Friday, June 21, 2013

Welcome to the world! Isabella Grazia

After four days of labor - yes you read right - four days - we finally welcomed our beautiful daughter, Isabella Grazia, into this crazy crazy world.  She was born on Sunday, April 7th at 11:38pm weighing 7 pounds, 9 ounces and 19 inches long.  With a nice full head of black hair.
  She's already 10 weeks old and just now am I finding the time and energy to write again.  The picture above really describes the whole birth experience in a nutshell.  I'm exhausted.  Chris is so happy and overwhelmed with joy.  And baby Isa came out with her eyes wide open and alert to everything around her.  She is about a half hour old in this picture and you would never know that she had a four day journey through my womb to get into our arms. I love this picture.  The crocheted blanket in the background was given to us as a gift when I was pregnant with Nico.  I call it "Nico's blanket" and I carried it with me throughout this pregnancy.  I felt like his spirit was with us that day.

I'll share her birth story here:
We arrived at the hospital on Thursday the 4th early in the morning for our scheduled induction.  We were so excited that we were going to meet our little girl sometime that day (or so we thought!!).  I was very nervous and hesitant about doing an induction but finally agreed after both doctors suggested it's the safest route considering our history with Nico.  But I wanted to do what they call a "gentle induction" without Pitocin or heavy meds.  I was convinced she just needed a gentle nudge to get my labor started.  Plus, I was so afraid of needing a C-section by doing the induction. When I arrived at the hospital, I was dilated only 1cm and was given a cervical gel to ripen my cervix.  That should do it!  Nope.  By the end of the day, I was having small contractions and had barely dilated.  I was so frustrated...I thought she would come right away!  

The next day, after getting little/no sleep I agreed to small doses of pitocin to start the contractions.  Well, the contractions came pretty regularly but by the end of the second day, I was only dilated to 4cm.  Seriously, a whole day of contractions and I thought, for sure something has to happen today!  Nope.

Not exactly what I had in mind with the "hands off" style of birth I expected!
By the third day, I was ready for more Pitocin.  They can only give you so much while monitoring baby's heart rate to be sure she wasn't stressed out.  This day was probably the toughest for me.  I spent much of the night in a panic that something terrible was going to happen. I didn't sleep at all.  Why wouldn't my baby come?  Was something wrong?  We are so close and I was afraid that something awful would (once again) happen to us.  We would somehow be twice denied our baby that we have been praying and hoping for.  This is what must go through the mind of someone who has lost a baby, I'm certain of it.  I just can't be sure of anything anymore.  Even being this close, I wasn't sure that something bad wouldn't happen.  

Chris was amazing through it all!  Here he is giving me a much-needed back massage during a rough contraction.
On the fourth and final day, my doctor came in and we both agreed that Isabella was going to come out by the end of the day - one way or another.  I agreed to have my waters broken and continue the Pitocin.  The water was broken around 10am and the contractions started coming on with increasing frequency and intensity.  Damn Pitocin! Pit induced contractions are so much harder and longer.  But I was committed to doing this without the pain meds...ughh!

By 8pm or so, I was 8cm dilated...finally!!  Here we go!  Too bad I still had to push for a few hours and I was exhausted.  I really couldn't do it anymore, not without some relief.  The contractions were coming every minute or less.  I could barely catch my breath by then.  I agreed to have an epidural so I could rest and get ready for the pushing.  Finally, I was able to sleep a little.  The doctors were great!  They knew I really wanted to do this without the epidural and were really, really good about not giving me too much of the pain meds.  I could still feel the contractions coming on and could move my legs a bit.

After about one hour of active pushing, I knew we were really, really close!  I could feel her moving through me; I couldn't believe I was finally going to meet my baby!  I pushed and pushed and wanted her out so badly...I could hardly wait any longer!  Finally!!  At 11:38 little Isabella Grazia was born!  Her eyes were wide open and alert!  My rainbow baby was born.
Just born!

Isabella Grazia was born into a loving family, surrounded by a supportive community and so many prayers, candle-lightings and crossed fingers.  You are truly a blessing, little Isa... and have brought light into my heart once again. 

Isabella at 3 weeks

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The past 38 weeks...

I've stayed away from this space for quite some time.  Still not sure if I'll be back at writing again.  I've tried to come back with some profound words or updates on my life.  But I've been busy holding my breath.  Today I'm 38 weeks and 2 days pregnant.  The eve of the birth of my rainbow baby is just around the corner.  Our little daughter should arrive this week, hopefully.  I can't express the range of emotions I've gone through during these past almost 10 months.  

