Thoughts and happenings

The other day, as I walked into the living room, I overheard Mark tell Howie (our dog), “When you die, we’ll stuff you and hang you above the mantle.” He was kidding, but it was weird, but I guess also not too out of the ordinary for a conversation taking place in our home.

So there’s this nurse with whom I frequently interact who made the mistake of uttering, “Everything happens for a reason,” in my presence… And it didn’t go over very well. So I concluded that we have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in common. So I expected it to be hugely awkward when, after she asked what I’d done one weekend, I answered, “I read a book.” And she asked, “What book?” And I answered, “A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Kelbold… She’s the mother of one of the Columbine shooters…” But instead of cowering in response to my admission of my dark reading material (the response I’d anticipated), she shared that she too had recently read a dark book about someone being stabbed to death in her home. Then she shared that her favorite TV show is Big Brother. So we’ve found some common ground, it seems.

We responded to Blender Friend… (The one who was more curious about our blender than she was about our well-being in the wake of our child’s death.) We were like, “It’s a Blendtec, and we ordered it from Amazon. We’re still really struggling, missing Matthew. Losing a child affects every aspect of your life.” (Because we aim to educate others on our reality, especially if they’ve avoided us.) And her response was something to the effect of, “Clearly, Matthew’s life, though short, had a huge impact on you guys.” Yes, clearly. Because he’s our child. Like is this a surprise?

My parents recently decided they’d like to purchase a retired greyhound as Dog #2. But they currently have three dogs. So first, Dog #1 (labradoodle) will have to die. (They’ve already purchased Dog #3 as Dog #1’s replacement. Dog #1 is like 13 and was showing signs of kidney failure, and though she’s rallying, she could still die in the foreseeable future.) Then, Dog #2 (mini golden doodle) will have to die. But she’s only like eight, so who knows when this will happen. After Dog #2 dies, Dog #3 (poodle) would then become Dog #1 and this greyhound would then become Dog #2. Did anyone follow this? My parents seem to possess strong skills in dog succession planning.

Some might remember that in my early days of grief, the private “shitter office” next door to my fishbowl office became quite my refuge a great way to avoid other restroom-goers. But then virtually everyone started using it (I’m a trend setter), including this one guy who took huge dumps in it every day after lunch (per the gal who sits in the cube outside my office), so I questioned my continued use of it. So thank God this guy recently quit to go work for a tile flooring company, because this shitter office is a great place for me to use my Doppler, and I prefer that it not stink in there.

I recently ordered a Molly Bear thanks to my friend, Liz, who reminded me to do it. (They go fast.) It’ll be 5 pounds, 8 ounces (Matthew’s weight), and we’ll be able to include it in our family photos to represent Matthew as a means of comfort and to ensure that no one ever forgets him. I indicated that blue jays are our Matthew sign, so I’ll be excited to see what the bear-makers do with this. I think it will be at least six months before we receive our bear, and I’m looking forward to taking a picture of Jay next to it.

It’s a fact that most baby loss moms have huge anxiety about visiting their hairstylist post-loss. I’m no exception. I too ditched my hairstylist, and I’ve yet to find another one. Until recently, I’d had my hair cut (and colored dark to “match my mood”) exactly one time since Matthew died – at this swanky, Manhattan salon (during our Thanksgiving trip to New York City).

But I recently surrendered, deciding I needed another haircut quickly (now), because apparently it isn’t necessarily practical to expect that I’ll only get my hair cut in Manhattan going forward. (Damn it.) So I scheduled an appointment on a whim at a place that accepts walk-ins, a place much like *gasp* Great Clips, which I deemed preferable to cutting my own hair. But I’m not so sure anymore, because I now totally have what I’d call an accidental, asymmetrical bob, which, throw in some seven-month faded color, and I look… Fabulous. Though it was only $35.

