Wednesday, September 28, 2011

9.28.11 aka Over My Head

I love this baby boy so much.

I miss my other baby boy so much.

I stare into Owen's face, look at his lips and his nose, and marvel.  And then I see Otis.  It's so bittersweet, the resemblance of these brothers.  One here with us, one not.

I am encountering a ton of anxiety and a lot of panic these days.  Anything "new" causes me to seize up in fear that it will be the thing that takes Owen from my life.  Every person (and there have only been a few) who has come over to "help" with the new baby has ended up feeling like they're coming down with a cold and can't stay, except my mom, who is a little oblivious in her caregiving and causes me more panic.

The other day I was panicking about his jaundice numbers and that he seemed lethargic and didn't want to feed (all the warning signs they told me to watch for) and I started to cry and my mom was pooh-poohing my worry and said, "You're just panicking because this is your first baby..."

And I stopped.

"No, actually, I'm panicking because this is my SECOND baby."

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Thanks so much for your words of congratulations.

What a whirlwind, eh?  I want to sit back and take the time to write his birth story but "taking the time" seems a long ways off when tonight is the first chance I even had to OPEN my laptop!  Basically, though, I had been having cramps all week, I really thought they were BH or "practice" contractions, E finally made me call the advice nurse on Sunday night, they told me to come in just to be safe and get checked on the monitors, turns out I was dilated to 4 cm, rapidly progressing, having regular strong contractions every two minutes...They gave me the option to try for a vaginal delivery, but everyone agreed for my sanity that a c-section was still the best choice...but I had dinner in my belly that needed to we waited as long as we could, which was about until 4:40 am when I was checked, at a 6, and my water they started prepping me for surgery.

Babyboy was born at 6:12 am, and wailed his way into the world - shortly followed by mama and papa sobbing their eyes out...a truly incredible moment - I still can't quite digest it all.

After three and a half days in the hosptial, rooming in with babyboy the entire time, we are home from the hospital. Baby passed the hospital "poop test" (and how!), my milk has come in, he's a hearty eater, I'm still working on the whole, "He'll still be alive if I go to sleep and wake up in a bit," piece of things.  I don't ever want to close my eyes, I don't want to miss a moment with this little guy.  (Cue Aerosmith?) We're battling a little bit of jaundice (super common with a preterm baby) and in the grand scheme of things, I feel so fortunate that at least so far, that's been our biggest medical concern.

I fluctuate wildly between being over the moon ecstatic and so happy, so so so so so happy...and then being overwrought with sadness that Otis isn't here with us, that I didn't get to look into Otis's eyes, that I didn't get even a fraction of this amount of time with him...that this guy will never know his big brother except through our words and stories...Maybe fluctuate isn't even the right word - I feel actually like I am holding both emotions most of the time - this goes down as yet another lesson in the "joy and grief are not opposites, they can coexist at the exact same time in equal strengths" lesson.

Finally - his name - we decided upon Owen Kekoa N___.  Kekoa is hawaiian, it means "the courageous one."  It honors his hawaiian "roots" and our healing time in Maui in January.  (The joke has been "he'd have to be a courageous one to join this family...")  The name Owen came to us as a total surprise.  Our two dogs are both O names, and of course Otis - and the party line throughout this pregnancy was always "We are retiring the O tradition with Otis." I didn't want to be "that family" with names all in the same letter.  Then we met this guy, and I fell even more in love, and all of a sudden it felt horribly WRONG for him not to be one of my Os.  And I've always loved loved loved the name Owen but E was always averse to it when I had suggested it...and then out of the blue on Wednesday, he asked me how I felt about the name Owen.  We're still settling into it, I think it still feels strange to call him a name, to really acknowledge that he's here with us, he came home with us, he's here, he's here, he's here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Testing 123

Quick update

Sorry for choppy language and editing. I'm going on minimal sleep rightnow!!
e are doing pretty well...waiting for Babyboy (names still TBD) to poop - he's feeding well, his stomach isn't distended, but he should've had some meconium pass by now. He'll see the pediatrician in a bit. if he does poop, and passes his preemie car seat screen (to make sure his oxygen levels don't drop if he's in the seat for 60 min plus) then we may be going home tonight. There's a nurses one day walkout here tomorrow so our nurse has warned us It might be a crappy day to be here if we don't have to be. We qualify for home health visits so we'll have a nurse come to our house on probably Friday and Monday to make sure he's still doing well.