I've spent the past 9 months going to way-too-many doctors appointments, having way-too-many ultrasounds, taking way-too-many vitamins and giving myself way-too-many injections of blood thinning medicine.  It's the farthest thing from my hands-off approach I imagined I'd have during this pregnancy.  No midwife this time, no birth center is scheduled.  Instead, we have a doctor that comes into our appointments with a huge file with my name on it.  There's alot of history in that file.  There are lots of lab and test results in there.  We have a specialist that is very preoccupied with his newest voice-activated transcribing gadget on his computer so he doesn't need to type when he meets with us.  We're scheduled to deliver at a hospital that had over 16 deliveries on the day we went to pre-register for our delivery.  The crazy thing?  This pregnancy has been so perfect so far and so typical and our little girl appears so healthy that it's all a "precaution" as they say.  Even crazier is that I'm okay with that.  I can be pretty stubborn and set in my ways, but I am very comfortable changing courses as I need to.  That's part of the change I've experienced since Nico died.  I don't quite trust my body anymore.  I don't  quite trust that things will work out well in the end regardless of how much you want it to.

This has been a beautiful pregnancy and I love being pregnant.  I love my body, my belly, my big legs.  I love that I've gained 30 pounds to grow this little being inside of me.  I appreciate and am comforted that our little girl is nestled in the same space that held Nico for 30 weeks.  Wish me luck as I prepare for a brand new adventure!  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Eleven months, 2 weeks, 4 days

Today:  eleven months, 2 weeks and 4 days, I am farther away from the grief that overtook me almost 1 year ago.  It lays dormant, reappearing whenever it wants, regardless of what I'm doing, where I am or who I'm with.  The grief comes with a vengeance, and can bring me back to the moment I knew Nico's heart stopped beating.  And when it does, the grief shows itself as a knot in my stomach, a lump in my throat and a wave of tears welling up behind my smiling facade. 

Mostly, I think my friends think I'm fine now.  And I am.  Most days.  These days, I can go about my day without the fear of breaking down at the drop of a hat.  I can go to the grocery store and not have to avoid the aisle with the pregnant mother.  More importantly, I can go to the places where people remember I was pregnant and not be afraid of them asking me about my son.  This still happens.  At the farmers markets, with the farmers from last summer still remembering me big-bellied and asking "How's your baby? He must be almost one now, right?"    Or, the stranger noticing my tattoo and asking "Who's Nico?"  I have my answers ready now:

Nico is my son.  He was stillborn at 8 months.
Yes, I did have a baby.  A boy.  His name was Nico, but he died when I was pregnant.
Yes, he would be one this year.

But I cannot say this yet, without the sadness lurking just beneath the surface.  So, I quickly walk away and leave them to ponder this news that I just threw at them.

Today, unlike a year ago,  my happy outweighs my sad.   I have no idea what the next years will bring me, but, little by little, I'm finding new reasons to stay in this world and find contentment with the direction my life is moving. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Muffin top

I joined a gym this month but I still can't seem to find the time to go.  I'm planning on going tomorrow, I promise.  Really, I will.  I still have most of my pregnancy weight and lost only a few pounds.  I can't seem to get rid of it. I have what people would call a 'muffin top.'  This is what I imagine I look like when I think of it, just not as delicious:

So, off to the gym I go to lose the "baby weight." 

I'm starting to get that antsy feeling I get when I'm anxious.  The list of projects is growing, yet I can barely find the time and energy to do anything.  Getting back into shape is on my list.  I would love to fit into my clothes again.  I need to slow down and breathe.  Take my time and not worry so much.  But so much is happening these days, and I struggle with letting go of control and just let things "be."  How does everyone else do it?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sewing 101

Holy moly, I've decided to take a sewing class!  Not a simple, Senior Center sewing class taught by nice elder ladies who love to sew. Nope, a full semester of sewing 101 at a community college with "kids" about 20 years younger than me (now that makes me feel old!).  I'm not so sure what I got myself into, or my friend into.  I convinced a good friend of mine to take the class with me and I don't know if she'll ever talk to me again once it's over.  The class is taught by a young, skinny lady who worked in New York City for Calvin Klein (or someone equally famous and fancy).  I'm not so sure she can teach, really.  The first day started off with her saying "go pick a machine and begin to thread your needle and wind your bobbin.  Then just free sew for a while."  HuhWhat the heck?  Now, I know what a needle and bobbin are (I'm not that uneducated in sewing lingo).  But where do I start? 

After some time (and lots of cheating) I finally got the hang of the class and am really beginning to like it.  I decided - probably very foolishly - to go and get my own sewing machine.  First, let me show you what machine I'm learning to sew on.  It looks something like this one:
As you can probably see, this macine is digital.  A push of a button gives you so many choices to choose from.  It also costs over $1,000.  I decided to go a bit older and cheaper.  As you can see, this is my "new" machine:

Yup.  Not exactly digital, but I was assured it works.  It's also about 60 years old, and was free.  I apologize ahead of time to everyone I will be gifting hand sewn projects to.  I'll try my best to make sure it doesn't look like something from a 5th grade Home Ec class.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sometimes, when I look back

Sometimes, when I look back on that day and the days that followed, I feel this incredible sadness.  Not only for you and what you went through, not for the fact that you died and being without you, but also for my own life, my own heart, for Chris' life.  The pain, hurt, loss and heartbreak during the month before you died, your death, and the time afterwards, is just so horrifying that this happened. And to me, my son, my husband.

