Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Other Angel

It's the end of September.  Although I don't talk about it as much as I talk of Landon,  if things had been different, I would have been throwing a big first birthday Rainbow baby party, it probably would have been today.  There would have been tons of people here, or in the church fellowship hall, or the firehouse community room, or somewhere.  I would have cooked too much food, made a special cake, overbought presents, and come home dead tired. Instead, we had a nice family day here at home. I fixed burritos with copycat spicy white queso sauce.  We put the girls to bed, took Aidan to the "hot" (warm) tub for a dip, got him to bed, and I'm dead tired. 

  My due date with my first rainbow pregnancy was September 17th or 19th.  I don't remember now.  I feel bad about it, but I just don't.

I was scared to death that morning in January 2010 when I saw those 2 pink lines for the first time since Landon.  There was a living being inside of me, for the first time since he was ripped from my womb.  I was almost hesitant to believe it.  Of course we didn't even wait a day before telling everyone. And I do mean everyone.  We both even posted it on Facebook.  It was so soon after Landon, about 7 months after he was born, that his death was still front and center in everyone's mind.  We got tons of congratulations. 

I remember I went out and bought 2 new maternity tops right away. I believed it was my last pregnancy, I was determined to make the most of it.  I ordered 2 pairs of maternity jean shorts (jorts?) off of eBay.  I had never been pregnant through the dead heat of summer, so I had no shorts.  Two weeks.  Two weeks was how long I got to bask in the glow of new pregnancy.  I went in for my early OB visit, and my doctor wanted me to have an ultrasound that week, for dating purposes. Because I was absolutely not a candidate for vbac, he wanted to be absolutely sure that my dates were right.  My office visit was on Wednesday.  The ultrasound was on Friday.  I of course went online to see what an ultrasound of a 6 week 4 day baby would look like.  He or she should have had a head and tail end and a heart beat.  Friday came. I was excited and scared.  I hopped up on that table, the ultrasound lady who had shown me my other babies was working. 

She started the scan.  Asked me multiple times if I was absolutely sure of my dates.  We were actively trying to get pregnant, I probably could have pinpointed to within an hour of when we conceived! Of course I was sure.   There was no heartbeat, no fetus at all.  Just an empty 4 week sac.  I knew it was over.  But no one else would accept it.  I went for I don't know how many blood draws.  My hcg was rising but not doubling.  I had more ultrasounds that pregnancy than I did with Aidan or Landon.  It never changed, and by the next-to-last one, that little sac was shrinking.  It took two more weeks before I actually miscarried.  It was all through valentine's day. 

I was sad.  But I was still so broken over Landon, that I just didn't have the energy to fall apart over it.  I only cried once.  In the OB office, talking to the midwife.  I asked her why my body kept killing my babies.  She had a heck of a time trying to convince me that the 2 losses were totally unrelated.  As I left she said there was no need to wait, go get pregnant.  It took longer than I thought it would, but get pregnant I did.  And we all know the rest, I have two gorgeous rainbow baby girlies.  Who I wouldn't have, if my September baby had made it. 

After the miscarriage, I discovered a truly amazing online loss support group for older moms.  I've made several true friendships through there, that I also would never have without having lost my little September baby.  I like to think that maybe Landon needed a sibling in Heaven with him. I miss them both, but will see them again someday.  For now, I'll just give my three earth bound angels and their daddy all my love. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

It does affect me.

I can't believe it has been ten years.  It seems like just yesterday, but was a lifetime ago.  I was living in a little one bedroom, furnished apartment, working 12 hour night shifts.  I had worked the night of the tenth, came home that morning, took a shower and went straight to bed.  I slept with a TV on at that point (before kids started sharing my bed and/or room), and kept hearing the words "plane", "crash" "World Trade Center", just over and over.  At that time, I had no idea what the World Trade Center even was, I'm not a city-type person.  I had no concept of how deeply the hatred of Americans runs in other parts of the world.  My biggest concern was how not to enrage my ex husband. 

Those words kept repeating, I thought I was dreaming.  Eventually, the repetition of those words was enough to wake me.  I still remember rolling over, and focusing on the TV, just in time to see one of the towers collapsing.  Once I was awake and coherent, I was piecing together what the news was saying, what was going across the screen.  I figured out that what I had seen was, in fact, real, and that it was a re-play, not live action.  I had slept through the entire attack. 

