Aug 24, 2010

In Dreams

It's been raining for three days straight.  I do miss the sun, but the rain is my weather now.  It reminds me that we wait and hope for our rainbow baby after the storm.

I've been dreaming about Brynn for two nights.  I remember only having one dream about her before, an untouchable sleeping newborn swaddled tightly on a hill of blanket.  These past two dreams have been wierd.  In both, Brynn's body was ours to keep, not decaying, just lifeless like a doll.  In the first, it was bed time and her lifeless doll body was sqwaking until Jimmy jostled her slightly and then she was silent and I asked him to put her away.  Apparently we had a box to keep her in.  In last night's dream, I had memories of carrying her around when she was alive, but in the dream "now" she was again lifeless, and she had this full head of hair cut into this really bad mullet haircut, and she had big flakes of baby dandruff, which I attempted to clear away, wondering what on earth posessed me to have her hair cut like that.  That was it.

During these same nights, Shane has dreamed of Noah.  We sleep in the same room, and he talks in his sleep.  The first night, in his sleep, he asked me why my new baby had fins when he first came out of my belly.  Last night, in his sleep, he asked to touch my belly, and when I put his hand on it Noah moved around wildly, as if he was in on it.

Last night I also dreamed that there was a disturbance outside our bedroom window.  I thought it sounded like a moose, but Jimmy bent down to look out and said it was a democrator, which was some kind of large, wild cat.  About an hour or two after waking from this dream, I heard yelling outside my window.  I got scared and woke Jimmy who bent down to see a man and a woman fighting loudly in the street.  Watching that image from the bed jarred me, I had seen the exact same thing in my dream hours earlier.

I don't know what any of this means, but all the same it seems significant.

Before bed last night, Shane and I were talking about Heaven.  It's a huge and heavy concept for a little boy, and I remember how anything religious seemed to make no sense at his age.  But, nonetheless, his sister lives there, and he's curious.  He asked if we were going to die someday.  I said yes.  He said he was scared, and I said it seems scary because we've never seen what heaven is like, but for the people who have died, they find out that it's pretty awesome, and better than here.  I told him how there is no sadness, no tears, and no pain.  And no crusty blood (his words).  And no hormones (mine).

He asked if God was dead there.  I said no, and he said, understandably, "Oh, I thought that everyone in Heaven was dead."  Hmmm.  I told him the people in Heaven were more alive than we are, and that God is alive here, we just can't see or touch him like we could in Heaven.

It occurred to me that in reality, if you believe in the heaven of the Bible, that that is actually the real place and this is the dream world.  It's been around far longer than Earth, and we will live for eternity there, when we're only here for a short time.

So take heart.

Aug 9, 2010


Guess what this is ;)
What an interesting, serendipitous day.

I'll start out with a little foreshadowing to show how serendipitous my prenatal care has been this time.  In that first week after I peed on that most serendipitous of pee sticks, I sat in front of the computer and said aloud, "Guide me."

I didn't know where to go for care.  It was clear to me that my previous midwife didn't have the technological or the mental/emotional resources to deal with my post-stillbirth pregnancy.  I wanted someone strong, someone who could walk this delicate line with me between natural midwiferous care and high-risk options.  Glory be for google once again, I googled high risk midwife south shore.  One practice came up over and over, with glowing recommendations.  I called and the receptionist even said Sorry for your loss which may seem run-of-the-mill to some, but in my experience with healthcare professionals, it is unusually nice.  I got a call right back, from a midwife, who low and behold grew up a missionary kid in Africa and graduated from my small, private, Christian college in Wheaton Illinois!

So today was my 18 week ultrasound, sandwiched in between a genetic counseling appointment and a consult with a Maternal Fetal Medicine Doctor (aka high-risk OB).  BOTH of these professionals had late losses.  I KNOW!!  In my strange new world this is good news.  And Dr. Achilles Athanassiou is obviously Greek, which means that there's a 99.9% chance that he's Orthodox Christian, which means even more to me in terms of being in the same club.

They are taking such good care of me and my baby Noah Matthew, and he made sure to point out that not only is that a penis, but that it's fully erect.