I'm so ridiculously in love with him. He's got Otis's lips and nose but is blonder and obviously tinier.

I can't quite figure out how to post a pic but am going to try to do it remotely in a sec.

Monday, September 19, 2011

He's Here!!!!

This feisty fellow decided he was ready to join us last night.

I'm madly in love.

His screams were the most beautiful sounds I've ever heard.

6 lbs 15 oz. 20 in. C-sec without complications after a crazy lightning fast labor while they waited for my dinner to digest pre-surgery. No name yet.

I still can't quite believe it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Those midwesterners have a great sense of humor.  This is the area just past the security checkpoint at either Madison or Milwaukee airport, where you put your shoes, jewelry, belts back on, where you replace your laptop into its case, yadda yadda yadda.  

I feel like I'm in a bit of a recombobulation area myself right now, so pardon the jumbledness of this post.  In the midst of all the anniversari-ness, I also started showing some signs of preterm labor.  For an hour or two there on Sunday night, I was in a complete panic that this new baby boy was planning to arrive on Otis's birthday.  He didn't, thank goodness, and I'm still trudging along at 35 weeks today.  My c-section is scheduled for one month from today.  It remains to be seen if we'll make it that far.  The baby's quite healthy, as far as every NST and perinatologist can tell, it's just that he may be a little eager to join us.  I see my perinatologist tomorrow and may have more answers then.  What's that they say about the best laid plans...

So, yes, the last few days have been intense, and that's an understatement.  I am still recombobulating.  

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

We marked Otis's first birthday, and the one year anniversary of holding him as his heart took its last beats.  We cried, we laughed.  We spoke much of how perfect he was, how gorgeous he was, how much joy he continues to bring to us...and we raged with our fists to the sky at the terrible injustice that he's not here with us anymore.  We relaxed, we floated in a gorgeous pool overlooking the most picturesque rolling hills, we counted our blessings, we wished on stars and held hands and stared googly-eyed at one another over fancy meals.  I awoke to a nightmare - the kind that leaves your hair standing on end and your heart racing - more than once.  

I read your notes, your emails, your calls, your texts.  I saw photos with my boy's name on them.  You made donations in his name.  You talked of him, you talked of us, you held us with love and kindness.  I felt every bit of light you shone in our direction.

We toasted to you, to the pillars of support that have held us up this year.  We toasted to him, our beautiful baby boy, here in every way except the way we most expected and wanted.

And we are surviving.

I want to share these words, written by my dear friend Lucy on Otis's birthday card.  I can't think of any better way to say it.

Dearest Otis,

On your first birthday, I celebrate the love you have brought into the world, the wonderful parents Sarah and Erik have become, and the way you have opened up so many hearts.

Thank you for being part of the good stuff, of the light, of the things that make humanity worth joining in with.  You are deeply loved and deeply missed and that can never change.

love peace and light to you, most beautiful and precious baby boy and to your family too.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Love to all my friends today...

Of course extra love to Leslie, remembering Cullen on the anniversary of his birth.   Leslie was the first mama I connected with after losing Otis, and if it weren't for her, I can honestly say I don't know that I would've survived the year.

We are off to the woods to remember our boy, back on Tuesday.  I may be online, am not sure.

Thank you for all your love and prayers, for saying his name, for lighting candles, for thinking of us, for abiding, and holding us through this year.

Special love to Ceil for sending me this photo this morning.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

mini rant


Monday, September 5, 2011

Surviving. Day. By. Day.

Thank you for all your kind words on my last post, and for the emails and notes I've received as well.

I've been remembering those first few days.  Waking up in the middle of the night, checking my phone, reading an email sent by someone clearly in a different time zone (Sally, Maddie...) who had been awake while I was asleep, and your words giving me the ability to take another breath, to get back to sleep for an hour or two of respite.  Thank you.  A mere mention on twitter from Angie or Jess letting me know I wasn't alone...miraculous.  And then the friendships that developed from there - I feel blessed to know you all.  As time passed and sadly, newly bereaved mothers joined this group, I have made some tremendous friends - lifelong, You Can Call Me in the Middle of the Night and Sob and I Will Always Be There friends.   Friends with whom I am equally comfortable discussing baby loss, fashion trends, celebrity gossip, marriage challenges, craptastic reality television, quirky dog behavior...I don't know what I'd do without you, really.  Thank you.

