Saturday, March 14, 2015

3-14-15: The Pi Day of the Century

3-14-15 is the Pi Day of the century and the 3rd birthday that almost was.  This year, I'm choosing to spend my time celebrating it rather than letting it remind me of my loss.  I'm wearing my dorky pi t-shirt.  I am buying apple pie for dessert.  I'm trying to explain what Pi is to my kindergartener, even though I don't think she's quite ready to understand it yet.  But despite this, a part of me still feels like posting an update in honor of Miri today.

Today she would have been 3 years old.  It's hard to imagine.  Annalie is 20 months old, quite a bit younger than Miri would be, and despite never having seen her and having no image to hold onto, I still picture her in my head as a newborn.  I see friends' children who are about her age and wonder what she would be like now, but after that moment passes, I tend to default back to thinking of her as an infant. It's funny how other kids grow up and I see them for the age that they are, but I think Miri will forever be my baby.

I still silently think about her a lot, although it's not every day.  In fact, this year marked a first that I never believed possible.  I forgot about January 10th as a milestone.  It wasn't until almost two weeks later that I even realized it had passed.  We were taking a family trip to Kentucky, and Whitney got sick late at night on January 9th.  I was up all night with her, and we ended up taking her to the ER.  We were discharged in the morning, and I spent the day taking care of her and worrying about how sick she was.  I was so busy with her, that I didn't even think about Miri and the loss.  And I was perfectly fine with that.  When it dawned on me that I missed the anniversary, it actually made me feel good.  It's a sign that I'm still healing, living in the present, and moving on with life.

I do get reminded about it from time to time.  A question came up during my promotion case this year--someone asked if the time I took off recovering from the c-section would not count as time employed in my position.  (The rules for the promotion state that a candidate must spend at least 5 years employed in the position prior to promotion, and they were worried that I would be 7 weeks short of that.) But I'm happy to say that it wasn't an issue, and I just found out that my promotion was approved for the next academic year!

There are also occasions when I run into people I don't see often, and in catching up, I tell them about Whitney and Annalie.  And they will say "I thought Annalie was older than that", remembering my pregnancy with Miri rather than with Annalie.  Sometimes they'll say, "Only two kids?  I thought you had more than that."  And then I'll remind them that Miri died.  But these situations are definitely happening less frequently than they used to, and going through the explanation is pretty matter-of-fact.  There's not much emotion anymore with my explanation, and I don't feel bad making those acquaintances feel awkward for asking.  At this point, I've resigned myself to the fact that that's just what happens.  I don't feel bad about it, and they shouldn't either.

This past year, Joy bought a necklace for me that I wear almost everyday.  It's an infinity symbol with three beads hanging off one of the loops--two pink ones for Whitney and Annalie, and a purple one for Miri.  Ever since I lost her, I had wanted to get a piece of jewelry with some sort of symbol to commemorate her.  One friend of mine has an angel's wing charm on a necklace for her stillborn son, but I didn't want anything that would make my loss obvious.  I had thought of a pi charm for a necklace, or a ring with her birthstone.  But nothing that I saw really excited me too much.  And because it was never exactly what I wanted, I never bought anything.  As it turns out, Joy knows me so well--the necklace she found is perfect.  It's a little bit "mathy" and a little bit feminine.  I love it, and I can wear it without drawing additional attention.

This past year has also brought an end to my friend Lindsey's stillborn tragedy.  She gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl a few months ago.  The joy that I felt for her when she told me of her birth was incomparable.  In the same way that hearing of other stillbirth stories caused me to feel that pain again, experiencing her joy brought me back to that same feeling of pure bliss when Annalie was born.  And, in preparing her baby gift, I was overwhelmed with generosity, and my faith in the goodness of people around the world was renewed.  I found a piece of digital art that I fell in love with from Matej Kotula, a graphic artist in Slovakia.  I wrote him and asked how I could purchase a copy to give to Lindsey.  He was so moved by our stories, that he graciously just gave me the digital file so I could add text and print it off and frame it exactly how I wanted to.  Joy helped with placing the text, which was my favorite quote from Cinderella--the song Whitney sang to us as we brought Annalie home from the hospital.  "Have faith in your dreams and someday, your rainbow will come smiling through.  No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true."

