Sunday, June 29, 2008

Saturday June 28th

Joey I am so proud of you and all that you have accomplished in soccer this summer! You are so fast and always right on the ball. This year you have scored many goals and we will get you on another team as soon as possible! Here is another trophy to add to your collection! This one by far is your favorite because it has your name engraved on it. I love you and am so PROUD of you!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Happy Happy 3rd Birthday Gabrielle

It is so hard to believe how fast time has gone by. You are three years old today. I hope that you have a fantastic birthday and that this next year we can continue to grow closer as mother and daughter. You bring joy to my life on a daily basis. You have a look in your eyes (which I am told repeatedly that you got from me) that tells me everything, when you are happy, shy, mad, angry, frightened, and hurt. You are one smart little girl and you always impress your dad and I with little things we did not know that you knew. You continue to be a very strong willed little girl and this is where you and mommy sometimes butt heads. I hope that we can work through this. I love to see you smile and enjoying yourself. I hope that every day you laugh out loud and enjoy your life.
We love you “to the moon” and back and so much more.

26 things about my birthday girl
1. This is the definition of her name English and French feminine form of Gabriel, meaning "strong one of God". Her middle name is Grace after the song ‘Amazing Grace’
2. She was a colicky baby
3. She loves the color pink
4. She loves to sing and dance
5. She really enjoys coloring and painting
6. She looks up to Joey
7. She is a very bright girl. She picks up on things very quickly. She can count to 10 in Spanish and can recite her telephone number as well as her address. We discovered this when I was quizzing Joey one day and she spouted off our phone number and address before Joey which upset him greatly and he looked at her like how do you know that
8. She loves cookies and Sprite
9. She dislikes GREATLY having anyone touch, comb, or brush her hair
10. She enjoys wearing dresses
11. She is very dramatic
12. She is very strong willed, independent, and she knows what she wants and when she wants it and no one is going to stand in her way
13. She loves to swing
14. She loves the book ‘going on a bear hunt’
15. She sleeps sideways
16. She has a pink bunny that is her security item. Bunny A.K. A funny bunny goes everywhere Gabby goes. She even has given bunny a time out. I don’t know what he did, but one day she even got out the wooden spoon and threatened bunny with a spanking.
17. She likes Max and Ruby as well as Dora the explorer
18. She had tubes put in her ears. (they have since fallen out)
19. Her favorite type of ice cream is nilla (vanilla)
20. She likes pasta night at our home
21. She may be a bit of a tom boy
22. She likes the Disney princesses
23. She likes makeup (my mom’s) and having her nails polished
24. She is a great hugger and kisser
25. I love her butt and to squeeze it
26. She is a wonderful daughter and we feel blessed to have her in our lives. Happy 3rd birthday to our beautiful little girl!

Part II of Pregnancy #3

The time is now around 2 pm when I get transferred on 1-25-05
I am now on the antepartum floor and I have had 10mg of Morphine injected into my body. I am now tired and sleepy from the drugs and the pain is a 6 out of 10. The pain is much more bearable and I am able to get comfortable. We are no closer to an answer as to what is wrong with me. This is very frustrating to me because as far as I am hearing from the doctors and nurses I am staying at the hospital for “observation”. An ultrasound was not done one time on the baby. My biggest fear was that this was a baby issue and it was stumping me as to why an ultrasound was never done or talked about. To help reassure me that the baby was okay I was hoping at some point for someone to want to have an ultrasound done to look around. I would even bring it up to the nurses and doctors and I was getting blown off. I just wanted to know that the baby was okay. That there were no signs of an impending miscarriage, but my wants were different than the staff at the hospital. My mom stayed with me as long as she could, but at some point she had to leave to go help my sister with Joey and figure out a plan as to how she was now going to rearrange her schedule. Jeff was now at the airport and trying to find a way to get home.

When I would wake out of my groggy state there were two things concerning me. One was that the time seemed to keep getting later and later and there was no one in my room taking me for tests to figure out what was going on. The second was that there seemed to be no plan. Now call me crazy but I don’t think it is normal to experience the pain that I experienced and think it is okay to send someone home in the morning with no answers as to what is going on.
At some point I started getting angry. I took matters into my own hands. Yes, I was in a hospital and you would have thought that these people were on top of this and trying to come up with a diagnosis. I didn’t see this happening so I got on the phone and called my OB at her office. I told the receptionist that I need to speak with my OB and that I am in the hospital can I talk to her like now. She ended up calling me back and I explained to her what was going on. I said Dr. H why is no one doing an ultrasound? Why is no one trying to figure this out? What do you know? I don’t feel comfortable with this “observation” and the possible discharge in the am with no answers. She was shocked that thus far nothing had been done but she also stated that maybe the reason was because I was pregnant I was unable to do some tests they would normally do to rule things out. For example Cat scans and even MRI or using any type of dye. So I said to her can’t they use ultrasound?

She must have made a call, because now things started to move along. At some point a general surgeon came in and did an exam on me. He made a comment about opening me up in the am to have a look around. Um excuse me? Remind me NOT to sign that consent form. I was able to learn that they were going to start ruling a few things out. (Ovarian cyst, splenic artery aneurysm, and gall stones). I remember my dad coming and staying at the hospital with me. We were watching American Idol. I also remember that it kept getting later and later. I was supposed to go for the ultrasound around 6-7pm. I don’t think I ever left the floor until after 9:30pm. I do remember though that to have this ultrasound done they wanted a Foley catheter in place. So I had the joy of having my first Foley catheter inserted! I was finally wheeled down to the room where the ultrasound was done to look around. I tried really hard to ask the tech to give me a peek at the baby. I just wanted to see movement, but she was unwilling to do that “stating she is not trained in OB”. I don’t know why a little glimpse just to see movement and put my mind at ease would be such a big deal, but I guess her job may have been on the line. I would never have told anyone, I just needed reassurance.
Around 11:00 pm finally we had an answer! I had hydronephrosis of the left kidney with fluid obstruction. They were unable to see a kidney stone and did not know if I had passed a stone or if one was hanging out. I was relieved to have an answer as to why I had all this pain and know what was happening in my body, but I was now a bit puzzled. I had never had a kidney stone before and no one in my family has ever had one either. I was also told of a study that had been done and the worst pain rated was from labor and second to that was the pain from a kidney stone. Good to know that this was not all in my head and I was just being a wimp. I was able to get some sleep now that I had a diagnosis and the plan was to meet with the urology staff in the morning to find a treatment plan. I was also so relieved that the general surgeon would no longer be coming to my room and talking to me about possibly opening me up to “have a look around”.
I met my urologist in the morning. He was a very nice man. His name is Dr. Geller. Now that we had a diagnosis it was time for a plan. The nurses had already been straining all my urine. At this point so far there had been no stones passed. I am a person who is a doer and so I felt more comfortable with doing something for this problem as opposed to doing nothing. This pain that I had been feeling was something that I never wanted to feel again. As far as waiting it out and possibly passing a stone or getting by with pain medication was not something I wanted to endure. The other option was to insert a stent to allow the water and buildup around the kidney a way to escape. The thing with this though is to dilate the kidney more. Once the stent is in the stent stays in until the end of the pregnancy. The procedure is called cystoscopy with left ureteral stent. He explained the procedure and I was able to confide in him about the loss of Samantha and Sydney. He was very empathetic and he reassured me that they would have someone come down after the procedure to do fetal Doppler’s. I was also able to have him talk to my OB and I did as well about having an ultrasound done before I left the hospital. This was more for peace of mind than anything else. I was now able to eat if I wished and the following day the stent placement was scheduled. The Foley was still in place and I know that I asked several times to have it removed and finally someone wrote an order for its removal. (Like we are talking 7 pm) I was NPO at midnight. I think that day was just spent sleeping and visiting with my parents and I want to say that Jeff may have been home then also.

