Friday, January 9, 2015

*Trigger* Parenting After a Loss: Brooke's Spasms

I often say, "My losses have made me a better parent." All I mean by that is that I am a better parent than I would have been if I had never had a loss. Loss has taught me to cherish the little moments. Although I, like any parent, have moments of frustration, I often remind myself how much I would love to be able to go through these challenging "phases" with my precious lost children.

One area that I am struggling with is Fear. Anxiety has been a struggle of mine since before any loss. Everyday I work to keep these nagging feelings at bay, but there is one area of my life that I often let this anxiety sneak it's way back in. When my kids are sick, I often end up fearing for the worst, and today I am blogging in hopes that I getting some of my feelings out will help me relax a bit.

Our second rainbow baby Brooke is now 8 months old. After a the last few scary months of my pregnancy, she was born healthy and has been thriving and developing like a champ. I often feel like I am waiting for the next shoe to drop though. I have tried to turn those thoughts around by telling myself, "Even If...." and being sure to appreciate the happy times, but lately that has been hard because Brooke has been having these weird spasm movements, and I am so worried that it could be something serious.

I tried to tell myself that it might just be reflux or a reaction from the camera flash, or just normal sleepy baby stuff, and it likely is one of those harmless things. They kept happening, and I began to get worried, so I brought her to the pediatrician. She sent a referral to a neurologist, and we waited for a call back. It's been over a week now, and that has given me way to much time on my hands. She is now having these spasms a few times a day.

The internet is a blessing and a curse for a mother like me. It was with the use of the internet that I was able to reach the doctors in Chicago for a second opinion about Wyatt. The internet also provided me with some much needed support after losing him. It has also provided me with a place to blog about all this, so I am thankful. I have found some videos and articles about a rare disorder called infantile spasms. They say although these short spasms look harmless, they may actually be causing brain damage. The outlook is not good, and it is very important to get treatment as soon as possible. I also read that it is often overlooked because it's rare and doesn't look serious.

Her little twitches are likely nothing to worry about. Infantile Spasms are really rare, but from my experiences, statistics mean nothing when you are the statistic, and I have been down that road too many times. At this point we have an appointment for an EEG in Early February. Her pediatrician's office has sent a second referral over to see if they can get the appointment moved up a bit. We are also on the cancellation list.

For now I am supposed to try and get videos to show the doctors and just wait. I can be pretty patient about paint messes, tantrums or other silly kid drama, but when it comes to my baby being sick, I am having a really hard time just sitting around waiting and wondering. I am going to do my best to enjoy her cute smiles and fun personality as I wait hoping they will move her appointment for us.

Friday, November 21, 2014

**Trigger*** Is love Alive?? Anniversaries, Memories, and Honoring our Babies....

As the seasons begin to change, I am reminded of  a song called "Winter's Song." This is a year when holiday celebrations should be a good thing, but instead, my heart is filled with memories of sadness and loss. Wyatt's 2nd birthday is right around the corner, and even with my arms filled with one of the most precious gifts life has given me, I still can't shake this feeling of loss. The song asks, "Is love alive?"-----------------
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I started this post last month and couldn't finish it till now......

 Here is my Facebook post from Wyatt's birthday:
 "Today is Wyatt's second birthday. We did a family candle night, and I remade my necklace. We watched the slide show I made for him, and now we are spending time as a family playing games. Happy Birthday Wyatt. You are so loved!"
One of the biggest blessings that has come from being Wyatt's mom even for such a short time is the people I have met along the way. One good friend who has also suffered a loss reminded me that a person who loves us wouldn't want to see us suffer. Guilt is a common emotion surrounding loss especially during time so celebration. I often find myself thinking that I shouldn't be feeling any joy because I am grieving. Sometimes it seems like somehow my level of sadness equates to the amount of love I have for my lost children. After 2 years of struggling with this thought, I finally know that it is just not true. I can express my love for my children with a tear on my cheek or smile on my face.

