Monday, May 31, 2010

Letters to my family

It’s hard to believe that the  month of May has come and gone.  I knew it would fly, considering the events of the month, but still, I’m staring down June 1 with no small amount of incredulity.

Mommy brain is in full force, so much worse than the pregnancy brain I confessed back in September.  So I thought I’d take a few minutes during a rare dual nap session to jot down a couple “love notes” before I forget to tell them the sentiments in my heart.

Dearest Erin,

You are four weeks old today.  And you have already changed a dozen times over.  You are making more sounds, your movements are more frequent (though still not very controlled), you are alert for longer stretches, and you are looking more like your daddy each day.  Your eyes are still blue, and as each day passes, I hope just a little more that they will stay that way.  You still pretty much only eat and sleep, and you have yet to show us any type of schedule preference, but, eh….it’ll come.

You have started to cave out your Erin-sized niche in my heart.  I wasn’t sure, when you first showed up.  Truly.  There was a very large part of me that was afraid I wasn’t going to get to keep you either, so I was a little (ok, a lot) hesitant to really open up to you.  But it’s coming.  Thank you for being patient with me, love.

Keep twisting, little one.  I’ll be completely wrapped around your finger in no time at all.


Dear Seth,

There is a quote somewhere that says something to the effect that mothers are the bravest of all people because we choose to let our heart run around outside our body.  How true, how true.  You are, literally, running circles around me right now, and even through layers of exhaustion, I see the little boy you are becoming.

Your vocabulary is extraordinary.  You’re loving and sweet to Erin.  You are funny.  The other day, you, Gramma, and I were in the backyard and an airplane flew overhead.  You were so excited.  You stopped what you were doing, looked up expectantly at the sky, and shouted: “Nonna!  Jump out!  I’ll catch up!!!” 

Your hearing has become a little more “selective,” but we’re working on that.  You listen when it’s most important, so we’ll just spend a little more time working on listening whether or not you think it’s convenient. ;)

You are rolling with the punches of summer travel, various beds, and Erin’s arrival like the champ I knew you’d be, but still.  I’m so proud of you.

Your rock, Roni-man.  I’m so glad you’re my outside-heart.


Dear Jim,

I have been meaning to tell you for a while now…but as you well know, my brain isn’t functioning at full capacity.  Am I even at 50%?  Who knows?

Anyways, I have to say it now, before any more time passes: I love you, and I’ve noticed.  I’ve noticed that you have been making extra effort to speak my love language.  You’ve been complimentary and sweet and you have said all the right things at all the right times, from telling me that you think I’m a fantastic mom to reassuring me that my stretch marks (both north and south) are barely visible and that you think I look great.  Thank you for being so tender and for holding my heart carefully in these first few postpartum weeks.

I miss you already, and you’ve only been gone for a few hours.  I’m so proud of you – for the job you’ve done at DD, and for the faith that Jason has put in you.  I’m not thrilled that you’re flying so far away from me, but I’m proud of you for taking this new step.  I told Seth he rocks, and I know he gets is all from you.

I love you so much, and I look forward to looking back on this chapter of our lives – with all the others, too – with you.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A lazy, hazy summer day

We started out the day as per usual: a slow waking up, resplendent with sunshine pouring through the living room windows; an early matinee – lately, it’s been Stuart Little (affectionately referred to as “the bunny rabbit” by Seth); and the inspection of all of our Cars characters.

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Apparently, Erin makes a great parking garage. ;)

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After breakfast, we embarked on our first outing as a trio – me and my two littles.  We drove about 45 minutes to meet up with 4 other moms and their kiddos for some fun in the (really, really hot and sticky) sun.

I’m pretty sure I need to get this pool for our yard, too.  Angela said it was, like, $25 at WalMart, and it’s both long and wide enough for even me to stretch out.  I don’t know if these dimensions constitute an “above ground pool” (which is restricted by our HOA), but I don’t care.  Fine me.  This momma needs a good watering hole.

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I was okay with him drinking the water; at least until the pool started to fill up with grass and mud.  In or out, kiddos.  Make up your minds.

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Seriously?  Could he be any cuter?  So glad he finally grew into his Toledo Mudhens ball cap.

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Seth had no problem taking a time-out in the shade….as long as cupcakes were provided.

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And the little miss?  Slept for the entire four hours we were gone.  I’m thinking the heat is gonna get to her like it does her momma.  ‘Cept she looks cute-enough-to-eat no matter what, while I have to find some way to make my sweaty brow come across as a “glistening” one. ;)

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Ah, summer in the south.  Gotta love it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Flashback Photo

mom seth

I was browsing the website of the mom’s group that I’m a part of, and I came across this picture that one of the other moms snapped of me and Seth last summer.

I love it.  I love everything about it.  The smile on my face.  The smile on Seth’s.  The joy that was present, just a few weeks after saying goodbye to Duncan.

Life was good.

Life IS good.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Happy Due Date, Erin!

May 25.

The date that is plastered all over my obstetrical charts and all of Erin’s ultrasound pictures.

The date I used for my pregnancy tickers.  The date Erin’s full-term pregnancy would have been complete.

Instead, today is just another sunny Tuesday, and rather than waiting for labor pains to begin, I instead get to enjoy day 22 of my daughter’s life.

Dear Erin,

You have already experienced church, a three-state road trip, lunch dates with both Nonna and Gramma, a parade, a picnic, and the city park.

You’ve already grown an inch and gained a quarter-pound.  You aren’t quite ready to turn in the preemie clothes for newborn ones, but you have moved from preemie diapers to newborn swaddlers.  Yea, you!

You are eating about 3 oz. of milk, though you haven’t really established any type of two- or three-hour schedule.  You pretty much sleep, wake up, get your diaper changed, and then demand food immediately.  Bossy little thing you are, when it comes to your bottles. ;)  But we aim to please.

Your toes…..oh, how I love your toes.

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You are going to be a dream pedicuree.  Your little piggles automatically separate for the foamy toe-separators. ;)  I can’t wait until your nails are big enough to polish.  How fun will it be to girlify your feet!

You are a tummy sleeper, just like your brother.  I know it’s not what the pediatrician recommends, but….well, your head control is already something to be reckoned with, so I think we’re okay.  Maybe you’re so used to sleeping on your tummy because you aren’t too often NOT being cuddled to somebody’s chest:

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You haven’t had a tub bath yet; your umbilical cord fell off right on schedule, but you have an “innie” (Seth has an “outie”) and it’s taking its sweet ol’ time to completely heal.  So, you’re milking sponge baths for all they are worth.  For the record, I don’t blame you; Gramma is wonderful at lotion massages.

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Speaking of milking….

Just so you know, if anything happens to mommy’s milk supply, Seth is ready to come to the rescue with all your breast pumping needs:

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Too bad he can’t lactate.  His technique is flawless. ;)

Erin, you already have shown that you are a completely different baby than Seth.  Not that I expected you to be just like him….I just didn’t know how you would differ.  I can’t wait to watch as your personality emerges even more and more.

