Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Finding Confidence; Staying Positive

As I wait for baby Scott #4 to make his appearance next month I find myself anxious and more worried than usual lately. It is hard to juggle all the mental and emotional things that come along with expecting after loss. After I lost Max, it truly made me feel that nothing is impossible. Unfortunately, very bad things can happen sometimes. I am thankful for the friends I can reach out to, the supportive husband I have, and the prayers and support I have received from friends and family for this entire pregnancy.

A few weeks ago I was struggling in the morning. I found myself crying over missing Max and worried that what if I can’t bring this baby home too. Andrew got me to shake my anxiety by taking me to the store to buy a going home outfit for our baby boy. Also walking around a baby store and laughing as an “experienced couple” about all the crap that baby stores make first time parents feel like they NEED to have to survive! Doing things like that certainly helps. Intentionally preparing and planning for baby Scott #4 after getting waves of anxiety and grief help me find comfort and confidence. We recently painted a nursery, got the crib set up, I even pulled out the newborn clothing from Jack and Parker. We even toured and chose our hospital for delivery (that was a whole other day of emotion!).

Our entire “birth prep work” feels so magical and scary this time. I just assumed it was something that would eventually come along with Max and then did not. So hiring our doula, starting Hypnobabies homestudy, creating my birth plan, figuring out a hospital for delivery have all been things that I assumed would have happened last year and this year am very thankful that I get to do. I find myself feeling like I’ve won the lottery when I started bi-weekly appointments or when I got the ability to say my baby is due to arrive NEXT MONTH! The scary part is just being worried about it all crashing down.

If you asked me what my biggest fear is I would say not being able to bring this baby home. However, my second biggest fear would be telling my boys, especially Jack that it didn’t work out. I try not to think about it but I just know how excited he is for a new baby brother. I think the disappointment and confusion on his face would certainly crush me. Again, I try to stay positive and intentional in front of them that baby brother is doing well and there is no reason to think he would not come home, but loss makes you very aware of the sad potentials sometimes.


So please, if you will, keep our family in your thoughts in this next month. That we and especially me, can find peace and times to celebrate and relax that all is well. That I enjoy watching Jack start school and embrace the one on one time with Parker. Also, that we enjoy lots of time together as a family before welcoming our newest member.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Day Before

Many moms know the anticipation and excitement that comes the days leading up to big ultrasounds during their pregnancies. With Max, on the day of our anatomy scan we decided to send our boys up north to parents cabin so we could go to our Friday afternoon ultrasound on May 23rd, 2014 and then to a nice dinner to celebrate finding out the gender of Baby Scott #3.

Well things didn't end up going to plan at all.

You can read in more detail about the first ultrasound with Max-HERE.

We left our doctor’s office in bewilderment, confusion, and concern. What was supposed to be a nice night to relax and connect as a couple turned out to be a disaster. I was so sick with worry I didn’t want to eat. We went to a movie to take our mind off of things. I kept pulling out Max’s ultrasound pictures and cry with worry. On Saturday we decided to head up to the cabin to join our boys and ease our minds. After all, we had no indication that Max’s condition was lethal—yet.

Since that horrible day and the weeks that followed things got worse. After Max’s diagnosis, I couldn’t eat, sleep, do laundry, or even feel capable to take care of my children. I felt that I was so unprepared to deal with the devastation (let’s be honest, who is ever prepared for grief and loss?!) that I wouldn’t let it happen again.

Next time I would be prepared.

When we got pregnant with Baby Scott #4, the anticipation, worry and some excitement on the day’s leading up to ultrasounds has put me into hyperactive cleaning, cooking, doing laundry mode.

A kind of nesting of sorts, but not the kind that you do before you expect to bring a baby home. It’s the kind that I like call the “I don’t know if I’m going to get devastating news again today so I need to be prepared to go home and not have to do a thing” kind of prep.

Tomorrow is another scan, more detailed than the last but hopefully one of the last ones if baby is growing well and looking good.

Yesterday, on my day off, I vacuumed my entire house, cooked extras of dinner, washed all the laundry in my house, swept the floor, mopped the floor, cleaned the bathrooms, and prepped myself for that just in case situation and headed to Zumba to dance my (larger) a$$ off and forget about everything for an hour (<----definitely the highlight of my day!)

It’s a ritual now.

It’s therapeutic to clean, fold, dance and get my mind off of the next few days, feel prepared for bad news and heck, who doesn’t LOVE a spotless house and a great cardio session!!?!?

