Tag Archives: pregnancy

Pregnancy Emotions

I am an emotional person. It’s just part of who I am. I can’t hide my emotions — and many of them, for better or for worse, express themselves in the form of tears. Happy tears. Sad tears. Stressed tears. Proud tears. Scared tears. All the tears. Pregnancy only makes my emotions more … how shall I say it? … heightened.

This pregnancy — my third — has been an emotional one. I mean, honestly, so were the other two. Mr. B and I were talking the other night about how amazingly unique each one of my pregnancies has been in how I feel and what I feel.

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With Penelope Joy, there was the fresh, nervous excitement of being pregnant for the first time. Everything was new. And there was this permanent feeling of complete joy knowing that Mr. B and I were going to have a baby. Even the pregnancy symptoms — as uncomfortable as some of them were — were all so exciting. And then, feeling her move for the first time?! I still can’t forget that. And the first ultrasound? Was that really a tiny human inside of me? All of the worries were new, too. Is that pain normal, or should I call the doctor? Why hasn’t the baby moved today? What the heck is the right car seat to get?

And then, after hearing that something was wrong with our precious baby, the emotions got bigger and bolder and more real. Fear, anxiety, sadness and confusion mingled daily with hope, love and joy. Every day was a state of mixed emotions and trying to remember what face I had to put on in the morning.

After Penelope Joy died, I wasn’t sure if — or when — I’d be ready to have another baby. Mr. B and I had always talked about having two kids. But, after saying good-bye to Penelope Joy, I didn’t know if I could go through it all again: the fear, the pain, the sadness, the confusion.

Six months later, though, I was ready. Because even with all those big, dark emotions, Mr. B had helped me to remember the joy and love and hope. We chose to live in the light and the hope of another child instead of live in the darkness and fear that comes when your child dies. And just a month later, I was pregnant with our Dottie Lou.

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That pregnancy was marked with some big anxieties and some scary what-ifs. But what I remember most about that pregnancy? The giddiness that came with knowing we were going to be given the chance to have our second child. The pure joy that our rainbow baby brought with her. And the deep, deep love that becoming a mother — and getting to become a mother all over again — gave me.

Fifteen months after we gave Penelope Joy her last kisses, we greeted Dottie Lou with her first. And my heart grew 15, no 20, no 100 sizes that day.

And here I am, just two years after Dottie Lou was born, getting ready for baby No. 3 — our Baby Wink.

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I counted — I’ve been pregnant in every year for the last five years. It wasn’t how I had planned my maternal life. We were, after all, just going to have two kids. And we did, or we will. But we also didn’t, or won’t.

I think the biggest emotional influence on this pregnancy has been knowing this will be my last. I know — even without meeting him — that Baby Wink will complete our family. There’s a bittersweetness that comes with knowing every first we have with him will be the last time we get to experience it. The first time we heard his heartbeat. The first time I felt his kicks — and the first time Mr. B felt them. The first time we saw his tiny nose, and his giant feet, on the ultrasound.

While all of the same feelings are there from both of my other pregnancies — the anxiety, the fear, the joy, the hope, the love — there’s just something different when you know it’s the last. I find myself trying to savor everything, to remember every single detail, to not take one single second for granted.

We missed a lot of “firsts” with Penelope Joy, so we lived them with Dottie Lou. And, now, we go into our life with Wink knowing that many of his firsts will be our lasts. But it’s so exciting to think about all the firsts, too, our whole family will experience together. I can’t believe he’ll be here in just a couple of months.

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On Choosing a Pediatrician

After I gave everyone a Sprout update the other day, I’ve had a few questions — particularly about how we chose our pediatrician. Let me tell you, it was a lot easier than I thought it would be.

You see, we started the search for a pediatrician one day back in September 2013 when the doctors and nurses started preparing us to take Penelope Joy home. “You’ll need to find a pediatrician right away,” they said. Because we hadn’t even started looking. Honestly — why would we? We were staring down the road of a very long hospital stay and hadn’t really thought we’d get to take Penelope Joy home any time soon. (Well … you all know how that turned out.)