The day was basically a waiting game. The urology team was running late basically all day long. I finally went down to have the stent put in late evening. I am talking after 10:00 pm. They used an epidural for anesthesia so that the baby was safe and also so I would not feel anything. Dr. Geller told me something interesting when it was all done and over with. What he told me was that when they put the stent in some fluid that was cloudy and dark came out. *Could that have been the stone? Could that have been the cause to all of this?* He did not know so he went with the plan and left the stent in place. This is the quote from the medical records “her left ureteral orifice was surrounded with edematous bladder mucosa.” Here is another quote after the stent was placed “thick urine with debris was seen coming out of the stent located in the patient’s urinary bladder.” This is always something I will wonder only because of the complications and pain associated with the stent and what lied ahead. I wonder if the remainder of the pregnancy would have been a piece of cake as opposed to all the fun that a stent caused. What if after the fluid came out instead of using the stent and just exiting without this contraption in place would the pain and all the symptoms associated with it have gone away since the obstruction seemed to now have been taken care of? After the procedure as promised there was a nurse that was there to take Doppler’s. Once again the sweet sound of a heartbeat was heard. The following day an ultrasound was also scheduled to look at baby and anatomy.
As promised in the morning before being discharged I was wheeled over to the floor for an ultrasound of the baby. The baby measured 16 weeks and 1 day and was perfect. Even though I tried to find out it was too early to determine the sex of the baby. The amniotic fluid volume was normal and so was the placenta. After being discharged I was excited to get going again after this bump in the road. I was happy to see Joey as well. There were a few things though that started to take place. One was in the ‘feeling’ that something that is not supposed to be in my body is now in my body. The sharp, constant, unbearable pain was gone, but now there was a new pain and uncomfortableness associated with the stent. One evening Jeff, Joey, and I went to the mall to use some of our Christmas gift cards and to do some returns. I know almost February, but being sick for now two months this was the first chance we had to get out. I remember that after shopping we got in the car and I had a breakdown. I was so uncomfortable and my back was hurting all the time. In some ways it felt like metal in my back. I can’t put into words these new feelings and pain I was having. I had moments where I just felt sorry for myself. I thought I had gone through so much with Joey’s pregnancy and then the loss of Sam and Syd this third pregnancy has to be an easy one right? Third time is the charm isn’t that what they say? This was not fun at all. I liked the breathing baby in the end of it all, but not all this stuff going on during incubation of the little person. Another thing we would soon be facing was the one year anniversary of the deaths of the girls.

Late February I noticed something new with my whole stent. I would void in the toilet and there would be blood. I have sent a lot of urine to the lab for analysis and something they always check is if there is blood in the urine. That test did not have to be done. You could see the blood when you looked at my urine with the naked eye. This blood was also fresh blood. Like when you cut yourself. The first time it happened I freaked out and thought it was blood from the vagina. After a bit more investigation I found it to be from my urine. This caused more stress and worry for me. I would then call my urologist and worry about the stent. Is it digging into something it should not be? Is this another sign of what I experienced previously? At some point I was also put on Ditropan. Ever seen that commercial? Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now? Well that was me. The Ditropan was to help with bladder spasm, urgency, and frequency. When I went to Dr. Geller’s appointments I would always get a chuckle as I sat in the waiting room. I was always the youngest person in the waiting room and I felt like one of the elderly waiting to see the doctor. I always wondered if they were on the drug too.

We were getting close to going on a family trip to Florida and to take Joey to Disney. My parents have a condo in Sanibel and we were going there after we spent a few days with Mickey. This was a trip for Joey. I still felt bad that he missed the trip in December because of his sick mom. I went into the hospital on the 28th. I went in for hematuria (blood in urine) and left sided pain. The pain started getting worse (not like before, but worse than what I had been having after the stent) the pain was not being relieved by the Percocet. Another thing that was a stress was being pregnant and taking so much pain medication. I would take a half or a quarter of one as opposed to taking a whole one. Then I got to the point where I did not want to rely on Percocet so I flushed the pills down the toilet and tried Advil instead. They would do an ultrasound of the kidney when I went and find the stent to be in good position as well as no new hydronephrosis. It was found that the stent was causing irritation. This in and out business would continue for a few weeks. Ultrasound, morphine, and then send me on my way.

The day before our trip to leave for Florida I had an ultrasound. Baby was doing great everything with the pregnancy seemed picture perfect and it is a GIRL. This brought feelings of happiness as well as sadness.
Before leaving for Florida we made a quick stop to have some photos printed of Joey making the announcement of the sex of our baby.

While we were in Disney I was in the restroom before getting ready to leave to go to the park. While voiding I felt something strange. When I looked in the toilet a LARGE clot was in the toilet bowl. The fear of it all brought tears. We got through the day and tried to make the best of it. The walking was painful, but again as a mom you suck it up sometimes for your kids. The Ditropan allows me to get by with having the stent (a drug for spasms).

4-12-05 a urine culture came back positive and it was time for some antibiotics

4-17-05 another ultrasound our little Gabrielle is doing well. She is now breech and but is growing in the 20th percentile. There is concern about “an unusually thick placenta”. I am now 27 weeks and there is a recommendation to have a repeat ultrasound in two weeks for growth and also to take another look at the placenta

4-27-05: back to the hospital, this time for vomiting, fever, pain and cramps. Now I also begin to having burning in my urethra when voiding. An IV was inserted and the fun begins again. This time they decided that it was not due to the kidneys or an infection from the stent, but gastroenteritis.
5-5-05 follow up ultrasound. Baby is now in the 25th percentile for growth. Stated they were concerned about a possible “mass” with the placenta in the past, but now there is not a concern he thinks the thick part is from the placenta bending.

6-15-05 today I was seen for an amniocentesis. I was 35 weeks along and the blood in the urine was getting worse and so was the pain. If I passed the amnio and the lungs were mature we were then going to go ahead with the induction as soon as possible. As my luck would have it the lungs of Gabby were not mature and so we continued along.

6-25-05 I was now inpatient in the hospital and we were going to go ahead and start the induction. I was 37 and 3 days. This is the last family picture of the three of us before going into the hospital the following morning. I went in the early morning. Joey spent the night of the 25th with my parents (nana and papa) the plan was after the birth to have kept the epidural in place and then Dr. Geller would come to the hospital for the removal of the stent.

June 26th 2005

Delivery went well. No problems or complications what so ever. Great epidural easy as cake labor and delivery. This was the calm before the storm. This story will be continued.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pregnancy #3 Part I .... What is your diagnosis??

