dear baby

words wrangled by a first time mama

You Take My Breath Away

Dear Sophia,

The joy I felt the day I found I was pregnant with you took my breath away. Weeks later as I sat on the doctor’s table and watched as the ultrasound tech searched for you deep in my belly, seeing your heartbeat flicker on the screen, yes, you took my breath away. The relief that washed over me was palpable, it was a warmth and strength no words can describe. Weeks went by and I listened to your heartbeat on our doppler. The many minutes I spent just listening to your fighter’s heart gave me such hope. It never gets old hearing your heartbeat. The fact that now I get to hear your heartbeat against my chest every night as I rock you to sleep still amazes me. No one prepared me for how deep my love for you would go. How could they? How could anyone have possibly known? When I think about the times in my life that have taken my breath away – losing loved ones, leaving home for the first time, my first kiss, seeing your daddy for the first time, falling in love, your daddy down on one knee asking to marry me, your daddy at the end of the aisle in the big white church on our wedding day, seeing your heartbeat for the first time…it’s as if all those moments lead up to the very moment I lost my breath meeting you.  And now every night as I rock you to sleep, I hold my breath and wish for time to slow down.

All my love,

Mama

Holding you.

My body is no longer my own.  My eyes dart open fiercely fighting the dark of night to find the steady rise and fall of your chest.  My ears stir endlessly at every coo you make.  My hands fumble with snaps under the cover of 2 am.  And my arms, they hold you dear to my chest.  My chest is where you nestle and pull on the strings of my heart wrapping them tightly in your tiny palms.  And as I hold your little body I soak in every second – cherish them for the perfect beauty they are and you are.

It’s the middle of the night and I’ve picked you up all tense and balled up, your tiny fist wailing about and it’s me that unravels it all.
My voice whether singing lullabies or reading the phone book, it’s my voice that lulls you back to calm.  It’s the rhythm of my breathing that settles you in.  Every beat of my heart that slowly unties the knots in your tiny body.  My arms about your precious little belly that untangle your sobs.  And suddenly you’ve melted into me.  You are a puddle.  A sleepy, dreamy sweet puddle. Sound asleep on my chest.  And I sigh.  This power I hold is overwhelming.  This ability to be your calm center.  To relax you and bring you back to steady.  To be your mother.  Oh baby girl, I hope I can always be the one to bring you back to steady.

I hope my arms are always the ones you run to when you need to be settled.  When your heart is twisted in pain, wrenched and aching I hope it’s my arms that unravel and soothe you.  When your stomach is in knots and you’re wringing your hands with no idea what to do, oh sweet baby girl, I hope it’s the steady rise and fall of my chest that unties those knots and guides you through.

I drink in this incredibly brief, impossibly fast flash of our lives where I get to cuddle you.  I get to hold you against my chest and warm the chill of your cries.  I get to be your safe spot and you burrow into me so deep I think you might actually be touching my heart.  I know this time is but the blink of an eye and I don’t want to miss any of it.  Sleep is what I used to want most at 2 am.  But now?  Now what I want most is to hold you tight.  To feel your jagged cries become the even deep breaths of sound sleep.  To know that just by holding you I am loving you.
Baby girl I hope you always know, my love for you runs deep in these arms of mine.  You are welcome to dive in anytime.

The day you were born and your first week….

Dear Sophia,

Just about 11 weeks ago Daddy and I woke up at 6:45 am. We showered and got dressed. We made our way to the hospital. It was a calm, peaceful day. The sun was shining and we listened to Carole King’s “Tapestry” album as we drove to the hospital. We remarked how amazing it was to not be rushed or running frantically to the hospital. We signed in at the hospital and made our way to the 2nd floor, labor and delivery. We took a picture under the Labor and Delivery sign.
Labor and delivery

