Thursday, June 27, 2019

Gabe

With each of our losses, there has been some unknown component.  Either we were too early for testing, we denied testing, or everything tested normal.  There have been lots of guesses as to what is happening, but nothing concrete.  And for me, that's given me extensive amounts of guilt.  Maybe I did too much.  Maybe I ate the wrong thing.  Maybe I lifted the kids too often.  Maybe I didn't rest enough.  Maybe I simply WASN'T enough.  Ten years worth of guilt and questions, never with an answer.  For our sweet little miracle, I needed that answer.  And since, for once, my body didn't recognize what had already happened, we were able to get a few answers.

First, we were having a boy.  Of course I already knew this, I wasn't nearly sick enough for this little one to be a girl.  I was still functional (barely) so I told Andrew the week prior in 100% confidence that this baby was a boy.  Glad to know my mama instincts are spot on with at least this little detail.  Since our last transfer, we've talked extensively about our girl and boy names.  We've had a top for each gender, a plan.  Of course, in my mind, it was a twin set that I was naming.   But in reality, that didn't happen, and we will never get to call out or sweet boy's name in our home.  But it felt wrong to save the name for a potential future adoption.  I would never be able use the name again, knowing full well that had this child lived, it would have been his.  And so, we have given this child, this little boy, the name Gabriel Preston Savant, aka "Gabe".

But we also learned that Gabe would have been a very sick little boy.  He had trisomy 13.  I had never heard of trisomy 13 (we've heard of 21, 18, even 16, but never 13).  And this is because, babies with this diagnosis don't survive.  They don't live.  Had Gabe been born, he would have been in significant physical pain.  He would have spent his little lifetime either having multiple procedures or withdrawing treatment to allow the inevitable to take place.  And that would have broken me for sure.  I already know there is little worse than having your child in pain, that watching helplessly as they fight.  We lived through that for 3 months with Dean and Warren - but there was a different goal in sight for them.  For Gabe, no matter how the pregnancy turned out, we would have said goodbye to him in his first year of life.

But today, today he is whole.  Today he is healed.  Today he is complete.  That doesn't take away the pain I have.  That doesn't take away the questions of why he would have that in the first place, of why we were chosen for this.  But I can rest in knowing that one day I WILL know him without the pain between us.   And that helps a tiny bit.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Happy 2nd Birthday Lucas!

Two years and 1 day ago, our world crumbled.  I fell asleep to a kicking baby and woke knowing something was wrong.  And on June 9, a sweet nurse at the hospital sobbed alongside us as she gave us the news.  Our baby boy was gone.  We just struggle to get through June 9 each year.  But on June 10, we can celebrate.  Today, my sweet Lucas turns TWO!

Lucas was born in the wee hours of the early morning.  Unlike Hannah, Dean, and Warren, there was no team of doctors there.  No NICU staff standing by.  No big lights and excited voices.  With Lucas, all was still and silent.  A single doctor, a single nurse, and his mommy and daddy.  There were tears all around.  But, there was also joy.  That's such a hard thing to explain, but I so much loved the little time we had with him.  I love that I got the opportunity to know him a little bit, to study his little face - his cleft chin and pudgy cheeks and unibrow.  I love that I was able to read him a story, to sing him a lullaby, to hold him.  I have about 8 hours of memories with my sweet Lucas to last me a lifetime.


Happy 2nd birthday Lucas!  This year we are in the mountains for your birthday.  I'm sitting out on the balcony while Dean and Warren fight inside.  Daddy and Hannah are looking at pictures of us all together.  It's like any other day, except it isn't.  Because today is YOUR birthday!  We had big plans for today - a hike in the morning, a picnic in our favorite park, cupcakes and cards for your birthday party.  But the weather isn't cooperating with us and it's cold and wet today.  Which means, a dinosaur museum (which at 2, you probably wouldn't have enjoyed.  But by 5 you would love)  Don't worry - we are still planning on those cupcakes!  Mommy even made them gluten free so I can enjoy too!  But mostly, today is a day when we get to think about you a little more, get to talk about you more freely, get to remind your brothers and sister that not every day is about them.  I have missed you so very much over these past 2 years.  So much.  As Dean says, I so wish you were able to come live with us.  But ultimately, I know you are cared for and safe and loved now.  And so I'm resting in that on this dreary mountain day.  Knowing you are celebrating yourself with Reagan and Noah, with your 12 brothers and sisters in heaven.  What a party!  But don't grow up too fast, k??  Save something for Mommy to teach you. I love you fiercely my boy, always and forever.








Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Dark Day

Six years ago, I walked into work fairly carefree.  I had just had an OB appointment where they had listened to Reagan's heartbeat and told me she was fine.  I worked an 8-hour shift treating patients, climbing all over things, bending/squatting/lifting/teaching, doing what I loved with patients I cared for.  I had never experienced mommy intuition before, so I kept telling myself I was overreacting.  That the nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach was nothing.  I guess I wasn't quite convinced because I made a doctor's appointment, but I wouldn't leave work for it and I wouldn't have Andrew come with me.

What happened next I remember like it was yesterday.  I remember sitting in the office waiting, rubbing my large belly lovingly, telling myself she was just tired and sleeping.  I remember the doctor asking me why I had lost so much weight and scolding me for being concerned about appearances while pregnant - I guess a lot of thin women might get judged like that, but I was kinda pissed at him for the comments he was saying.  And I remember thinking this idiot, judgmental doctor doesn't know how to use a doppler, because he seemed to really be struggling with that.

But then I saw his face.  I saw the alarm in his eyes.  Those eyes still sometimes haunt me.  He reached out and touched my arm and said, let's get a quick ultrasound.  Except, they kicked out the woman who was in the ultrasound room to get me in.  And spoke in hushed voices.  And the doctor stayed in there with me, which had certainly never happened before.  I remember the exact moment I broke.  No words needed to be said, no one needed to explain.  I saw Reagan's still chest.  No flutter in there, no thumb sucking, no waving, no smiling.  My little girl, always so active before, was quiet.  The moments after that were a blur - calling my office to get Andrew's office number because he wasn't picking up and smart phones were newish, and I didn't have one.  Telling Andrew the horrific news over the phone.  Sobbing in the floor of the ultrasound room until Andrew got there.  I'm fairly sure they helped me out to the car, though I somehow managed to drive to the specialist office, where I met a doctor who would change our lives, but at the time I just sat there as he tried to explain what was happening.

Oct 30 is my 1st dark day.  There have been others since, but it was the first time my world was rocked.  I still sometimes have nightmares about the day.  And, every year, it my sad day for Reagan.  A day where I extend myself a little grace and allow myself to wallow.  Because tomorrow, well, tomorrow is her birthday.  A cause for celebration!  Tomorrow, we do happy things for Reagan, remember those precious moments we had together, teach our kids about Jesus and heaven and remind them that Reagan is happy and complete now.  Tomorrow is beautiful.  Today may be ugly and dark and hard, but I have tomorrow to look forward to.  And, at the very least, I can be so very grateful that, for both Reagan and Lucas, that their birthdays and death days were different, that I can have a day of sadness and a day of celebrating.  Because no matter how short their lives, they always deserve being celebrated.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Longing



I feel as though I am at an impasse.  Most families get to make a decision when they are done having children.  They have 2 or 3 or 4 (or 5) and say "I think we're done."  And I've always heard, "you'll know when you're done."  But here's the thing, I don't know.  In fact, I feel quite the opposite.  I have 2 more little babies out there, babies we have already prayed for and named and love, as crazy as that sounds.  My days are completely full, I am stressed to the max, I have more laundry than I can keep up with, more toys than storage space, and an endless amount of junk that I trip over.  Our home is messy.  I forget to meal plan and we scrounge for dinner, calling nachos and hot dogs a meal, and throwing in a few baby carrots for good measure.  It's not a glamorous life we lead by any stretch.

