Wearing a butterfly in honor of Rainbow’s 3rd year in heaven today. Thank you to those who remember her with us today.
(Posted via Instagram)
It’s been a long time since I’ve updated specifically about Bumble Bee, who, as you must have gathered from the title of this post is a boy. We’ve named him Charlie. And there will be ultrasound photos at the end of this post.
About a week after I wrote to Calvin about being the furthest along I’d ever been, we had our anatomy scan. It was so amazing to see how much Bumble Bee had grown and to watch him move and stretch and yawn.
This was also when we found out we were having another little boy. It was a bittersweet moment, because I was brought back to the ultrasound with Calvin when we should have found out he was a boy, but instead found out we had lost him. From what other babyloss mommas have said, I expected that being pregnant again would bring up the grief of losing our other babies, and I’ve been navigating that along with the joy, excitement, and fears of carrying another life. That being said, I feel like I need to add: Charlie will not replace Calvin (or Rainbow or Gaelen), nor will he live in Calvin’s (or Rainbow’s or Gaelen’s) shadow. Each of my children have carved their own space in my heart.
We agreed on the name Charlie over lunch at Mel’s Diner after our appointment. I don’t remember what we ate. Or what we were wearing. Just that out of all of the boy names we mentioned, Charlie was the name that felt right.
When we talked to my OB about the ultrasound results, we were told that our baby had bilateral choroid plexus cysts (CPCs). Something new that I’d never heard about; something new to cause fears and worry. The choroid plexus is part of the brain where cerebrospinal fluid is created. The doctor told us that these usually resolve on their own, that he isn’t too worried, and he assured us that there were no other abnormalities. Of course, I had to do my own research. CPCs are fairly common and seen in about 1% of ultrasounds. They can be a soft marker for Trisomy 18 and sometimes Down’s Syndrome, and chances increase when other indicators are present. It started to make more sense to me that they spent a lot more time looking at his brain and his heart, and that they really want to get a picture of him with his hand open.
We have a follow up ultrasound this Thursday, February 16. We could really use your prayers, positive energy, good thoughts, and healthy baby vibes. I also have my prenatal appointment tomorrow (Monday) and will be taking the 1-hour glucose screening for the first time and hoping (a) that I don’t throw it up, and (b) that I pass. If you could include tomorrow’s appointment and test, as well, I would appreciate it.
And because it’s been a while since I’ve shared ultrasound photos, I wanted to show this collage of ultrasound photos. It doesn’t include the NT Scan printouts we got because they were kind of blurry. I’ll probably do another one that includes it after we get our printout on Thursday (trying to keep positive!).
Growing a little person is such a miracle. I feel so blessed to have carried my three in heaven and to have Charlie with us now. At the same time, I ache for those who also know what it’s like to lose a baby and for those who are trying to bring a baby home.
Especially in the early days of grieving, it’s difficult to find things for which to be grateful. That’s why any statement that begins with At least… can induce fits of rage, tears, and cursing (and sometimes all of the above). In my experience, it’s much better to allow us to arrive at this place of being able to feel gratitude, rather than trying to force us to see all the good that we still have around us. By giving us space to reflect at our own pace and in our own time, it becomes easier to recognize our blessings without disregarding our heartache.
I don’t even know how to begin to articulate just how thankful I am to have him as my partner, as my best friend, as the father of my children. He makes me a better person. He makes me want to be a better person. I love the way he loves me, but even more so, the way he loves our babies. And I’m grateful that he will drop everything and hold me when I’m crying for them. I’m grateful that he knows how to make me laugh, that he forgives me when I hurt him, that he indulges my quirkiness, that he washes the dishes and does the laundry, and that he tells me I’m the best cook he knows. Our marriage is stronger after losing Calvin, Rainbow, and Gaelen, and I no longer doubt how long us will be us. I sometimes refer to him as my homie-lover-friend (does that make me sound dated?), and I guess that is the most ridiculously simple way of describing our relationship, but maybe it’s enough. He is enough.
