Posts tagged ‘pregnancy’

Scents

Capture Your Grief Day 12, Scents

Kiss My Face’s Citrus Lavender lotion is the scent of my pregnancy. I remember carefully choosing it in Whole Foods, reading the label, making sure it was organic and had only essential oils, nothing chemically. I tried so hard to make sure everything that touched my skin was as natural as possible to ensure a healthy environment for the babes. I also needed a scent that didn’t make me want to throw up, which was very limiting.

A couple of months ago I put this on again, not thinking about the last time being when I was pregnant. Instantly I was brought back. I saw myself rubbing it on my stomach, huge and stretched taut. Lavender and limes and talking to the fellas.

I haven’t used it since.

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Vegan Love

After we got home from the hospital our good friend Rebecca was kind and thoughtful enough to set up a “Take Them a Meal” schedule. She sent it out to many of our friends and we were blessed with meals every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for over a month! Jeremy and I were humbled and amazed at the love and willingness of others to do this for us and it really helped. Especially in those first weeks when we honestly wouldn’t have remembered to eat unless someone showed up on our door step, meal in hand.

I was impressed too by how many people tried their hands at home cooking, vegan style. I’ve decided to start publishing the recipes from our friends on Mondays. Mondays, as some of you may know, are a part of a movement in the veg world to go meatless on that day every week as a way to reduce- impact on the environment, natural resources, animal suffering, waste. So in honor of “Meatless Mondays” I will share the recipes that graced our home in our time of need and filled us with nourishment and love.

I told my friend Danielle that I was planning on doing this as a way to “transition away from death.” She laughed and I appreciated that. I like when friends can laugh with me in the dark times too. I always envisioned this blog as having things like vegan recipes and products too. Of course I thought a lot of that would relate to what I’d be feeding our boys and cloth diapering and eco-friendly versions of products like diaper cream .  But some days I come here to write and it’s too hard. The pain is too much. So a recipe is a little lighter and easier. My friends had no idea when they brought those meals how even now it’s helping me to still write, still process, but have a little break from it too.

Today’s recipe is a Wheat Berry Salad from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking cookbook. Our dear friends Joellen and Geir made it for us and brought it by with a bottle of wine and spent some time hanging out. It is light and delicious- absolutely perfect for summer. I’m still doing the juicing and hot yoga detox, which Jer calls”baby Auschwitz” (funny and offensive!) because the first time I was doing this combo in January I didn’t know I was pregnant! Our poor little boys were sweatin’ it out with nothing but juice to get through their first couple of weeks. I didn’t know, sorry. The minute I saw a plus sign I ran and ate a cantaloupe. True story. Anyways, when I’m off the juice (ha!) I’ll be making lots and lots of this salad. It’s that good. Enjoy!

 

 

Wheat Berry Salad with Citrus, Pine Nuts, (Vegan) Feta and Spinach

Ingredients:
2 cups soft wheat berries, rinsed
6 cups water
2 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt, plus more as needed
Citrus Dressing:
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 generous handfuls spinach leaves, stemmed and well rinsed
1 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup crumbled (Vegan) feta cheese
Combine the wheat berries, water and 2 teaspoons salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, until plump and chewy, about an hour or so. The berries should stay al dente, and the only way to be sure they’re done is to taste a few. Drain and season to taste with more salt.
To make the dressing, combine the orange zest and juice, lemon juice, and shallot. Whisk in the olive oil and season with a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
Toss the hot wheat berries with the spinach, pine nuts, citrus dressing, then top with the (Vegan) feta. Taste for seasoning and sprinkle with a bit more salt if needed.
Serves 4 to 6.

The Face of Grief

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, I know. I’m not supposed to start out a blog like that, I know that too. I’ve had lots on my mind as you might imagine, and have planned many times to write it all out. Every time I went to do so the thought of it seemed too overwhelming, too tiring. But today it’s been 2 months since our boys were born. Two months since we held them and kissed them and said good-bye. It’s gotten harder in many ways with the distance of time. I know “time heals,” but I think the time frame on this particular wound is pretty long.

