Wednesday, October 29, 2014

4 Weeks

4 weeks...the length of time since going into labor. I wish I was counting each day of how old Sloane was, rather than how long since she has been gone.

Wednesdays have been the hardest because I tend to think of what was going on that Wednesday before we had her. It's hard to think of how excited we felt, and how naive that seems now. We had no idea that she was already gone, and we had no idea the heartbreak and sorrow that was awaiting us.

So much has happened and changed in these last 4 weeks. I knew having a baby would change me, physically and emotionally. I am still grateful for these changes, even though they aren't what I anticipated.

I am sitting in the nursery, the nursery we thought would be for Sloane, but now we only hope it will be for another baby one day. Sometimes it is hard to sit in here, but I am finding that it is the hard things that help the most. It is hard to sit here and think of how I was going to rock her, or look over at her cradle and see her sleeping. It is hard to imagine her in my arms. It is hard to think of the excitement we felt while spending hours pouring over Pinterest planning every last detail of what was going to be her room. It is hard to see friends with their babies and hear their happy, healthy birth stories. 

But even if these things are hard, there is comfort in them. So I sit in the room that would've been hers. I think of her and what we hoped for her and what we would be doing if she were here with us now. I think of the excitement and joy we felt being pregnant with her, and I imagine her kicks and movement. And I love my friends and their babies and their happy birth stories. And I cry. Crying is hard, because I am so tired of crying and I am exhausted. These things are all hard, but I do them because they help me remember, and I always want to remember, even if it is hard and sad and exhausting. I can do the hard things, and I can be sad. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Rainy Girl

I have always been a fan of Something Corporate and Jack's Mannequin, so when Andrew McMahon released a new album last week, we jumped on it the first day out. I love the whole album, but the song Rainy Girl stood out to me and made me think of baby Sloane. While many things make me think of her, this is great because I can listen to it over and over again and it makes me happy/sad (because I can't just be one emotion at one time anymore). 

Rainy Girl
I can't wait to meet you
And I cant wait to hear your name and sing it to
the skies above

Rainy girl
Wash away my memory
Swimming through infinity for you will be
My love

Sometimes when I'm falling in my dreams
I can feel you falling next to me
I guess we're going everywhere together

Rainy Girl

The sun is coming up for me
Black bird on a wire sings a song so blue

Sometimes when I'm falling in my dreams
I can feel you falling next to me
I guess we're going everywhere together
Rainy Girl

Home at last
Following a cloud

Sometimes when I'm falling in my dreams
I can feel you falling next to me
I guess we're going everywhere together
Guess we're going everywhere together
Guess we're going everywhere together
Rainy Girl
I can't wait to meet you

Listen to Rainy Girl and enjoy :)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The new me

My life from the outside looks the same as it did 1 year ago. And I love that life, I am so happy with that life. I love my husband, I love my dog, I love my job. I am so blessed with wonderful friends and family. There are so many things I love about life, and I am happy with who the me was a year ago.

But on the inside, I am not the same me as I was a year ago. This is normal- we are all always changing and growing. But the past 3 weeks have changed me so drastically and completely on the inside, while everything still looks relatively the same on the outside.

It feels deceiving, when I look objectively at my life and see these similarities to my old self. It feels deceiving when I momentarily feel the same as I used to feel. Because I know I am not the same, so how can it look or feel the same?

Because these differences are not observable, and that is what makes this so hard. To someone who passes me on the street, Josh and I are just another young married couple with a dog...But they don't know that we are so much more than that now! While I know I am different and we are different, I don't even have a concrete understanding of what all of these differences are, or who the new me is. I was expecting to change this year, but this is not the difference I was expecting or prepared for. I was so ready to be different and feel different and take on new responsibilities and challenges, but not like this. Never like this.

I have to figure out how to be the old me, how to enjoy the things I enjoy, how to be confident in myself again, and how to laugh and be silly again, while still incorporating this new element of my daughter being gone.

When most babies are born, I think a woman gives a piece of herself to her new child. But I feel like I was ripped open and a piece of me was taken out and not given back to me. So of course I don't know who I am anymore, because I don't feel whole, part of me is missing. And I have to figure out how to fill that hole and make a new me, even though nothing will fill it the way Sloane would have.

Josh helps me with this. He knows the old me and the new me, and he is helping me to merge the two by listening and talking and processing all of this. He reminds me of who I am because part of who I am is also with him.