The nurses prepped me for surgery. I was very nervous but all the nurses were so kind and they kept me calm. I was given an epidural. It wasn’t horrible but it did take her 5 tries. At the time I thought that was normal. I learned later, that no, that was definitely not normal. After my epidural kicked in the nurses wheeled me to the operating room. I was excited and scared and had no idea what to expect. The procedure had been explained to me by nurses and my doctor, but still I wasn’t sure exactly how everything would happen. Daddy was soon seated by my side and I could hear the doctor’s talking. They started right away and within minutes they could see you in my belly. They knew you were going to be a big girl by the length and size of your legs! Everyone was a flurry about what a big girl you were and before I knew it they were holding you up for daddy to see. It was 10:57 in the morning. They whisked you over to the scale and I still hadn’t heard you cry. I asked them why you weren’t crying and as if right on cue, you started wailing. It was the most precious little cry I’ve ever heard. You weighed in at 11 lbs, 2 oz. You were quite the big baby and all the nurses cooed about how precious you were. They brought you over to me all bundled up and I swear you smiled at me. We took our first family picture. I’m glad they took this picture because these first few moments are fuzzy in my mind, but the it’s clear from the picture baby girl, you made us so very happy.

IMG_4597

They finished sewing me up and I was wheeled to recovery. You and daddy made your way to the pediatrician. Your blood sugar was low and you needed some special care immediately to bring it back to normal levels. After about an hour they took me up to my room and you were taken to the nursery. It would be 12 hours until I would see you again. I was exhausted and on so many pain killers that those first couple of hours are pretty much a haze for me. Finally, at midnight the nurse came in and said that if I could get up and walk I could go and see you! I was determined to get myself out of that bed and down the hall to you. Daddy helped me walk down the hall to you. At first the nurse didn’t want me to hold you. To this day I don’t understand why. I had only held you twice in 12 hours and I was aching to have you in my arms. I wasn’t rude, but I told the nurse that I would absolutely be scooping you up and holding you. And that is what I did. Words don’t exist to describe how amazing it was to hold you. My heart was literally beating out of my chest. The world melted away. It was just me and you. I stared down at you and your little face took the very breath right out of my chest. In the tiny palm of your tiny hand my heart took up residence. That very minute little girl. I swear. I haven’t seen it since.

We weren’t able to take you back to our room because your blood sugar was still not stable. And eventually you were moved to the NICU because you needed even more specialized care. Daddy and I spent your first few days visiting you in the NICU. You had many visitors there and every day you got stronger and better. On the 4th day my doctor was ready to discharge me and we prayed your doctor would be ready to discharge you. Thankfully, your blood sugars were stable and you were ready to go home with us. We got you ready to go in your car seat and carefully made our way home. You looked so cute in your going home outfil all snuggled into your car seat.

Our first night home with you was amazing. You seemed to fit right in with us and our little family was created. You slept pretty well the first night. I stayed awake all night just staring at you. I was too excited to have you there with us to sleep! Eventually I was able to sleep and we spent the first few weeks of your life just soaking you in and enjoying everything about you.

Sweet Sophia, you were born on 11-11-13 at 10:57 am. I saw a commercial today that put it into words perfectly. Yes, I made you sweet Sophia. But you? You made me a mother. And you made me and daddy your family. It’s been a whirlwind 11 weeks. And every minute I have cherished being your mother and daddy, your father. You surprise us every single day and we are in awe of the blessing you are. From the day you were born, to this very minute and I’m quite certain for all the rest of my days- you precious girl are the greatest thing I’ve ever known.

Just before you were born…

Dear Sophia,

Today you are 8 weeks old. And I still have not written this down yet. I’ve been encouraged to tell this story, your story and I’ve resisted. Truthfully, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because some days I still can’t believe you’re mine. Maybe it’s because some days I still struggle to believe I can do this whole motherhood thing. But your story deserves to be told. So here we go. This is part one. Part two will follow in a separate post.

