Thursday, April 27, 2006

Sweet Dreams

A had a dream the other night that I didn't mention. I had fallen asleep on my own, and I'm not in the habit of doing that right now. I'm off the Vistaril--now my drug of choice is Benedryl. (Well, it's allergy season and I sleep with the windows open--so I think that's a pretty good cover.) So I wonder if I've ever had dreams like this before, but was just too gorked out to remember them.

The dream started out with my springer spaniel, Flossie, who died a couple of years ago. In the dream, I was trimming Flossie's nails and then left the room. When I came back, there was a little boy there in blue overalls. He had his back to me and he had his little arms wrapped around Flossie's neck and his face buried in her fur. He was giving her a great big squeezy hug. The little boy looked like he may have been about a year old, able to stand, but still kinda tottery. Flossie looked like she was enjoying this big hug, but I said, "Little boy, watch out! She's cranky and she might bite!" And I woke up.

We buried Nate in blue overalls, maybe I was just remembering that. But I'd like to think that they both came by to let me know that they are alright.

Monday, April 24, 2006


This weekend was so much better than last, thank goodness.

My whole family went down to Eureka Springs, Arkansas to see my sister renew her vows to her husband. She ran off down there five years ago, got married, then didn't tell the family for two weeks. We didn't like this guy at all--that's why she didn't tell anyone. All hell broke loose when she told us--holy shit. We gave this marriage about six months.

Five years later, we absolutely adore this guy. He thinks my sister is a living goddess. They are still so much in love and they have a wonderful marriage. So, since we all missed the hitchery the first time, my mom decided that a re-enactment was in order. It was held at the same place as the original--Judge Roy Bean's Old Time Photos and Legal Weddings. No lie. They wore jeans and t-shirts, just like the first time--it was great. The original wedding reception was nachos and beer at the bar across the street, but this time it was at the Catfish Cabin for All-U-Can-Eat seafood. Awesome.

We spent the day looking in all the cool little boutiques and ended up at the Crescent Hotel to have drinks. The bar at the Crescent has balcony seating that overlooks the valley--it's absolutely beautiful. I sat there with my sisters, my mom and step-mom laughing and talking and having a wonderful time, and I realized how long it had been since I had thought about Nate. I was drinking my Fat Tire and laughing so hard my stomach hurt, and suddenly felt bad. But just for a second. Nate heard me laugh all the time--I know that he would want me to keep laughing. Being sad all the time is so exhausting--this day really re-charged me, I needed it so badly.

On Sunday, Tom and I skipped church and went on a 13-mile bike ride. My town has a system of wonderful trails for bikers and runners called the Ozark Greenways and they are so beautiful. It's just a moment of zen using these trails. So after a long bike ride, we grilled out filet mignon and had a huge lunch, then took a nap. A storm was rolling in and I lay there with a full tummy and sore legs, listening to the thunder and feeling the breeze come in through the windows and thought, this is almost perfect. If only I had a baby to cuddle with, it would be perfect. Someday, I will. And when that happens, there will still be bike rides and thunderstorms and spring breezes and steak dinners and naps with my husband--my perfect day.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

More bright side....

So far, so good on the house thing! They've accepted our offer, and are even leaving their vintage patio furniture! (I threw that into our conditions just for the hell of it--I didn't think they'd go for it. I've always wanted patio furniture like this. Awesome!) It has the best backyard for a garden--it's super sunny. I've been so inspired by everyone's gardens, I just can't wait to start my own little garden for Nate. We're making a fresh start, and it's just what we needed :)

Breaking the Bad News

I've been pretty lucky so far---most of my casual acquaintances found out what had happened. I was dreading going back to work--I'd played so many gigs with so many different people when I was pregnant and I just knew that I would be inundated with How's-the-Baby questions. Fortunately, the music community here is pretty tight, so it seemed like everyone already knew. This was such a relief to me. I don't care who told who, I don't care if it was fodder for gossip as long as I didn't have to tell people that my baby was dead. Better luck next time. Thanks for playing.

