Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Medical Ultrasound

Today I had my first "medical" ultrasound for this little boy. We had just gone to a random ultrasound office for the gender reveal.

Due to Trevor's traveling for work he wasn't able to come with me and because I'm so far along already, we decided not to wait to schedule the ultrasound for any later.

I wish going to this appointment held the same wonder and awe that Luke's first ultrasound held. I remember seeing Luke's spine and just being in awe at the creation that had already formed inside of me! What a miracle. I was just all smiles and so in love with the experience of getting to see him. It seemed unreal, yet it made it all seem more real.

Today that excitement that had been felt with Luke was replaced with anxiety. Is everything okay? How's his brain? How's his heart? Everything looks okay to me, but I don't really know what I'm looking for. 

I asked Greg, the ultrasound-guy, if he reviews results with me or if the midwife does that. He says he does and if there are any concerns he'd bring in the midwife or doctor to look at it and we would discuss it together.

I try to relax and enjoy the truly miraculous sneak-peak in to my womb. Yet between trying to get the video chat on my phone working so Trevor can watch, trying to see and understand what Greg was doing and looking at, and all my anxiety wondering if everything is okay, I simply couldn't experience this moment the same way that I did Luke's ultrasound.

Why isn't the ultrasound guy saying anything? 

During Luke's ultrasound Arvydas talked to us about everything he saw--telling us the placenta was in a good place, that Luke's heart looked good, that his kidneys looked good, everything that Arvydas showed us he had confirmed that it looked good. 

Why isn't this guy telling me all of those things? Is there something wrong? He's been trying to look at the spine for so long now? Different angles? The little words he typed and saved with that image said "something ... sac." Is there some sort of growth? Spina Bifida? Did I not consume enough folate in those early months? I really was doing my best, but I know I missed some days of prenatals while we were traveling. I know there are some days my folic acid intake levels weren't great, because of the eating fast food on the road. What if I've done something to cause our son to have a disorder? 

Prayers in my heart were being said that everything is okay.

It took a while for Greg to get a look at everything he wanted to see, because this little baby did not want to change positions. Nudging and continued efforts to get other angles insued. This kind of prolonged experirnce made my mind race with more questions about everything being okay. He finally finishes up and sits at the computer looking through the images. My mind is still wondering what he's seeing, what he's looking at, and how long it will be before he brings someone else in to verify that there is some sort of problem. He cleans the gel off of my stomach, hands me a printout of some pictures, and as I'm gathering my stuff and about to walk out the door FINALLY says, "Everything looks good."

 What a relief because I was still waiting for him to bring someone else in to look over things! 

I left feeling so overwhelmed. Relieved .... and guilty.

After I left the office building I sat on a bench in a little grassy courtyard area, looked over the pictures, and cried. All the anxiety that had built up needed to be let off one way or another. Then I continued to cry because I felt so bad that I had not been able to enjoy this milestone and miraculous moment with my baby. My heart just ached and longed to be able to enjoy these moments, but my fear could not be combated.

In spite of the overwhelming and anxiety filled experience I am grateful to have a healthy baby growing inside of me. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pioneer Women

On Pioneer Day, I couldn't help thinking of the women--my ancestors--who crossed the plains of America and settled Utah. I couldn't help thinking of the women that were chased out of their homes by mobs, forced to cross frozen rivers and give birth in tents just miles from their homes. I couldn't help thinking of the pregnant women that traveled miles on foot. I couldn't help thinking of the mothers that had to bury their children in the open plains, never to return to their graves again. Or even worse, to not know what wild animal would upturn the grave.

I remember holding Luke in my arms and feeling how sacred his precious body was, even without his spirit there. I remember on the day Luke was born, thinking back on these women who had gone before me and had to leave their precious babies and press on. I remember being so grateful that my son's sacred body would be laid to rest in a safe and protected place.

Some might think that it is just a body, but when it is your child . . . your loved one, I think you feel differently about the sacred tabernacle that we call a body.