About 5 weeks before you were born daddy and I went to the doctors. My blood pressure was high and the doctor was worried about a pregnancy induced complication called Preeclampsia so she sent me right to the hospital. I was admitted and kept for two nights as they ran tests and concluded that I did have preeclampsia. This was not great news. It meant that we would have to induce you earlier than 40 weeks and I would need to be closely monitored for the remainder of my pregnancy. I worried constantly about you and those last 5 weeks were very difficult. I was on bed rest at home which meant I basically had to stay in bed all day. Most people would say that bed rest is a dream come true. But it’s not for a mama waiting on her baby. Every day I was scared my blood pressure would be too high and they would have to take you early, too early. But you and me, Sophia? We made it 5 weeks together on bed rest.

Around 37 weeks (4 weeks into bed rest) you decided to turn breech. We had an ultrasound to see how big you were and it was confirmed that you were breech. At 37 weeks you were measuring 9.9 lbs! Oh baby girl was I one scared mama!! The doctor scheduled us for C-section on November 18th and I was very scared. I had a lot of fears about a C-section. I was scared that I would have a bad reaction to the epidural, that I would be too doped up on medicine to be coherent when you were born, that family would get to see you and meet you for the first time before I did. Mostly I was scared that having a C-section would make me feel like less of a mother.

We finished setting everything up for your arrival. I packed our hospital bags and had them waiting at the door just in case. Daddy and I were as ready as first time parents can possibly be (which is not really ready at all.) I had one more appointment before you were to arrive and it was on November 8th. My blood pressure was very high and the doctor didn’t think I would make it to the 18th so he rescheduled my C-section for November 11th. Things moved really quickly after that. I went to the hospital for pre-op bloodwork and we called Bubba and Gussie (Grandpa and Grandma) and told them you would be coming a week early. Daddy and I settled in for our last weekend without a baby and we waited for Monday.

It was only just 8 weeks ago now and yet I can’t seem to remember what we did that last weekend before you. I’m sure we slept a lot. (Or I slept as much as I could with my huge belly!) And I’m sure we speculated about what it would be like to have you in our lives. I think we tried to prepare as much as we could, but honestly there was no way to prepare for the day we had you.

Believe you me

Belive you me, my dear Sophia, most days I will have no clue what I am doing. I will forge ahead blindly on faith and hope and tackle whatever comes our way but I will make mistakes. I will forget things. Important things. Things that might feel like they are breaking your heart. I will huff and puff instead of carrying on. I will be tired and confused and I will let my emotions get the better of me. Sometimes I will cry because I love you so much it hurts. I will stumble, I’m sure of it. And it won’t be graceful or elegant. I’m sure it will be ugly. It might even leave a mark. I will worry. Believe you me, I will worry. I will say the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time and it will feel like the whole world is crumbling. I will beg you to stop crying. I will fail at times. And I will fail hard. I will lose track of time and take time for granted. I will not be perfect. I will sigh in frustration when I should be sucking it up with gratitude. I will lose my cool. I will feel broken and helpless. I might even think I wasn’t cut out for this.
Oh Sophia, believe you me, I will be, say and do all those things. Oh but I will do much more. I will say I’m sorry. I will comfort you and kiss away your tears. I will hold you for as long as it takes. I will remember the day I found out you were growing deep in my belly and relish in the joy that moment brought to my life. I will love you to the moon and back every day. I will get back on the horse every time I fall off and show you the beauty of making mistakes and learning from them. I will give you second chances and hope you give me some too. I will believe in you. I will show you how beautiful you are to me and how beautiful you can be to this world. When I fail, I will admit it. I will try to slow down and make memories that will last you a lifetime. I will try my best every day. I will help you pick up the pieces when they crumble. I will be your safe place, your first home and your forever home. Believe you me, Sophia when they ask me what’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life I will always say being your mom.