There’s a resistance to the passing of time, at least for me. The more time passes the more separated I feel from the life and lives I so desperately wanted. For a woman who normally embraces change, the thought that I wish the world would just stop or better yet go backwards is replacing my normal push forward. This new life, which is in essence my old life, is difficult to accept. Rationally I know the deal. There is no “new” or “old” it’s all just life. My life. As unfair and no where near what I wanted it to be as it is. I also know that this may not even be the worst of it. I can only control my actions and reactions, nothing else. Knowing that something just as or even more terrible (what could that be?) might be lurking around the corner is a constant. I worry much more about Jeremy than ever before. I’ve always worried, especially when I know he’s driving, but it’s intensified. I try not to act on it but if it’s getting late and I haven’t heard from him that he’ll be working late I can feel a bit of panic creep over me and I call him hoping, but not necessarily expecting, to hear his voice on the other end. I still choose to live and leave the house- which is harder some days more than others. I find that I really like being at home and even alone much more than I did before. There’s a safety here, a quiet that I crave. And my boys are here. At least their physical selves in their tiny urns. It’s something. It’s what I have.

Being out and about these last two months has been hard. Unexpectedly so. Everywhere I go I remember the last time I was there when I was pregnant. How it felt to even walk to work or cross the street pregnant. To go to church and worship, so thankful for the babies inside me. I remember how others looked at me, helped me, opened doors, asked about the babies. There was an excitement and a purpose to every step. My life had a definite direction, new and intimidating and awesome. I really miss that. And I really, really miss my boys.

Recently I’ve thought a lot about the pregnancy. I realized that throughout the pregnancy I was drawn to stories of loss and told stories of loss. As I’ve mentioned before, my friend lost her baby boy at 19 weeks and I thought a lot about her during my pregnancy. Reading her baby loss blog connected me to other blogs that dealt with loss. I would read them and weep, knowing there were no guarantees with my pregnancy either. A friend from high school contacted me when she heard we were having triplets. She has twins, but she also told me about the baby girl that she lost, stillborn, and how she and her husband dealt with that. Then our fellow blog friend who was pregnant with triplets lost her babies. Again, I just wept for her and her husband and hung on every post wanting to know how they were surviving through such tragedy. Friends told me not to read them. They said that of course my babies would be fine, not to worry. I didn’t really think anything would happen to our babies, but I did have a strong sense that those stories of loss deserved my attention and respect. Even when getting my blood drawn a woman in the waiting room asked about my pregnancy. When I told her it was triplets she told me that she also had triplets, but that they died the day they were born. It was heartbreaking and shocking, yes, but instead of feeling upset at her for telling me or stopping the conversation, I felt compelled to know more. What happened? How was she doing now, years later? I told her again and again how very sorry I was and felt only love for her. Looking back now (and even at the time, though I dared not admit it) I see a preparation that was happening for my loss. God knew this would happen and He knew He would not stop it from happening, so He provided connections to others who have experienced the loss of a baby or babies. Connections that have led to even more stories of loss and more amazing women behind those stories who are becoming friends in the darkness.

I’m also doing some things for me, as people keep telling me to do. I’m giving myself at home facials and getting pedicures and massages. I’m using a scrub consistently for the first time in years, enjoying longer showers and the hope of glowing skin. I’ve started doing hot yoga 6 days a week at an hour and a half a pop. My body had not had a work out in 6 months so it was a bit of a shock at first but it’s starting to shape up and enjoy the process. It’s been therapeutic and detoxifying for me to be doing yoga again. And necessary as I have 30 pounds to lose to get back to pre-pregnancy weight. I’m not hard on myself for the weight- I know it was necessary- but honestly, it makes me really sad to have it without my babies. I’m also juice fasting– 10 days in- and plan to do this for 21 days. That’s again something I’ve used in the past to detoxify, recharge, reset. I do it a lot during times of extreme stress or when I notice my lupus and fibromyalgia are acting up. It helps to focus me during stress and it alleviates my symptoms completely. I take it really seriously and there’s a control to it and a methodology for juicing which feels nice when your world is so emotionally chaotic. Put the pieces of the juicer together; wash and cut the produce; juice; clean and dry the juicer; repeat.

Here I am in a lovely minty mask from "earthscience" purchased at Whole Foods.

The veggies for one of my juices.

The downside- all those veggies only make this much juice! But it's so yummy.

