Grief and My Pregnancy

I woke up this morning with the realization that one year ago today, while my grandma was dying from cancer, I found out I was pregnant again. It was technically my fourth pregnancy, and my second in just a handful of months. At the time, I had a seven month old baby at home, too.

I honestly didn’t know if I wanted another baby. I’d had a very early miscarriage in August of that year, which had left me feeling relief, because my youngest was still so young, but I was finding myself looking at the possibility of another baby again, and I was anxious about it. The option to not have a baby was on the table, but the decision was initially put on the back burner because I had other things to worry about. In the end, I knew I wanted the baby, but it did take me time to get there.

The next few weeks were a blur, and sometimes I feel like I got cheated out of enjoying that first trimester. I was so focused on my grandma’s health, and then my grandma’s death and learning to get through the holidays without her, that I didn’t really get to think much about the growing life inside of me. By Christmas, however, the excitement was there, although it still didn’t feel real. It didn’t really feel real to me until almost the third trimester, and it certainly felt like the shortest of my three pregnancies.

Recently, I discovered that the only things getting me through the months following my grandma’s death were my kids. The first morning after she was gone, things were hazy, and that fog didn’t lift until many weeks later. It was hard to get out of bed most mornings for a while, but I did because I had to; someone had to take care of my kids, after all.

We got through the holidays and the new year, and then I was able to enjoy and focus more on my pregnancy. My older kids had birthdays, we bought a house, we had two big trips in the spring, then I had a birthday, and the baby was born. After that, my mom got married, we went on vacation in August, and once September came around, I realized that I hadn’t thought of anything else to look forward to. I had been so focused on making it through the baby’s birth, trips, weddings, and then our yearly vacation, that I was blindsided by a feeling of emptiness. In my head, there was nothing else after that.

Anxiety is a constant in my life, but depression comes and goes, and I think I spent most of the first year after my grandma’s death trying to battle it. The only thing that kept me going was having something to always be looking ahead to, and now that those significant dates have passed, I have to find new ways to cope.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back, that pregnancy was probably the best thing that could have happened to me then. It gave me something to focus on, and something to hope for, in a time when I had lost one of the most important people in my life. Life really is all about finding the silver linings, I suppose, and I found mine in my pregnancy.

This is a hard time of year for me, but I know I can make it through. I’m so thankful for how far I’ve come and for all those who have been there for me, and I’m grateful for the support I had from friends and family this past year. I’m so glad that my son is a part of my life, and truly, without that pregnancy, I don’t know if I would have pulled myself up from my depression enough to take care of myself and my older kids.

There really is a silver lining on every dark cloud if you look hard enough.

I Dropped the Ball on Preschool

I messed up.

And I’m mad about it.

Earlier this year, people started asking me if R would be going to preschool this fall. I said no, I didn’t feel like she was emotionally ready. My biggest fear was that I would send her to school and she would be difficult and stubborn and that she would defy the teacher… like she does with me, all the time. It’s no secret that my oldest is extremely strong-willed.

However, over these last few weeks, I’ve noticed a big change from five or six months ago. Honestly, I’ve noticed a change even from just two months ago, when her brother was born. I’m realizing that I was probably wrong on her not being ready for preschool, especially since I have seen this strong-willed child actually listen to people who aren’t one of her parents or grandparents. This is completely new and, actually, unexpected.

To add to it, she’s been asking about where the neighbors’ kids have been lately. When I tell her they’re at school, she asks me, “Can I go to school too?”

I had looked around a little bit at potentially sending her to preschool earlier this year. I emailed someone back in March and she had given me a list of places I could look into. I sort of did, but then I kept putting off doing more work on it. Part of that was because I didn’t feel like R was ready, and the other part was because I had a busy summer: my best friend got married, I had baby number three, my mom got married, and then we went on vacation. Only then did things seem to settle down, and by then it was the end of August.

Realizing that I’ve dropped the ball on getting her enrolled somewhere, I’ve started the process of trying to find her a spot at one of the preschools near us, but I only started that this week. We can’t afford to pay for a spot somewhere so I’m trying to find an opening at a free program, and that’s been proving difficult. Programs are either near capacity already (and giving preference to certain kids using criteria that wouldn’t fit my child) or not calling me back. I’m finding myself feeling frustrated.

Preschool should really be provided through public school for free, in my opinion. It’s not, though, so I’m stuck trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to do.

Lesson learned: don’t wait until the last minute with the other two.

My Birth Story – Take Three

Here it is. My last and final birth story to put on this blog. Probably my favorite one too.

I was due on July 4 and stressed all week that “today’s the day!” everyday. It never was. I went to bed on Friday, July 7, thinking, “Eh, it won’t be tomorrow, probably Sunday or Monday.” Maybe that was what my brain needed to hear to get my body into gear, because I was totally wrong.

