Monday, August 31, 2009

Photograph of Josie and I...

I've never shared this picture because until now, it was very grainy and shot in poor light, the day after Josie died. For that reason also, Josie did not look the way she did when she'd first come out: her lips were very dark and her skin very light - she didn't look the way I'd remembered.

I'd been meaning to work on this photograph, or one like it, for some time and had never been ready until now to do work on my own daughter. The shades of skin; the lights; the angles - her little features...always a little too hard to keep going on...always a little bit like scratching myself with the edge of a broken hairpin. But I've been working up to it, and I'm pleased now with the final result.

This photograph was taken by me, in the early hours of October 11th 2008, while I was by myself on the morning my baby went to the funeral home. I'd held her all night with what I can only describe as a tenuous grip on reality: nobody really knew 100% if I'd survive; I was in and out of consciousness and heavily medicated. The best way to describe what it felt like that first night, is this: you know the feeling when you're half out of a nightmare; half way in between sleeping and waking, and you can feel actuality as a haze into which you are emerging? She was like the haze between the nightmare and reality: the soft feeling of comfort given to me in a situation my body and mind had no idea how to deal with. She was like an old rope thrown to someone drowning: too old to really hold, but young enough to not break for...just a little while.

So it was an odd kind of euphoria: I'd made this little being who I looked at and who was so adorable, but who would soon be taken from me. I could live in dreamland as a new mother with this silent babe who couldn't ever feed, for about twenty-seven hours. This photograph was dreamland: but all the while knowing she'd be taken at some point, and wanting to get some mother-daughter pictures just because I am her mother, and she my daughter.

Some mothers call it "dead-baby mothering" but I can't use that phrase without flinching. This photograph shows the way I felt and the way I feel about my daughter - as a baby human, not a dead baby human. She'll never grow, but I'll never be a "dead-baby mama" either - I am just a mother, without excuses and without regret. Just a mother with love in her heart and a forever stifled desire to hug that baby more time.

Now here I am with a new one inside me, and every day I just hope...I just hope so much that I get to hold Isobella for longer than I held Josie because in the end, that's all one wants to do when one's heart is in another person, outside one's body. Connect and never let go.

(You can click on the picture to make it bigger, if you want to...)

I love my little girls. I have never before had the unquestionable knowledge of what love really means. Given the choice, I would willingly lay down my life for either one without even thinking about it at all. All of the worries of being a parent boil down to just that one thing, in the end: it doesn't matter how old you are or how young you are; if your child has problems; if you have problems; if it's inconvenient to have a child; if you're scared of birth...all those trivial things go away in the end because what matters is that life goes on.

I think what got me through after Josie died was the unfailing desire to see that life continued: since I couldn't save her, I had to make sure I could save me, because life had to go on.

It's incredible how much more simple things are after an experience like this: when you lose a child in your belly, all the trivial details fly away and giant chunks remain. That's how it is for me, anyway.

So there we are. My first daughter and I, together and in peace.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Becoming one's parents...

You know, we all do, to some extent. And it's curious, the way it happens.

When we're young, we think we're so utterly unique - set apart from our parents completely. Some of us as teenagers wish not to become anything like either one of our parents; some of us balk at the prospect completely, even if our parents are clever and kind and interesting: good people. That's all part of the teenage rebellion though I suppose: the whole "I am NOT my mother" etc thing, the "I am little Miss independent and can do anything better than my Mum and Dad..." rubbish. I have heard there are teens out there who behave better than this: I've yet to actually meet one. Maybe I can raise one...hmm...

Anyhow, so nowadays I'm not at all concerned about being like my mother or my father. We grow up and realize that we're all just human beings - like grapes in a bunch - not so different from one another as an entire race in the first place. Our mothers and fathers are just human beings, like us - they've made mistakes, but for goodness sakes, we've made equally bad mistakes (sometimes worse!) and we've not been struck dead by lightning up to now. I do apologize at this point if anyone does in fact get hit by lightning while reading this blog post...

So here I am and I just opened my desk to smell what exactly...a whiff of...incense and old wood. I suddenly got taken back to my Dad's study: my desk smells just like his. The contents are slightly different of course, but the incense; the old wood...they're the same. In our desks, we two individuals have created our worlds. Sharing a love of all things "old", we have chosen to use antique desks and surround ourselves with similar curious objects. In that way, I can see my father in me: his half of the DNA is shining through like the muted dawn of a misty forest in autumn. I can see him in me. I'm carrying him on to the next generation as though he is a fine vintage bottle of wine, held loosely in my hand as I tread along my path.