 

E. Coli

We had our two week postpartum visit today at Dr. Chao’s office. It was hard going back there. They put us in a different room than the one we always went to before- the new one doesn’t have an ultrasound machine. I got a little teary and even panicky when we first went back but then calmed myself down before the doctor came in.

Dr. Chao wasted no time once she entered the room. She asked how we were doing to which I replied “it’s been a rough couple of weeks,” and she said she expected as much. Then she asked us if we were ready to talk about the pathology results from the hospital. We both said yes, eager to hear any information she could give us about our boys.

Apparently Rudyard’s amniotic fluid and placenta were infected with e. coli bacteria and bacteroides bacteria. She said that Desmond’s placenta also tested positive for both bacteria. Oscar didn’t have any signs of it in his fluid or tissue but she said it was inevitable that he would have contracted it.

Dr. Chao believes that I somehow became infected with these bacteria shortly before Rudyard’s water broke- maybe a week or more- and that this was the cause of his water breaking. The infection weakened his sac causing it to rupture. The fact that it traveled to Desmond’s placenta shows that he was going to contract it next and she suspected that even though Oscar wasn’t exposed to it long, it could have also been the cause of his sac rupturing inside of me after the births of Rudyard and Desmond.

There’s no way to know how I contracted these pathogens. It could have been something I ate, or something that was already present in my GI tract. Dr. Chao said there was no way to know I had it because I wasn’t presenting with an infection so there was no reason to look. If I had presented symptoms before Rudyard’s water broke- a fever, a green discharge- they would have cultured my urine, found the bacteria, treated me with antibiotics and our boys might still be thriving inside of me. Instead, even after Rudyard’s water broke I showed no signs of infection so they didn’t treat me with antibiotics, fearing a yeast infection that would contaminate the area unnecessarily. I got the antibiotics I needed to cure the infection only after Rudyard was born and they could visibly see and smell that he was infected. By that time it was too late. It’s also why they couldn’t stop my contractions. My body was having an inflammatory response to the infection.

Jer and I are still processing this information. We went to the appointment prepared to hear that we may never know why the sac ruptured; that things just happen sometimes. To actually have an answer is in some ways very helpful and final and in other ways very upsetting. At least this answer is upsetting. It really pisses me off that I have lupus and a high risk triplet pregnancy yet the thing that ends my pregnancy and my babies’ lives is a f%@#ing bacteria. Not the lupus- that stayed in remission just like we needed it to. Not the triplet pregnancy- my body was handling that just fine. The boys were growing on target, everyone was healthy. I contracted e. coli and somehow it made its way to my vagina like it was on some kind of black ops mission and killed my babies.

We were doing everything right and being so careful and Dr. Chao said there’s nothing we could have done differently presented with the same situation because I wasn’t symptomatic. It’s just completely bad luck. An f%@#ing bacteria. E. coli, Dr. Chao described to us, is “very unforgiving.” Yes. Three dead babies unforgiving. Two devastated parents unforgiving.

The only good news to come out of this is that if and when I ever get pregnant again I’m at no higher risk than anyone else of having a membrane rupture again. Dr. Chao said we would do swabs and cultures at every appointment during the pregnancy to catch any signs of bacteria right away. If any were present again antibiotics would take care of it and keep the pregnancy in tact. I am more likely to get pregnant with multiples again, but since this wasn’t an issue with it being a multiples pregnancy (she said that even if I were only pregnant with a singleton the e. coli would have been just as deadly), that’s not really a concern for this particular issue.

Of course multiples pregnancies have their own inherit risks so there are tests we can do to see if my ovaries are producing extra follicles during ovulation or if the triplet thing was just once in a lifetime. Part of me hopes it wasn’t. Part of me still longs to be a triplet mama, which is strange considering how much it used to terrify me. Somewhere along the road I became used to the idea and then farther down the road I looked forward to it. I held three babies in my arms and now my arms are empty. Though I guess you could say I’m not just looking to have three babies again. I’m looking for my babies. I’m looking for my boys. And my boys are in three little urns at a mortuary, waiting for their memorial service next week. At least, that’s where their bodies are.

