On my 25th birthday in June 2010 we found out we were pregnant with our first. We prepared everything for the arrival of our son Alexander Michael. On February 8, 2011 our hearts were broken when a week and a day before Alexander was due we were told that he had no heartbeat. Alexander was silently born on February 10, 2011 he weighed 6 lbs 10 oz, was 20 inches long, had sandy brown hair and really big feet. We love him and miss him dearly. This is my place for reflection on my life since his birth. We are currently expecting a rainbow baby named Oliver, a little brother due Sept 21, 2012. I love both my boys, the one who paints the clouds and my rainbow growing in my womb, tremendously and I thank God for blessing me with both of them everyday.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pet Peeves of a Rainbow Pregnancy

A rainbow pregnancy (a pregnancy after loss) is emotionally tough. Its full of worry and anxiety. And while most pregnant women are worried about how to set up the nursery and which stroller to register for, women who are pregnant after a loss are worried about whether they will actually get to take this baby home from the hospital. A lot of pregnant women's worst case scenario for delivery is that their birth plan isn't followed or they end up having a c-section delivery or their baby ends up in the NICU for a few days with jaundice, (these were the worst possible things that could happen in my mind when I was pregnant with Alexander). I know the worst possible scenario is that you leave the hospital with a memory box and an empty car seat. So while I have a preference how my delivery goes my only real concern this time is that my baby comes home safely.
This image is not my property or work.

With all this there are some very unhelpful things that people tend to say to women going through a rainbow pregnancy. And these aren't just things that are pet peeves of mine. I've been talking to a few fellow baby loss moms who are going through a rainbow pregnancy as well. These are a few things that really bother a lot of us.

Pet peeve #1: Don't treat us like this is our first pregnancy and please don't give us pregnancy advice unless we ask for it. This is not our first pregnancy, we've done this before. By treating us like this is our first pregnancy you are forgetting our child in heaven. One of my biggest fears is that people will forget Alexander. We still count our children in heaven as our kids please do the same. Just because our baby died does not mean we did something wrong that time and we need advice to make it not happen again. Actually many of us did everything right and our baby died anyway. I don't need you to tell me what I should expect in my third trimester. One my body handles pregnancy differently then yours. Two I actually went full term with my first pregnancy so I know what to expect already. We don't need to be told to take it easy or to not stress out. We are already doing everything we need to do to the best of our ability. We go to extra Dr appointments, we are extra careful with our activities and food, we freak out about any pregnancy symptom that might be an indication that something is going wrong, we try to stay positive and stress free as possible (because everyone says stress is bad for the baby), and we try to trust God that he will handle everything.

Pet Peeve #2: If we express worry and concern about the outcome don't respond that everything will turn out just fine or that everything is going well this time so it should turn out just fine. Unless God has given you a divine revelation that I will get to take Oliver home from the hospital, please don't tell me everything will be fine, because you actually don't know that. My personal experience tells me that everything going well does not mean you get to bring a baby home.  Everything was going well, fantastic actually, when I was pregnant with Alexander until he no longer had a heartbeat at a routine prenatal appointment. I know saying things like this are meant to reassure me, but what you are actually telling me is that my worry and concerns are invalid. Instead recognize our concern, let us know you are praying for us, or just give us a hug. (If you are not actually praying for me please don't tell me that you are.) When I know you are praying for me it helps me out emotionally so much.

Pet Peeve #3: Don't refer to us as almost a mom/dad. Or tell us about someone else delivery of a healthy baby by saying "so-and-so is officially a mom/dad." When you say something like this to me you are telling me that you don't think I am a mom. If I am not a mom, then I don't have any kids. Which isn't true. Just because my first born died and my second child has yet to be born does not mean I don't have any kids. When people wished me a happy fist Mother's day this year they basically told me that Alexander doesn't count. And worse when someone wished me a happy almost mother's day they not implied that Alexander doesn't count because he died but that Oliver doesn't count until he is born. In my mind I officially became a mom when I found out I was pregnant. As soon as I knew I was pregnant I started thinking about my child's well being above my own and if that isn't being a mom then I don't know what is. I am proudly a mother of two. If you say something like this I will correct you and depending on my mood (I have been very moody this pregnancy) I won't always do it nicely.