When I was younger, I used to think about the size of my future family. I wanted four kids: two girls and two boys, and I wanted them to be around 2-3 years apart. I thought an only child would be lonely and that I couldn’t just have one of each because they would need someone to relate to and that three would create an unfair balance because two would gang up on one. Apparently I thought that far into it. But I never stopped to think What if I can’t have children? or What if my children die?
After losing three babies, after spending over a year trying between Rainbow and Gaelen, and especially after learning that my window of fertility has been shortened because of my low ovarian reserve, I have thrown out the concept of family planning. It’s more like hoping, praying, and waiting to see what God will allow. Pregnancy truly is a miracle. (To really appreciate what it takes to make a baby, I suggest you watch The Great Sperm Race and An Everyday Miracle, but be forewarned that they can be graphic at times.) And even if I am so lucky to conceive, it doesn’t mean I will get a baby to keep.
In my Where I Am piece, I wrote of how my babies have inspired me to find myself again. They’ve given me the conviction to seek a place where I am happy with who I am and where I’m doing the things about which I’m passionate. I’m no longer willing to compromise on this. Calvin, Rainbow, and Gaelen remind me how much writing, art, and my faith really do sustain me. Because of them I am writing again, I am creating again, and I feel God’s grace more strongly. That is such a beautiful gift. And I have no intention of letting these go as I’ve done in the past.
Last year, for our first Christmas without our babies, Louie and I went away. We spend it in Las Vegas as an attempt to avoid the triggers and give ourselves some respite. We were still reeling from losing Rainbow – I had stopped bleeding just a few days before we left, and the memories of how different the previous Christmas was (how we used that time to share our pregnancy with family and friends) brings to mind where the term crackpot came from.
This year, there was no running away. I didn’t have the energy to plan an escape. I was scrambling to find a job after learning that my contract was over. And as scroogey as I felt last year, this year, I was filled with even more bah humbug. Why? Because I am so acutely, cognitively aware of this emptiness that it’s almost physical. The shock of losing Calvin, despite preparing myself to bring home a special needs child; the shock of also losing Rainbow (which is a big, painful in your face to people’s try again quick fix); the shock caused by some people’s reactions to either or both of my losses… all of this has started to fade. And in it’s place, reality has started to root itself into my everyday Calvin-less and Rainbow-less living.
With each card, I would tell Louie who it was from, how I knew her, and a little of her story. And on the day before Christmas Eve, what you see in this photo happened. And this is where I finally found my piece of Christmas spirit, frail and small as it was.
My husband helped me tack twine to the walls, and we used binder clips to hang the cards up. The one in the middle of the bottom string is our holiday card with Louie’s drawings of Calvin and Rainbow. Every card in this photo represents a family who knows the heartache of losing a baby.
But see how beautiful these cards look hanging in our living room? Each one represents a connection, a friendship, a shared bond that has grown far beyond the tragedies the brought us together. These cards represent the amazing people who have walked (or blogged or persie’d) into my life and shared our grief even as they nursed their own wounded hearts, and who continue to uphold as we walk the difficult road of life after loss – this includes those whose cards don’t hang by our wall. It’s small and simple and amazing, to find my Christmas spirit on paper stuck on some string.
How about you, reader? Did you have trouble finding the holiday spirit this past season? Did you eventually find it? How?
Dear Calvin, it feels like so long since I’ve held you in my arms, yet, I still can’t believe your 2 years is almost here. Typing it, seeing it written out… it brings me to tears. You and your sister continue to inspire me. Even when mommy is slow to move forward, to take action, know that you two are the motivation that pushes me on. I love you so much. I wish you were here, so I could hear you say ‘Mommy’ and ‘Daddy.’ I wish Rainbow was here cooing and babbling. Someday. Until then, Happy 22 Months in heaven, my love. Mommy and daddy are so thankful for you.