Thursday, October 29
Since we first lost Connor we have used the line "Colby is why we're still going." He was our reason for functioning. He IS our reason for living. And in the beginning it seemed that having Colby made things easier in a sense. Not that they were ever easy.
Now I wonder more and more if having Colby (while I wouldn't change it!) has actually made things more difficult when it comes to wading through the grief of losing Connor. In the beginning we were heartbroken that we lost Connor. We were able to focus on it for... hours maybe. We still had Colby who needed us. While he obviously wasn't as sick as Connor, he was still sick. We were dealing with metabolic acidosis, PDA, lung disease, and other uncertainties. We were distracted from the trauma of losing Connor by the needs of our other precious baby.
Now, as the stress of being in the NICU for over 100 days without an end in sight combines with the exhaustion of working and being at the hospital basically every waking moment and the jealousy of seeing healthy, happy pregnant ladies and newborn overtakes me, I feel completely and utterly overwhelmed.
All the time.
There is no escape.
Everything reminds me of Connor, the life I had planned, and the fact that my baby is dead and is never coming back. I will always have more children than I will ever put in the car. More children than I will ever send off to school. More children than I will ever go on vacation with. More children than I will ever kiss good night.
And as my heart breaks and I become overwhelmed, I remember that I took ZERO pictures of my precious baby while he was living. My dad took all the pictures-- the few pictures I took were after he was gone. I regret not taking everything in during those precious 43 hours. I thought I had forever. And with every thought my heart breaks a little more than I thought possible.
NOTHING is how I planned it even just 20 short weeks ago. This is not where I'm supposed to be.
I wake up in the morning and get ready for another day of school. I pump for my baby I can't take care of, I look at photos of the baby I can't hold, and then I try to get through another day. I take care of other people's children and get them ready for life. And I can't even get my own babies ready for life. Connor's life was cut too short and Colby still doesn't seem to belong to me in some ways. After school I drive to see my baby in a sterile hospital room where he's hooked up to beeping monitors. I hold him, but know I have to say goodbye again. For over the 100th time. After the visit that is always too short, I head home to get things done and repeat the process.
And my heart is broken. I find it hard to get through those days. I ache- literally, painfully ache- to have my babies with me. I try not to be jealous and to be happy for others, but seeing blissfully pregnant ladies makes my stomach hurt. Seeing twins pushed in strollers brings tears to my eyes. And the knowledge that I will never bring Connor home sends me spiraling downward.
When we were dealing with infertility I was sure that the negatives would have to get easier with each passing month. But they never did. If anything, the no's got harder to stomach each time. When we lost Connor I thought it would get easier as time went on. And it did for a little... while the distraction was still there. But now I can't be distracted from my pain anymore and the grief is only getting stronger. I'm heartbroken over the baby I can't take home forever. I'm heartbroken that Colby's not home. I'm heartbroken that I no longer have any control in my life.
I'm just hurting. And I don't know how to fix it right now.
Sunday, October 25
Today Colby is 14 weeks old. He's done a lot of growing. From 2lbs 3oz to almost 8lbs over the past 3 months. Take a look!
Happy Birthday! July 19th.
A little old man- intubated for the second time on July 26th. (I was on CPAP from July 23-July 26th).
Under the blue lights and still intubated for time number 2. August 2nd.
Kangarooing with Mom. On the Cannula for time number 1. August 16.
Look at how big I am! September 27th.
A new month and I'm still getting huge! October 4th.
So sleepy. It's hard work growing! And no feeding tube! October 11th.
Uber adorable! October 18th.
And a cute little frog with no oxygen!!! October 25th!
To say Colby has grown a lot over the past few months would be an understatement! I think I have better pictures to show the growth, but I wanted to use the pictures from every Sunday instead. :)
Friday, October 23
Thursday, October 22
Today Colby is 96 days old. 2 days ago, after we met with the oxygen company 3 days ago, Colby came off the oxygen. It's been over 36 hours so we're hopeful it will continue. Colby has been spell free for 3 days and only needs to make it to Saturday at 3pm. Assuming he does that, he's coming home on Saturday at 98 days, 3 hours, and 2 minutes old.
I am thrilled beyond belief. But a little terrified as well. Not about having him home- I'm ecstatic about that. I am so scared to walk out of the hospital the last time. We will be closing the door on that chapter of our life. We will be saying good bye to the last place we held Connor. We will be saying goodbye to the people who have taken care of Colby for the past 98 days. We will be saying goodbye to our "normal" for the last 98 days. Exciting, but bittersweet at the same time. As much as the past 14 weeks haven't been what we planned, we couldn't have asked for a better place for Colby (or myself while on bedrest).