Anyway …

We started by talking to the nurses and doctors. And then we went to our friends for recommendations. With all of the 24-hour care and amazing staff at the children’s hospital, we were spoiled. And not just any pediatrician would do.

Recommendations were as far as we got.

We had set up an initial meet-n-greet with a pediatrician, but Penelope Joy took a turn for the very-worst, so we canceled that appointment — promising to reschedule once Penelope Joy turned around.

That appointment never got rescheduled.

But, when it came time to pick a pediatrician for Sprout, the initial legwork was done. We had narrowed it down to two choices: one, an office very close to our house where my own OB was located; the other, a highly recommended pediatrics office about 20 minutes away from our house (whom I’d emailed back and forth while Penelope Joy was in the hospital).

The first choice wouldn’t allow us to set up a meeting before Sprout is born. When I asked what would happen if we chose that office but didn’t have a good relationship with the pediatrician, they told me we’d have to just pick another doctor. So, that choice was immediately out the window.

We set up a meeting with the second office — and, you know what? They remembered me. And they remembered Penelope Joy. She wasn’t even a patient there, and they knew her. What’s more, they asked if we’d like a personal one-on-one meeting with someone on their team instead of doing the traditional meet-n-greet that would include other expectant parents.  Because they knew our story was different and that we would have questions and feelings and concerns that were different. And, still, because even to this day, sometimes it’s hard to be in a room with other pregnant women and mothers of newborns.

When we did meet with the woman at the office, she was kind and understanding. And when I apologized (well in advance) that if we chose that office I might be a little needy at first due to our past experience, she smiled at me and said, “of course you would be, and we wouldn’t expect anything else.”

All of this aside, even if we had met with 100 pediatricians, we most likely would have chosen this office. Because they acknowledged something in Mr. B and me that 90 percent of people in our lives (doctors, family, friends) still don’t understand: we are not first-time parents.* Yes, our first trip around this track was very, very different than that of parents who walk away from the hospital with a baby.

And, no, we didn’t do the whole sleepless-nights-with-a-crying-newborn thing. But, we did do the no-sleep-for-38-days thing when we were waiting for the nurse on duty to call and tell us that, yep, we missed Penelope Joy’s last breath because she died while we were selfishly at home in our own bed.

And, no, we didn’t change diaper after diaper after diaper, wondering when she would finally stop crapping all over herself. But, we did stand by her side begging her bladder and kidneys to do something, anything. Praying to God for any amount of relief he (or she) could give to our precious, water-retaining baby.

And, no, I didn’t have middle-of-the-night feedings over and over and over again. But, I was up and pumping every three hours — my heart full of hope that one day I would get to give her that milk and give her something no one else could give her (even those doctors and nurses who were saving her life while I stood by and watched).

And, no, I didn’t stand by her crib every night with my hand under her nose praying she was still breathing — I had machines to tell me they were breathing for her. But, Mr. B and I did hold her as she took her very last breaths — knowing I’d never get to be the mom standing over a crib waiting for that next breath.

So, yeah, every time someone tells us “just you wait” or “well, this is your first time” or “one day you’ll understand” it burns. Really bad. And is still a painful reminder of everything we lost. The fact that our pediatrician recognized that we have been parents — we are parents — went a very long way in helping us decide where we’d take our precious Sprout.


*Please don’t think I believe this means Mr. B and I don’t have any learning to do. Because we do — a lot. A lot, a lot, actually. And we’ll be the first to tell you that we are clueless on many things. We’re nervous and anxious and scared — just like any new parents bringing their baby home from the hospital. (Holy cow, you guys, we get to bring our baby home!) But forgetting that we have, indeed, done this before also forgets that Penelope Joy existed — and that she made Mr. B a dad and me a mom.