Over the next few days I will be blogging about my third pregnancy. I just want to say that again if you are not into blood and details you may want to skip the reading of this. I do have all of my hospital records from my second and third pregnancies and that is how I have been able to document all of this with dates and detail… as well as some of the memories.
March 2nd 2004: Today I had a follow up appointment with the periantologists at Akron General Medical Center. I met with the Doctors who I was under their care when I was pregnant with Samantha and Sydney. After this appointment I was released to go back to my original obstetrician. He gave my OB a list of guidelines should I decide to try to conceive again. His recommendations were as follows; to wait at least six months before trying to conceive again, treatment for the PAI-1, intensified prenatal care with every-two-week visits up to 28 weeks gestation followed by weekly visits starting at 28 weeks with non stress tests.
Jeff and I did wait a little over 6 months before trying to conceive again. I was mentally still grieving the loss and trying to figure things out as well as spending time with Joey. It was decided after the loss that I would be a stay at home mom and that I would not be returning to the hospital as a nurse. I think Jeff and I found out what our priorities were. I also really wanted to stay home. I did not want to miss any of Joey’s firsts.
November 11th 2004: I returned to my OB and my appointment was for a positive pregnancy test. It was confirmed at this appointment that I was pregnant. The EDD was 7-14-05 and I was approximately 5 weeks pregnant.
December 3rd 2004: Jeff and I went to this appointment together and we had an ultrasound. We saw our little bean and heard the sound of the bean’s heart beating. This was a joyful time as well as a very painful time. I was now 8 weeks pregnant. I started becoming very anxious with the reality that I was pregnant again and the fact of the unknown.
After this appointment the nausea and vomiting began. It got very bad to the point that I was no good for anything, but throwing up. I was unable to keep anything down. I had some morning sickness with Joey, but nothing like this. This was all day sickness to the point that Jeff was working from home. I was in bed ALL THE TIME with the trash can at my side. My OB gave me a prescription for Zofran. It was not helpful. I sipped ginger ale and even tried ginger snaps. I also had wrist bands to help with the nausea. Again no relief. It got so bad that I had to be hospitalized for hyperemesis. At the hospital I was basically hooked up to an IV to help with the dehydration and to keep me hydrated. I was also given Phenergan which I LOVE! I would then be sent home after I could go 24 hours with no vomiting. I then would return home to feel so hydrated and hungry to go and eat and then return to the trash cans. This continued. I also was now becoming VERY constipated from the Zofran. It was a horrible cycle.
My family (Jeff, Joey, and myself) were suppose to go to Disney World with my mom and dad, sister, brother in law, niece, nephew, brother, and sister in law. I was unable to go. I felt bad for Joey. I know that he did not really understand and would never know that he missed out on a vacation because his mom was sick from pregnancy, but I still could not feel awful that he did not go.
As we got closer to Christmas I started to finally begin feeling better. Jeff’s brother (David) is in the Marines. He is married (Holly) and has two daughters (Ashley and Alex). They came to Ohio for Christmas and New Years before their big move. They currently live in Japan. David is stationed there right now. He also just got back from fighting for our freedom in this war. Anyways they were here in Ohio and we spent a lot of time with them. They came over for New Year’s and so did my aunt and uncle. One of the girls was not feeling good and was complaining of a sore throat. I did my best to wash my hands, but after they left the day after New Year’s day I began feeling chills and the onset of an illness.
1-4-2005 I went to see my family doctor with complaints of a productive cough, and a raw sore throat for the past three days. I was started on Amoxicillin for 10 days.
1-6-2005 I went back to the hospital with complaints of fever, cramping, and productive cough. The reason we went to the hospital was because of the high fever. It was found that I was dehydrated and I also had yeast in my urine. I was rehydrated again and given medication for the yeast. I was also to continue the antibiotic which was probably the cause of yeast in the first place.
1-10-2005 I called my OB because of the productive cough. The cough was so strong that it made me start vomiting again and I was so worried about the baby. I also still had high fevers. She called me back and told me to go back to the hospital. So back I went to the antipartum unit for rehydration therapy.
1-12-2005 I was now home from the hospital, but back to see my family doctor. Please lets make a note at how screwed up the hospital is at times. I was wheezing and I could hear the stuff in my chest, but because I was pregnant the hospital staff (doctors on call) basically would not touch me. I knew that I probably had pneumonia because of the way I sounded as well as the fact that I have been basically lying in bed now for weeks. So finally a chest x-ray was done. I DID have pneumonia. After I was started on the antibiotic for the pneumonia the cough started to dissipate and I was able to start keeping food down much easier.
** Let me just note again that this is the pregnancy following the loss of the twins. This was a very scary time for us already and one that was filled with a great deal of anxiety. All of this extra stuff going on was not helping. It got to the point that I was so anxious and terrified that Jeff went online to find a place that rented Doppler’s. He ended up renting a Doppler for me and I would check for a heart beat ALL THE TIME.
1-21-2005 The pneumonia was now cleared and gone, but Joey and Jeff were sick and I now had swollen glands in my neck and a sore throat. I was back at the family doctor. I was now on another antibiotic and 15 weeks pregnant. I was also negative for strep. (I have been tested for strep so many times. I have never once had strep.)
Now this story starts to get interesting!
1-24-2005 I went back to the family doctor. I started having feelings like I had a bladder infection. We had gone to some sort of show in Cleveland at the Gund Arena. (No longer the Gund) and I was really uncomfortable while we there. I kept feeling like I needed to go potty and nothing would happen. So they tested my urine and it was negative. CLEAN. NOTHING GOING ON. Sent on my way. Told myself to forget about it. This was now a time to turn the corner. Start feeling better. I had basically been sick for two months now with something or other.
1-25-2005 Jeff is out of town. He was gone the previous day also. My sister had watched Joey while I was at the family doctor. The morning was usual for us. We got up a little before 8:00 am, I got Joey’s bottle, changed his diaper, fed the dogs, let the dogs outside. Then while Joey was watching Elmo and eating Cheerios that feeling that I had the day before returned. I was uncomfortable. I got up walked around. I got the phone and called Jeff. I told him I was not feeling good. This was different something I could not explain. He was getting aggravated with me. I felt bad. He is out of town. He can’t help me in any way. I feel like a failure. I gave him stillborn daughters and now I am a mess with this pregnancy. In the time span of about 45 minutes things started changing and fast. I was growing more and more uncomfortable. I felt like I needed to push. I felt like I needed to have a bowel movement. I felt like I needed to throw up. I called my mom at work and there was no answer. Maybe I am hungry? I ate a pop tart. I tried to have a bowel movement. No this was not gas. Nothing. Then the pain started in my lower back and in my abdomen. I lost it. I am losing this baby. This is all I can think. This is the cramping before a miscarriage right? So I call my sister’s house. Guess who answers. My mom. What is she doing there? Crap I need her. She must be watching the kids. Pain is getting bad. REALLY BAD! I am crying. I got Joey and got in the car. I DO NOT KNOW how I made the drive to my sister’s house. I really do NOT know how I was able to drive there. (she lives about 10 miles from me) My mom calls my dad at work and he is to go to my sister’s house too. We all basically arrive at the same time. I am crying, my dad does not understand what is going on, and my mom is jumping in the car. We are off to the hospital. I want to floor it there, kind of like ambulance style. My mom on the other hand is driving SO S L O W! It is winter time. It is COLD we have some sort of freeze going on outside. I HAVE the windows down, blowing cold air at me. It felt so good. Every bump in the car hurt. BAD. VERY BAD. I am a mess. We F I N A L L Y arrive at the hospital and I just avoid the ER all together and have them wheel me to the triage OB unit. (there is a separate unit for people who are pregnant and come into the hospital) I am sitting in the wheelchair without the cool air and now I am sweating and the pain is getting worse. The next thing I know I begin throwing up. There went the pop tart. They get me to a room and I am thinking bring on the Morphine. Please and lots of it. Make this pain stop. I am also thinking just make the pain end. I can handle anything. Tell me the baby is gone. I get it. I am not supposed to do this again. I am supposed to be happy with Joey. I get it. We will adopt Lord please just make this pain GO AWAY. The nurse comes in after I am quickly given a room. I continue to throw up and I cannot get comfortable. I am moving all over the place. This is pain that I have never felt before. I just need it to go away. I try different positions, staring at something on the wall, closing my eyes and going to the beach. There is no relief. The nurse takes my vital signs and gets a bit of a history about what has happened the past month and a half. Then she says I will be right back with the Doppler. I think steam may have come out of my ears. I started swearing. How dare that Bitch get the Doppler. She knows I am losing this baby. Why do I have to go through this again. She comes in and puts the transducer on my belly and there is the sweetest noise ever. A heartbeat. MOM. help me mom. Now we have to watch this baby lose its heart beat?
This is how the hospital has it written on my chart. (this is for time clarification. I can’t tell you how much PAIN I was in. So if I go back to nursing the first thing I will do and I vow this now to all my patients. I will rush like a mad woman to get you pain medicine. FAST)
1030 got to ER
1100 urine sent to lab
1150 patient throwing up again
1250 Morphine has not helped the pain at all patient states. Patient rates pain a 30 on a scale of 1-10.
1425 AN IV WAS STARTED! This was 4 HOURS later!!!!
1505 They have no clue what is wrong and they send me to the good old antepartum floor. I am becoming a regular on this floor.
To be continued…. Any ideas… Want to take a stab at it? What is your diagnosis?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

MEME (from Jocasta, Thanks!)

I've been tagged by Jocasta and I am excited to be tagged for the first time! Thanks Jocasta. *I do not have 8 things for all of my answers*

Eight Things I Have a Passion for:

*My family. When my kids hurt I hurt, may it be one hitting the other or someone making a mean comment to Joey at school. I LOVE these two kids more than anything. When they are happy I am happy, when they are sad I am sad.

*My husband! I want only the best for him. Like my kids when he hurts I hurt too. I want him to be successful in all of his endeavors and happy at his job.

*Teaching. I am big on safety. Cars going too fast down my road (25 mph) they go about 30-35 mph when kids are outside playing. I am also big on babies and kids being treated with respect. I have some stories of neighbors that treat their kids horribly with yelling and swearing. I don’t want that for any child. Not giving children grown up issues that they can’t handle or comprehend.

*Allowing my kids to relax and watch tv. I am big on just decompressing. Yes, my kids watch age appropriate tv. I know the Pediatric monsters will be all over me for that!

*Being sensitive to others, for example, minding my own business. Not asking strangers how many kids they have. You never know if someone is facing infertility issues, miscarriage, stillbirth, or just plan does not want children. If they bring it up and want to talk that is fine I am an ear to help and listen, but as far as asking others that I don’t know well personal questions. Nope won’t do it.

*Animals especially dogs being cared for and not mistreated or abused.

*Trying to not judge others. I know that I often go into public in sweats and not all dolled up and I try hard daily not to judge others for their appearance.