I can hardly remember what life was like before you completed our little family.  I hope I never have to.

Happy due date, baby girl.  Mommy loves you.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Before Babies ‘R Us

How did the new mother ever manage to care for her newborn children before she was outfit with all the latest Graco and Dr. Brown and Carter’s accoutrements?

It’s a wonder humanity was able to survive, so great is the import placed on all the “must have’s” for the successful gestating, delivery, and caring of baby people.

Erin needed newborn diapers.  I could have picked up a box of Pampers Swaddlers at Target, Meijer, WalMart, or any other number of local superstores.  But, no.  I felt an overwhelming need to go to the baby-ware mecca, Babies ‘R Us.

And though I knew to head straight to the back of the store to find the diapers, I instead willfully chose to aimlessly wander up and down each aisle, opening myself up to subliminal marketing ploys and clever packaging that somehow managed to get any number or random products off the shelf and into the cart.

ohio visit 006 ~ Beware of falling baby paraphernalia ~

Buzz Lightyear potty-trainer toilet seat insert?  Of course we need it.

Johnson & Johnson Oatmeal Baby Wash?  The only soap I’d deem worthy to bathe my children.

Ergonomically correct (and yet oh-so-comfortable and stylish!) booster seat?  Sure, toss that in, too.  We’ve got one at home; why not have one to keep at Grandma’s house, too?

Disposable nursing pads, Boogie Wipes, and Lightning McQueen sunglasses.  Check, check, and check.

Plush rattles to hang from the handle on the infant carrier, a mirror to mount on the headrest of Erin’s seat, and $180 later, I left the store feeling….

….. no more equipped to parent Erin and Seth than when I entered.

Now, in all seriousness, there are plenty of products of convenience that I will gladly endorse with not a word of defense: SwaddleMe blankets, crib sheet savers, Ameda breast pumps.  My life is easier, and therefore, I do believe that I’m a better mother, because of these things.  I could survive without them, of course.  But I’m glad I don’t have to.

But still…

As I walked through the massive square footage of BRU, I couldn’t help wonder if we haven’t complicated things by all the STUFF-YOU-HAVE-TO-HAVE-FOR-BABY that we’ve been convinced we need.

After all, isn’t a bottle (or breast), a clean diaper, and a pair of sturdy arms for cradling and cuddling all a baby really needs?

What are your thoughts?  Are you a minimalist baby-care-must-have mom, or do you proudly use your wipes warmer/Diaper Genie/Boppy/Exersaucer/Sophie teether/etc.?

Friday, May 21, 2010

I love a parade

Actually, I’m not really a fan.

Loud public utility vehicles, volunteers winging Tootsie Rolls aimlessly at my head, and restraining an enthusiastic toddler from running into oncoming traffic isn’t exactly my idea of fun.


My in-law’s live in quintessential Small Town, USA, and we just happened to be in town for the first festival of the season, so, for lack of anything better to do, and because, well, Seth was in dire need of more artificially flavored gumpaste, we headed uptown for the parade.

As you’ll be able to see from the photos, Seth was much too busy taking in all the new sights to be bothered with smiling for the camera.  His newest thing to do when the camera appears is to offer up the obligatory “cheese,” but without turning his face even in the general direction of the lens.  Oh, well.

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Obviously, Miss E is not impressed.

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He was so excited to see that Mater had shown up for the festivities. ;)

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I have a feeling we may have birthed a new family tradition.  And despite the fact that I now have Tootsie Rolls and Starlight Peppermints coming out of my ears, I’m okay with that.  If it makes my little boy even a little bit happy, it’s well worth it.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010


We’re having a shift change here at home, steadily working our way through the grandparent roster.

Sadly, we have already put Nonna on a plane back to Florida, the promise of “only” ten weeks between visits the solitary thing that kept the collective meltdown at bay.

To ease the sting of her departure was the promise of a whirlwind weekend with the last set of grandparents to meet Erin, and then – hallelujah!!! – the return home with Gramma (aka my fabulous mother-in-law) in tow, and for two weeks, too!

That said, time is fleeting and precious here at The Writer Chic, so today, I’m leaving you with just a taste of pure yumminess, rather than a lengthy post.

Erin park
Could you not just eat her up?!  She is doing so wonderful; we’ve been to the pediatrician twice, and gotten glowing reports both times.  She was 5.7 when we left the hospital, was up to 5.13 at 9 days, and was up to a whopping 6.4 at 15 days!

I do have much I want to share about Miss E, and our first few weeks at home.  I hope you understand the delay, however, and the need I felt to let Duncan have his time in the spotlight these last several days.

More details, pictures, and general miscellany will appear in upcoming posts – with a happier tune, no doubt.  That said, thank you, dear readers, for indulging me these last weeks.  For walking the road of grief with me; for honoring my son with the reading of his story.   Thank you, thank you, thank you.

PS – I don’t know how else to get this message to her…….

Wendy, you’ve been on my heart.  I know your loss is so fresh.  If you ever want to chat more, please email me at  I’ve wanted to reply to your comments, but there is no email address linked.  Please know you and Chad are in my prayers.  Big hugs…

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday, May 20, 2009 – Conclusion, and celebration

To start from the beginning of the story, click here.

If someone were to ask you, “What was the worst day of your life?” would you be able to answer?

I’m not sure I could.

Oh, there are several that stand out in my memory as really terrible, horrible, awful, no good, very bad days, like:

  • When I was 16, and I finally figured out what exactly it was that had always made me think that something was just not quite right with my family.
  • When I was 21, and the boy I planned to marry told me “I just don’t think this is right any more.”
  • When I was 25, and a new bride of only six weeks, and I had to find a way to tell my suddenly-and-unfairly unemployed husband that “it would all be fine,” when in fact, I didn’t really believe that it would.

And you’d think that making final cut on this list would be the following:

  • When I was 28, and I had to place my dead son in a hospital isolette, and watch a nurse wheel him out of my sight forever.

But, it’s not even on the “worst day” list.  Not really.


I  yet to sleep that day.  Not a true sleep; only an in-and-out, post-surgical, anesthesia-induced haze.  After several unsuccessful attempts to remove my placenta after Duncan’s delivery, the doctor decided that I would need a D&C.  We were able to put it off for a few hours so that I could spend time with Duncan and Jim and our families, but by midnight Tuesday, I was wheeled into an operating room.

It’s funny what you remember from certain experiences in your life.

When I climbed up on the table before Seth’s c-section, I clearly remember thinking that Jingle Bell Rock was NOT the song I’d have chosen to be playing in the surgical suite.

With Duncan, I remember taking perverse pleasure in the surprised comment from the nurse who helped lift me from the gurney to the table: “Wow, she’s light!”  (I mean, really, who, even under the worst of circumstances, doesn’t want to hear a compliment about her weight?!)

