Monday, December 14, 2009

Even more faith and wonder

Through the loss of our dear Charlotte, I have been blessed with new and re-newed relationships in my life. A friend who started out as a casual acquaintance has become a close friend. This same person introduced me to a wonderful couple who understood my loss completely. I will not share their names because it is their story I want to tell now.

January of this year, they were preparing to give birth to a new baby. They went to the midwife to deliver, as they had planned the whole pregnancy. Part way into labor, the midwife realized that the baby's heartbeat was not as strong as it should have been during contractions, so she insisted that they go to the hospital so that a cesarian could be performed if necessary. The on-call doctor hooked up the monitors and caught the mother's heartbeat and decided that it belonged to the baby. Insisting that the baby was alright, they continued with labor as the doctor said. The mother knew that something was wrong, but the doctor ignored the fact. When the baby was finally delivered, he was stillborn. Had the doctor recognized the instincts of the midwife and the mother, they could have performed a cesarian and delivered a healthy baby boy. Instead, he was suffocated by his umbilical cord because of the negligence of the doctor.

This morning, they welcomed a beautiful 7 pound 1 ounce baby boy into the world. They now know the hope and faith that I understood when Natalie was born, and I am so grateful for the opportunity they have to be parents and raise their child. Congratulations to them - best wishes and lots of love! I hope that the years to come will bring us stronger and closer together through our mutual love for our children and the understanding that life is precious and not guaranteed. That we have to take each moment as priceless and wonderful, enjoying every moment that we have been given to have these wonderful little people in our lives!

It's 5 o'clock somewhere...

When Jimmy Buffet wrote that it is 5 o'clock somewhere, he had a much warmer destination in mind than what I notice this morning. It is 5 o'clock in the morning, the temperature is minus 1 degree farenheit, and it is snowing the most beautiful large, dry snowflakes that I've seen yet this winter. I can tell that it will take at least 30 minutes to warm my car before I go to work later - and that's not for several hours yet. In fact, my alarm isn't set to go off for four more hours. But I just finished feeding Natalie and I learned very quickly that it is not a good idea to go to bed right after feeding her because inevitably, she's going to still be hungry for a little bit more just as I fall asleep.

So today I wait, still thinking that it is night, and hope that she will sleep a little bit more before waking for the day. She is getting so big and I'm wondering where the time is going. I hate to go to bed each night because I know she'll be just a little bit bigger in the morning, just a little bit older, just a little bit farther away from the newborn baby we brought home not long ago. While I look forward to all of her milestones along the way - the hugs, the "I love you"s, teaching her to read and write - I will sorely miss this beautiful creature that is a baby girl. Already I am thinking about the next baby because I want to hold on to infancy, but I am scared to think about another human being at this point. I love Natalie so much and don't want to take any time away from her. I want to devote all of my love and attention to my favorite person in the whole world. I couldn't possibly feel that way about another baby, could I?

Yet, here I sit, Natalie asleep in the other room, realizing that there will come a day when my baby girl won't be a baby any more. She will grow up and find her own family outside my home. I can't protect her forever, but I will love her eternally.

Some day, when I realize that Jimmy Buffet was right about the time, I hope that it's a warmer occasion. Perhaps then I will be sharing a Margarita with Natalie and reminiscing about her youth, watching my grandkids play in the back yard. I know I will love them just as much as I love Natalie - my heart grows larger now even thinking about these little people who won't possibly exist for many (many many many) years.

For now, I will settle for watching the snowflakes fall while I wait to be certain that my little angel is fully satisfied - that all of her needs are met this very early morning. And I will focus on each day as it comes to us, appreciating the simple fact that Natalie IS.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Love of a Child

I want to share a poem I wrote several years ago - before I was married and thinking about having children of my own. But first, I'll give some background.