*Honesty. I am not into lying, keeping secrets by omission, or just plan hiding things. I am very honest. I have a guilty conscious and that helps me a great deal in that I am unable to lie or hide things. For example, we recently got a puppy and I was keeping it from my mom for a few days. The guilt got to me and I wrote her an e-mail about it. I felt like I was keeping something from my mom on an issue of buying a puppy. **I would NOT be a good poker player**

Eight Things I Would Like to do Before I Die:

*Travel! Alaska, Australia, islands that are warm and sandy
*Go to Africa and help on a mission trip
*Be debt free
*See my kids graduate from college and marry if they choose
*See grandkids if there are any in our future
*Travel some more. See this great big world of ours
*Raise 2 children with respect, dignity, honesty, and with hearts that are pure and God loving. I want my son to be a gentlemen and my daughter to feel like a princess and with manners. (Maybe she will stop saying poopy butt>>> Please let the soap work soon)
*Continue to have a marriage that is built with communication, trust, and honesty. Continue to LOVE my husband and share more adventurous times with him

Eight Things I Say a Lot:
*I love you
*Max lets go outside (new puppy)
*Oh man
*What? (To the constant mama mama)
*Gabby no

Eight Books I Have Read Recently:
*Lone survivor by Marcus Lutrell
*My sister’s keeper by Jodi Picoult
*Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
*Baby Proof by Emily Giffin
*Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
*Something Blue by Emily Giffin

Eight Movies I Have Seen Eight Times:
*Pretty woman
*Dead Poet’s Society
*Finding Nemo
*Toy Story
*My best Friend’s Wedding
*Nadia (Story of Nadia Comaneci/ Gymnast 1976 Olympics)

Eight People I have to Invite to Do This Meme:
*Will or Jen Piper
*Anyone who wants to

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A surprise from my son

**Note this was written on Saturday June 21, 2008 but all events occurred on Friday June 20th 2008.**

Our son Joey is four and will be turning five in August. He came up to me yesterday and really gave me a surprise that was much needed and his caring spirit warms my heart. I was on the computer writing an e-mail to Shauna (the girl who will be giving my blog a much needed makeover). I got out the scrapbook that I made that has a few pages filled out of Sam and Sydney’s pregnancy and birth. There are a few cherished ultrasounds, the obituary from the newspaper, and calendar pages that I added written events from the pregnancy on.

I opened the scrapbook looking for some quotes that I wanted Shauna to have in case she could use them for the makeover. Joey came over and crawled up onto my lap. He wanted to see what I was looking at and opened up the scrapbook. We went through the photos of the cemetery and I tried my best to answer his questions. He saw the headstone and was telling me that he wanted to see Samantha and Sydney and then he tried to act out lifting the headstone so he could see what was underneath it and see his sisters. When he talked about lifting the headstone out so he could get to what was underneath the ground I remembered thinking of a mother that I met at the Precious Parents meetings I attended. This mother asked us if we thought it was crazy or if we had ever thought of taking a spoon to the cemetery. She would take a spoon in her purse when she would go visit her child so if she felt like digging up the earth and digging out her child it would be less noticeable to people than using a shovel. When this lady told that story I chuckled to myself because the first time I had gone to the cemetery alone after the girls passed away I remember being there and thinking to myself I wish there was a way I could dig this all up and get my girls out and hold them one last time.

Although a few tears streamed down my face when I was talking with Joey, he was so caring and sweet and I thought how blessed am I to have this boy and have him be so kind and thoughtful when he was asking questions. It was a beautiful day yesterday and it was not too hot or humid. We had plans to go to the park when Jeff got home from work and maybe take a picnic to the park with us for dinner. Well we still did that, but our plans changed a bit when Joey decided that he wanted to go to the cemetery. He was pretty persistent that we go last night. Before Jeff got home from work I took the kids to the store so we could purchase some flowers and some helium balloons. The cemetery probably does not love the fact that I tie balloons onto the vase that holds the flowers, but I have done it ever since the headstone was put in and I plan on doing it still. We take things like large helium balloons of butterflies, ones that say I love you, I miss you, or ones that are holiday appropriate. I would love to take other things and decorate the outside of the headstone, but the cemetery does not allow it. That is why I know that they are not overjoyed by the balloons. I should add that we do not go to the cemetery often. It is not that I don’t like going it is more or less that it is not very close to our home or near any stores or activities that I go to or attend. We also have a garden in our backyard so it is easier for me to go outside my home and talk or be with the girls.

When we go to the store I told the kids that they could pick out the flowers that they wanted to leave for their sisters.

First let me give you a visual as you imagine us at the grocery store. I don’t know if your local grocery store has what I call the “car cart”, but I am not a big fan of this cart. This cart is an oversized grocery cart in the shape of a car to amuse kids at the grocery store.

It comes complete with graphics on the side of the cart as well as fake steering wheels and horns. Most of the time the horns are broken and do not toot. So having two kids the fighting then begins. I also do not like that this cart or contraption is so BIG that it feels like you are pushing an elephant down the aisles. I am constantly telling my kids oops sorry mommy is a bad driver as I bump into things on the shelves and they knock onto the floor as well as the fact that sometimes the car does not big enough to fit all the things that I need to buy. I do try my best to avoid this cart all costs, but my son spotted it on the way in and they were relentless that we take this cart.

The kids are in the “car cart” and I am doing my best to maneuver this beast to the flower spot of the store. Joey decides that he wants to take Samantha and Sydney red flowers and Gabrielle decides she wants pink. I started thinking about Gabrielle’s choice of pink. This is her favorite color and she wants pink anything; ice cream, shoes, clothes, and crayons. I began to wonder what Samantha and Sydney’s favorite colors would be and the sadness came over me that there is so much about these two peas in a pod that I will never know. I tried my best to hold it together and celebrate the fact that this was the first time Joey has taken an interest in his other two sisters. He knows the names Samantha and Sydney and he knows that he has two sisters in heaven, but that is about as far as it has gone. He does not talk about them nor does he tell family and friends about them. Joey also found a helium balloon on a plastic stick. This one was of the American flag. Sometimes when we are in the car we have games on finding certain things outside. Normally on the list is finding an American flag. He also knows that his Uncle David is in the military and that we are very supportive of our troops and mommy and daddy have an American flag at home outside that we treat with respect. Gabrielle chose a small balloon of Pooh and Piglet and then we got a large helium balloon of a dragon fly. We gathered our groceries and soon paid. On the way out the door the dragonfly balloon hit the side of the door and we were lucky that it stayed inside the store as it floated to the ceiling. This again goes back to my favorite cart and the fact that the car cart’s size caused me to bump into the door several times as I tried to steer it out into the parking lot. As we bumped into the door the balloon somehow came loose and floated up. The expression on Joey’s face as he watched this balloon float up was priceless. I am glad that the dragonfly was in reach of being rescued by another helium balloon with tape and a very, very, very long string of ribbon. I sometimes wonder if the other customers feel bad for the mommy that pushes around that oversized, enormous, elephant of a cart.
Once Jeff got home from work we ate some sandwiches and fruit and then gathered the four of us plus two dogs into the car and headed out. As normal when the Zapp family tries to do something as a family it can begin as a disaster. This time it began with Gabrielle crying and yelling at the top of her lungs as well as the sound of Joey rubbing his hands all over the dragon fly balloon and the horrible sound a balloon can make. We finally arrived at the cemetery after Joey asked us at least 8 times “how much longer until we are there?”

This was the first time that we went to the cemetery as a family and with the dogs. We had some cookies and talked to the girls as well as talking to Joey and answering his questions. One statement was that he wanted to go to where Samantha and Sydney were. NOT YET was all I was thinking. Not until I am gone am buried. Please God don’t ever let me go through that kind of pain of losing anymore kids. Especially the two that I have that I have so many memories and love tied to.

After the cemetery we went to the park as planned and it was a great family night and time that I enjoyed as a family. To be honest it was just what I needed to be with the ones I love and outside enjoying the beautiful day and the beauty of Kendall Lakes. You never know when your kids will surprise you and yesterday it was all because of my 4 year old little boy. I LOVE that boy to pieces and am so proud of him and his love for others and his sisters.