I know their spirits are free, alive, healed and whole. I know they’re with their Creator. I picture them playing with each other with big smiles and lots of laughter. When I pray I ask the Lord to show them favor. I ask Him to give them extra attention and to allow them into His physical presence.  To love them and hold them close because they never really got to have their parents and that wasn’t fair for them or for us. I also ask Him to use them in the world for good, to help others. From the comments people have left us on our blogs and facebook, it seems as if they’ve already helped a lot of people. Their short lives have touched and blessed so many. I’m thankful for that as their mother, very thankful. But it does seem like such a high price to pay.

I suppose some people fulfill their purpose in death to remind the rest of us to fulfill it in life. I’ve always had a hard time figuring out “my purpose” in life. I do know there are some nonnegotiables: showing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control to the relationships in my life and to the world. I’m adding one more thing to the list: making my boys proud that I’m their mom. I think they may be watching and I want them to be proud of what they see. I know I am so very proud of them. xo

A road less traveled

I’ve wanted a blog for a while now. Years actually. Every time I’d get up the enthusiasm to start one life would take a harsh turn and I’d lose the interest and energy to do anything extra. This year I was determined to have a blog. Nothing would stop me- no turn was harsh enough to take away this desire to write. Enter harsh turn….

A positive pregnancy test. Well that’s not so harsh. After all, the husband and I have been married over 10 years now. We love each other deeply. We’ve gotten through the hard times and are stronger for it. Nope it wasn’t the positive pregnancy test that did it. Or the first prenatal visit where everything looked normal and good. It was round about the second prenatal visit. I go every two weeks because I have Lupus so I’m considered high risk. Jeremy, my husband, goes with me as often as possible because this is his first kid too and we have lots of questions and concerns and it’s exciting. So on the second prenatal visit our doctor, Dr. Chao, is looking around on the ultrasound and her eyes widen and she asks us “Any twins in the family?” Jer and I both shout “NO!” as if somehow we can will away what she’s seeing. Just as the waves of “Oh my God there are twins!” are hitting us she says, “Actually, I see a third.” There it is. There’s the harsh turn. TRIPLETS.

So now here I am, almost 10 weeks in. The harsh turn isn’t stopping me from writing but it did knock me out for a minute. Of course on the one hand, the pressure and desire to blog increased with the news because this insane event must be chronicled! On the other hand, a blog about triplets is not what I intended to write, as you may have guessed by the mod vegan moniker. So I guess this will be a little of everything. The triplets, yes, given. But also what it means to be a vegan on this journey- how, if at all, it affects prenatal care. Raising vegan kids- or rather will I raise vegan kids (my husband, though pescatarian, is not vegan)? And what of my personal style? Is that gone now? Does my modern pad become a giant kid zone complete with plastic slide?

I don’t know the answers to all of those questions yet. This is my first pregnancy. We weren’t even trying to get pregnant and I wasn’t taking any fertility meds. We had pretty much decided after many years of debate that one child would be nice, enough. That we’d maybe try later this year. The fact that we hit the jackpot after one indiscretion when we’d been careful for TEN YEARS is still shocking. We are apparently freakishly fertile. I’m 34 and I’ve read that as you go later into the 30s it’s common to drop additional eggs. Still seems crazy that all 3 of said eggs were fertilized but it is what it is. All that’s to say that not only am I a newbie at the mother thing, but the triplet thing is a whole other animal I have yet to wrap my brain around. I’m hoping writing it out will help with that too.

I’m in a writer’s group through my church and earlier this year I wrote a poem that I promised myself would be a part of first blog entry. I was planning to start this in January, but like I said I was knocked out for awhile there. So March will have to do. Enjoy.

Another Year Gone

Another year gone, slipped away.
Resolutions rise up from phantom failures:
Do more, weigh less, try harder, look better.
Determination sets in:
Be anything but you.

January brings hope, newness, the promise of change.
Anything seems possible in January. We’ve got the
Whole year to get it right.
To figure out how to
Be anywhere but here.

May brings panic.
Almost half the year gone. How has
Nothing changed?
Crash diets and impending doom and you wish to
Be in any body but yours.

October brings a deadline. The year’s
Almost up.
Reassess. Is anything salvageable? Are you?
This month goes double time and you wonder can you
Be anyone’s picture of good?

Back to the beginning: January.
Failure-filled December hearts empty with the promise of a new year.
The change for you is clear. A brave step toward a fragile thought:
Contentment. Your toes sink in, a connection is made, and you wonder: could there
Be anyplace more beautiful than here?