And it has come true.  For myself and for all my friends who have experienced a stillbirth, we now all have been blessed with our rainbows.  And I am grateful that life is so good.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pi Day's Eve

March 13, Pi day's eve, as I was told by a friend this evening.  Two years ago on this very night, I was sitting in my bed, just as I am now, writing on my iPad.  I was thinking and reflecting and finding just the right words to use in my goodbye letter to Miri.  And here it is two years later, and I'm still sitting here, thinking and reflecting and realizing just how far I've come.  Two years ago, I was anxious about spreading her ashes.  I cried a lot that evening in anticipation of how that final goodbye would go.  I had no idea how liberating it was going to be and how that Pi Day would be the first day where I felt unchained from my sorrows.  One year ago, I was still sad about all those milestones I missed during her first year, I still cried a bit, but I was proud of myself for how much emotional healing I had done. I was pregnant and still anxious, and I wasn't quite ready for Pi Day.  This year, there are no more tears.  I'm not fooling myself--there's still a small lump in my throat--I do wish she was here and that I could celebrate her birthday.  I was thinking about it a lot tonight. If Miri was alive, I wouldn't be typing now.  I would be blowing up balloons.  I would be hanging streamers.  I would be wrapping presents.  I would be scrambling around the house trying to locate that rogue roll of Scotch tape that I know we have but has gone missing just at the wrong time.  And as I'm searching, I would be having a conversation with my husband (who by the way, would tell me that I was crazy for going all out with the balloons and streamers) about how the decorations ARE important and I don't care if she won't have any memories of going to bed in a normal room but waking up to a fully decorated birthday surprise.  I would explain to him that it would be fun for her and it would set the tone for her special day.  But I'm doing none of that tonight.  She's not alive. 

My life has gone down a different path.  And that's okay.  Even though I feel like I can see just what could have been as if it were, I'm not lamenting the fact that that isn't my life.  I am truly happy with where my life has ended up.  I love Annalie.  I love that I got the chance to meet her and raise her.  I love that my kids are 4 years apart, not two and a half.  I love that our loss brought my husband and I closer together.  I love the new friendships I have made.  I love the wisdom I have gained.  I love the perspective on life that I now have.

And this year, I set my alarm to go off slightly early so I can make it to the store and buy some pies for my math class tomorrow.  I'm going to celebrate Pi day with a nod to the birthday that almost was.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Two Year Update

Those 18 months of my life were such an emotional roller coaster.  I did a lot of crying (both from sadness and happiness).  I can gladly say that I'm back to a more even-tempered state now.  My life isn't consumed with difficult thoughts or anxiety anymore.  I'm happy...deep down to the bottom of my heart.  Today makes two years and it feels like a good time for an update...Some people might think that this second anniversary would be hard, maybe not as difficult as the first, but still not an easy day.  I braced myself for it by flying to Denver again so I wouldn't be "alone" (again, my parents are in Hawaii and my husband is working), but really, I don't think it would have even mattered this year.  I am fine.  I am happy.  And, as I always tell my husband, the day someone dies is not as important of a day to commemorate as some of the other days in their lives.

I still think about Miri every day.  Literally every day.  But I'm not mourning her anymore.  It doesn't make me feel sad when I think about her.  I'm not wishing for all the experiences that I am missing by her not being here.  It's just a loving thought in passing.  Sometimes I see a friend's child whose birthday is within days of what Miri's would have been and I wonder what she would be like at that same age, I smile, and then the moment is over.  Sometimes it is when a friend makes it through her 31st week of pregnancy, and I breathe a small sigh of relief for her.  Mostly, though, my thoughts come when I see Annalie doing something that I don't know if I would have truly appreciated had it not been for losing Miri.  When I think about her in these moments, it's all about how grateful I am that she taught me so much, because I know that I am truly appreciating Annalie with each new milestone that she reaches and I am taking nothing for granted with her.  And sometimes the thought is just, "Hmmm...I haven't thought about Miri today." Which then of course means I just thought about her.    Since Annalie was born, there was one day in October where she wasn't even a fleeting thought in my head.  I realized it the next day, and it actually didn't bother me at all.  It means that I am healing.  Life moves forward, not backwards, and I've got plenty of things to look forward to.  I'm sure there will be more of those days as the years pass, and that's as it should be.