I am grateful to the women who faced the same trial as me, but in what seems like much more difficult circumstances. I am grateful they had the faith to press on to the Salt Lake Valley and had the courage to leave their sweet children behind.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Exercising Make You Healthy (And Happy Too!)

This post is getting added to my tab of Gifts for Bereaved Parents because even though it is not a tangible item that was give to me, my friends who became my workout buddy truly did give me a gift that helped with my healing, health and well-being, and my happiness.


Okay some people need to get out to be happy. I seriously am pretty content being a home-body. I always have stuff to do; whether it's bills, misc. paper work, cooking, cleaning, crafting, decorating, or just writing or reading there's no shortage of things to keep me busy at home. Sometimes I even just sit and stare at my space scheming up ways that I can make it more beautiful--thinking of paint colors, how to change the furniture arrangement, what colors to accessorize with, etc. Seriously that's not even a lie. I might be kinda obsessed, but I guess that's okay because it's my thing and it's what I like to do.

Regardless of how content I can be at home, I'm sure it's not healthy to never get out!

I know myself and I know that it's hard for me to have regular routines on my own. Last October when my friend Emily mentioned that she was considering joining a gym I wasn't super interested, because I'd never done the whole gym thing. Regardless, I decided to give it a try, because I knew it would be good for me. 

Almost every morning Emily and Michelle (who Emily also convinced to join the gym) would come knocking on my door so that we could head to the gym for our morning workout. At first I was always ready to go, but as time went on and especially if Trevor and I had stayed up late, I would sleep through my alarm. I'm not sure why they stuck with me, but Emily would wait for me as I would throw on my work out clothes and sleepily get in their van.

I may not have put the weights on the max that I could do. I may have been more focused on our conversations than with how many reps I had just done. I may have put the bicycles on not very straining speeds. But I was there and I was getting my body moving! I didn't feel the need to push myself...too much. I figured it was good enough that I was there. After a while we started to do Zumba which was so much fun and a workout that actually pushed me!

Eventually our schedules became misaligned and sadly we didn't all keep going to the gym together.

Between just making sure I was getting out of the house or the fact that I was exercising I don't know if I could say which was more important for me at that time of life. One thing is for sure. The friendships that I formed with those women during those workout sessions was more than I could have asked for. Emily and Michelle became some of my best friends in Payson and I will be forever grateful for them reaching out to me  at that time of my life! 


I knew no one could replace my best friends, but when I got to Virginia I knew I needed a workout buddy so that I could stay healthy during my pregnancy. I wish the desire to have perfect health for my baby was enough to get me moving, but knowing myself I knew I would need someone that was going to commit me to   actually getting out the door. I sent out an email to all of the ward members to see if anyone was interested. 

I started running with a woman named Lara who I instantly loved and admired because of how she emanates kindness and is so optimistic in spite of the trials and challenges the Lord has placed in her life. Another thing I admire about Lara is her keen awareness of the beauty of the earth. While we're jogging she notices critters, birds, and beautiful flowers that I might not have if she hadn't pointed them out. 

The summer heat and summer schedules have kept us from going out the past several weeks. This morning was surprisingly cool and knowing I need to be more consistent with exercise I decide to forge on without her. 

How grateful I was that I decided to go. I tried to be more aware of things like Lara is. What a beautiful world we live in! Aren't these blooming flowers just wonderful? 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Donating Breast Milk

When I gave birth to Luke, just like anyone who gives birth to a live baby, I was told my breast milk would come in three days later. The hospital sent me home with an ace bandage to wrap around myself as a compression in hopes it would make my milk go away faster once it came in. I was even given suggestions by a friend or two of natural remedies to help my milk go away.

Initially, I did as I was told and had my mom wrap the ace bandage around me. Well let me tell you, that was not comfortable! I wondered why I had even taken the hospital's suggestion in the first place and removed the constraint as promptly as I could! I knew that if I was not breastfeeding (which I obviously wasn't) that my milk supply would go away. That's just the way it works. So I wasn't sure why I needed to urgently make it go away (especially when it was so painful to have the compression wrapped around me) when it was going to go away on its own.

