Sunday, September 22, 2013

Part of me was not sure I was ready, but a bigger part of me longed to go.

To see the people who helped to guide my pregnancy.
To say thank you to those who supported and encouraged me during the ups and downs.
To be in the presence of those who helped to bring Addalyn into this world.
To see those who tenderly cared for me during my moments of greatest need. 
To go back to the only physical place where my daughter ever was.

I needed this.

To celebrate what would have been Addy's first half birthday, I went back to again say thank you to the physicians, nurses, counselors, coordinators, and technicians who took my heartbreaking situation and helped me make it through.  

I will be forever grateful.

A 6 Month Reflection on Me...

Thursday, September 19, 2013
I have been told three different times this week by three different people that carrying out my pregnancy was heroic, admirable, and commendable.

I am none of these things.
I am a momma who's life took a journey in a direction that I could have never anticipated. A direction that I could have never prepared for or believed that I would have made it through. 

I am not a hero, I simply refused to give up hope on what I longed so desperately for.

I have been changed and have found that I am stronger than I ever believed.
And, reflecting back on my journey, I am truly proud of myself.
Does it sound conceded to say that I am proud of myself?
I hope not. 

I don't mean to be conceded but life handed me the unimaginable in the past year and I am truly proud of me.

There was a large needled stuck into my abdomen while I was awake to obtain a segment of my placenta.

My arms, legs, and head were strapped to a table and slid into a closed MRI for close to an hour so a better image could be obtained of her kidneys.

I watched an ultrasound screen close to 15 times trying to make sense of changes from week to week riding the ups and downs as things got better then bad and then worse.

I sat around a conference table and listened as her anomalies were presented and potential interventions/surgeries/transplants were explained believing in my heart that quality of life should outweigh quantity of life even if my heart was not ready.

After indepth conversations to discuss the pros and cons, we made a decision to not wear the heart rate monitor during my labor knowing that there was a potential my daughter would not be born alive.

I carried my child within me for 35 weeks and 5 days despite the fact that being visibly pregnant resulted in very difficult and emotional conversations with people who had no idea of my story.

I had painful conversations about comfort care, death, funeral homes, and cremation/burial.

I endured labor knowing that my joy in the end would be robbed.
 I swaddled my daughter one last time, ensured her hat was perfectly situated on her head, gave her one final kiss, and placed her body into basket and sobbed as she was carried away knowing that I would never see her again in this life.

I packed my bag and walked out of the hospital empty handed leaving behind the only place my daughter ever was.
I bound myself with ice packs for close to two weeks when my milk came in to help reduce the pain.

In a fog, I finalized plans for my daughter's memorial service and I sat at the front of a church to celebrate the life of a child I would never know beyond her first and only day of life. 

8 weeks after her passing, I returned to work and walk the halls of the hospital where I pass the cardiologist that did the ECHO and the doctors from the fetal health appointment. My heart stings a little with each siting.

In working to get myself healthy, I continue to see a counselor, find solace in my support group, have managed to drop the baby weight, and am finding ways to ensure that my daughter's life has purpose.

I am a better person today because of her. 
I did what was best for Addy regardless of my what it would mean for my body, regardless of how sad it made me, and regardless that it was not easy. I believe so much that I am forever changed that if I could roll back time, I would endure it all again. I would because I saw Addy open her eyes, I had the opportunity to kiss her precious lips, I felt her warmth against my chest, and because I am at peace with our journey.

I have never uttered the words, "I wish we would have" or "if I could do it all over again, I would change." I prayed for time with my daughter and that she would not struggle. I didn't want her to gasp for air, to struggle to breathe, or to be in pain.  To be honest, I am not certain when Addy passed away. The time of her birth and the time of her death are listed as 41 minutes apart but there was not a clear moment of her passing. She did not live long but she never hurt, she never struggled, and she never gasped.  She passed peacefully and prayers were answered.

I am proud that I am still standing after the journey my life has taken.
And more so, I am proud to be Addalyn's momma.  

To the moon and back.

Decorating for Fall

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It felt a little strange to decorate for fall this year 
and not just because it is still 95 degrees.

 Fall has always been my favorite season 
but decorating my home this year was different.

 Life was so different this time last year. 

Getting out all the fall things just reenforced to me that life is moving on. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013
Sometimes I find myself in situations where I have to make a very conscience effort to remind myself that the people I have encountered are not aware of my journey and that they are simple doing their jobs. 

Yesterday was one of those days.
My "worst case scenario" self had my realistic self totally paranoid about some leg pain I have been experiencing lately so my PCP ordered an ultrasound to put my mind at ease. All was well but I added a tally mark to the ultrasound list...I am almost certain that I have had more ultrasounds this year than most have in their entire life. 

As I laid on the exam table the sonographer was explaining the machine to me and telling me how good the imaging has become. She does not know me nor did she know that I am an ultrasound pro so I just listened to her. In her explanation of the imaging she asked if I had ever had an ultrasound. I hesitantly answered yes and she asked if it was "for the exciting gender reveal during a pregnancy." My instinct was to say, "nope, I found out I has having a girl after they stuck a massive needle into my abdomen while I was awake and nicely ripped out a piece of my placenta." I resisted the urge but politely responded that I had to have several ultrasounds due to a complicated pregnancy. My hope that this would satisfy as the answer was quickly crushed as she asked a few more questions.  I know I am beginning to heal because I can talk about my journey without totally losing it but I don't always like to share with strangers. It is sensitive and personal so I don't usually provide all the details but the sonographer seemed to really want to know our story so I give her my very quick and very rehearsed run down...Addy had a cystic hygroma and after an MRI, we knew she also had a right sided diaphragmatic hernia, dysplastic kidneys, and underdeveloped lungs.

After sharing, she asked if I drank enough water throughout my pregnancy. 
I found it to be an odd question after I just explained how Addy had passed away but she proceeded to tell me her story. She shared that her son had to go to the NICU after his birth because "he also had issues with his lungs." She explained that her doctor told her his issues were a result of "lack of amniotic fluid most likely caused by not drinking enough water throughout the pregnancy." She continued that he is "perfectly fine now" but he has "really bad asthma" which she feels really guilty about because she "caused it by not drinking enough water." 

I left the conversation at that. 
There was nothing else to say. 

For me, it isn't helpful to hear that God needed an angel in Heaven.
It isn't helpful to hear that my Addy is in a better place.
It isn't helpful to hear that I am young and can have more children.
And it isn't helpful to be made to feel like I did something wrong. 

I would have ingested the Mississippi River if it would have changed Addy's prognosis. 

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