Friday, November 28, 2014

Handling the latest Zoey situation

I'm not incredibly sure how I feel right now.  I'm so exhausted, but when I do manage to fall asleep my mind lingers on the fact that we're here and not at home.  

As my return to work approached, I was reassured over and over by the fact that I would be back for one full week, then just for two days and then have five days off with my girls and my family.  I would have one of my favorite weekends of the year to look forward to full of a day off with my kids, Thanksgiving dinner at our house, cutting down our Christmas tree with my in laws, and decorating our house.  Instead, Zoey was sick all day Wednesday, after a long night of little sleep the night before, and as she progressively got worse, our decision to take her into the hospital.  That was followed by spending Thanksgiving in the hospital, and now most likely all of today, with just the hope of being able to go home tomorrow.  

This is Zoey's first Thanksgiving.  In my last post I explained why last year's Thanksgiving was rough for me and our family so needless to say, I had high hopes for this year.  It's been a struggle since Wednesday for me to keep a healthy perspective on the way this weekend has been going.  Missing Thanksgiving, at our own house, knowing we have dishes and a turkey ready to be cooked and eaten was bad enough.  But then everyone that was supposed to come over and join us, had to find alternate plans as well.  Today we're missing out on taking Tera to cut down our Christmas tree.  And Zoey is missing out on her first time.  Does she have any idea that she's missing it? Of course not.  But I do.  Will there be more Thanksgivings that in theory have to go better than the last two? I'm sure there are, but that only somewhat tempers my sadness.  

Then of course there's the reason that we're missing all that.  Our sweet Zoey, who just made it out of the hospital September 15th, is now back in.  Hooked up to some of the same machines she was on following her dramatic entrance into this world.  She has to be suctioned every couple hours just so she can get some relief, and she hasn't been able to eat more than three ounces since Wednesday.  We have to wear masks, gloves, and gowns just to hold her.  I know she’s comforted being near us, but I feel she’s not getting as much as she could since our faces and scents are masked.  

And here’s where I feel truly conflicted.  My baby daughter is in the hospital.  My other daughter, while still having fun, is not with us.  Our Thanksgiving was not what we had planned.  But being here in the Children’s Hospital, you see things you wish didn’t have to exist.  A Thanksgiving meal provided by the hospital at no cost to ALL the families that are here instead of at home.  The kids that aren’t here for just a few days.  The kids who very well may spend Christmas here too.  The parents who know and understand more about the medical field than anyone who’s not in it should.  It’s heartbreaking and at the same time reminds me how very lucky we are.  

One of the things that I’ve really had to learn since having children is to let go of expectations.  That things are not going to go as planned and that it’s not the end of the world, I just have to adapt.  When we realized that we weren’t going to be home on Thursday, I wanted to cry.  All our plans, our meal, our traditions, were changed.  But if we get to go home tomorrow, we’ll try and have our meal on Saturday instead.  We won’t be going to cut down Christmas trees with Tom’s parents and my brother in law and sister in law.  This would have been Zoey’s first time, we were going to watch Tera ride the ponies (which she was previously afraid to do), pick out a beautiful tree and come home and start decorating.  Instead they’re going to take Tera, pick out a tree for us, and I’ll have to try and decorate on Sunday or during the week.  I absolutely LOVE decorating our house for Christmas so I kept thinking that maybe our decorations wouldn’t be out as long as they usually are if it takes me longer to get it done.  But maybe I’ll just leave them out longer after Christmas if I still feel that way.  

Letting go of expectations, plans, and ideas is truly a struggle for me.  It causes real anxiety, not just stress.  I have coping mechanisms, but when I’m running on very, very little sleep, I’m concerned about the health of my somewhat fragile child, and missing my other sweet girl, it can be a little more difficult to focus on those things that might contribute to my improved mental health.  

I’ve been wanting to find the time to get all this out in hopes of it relieving some of the stress of thinking about it every time I try and sleep and now that I have, I’m already starting to feel a little better about it.  The rest of my day consists of obsessively watching Zoey’s monitor, drinking obscene amounts of coffee (at 10:30 I’m on my second cup), watching some movies, hopefully showering once Tom brings back some clean clothes, and maybe doing a little more online Christmas shopping (I’ve already placed orders at Carters and Old Navy for the girls).  Sounds delightful doesn’t it?

I’ll post any updates later on Facebook, but with any luck I won’t have time, or the need, to post again here the rest of the weekend.  Happy holiday weekend my friends and loved ones. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

One year ago...

One year ago, my heart broke.  At that time, I felt like it was ripped apart, never to be mended.  The pain was unbearable and the kind that you think could never possibly get better. 

I debated for a long time after that whether it was something that I wanted to share.  But now, one year later, I feel okay about sharing it.  It is an important part of my life, of our lives as a family, and I think it’s time. 

