angels gather here” and my mom got it for me to either keep at home or bring to Malou’s grave. For now, it’s here. Although I don’t think of Malou as a “little angel”, I do like to think she is protected by them and that she still will hang out in our home whenever she likes).

Because I am joyful
a lot of the time.

But the fear and sadness sneak in,
more than I’d like.

I’m worried they will remain even after the birth.

Well, of course the sadness will.
But the fear is what I’d like to be rid of.

When I pray, I often ask God
to allow BB to live a long, happy and healthy life,
and to outlive me and Tom.

Is that weird? It’s not enough
to pray for BB to live a LONG, happy and healthy life.

Because even if I lived to 131 years old,
and BB passed away peacefully in his sleep at 100,
I would be devastated.

My heart just breaks for the parents
who’ve experienced not just one,
but multiple, losses.

I know they’re out there.
I read their blogs.
It’s just too much to imagine, though, isn’t it?
The brain can’t comprehend,
because it just is not right.
It’s not fair.

***

Since I’m on maternity leave right now,
I am trying to put together photo albums
from each year
Tom and I have been together
(we met each other 5 years ago this month,
so I’m hoping for an early arrival for BB
to arrive on that date).

2008 was obviously a difficult year
and looking at all the digital pictures,
deciding which ones to print,
brought up a lot of memories
and sadness.

This one, where Trine the priest is blessing
Malou
in the middle of the night,
shortly after she is born,
about rips me to shreds,
just seeing my face and Tom’s.

So then I look at this one,
where I can feel the love and contentment
I had,
for just a moment,
to finally hold my daughter
for the first time.

*New Year*

My birthday was yesterday
and I had a really great day.

Two years ago
I was pregnant with
Malou
and now I am pregnant with
her brother.

One year ago
(as I turned the big 3-0)
I struggled
because I had only imagined
that day with
Malou
in it.

I had a good time celebrating,
but the shadow of grief
was behind me.

This year I didn’t feel that.
I stopped by
Malou’s
grave
before going out with Tom
and I gave her some of the flowers
from the beautiful bouquet
my mom sent me.

I was alone
and started to cry a bit,
and suddenly the sky lit up with
fireworks,
which as you may know
remind me of
Malou.

We buried her on
the 4th of July,
my little Danish-American girl,
and so now when I see fireworks
I think of her.

It was perfect timing.
Who could imagine
that in a quiet neighborhood
near a church
that such a huge backyard firework display
would go on?

So I stopped crying,
and left to meet Tom.

We went to Tivoli,
a beautiful old amusement park in Copenhagen,
and walked around enjoying the
Christmas festivities.

And suddenly there was a
“boom”
and the
fireworks display started!

This one wasn’t a surprise,
but it was really beautiful.

From there,
we walked to one of our
favorite restaurants
and had a delicious dinner
and talked about our future.

And tried to decide on baby boy names.

It is scary to hope too much,
but I know it won’t make the fall
any harder if,
God please forbid,
we lose BB too.

So I am trying to focus
on the good
and believe that
our precious son
will arrive safely.

It feels almost too good to be true.

Since my recent hospital stay,
I’m using the doppler
more than usual,
so I hope I can start to relax again
and enjoy these last 4 or so weeks
of carrying my son.

I will keep you updated.

Published in: on December 30, 2009 at 20:55  Leave a Comment  
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*Breaking down but looking up*

I always miss
Malou,
but I haven’t had that
all-encompassing,
can’t-imagine-having-to-go-on
feeling that I had many days in the
first year after losing her.

I was also doing, I thought,
surprisingly well during my
recent hospital stay,
all filled with memories of her.

But not long after being discharged,
I broke.

Malou
should be here.
This should be her first Christmas
in Denmark
(her first was going to be spent
in the US).

Instead I spent most of the yesterday
 lying in bed in pain,
with the familiar feelings
of hating my body
for betraying me yet again,
(for not keeping my daughter safe,
for not letting me get pregnant,
for ruining Christmas,
for potentially hurting my son)
and realizing that
Baby Boy
is not a sure thing.