By 3:00 AM Wednesday, I was out of surgery, out of recovery, and back in my room.  Jim was asleep in the recliner next to my bed; Duncan was wrapped tightly in cotton blankets, nestled in the plastic isolette at his side.

I pushed the call button for my nurse to come help me clean up; I knew that sleep would not come, and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing a single moment with my son.  I knew the moments we had were precious and few.

After putting on clean clothes (my trusty black yoga pants that have seen me through the best and worst of five pregnancies and my pink and white Old Navy tank), applying fresh makeup, and pulling a brush through my sweaty, matted hair, I gathered Duncan in my arms, and stood at the window, and waited.

And as my arms began to cramp from the weight of him, and as my breasts began to ache with the urge to nurse him, and as my eyes began to burn with the sleep which I forfeit for him, the sun rose.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found;
T’was blind, but now I see…

It’s not my favorite hymn, but it’s what came to my lips that morning.  It is the song I sang over my son, as realization dawned on me that the sunrise must look so much more spectacular to him than to me – for he was watching from the heavens.

We had filled out all the necessary paperwork before Duncan’s birth, so all that was left to do on Wednesday morning was to actually say goodbye.

After Jim woke, I passed Duncan to him.  I crawled back up onto my hospital bed, and looked at my sweet husband, holding our sweet boy.

father son smile 
At that moment, I would have done anything to erase the longing and sorrow on Jim’s face.  All the questions our hearts held, all the dreams for our family we’d been asked to reshape, all the fears we would face in the coming months were etched onto the face I loved so well, and there was nothing I could do to make it better.  That, dear reader, was agony beyond anything I’d felt.

I took Duncan back in my arms once more.  My tears fell onto his red face; I wiped snot from my nose and blood from his.  As I pressed his small body against my chest, I begged the Lord to imprint on my memory the weight of him.  I knew I’d have pictures to remind me of his face, but I never wanted to forget what it felt like to cradle him in my arms.

I passed Duncan back to Jim, and told him I was ready to go.  You can only drag out an impossible goodbye for so long before you physically collapse under the weight of your grief.

I thought my heart had already been taxed to capacity that morning: the last time I looked at Duncan’s face; the last time I held his body to mine.  But nothing compared to the grief that ripped at me as I watched Jim walk toward the waiting isolette.

He slowly lifted Duncan to his upper chest, and buried his head in the folds of the blanket to say goodbye.  Ever so slowly he lowered his son…and then stopped.  We both knew that this was the last time anyone would hold our sweet boy, and the thought of lying him to final rest was unfathomable.

Jim lifted Duncan back to his chest once again, and I saw his body quake with the effort of what he had to do.

I couldn’t see through my tears at this point, but I remember whispering, “No, don’t do it.  Don’t let go.  Don’t let him go.”

But my dear, sweet, heartbroken man was stronger than I, and with a final kiss and whispered blessing, he placed our Duncan to rest.

Jim took my hand, helped me from the bed, and together – as always, together – we walked out of the room.


There is more.  Of course there is more.  The pain of my recovery.  The anger I felt that I would not only lose my baby, but also endure – yet again – excruciating hemorrhoids.  The funeral home.  The urn.  The months it took for my milk supply to dry up.  The re-entry into Tennessee life.

But those details aren’t really part of his story; they’re part of mine.  My story, of who I became and how I grew and what I learned as a result of the too-short life of this precious child.

Duncan’s story began on January 6, 2009, when I peed on a Dollar Store test and watched a pink line appear.  It continued when I brought home a 9/5/09-frosted cookie cake to tell Jim that we had bigger things to worry about than unpacking moving boxes; when I watched a flickering heartbeat appear on a monitor, and knew that my life was forever changed by the little person growing inside me; when my jaw dropped at his “money shot,” so sure was I that “he” was a “she;”  when I strutted my stuff poolside in May, proud of the little bump I was sporting.  His story started, and wrote itself, and drew to a beautiful, stunning conclusion when he entered the world at the time his Maker had appointed.


A year has come and gone.  A year of tears and laughter and setbacks and milestones.  Duncan has been a part of our lives in a way that is wholly and uniquely his.  And it is perfect.  It is unscripted.  Unforced.  Unpretentious.

He is our second son.  An unexpected surprise that become one of our lives most unspeakable joys.

He is now a big brother.  I was fearful that Erin’s arrival would close the chapter on Duncan’s memory; that she would indeed feel, to me, like a replacement.  But instead, I’ve found that experiencing the newness and wonder of her has only made me ache for all that I wasn’t able to experience with him.

Son.  Little and big brother alike.  Our brave and strong fighter.  Our priceless gift. 

Happy Birthday, sweet Duncan Thomas.
May you dance with the angels today, as you did on this day last year. 
May you watch today’s sun rise,
content in the knowledge that you are loved,

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 – A lifetime, in hours

To start from the beginning of the story, click here.

The truth of my immediate reaction to Duncan’s birth is hard for me to admit.

After I delivered him, and the actual labor was over, the only thing I cared about was a donut.

Specifically, a chocolate donut; in addition to a honey wheat bagel, lightly toasted, with butter; and an iced mocha, with no whipped cream.

When I called our parents to tell them that Duncan had been born, and that we’d be ready to see them in our room about 10:00 PM, I was very unemotional; very matter-of-fact; very clear in my desire:

Bring me Tim Horton’s.

We have only 38 pictures of our time with Duncan, and this is one of them.

duncans donut
Half of me is ashamed at my detachment.   The other half 0f me accepts what it truly is: a mother’s knee-jerk reaction to the most traumatic thing she can be asked to endure.

When I look at this picture, the first thing I see is the irritation I’m directing at my father for thinking this moment is photo-worthy.  Beneath that, however, I see the fatigue.  The strain.  The shock.  The grief.  There isn’t a donut big enough to hide the truth behind that stare.

Our parents actually arrived to our room before the nurses had finished with Duncan, so all six of us were present when Heather returned to our room pushing his isolette.  She wheeled him right up to the left side of my bed; I couldn’t see him, and I didn’t want to.

I didn’t recognize my emotions until later, but at the time, I was so fearful that I would be revolted at his appearance.  I was afraid that I would look at him, and not recognize him.  I was sure I’d look at him, and feel….nothing.

So, I chose not to hold him.  Not to look at him.  Not to acknowledge him.  Not yet.

Jim, who had watched every moment of his birth – who saw each perfectly formed feature of his as he emerged from my womb – took him first.  And in the most twisted moment of déjà vu, he said to our parents, “This is Duncan Thomas.”  And there was just as much pride in his voice as the moment seventeen months before when he announced, “This is Seth James.”

And so we began the rounds:

Introduced to and cradled by Jim’s parents:


Wept over and loved on by mine:

And finally, handed to his mommy:

Who apparently needed the fortification of chocolate and coffee before facing reality.

