I just received the results of my blood work. It tested my ACLA level, which is the autoimmune disease that is associated with blood clotting and can often result in miscarriage/stillbirth. Six weeks ago my level was a 13. Anything 10 or below is considered in the normal range. 13 is a low number, but still a cause for concern and a need for a retest. My level this week is 11.5, just barely out of the normal range and lower than six weeks ago. They told me today that "your levels remain low and there is no cause for concern." I first felt overwhelming joy and now the tears of relief are setting in. One of the risks for my sweet little Tobin has been removed. There are still mountains in front of us, but God is faithful and in control. I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your faithfulness in praying for us. My wiggly little Tobin thanks you too!
On Monday of this week, Kevin and I were talking about me being 22 weeks on Tuesday (yesterday). Kevin let out a big sigh and said, "I feel like you have been pregnant for so much longer". I agreed and replied, "like 47 weeks". 47 is one of my favorite over exaggerated numbers, if not 47 always some number with a 7 at the end. These 22 weeks have been a fight and a struggle. It is hard to hold your breath for that long and know that there is still so much longer to go. It's like we have only made it halfway across the pool. It does feel like much longer.
I am not sure what we were thinking. We weren't able to think, that was most likely the problem. We thought that Kevin would go to work on Thursday. Yes, I had been through the delivery of a baby on Monday, but I was given very few restrictions. Or maybe I was and don't recall or wasn't listening. I felt sore, but not bad. What a difference between a vaginal birth and a Cesarean. Physically nothing was slowing me down. I gave birth, but had nothing. There was no baby to care for. Nothing forcing me to sit in a rocking chair. Time may have felt like it was standing still for me, but life was continuing on all around me and I could not stop that.
I have struggled writing the events of what occurred the week of Koen's birth. I have been writing it in order, but I started it the end of June 2013 and have only made it through the first few days of that week. I woke at five again this morning, thinking and praying, and felt the need to continue on. I have discovered a new feature on my website - Categories. You can now click "Koen's Story" under the Categories heading on the right of the page and read his story from beginning ... and at some point until the end. This entire blog is Koen's story and will continue on, but my plan for "Koen's Story" is to tell the details of that week and end at his funeral.
Koen was born on Memorial Day, Monday. On Tuesday, I was discharged from the hospital, went to the funeral home, and met with our pastor. On Tuesday evening I sat in the rocking chair in Koen's room all alone. I fiercely hugged a stuffed animal that was in his crib and wailed. The shock was beginning to wear off and the reality that my baby was dead was setting in.
On Wednesday morning, I stayed in bed as my mom and Kevin got Hackett ready for school. His first day back since Koen's birth. He later told me that while at school one of his friends had said to him, "I heard your baby died, that's sad." Out of the mouths of sweet Kindergartners. It was hard to eat, it was hard to move, and physically even hard to speak. On this day I realized how much I had rallied to put on a brave face for Hackett, but now with him gone I was able to sink into a pit of sadness. There was a weight so heavy on my chest that morning that I could only mutter a word or two at a time. I have never felt agonizing sadness like that before. My emotional pain was so severe that it felt physical.
Kevin and I had business to attend to this day. We were scheduled to go to the cemetery to meet a man from the township to choose our cemetery plots. The funeral was scheduled for Friday and we had decided to have our family over to our house after for lunch. We needed to go and order food.
We went to Jimmy John's to order a sub platter. We walked in hand in hand. The woman who helped us had no idea the occasion for our order. Here we were choosing cold cut combos and condiments. So bizarre, but necessary. I felt as if I was outside my body watching the events unfold, watching myself in Jimmy John's ordering subs, but not really present.
We then drove to the cemetery, where we wandered aimlessly, while waiting for the township representative to arrive. There was a couple who had lost two babies in the 1950s, in just two years, buried next to them. They only had a single date on their tombstone, just like Koen. My heart hurt for that mama. I have no idea what their circumstance was, but for Koen the only physical proof of his existence on earth is his tombstone. He has no birth certificate, no death certificate. It shocked me at first, because as his mom, I wanted that paper. Stepping back from the situation, it makes sense. His life only existed inside of me, not on his own outside the womb. But it hurts to not have the documentation of my son. Kevin worked on the genealogy of his family this summer, one thing he did to keep his mind busy. He added Koen to our family tree, but generations down the road, will not know of his existence. They may wander through the cemetery, though, and see his tombstone.