Friday, June 20, 2008

Giving it to God

I realize that lately my blog has taken a turn, one of pain, grief, and sadness. I appreciate the comments that have been left for me on the passing of Samantha and Sydney. In some ways I feel stuck. I brought the pain out of the place that it has been hiding the past 4 years and here it is again. I don’t want my blog to be a place that people avoid coming to. I realize that this is something I started for my children Joey, Samantha, Sydney, and Gabrielle and I felt that the best way for them to learn more about me and my pregnancies was for me to write it out. So I went to the very beginning where I met Jeff and how our journey started. Now here I am with 2 pregnancies down and one more to get through. Gabrielle’s pregnancy was no picnic.
The past few days I have been sad, quiet, and withdrawn from my family and kids. Joey was at summer camp today and I spent a great deal of time on the computer. I came across a blog and I don’t even know how I found it. I was searching for blog makeovers at the time that I found it. I don’t think it was an accident that I came across this blog. I think that now I find myself minimizing the deaths of my daughters which I don’t want to sound like it doesn’t matter because it does. I found this blog and I am amazed by Angie. ( I love the way that she can put her words down on paper and it sounds so real, I feel like I am there talking to her, and I feel her pain. Not only has her family lost her precious daughter they recently lost a nephew. I think about the grandparents that in not even 6 months have lost TWO precious grandchildren. I just will never understand. It makes me so mad to know that this happens and that there is such pain out there. Is it worse to have a baby/babies die at 20 weeks than it is to have them die at 34+ weeks? I sometimes am grateful that if it had to happen that it happened before I felt every kick, new every position the babies hung out in, saw more pictures on an ultrasound screen, felt the baby (s) have hiccups in my womb. It was a horrible thing that happened, but maybe I did find a positive in this experience. Maybe it was better to let this happen at 20 weeks as opposed to 34+ weeks. I am so envious of Angie and her pictures. She has some beautiful pictures of her daughter with her and her family. Then I am angry that she had time to think it through and plan to have photographs taken professional ones even. I am so happy for her that she has those treasures to look at whenever she misses Audrey.
I want to be able to write like Angie or like Will Piper and have my words come across like they have the talent to do. There are others out there that can write so beautifully also I just am naming these two because as of late they have touched my heart.
Four years I have walked around with this pain and I thought I let it go. Four years I have been so angry, mad, and in some ways withdrawn. I don’t want to do it anymore. I want to be closer to God and give him my grief. I want him to give me the answers that I seek, but most of all I wish that I could go back and do it all differently. I don’t think anyone can really understand how much of an impact not having pictures of Samantha and Sydney has hurt me. I have no memory as to what they look like. I have nothing to give to an artist to have a drawing done. I have nothing to hold to feel closer to them and make them more real. I have nothing to look at to see without blurry eyes that are wet from tears to see if they have eyes like Joey or a nose like Gabrielle. I wish so bad I could turn back the clock. Death is final and there is nothing you can do to change it. That is a hard lesson to face. Damn those nurses and the staff for not making a terrible situation one that I could look back at and be grateful that I had something left to hold onto.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Trying to live with pain

Being a nurse one of my responsibilities is teaching. Nurses all over the country teach patients and families a myriad of things. Some examples are post operative care, how to care for a wound, sterile technique and when to apply this, what different sounds and beeps mean on equipment that is being used, medication doses, side effects of medication, safety while in the hospital, diets and the list goes on and on. I feel like it is a good opportunity now to do some teaching on how to talk to family members, friends, and just people one may run into in daily life when the topic is stillbirth or miscarriage.

Over the past 4 years I have had a great deal of time to think and reflect about the loss of my girls. I feel like there is a BIG difference on the levels of grief in death. For example when the death comes as a surprise such as a stillbirth, car accident, accident in general, or take the Americans lost on 9-11-01. This is a shock. This type of death is totally not expected and hopes and dreams come to an end very fast. As far as my girls we were planning, expecting two babies in our near future, and had dreams for both of our girls. Now compare this to a death that you know is impending. I am not saying that this type of death is not sad or no one cares, I am just saying you have had time to process it, say goodbye, and plan. When my grandpa was in hospice we knew what lied ahead. We had many chances to talk to him, tell him how much we love him, and to say goodbye. I think one of the hardest things with an unexpected death is not being able to say goodbye as well as being in such shock and a state of confusion that you are just going through the motions.

I studied Kubler-Ross and the stages of grief when I was in college. This was the first time I took another look at the stages of grief and applied them to myself. It is true that you do not go through the stages in order. It is also common to go from depression and then to anger and then to depression again. I don’t think I still have really hit acceptance. I accept it up to a point, but not fully.

The stages Kubler-Ross identified are:
Denial (this isn't happening to me!)
Anger (why is this happening to me?)
Bargaining (I promise I'll be a better person if...)
Depression (I don't care anymore)
Acceptance (I'm ready for whatever comes)

I did not do much bargaining, but I hold a great deal of anger. There are days that I do think to myself “was that all a dream”? “Did that really happen to us”?
My girls were born on February 17th 2002. The following week Jeff was already back on the road traveling. Comments were made to him that this would “be good for him.” I don’t know how much he really grieved, but he has a very close relationship with the lord and that helped him during these times. For me a great deal of my anger was directed towards God. I also would find that I would be upset and crying and could not figure out how Jeff was able to walk around the house singing and walking around with a smile on his face. There were even times he would look at me and say “what is wrong.” I thought you have got to be kidding me. How could you ask me what is wrong. What do you think is wrong?

As February rolled into March Joey and I drove down to South Carolina with Jeff when he was on a business trip. We went and saw some family members. While we were there I felt uncomfortable and also at times like I just wanted to go hide somewhere. I was still overweight, had acne on my face, and overall not feeling good about my body image. A comment was made to me and it went something like this, “God didn’t want to give you more than you could handle.” “He knows that you are busy with Joey and he didn’t want to add to it.” I don’t think that people realize what they are saying. When you are grieving you tend to search for answers. Maybe the answer will come in a conversation, maybe a book, maybe God will whisper it in your ear, and maybe a movie will make it all click. For me it was thinking it would come in the form of a conversation. I listened to what people said and I went over and over it in my mind. So now that I processed this statement these are the questions I came up with.

1. Why can some people have twins, triplets, quads, etc. and are able to handle it?
2. Why can other people have twins with siblings and can handle it?
3. Why would God take my babies?
4. What did I do to prove to God that I could not handle it?

I know that this was probably not intended to hurt me, but it did. BAD
The spring and summer came and I began going to a group at the Children’s hospital. The group is called Precious Parents. As I went to this group I felt like I was making little to no progress. I felt like we were all focusing on doctors (who I was not blaming), what hospital we delivered, and that we were all stuck in grief. I guess I was looking at one of these “veterans” in this horrible reality of loss and thinking that they would have the answer as to how to get unstuck and kind of on with life in a way. I was looking at we need to do something, make something, plan a walk, just something. They talked about a walk and it was obvious that these “veterans” were into being in charge. Nothing ever took place. I was sad because I would have loved to have walked for Samantha and Sydney and raised money to a good organization. Maybe March of Dimes anything to feel like I was saying I care and I want to help this stop.
Going to the grocery store and out to public also now proved to be a difficult task. The first time I was out with Joey and asked “how many children do you have”? I replied “one”. I then went to the car and cried feeling like I just lied, feeling like I just betrayed Samantha and Sydney, feeling like Sam and Syd were up in heaven looking down and thinking “she forgot about us already”. I don’t think people realize the amount of pain and guilt I felt. I was damned if I do tell them then I have to explain and wait for that silence that follows. Making the person uncomfortable. All they would have to say is I am sorry to hear that, but some stupid remark normally followed. Then I was damned if I don’t by the guilt I felt and the feelings of being a bad mommy by my two precious girls.

Once I was on my way to pick up dry cleaning and a mother was getting out of her car with twin girls. I sat in the car with tears rolling down my face. I was for some reason now seeing twins everywhere I went.

As the moths started rolling by there were a few things I was noticing about myself. One was that I would not go out in public very often. I started becoming a home body and felt safer in the walls of my home than anywhere else. If I got urges to do something for myself like work on losing weight it always became another negative outcome. I went to the gym one night and put Joey into the daycare. When the step aerobics class was over I went to pickup Joey. He was the only child in the nursery. When I asked how he was the reply was “very good” and then the lady said “when are you due.” I did not think she was talking to me. I seriously did a turn around to look for someone behind me. Then it hit me. This lady thought I was pregnant. I told her that I lost two babies to stillbirth and her reply was something like “I once knew a person…” That is all I remember. All I was thinking was I should be a mom again by now to two more. Again I left with tears streaming down my face. Poor Joey. I am glad that he was so young he does not remember all the sadness and all the tears that fell from my eyes. I tried my best to be a good mommy, but at the same time the guilt would eat at me like I was forgetting two others.
We had friends that we would hang out with (two different couples) no longer keep in touch. So yes even in this horrible process and when you need friends the most some can’t handle it or are too uncomfortable so instead of being friends they move on. That is so sad to me. Especially when at a time like this you just need to know that people care. The last time the three couples were all together we were at one of the other peoples home for dinner. No one said a word about what happened for a while. I brought it up after feeling that there was so tension and uneasiness in the air. The reply by one of the other ladies was “I am glad that the elephant is out of the room now.” That was the first time I had ever heard this expression. Now when I hear it I am always reminded of that night. I remember talking to Jeff on the way home about what the comment meant and having our children referred to as pink elephants.
In the summer time Joey and I were invited to an aunt’s summer home for a week. We had a nice time. The sad thing is that this is my dad’s brother and his wife. They were never very close to my dad or mom and once I lost the twins they were calling and showing that they cared. As soon as I got pregnant a third time the calls and letters stopped. I guess they figured I was now cured. I enjoyed the time with them and just wish that my dad and his brother could become closer. (It is a long story) the reason I bring this up though is because in my kitchen is a board that has A) Samantha Marie and B) Sydney Evelyn. My aunt told me I should erase the board, because I probably made friends that come into my home uncomfortable. Well for some reason I am unable to do it.
This photo above was taken today (6-17-08) It stays! I will not erase it.

