Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Unfortunate Anniversary

Suddenly it's May. Did you notice? That sure crept up on us! And May is such a scary month, too, because after May comes June and that thought alone is bringing a lot of painful memories to the surface.

I didn't think it would be like this. I really didn't. I've always been one for moving forward, but this year has been hard. In just two days, Benjamin will be eleven months old. We're coming up on his first birthday and have already started our anniversary memories.

"This time last year, I was in Ghana," Andrew reminded me yesterday.

I'm glad that he went to Ghana and I was happy for him last year, too—or at least as happy as an expectant mother can be when she's told it will be up to her to do dinnertime and bedtime by herself every day for three weeks while her husband is on the other side of the globe. I wasn't entirely alone, I realize, since we were living with Andrew's parents and mine were just down the street—but still, it was a burden.

When Andrew came home from Ghana I was thirty weeks pregnant and was due to have my glucose screening the following week. I'd fail that, have the more complicated test the next day and be diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Then we'd go camping.

I'm glad that we went camping and I was glad last year as well—or at least as glad as an expectant mother can be when she has to climb up and down a ladder to the sleeping quarters and tiptoe through a mouse-infested cabin to go to the bathroom twenty thousand times a night. It was a wonderful trip and I'm truly glad we went, even if I ended up catching Rachel's horrible cold.

We'd get back from camping, I'd go to the doctor and we'd look over my glucose numbers to see if I am able to control my diabetes through diet and exercise. I will. But I'll complain about being sick and my doctor will tell me that it's just a cold and I'll be fine.

By now we're already at the end of May. It's Memorial Day and my parents invite us to go to the copper mine, a trip which doesn't work out at all, so instead we'll go to the park to play with them (and with Auntie Emily who'd come down to visit from Idaho). On Tuesday, I'd take Rachel for her kindergarten check up. She'd have to get shots. I'd have to wrestle her to the table in order for that to happen. On Wednesday, I'd take the girls to their dentist appointments but will talk Andrew into coming with us so that he can wrestle Rachel to the chair instead of me. She'll throw a fit, though, so I'll go with her and Andrew will go with Miriam.

I'm now 33 weeks pregnant.

On Thursday I don't feel well. I'm still sick and I'm having a ton of Braxton Hicks. But that's normal. For me. I think. We'll go out to dinner to celebrate Shayla's birthday. My father-in-law will fuss about my contractions. I'll assure him I'm fine. Was it this night Emily's friends came over to play games? Was it this night that I said, as if foretelling my own future, that "even when you plan for babies they just come whenever they want?"

I can't remember.

On Friday, the girls and I go to BYU with Emily. We stop to buy yarn  on our way so I can start a blanket for the baby—still have seven weeks! We'll go to the dinosaur museum and the Bean Museum. Later Emily will babysit for us so we can go out to see Arabian Nights at BYU. It will be a great performance. I do my best to hide my sniffles and snuffles from the rest of the audience because I will still be sick with the cold I caught from Rachel while we were camping. I'll think to myself how happy I am that I still have seven weeks to kick this cold before I have to birth this baby. Who wants to give birth with a horrible head cold? Not this girl!

On Saturday we do a bunch of packing. I'll stop in the middle and take a nap because I'm exhausted. We'll have whole wheat waffles for dinner. I'll forgo syrup and have plain berries on top. I eat bacon to get in my protein like a good little diabetic. I also eat a handful of almonds because I just seem to be so hungry all the time but can never think of anything to snack on. I'll take my blood sugar levels shortly before we put the girls to bed. They'll be too high and I'll cry. I try to exercise after I put the girls to bed but just don't feel well so resolve to do better with my blood sugar levels the next day and settle down in my rocking chair to go through my mom's dissertation.

I'll work on it until I think I'm going to fall asleep on the spot. I'll ask Andrew if he's ready for bed. He'll tell me he's not. I keep working until Andrew's ready for bed. He's never ready for bed before midnight. I'll be so exhausted but I won't be able to sleep.

I'll be bothered with contractions.

I'll keep trying to stop them.

I'll take a big drink of water. I'll lie on my left side. I'll get up to go to the bathroom. I'll take another drink of water. I'll get a snack. I'll walk around a bit. I'll lie back down. I'll get up to go to the bathroom and...

Кошмар! (NIGHTMARE!)

Blood. Panic. Confusion. Fleeing. Driving. Begging. Pleading. Hopelessly dilating.

Pushing. Birthing. Meeting. Parting. Grieving. Longing. Learning. Hoping.

Praying. Praying. Ever praying. Five long weeks of never sleeping.

So many rules. So many alarms. Tachy. Brady. Desaturating.

Commuting. Pumping. Test weights. Trying. Trying. Trying. Ever trying.

More tests. More time. More tears. More fears. More tired than I've ever been.

Then home. With baby. (Oxygen. Wires. Monitors. Alarms. But home).

Together. Mother. Father. Sisters. Brother. Under one roof. At last.


Last year's June 3rd isn't precisely a happy day when I remember it. I was just laying around waiting to have a baby, having a baby, holding that baby for a split second, then sitting alone in my recovery room. That's not exactly how I envisioned things going.

And ever since Andrew mentioned that he was in Ghana at this time last year, panic has been rising to fill my chest.

