Friday, May 31, 2013

How we are doing.

People keep asking how we are doing. It is a common question, I doubt anyone really thinks before they ask. Especially because they are concerned, and they want the answer to be that we are doing well.

But we are not. How do you answer that question? I'm not dead, so that's good. Even though my heart felt like it was going to stop, it didn't so I kept going. (I suppose I should add that I don't want to die, I am just surprised that I haven't) when you are pregnant one day, and then the mother of a stillborn baby the next, you feel like a part of you is just gone. It would be like if you woke up one morning and found out you didn't have lungs anymore, but you were still alive anyway.

The physical feeling of missing your baby hurts. Every time you eat food and he doesn't kick. Or you stand up, and your weight doesn't shift. Or you see something that you want for him in the future, and you remember that he doesn't get one. He will never swing on those swings, or wear the shoes or call you mommy. It is like losing 2 babies, the one inside you, and the one you were so excited to meet.

So what so you say when people ask how you are? When there is nothing that they can do?

Today I am spending the day crying at home. I'm not saying this so that people will call, or check on me, or contact me. I'm writing this for the woman who has lost a child, who survives one day, and the next day finds that she just can't face the world. Because some moments feel ok. You watch tv, and go to the store and spend time with the people you love and in those moments you feel like you can survive. Then you see the stroller you ordered or hear a child ask for their mom, and your heart breaks all over again, and it's like there is no air in the room.

Today I can't get how much I miss Oliver out if the front of my mind. Today is going to be full of crying and pain and the empty feeling of knowing I never get to see his perfect face or hold him or feed him ever.

Today I am not ok.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Dear Oliver,
This is your family. Your grandma took this photo, after trying to take it and taking about 10 videos by mistake.

This was a beautiful moment where we were able to smile.

Right now I am having a hard night, but I want to focus on the love you gave us, and the fact that although I will always be sad that you are gone, I will always be grateful that we had you at all.

Love Mama

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dear Oliver

Dear Oliver,
This morning I woke up and you just felt like a dream. A perfect wonderful dream. It took so long for me to get pregnant with you, sometimes it felt like it would never happen. Sometimes i think the more I want something the harder it is to get. 

Your daddy and I knew we wanted to have a baby a long time ago. After trying for 2 years, I finally took Clomid to see if that could help me get pregnant. It didn't work the first time, so the second time I took it I was worried it would never work. 

During the 2 weeks before I could take the pregnancy test I was away for work in Toronto. I knew I couldn't handle taking yet another negative pregnancy test alone in a hotel room, so your daddy and I decided that we would be together when I took it. I flew home Friday night and my plan was to take the test on Saturday when I woke up. 

Saturday I was so excited I woke up at 5 am and took the test. I didn't wake up your daddy first because if it was negative I wanted to go back to sleep. But it wasn't. It was positive. I ran down the stairs to the bedroom where your daddy was sleeping and i woke him up yelling "It's positive! It's positive! You are going to be a daddy!"

Your daddy was so excited and happy. It was the best moment- together at 5 am realizing our dreams could come true and the baby we wanted for so long could be real. 

It was such a snowy day and we decided to go for a walk through the park by our house. As we walked we talked about how happy we were to have you in our lives. We talked about telling our friends and our family- and how happy we were that you were finally in our lives. We talked about what to name you, and how much fun we would have taking you to the zoo and the park and to the lake. 

That morning was perfect because we had all the possibility in the world in front of us and you made us so happy. Happier than I ever knew I could be. From that moment that i saw that test- I knew that being your mommy was the most important thing I was ever going to do. Being a parent is what we are built for. Oliver I was so excited to teach you about science. Biology is what runs our life. People think it is fate or some sort of plan, but it is all biology. Biology is what makes us want babies, want partners, want shelter and food and comfort. It makes us a herd, and we turn those herds into communities. So the first moment I found out I was pregnant, it was like I had finally fulfilled my purpose. Your daddy and I were on our way to being a family. 

Writing this now, and knowing that all those dreams for you are just over, is really hard. I think about how I am never going to be able to take you to the zoo or the park or the lake. You will never get to grow up, or have a family of your own. I want you to know that on that morning, before you were even a person, you were just a bunch of cells, doing what your biology said to do- but we loved you already. You made us happier than we had ever been before and the love we felt that day for you and for each other, we will get to keep that always. 

Love Mama

Monday, May 27, 2013

Pumping to donate

One of the reasons I wanted to start this blog was to give information on how to pump in order to donate.
Most of the information that I found was either how to start a supply for a living baby, or how to stop the production. A lot of what I did in the first few days was the opposite of what the "stop production" information said.

Oliver was stillborn on Sunday May 10, and my milk came in overnight on Monday night, about 18 hours after the delivery. My breasts felt incredibly full, but when I went to pump nothing came out the first time. I had tried to hand express just to relieve the pressure in a nice hot shower but that did not help either. David went to the drugstore to rent a hospital grade pump so the first time I tried to pump was Tuesday in the middle of the day, and I got nothing.

Slowly I was getting a few drops, literally not enough to go through the funnel and into the collection bottles. But I knew that there was something in there, and the minimum pump rental was 10 days so I decided to give it all 10.

Then all of a sudden on Thursday I went from 4-5 drops to an ounce of yellow colostrum. I was so excited! That was the first positive feeling I had since losing Oliver, the first moment where thinking of my body didn't make feel totally betrayed.

Over the first week, getting on a pumping schedule was hard. When there is no hungry baby asking for food, it is hard to remember to produce! I tried setting alarms on my phone, but the convenience of the snooze button meant that they were off by hours in no time. Add to that the fact that I mis-read the instructions that said to sanitize the pumps once per day, so I was totally sanitizing each time. (better more than less though!)