Well, there have been a few people who didn't know. Yesterday, a very nice viola player asked me, "How's the new baby?" She had such a great smile on her face. I just said, "Well..." and shook my head. The smile stayed there, but she started to look confused. "We lost him," I said. Still smiling...more confused. "He died. He passed. We lost him." It finally soaked in for her. No one expects that kind of answer when they ask that question. They were just making an attempt at small talk, and this is what they get. I feel like I just ruined their day and I wonder if they will ever again ask how someone's baby is.

I've been learning a lot already on this journey, and I've learned that when you tell someone that your baby died, they want so badly to say just the perfect thing to make you feel better. I heard this yesterday, and I've heard it before, "Sometimes nature knows best." Hmmm, okay, right. Nate was a sturdy little big-footed, barrel-chested beauty with a head full of auburn hair. He was absolutely perfect--well, he would have been. In mine and so many of our situations, nature didn't know best, nature fucked up. Royally.

I want so much to set these people straight, to get angry at them, but I can't. Partially because I'm too emotionally exhausted, but also because I realize now that they just don't get it. What happened was just so horrible, so unimaginable to the average shlub on the street, they can't get their brain around it. For some reason, I was entered into this sorority of wise women, so all I can do is nod sagely when someone attempts to comfort me with this kind of thing. They don't understand, and I'm glad that they don't--no one should have this kind of understanding. I know that it is helping their heart to tell me these things, and I'll just let them do it. The place that I have been is dark and black and scary, but I'm crawling my way out of that place, baby. I'm doing it--it's a two steps forward, one step back type of thing--but I'm doing it. I have to, for my husband, my family, and my (please God) future children.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

On the bright side....

I'm officially out of maternity clothes! Saturday I weighed in at my Weight Watchers meeting and I'm down 21.4 pounds. So, even though Easter was crappy, I looked cute in my favorite pre-pregnancy outfit--so that's important :)

And then...Tom and I have found an awesome 1955 ranch-style house in a great neighborhood. We'll find out if our bid was accepted in a couple of hours---yikes! I want this house so much, I really hope that it works out. We deserve this house, dammit!
Well, I spent the entire Easter weekend feeling extremely sorry for myself. I think that it was as emotionally exhausting as the weekend he died.

I really wasn't dreading this weekend, I didn't really think about it, I guess. Tom and I went to Good Friday service and that was lovely. Then we went to the Saturday Easter Vigil service. Being relatively new to this whole church thing, I didn't realize that Easter Eve is a traditional time for baptisms. Oh great. This service was two hours long, and I sobbed through the entire thing and tried to be quiet about it. All I could think about was how, a) We were going the next day to see Nate at the cemetery, and that maybe his headstone would be up now, and b) Had he lived, Nate might have been baptized that day, too. My mom had sat with us and after the service, she told me how brave I was. People tell me this all the time, and I'm not sure why. I'm brave because I didn't run screaming out of the church? I cried the entire time, and I was so embarrassed. Had I known there was going to be a bunch of babies and happy, smiling young parents, I wouldn't have gone. You couldn't have dragged me there.

After Easter service we went to the Veterans cemetery where Nate is buried about ten spaces down from his granddad. And his headstone was finally up. We had chosen the Episcopal cross to be engraved at the top and the epitaph to read, Our Sweet Baby Nate. My mother-in-law had been there to place tons of beautifully arranged flowers on both Nate's and my father-in-law's graves. A shiny rock with a heart on it had been buried under the loose dirt around his headstone--I thought that was so sweet, it must have been from one of his little cousins. It was just so surreal, standing there on Easter morning in front of the grave of my dead baby. The whole weekend was surreal. Watching other babies be baptized when my baby was baptized in the NICU, buying Easter lilies for the altar in memory of my dead baby, something that I'll do every year instead of playing Easter bunny to a live Nathaniel, and then standing there on the grave of my baby. I just kept thinking that my husband and I weren't the only one who were sad that day. There were other moms and dads out there who were hurting, too, and for some reason it's really comforting to know that we're not alone in this.

Easter dinner was at my sister's new house with my little nephew who was born three and a half weeks before my son. I love my sister and I love my little nephew, but by that point I was hanging on by a thread. I already felt like I'd been beaten with a baseball bat and I couldn't take much more. If this was Easter, I want to sleep through Christmas.

