Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Final Loss Milestone

It's been eight long weeks since loss milestone four, and I am finally passing my final loss milestone.

It was at my regularly scheduled 16 week appointment last October that I learned the devastating news that my daughter no longer had a heart beat.

The final days leading up to my appointment today were mentally trying. I found myself reliving the image of my lifeless baby on the ultrasound. I heard sound bytes of my doctor telling me the news. I was terrified of receiving this news again and frightened of the resulting medical procedures and psychological anguish.

But, Dr. L came in and immediately went to the ultrasound to show me a baby with a beating heart. Will seemed to be sleeping, but Dr. L knows I worry if I don't see him moving around. We watched for a while and saw him touching his face, crossing his legs, and rolling over.

With this appointment, I ran out of prescheduled appointments. I had been previously unwilling to plan anything past this milestone, but now that it's behind me, we went ahead and scheduled a 17 week appointment and the 18 week anatomy scan.

This anatomy scan will be my next point of anxiety since it is likely to reveal any defects accompanying Will's Down syndrome. Dr. L reminds me that the weekly scans haven't given her any red flags but the 18 week scan will be with a much more powerful machine.

So now I wait again, but hopefully the most difficult wait is behind me.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Grieving What Isn't

There is a beautiful analogy that I found and read the first night we found out about Will's extra chromosome. It's about planning a trip to Italy and unexpectedly ending up in Holland. The message is that even though everyone else you know is still planning trips to and happily returning from Italy, you discover everything that is beautiful, albeit different, about Holland. Since I read it that night, several people have shared it with me as well.

So, I've read and been told that it's perfectly normal to grieve the child you thought you were having when you get a diagnosis such as Down syndrome, and although most of the time I have handled this news with (surprising?) ease, that was not the case the second morning. That morning, I woke up and immediately felt overcome by anger and sadness. Why were we being dealt another blow in our attempt for a baby? Why can't we just breeze through a typical pregnancy for once? (To be fair, Ella's was a typical pregnancy, but come on, only one out of eight?!) Why me? Why us? Why Will? Why do we keep hitting the incredibly low odds? I felt sad about what won't be and sad about challenges that we might face.

I cried hard that morning. First I cried with Troy before I could even get out of bed. Then I went to school and just walking by my assistant principal who said hi set me off again. I rushed into her office and opened up the waterworks. After a good cry there, I got myself together and went toward my room. I still made another stop to cry with a co-worker before my day with students began. That one pity-fest that began at 4:30 am and ended at 8:30 am has been the only time that I have found myself really grieving.

I'm not going to Italy, and that takes some getting used to, but Holland will be nice too.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Not as Expected

Dr. L held a box of tissues in her lap while she told us the test results. But I didn't need them since I didn't cry. Since then, she has mentioned at each of my appointments that my reaction was not what she expected.

Our ease with accepting this news is a bit surprising. If you would have told me a month ago that we would not be devastated if we found out our child had Down syndrome, I probably would have been surprised myself. I also probably wouldn't have believed you.

But here we are and as it turns out, we're ok with this news. If my doctor decides to bring this up again, I might try to explain myself a bit. I'm not sure if this is the true reason, but I FEEL like our reproductive past has a lot to do with my reaction. I've heard a lot worse news from my doctor than this. Will is still a living baby who holds a great deal of potential. Was I surprised? Sort of. Am I scared? A little. Am I devastated? No.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Good

When we lost Olivia, my grief counselor suggested making a list of things I'm grateful for. It seemed so counterintuitive. How could I be grateful in a time like that? But, as it turned out, there were many things to be grateful about.

With Will's diagnosis, I found myself naturally returning to this state of mind. In fact, in the doctor's office that first afternoon, I found the first thing to be thankful for: a year and a half ago, we moved into a school district that is acclaimed for its special education services. This was one of the things I mentioned to my doctor within the first 20 minutes.

Within days, I had another thing to be thankful for: all the support of people around us. We are surrounded by people who expressed their excitement about our boy. We are surrounded by people who aren't scared away by his extra chromosome. We are surrounded by people who said beautiful things about our baby that I still go back and read if I need pick-me-up.

I'm also thankful for a strong support network that we found early. The first night, Troy suggested that maybe we needed to return to our support group. I thought that while a support group sounded like a great idea, we would need a whole new kind of group. In my research I came across DSACO,  the local Down syndrome association. They have a support group for parents with a prenatal diagnosis up to 3 year olds that happened to have its monthly meeting just a week after we found out. You better believe we were there! We met parents who have been where we are and where we will be. We got to see their little ones. We got signed up with the organization and have already received a mailing from them with resources for our pregnancy.

As that meeting, I learned another thing to be thankful for: our move to Dublin not only took us to the right school district, but also the right county. When we said our location, the response went something like this. "Oh, you live in Delaware County and it's Dublin Schools?" Apparently We inadvertently moved to the "perfect" place in the eyes of some parents.

In addition to the local support group, I have found an online group that is active and positive. Yes, the parents share their worries and challenges, but the overwhelming refrain from experienced parents is, "I wish I knew when I got the diagnosis that I shouldn't be scared. Our family is happy. Our child brings us joy."

There have been and I'm confident there will continue to be things to be thankful for as we continue this journey. Most of all, we are on our way to having our third child who we've been attempting to have since 2011 and through 3 previous losses. And it's icing on the cake that he happens to be our first son!