Monday, November 30, 2009

Josie's life...

Giving thanks for Josie's life with us here - one Thanksgiving beyond her birth and death. We may have lost her, but we will never fail to acknowledge her as a little person...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Giving Thanks...

It's really only been recently that the meaning of this festival has properly hit me. We don't have it in England, and all the "Pilgrims plus Native Americans" stuff didn't really strike me to begin with.

But nowadays, I get it. I also get the newer message - that of simply giving thanks - and I like it. We don't have a day simply to give thanks in England: we have a harvest festival many times, but it's not on a set date. So for me, Thanksgiving is much like a harvest festival. I sat there this year, gobbling food and really, feeling good about life. Here are a couple of pictures of my family, being thankful on Thanksgiving...

Last Thanksgiving...not so much. Actually last Thanksgiving hurt - a lot. It really stung. Christmas wasn't so bad - my sister N and brother F came to visit and it was lovely. But Thanksgiving was pretty awful. I remember being in a lot of emotional pain. My mother had just left a few weeks previously and I had no baby to hold.

So, when the adverts, or the people, or the stores said "think of what you're thankful for this holiday!" I had some real trouble. Remaining positive was possible on every other day than Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving itself, the walls came kind of, crumbling down, so to speak.

I remember telling H I really couldn't be thankful that year. I couldn't think of anything to be thankful for. Not on that day. Every other day I could be grateful to be alive, but not on Thanksgiving.

I drove out to the cold, cold graveyard where my daughter slept under the ground, and left my car running next to her plot. It was dark by this time, and I'd just taken off and left everyone in my house because I couldn't hold the tears back any more. I drove out there and listened to public radio, sobbing and sobbing into a box of Kleenex next to me in the passenger seat. The heater was warm; the temperature outside was freezing.

Suddenly, a medley of Shaker hymns, arranged a Capella by a composer called Kevin (can't remember the last name) came on the radio and they were just beautiful - rich, warm voices filling my ears.

I opened both windows and turned the music up for my baby, who couldn't hear... I turned those Shaker hymns up for all the babies in "Babyland" where she was buried and played them out across the dark, cold evening. I sat there and cried the whole way through. When the hymns were over, I put the car into gear, rolled up the windows and with one final look at the semi-fresh earth of my baby's grave, I drove back to the house.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Isobella's Birth Plan...

Well, I gave this to my very wonderful doctor this afternoon and he accepted it all! The only glitch, he said, would be if I went into spontaneous labor on my own in the middle of the night and came in - the staff on duty would probably want to c-section me and there'd be a fight. But, apart from that, here it is...


J's Birth Plan - baby Isobella Mai

Hello lovely ALMC medical professionals!
Welcome to my birth plan. I understand you probably get a lot of these but very much request that you read this and please, try to accommodate me and my baby as much as humanly possible. Please understand that this plan is written from two perspectives: a mother, wanting a natural, vaginal birth after a cesarean; and a mother wanting a natural, med-free birth after the death of her daughter from complete placental abruption on October of 2008. I really want the most natural, normal, loving circumstances for this birth, and for this child to be brought out into the world in a calm, peaceful way as opposed to a dramatic, traumatic way. This birth plan then, is written with the intent of making this as likely as possible.

With that said, I understand more than many how unpredictable life can be. If I should need surgery, we will come to that when we come to it. In the meantime however, here are the thing that I feel would make birthing really great for Isobella Mai (my baby) and I. Thank you so much for reading and I appreciate all you do.