But maybe this experience was the push I needed to overcome my fear of returning to a real salon? Because not only does my hair look like shit, but I also had to wait like 20 minutes before my appointment, and, while I was waiting, I had to watch this little girl get her “first real haircut,” and all of her relatives were throwing a freaking party in the salon, and I wasn’t really in a place of wanting to witness a child’s first anything, so when the stylist finally called me back and asked, “What’s wrong? You look sick!” I wanted to answer, “Well, I kind of am…” But I refrained because I’m such a good person. So I decided that next time I’m going to the most expensive salon ever – one parents can’t possibly afford for a child’s first haircut. Though some people are really rich, so who knows?

So AB lives in a certain St. Louis suburb famous for its widespread meth use. The other day she took a picture of a Maserati at a stoplight near her home. So we’re thinking meth dealing might be lucrative… Like lucrative enough to take all of your family members to the most expensive hair salons…

AB also told me that a college age girl she knows recently moved out west to get some kind of official degree in marijuana growing. Apparently this is a thing. (And maybe it has been for quite some time, and I’m just not as up-to-date on the happenings of this industry.) But AB and I agree it might be a good decision (to get this degree), because this girl could be on the cutting edge of this industry once she moves back to the Midwest. (If marijuana’s eventually legalized.)

AB and I seem to discuss drugs quite frequently, but it’s usually from more of an analytical standpoint… Like posing questions such as, “If you had to do it again and times were different, would you major in accounting or pot-farming?” And we usually choose the latter… I really don’t know what I’d do without friends such as AB who enjoy having these types of conversations vs. child-centered ones.

The other day a co-worker asked me, “I’m thinking about teaching childbirth classes as well as new parent classes. Would you be interested?” And I was like, “Though I’m confident there’s a huge market for your classes, I’m probably not the one to ask… In my past life, I’d have been interested. But now? Not so much. Because so many childbirth classes teach parents-to-be that a C-section is the worst possible outcome. And this message is hard for me to tolerate, when, from my perspective, death of baby or mother is the worst possible outcome. But I’m not sure my perspective is welcome in this sort of environment, so it’s best that I just stay away. Also, regarding new parent classes, I just can’t think this far ahead… Plus, although I have much to learn about parenting a living child, I don’t necessarily relate well to first-time parents.”

Her response to me was pretty great, something like, “It’s a shame others might not want to hear your story. It’s an important one to tell. And, if I teach these classes, I want to make sure they’re safe places for those who’ve experienced traumatic losses.” Like what?! It is so nice of her to care about a baby loss mom’s perspective. I wished her much luck with her classes.

Quick pregnancy update… I’m a little over 33 weeks pregnant. Jay has officially outlived his brother, Matthew, which is fucked up (a younger sibling passing an older one in age), but we’re obviously thankful to be here. My fluid levels are no longer approaching polyhydramnios. On Tuesday night I made another visit to the Maternity Trauma Center, which obviously ended well. On Wednesday morning, I went for a previously-scheduled non-stress test (NST) and Jay was sleepy, so the results were deemed reassuring, but non-reactive, as he didn’t meet the two 15-second accelerations in 20-30 minutes requirement, so they performed a biophysical profile (BPP), and Jay started moving and passed within the first five minutes of the allotted 30 with a perfect BPP score of 8/8 (overall score was 8/10 because he technically didn’t pass the NST).

My stress levels are through the roof. I’m exhausted, and I can’t sleep. My doctors are aware of my anxiety, and, if things get too bad (stress wise), it isn’t out of the question that I’d check into the hospital for 24-hour monitoring (possibly until delivery). But I really, REALLY don’t want it to come to this. Probably more than anyone, I know that being in the hospital provides no guarantees. Plus, the hospital is a very traumatizing place for me in general…

Pregnancy after loss is the second hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Every day feels like… More than one day. The best day this week was when we moved up our scheduled C-section date, and I got to remove four links from my rainbow chain in one day.

We’re getting down to the final weeks. I’m terrified. I just want Jay to be here, kicking and screaming. I just want a happy outcome.

