How Addison has changed me

We named our daughter Addison Love…because she was made out of love.

When we learned that her due date was either 02.09.12 or 02.12.12 we panicked and told our OB that we did not want her to be born on Valentine’s Day! A little girl with the middle name Love born on Valentine’s Day…yikes, how could we do that to our child. Our doctor assured us that she wouldn’t let that happen.

I loved being pregnant. From the moment we saw that first positive pregnancy test, we were in love with our sweet baby. In one second, everything changed. Our future…the rest of our lives…our priorities, our plans; everything changed in that one tiny second.

We weren’t “trying” to get pregnant. Not long after we started dating we talked about whether we’d have children or not. I can’t remember who brought the subject up first, but the question was, “How many kids do you want?”

  • Stephanie: 0
  • Todd: 4

We “compromised” on 1.

Given our ages we honestly never thought it would happen for us, but it was so much fun to talk and dream about. We named Addison probably two months after we started dating, and we’ve talked about life with Addie ever since.

We talked about the three of us spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in our Christmas fort (like the one in The Holiday)…letting Addie climb in bed with us during thunderstorms…reading to her at night…bath time…making all her baby food from scratch (no McDonald’s!)…taking turns with her middle-of-the-night feedings…having her cook and bake with us so she could learn fractions the fun way…teaching her to read…spending summers on a vineyard in Tuscany, letting her stomp on the grapes…

We were walking through the Atlanta Botanical Garden with Todd’s parents a few months ago, and his dad said, “I can picture her now…wearing a long flowery dress, and Birkenstocks. On the beach.”

“Yep,” I said, “that’s Addie.” He laughed, and said how wished he could take her to McDonald’s. LOL.

Once we learned we were pregnant, the nesting began in full-force. We knew we’d need lots of space for all her things; clothes, books, toys, swings, pack-n-plays, strollers….babies have a lot of stuff.

We spent an entire weekend cleaning out closets and donating most of my clothes, because, in a year or two am I really going to want to wear that again?? Todd moved lots of things up in to the attic, and we bought several shelving units and organized our bonus room so I could turn part of it in to a pantry and make room in the kitchen cabinets for bottles, sippy cups, etc.

We spent an afternoon at Pottery Barn Kids picking out furniture for the nursery and starting our registry. We went to Baby GAP and GAP Maternity and bought her first onesie (Batman, courtesy of Todd), and my first two maternity dresses.

We researched so many things, including how to make baby food, how soon we could start using a jogging stroller, all the different kinds of travel, stroller, and car seat systems, childcare options, and which bottle systems are best.

We talked about fun things to do for a child’s February birthday, like going to Disney with all the grandparents (because it’s not too hot in February), and ideas for fun winter indoor parties like the aquarium, dance and gymnastics parties, and pottery painting and other arts and crafts parties.

Addison changed us in so many ways. Her 11 weeks here with us were important, and she has forever changed our lives.

Before we found out we were pregnant, I had a completely different attitude about having a child. Todd and I have always said that our family is complete; with or without a child. Whether it’s just the two – or three – of us, we are happy and have a beautiful life ahead of us.

We agreed from the beginning that we would not do fertility…we would not “try”…we would just let nature take its course, and if it happened, it happened. We wanted to be sure that we always put our relationship first.

We still feel this way…and at the same time, we now know the joy of having a child in our lives. So, we will now need to learn how to walk this fine line. Fortunately, we have good relationships with great therapists who I believe can help us navigate this new territory.

Before getting pregnant with Addie…I sooooo wanted a little girl. Now, that just doesn’t seem nearly as important to me. I look at Todd, and how amazing he’s been through this entire process…the pregnancy, and the loss of Addie…and I think how proud I would be to raise a son like his father.

Once we found out we were pregnant, I panicked a little, knowing that because of our age we’re at higher risk for multiples. Thinking of twins excited me; thinking of triplets terrified me.

Now, finding out that I’m pregnant with SIX babies would thrill me!! I have no idea how we’d manage…but I know we’d find a way. And each of them would be the most amazing gift ever.

Addison has changed me…and I know she’s changed Todd too.

She’s changed #us…she’s brought us even closer together. All my life I’ve been so determined to be independent…determined to not depend upon anyone.