Annalie just turned 6 months old.  She's happy, healthy, and an amazing baby.  I couldn't ask for more...I feel like I won the kid lottery with both my girls.  Now that it's been 6 months, I can say with certainty that I'm not taking anything child-related for granted.  I'm not giving in to that second-child syndrome so many mothers fall into where I've "been there, seen that, done it before" with Whitney, so it's not quite as special the second time through.  And that's a gift that Miri gave not only to me, but to Annalie as well.  I am thoroughly enjoying watching her grow and learn.  I have taken pictures and movies every time she does something new and sometimes for no reason other than I want to remember what our everyday life is like.  I must admit that I'm not 100% cured of the second-child syndrome...she is getting short-changed on the baby book.  I was diligent keeping up with it for Whitney's first year, but Annalie hasn't had one entry yet after her first month.  It's not due to a lack of enthusiasm about her or her milestones.  It's more that I've been documenting her life via texts and Facebook posts instead.  She's definitely getting plenty of attention.  Sometimes I worry that it's too much and I'm ignoring Whitney more than I should.  Striking a balance of attention has been one of the biggest challenges I've faced so far.  I'm doing the best I can, as every mother tries to do.  I just hope it's good enough for both girls.

We held Annalie's Simchat Bat (a naming ceremony which welcomes her into the Jewish community) at our house this past December.  We chose the Hebrew name Aviela Mira in honor of my great-uncle (the late husband of my aunt in Hawaii) whose Hebrew name was Aaron Yisrael, and after Miri.  We had planned on naming Miri after my uncle, but never had the chance.  I knew from the moment I found out I was pregnant that I wanted to honor Miri's short life in this way.  I did think about picking someone other than my uncle to name Annalie after, but there wasn't anyone else I felt as strongly about, and it just seemed appropriate to keep their namesakes intertwined.  Being able to do this was yet another level of closure for me, and it feels good knowing that Miri's spirit will be with Annalie, even if it is just in Jewish folklore.

Also, since my original blog posts, I have come to grips with some of the questions I didn't know how to answer previously, such as "How many kids do you have?"  I have two children.  If the conversation goes any further, I'll explain that I had a third (in between the two), but she didn't make it.  It's not as important to go into details as it was a year ago.  I am happy to talk about her--actually, I like sharing my experiences--but most people don't really want the whole story.  I've decided that I'm not dishonoring Miri by not mentioning her. She's there in my heart, and she always will be.  The question is typically phrased in the present tense.  And presently, I have two living children.

Now that another year has passed and my life has moved on with Annalie, I actually feel quite removed from the loss.  It seems like it happened so long ago.  A lot of the details are growing fuzzy, making it feel more like a really bad dream.   Some parts I had forgotten about completely until I reread what I had written before posting it.  The pain and mental/emotional anguish has subsided, and really what is left over are the life lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.  I definitely wouldn't want to go through losing Miri again--that was the hardest thing I've ever experienced--but I've gained so much from having lost her.  I look at things differently.  Annalie has a much better mother than Miri would have had.  It's not that I wouldn't have loved Miri or delighted in her milestones, but I now realize how wonderful and precious and fragile life really is.  I know that it can all go in a blink of an eye, and I am so lucky to get to experience all the blessings that both my girls will give me, and if it wasn't for Miri, I don't know that I would truly in my heart understand this.  Her death caused me to feel such utter sorrow and grief, but without those, I wouldn't have had such an amazing delight in Annalie's life.    Recently, I was talking to a friend about this very thing.  I told her to cherish each pregnancy and all the feelings you have...all the kicks, pains, aches...enjoy your daughter or son and realize that every little thing this child does is just as exciting as your first.  Every milestone is a blessing.  For you, it's not the first time for anything, but it just might be the last time for everything.  And really, the same goes for once that child is born too.  And this wisdom, to me, is priceless.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

My Story--"The Dream That You Wish Will Come True"

