Welcome to the Blue Butterfly Blog

Thousands of families suffer in silence from the loss of a pregnancy or an infant. My struggle is just beginning. I carried twins to term knowing that only one would survive. This is the story of my journey through shock, devastation, grief, anger, and hopefully someday acceptance. I know that other families are desperate to know that they are not suffering alone. This is for them.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Happy Birthday!

When they wheeled me into Labor & Delivery almost exactly one week ago, I knew this was the real thing. The doctors and nurses tried everything they could to stop the labor again, but by Monday at 5pm, my water broke. Thankfully, my parents were still at the hospital and Brad's parents were very close by.

I was devastated when the doctor said that this was it. They hooked me back up to fluids and magnesium and brought in the anesthesiologist. I wasn't ready. Brad wasn't ready. We still thought we had more time, but time was up. Now I had a job to do - deliver my babies.

Time to get started!

At 7:12 pm, Dr. Alderman placed our little Poppy Jean on my chest. I heard her cry and right then I knew she'd survive. The NICU nurses gently whisked her away for her special care and she was gone. I had to focus on my next task - deliver Spyder.

Brad and Poppy

At 7:43 pm, after quite the difficult delivery, a nurse placed Spyder Blayne Conlin Deering on my chest as she listened for a heartbeat - 60 beats per minute - he was alive!

Holding Spyder for the first time

Spyder and his daddy

In the reading I had done, mothers were known to feel happiness, anxiety, fear, or elation during delivery. I wondered how I would feel and was convinced that I would be in despair. But the moment the nurse laid Spyder on me, I was overcome with a beautiful joy. I finally met my son. Brad met his son and would get to hold him while he was living. I felt an instant connection to Spyder and I felt like I finally had my family.

In the hours to come I went on an unexplainable emotional journey. I felt things I never felt before. Everything peaked when I was holding Poppy and Spyder together with Brad next to me and we watched as Poppy leaned her her head toward her brother. He was her comfort both in the womb and out. He always will be.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

Last night was another sleepless hospital night, when I lay thinking about my poor Spyder. Every day and night is getting worse as his imminent birth and death gets closer and more real in my mind. Each contraction is a reminder that I don't have much more time with him.

I also worry about Poppy. The doctors and nurses say that her survival chances are very good, over 90 percent now, and it's not really a matter of whether she'll make it. But, I can no longer believe in the power of statistics and chance. This pregnancy has defied all the odds and shown me that truly anything can happen to anyone no matter how healthy or dedicated you try to be. 

So I wait here in anxious anguish, worrying and wondering what will come next.

For the first time overnight, this question came to my mind: If I knew before I got pregnant what would happen with Spyder, early labor, weeks of contractions, and the potential for Poppy to spend months in the NICU, would I still proceed?

The right answer is yes, and I wish that was the unrivaled answer that I could give. But the truth is, I don't know. All a potential mother wants is a healthy, happy child. I can deal with the labor and the contractions, but I cannot cope with putting my babies through any sort of pain. No one knows exactly what Spyder will feel when he's born, but it won't be good. Poppy will be hooked to a feeding tube and monitors for weeks, if not months. Even if she grows to be a strong girl, research points to the idea that surviving twins feel the absence of their lost sibling. Will she always feel incomplete?

I love my babies more than I knew possible. Having grown with them for the past (almost) 8 months, I wouldn't trade them for the world. Poppy is playing kickball with Spyder's head as I type! But, I wish they didn't have to suffer any pain or trauma. I wish our families were spared the sadness and worry that we're all feeling. Still, this is what makes us all stronger, and this is what writes our story. As scary and tragic as it is, this is real life.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It's a Girl! But It's also a Boy!

While there were many uncomfortable topics and decisions that I've had to make in my situation, one of the most visible to others was the baby shower. A baby shower is a rite of passage for a new mom, a time to get gobs advise from seasoned moms and place adorable onsies on your belly, exclaiming, "it fits!" I wanted some semblance of a normal pregnancy, which would include a fun little shower, but, how was I supposed to handle only needing supplies and gifts for one baby while I am pregnant with two?