I see my mother in me as well. At the moment, chiefly through organization. Since I'm pregnant, I've been nesting an awful lot and have now come to the point where I've organized the baby clothes into little totes and put them, covered in plastic, into the cupboard where they will remain largely untouched for the next twenty weeks. Additionally I've been canning apple butter and elderberry jelly like there might never be any apples or elderberries ever again in the whole wide world. Today once again, we went out to gather our natural resources and came back with five stuffed and heavy (at least 8lb in each) bags of elderberries, three enormous bags of apples from the orchard and ten ears of corn from...well never you mind where from...

I've been less wasteful and more frugal without being scant in the last few weeks. Fewer leftovers have gone to the ice-man. The dogs have been fed at regular times; the fish have been fed at regular times; heck, even the frog has had mealtimes at approximately the same time each day.

And all the while I am there, rubbing my belly and remembering what my mother told me: this is a different pregnancy; a different baby - you will feel differently about this pregnancy than you think you will. She's so right - I do. My mother's DNA glows through my skin this pregnancy like an oil lamp left burning in a room completely devoid of people. I carry her with me through everything like a well-thumbed book of handwritten knowledge with a little ribbon for a bookmark...

I've been told I have a pretty equal blend of masculine and feminine energy and I think "they're" right, now. I sequester myself away like my Dad - sitting in concentrated silence for hours as I do my graphics work; always better at working as an individual rather than a member of a drone army in some large company. I'm the same as he is in that respect: both of us really need the creative freedom to...well, to create, because that is our meaning and the purpose that we have here on Earth. We need to be employed by either very understanding, flexible and trusting employers in jobs created specifically for us, or simply by ourselves. We don't really "work" any other way - not very well. I couldn't willingly be a cashier in WalMart or a Tax Collector or a Customer Service Rep, listening to people shout all day: those jobs make my heart shrivel up and all thoughts of real contribution to the universe go out of the window.

On the other hand I can get up half way through a project, make the children popcorn, put in a film and arrange some painting time, whilst simultaneously feeding the dogs, throwing together a pot roast and making jam. At the same time I can clean the kitchen floor, disinfect the toilet, hoover the living room and plan tomorrow's lunch. I might even find time to check the post, have a shower, put the kettle on for tea and change the sheets. In that way, I am very much my mother who was always awfully good at multitasking and awfully good at finding things to do. I find myself thinking "there's always more to do" quite often. I find myself saying "well, help me with the washing then!" when the kiddies tell me they're bored. These things all make perfect sense now: they never did when I was eleven...

So yes, an ode to my wonderful parents, who are within me every day. Now I'm feeling a squirmy little girl in me who will no doubt inherit a good mixture of both of her grandparents' characteristics. She'll probably have to be carried up and down the stairs...up and down...up and down the get her to go to sleep as well, just like me.

Oh well, at least I'll end up with really shapely legs.

Monday, August 24, 2009

20 weeks...

Yes - 20 weeks already! My goodness. In so many ways, it feels like this pregnancy is going quickly. Then, in other ways it feels like this pregnancy is going slowly... So odd!

Of course, now I have full-on hit the patch where I do - I do check all the time on Isobella's movement. But she's very co-operative. If I'm feeling totally paranoid, all I have to do is lay very still on my back for a couple of minutes and she'll start to bump around like anything. She felt like something out of "Alien" last night - almost felt like she was trying to break out!

But with all the joviality I know that I am going to be really over-worried now until I give birth. Honestly, every second of every single day the thought of her suddenly ceasing to live is going to be at the back of my mind. I somehow need to counter those thoughts with really positive thoughts for the next nineteen or twenty weeks. I need to make sure that I throw tons of wonderful thought at my baby and my uterus. I really want to get the Hypnobabies home study course, but right now it's rather expensive. Nevertheless I do need to think about that in the next few weeks... That I think would help relax me an awful lot. I'm never shy when I need guidance: I just don't always need guidance - but this time, I do: from wise people!

Anyway today, I am working on several really interesting projects for clients, and also simultaneously making elderberry jelly and various preserved apples. The apple harvest has just started and we have already been gifted four carrier bags full!

