In 3s

In 3s they go …

I connected with her during our vacation in Turks and Caicos.

It was right before my second fresh IVF cycle. I washed my birth control and Metformin pills down with rum and Caribbean beer.

We vacationed together, introduced by mutual friends.

Three married couples having the time of our lives.

She was a NICU nurse. I asked her an unlimited amount of questions. I was fascinated. What a heart she has.

I told her about our quest for a family – about IVF. She offered me an expression of sincere compassion and gave me a hug. 

She told us that they go in 3s. They don’t lose babies often, but when they do …

This stuck with my husband following the events of October 9. I didn’t even go there. Thank. You. Jesus.

Emmanuelle was number two. You can imagine what consumed my husband’s every thought. 

My beautiful Emmanuelle met Jesus nearly five months ago. 

My husband’s Papa met his Savior three weeks later. His funeral occurred during Rowan’s NICU weekend from hell.

In 3s they go …

Prayer Request for Papa

My lovely ladies, can you please pray for my Papa?

I don’t want to offer specifics right now, as those are not just my business – but my whole family’s.

Please pray that Papa gets to be where he wants/needs to be in order to enjoy his life going forward. Please pray that the logistical aspects are sorted out and do not cause too much stress and heartache on my Grandma and Papa.

It is so incredibly frustrating that we must defend the health and well-being of our loved ones against logistical, financial, insignificant crap.

Why can’t a human being’s quality of life just be good enough?

*I find myself defending certain aspects of Rowan’s care because of the death of her sister. An echo cardiogram ought to be medically necessary for a premature infant whose twin sister just died literally an hour ago.

*I don’t mean to overshadow my Papa’s condition and heartache among my family during this difficult time. I am just offering an example of how frustrating these issues can be, and I do not want to disrespect my family by writing about my Papa’s condition on the Internet.

The point is that it’s bull crap and all about money.

Papa Dearest

When I think of Papa, I think of this fiesty *old man climbing the rocks of Garden of the Gods.

Fearless.

I think of a man who lived. Who was always willing to live.

Yes, Papa has a lot of stories to tell. Let him tell. 

The father of seven boys. You can tell they’re brothers.

I can only imagine my stunning grandmother in the 50s and 60s … with child … for 10 years.

What a treat it’s been to spend time with my Papa. I love you, Papa.

Be well. Please stay. I understand you are stable. Please be comfortable. (Tell your loved ones present if you aren’t.) Papa, be comfortable.

Please stay.

*I don’t mean “old” in a stereotypical (Senile? If you will…) way. But imagine this elderly, fiesty fellow …. hiking for heaven’s sake. Hiking.

The Dethroning

My femininity and womanhood is artificial because I purchased it through medical intervention and Mary. How dare you.

My mothering is not up to par because my daughter feeds mostly from a breast milk-filled bottle instead of directly from the breast. How dare you.

I—as well as my husband and own mother—am evil.

My husband and I are evil because we accepted your gifts, but as Rowan’s homecoming approached you challenged me, and I drew back. You challenged my ability as a mother. You spoke of me in front of my parents in an antagonist manner, questioning my competency. Your intent is to dethrone me as my parent’s only daughter; this has been your intent for several years now. You announced your plan to visit my two-bedroom home with six other people three days after Rowan’s homecoming. I responded with a kind “No, but you and your mother are welcome to visit”. You pushed me, and my “No” became sterner. Because of this, I am ungrateful for all that you’ve done for me. I am unreasonable. You pick at and mock my baby and her prematurity; my husband distances himself from you—we are evil. I do not allow you to hold my daughter; your energy is very negative and unstable. My daughter is a jewel; you will not tamper with her physically, emotionally, psychologically. She’s one heck of a fighter, but I refuse to expose her to such an aura as yours. Because I did not allow you to hold my daughter, I am evil.