Realizing that I miss
Malou
terribly, but I don’t even know
what to miss about her.

I can’t imagine her as
a year-and-a-half year old.

I can only see her as
a sweet, little baby,
lifeless but so perfect.

As I heard the women
laboring the other night,
and the cries of their newborn babies,
I realized that I just can’t envision that
for myself.

That’s not how it was with
Malou.
And I have no guarantees with
her brother.

This is going to be a long 5 weeks,
but I can do it
because I have no choice.
And because the hope
I hold in my heart
is worth the fear and the pain and the doubt
that creep in.

I hope, I pray, I need to believe,
that this will be our last Christmas alone.

I know we’re not alone.
In fact, we’re quite lucky to have such good families,
and I feel very grateful that
I have Tom.
We spent last night
with Tom’s sister and her husband,
eating a traditional
Danish Christmas dinner.

But today we,
Tom and I,
are alone.
And missing our girl.
And impatient for our boy.
But yet when writing this,
I realize
we’re not alone.
I can feel my family and friends,
my Malou,
and my fellow babyloss mamas
right here with us.
And I can feel
my son kicking me,
reassuring me,
every step of the way.

Thank you, all, for that.
It means more than I can say today.

***

Again at Christmas did we weave
the holly ’round the Christmas hearth,
the silent snow possessed the earth,
and calmly fell our Christmas eve.
The yule-log sparkled keen with frost,
no wing of wind the region swept,
but over all things brooding slept,
the quiet sense of something lost.
-Alfred Tennyson

***

Our dearest daughter, we wish you were here with us to make our Christmas happy and full of joy. We have so many traditions we want to share with you, so many family members and friends we want you to know. We miss you every day, but your absence is felt even more when we are with family and you are not here with us physically. I can’t say it better than your grandma, that we love you immensely and that no one will ever take your place in our hearts. We love you, baby girl, and hope you are safe and sound and happy and loved wherever you are.
Glædelig jul, vores dejlige datter!
Vi elsker og savner dig så meget.

 Mor og Far

*Are you there God?*

It’s me, Stephanie.

I have been quite lucky this pregnancy
to not get a painful abdominal attack
(I tend to get one every couple of months
but they can’t find a reason).

The major reason 
I was feeling so grateful was
because I had an attack the night before
Malou
died
and I’ve always worried
that I killed her.

By not having any attacks for over 33 weeks now
(a new record)
I figured it was God’s way of saying,
“I’m here. And it’s going to be ok this time.”

So now I’m feeling a little pissed off.

First things first,
Malou’s
brother is doing well.

But the story starts on Monday evening,
when I started to get some back pain
and stomach pain that came and went.
It felt similar to menstrual cramping,
but tylenol was not helping.

It didn’t seem to matter if I laid down
or walked around, the pain had a mind of its own.

But it wasn’t bad.
And I figured it was normal,
to have some aches and pains
when you’re carrying a 4.5 pound baby around
all day.

It continued all day Tuesday,
and when it started getting slightly worse
in the evening,
I called the midwife who said
it could be a bladder infection.

Since I had an appointment with the doctor
and an ultrasound scheduled for the next day
(Wednesday), I decided to wait it out until then.

2 hours later,
the pain was definitely increasing
so I called back and asked if I could come in
so they could check on Baby Boy.

At 10.15 pm we arrived
in Labor & Delivery
and were promptly placed in the same room
I labored in with
Malou.

I was trying very hard not to compare
the situations,
but it would just get harder.

I was hooked up to a monitor
to make sure BB was doing well
and that I wasn’t having contractions,
and everything looked fine.

But then the “real pain” started –
that’s when I knew it was one of my
unexplained attacks.

I wanted to cry,
but was too exhausted.
I knew what was in store for me…
agonizing pain
but worst of all
the fear that BB would die
during this attack, just like
Malou
did.

