Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fight For Preemies

Prior to the birth of my daughter, I knew nothing about preemies. I never dreamed I'd have her early. I'd had a previous early miscarriage, so I knew that the possibility of losing her before 12 weeks gestation was there. I thought once I hit the magical 12 week mark I was "safe" and would carry to term.

I was so wrong.

1 in 8 babies is born before 37 weeks (March of Dimes). One in eight. Before I had my preemies, I didn't know about the NICU. I didn't know about the tubes and the wires, the ventilator and the bililights. I thought it would be cute for the baby to come a little early, because it would be so small. 

I had no idea.

No idea what small was. No idea that small isn't cute. It's frightening. 

I've had two preemies. One was 26 weeks, and the other 29 weeks and 2 days. I have to add the two days, because with preemies, every hour in the womb counts.

26 weeks, 29 weeks 2 days. Both were very early. How do you measure that difference? How can you put a value on 3 weeks and 2 days in the womb?

B, Day 1. Born at 26 weeks. 

E, Day 1. Born at 29 weeks 2 days. 

The diaper on the left is a Pamper's Preemie sized diper. It's the size E's wearing in his picture. On the right, is a Pamper's micropreemie diaper. It's the size B's wearing in her pic. And it was huge on her. My BlackBerry is just for size reference.

E's NICU blood pressure cuff on top, B's on the bottom.

B's footprints vs. E's footprints. A quarter in the middle, for size reference.

This was E's birthday this year...

And this was B's. 

When I think of fighting for preemies, I think of preventing preemies. Medicine will never be able to create an equivalent to the womb. Even if B had lived, she would never have sailed through NICU like E did. 

So pregnant women: know the signs of preterm labor. Be pushy. Fight for every second, every hour more that you can give your child in your womb. Stay on bed rest. Do whatever it takes to keep that baby inside you for every second possible.

Because 3 little weeks and two measly days can make a life or death difference. 

Fight for every one. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, B!

Garland, a birthday hat, and a picture of her on the top of the shepherd's hook. And Also, PRINCESS balloons!

 A birthday card from E and Mommy, and a princess bucket to hold down the princess balloons.

I lit her candle and sang happy birthday, but E was getting really impatient. 


So we brought the cake home. 

I haven't eaten any yet. But I will :)

UPDATE: I ate some. It was white cake (which I knew), but it had RASPBERRY filling in the middle. YUM. It was a sweet little surprise.

Happy birthday, B. I wish you were here. I miss you more than words can say.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It Could Have Been Different

Two years ago, I stopped at a little emergency room in New Mexico. I had been having weird, consistent gassy sort of cramps, and I was only 26 weeks pregnant. I had never felt a contraction before, and I just wanted to make sure the baby was okay.

It was a tiny hospital. The nurses immediately "diagnosed" me with Braxton Hicks contractions ("Oh honey, when you're in real labor, you'll know"). My abdomen was palpated, fetal heart tones checked. The doctor was called and she repeated those two things, diagnosed me with Braxton Hicks contractions as a result of the long drive, and recommended drinking more water and frequent breaks to get up and walk around. I wasn't checked for dilation, I wasn't put on a toco monitor, I wasn't given a non-stress test. I had no idea what any of those things were. I couldn't possibly be in labor.

But I was. I was in labor. Hours later I gave birth to a baby girl. I came *this close* to having her in the toilet. I thought I needed to poop, but when I started throwing up I decided I needed to go back to the hospital. I thought I had appendicitis or something. I had no idea. No idea.

It could have been different. If that first hospital had provided standard of care, if they had checked me for cervical change, if they had administered tocolytics and corticosteroids, I might be throwing an actual birthday party sometime later this month. I would be looking at Christmas dresses, and buying baby dolls, and doing all of the fun things that come with raising a girl.

They didn't. So on my daughter's birthday, I'll be at the cemetery. I'll bring her a balloon and some flowers, and E and I will eat some cake. I'll try my best to remember what it was like to hold her in my arms, even though I didn't get to do so until she was dying. I'll pray for faith that there is an afterlife, because if I can't believe that I will get to hold her again, I won't be able to go on.

It didn't have to be this way.


When I was pleading with M to try to save our marriage the day I found out about the affair, one of the things I said to him was that we'd been through so much together. No one else would ever understand what it had been like to lose B, and how that had changed us.

I was right. 

No one will be celebrating B's birthday with E and I tomorrow. I didn't plan for a big production. I just thought my immediate family would remember, and be able to spare 30 minutes to come out to the cemetery, listen to a song and eat a piece of cake. That's it. Somehow, no one is available to do that. I just wrote a long whiny post enumerating the reasons why, but as I rambled on and on, I realized that I wasn't even upset about that. 

What I'm upset about is that this day should matter to someone else just as much as it does to me. B had a mother and a father, who held her while she died. I should have someone to lean on, to support, to grieve with. I'm desperately looking for that in the people around me, and I'm not finding it. Because it's not anyone else's responsibility but his. I'm feeling disappointed in the people around me, but it's displaced anger. I'm not mad at them. This cross isn't theirs to bear. I wish they were a little more supportive and a little more intuitive about how I might be feeling, but they're all doing the best they know how to do. But he isn't. He left us, he left me to grieve alone. 

Tomorrow also should have been our 3rd anniversary. When B, perfect little B, was born so unexpectedly on our first anniversary, I thought it was a sign that we were meant to be together. Cliche and corny, I know. But I did think that. I thought it meant that I had made the right decision to stay with him after the first time he cheated on me. I thought that it meant that God was blessing us with an extra special little baby (which of course he was) to raise together. 

I never dreamed it would end like this. With a dead baby and a deadbeat dad. 

So for today, I'm angry. But I'm going to try not to take it out on the people who won't be there to celebrate B's short life with me tomorrow. I'm going to try to direct the anger toward the person to whom it belongs. 

On November 10th

November 10, 2008. I was 25 weeks 6 days pregnant. I was heading across the country, looking forward to a new adventure. Moving for my husband's job. I remember filling out our rental application for our apartment a few days earlier - it asked if we anticipated having anyone else living with us in the next year. I proudly wrote, "Yes! Baby girl, due Feb 16, 2009!"

On November 10th, I didn't know what my daughter's name would be. I knew what her nickname would be, because I called her it in my head. But I wanted a "big" name that could be shortened. I was still thinking. But I had months. Ages.

On November 10th, I had no idea that the very next day, my life would change forever. That the essence of who I was, as a person, would change forever. That the world would change forever.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Please Help!

I have a very dear friend named Juli. We have been friends since middle school, and she's been there for me through everything. She is now an amazing wife and mother to two kids under two! I don't know how she does it. 

Juli's mom was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She needs to undergo 5 rounds of chemotherapy before she can even have surgery and as I'm sure you can imagine, the bills are piling up. 

Please head over to Juli's Etsy store. She is so creative and makes the cutest burp cloths, aprons, and car seat covers I've ever seen. All proceeds from her store are going directly to help pay for her mom's medical bills. I think what she's doing is so selfless - I can't imagine being a mom of two busy toddlers and wife to a grad student and still finding time to make all these things! This woman is amazing, you guys. 

If you have a baby shower to go to or need Christmas gifts, please check out her store!! You can get some Christmas shopping done and contribute to an amazing cause.