Grief and Gratitude

Jeremy and I just wanted to express our gratitude to everyone who has offered us condolences this week. We’ve appreciated all the kind words, offers of help, flowers, food, advice and thoughts. We understand that many of you don’t know what to say. We don’t either. Losing a baby at almost 40 weeks brings with it an unexplainable kind of sorrow. There really are no words.

We do know that our friends and family are tiptoeing around us, and are afraid to ask questions about what happened. Nobody wants to pry, and we appreciate that. We’re ok to talk about it though, so we thought we’d write this to address the some of the things we been asked already.

How did you know something was wrong?

On Sunday morning I noticed the baby wasn’t kicking. This was unusual, as she was a very active baby.

At first, I didn’t give it much thought, as with only a few days to go, things were getting tight in there, and I’d read that fetal movement slows as the due date gets closer. Still, it was gnawing at me, so I decided to drop by the hospital just in case.

This wasn’t the first time I’d been to the hospital for a minor abnormality while I’d been pregnant. As it was my first, there had been unfamiliar twinges and pains that I’d had checked out, but I’d always walked away with piece of mind. That’s what I was expecting this time.

Of course, what happened next was unimaginable. I was admitted to the hospital immediately but it was too late. She was already gone. We can only assume her heart stopped sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning. From here, everything happened like an out-of-body experience. My brain stopped functioning and I just started following instructions.

Right away, they began the process of inducing labour and sent us home for a few hours to rest. We returned later in the evening for the next step, which included the epidural. They’d predicted I would be ready to deliver by noon the following day, but when they came to check on me at 7 AM, the head was already visible. The staff sprung into action. They told me to push and I did. Within minutes it was all over.

The labour was uncomplicated and physically, it looks like I came though unscathed, aside from the usual post-partum discomfort. Also, if there was a silver lining to this horrible experience, it’s that my OBGYN was on the floor at the time and was available to be with me until the end. I am grateful that she was there and not a stranger.

What happened?

It appeared to be a placenta abruption. We were given the option of an autopsy but apparently they usually come up inconclusive, so we choose not to.

Regardless, there was nothing we could have done differently, or no way we could have known ahead of time.

Did you see her? Hold her?

No.

We decided this wasn’t something we could bear. The hospital took pictures that we can look at when we’re ready. We’re not sure if this was the right decision but we felt it was the best choice for us at that time.

Will you have a funeral?

No.

While we realize this is something people in our situation sometimes do, we decided that it’s not something that would bring us much comfort or closure. We chose cremation and we’ll decide what to do with her ashes later on. We’re considering a memorial garden, a tree, or something along those lines, but we’re not really in a state to make any decisions that don’t have to be made right away.

What was her name?

We don’t know. We’re not sure about that yet, and it falls into the category of decisions that don’t have to be made right away. This is something we will revisit in the future.

What are you going to do now?

I’m still going to be on maternity leave until summer. The next few months are going to be hard though. We’re trying to prepare for them the best we can. We’re joining a support group, looking into counseling, and planning a vacation. We’ve also made a list of projects to do around the house. Then it will be camping season and we can get our little trailer back on the road. Staying busy and making plans for the future – we hope this will be the key to self-preservation.

Will you try again?

I’m hesitant to talk about this because I think baby making is such a personal subject, but the short answer is: yes. The prospect is terrifying to me at the moment though. The idea of another nine months of fatigue, morning sickness, heartburn and sleeplessness is daunting, especially since I’m still in the early stages of post partum recovery. Plus, there’s the possibility of having trouble conceiving. I’ve seen other couples struggle though this and I understand how stressful that can be.

Of course, there’s also the possibility of having to go though this again (although my OBGYN feels it would be highly unlikely). We’ve decided it’s worth the risk. There had been a time when we saw two paths: parenting and not parenting as equally satisfying lifestyles (we still do). If the last nine months have taught us anything though, it’s that we do really do want a child. Now that we’ve come this far, we can’t imagine giving up now.

Sadly, I know the next time we will be a less celebrated pregnancy and will be approached with so much more caution. I worry about spending nine months in constant fear, or even worse – apathetic. I’m hoping this is where counseling will be helpful.

In the meantime, I need time to recover physically, and together we need to process and heal emotionally, but we’re optimistic about the future. We hope that while we work though this, our friends, especially those with kids, don’t feel weird around us. We’re not bitter and we don’t begrudge. We are raw, but not fragile. We just want to move forward as we grieve.

Again, thank you all for your love and support.

