Monday, February 23, 2015

February 23, 2015

Thirty-four weeks ago, for the first time, Dusty and I heard our sweet babies' heartbeats.  Chandler boy's measured 117 and Paisley girl's measured 121.  It was the beginning of our dream come true.  We fell in love with those two, itty-bitty babies.  At that moment, we knew our lives would never be the same.  

Here we are.  My due date.  I knew we'd never reach this date pregnant.  I just always thought I'd be home with our sweet babies on this date.  

Initially, I didn't think this date would bother me, after all, I never expected them to actually be born this day.  But this day has hurt me more than I imagined.

After getting a stomach bug yesterday, I woke up this morning still not feeling very well, so I decided I would just stay home and rest, and try to get better before my surgery tomorrow (I'll do another post about this).  I laid in bed and just cried and cried.  I cried for me, I cried for Dusty, I cried for my mom, our family, our friends, and mostly, for Chandler & Paisley, and all our dreams for them.

And slowly, the texts started coming in.  So many amazing friends and family members who remembered and texted & posted to let me know they were praying for us today.  And you know what, I was eventually able to get out of bed and feel the strength of those prayers.  I couldn't have made it without the prayers.  Thank you all so much.

I managed to go out and get pink and blue balloons, and wrote a note to Chandler & Paisley, and once Dusty got home, we hugged each other and cried, and sent our balloons and our note to our babies.  

We miss them so much.  

Monday, February 16, 2015

17 Weeks Ago...

17 weeks ago...

I can't believe it's been 17 weeks since Dusty and I met the loves of our lives.  17 weeks feels like such a long time ago.  We still have one more week to go until their due date.  It's so hard to believe that they arrived so early, and were able to fight for the short amount of time that they did.

It hasn't gotten easier.  I don't think it will.  Every single day, I wake up and think, my children died.  Mine and Dusty's beautiful children...are dead. 

For the most part, our family and friends have been amazing. So supportive. So understanding. And for that, I am so very thankful.
Sadly, on the other hand, some people act like we should be over it by now.  Some people act like seeing a pregnant woman, a baby, or even a toddler shouldn't hurt us.  Like we should just be perfectly fine around these people and situations. 

Oh how very lucky these people are to have never felt the jealousy that infertility brings, or the grief and never-ending sadness from the loss of a child.  How lucky those people are that truly do not understand the pain that we feel.  For those that can't understand why we aren't just jumping for joy at the news of another pregnancy, or can't understand why we avoid going places where there are children, then count your blessings, and stop judging us.  You have no idea the dark path we walk, and for that, you should be thankful. 

There are no guarantees in life.  Dusty and I have no idea if we'll have children here on this earth.  We try to keep the faith that we will, but try keeping that faith when you've walked through hell.  When people tell us, oh, you'll have more children, just give it time...I just shake my head and think, if only you knew what it took for us to have Chandler and Paisley. 

What if they were our only chance for our dreams to come true?  For us to be parents, which is what we want more than anything else in the world.  It consumes our every breathing hour and haunts our dreams.  Aside from bringing Chandler and Paisley back, it is the only thing we want. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

14 Years Ago Today

Here are Dusty and I, after church one of the first Sunday's we went to church together, shortly after we started dating.  I love this man!  He would go to work on Sunday morning for a couple of hours, and then go home, shower, come to church (an hour away) and then go back to work after church!  And I should probably mention I'm standing on the sidewalk and Dusty is on the pavement, lol! 

You know when you’re young and you are dating somebody and you decide you want to “go out”, you know, become boyfriend and girlfriend?  Well, Dusty and I made that “big” decision 14 years ago today!  We went on our first date on Friday, February 9, 2001 and clearly, it only took over the weekend for us to both decide we kinda liked each other!  Ha!

I met Dusty at Crowder College in Neosho.  We met late in my first semester when I was still debating joining the jazz ensemble there.  He was already in and I met him when I went in one day to meet the instructor and listen to the group for a little bit.  He caught my eye (probably because he is 6’5”, haha!) and I definitely started to have a little crush on him!  The second semester started and I started seeing him around a lot more often.  I remember telling my mom that there was a boy at Crowder that I thought was cute and that I thought I wanted to date. 

After flirting with Dusty, and Dusty telling me he didn't have time for a girlfriend (haha), with the help of some friends (KARA!!!), Dusty finally asked me out on a date.  We've pretty much been inseparable ever since.  I am so thankful that God brought this boy from Iowa down to Missouri to meet me, and eventually be my husband.  There is nobody else that I would ever want to walk through this life with, as horrible as it is right now. 

