June 28, 2014

Identity Crisis

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So I'm having an IDENTITY CRISIS.  The definition of IDENTITY CRISIS is a period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person's sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society (Thanks Google!)

I find myself in a situation where I have no idea who I am anymore.

Spoiler alert, this blog may contain examples of how well I am NOT doing sometimes, it's not all strength and hope over here, you know;)  I may sound bitter, I am apologizing ahead of time for that. I'm all about being real here, you know that!

Anyways.  A few weeks ago I was pregnant, in my second trimester.  I was thinking about spending my summer in the shade, sipping lemonade, planning and decorating a nursery, and growing bigger by the day.

Well, life slapped us in the face and that is no longer true.

When I thought ahead about work in the fall, it was all about who was going to sub for me, and getting ready to hand over all my lessons and groups and kiddos to someone else.  I was planning on being out of work, taking care of a baby, from around October to Christmas.  I was excited to have that time off with my family, during the holidays.

Nope, life slapped us in the face.

I never bought any summer clothes this year, I only bought maternity stuff, or a things a few sizes bigger because I knew I wouldn't fit into anything as my belly grew.  None of my new stuff fits me well anymore.


I was ready to join the ranks of woman all over who have big round baby bellies.  Now my belly is back to it's normal size.  I was ready to have an October baby, October is my favorite month!!  Nope, not anymore.  I actually dread October now...


I get so angry at any pregnant woman I see right now.  No, no, not really.  But I am immensely jealous of them.  Terribly jealous.  I'm not usually a jealous person.  My life is usually really, really great.  I just wish I was pregnant still.  They all walk around (seemingly) blissfully unaware of how easily it can change...like it did for me.


Ok, alright.  I get it.  Life changes.  We have to adapt and change with it.   This whole, huge, beautiful life that I was preparing for is no longer happening.  I can shop for and wear normal clothes.  I can get a tan.  I can drink wine.  I can count on a whole year of work and pay during the 2014-2015 school year.  Am I happy about all this?  No.  Not at all.  I'd rather have the baby back, actually, thanks.  But it's happening this way, and I have to get used to it.  There are people who may think, "geez Tina, just get over it already!"

I am trying to get over it!!  I am trying to figure this all out.  Only now, I am just not sure of who I am?  I'm terrified to be normal.  I'm terrified to be alone.  I'm terrified driving by the hospital.  I'm terrified going out...to Target or the grocery store.  What if I see someone I know?  How do I explain this crisis I am going through?  Who will be the first to ask me how the pregnancy is going?  Or, if they haven't heard and they realize I am NOT pregnant anymore, who will be the first to ask what happened?

Before we got pregnant, life was good!  But...It's not like I can just snap and POOF, everything goes back to pre baby life.  I wouldn't want to anyways because as terrible as all this is, I can't forget about my pregnancy or Jackson, or Lily.  They were such a huge part of my life and who I am now.

But why can't I just be myself anymore?  I guess I am just not ME anymore.  I'm this whole new person.  With a whole new story, and possibly a whole new view on life and what my purpose is!  I am not Tina anymore.  But I am.

I guess part of this is just the grief?  After a few more weeks or months, things will be normal and parts of me and my life will be familiar again.  Right?  But I know there are parts of me and my life that will never be the same.  Everything is all shaken up and I am not sure what it will look like when it settles down again.  That worries me.  I was always a person who know who she was, knew want she wanted, and felt confident.  I am not that person anymore.

Identity crisis....

Yesterday Dave & I went to this great vintage sale near our home, and as we walked in SLAP - there was everything and anything I wanted to decorate Jackson's nursery.  I couldn't get over all the perfect items that were in there that fit our theme better than I could have imagined, I left in tears...

Today mom and I went to BJ's and parked next to the spot that said "Moms with Infants" SLAP - the last time we parked near there we talked about how we would be using that spot soon.  I didn't cry, but I wanted to...