PS - Please don't ask me if I'm sad or mixed that it's not a girl, or that this child's life is precipitated by Brynn's death.  I will hate to answer it, it will bring me down.  Baby gender is the small stuff that bereaved parents just can not sweat.  It is what it is and it does absolutely no good to dwell on what could or would have been.  Nobody knows, and it doesn't matter.  My feelings for Brynn and my feelings for Noah are not intertwined in my head.  I think of them as my Irish twins.

PPS - Jimmy already promised that if we have a boy this time we get to try again for a girl, which is the only way in this life I could get 3 living kids out of him, so don't you be sad either.

Aug 8, 2010


If I have attended your party or other such gathering in the last 6 months, please understand how important you are to me.  As I've stated recently, social situations are still hard.  Small talk with casual acquaintances is anxiety-producing, and there's almost always a baby there who reminds me of the little girl I didn't bring.  If I've had a bad week, I usually cancel.

Thanks be to God, via Amy, and Jen, and Erin, and Melissa, and so many others for all the support around the Mary Madeline project, (You bring honor to God, to my daughter, to all things good) this was a good week, and I am very proud to say that yesterday I attended my first baby shower since the one my neighbors and close friends threw for me just days before Brynn died.

I ended up having to bring Shane, which I was at first sorry about and ended up being glad for, as he was the only other person I knew there other than the guest of honor.  I channeled my inner socialite that has been buried for some time, and both of us had a great time.  I won too many of the games, and was also rewarded with little kicks from within.  Shane was well-behaved and brave enough to go to a playground with the dad-to-be for most of the party.

It felt so good to be so normal that I spent time at our neighbors' cookout that evening, and I even held a baby boy named Lucas while I casually talked about my three pregnancies and how different they all are.

I've discovered that when I'm talking to an acquaintance I know who knows, it helps to just bring Brynn up.  Just to say something about her, nonchalantly allowing the subject to enter the conversation.

Tomorrow is my 18 week ultrasound, and I need to talk about another milestone before I find out if I'm carrying a boy or a girl.  In the beginning, I so boldly announced that this is a girl and shall be named Zoe.  As the weeks progressed, I slowly realized that just because I lost a girl, and this child is a miracle, and I really want my girl back, that I am not owed or guaranteed a girl.  And, if I'm honestly comparing pregnancies, signs point to a boy.

I have become more than fine with that.  I just can't wait to know!  I have beautiful and meaningful names for either.  Zoe's middle name will be Noel, which means on the day of birth, so appropriately her names together mean Life on the Day of Birth.  Never to be taken for granted again. 

My boy names are equally powerful.  In my little community of pregnant-after-stillbirth moms, our new, live babies are called our rainbow babies.  This term represents the gift of beauty after the long and tragic storm, God's promises of mercy.  It's funny, but we had already picked the name Noah before I knew any of this.  The name also means comfort, so appropriate for who this child is to me.  His middle name will be Matthew, after Jimmy's grandfather who is the salt of the Earth.

Reading Angie Smith's book, I Will Carry You has inspired another recent milestone for me.  She so boldly just kept on loving her child full force, even when she knew she couldn't keep her, that it really convicted me.  I had been trying to balance appreciating this baby in the now, knowing this is all I may get, while maintaining a protective emotional detachment, you know, just in case.

Guess what I realized?  This is so important.  Detaching emotionally does not decrease pain.  In fact, an emotionally detached life may be more painful to live.  So, I have decided to lean into it.  This week I put up the mobile above the changing table, I'm making a special frame for my 12 week ultrasound picture, I'm creatively and actively loving this child as dearly as I possibly can.  This feels like bold relief.  I feel closer to this baby than I did to Brynn in my womb, through the lessons I learned from her.  My daughter has many lessons to teach me, and I'm so grateful that death does not stop her. 

I want to leave you with a passage from Psalm 139 that I've always loved, but holds much more meaning for me now:

For you formed my inward parts;
You knit me together in my mother's womb. 
I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. 
Marvelous are your works O Lord, and that my soul knows very well. 
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret, and
       skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. 
And in your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.