I've been having nightmares. Last night's was perhaps the silliest of all.

Instead of living in the house part of our house we were living in the attic. We don't have a ladder or staircase leading directly to our attic and often the hassle of bringing the ladder inside and setting it up in our uniquely-shaped closet is too much for us so we've come up with a circus-worthy method of getting things in and out of the attic.

I climb onto Andrew's shoulders. He stands up. I stand up and pull myself into the attic. Then we pass back and forth whatever needs to come up or down.

In my dream we were living in the attic, with all three kids—just the ages that they are now—and we still had no ladder to get up and down through the "door," and I was hugely pregnant.

Everything in our house was still where it should be—bathrooms, kitchen, living room—except for the bedrooms. All the bedrooms were in the attic. So we had to go up and down several times a day for naps and bedtime and things like that.

Well, one night we were sleeping in the attic and I went into labour. Early.

But when I tried to climb down the hole onto Andrew's shoulders I was suddenly too big to fit through the hole and was stranded half in, half out, having a baby, prematurely. Yup.

It sounds so ridiculous now but I've been absolutely plagued by nightmares like this.

I don't know if it's because we have a pile of stuff in our bedroom waiting to be transferred to the attic (air mattress from Karen's stay here, suitcases from my trip to Utah, etc) and it's throwing off the feng shui of our room or if it's because I'm anxious about this impending anniversary.

I've had a rough year, anyway. I'm sure I've been going through some post-partum depression (since from what I've read up to 15% of the general population will suffer from post-partum depression while up to 70% of NICU moms will—and it's not exactly difficult to assess since the questionnaire they use at doctor visits to screen for PPD is online. Oddly enough, I was never asked about PPD at my six-week appointment with Benjamin, though I was when I went in for my six-week appointment with Rachel (I didn't expect to be asked with Miriam and wasn't). But, uh, having taken that quiz I'm fairly certain I'm not my regular self.

And flipping the calendar into May has not helped matters.

But Andrew's wonderful and understanding and lets me sleep when I/he can. Like today. And yesterday. And I love finals week when he gets up early to work on projects but doesn't have to leave the house. I don't think he loves it. But I do.

Like I said, I've always considered myself a forward-moving kind of person. But it's taken/is taking me an annoyingly long time to "get over" this past year.

I've always thought looking to an unfortunate anniversary with trepidation to be somewhat silly. After all, it's just a date and you can't control what happens when. My grandfather died on December 13th, 2011—right between my parents' birthdays. His viewing was on our wedding anniversary so instead of going out to dinner on our anniversary we went to a funeral home (though we did go out another night). That's an unsavory memory at best, but it didn't taint our anniversary last year and is unlikely to do so in the future.

I suppose December was a harder month for my grandmother...but time will heal all wounds.

Just like she'll eventually enjoy December again, I'll also eventually enjoy May and June again because instead of reserving those dates for sackcloth and ashes, I can fill them with happiness. Good memories eventually push out the bad ones—it's been proven. I think. And if it hasn't, I will prove it one day.

We'll get to celebrate Benjamin this year. And the next. And the next. And we're so lucky!

At the March of Dimes walk this weekend, it was heartbreaking to see how many families were walking in memory of lost little ones. I felt so blessed that my little one was strolling along with me, as healthy and happy as can be.

My friend Jake and his wife lost a baby yesterday. Their sweet twins were born at 23 weeks, and yesterday, after fighting for three long weeks, little Brooklyn decided to return home to her Heavenly Father.

I'm trying to imagine having to deal with that while continuing to live the NICU life with the surviving twin.

It hurts my heart just thinking about it.

But my friend Nicole, who walked with me this weekend—her parents went through that with her (and her twin). Somehow we make it through these trials that seem so impossible. I don't know how—besides having faith.

Benjamin's beginning was the scariest, hardest thing I've ever done in my life. It's still so fresh in my memory that I can't believe it's been eleven months. And all too soon it will be June and Benjamin will have completed a complete trip around the sun, and although we had a few cloudy days, I think over all it was a bright and beautiful trip.


  1. So touching. Wish I could do more for you. You always seem so together, so I probably don't do enough (like I didn't do enough when you were here, I am sure!). But I surely do love you!

  2. You are just amazing! And soon, Benjamin's first birthday will be a sweet memory and what you will remember is how a very hard year came to an end, and the beginning of something good, and that will replace the feeling you have now. Happy birthday to a very special boy!

  3. Wow, I never would have known. You always come across so upbeat and amazing. I do think often that you need more sleep, but that is what further amazes me: that you can be Super Mom on so little sleep! :) I'm sorry last spring was so difficult for you. I hope for good memories this May and June to soften those from 2012. And I'm sure you are a help to others who have gone through rough patches. Hugs!

  4. It's surprising how short a year feels when you spend it dealing with an emotional tragedy of sorts... isn't it? I mean... they days themselves often seem so long, but at the end of the year you can't believe it's been a year and 'shouldn't I be healed by now?'

    This was a beautiful post. I can't imagine. And, having to go through a move into a new home/ward/place is probably not helping much.

    We'd love to have Miriam over for a play date sometime! She and Miles need to practice their friendship anyway... being a blonde and a red head and all.