My mother is evil because she was excited about my pregnancy; she planned and hosted my baby shower; she and my father celebrated Rowan’s homecoming with us—purchasing celebratory snacks and libations, and spending the evening at home with us, watching movies and offering support—instead of spending time at your home while you offer them the silent treatment and go about your hobbies in a separate room. My mother is evil because she has given Rowan the dresses she made for me when I was a young girl; she gave the dresses to my girls instead of yours. Oh—she’s also evil because she cares for Rowan Monday through Friday while my husband and I go to work. My mother—the third person to know I was pregnant (after my husband and me). My mother—the one who spent days with me in the hospital; offered strength in my presence and vulnerability toward the doctor outside of my presence, asking him if I was going to be okay; collapsing in his arms when he assured her the c-section went well. *My mother—the one who spent time with Rowan even before I did. *My mother—the one who watched Emmanuelle die alongside me. *My mother—the one who arranged for Emmanuelle’s cremation. *My mother—the one who has humbled herself to do my chores, fold my laundry, clean up my clutter, make me dinner. She’s my mother, and she is evil because she’s mine—not yours.

There is much more, but I will not expose your secrets and personal business like you’ve exposed mine. I express only the ways in which you’ve offended me. How dare you speak of my infertility, IVF treatments, donor egg treatment, Rowan, and Emmanuelle.

You remind me that I carry much bitterness and rage. My dear, you’ve not walked a millimeter in my shoes. Look in the mirror; examine your own heart. I’ve always treated you with courtesy; I’ve always been cordial. And yet you’ve sought to replace me among my brothers and parents.

Belittling a woman’s value among her family—you’ve done it now, dear sister. You’ve done it now.

*My loving mother-in-law also did these things for me.

Off the Record

I would like to meet up for tea with her nurses and ask if the state of a premature infant can be glamorized.

I would like to whip out Emme’s doctor’s business card, send him a quick note, and ask if it’s appropriate to have mentioned her #preemiepower on photos of her I shared with loved ones on social media. I wonder if he would think I was glamorizing her condition.

I’ve been accused of glamorizing Rowan’s prematurity. This hurts my feelings; on behalf of my friends who’ve walked – and are still walking this journey … this hurts my feelings.

When a baby is born, and baby looks like a fetus – it’s serious. And it’s a reality for the #nicumom. (Crap, I really shouldn’t use that hashtag either. Being a NICU parent does not present its own emotional challenges. Why would I glamorize it? *insert sarcasm*)

To be honest, I have felt bad for my crappy attitude. I have felt very vulnerable sharing my feelings with others. Because my feelings are a bit harsh, and my language – well – it can be a bit much. In my heart, the f-word is the least of my worries, but I suppose it’s shocking to some.

There’s this idea that the happenings in one’s life can create a very bitter person out of the tender-hearted girl she once was. That’s my story. One year ago, I could not have guessed the happenings of my life today – both incredibly joyous and perfect (Rowan) and incredibly heartbreaking.

Mark my words, I do not seek a trophy or sympathy points. Some people suffer. Some people suffer a lot. I just express my suffering. How dare you scrutinize my daughter and her #preemiepower? What’s inside your heart that allows you to critique my every move, de-throne me as my parents’ daughter, even have the audacity to be jealous of the love and support my loved ones offer my daughter?

I trusted you because I thought that was a given. I should not have trusted you.

And – pardon my language – but you’ve officially fucked with the wrong mama bear.

82 Days

We have a 6-pound 12-ounce little princess who is keeping us on our toes, no doubt!

I was told preemies LOVE to be held and snuggled A LOT. I think my husband can attest to that. He has spent hours doing so …

My beloved let me sleep in this morning. Mommy ate some breakfast (chocolate cake) and took her medication (antibiotics for a UTI that must be chopped into a million little pieces). Now Rowie is just hanging out at the breast for however long she wants. Well – until it’s time to get ready for her eye exam.

Rowan has been home for two days now after spending 82 days in the NICU. I’m not as scared as I thought I’d be. Having her in a “normal” newborn environment sans wires and monitors – it makes sense. Of course, before I lay me down to sleep I check for her neck/head placement; her coloring; I check for moving air beneath her nostrils on that adorable button nose. I do this several times; I also rearrange any cloth near her neck. “Do not obstruct my baby’s airway, swaddle blanket. D’ya hear?”

I mean, Rowan and we spend very little time sleeping at the same time, so the hours of not monitoring her airway, coloring, etc. are few.

She de-sats, gets a little ahead of herself during feeds. And that damn reflux. But we know her well and how to help her recover. “Earth to Rowie.” We watch the blue turn back to pink, and it’s a beautiful thing, I tell you!