I don’t do it in anticipation that tomorrow 6/7/15 will be a bad day, I am doing my best to stay positive that it will be a good day but the worry that consumes me will not allow me to just not do it. Kind of like I’m damned if I do—because I spend my entire day cleaning and focusing on quite not important things but I’m damned if I don’t—because if tomorrow brings not so great news I don’t want to have to worry about anything. So silly, I know.

So tomorrow is a big day, met with great anticipation, excitement, and anxiety. As I sit here writing these words my foot is tapping, legs are wiggling, hands are sweating, Baby S is kicking and my logical self sits here saying, “You know everyone is going to KNOW you’re crazy now.”

Yes, I am crazy, slightly neurotic I would argue. I will cry from the moment I walk in those office doors until long after I am gone regardless of great news (tears of relief and elation) or bad news (tears of disappointment and despair). Last time the specialist gave me a big box of Kleenex and said I could take it home if I wanted. 


So again, I ask for your thoughts and prayers. And again that no matter what news we are given that God keeps us close to Him. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Coexistence of Happiness and Grief


It’s been a while since I wrote on my blog. I always have good intentions about writing more but life, fear, and sometimes a feeling of “I just don’t want to go there today” get in the way.

I looked back recently on Facebook to realize that on 4/9/2014 we excitedly announced our pregnancy with Max with no idea of the circumstances in which we would meet him less than 2 months later.

 When we announced our pregnancy with Max, we were around 14 weeks. I was supposed to be “in the clear”.

Max was moving; we had a heartbeat, what was left? Had I worried or assumed something was terribly wrong I think everyone would've agreed I was overreacting. There was just no reason to assume we weren't going to take Max home.

Fast forward to 4/8/2015 and things are quite different and yet eerily the same.

We are pregnant again. 



We are elated, and terrified.

We have a big ultrasound tomorrow (4/9/2015) with a specialist who has been following us closely. So far everything has been well this pregnancy. We have had great ultrasounds so far. Baby’s has had a strong heartbeat and again we have no reason to assume that we won’t take this baby home.

Yet, it is very hard to live with the coexistence of happiness and grief. I have cried both tears of joy and grief, a lot. Easter was no exception. After our boys awoke to see the Easter bunny had visited I cried hard as I muttered to Andrew that there should be 3 baskets there, while still whispering to my sweet baby with me now, “I love you, and can’t wait to meet you”.

It is hard, very hard to grieve a baby who isn’t here and be joyous for another opportunity for our family to grow again. I am confident in saying that I am not replacing Max, there is just no way that I could ever replace my sweet little boy who I only got to be with for such a short time.  I am sure however, he played a significant part in sending another sweet baby to join our family and help soothe his mama’s aching heart.

This journey has been long so far. Some days just waaay too long, but I am working on finding that happy medium of grieving my lost son, and celebrating the opportunity to meet our newest.

So, I have somewhat forced myself to break down the things that I worry will “jinx” me. I told my family and Andrew’s family very early this time. I told my boys almost immediately as well. I have bought some more maternity clothes and last week even got a car seat from a friend. I want this baby to feel loved and celebrated, just like all my other babies are and were.

I feel free when I do things like that, and so far, so good.

 It’s not easy though to dive back into the idea of actually bringing this baby home. I quickly cleaned the carseat up that I got from my friend when I got home and put it down in storage. I can feel myself let go and enjoy a bit and then a little later feel a nagging tug to “not get too excited again!”

One of the biggest worries I have had is about announcing our new pregnancy publicly. It’s just not as easy as it was before and there is a lot of hope and fear that play out in my mind daily.

But since life has just not at all turned out to what I originally planned, I’m trying to go with the flow now.

So without further adieu:

Baby Scott #4 is due to join our family this fall 2015.

(Phew! That is a an intense sentence to write)

May I ask that if could please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers? 

Especially this sweet little baby that we are so hoping to take home this fall.  


Please pray that our ultrasounds go well and above all that no matter what happens that God keeps us close to him. 

As for today, we are celebrating that we are on our journey to meet Baby Scott #4!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Incomplete Holidays

Christmas has always been a favorite holiday for our family. Stringing up Christmas lights, putting ornaments on a tree, hanging stockings, it has always been such a happy time of the year for us.

The year that Nash died we put up our Christmas tree that very next week. It brought cheer and happiness back into our home again.

This Christmas feels different.

It is the first Christmas where my bright holiday cheer is clouded with feelings of sadness and loss. No matter how many smiles I have while hanging stockings, or setting out my Christmas d├ęcor—there is a hangover of grief that follows. It makes those cheerful feelings uneasy and jumbled. It makes me wonder and question what Christmas “should have been” for our family. It is the first year where we should have a brand new baby, with a brand new stocking, not just an ornament in remembrance. Something constantly feels like its missing.