And that's the end of this badly written and extremely depressing post.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Nate's Birth

Edited to Add: At the bottom of my post is a picture of my son. I hope that it isn't upsetting to anyone, but I felt that I wanted to include it. He was still alive in this picture.

Okay, I'm probably going to have to write this in chunks. Just thinking about this wrings me out.

So, like I said, I woke up at about 1 am on the 31st of January and I was feeling really sick, needing to use the bathroom. [Since this happened, I've read about other women who abupted at home, and they also had an overwhelming need to suddenly use the bathroom.] For some reason, I went to the downstairs bathroom instead of the one in our bedroom, I guess because I didn't want to wake up my husband. Or because, just being married about 7 months, I still didn't like making gross noises around him. Who knows. When I got to the bathroom, I began throwing up in the wastebasket and started to feel extremely faint. Not just an overheated faint, an eyes rolling back in my head faint. I was trying so hard to stay conscious--but even with all of this, I still took the time to rinse out the wastebasket. God forbid anyone find pukey residue.

I'm so thankful that I made it back upstairs somehow. I've said it before, but I don't believe God willed this--I believe he was with me. I didn't know it at the time, but I was fighting so hard to stay conscious because I was bleeding into my uterus--a lot and fast. Had I passed out downstairs, I would have bled to death and it terrifies me to think that my husband would have woken up to that scene the next morning.

I crawled up the stairs and I saying "Honey" over and over again. I got to the bedroom and for some reason the smell of our newly varnished nightstands was so strong to me. [The first time I came back to my bedroom after it happened, I wanted to throw them out the window. Why would I even notice them, or remember this? Strange.] I turned on the bedside lamp to wake Tom up, and I must have looked terrible. He jumped out of bed and went to the bathroom to brush my teeth--I had puke breath. Why did I take the time to brush my teeth and rinse out the barf bucket? That is so stupid--but I just didn't realize how serious things were. As I was standing on our white bathroom rug brushing my teeth in front of the sink, I felt a a muffled "pop" inside. My water broke. I had wondered for nine months what it would feel like when my water broke, and this was it. My baby would be here soon, and everything was going to be okay. But why did I feel so horrible? I remember how hot my waters felt when they were running down my leg. I looked down, and my pink pajama pants turned red. Blood was dropping onto the white bathroom rug. I started shrieking, "Noooooo! Nooooo! That's not right! That's not right!" Tom moved fast. He got me into a pair of shoes, down the stairs, into a coat and into the car in just a few seconds. We got to the hospital in less than five minutes. [We live very close to the hospital. While I hate to pass that place almost every day, I'm thankful that we lived so close at the time.]

I started to feel better in the car. I started to feel like maybe everything was going to be okay--I had no clue what was going on, but my baby was going to be fine. When when arrived at the hospital, Tom put me in a wheelchair and ran me into Labor and Delivery. The girl at the front desk seemed so fucking slow --what's your name, when's your due date, sign this form. I'm nine months pregnant, wearing pajama pants that are soaked from the front and down both legs with blood. Hurry Up!! Once I was in triage, things moved faster. They had me change into a gown, and I remember after changing and walking to the bed, I had left a trail of bloody footprints. I just couldn't get my brain around where all this blood was coming from!

The nurse checked my cervix, and I was still dialated a fingertip--just like I had been at my last OB visit on Friday. She said, "You have placenta previa, " and left to get the ultrasound machine. What? No one told me that! Isn't that something that they tell you beforehand? When the ultrasound arrived, they took a look and Nate's heartbeat had dropped to 42 beats a minute. Oh Jesus. Oh please, please, please.

