Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Overcoming loss

We received the devastating news 10 days ago, when we were told our baby was a little behind in growth, nearly a week.  Since it wasn't our first pregnancy, I didn't take this as positive news, however after a day of grieving, I convinced myself to be positive, I had my biggest work week of the year to follow, and worrying about it wasn't going to do me or my team any favors.  I took the blood tests, anticipated the results and received cautiously optimistic results:  my levels were improving.  Still, with my past losses, it still is hard to fully accept, I remember going through this exercise with Carter, receiving a similar diagnosis; possible blighted ovum, come back in ten days, and we have a happy, healthy, crazy beat two year old.

When we went back on Monday, I tried to be positive, I tried to truly believe that God has a plan for our family.  When we say the ultrasound, and no resulting heartbeat, I crashed, I shut down and cried. My new doctor couldn't have   been better, but I kept feeling, he truly doesn't understand, no one, unless you gave been through this, truly understands.

We've been trying to schedule the follow up surgery for what seems like an eternity.  Encountering small, 24 hr delay problems after another.  To them it is a procedure on paper, to me it is my way to fully say goodbye to my baby.  My body doesn't know the baby isn't viable, I am still nauseous, tired and overly hormonal, it is like a cruel joke.

I feel like my heart is broken in two, I feel like my body can't do what it is supposed to do, I feel a full wave of emotions that takes me back to January 2009, and December 2010, when other heartbeats weren't detected.

I cope with grief in my own way, I can't talk about it, but writing is some sort of consolation for me.  We have a stronger support system here than before, and I know they feel I am shutting them out, I am not, and I am so glad they are in our lives.

I know we are lucky to have 3 happy, healthy  children.  One of which is telling anyone who will listen about the baby in mummy's belly that died.  They don't know about the other losses, andthey didn't   know I was even pregnant, but the resulting emotions are too much to hide from an inquisitive 6 year old, we cuddle, we share and she cries, saying she is sad she isn't going to have another baby sister.  (Funny how she convinced herself it was a girl, partly, probably because her baby brother is such a proper little brother).

This week, we process through the stages of grief, denial:  i forced myself into a follow up ultrasound yesterday, in case my doctor was wrong.  I got angry at those mothers who still drink, or do drugs or  surprisingly  got pregnant and don't even know who the father is, or that are making a choice like on teen mom last night to end an unplanned pregnancy, or complain that their baby is due on their birthday and their life will forever be about that baby, or, to be brutally honest, those that haven't had to go through this even once, not to mention three times.

We will make it through this, I know I am stronger than I think I am, and I know we will have another baby, when the time is right.  But for right now, it is ok to grieve, to turn out the world between 8-5 when the kids are in school, and cry.  And after they are asleep, to silently cry for our loss.  Cry for the dream that was crushed, cry for my broken heart and just.simply.cry.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dealing with loss

Two years ago today my world was completely turned upside down.  We had gone through the usual elation of a positive pregnancy test, and I went in for a 9 week ultrasound to chart my high risk pregnancy.   I remember lying on that table with the ultrasound tech trying to detect a heartbeat, with no success.  The next nine months were such a roller coaster ride of emotions, that even still thinking about now, is still so hard to comprehend.  

I think those that have experienced a pregnancy loss or have struggled to get pregnant are truly the only that can understand that feeling of loss.  I can't tell you how many people told me it was ok, the baby wasn't going to be healthy anyway, this was best.  Or, luckily you found out now, so early on.  Or that basically looked at me and couldn't understand why I was crying.

I remember getting home and having a hospital associate call and ask me tell them in detail what I understood the procedure I was having the next day entailed.  I was angry at this.  I wasn't having a splinter removed, I replied, "my baby has died and the doctor will be removing the fetus."  I remember my body still letting me down as I still was throwing up with morning sickness from all of the hormones.

That same week, as I struggled to stop crying, I went in to a counselor who basically told me, sounds like I was sad and that I would get over it.  She didn't understand the feeling of loss or the feeling of inadequacy.

I somehow pulled through for Christmas, put on a smile to go back to work and tried to deal with the loss by myself.  Which was a bury your head in the sand approach.  The pain lessened a bit, but I still thought of all of the pregnancy milestones I should be going through.  

The hardest phase would probably be a surprise to most, it was when we found out we were pregnant again.  Every appointment I went in for, I was sure that they were going to tell me that the baby didn't have a heartbeat.  As I sat in the doctors office at around 6 weeks, she told me that they couldn't detect a heartbeat, but it was too early to call it a non viable fetus. (What a nurturing response). She didn't tell me that the heartbeat is detectable any time between 5 and 7 weeks. I spent the next week by myself in New Orleans on a work trip, convinced i was going to find out the next week that my baby wasn't ok. I researched when I should be able to hear the heartbeat and signs of pregnancy.  I cried.  We went back in for a follow up when I got back and heard the heartbeat for the first time.  It was magical.  I changed doctors, and I still second guessed every moment of that first few months of pregnancy. Cramping, spotting, morning sickness.  I didn't trust that my body would do what it was meant to do.  I was that crazy woman in my doctors office.  But we made it.

As we near C's first birthday I know the follow up journey was worth it, it doesn't mean it was easy.  I won't ever forget the milestones this other baby should be reaching, but I also know that if that baby had survived, we more than likely wouldn't have C in our life.  