But, through it all, is this nagging feeling that our family isn't done.  Maybe, because of all we've lost, that feeling will never go away.  When Lucas died, we had 8 more freezer babies waiting for us.  And we'd never lost a pregnancy early, so I just assumed we'd still be facing the decision of when we'd have to stop because we didn't have a vehicle large enough for the family.  God had different plans.  And oh, that is so incredibly painful.  And I hate it.  And I kinda think his plans suck.  Surely mine were better.  And yet, I have to rest in the truth that His plans are good, even when it feels so so bad.  So bad.

So, where does that leave me?  And how can you support me?  Pray.  Pray that God would open a door, that we would know where to go from here.  With my last surgery cancelled, my odds of conceiving are hovering right around 0%.  And, my odds of loss if we were to defy that first statistic are right there around 75%.  So, it's pretty bleak.  Basically, I cannot carry another child.  The decision to be done has been taken away and put firmly in the hands of an uncaring doctor and crappy insurance plans.  We know God is bigger than all that.  But we also know all too well that God doesn't always work the way we want him to.  That wanting it isn't enough.  So, pray that God would work a miracle.  Or that he would take away the desire for me to carry my own child.  Or that he would bring a surrogate into our lives and work out those details.  Or that he would bring a birth mama into our lives.  Most days, I am too weak to pray for these specifics.  Because, as the months go by and they don't happen, it only seems to deepen the wound.  And that is where my village comes in.  That is where and how you can help us as we continue to walk through the grief and guilt that comes after losing so many little ones.  And the ongoing pain and sting of infertility.




Sunday, August 5, 2018

Grief

I've heard a lot about grief over the past 6 years.  I've walked through it every day.  Some days I can live in the moment and enjoy my children and genuinely smile.  Some days, I do a pretty good job of faking it.  But there are other times when it is still crushing, when it's overwhelming, when I don't know where to turn.

It's been nearly 2 months since I last sat for a few minutes to process through and blog, since Lucas' first birthday.  In that time, we had a wonderful family vacation and the twins 5th birthday.  F.I.V.E.  It's kinda a big deal.  And yet, I let the moment pass.  The pictures are still on my camera, unedited.  The sappy blog post is buried somewhere in my mind, but I haven't found the strength to write it yet.  Every moment in my life is tainted with the despair of missing my children.  It's not fair.

Much of this blog has also been about my faith.  About learning to trust God in the journey into motherhood, then the loss, then the horrors of my pregnancy, and then rejoicing.  But the ugly truth of it all is that now, well, now I am too broken to believe anything I have written before.  The walls are too high, the grief too intense.  I don't doubt God's existence.  I know He is there, that He created me, that He sent Jesus.  I believe in heaven, I trust that my children are there.  But I don't really know what I feel about God's character anymore.  I don't trust that He has planned good for me.  It sometimes seems like He is kicking me while I am down.  I'm not sure how to reconcile with that- the truth of my life,  what we have endured,  the pain and heartache that goes with losing so many children - with the God of love I hear so much about.

And here's the other things I've learned.  Grief is lonely.  You walk this road alone.  I carry the burden, the guilt, all on me.  I can't look at another pregnant woman without catching my breath, even complete strangers.  Walking past someone with a baby does the same, and I find myself trying to find a way to hide.  It's not that I'm angry with them, most of the time I don't even know these women, it's just that I'm so sad for me.  But I'm past the point where it's okay to be sad, past the point where people understand that it's still hard, and so I just have to stand there, expressionless, pretending all is okay.  But it's not okay.  And I'm not sure it ever will be again.

Image result for weight of grief sculpture

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Happy FIRST Birthday!

Happy 1st birthday my sweet little Lucas!  It is hard to believe a year has already come and gone.  That one year ago I welcomed you into my arms, snuggled you tight, and said goodbye.  That is has now been 1 year since I last saw you.  Oh, how I miss you so very much.  More than I could ever put into words.  But you are still so very much a part of our family.  We remember you all the time - every holiday, ever special moment, every time there is another little boy that would be about your age.  And we wish that we were able to know life with you, to watch you grow over this past year - see those first smiles, comfort you when you cried, watch you figure out sitting and crawling and walking.  It would have been such an incredible year.