A few months ago, I helped my mother-in-law get decorations for my sister-in-law's shower. She's due to have a little boy in one month. It was fun to look at all of the themes and colors and special memory tokens, but I was staring at "It's a Girl!" and "It's a Boy!" all day. When we returned home, I sobbed privately, knowing that I would not be able to celebrate my boy and my girl in the normal way.

After weeks of mulling over what to do, my mom came up with a very good solution. We would have a shower for Poppy and include a Celebrating Spyder element. It still made me sad, and I was a little unsure and worried that people would think I was neglecting Spyder. But it was the best compromise.

Actually, my sister, Izzy, did all of the planning for the shower. It was going to be at a cute coffee shop in Grove City last Saturday. Well, plans changed and the hospital was wonderful enough to let us hold the shower here. I wasn't sure who would still come since the situation was so strange.

But, people did come. And we played games and had cake and it was so much fun to get together. We even played "Pin the Sperm on the Egg!"

Pin the Sperm on the Egg

And we did celebrate Spyder. Everyone brought messages for him that I can put in a scrapbook, and we had a little spider on the cake. The last game we played, that Izzy came up with so sweetly, was to make a spider web out of yarn that we all got to hold.

Everyone got Celebrating Spyder cards. The printer even did them for half price in honor of him.

The shower was happy and sad for me. I was so happy that my friends came to see me and that we got to laugh together and look at adorable clothes and supplies for Poppy. I was sad because I couldn't do the same thing for Spyder. But both babies were an important part of the celebration.

Yummy cake with tiny, pink spider on bottom right.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Something So Beautiful

I know I'll never be ready for what is going to happen to Spyder. I don't understand how something so beautiful can have something so fatally wrong going on inside.

My Little Spyder's Face

He looks so much like a healthy baby. In this picture, you can see his eyes, nose, and mouth. Nothing looks wrong; it all looks perfect.

But, all of the doctors know he won't survive. They have told me that they will deliver him regardless of his position, which at this time is oblique - pretty much laying across the top of my belly. Their priority is my health, not his. As a mother, how can I allow that? I would sacrifice everything for him. But they won't let me.

I cannot express how much I want him to be born alive.

I want him to feel our touch and I want to feel his. But, really, I want Brad to get to hold him. I have had the past 30 weeks with the little guy, and Brad has only gotten to see images of him. Brad needs to get to connect to his son and hold him and know that he's real. I hope he gets that chance.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Meds Alone Can't Stop Labor

Last Thursday was the most scared that I have ever been in my life. I started the day going to my regular prenatal doctor's appointment and ended it in a delivery room at Grant Medical Center. The middle is a bit of a blur.

Here's what I remember.

I was 29 weeks and 2 days along in my pregnancy. Without being too TMI, I went to my regular appointment and mentioned the possibility that my maternal fetal medicine doctor had introduced about getting steroid shots to help the babies' lungs develop in case they were delivered early. Shortly thereafter I was on the road to Grant, having measured 3 cm dilated.

After about an hour monitoring contractions, which I did not feel at all, I was admitted to the labor and delivery ward and had my own dark room complete with IV magnesium and a Barry Bondsesque steroid shot in the tookus. I felt absolutely fine (at least until the "mag" kicked in.)

At that point, I didn't know how scared I needed to be. I had Brad en route from a workday in Ironton, and my parents were already on the road from Cleveland. No one could tell me how much my family needed to hurry. Everything was unknown.

Upon everyone's arrival, sometime between noon and two, I was still not feeling any contractions, though the monitor was showing them rolling along. Brad's parents arrived a short time later, only to learn of the same uncertainty we all faced.

Time went on and the contractions got more frequent, and yes, I did start to feel them by late afternoon. They were painful enough by evening that I got a dose of pain killers and the nurses made plans for me to meet with the anesthesiologist. At their closest, my contractions were two minutes apart. Everyone braced for an eminent delivery.