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12 thoughts on “Thoughts and happenings

  1. Hi Christine, I’m so sorry to hear about the stress and anxiety. I wish time would just pass more quickly too. I had back pain earlier in the week and was convinced it was premature labour (I’m only 22 weeks). Anxiety shot through the roof, and I suspect it’s just the beginning. A friend has suggested acupuncture, I’ll see what my consultant says.
    I still haven’t been back to my hairdresser, but I did go back to my eyelash tinter a couple of months after ryan was born. I burst into tears at the first appointment when I had to tell her. She was wonderful, gave me a big hug and head massage. It was so hard, but worth it now. You’d never think of these things being an obstacle till it happens to you. I hope you find ‘hair peace’! X

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  2. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself again. Until you suffer a loss it’s hard to understand that the hardest parts of the day are usually the most seemingly mundane, like a trip to the hairdresser. And P.S. I would totally pick the latter too if organic pot farming was a viable major in my first trip through higher education…

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  3. It’s hard to narrow down which parts of your blog to comment down. I always relate to and feel like I could have written (well, if I had any talent for writing) it myself. Such a great idea to get a Molly Bear. I often struggle over how to include Maddy in our family pics. Most often it’s meant taking pics of my living children sitting behind Maddy’s grave, but there’s only so many poses you can do at a cemetery before you start to worry people will think you are too morbid (which really, who cares?). I think about you so often as you get closer to Jay’s c-section. I vividly remember the stress leading up to Audrey’s delivery. I was a wreck–happy for ten or so minutes after each successful Doppler use, only to dissolve into a depressed anxious mess shortly after. EVERY emotion was tied to how much or little movement I felt from Audrey. I’m praying these weeks go by as quickly as possible! Have you decided on Jay’s out of the womb name? I’m putting in a plug for Jacob, with the nickname of Jay.I’m partial to that because that’s our oldest’s name. 😉 Keep those links coming off!!

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    1. “EVERY emotion was tied to how much or little movement I felt from Audrey.” Yes, this exactly. And yes, we’ve decided on Jay’s name, just not sharing it until delivery! And you should totally get a Molly Bear – I do think it’s a sweet way to include our babies in photos, though, like the cemetery, it’s also so freaking sad. Hope you all are doing well. xoxo

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  4. I absolutely just love you so much. In a totally non-creepy internet stranger kind of way. You are me, hopefully in a few months. I am sorry we are both on this path, and but I am so thankful to have someone ahead of me who is there and can relay back to me that yes, it is very hard, and you will be living second by second but it won’t kill you.

    Seriously. Both of your boys are lucky to have you as a mother. You are an amazing woman, Christine. So much love to you, and I cannot wait for you to meet Jay ❤

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  5. So many hugs. I found myself nodding and feeling similar things to so much of what you wrote. I’m really impressed by your coworker who wants to do the classes, I hope those go well and she is able to create a safe place for parents who’ve lost a child too.

    We ordered our Molly Bear in January and we received it about two weeks ago. I love feeling how much he weighs. And they do such great work at fulfilling requests–koalas represent Theo for us, and his bear has the cutest patch of a koala eating eucalyptus leaves. I hope you are able to receive Matthew’s bear soon! I’m sure you’ll love it.

    I’ll be keeping you and Jay and Matthew in my thoughts and prayers over the next few weeks.

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    1. Re: the co-worker… I know right?! And I’m glad to know you’ve received your Molly Bear. Love the koalas for baby Theo. ❤ Looking forward to seeing what ours looks like.

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  6. I don’t read grief. … it scares me. Your post are such beautifully written , am trying to read all. .. wants to read all. But I can’t. I fear to imagine your situation .As a mother of 4 year boy am stupidly constantly worrying about him and go through lots of ‘what ifs’. I wish you all the best and know that Jay will fill some of the gap in your heart soon! Hugs and love ♡♡

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