Last night we were at the hospital and SLAP I looked up and saw that someone was in my room where I gave birth, room 14, and I wondered if they were going through what I went through and I ached to be up there with them if so...

On our OBX vacation in a few weeks, I can drink, and swim in the ocean, and ride bikes, and actually go on a jet ski...but it's all a slap in the face.  I have to re-plan...

I'm really trying.  I promise.  Everyday there are little tiny victories.  I do laundry.  Or I carry something heavy.  Or I go out on my own.  Or I just get out of bed.  I am trying.

I have to figure out who I am again.  I have to figure out where I fit in the world again.  I have to figure out what my purpose in life is now.  I have to find motivation to get stuff done.   I have to learn how to be around people again.  It's so weird.  All these things that I never had to worry about before.

I'm praying very hard for Jesus to help me figure all this stuff out.  He reminds me everyday that this whole situation doesn't define who I am, it just fits into who I am already.  I don't really get that, but He is helping me.

I guess my goal right now is just to feel, and heal.  Feeling is part of the process, and I need to cry and scream and think and remember and get used to who I am now that this has happened.  I can't push the process, I can't make it go any faster or slower, and there is no right or wrong way.  It just has to happen.

All the while I have to keep living.  I have to keep taking steps to get back to a different but normal life.  Each day I try to set a new goal.  Sometimes the goal is to shower.   Sometimes the goal is to go out because I know Dave needs to get out of the house.  Sometimes its to unload the dishwasher or vacuum the bedroom.   Sometimes it's letting Dave go to work.  I am hoping, after a while, these little goals that I make for myself will turn into normal life again, and my goals will be something bigger, something meaningful again.  I hope!

Writing about it all helps me figure it all out, so thanks for listening to me rant;)  I know life can be beautiful again, I know that it already is, so I am working hard to see it and appreciate it and get on with it again...

June 26, 2014


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There are so many things in life that I want answers to, but I know there's a good chance I'll never get them.  This is one of those things...
When everything started happening with Jackson two weeks ago, I wanted answers.  That Wednesday morning, when we heard the news that would shatter our lives, of course one of the first things that popped into our minds was "WHY?!"
Why did this happen?  What went wrong?  What did I DO??  
When Dr. Bellantoni came in to my room after we were admitted and started talking to me about the whole situation in his sweet & caring way, he started off with this...