But instead, you are celebrating BIG TIME up in heaven.  You have so many little brothers and sisters there to have a party with.  And I'm sure Reagan is showing you the best things to do on a first birthday.  And Jesus is there too, that must make for an extra special birthday.  I cannot wait until we can celebrate with you one day.  Until then, we do the best that we can.

This morning, daddy made a special breakfast, just for your special day!  He cooked eggs, bacon, and breakfast potatoes.  Then omelets and toast because, well, Savant boys love to eat!  We made smoothies to drink from Dean's new cookbook.  And then we worked outside in your garden - we fixed your flowers, pulled out the weeds, pruned everything so it didn't get overgrown, and put out some new mulch.  Then we had a little pool party.  You're big brothers are learning how to do cannon balls, you wouldn't have been far behind them!  Hannah still doesn't like to jump, but she will soon.  She follows whatever her brothers are doing, loves to copy them.  I imagine you would have, too. 

After lunch your brothers made you the sweetest cards.  They wrote every letter themselves.  Dean drew a snake and a goose and a lion with trees and a rainbow.  Warren drew you an amazing sunset and a rainbow cake with lots of candles.  They finished up while I took Hannah to her dance recital.  When we got home, we made homemade pizza and cooked it on the grill.  Then we enjoyed your birthday cake and sent you up some balloons with messages from each of us.  I think you would have enjoyed the special day we created for you, and I hope you were able to look down and see how much we love you. 

I miss you so much Lucas.  So very much.  Sometimes it still catches me off guard, takes my breath away, even a year later.  I'm sorry we couldn't keep you here with us.  Always know that you are loved, you were wanted, and that you are so special to us.  All my love, always and forever sweet boy.

Mommy








Friday, June 8, 2018

Anticipation

The anticipation of the first birthday in heaven is always the hardest part.  With Reagan, we had the distraction of tiny baby boys who were still learning how to eat and life was about measuring their volume intake and making sure they hit their minimums, and trying to get them to sleep for a few minutes at a time before the pumping/nursing/bottle feeding schedule resumed.  But I still remember breaking down almost constantly in that week leading up to her birthday, not knowing what to expect, unsure if I would make it through the day.  Her actual birthday was a really sweet time, a chance to celebrate her life and remember our time together.  Maybe it helps that she was born on the day after we learned she had passed away?

This year is much the same, only it's been followed by grief upon grief.  Only this year, I have learned I will never have that rainbow baby, never carry another child.  It's been 1 month since we officially learned that our last babies were gone.  There are too many "should have beens" to even keep up with anymore.  And I find myself feeling panicked about the weekend, about our sweet Lucas' first birthday.  Because he was the last baby of mine I will get to hold.  And so, in addition to grieving everything we are missing with him, in addition to trying to help his birthday feel like a special time just for him (while juggling dance recitals and whining 4-year-olds - because when you're baby #5, that's what you get), I am also still grieving the loss of 8 other babies and the reality that we are done.  Even my body is reminding me of the failure.

I miss my Lucas so much.  These reminders, pictures of him at his last ultrasound healthy, remembering that one year ago, we were happy and completely unaware.  That one year ago was the last time I would every feel him kick.  I am still a bit in shock by it all, even a year later.  I know I have given everything I have to these babies, given them the best that I had to offer.  It's just so hard knowing that it wasn't enough, that I wasn't enough.  Though I know there isn't anything I could have done differently, I live with that guilt every day. 

If we had known something was going wrong, if we had known about the cord, we could be celebrating our sweet boy's first birthday today - on the last day he was healthy.  I keep thinking that I somehow missed a warning sign, that I should have known.  I'm the mommy, that was my job.  But I didn't know until he was gone, didn't have a clue.  And so, this weekend, we will celebrate our sweet boy.  We will make him cards and bake him a cake.  We will look through our pictures and have a special day to remember what it was like to hold him for those few hours.