And the one thing I know right now for sure…is that I would never make it through any of this without Todd. He is the love of my life, the man of my dreams…and he is the most amazing father to my sweet, beautiful daughter, Addison Love.

 

I Am Angry At Losing Addison. But…

I am angry at losing Addison. But I am blown away by how much love we already had for her.

I am angry at losing Addison. But we still got an amazing affirmation of life from having her with us, even if just for a while.

I am angry at losing Addison. But so appreciate her opening our eyes to the happiness – and sadness – of our friends and their children.

I am angry at losing Addison. But if it was nature’s way to make us appreciate our future children more, I will accept that, and do so.

I am angry at losing Addison. But she has brought us closer to our families, and made me appreciate family more.

I am angry at losing Addison. But she taught us about what really matters in life.

I am angry at losing Addison. But she made us realize there is so much love to go around.

I am angry at losing Addison. But we will always cherish the dreams we had – and still have – about her.

I am angry at losing Addison. But watching Stephanie care for her made me fall in love with Stephanie all over again.

I am angry at losing Addison. But she changed our lives forever. And in a wonderful way.

Thank you Addison, we miss you…

A great gift…

If you know someone who has lost a child, and you’re afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died — you’re not reminding them. They didn’t forget they died. What you’re reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived, and that, is a great gift.” ~ Elizabeth Edwards

 

Nightmares, and more nightmares

Warning: graphic detail about surgery and “female stuff.”

The past few days have been such a nightmare. A continuation of the nightmare, I guess.

On Wednesday and Thursday I continued to bleed heavily, and had abdominal cramps so bad that it hurt to sit up, and certainly to walk. I’ve never experienced anything like it. In trying to describe it, I told Todd and my mom that I felt like I was recovering from a C-section in which they slice right through your abdominal muscles. I’ve never had one, but that’s how I imagine it would feel. I kept wondering if I should call my OB, and I kept putting it off, hoping that this was all part of the normal recovery process for a post-miscarriage D&C.

On Thursday we had our first session with our new grief counselor, Kim. It was kind of odd, and I didn’t feel a sense of connection with her like I did right away with both our marriage and family therapist, Ellen, and with my own therapist that I see sometimes, Veronica. Todd said he kind of felt the same way – and neither of us felt like we got much out of the first session – but afterwards we agreed that we’d like to see her at least one more time and give it a shot.

Of course, with this being the first session, we did most of the talking, as she needed to learn our story, and about our pregnancy with and loss of Addison.

At the time I was in so much physical pain it was difficult for me to say much. I was having a really hard time focusing. Todd opened up quite a bit which I was happy about. She said she saw and felt a lot of love between us, and she encouraged us to continue to lean on each other.

Kim referred us to a book she likes to use when she works with individuals and couples who are grieving, and she said we can either join a group she runs, or we can work with her on an individual, customized basis. When she talked about the group she mentioned that miscarriage and infant loss is handled differently than other types of grief, but she didn’t really go in to detail.

She said either I can go alone, or Todd can join me; that it’s entirely up to us. We immediately said that we want to do this together, and that we want to work with her privately. So, we went ahead and set up our next session.

When we got home, Todd encouraged me to finally call the doctor. I was so afraid they were going to send me to the ER and I REALLY did not want to do that. I spoke to a nurse, and after telling her what was going on that is precisely what she told us to do. I asked if there was any way I could avoid it, and she said ultimately it was my decision but that that was what the doctor she’d spoken with recommended.

A few minutes later another nurse that I’ve spoken with several times before called me, having overheard my conversation with the other nurse. She has a much kinder and gentler way about her, and she took the time to explain what may be happening and why I either needed to go to the ER or get in to the office right away. I was so utterly exhausted; I just could not imagine doing either at the time.

So, we worked out a plan; if I got any worse we were to go straight to the ER that afternoon/evening, and if I was not significantly improved by morning we were to call right away to get in to the office for an ultrasound and appointment with my OB. I promised Todd that I would closely monitor things for the rest of the night, and I did. I did not seem to get get worse, but I definitely did not improve. So, the next morning I called and they got us in first thing.

They first took us in for an ultrasound to see what was going on with me, and the moment we walked in to the room I nearly collapsed.

It was the room in which we first saw the baby and saw/heard her heartbeat. I wasn’t prepared for that.