I believe in the possibility of knowing things before they happen. I do not claim to have psychic abilities, but every once in a while, something comes to my mind so clearly that it is like I am re-living an event. When I was young, I had a very strong feeling that I was going to become a mother to a child with special needs. While we aren't sure what happened with Charlotte, the doctor said it was highly likely that she had a cranio-facial abnormality. When it comes down to it, she was better off the way things happened.
Several years ago, I sat down to write. I had a feeling that something important needed to be said. Sometimes, when I am writing an exceptionally emotional poem, it comes to mind in the form of a song. This particular poem came to me to the tune of "Homeward Bound," the old English folk song. It's about saying goodbye. Something that now seems ominous.

Silence shows the road ahead,
my mind made up, yet slowly crying.
For the love I left behind,
My soul once strong, will soon be dying.

Her name I call, down empty highways.
Her eyes I seek through every door.
Though I may try to find her waiting,
Her face I'll see no more.

The daylight fades into the darkness,
my shadow hides, now tired and free.
My mind's made up, though this heart's crying,
that soon again, I will be me.

And in the late and slower hours,
I can find my peaceful soul.
What once kept fear inside my words,
now keeps me strong, my heart so full.

And though I try to change the pattern,
silently, my shadow falls.
The walls remind me of the time remaining
and I'll no longer roam the halls.

My silent tears no longer falling
from clouded eyes are still so blue.
How I try to keep the memory
of all the good I had in you.

When some fine day my heart stops breaking
and again I see you're free,
then in that time of new awaking,
I'll again return to me.

I see your light through distant shimmers.
Your joy and cheer are bright above.
And through your difference, I live forever
with the thought of a child's love.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The truth about Santa Claus...

When I was a kid, I used to misspell Santa Claus as Santa Clause. My dad, being an attorney, would correct me, explaining that a clause was part of a contract - the part that was the fine print. Now that I am an adult, I think that my original spelling is more accurate. Now that I am a parent, I realize that there is a "clause" to teaching a child to believe in Santa.

Of course, we have the parents who feel that telling their children about Santa is bad parenting. We shouldn't lie to our children. Then, there's the ones who don't want to perpetuate the pagan ideas surrounding Christmas - they forget that the only Christian thing about the holiday is the story of Jesus's birth. Everything else is pagan. On the opposite end, we have parents who believe that it is a child's essential right to believe in Santa and it is crucial to the development of their imagination. They also believe in fairies, goblins and the boogey monster.

I tend to be on the second end. Every child should believe in Santa. Fairies live in my garden, and I banished the boogey monster from Natalie's room so she won't have to worry about HIM ever! My husband, on the other hand, leans toward the first example. We shouldn't lie to our children. While I agree with him completely on the lies, we've found a compromise to when Natalie comes to us in 6 (I hope more) years and asks if Santa Claus is real.

To this, we will reply:
Yes, Dear. Santa Clause is real. But he is not real in the sense that he actually comes down the chimney and rides a sleigh with reindeer. Santa Claus is the spirit of Christmas. He is everything that you feel about the holiday: the anticipation on Christmas Eve, the love you share with friends and family, and the reminder that there is something bigger in the universe than ourselves.

It's not a lie. It's not a fairy tale. It is, quite simply, the truth about Santa Claus.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I have never been the kind of person to make schedules. I wake up at noon if my body tells me to keep sleeping. I stay awake until 2 in the morning. I eat breakfast at 3 p.m. and dinner at 11. I shower whenever I feel like it, and don't shower when I don't feel like it. I clean the house at random, leave the house at random, and have a difficult time sitting still in one place for very long. I have the attention span of a goldfish some days. So, I wonder, what in the WORLD made me think I could handle the schedule of a baby?!

Natalie wakes up every 3 or 4 hours to eat. Sometimes, she wakes up every hour in between as well. She doesn't like to be on her tummy, and she likes to sleep on her back, even though she has mild reflux, which leaves her congested at night, and me terrified. I try to prop her on her side (which the doctor approved) and she fights it more and more each time.

She eats little bits at a time and then spits out huge chunks right into my face. She spits up on my satin shirt, just minutes before I am leaving the house. She projectile vomits down the front of me at 3 a.m., while I'm barely awake enough to register the fact that I now have to finish feeding and cleaning her up, then shower before I can climb back into bed for the hour or so that I can sneak in this time.