It is my house and if the names of my two girls make you uncomfortable than don’t come in my house. That board was a happy time and I don’t have many of those with the loss of the girls. At one point that board had several names on it. Boy’s names and girls names. Then we found out we were having girls and the names we chose were up on the board. My grandpa’s wife was Evelyn Marie. I never met my grandma. So the twin’s middle names became her name. The girls are buried next to my grandparents.

As summer became fall I was still searching for answers. We were talking about having another baby as well. Our arms were empty and some people that we talked to said that another baby would help with the pain of the loss. I became busy working on something that I felt hospitals may be interested in. Here is was 2004 and I had given birth to stillborns. When I left the hospital I left with a nice packet on grief. In it I was told how to talk to my child when grandpa dies, and what to do if a loved one commits suicide. In it there was nothing to help me with the loss of stillborn babies. How to grieve the loss of TWO lives. I was in the hospital about to give birth to TWO stillborn babies and in the room I had no pen, no paper, and no contact information as far as cemeteries, caskets, funeral homes. I also had no ideas. I was still in shock. I was to write an obituary. If someone would have mentioned putting a poem in the paper along with what I wrote, or clothing my girls, or any ideas of putting a teddy bear in the casket. NOTHING there was nothing given to me. I actually was writing questions for my doctor that came to my mind down on the side of a newspaper that Jeff bought. So in my spare time I wrote a pamphlet of my own. This was filled with everything I wish I had had, blank spots to write ideas and thoughts, information only relating to the death of stillborns, who at that point wants information on the death of grandpa and how to tell your child? How does that pertain to the women lying in the hospital bed? I went to the hospital that I worked and talked with some of the people in charge. I showed a prototype of my work and my concerns about what they were handing out. In the end something that I thought was a great idea and one that needed to be marketed to this hospital became another smack in the face. I was told that I needed to go back to school, get my masters degree, and take classes on GRIEF. Are you kidding me? I am living it. Here is a nice pretty lady that doesn’t have a clue telling me I need more education on death and dying. The ladies that I worked with when I was on light duty with Joey’s pregnancy down in the Quality improvement department were all very supportive. They were all really into what I had done and all saw the need. As of right now the prototype is still done. It is just lying around my home. Maybe that is something to think about again in the future.?

In October I went to a conference out in Las Vegas. This is a perinatal bereavement conference. Here is the website for the one that is this year.
Again I was searching for anything. I was no longer working as a nurse, and I felt like this was really aimed towards healthcare providers. I guess I was just looking for answers and ways to get though this anywhere and way I could.

I am glad that I went to the conference and in some ways I wish Jeff was there, but in other ways I was glad that I was alone. I still was no closer in feeling “healed” or that I was “over” the loss of the girls in any way, but the tears were not coming everyday now. I was getting closer to feeling able to go out into public again also.

November Jeff was out one day washing the cars. It was a nice day for November in northeastern Ohio and I was inside facing that my period was a few days late. I took a few deep breaths and took a pregnancy test. It was positive. There was no faint line and no squinting at the stick this time.

I don’t have answers as to why Samantha and Sydney are in heaven and not in my home enjoying times with Jeff, Joey, and myself. I never will fully know or understand why this happened to us. I will never know why some people deliver mono twins and others don’t even though all claim that the cords were knotted and tangled around necks. I still don’t know why every time I went for an ultrasound and asked about the cords I was told that the cords can not been seen why I have read other mono moms say that they were able to have the blood flow of the cords checked during ultrasound. It is still all a mystery to me. What I do know is that this type of loss hurts. It hurts badly and the pain never fully goes away. Time helps heal some of the pain as well as hearing a simple I am sorry for your loss. Or I am sorry for your pain. It is during this time that all you can do is be a friend, bringing God into any sentence that comes out of your mouth is not helpful nor is it helpful for you to try to come up with your own explanation as to why this happened. Unless God or a higher power spoke to you and said “You go tell Laurie that the reason this happened was because of XYZ...” the best thing for you to do is say nothing or I am sorry.

I don't have much for Samantha and Sydney, but the few things that I do have mean a great deal. This is an ultrasound that says "baby A" and "baby B"

This is in what would have been Samantha and Sydney's bedroom. These are two shadow boxes that my cousin put together for me. In it is my bracelet from the hospital, a poem from the hospital, and their footprints. Their is an article of clothing, but neither of the girls wore these.