But once I did – face reality and look at my son – the only thing my heart cried was, “Oh!  I know you!  You’re mine.”

Any parent who has been in this place knows the uncomfortable dichotomy: there isn’t enough time in the world to fit in all that you’d wish for you and your baby; and yet, there is only so much you can force to occur in the time that you’re given.

So, we spent our time passing him amongst all the waiting arms, and taking poorly composed photographs, and filling awkward silences with random observations – like how much I absolutely despised the gilt-framed Anne Geddes print hanging on the wall directly across from my bed.    My father-in-law actually tried to pry it from the wall, but it held fast.  Ugh.  Silly, fat, not-nearly-cute-enough-for-fame baby in pink rose petals. Get off my wall!

I wanted to look at Duncan’s toes and fingers, but they were engulfed in the onesie he was wearing, and moving him too much seemed to accelerate certain processes we would rather have stalled… we just held him still, and studied his face.

And all too soon, we all seemed to come to the same conclusion:

There was nothing left to say.  Nothing left to do.  The time we’d had with him was, sadly, all that we were going to have with him.

In addition, my doctors were hovering to take me to surgery, having stalled longer than they should have, merely to give us time as a family.

In hindsight, I’m so proud of our parents.  None of them showed a degree of the hesitation and fear that I’d felt; they welcomed him as they should have – as one of their own.  They loved him as fully and completely and unconditionally in the two hours that they had with him as they would have if they’d had a lifetime.

They left, and I was wheeled down the hall to the OR.  Heather assured me that Duncan could remain in the room with Jim; they wouldn’t separate my boys.

I’m not sure what those hours were like for Jim; I’ve never asked him.  I’m not sure that he’d tell me, and that’s okay.  Sometimes, some things are better left tucked away in the heart.

To be concluded….

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 – Labor & Delivery

To start from the beginning of the story, click here.

All was right with the world: The Price is Right was on CBS, and it was airing at 11:00 AM, as God intended it to (not like in Tennessee, where it airs at 10:00 AM).

I’d been awake for about six hours, and I’d already received two doses of Cytotec – not that it was doing anything yet.  Both Dr. Gibbs and the doctor who was administering my meds that day had explained that this particular drug would follow a “nothing is happening, nothing is happening, nothing is happening, whoa – it’s over!” pattern, but honestly?  I didn’t believe them.  I thought – you know, from all my extensive medical training – that they’d insert the drug and I’d have a couple contractions, and I’d have a baby.


They inserted the drug, and nothing happened.

And three hours later, they inserted another dose of the drug, and nothing happened.

So, just to shake things up, I decided to get my epidural, because certainly,  something would be happening ANY MINUTE NOW.

The anesthesiologist came in, and was unbelievably insensitive and brusque, which I can’t help but feel is what pushed me to a breaking point.  As I bent over a squished-up pillow, my feet dangling off the side of the bed, the actuality of what was happening hit me and I started to cry.

Sob, actually.

And the anesthesiologist snapped at me to hold still.  I had to beg him to give me a minute; there was no way I could flip a “calm” switch fast enough to still my body enough to let him plunge a needle into my spinal column.

The nurse cradled me against her chest, and Jim gripped my hand, (and behind me, I’m sure the anesthesiologist rolled his eyes), and I choked back the anger and the fear and the pain and the overwhelming I-don’t-want-to-do-this-ness of it all, and I let the doctor make me numb.  At least to the labor pains.

Or so I thought.

Within the hour, I didn’t feel any relief from the cramping pain, just tingles in my legs if I tried to lift them off the bed.  After talking with my girlfriend MaryBeth, who assured me I shouldn’t be able to do that, I talked to my nurse, who talked to the doctor, who talked to a different (kinder, apparently more competent) anesthesiologist, and I was given a second, more effective (in that it worked) epidural.

All of this occurred around 3 PM, after which the nurse again checked my cervix to evaluate the effectiveness of the medicine.  And FINALLY, we had some progress: I was 1 cm dilated.

1 cm.  O-N-E.  With 9 more to go.  At this rate, delivery wouldn’t be until early Thursday morning.

Discouraged doesn’t begin to hint at what I felt.  Even though I knew 10 cm = pushing = the end, I was past the point of being ready.  I just wanted it over with….and we weren’t even close.  They administered another does of Cytotec, and we sat back to wait some more.

The remainder of the afternoon is a blur.  Jim never left my side, not for a minute.   My in-laws brought Seth up to the room to see me, but it was a short visit; said child of mine let loose one of the foulest poops ever to come out of a Gregory behind, and stunk up the room so badly that I essentially kicked him out of the room.

The timing of my family leaving was ideal, as the requisite four hours had passed, and it was time for my next Cytotec dose.  At this point, I was resigned to the fact that this was an excruciatingly slow process, so imagine my surprise when the nurse – whose name was Heather, by the way, and who was markedly fantastic all night – announced that I’d made some progress and was currently 2.5 cm dilated.  It was a baby step, to say the least, but it was the first forward-moving thing I’d done all day, so our celebration was sincere.

Jim and I settled in to watch Dancing with the Stars and I remember thinking, "Seth’s song was Jingle Bell Rock and Duncan’s is going to be Pink’s Rock Star,” (which was the song accompaniment to the triple paso doble the stars were performing that night); Duncan definitely got the better deal.

At approximately 7:45 PM, I told Jim, “something isn’t right….I don’t feel well at all….something is wrong.”  Ever my rock, he just rubbed my arm, and reminded me to breathe, and to utilize the “panic button” on my epidural drip.   I frantically depressed the plunger, but relief was slow to come.  I told myself, just try to make it until 8 PM, then you can call Heather…;” at 7:56, I was crying into the call box, “please come, something is wrong.”

When Heather arrived I told her I felt an incredible amount of pressure, and overwhelming dread, and I begged her to check my progress.  She sweetly and calmly reminded me that  I’d been checked a mere 30 minutes earlier, and that each internal exam increased my chance for infection.  So, basically, she was saying NO.  I pleaded with her: just look.

So she looked.

And immediately rushed from the room, shouting over her shoulder, “Try not to push!!!”

I remember thinking, “you’re kidding, right?  All day long, you warn me, ‘he’s so little, he could possibly just slide out,’ and now you’re telling me to keep my legs together?!”

A team of nurses rushed in with the preparation trays and paraphernalia needed for delivery, and my cries – not of grief, but of pain and panic – filled the room.

No, no. No.  No, I’m not doing this.  I can’t.  I can’t.  I don’t want to do this.  No.  No.  Nononononononononono. No.  I’m not doing this.”

But I did.

I pushed – twice only – and the doctor announced, “he’s perfect.  He’s beautiful.”  And Jim wiped his eyes, and reached for the scissors, and cut the cord that had carried, and then failed, Duncan’s life.  We were no longer connected, my baby and me, and my head fell back on the pillows and my mind went blank.