I don't want to say despite, but rather because of these challenges and many others, I am growing to realize that schedules are great. If I put her to bed between 7 and 8, I can actually get her to sleep without screaming for four hours. If I go to bed by 9 or so, I can sleep until midnight, then again until 4 or 5, then again until 7 or 8. My schedule has to change dramatically in order for this beautiful, precious creature to get her needs met. And, let's face it, that's why I became a Mommy in the first place!

I love that when she squeals just as she starts to cry, I know that it means she needs a diaper change before eating. I love that she's starting to take a pacifier while I make the bottle, so she doesn't choke or get as gassy when she finally gets to eat. I love that she smiles at me and is starting to laugh... and I love that right now, as I type this, she is starting to ask for lunch...

Hope and Miracles

Two months ago, the world of sadness and fear I'd been living in the past year disappeared.

We woke up early and went to breakfast, as I was aware that it would be my last meal for at least 12 hours. We enjoyed the last few minutes of couplehood before parenthood as we watched snow fall outside the restaurant window. It was October 9, 2009. Thirteen months after delivering our dear Charlotte, we were preparing to take a new step on our journey. It was time to welcome a new arrival into our family.

At 8:30 a.m. the doctor tried to come in and break my water, but the baby was stubborn and was still up too high for the doctor to reach. Instead, they opted to start pitocin to encourage the contractions that I was already feeling very mildly every few hours or so. About an hour later, I got out of bed to use the restroom and realized that my water had broken on its own! I waited out the contractions for about 45 minutes before deciding that the epidural was going to be a bigger blessing than I'd previously thought.

They had warned me that when I put in the request, it would likely take an hour or so for the anesthesiologist to be ready, so I sent my husband out a little earlier than I actually needed so that he could let the nurses know. Fifteen minutes later, the anesthesiologist arrived! They had a surgery scheduled and if I had waited any longer it would have taken a few hours to get the epidural. Very quickly, my legs went numb... that tingly feeling when your leg falls asleep from sitting on it too long... and I no longer felt the contractions more than just a simple cramp. I looked up from my hospital bed, through the window toward the hills, and watched the snow fall slowly onto the trees before me. There was such peace through the storm, and any fears I had about the impending delivery of this child washed away to calm.

It was several more hours before we welcomed our baby girl Natalie into the world. At 2:00 a.m. October 10, 2009, I gave birth to a 7 pound 7 ounce, 21 1/2 inch long human being.

The doctor placed her on my stomach while the nurses cleaned her off, and I was in such shock that I barely noticed what was going on. She'd made some noises, but wasn't crying like babies do in the movies. I was concerned that something was wrong, still unconvinced that this was a healthy baby - that she was alive. Moments later, the nurses took her from me to continue their clean-up process, and to check her APGAR scores - she scored 7/9 - and then they wrapped her tightly and gave her to her daddy and me. She was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen!

I still felt disconnected, though, from this little person who had not existed only moments before. I'd spent 9 months terrified to love her, and now found that I was paying for it in that the instant bond of motherhood hadn't taken hold. For now, this little girl was still a stranger. I loved her, and she was precious and perfect, but I hadn't understood that this love would start small and grow as she did.

I forgot that I didn't love my husband the moment I met him either, but before long my whole heart belonged to him. It would be the same with Natalie. Two months later, my whole heart no longer belongs to my husband, rather, it is shared between two wonderful people who, miraculously, came into my life accompanied by snow. It snowed on the day we got married - two years ago yesterday - it "snowed" in the form of a dog, the day we had our first baby, and it snowed gently and beautifully the day we were given the greatest gift of all: Natalie Rose.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sad day

One year ago today we found out about our first baby girl being gone - at 26 weeks there was no heartbeat. This time last year I was in a hospital bed waiting to deliver my Angel baby.

Tomorrow will be her birthday.