I can tell you she has the best daddy ever. I can tell you I have the best parenthood companion ever. Patience. Grace. Selflessness. Endurance. I don’t know – that’s our recipe I guess.

Grandma and Papa have been visiting us, keeping us company in the evenings and bringing us real food for dinner. I love them. Thank God for them and grandparents in general. My mother-in-law is traveling here for a three-week stay. She’ll arrive on Sunday, just in time for Mommy and Daddy to go back to work and make that money. Well, Daddy’s been working, supporting his girls like a champ. He took this week off for the homecoming of his little princess. Thank Jesus, I could NOT do this alone.

I will miss my Rowie, but – it’s weird. I’m used to not having her with me 24/7. That’s what an 11-week + 5-day NICU stay will do to you. I’m going to go ahead and call it grace. I can’t deal with emotions of that nature right now.

Sarabi has been phenomenal. We have had Rowan’s swings and hospital blankets in our living room for quite some time now. She has been trained that those items – and that scent – is off limits. She is very slow to approach Rowan.

I remember walking into our bedroom – where Sarabi currently resides – with Rowan and Daddy on Rowie’s homecoming day. Sarabi’s ears perked right up. It was really sweet; not aggressive, but she was just very curious. I have a good feeling about these two. 🙂

And so it’s New Year’s Eve. My New Year’s wish for the last four holidays has been what I hold in my arms and heart today. Thank you Heavenly Father. Finally …

There’s not really an adjective to describe 2014. January-April: Hope. May-September: Joy. October-December: Joy/Brokenness/Fear.

January 17, April 11, April 16, April 22, April 29, May 1, May 9, September 29, October 8, October 9, December 29 …

Those days define my year. My 2014.

I have hope because the joy I carried in 2014 remains with me. I have my husband and my girls, don’t I? My heart is content. The pain of 2014 were incapsulated into just days. Those days are over; I don’t have to live them again.

Of course there is an enduring ache in my heart for Emmanuelle, but that is her place. She will not be forgotten. There is no closure or healing when you lose your baby. I can still have joy amongst that ache though. I choose to have joy, though my baby is with Jesus.

In the darkness last night, I looked at Rowan in her bassinet. I saw Emmanuelle’s face. When Rowan smiles in her sleep, I wonder if she’s dreaming of her sister.

Our suffering was never welcomed, but – boy – has it taught us how to cling to the good stuff. We let go of the small stuff, even the medium-sized stuff. Life is messy. But where there is love, there’s a lot of hope for tomorrow.

And I’ve got a lot of love.

Unacceptable Weakness

To those of you I call friends and family:

How could I possibly be so insensitive … to disregard how you must feel, what you’re going through?

After all you’ve been through, you just want to celebrate the new baby: Baby Rowan! Just like any other baby who’s arrived on this beautiful earth, Rowan is no different. You don’t really want to see photos of her at two weeks old; I think those photos are precious, but you try to hold back your grimace because she probably looks like an “alien” to you. What kind of person am I to show you such images? I am so sorry. Let’s just talk about Rowan when she’s out of the NICU in her cute little outfits, content as can be. Does that sound okay? Let’s just disregard this place in time, move along with our routines. Of course all you have to offer right now are congratulations. I appreciate your words of wisdom and encouragement; I bet you’ve never expressed such thoughts to new parents before, huh? The words you have to offer are so genuine, so sincere.

Oh, to mention your thoughts and prayers are with Rowan right now while she’s healing? No, no, no. Those words aren’t acceptable to write in a cute little card. We must. remain. happy. You have hearts of gold: Trying to help me “not remember” that my baby is in intensive care … oh, and my other baby is … um … dead. Were you sent from heaven as an angel to bring my heart healing?

I can’t imagine how difficult it is for you to know that Emmanuelle died. It must be terribly uncomfortable for you to mention her. Really, we ought to sit down for some coffee or tea so you can tell me how hard it is for you. Please, please don’t put yourself through more pain by sending me a text message asking how I am or acknowledging Emmanuelle. I mean, she was only here for, like, a sec. Her life doesn’t really count. I don’t know; it’s almost comparable to the loss of a beloved dog or something. Let’s just stick to Rowan. Let’s just talk about Rowan. No, not that Rowan is in the NICU, and her heart rate dropped to the 50s and oxygen saturation dropped to 19 two days ago. No, when I say let’s just talk about Rowan, what I mean is let’s just talk about happy, cute, girlie, baby shit. I don’t want to cause you more pain or make you uncomfortable.