I always have mixed feelings about leaving the hospital.  With Whitney, I remember thinking, "They trust me to take care of such a little helpless person?"  And although going home with Whitney was exciting, I wasn't sure I was ready to be home.  Having the safety of the nurses to teach me what to do in each situation was nice and reassuring, but being on my own as a first-time mom was scary.  With Miri, I felt somewhat protected from the real world in the hospital.  It was like a little sanctuary, and once I went home, I'd have a lot of reality to face.  And being wheeled to the entrance of the hospital with no baby in my arms was such a hard thing to go through.  And, similarly this time, I still didn't really want to leave.  This had been such a happy time, I didn't want it to end.  I wasn't scared about raising a baby.  I wasn't heartbroken like last time.  I just was really enjoying all the visitors, all the time to myself to bond with Annalie, and all the sleep!  When it was time to go, I told Andy not to bring the baby carrier up to my room.  I wanted to be wheeled out, holding Annalie.  He asked why, because one way or another, she would have to get in the carrier in order to go home.  And I just told him that last time leaving empty-handed was almost more than I could take, and I really needed to have her this time during that wheelchair ride.  Just thinking about being able to leave with a happy, healthy baby girl in my arms is so wonderful.

On the car ride home, Whitney surprised me with another joyous tearful moment.  Annalie was crying in the back seat, and the amazing big sister that Whitney has become in just a few days time, thought to sing a song to soothe her.  And the song that she picked was from Cinderella, her new favorite movie.  "A dream is a wish your heart makes...".  The line that just got me to the point of tears though, was the last line of the song.  It goes "No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true."  It couldn't have been more perfect.  She is wise beyond her years and such a blessing.  That song now has such a special place in my heart and will always bring me back to that moment--going home as a family after a long, tough, yet wonderful journey.  My dream finally had come true.

My Story--Happy Birthday!

Andy and I both woke up bright and early to shower and get ready for the big day.  As Andy drove me to the hospital, I thought about what my mom had said, and just felt so relieved...I had done it.  I made it through 9 months with her and I kept her alive and healthy.  As we were driving, I realized that the sun was just rising.  It was the dawn of a new day, the dawn of my daughter's birthday, and the dawn of a new phase in my life.  This was the last dawn I would wake up anxious to feel a kick.  It was a beautiful sunrise with shades of pinks and oranges, and one that I won't ever forget.  We checked in, were taken back to a labor and delivery room, and I changed into a gown and was immediately hooked up to a fetal monitor.  I could hear her heart beats, and with that stress gone, I was enjoying seeing how strong my contractions were.  They were coming every few minutes, but they were still just Braxton Hicks, but they were three times stronger than they had been just a few days earlier.  Soon a nurse came in, set up my IV and drew blood (just 3 vials this time).  Then all that was left was watching the clock and waiting.  Andy took a nap.  My mom came around 7:30, and then soon after, it was time to go.  When the anesthesiologist came in the room, she recognized my face, and I remembered her as one of my students from years ago.  One of the nurses in the room told her that I was a math professor, and then she put two and two together, and asked me my maiden name.  When I told her, she immediately said, "I had you twice!"  My husband then got worried--twice because I flunked her, and she'd be sticking a needle in my spine!?!  But actually, that wasn't the case.  She was a good student and just breezed through two different courses of mine.  It was nice to see a happy, familiar face.  And she is one of those people who just lights up a room because of her positive personality and smile.  I was so glad she was with me throughout everything.  Whenever anyone asked me how I wanted Annalie's birthday to go, my answer throughout the whole pregnancy was that I just wanted it to be the "happiest day ever," and her being there helped to make that wish come true.

The last person to come in the room before the operation was my OB.  He asked if I had any questions, but I didn't.  This was my third time with the same surgery.  You could tell he was excited for us and invested in getting a healthy baby and a happy outcome this time.  And right before he left, I remember telling him, "I made it this it's up to you."  He smiled and nodded.