Continue Reading

Progress

With a few months to go before the Niblet’s scheduled arrival, the transition from sewing room to baby room is coming along nicely.

Jeremy and my Dad have been busy this week getting the painting done.

Last week

This week

We’ve ordered a crib to be picked up next weekend (my beloved Jenny Lind crib wasn’t available in Canada so we’re going to have to pick it up in Buffalo). Jeremy bought up the rug months ago, and the rocker recliner has been ordered, although not the one I’d originally pictured.

Also, different than what I’d originally planned, was the dresser. After weeks of trawling the classifieds, a antique waterfall style chest came up and I had to have it. I wasn’t the look I’d been originally looking for, and it’s seen better days, but the price was right. I plan to spruce it up with a coat of paint, although I am not concerned about the dresser’s condition – after all, this is a child’s room. It’s going to take a beating, and will eventually be covered in sticky fingerprints and crayon marks anyway.

Finally, I’ve decided to use one of our old bookshelves, rather than buy a new one. We didn’t have anywhere else in the house to put the existing one, so it didn’t make much sense to buy another. This is another piece of furniture that has a date with a paintbrush.

While the painting was going on upstairs, I’ve been working away in my new sewing room in the basement. I have a list of simple baby related projects I want to finish before March, including some receiving blankets. I have so much flannel in my fabric stash it didn’t make any sense to buy them.

They are about 35-40 inches, finished with a double fold hem. Not a challenging project by any means, but one I wanted to get done.

Nine more weeks to go!

Continue Reading

Little Camper in the Forest

Once again, I’ve fallen behind with my camping trip recaps. I often try to sit down and write at the end of the day, just before I turn in. Lately though, as soon as I settle down with my laptop, I hit the wall. “I’ll finish this tomorrow,” I say to myself, but the cycle just continues, night after night.

So, this one is going back to Canada Day holiday weekend…

Our second time out in the camper took us to the Allegheny Forest of Pensylvania. We’d been to this region many times before. We usually go farther south in the the forest, but in the interest of not driving quite as far, we tried a new spot.

Traffic was fairly light on the way to the border and we got though customs quickly. However, we ended up in the most miserable traffic in Buffalo, which is rare. We usually have all of our traffic issues on the Canadian side. That led to a very late arrival in Pennsylvania and a fun excersce in backing in the camper in the black of night.

Our park was called Buckaloons and when we woke up on Saturday morning we were quite pleased by our surroundings. It had all of the amenities we look for in a campsite. It was on the Allegheny River with a trail that ran along beside it. The sites were surrounded by trees and spaced so far apart that you had complete privacy in every direction. It was also well maintained, with great facilities.

We knew it was going to be a rainy weekend, but now that we have the camper it was less of a concern for us. Still, after we had coffee and breakfast on Saturday morning were were restless, so we set out for the town nearby that we’d passed though the night before.

We poked around Warren, PA for a little while, as we waited for the rain to clear up. We did some shopping and had lunch and by early afternoon the sun came out. By then, we’d made our way to the Kinzua Dam. As, seen in other vacations, Jeremy and I enjoy a good dam (we haven’t seen the Hoover yet, it was too hot when were in Nevada last August).

The Kinzua Dam was built in the 1960s and was surrounded by some degree of contraversy, as it’s constuction meant displacing several hundred natives, along with a handfull of other small communites. This didn’t go over particularly well with the affected parties, especially the Seneca’s, who’d been given the land in a treaty signed by George Washington.

This region needed flood control though. In 1936 Pittsburgh was underwater for weeks and the threat of another devastating floodwater disaster loomed over the region for years. So, despite the concerns of the residents, the Kennedy administration moved them out and began construction and since It’s completion it’s been estimated that at least a billion dollars in flood damages have been prevented.

Apparently, Kinzua means “Place of Many Fishes.”

The next day, we went to see other engineering marvel – the Kinzua Bridge. For a short time at the turn of the century this had been the tallest railroad bridge in the world. It was originally made from iron in 1882, it was rebuilt using steel in 1900. Steel was great for accomodating heavier railway cars, but it was no match for the tornado that tore though it in 2003.

Prior to it’s collape, the tressel had been in the process of restoration, as it had not actually been in use since 1959.

One end of the bridge is open to the public and features a vertigo inducing partial glass floor near at the lookout point.

Then, we were homeward bound. Although Monday had been a holiday, we came home early to spend some time around the house. Plus, it seemed unpatriotic to spend Canada Day, stateside.

Since then, we’ve been on our third trip, and I look forward to telling you all about it soon.

Continue Reading