As I have continued to pump my supply has gradually increased, but only if I look at my daily yields. The amount from each pumping session has not been as reliable, probably because of the somewhat irregular time intervals as well as other factors like food and temperature of my breasts, which are suddenly extremely sensitive to cold.

A tool that has helped me increase my supply by monitoring the pumping schedule is a baby app called Feed Baby Lite. A warning to those using it, it is a pretty painful reminder at first that you don't have a baby to feed. I turned off all the notifications, but I did enter Oliver's picture and name. I thought it might make me too sad to be reminded to feed him, but instead it is reminding me that I am doing this FOR him. That this gift is his.

For those looking for some advice on frequency and volume, I only have my experience to go on, but I set the app to alert me every 3 hours. My goal was to pump every 3.5 hours, so the 3 hour alert gave me time to make sure my equipment was set up and a show was queued up in the DVD player. The app goes 3 hours from the end of the last pumping, so if you are reminded at noon, start at 1230 and finish around 1 ( I am doing one side then the other all in one session ) the app will remind you again at 4, 3 hours after you finish.

I only pump once in the middle of the night. Once I fell asleep and poured almost an ounce of milk all over the bed, and I have noticed that the morning gives me a better yield anyway if I don't pump a lot overnight.

I hope this post can help give some information to someone who wants to do the same thing I am doing.

If you are reading this and you are not sure you want to pump and donate, I will tell you, it is inconvenient, and can be frustrating and sad. But I sit in bed pumping and think of Oliver, my beautiful baby and how he can help save another baby. I think of mothers whose babies are in the NICU, fighting for their lives and how if I can spare just one of them from going through this it is all worth it.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dear Oliver

Dear Oliver,
I'm missing you a lot tonight. Some times I feel peaceful, like I can be at peace with the fact that you were never sad or cold. Sometimes I tell myself that if something was wrong, it is better that you didn't have to be in the nicu alone or in pain.

But not tonight. Tonight I miss you more than I ever knew I could miss anyone. I imagine what it would be like to hold you alive in my arms and plan for your future the way we should.

Tonight I would give anything for one day, one hour with you. I'd you had been born alive you would be 2 weeks old, or maybe I would still be pregnant and you would be kicking around in me, keeping me awake and growing and being a healthy baby.

I miss you every second of every day. Even in the moments when I can catch my breath and feel like someday my life will be normal, I still miss you. I miss the way you kicked when your daddy sang. I miss your beautiful face that I only got to see for one day.

I miss you and I love you, so I will do what I can to survive another week in a world without you.

Love Mama

2 weeks

My Story:

2 weeks ago I went in to the doctor because I knew something was wrong, and discovered that my baby boy who was at 31 weeks gestation, was dead. 

The doctors showed us the ultrasound and where his heart was and that it was no longer beating. 

And I thought my heart would stop too. 

It felt so impossible to believe, less than 24 hours before I had heard a doppler of the baby's heart, beating just fine. He was healthy, normal, perfect. And then he was gone. 

I had no idea that there was a risk he could be stillborn. I thought a baby would be safe unless something happened to him or her. I was so afraid of falling in the shower, or getting in an accident in the car. I had no idea that in an instant he could just be gone. 

It took me 24 hours to induce the labor, and on Mother's day I delivered him, at 12:05 pm. 

I had no idea what he would be like. The nurses told me we could take as much time with him as we needed, and asked if we wanted to hold him. I knew we would need to hold him so we could have some closure, but I didn't know that I would want to. I didn't know that he would be a perfect baby, who just looked like he was sleeping. 

We got to spend a full 24 hours with him at the hospital. We read him a story and sang songs to him. We told him we love him and that we will always love him. 

I got to watch my husband hold his beautiful son for the first and last time, and watch my mother hold her grandson in her arms, just in time to say goodbye. 

I thought it would be the worst day of my life, having to deliver a baby who was already gone, but it wasn't. 

It was not the beautiful and joyful day that it should have been, but there was beauty and joy and sorrow all together. It was certainly the most profound day of my life. The day I became a mother. 

The day I got to see that my baby bear had his daddy's nose and eyes, and my chin and long legs. Feet with normal arches, not high like me or flat like his daddy, but the perfect average. He was perfect. 

The last 2 weeks have been like being in a weird dream. We have received an incredible outpouring of love and support from our friends and family and strangers. I keep waking up expecting to be kicked. Every bite of food that I eat makes me sad because I won't feel him wiggling around as the sugars go through my system. Every place we go makes me hurt, because I can no longer imagine how fun it will be to bring my baby next time. 

Notes about this blog: 

This blog may be disjointed for a while, but I hope it does some good. If you are someone who knows us, who would have known Oliver then I am sorry. I am sorry you won't get to know the magical little life that I knew. If you are here on this site because you have lost a baby of your own then I am sorry in a different way. I feel your pain.

I plan to post about my journey, as well as my incredible husband David's journey because it might help someone going through this to know they are not alone. I also plan to post about my decision to encourage the breast milk that inevitably comes in after delivering any baby. 

Mothers of stillborn babies are typically told how to discourage the milk and stop the supply because for many it is just a constant painful reminder of the baby they no longer have. I felt like the milk belongs to Oliver, and that pumping it and donating it to babies in the NICU was a way for him to connect with the world. Since he will never make friends with a stranger, or go on a date, or get married and have a baby of his own, this was a way he could touch some lives, and bring some good into the world.