This year our Christmas card looks much different than what we originally expected. We have a stuffed bear with recording of Max’s heartbeat instead of a newborn. Our family is well dressed and put together; we are exhausted but not newborn exhausted—grief exhausted. We are a family who looks complete on the outside but feels very incomplete.

How do I even begin to positively incorporate Max into a cheerful and joyous holiday when I am filled with such despair that he isn't here to celebrate?

To that I am sure we will find a way but it doesn’t make me okay with it. We have figured it out for the last 5 months and I know we will figure it out this month too but it is a hard time of the year to “wing it”. One year ago I would have never thought we would find ourselves here, trying to figure out how to make it through our first Christmas without our 3rd baby boy.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Bricks and Mortar


Andrew and I love road trips. We love road trips because some of our best memories together and best conversations have happened during road trips. I don’t quite know what it is but we always know a car ride is a great time for us to connect. I’ll never forget our first road trip to Andrew’s home, 5 ½ hours north, a little over a month after we met right after fall semester finals were finished. Or the time we were on a road trip through Texas and had to drive up the coast from Corpus Christi to Galveston and never even turned the radio on.

Nowadays, a road trip or just going for a drive allows a little bit of peace and quiet while our boy’s nap or watch a movie and usually involves a stop at Dunn Bros.

The road trip to and from my parents a few weeks ago was another great conversation.

Andrew and I got on the subject again about the loss of Max. In a more matter-of-fact manner we discussed how upon receiving Max’s fatal diagnosis we were extremely concerned about the future of us. Remembering how PPD and PTSD almost tore our family apart after the birth of Jack, we both agreed we had no idea how we would weather this storm at first. Besides the fear of grief and loss was a fear of loss on an even deeper level—our family.

We began to just reflect a bit on how we got here, almost 5 months later, still standing and still standing strong. He began to paint such a great picture in my head about our family and what that looks like I thought it was an awesome analogy to tell you about.

Andrew explained that families in general all start with a foundation. It can be built on many different things-- good or bad. A foundation is a foundation. Foundations that are well built with love, compassion, and receive ongoing care are strong. We know that and fight to keep our marriage and foundation strong every day.

After a foundation is laid comes the bricks. The bricks are all the tangible things in our lives that build a solid shelter around us. Things like our family, our jobs, our home, are all part of the bricks we use to feel safe, strong and construct more on top of our foundation.

 The mortar is literally what keeps the bricks together and sturdy from crumbling on top of us. The mortar of our shelter is the intangible things in our lives. It is the friendships we have, the faith we rely on, date nights, family memories, and everything that makes us realize how beautiful life here is.
So why was this so enlightening and helpful?

Andrew and I agreed that the earthquake of Max’s diagnosis hit our shelter hard. It shook our foundation to the core; it cracked a few bricks, and broke up some of that mortar that we had. We still feel the aftershocks and ripple effects. There is still the apprehension and worry to go out into the world again, wondering if another earthquake with hit us hard enough to really make us crumble.

 Even though we live with the concern that our shelter cannot take much more, we have chosen to rebuild and repair the damage and that has helped us the most. Just simply making the choice to wake up each day and get out of bed we are continuing to rebuild and repair. We have continued to create family memories, went on a date night or two, and honored our son, Max who we cannot take care of here. We created even more mortar in our lives, to pack into more bricks,that will allow us to build higher on an even stronger foundation than before.


The cracks in our bricks will never be forgotten though, no matter how much mortar we pack into them. There is still evidence that something indeed tragic happened. But we wouldn't want it all to look neat and pretty anymore because that wouldn't be a true reflection of our lives at any point. Our patch work tells a much more humble and thankful story now.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

#HelloMornings

Tomorrow is Max's due date.

10/9/2014.

Although I have always tried to be a big "guess date" person instead of "due date" I still know what this day could have been like if Max were healthy. I can easily imagine myself, 50 lbs heavier, mismatched clothing,frazzled, 2 other kids, waiting to snap at the next person that asks if I was due last week.

Our team wore these ribbons I created for the race.
I would give anything to have that back. Swollen feet, even more stretch marks, no makeup, exhausted. I would do it all (and have no complaints!) if it meant I would end with a living, breathing baby in my arms.

It's been hard to imagine what life could have been like this month, and even harder to imagine how this month could have positive things in it. But there were.

One of the biggest highlights of this month has been the TC 10 miler. What a truly amazing day. We were surrounded by so much love from others and our team. Everyone worked so hard for their own goals and yet still strived to honor our son, Max. It was such a happy day for us.