Pet Peeve #4: Expressing your preference or even worse your disappointment over the gender of our baby. While we may or may not have had a preference ourselves our biggest concern for our baby is that they are healthy. And since we don't control the gender of our baby we don't need to know that you think we should of had a boy/girl instead. We love our baby completely no matter if they are a boy or girl and we would appreciate it if you rejoiced with us about the little miracle that is growing in our belly instead of telling us you would of preferred it was a girl/boy. I do admit that I thought that Oliver was a girl (along with almost everyone I talked to) as soon as we found out he was a boy we knew he was completely an individual who wasn't going to care what everyone else thought he was. We love him to pieces for the little person he is and will be.

#5: This isn't really a pet peeve but do realize that even "normal" pregnancy questions (like how are you feeling, are you having a baby shower, or how is the nursery set up going) are loaded with extra emotions for us.Baby showers are tough for most women who have lost a baby (either because they never had one or it reminds them they never got to use the gifts from the last one). We have all this stuff that was his that he never got to use. When we found out Alexander had died I had had two baby showers and we had everything prepared for him. Setting up the nursery for another baby is an emotional experience because as you do it you wonder if you will actually get to use it this time. So if you get awkward answers after you ask a pregnancy related question just be aware that every thing we do for our new baby while we are pregnant is bring back a memory of the baby we lost. It makes everything very complicated.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Deeper Love and Understanding

Most of the time Alexander's life and death seems like a dream or a story I read so many times that I have every detail memorized. It seems like that year in my life really never actually happened. But I have proof that it did. That He did exist. I know that this is my second pregnancy because I've been through all this pregnancy stuff before. But if this is my second pregnancy where is that little boy that I was supposed to get at the end of all that work of the first one? Aren't you supposed to go through all the work of pregnancy, nursery preparation, and labor only to realize that now the real work begins?

And if Alexander's life feels like a dream then what am I living now? I've officially been in in my third trimester for a week or so now and I'm falling more and more in love with the little life we've named Oliver everyday. It is so neat seeing his little personality emerge and develop by feeling his movements. Every time I feel him move I feel relief that I know he is still alive and I love him for it. Its a deeper love and appreciation of the life growing inside of me then the first time around. I don't have the carefree, giddy, anticipatory love and joy that most pregnant women feel as the plan and prepare for the new life that they will soon deliver. No, I have the deeper love and cautious joy, that is chopped full of worry and anxiety, as only a mother who truly knows how fragile life really is can have.

I've been talking to some fellow BLM's (baby loss moms) about this very thing. We have a longing for that innocent joy of pregnant friend who have never known a loss, but at the same time are so thankful for the lessons in love that our babies in heaven have taught us. It made me think back to the early days after loosing Alexander. (Now the tears come and he doesn't seem like a wonderful horrible dream for a moment.) People would ask me if there was anything they could do. (Please don't ever ask this question of a newly bereaved parent because the only thing going through their mind is "can you bring my baby back?" but that is a topic for another day.) If these friends had children of their own often my only response to this question would be to ask them to love and especially hug their children for me. That's all I wanted in those days to be able to physically love my baby. And If I could make Alexander's memory mean anything it would be to teach parents to have a deeper love and appreciation for their kids. I know that is one of the things Alexander has taught me. This deeper love is one of the things I have that makes Alexander seem real.

Then there is the tangible "proof" I have of Alexander's life on earth: all those baby items that were bought for him but he never used. His little brother, Oliver will use most of them because Oliver would be using Alexander's hand-me-downs anyway. I've been going through all of Alexander's things lately to get ready for Oliver's arrival in a few months. It hasn't been as hard as I thought it would, maybe because I've gone through them a few times knowing they would one day be for a different baby. As I'm going through all these baby clothes I'm reminded of the few outfits we picked out special for Alexander (in addition to all the outfits that were bought for him as gifts, and given to us as hand-me-downs).
This is the very first outfit we bought for Alexander before we knew that he was in fact a he. Because well any child of ours will love robots as much as we do. It will be so special to dress Oliver in this outfit.
And there are the few outfits we have bought just for Oliver because he needs things that are just his and were never his big brothers.(I've actually had so much fun knitting little hats, and booties, and a sweater for Oliver this summer, but I think that is a post for another day.)
We saw this outfit/sleeper when we were pregnant with Alexander but decided it was too expensive. About a month after Alexander died we went back and bought it (on clearance) as a promise to ourselves that one day we will have a baby that will actually need to wear it. I guess this was the first thing we bought for Oliver. 

I pray everyday that we get to take Oliver home and actually are able to use all this baby stuff this time around. I try to wait patiently, hope for the best, and cherish the life growing inside of me while Oliver is here. And that's really all I can do. I have  to trust that God will handle the rest.