Last November, the Monday before Thanksgiving, I had a miscarriage.  Most of you had no idea.  It was not something I shared with hardly anyone outside of our immediate family and friends.  It was too painful and I didn’t want to talk about it, but it happened. 

I found out in mid-October that I was pregnant.  We were excited, but I knew I would be a little more stressed during the pregnancy because of what we had experienced with Tera.  We knew we would ask for all the non-invasive prenatal tests because while we wouldn’t have changed our decision not to know with Tera, we had to know this time.  We needed time to emotionally prepare ourselves if we were told we would have another child with special needs.  I had a new doctor that I really liked and made an appointment to go in when I thought I would be eight weeks along.  When we went in for my initial visit, my doctor couldn’t find anything on the ultrasound.  I immediately panicked.  After some searching, he found the baby, but the measurements didn’t put the baby at eight weeks, it was more like five and a half.  Since the baby was so small, there wasn’t much the doctor could tell us, including showing us a heartbeat, but reassured us that this didn’t mean anything was necessarily wrong, just that our original estimate was off.  He told me to come back in two weeks and by then he would have a better idea of what was going on.  He told us to be cautiously optimistic.  I went back two weeks later and the baby had grown, but the doctor wanted me to get an ultrasound at one of the ultrasound facilities to get a better picture than he could get in the office.  I made an appointment for the Monday before Thanksgiving at the Arlington Heights office. 

Tom couldn’t make it to the appointment and I told him that I really thought everything would be fine, and that I would go by myself.  I went in for one period at work, then headed to my appointment.  When I got there, they got the ultrasound set up and the technician found the baby, but realized that it hadn’t grown.  She left the room to go get the doctor and I started to cry.  I called Tom and told him what was going on and that the doctor would be in soon, but that it wasn’t good.  When the doctor came back in, he had to deliver the news that ripped my heart apart.  The baby had stopped growing, and it was no longer a viable pregnancy.  I left the office and tried to explain to Tom what had happened, but I could barely speak.  He left work immediately to come and get me.

In the meantime I called my mom, the only other person in the world I could talk to at that minute and bawled while people walked past me, as I waited for Tom to come and pick me up.  It felt like my world had ended, and the mere thought of what was going on sent me into hysterics again.  I called my doctor and he told me that it would be in my best interest to get a D&C the next day to help prevent as much discomfort as possible.  I was scheduled for the next morning.

When Tom finally arrived we drove home pretty much in silence.  I couldn’t bear to tell anyone so once again he had to share the news with the few people that we had already told.  I didn’t really want to talk to anyone about it, but a friend of mine (who had also had one) called me that afternoon to make sure I was okay and reassure me that as awful as I felt at that moment, it would get better eventually. 

I spent the rest of the day and most of the night in bed and then the next morning Tom took me in and it was over.  We were supposed to have Thanksgiving at our house and while everyone would have been more than understanding if we didn’t, it felt like it would be worse to spend the whole day just thinking about it so I insisted we keep it the same, and I don’t regret it.  The rest of that weekend was a series of ups and downs.  I realized that maybe at some point, I could think about it and not feel like all the pain of the world was inside me. And I can honestly say today, that while I will never forget that I at one point had another baby that I never met, I don’t feel nearly the sadness that I felt then. 

Before the procedure the doctor asked me if I wanted them to do a pathology report to see if they could determine what had caused the miscarriage and I said yes.  Again, after Tera, I couldn’t handle not knowing.  If this baby had also had Down Syndrome, I don’t know how we would have felt about trying again.  I can’t even begin to imagine my life without Tera, every part of her, but it was something we would have to think about. 

While we waited for the results, time passed and things gradually felt more normal again.  I began to find out that more and more people I knew had had miscarriages and at least it made me feel not so alone.  Eventually, my doctor called and told me they had the results.  The baby had had trisomy 7; a third copy of the 7th chromosome.  Down Syndrome is a third copy of the 21st chromosome.  The similarities struck home, but I tried not to dwell on it too much. 

Still, when I became pregnant with Zoey about a month and a half later, my first reaction to the pregnancy test was to burst into tears.  All those emotions that had started to subside hit me at once and I was terrified of being pregnant again.  I wish I could say that my third pregnancy put my mind at ease, but it was not to be.  I had minor complications with her from the start, ended up finding out I had placenta previa, that resolved and I simultaneously found out I instead had vasa previa, and one week later Zoey was born.  

The due date for my second pregnancy was July 12th, Zoey was born on July 14th
It’s hard not to think about that time period and wonder if it wasn’t really all just a dream (or nightmare).  So much has happened since then and the only thing that truly makes me feel any better (and all the platitudes do not) is knowing that all along we had only planned on having two kids.  If everything had gone differently the second time, I wouldn’t have my sweet Zoey. While it’s difficult not to wonder what our other baby would have been like, I know that I have two of the sweetest, most challenging, awe inspiring, beautiful daughters imaginable and for that I will always be eternally grateful.