I closed my eyes, and in the darkness I heard a refrain:

So what, I'm still a rock star;  
I got my rock moves,  
And I don't need you .
And guess what?  
I'm havin’ more fun,  
And now that we’re done  
I'm gona show you,

Tonight, I'm alright,  
I'm just fine…..

I'm just fine.  I'm just fine.  I'm just fine.  I'm just fine.

Tuesday, May 19th …. To be continued

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Monday, May 18, 2009

To start from the beginning of the story, click here.

Monday morning, I got all the confirmation I ever needed that I made the right decision by going into commercial insurance instead of personal health and life insurance.  Not enough money in the world could get me to be the person on the other end of the phone with Jim as we tried to cut through the red tape of networks, emergent statuses, and moral protocol.

In the end, we were given the surprising news that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee would indeed allow us to deliver Duncan at The (out-of-network) Toledo Hospital, instead of insisting we return to Nashville to have his delivery performed at an in-network facility.

Even though we realized that this verdict was the green light that would signal the beginning of the end, we both felt relief.  Delivering in Ohio would allow Seth to remain blissfully oblivious to the circumstances, not to mention the small measure of comfort that would be drawn from being in a familiar hospital environment.  Delivery in Ohio would allow for the majority of our parents to be part of Duncan’s birth.  Delivery in Ohio meant that, to some degree, our Nashville home would escape the footprint of this tragedy.

I wasn’t scheduled to be at the hospital until 1:30 PM for the first portion of my induction process, so Jim and I took the opportunity to spend some time together that morning.  We had been hoarding a gift card to one of our favorite Italian restaurants, Bravo!, so we decided on an early lunch.  Much like going through the motions on Sunday of teeing off the green and riding the zoo carousel, sitting down to a casual lunch felt surreal.

I distinctly remember how amused I was when the waiter came up to take our drink orders, and Jim very promptly replied, “Wine, please!”  I think the only thing that kept me from indulging with him was the knowledge that I was going to be getting something equally as potent (via IV) soon enough.

I tried to eat my meal with relish and appreciation, knowing it would be my last of the day, but the anxiety in my chest only increased as the hour passed, and soon enough I was requesting a box for my leftovers.

On a whim, Jim and I stopped by the office of my former ob/gyn, Dr. Gibbs.  Even though I did not anticipate getting to see him, given that he normally is in surgery on Mondays, I wanted to talk to my former nurse, Jo.  I felt that getting her input on the induction I was about to face would go a long way toward calming both my and Jim’s nerves.

Imagine my surprise when I stepped into an empty waiting room at Dr. Gibbs’ office.  I’d never seen his waiting room vacant.  I was immediately waved into the inner office by Dana, the office manager, and swept up into a big hug by Jo.  Her enthusiastic touch was all it took to release my first tears of the day.

I stood there like a blathering idiot, trying to explain that I knew I had no right to be there seeking medical advice, seeing as how I was no longer a patient, but she hushed me almost immediately, and ushered Jim and I into an exam room.  “Of course you came here.  Where else would you go?”  Her no-nonsense claim had me calming in an instant, but nothing put my heart at ease faster than seeing my dear Dr. Gibbs walk into the exam room.

He wasn’t supposed to be in the office.  He was supposed to be at jury duty.  Which was why his schedule had been cleared from patients and surgery alike.  But he’d been unexpectedly released from jury duty, and decided to spend a quiet day in his office catching up on paperwork.

We couldn’t help but laugh at the “coincidence.”  Nothing about me being his patient had EVER been quiet or routine.  Why should things change just because I was no longer under his care?

Being able to talk to Dr. Gibbs about the induction procedure, to get his take on a vaginal delivery, and to have him walk us through the timeline of the next 36 hours was a gift we could never have asked to receive.  Jim and I both felt so much more prepared for what lie ahead.  He was even kind enough to walk with us through the half-mile of tunnels and hallways from his office to the Labor & Delivery floor of the hospital.  He left us with bear hugs, and the promise that he’d try to be the one at my side during delivery if he could get out of jury duty the next day.  (He couldn’t, as it would turn out, but his promise to try was enough.)

The procedure that I was to have done was supposed to be relatively easy and straightforward – no more time consuming or invasive than my annual gynecological exam.

Note my use of the phrase “supposed to be.”

As the doctor began to prep for the insertion of the laminaria (I’m not going to explain; you’ll just have to click the link), I mentioned to her that she might want to use the smallest instruments possible, as I have a very narrow cervix.  She cocked her eyebrow at me, as most medical professionals would do if their patient started to dole out advice.  And, as most medical professionals would do, I would hazard to guess, she ignored my suggestion, and proceeded to use the instrument she had on hand….

…..and she promptly, painfully tore my cervix to a bloody mess.

Poor Jim.  I can still see his face, twisted in agony, as he physically restrained me on the table.  I was delirious with pain and shock, crying out repeatedly, “no, no, no; please, no; make it stop.  Make her stop!”  Chaos ensued, with the doctor calling for assistance, and trying in vain to staunch the bleeding that she caused, and in the end, proceeding to stitch me up without anesthesia.

I’m pretty sure Jim and I both plastered “I told you so” frowns on our foreheads, as the doctor apologized for the debacle, and proceeded to explain to us that “given the difficulty of the insertion,” I was going to have to be admitted overnight, rather than being sent home as planned.

Yeah, no kidding.

She left the procedure room to prepare a delivery suite for us, and within the hour, I was taken to the corner room of the Labor & Delivery floor.

The very room where I labored with Seth until his emergency c-section.

Ironic?  Fitting?  You decide.  I, however, took a small measure of comfort from being in a familiar room, even though I knew the outcome this time would be so different than the last.

To be continued…..

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sunday, May 17, 2009

To start at the beginning of the story, click here.

When I woke, I said to Jim, “I do not want to do this.  Any of this.  I don’t want to get out of this bed; I don’t want to live out this day.  I do NOT want to do ANY of this.”

But you’d never know; not by looking at our family’s itinerary for the day.

You wouldn’t know that I was a mommy walking around with the knowledge of a dead baby in my womb.  You’d not guess that Jim was strolling the fairways with little desire and on even less sleep.  If you did know these things, you might wonder how we could possible have gone about as “normal,” when we were facing such tragedy.


Well, what else we were going to do?  Sit around and stare at each other all day?  No thank you.

So, we had breakfast at Sonic.

And played golf.

And took Seth to the zoo with some of his favorite people.
Zoo - May 09 015 zoo cheese - 17 m  
Other than those few details about our day, I don’t remember a single thing.  I couldn’t tell you anything else about how the hours passed, or who we talked to, or if we even talked at all.  I think – and I guess I can’t really speak for Jim here – we went into survival mode; the only goal being to just get through the day.

Monday, and the answers it would bring, would come soon enough.

To be continued ….