After examining me physically and then by ultrasound, my Dr. determined exactly what I’d feared; that I needed another D&C. It would have to be done immediately, and she gave me the option to do it either there in the office, without anesthesia, or across the street at the hospital.

I was determined to do anything I could to avoid returning to the hospital, and I chose to do it right then and there. Not that there was anything wrong with the way they treated me or handled things in the hospital last Friday…but as Todd has learned…I absolutely despise feeling like I’m sick or like I’m a “patient.” The only thing I’m interested in going to the hospital for is to deliver my baby(ies).

Anyway, she said that they rarely offer patients that option, but that I seem like a “tough cookie” and she thought I could handle it.

They gave me 800 mg ibuprofen and a shot that was supposed to make me drowsy, but it didn’t seem like it really did anything. I didn’t care; I just wanted to get it over with and get back home.

My Dr. gave me a massive shot of lidocaine internally that seemed to go on forever. As she was injecting it she warned me that I may feel some strong heart palpitations, and that that was completely normal. I was so glad she told me that, because I did, and it was a really scary feeling.

Physically, that surgery was the worst pain I have ever felt. I wasn’t prepared for it, which is probably a good thing. I squeezed Todd’s hand so tight – and had a stressball they’d given me in the other hand – but other than that I tried to keep it to myself so I wouldn’t upset Todd or distract the Dr. and nurses. They did an ultrasound on me all throughout the surgery in order to guide the Dr. and to take pictures of everything before and after, etc.

It was so, so depressing to see my uterus on the monitor – and no baby. They took what seemed like a million views and sonogram pics…and there was no sign of a baby anywhere. Not that I expected there to be…I guess there was a tiny piece of me, somehow hoping maybe they’d missed something? Silly, I know. Todd said he never looked and I don’t blame him. In some ways I wish I hadn’t.

It turns out my uterus was overflowing with blood and clots because my cervix had closed up right after the surgery. It wasn’t supposed to do that, but sometimes it happens, apparently. That certainly explains all the pain, cramping, swelling, and ultimately the excessive bleeding…everything was trapped in there and my body’s efforts to try and push it out were futile because there was nowhere for it all to go.

When she finished Todd asked her a bunch of questions about my status, what to expect over the next few days, how this might impact me/us in the future, etc., (I can always count on him for that kind of thing) and she told us she was confident she’d gotten everything out and that I was going to finally begin to heal, physically.

She cleared me to travel to Orlando next weekend to see family, and I am even cleared to swim in Todd’s parents’ pool if I want to. We go back in two weeks for a follow-up visit, and she thinks we’ll be able to start trying to get pregnant again in 3-4 weeks.

She now has me on several prescriptions including methergine to keep my cervix from closing too soon again and to make my uterus keep pushing the blood and clots out (which means a lot more cramping for a few more days), antibiotics to prevent infection, and painkillers.

It’s all making me so sleepy, and I hate how the percoset makes me feel in particular; rather numb and zombie-like, so I’m only taking half what she prescribed. This morning I slept until 11:00 am, and then by 3:00 couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore and slept again until 7:00. I finally feel a little more rested than I have in days.

Todd has been completely amazing through all of this; he’s doing all the laundry, grocery shopping, taking care of everything around the house, and always asking what he can get for me or do for me.

This morning when I walked out in to the living room, he looked at me and said, “You look perplexed.” I said that I was and he asked why. I said, “I feel lost…I don’t know what I’m supposed to do now.”

It’s like, now that I’m on the road to recovery physically…I don’t know what to do with myself anymore. I don’t know what the next step is. I don’t know where to go from here.

I do know that I am one very lucky woman to have the love of a man like Todd; and I think all the time that Addie would have been one very lucky little girl to have an amazing father like him.

During my afternoon nap today I had another nightmare. This time I was taking care of a friend’s baby boy, and it was a disaster. I couldn’t keep up with everything that needed to be done…playing with him, feeding him, changing him, etc., and within a couple of hours their house was a disaster zone and I was in a panic. Of course, they came home early, in the middle of the chaos. I was mortified.

They’d been out with friends who all came home with them. Everyone was pointing and laughing at me, saying I was a failure as a mother.

Right now I wish these “dreams” weren’t so literal.

 

I would have been 12 weeks today

When I read Todd’s post Daddy’s Little Girl last night, I welled up with tears. Partly because it was so tender and sweet, partly because I was so relieved that he’d found an outlet to express himself, partly because I felt sad for him reading all the things he is missing out on with Addison, and partly because he’s sad and hurting and I know that there is nothing I can do to make him feel better.