They took me to the O.R. fast. [I didn't find out until later that my poor husband was left alone in that room with all that mess, and no clue as to what was going on. A little later, a nurse came in to keep him company, and I'm so thankful to her.] It seemed like forever before the doctor on call arrived. I lay on my back on the table, and the sensation of Nate inside me without the cushion of amniotic fluid was almost unbearable. I just shocked and kept saying, "No one told me I had placenta previa." The nurses looked at me funny--they knew what was going on, and the nurse in triage was wrong. They knew that I had abrupted--and when they finally got in, they found that my placenta had completely sheared away from the sides of my uterus. I don't remember the doctor arriving, maybe I was already knocked out, but what seemed like ages since I arrived at the hospital, wasn't. The time I arrived to the time that they got Nate out, was seventeen minutes.

When I woke up in recovery, Tom was there. Our moms were there, too--how long had I been out? Tom must have called them as soon as they took me away. What I don't understand is why wasn't I more concerned about my baby? I remember being so calm, why? Why wasn't I screaming for my baby--that's why I was there, wasn't it? I just felt like everything was fine. Doctors fix everything. They fixed me, they fixed my baby--everything was cool. Our moms came to my bedside--they both just looked stricken. What the fuck? What was everyone so upset?! A man from what I think must have been the pastoral team came to check on me. He was such a nice man and wish that I remembered what he said to me. He did ask me, though, if I would like to see a picture of my baby. Oh, Yeah! My Baby! Sure!

I had spent so many months dreaming of what my son would look like. In fact, I had spent years wondering what my children would look like. I think that girls just do that. But when I was pregnant, I would go to sleep thinking about the moment that I would meet my son. The doctor would put him in my arms, and we would look at each other. I would feed him immediately, and the bonding process would begin. My sweet baby. Mine, mine, mine. I had watched this so many times on the Discovery Health channel and cried. I couldn't wait until it was my turn. I didn't meet my son like that. I met my son in the form of a fuzzy, color image printed out on computer paper. I didn't have him in my arms like I had dreamed, I held him between my fingers on a piece of paper. I looked at this child for the first time. The picture was a close up of his face, his eyes were closed. It just wasn't registering to me that this was my child. I mean, I thought he was a cute kid, but it just wasn't registering. I spent the next week in the hospital, getting to know Nathaniel as much as possible before we had to let him go. I'll write about that stay in the hospital and the day we buried our son later. In the meantime, here's sweet Nate (in the little apple hat that I knitted for him)--

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What's Your Mantra?

This got me through church on Sunday. I was sitting in front of a woman who was nine months pregnant.

This time next year,
This time next year,
This time next year,
I'll be out!

Oh please, oh please, oh please!

I lose at blogging.

I've just left that last post sitting there, sorry. I need to finish the story because I think that it will make me feel better, I just didn't feel like it yesterday. Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful, sunny 76 degree day and an exciting one, too. Tom and I decided that we might buy a house and looked at a really great one. This afternoon, we're meeting with a mortgage guy. Yay! It has a wonderful backyard and a perfect place for a garden.

Anyway, I'll get it all out sometime.....

Friday, April 07, 2006

Forty Weeks

I've heard that nature actually programs women to forget about the woes of pregnancy and the pain of labor as soon as their baby is born. I guess so that they will continue to go forth and multiply, thus insuring the survival of the human race.

I'm so thankful for the forty weeks and one day that I had with Nathaniel. I've been thinking a lot about my pregnancy lately, and I've been wondering what it is going to be like the second time around. I remember being pretty damn miserable a lot of the time--the puking and the hip pain and the heartburn--but there were the other weird things, too. Stopped up nose, horrible burps that tasted like nothing that I had ever had in my mouth, goddamned constipation, peeing in my pants every time I sneezed or coughed (I still do that--when does that stop?) Being unable to put on my own socks or wear proper shoes, because my feet were ridiculously fat. I would do it again in a second, though. What I went through was a miracle--a gift. When I think how we could have made such a perfect little person. It's amazing.

I remember hearing his sweet heart beat for the first time--wooosh, wooosh, wooosh--I cried. For the first time, I really was starting to feel pregnant. Until my 19-week ultrasound, I was certain that Nate was a girl. I had a step-daughter, so I figured that my husband just made girls. I had already bought--who I thought was a her--a purple dress with a matching, snappy little beret, and figured that Alice was a great name for this little person. The ultrasound revealed that we were indeed having a boy, and what a boy he was. There was no mistaking it--my husband was so proud. It took me awhile to get used to the idea of having a boy--I have three sisters, I had no clue what to do with a boy! And then first time that I really felt him kick and there was no mistaking it, was at the movies during The 40-Year Old Virgin. I was totally in love with this kid by this point.