At 8:00, they wheeled me into the operating room, watched me shiver uncontrollably (It was freezing in there!), gave me the spinal, and tried to warm me up while they prepped me for the surgery.  My mom and Andy came in, then my OB, and once everyone was situated, they started.  My OB took his time and was very careful at each step along the way.  It probably took at least 20 minutes to cut through each layer of tissue.  Even the nurses and anesthesiologist were telling me while I was on the table that it's harder to make the incision with scar tissue, so that was why it was taking longer.  I don't know if that is true or if he was just being extra careful, but it did take a while.  And then I was warned that there would be some pressure that would make me feel nauseous and then she would be out.  And sure enough, in just a few seconds, I heard the OB welcome Annalie into the world, and then I heard her cry.  It was the best sound in the world!  I know that every mother thinks that first cry is the best sound, but there was so much riding on this.  All the fear, all the anxiety, all the worry just lifted away in that moment and what was left was pure joy.  She was here.  Finally.  And I felt at peace.  Just a moment later, they brought her around the curtain so I could see her.  And she was perfect.  

They quickly whisked her away to do all their tests--weighing, measuring, etc., and when they announced 7 pounds 10 ounces, I was shocked.  My OB had predicted her to weigh just under 7 pounds.  But once she was cleaned off, they brought her close to me so I could see her better, but it's hard when you are laying flat on your back to see her face.  It took my OB nearly an hour to meticulously sew me back up.  He did everything he could to make sure my scar looked nice and didn't keloid this time.  Once that hour was up and I was wheeled back to the ante-partum room, I finally got to hold her and to look at her.  She looked just like my husband.  And holding her in my arms was so nice.  I had been very patient in the OR watching everyone else get to hold her, cuddle her, kiss her, and finally it was my turn.  I can't even describe how wonderful it was.  Last time, I had that sense of semi-relief when I picked up Miri's ashes and I could at least hold her in a box.  But this time, I had my baby in my arms, and she was alive and healthy, and I was so in love with her.  And it felt like I was finally able to breathe for the first time in 9 months.

I surprised myself at how much I was able to keep my emotions in check in the OR.  I had been through the scene in my mind so much, that I worked through all of it ahead of time (as seems to be my pattern), and I was able to be present in the moment and just enjoy the experience.  With Whitney, I was so drugged and exhausted from labor, that I have almost no memories of her birth, other than I remember telling myself "keep you eyes open...don't fall asleep."  And with Miri, I do remember the surgery, but there was not the happy outcome.  This time, it couldn't have gone any better.  I was awake, alert, and I remember her birth, and the best part was that the OR was filled with joy.  

My mom, on the other hand, was very emotional about her birth.  She teared up, the way I feared I would, and even though she was covered with a mask, I could see it in her eyes just how relieved and happy and excited she was.  She took a video for me, and so I can always go back and play it and hear that first cry, and on the video was her reaction...And it was priceless...All the things I had been thinking and feeling, she expressed, and it was lovely to hear.

In the ante-partum room, my dad, Whitney, and my grandmother came in.  Whitney's first reaction to seeing her sister was adorable.  She said, "Her face is so cute."  And with that, I think she fell in love too.  The nurses checked her vitals again, warmed her up, cleaned her off, gave us some skin-to-skin time, then they suggested that I try to feed her.  Since I couldn't nurse, they brought in a bottle, and Whitney asked if she could feed the baby.  As much as I wanted that "first", I let her do it, and it was so neat seeing her interact with her sister.  In that moment, I learned that no matter how much I wanted to do things, it's just as nice to let Whitney do it, because then I could watch those "first" moments through two sets of eyes--the mommy whose child is doing something new, but also the proud parent of an older sibling delighting in her baby.

With as much happiness and excitement as I was feeling, there was still some concern for Gabby, who was just undergoing her operation as well.  She was never far from my mind, and as the nurses were checking Annalie's vitals in the ante-partum room, I specifically asked them to do a pulse ox test.  Gabby's heart condition should have been detected at birth, if her hospital did that as a standard procedure.  But since it didn't, she went 4 months before it was discovered.  The nurses gladly did it for me, and told me that they'd be doing it again when the pediatrician came, but her level was 100%.  Phew!  Not that I was worried about her having a heart condition, but it was just one more thing that was going right.  Later that afternoon, I got word that Gabby made it through with flying colors, and that meant July 5th was a wonderfully happy day all around.  Both Joy and I will look back on this day remembering it started with nerves and anxiety, but that it ended with a smile on our faces.