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Sprout Watch 2015

With just over two weeks until Sprout’s due date, things in Casa B are in baby-watching mode. There’s no sign that Sprout will come any time soon. In fact, here’s the report from last doctor’s appointment at 37+2:

  • Braxton Hicks contractions increasing daily
  • Hips are definitely feeling the pain (and the gain)
  • 2 cm dilated
  • 50% effaced
  • Head down
  • “Don’t make any plans or do any traveling”

But … alas … it could go on like this for weeks. Or no time at all. Only time will tell! The anticipation is pretty exciting — I’m finding the guessing game and the surprise to be something to look forward to every day.

I’m certain Sprout has a mind of her own and will come whenever she’s good and ready — and hopefully not one second sooner. Trust me, we know more than anyone that every second she spends developing inside of me is important.

“Life is always a rich and steady time when you are waiting for something to happen or to hatch.” ~E.B. White, “Charolotte’s Web”

That doesn’t mean we aren’t doing everything we can to be as prepared as possible — also knowing full well that we’ll never really be ready. Our pre-Sprout checklist is pretty much complete. Well … at least the main things.

  • Hospital bags are packed
  • Maternity leave plan is in place at work
  • Daycare is lined up
  • Pediatrician is expecting us
  • Car seat is installed
  • Diapers — at least enough to get us started — are waiting
  • Nursery is all ready
  • Co-sleeper is set up
  • Pet-sitting instructions for Mom are waiting on the counter
  • Pet food is all stocked up

And, of course, the one things that remains on our list every day — and always the most important:

We do this one pretty well — but a little reminder is always nice. Love. Big. Always.

We do this one pretty well — but a little reminder is always nice. Love. Big. Always.

So, no Sprout yet. And, no matter how much people try to get us to slip up, no name yet, either. I promise that we don’t even know. We won’t know until we meet her. We’ve narrowed our list from 30-plus names to about 15. But, we don’t even know if her name is on either of those lists! We’ll know it when we see her. And then, you’ll know it, too.

Keep bakin’ Baby B — Mom and Dad would wait for you forever if we had to. We love you so big!

Sprout was very happy to help with this post. She pretty much helps with everything these days. Except tying my shoes. Mostly she hinders that.

Sprout was very happy to help with this post. She pretty much helps with everything these days. Except tying my shoes. Mostly she hinders that.

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36+6

Today is 36+6.

I’m 36 weeks and six days pregnant. With Penelope Joy, this is the day she decided to make her grand entrance into the world. To say I’m having some “feelings” would be fairly accurate.

The Day She was Born

One of our very first family photos.

You see, when you’ve been through the experience Mr. B and I have been through, you can’t help but make mental notes about how things were — and how things are. And no matter how many times everybody tells me that every pregnancy is different — and no matter how many times Sprout makes that painfully clear — my mind can’t help but think about it.

Because Penelope Joy was early. And then she died.

Were these two things related? In a way, I suppose, but not directly. She died because of an extremely complicated anatomy that included no immune system. She didn’t die because she was premature. (Actually, I like to think that her date of death was always going to be Oct. 17 — and she wanted as much time with us as possible, so she made her appearance early. I like to think she made the choice and gifted us with the additional time.)

Besides, she wasn’t ridiculously premature. But, she was early enough. And I’ve been watching this day on the calendar since finding out I was pregnant with Sprout. This day is symbolic for me. Lots of moms count to 12 weeks. Or 27 weeks. Or 35 weeks. Me? I’ve been looking at 36+6 since day one. (Though, when they pushed back my estimated due date by a week early on, I had to adjust that date in my mind, too.)

So, today is a big day for me. For Sprout. In reality, it means nothing — because Sprout’s still in there movin’ and groovin’ and because she’s not even due for another 3 weeks (and a day).

Am I eager to meet her? Heck yes. Do I want more than anything to hold her — as long as I want, without tubes and cords and the assistance of a nurse (or two or three)? You betcha. Am I looking forward to bringing her home with us (scared and nervous as we’ll be) and actually getting to be her mom — the mom I so desperately want to be? Words cannot describe.

But, I also want her to stay where she’s safe as long as she needs to stay there. Even if it means I get asked over and over again: “Are you sure there’s just one in there?” “Wow! You must be ready to pop any day now, huh?” “How much more can she grow?”