We got to spend the last few days at a cabin in West Virginia. It was absolutely beautiful, healing, and restorative to be in nature and be surrounded by God's creations. It gave us time to think and talk and start the process of figuring out our lives again.

After being gone, I thought it would be difficult to come back home and be surrounded by reminders of Sloane and her absence, but the opposite was true. There was so much peace and love waiting for us when we came back to our home. Having Sloane helped make our house a home, and I felt that so much after being away for a few days. I love to be reminded of her and think of her.

While decorating the nursery, we put a picture up of Jesus holding a baby on the wall to remind Sloane as she was growing up that He is always watching out for her. After she died and we came home and went into her room for the first time, my eyes went to that picture. It immediately held so much more meaning than I had ever anticipated. The name of the print is "In His Constant Care" by Simon Dewey. We ordered a larger one and have it on the mantle now. I love to look at it, think of her, and know that she is being taken care of better than Josh and I could have ever taken care of her here on Earth.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sloane's Journey

Even though Josh and I don't get to spend time with Sloane anymore now, we like to look back at the pregnancy and think of the joy and excitement we shared with her during those 41 weeks. The pictures below show her journey with us. Looking back at these pictures is a mixture of emotions--initially, it is difficult to see so much excitement and anticipation on my face, not knowing the sadness and loss that is waiting for me ahead. But then I feel such happiness that I was able to share so much time with her and do so many things with her. If I am blessed with pregnancy again in the future, I will not take one second for granted and will more fully enjoy the beauty of a life being created within me.

Here are the pregnancy announcements:
Positive pregnancy test!
Official pregnancy announcement
Here are the baby bump updates:
10 weeks
17 weeks
18 weeks hiking in Moab
23 weeks at grad school graduation
27 weeks
28 weeks on the 4th of July in Wilmington
31 weeks at Rebecca's wedding in Alexandria, VA
33 weeks on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. 
34 weeks hiking at Kilgore Falls, MD
35 weeks at White Clay Creek, DE

36 weeks at Josh's bike race

37 weeks camping at the Pine Barrens in NJ

38 weeks at home

39 weeks at home

 41 weeks at home

So grateful for the joy and happiness Sloane brought us while she was here!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sloane's Story

Although it is hard to share, I want to share. The time since Sloane was born has been a crazy mix of emotions-joy over our baby girl and despair over losing her at the same time. Everything is a crazy mix of emotions these days, and sharing her story is no different. Part of me wants everyone to know everything about our beautiful daughter, but part of me wants to keep her story just with Josh and me.

After I passed 40 weeks in my pregnancy, I was kind of a wreck. Even though I had never really counted on her being on time, or at least I told myself and others that I wasn't counting on her being on time, I think deep down I was hoping she would be. Every day after 40 weeks felt like an eternity. I was due Monday, September 22, and we had an appointment that day, as well as an appointment that Friday, September 26. Everything looked great at both appointments. The plan was to have another appointment the following Friday, October 3, and then I would have to be induced October 8 if she hadn't made her appearance yet. I wasn't really worried about her health at this point, I was worried about having to be induced because I wanted to have a natural birth so badly.

I started having some contractions on Monday, September 29. I wasn't sure if they were contractions or not because they were so sporadic and strange. It felt like she could have been just pushing and stretching out, but looking back on it, they were contractions. They increased a little on Tuesday, and then became more regular on Wednesday. I had planned on starting my maternity leave on Thursday, giving myself a day to relax and then having an appointment on Friday and thinking I could be induced on Monday, if necessary. So when I started having contractions on Wednesday, Josh and I laughed because it was like she waited until 1) it was October, and 2) I had finally mentally let go of work responsibilities.

When I got home from work Wednesday, Josh and I were both so excited and relieved that we would finally be meeting our little girl soon! We went out to eat at Texas Roadhouse, and Josh timed the contractions while we ate, about every 7-8 minutes apart. We went home and watched some TV. I listened to my HypnoBabies tracks and tried to relax and get comfortable. At about 11:30pm, Josh called the on-call doctor to see when we should come in because my contractions were about 5 minutes apart. He said to come in when they were 3 minutes apart and were taking my breath away each time. The rest of the night was pretty restless...I remember laying on the couch and Josh rushing around trying to make sure everything was ready.

