Friday, April 30, 2010

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Four years ago today...

...was the last day of Cora's life.  I woke up in the morning and when I stood up I realized that I could breathe.  I walked into the bathroom, and sure enough, my belly was noticeably lower.  I could fit my hand flat between my breasts and the top of my belly, and most of my other hand too.  I had random contractions throughout the morning, but nothing definite, and nothing regular.

Everyone at church noticed, and there was a buzz of excitement during the women's group meeting.  Everyone smiled and giggled and was excited for me.  Everyone asked "So how are you feeling?"  My neighbor's mother was there, saying "See, I knew it would be soon!  I bet you go into labor tonight."

I had to work that evening.  It was a closing shift, 5pm-12am.  I decided being on my feet for all that time could only help things along, so this time I was almost excited to go to work.  Almost.

All throughout my shift, I kept feeling like I was "dripping" and I was worried I was losing amniotic fluid.  In reality I think I was losing pieces of my mucus plug.

Cora was active during her active time, wasn't the same.  I had a sort of foreboding and I was worried, but I couldn't pinpoint about what.  A coworker (and good friend) of mine came in to get soda, candy, and rent a movie.  I told her that I was worried, and she offered to take the rest of my shift so I could go up to the hospital.

I said, "No, I think we'll just wait until morning and see what happens."

Someone once asked me what my biggest parenting regret so far was.  It was those words, that sentiment.  She was still alive when Bree offered to take my place.  She wasn't the next morning.  I'm fairly certain Cora was dying as Bree and I were talking.  Her movements had been weak and slow, almost sluggish.  Right about that time, Cora pushed hard against my ribs, and that was the last thing I remember feeling.  I felt reassured at the time, but thinking back on it....*sigh*  It got busy right after that, the just-before-closing rush, and then the mad flurry of activity of cleaning up so we could get home.  I was so tired by the time I got home (at nearly 1am) that I went straight to bed without thinking about anything.

Thanks to my epiphany yesterday, I can't say my ignorance killed her.  But I think there were a few crucial pieces of information I was missing that could have saved her life.  First off was knowing she was wrapped up in her umbilical cord.  Looking back on the ultrasounds at 23 weeks, it's quite obvious she was wrapped in her cord even then.  But, not being an ultrasound technician, I didn't know what I was looking at.  Not until after the fact.  If I had known, I wouldn't have adopted that wait-and-see attitude.
The second piece was kick-counting.  If I had been told about kick-counting and the proper way to do them, I think I would have realized what was wrong with Cora's movements.  She was active yes, but I don't think she was as active as her normal. I really wish I had been doing them.

Instead, though, I didn't know.  And I couldn't save her.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A great line from a TV show

I don't know, maybe it's because I'm at that point where I'm reliving everything over and over that this hit me so hard.

I'm watching an episode of the TV show Mercy. Veronica is a nurse who did a medical tour in Iraq (or Afghanistan?). She's talking to her therapist about all the people who died in her care, and how she can't help but feel like it's her fault because she couldn't do enough.
The therapist says "You're just going to have to let it go."
Veronica shakes her head and then says "But, I can't help but thinking 'what if.'"
And the therapist says "That is how you go crazy."

She made the really great point that the kids who died didn't die because of her and what she couldn't do. They died because of the war. They died because of the bullet holes.

Cora didn't die because of what I couldn't do. She died because of a cord accident.

It was NOT my fault.

edited to add another one. "Sometimes you do everything that you can, and you still get a bad outcome. That's just how it is sometimes."

Saturday, April 29, 2006

I woke up Saturday morning feeling fabulous.  I seriously felt better than I had since becoming pregnant.  I spent some time in the afternoon sitting outside on a blanket reading, just enjoying the weather.  It had been a long winter and having warm dry weather was wonderful.

My upstairs neighbor's mother had come to visit her.  Her mother was a labor and delivery nurse, and when I told her that I felt so good she told me she'd expect me to go into labor within the next couple of days.  I didn't know if I believed it but she swore up and down that it was common to get a "second wind" right before labor.

A friend of mine had told me that they were having a girly movie get-together at her apartment that afternoon, so when the time came I walked over to her place.  The short walk over had brought the shooting pains back and nausea came crashing in on me.