So thank you mother Earth for our bountiful fruits and thank you for a wonderful day!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Update on the meaning...

Mai: yes, it seems to mean more than one thing depending on the language...

In Chinese, the meaning apparently is something like "ocean."

In Japanese, the meaning is "brightness."

In Vietnamese, the meaning is "tomorrow" or "future" - very fitting.

The whole "star of the sea" comes from it's association with Mary, who in the biblical sense had a name applied to her - "drop of the sea" or "star of the sea" depending on who's translation you trust. Since the bible was formerly translated to Latin, it was incorrectly stated that Mai was a direct translation of "star of the sea" when actually, the meaning is slightly more convoluted. It was a valid point brought up today by my mother, so I thought I'd put it out there!

Altogether all the different meanings kind of make the name even nicer... I like it more and more the more I know!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Her Name is Isobella Mai...

We spent a long time choosing this one. "Isabella" is a little too popular at this point - #2 on the baby name rankings (but it's so pretty!) so we changed the spelling slightly and now, it's significantly less common. Mai means "Star of the Sea" in Latin...

So loosely translated, I suppose the whole thing would mean "Star of the Sea, pledged to our Goddess/God." Of course originally, the name Isobel/Isabelle meant something like "consecrated to God" - very biblical. Since I am not Christian, it seems fitting to modify the meaning very slightly there - not very much really, since really one God is another's Goddess in the end.

We thought it very fitting to have a meaning like this, since after Josie passed over, we obviously felt devastated and we wondered if we would be able to have another child. During the first trimester and beginning of the second, the whole family went to England and spent a lot of time i the sea, which H fell in love with and which has always been a very big, big part of me. And the fact that she was conceived at all is huge cause to be grateful to the universe.

So Isobella Mai - Star of the Sea, pledged to a higher power...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pictures and things...

So here I am at 19 weeks with me belly covered up...

...and here I am at 19 weeks with me belly exposed!

Here are some stills from the ultrasound yesterday: if you click on them, it'll take you to the full sized view and you can take a good look!

Ah, and I also noticed that actually, there are several incidences in that video where you get to see the gender before he actually zooms in for "the shot", so I think we're pretty 100% on the gender here - I don't have any doubts this time!

I am going to get the baby clothes out and let myself flower into exuberance and celebration... It's time to celebrate! Life has come again and closets need to be opened and aired out! The wheel keeps on turning, and you know, it is wonderful when it's turning your have to be thankful and let the joy shine through!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Baby Goob has been exposed...

...didn't even make a fuss! Was all bundled up in the fetal position, and gave us the shot we needed, plus a lovely face shot and beautiful measurements and a HUGELY thick cord! Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the link..... Baby Goob's expose!

I'll post some stills tomorrow! Now you go and see what it is...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The undeniable winding of life...

Gosh, I'm almost 19 weeks now - that's practically half way there. As we go on, I get more and more emotional on a regular basis: yes, hormonal in part but as the movements become more and more tangible, a big part of me is drawn back into last year, and my pregnancy with Josie.

The movements of this little one feel so similar to Josie's movements at the same time: the little turnings, the twisting of baby's little body and the strong, viable kicks punches I get from baby's arms and legs. All state "I am ALIVE, I CANNOT be denied!" - all state "I am here to stay..."

It's also getting to the stage in which I need to be very careful that I pick the right health care provider. I really like the doctor I have, but he does practice in a hospital with a rather stoic policy on VBAC, which is what I will be attempting. So, he's rather bound by the rules - at least during the night. I don't want to have to go there and find myself at the receiving end of a pen and a statement of consent for a cesarean, simply because my timing is inconvenient. Therefore, we are going to be having a discussion on Monday as to what the realistic outlook is as far as actually getting the birth I want in the hospital closest to me.

The alternative is a hospital about an hour and fifteen minutes away. They are very VBAC friendly and a friend of mine has used the practice and likes the doctors and nurses there very much. So that's an option as well. It's funny, with me, the closer I get to 30 weeks, the more adamant I am about birthing the way I want to.