  • Please - no constant asking about pain meds or epidurals: I will most certainly ask for these, should I feel I need them. I would much rather have support in my natural childbirth, and a little cheerleading!
  • Please use "pressure" instead of pain whenever possible because I am using self-hypnosis (Hypnobabies) to help me with birthing, and want to allow myself to think of the contractions as a lot of pressure, rather than abject, sheer pain and terror!
  • I would like to wear own clothes - sarong for comfort (will still allow doctors access but will make me more comfortable).
  • Please let me have an extra long drip so that I can move around.
  • Please give me the freedom to use the bath or shower, the birthing ball etc.
  • Please give me the freedom to labor in any position.
  • Please, give me the freedom to push the baby out in the position I feel most comfortable in. I promise I won't try to give birth on the roof, but I'd like to be able to, for example, give birth in a squat if that feels right.
  • Please, no episiotomy - I would much rather tear.
  • If at all possible, I would like to be able to dim the lights.
  • When pushing, I'd like to be able to push when it "feels right" - as much as possible. Please, please, no counting to ten...
  • Please let my birth partner catch the baby if he can!
  • Please let the umbilical cord stop pulsating before it is cut. I'd really like Isobella to get all her blood.
  • When baby is out, please place her on my chest - I want to bond with her straight away unless there are emergency medical reasons why this cannot be so.
  • Please, when she is out, do not whisk her off to "give me a rest". Ideally I would love to be able to breastfeed to allow the placenta to come out without a problem.
  • Also, because of the circumstances of the last birth, I really would like Isobella and I to be allowed to bond for at least a few minutes before weighing, measuring, and all the rest of the standard procedures. I really want to be able to spend those first moments looking into her open eyes.
  • After baby comes, I'd love to be able to be the one to dry her off and wrap her up. Please don't bathe her and dress her for me - again, these moments are not something I got the chance to experience before, so I'd like to be able to do this myself.
  • I'd like to room in with my baby at all times. There will always be someone there with me if I need to rest.
  • If Isobella should happen to have to be taken to the NICU for any reason, please let my birth partner go with her and be with her as much as possible.
  • If I should happen to have a cesarean, please, once again, let me be with my baby immediately afterwards as long as no complications exist. As you can imagine, the last time was very traumatic and I would not like to be separated from my child this time. I'd like to be able to breastfeed as soon as possible after the birth.
  • I plan to breastfeed!

I do believe that is about it: as you can tell, I strongly believe in the natural power and the natural progression of birth, even though it did not go as planned the last time. I feel calm about this birth, unafraid and very much ready. Thank you once again for reading and for helping me!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lights in the darkness...

I bought something today. Recently, buying things has been...not happening very much because my income hasn't allowed me to go out on any large shopping trips that didn't involve buying groceries. But, it's not been a problem for me because I don't really want much in my life - my needs are very few. I prefer experiences - always have. A karaoke session in a nice bar with nice people; visiting a beautiful place for the first time; seeing people I love; watching a wonderful movie with someone special...spending time sitting on the beach at sunset when there's no-one else there.

But yes, I did buy something today.

When Josie was buried, we had to make the heart-stopping decision of what to dress her in. I was told at the hospital what they chose - on the morning of the third day, I think - the Sunday. Her funeral was the Monday. She wore this beautiful fancy dress and underneath, a pair of white, velvety sock-pants with bunnies for socks - ears and all. It had a little white bobby tail on the tush and was so sweet. I remember looking at them, holding them up and washing them in baby soap during my pregnancy, because I couldn't wait to dress Josie in those little pants in particular.

So, she was buried in them. H's ma took pictures but I've never seen them. She wore makeup and her little soul had gone. One day I'm sure I'll see them: but who knows.

Anyway the children wanted to bury something with her as well. It was this little Carter's light-up butterfly. It was very soft and tied onto the crib. When you pulled it's tail, it twinkled red in the wings and set off the music box, which was not electronic - played Brahm's Lullaby.

The children wanted to bury it with Josie because it lit up, and they thought it would be very dark and scary underground. They're so practical.

So we buried it with her and every now and again - the more I get to the end of this pregnancy - I thought of that little butterfly twinkling away down there, with it's little red lights. I wanted another one just like it for Isobella - some connection to her sister.

The more I thought about it, the more I really wanted it. The more essential it became. Then of course, the item was so hard to find - nobody had it any more - it wasn't even being made. But the other day I happened to find it on eBay with the help of a dear friend of mine... Today, I bought it. I have to wait now to pay for it until I get paid again, but it's going to be there for Isobella.

And you know, I feel so emotional about it. Out of everything we buried with Josie, that was the most poignant. Twinkling and lighting up in there forever, in the dark, under the ground. I somehow knew that if I didn't get another one it just wouldn't be right. Something should be Earthside as well - something just like what was buried, like some kind monitor...something to connect to. Like Inanna's servant, Ninshubur. Except of course, little Inanna/Josie isn't coming out of the underworld - she's gone to a different place...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Isobella dancing in her Iso-Belly...

Birth beads, and 33 weeks today...'s the big 33 week mark. I felt my tummy this morning, laying on my back as Isobella awoke from her little slumber, and there were bones, legs, arms, head, butt - just so palpable because I was so relaxed. There is undeniably another little human being inside me - not soft, but fully formed, with feet, and ankles, and little fingers and toes; nails; hair; eyes - eyelashes... She's really in there.

Right now, as I sit here, she's active. She is less bouncy than her sister, but still a very active baby, which is fine with me because I do believe part of Josie's bounciness was caused by my stress.

So, she is coming soon. In many ways I believe that this pregnancy my attitude has been different about bringing home a baby. Last time, the whole way through my biggest fear was losing the baby to a placental abruption - it was almost uncanny, the way it happened. I bought things for Josie, but I did not read about newborn baby behavior; how to change a nappy/diaper; how to bathe her... I knew it would come instinctively if I got to hold her alive at the end of it all. So I read in detail all the way up to the end of my pregnancy: but also knew she would come early.