Friday, May 14, 2010

Saturday, May 16, 2009 – Evening

To start at the beginning, click here

Saturday, May 16th …. Continued …

I hesitated, with my hand on the passenger door of my mother-in-law’s Buick.

When I stepped out of the car, it was all going to become real.  Sitting in the cocoon of supple, broken-in leather seats, warmed from the afternoon sun, it was easy to pretend that the previous hours had all been a fuzzy, out-of-focus dream.  But I knew that as soon as my feet would touch the concrete drive, my reality would surface, and with a word, I would change the lives of everyone I loved.

Five words….

Three from her: Is everything alright?: two from me: He’s gone.

… and the world tilted on its axis, trembled, and righted itself again.  But for me, and the woman whose heart I’d just shattered, and for the two men who watched us embrace in wordless agony, the ground beneath our feet would forever remain just a whisper off balance.

Seth was still napping, so I used the silence to make some phone calls.

One to my dad; a vague, "Hey, can we come over in a couple hours for pizza?”

One to our friends, Doug and Sara; “Hey, can I swing by the house to drop off your clean Tupperware?”

One to my mother – to date, the hardest phone call I’ve ever had to make:

I remember stepping out to my in-laws back patio, and sliding the heavy door shut behind me for some modicum of privacy.  I remember blurting out, “Is Greg [my step-father] home?” as soon as she answered, for I knew that if I didn’t force words out of my mouth in rapid-fire succession, then all she would hear across the miles were my sobs.  I blurted it out, ripping-off-a-Band-Aid-style:

Mom, I lost the baby, and you need to call Grandma and tell her that we can’t make it to lunch on Monday because they are going to induce me, but I’m not sure if it’ll be here or in Nashville, and that’s really all I know right now.”

And though I seem to remember hearing her agonized reply of “what?!,” all I really know is that I kept crying, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m sorry” over and over.

In hindsight, I think being on the receiving end of this news had to have been worse than being the one to deliver it.  After all, I think in my heart, I’d known the truth since late Friday night, so I’d had some time to process what was coming.  For everyone who had to hear the news from me and Jim….I’m sure the shock was breathtaking.

Sadly, the words became easier to say with each person we needed to tell.

On the way to see my parents, we stopped at the home of Sara and Doug, Jim’s best friend for over twenty years.  We had them visit us in Nashville just two weeks prior, and I felt so horrible that we would now be visiting under such different circumstances.

Poor Sara.  I walked up on her back porch, and she immediately placed her hand on my belly:  “Oh, my goodness, Mon!  You’ve popped out so much just since last weekend!”  Oh, how I wished I’d not had to burst her bubble.  I don’t know that I’ll ever forget the look on her face as we stood there at sunset, holding each other and empty Tupperware.

Outside of our parents, Doug and Sara were the only people we let into our inner circle over the next three days.  They are the kind of friends I pray my children grow to have: the ones who will split the cost of a prom limo, raise a toast you at your wedding, and rock one of your sons to sleep as you send the other back to heaven.

The last test of the night was telling the final set of parents.  And I chickened out.  Not to say that they didn’t find out.  But can you figure out how we broke the news that something was wrong?

Do you see it?  The hospital ID and allergy bracelets?

Yeah.  I just didn’t take them off, and as we served up pieces of Papa John’s over the kitchen counter, I waited for someone to notice, which made for an easy if not awkward segue into how we’d spent our Saturday afternoon.

And while it’s hard to admit, because it sounds so desensitized, by the time we were saying the words for the fourth time in as many hours, all the emotion was gone.  We delivered the news, ate our pizza, and went outside to play with not another word said about the baby.

last pic pg The last picture taken of me still pregnant with Duncan.

I don’t remember changing Seth into his jammies or saying goodbye.  I don’t remember driving the 45 miles back to my in-laws.  I don’t remember if Jim and I talked on the way home, or if we were both lost in our thoughts.

The last memory I have of that day was stepping into my in-laws kitchen, and completely and totally falling to pieces in my mother-in-law’s arms, where I wept until I had no more tears.

To be continued

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Saturday, May 16, 2009 – Triage

To start at the beginning, click here

Saturday, May 16th …. Continued …

I had to leave Jim a voice mail.

I’d somewhat anticipated it; after all, you can’t very well hear a ringtone over the roar of a commercial grade lawnmower.  But still.  A voicemail.

“Come to the hospital when you get this.  I’ll be in Labor & Delivery triage.”

I drove a few more miles on I-475 East, a highway I could navigate in my sleep.  Bubbles of giddy laughter rose in my chest, startling me.  What was so funny?  I was on my way to the hospital at twenty-four weeks pregnant, alone, and here I was, laughing.  It would be months before I realized the laughter, the “nerves" I was feeling was merely shock setting in.

As unnatural as it is, I felt very at home at The Toledo Hospital.  I’ve spent more than the average person’s share of time wandering the halls and camped in the waiting rooms of the massive brick structure.  So the enormity of what I was actually walking toward was lost on me as I parked the van, passed through the lobby, and rode the elevator to the familiar third floor Maternity ward.

My steps faltered for the first time that day, just shy of the nurses station.  The words I knew I needed to say stuck to my tongue and choked me.  The tears I’d not felt the urge to shed suddenly burned at the back of my eyes.  Before I was ready, the nurse looked up and said, “Can I help you?”

And even though in my heart, I knew the answer was a resounding, “No; no you can’t,” I stepped up to the counter and told her I’d been sent from Dr. so-and-so’s office after failure to find fetal heart tones on doppler.

Recognition immediately flooded her face, and I felt a momentary peace that at least this part was going to be easy, due to Joel’s advance phone call.

I was led to a curtained-off section of triage, and asked to put on a gown and provide a urine sample, which was the last simple, easy, and mindless thing I would do that day.

A nurse (who to this day I’m thankful was about to leave due to a shift change) came to my side, efficiently ran through the necessary patient history, placed the hospital bracelet on my wrist, and proceeded to usher me into a universe I never wanted to know.

She placed two monitor strips behind my back, and laid the loose material across my belly, which suddenly seemed so much smaller than it had just hours earlier.  One strip for contractions, one strip for fetal heart rate.  She placed the first monitor pad down, waited for an accurate read to appear on the computer screen, and fastened the elastic strip tight.  She placed the second pad down, and looked to the screen.  She moved the pad a few inches to the right; then the left; then lower on my belly, all the while, frowning at the monitor.

“I’m going to send in the doctor to take a look,” she said quietly, and stepped around the curtain.

I looked down at the second strip.  She hadn’t bothered to fasten it tight, and it lay wide open to either side of me, like a pair of empty arms.

And finally…

A thousand tears fell, and yet, he remained still.

The compassion of the doctor on call astounded me.  She came in, but merely sat on the edge of my gurney, holding my hand, and waiting with me until Jim arrived.  The truth of the silent monitor went unspoken between us; she knew that I was not strong enough to handle hearing the words spoken aloud until my husband was present.