I have made a point to include my lost children in the fun things we do knowing that in some small way they are still around if only in though a thought or a memory. For Wyatt's birthday, I decided to not do a any grand event, but instead to cherish time with my family while honoring him. I plan to include our lost children in our holiday events as well. I am still brainstorming ideas. Here is one helpful link:
New Holiday Traditions to Honor Your Baby

No matter how much or how little I come up with, my love for my children is certainly alive!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

**Trigger Looking Back...Tiny Shoes

A tiny pair of shoes became a symbol of hope. A warm summer day about 6 years ago, I held a test in my hand and my heart filled with so many hopes and dreams as my husband Brook and I discovered that we were expecting our first child.We announced our news to everyone we knew and then after finding out we were carrying twins, I announced the news to everyone even if we didn't know them at all!

One of my favorite summer activities is to check out garage sales, and it became even more fun to look for baby items. I came across these shoes and felt an instant draw to them. I knew it would be a long time before we knew the gender of out little ones, but I bought them anyway. These shoes have been packed away ever since.

One thing unique to the journey of a pregnancy loss is the lack of many memories. Many grieving hearts cling to happy memories, but with an early loss, there are so few moments to remember. Many of these moments were never shared by family and friends leaving people at a loss for words. I didn't know if these tiny shoes would ever be worn, but they represented one of those amazing days full of love and hope.

Although our first pregnancy ended in loss, every little happy memory will be cherished. Today our beautiful daughter had these on her little feet. It feels wonderful to connect that memory to joy we feel today.

Note: It turns out those are not the right shoes, but my thoughts about them remain the same. ;)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

***Trigger*** A story of a Happy, yet Broken Hearted Mother's Day

Parents in the world of pregnancy and infant loss often refer to a child after a loss as a rainbow. It represents the beauty that comes after a storm. It's a beauty that can only come after a storm. Three weeks ago today, our second rainbow child entered the world and 3.5 years ago our Hunter became our first rainbow.

Today is Mother's Day. Today we celebrate mothers and children, yet today many people are grieving. Many people are just trying to survive this day as their hearts ache for the child, or parent they no longer have or for the child or parent they never had.

Today I celebrate; today I love, yet today my heart breaks for my 5 babies I cannot hold. I am torn today between amazing joy and tremendous pain. I question my right to celebrate just as I question my right to grieve. It somehow feels wrong to feel such joy, yet it feel selfish to still be grieving when I have been blessed with so much. My heart also breaks for those around me.

I remember the Mother's Days before my rainbows. I remember the storm that boiled inside of me as I watched others celebrate this day. My heart breaks for those who want a child in their arms so bad it physically hurts. My heart breaks for those who are still waiting for their rainbow. My heart breaks for those who are carrying around the burden of fear as they carry life inside of them or are waiting for an adoption to finalize.

I also think of those who are missing their own mothers today and for those who never experienced what it is like to have a loving mother by their side. Today is a wonderful day of celebration and a much needed day to thank some amazing people in our lives, but is also a very challenging day for so many. I hope you all know you are thought of and loved.

So although my heart is breaking, it is also being made full. I am thankful for my amazing supportive and awesome Mom and my beautiful children. I will choose to celebrate AND to allow myself to grieve. I have learned through these challenges that it is important to allow myself to feel what comes because pushing any feeling aside just causes more pain.

 I ask that you all hold the mothers and children in your life close today and everyday that you get the opportunity, and that you remember those who are struggling today. Please remember the mothers who have lost a child are and always will be a mother and the children are and will forever be loved. Although I only have 2 children to raise, I will always be a mother of 7.

My dear Wyatt and my 4 other lost children,
I miss you every day, and I love you Still.... 
Here is a song and slide show I made for our Wyatt after we lost him...

Friday, May 2, 2014

**Trigger** Birth After a Loss--- Baby Brooke's Birth Story

After a false alarm trip to the labor and delivery and a fun filled Easter day with the family, my contractions began to pick back up and were coming on strong. It was about 5:30pm when I told Brook that I thought it was time to head to the hospital. He decided to finish making pasta for dinner. As the contractions got stronger, I insisted that it really was time to go. Hunter was upset that he had to leave his pasta at the table, but my mom got him into the car and ready to go. My contractions were less than 2 minutes apart and way more intense than the morning. Brook kept teasing me saying that this was just another false alarm. The contractions did start to slow down a little on the way, but they were still very strong.