I'm having a really hard time dealing with this 1st Anniversary of my dear Charlotte. I'm so scared about the baby I'm carrying now - she's moving less, but this time I have a doppler and can monitor her heartbeat at home - I keep thinking about how if I missed something now, I couldn't forgive myself. At 33 weeks the chance of this baby surviving is so high that I feel like I can't let my guard down even for a second, and I'm so scared to have to bury another child that I'm realizing how little I've enjoyed this pregnancy.

I miss Charlotte so much. It feels like a fresh wound - like I'm going to re-live the whole ordeal. I couldn't even go to work today because I cannot tell how long I can go without crying. I don't wish that we didn't have Charlotte, but I wish I didn't have this pain - and I'm really not sure how to deal with it. I thought my husband would be home with me tonight, but some idiot decided that a stomach ache meant he needed to go home sick and my husband is stuck working open to close for this guy. Of all the days I didn't want to be alone, today and tomorrow are the most important. I'm so desperate not to be by myself that I even have my husband's cousin coming over in a while to keep me company for a bit. My family is so far away - and its my Dad's birthday, so I'm trying not to bother my Mom too much either. I feel like he should get to enjoy his birthday this year, since he found out about a lost granddaughter last year.

Friday, September 4, 2009

It's all in a name...

So I thought it would be appropriate to explain the title of my blog, since it doubles as an introduction to myself and my journey.

Last year, my husband and I were expecting our first child. She was due December 18, 2008. I have always been a huge fan of winter and Christmas and the feeling of family and peace that comes with that time of year. One of the things I told my husband throughout the ridiculously hot summer was that when the baby came, I wanted it to snow.

I didn't realize at the time, but it was somewhat prophetic to wish for snow. On September 9, 2008, I woke up certain that something was wrong. I hadn't felt the baby move in a few days, though she never really moved very much to begin with. I was 26 weeks pregnant and didn't know how much movement was normal and when I would start to worry, I'd feel butterflies in my stomach and I mistook them for the baby. When I got dressed for the day, the pants that I'd been wearing with a Bella Band buttoned and I knew something was definitely different. I went in to the doctor's office and we discovered that there was no amniotic fluid, and no heartbeat.

September 10, 2008 we delivered our beautiful baby girl Charlotte Anne. My husband and I held her for as long as we could, but finally we knew we had to say goodbye. I handed her back to him and told him that I needed him to take her from me or I would never let her go. We finished our stay in the hospital that night and the next morning went home.

On September 19, 2008, my mom and I went to the airport to pick up my dad, who had finally been able to get away from work to come up and see us, to express his sympathy and make sure that his family was okay. While we were waiting, I looked through the newspaper, thinking that perhaps I'd find a puppy that needed to be adopted. My husband and I had talked about getting a dog for Charlotte for her first birthday, but decided that in light of the new circumstances, it might be appropriate to get a dog sooner rather than later. We had disagreed on the breed - I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to dogs, and am in love with anything that is a Golden Retriever or a Labrador Retriever, whereas he's perfectly content with a mutt of unknown origin. I think the biggest turn-off for purebred dogs for him was a combination of genetic problems and price. So we decided that we'd just look for the perfect dog and not worry too much about what kind it was, it just had to be a girl. I came across an ad for a female Golden/Lab mix who was in need of a new home. The family who owned her at the time had just had a baby and decided that they couldn't handle the full household anymore. I called the number, hoping that the puppy was still available, since breeds like that tend to be adopted fairly quickly. The woman told me that I was actually the first call they'd received - the ad had only been put in the paper that morning. I asked a few questions, like how old she was and if she had her shots, all of the important questions, then I asked her name. The woman said that since she was so young (only 6 months old) we could change her name if we wanted to, but that the dog's name was Yuki. I cried. I knew right away that this dog had to be mine

- Yuki is the Japanese word for snow.

Things worked out differently than I expected they would. We got our baby girl too early for real snow, but we found a new family member in the process who has helped us through the grieving process in ways we never could have imagined. When the baby came, we got Snow.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

New to blogging...

I'm new to this and just want to get started. I don't feel up to writing a whole lot right now, but in the next week, I think it will be theraputic. I look forward to being able to share my journey with others, hopefully building friendships along the way.