36+6 photo

As I snapped this picture, Sprout kicked me pretty hard. I think she might take after her dad by being a little camera shy. Oh well. She’ll get over it. Mr. B did. Kind of.

There’s a reason pregnancies typically last around 40 weeks — every day of those 40 weeks is important. And I will never be one of those moms wishing my pregnancy were shorter — no matter how badly I want to meet Sprout. Besides, while medical advances are amazing and save so many babies, I’d prefer to keep Sprout right where she is until she’s all filled in with that adorable baby fat and her lungs are truly ready to take her first real breaths and her brain is ready to absorb the amazing world she’s about to meet. So, we wait … anxiously, eagerly, patiently.

And yes, on this momentous — but also pretty average — day, I’m having “feelings” of all sorts. Gratitude. Hope. Joy. Sadness. Exhaustion. Lots of exhaustion. Peace. And love. Always. love.

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A Sprout Scare and a New Freckle

Yesterday morning I woke up with a bloody nose. Well, I didn’t so much “wake up” as Braxton Hicks came calling and woke me up. As I got to the bathroom, I realized my nose wasn’t the only thing that was a little bloody.

At nearly 35 weeks pregnant, a little blood in the toilet can be nothing — or it can be everything. Mr. B assured me I wasn’t overreacting and reassured me that my want need to call the doctor was perfectly acceptable. Of course, the office wasn’t open, so I had to call the after-hours nurse, who then had to page the on-call doctor, who then had to finish what she was working on before she could call me.

Anyone who says half an hour is a short amount of time never had to wait and worry for a doctor to call her back.

As I sat on the edge of the bed crying anxious, scared tears, Mr. B rubbed my back. Usually I’m the only one who worries — Mr. B is my rock and the one who talks sense into me when my worrying goes a little too far. But I could tell he was a little concerned, too.

After all, we’ve had our fair share of disappointment, fear and sadness when it comes to our experience with pregnancy. And we know very well what it’s like to lose the one thing we wanted more than anything else.

After I had calmed down a bit, we went about our business — brushing our teeth, packing our lunches, tending to the critters. When the phone finally rang, I jumped on it.

The doctor listened to what was going on and kindly reassured me that everything was going to be OK.

Was the baby moving? A little.

Was there a lot of blood? Not really.

Was I having any cramping? No.

It’s most likely the very early beginnings of cervical softening, she said. But, don’t worry, she continued, it will most likely go on for a couple of weeks. Because that’s just how it works.

She reminded me to keep an eye on myself, how I’m feeling and how Sprout is acting. She also reminded me that it’s OK to worry a little — after all, she knows our story. She knows Penelope Joy. The key, always for me, is trying not to worry too much. Because that’s often where my mind goes. But I know it doesn’t do Sprout any good if I’m worried or stressed out too bad.

Now that I’m getting a few more pokes and prods from Sprout this afternoon and evening, I’m starting to relax back into this pregnancy a little bit after yesterday’s jarring wake-up call. Though, the scare of seeing that blood has definitely left its mark.

Instead, I continue to keep my focus on some of the amazing things this pregnancy brings with it — besides, of course, the obvious Baby Sprout we get to meet at the end:

  • Today, I cannot stop laughing at my new outie belly button — and the hidden freckle I found inside! I can’t believe I’ve lived nearly 34 years on this planet and didn’t realize I had a freckle inside my belly button.
  • My body’s doing some pretty crazy stuff these days. Some of it is fantastic. And some of it … well … maybe isn’t so fantastic. But I laugh several times a day at what’s going on inside — and outside — of myself. Mr. B laughs a lot these days, too. Mostly at me.
  • Mr. B and I are enjoying getting ready to bring our baby home with us — something that is truly magical to experience. Sprout’s nursery is all set, and we feel as ready as we could ever be to bring her home. It’s scary. And life-altering. And unchartered territory. But it is our adventure to live. And we cannot wait. (Can it actually be less than five weeks until she joins us?) 
  • Mr. B and I talk a lot lately about getting to actually be parents. Yes, we are Penelope Joy’s parents — we always will be — and Sprout is not our first child. And we learned more from Penelope Joy about what it means to be Mom and to be Dad than we ever could have imagined. But this experience is going to be so, so different. Exciting and scary in a whole new way! I’m just so looking forward to watching Mr. B be the dad he deserves to get to be. (He’s gonna be so great at it, you guys!)
  • Last, but not least, I’ve actually been able to get Mr. B in front of the camera for some professional photos a few times in our relationship. And getting maternity pictures for Sprout was so much fun. I love just being with him as a photographer tags along. And I love how much our love shows.
Collage of maternity photos

I love our love.