Well, as it would happen, she did come early, and she did die as a result of an abruption. Do I believe in fate, or that it was "destined" to happen? Nope - I believe that's a load of rubbish (and I do still have to put up with the mindless "well, maybe it just wasn't meant to be. God probably wanted her back straightaway and now she's an angel in heaven..." BS) - but, it was uncanny how my intuition didn't allow me to read beyond the birth.

This time, I'm almost all the way through Sheila Kitzinger's "Understanding your Crying Baby" and a number of other early development books. Naturally, one cannot ready everything about a child's development all the way up to 18 before the little one's even born, but I do believe this time, something in telling me I actually need to be prepared to bring an infant home with me.

I got the birth beads sorted out this weekend for my due date club - there are sixteen of us participating and five of us (including me, of course!) wanted their beads pre-strung. So, I spent until about 3.30am on Saturday/Sunday morning making necklaces with beading wire and clasps. It was the first time I'd done anything like that, I am am *fairly* confident in them! People sent some really nice beads. I strung mine with a few others I had around, and the result was thus:

The necklace is very comfortable, so I've been wearing it more or less ever since. Also, I made and decorated little bags for everyone to put their finished necklaces into. They're all done now - I used fabric paint to write a the month and year on the bags. I hope everyone likes them and that nobody who I send a parcel to has to put memories in the bag along with the beads. May all the babies thrive and grow...

I also took a couple of more "arty" pregnancy pictures. One is below:

Last week, we set up the exactly 32 weeks. Nothing bad has happened yet, which is wonderful! I say that with a shred of irony, since so many say "just in case, " you know? But, I needed to take that plunge. Not acknowledging her was not an option.

Which is why, additionally, we are having a baby shower before she comes. My last baby shower was going to be be October 11th, 2008. We lost Josie in October 10th. We have to be optimistic and we have to celebrate this little life, our little Isobella. Having a baby show will not kill our baby. So, we are going to have one: not that we really need much!

I think that's it for now. I have been trying to videotape her squirming inside my belly, and I think I have a few decent shots of that, so I will make a short video and upload it to OneTrueMedia or something like that - I'll post that later...

Not too much creative, emotional writing today: much too spent being pregnant! But, I'm all about keeping everyone in the loop: so, that's what's been happening with me... Now, over to you...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Finally updating...

Hi all - I felt I owed an update! Sorry I haven't posted in so long - I've been so incredibly busy with freelancing that I actually didn't have time to pluck my eyebrows until the bit that aren't meant to be there got as long as the bits that are! Every bath feels like an enormous relief after a huge adventure in some completely unexplored wilderness... It's wonderful to be so "in demand" - it really is, but it's also very unpredictable.

Thankfully I had a lovely letter from the bank regarding my car loan - an offer to skip either my December or January payment, so I gladly accepted the offer: I'm skipping my December payment (Season's Greeting, me!) and using the time to slow down a bit, nest, and probably make a bunch of cloth diapers. Then in January, taxes will pay for the car, so in effect it almost means I get two months of really nice nesting and bonding. Then, in February, it'll be back to normality, but with a baby in a sling on my chest - and really, I'm not anticipating too many problems doing my work and babywearing. I think we'll be just fine, Isobella and I.

Talking of Isobella: she's getting very big, and very active! She's just like her sister in terms of positioning, though actually she went head down at about 27 weeks and has remained that way ever since. I can feel her feet, and now quite regularly her little tush, poking out of the front of the Iso-belly... Good baby, getting into position like that! Actually as I am writing this, she is doing a few stretches and rooting about with her hands and her head. It's nice to know she'll be born in a few weeks: I'm getting very impatient.

Also, the scary dreams have started. Last night I had a dream that we'd lost Isobella too, somehow. Then there I was, looking at her crib, thinking that for a second time, we wouldn't get to use it... Thankfully it was just a nightmare, and hopefully not one that will come true. It does just go to show though - I am, in all of my positivity, not immune from fear regarding my child. I don't fear death myself - but I do for my baby.

So, less than six weeks - most probably just over five. I want to go into the New Year snuggling with my daughter at midnight - and so for that reason, she has until the very end of December (about 38.5 weeks) to come out - though I will most likely be induced right around 38. Christmas Day is the same day her sister came, at 37 weeks, 4 days - so it would be rather uncanny of she made an appearance then: but not really very surprising since so far, she's been so similar to her sister in so many ways.

We'll just have to wait and see...