When I arrived at my friend's house, to my surprise it wasn't a girly movie but rather a baby shower.  I was touched, really touched.  I hadn't expected a baby shower because I had no family nearby, and just a few friends.  Well, 4 of those friends decided that 4 was enough and my baby deserved a party to celebrate her.  I don't think that they will ever know how much I appreciated it then, and now much I do now.  She may not have lived to her birth, but she was loved and celebrated just like any other.

One of them, not sure who, asked me how I was feeling.  I answered, "I almost don't care about the baby, I just don't want to be pregnant anymore."  No other sentence I've ever said has ever haunted me like that one.  3 days later I wasn't pregnant anymore, but had no baby.  I got my wish.  As much as I can tell myself that those words had nothing to do with her death, it still hurts to remember them coming from my mouth.  I just remind myself that that pregnancy was so difficult and it was the physical hardship speaking those words.  Of course I wanted my baby.  I would have been pregnant for months longer if it meant I could have taken her home alive.

But it hurts so much that I said that at all.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Friday, April 28, 2006

Four years ago today...

...I was sure I was going to go into labor.  37w5d.  We had gone 30 minutes to Idaho Falls to the wedding reception of a friend of Matt's.  I was very uncomfortable the whole time, and on the drive home I started having shooting cervical pains.  They were so bad that I was pushing up from my seat of car instinctively in reaction to the pressure.

When we arrived home I went immediately to bed because I was so carsick and so uncomfortable.  Part of me was hoping that if I went to bed I'd wake up in labor.

Unfortunately that wasn't the case.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Four years ago today...

...was my last OB appointment.  I was 37w3d.  My parents would be in Utah, a mere 3 1/2 hours away, for my older brother's graduation that weekend.  I asked my OB about the possibility of inducing so that they could come up...and he very gently explained to me all the reasons why they don't like inducing before 39 weeks without medical reason.  Cora's heartbeat was strong, high 130s, just like it had always been.  I was disappointed on one level, but not really.  I was very done being pregnant, though, as I was still throwing up at least twice a day, I was swollen, I had horrible reflux, and my hips ached so badly.  But at the same time, I wanted her to come when she was ready, and not simply because I was impatient.  It felt selfish.

He did offer to check my cervix though, and I was 70% effaced and 2cms dilated.  He said he felt her head, but she moved away when he touched her.  Before he left at the end of the appointment, he said "We'll see you in a week.  That is if we don't see you up at the hospital before that."

We didn't make it to the next Wednesday.

I still can't help but wonder what would have happened if we had induced.  She would have gone into distress, as she did, but we would have had monitors on her.  I probably would have had an emergency c-section.  Maybe....I might have her in my arms right now.

But, deep down, I truly believe that she just wasn't supposed to be here.  And if I hadn't lost her then, than it would have been somehow else.  Maybe some way that would have been more my fault.  In some way that that would mean that I couldn't just close my eyes and assuage the guilt by telling myself that it wasn't my fault.

But my mind still races through what ifs and maybes.  Her death could have been prevented and that still eats at me.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Sometimes I wish I lived in a TV show.  I recently watched the episode of House called Lockdown.  The premise: a newborn baby disappears so the hospital is on lockdown while they search.  It was hard to watch, all that worry over the possibility something serious having happened.  Worry that the baby might have been seriously hurt or killed.  The woman who portrayed the mother did a good job, and I felt all those emotions on her face, the guilt, the grief.

But at the end of the episode, they found the baby, and she was okay.  That mother got her baby back.  As I watched the hospital director put that woman's baby back into her arms, I felt a horrible stab of jealousy.  After all that grief, all that guilt, she got her baby back.

I still have dreams of the day Cora was born.  I gave her small, sweet body to a man in a black suit, and with tears in his eyes he turned and walked out the door and I never saw her again.

I wish I could have my baby back.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The stages of grief

I majored in psychology for 2 years before I had to stop (I won't get into why I had to, but I just want to say it wasn't because I wanted stop, or that I didn't want to finish).  Anyone who has studied psychology even passingly has probably come across the Kubler-Ross model of the 5 stages of grief.  Now, many people try to use this as an example for people dealing with grief of the death of a loved one, but it doesn't really fit.  Ms. Kubler-Ross was actually identifying the stages of grief for someone who has received the diagnosis of a terminal illness.  For the death of a loved one, I actually like this one.