When the nurse checked me this time, I was sure it was the real thing. She said that I was not dilated any further, but I was 100% effaced. She said she wasn't sure I was in active labor yet. She said they would monitor me for an hour and then check again. She said they were likely going to send me home.  I couldn't believe what I was hearing, because by then the contractions were really strong. I remember thinking that I wouldn't know when to come back because they had said when the contractions were 5 min apart and strong that I should come in. If this wasn't the real thing, I didn't know what was.

Less than a minute later I noticed a couple of drops of blood. The nurse said that was normal after being checked, but very soon after the drops turned into large clots. I instantly felt panicked. The nurse came back in and checked me a second time only a couple minutes apart, and said I was almost another centimeter dilated. She said I would not be going anywhere. She didn't give much of an explanation as to why I was bleeding, but she looked worried.

My Mom, Brook and my best friend Sandra were at the hospital with me. They were with me for Hunter and Wyatt's births as well. Sandra has been styling my hair for big events ever since high school, so it only made sense for her to give me a quick up do for labor. They all did their best to keep me distracted and calm, but the sight of blood with out any explanation on top of pretty intense contractions was starting get to me.

They quickly moved me to another room with a new nurse. I heard someone ask if they were going to do some sort of test due to the bleeding. The response was, "It was not ordered." My head was full of questions and my anxiety began to take over, but I couldn't get any words out due to the very intense and painful contractions. I was doing my best to breathe through each contraction and try to relax. Sandra began asking the exact questions going through my mind. "What could the cause of the bleeding be?" "What is the next step?" "Will a doctor be checking her soon?" They said that the Doctor would be coming very soon. Someone said something about a possible placental abruption.

The nurse I had was wonderful and she did her best to explain what was going on while trying to reassure me. She kept letting me know that according to the monitors, our little girl was doing fine. I kept breathing through contractions, but the panic was getting stronger, and so were the contractions. I was asked to lay on the bed because they were having trouble keeping the baby on the monitor, but laying down on my back was the worst position for my contractions.

I am not sure when I reached my breaking point exactly, but I think it was after hearing that the doctor who was supposed to be coming "soon," was actually at another hospital doing a procedure. I couldn't understand why they wouldn't bring in another doctor or something. There was still no explanation about the bleeding. At one point people were asking me questions about past pregnancies and surgeries. All of this brought me right back to my memories of losing Wyatt and my other losses as well. I remember crying out that my past surgeries involved taking my babies out of my body.

At some point, I began insisting on an epidural. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I felt defeated like I was a failure, but I just couldn't handle the pain, the grief and the worry all at the same time. Everyone tried to assure me that my baby was fine, but I was too far into panic at this point to listen. I remember at one point noticing that I was shaking. I asked, "Could this be transition?" I knew that people often panic during the last stage of labor right before it was time to push. They told me the could check me, but I instantly demanded the epidural. I couldn't stand the idea that they might check me and tell me that I was still not progressing, or have them try to talk me out of the epidural. I was certain at this point that I wanted it although I kept apologizing to Brook for giving up.

By the time the doctor came in, I was hysterically crying and could no longer breathe through my contractions. I began screaming and felt strong feelings of anger. I realize now that much of that reaction was anger towards  past doctors and my past experience losing Wyatt. I was so worried that something would go wrong with this birth, and I would have to relive those awful memories. I kept saying, "I can't do this again. I can't have another dead baby!" They suggested that I try to focus on the sound of our baby girl's beautiful heart beat, but that was a surprise trigger for me as well. The last few days of my pregnancy with Wyatt were spend listening to his heart beat and waiting for the inevitable day that it would stop beating.

The anesthesiologist came into the room and began setting up for the epidural. I told the doctor that I felt the urge to push. She checked me and said I was only 7cm dilated. She left the room while the anesthesiologist prepped me. He asked me to move to the edge of the bed. I felt like he just asked me to move a mountain, but I managed to sit up and move over. I felt him clean off my back and he began to explain what he needed me to do.