"I can guess what is going through your head.  You have 3 questions right now.  1.  Why did this happen?  2.  What is going to happen next here at the hospital?  and 3.  What about the future?"
Of course, he's been through this before, and understands moms like me...we want answers.  He was ready to help me understand.
As for #1 - why, he said we may never know for sure.  His best guess at that point, on that day, a mere 2 hours after we had heard the news and checked into the birthplace, was that the few bad things that had happened in my pregnancy were signs.  Starting off with a multiple (twin) pregnancy, there was always a risk.  Something probably went wrong with the placenta attaching.  A huge red flag was that our one twin, little Lily, didn't make it.  That could be the reason.
Another answer could be the SCH, or subchorionic hemorrhage.  I started bleeding at 15 weeks, and never stopped.  The bleeding got better, but all the way up until that week, there was still brown blood.  Old blood, I thought it was.  Now, thinking back, I think I may have been leaking fluid, but I just thought it was part of the SCH clearing up, so I thought nothing of it.  Shoulda, coulda, woulda.   It was just a series of unfortunate "events"... all of these things happened to me, and that the order of it all happening couldn't be avoided.  I had been leaking something for 6 weeks at that point, everyone said it was normal with a hemorrhage and it was to be expected.   Anyways, a SCH can weaken things with the baby, and can lead to pre-term labor.  There's just a very small chance of that happening.
Chances.  I have thought about chances and percentages and numbers a lot with this pregnancy.  We know that at least 1 in 4 or about 25% woman experience pregnancy loss, which includes miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss.  There is also around a 25% chance of losing a baby before 12 weeks, these miscarriages happen most often.  1 in 160 pregnant woman will experience stillbirth.  It is considered "stillbirth" if you are past 20 weeks.  About 3% of woman experience pre PROM (premature rupture of membranes before 37 weeks).  3.3% of all pregnancies result in fraternal twins.  30% of twin pregnancies can result in Vanishing Twin Syndrome.  The What to expect website says that more than half the women that bleed during pregnancy go on to have healthy babies.
Well, it's not a secret that I defy the odds.  Just reading those numbers up there - I fell into the short hand of all of them!  We had twins.  I did "miscarry" with a vanishing twin.  I did bleed with the SCH and we did not end with a healthy baby.  My water did break.  I did experience stillbirth.  Can we catch a freaking break, please?  I think that is why Dave and my mom and most of my friends and family were SO sure that Jackson would be ok. They believed we had met our quota of "bad stuff" happening.  Well, let me tell you, unfortunately,  there is no quota.
This past Tuesday, we had our follow up appointment with Dr. Bellantoni.  I was terrified.  Not only did I have to go back to the very OB office that I had been to plenty of times with hope and dreams of our precious baby, an office where there were tons of woman with beautiful baby bellies (my 23 week belly would have been so round and sweet by now too, I was just starting to show at 5 months), an office where we found out the worse news of our lives...I also was terrified of what the answer could be.  We were about to discuss the WHY of it all.  Did I do something wrong?  Was there an infection we should have known about?  Did my blood work show some terrible, irreversible problem with me?  Would he tell us that we shouldn't try again?  I was having a mild panic attack the whole morning, and very, VERY close to tears in the car and waiting in that office.  Dave was nervous too, but I think he feared for my sanity that whole time.  I may have been shaking.  I kept thinking about those terrible days a few weeks ago, about the birth center down below us, where we walked in knowing what we would have to do and how it would all end.
Dr. Jon came in and was as nice as ever.  He asked us how things were going, was very understanding and explained everything that he could.  My placenta report came back with nothing.  We chose not to have the autopsy done on Jackson, he was so tiny and had already been through so much, I know he was already gone but I just couldn't do it.  Doc had told us that it wouldn't have given any answers that would change what happened or the future.  So we left it.  He did order a ton of blood tests on me while I was admitted, the full panel plus checking for disorders like Lupus and blood diseases.  All labs looked ok.  No infections, no cord problems, nothing that we could really see.  There were no answers there.  
But, as he told us, no answers are actually good answers.  It seems that the twin pregnancy is the best reason to go on right now, which in light of everything, can be good news.  It means that going forward, it's "probable" that it won't happen again.  Probable.  We know now that in life, there are no definites.   There is no threshold of heartache that we can reach and feel safe.  Could it happen again?  Absolutely.  God help us all.

In my case, it seems as though the placenta just didn't "velcro" the correct way, which lead to the weakening of everything, which probably led to my water breaking.  The SCH probably didn't help either.  Without the fluid, at 21 weeks, he couldn't survive and sure enough, his tiny heart stopped beating.  Just a few short weeks more, and it could have been different...but I try not to think in what ifs, because I could drive myself crazy...

Anyways, in all of these "non-answers"; I actually did find some peace.  Some relief.  I didn't do anything to cause this, and there wasn't anything happening with Jackson that we could have fixed.  It just wasn't meant to be.  He wasn't made for this world.  How can I argue with God for taking him, when He wanted him to be there instead of here?  I can't.  

As for question #2, what happened next with the birth and all that happened those few days, I still can't write about that.  Not just yet.  

Question #3, the future...that is something I can talk about.  In the future there is HOPE, and I am clinging to HOPE so desperately right now.
  When we were in the hospital, all I could think about was how I needed to go back on birth control, asap.  I didn't want to go through this again.  We even talked to Dr. Jon about it, as I went into induced labor and thought about going forward with life after this, he tried to talk us out of any major decisions.  He said that we should wait until our postpartum visit, yes - even with a stillbirth there are tons of "postpartum" things I would need to handle - to make any decisions.  He didn't want us to be too hasty in deciding anything just then.  He was right.  Docs usually are.