Thanks for sticking with me through all of the “life” that’s happened in the last year that makes this blog maybe not so fun all the time. And thanks for hanging in there even though I’ve not been regularly writing. I’ll try to do better — promise. But, mostly, that’ll depend on Sprout.

Until next time, my friends, the countdown continues …

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Having One of ‘Those Days’

Today was one of those days. One of those really hard days. Where missing Penelope Joy feels so fresh. I don’t know why it was like that. I don’t know what made today different. What I do know is that there were several times when I caught myself thinking about her and missing her. Right in the middle of a meeting. And in the middle of working on a project. I even found myself driving home with tears in my eyes as I thought about our baby girl.

I’m sure it has a lot to do with what’s on the horizon.

Christmas

Christmas was hard last year — nearly impossibly hard. This year, it’s hard in a different kind of way. We’ve settled into our grief and into our life without Penelope Joy. But there’s still a hole. And I can’t stop myself from thinking about how fun our little 15-month-old Pickle would have been — I mean, come on, that’s like the perfect age for Christmas and all its magical joy.

Maybe that’s what it is. Christmas is such a magical, happy time — or, at least, it should be — that so perfectly pairs with the magic of childhood. Don’t get me wrong: I do enjoy Christmas. And I don’t hold anyone’s happiness or joy or magical moments against them. And I think everyone should embrace those things in celebration of what this season is about. But, it makes missing Penelope Joy fresh again.

We’ve certainly found some ways to bring Penelope Joy — and her spirit — into our Christmas celebration. We have many special ornaments on our tree for her. We also buy presents from the Angel Tree for little girls who are around the age Penelope Joy would have been. These things do make her feel closer. (Learn more about how we remember Penelope Joy during the Christmas season.)

Special ornaments

Penelope Joy’s ornaments were some of the first we put on our tree. The angel baby with the star says “2013: A star is born.” The yellow star is our tree topper made by a special friend. The pickle … well … for our Pickle. (The top left ornament is from our first married Christmas together.)

Maternity Photos

After some discussion, we decided to have some maternity photos taken with Sprout. We had some done with Penelope Joy, and I loved love them. But it feels very weird. We’ll basically be having family pictures without our whole family there. I suppose it will always feel strange, knowing that part of our “us” is missing.

Sprout

I cannot even begin to tell you the joy and excitement we have in our hearts as we await the arrival of our precious Sprout. (Just under two months to go!) It’s pretty much beyond words. And knowing that the doctors have told us our baby looks wonderfully healthy — no signs of any heart or other defects at this point — gives us even more reasons to celebrate.

But every part of this pregnancy has been tinted with what happened with Penelope Joy. And as we look forward with such joyful anticipation to Sprout’s arrival, we’re reminded of our precious Penelope Joy.

We finally unpacked the 14 boxes of Penelope Joy’s things. (You know, for a little girl who never got to come home, she sure had a ton of stuff!) So much of it we’ll get to hand down to Sprout — most of it brand-new, even. Can they really ever be hand-me-downs if they never were used by their original owner?

We spent a lot of time on Memory Lane while we were unpacking those boxes and getting Sprout’s nursery ready. We were reminded of what we missed out on — but also were reminded of the amazing gift we’re being given with Sprout as well. It’s a weird feeling — being sad but oh-so happy at the same time. But, as time goes on, I do get more and more used to those two contradicting emotions living side-by-side in me.

Sprout's nursery is a mix of some brand-new things just for her — and some special items that once belonged to Penelope Joy.