The most amazing and wonderful team of doctors and nurses filed in, each with their own specialty. One of our main goals was to quickly develop a birth plan for Spyder with the labor and delivery team and our counselor and guide from Nationwide Children's Hospital, Kamil. A meeting had been on the schedule for the following week, but we didn't have time to wait. When the neonatologist, Dr. Haplin, came to discuss not only what would happen with Spyder but also with Poppy, it finally hit me that I could lose both of my babies.

I remember crying that I wasn't ready yet. I wasn't ready for my son to die. Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep was on call to take photos of him after he passed. The chaplain was ready to calm me. But I thought I had more time.

I also wasn't prepared for Poppy to be taken from me and whisked to the NICU. Dr. Haplin, who I liked very much, said that she would need IV nutrition and perhaps a ventilation tube and pressure on her chest to help her breath. I wouldn't get to hold her when she was born.

At some point in the night, I got another type of medicine called Indocin, a muscle relaxer, as the doctors were "throwing everything they had" at me. But, they told me to get rest because I'd need energy to push.

The next couple hours are a complete blur, other than remembering looking into Brad's eyes as he sat close to me in an uncomfortable armchair and telling him we'd make it through this because we had to. I know he was as terrified as I was. That was until 7 am when Dr. Corley, one of my OBs, came in and told him that my contractions were slowing, they were taking me off the magnesium, and we'd be able to get that second steroid shot which Poppy needed so desperately.

To this day, no one understands why my labor stopped. There is no denying the power of so many people out there thinking of us, praying for us, and sending us their best wishes. One nurse explained that the medicine cannot truly stop preterm labor. She said something bigger was in play.

We aren't out of the woods yet. Today I am 30 weeks and 1 day along. I'm still at the hospital on bedrest and will be here until the babies come. The doctors can't say when that will be - it could be later today, it could be four weeks. The odds lean toward sooner than later, but so far, my contractions are irregular and not indicative of labor again. The important factor, according to the people here, is that I got two steroid shots to help boost Poppy's lungs.

Now, everyday is a gift with Spyder and a bit more development for Poppy. I am still terrified day and night. I don't know how strong I really am alone, but with Brad, our families, and all of you out there, I know that we will survive this. Please keep praying for us and thinking of us and remember that every life out there is such a miracle.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My Baby is Next

Looking back at Christmas and Hannukah, I tried to figure out how I coped. What was my defense mechanism? Partly, I remembered what Brad told me - don't let Spyder hear you say really sad things. Yes, I know the little guy doesn't know what I'm saying, but this does help. Also, I somehow numbed myself to what was going on around me. I numbed myself so much that when my uncle called and told my mother that on Christmas Eve their mother had died, I felt nothing.

Maybe I did feel ... maybe I felt anger. My grandmother was 79 years old and she had been very, very ill. For her, death was the next step in life. My son won't get 79 years, not even 79 days or 79 hours. He might get 79 minutes, but more likely 79 seconds.

Of course, I was sad for my family that mourns her. I knew this would come, and I suppose I was prepared. But, it was an awakening to see my grandfather and my little cousin crying over our Nana.

We went last Thursday in snowy Cleveland for her funeral. I had been thinking, but hadn't vocalized until the car ride over, that the next funeral we'd be attending would be Spyder's.  I had thought I'd be fine...

While greeting and catching up with family I hadn't seen in a decade at the funeral home, I heard the priest speaking to my grandfather about the loss of their infant daughter, Susan. The priest simply said, "now she has someone to hold her." That's when I lost control.

My dad got me to the car before I broke down. We sat together, me sobbing and trying not to vomit, and him listening helplessly. I just kept saying "my baby, my baby's next, this isn't fair," over and over again. We missed the whole service. I missed the graveside service, too, sitting in the car while everyone else said their final goodbyes.

According to my mom, everyone understood why I disappeared. She told me that they said I was brave for trying to attend the funeral. Really, I was embarrassed, but there was no way I could have gone back into that funeral home.

I haven't felt right since. I just keep thinking about how Spyder's funeral is likely the next one I'll be at. What will it be like? Who will be there? How will I cope? When will it be? I am so scared of so many things right now and losing him tops the list.