After a couple hours in the ante-partum room, I was wheeled to my regular room and I settled in.  That first day, my cousin and her son came to visit, as did the cantor from our temple (also our neighbor).  When he came, we handed him the baby, and his eyes were flooded with tears.  He was so happy for us, that he couldn't contain himself.  And as the days in the hospital passed, we were met with that same reaction from half of our friends and family.  They couldn't help but cry tears of joy and that made the feeling in the room one of pure bliss.  And that was all I really wanted...just to have the happiest experience ever.

On Saturday morning, I was unhooked from all the machines, allowed to eat, and was feeling a whole lot better.  I posted on Facebook my room number and that I was happy to have visitors.  And that day we were flooded with friends and family.  My mom and Whitney had also planned a mini birthday party for Annalie that day.  She got a cake that said "Happy 1/365th birthday!" Whitney wanted lots of decorations, so there were balloons, party hats and necklaces, a Happy Birthday banner, princess paper plates and napkins, etc.  And, while we planned on a small gathering--just my mom, dad, Andy, Whitney, Annalie, and me--we had so many visitors, that her little party turned into a real celebration.  Both of Annalie's great grandmothers showed up.  Some of our friends were there, two of my colleagues came.  All in all, there were 12 people in my room right at her party time plus one FaceTime phonecall.  It turned out to be a wonderful party, full of happiness, laughter, and even complete with lots of baby gifts.  I couldn't stop smiling.  It was just what I had wanted to happen.  I reveled in how happy I was and how happy everyone else was too.  It couldn't have been more perfect.  I left all her decorations up for the rest of my stay just as a constant reminder of  how wonderful it was.  That impromptu party was my favorite memory from the hospital stay.

The next few days were filled with more visitors, and some down time.  Annalie was such a sleepy baby, and I didn't know what to do with her.  Whitney was so alert and fussy right from the start, that I spent most of my time trying to play with her, nurse her, and soothe her.  I didn't really have to do any of that this time.  So I just had fun with her.  I dressed her up.  I took some cute pictures.  I did an art project with her footprints and gave it as a gift to my mom and my OB.  And I did a lot of cuddling.  She was such an easy baby--easy to feed, easy to soothe--I couldn't believe how wonderful she was.  And, what surprised me the most was how calm she was after being so active inside of me.  

My Story--She's almost here...

It's July 2nd.  I am literally 2 1/2 days away from the c-section, and finally over the last two days, I've become ready.  Not just physically ready--I've been big and uncomfortable long enough--but mentally ready as well.  In the last few weeks, I've been fantasizing about the birth, the emotions, the aftermath, and I'm finally able to think about hearing her cry for the first time, seeing her for the first time, holding her, and all the other joys that go along with her birth without breaking down and crying.  I just can't wait for the day.  

I've been having contractions, and you'd think after two c-sections, I'd know what to expect and when it's time to go to the hospital.  But funny enough, I've never gone into labor on my own.  With Whitney, the Cervadil jump-started my labor, and I never started labor with Miri.  It's hard to know whether this is a really strong Braxton Hicks contraction or the real thing. Everyone says you'll know the difference...I'm waiting for that aha moment and waiting to go to the hospital.  I think I've read all the articles online about the signs of impending labor about 5 times each, hoping that it'll start soon, but still nothing.  I'm kind of surprised she's made it this long and I'm starting to wonder if my body even knows how to go into labor.  I can't dilate, so maybe this is something else that won't happen. I'm a bit torn, though...I really want her to be able to stay inside and develop as much as possible, but at the same time, I really want to get the show on the road!