Baby Sister

Dear Baby,

In March I was still so broken and sad.  I was still missing you and grieving the loss of you.  And yet something miraculous happened.  Daddy and I got pregnant again.  We didn’t want to believe it at first.  And the weeks leading up to our first ultra sound were agonizing.  As I laid on that table and waited for the tech to show us a baby, I thought of you.  And how I knew you were watching over your little sibling.  I imagined you as an angel covering this new little life with protection.  And sure enough, we saw a baby with a strong heartbeat.  A fighter’s heart.  Blueberry baby, I know you were with us that day and have been with us every day since.  Now I am 23 weeks pregnant and we know you are having a little sister.  A new baby doesn’t replace you.  But this little girl is a fiesty little fighter and I know she gets that spirit from you blueberry!  I still think of you often, especially now because your due date is coming up so soon (a week from tomorrow.)  I wonder what it would be like to be anxiously awaiting your arrival and to be 39 weeks pregnant in the dead of summer.  I think even though I will not meet you til I get to heaven, it helps to know you are looking out for your baby sister.  Every step of this journey I have felt a calmness and peace and I think that’s you.  Thank you for being our guardian angel.  Your baby sister Sophia will always know who her angel is.

Doing my best down here,

Mama

The fullness of empty.

Dear Blueberry-

The day I learned we had lost you was a Monday.  A regular day.  I was excited to have an ultrasound and see how much you’d grown in two weeks.  In hindsight, I realize I was hanging on to this pebble of hope pretending it was a boulder.  As soon as the grainy, black image was projected onto the screen I knew you were gone.  The tech was quiet.  Not silent like the insensitive technicians I had been with previously, just respectfully quiet.  To this day I thank God for giving me this sweet, reverent quiet tech to wordlessly usher in the avalanche of sadness that is losing a baby.  I don’t remember her name, but she wore pink scrubs and she was ever so gentle with me.  Daddy stood next to me taking it all in as I did.  Afterward, the tech lead us to the doctor’s office to wait for the results. She was kind, so incredibly kind.  I remember two things about the walk to the room where the doctor would see us.  1- my walk was unstable, confused, as if I hadn’t spent 30 years walking on two legs prior to that day.  And 2- daddy just breathing. Saying how well I was keeping it all together.  Keeping it all together is like chasing papers in the wind.  Wild, unpredictable, so hideously impossible to catch and yet you exhaust yourself diving after each one hoping to keep even just some of it all together.  The tears came so slowly.  They didn’t well up like when you are trying to be stoic and hold them back.  It was almost as if they just knew to take their time sliding down my cheek.  As if these sacred tears had a higher purpose.  And maybe they did.  I’ve never cried tears like that.  Even the tears I cried later, big and splashing, soaking sheets and pillows were not like the ones I cried sitting in that chair waiting for the doctor.  The doctor was nice.  And in the grand scheme of my life and your little life blueberry, having a nice doctor on the worst day of my (our) life wasn’t ideal, but I can accept it.  He went through the formalities and offered me tissues and begged me not to believe it was my fault.  He shook our hands and dismissed us.  Daddy and I had driven separately because we had both come from work.  He was worried I wouldn’t be able to drive myself home.  But I insisted I would be okay.  I called your grandma who was waiting for a picture of her grandbaby and just wailed, relentless wave after relentless wave, trying to tell her that we’d lost her first grandchild.  The first grandchild for her side of the family.  The first would be great-grandchild for my grandparents who had already passed.  Grandma soothed me as only a mother can and I breathed in her sentiments and let them wash over me, warm my shivering, shaking heart.  Oh blueberry, that day was only about 8 weeks ago but it seems like an entire lifetime has passed.  The rest of that day I sent text messages to friends and family to let them know.  Everyone was incredible.  Later that evening I sat weeping in my bed thinking of you and holding my tummy.  I was so surprised by the fullness I felt knowing my body was actually empty.   I had seen the screen, you were not there.  I was empty.  But oh I was full of so much grief and sadness and so many questions that would never be answered.  And even more than that, I was full of so much love for you.  A blueberry baby who I would never hold, never know, never kiss.  I will never understand the fullness of empty and therefore could never truly explain how it feels.  But, it feels like gigantic, heavy boulders made of listless and airy feathers impossible to pickup and hold but yet weightless too.  A thick wool blanket, scratchy and weighty yet covering me like a cloud.  A heart, mind and belly full and empty at the same time. I know, it makes no sense.