By the time our appointment rolled around this past Tuesday, my thoughts changed.  Now, I want to get pregnant again.  ASAP.  I want a baby in my arms that I can KEEP in my arms.  Not to replace Jackson, not to rid me of my beautiful but terrible memories of my time with him, but because this whole process has showed me just how much I want to be a MOM.  Of course, I wanted to be a mom with Jackson & Lily, it hit me immediately after reading that "YES+".  Our pregnancy wasn't planned (it wasn't avoided either, we were ready if it happened) and while it was a shock and a change to get used to, we were excited.  Now, with that whole future swept away from me, I want it more than ever.  I've written about my feelings towards having kids before, in my whole life I was never one of those women who just wanted to be a mom.  I am an ambitious soul, I love work and school and doing something that makes a difference for others.  Well, forget all that now.  I just want to be a mom.  It's all I want.  That's a big change for me.  

On Tuesday, Doc gave us the go-ahead.  We should wait a cycle or two,  just for mechanical get-back-to-normal reasons, but he doesn't see any reason why we should wait to try again, or to get other tests done.  I think he, almost as much as we do, wants to see us with a happy, healthy baby.  Even with the diabetes, (I was diagnosed with probable gestational or Type 11 diabetes at week 8 of the pregnancy and put on insulin) we don't have to wait.  My endo doctor told me to stop all insulin for now, just to see what my sugars do postpartum, and almost immediately the sugars went back to normal.  My A1C isn't high enough to be of concern at all, and thankfully all my docs assured us that the diabetes did not in anyway cause this tragedy to happen, it barely warrants being called diabetes anyway.

I've promised myself, and Jesus, and my family, and whoever else that cares, that I won't torture myself with the whys and what-ifs and how-would-it-have-beens.  As much as I can help it.  There's just no changing the fact that this terrible thing has happened to us.  There is nothing I can do to bring them back.  I have to trust that God knows what He is doing in me, in us, and move forward.  It's very hard to move forward, but I will do it.  I have to.  I am not strong enough, but Jesus is.

I would do anything to have Jackson & Lily here with me now, safe in my belly or in my arms, but again...I can't be mad at God for taking them, because I know that forever, they are safe and they are loved.  Who better to take care of them then all of our family that have gone before us, but most of all our loving God who cherishes them even more than we do.

So now our hope is for a rainbow.  A rainbow baby is the baby you conceive and carry to term, healthy, after a loss.  It's the rainbow after the storm.  I am aware of how anxious being pregnant again will probably make me, but I am willing to risk it, risk another loss, just to try.  It's what I want, it's what I feel is right, and is what I hope will happen!  If you need something to do to help us feel better, it's prayers to heal in the best way we can, prayers to be ready, to be successful in carrying a baby to term, and to not worry as much the next time around.  Pray that, if God chooses to make us endure this again, it won't break us.  But most of all...

Pray for our RAINBOW.

June 22, 2014

God is not done with me...

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My dear friends,

Of course, I want to blog about it all.  I really do.  I just can't bring myself to type it all out.  Not just yet at least.  But I will, oh I will.  I feel like I NEED to, like it is a calling that I just can't ignore.  I have to get Jackson's story out there, for me...for you...and for all the other moms out there whose babies are not here anymore.  I've lived through two whole days of not crying, and I want to keep it that way for now.  If I tell you his story, I'll cry.  I know that crying is ok, and it's part of the process, but when I can hold myself together, however loosely that is, I like to keep it that way.  I know the blinding-can't-breathe pain will be back for me soon.  Maybe I can write about him then.