It may have been the very night of my painful compression episode that I started researching donating breast milk. Perhaps I didn't have a child that needed it, but maybe someone did. So with a little help from my friend, Google, I came across this website and it caught my eye because it read, "Thinking of donating your breast milk? Read this first," on the page of search results.

From this article I read some interesting things, which I presume are true. Not all  "milk banks" are the same. Some pasteurize the raw milk so that it is suitable for preemies in the NICU and is made avaiblable at a reasonable cost ($3.50/ounce). While other banks are owned by Prolacta Bioscience, the worlds only for-profit milk processing company. Prolacta processes the milk (which was donated) and then charges $184.83/once. This seems like a scam and a terrible way to make money off of mom's donations! Perhaps there are costs involved than meets the eye which I don't understand, nevertheless it's not the option that seemed like a good fit and that I even wanted to avoid.

What I felt like was the best option was something this article lead me to discover -- MilkShare. It's an organization that allows milk donation from mother to mother by helping match up donors and recipients.

I know it might seem weird to some people to give your baby someone else's milk, but I think it's a great way for a child to have the added benefits of being breastfed when the mom can't provide that on her own (perhaps because of medical issues, adoption, mastectomy, low supply, or any other number of reasons).  

Unfortunately, I did not have a breast pump on hand and amid all of the preparation for Luke's burial and funeral, I did not make it a priority to get a pump. My milk supply began to dwindle before I could really conclude if donating milk was something I really wanted to do. I kind of regret that I missed my window of opportunity to make that decision, but perhaps it is a blessing because I didn't have to deal with any complications of breastfeeding and conception. Who knows how it might have affected my fertility and ability to conceive.

I wanted to share this to both let people know that mom's of stillborn babies have to deal with their milk coming in. Which, for some moms, is probably a really painful reminder of what they wish they were doing. As well as to let people know about the option of donating. It's something I sure didn't know anything about until that day and I am thankful to know about it now.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Unexpected Flowers

I'm still trying to document the kind things that other's have done for us. There's a list of these posts under the  "Gift's for Bereaved Parents" tab. 

I was so surprised last September when we were in Seattle on our little get-away to spend time with Trevor's parents when I received a text message from my neighbor and friend, Ruth, with this picture and explanation.

While we were out of town our friend Juliana had sent us an order of beautiful roses. Ruth, found them on our porch and brought them in and put them in water for us until we returned.  

I was so touched by this thoughtfulness from a friend who, though we love, we don't spend much time with or talk to very often. I was so incredibly touched that not only was she thinking of us weeks after our loss, but that she made the effort and sacrifice (because I'm sure two dozen roses aren't easily part of a college student's budget) to send us this loving gesture. 

To our luck, when Juliana found out we weren't even home she called to have them hold the order. It was too late because they had already been sent. Nevertheless sent us another order of roses. It was so wonderful to have our house filled with such lovely flowers --a sweet reminder of the love that others (particularly Juliana and her husband) have for us. 

A short while later I discovered that Juliana had lost her mom to cancer, which I had never known about her. I can only assume that she knew personally the comfort that comes when friends reach out with such kind gestures. I hope that I can be more like Juliana and reach out to others who are suffering even if they aren't my closest friends. What a Christlike example Juliana is of love and compassion. I feel like I have so much to learn from others and their kindness. I hope that I can emulate some of the Christlike attributes that have been demonstrated to me. 

Thank you Juliana for the flowers and thoughtful note.  

Sunday, July 8, 2012

My Birthday

Summer is filled with so many memories of my final days with Luke. Today is my birthday and I can't help to think about my birthday last year. All I had wanted to do was paint Luke's nursery. Trevor bought me a step-stool as a gift and I got to work painting away!

July 7, 2011
Most people wouldn't consider a step-stool a very great birthday gift nor would most people consider a painting project to be something fun to do on a special day, but I loved it. I loved getting Luke's nursery ready. I loved that I had envisioned a space for him and for us to be and that I was creating it. I was looking forward to the nights I would get to sit up and feed him. I was looking forward to the time spent playing on the floor with toys. I was looking forward to getting up in the night to console a sleepless baby. 