I tell myself that there are much worse things that happen to millions of people every day.  When I compare our situation to all the suffering around us, we have so much to be grateful for - the love and support we received from family and friends, the knowledge that you knew nothing but love from those around you, and that you died peacefully.  I try not to get weighed down feeling sorry for myself that such a terrible thing happened to my first child.  But I don't deny that pain.  To deny it would minimize or take away from the joy and happiness that you brought us for almost 8 months.  The fact that other people suffer does not take away what we went through.  I allow myself to feel compassion and sadness of your loss. That my heart can break, over and over again, and still continue to beat, to have the capacity to love, is amazing.
If you're really listening, if you're awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; its purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold evermore wonders.” - Andrew Harvey

I worry about my grief sometimes, I try to push it aside, bury it beneath busy days, distractions, responsibilities.  But, somehow, the grief finds it way to the surface.  If not acknowledged, it will fester and enter the dark places of my heart.  Slowly, I am finding ways to recognize my grief and be comfortable with how it changes.  There hasn't been a day that I don't think about you, and I am comforted knowing that you are always with me.  I am thankful that you are our little angel.

I miss you, Nico.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bits of gratitide amidst many tears

Four months ago today I delivered my son  at St. Joe's Hospital.  I held his body in my arms and saw him for the first/last time.  After 20 hours of labor and 4 weeks of anxiety and fear, little Nico left this world before really ever having a chance to see it.  I still cannot believe it's been 4 months.  I sometimes cannot believe that I've made it through today, still walking and working and living and breathing and sometimes even laughing.  I can go back to that day and the days prior like it was just yesterday and I'm flooded with the same feelings of sadness and grief.  We have a long journey ahead of us, but we're getting there.

We just finished celebrating Thanksgiving, a time of giving thanks, a time of being thankful.  But I kept thinking "I cannot be thankful, there is nothing only emptiness and sadness."  How do we begin to celebrate this day when my son is dead?  What goodness is there in my life to be thankful for right now? 

But as I really think about those questions, I find that I still feel blessed and lucky.  As I look back at these past 4 months and see that both Mr. C and I have survived this time mainly  because of the love and kindness shown by our friends, family and each other.  I have friends who I can call and just cry to and they understand, I don't have to apologize.  I have a husband who has been by my side and never left, although it was scary and we were in unchartered territory.  We have a family who is loving and kind and supportive and gentle.  We are truly lucky and blessed and I'm thankful for the prayers for peace and healing.

Nico's death has changed me in profound ways.  I don't know what the road ahead will look like, but I don't think I'll ever be the same as before he died.

I know that my sufferings since Nico's death will be endless, life continues and our story is still to be told.  But I hold on to the love and community and those little blessings in life, for which I am grateful.

. . So you must not be frightened
if a sadness rises before you larger
than any you’ve ever seen, if an
anxiety like light and cloud shadows
moves over your hands and
everything that you do. You must
realize that something has happened
to you. Life has not forgotten
you, it holds you in its hands
and will not let you fall. Why do
you want to shut out of your life
any uneasiness, any miseries, or
any depressions? For after all, you
do not know what work these conditions
are doing inside of you.
                                - Rainer Maria Rilke

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Due dates

October 10th was Nico's due date.  It came and went, and I'm still alive and well.  I made it through the day, not knowing how or what I would do to get by.  The anticipation was worse than the day itself.  The anxiety those days leading up to the 10th must be similar to that of an expectant mother, anxious for the day her baby will be born.  It's very odd to know that I share these similar feelings, but with the full realization that my baby won't  be born on this day.  That he has already come and gone. Yet the anticipation is still there.  It's like my mind still going through the motions of planning/preparing for a birth that will never be/already happened. 

Mr. C and I took the afternoon off work and spent some time at the Desert Botanical Gardens.  I wasn't ready for a desert hike but wanted to be surrounded by the desert and its smells and colors.  So the Botanical Gardens was a perfect place to go.  I felt Nico all around me, and could imagine him there, running into cactus and falling on his face in the rocks (seriously, I thought about this and he's not even here!).  It was a beautiful day, and I remember my little Nico and our dreams and hopes and wishes that forever stay with me.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

To-do list...revised

We painted a room this weekend.  And put together a bed. 

Only difference is that we painted our bedroom instead of a baby room, and put together a new queen size bed instead of a crib.

That's all...this doesn't get any easier.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Joy and Sorrow

"Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain...

Some of you say, 'Joy is greater than sorrow,' and others say, 'Nay, sorrow is the greater.' But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed."

– Kahlil Gibran