At dinner time on July 4th, I was in shock that I hadn't gone into labor yet, and I realized that her birthday would be tomorrow no matter what.  My mom made me a "last meal" since I knew there would be nothing to eat past midnight tonight until 8:00 on July 6th.  We made arrangements for my daughter to sleep over at their house since Andy and I would be leaving our house at 5:30 in the morning to get to the hospital on time.  The drive home that night was full of excitement and nervousness.  My mom had told me that day that I had done everything possible to make sure she was safe and healthy and had the best chance to make it.  And while hearing that was so nice, there was still trepidation...I told her that there were still 12 more hours that I was responsible for.  Having lost Miri, I knew that there was no reason why she died at 31 weeks.  It could happen at any point, and so until I heard that first cry, I would still be worried.  But she then told me that realistically, as soon as I stepped foot in the hospital, I was no longer responsible for her life--it would be the hospital's job to make sure she was still doing well.  They would be monitoring her and someone would be there right away if she was in distress.  And that knowing that made the ride to the hospital the next morning so much more relieving.

Friday, October 25, 2013

My Story--The Past Can Be The Past

Well, finally some good news came my way.  After discussing my annual evaluation with my department chair twice, I went to the Dean to discuss it with him.  I wrote a thoughtful letter with 10 reasons about why it was unfair to lower my evaluation score due to a FMLA leave.  When I explained the situation to the Dean, without even looking at my letter or past evaluations, he couldn't believe that this was the reason for a low score, told me that it was illegal for my chair to do that, confirmed the illegality with HR, and asked me to please not sue the university.  He said that he'd take care of the situation for me and not to worry.  It was a 3 minute meeting, and with none of the other reasons why I thought it was unfair, he was on my side, and more than that, he said that if it came to a lawsuit, he'd have to testify on my behalf.  I really have no intention on suing anyone.  I just wanted my evaluation to be fair, but it was nice to know that I was right--that having a stillborn should not affect my evaluation or my raise--and that he didn't need to stay neutral and hear both sides before making a decision.  I was proud that I stood up for myself and argued my case, and it felt good that my livelihood at work wouldn't be affected after all because of having a stillborn.  The past can be the past after all.

Now that the school year has ended, I get to finally focus some mental energy on this pregnancy.  July will be here before I know it, but I just have this feeling that she's going to come early.  Everything else in the pregnancy happened early, so why not the birth too?  Every time I think about actually having a baby to hold, tears come to my eyes--tears of happiness and tears of relief that she made it.  It'll be such a miracle.  There's a big part of me that is really worried that I won't be able to hold it together.  If I cry when I see her, that's fine with me.  I've been on a teary-eyed emotional roller coaster for the past year.  But I'm really afraid that it'll start on the operating table when I hear her first cry or they hold her up and I see her for the first time, and she's literally just perfect.  All the repressed anxiety will be over with, and I envision it to be just overwhelming.  And I worry that it'll come out as such a heaving, out-of-control crying that my doctor won't be able to sew me up because my stomach muscles will be moving too much.  Just thinking about seeing her and holding her makes me happy to the point of tears right now.  I don't know how I'll handle the real thing.  I'll be deliriously happy, but probably an emotional wreck at the same time.

At the end of June, I took Whitney on a hospital tour because she was seeming to get nervous about me going into the hospital.  I don't know if it was because she had a subconscious memory of last time, or if too many people in her life had been having surgery recently, and the thought of me doing it was more than she could handle.  So on our tour, they showed us where to check in, the labor and delivery room, the ante-partum room, and a hospital room.  I am so glad I am in a good place mentally dealing with the stillborn, because the labor and delivery room they showed us was the exact room I stayed in after losing Miri.  And walking back in there and seeing everything just as it had been was fine.  It didn't resurface all those awful experiences or all the grief.  I obviously remembered the room, but seeing it again was not a big deal.  I just hope I get a different room when I have Annalie.  The more things that are different, the better!  The rest of the tour was relatively uneventful.  Whitney was fascinated by the wheelchair she saw in the hallway and I explained that I would get to take a wheelchair ride when I left.  She was so excited by that.  They took us by the nursery to see some newborns, although none were in there at that particular moment, and they showed us the waiting room where she would be while I was having the c-section.  It did make her feel better about everything and she became excited to show all the places to her grandpa, who would be with her through everything.  The tour leader also gave her a sticker that read "I'm a BIG sister" to wear on the day when I had the baby.  It was definitely a really good experience for her, and now we all can look forward to our big day.