Loss of two precious lives

Samantha & Sydney (2003- 2-17-2004)
As I type their names my heart starts racing and many emotions that I have tried to put behind me start to come out of hiding and up to the surface in my body. You have read many success stories with monoamniotic twins and unfortunately the statistics do ring true and not every story ends with a happy ending.
I found out I was pregnant again in October of 2003. It was around Halloween and we had just finished up with trick or treaters when Jeff went out to bring us back takeout food. He has brought back some clam chowder soup for himself and the smell of it was making me gag. A few other symptoms had been surfacing, but the thought of being pregnant was not one that I was welcoming or wanting to admit may be true. Why you may ask? The answer is that on August 4th 2003 I gave birth to my son. He was not even 3 months old. My pregnancy with my son was high risk with a great deal of stress, anxiety, and nervous tension. You can see my previous blog about his pregnancy.
When I started to suspect that I may be pregnant it was on a Sunday night and most stores were closed. I got in the car and Jeff and Joey were already asleep. I drove around to all grocery stores or anything I could find that may be open at 11:30-12:00 in the night. I finally found a 24 hour grocery store on the other side of town and went in and bought 2 different pregnancy tests. I came home and knew from experience that for me even though the box states “3-5 days before your missed period” that the tests can be faint or state negative when I am really positively pregnant. So I took the first test and this time there was a faint line for positive. I went to bed so upset. I do NOT believe in abortion. That was not an option. The difficulty I was dealing with was that when I was pregnant with Joey I spent months of time on bed rest. What if I had to be on bed rest again? Who would care for Joey? I gained over 50 pounds with Joey. I still had not lost the weight. I had terrible acne for the first time in my life with Joey’s pregnancy. What would my body and face look like now? I wanted to just be a mom. Get on the floor and crawl around and play with Joey. Devote all my time to him. So although in some ways the thought of another baby was exciting, it was the unknown about what this pregnancy would bring. Our kids would be very close in age. It was just a big surprise!
I called my ob who had been through everything with me when I was pregnant with Joey. I was scared to death to call her after all we went through to get Joey here and say “Dr. Howell I think I am pregnant.” I ended up calling and because it was so early in my pregnancy and I basically knew what to do we decided to wait until December of 2003 to have my first OB appointment with ultrasound. The office was busy with patients and holiday parties. I knew to call if I had any problems before the appointment.
Jeff and I went to the first appointment together on December 5th 2003. The reality now that I was pregnant had sunk in. I was having no problems with morning sickness and felt fine. It was easy to kind of forget I was pregnant with how busy I was with Joey. The tech came in to do the ultrasound and when she put the transducer on my belly I saw two flicks, but did not say anything. The tech said something about two. Jeff thought she was saying I was two weeks pregnant and I said no Jeff there are two babies. She confirmed that we were having twins. I was shocked to say the least, but also very excited. I can’t really put into words how my reaction and feelings towards the pregnancy had changed. You have to understand that as a child I dreamed of twins. I told everyone that I came into contact with that someday I wanted twins. In my mind they had to be identical and they also had to be girls. The tech then said something about a membrane and at that time my head was spinning that I would have more like triplets running around at home. Three kids less than one. An instant family. There were two of us and now there are five of us. I thought of comments people may make like “been busy”. But to know that I was having twins. I was overjoyed. My ob came in and then told us that she was sending me to Akron General Medical Center to meet with a Periantologist and that she would no longer have me as a patient. This really saddened me. I was so sad and did not understand why. I felt like she and I could do anything together after Joey’s pregnancy and I trusted her. Now she was telling me that she no longer was handling twin pregnancies nor was she handling high risk. She called me an “ultra high risk” pregnancy. If there really is such a thing. She then explained to me that there was a possibility that my twins were monoamniotic. She explained that that meant that the twins had no dividing membrane between them. She also told us that this did make the twins identical. I heard the identical and whatever else she was saying went in one ear and out the other. I was very naive about the whole thing now that I look back. I did come home and look up monoamniotic on the computer and did a little research, but the high risk part I was used to. I guess I figured we went through so much getting Joey here safely that we would make it through this too.
I also had never heard of monoamniotic twins. I had heard of fraternal twins and identical, but monoamniotic? This was all new to us. Yu can go to for more information about these types of twins.
December 22 2003
Today we went and met with the periantologist for the first time. We had an ultrasound and then went back to his office and sat down and talked. He was Dr. L (not his real name) and he looked tired. He looked like he had not slept in months. There were huge bags under his eyes he kept yawning, but he was able to throw out statistics and came up with our care plan and really seemed to be educated about mono twins and made us feel like he was capable to handle my pregnancy. He described mono twins like two babies inside of a ball. In a normal twin pregnancy there is a small thin membrane separating the twins so the cords do not become entangled. I also found out then that had our egg split again we would be having conjoined twins. His care plan consisted of seeing him every two weeks. I would have an ultrasound every other time I was there. He also said that I would be admitted into the hospital when I reached 24 weeks. At this appointment I was around 12 weeks pregnant. I do remember that the option of having a selective reduction was given to us. I also know he told us that we had a 50/50 chance with this pregnancy. We then told him that we had an upcoming trip scheduled in January for a week in Florida. He was very arrogant when he told us to go on the trip and “not to worry” about anything because there was nothing that could be done anyways had I started having problems when we were away. The babies are not viable until 24 weeks was something that he kept drilling into us. I just think he could have been nicer about the whole thing.
One thing I remember about this appointment is that when we had the ultrasound we saw the babies playing inside. It looked like they were playing patty cake. I know they were so tiny but to see them doing somersaults and rolling around on top of each other hands touching is something I will never forget.
Feb.2nd 2004
We were home now from our trip in Florida. I had my first bout with morning sickness the day we left for the trip. I was throwing up the morning we were leaving for the airport. I did okay on the flight and never had any more issues.
One night while we in Florida I remember that the next morning I was able to tell everyone that a dream that I had. I was at Dr. L’s office and I started having problems in the 20th week of pregnancy. I was admitted to the hospital. The problem that I was having was never revealed, but it was very clear that it was the 20th week in pregnancy that a problem would occur.
On February 2nd I had an appointment. This one had an ultrasound. We found out that we were having girls. I was ELATED!!! I had all my dreams coming true. I was the mom of identical twin girls. We have a chalk board/ cork board type thing in our kitchen. On it it said twins and up until this point it had boy names on one side and girl names on the other. We erased it and put girls and then the names of twin A and twin B. Twin A would be Samantha and twin B would be Sydney. Although the girls would be moving around all the time and could switch positions in the womb I decided that whoever was born first would be twin A and given the name Samantha. I was so excited to call her Sammie! Samantha comes before Sydney alphabetically so I decided that whoever came out first had that name.
A few days after the appointment and finding out we were having girls’ things really were starting to sink in. I knew that I would need some help with three babies. We were in the process of switching Joey out of the nursery and putting him into a different bedroom. The room he was in at the time was bigger so instead of making one of the other bedrooms Samantha and Sydney’s bedroom we figured it would be easier to put Joey into another room. We would need 2 more cribs, 2 more car seats. A vehicle that was big enough to hold 3 car seats. There was a lot to do.
Feb. 14th we went to my parent’s house for Valentine’s Day. Many people in my family travel and so I had a calendar and we were marking down who would be out of town and when in case I needed some help. We were starting to get closer to going inpatient so we were talking about Joey and what we would do with him and who could help care for him. We talked again about vehicles and decided that a minivan was in our future. A minivan! This was something that I was trying to avoid. I am a jeep kind of girl and the minivan was something that I did not see myself driving around town. I bought my first preemie girls outfits.
Around this time I was on the computer more often and really starting to research and learn more about mono twins. Every time I did a search on things I would read a story about a loss. Or I would find people who were similar to me. (My name etc) I started to freak myself out and I would get off the computer.
On Feb 16th 2004 I had my next appointment at the hospital with Dr. L. I went to this appointment alone. My mom was at my sister’s house watching Joey and my sister’s kids. Jeff was at work. There was no ultrasound at this appointment just routine pee in cup, blood pressure, weight etc.
I was in the shower getting ready to go to my appointment and starting to have strange thoughts/instincts that something was wrong with baby B Sydney. I was thinking that something was wrong with her head. I had a VERY strong feeling that although I was not suppose to have an ultrasound today, that I would be having one. I did not share my thoughts or feelings. I went to the appointment and got weighed and had my blood pressure taken. The nurse then came over to get the heartbeats on the babies before Dr. L came in to see me. She was unable to get a heartbeat on the babies and replied “the babies are SO active today!” “Lucky you, you get to have an ultrasound”. I wanted to say yeah I already knew that I was having an ultrasound today. So I waited for what seemed like forever. The ultrasound machine was going through some kind of maintenance where it gives data? I don’t really know but the tech was doing something with the machine. She kept apologizing to me that it was taking so long and then she came in to get me. I lay back on the table and soon the cold goo was on my belly. When she put the transducer on my belly I said to her “my babies are dead aren’t they” There was no reply from her for like a good two minutes. All of a sudden that transducer was going really fast, her fingers were going like 100 miles per hour, and she was typing into the machine really quick. She finally said “Laurie I am so so sorry.” I was in tears and she stated that she would be right back. She went to get Dr. L as I lay on this table alone, cold, in the dark, sobbing, and waiting. Dr. L came into the room and put the transducer on my belly again and this was what he said “I told you that this could happen with this type of pregnancy.”
I was told to get dressed and then Dr. L would come in to talk to me about my “options”. I need to state that I am a RN. I was not thinking clearly and my options made no sense to me. I have never thought about babies that die in the womb before. You mean you have to give birth? Was he serious??? I was so excited for a cesarean section after Joey’s pregnancy and birth. The thought of having to give birth? No he was making this up.
Finally Dr. L came in and told me that I had two options. The first was to just wait. Go home and let the babies be delivered when it was time for my body to go into labor and expel them or to be induced. The induction sounded better to me. He then said that I should come back to the hospital the following night to start the induction process. I got home and as things started to sink in I became really outraged. I did not like the fact that because my babies were still and had passed on I was being treated different than someone who was still pregnant with living babies in their womb.
That night Jeff and I were on the phone with family members and friends and letting them know what had happened. I was growing more and more worried and concerned about the fact that I was walking around looking pregnant yet my babies were not alive. This was uncomfortable. This was unimaginable. I didn’t like the fact that here I am alive yet I am walking around with babies that are dead. This is just a strange idea thought and reality to try to get your brain to understand and grasp. Later that night around 11:00pm I had had enough. Jeff and I were in bed and I said are you asleep? He replied no and I said I am having pains in my belly. Yes, there was discomfort but it was not the worst pain that I have ever been in in my life. So I called my mom and we took Joey over to her home and headed for the hospital. I basically had to ask permission to stay and have the induction begin now instead of the following evening. This irritated me to no end. Dr. L had to be called and because there were enough rooms available for pregnant mommies with viable living babies they decided they could spare a room and let me stay. THANKS!
It was a late night. Around 2 am we were finally in a room and I was hooked up with an IV and the first vaginal medication was given to begin the induction process. I was on the OB floor like any other person giving birth. The only difference was that outside of my room was a picture of a leaf that looked like it was wet and crying and in the inside of the room was a mommy lying in bed getting prepared to give birth to dead babies and there was sadness, tears, and no dreams of hearing a baby/babies coming out crying for the first time or feeling the warmth of a newborn on your chest after long hours of laboring.
Jeff and I got a little bit of sleep throughout the night. Not much. The medication so far had done nothing as far as thinning me out or preparing my body to get ready to give birth. It was now a waiting game. The nurses were doing their job and would talk to us about what would happen after giving birth. Because I was farther along in my pregnancy there were many things to think about. Including placing an obituary in the local paper, funeral homes, caskets, and a funeral. I don’t know why these things never occurred to me. I really have had little to no experience in funerals. The only funeral I had been to was my grandpas. So this was all new to me. Including where would we bury the babies?. We decided to have the girls buried next to my grandpa and grandma. My dad’s biological parents. My grandma passed away when my dad was 16 so I never knew her. My grandpa is one of my heroes and someone you can learn more about on my blog. He is who my son Joey is named after.
The nurses talked to me about a disposable camera. I guess they take pictures of the baby/babies and develop them and then send you the ones in the mail that they feel are appropriate. This was a horrific thought for me. I guess because there was really no one from a bereavement department I never gave a great deal of consideration to photos. The fact that they were in control of the whole process made me very disturbed.
The day continued to pass by. I decided that I wanted to have an obituary. I didn’t really know what to say. But I did put something together. I wish I would have added more now like a poem at the end. My dad took care of calling the funeral home and also finding a baby casket. Now it was time to just deliver. At some point in the afternoon I was checked and again no progress was occurring. The nurses gave me permission to walk around and even to go ahead and eat. Jeff and I took a walk and we went and both of us had sandwiches. I was not really in the mood to eat, but knew that at some point I would not be allowed to, so I wanted some kind of energy for later.
I remember bits and pieces of the day. I know that there was a lot of crying and still trying to come to realize that this was not a horrible dream, but my reality. At one point a resident doctor came in to check me and the lady next to me was giving birth. The doctor had left the door open and I remember listening as this woman was in pain and pushing and crying out. A few minutes later we heard the crying of the newborn. I began crying and asked the doctor to simply shut the door. He did a turn and bolted for the door and left telling me he would send my nurse right in. I wasn’t asking for my nurse I just did not want to hear all the joy and excitement next door that I would not be experiencing also.
Around 4-5 pm I started feeling very uncomfortable. I can only describe it as wanting to have a bowel movement. I knew this feeling. I felt it when I was in labor with Joey. The nurse came in and said no progress. So I guess I kind of believed her. I should have trusted myself though that it was not a BM and that in fact the medication was working.
6:00pm Jeff was leaving to go get himself something to eat. My phone rang and I was on the phone with my cousin when the uncomfortable feeling would just not go away. I knew that things were feeling different and changing fast. I told my cousin I had to go and hung up with her. I then rang for the nurse. She got me some pain medication and when she came back Jeff was back too. He could tell right away that things were moving quickly and that I may give birth soon.
Around 6-6:15 a doctor was called and the nurse was getting more pain med for me. Although she checked me again and said nothing was really changing I said no I have to push. She kept telling me not to mostly because nothing in the room was set up yet. I could not hold it anymore and I pushed and in 2 pushes the girls were out. They were born at the same time and it was exactly 6:30pm on the nose. The amniotic sac had not broke and the girls came out together and the sac hit the bed and it splashed open and both girls were right there. The girls were almost 20 weeks. They were 19 weeks and 4 days old. I would have been 20 weeks on that Friday. That was by my calendar. The OB had me at 20 weeks and a few days.
The doctor came into the room a few minutes later and he was a partner of Dr. L. He decided that no further testing needed to be done on the twins because the cause of death to him and everyone else in the room was obvious. Sydney had the cord tightly wrapped around her neck a few times. The cords were also wrapped around Samantha’s body and they found several “grape like” clusters of knots in the cords. “A cluster of grapes” is what the cords were constantly being referred to.
Samantha and Sydney were then being cleaned up by the nurses and were taken out of the room. I just sat there on the bed crying and Jeff was at my side crying too. The whole thing is still very surreal to me. Although I was in the bed having all this occur to me things just seemed to be moving faster around me than I could keep track of. Soon there were many doctors and nurses in the room as well as the anesthesiologist that was supposed to be giving me an epidural prior to the delivery. She walked in right when the girls were being pushed out on the bed. The next things I remember is the doctor constantly putting his hand into my vagina trying to help out the “stuck” placenta. I just wanted my girls and this whole placenta issue was becoming a big deal to everyone in the room as well as the “amount of blood she is losing”. Before I even really get to grips one thing the next thing seems to be occurring. For example my dad and mom and sister and cousin all walk in the room not realizing that the birth had already occurred. Me just wanting to see and hold my babies, and then the Dr. consistently being up in my business tying to help this “stuck” placenta. Then the nurse is coming in with my girls. My girls were in a picnic basket. Still there was all this commotion going on and I was unable to grasp really what all is going on. I just want to go hide in the bathroom with the picnic basket and slam the door and lock out all the other things occurring in my room.
At some point someone makes the decision that I am going to go for an emergency D&C. I need to sign my name to the papers as well as sign a paper that I accept blood to be given to me. They decide that while the or is being prepared I can see my babies for a few minutes. My mom, sister, and cousin leave. They don’t want to see them. My dad stays. The whole thing happens VERY fast. I would say that we had them for about 5 minutes before I am transported back. I do know that I kissed Sydney’s head and it was cold. This was strange at first before I had to tell myself again that yes, she would be cold she is not alive. Then later it occurs to me that I kissed Sydney and not Samantha. WHY? WHY?
The girls go back into the picnic basket and I get wheeled out of the room. I remember the anesthesiologist apologizing that she did not get there sooner and she would give me a good “cocktail”. I don’t know what that girl put in me but it was lights out.
I woke up to some point very groggy knowing that I made it out of surgery, hearing that I lost a lot of blood, they got the placenta, and then I was out again.
In the very early morning hours I woke up to use the restroom. At some point a new nurse came in. She helped me to the bathroom and then helped me get back into bed. She asked if I wanted to see the girls and I said no. She should have told me that “YOU NEED TO SEE THEM NOW THIS IS YOUR LAST AND ONLY CHANCE BECAUSE THEY WILL TAKE THEM FROM HERE REALLY SOON”. I went back to sleep. At some point I remember seeing Jeff and then waking up. I then called for a nurse and asked to see the girls. She said the funeral home already came. That was it. No more chances. I blew it all. I never saw them again.
It has now been over 4 years since the death of Samantha and Sydney. They say that everything happens for a reason. I still to this day do not know the reason why this had to happen to us. I am waiting for the day that the answer hits me in the face and the answer is clear. I still struggle with God and wanting him to explain himself. I have gone to talk to our pastor and although it was a nice talk I do feel like I have done a better job at dealing with my anger about the whole situation. I still can go to the place and get really angry when I go to that place in my body that the anger hangs out in. I try not to let it boil up anymore. The biggest thing I got out of the talk with our pastor is that if I let it go than who will remember Samantha and Sydney. I am the only one that still holds on to them to make their lives mean something. By letting the anger and feelings of the loss go then in many ways I feel like I gave up on them and am telling the world it is okay to forget about them too. I don’t know if they had been older in weeks or months if others would remember them and think of them daily like I do.
We missed out on two precious lives. Our girls would have been greatly loved, cared for, and all the good stuff that moms and dads do. I will never fully understand how a girl could dream of twins at such a young age and wanting them so badly and then having them taken away. I joke to myself now that I should have longed for living twins. I know that I will always be there mom, but I just feel like I got the raw end of the deal. I wish we would have had the opportunities that I do with my other children. To hear them cry, to see them walk, smile, talk, crawl, and get into trouble together. I long to put pony tails in long hair and fun dresses and matching clothes. These occasions are only ones I can dream of.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Bringing home our son