We were keeping the name a secret from family and friends, and in fact, Tom and I hadn't decided on his name until about a month before he was born. We all called him B.K. for Baby K. I had gotten so big with Nate, that my sisters and I called him BK Big Fish or the Whopper. When we finally did settle on a name, I started calling him Nate, Nate Roller Skate or I say, "Nate, Nate, you're so great!" I think that's why I liked his name so much--it rhymed well with things.

Nate heard lots of music in his little life--I was working until just a few days before he was born. I got harder and harder towards the end to perform; he was squishing everything so much that I could only play three measures at a time. I loved feeling him respond to different types of music. He was usually very quiet when I played with harp--I like to think that it lulled him to sleep. During La Boheme, could feel him kick with annoyance when the sopranos got too screechy, and in orchestra rehearsal I could feel him startle when the horns or percussion made their entrances too loudly. I seriously doubt that I'll ever be able to play Dvorak's New World Symphony again without tears. But with all of that Classical music, I still think that Nate's personal favorite was Franz Ferdinand. He rocked out to them.

After he died, I wanted to chuck the whole music thing out the window--it just made me too sad. Even though I had been a musician for 20 years, and played tons of gigs and taught a hundred students before I was even pregnant, I just couldn't stand the thought of any of it. The only music that I could listen to after it happened was bluegrass, because it was the only type that I didn't perform when I was pregnant. I announced to everyone that I was going to cooking school to be a pastry chef. Well, that didn't last very long--I'm back to teaching and gigs again, and it's nice.

I spent a lot of my pregnant time nesting and cooking and knitting. I spent time on the internet on those stupid Due Date Club boards. (I haven't even been back to my February DDC. I couldn't give two shits about their perfect birth stories or their sweet little February babies. Their sleepless nights and cracked nipples, but I digress.) I also spent a lot of time playing with Nate's stuff--organizing all of his little toiletries, folding and re-folding his clothes. Just opening his drawers and looking at the little bitty socks and little bitty onsies. Imagining what my son would look like, what he would smell like. Would he have lots of hair ? (He would.)

Three weeks before Nate was born, my husband lost his dad to cancer. We all thought that he would be here to see his new grandson, but he went so fast--much sooner than we expected. We at least had some comfort knowing that a new baby boy was coming to carry on my husband's last name. I wanted so badly to be able to give back some happiness to the family with the birth of Nathaniel. At the time, we thought that he went early so that he could watch over the baby and help him get here safely. Now we feel that it was so he could meet Nate on his way up. My husband's father was an amazing man and I miss him.

The last day that I was pregnant was on Monday, January 30th, 2006. It was the first day of my maternity leave and I was so excited--Nate's due date was on Thursday. That morning, I had finished knitting a little apple hat for Nate and started on a "5-hour Baby Sweater", hoping to actually finish it in a day or two. My sister dropped by with her new baby boy to hang out for a bit. My nephew tried out Nate's new Fisher Price Aquarium swing, and it was prolaimed badass as far as baby swings go. I had noticed that Nate had been pretty quiet that day, and asked my sister if her baby slowed down before he was born. She told me that he moved a lot at that time. I'm going to make myself sick about this one. I'm so afraid that I was already abrupting, but had convinced myself that he was just running out of room, or that I had become so used to his movements that I just didn't feel it as much anymore. Maybe that was true--maybe it happened suddenly like the doctors have told me, I don't know.