Sprout’s nursery is a mix of some brand-new things just for her — and some special items that once belonged to Penelope Joy.

So, there’s a lot going on. A lot to be overwhelmingly happy about. And some things to be sad about, too. That’s probably why today was one of the hard days. There’s a lot going on — and there’s a lot coming up. And mixed emotions (combined with pregnancy) can be exhausting. I know not every day is going to be hard — and not every hard day will be completely hard. I also know that it’s OK to have hard days and it’s OK to be sad. And I know that the sadness does not — in any way — diminish the joy in my heart about Sprout. Nor does that joy diminish my love for Penelope Joy.

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Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Since announcing Sprout’s existence, we’ve received such an amazing outpouring of support and prayers. People have reached out to us from around the world congratulating us, wishing us the best and telling us they’re keeping us all in their prayers. That’s the wonderful thing about social media — thousands of people got to know Penelope Joy and, by default, us. So we have a truly international support system. All thanks to one very special little girl.

I promised that I’d be an open book with Penelope Joy — sharing both the good times and the bad. Holding nothing back. Being real. And I was. It helped me cope — having a place to go to share all of my overjoyed moments of mommy pride as well as the moments of sincere despair.

With Sprout, though, I’m tempted to hold a little bit back. To keep a little bit of this baby just for us. Because, as I’ve said before, Penelope Joy didn’t just belong to us — she belonged to everyone. Her story was everyone’s story. And I want to selfishly keep Sprout’s story — at least some parts — just for Mr. B and me. And probably just for a while.

But, before I decide what I want to share — and what I don’t — I feel the need to publicly answer some of the questions I’ve been asked since announcing this pregnancy:

  • Was this baby planned? Yes. Sprout was planned. We were trying to get pregnant. Not exactly tracking everything to the minute. But we purposely discontinued birth control and made an effort to make an effort. Sprout was planned. Sprout is planned. And soverymuch wanted.
  • But, isn’t it too soon? For us? No. For you? Maybe it would have been. But it is the right time for our family. Penelope Joy expanded our capacity for love — and she grew our world 1,000,000-fold. Having a second baby can only make our world a better place. And that is really as much as I should need to say on that.
  • Well, you must be so scared. Obviously, Mr. B and I are scared. We’re nervous. We were scared and nervous when I was pregnant with Penelope Joy — and we had no idea how bad it could be. This time around, we know exactly how bad it could be. But, because we’ve experienced the worst, our fear feels different. Because, what’s the worst that could happen? We’ve been there. We’ve lived it. Could it happen again? Yes. Of course. But we also know that we cannot live in that fear. Because living in it would change nothing. The only thing that could change anything is loving each other hard — and loving Sprout harder.
  • Have you been tested to make sure it won’t happen again? This question … this question. As I’m writing this, I’m shaking my head. But, I will answer it. No. We were not tested to make sure “it” won’t happen again. But Penelope Joy was tested before she died. And, you know what? According to the geneticist, Penelope Joy tested negative for any genetic abnormalities. Her condition? A complete and total fluke. A chance mutation that could just have easily happened to any other kiddo. But, for some reason it happened to her. Does this make me feel any better? Absolutely not. When I first got the news, it made me angrier, sadder. When I asked the geneticist if Mr. B and I should be tested before having other children, she said it would be a waste of our money. Penelope Joy was negative, as we would be.
  • Is everything OK with the baby? I’m happy to report that, as of right now, everything is OK with Sprout. We heard Sprout’s heartbeat last Monday. It was a very reassuring visit to the doctor’s office. Because of what happened to Penelope Joy, we will be having extra tests, ultrasounds and consultations with Sprout. Thursday is the first of many such appointments. We’re both anxious and eager.

I look forward to writing about Sprout as this pregnancy continues. There are still some things I’ll share. Some things I’ll write about right away, and some things will wait. And, yes, some things will be just for Mr. B and me.

In the meantime, thank you for following along. And thank you for your continued support and prayers. We appreciate them. We feel them. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for loving us through everything.

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