Yet at the same time, there's a part of me that dares not believe I will end up with a healthy, eyes-wide-open baby at the end of it all... It all seems so...fairy-tale. There was such an unbelievable ending; such a brick-wall event at the end of my last pregnancy that it seems my mind is unable to really imagine - or dare imagine - a time after the birth in which I am holding my child, wide awake and staring at me for the first time... Could it really be that I might get to wrap up my newborn in soft little homemade diapers and put him or her in a sling... Could it really be that I get to hold my baby for more that 27 hours after birth? The thought fills me with such a huge amount of joy: I can only liken it to a delusional person thinking they might win the lottery, and deciding in advance what they'd do with all the money... It just unrealistic.

Nevertheless I DO find myself looking forward, looking toward baby baths and baby oil, breastfeeding and yes, a comfortable, natural, healing birth in a kind place.

Even now, as I sit here, listening to Neil Young sing "Helpless", I sway from side to side with my hand on my belly, because I'm rocking and loving my child, far away from medical intervention and surgical knives... We can do this together, me and the baby, H and R, all of us together...we'll make this little dream come true...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Death and bewilderment...

No, no the baby is fine! I'm talking about something else here.

Gosh, what a day today has been - one of those delightful days where nothing's gone quite right, but then nothing's gone completely wrong either: kind of odd! I think I made it better in the end though, by making a couple of decisions.

One, I left a site I've been visiting for almost a year (some of you know me from there I think) - I've disabled my link from that site, so I cannot be accused of being mean about it. I've made some wonderful friends there, none of whom I hope to leave behind so I've sent everyone I can think of a message: the word can get around from there, hopefully. I think I have the right to do that, don't I? You'd think so, wouldn't you - others do not, however.

So here I am, talking on my completely un-moderated blog (apart from by me!) which is wonderful. I can say whatever I like! Most of what I say is meant to be supportive, of course. I have a few opinions here and there - doesn't everyone? Isn't that what gives us our uniqueness? Having thoughts about things? Hmmm...

So that's done with - but my friends are my friends and I will be sending goodies!

There's another site I just can't frequent any more either. Two people there now have chosen to abort babies with Downs Syndrome... Oh my gosh. I cannot imagine wanting to make that decision. I know people with Downs, and to look at them and think "you shouldn't have been born" is just sickening and nonsensical to me. But here we go again today, another amnio, another diagnosis of Downs and another abortion. I hopefully am free to say on this blog that I think that decision is barbaric. I really feel in my gut that it's awful. I've lost a baby and can understand another person terminating for a condition that wouldn't be life compatible but Downs?

It makes me feel sick, the thought of purposefully destroying a life because of a diagnosis of Downs. Heck, there are people - many people - who would adopt a child with Downs deliberately. But to have one killed in the second trimester? I cannot agree. I just cannot. Plus there's a good friend of mine in the same due date club who lost her son to Downs complications last year and to have someone else aborting... Wow, I cannot imagine how she feels every single time she reads one of those posts.

I just don't get taking a little person who's kicking you and who could live, and have a job, have children, everything, so late... How could I feel a little person kick inside me and make a decision to have them destroyed? I just don't understand. Coming from where I'm from, I don't think I can ever understand that.

So, I'm all for political correctness and letting people do whatever, but I can't stay around that energy - it's so black and filled with the promise of a dark future. So I've kinda vacated my due date clubs now. Ah well. I am still due and the life in me is very active, and I am so thankful.

Hopefully though everyone will keep in touch here and on Facebook and on the email - my buddies are the most important people to me. I don't really have time to be dinging about on forums anyway - I'm SO busy with work right now, it's really crazy!

That's it for now. Chugging away, nearly 18 weeks! I will update with a new pregnancy pic on Monday!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Seventeen Weeks...

My goodness me! Seventeen weeks already! I suppose I should give you a belly shot shouldn't I? Well, here's me two weeks ago at 15 weeks...

And here I am today...

Now you may think "not much difference there" but, keep in mind I've had the flu for a week - gosh I tell you - yuk! And therefore I haven't been able to do the enormous amount of eating I normally do. Which might be a good thing I suppose. The nurses at the hospital will probably all croon about saying "oh, haven't you done well - not so much weight gain in the first seventeen weeks!" - unlike last time, where the doc made me swear off McDonalds at my 15 week appointment...ha!

But anyhow, here we are, feeling baby movement all over the place and actually being able to feel it and see it from the outside, even! I tell you, that is truly awesome! Last night I think the babe was practicing one of the routines from "West Side Story" in there. I tried telling the babe it was already in America but it didn't pay any attention: to focused on acrobatics!

So there's my update for week 17! Two weeks today is the "big ultrasound"...