Monday, July 16, 2012

Baby Marc's 1st Birthday Balloon Release in Pictures

Rainbow Shower for Baby Jack

My wonderful mother, my sister Jessica, and friends Amber, Stephanie and Liz threw and amazing and very special rainbow baby shower for Jack this past weekend. Thank you to those friends and family that showed up to celebrate Jack with Marc and I, it really meant a lot to me and was very important to me to have a shower for Jack. This whole pregnancy I have tried to do all the things I did while pregnant with Marc with Jack as well. It was so hard in the beginning to take belly pictures and get excited about my pregnancy. So many emotions that you don't expect come up when you are pregnant after losing a child. One thing I have never been able to fully explain is feeling foolish when I say things like "when this baby comes home" or "in this many days I will be holding my baby." I said all those things with Marc and they did not happen so it has been so hard to imagine those things actually coming. I have felt like I will be pregnant forever and never bring a living baby home. I think I have done myself a big favor in forcing myself to do things I did with Marc and say positive things like that because I am finally just now after nearly ten months of pregnancy starting to truly believe that I will hold my living child Jack in my arms and get to take him home.
One thing I had not done was open drawers of baby clothes and things in Marc's room. I could not bring myself to integrate Jacks things into the things I had bought for baby Marc. Mainly because I didn't know what kind of emotional state looking through all these things that I bought for Marc that he never got to wear would put me in. My mom and Stephanie stayed after the shower to help me do this as I now had a bunch of things specifically for Jack to put into these drawers.  We sat on the floor and pulled out the clothes from all the drawers and I immediately started crying. It was hard but with a little pep talk from my mom we managed to smile and mix Jack's things into Marc's things....which are now Jack's things. I kept a few items for Marc's memory box and left the rest for Jack. The room is still a mess as I try to reorganize some things but I am hoping to be done with that this week. Here is our celebration of baby Jack in photos. Before the baby shower Marc and I made a belly cast of my belly with Jack as we did for Marc so I included those pictures as well.
Awesome rainbow fruit tray made by Stephanie

Marc with baby Marc's belly cast @ 33 weeks on right & with Jack's on left @ 35 weeks

Drying-not the most comfortable thing in the world

Jack in front, Marc in back

Jack and Marc

Jack right Marc left

Dad decorating


Candy Bar & diaper cake made by my mom :) aka MIMI

Cake and Cupcakes made by my mom and little sisters

Diaper Cake

Candy Bar

Picking up balloons

Photo Matte to sign with well wishes

beautiful rainbow 7 layer cake

Jack and Me


presents for baby Jack

Cloth diapers!!! YAY!

My mom and me :)

Amber, me and Steph

Amber and me

Emily and me

Stephanie and me

Picking up balloons

It means so much to me to have this shower and have Jack get some of his own things.

Katie and me...she is a trooper for coming to Jack's shower three weeks after her c-section with her baby girl Faye <3


Today as I was doing everyday chores I felt a rush of overwhelming love come for my sweet baby Jack. It made me feel calm and happy. I had to come write about it right away because while of course I have felt love for him since the moment I found out we were pregnant, I have not felt that calm peaceful love that I felt with Marc the entire time. Today I feel it and as I go about my chores getting ready for Jack I am thinking about how fortunate I am.

I am so fortunate.

Last year I endured the worst day of my life as I held my sweet baby Marcus in my arms as he slipped away from us. Looking back on the past twelve and a half months I really cannot believe where we are today. We are 28 days away from holding our second son. Today for the first time I have been able to envision Jack's birth and feel like it is going to be alright. After pretty much two years of being pregnant Marc and I are finally going to be able to experience all the things we were supposed to get with Marc. I think part of this new feeling comes from our decision to schedule a c-section for Jack's delivery.

A few weeks ago we discovered that I have low platelets, platelets are the blood cells that play an important role in blood clotting. Platelets stop blood loss by clumping and forming plugs in blood vessel holes. This is fairly common among some pregnant women and is called gestational thrombocytopenia but because we are being cautious we were sent to a hematologist. While we were there she asked about what happened to baby Marc and asked if we had an autopsy done, I told her we did not have an autopsy because we knew it was a double wrapped cord. I also did not have blood work with platelet results done late enough in my pregnancy with Marc to know if I had low platelets with him as well but I did know that I had low iron as I do now. She told us the reason she asked was because sometimes in rare cases when a mother has low platelets the baby can have the problem as well which can cause brain bleeds. She recommended that when Jack is born we get a simple test done to check his platelet level to ensure that he would not need steroids to correct the problem. I guess she must not have realized how telling me this would affect me, especially when I asked if we could check Jack before birth and she told us no. She basically just dropped this huge bomb that possibly Marc died from a brain bleed caused by low platelets and the cord could have been a secondary issue. I mean that could make sense because babies are born with double nuchal cords all the time and do not die. I could not help but start crying, overwhelmed by fear for Jack. Before this information I had fears of course but it was nothing specific and nothing that I had a real reason to fear.