But then I had to deal with this week. As quickly as the feelings
of love, positivity, and honor flooded me and had me on cloud 9, my grief came back with a vengeance. This week emotions have been raw--reliving the end raw. I have struggled to focus, to function, to sleep. I keep thinking about Max. The last few moments I held him, kissing his sweet little face and then saying good-bye. Much of that whole experience in June was just numbing, I couldn't process it all. Now, four months later, I am being dragged back in, kicking and screaming to deal with the emotions I didn't even have in June.

I keep trying to do my normal routine but haven't been able to shake my anxiety, stress, and aggression.

But I hope I found something that will help.

I came across a Facebook post for a Bible Study called #HelloMornings. A 6-week Bible study that you begin with every morning. This session is on the book of Matthew. Essentially one wakes up early in the morning (in my case extra early) to spend sometime with God. You do a short reading, reflect and respond, do a little daily planning including 3 short goals to accomplish and finish it off with some movement. I am hoping to do a 10-15 minute yoga session.

I tend to be impulsive, so I read about it, signed up and now have it ready for tomorrow morning. Let me know if you would like to join me :). Accountability is a wonderful thing.

Just like Max's full-term, healthy birth would have been the beginning of a big-joyous change for our family, I am hoping this some positive shift in my perspectives as a bereaved mother. I envision my goals starting out as: manage my stress, staying positive, get a grocery list together, be okay with feeling sad. At he end of the 6 weeks I hope can feel more relaxed, cleansed and ready to integrate more of Max in my life without being so sad all the time. Hopefully my goals will follow suit.

Here's to hoping that the next 6 weeks are a great learning experience about myself and God.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It was just croup!

Parker was sick last night. He had croup and I knew it. 

He had the typical barky cough and irritated larynx that began yesterday morning. I watched him progressively get more barky as the day went on. However, croup is a *funny* virus in the sense that it can completely freak you out as a parent because it can cause some breathing discomfort but its bark is almost always worse than its bite.

And after three babies I know exactly what croup is and exactly what to expect. I know the whole cold air trick to help with the irritated larynx, humidifier/ steamy shower trick, and propping the mattress to help elevate the child's head. I also knew, and expected, that when I laid Parker down for bed last night that he was going to have a tough time falling asleep. I even called my mom to give me some input on whether I should be concerned or not. But sure enough 20 minutes after he fell asleep he was up coughing, and struggling to get comfortable.

What I didn't expect was for both Andrew and I to look at each other and admit that it was really hard not to get anxiety and worry built up that it might be something else(Que flashes of enterovirus 68 news reports!). Andrew and I kept Parker's video monitor on the highest volume so we could listen to Parker breathe in hopes of catching it if it got worse. 

I was trying to keep Andrew and I's anxiety at bay by baking some pumpkin-oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies with Jack. Sure enough when Parker awoke, and we heard our little guy crying in discomfort we decided that I would take him to urgent care.

Like I said before, Parker was not in any distress, he was not struggling to breathe, and I knew he had croup. But I still couldn't shake my anxiety. Even Andrew, my calm, cool, and collected parent was encouraging me to take him in. Sure enough, we arrived at urgent care, and were seen by the doctor. Parker was at 100% oxygen levels, we were given an oral steroid medication to help with inflammation, some apple juice to wash it down, and sent home. It all was done within about an hour. 

I knew we overreacted. Even texting Andrew at the clinic we both agreed it was croup but we just couldn't chance it. Like most parents our worries are endless with our children but after the loss of Max, our worries feel endless to the Nth degree. We just couldn't chance it. Breathing was not something we were going to mess with. I wanted to tell the doctor, "Look, I know you are wondering what the heck I am doing here, but my other son died and I can't do that again. I can't take a chance right now, in the stage of my grief that my other child is fine." We needed validation and someone else to tell us it was going to be okay. 

I am not mad at myself for going last night. I am glad I went to urgent care, got Parker more comfortable and made it so Andrew and I could get some sleep last night. And I know I won't always be like this and I am thankful that my anxiety was only being tested with a nasty little virus and not something very serious. But sometimes I still get irritated at the fact that after dealing with the loss of my child I am utterly aware that bad things do happen, no matter who you are. I enjoyed my blissful ignorance in the previous life I lived. But right now playing it safe and getting some sort of validation from a medical professional that Parker was fine was what I needed in order to feel at ease. It's not that I doubt my intuition as a mother, rather that I knew what it was and needed to know that I was right and not wrong. I was so convinced that Max was fine, only to find out that I was terribly wrong. I need to prove to myself sometimes that my mom intuition does work. 

Sure enough Parker is going to be just fine. He even slept comfortably for the rest of the night (even thought I checked on him a few times--just in case).

After all, it was croup, and I knew it.