At first I, being an optimist, thought what a bizarre series of accidents.  I didn't WANT to believe that anyone could have done something so horrendous on purpose.  I didn't WANT to accept that we had been attacked.  On purpose.  But, by the time I headed back into work at 7:00 that evening,  my heart was broken, I had to accept that this was a planned, purposeful attack. 

What went through my mind?  For starters, the evenings when I was in Junior High, watching on TV as Bush, Sr talked about Operation Desert Storm.  I knew in my heart that we were at war again.  It may not have been declared, but it was a war.   Next, I wanted my mom.  Nothing else would do, I wanted my mom, at least to talk to her.  I knew nothing had happened in our little hick town neck of the woods, but I still needed to know she was OK.  She works for the  local school system, and was in class when it happened, but I still needed to talk to her.  I also remember thinking how broken hearted my Popaw would have been, if he had been alive to see it.  He had been dead just  over four months. It's funny the things that ran through my mind along with the fear.  I was actually afraid to head out to work, wondering what more could happen.

I worked in a nursing home, and some of the more lucid residents were very upset, several told about their experiences with Pearl Harbor, wondering if it were the beginning of World War III. 

I don't think I was as heartbroken then about the attacks as I am now, as a mother.  I think I was more numb than anything that day.  I wanted to be in denial about it, but how could I be, when the footage was everywhere. Every channel.  Round the clock.  NO escaping it. 

I remember passing the Speedway gas station on my way in to work, and there was a traffic jam.  Everyone in town was trying to get gas. Everything was in slow motion.

I remember the footage of people jumping out of the towers. That still haunts me.  How terrifying their last minutes on earth must have been.  How horrible, that they chose to jump to their deaths rather than face the inferno inside those buildings.

I remember what a perfect, clear, beautiful day it was, the sort of day you savor as you know you're headed fast into the winter months.  The sky was so blue here that day, as it looked on TV in New York.  I kept thinking, in my confused wonderings, "How can this be real?  It's such a pretty day.  How can this be happening on such a perfectly sunny day?"  Like, bad things should only happen on cold, rainy, foggy, gloomy days or something.

As time passed, and the numbness, the shock, wore off, other things occurred to me. Thousands of moms lost their kids.  Kids lost their parents.  Wives lost husbands, husbands lost wives. Sisters lost brothers.  Everyone who died was loved by someone, there was someone to mourn each and every life lost.  We, as a country mourned,  but imagine having lost your best friend, your lover, the father of your children, having to raise those kids alone, and explain to them what happened.    Someone, some group of someones, did that to us.  On purpose. Dammit, on purpose.

Now, as a mom, I'm faced with knowing that the day is coming that I will have to explain to Aidan, to Rebekah, to Gracie, exactly what happened on that day in September 2001.  A good friend of mine was faced with that this very year, she has a first grader and a kindergartner.  She just gave them the bare bones version of it, but even that is scarier than any ghost tale they may hear at a campout.  This is real, and was done ON PURPOSE.

I've seen some really disturbing opinions today.  People saying they just don't care. Because it doesn't affect them.  Saying that we, as a country, are making too big a deal of it.  We need to just leave it alone, why are we dedicating a whole day to something that happened ten years ago.  That line of thought sickens me.  I am very proud to live in America. I'm proud of my home, of my town, of my state, of my country.  I love what America has always represented, I love the very thing our attackers hate,  our Freedom.

If you live in America, if you're an American, then 9/11 DOES affect you, whether you want to believe it or not.  Even though I was no where near any of the attacks or carnage, I was attacked that day. So were you.  So was your neighbor, so was the man on the street, the cashier at the grocery store, the old woman in the nursing home, the baby being born.  America, our way of life, our security and stability, was attacked.  Those who DID die that day and in the days following, they DESERVE to be honored, remembered, prayed for. The survivors, who lost someone they loved, deserve our prayers, our recognition. 

I have a friend who is a widow now.  No, her husband didn't die on 9/11.  He died in August of 2010 in Afghanistan.  Her kids have to go to a grave to visit Daddy.  My first crush, a guy who was at my 6th grade camp as a counselor, was one of the first local boys killed in the war that was sparked by these attacks. 

Our way of life has changed in so many ways.  Just traveling by plane has become an ordeal.  The security measures are in place for a reason, and I'm glad of it, but I wish there was no need for such drastic measures.  Gas prices are up.  The economy is in the toilet.  People have lost hope in the American Dream. All because a group of terrorists attacked US.  On purpose. 