When we met with my doctor the following Monday I asked if in the rare case that Jack does have low platelets would it make a vaginal delivery more dangerous for him. Her answer was yes and I felt a sinking feeling. When I asked if we should just do a c-section she could not make a decision for us of course but agreed that it was a tough decision because while it is very rare cases that babies have low platelets we really don't know. She said she would do whatever we wanted her to do.  Marc and I left and told her we would talk it over and think about what we wanted to do. By the time we got to the parking lot and to our car we were both on the same page, we would do the c-section. It may be rare but we have already lost one child and we don't feel like rolling the dice.

Having a planned c-section also takes away the fear of another cord accident and many other unknowns that come along with vaginal delivery. It is comforting to know what day I will be going in. If I was to have Jack naturally I was going to have a fetal heart monitor on at all times during labor, I know every time his heart dropped at all during contractions I would have had a panic attack! I feel like in general I can be better prepared and this decision has reduced my stress greatly so I really feel like it is the right one. I am nervous for surgery and recovery but Marc made the point that some women schedule c-sections because they are afraid of natural labor so it cannot be THAT bad and if I can go through a completely natural labor with no drugs then I can make it through this.

We saw our doctor again today and she had posed the question we asked her last week to the maternal fetal medicine specialist and he said that a c section was a good route in our case since we cannot know about Jack's platelets and how he might tolerate a natural birth. I will start a steroid 7 days before my c-section so that my platelets will increase and I will taper them off over two weeks after delivery. It is a good thing that I will not be working during that seven days before while taking the steroids she warned that I will be much more emotional than normal. Well those of you who have been 10 months pregnant and 7 days away from delivery or who have had to deal with a close loved one who is in that condition know that it is already an extremely emotional and crazy hormonal time. I thank those who have to be around me during that time in advance for dealing with what may be a very crazy Jena.

Which brings me again to feeling so fortunate because I have the greatest husband who I know will be there for me through this whole emotional process. I have great friends and family who are already offering to come over to help and make sure that everything is as easy for me as possible. My co-workers at Starbucks have been amazing this past year and my manager is being so helpful and extremely flexible with my leave of absence and concerns about returning to work after.

I miss my baby Marc so very much, I wish things could have been different and that I could have both my little boys here with me today. Since that is just not possible I know I have two choices. I can dwell on what I do not have or what I missed out on with baby Marc or I can choose to focus on what I have. I have a marriage that is rock solid, family and friends who are loyal and selfless, a workplace that is compassionate...much like a second family, and a large support group of other mommies who are dealing with the loss of their babies on a daily basis too.

Finally I have two beautiful children.

Marcus I carry in my heart and Jack will be in my arms in just 25 days.

Yes, I am a very fortunate woman indeed.
J for Jack & M for Marc Jr

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy 1st Birthday Baby Marc-Reflections On Our 1st Year Without You

One year. One year since I held my sweet first born son in my arms for the first and last time. How close and yet so very far away it seems now.  This time last year I was floating in Possum Kingdom lake talking with Marc and fantasizing about that moment when we would get to hold our son for the first time. I remember we talked about what he would look like and tried to imagine together what life was going to be like in just a few days. Last year we rode our friends boat to the middle of the lake and watched the fireworks. Sweet baby Marc must have heard the loud explosions because I remember him kicking very hard the whole show and I thought what fun it would be to tell him he did this when he got older. I could not have known that those were last days with him.
I remember the morning of the fifth so vividly. My water broke at 4am when everyone was sleeping and I timed my contractions and told my midwife but tried to wait to wake everyone else. I made it two hours and sat on the bed by Marc and tapped him until he woke up. He was still half asleep when I told him that today was the day we would have our boy. The look on his face melted my heart, so much excitement and joy.
I am still not to the point in my grief where I can think too much about these happy memories and not cry. To remember how happy and  hopeful we were is still very painful. One day I really hope to be able to remember my pregnancy with Baby Marc and smile instead of cry. Those ten months were by far the happiest and most carefree time of my life. Even his delivery until the very end was beautiful and I remember getting through contractions by saying that I would have my Marcus in my arms in just a few hours. I did get to have him in my arms but it was not the way I had dreamed.
As Marc pushed my wheelchair into the NICU and the doctor came to talk to us I could see my midwife and a few nurses gathered around a little bed. I could not see my baby , still have not really seen my baby and at this point I really thought that the doctor would tell me that he was going to have a few setbacks but that everything would be fine. He delivered the news mercifully quick and as compassionately as one can tell a mother and father that their baby boy who was just hours before perfectly healthy is now brain dead. In shock we went to the little bed where Marc was hooked up to the things that were keeping him alive and they removed the machines and handed me my tiny little boy. I was in shock and the gravity of the situation was there but I also was seeing my baby for the first time. It was not like I had fantasized but I could not help but smile at how beautiful and well made he was. Marc and I examined his hands and feet, kissed him, sang to him and I thought to myself that I need to remember every second. Every second of the four hours I got to hold my baby boy is engrained in my memory and I will forever cherish those precious moments.