Either way, though, it's a bit misleading.  They outline a process where you progress forward from one stage to another.  When you move to the next one, you're "done" with the previous one, and at the're "done" grieving.  In my experience that's not it at all.  Each one of those stages is very valid, but I think I'm going to call them "phases" instead.  Grief has several different emotional "colors," and each phase is dominated by one of those emotions.

But moving from one to the other doesn't mean that you're "done" with the one or that they go in order or in any way that makes sense.

To me it's like the universe is playing pinball, and I'm the ball.
Something triggers it, and my grief explodes in an unpredictable pattern, going through one or another phase and not stopping at others at all.  Sometimes I can see it coming, and I brace myself, and I am lobbed gently through the pins, only touching one or two for a brief moment before gently coming to rest again.  Other times it comes out of nowhere, and I violently ricochet from one to another and back again, bouncing around, dizzy, and it takes a while to recover.

When I first lost Cora, after I'd recovered from the shock enough to think for a bit, I thought of the model of the stages of grief.  I was grateful for my knowledge, because I felt a little more "prepared" for my journey.

The universe has had the last laugh though.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

the longing for another

It's hard for me, really, when I start getting baby hungry.  I am, a little, now, but not really.  I always have to question myself, do I really want another or do I want the other one?  I still long for a little girl with red curly hair, one that I can keep, one that I can show off.  One whose hair I can play with.

But if I do, would it hurt more to look at her than it does to look at Erin?

I do want another couple babies eventually.  I'm just not ready for another pregnancy right now.  And not just the idea of puking my guts up for another 9 months, I'm not ready for the anxiety of it yet either.  I'm terrified of miscarrying, because I figure I will eventually at least once.  They're pretty common, and a stillbirth doesn't exempt me.

Right now, the risk of another loss is too much for me.  I don't want another one enough yet.

But when I think about holding another baby....I desperately want what I should have had in the first place.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I love music.  I love mushy love songs, mostly.  That's just the way I am.  When I was younger, I'd always imagine the face of the man that my heart would sing them to.  And in various relationships certain songs would remind me of whomever I was dating.  Now there are a lot of songs that remind me of my husband.

But since losing Cora, sometimes some of those songs take on a whole different meaning.  Yesterday I was listening to the radio as I ran to the store for a quick errand.  It was after the babies were in bed, so my husband stayed home with them.  I was alone in my car, and the words just pierced me through. Well, the beginning.  The end not so much, obviously.

It was "Dreaming of  You" by Selena:

Late at night when all the world is sleeping
I stay up and think of you
And I wish on a star, that somewhere you are
Thinking of me, too.

Because I'm dreaming of you tonight
'Til tomorrow, I'll be holding you tight
And there's nowhere in the world I'd rather be
Than here in my room, dreaming about you and me.

I wonder if you ever see me
I wonder if you know I'm there
If you looked in my eyes, would you see what's inside?
Would you even care?

I just want to hold you close,
but so far all I have are dreams of you.
So I wait for the day, and the courage to say
how much I love you. Yes, I do.

'Cuz I'm dreaming of you tonight
'Til tomorrow I'll be holding you tight
and there's nowhere in the world I'd rather be
than here in my room, dreaming about you and me.

Late at night when all the world is sleeping
I stay up and think of you
and I still can't believe that you came up to me
and said "I love you, I love you, too"

Now I'm dreaming with you tonight
'Til tomorrow, and for all of my life
and there's nowhere in the world I'd rather be
than here in my room, dreaming with you endlessly

I have a list of "Cora songs," and it just keeps getting longer.  In brings me comfort in a way, because it makes my favorite songs personal in a way I'd never thought.  I once talked to a girl who said her loss "ruined" songs for her.  But for me, it makes me want to listen to them more.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Baby Showers and due dates

Tonight I am going to my first baby shower since Cora died.  At first, I didn't go because it hurt so bad.  Then, after Erin was born, it became that I just had a hard time sitting with all the expectation that everything is just going to be okay.  I did have a baby shower for both Erin and Patrick, but they were after the babies were born.  So, part of me has this dread in the pit of my stomach for tonight.  She's a great friend, and I'm SO excited for her baby, so most of me is excited for the party.  But I'm also scared.  Sort of terrified.