Today we are seeing a grief counselor. I have no idea what to expect. Ellen lent us a book and CD, “Good Grief,” and I haven’t found the strength to open it yet. I know that the only way through this is to live it and feel it, but the last two days the physical pain has intensified and I’m feeling so weak and nauseous on top of everything else. It’s bad enough today that I am going to call my OB to see if this is “normal.” The Tylenol III she prescribed for me is not making so much as a dent in the pain. I’m using a heating pad which really doesn’t seem to be helping, either, but I feel like I should try what I can, even if my efforts are futile.

This morning Todd got up very early to work on a client project and I quickly fell back to sleep. I had the exact same dream two times in a row before waking up. The moment it ended, it started over all over again, and Todd came in to wake me up just as it ended the second time.

I dreamt that I was in Florida visiting my mom, and she was taking care of little Caylee Anthony at her house while her mother, Casey, was in hiding trying to avoid “vigilante justice.” I kept wanting to spend time with precious little Caylee, to hold her, talk with her, play with her, go swimming with her…and people kept distracting her and taking her away from me for various reasons. I so wanted that time and tenderness with her…and it just would never happen. She was always just out of my reach. At the end of the dream people kept saying to me that Caylee was 10 weeks and 7 days old (11 weeks)…we found out we’d lost Addie at 10 weeks, 6 days. :(

After processing that dream for a few minutes I realized that I would have been 12 weeks today. Each Thursday I’ve been so excited to wake up because that’s the day my weeks changed…and each passing Thursday meant we were one week closer to holding our little girl. Now, it’s just yet another painful reminder of our loss.

We’ve heard from SO many of our friends as they’ve expressed their condolences that they, too, lost their first child. It’s seemingly so common that I can’t help but wonder if anyone has studied this phenomenon. I mean, I know people miscarry second, third, and fourth children too…but it’s staggering how many have lost their first baby and then gone on to carry future children to term. I asked Todd the other day if maybe this is nature’s way of making sure we really appreciate the children we do get to have and hold? I mean, WTH?? I just don’t understand. Why all these first babies?? I certainly didn’t need this loss to “appreciate” the gift of our precious daughter. I just cannot understand any good reason for this to happen to so many of us.

I know there is no good reason. I don’t know why I’m even wasting my time trying to find one.

Please don’t say…

Society wants to put a positive spin on anything bad that happens, and I know that everyone means well and has only the best intentions. Somehow, we want to find a way make sense of each tragedy and devastating loss; to find justification for it.

I’m guilty of it too, at times, but there is nothing positive about a baby dying, and trying to put some kind of positive “spin” on the loss of my child just makes my pain that much worse. If you can think of nothing else to say, please just tell us that you’re sorry for our loss. That’s really all we need to know, and we appreciate that so very much.

Please don’t say…

Your child is in a better place.  Then shouldn’t we all be there?? There is no better place for our baby to be than with her mother and father and family who loves and yearns for her.

At least she wasn’t older or at least you weren’t further along. Why, because we would love her more if we’d had more time with her?? We loved her from the moment we saw that first positive pregnancy test. We have dreamed of Addison since the day we met, and we had a lifetime of dreams for her. Just because she didn’t get to experience any of the plans we had for her doesn’t make her any less loved. What we would had given for a day, a week, a month, a year with her. None of it would have ever been enough, but she grew inside me and was a part of me; a part of us. While we never got to hold her, she will forever grow in our hearts.

You’re not the same. You’re right, I’m not. I will never be the same. A part of me died the day we lost Addie and I will never be the old “me” again. I now know how cruel the world can be, and I learned that “life isn’t fair” in the most horrifying and incomprehensible way. It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that following all the rules and doing all the right things isn’t always enough when there are people who do everything wrong and things work out just fine for them. Life really isn’t fair.

God needed another angel. God doesn’t need anything. I don’t believe any God goes around killing babies for any purpose. I especially hate this one.

You can get pregnant again, or you can have another baby. We do plan to try again, but a second, 3rd, 4th, or 17th child will never replace Addison and we will always mourn the fact that our future child(ren) are missing out on their sister and that we are missing out on our first-born daughter. My daughter is not replaceable. She was – is – part of a family who loved and wanted her more than anything.