Dusty truly has been my rock.  I couldn't go through this hellish journey without him.  As I lay there yesterday, on the exam table, in pain, I was reminded of how incredible Dusty is.  Dust instantly stood up, grabbed my hand, and just looked me in my eyes until I could stop focusing on the pain.  He's been by my side every single step of this journey, and I would have quit a long time ago if it wasn't for him. 

I hope someday, we are happy.  I hope someday, we have children to raise here on this earth to be a bandage for our broken hearts, which will never be healed.  Our hearts will always be broken.  We will always be broken, but we have each other.

Casting Crowns has a new song, Broken Together.  The song talks about how hard marriage is, and how sometimes, people just are broken together.  Although our love for each other has never been questioned, we are definitely broken and hurt.  Thankfully, we have always drawn closer to each other during those times, rather than push each other away.  But, the song still resonates very strongly with us. 

...How I wish we could go back to simpler times
Before all our scars and all our secrets were in the light...
...Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete
Could we just be broken together...
It is very easy to fear we will never be happy.  Sometimes, I think we're meant to be that couple that God just continually uses as an example for others to look at so they can say "At least we don't have it as bad as Dusty and Michelle".  I know that sounds so dramatic, but honestly, that's how I feel at times, when it seems we battle one thing after another.  I pray someday, we have our rainbows and are happy...or as happy as we can be.  


Monday, February 9, 2015

October 20, 2014 ~ Part 3

Here is where this story gets hard.  This is the part of the story I play over and over in my head, constantly, taking certain scenes and playing them on a continuous loops for periods of time.  This is the part that when I think about it, I get a horrific feeling in my stomach and I feel like the weight of the world is pressing down on my body.  This is the part I can't seem to make myself type, although I want to and need to. goes.

Shortly after the ultrasound, the neonatologist came into the room, with a nurse practitioner from the NICU.  He began talking to us about what happens with babies born at this gestational age.  He told us all of the horrible things, such as blindness and disabilities.  He then said that right now, there were 3 things to do.  First, we'd try to stop the labor, which we'd been trying to do for a few hours at that point.  Second, I would get a steroid shot to help the babies' lungs grow, but that shot would need to be in me for 12 hours to help them.  And lastly, if the babies were born, did we want them to try to save them.  I remember being absolutely horrified by his question.  Of course we wanted them to try to save them!  What kind of question is that? 

At the same time all of this was being talked about to me, the NICU team was in my room, adding another baby bed, and whatever other things they needed to get ready to prepare for the babies.  Everything was so loud, so much banging around. 

The doctor also said something about it looking like I was going to deliver since I was nearly fully dilated. I didn't understand why he said this, and said to him that last I was checked, I was only at a 4. He kind of frowned and said he thought I was almost fully dilated. I remember shaking my head and being upset that he thought that. 

As I was laying there in the bed, tilted back, all I could think, was why in the world were they asking me these things and banging around things in my room, when I was supposed to be trying to relax and trying to get the contractions to stop.  All of this was adding stress.  I remember thinking, none of this is necessary, my contractions are going to stop and I'm going to have weeks before any of this needs to happen.  I didn't even want to talk to the NICU doctor because it wasn't necessary at that time, and it was really stressing me out.  I remember laying there in the bed, with Dusty, April and my mom beside me, and just whispering that I wanted everyone (all of the hospital team, etc.) to leave my room and to leave me & my family alone and to stop stressing me out.  I have since realized the ultrasound showed that I was close to being fully dilated, and by the point all of this was going on around me, the doctors knew I was going to deliver.

Shortly after the neonatologist left, the doctor on call came in.  He checked me and found that I was at a 7.  This part is still such a blur.  I remember the following things happening during this time:
  • Dr. Duke asked that I be sat up, that I was going to have my babies, that my water was going to break soon.  I asked him what was next, and he said I was going to deliver.
  • Dr. Duke asked that the nurses remove my monitors so I could be taken to the OR to deliver for better lighting, to help the NICU team work on our babies.
  • Dr. Duke told me the he hoped I didn't need to have a c-section, because the babies were so small, he was afraid I'd lose my uterus if I did have a c-section (I didn't understand the reason at the time, but my sister-in-law has since explained it to me).
  • Before the nurses started removing my monitors, they had to raise my bed to be level and I remember they had a hard time raising it.
  • The nurses asked me if I wanted an epideral and I just laid there looking up at them and literally could not answer.  I thought to myself, no, I'm not having my babies, I don't need an epideral.  My mom and April both said yes for me at the same time, but there ended up being no time for an epideral.
  • They quickly led Dusty out of the room to get him dressed for going into the OR.
  • Pretty much as soon as I was raised to be level in the bed, my water broke.  I remember hearing the pop and it gushing out of me.  I couldn't believe how much water there was.
This all happened so fast, I don't even really remember telling my family bye as I was wheeled down the hall to the OR.