There will be another one I'll be going to soon, as well.  I teach a youth Sunday School class at church (13-turning-14-year-olds).  I have a team teacher so I don't have to teach every week.  Not only is she pregnant with a girl, but she's due on May 14th.  She's due on Cora's due date.  I'm forcing myself to expect the best for her, but I'm also praying that her baby won't be born on Cora's birthday.  I just don't think I could handle that.  Not only that but May 2nd is one of her teaching Sundays, and I'm not sure I'll be able to teach effectively that day.  I just....don't want her to have her baby on my Cora's day.  Is that selfish of me?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"Be strong"

It seriously bothers me when I hear of baby loss mommies being told to be strong.  I'm sure they're well-meaning.  But really?  I think that advice impeded my ability to really mourn Cora. I think that advice was part of what made me feel so very alone.

I felt like I couldn't openly mourn around other people.  It wasn't appropriate.  They would tell me to "be strong," not wanting to see my tears.  Most of them were people I know cared for me, so they probably were upset that I was hurting.  I had a history of severe depressions, and I know that several were very worried that I would end up in that state.

But it made me feel like an outcast.  They didn't want to see what I was really feeling.  I had to go through it myself because they didn't want to be strong for me for a while.  I had to just continue on with my life like nothing had changed.

And now I get praised at how strong I am.  When even now...I'm not.  I'm still fragile.  I'm still vulnerable.  I'm still weak.  Even now, it's a struggle.  It's true, that after four years it's different.

I no longer have to remind myself to breathe.

I no longer gasp or sob every breath.

I no longer feel like I have a gaping, open, bleeding wound in the center of myself.

But I still only go on because I have to.  I get praised for how strong I am for surviving, but what choice did I have?  I couldn't leave my husband, my parents, my friends behind.  I couldn't just stop.  That's what I really wanted to do.  Just stop.  Not die really, just not have to get up, to go on living, to do normal life things when my life was anything but normal anymore.

I don't think I'm any more strong than anyone else who is surviving.  I've just survived long enough that some things I don't have to think about anymore.  And now I have even more things to live for so not surviving is even less of a choice than it was before.

But it's not because I'm strong.

Monday, April 5, 2010

"You can't imagine what it's like to lose a child."

So I'm a fan of the TV show Fringe.  I watch it on, so I watch them later than aired.

Anyway, the latest episode Dr. Walter Bishop is telling Agent Olivia Dunham about his son.  Peter had a rare disease that he died from when he was young.  But they had been watching through a window to an alternate universe where an alternate Peter was living just a while longer.  The Walter in this universe found the cure, the Walter in the other did not, so our Walter created a wormhole to the other side to go get the other Peter so he could save his life and not have to watch him die again.  And of course, in spite of what he promised other Peter's mother, he couldn't take him back to the other world because he couldn't stand to lose his son again.

It was so hard to watch, and I was totally unprepared for it.

At the very end of the episode, as a way of explaining the reason for the actions that lead to the separation between the two universes crumbling, Walter tells Olivia "You can't imagine what it's like to lose a child."

So here I am, wishing that there was another Cora out there somewhere that I could see, to see how she'd grown up, to see what she'd look like.

But maybe that sort of thought is like Harry Potter in front of the Mirror of Erised.  I don't want to be one of those that Dumbledore described, wasting away in my desire for the impossible.

One day.  One day.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


"But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Cor. 15: 20-22)

I always loved Easter as a child, and not necessarily just the Easter Bunny and the chocolate.  But my family is a very religious family, and Easter was loved equal to (and almost more than) Christmas.  Being Christian, Easter does have deep personal meaning.  I love my Savior, and am so grateful that he paid for my sins, and is perfecting my imperfections.  My family focused on that part.  We celebrated the empty tomb, but my father's family sermons were mainly focused on 3 days prior, on what His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane meant for each one of us personally.

Easter means that death is not the end.  As a child that meant to me that I would be able to live again after I die, and that I would live with my family, and since we were all alive it was just sort of taken for granted.  It was an abstract reassurance.  Comforting when I thought about it, yes, but not needed right then.

But now, now Easter has so much more meaning for me.  Easter is a day that I celebrate that because Christ was resurrected, we all will be yes, but that means Cora will be.  I will be able to hold her in my arms again, and I will be able to see her smile, and hear her laughter, and watch her play, and give and receive all the hugs and kisses that were torn from me here in this life.

I was asked once by someone who didn't believe if I really believed it.

I don't believe, I know.  With everything I've got in me.  With every breath and every beat of my heart I know it.  I will get my Cora back.  And that brings me such joy.