We picked out the plots where Kevin and I will be buried. I wanted to be under a tree. Something peaceful about that for me. We learned that Koen's casket would be so small that he did not require a plot of his own. His little body is buried right between where his mom and dad will one day be laid to rest.
We are thankful we had the means to bury Koen, purchase his tombstone, buy cemetery plots, and have a funeral service. Not only did we incur the expense of a delivery of a baby, but also all that goes into the cost of a funeral. No life insurance exists for a baby that had no life outside their mama. My hope is that one day we will be able to raise money to help families who need assistance with these expenses. To provide them a place to visit, grieve, and remember that their babies will always be a part of their families, whether it is on paper or not.
One of my friends on Facebook posted an article written by Kristin Howerton, titled "Can We Bring the Holidays Down a Notch?". It was written last year, and I am sure it circulated then, and in the last 24 hours I have seen it pop up on many of my other friends pages. Here is the link to the article:
Sipping sweet tea and watching this was perfect!
Clearly God's desire for Kevin and I is to raise boys. Something I willingly accept and embrace. We learned yesterday that our Little Pumpkin is a boy. We pray that Tobin Victor will grace the earth and our home with his presence. We love him so much already. I have been feeling him move so much, more than I recalled with Hackett and Koen. I wasn't sure if it was because I am so acutely in tune with every feeling in my body this time, but the ultrasound confirmed that Tobin is a wild man. He was wiggling all over and so sweetly sucking his thumb.
There has only been a handful of days in the last 17 years where Kevin and I have not shared a laugh. Our home is filled with so much love and laughter, even on the hardest of days. I thank God every day for the gifts He has given me. My boys, all three of them. When times are tough, I am even more grateful.
The last few weeks I have time to think, process, and pray about many things. This past week a sweet friend who I met while living in California is undergoing a very scary event. Her precious little 6-year-old is in the ICU fighting off complications from a common cold. She has turned a corner and is improving, but the family faced some very scary moments. I spent much of my quiet sitting time this week in prayer for them. Pleading with God to not take away their baby. My mama heart was bleeding for her. My friend posted this morning how the events have shifted her perspective and that their family was changed forever. Great tragedy will bring you to your knees and have that impact on you. Since May, I have changed. Koen's impact on my life has been huge. Sadness, of course, but he has brought me clarity and strength as well.
I love the Olympics. Given my inability to do much of anything I was able to watch them in their entirety. I love the idea of the Olympics, the competition, the pride in my country, but most of all I love the stories. Two stories touched my heart in a huge way this year.
Sarah Burke, a Superpipe Skier (a pioneer of the sport), died while training in 2012. NBC did an interview with her parents and this is what her mom said: "Before this happened I would have said the worst thing that could have happened to me, ever, was to lose Sarah. Then I realized there was one thing worse than that. It would have been to never had had her at all in my life." The loss of a child is unthinkable. The mere thought of something happening to Hackett is more than I can bear. But the heartache of knowing that I will never know Koen in this earthly life hurts so much in a completely different way. I was never able to have had him in my life.
(You can watch their interview: http://www.nbcolympics.com/news/halfpipe-podium-points-sky-tribute-sarah-burke )
Noelle Pikus-Pace, the silver medalist in Skeleton in Sochi, bravely shared her story of loss. She is the mother of three, but lost her third (a little girl) when she was 18 weeks pregnant. She had left the sport, but after her loss her heart was so broken she needed something to help her focus and heal. Her husband encouraged her to return to the sport. How brave to bare her heart and show her tears of pain, even after her silver medal win. I started to blog to get the feelings out of my head. I still wanted to remember the pain, hurt, and triumphs, but needed to let them go. This was my outlet. It was also a way to communicate events without having to tell my painful story over and over. But I think there is a blessing attached to this now. So many have shared their stories of loss with me, many of those losses occurred in the first trimester. Some have kept those losses quiet. Often it is advised to keep your pregnancy news quiet until you hit the safety of the second trimester. No matter when the loss occurs, it is still a loss. It hurts my heart to know so many have felt the same heartache that I have in silence. I hope sharing my story helps others know that they are not alone and they don't have to keep their pain quiet. Noelle has done that too and I am so grateful.
(You can watch her interview:
I am Jackie.