Doing my best down here blueberry,

Mama

Strength.

Sometimes strength doesn’t look like we think it will.  Sometimes strength isn’t lifting weights or moving heavy furniture.  Its not flexing muscles.  It’s actually not holding back tears when they burn at your eyelids.  Sometimes strength looks like weakness.  It’s falling down under the weight if it all and crying every last tear out.  It’s smiling, when inside every inch of your heart is shredded and in pieces.  Sometimes strength is just remembering to breathe.  Who would ever understand how crying, falling down, or even just breathing could be such a victory? But every tear I cry for my baby is not weakness coming out- as most would have us believe.  It’s proof my baby mattered, is remembered and loved.  And the strength it takes to give that to my baby is indescribable. There is no greater strength.

Grief

Sometimes grief punches you square in the jaw and it hurts.  But you see it coming so in that one second you brace for impact.

Sometimes grief sucker punches you in the gut. You double over in anguish hearing the seconds tick on a clock waiting for relief.

Sometimes grief catches you unawares.  Smashes against you full body and reckless.  You’re blown completely apart, tiny shards of what you used to be clutter the floor. You bend to pick them up, desperate to retrieve each piece.  Exhausted by the obsessive compulsion to put yourself back together.

The toughest part about grief is that the punches go on for awhile and you never know which one is coming.  And truth be told, even if you did you couldn’t make any preparations.  There is no suit of armor, no bullet proof vest for grief.  You just have to feel every miserable ache, square in the jaw, deep in the belly, full bodied.  And hope that in the end, when the punches evolve into tiny thumps that nip at your heart, and only on certain days, you have the power to keep moving forward.

Music

Dear blueberry,

I listen to music because it touches the deepest parts of me and brings everything inside up and out. In your eleven weeks growing with me you must have heard thousands of songs.  I like to imagine you feeling comforted by the chords, the soft lyrics, and the warmth that spreads over me as I get lost in music.  Now that you are gone, I’ve taken to music even more.  I try not to just listen to the sad songs.  Though they seem mostly relevant.  I try to find the comfort in the melodies. Grab hold of the crescendos and pray they pull me up out of this well of grief.  Keep time with the steady beats and pray my heart follows their lead and stops skipping and bouncing in my chest.  I try to follow the patterns of notes as a guide through a grief I’ve never known.  I never learned to read music really. Something I had hoped would be different for you.  I prayed you would have the musical talent from your daddy’s side of the family.  That you would love music and soak up all of its beauty with gusto and wild abandon.  I read somewhere it is healthy for me to talk about the dreams I had for you.  Even if it breaks my heart.  Because blueberry,  I did have dreams for you.  Even if I only dreamed them for 11 weeks.  I think journeying through this grief is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  And physically laboring through losing you was definitely beyond description hard.  But this walk through grief is relentless.  Like pounding, pulsing electro shocks that keep burning me back to a sadness I’m trying so desperately to escape.  Most days I manage the shocks but what most people don’t see, what they don’t know are the ripples of after affects of the shocks rocking me to my core. And not like a Metallica song.  Not that kind of rocking. How much rocking can our souls survive?  I think this is the true question of grief.  How many tears can we cry? Why does it feel so endless? Oh blueberry, I listen to the words of songs and I’m overcome with so many emotions.  At once fiercely sad and quietly reflective.  I guess grief is like that too.  Some days silently accepting, some days furiously, kicking and screaming my way through it.  I hope I grieve with grace.  I think you deserve that.  I like to hope the music helps with that.

Doing my best down here blueberry,

-Mama

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