How little I knew at that moment about how none of those things I was looking forward to would come to fruition. 

Now that it's my birthday again, I couldn't help thinking back to that day. 


This year I am grateful that my birthday is marked with fun events and the love of others. My sweet husband planned a surprise outing for breakfast. He prepared all the ingredients needed for our breakfast, secretly packed them and our camping stove in to our truck, and took me to Great Falls National Park for a fun family outing. 

While we were there we took a picture for an alumni group who was touring the falls that mourning. I started chatting with a woman from the group and she made a comment about how it's great that we're able to travel and do some sight-seeing now because it won't be long before we're "a bit occupied" as she gestures to my stomach. I loved that. I love that I am finally becoming noticeably pregnant at least to some people some of the time.

Like I said, I'm a hungry pregnant mama...

My kind brother- and sister-in-law spoiled me with a surprise dessert party even though they had just gotten home late from a day of travel back from Utah. 

Even though the memories of my birthday last year are bittersweet because what I was creating was never used for what I thought it would be, I still look back fondly on that day -the time that I was able to have Luke with me, and the love that I had in creating something for him. I am grateful that this year's memories will be marked with phone calls from friends and family members, thoughtful messages and gifts, time spent with Scott and Maryanne, and with a fun outing with our second son with us, even if he is still just inside of me! 

Thanks to everyone for making my birthday special. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

11 Months

Often times when I am able to talk to people about you and about your short life they ask, "when did that happen?"

"Just last August," I reply.

"Oh!" they usually say with surprise, "so that was pretty recent."I think in other's mind the recentness of the event makes it a bigger deal. Perhaps to them it is because it is so fresh. I feel like perhaps I get a little more acknowledgement of what I've been through, just because of how recent it occurred. It won't be long though that I'll have to change my response. 

"Luke's birth was August of two thousand and eleven."

Another month will pass and to others it will seem more and more like just a part of history--something that occurred in the past. But oh how it continues to affect me every day of my life.

Some days it's still hard to see other people's babies growing -their cute, smiling, giggling, cooing, crawling babies. I can't help to think, that's about how big Luke would be or those are milestones that Luke would be reaching. I sigh and smile to myself as I take the time to think about my first son and then press forward with the rest of life.

The clock continues to tick and time presses forward and I continue to learn what life is like after the loss of a child. What life is like to have a pregnancy that doesn't result in bringing a baby home. What life is like to be pregnant again after the loss of your first. No clock or calendar could depict all of the many things that seem to have taken effect in my life because of what happened 11 months ago, nevertheless the calendar moves on and the dates hold some sort of marker as to when something momentous occurred in spite of its inability to show what really is still occurring.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sometimes Life Is Hard

I'd mentioned in this post that I'd been having a lot of hard days. Part of what was so upsetting on Sunday during church was the lesson in Relief Society. It was all about finding joy in life. It really was a good thing for me to hear, but hard to hear. I was emotional so anything was probably going to set me off. And pretty much anything and everything the teacher shared left me crying, if not about one thing about another. And to top things off the closing song was Teach Me To Walk in The Light, the song that I would sing to Luke when I was pregnant and often times at the cemetery. My sorry napkin was running out of places to wipe my face by the end!

During the lesson the instructor shared this quote:
If you are still in the process of raising children, be aware that the tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles and piles of laundry to be tackled will disappear all too soon and that you will—to your surprise—miss them profoundly. (President Thomas S. Monson)
Which is truly a good quote and reminder for any mom, but for me it just hurt. Not only do I long to have the toys scattered and the kid messes fill my home (which I am more hopeful will become my reality now that that I'm pregnant again) but this quote reminded me of how my time with Luke is over. It has already passed. Those nine months came and are gone. Tears wet my face as I wish I would have relished in that time more. Guilt filled me as I considered that I am possibly not loving this pregnancy enough right now. Lack of sympathy consumed me as I heard a young grandma talk about her sorrows as her newest and only grandbaby will be leaving after her kids move back to school now that their internship is over. I felt like I couldn't be sympathetic because my baby is buried in the ground.