As soon as Jim entered the curtained-off area, she rose, and had a new (and wonderfully sweet and gentle) nurse prep me for an abdominal ultrasound.  The screen was turned toward her, and therefore Jim, who was standing on her right, at such an angle that I could not see.  I was glad.  I don’t know that my psyche could have survived seeing the image on the screen and the look on Jim’s face.

I didn’t take my eyes of his as the doctor verified what they had all just seen.

“I’m so sorry.  There is no cardiac movement.”

The horror and pain and numbing disbelief that these words bring to a parent’s heart can’t be translated into words.  An audio clip of the gut-wrenching, primal cry that came simultaneously from Jim and me is the only thing that could even come close to conveying the sorrow that immediately engulfed the room.  It was as if all the oxygen had been sucked out through the folds of the triage curtains; my ears were ringing; I doubled over in a non-physical pain that left me blind and deaf to the goings-on around me.

The doctor and nurses excused themselves to give us some privacy, and we clung to each other as we wept.  Surprisingly, I found, grief that intense can only be sustained for so long, and soon enough, my brain automatically went into business mode: what was next, how would I deliver, could we stay in Ohio, would our insurance cover an out-of-network delivery, what would we name him, how would we tell our parents, which funeral home should we choose, did we have to bury him in Ohio or could we bring him back to Tennessee.  A million questions needed to be answered, and although in the moment, you feel like the least-equipped person on earth to answer them, the responsibility still falls to you.

The next several hours were spent trying to track down representatives from both the hospital and our insurance carrier.  The amount of bureaucratic red tape that needed to be negotiated was staggering, and the fact that it was 3:00 PM on a Saturday afternoon was working decidedly against us.  We waited; waited some more; named our baby; and then, waited even longer.

We were given the option to induce labor immediately, but I was hesitant.  The reality of what we were facing was horrific enough; the thought of being saddled with an $80,000 hospital bill because we delivered Duncan out-of-network was unbearable.  In the end, we had no answers.  There was no “next step” to take, other than to go home, and wait.

Saturday, May 16th …. To be continued

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Saturday, May 16, 2009 – Afternoon

To start at the beginning, click here

Saturday, May 16th …. Continued …

Jim left the house to accompany his father on some lawn care business while I tried to come up with a sensible reason to avoid joining my mother-in-law and aunt in the driveway, manning the annual garage sale.

I couldn’t fashion a plausible reason that I would be leaving when I knew, even then, that my “errand” would be anything but brief.  I finally just braced myself, and told the ladies I would be seeing a friend – a doctor – to check on the baby, because I felt off.

To which, of course, they replied, “I’m sure it’s nothing.  Sometimes it takes a while for them to wake up and get moving.”  I just forced a smile, and willed away the minutes until I could leave.

It amazes me how clearly I remember trivial details of the hours I sat in the driveway, waiting.  I don’t remember a single mile of the trip to Joel’s office, but ask me what Seth was wearing that morning, or how much Linda sold a rusty wheelbarrow for, and I can tell you.

By the time I arrived at the medical plaza, it had begun to rain – just a misting, really, but enough that I was irritated my hair was no longer straight and shiny.  I stood outside the service entrance to the office, pounding on the metal door, wondering if I could change my reality if I just turned around and left.

A thousand raindrops fell, and yet, he remained still.

Joel finally heard my knock, and ushered me into his office while he finished with his last patient.  I spun in his desk chair, absently running my fingers over the phone buttons, counting ceiling tiles, tilting my head to read the embossed titles on the medical journals lining the shelves.  I selected a volume on Obstetrics, and began to look for any articles on pregnancy complications.

The phrases started to blur.  The sentences didn’t register.  Terminology I knew inside out from Seth’s high-risk pregnancy no longer made sense.

A thousand words read, and yet, he remained still.

I heard Joel send off his patient, and lock the doors behind her.  He popped his head into the office, reassuring me that he’d only be one more minute.  A phone rang, and he went to answer.

I stood, and wandered the connecting hallways of the office, picking up a Dumdum lollipop somewhere along the way.  Butter Rum.  One of my favorites.

A lap around the building.  Then two.  Maybe I went ‘round twenty times before Joel called me into an exam room, and we both smiled awkwardly as I climbed on the table.  Doctor or not, I know he and I both felt embarrassed as I slid down my jeans, albeit slightly, for him to prepare for the doppler.

“Remind me again how far along you are?”  Joel squirted some gel onto my abdomen.

“Twenty-four weeks today.”  I stared up at the ceiling, willing my eyes to dry up.  C’mon, buddy, prove me wrong, I whispered in my heart to my son.  I won’t care if I have to feel stupid for causing a fuss….just prove me wrong.

Too much time was passing, and Joel and I both knew it.  An increasingly fast heartbeat filled the room through the doppler speakers, but it was only mine.

As numb and hollow as I was becoming with each passing moment, the silence only reinforced what I already knew in my heart.  But poor Joel.  For him…..well, it was the hugely unpleasant task of being the bearer of bad news – and not just for a random patient.  He had to look down at the face of a friend who sang in his wedding, a friend with whom his wife spent countless hours entertaining on bedrest, a friend who he had dinner with several times a month, and tell her what no mother should have to hear.

We played our parts – the stoic physician, and the brave patient – for about ten minutes before I finally reached up and set my hand over his.

“It’s okay.  You can stop.”

He handed me a tissue to wipe up the gel, and I knew he was struggling to look at me.

“Joel.”  I waited until he eyes met mine.  “It’s okay,” I repeated, even as my lips began to tremble.  “Just tell me what to do.”

He seemed to muster up some professional reserve, and helped me to a sitting position.  Together, we agreed that I should go to the hospital.  He volunteered to make some phone calls that would allow me to go straight to labor and delivery for monitoring, rather than admit through the emergency room.  A quick phone call to the obgyn on call at my practice in Nashville confirmed I was doing the right thing under the circumstances.

Joel walked me to the door, and held it open as I stepped out into the now-pouring rain.

A thousand unspoken words exchanged, and yet, he remained still.

I climbed into my mother-in-law’s van, fumbling at the dashboard until I remembered how to turn on the windshield wipers.  Only after a moment did it register that the wipers were beating in time to the chorus of “Blessed Be Your Name” playing on the radio.

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say,
’Lord, blessed be Your name’

I took a deep breath, put the car in reverse, and picked up my cell phone to call Jim.

Saturday, May 16th …. To be continued

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Saturday, May 16, 2009 – Morning

To start at the beginning, click here

I woke, and willed my mind to go as blank as the wall I would face when I finally forced my eyes open.

The dread and fear and ache that had settled onto my chest the night before, as the thunderstorm raged outside our room, remained firmly in place, even though a new day had come, washed clean and bright with the rain.

I rose, swinging my legs over the edge of the bed.  Was I just groggy, or was each limb inexplicably heavier this morning?  I sat for a moment, head bowed low over my swollen belly, and I whispered, “Good morning, little one.  You need to wake up.”