So here we are, the first of the milestones of the month: Labor Day.  Remarkably uneventful so far.  A neighbor stopped me yesterday to tell me she had been thinking of me and E all weekend, remembering last year, our hopefulness, our anticipation; and that her heart is with us more than ever now.  Very kind.

Last night we went to my mom's for a Labor Day bbq.  We have cousins visiting from Alaska.  My brother's son and Otis share a birthday on September 12.  My mom had mentioned that she wanted to make cupcakes to mark birthdays - her birthday was last month, a dear friend (who was at the bbq) celebrated his birthday last week, my cousin from Alaska's birthday was a few days ago, my nephew's birthday was next Monday.  That was all she said.  I didn't expect her to mention Otis's birthday. I know she knows, but she often falls in that "I shouldn't mention it because I don't want to make you sad..." group.

But last night, she brought out a platter of cupcakes.  Candles in many of them.  We sang happy birthday, she passed them out.  One to Rick.  One to Octavio.  One to Claudio.  One to herself. And then she came to me, and put one down in front of me.  "And this is for Otis.  Though he's not here with us, it's still his birthday next Monday, and we will always remember him."

I didn't cry, I smiled.  My soon-to-be-three-year-old nephew ran over and asked "Tia Sarah, can I help?" and I picked him up on my lap and he blew the candle out.  And I smelled his hair and snuggled him close and gave him a kiss.

So true.  We will always remember you, Otis.  I wish you were here with us.  Mama loves you more than ever.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I was tempted to title this post, "Fuck You, September..." but that doesn't sum up my love/hate relationship with the month very well, just sums up my general state of anger and rage at the world that's been permeating quite a bit of everything I do lately.  Plus, you know how I love my curse words, and The F Word is certainly one of my favorites. But anyway.

It's September 1st.

September is the most beautiful month out here where I live.  So beautiful, in fact, that when E and I decided to get married, we knew it would have to happen in September.  Fall colors just starting to appear on the trees, a crispness in the evenings, signs of Fall all around, except that September is also when we get our hottest days usually.  Beautiful light, hot sun, still wearing tanks and sundresses, but the anticipation of baking bread and football season and cozying up with a bowl of homemade soup is palpable.

It's also Back to School Month, which for me has always been Back to Work Month (well, actually, that's usually August, but September is when it kicks in...) but it's still a lovely month...the workload has yet to get overwhelming or bothersome.  It hardly ever rains in September.  It really is just lovely.  Any time anyone who hasn't been here thinks of visiting, I tell them to skip the summer tourist season and wait for September, or even October.  It's just so beautiful here.

But not anymore.

September is Otis's month.

His due date was September 4/5 - Labor Day Weekend last year.  Oh, how clever, what a great way to remember it: LABOR day.

I spent last year's Labor Day in hopeful anticipation.  Walking.  Walking.  Walking.  And more walking.  It was HOT.  (Warning: very gory, but entirely unrelated to labor, story in 4...3...2...1...)  We ended up in the midst of a CRAZY neighborhood emergency - a neighbor had cut off his thumb with a power saw, and we were walking by his house as we heard it happen.  E couldn't just keep walking, the screams were too bloodcurdling.  He went in.  He stayed with the man (who had cut off not just his thumb but the tips of two other fingers as well) and his wife while the paramedics were on their way.  They searched for the thumb.  Seriously.  E calmed the wife.  I could hear him talking to them both - he was amazing. So calm, rational, grounded. The paramedics arrived, they continued to search for the thumb.  It was surreal.  I stood outside, 9 months pregnant, on my due date, with my dogs, and explained to the other neighbors what was going on.  "No, they're looking for it.  They can't go to the hospital until they find it.  Umm, yeah...Well, today is actually my due date.  I'm doing okay...  Yeah, a boy... Yeah, we're excited...We think Otis, but we'll have to decide for certain when we see him... "

At one point they even tried bringing our little dog in to help sniff out the thumb.  (He was unsuccessful.)  20 minutes later, they found it (it had flown over the roof and into the side yard, they discovered this by being all sorts of CSI and tracking its hypothetical path and following blood drops.)  The poor man and his wife took off in the ambulance, and E and I walked home.  Hot, sweaty, pretty shaken up.  But I was decidedly not in labor.  The whole thing was so surreal.  But afterwards, E was like, "Well, wow, if I could handle that, I can totally handle your labor...I can't imagine it being any more scary than that..." (Oh, if only.)