I of course refused the medicine (Diclon)
that they gave me while pregnant with
Malou
because I still think there might be
a connection between the 3 times
I took that medicine,
and her small birth defects and death.

So they called in several doctors
to examine me,
and at 3.00 am I was wheeled in
to the ultrasound room…
the same one where we found out
Malou
had died.

The same ultrasound machine.

I thought God was playing a cruel trick on me.
Or He was warning me.
Either way, I didn’t think it was funny.

But thankfully,
BB looked fine, my placenta looked fine,
my cervix looked fine, etc. etc.

They couldn’t find a reason for my pain,
just a few pieces of kidney “sand” rather than “stone.”

So they decided to give me some medicine.
At this point,
I had been getting contraction-like pain
(the unbearable pain coming every 5 minutes or so,
with only slight relief during the “downtime”)
that spread from my back through my stomach,
and was so intense that
I was throwing up each time.

I wasn’t really in a position
to refuse pain meds,
even though I wanted to.

But they promised me
that was they were giving me
would not harm BB,
so I got two different shots
and a pill that you don’t have to swallow 😉
since I was throwing up everything.

Then I was wheeled into a private room
on the Gynecological ward, and Tom was given a bed
right next to me.

We were in Room 5, right next to Room 4,
which is where mom, Tom, and I spent
the days after
Malou’s
death.

Malou
was in that room.

So many memories.
Every time they moved me,
I thought of
Malou.

And I worried about
BB.

At 5:00 am, when I was still awake with pain,
I got a shot of a different medication,
which thankfully worked.

I was able to sleep for about 1 hour
and then a midwife came by to
run some more tests on BB
(where everything still looked great).

I dozed on and off for a few more hours,
and then woke up to more back pain
and horrible nausea.

I was so thirsty
I could hardly stand it,
but every time I took a sip of water,
I would throw up.

Then I got a visit from a doctor
and an ultrasound by a specialist
to look at my kidneys and gallbladder.
Again, they couldn’t really find anything.

At 1pm I got a weight ultrasound of BB,
who is still growing nicely,
and then met with the doctor again.

But when I started throwing up in his office,
he got worried and I was wheeled in my bed
back to my room.

Later a different specialist came by,
but they can’t really do any tests on me
while I am pregnant.

But they gave me some fluids intraveneously
as well as some morphine,
and I finally started feeling good.

More tests, more doctors,
and one more night in the hospital,
and this morning (Christmas Eve)
I was feeling more or less better.

So a few more tests on BB
relaxed me enough to ask to be discharged.

We’ve missed our ferry to the island
where we were supposed to spend Christmas
with Tom’s family,
so we will have a quiet Christmas here instead.

My poor babies. I feel so guilty when I get these attacks,
because the last thing I want to do is hurt them.
I can’t help but think my babies
are safer outside me
than they are inside me.

I can’t wait until BB arrives.
5 more weeks.

Here’s some pictures of how I spent
Christmas Eve morning today…
(which is actually Denmark’s equivalent of Christmas day).

I hope you all have a happy holiday season.
Thinking of
Malou
and all of your sweet babies and loved ones
who should be here celebrating with us too.

Published in: on December 24, 2009 at 13:39  Comments (6)  
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*Saying goodbye*

Today marks the gestational day
– in my current pregnancy –
that we said hello and goodbye to
Malou Amelia.

31 weeks 6 days.

From here on out,
I am in uncharted territory
(for me).

Thankfully,
Malou’s
little brother is a very active little guy,
so I have been doing okay these last few days.

I remember reading other babyloss mamas’ posts,
when they talked about being
“more pregnant than they’d ever been” –
and I just never thought I’d get there.

I am so thankful that I have.

It’s been a strange week for other reasons,
namely because of the number of goodbyes
I’ve been through.

Last Thursday
was my final day of work.

It is hard to believe I will be
a stay-at-home mom
for at least the next year.

I am excited – of course! –
but I was also sad to say goodbye to my colleagues
(even though I will still see them socially).