It's not a secret that throughout my whole pregnancy I couldn't get excited.  Not like other pregnant moms, I was happy and I was so ready, but there was always something holding me back.  I could barely talk about it outside my family.  It felt like it wasn't happening to me.  I felt like a fraud.  Who knows why that is?  Maybe God was preparing me?  Maybe, somewhere in the depths of my soul, I knew how this would end?  I just don't know.  But I couldn't get to a place where I felt safe, I couldn't get excited, and I certainly couldn't write about it.  The few times I told our baby stories on this blog, they were stories of fear and pain and anxiety, and how God was working IN us and hopefully THROUGH us during those 5 precious months.  I couldn't bring myself to write about anything else either.  Two weeks ago, I almost posted about our gender reveal party, and our plans for the nursery...and now I am so glad I didn't.  I feel like a fool, and that would have made me feel even more foolish.  I had dared to hope that after week 20 I was "safe".  Now I know, we are never safe.  Life is so fragile, and it can be taken away so fast, even before we are actually born.

Our baby was LOVED, is still LOVED..  Both of our babies are LOVED.  I can't even begin to describe the LOVE I have for Jackson.  And for Lily.  Yes, we named Baby A 'Lily'.  We talked about her for a while, not broadcasting the name or the fact that we don't even know that she was a girl, but the name has been in my heart since we found out she was gone at 8 weeks, and that is how I have been quietly mourning her since.  After we were told she didn't have a heartbeat, we managed to hold ourselves together, for Jackson, knowing that we still had one healthy baby growing, but now with the loss of Jackson, the pain of her loss has magnified.  I keep thinking...

I am a mom.  I have two children.  Two babies.  Neither one of those babies are here on Earth anymore.  But I am a mom.  

Isn't that weird?  I've joined so many 'clubs' in the past few months.  The pregnant club.  The twin club.  The loss of a twin club.  The mom club.

And the club that no one ever wants to be a part of, the "that can't happen to us" club - the stillbirth club.

Ugh.  Stillbirth...born sleeping...I hate all those words.  Yet they are etched into my life forever.  Along with memories of pain and pushing and him...memories I want to forget yet never want to let go of all at the same time.

God is working in me.  I know that He is.  I know that He is my hope and my strength right now.  He has given me permission to cry and scream and grieve in ways I have never imagined.  He has told me it is ok to BE MAD at him.  I am not mad at Him, although plenty of my family and friends are.  I just don't understand Him.  Part of me is so flattered that He thinks I can handle this type of life crushing situation.  Part of me is just wondering why it had to happen this way, this late in the game, or at all.  I know I won't ever understand.  I am not OK with that, but that is OK.

I guess my hope through all of this is that our story can speak to others, can help others, and can give us and others hope.  A dear old friend wrote us a beautiful card this past week, and his words couldn't be more true..."your love for him existed, a truth that can never be undone.  That shared loved was part of the world, and it changed the world and I, for one, am grateful for it."

How beautiful is that?  If our love for Jackson, and Lily for that matter, can be part of the world and change it...that is something I can hang on to.  That means it all wasn't for nothing.  There is a purpose, a meaning behind this terrible thing that has happened to us.  I can do something with that.

I know it's hard to figure out what to say to us right now.  I know it's hard to hear about our pain and struggle.  I hesitate to even share or write about it.  But that doesn't seem right.  I can't just sweep it all under the rug in fear of people not wanting to hear a sad story.  Jackson's story demands to be heard, it is screaming at me from the very core of who I am.  I promise him every day I will tell it.  I just need to be ready.  It has to be right.  Right now, I am comfortable staying in bed and reading Harry Potter and keeping it all to myself.  But I know it can't be that way forever.  I have to live it and feel it and grieve him and then do it all over again.  And again.  And I will.  But not just yet...

Our family and friends have been awesome.  Supportive and wonderful.  Dave has been a rock for me, he grieves too of course, but he has been keeping up with our house and regular life things and convincing me to get out of bed for this or that, and it helps.  All of it helps.  Each day I wake up helps.  I know God isn't done with us, He is not done with me...

Thank you for all the support and prayers, and like I have told everyone, please keep them coming.  I am not afraid to ask for them, because I know we really need them right now.