To those of you I call friends and family:

You are not going to help me “not remember” the hell I’m living. Rowan is the most precious baby on this earth; she is my entire heart. She is everything … and the moment I feel secure regarding her health, it all goes to shit. She “forgets” to breathe; her heart rate and oxygen saturation drop dramatically; her skin turns “dusky” – another word for pale as shit; and you have to forcefully offer physical contact for her to get her shit together and come back to us.

You are not going to spare me an ounce of sadness by not mentioning Emmanuelle. Would you like to know how it makes me feel when you completely disregard the life and loss of my daughter? It hurts my feelings. I am offended, and it breaks my heart for Emmanuelle. This precious gift, this beautiful baby girl who deserved better. She deserved all the love her daddy and I had to offer. She deserved Christmas mornings. She deserved family vacations. She deserved fucking Disney World. And you disregard her. How dare you disregard her. But you’re only human, right? And talking about her makes you feel too uncomfortable. Well, let me tell you: I was not uncomfortable at all that morning as I witnessed my intubated daughter dying. As I watched nurses and doctors give her chest compressions. As I looked across the room and saw my husband sobbing. As the doctor looked to us for a solution, for the answer – to let her die. He explained to us how much damage had been done internally. He told us they were offering 120%, but Emmanuelle was giving nothing back. My active, lively girl who danced on the right upper area of my womb. She was now dying.

I’ve never been to a funeral. I’d never seen a dead person. I certainly had never watched anyone die. Until that morning. I witnessed the struggle and death of my child.

And you refuse to acknowledge it. Not me and my feelings. Not my sorrow and depression. I couldn’t give two shits about my feelings. You refuse to acknowledge Emmanuelle. Does her name give you shivers? E-M-M-A-N-U-E-L-L-E.

I don’t expect the world to care about my daughters and me. I do – however – expect certain family members to utter or type Emmanuelle’s name during our encounters. And if you’re going to send me a damn card, I don’t need you to tell me what an adventure parenting is. Trust me, I know; it’s been a mother fucking roller coaster.

We are so afraid to talk about feelings. It’s as if feelings and sadness are signs of weakness. It’s a bunch of bull shit. These things happen, people. This is real life. It’s messy and unfair. Not my-baby-mama-is-a-bitch unfair. Really unfair. Like a 1 pound 10 ounce baby who’s fighting for her life and is 100 times the warrior you’ll ever be no matter how many damn marathons you run.

But we can’t talk about that. We shouldn’t even whisper Emmanuelle’s name … because it makes you too fucking uncomfortable.

 

The Theme is Pink!

I traveled to my hometown of Colorado Springs, CO, for a little getaway and, of course, my baby shower!

September 6th (of this year) was full of pink and full of joy! I celebrated with mothers; aunts; women who have watched me grow up; women who have prayed for me. It was perfect. A day to celebrate my babies and reflect on my journey – it was beautiful. My mother decorated with objects from my childhood – decor from my little girl room growing up. The dresses on display are those she sewed for me – and there are A LOT more dresses she made for me that will be given to my daughters! What a wonderful trip it was for my husband and me! It was difficult to say, “See you soon,” last night and this morning to our loved ones, just as it always is. I have a suitcase full of baby girl clothes. We are excited to prepare their nursery! We are excited for this season. I will never forget this season and what brought me here. 

2014-09-06 16.02.51

2014-09-06 16.02.46

 2014-09-06 15.32.38

2014-09-06 15.30.00

 2014-09-06 15.18.02

2014-09-06 15.17.51

2014-09-06 15.03.48

2014-09-06 13.25.09

2014-09-06 13.25.03

2014-09-06 13.24.50

2014-09-06 13.24.36

2014-09-06 13.24.31

2014-09-06 13.24.14

2014-09-06 13.24.07

2014-09-06 13.04.02

2014-09-06 13.00.34

2014-09-06 12.33.21

2014-09-06 12.04.06

2014-09-06 11.55.56

2014-09-06 11.54.40

2014-09-06 11.53.09

2014-09-06 11.52.27