Thursday, August 30, 2012

Freaking Out

I hate this. I am having a shitty, emotional day (okay like two weeks now) and I am driving myself crazy. As of today, I am 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant. While I am uncomfortable at this point, it is nothing compared to the mental torture I am going through. To put it bluntly, I am freaking out and I really can't think of a way to stop other than delivering this child (which will bring on a whole new set of worries but one step at a time here.)

Before I had Naya, I was prone to anxiety. There were a few times when I had panic attacks and would actually drive myself to the hospital and sit in the ER, just in case. Over time, I learned to manage my anxiety (mainly by cutting out caffeine and getting off the pill) and once I got pregnant with Naya, I hardly ever got anxious. After she died, I expected my anxiety to return full force and was surprised when it didn't. Now is a different story.

I have been pretty good this whole pregnancy. The first trimester was rough. I was sure that I was going to miscarry and I was constantly checking for blood and second guessing every cramp. Once I hit the second trimester, I mellowed and the rest of the pregnancy, I was fairly calm. Until now. Everyday is kind of torturous. When I don't feel the baby move, I freak out. I can't sleep. I am up crying a lot of the night or having panic attacks. I am so scared. I don't think I can deal with another dead baby and I am so scared that it's going to happen again. I just want the baby here so I can double check that it's okay all the time without an expensive hospital bill attached everytime. (Yes, I've been to the ER...I'm that pathetic.)

I realize that what happened with Naya was a fluke incident with the chances of it happening again akin to getting struck by lightning. Twice. That's all well and good but what about all the other more "common" ways babies die? Who says that can't happen to me. Cause guess what? I no longer live in that naive "everything will be fine, these things happen to other people and not to me" world. These things can happen to anyone at anytime. Why couldn't it happen again?

Sometimes I don't think it helps that I have completely engulfed myself completely in this "baby loss" world. Don't get me wrong - this wasn't a mistake. I love all the other loss mommas I have met. They have been my saviors and I really don't think I could have gotten through this far without them. It's just that I now know literally hundreds of women who have lost their babies (not to mention older children). You learn everyone else's story, which is just as tragic and unique as your own. And you can't help but think, "oh fuck, this could happen to me." I know that I am never "safe." My baby can die. Anytime and of a variety of things. And it's fucking stressful. I'm drained.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Another Step in Making Change

I apologize for taking so much time between posts lately. I am absolutely exhausted. 37 weeks 1 day pregnant today and I am feeling it. The way I am carrying this (bigger) baby is really having an affect on my body. I can manage to get myself up to go to work but that is about it at this point. I get home and I am DONE. It's a real struggle to cook dinner for the family and keep the house clean at this point. I tried to sweep the living room today and I had to lay down afterwards because my back hurt. I am looking forward to not being pregnant anymore and soon. My poor body needs a break.

I know a lot of people have wondered what we are doing with the whole legal situation right now. I can't go into that quite yet but I did want to share a meeting Dan and I had last week with the Vice President of Medical Affairs at the Hospital where I gave birth to Naya. It was quite interesting and, honestly, a good experience. I went in there expecting to be placated and brushed off but was pleasantly surprised when the opposite happened. He was very forthcoming, apologetic and honest. He admitted that there were faults in what happened and took responsibility for them. He also apologized, which I know sounds like a small gesture, but it was one in which we were really appreciative of. No one has done this so far, especially not the old pediatrician. It was bittersweet to hear but it helped. Nothing is going to bring her back (believe me, if there was something I would have tried it) but it helped to hear that we did everything we could have and other people screwed up. Multiple times. Ugh.

He also told us that some steps were being taken to prevent this from happening again. There was and is going to be another internal review process, especially concerning the behavior of the pediatrician. We are not legally permitted to know what occurs because of the process but he told us that sometimes physician's privileges are revoked until they go back to school to "relearn" procedure. He also told us that the hospital is planning on creating a new position in their labor and delivery department to help ensure that this does not happen again. They are hiring a neonatal Nurse Practitioner to act as a liaison between their nurses and the doctors. This person would be in charge of looking for inconsistencies and acting on them. (In our case - this person would have seen that the nurses noted that Naya hadn't pooped and wasn't eating and it would have been her job to raise the red flag, despite what the doctor might have ordered.) We were very glad to hear this and are thankful that the hospital is taking this seriously. Our hope is that this will prevent other families from having to go through a similar experience. I wish we didn't have to be poster children for change but since I can't change what happened, I have to do something. It gives her life some purpose and that helps. Somewhat. I still would rather have her back.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cleaning out the Room

Hard to believe but I didn't even realize what the date was today until about Noon. Then it hit me - Of course that's why I was feeling like crap today. It's the 14th. Duh. It's funny how that kind of automatically puts me in a mood, even when I don't realize what day it is. It's been 11 months since the last time I held my baby girl in my arms and I kissed her goodbye.

We've actually had a lot of things going on in the last week or so that have kept me busy and emotional. On Sunday, Dan and I took a huge step and cleaned out Naya's room. I had been gradually working up to this - I bought bins a month ago and a pretty pink memory box a few weeks ago. I've also been putting things for the new baby into the room. (Not a lot of things but I have bought a few items like a new car seat and stroller as well as some "rainbow" hats and stuffed animals.) But on Sunday, we decided to just do it. We basically sat down and made three piles - Keeping for the new baby, giving away and storing. We decided to keep a lot of items - the crib, the rocker, the dresser, the swing, plus anything that she hadn't directly used (toys, bumbo, Ergo, etc.) We also made the decision to keep all of the bedding and some of the decor, which was something we had gone back and forth with. On the one hand, we wanted this baby to have their own stuff but on the other, we wanted them to share something. We decided that we will repaint the room next weekend and personalize it to the new baby with new wall art, etc. We made the same decision with the clothing and blankets. Anything that was specifically made for her or that she wore, we packed away. Everything else we kept.