At around 5:30am, we left for the hospital. We parked, grabbed our bags, and went into the maternity ward. We had to wait about 10 minutes before a nurse coming to get us. She brought us back to a room and pulled out the doppler to check the heartbeat. She had a really hard time finding it, but I did not think twice about this because it usually took our midwife a little while to find it because Sloane moved around so much. The nurse told us that she couldn't find the heartbeat, but that she would get the doctor to check for it. Again, I still wasn't very worried. The doctor came in and couldn't find it either. I remember her looking at me and saying, "I'm so sorry, Sarah." I still didn't believe it though, I was sure that Sloane was just being sneaky and these two were just not finding it right away. Josh must have understood the severity of the situation, though, because he immediately gave me a blessing. The only thing I remember from the blessing was that I would be healed, whether that be physically, spiritually, or emotionally.

We went into another room to have an ultrasound. I closed my eyes because I knew if there were good news, people would tell me, but I could not bear to look at the sadness in people's faces if there were bad news. No one said anything, except repeating that there was no heartbeat. Still in shock, I headed back to the first room, but on the way down the hallway, it hit me that we had lost our baby girl, and I started sobbing.

A lot of the time after this is a blur. We made our way into a permanent room upstairs in the high risk unit. The midwife that was working that day, Sharon, talked us through what the day would look like. Although I had planned on having a natural birth, I knew there was no way I could do that anymore. I got an epidural pretty quickly, and that improved the physical aspect of everything a lot. I was able to rest some the rest of that day. They started pitocin around noon to speed things up. It was a pretty awful day. Josh was by my side the whole time, and I think we were both in a state of shock and despair the whole day.

They started to ease off the epidural around 7pm, and I started to push about 8:30pm. It was pretty awful. I was doing ok at first, but then it just seemed to last so long, and I was so tired, and it hurt so bad. I thought I was going to explode and I wanted to give up but I knew the only way for it to stop was for me to keep going. I had Josh on my left hand, the nurse on my right hand, and the doctor below. Finally, at 10:09pm on October 2, 2014, our dear Sloane was born. Physically, I felt instant relief and gratitude that that part was over.

They cleaned Sloane off a little bit and Josh brought her into me. She was absolutely beautiful and perfect. She weighed 7 lbs. 14 oz. and was 20 inches long. After she was born, the doctor showed us her umbilical cord--it had been wrapped around her neck twice, had a "true knot," and was clotted. The true knot is most likely what caused her death. Sloane's head had been tilted up during the delivery, so she was bruised and scratched pretty badly, but that didn't matter to me when seeing her. I finally got to hold the perfect little baby that I had carried for so long and wondered about every day and night. I anticipated this time to be very difficult, but it was so precious and sacred. We knew she was there with us, even though she was not with her body anymore.

Josh and I got to spend that night and the following morning with her. One of our friends came that night and made molds of her hands. We held her, talked to her, told her how much we loved her and were going to miss her, and enjoyed every second of our short time there. In the morning, a professional photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep came and took pictures of her and us. Again, this was a very special time-the lighting was beautiful and it felt like we had a small slice of heaven in our room that morning.

We decided we were ok to leave around 2pm. We had reached the point where we were at peace with the fact that she was no longer with her body.

Driving away from the hospital was awful. We had the carseat in the back of the car, but no baby in it. I had no baby in my arms as I was wheeled out of the hospital. And we were going home to a nursery that would never have Sloane in it. I don't know how we made it home safely, because I'm pretty sure we both cried the whole way home.

Again, the next few days are a blur. We met with a funeral director and a cemetery manager. We had friends pick out a white dress for her to be buried in. My mom picked out flowers for the casket. People started bringing us food. So many things that had to be done that were not easy--I felt like I was just going through the motions.

We had her service on Tuesday, October 7 at All Saints Cemetery in Wilmington, DE. It was simple, small, and beautiful with just a few close friends and family. Josh and I both said a few words, along with our bishop. We sang a couple of hymns and buried our little girl.

Now we are just surviving. I don't really know where to go from here, or how to keep going. I know we will, and I know we will be ok. I know I will never be the same-she changed me and who I am forever. I am so grateful for her...grateful to be her mom, grateful that she made Josh a dad, and grateful that she will be spared from the difficulties of this world. But I am also sad that she is not in my arms now, sad that we do not get to know her personality now, sad that we will not have her in this life, and sad for all of the time I will miss her. So for now, this is my new life, a constantly changing state of emotions.