Odds are, next time I post, my precious little bug will be home and I will start the next phase of my life. I will be a "normal" mom. (I know I already am, but I will finally be in charge. Without wires.)
Here we go. :)
Monday, October 19
As we mark the 3 month anniversary Connor's funeral I'm confronted with many, many emotions. I think back to the day they were born and it really is bittersweet. I try to think back to that day and the emotions running through my head. The worry for the boys and the excitement of becoming a mom. There's no way that I knew what was in store for us. I knew it was going to be a long road... but I really had no idea just how long it would be. And I guess I still don't know.
I was driving to school a few mornings ago and passed one of the many funeral homes near my school (it's like a funeral home street, really) and there were the little "Funeral- No Parking" signs out. And it all crashed into me. Everything Connor funeral related came flooding back.
The day before the funeral Johnny and I had to go find an outfit for our little man. At 2lbs 9oz it was impossible to find something small enough and perfect enough. We found something we liked... if you can really like what you're saying goodbye to your son in. But we found something and high-tailed it out of that store. Never to return we hoped. The whole outfit ended up being a bit of a catastrophe- it was too big (preemie was 0-7 and he was obviously very much smaller than that) so there was last minute panic. The funeral director called and told us that the outfit was "disturbing" and that we might consider doll clothing instead. At the time I was really worried about what Connor would look like. What was wrong? Had the bruising on his head from the bleeding gotten worse? Had something happened? How could my perfect baby look "disturbing"? In retrospect it was probably nothing to do with Connor that made him disturbing... it was the fact that no one, even a funeral director who does that sort of things for a living, wants to be getting a newborn baby ready for his funeral. The idea is disturbing. In the end, we couldn't go out and buy another outfit. We just couldn't manage it, so we ended up adding a blanket from Colby's isolette to wrap him in. A gift from brother to brother.
The day of the funeral I woke up early to pump. As I sat there pumping I had millions of words running through my head. Things I wanted to tell everyone about Connor and the boys and my dreams. Johnny was saying something at the funeral and I knew I needed my own words. So, after I was done I broke out the computer and the words just flowed.
Then I got ready and we were ready for the funeral. Physically at least. No where near emotionally ready... but we never would be, would we? We drove and I counted. Counted long and hard. When we pulled up the funeral directors were at the door. They wanted me to get out as Johnny parked. I couldn't even look at them... I just shook my head and clutched myself and Johnny's hand and parked. I wasn't ready. But I knew I had to be. For Connor.
So we finally got in and were "greeted" by our families. What do you say? No one has any idea. Then Johnny and I were led in to view our son. Our perfect, precious, beautiful son whom we were never hold again in this life. He was beautiful. There was nothing disturbing about him. He looked peaceful and beautiful. I have the image in my head. As odd as it may be, I wish I had a photo of that image as well.
The funeral passed like a blur. I was in a fog-- a purposefully maintained fog. I couldn't think about what was going on. It was just too hard. We said hi to friends and family. We wondered why certain people weren't there and were touched by several other unexpected visitors. Soon it was time to give our words. As we know I passed that job on to Johnny. I just couldn't read them. I watched the papers as he read. In front of me I could hear the sobs of friends and families as they listened to him speak, but I couldn't look.
When time was up, family and friends filtered out with their goodbyes. Then it was time for Johnny and I to say our final goodbyes.
I wasn't ready. To this day I still wouldn't be ready. I don't think I would ever be.
It was the hardest thing I ever have done. After a long, long time we said goodbye and closed the lid, never to see our son's body again. And with that, another part of my heart literally broke away. I was saying goodbye to a piece of me. A piece I worked so hard for. A piece I would have done anything for. A piece I couldn't protect.
Even after all this time I still find myself in a state of disbelief. I'm not sure if there really is a way to come to terms with losing your baby. Watching Colby grow and thrive is the greatest gift. Looking back at pictures I am amazed at how far he has come.
And then I remember that I should be watching 2 boys grow. I am a mom of two, not one. And I remember that one of my babies is dead. He's in a beautiful little heart box on my dresser. I remember I only have a handful of pictures of him. I remember the kicks he gave me. How he was the "easy" baby and we called Colby the trouble maker. I remember his eyes watching with such intensity the morning he passed. I remember the incredible love I have for him and the hole in my heart that was left when he passed away.