The teacher went on to talk about coping with difficulties. One of the suggestions from this talk by Elder Wirthlin was to laugh. Which I honestly should be doing more -- like when I get lost driving around all the new places. But instead, aside from continually learning to cope with the emotions of losing my son and being pregnant with my next son, these are the things that are leaving me frustrated and upset. Things like getting honked at as I am completely lost in the middle of New York, encountering grumpy sales people that aren't very kind or helpful, feeling overwhelmed by still not being really settled in to our new place because either Trevor or both of us have been out of town, trying to cope with the new lifestyle of a husband that is working out of state (even though that's not what we signed up for), trying to deal with the cost of living in the state of Virginia, being fed up with a medical system that doesn't provide the type of healthcare I want. All of these things that I know don't really matter have stacked up and were really getting me down. So even though I know the guidance to laugh is what I need to do, when I heard another sister talk about "faking it 'til you make it" and laughing even when you don't think it's funny--I had had it!

I've spent almost the past year trying to be positive, trying to get out of myself and serve others (not that I was always the best at that, but I did it), trying to notice the things to be grateful for, and being good at accepting what I had been dealt.

I just wanted it to be okay that right now I feel like things are lame. I just wanted to be able to be upset about all the various things weighing me down. I just wanted to pity myself for just a bit.

Monday I decided to read the talk by Elder Wirthlin in its entirety. These are the words from the talk that the teacher or anyone in the room neglected to share, but that I needed to hear:
How can we love days that are filled with sorrow? We can’t—at least not in the moment. I don’t think my mother was suggesting that we suppress discouragement or deny the reality of pain. I don’t think she was suggesting that we smother unpleasant truths beneath a cloak of pretended happiness. But I do believe that the way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life.
I felt like I was being asked to suppress and deny my discouragement and frustration when the fact of the matter is that coping with the changes in my life since the move and since finding out we're having a boy have been hard. It's July now and I feel like I've been homeless since I left my life in Payson in April. I miss my old life and I miss my son.

Thank you, Elder Wirthlin, for giving me permission to feel the struggles that I am facing and then in turn give me guidance on what to do to make sure that I don't remain in this place of self-pity and frustration. 


Now don't get me wrong life isn't all that bad right now and I am happy most of the time. I even notice and take joy in the small miraculous things in life that I am able to enjoy because of my circumstances right now. Moments when my niece or nephew present a flower to me and tell me that they love me. Moments of magical fireflies miraculously lighting the big grassy spaces of Central Park as I walk hand-in-hand with my best friends and sit on a bench and feel my baby moving inside of me. The actual fruition of a fortune cookie message (and prayer in my heart), received only days before we departed Utah, about making new friends in the coming month. The Lord has not forgotten me and there are many good things in my life right now. 

I am grateful that it is my choice on how I react to things. And hope that I can laugh a little more and keep my focus on the things that really matter. 

4th of July

I couldn't help thinking of Luke today. It doesn't seem like it was a whole year ago when we were enjoying the 4th of July festivities at the annual Banks family BBQ. I was quite pregnant and could barely squeeze between the chairs to get to my seat. I didn't mind though. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have noticed, but I kept getting up to get more food. Luke, while you were growing I would always eat so much!

July 4, 2011
I guess that's true any time I'm pregnant. It's strange to think that this year at our own little 4th of July BBQ, I was eating nonstop  for Luke's little brother who is currently growing inside of me.

July 4, 2012
How so much has changed in a year. Well, I guess it's not that so much has changed --I'm still a petite pregnant woman continually eating. But so much has happened in between. Life has brought me to a different place than I could have possibly imagined just a year ago.

Luke, I was missing you today and at the same time I was grateful Heavenly Father has given me the opportunity to be pregnant with your brother. I guess it was appropriate that it was a day of remembrance and a day of celebration. Happy 4th of July. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Painful Words to Hear

Yesterday was a hard day for me. It seems like I've been having a lot of those lately. Hard days.