Once I got in the OR, they had me move onto the operating room table.  I remember thinking that table was so narrow, I was going to fall off of it.  I also couldn't figure out where to put my arms because it was so narrow, I couldn't rest them beside me, so I put them out where they would go during surgery, extended straight out from my shoulders on the rests for my arms. 

Dr. Duke wasn't in the OR yet, and I remember thinking, my babies are going to die, their water broke.  Then, I realized that was stupid, because many women have their water break at home and then drive to the hospital to deliver.  While waiting on the doctor to get in the room, Dusty came in.  He told me that the first gown, or suit, or whatever it was they tried to get him in ripped and it caused him to be longer getting in there. 

The nurses got my legs in stirrups and shortly after, but what felt like forever, the doctor was in the room.  One nurse got on each side of me and started telling me when to push.  Liesl, the very nurse who had irritated me in September in the ER, was such a God-send during my delivery.  I know without a doubt, if she hadn't been there coaching me through it, I wouldn't have made it.  I laid there thinking, I have no idea how to do this, I haven't read anything about how to deliver, it's not time for this yet!  Liesl coached me on how to push and when to push.  At one point, I thought to myself, I'm going to deliver my dead babies and looked up at her and said, I can't do this.  She sternly told me, yes you can, and helped me fight through it.  I remember thinking how bad it hurt and thought to myself, this is terrible and my babies are tiny.  Dr. Duke was also incredible and very encouraging as I was pushing, telling me that was a good push, and helping me fight through it.

But, the pain was very short-lived.  I have absolutely no idea how long I was in the OR, but it wasn't very long at all.  Chandler was born at 3:06.  Paisley at 3:10.  I was lying flat on my back, so I couldn't see them after they were born.  I do remember, though, after Paisley was born, Liesl looked at her, and then looked at me and told me she was trying to cry for me. 

After Chandler was born, but before Paisley, I know Dr. Duke waited for just a few seconds (but what felt like forever) for Paisley's water to break.  As he asked for something to use to break it, I once again heard that loud pop signaling that Paisley's water had broken, and felt that gush again. 

I remember Dr. Duke labeling the cords and cutting them.  I remember laying there and hearing him be very specific about which cord belonged to which baby, baby A and baby B.  I don't know why that stands out in my fog of memories. 

I can't remember any of the conversation going on, if there was anyway, with the NICU team as they were working on my children. 

Dr. Duke tried to deliver the placenta, and that wasn't happening.  It hurt, however he was trying to do it.  He then asked the anestiologist to put me under, "because she isn't going to be able to take this", and then I was quickly asleep.  I felt like I was under for no time at all, as the doctor hooked my placenta to deliver it. 

After that, I was ready to be wheeled back to my room.  They showed me Paisley before I left the OR.  I don't remember if she had tubes in her yet or not.  It really is a fog.  I remember thinking, she is so tiny and so red.  I don't think she had tubes, but that doesn't really make sense, so I'm not sure. 

On the way back to my room, Dr. Duke stopped and talked to my family in the hallway.  My family tells me he seemed optimistic.  He told my family that he didn't think they'd be born alive, and they were.  He also told my family he didn't think they would be able to be intubated, and once again, they were.  Chandler's APGAR score was 7, and Paisley's was 6, which was just incredible! 

As I was being wheeled back into my room, by myself (with the nurses, of course), because Dusty had stopped with my family and the doctor, I thought to myself, I am never doing this again, never, I am never killing any more children.  I felt so awful, and still very much struggle with the guilt. 

Laying there in the bed as family began to come back into the room, I thought to myself, is this real?  Did any of this actually happen?  Was I ever pregnant? 

Sometimes, I still feel that way.  I feel so robbed. 

As hard as this post was, I don't know when or if I'll find the strength to document the next 36 hours.  I want to, for my babies, and my memories of that time, eventually...