Some days I think I'm going to be okay and I am so thankful for what I have. Other days I wonder how I will move on and wonder why things just can't be easy for once. I would say I am coming to terms with losing Connor and this new life we have been handed, but I don't think I ever will fully come to terms with it. It creeps up on me when I think I'm okay.
But then I see Colby and remember that I have to be okay for him.
Sunday, October 18
I have a problem student in school. He's B. His mom is C.R.A.Z.Y. Nice, but nutty. Anyways, the other day she comes in freaking out because she's pregnant and it's high risk because she had been going through premature ovarian failure so this wasn't supposed to happen. (It was a good freak out... this doesn't have anything to do with her not wanting a baby.) She's thrilled, but nervous, and found out she is four months.
Now why do I mention this? Because did you guys know that some people actually get accidentally pregnant?
Sometimes I forget that! I forget that pregnancy can be a surprise. It can be good. It can just be what it's supposed to be. :)
Naive or not, I'm still hoping the next round is much, much easier than this one. We've defied the odds in so many negative ways this past year that I want to defy a positive one. I want to be an ex-IFer who gets pregnant easily the second time around. :)
Not only is today the boys' official due date. Today was also the Pumpkinfest in NH that Johnny's cousins always host.
Why is that significant?
That means that one year ago I was pregnant for the first time.
IUI number 3 was successful and I was pregnant for a short time. Someone mentioned way back then that the miscarriage would be a bittersweet memory. It's not yet. The miscarried baby would have had a due date of July 9th. 10 days before my babies--- conceived almost 4 months later--- came into the world. My world has changed ten-fold in the past year.
Saturday, October 17
I have been saying for weeks now that I can't wait to have Colby home-- for many reasons, obviously-- but one being the extra rest. I get laughed at in the face by people... except for those who have been there with us. I'm not expecting to sleep 10 hours, but it WILL be more restful. Here's what the last few months have looked like...
5am: wake up, pump, shower, pack for school, etc.
6:30am: off to school, hit traffic
7:30am: finally there, pump, morning, pump, more morning, pump, afternoon, pump, last minute things done
3:30pm: leave school, drive to Boston
4:15/4:30pm: in Boston, hang out with Colby
7:30/8:30pm: leave, drive home
8:30/9:30pm: home, pump, Colby Chronicles, dinner, school work, pump
If you are laughing you do not know how crazy, busy, stressful, and heartbreaking our life is right now. Please do not laugh at me or tell me that it won't get better until you've walked in my shoes the past 3 months.
17 weeks ago when I was put on bedrest this day seemed so far away. It was a truly elusive goal. A day that I wasn't sure we would ever get to. Then, almost 13 weeks ago this day became just a milestone we wouldn't get to.
Today is the boys' official due date.
It's crazy to think about. I love seeing Colby thriving and beautiful. And 13 weeks old. But it also breaks my heart, as you know, because I know that I will only ever be looking at Colby. I will never be looking at Connor except for a handful of pictures. And Colby has already been through SO.MUCH. that he shouldn't have ever had to experience.
When we got pregnant back in February after the IVF there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to make it full term. I used to tell people that the average for twins was 35-36 weeks, BUT I really thought we would make it full term. As I've mentioned, I put my beginning leave date as October 5th-- over 38 weeks!
I order books for my classroom a lot online. I can remember looking at the website noticing that they were planning a Gala for October 24th and thinking that I would have just had my babies.
But here we are...
Colby is still doing great. He's still hanging on to the oxygen- low, low, low oxygen, but it's there. He was trialed off for 6 hours today and did great, but not quite great enough. We have been told we can take him home on oxygen if we want, but we haven't made our decision either way. As much as we want him home, it is so scary to make that decision... SO, here we are. 40 weeks with a 13 week old baby.
Monday, October 12
Remember how for the longest time Mastercard had the "priceless" commercials?
Hot Dog: $7
Souvenir Baseball: $14
Enjoying your first Major League game: Priceless
There are some things money can't buy.
For everything else, there's Mastercard.
You get it, right?
Here's my commercial... and the numbers are totally made up.
Infertility Treatment: $30,000
OB Visits and Ultrasounds: $7,000
Bed Rest for Mommy: $10,000
NICU Care: $100,000
Having a healthy baby to bring home: Priceless.
There are some things money can't buy.