I woke up Saturday morning at about 9:45am and was having what felt like intense gas pain, which seemed pretty normal, considering the on-and-off diarrhea I’d been having for nearly two weeks. (One of those super fun side effects of pregnancy.) I got up and went to the bathroom and lost a whole bunch of mucus plug. I felt a little better, so I laid back down. E was laying in between my husband and I last night so I cuddled up with her.

A few minutes later, I realized I was still having that pain. It was coming and going, but at first I thought maybe it was still gas. When it started to radiate from my front around to my back (which reminded me vaguely of back labor I had with E), I realized it actually might be full-on contractions. It was almost 10:30am. I shook my husband awake and told him I thought it was the day, and I needed him to get the kids ready, since I could barely move from the pain.

I ended up going downstairs and hanging out on the couch, having to lean over a couple of cushions on all fours every time the pain would show up again. By then, I was timing contractions (I had been since laying in bed) and they were around a minute long, but were somewhat inconsistent in frequency. My husband booked it to get the kids around, make sure the cats had food and water for a day or two, and get our stuff in the car. Meanwhile he kept trying to get me to hurry up because I needed to get dressed and brush my teeth and every time I moved, the pain was just so much worse. I was snippy but he was understanding.

I finally got in the car and the contractions were closer to a minute and a half (some were as long as two minutes) and averaged two to three minutes apart by the time we got here. They got me into a triage room and I warned the nurse, the baby was coming and coming fast, I was already feeling pressure against my tailbone. I don’t think she believed me until she realized how close together my contractions were and how painful they were. I had to repeatedly ask for things because they didn’t seem to have any sense of urgency until another nurse was assigned to me. (And she was great!) It was almost 12:30pm when we got here. Things were pretty intense, I was dilated at a four or five when I came in and my cervix was “very thin.”

I asked for morphine because I didn’t want to deal with the epidural. My gut told me that it wouldn’t be worth the pain and I was too close to delivering, so I just needed something to take the edge off. I wish it had worked better, but I think it did help a little for a little while. (In the end, despite the intense pain, I really think it was better that I didn’t try for the epidural.) My husband let them know to not offer it, he said – which I’m fine with, because he and I had that discussion a few times before today and I told him if I wanted it, to let me be the one to suggest it, I didn’t really want it offered to me.

The contractions got more and more intense and my body started shaking and I started getting nauseous. The pressure in my tailbone was getting worse and I started warning them I was in transition and getting close. I was in a triage room that wasn’t prepped for delivery so they were working on getting it ready, but a delivery room managed to open so they moved me down the hall.

My water wasn’t breaking, so they had me use a peanut-shaped pillow between my legs (I had been on my side since I was admitted because it was the only halfway-comfortable position I could be in) with the hopes that it would break. I was dilated to a six at that point, and they said the intense contractions were probably being caused by the fact that my bag of water was bulging. They offered to break it before we tried the pillow, but I wanted to give it a few contractions and see what happened.

After the third contraction, I felt a really small gush and I thought maybe it was a leak. They let me get rid of the pillow (which I was thankful for because it was making my contractions hurt more with it between my legs) and my mom showed up shortly after. Within just a couple of minutes, my bag burst and it felt like the whole bottom half of the bed was covered in water and blood, though I couldn’t see it so I don’t know how accurate that is.

I told them I was going to push and I just went for it because I had the urge and I wasn’t even going to try to wait. They had to rush around to get a couple of staff members in to deliver, and unfortunately, it wasn’t the on-call resident who was assigned to my doctor’s patients, it was two people who I hadn’t met yet. I can’t even tell you if they were nurse-midwives or doctors.

I think I had two big pushes and that had his head out, but his body was stuck for a second. I think they wanted me to wait to push again, but my body was done and I went for it with a pretty massive push (along with a pretty awful scream) and my husband said the baby literally shot out of me.

I didn’t get to catch him like I did with the girls, but the labor was too intense, so my arms were half holding me up. The nurses did immediately put him on my stomach, and he was so calm, though a little squirmy. The placenta didn’t want to deliver, and I had a pretty big blood clot. I also had what they called a “trailing placenta,” which was a little terrifying once I realized what that actually meant. I was watched pretty closely for possible hemorrhaging, but in the end, everything ended up being okay.

Born on July 8 at 2:43pm, baby W weighed in at 9lbs 4.5oz, the heaviest of the three kids. He was twenty-one inches long with a head circumference of about fourteen inches. My recovery was actually a breeze compared to the other two, which I truly think was in part because I didn’t get the epidural. Cramping was a lot worse this time, but I was told by my nurses that was to be expected.

Our family feels complete, and I couldn’t be happier with how my birth experience went.