A thousand heartbeats passed, and yet, he remained still.

I knew what I was supposed to do: consume sugar, and then rest on my left side.  So, I went through the motions.  I chose four chocolate chip cookies from the glass jar in the kitchen and retrieved a Pepsi from the fridge in the garage, and laid back down.

If my life depended on it, I couldn’t tell you how long I lay in bed.  It could have been twenty minutes; it could have been two.  All I can tell you is that however long it was, it was too long to just be still and feel nothing.

I showered, begging my son to stir as I ran the soapy loofah over his form.  As I toweled off, I rubbed cocoa butter into my skin, as I’d done every day since I learned of his existence.  I bargained with him: just one kick, one flip; one more cookie for each movement he made.

A thousand promises made, and yet, he remained still.

I applied makeup, and styled my hair to a perfect shine.  I dressed with care: my favorite jeans, a comfy brown tee that showcased my growth, a sweater, amber jewelry, leather sandals.  I opened the bathroom door, and stepped into a familiar hallway placed into a world I no longer recognized.

Jim came to my side with a concerned look on his face.  I smiled up at the father of my children, and felt my protective armor – not for me, but for him – slide into place.

“So, here’s what I’m going to do,” I told him.  “I’m going to call Kristen and see if she’ll have Joel bring a doppler to church tomorrow.  He can bring one home from his office, check me out before service, and save me a trip from going to see Dr. Gibbs on Monday.”  He merely nodded, and I sent him back outside.

I wandered into my father-in-law’s office and punched in speed dial 16 – Joel and Kristin’s anniversary.  She answered on the third ring, and in hindsight, I’m surprised she understood my request, since it spilled from my lips in such a rush:

“Hey, lady!  So, we’re in town for the week, and I wondered if you could have Joel go into the office and pick up a doppler and bring it to church tomorrow so that he could check on the baby and make sure that all is okay because I’m not sure I can remember feeling him move much for the last 24 hours and I really don’t want to have to wait until Monday to pop into Dr. Gibbs’ office because I’m supposed to be in Bellevue for lunch with my grandparents and I really don’t want to have to cancel because I’m sure it’s nothing, and I really don’t want to have to go to Babies ‘R Us to buy an at-home doppler for nothing, so I figured I could just have Joel do it.  What do you think?”

She assured me that she’d check with Joel, but that a better option might be to just go into his office, since he was already seeing patients that day.  This option made the most sense, but I didn’t want to do that.  Leaving Seth with my mother-in-law while I went to the doctor would raise questions with my family that I didn’t want to answer.  I had no intention of sharing my fear with them – I hadn’t even wanted to tell Jim.  But in the end, I saw no way around it.  I told Kristen to tell Joel I’d see him at 12:30, and I went to inform Jim of the change of plans.

He was already set to mow yards with his dad, but I could tell he was torn between helping John or coming with me.

“Just go,” I told him.  “You’re going to waste time coming with me, since it’s probably nothing.”  He opened his mouth to argue, and I rushed on.  '”And if it’s something…..I’ll call you, okay?”  He still didn’t look convinced, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell him what I already knew, even as I asked, “Honey?  Worst case scenario – if Joel can’t find the heartbeat, what should I do?  Should I go to the hospital?”  He simply nodded, and my heart broke.

I went to him, put my arms around his back, and leaned into his strong frame.  “It will be fine,” I whispered.  “I feel silly even making Joel stay at work late.  It’s nothing.  I’m sure he’ll get the heartbeat as soon as he sets down the doppler.  It’ll be fine,” I lied.

A thousand reassurances whispered to his daddy, and yet, he remained still.

Saturday, May 16th …. To be continued

Monday, May 10, 2010

Friday, May 15, 2009

For the introduction to this series, click here.

I was all set to go.  Bags were packed and ready to be loaded into the car: mine and Seth’s right away that morning, and Jim’s later that day.

The plan was for Seth and I to leave Nashville and drive to Louisville, KY, to visit with my friend Daina and her twin boys, Ari and Greg.  When Jim would get off work that afternoon, he would drive up to Louisville, and pick Seth and I up, and we’d continue on to Ohio, leaving my car at Daina’s until we made our return trip the following weekend.

And wouldn’t you know it?  Complex as it was, our plan went off without a hitch.

Seth and I had an uneventful trip to Daina’s.  We even got there early enough that  I was still in coffee mode, and Daina brewed me a yummy cappuccino.  We visited, in spite of Seth climbing all over the baby paraphernalia and said Ari and Greg being a smidge cranky.

We broke for a McDonald’s run around 12:30 – a quarter pounder for Daina and a 10-piece nugget meal for Seth and me to share.  I remember sitting in the drive-thru, debating Coca-Cola or Sprite?  Coke or Sprite?  I went with Coke.

Daina’s husband Jeff arrived home from work early enough that we got to spend some time visiting before Jim arrived.  Holding one of the twins, while I held the other, and Daina prepared dinner bottles, and Seth ran underfoot, Jeff began to chuckle.

I’m going to laugh my *** off when you get to do this [meaning handle an infant and toddler] all over again in August.”

I didn’t think it was funny, and told him as much.  It was no secret to Daina and Jeff that I was still getting used to the idea of this unplanned pregnancy.

Jeff,” I told him, “if I could undo this, I would.”


Several hours later, as Jim and I drove northeast towards Ohio, we decided to detour to Carrollton, KY.  We stopped at Burger King to change Seth and get him into his pajamas, and to grab dinner.

I casually mentioned to Jim as we ordered that I couldn’t remember feeing the baby move much that day – even after my caffeinated Coke at lunch – and that he should probably buy me a strawberry milkshake – you know, to wake up Itty Bitty.

Around 11:00 PM, when we stopped for gas and Mt. Dew at our usual exit between Cincinnati and Dayton, I mentioned again to Jim that I still wasn’t feeling much movement, and we brushed it off as Itty Bitty’s way of killing time on the boring drive up I-75; after all, if I hadn’t agreed to help keep Jim awake, I would have just gone to sleep, too.

Jim and I talked about everything and nothing as we completed the last leg of the journey home – our future plans to adopt, what we might name our second son (not Sawyer; sorry, Jen), the never ending sell-the-truck-to-get-an-SUV debate, the itinerary for our week in Toledo.

The last 150 miles fell away under the tires of the F250, and we pulled into the driveway just as the first raindrops of the early morning began to fall.

We settled Seth into his crib in the back bedroom, and collapsed into our own bed at precisely 1:00 AM (which had been our goal all along).  I knew Jim would drift off to sleep almost immediately, but as the thunder began to boom and lighting flashes sent shadows bouncing across the sheet under which Itty Bitty rested, I turned to my husband…

Jim….I still haven’t felt the baby.”

He didn’t respond, and I didn’t repeat.  It was easier to let the silence speak for us both.

To be continued