August 5th was a day to get to know our new son. Jeff and I bonded with him, showed him off to family members, and were taught by the nurse’s things like caring for his umbilical cord and feedings. I am about 90% sure that on the 6th of August I was discharged and Joey and I were able to go home. Upon leaving the hospital we had one very important stop to make. This was already planned in my mind that we would go to the cemetery to say hello to grandpa and show off our son. We were leaving the hospital and about to go up a hill and there Jeff and I both saw in the sky the Goodyear blimp. I of course immediately began crying. Remember in a previous post I mentioned that the Goodyear blimp pops up when we are celebrating a special day or when we are thinking of Grandpa? Well there it was flying high in the sky. We continued on the cemetery and got a few photos of Joey visiting his great grandpa. We then headed home. I have to say that there are so many books out there on conception, pregnancy, and baby care, but as soon as we got home I remember Jeff and I just looking at each other like okay now what do we do? Joey was asleep in his car seat carrier and the dogs were sure excited to see him. When I was at the hospital and after giving birth Jeff would bring home something that Joey was wrapped in or wearing so the dogs could smell the new scent. The black lab Morgan went crazy. At one point Joey was in his carrier and the carrier was on the kitchen table. Morgan jumped up and put her front paws on the table to give kisses to the new baby. It was a bit scary to see her reaction at first. She was always guarding the baby.
All in all Joey was a very good baby. He was happy and never very cranky. He was very easy to care for and we never had any issues with him. This was a blessing after the things we went through during pregnancy.
This may be a bit of a TMI, (Too much information) but this how my story goes. When I was pregnant with Joey there were things that were off limits. Not only was I on bed rest, but every time I went to the doctor or hospital they would remind us that intercourse was out of the question. Needless to say Jeff went without for 9 months. After one gives birth you know all about the 2-3 weeks of bleeding that occur before you go for your checkup that one then gets the okay to resume normal activity. So the check up came for the go ahead and resume normal activity. And as I joke now I always say Jeff was a bit too excited. In October around Joey’s first Halloween I began having feelings that I may be pregnant. This was something that I was in denial about and was not about to face so early after giving birth to Joey. I took a home pregnancy test and got a faint line. The same old line I got with Joey. So I made an appointment with my OB who I thought was going to kill me. Turns out I was pregnant!

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