All of a sudden I got an uncontrollable urge to push. I yelled out, "I don't know why I can't stop pushing!" They asked me to lay back onto the bed and I said, "I don't think you understand." Someone asked me, "Are you having a baby right now?" After one unstoppable push our sweet baby girl entered the world and was caught by my amazing nurse before the doctor could even make it back into the room. She was still in the sac when she was born, and the waters broke as she came out. Less than 3 hours after we arrived at the hospital, and I was told they may be sending me home, our precious baby girl was born at the exact moment I so desperately needed her.

I was in complete shock at this point. I don't remember the next few minutes at all. My Mom snapped a picture of my face.She said I kept this look on my face for a few straight minutes. She also missed out on what was going on in the room at the time because she was so worried about me. She said I was unresponsive for a while, and when she finally did get me to talk, all I could say was, "Did I just do that?" over and over.

So although I was yelling for an epidural the whole time, I ended up with a natural birth after all. The nurse that delivered our baby girl also took the time to review my birth plan, and even with all the excitement she remembered that I wanted delayed cord clamping and immediate skin to skin contact. I was very impressed and thankful to her for that. They did have to take her to the nursery for a while because her temperature was so low. While we waited, the nurse stayed with me and let me talk all I wanted about our Wyatt. She listened so intently. It was really healing getting to explain why I reacted the way I did during labor.

I had it in my birth plan to keep our little girl  by my side at all times if possible, but I think it was for the best that I had a little bit of time to process what just happened before bonding with her. It took a few hours, maybe a couple of days before I truly believed that I had delivered a healthy beautiful baby girl. Even today it still feels like a wonderful dream come true.

Brooke Lynn Stine: Born 4-20-14 at 10:16pm..(Easter Sunday and our 8th Anniversary) She weighed 5pounds and 15.6ounces and was 17.5 inches long. 

She is amazing, wonderful and worth every up and down moment of this roller coaster ride. 

I am so thankful for all the love and support we have had and know we will continue to receive. It brings a smile to my face and tear to my eye to think of how much our little Brooke is already loved!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

**Trigger** The False Alarm

After staying up all night Saturday with consistent contractions, I was beginning to believe our little baby was really on her way. Although I knew the contractions were not super intense, they were coming about 2 minutes or less apart. Since I was told on Thursday that I was already almost 5 centimeters dilated and 75% effaced, I decided it would be a good idea to head to the hospital.

As soon as we got into the car and began driving, my contractions slowed way down.When we got there the nurse checked me and discovered that all those contractions had not caused any change. They recommended that I leave and try walking around until I was in active labor. I was pretty disappointed because I was so ready to meet our precious girl, but I was also glad that I would be able to celebrate Easter with Hunter.

We headed home and gave Hunter his Easter basket and did a little egg hunt around the house. Then we went to the river to walk around. Hunter got to have his first ice cream from an ice cream truck, and he even got to pet someone's pet bunny. As we walked around a "psychic" called out to me asking if I was having a girl. I told him yes, and he said he could see her and that she was beautiful. I asked him when she would be born and he said, "Very Soon." We laughed it off, but it was only a few hours later that we were headed to the hospital again.......

(To be continued)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

**Trigger** Announcing the Safe Arrival of Brooke Lynn Stine


Easter Sunday April 20th, 2014
Brooke Lynn Stine

Born at 10:16pm
5lbs 15.6oz
17.5 Inches Long
   We are all doing great as we try to rest and get to know our new little family. Brooke's big brother Hunter is just as amazed with her as her Mommy and Daddy are. She sleeps often, but when she opens her beautiful deep blue eyes, my heart melts every time. Thank you all again for being a part of this journey. Your support and love means more to me than I could ever say! This was the best Easter and Wedding anniversary gift I could have ever asked for. 

I will post her birth story soon. It was a crazy fast delivery, so fast the nurse delivered her instead of the doctor. She must have know that her Momma needed her at that very moment.