That night was completely routine--although I remember feeling extremely bitchy and just "off" a little. I woke up at about 1 AM on the 31st, and my whole little world was about to fall apart.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Hmmm, I'm feeling pretty neutral today. So, after yesterday's bummer of blog, here's a picture of the bike that I want:

Now that's a happy looking bike. How could you have a bad day on a bike like that?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Going to Church OR Anxiety, part deux

In the past two Sundays, I made it through church services without crying. The Sunday before last I broke down in the car on the way home, but last Sunday I didn't cry at all! My church is full of adorable young couples and their adorable new babies. One baby in particular--the Nate-face baby. This kid looks just like my son. One Sunday we overslept, and had to go to the 11 o'clock service. After we had arrived, a couple sat in the pew in front of us carrying a car seat. Great. Car seats have become my kryptonite. I tried to focus my attention elswhere, until she picked up the little boy and turned him in our direction. Nate-face. Instantly I dissolve into a puddle of tears and snot, and run to the bathroom. Next Sunday, different service, same baby. God!! Last Sunday, we sat at the very front where I couldn't see anything--no babies, no tears. So far, I've managed to avoid baptisms. Hopefully I'll be able to hold it together then.

Tom and I hadn't really attended church together until all of this happened. After our son was born, our priest was at the hospital in a flash to baptize Nathaniel. He sat with us while Nate was dying, tears running down his face. We felt that we should be going to church now, not because we thought we owed him one, but because our spirit is so injured. This is the church where my grandparents met, my parents were married, I was baptized, I married my husband and where my son's little white coffin stood during his funeral service. I remember sitting in the front pew during his funeral, looking at the pew across the aisle. Seven months before that, I had sat there in my bridal gown with my six bridesmaids, so excited about the day and my future. I was madly in love with Tom (still am) and I was eight weeks pregnant with sweet Nate. I looked at that pew and could almost see the ghost of that girl, and felt then as I do now, that girl died with Nathaniel.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Mailbox

Everyday at 2 pm I go to the mailbox and for some reason, I'm always a little excited about it. Recently I've figured out why--I think that there is going to be a letter in the box from the hospital: "Mrs. K--Just Kidding! Your baby is fine and he's waiting for you! Come and get him!" Or maybe Nate will be in the mailbox, healthy and happy to see me instead of those stupid, farking coupons from Emfamil.

Anxiety, part one

It's springtime now here in Missouri, and it's absolutely gorgeous out. Everything is blooming, the birds are singing and every fucking new mommy in the universe is out pushing their little prams around.

Spring is my favorite time of year, I think. Everything is fresh and new and sparkley--I love it. Last winter, just a few months ago, when the weather was cold and icky I would pat my pregnant belly and talk to Nate about how soon we'd be out in the warm sun, enjoying the newly bloomed flowers in his spankin' new stroller. Every time I pictured springtime, it was me and Nate. Buddies. When I was pregnant, I would think about all of spring art fests and getting pies ready for the fair, and there was Nate in his sling and I was the Mom on the Go. But now his stroller is in a closet at my mother-in-law's and his sling is packed away with his baby clothes. THIS IS SO UNFAIR!

Before and during my pregnancy, I really didn't notice pregnant women--now it seems like they are everywhere. It just hurts so much to look at them---it almost feels like they are rubbing it in my face, and that is a stupid thought. They didn't do anything to me except stand there in the rosy glow of pregnancy, and I hate them. How dare they leave the house? I'm crazy, crazy, crazy. Pregnancy is a wonderful thing, and something to be proud of. Pregnant women are beautiful. When I was pregnant, I wore tight tops to make my belly look as round as possible. I even had the belly button that stuck waaaaay out--I was so proud. Look how huuuuuge I am! I am a fertility goddess and my husband is a total stud! In all of my innocence, I never thought that someone might feel sad to look at me because of something tragic in their life. Recently, I saw a very pregnant teenager in a tight little top at Wal-Mart. I went through the whole "why me?" saga. Why does she get to have a baby?! I'm the one that's 31 and happily married and have a Master's degree! Why did my baby die?! Then I have to talk myself out of it--what makes me more deserving than her? Nothing. She has the right to a healthy baby and her baby has every right to live. Just because she's a kid, does that make her less deserving or less capable of loving that child? No. Get over youself, Laura. I'm trying--I really am. But my heart is broken. I'd always thought that I knew what a broken heart felt like, maybe after that frat guy broke up with me or whatever, but that was nothing. A broken heart really truly hurts--it's excruciating.