I don't really feel like my self. Little things that go wrong really frustrate me. Usually I am a little bit more resilient, patient, understanding, and optimistic. On Sunday I wasn't sure if I had any of those attributes right now. I realized, aside from being hypersensitive and emotional because I'm a pregnant woman, this negativity could be associated to my hpothyroidism and it's time to have my blood drawn and my levels checked ASAP. I'll be doing that as soon as possible and hope that's what my issue is.

Nevertheless, the last hour of church was pretty much spent with tears streaming from my eyes and my nose dripping like a faucet (more on that later). After church was over I stayed in the RS room writing in my journal, kind of debriefing from my personal (yet public) pondering and crying session.

Trevor came to find me and offered to help a guy move a TV which had been used to watch a video clip during the lesson out of the room when I heard the following conversation about going to see the 4th of July fireworks in DC.

"The crowds are crazy but it would be a good thing to go do since you don't have any kids."

That stung. Those words pricked me so deep.

I hate that all the people here don't know. I hate that they don't really know what our life has entailed over the past (almost) year. I hate feeling like such a big part of my life is unknown to so many people. I hate feeling like I have insights to share when we're discussing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but I don't know how to make my comments without giving the necessary and potentially lengthy back story of how I've come to know personally the pain of death, the peace that comes from turning to Christ in time of need, the glorious strength that comes from trusting in the resurrection.

I hate that we appear to be just another young couple without any kids.

That's not us.

We may not be bringing any children with us to the 4th of July fireworks, but it doesn't mean that we don't have any children.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Wanting Something Special

Now that we know that we're having a boy I want to start getting things ready for him!

The other day when we were in New York (just a day or two after our gender reveal on the blog), I was out doing some shopping while Trevor was at work. I was kind of in a weird mood already, but simply broke in to tears when I was in the baby clothing section of the store.

I was so frustrated because I wanted to pick out an outfit or something for this baby, but I didn't feel like I could. We didn't really need anything since we have drawers full of perfectly-good, untouched newborn clothes.

I tried to but, I couldn't even think straight about what sizes I might need for summer and winter clothes since that will probably be different now. All I could think about was the unused clothes of Luke's and how I never got to use them or really see if I had gotten the right sizes for the times of year he would need them.

The day really had been leading up to a good cry and it was probably going to happen sooner than later, I couldn't keep it all in anymore so I simply just knelt on my knees between rows of baby clothes and cried.

I cried over Luke. I cried about how it's affecting this pregnancy. It didn't feel fair. I cried feeling bad for myself since I'm neither like a mom buying clothes for her first baby nor like a second time mom buying what's needed to fill in the gaps of what's left of the hand-me-downs. I'm a mom wanting to shop for my baby, but I don't really need to because my first one died.  


I hadn't posted about this yet, but my best friends older sister (practically my own older sister), Liz,  left her response to my feelings about not being able to just put Luke's nursery back up with Luke's quilt. Liz is the mother of three (might I add, adorable) boys. You can see what she wrote for yourself, but she talked about having certain things that are just for each boy --blessing outfits, special blankets, first stuffed animals, etc. 

I liked that a lot. Perhaps Luke didn't ever use his quilt I made for him. In fact it has kind of become my quilt, because I tend to curl up with it particularly when I'm missing him, but it doesn't mean that I have to pass it on to this baby. 

This baby will get his own. I've even started scheming a new theme for the nursery...the only downside is I'm not in Utah to shop for fabric. There's not exactly the best selections here compared to the cute quilt shops there (#missingutah). 


The other day I was chatting with a girl whom I'm becoming friends with here in Virginia. I told her that we found out we're having another boy. She inquired if we already had boy stuff from our first baby. I told her we did. Her response was something along the lines of "well that's good." While, yes, it's good because it means we're just that much more ready for our baby to arrive, I didn't bother to explain to her all the painful implications it really entails. 

This is evidently a hard road to journey--being pregnant again. I, of course, wanted and still want this more than anything, but that doesn't change the amount of grief and sorrow that is apparently accompanying it.