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.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

You'll Be Happy Again Someday

When Dr. Amburgey gave us Spyder's diagnosis at our first ultrasound with her, she said, "this is the lowest you will ever feel. You will be happy again someday." When I told my friend, Jen, who had lost her own son as a newborn, she said "the way you feel right now will not last forever. You'll feel happy again someday." Chaplin Diane, Kamil, the other doctors at the hospital in the days surrounding Spyder's birth and death all assured us that we would be okay. Someday, we would feel happy again. I am only now beginning to think maybe it could be true.
I am still sad; I am still unprepared to face the reality of our loss. But, today the sun came out. It shined through the car windows as I drove Poppy to her 2 month checkup. I could feel its rays warming my cheeks. For a few seconds, I delighted in this simple joy. For those seconds, I felt happy.

I want to be happy and I can put on that happy face when I need to. Usually, when someone politely asks me how I am doing, I say that I'm just fine and that I'm healing. It is only an unlucky few that get the truth. I have a pain in my heart that I don't think can be healed and a guilt in my mind from being unable to do anything to save my son. For hours each day, I remember those few moments when I held him on my chest in the delivery room, staring into his listless eyes. I see Spyder every time I look at Poppy. I hold her all day long to make up for the fact that she no longer has her wombmate to snuggle close to. They should have been best friends. My interactions with Brad are timid and full of self-doubt. I'm waiting for something to crumble though I'm sure my anxiety is unwarranted. If I am not occupied with work, tv, a book, or Miss Poppy, I am crying. It's not postpartum depression that does this to me; I am just sad.

But, for some reason, today I am starting to believe that things will get better. The sun will continue to rise upon more beautiful days that I can share with Brad and Poppy. I look at my baby and I see that there is light in the darkness that shrouds my life. For the first time, I think that maybe I will be truly happy again . . .someday.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

40 Weeks

Today is the day that Brad and I anticipated for months. Forty weeks, full-term, due date. I should have been delivering the twins today. But, instead I have a beautiful eight week old daughter and my son lives only in my memories.

Poppy Jean showing off her milk tongue at 8 weeks old

All day as I was planning what to write tonight, I was feeling sad and sorry for myself. I was thinking about how I would have still had those two extra months to prepare. I would have felt the babies kicking each other and flipping and hiccuping for eight additional weeks.

But then, I got a beautiful reminder of the miracles of life that surround us every day.

Today, my inspiration came from my Facebook news feed of all places. A friend of mine posted this morning that her little cousin, Ashton, was in the hospital, having blood tests, and waiting to have a tumor removed from his brain. I didn't know anything about him before I read her post, but my heart hurt for him and his family. Then, later in the day, my friend announced that once the doctors began surgery, they found NO tumor. What had showed in the MRI was a portion of his brain that was leaking spinal fluid. I don't know what will happen to Ashton now, but this is a very important victory for the little guy and his family.

So today I am reminded to be thankful. And I am. Had my babies been born today, they each would have weighed around eight pounds. Because he was breach and so much larger than expected, Spyder would likely have been stuck to the point where he would not have been able to be delivered, and I may have had an emergency C-section. In that case, the doctors would have knocked me out - I would have slept through the delivery and never met Mr. Spyder while he was alive.

Brad and I cherish the hour we got with Spyder

This really did work out the best way it could have. And the results are amazing. I miss my son more than I can explain, but my baby girl is healthy and at home and has reached her "developmental birthday." I am so glad for the reminder of life's miracles that little Ashton provided today.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Breast Conundrum

"You're not healing correctly." This is not what I wanted to hear from my OB at my postpartum appointment, though I was not surprised. Spyder definitely left his mark on my delivery. I will spare you the details, but I am not recovering as well as I should and it's been seven weeks. In fact, if things don't improve, I may need a procedure to make some repairs.
Here is part of the issue. Breastfeeding lowers the amount of estrogen in your body. Estrogen is needed to heal what I need healed. Adding an estrogen pill would decrease my already scant milk supply. Using a medicine to help the milk supply would do nothing to help fix me. So what do I do?

I wanted so badly to nurse Poppy to give her the best possible start. But, with her being a NICU baby, and with the almost unbearable stress of losing Spyder, neither she nor I ever caught on to true breastfeeding. I have been trying to supply her with expressed milk, but she gets maybe one bottle a day from me, and even that gets fortified with formula.

Also, I really want to feel better. I want to be able to carry her around the house without wincing. I need to be able to stand in place for more than two minutes or sit on my office chair for more than five.

I feel terribly torn between what is best for Poppy and what is good for me.

On a lighter note, today, March 14th, is National Save a Spider Day - the arachnid kind of course! I hope you did your part to thank nature's insect control specialists!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Back to the Grind, Eventually

Even though I haven't been to work since January 4th, every Sunday I get the same sinking feeling in my stomach. Tomorrow is Monday - a workday. One day soon, this feeling will be warranted. I have to go back to work eventually.
For Brad, that day is tomorrow; for me, it's supposed to be Thursday. Though we have the same benefits, his HR lady is not on the same page as mine. Brad should still get three days of bereavement leave for Spyder's death, but she doesn't seem to understand that. So, tomorrow he starts back, having to leave our baby girl for the longest period of time yet.

I think his going back to work is harder on me than my imminent return.

It's not that he dislikes his job; he enjoys it. But, I have never seen him as happy as he is when he holds Poppy. And she looks so peaceful in his arms. It is a sight that I needed to see after we both suffered so much from losing Spyder. I can't stand the idea that he now has to be away from Poppy, even for a short period of time. I know it has to happen, and I know everything will be fine, but it still makes me sad.

Poppy and Daddy

Poppy is so comfy with Brad.

As for me, I will go back to the grind soon, too. My job is good, despite the drama and petty personnel games to which no office is immune, but I am not ready to be away from the little one either. I think my problem is two-fold. First, I feel an impenetrable guilt for not being a stay-at-home mom like my sisters-in-law and own mother and second, returning to work is a concrete "next chapter in life" point.

As far as being a working mom, it comes down to not having much of a choice. We have a house to pay for and a finished basement to pay off, not to mention we now have someone to put through college in 18 years! Brad and I both had moms who stayed home with us, and we have good relationships with them and the rest of our families. Will Poppy feel as connected to me as I did to my mom? Will she develop and learn as well as Brad and I did? Will we be able to teach her to love the things we love? My mind can be put partially to rest because in my Baby 411 book I found an article cited from Huston and Aronson in a 2005 edition of Child Development finding that the quality of time a parent spends with his or her child is more influential on the child's development than the quantity of time spent. Phew! Now that I've found the answer I wanted, I will stop researching the subject . . .

The bigger, more selfish issue is that I am not ready to turn the page in our crazy story. I am still learning how to be a mom, only having had Poppy home for two weeks now. I am also still deeply mourning the loss of our son. Going to work is acknowledging that I have to get my life back to normal, to start a new routine by which we'll live for the next 18 years. I don't want to do that yet. I don't want a new normal. I want to be alone with Brad and our baby. I want to sit and mourn and learn and heal.

One thing I do know for sure. When I go back to the office, the things that used to get under my skin won't bother me as much anymore. I won't sweat the drama or the inequity. I have been to Hell and back. Nothing my bosses or coworkers say or do to me will ever compare to the past two months of my life.