It’s time to move on. I will never move on. We will try and move forward every day, but she will always be missing from our lives, and that will never be ok with us. Every holiday, family function, vacation, and photo, every February 9th, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day – every moment of every day she should be here with us, and the fact that she is missing from our lives will never get easier.

Everything happens for a reason, or it wasn’t meant to be. No, actually, not everything happens for a reason, and she WAS meant to be, because she was conceived. We created her and she was made out of love. And I promise that no matter what “lesson” or lessons we learn, none of them are worth the cost of losing our daughter.

What ARE some helpful things to say to someone who’s lost a child?

“I’m so sorry this happened to you and your family,” or “I’m so sorry about the loss of your baby / daughter.”

“I know that this is the worst pain you have ever felt.”

“You’re in our thoughts and prayers.”

“I’m thinking of you, and I will remember Addison.”

Ask us if we’d like to talk about Addie, and let us know that it’s ok to talk to you about her when we want or need to.

Say her name; say Addison. It is such a gift to hear “Addison” or “Addie” or “your daughter” in a sentence. She is our daughter. We are, and will always be, her parents.

Daddy’s little girl

These are a few of the things I have been dreaming about, and will miss when it comes to where Addie is concerned:

1. I will miss holding her hand across the street…

2. I will miss having tea on a table that is way too small for a 6’3″ (and rotund) dude like me…

3. I will miss building forts out of sheets and furniture and broomsticks…

4. I will miss walking, feeding and taking care of “HER” dog…

5. I will miss finally getting to watch all those Disney and Pixar movies with her…

6. I will miss coming home and yelling “Where are my girls?”

7. I will miss having black and white murals of my girls on the wall above the mantle…

8. I will miss having the little one sneak into our bed during a thunderstorm…

9. I will miss getting up at 545am on Christmas morning…

10. I will miss being the designated bag carrier when my women go to the shopping mall…

11. Despite still remaining convinced that any little girl would love to have a Batman theme in her bedroom, I will miss walking into her room to see all that damn pink…

I remain optimistic that I will be able to fulfill these dreams with our next little girl.

But, let me promise this, I will always dream about doing them with my Addison…

The only way is through it

by Hugh MacLeod

We met with our marriage + family therapist, Ellen, yesterday, because Todd was worried about me. She asked me if there is anything anyone can say or do to make me feel better and I told her no because the ONLY thing I want is to still be pregnant with our daughter. I want our baby girl back. I want her to live, and I want us to have the future we’d planned with her. And that’s not going to happen.

Ellen explained to Todd that no one – not even him – can take my pain away or make me feel any better. I know this frustrates him because he would give anything to make me feel better somehow. I know it hurts him to see me so sad. She said there is just no way to work around this…the only way is through it.

She told me to continue to cry, talk, and write in order to work through the grief. She also recommended that we see a counselor who specializes in grief which we are doing tomorrow.

Ellen was glad to hear that we’ve named our baby because she was here with us for 11 weeks and she was and will always be an important part of our lives. She said that Addison has changed who we are in ways we’re discovering and feeling now, and in ways we won’t know for years to come.

One of the things that Todd asked Ellen (I had the same question) is whether we are over reacting. She assured us that we’re not, and that there is nothing in life that comes remotely close to the pain and heartache of losing a child.

Today I’m having very painful cramping. Yet another reminder. The physical pain pales in comparison, though, to the emotional pain.

After our counseling appointment yesterday we went to Lenox Square and picked out a beautiful amethyst ring; Addison’s birthstone. I thought wearing it would somehow bring me comfort, but it doesn’t. Maybe someday it will. People have suggested things like planting a tree or flowers in her memory, but I’m so afraid they would die and that would just destroy me all over again. Someone else suggested a tattoo (not my thing) or jewelry, which is what gave me the idea for the ring. I also added two charms to my Pandora bracelet in her memory: a teddy bear, and an amethyst charm.

Until last Wednesday, I was so busy with all the planning…for the house, the nursery, baby showers, researching what kinds of diapers and bottles to use, car seats, strollers, pack-n-plays, how to make baby food, childcare options, and creating new family traditions for the three of us…and now all that time is filled with nothing but pain and sorrow. It is a monumental mental and emotional shift.

I am exhausted.