There've been other American tragedies.  Pearl Harbor.  Katrina, and most recently Joplin.  My heart breaks for all of those lost, but 9/11 was just different.  Yeah, death is death is death.  But.  Pearl Harbor, God, that was bad.  Of course I don't remember it, but reading about it, visiting the Memorial,  all of that really hurt my heart.  However, those killed, they were enlisted. They were attacked in a war, they were pretty well informed of the risks.  I don't think for a minute that what I've just said makes their deaths any less tragic.  However,  innocent civilians were targeted and killed on 9/11.  Not as an act of war, but as an act of terror.  All those people did was go to work. That's it.  And never came home.

Katrina and Joplin were acts of nature.  Horrible, scary acts of nature.  People died, the damage and destruction was devastating.  But, what makes the attacks on 9/11 so much more frightening to me, is that there was a human being behind them.  A person, with a mother and a father, not only planned this, but executed it as well.  How sick, depraved, evil, must a person be to even imagine doing something like that?  And then to organize enough equally evil, depraved, sick people to execute it?  That, my friend, scares me.  Until that September day ten years ago, I had so much faith in humanity, I believed that most people are good.  Then that innocence was stolen.  I still want to believe that most people are good people, but now I know that true evil really exists, and I am a target, as are all Americans.  Just for being American.  Yes, it affects me.

Do I let that affect how I live my life?  Not really.  I pray a lot, for my safety, for the safety of my loved ones, I pray for our leaders, for our soldiers.  I still enjoy life. I love my husband, our kids, my mom, my family.  

I think that September 11 should be a National Holiday.  A day to remember and mourn what we've lost.  A day to be with family, to rejoice in what we haven't. 

Also, we should all take time to thank a service man or woman for what they do to defend our way of life.  We take so much for granted, but really, how hard is it to say those 2 words? Thank. You. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Chances worth Taking

It is hard for us to take chances.  When you've been hurt by something, it's hard to open yourself up to that same sort of hurt again.

I've mentioned before that Larry is my second husband.  The first one was just bad.  He wouldn't work, he'd lie about working for weeks, til I would really push about where the paycheck was.  He was abusive, mentally, emotionally, and physically.  He had me so emotionally dead, that I didn't care about anyone or anything by the time we finally split up.  I had no self esteem, he had convinced me that I was so worthless no one would ever want me.  I had a miserable excuse for a life.  It was bad.  I  wasn't even allowed to wear make-up.

When we split, I hated myself. I hated men.  I hated everything.  Hate was eating me from the inside. 

I swore I'd never let that happen to me again.  It was a lot of work getting past all of that.  A lot of work.  I figured the only way to keep it from happening again, was to never get into any sort of long term commitment again.  That worked well for me for a while.

After a couple of years of that, I realized that I was lonely and unfulfilled. I hadn't stopped wanting to have kids,  not at all.  But, I didn't want the husband to go with it.  But I also didn't want to be a poor single mother.  And, we would have been poor.  I made enough to support myself, but it wouldn't have been any sort of life for a child.  I slowly felt myself becoming more open to a second marriage.  Slowly.  I surely wasn't rushing into anything.

I started dating people I might be serious about.  But for one reason or another, it just didn't work out with any of them.  Til I met my Larry.  Marrying him was the biggest leap of faith I'd ever taken up til that point.  Thank God, things worked out, and I'm so happy with him.  He's NOTHING like the first one, at all. He's so good to me.  We rarely fight.  I live my life to be a good wife for him, and he strives to be a good husband.  I feel  like I'm right where I'm supposed to be.  I'd take every minute of the bad years of my first marriage a hundred times, if I knew he'd be waiting for me on the other side of it. That was most certainly a chance worth taking.

I worked in nursing homes my whole adult life, until right before I had Aidan.  I had worked at one early on in my career, and it was a miserable experience.  Add that into the miserable home life, and all I had of the place was bad memories.  Several years later, I decided I needed a job switch, and the place was hiring, offering the wages I wanted and the hours I preferred.  So, I went and applied, was hired on the spot.  I ended up loving it the second time,  and worked there for nearly 3 years before quitting to become a stay at home mom.  That was another chance worth taking.