One year. It seems like yesterday but also a lifetime ago. How far Marc and I have come is amazing. From those first weeks of not being able to perform basic functions and really believing that there would never be any happiness in this life for us ever again to where we are now is truly incredible to me.
I know I would not have made it through this year without the wonderful people that are a part of my life. Baby Marc's funeral was packed with friends and family who sent flowers, money and food to help take care of basic needs in those first few weeks. My dad, step mom and grandma who flew from Seattle immediately. My aunt Susan, cousin Leyna and grandma who drove all the way from Nebraska and many more who traveled far to come to baby Marc's funeral and show support. My store manager at Starbucks Jenny and my entire store for coming to show their support and checking on me while I was on leave. For being so understanding and sensitive to my special needs upon returning to work, that first week of work was hard and they had to witness many break downs in the backroom yet they were all so caring. It can be uncomfortable for others when someone breaks down sobbing uncontrollably but they never acted uncomfortable and instead made work a place I came to enjoy being again.

I would not have come this far in my grief process without the help of our support group MEND and the many grieving families and mothers I have come to have strong connections with. Sometimes the grief is so strong and intense and you just feel so alone but these women know what it feels like to lose a child and the support from them helps so much. To see women five and ten years out from the loss of their babies living happy lives kept me going through the toughest days. If they can find happiness again then maybe so can I.

Without my best friend Amber. Who was there from the very beginning and got to hold our sweet baby boy. She brought me about ten different types of over the counter sleep aids from central market and when family had to leave to return home she would come over everyday after work for many many months so that I would not have to be alone with my thoughts. She forced me to get out of the house and do things so that I did not waste away in bed. She would call to make sure I had eaten for the day which most of the time I had not so she would bring me food if Marc was at work.

I could not have done it without my amazing sister Jessica who even though she lives three hours away managed to let me know that she was always there if I needed her. Who became pregnant a few months later and unselfishly understood that I could not be there for her as I might have been before. Or any of my brothers and sisters for that matter Tori, Evie and Tyler who helped and continue to help in so many ways to help Marc and I remember and honor baby Marc.

I would not have made it through this year without my mother. Who stayed with me for weeks after baby Marc died. Who brought me home from the hospital without my baby and bathed me and washed my hair because I could not move. She came to my bed almost every night those first weeks and stroked my hair for hours until I would finally fall asleep. Who when she returned home continued to be available anytime of day or night if I needed to call, which I did often. I would call her hyperventilating from crying so much and not being able to control it. Every time she manages to say the right thing to calm me down. 

I know I would not have made it through this year without my phenomenal husband, who hurt just as much as I did but somehow remained strong enough to take care of me at the same time. Strong enough to hold me when I was screaming and renew my will when I was just about to give up. Who had to go back to work just a few weeks later while I got to stay at home to work through the worst of the grief for three months. Who was always so convincing as he would tell me that we would be able to find happiness again, day in and day out he proved himself to be the strongest man I know. A man that I am so incredibly proud to call my husband and the father of my children. 

Without the love and support of all these people and so many more that I could not mention I am not sure I would still be standing. Of course this one year mark does not mean I am done grieving or that things will magically be different. Everyday without baby Marc is a learning excperience on how to deal with emotions and situations that arise. Everyday I feel the weight of the pain that is created from his absence and I have to use and discover new tools and ways of coping with that pain. It is comforting to look back and see where I was and where I am. Progess may come slow but it is progress and slowly hope and happiness are returning to our lives.  I told Marc the other day that sometimes I feel like I should be worse off, while I still struggle most days are pretty good. While I have much more stress and anxiety upon my shoulders because of the grief I have to carry, most days I am optimistic and I still love my life. Sometimes it feels like I should still be wanting to stay in bed and cry all day and I feel a small amount of guilt because I don't want to. It could be that but I think the biggest thing is that I feel if I am happy most of the time people will forget that I carry this pain and they will forget about my baby.

I need to remind myself on a daily basis that the amount of tears I cry does not and could never equal the amount of love I have for my first baby Marc. It is ok to be happy without him. Those closest to me and myself know how much I love and miss him everyday and that is the most important thing.

Happy 1st Birthday Baby Marc.
You made me a mommy and because of you I will be an even better mommy to your little brother Jack.  I miss you every hour of everyday. I wish you were here so that I could throw you a birthday party, see you eat your first piece of chocolate cake, and watch you open presents. Instead my gift and promise to you is that I will continue to live my life more fully and better because of you. I will continue to let your life be the thing that makes me a better wife and mother instead of letting your death be the thing that defines me and brings me down.

How amazing is it that one little person created by me can do so much is such a short amount of time.

I love you always and forever I carry you in my heart.