For everything else, there's Blue Cross.
Have I mentioned before home much I love my insurance?? I'm SO thankful we have it!
Sunday, October 11
Today marks 12 weeks since the birth of the boys. 12 weeks. That is just crazy. Yesterday was gestationally 39 weeks. It's amazing that I should still be pregnant, but instead have the most beautiful almost-3-month baby in the NICU and a precious little angel baby watching out for us all.
Speaking of that beautiful baby, he is just precious and doing amazingly. As of late he has been taking his full-feeds through a bottle on demand. No more of this silly feeding tube business. He is ready to work for that food! :) He does pretty well breastfeeding, but it's not really enough, so bottles and occasional formula it is.
I haven't mentioned it before, but after we lost Connor I was the world's worst pumper that first week and a half. Awful. You're supposed to pump 8-12 times a day and not longer than 5 hours in between. I was pumping 3, maybe 4 times. I wish I had realized how critical those first few weeks were to establish your supply. But as I'm constantly reminded-- I had other things to worry about. But sadly I'm paying for it now. Most of Colby's feeds are still breastmilk (though we have learned that he doesn't like frozen and we have a TON of that!!!), but I don't quite produce enough for the tank. It's a huge regret for me, but I'm happy he was sustained by breastmilk alone for 11+ weeks. I know I won't make a similar mistake next time!
Anyways, back to Colby. He's 7+ pounds. He's been getting doses of a diuretic to try to get excess fluid out of his lungs, so he's been fluctuating between high 6lbs and low 7lbs. Hopefully he starts to stay above 7lbs constantly!
His bradies and dsats are next to nothing. (As in he goes dayss). It looks like he's last hurdle is the oxygen. He's still on a cannula although he was tried off for an hour and a half the other day. He's doing so well! Hopefully he's home soon!
Pictures to come later!
Sunday, October 4
I was so optimistic and naive back when I wrote my maternity leave letter in late May that I put down tomorrow-- 38w2d-- as the beginning of my leave. I had no doubts that I would make it to October 5th. I just didn't think I would want to walk the last two weeks.
As we get closer to bringing Colby home (oh, did I forget to mention that Colby is a SUPERSTAR? Last night he was 7lbs, he hasn't bradied in almost 5 days, and he took a full bottle from Daddy..) some days are getting harder and harder.
As I said before, it's so easy to be matter-of-fact about Connor. I can tell people we're okay. That we're living for Colby. That things have happened this way because it was meant to be. Yadda yadda yadda.
But when I'm alone with my thoughts, I can't be matter-of-fact. That hole is ripping again right now. In the hospital I watch Colby so alert. I watch him with his daddy. I hold him and stare at his face. And I am SO. IN. LOVE. But then I remember... I'm in love times two. I have another baby that should be there. I should be holding Connor while Daddy is holding Colby.
As we think about art work and photos for the walls of the house, immediately I think of putting up pictures of Colby. We have so many cute ones to use!! But then I immediately know I need one of Connor as well. But, what can we use? Our pictures of him show him covered in wires.. I just want to remember him as a sweet little boy.
I'm going through the clothes in the bedroom for Colby and I come across the doubles. It hurts to give them away. They were for Connor. But now he doesn't need them. And on and on... the double stroller net and the double stroller and the extra car seat and the double shopping cart cover...
At the end of all these thoughts-- that come up daily and hourly-- I get sick to my stomach. I remember that I had this sweet little boy THRIVING in my belly. He was PERFECT. He was adorable. He was the one I could hold on the monitor with the perfect heartbeat. He was the one I could always count on huge kicks from. But then I remember that he's gone. Just like that he was taken from us. And there was NOTHING we could do. We were helpless to stand there and watch our first baby pass away right in front of us. And it helps to know that he's always with us- we keep the ashes in the bedroom. But that in itself makes me feel sick. One of my babies is in the NICU being cared for by someone else most of the time. And my other baby is stuck in a tiny silver heart because I couldn't help him. Why couldn't I just be a normal mother to the two of them?
As much as I am SO looking forward to the day Colby comes home (I CAN'T WAIT!!!), a little piece of me is dreading it too. I am so scared to come home without Connor. I don't know if it will be bittersweet, if I'm be too distracted to dwell on it, or if I will be a downright mess.
I wish so badly he were here with us. Somedays it hurts more than I thought possible. It gets easier with each day. But in some ways, it gets so much harder.
I'm 75 days farther away from him.