That night our little dog got sick, (no, he had not eaten the thumb, as many who I told this story to thought was my "punch line," but probably a rotten plum or something while out on our walk, because he seemed kind of drunk).  I debated taking him to the vet.  Just what I needed, a dog at the emergency vet and the way things seemed to work for me, *that* would be when I went into labor.  But I held off on the e-vet, the dog recovered, and I didn't go into labor.

Two or three days later, I did.  Late at night, as E had just gotten home from work, I had my first contractions.

I can't write the story of my labor and delivery.  It's all still too much for me to revisit.

But it was four days in total, from my first contraction at midnight-ish on Wednesday, to my delivery in the wee hours of Sunday morning.  Later Sunday we learned how very sick Otis was.  We took him off life support the following day, Monday, the 13th, around 3pm.

Wednesday, the 15th, was our 3rd wedding anniversary.  Or, if you count the wedding we had while lying in my hospital bed the night of the 12th, it was our 3 day anniversary.

See, when we realized the gravity of the situation we were facing in the hospital, E crawled into bed with me and cried, and cried, and trembled, and screamed, and cried.  I cried too, I trembled too.  We were both terrified.  We were losing Otis.  The only thing I could imagine that could be as painful would be losing E.  I stopped, turned to him, and asked him to marry me.  Again.  Right there.  I told him that I couldn't lose him, that I knew this would forever change us, and that I could only do it if I had him right by my side.

The hospital chaplain came to sit with us later that evening, and we asked her to do a mini-ceremony of sorts, renewing our vows, resealing our marriage contract.  It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life.  In the early days of our grief, when one of us was having a particularly hard time, the other would turn and ask, "Will you marry me?"

It was our way of saying, "I'm not going anywhere.  This is as hard a pitch that life can throw our way.  I will stand by you through every bit of it.  I love you.  We will get through this.  I don't know how, but we will."

So here we go.

Into September.

My once-favorite month.

The month I got married.  The month I finally held my Otis, the month I triumphantly pushed and pushed and birthed that beautiful glorious 11 pound baby.  The month I saw his gorgeous head of hair, and that perfect nose, and his lips...his lips...The month I learned what it feels like to have your heart stretched and stretched and stretched some more to accommodate the incredible amount of love that a child brings with him as he bursts into the world.

The month I remarried E.  The month I learned Otis was not going to stay with us.  The month I watched as we unhooked tubes and said our goodbyes.  The month I cradled him in my arms, kissed his head, and baptized him with my tears.  The month I watched as E sobbed and howled and held that baby with all the love a papa could ever muster.  The month my world shattered. The month I fell more in love with E than I ever dreamed possible.  The month I learned what true love is.

So here we are, September 1st. I didn't think it would mean as much to me as it does today.  It's just a date, an arbitrary naming of a day, I told myself.  But somehow, even just seeing the word "September" is sending shivers in my spine and reawakening a deep and dark dark dark sadness that lives in me.

Today, just on schedule, the weather is nice and warm.  The light shines in that way that it only does in the month of September.  But there's a breeze in the's cool, reminding me that fall is indeed on its way.  September will turn to October, just as it does every year.   We have our hopes about what that may mean this year, but last year's September shattered me too deeply to even think about hoping too much right now.

So I'm grabbing E's hand, yet again, asking him to marry me, yet again, and attempting to breathe my way through this.  And putting it out there that I couldn't have made it through this year without the support of the baby loss community either, and letting you know I might need a little extra TLC these next few weeks.

To all my readers, thank you for walking this path with me.  To those of you who also lost your babies in September, know that you and your children are never far from my heart, especially so this month.