Then came Landon.  Nothing in my life has ever hurt me as badly as seeing him so sick, so lifeless, and then watching him die.  I pray daily, several times daily, that I never have to feel THAT kind of hurt again.  He was born dying.  As badly as I wanted him to live, as hard as I pushed doctors and nurses and specialists to make him live, we knew he was dying.  It still hurts.  It will always hurt.

At his funeral Larry's aunt blatantly asked if I was able to have more kids.  She was just the first to ask, it was asked a lot more times, and in different ways over the next year or so. Of course I was able, but how could I ever do that again?  How could I take that chance? How could I give my heart that freely, that completely, again, knowing how things  could end?   

I won't lie.  I WANTED to try again.  I WANTED, craved, needed another baby.  Not to replace Landon, but to complete my family.  I never intended for Aidan to grow up as an only child.  Larry had already decided on the day Landon was born that we would, in fact, try again, as soon as I was ready. He told me that night that he had a strange feeling we would have twins, a boy and a girl.  He was half right.

I was so scared to think of being pregnant again.  The idea of pregnancy, for me, had been soured and tainted by the worst pain of my life.  I know I had Aidan, who was perfect, a perfect pregnancy and delivery,  but it was so hard to think about that when all I could focus on was what happened to Landon.  The doctor who delivered Landon, and the doctor that I saw for all of my OB visits, both were really encouraging in their outlook for me to have another baby.  They both promised me that I'd be watched really closely and would be delivered immediately if any problems were detected.  What killed Landon would have been found by ultrasound or non-stress test.  I really think that late ultrasounds and non-stress tests should be routine in all pregnancies, but that's my soapbox.

So, we were told to wait six months to try, and we did.  By December, the 6 month mark, I was pretty ready.  As ready as I'd ever be.  We found out in January of 2010 that I was pregnant.  I was scared to death.  I wanted to be happy. I think I was happy, briefly. By the time I had fully accepted that I really was pregnant, I was miscarrying.  You'd think that would have made me even more hesitant to try again, two losses in a row.  But, I'll be honset.  I was sad, but not devastated, the way I would have been if I had miscarried without ever losing a full term infant.  That miscarriage pushed me to an almost obsessive determination to have another baby.  After I was cleared to try again, I was like a madwoman.  I spent a small fortune on ovulation tests, pregnancy tests, basal body thermometers.  I would take pregnancy tests every single month, whether I had any symptoms or not.  Month after month of negatives. 

I was starting to get angry. In addition to the sadness.  Landon's first birthday came and went.  The anniversary of his death.  Praying, pleading, for a chance to have another baby of my own.  Scared to death of the pregnancy,but still praying for it nonetheless. 

I was so scared of being pregnant again, but so scared of never being pregnant again.  I felt like I was going crazy.   Also wondered if I was cheating Landon, was my obsession with getting pregnant again overtaking the grief?  A good friend of mine from an online loss group said that her doctor told her, "You're going to grieve whether you're pregnant or not. I see no reason to wait."  And it is true, being pregnant didn't take a thing away from Landon, any more than it took away from Aidan.  There's room in my heart to store love for all my kids, grief for Landon, hope for the future, all of it. 

So, when I finally did get pregnant, I knew something was different.  Figured it was a multiple pregnancy.  Don't know exactly why, but I knew in my heart it was twins before that ultrasound.  For one thing, my bloodwork came back with off-the-charts high numbers.  But even without that, I think I knew it.

When it was confirmed by ultrasound, I was still shocked.  Shocked that the pregnancy was even viable.  And then the fear set in. I was so afraid the entire time I was pregnant.  I don't think I ever fully relaxed.  When I'd talk about the babies, I would say, "If they're born healthy"  or "If they're ok".  It was never "When the twins are born."  Even the night before my c-section, I was full of "if's". 

Then they were born.  And it was amazing.  Hearing each of their first cries, when Landon never made a sound.  Holding them without any tubes or wires attatached.  Being able to nurse them, burp them.  Seeing them poop like they were supposed to.  TAKING THEM HOME.  All of that was so precious to me.  Now, today, they turn five months old.  And they're still amazing me every single day.  They're rolling and laughing so much. So funny.  Their brother is their favorite plaything.  And he loves them so much. 

Definitely a chance worth taking.  I'd do it all over again. No regrets.


Gracie again.  This picture smacked me in the face with how fast they're growing up!

This picture of my sweet Rebekah makes me want to go get her out of bed just to kiss that  mouth.

And, for good measure, here's big brother, in the outfit he picked out for himself, celebrating the end of Summer!