In the giveaway pile, we put the stroller, the car seat and a couple other items. Nothing was actually wrong with these things but they just have awful memories associated with them. The car seat was the last place we saw our daughter in a "normal" way - meaning without tubes and vents keeping her alive. I didn't think we could handle using these things for the new baby, so they are going to a woman's shelter.

The last pile was probably the hardest. This pile contained everything we had and wanted to save of our daughter. Her baby book, her footprints, her bag of hair that they cut off in the Hospital to treat her bed sores. The outfit that we originally brought her home in. Balloons that people had sent after she was born saying "It's a Girl!" Presents that were sent to our house after we had left for the hospital that we had never opened. Her princess bear and unicorn that were on her window sill in the hospital. The hair bows we changed every day. The blanket that she had been wrapped in after she died and we held her for hours. The newspaper articles written about her. The guestbook from the funeral. Dan and I sorted all of these things and more and put most of them away into a bin in the garage and the rest in the memory box that is now sitting on a shelf in our living room. I think that was the hardest part for me - my daughter's life fits into a bin and a small box. It hurts.

But we got it done. And next weekend, we will finish the room as best we can for this rainbow that will be here very, very soon. I was planning on writing more tonight but I will have to continue tomorrow. My back is yelling at me to go lie down and I figure I better listen, especially after I had to spend some time yesterday having a non-stress test at the hospital. (Everything was fine - the baby is usually a wiggle monster and was barely moving. I wanted to be safe rather than sorry.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Another Flashback

I literally think that I'm living in some sort of warped universe where time has slown down just to torture me. It's only been two weeks since Naya's birthday. It feels like an eternity. Everyday is just dragging on and I am tired, not only mentally but physically, since I am nearing the end of this pregnancy during this mentally draining time period. That only adds on to the stress. I am 35 weeks and 3 days right now and carrying a large baby (they are guessing about 2lbs bigger than either of my other children). My body is sore, my mind is polluted and I am just plain tired. I would really, really like this month to end. I am so tired of being patient.

However, yesterday was Ty's 11th birthday and that was a happy distraction. He went to the water park with his summer program during the day and we went for sushi afterwards, followed by a special birthday apple pie. (All his choices - yes, my son has interesting tastes.) We spent a lot of time shopping for special presents that meant a lot to him and he loved every second of his birthday. It was nice to hear that it was the best birthday ever and I don't think it was just the hormones speaking. Last year, his birthday was awful. We were in Santa Barbara and Naya was not doing very well. We were able to sneak out of the hospital for a dinner the day before but we didn't have time to get him gifts or anything. He got a card with cash because my little sister took him to Disneyland on his actual birthday. I didn't even get to see him that day and this year, I felt we had so much to make up for. It hate thinking about how I didn't get to make his debut into the double digits special for him. It hurts. I know he understood that we did our best in the worst of circumstances but it still hurts.

That brings me to today. Along with the emotions that always seem to come after a significant day, today was very hard for another reason. One year ago today was the day that Naya was airlifted to LA from Santa Barbara. I feel like I've relived that day over and over again in my head today. I feel like it was just yesterday - I can't believe it was a freaking year ago. I remember walking into the hospital that morning and the nurse that was on duty freaking out because her blood pressure was super low and she couldn't bring it up. I remember panicking along with her and wondering what the hell was happening - my baby was supposed to be getting better, at least that's what they had told me. I remember the attending coming and talking to us and telling us they were transferring her down to LA because she might need dialysis. (I didn't know it at the time but they were thinking she needed to be on ECMO, something that they didn't end up doing because she was too sick. ECMO is essentially a sort of dialysis system for your heart and lungs. It's crazy and scary and a last resort option. It is so ironic to me that she was to sick to go on ECMO. Here's a link if you are curious as to what it is: I had no idea this existed until we were in the NICU.)

I remember waiting for them to decide how they were going to make the transfer. It went back and forth from ambulance to helicopter for awhile. They eventually decided to use a helicopter and we waited for the team to arrive from LA. While we were waiting, Dan went to the place we were staying and packed up our stuff, since we weren't allowed in the chopper and were going to drive our car down to LA. The team got there and they loaded up Naya for transport, with my sobbing the whole time. Dan and I walked with them out to the ambulance that was waiting to take them to the airport, where the helicopter would take off. We said goodbye to our baby and watched them drive away. It was one of the most heart wrenching moments of my life. After they left, we got in our car and began the 100 mile drive to LA - at 5:00 on Tuesday. If you know anything about Southern California traffic, you know that means a fun time. The worst part was sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the 101 just outside of Santa Barbara and watching that blue helicopter come from behind us and fly to the South. We watched it in tears until we couldn't see it anymore.

It took us around 3 hours to make that 100 mile drive. Luckily, one of the nurses on the transport team had taken my number and called us both when they landed and also when she was settled in her room to let us know her status. We were able to see her that night and meet a couple of her wonderful primary nurses that would spend the next month caring for her. We also had to scramble to find a place to stay, as there was no room in the Ronald McDonald House for us. Funny story though - the hospital had just moved into their newly built building and offered to let us stay in the old hospital, which was empty, for the night. We politely declined. (We ended up staying with one of my sisters friends who lived in West Hollywood.)

Wow. Writing all that seems like I am describing a scene out of a movie. Sometimes, it's hard for me to believe we experienced what we did. Even now, looking back a year later, it still seems so surreal.