I am not sure how
I would have gotten through
the past year-and-a-half
if I didn’t have my work
and most of all my colleagues.

I have felt nothing but
unconditional support and love
from all of them,
and it is an incredible feeling.

I am very lucky.

I also had to say goodbye to my dear friend,
Carolyn,
whom you might “know” by her
faithful comments on every one of my posts. 🙂

Carolyn and I moved to Denmark
at the same time
and met each other in our first
Danish class.

After over 4 years here,
she had to move back to
Australia
and it is hard to believe
my babies’ honorary auntie
won’t be here to welcome
Baby Boy in person.

Just a few days after Carolyn departed,
Tom and I drove
my cousin Heidi and her husband Andy,
who have been living here for the past 3 years,
to the airport for their big move back home.

One more goodbye.
Ugh.

I am very grateful, though,
that Heidi and I got to know each other
so much better while she lived here.

She and Andy left us with many
wonderful parting gifts
(things my American readers would never understand…
ziplocs, for example ;))

but the best was the blue blanket
Heidi made for Baby Boy.
These soft “blankies,”
which Heidi makes for all the babies
she knows,
somehow always turn out to be
the “favorite”
(so I’ve heard!).

And if that wasn’t enough “goodbye” for one week,
I took – and passed – my final Danish exam yesterday.

I thought I would feel only relief and happiness
(you cannot imagine how much
I have complained about going to night classes
for the past couple of years)…

but instead,
I feel a bit empty.

As in, what do I do now???
I’ve been so busy and now I’m not.

But I’m sure I’ll get over it!
I have a few projects in mind
to work on in the next month
and when
Malou’s
brother arrives
safely, safely, please, God, safely
I’m assuming I’ll feel busy again. 😉

And while we’re on the topic of
goodbyes
I will mention that I plan to write less frequently
(i.e. not every Wednesday)
after the new year.

I will let you know more later.

Published in: on December 16, 2009 at 14:19  Comments (3)  
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*Giving birth*

The most important thing
is that
Malou’s
brother arrives safely.

Whether that is an induction or not,
a vaginal birth or a c-section,
with pain meds or without,
it doesn’t really matter.

I know this.

But I’m a planner.
And a worrier.

So a part of me just wants
to schedule a c-section
so he comes out as quickly as possible,
as early as possible,
and I can know he is okay.

But that is not a plan.

Based on the doctor’s recommendation
(which comes from my anxiety about being pregnant)
we are planning a “natural” (as possible)
induction
at around 38 weeks.

I have an image in my head
of how I’d like this to go
but I know there are no guarantees.

So I am trying not to have
too many expectations.

Mainly, I have hope.
One of the only things that
has kept me going in the last 18 months.

I hope Baby Boy will arrive safely.
I hope I have a safe, vaginal birth.
I hope Baby Boy will arrive safely.
(repeat, repeat, repeat)

We’ll see how it goes.
Malou Amelia’s
birth experience
was actually, surprisingly,
one of the loveliest parts of her life
to me.

At least, in retrospect.

Maybe I am blocking some things,
but I look back and am grateful
for the labor and delivery
I was given.

Shortly after her birth,
I wrote up her story
in the form of a letter to her.

It was meant to be a birth story,
but her life, the only life she ever had,
in my womb,
was so intricately linked to her birth
in my mind,
that the letter evolved into many pages.

I decided to place it as a Page
(you can see it to the right).

If you have a good chunk of time
on your hands (yes, it’s quite long),
and if you’re not squeamish about births,
feel free to read.

Tomorrow I will be 31 weeks pregnant with
Malou’s
brother.

Malou
died when I was 31 weeks and 4 days pregnant,
and I gave birth to her
at 31 weeks 6 days.

Those milestones are fast approaching with this pregnancy.
But surprisingly,
I am feeling calm.

Baby Boy is estimated to weigh
about 1850 grams,
already much bigger than his sister.

And so far, thank God,
everything looks good.

But your good thoughts and prayers
are still very much appreciated
as I enter this week of memories…