I leave you with the reason I wrote this, miscarriage is more than just the loss of a baby.  It is the loss of a hope, a dream, and a loss of trusting your body to be able do what you want it to or you think it is supposed to.  In the end, it would probably just be easier to leave it alone and not talk about it.  But I think that isn't fair to others experiencing this loss.  My advice to you, the best way to deal with this with those you love who maybe going through this, is to offer a hug, a card and just remember that they will be tracking the milestones their baby would have had.  Remember them on their due date, don't push them to talk about it, remember them during their next pregnancy journey.  And please don't ever say, it is for the best. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


After Dropping C off on Monday at school (A and O went to work with daddy), I was driving to the office and listening to my Satellite Radio when Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson came on the radio.  It brought back a flood of memories of my leaving Minneapolis over 8 years ago (wow- can’t believe it has been that long!). 

One of the lines, “I won’t forget all the ones that I love.  I’ll take a risk, take a chance, make a change.” still rings so true to me.  I suddenly felt the wind in my hair, as I was jamming in my convertible to that song on repeat with my ‘life’ in the back seat as I said goodbye to Minneapolis and started on the 4 day road trip to San Diego.  I think that solo road trip was what I needed to put some space in between my two life chapters.

Most of my life is as I hoped it would be when I said  goodbye to that stage in my life has gone according to my plan.  Sometimes it is sad that I don’t get to see my old Retek friends nearly as much as I would like, they were such a huge part in making me who I am today. I learned so much from my time there.  I participated in an IPO at 23, wiggled into my career as an Event Manager at 23, bought my first house at 24 and worked with some of the smartest and hardest working (and playing) people that I’ve ever known.  (and probably ever will).  We worked hard and played harder, but I created such a great foundation of what I do and who I am today. 

I think that song came on today to remind me why I made that choice to say make a change and why I wanted to come out to San Diego and give it a shot with my now-husband (who I’ve now known for nearly 18 years).  Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of life with 3 young kids it is easy to take that relationship for granted, which isn’t fair.  So to my husband, I love you and am so glad you’re a part of our life.  I can’t believe all of the things we’ve been through together and I’m glad you’re on this journey with me. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Where I come from...

I grew up in a small town, never flew on an airplane until I was 19.  I think from an early age, I knew that the small town life wasn’t really where I would set my anchor and live.  My parents probably saw it too, they helped me expand my horizons beyond our little town.    I was on statewide boards for our church youth group and met friends from all over the state. 

It's hard to believe that the person I am today, who has flown 320k miles, travelled all of our Europe:  London, Nice, Monaco, Brussels, Finland, who's lived in London, England, Florida, California, lots of places in MN, grew up in that small town with less than 700 people in our town and a graduating class of 19.

Now that I have my own family, I realize that there are some great things to being from a small town, probably the same things that I disliked when I was young. 
·         Everyone knows your business, but that taught me accountability.
·         In order to field sports teams, band, clubs, choir, almost everyone has to participate.  However, I did learn that I wasn’t very sporty early on. But it taught me how to multi-task.
·         Money was tight, but it taught me to importance of working and managing a budget.
·         We were 30 miles from a larger town, but it taught me the importance of planning ahead and creating lists (thanks mom, this will help with my Black Friday planning).
·         Almost everyone went to church, it gave me a strong spiritual back ground and something I knew to some extent I wanted to pass on to my kids.
·         All teenagers had a job, I worked 40-60 hours a week (during the summers) for a great family with 6 kids, that even though I don’t see hardly at all anymore, I get to keep up with their lives via Facebook and think about them more often than they would ever know- and taught me such a strong work ethic.
·         Almost all of the women I knew worked- my mom, my boss (with the 6 kids), my best friend’s mom…  They taught me how to juggle life and to make sure I valued the right things in life.  That I made sure I picked a job and a career that would allow me to balance all of it out.
·         A solid education- while we didn’t get offered as many perks as my kids may get in a larger town (kindergarten computer and biology labs), I received a solid education in the basics that have helped me get to where I am in my life.
·         Great friends- while there are only a few that I still keep in real life contact, there are some I still follow on Facebook and truly care about their lives and their achievements and their kids achievements.  And for those that I still keep in contact with, I still consider them some of my best friends and they are the first people I want to tell about my news, good and bad.

So to all my ‘small town’ family, I think I appreciate you much more than I did 20 years ago, and you provide such a great and welcoming place to visit, and a place for my kids to create such great memories during their summer visits.  Thank you!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Middle Child

I grew up as a youngest child, with an older brother.  My husband was the oldest of 4.  Neither one of us were middle children and to be honest, if I really stop and think about it, I’m not sure I know many kids that are the middle child, with an older sister and a younger brother.  (other than my mom!)

Now that O keeps growing up and passing her major milestones, I sometimes stop and watch her and try to understand what it feels like to be a middle child- she’s usually not the first to do anything she’s not the last to do anything.  She’s not big enough to do some of the things A gets to do, but she can’t act like a baby like her little brother either.  She has her mom, dad and her big sister bossing her around all of the time and telling her what she should and shouldn’t do.

I do think the one positive that little miss O has going for her is her personality is unmatchable, she calls the shots like she sees them, and she knows to ask for what she wants.  She has a great relationship with her daddy and they are like two peas in a pod.  She’s a great swimmer, she’s great at riding her bike, she’s athletic, and above all, as she says it, she’s cute.

I know she’ll go far, and I also know that I need to take the time to make sure she doesn’t look back and think, being the middle child just wasn’t fair.  She needs to have the same opportunities to try things for the first time.  I think I’ll add that to my project plan and make sure that what she needs to succeed doesn’t get lost in our crazy shuffle.  And we’ll take time to make sure her milestones don’t get passed over because she has her quiet way of just being ready to do them.

We love you O.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bible Stories

C and O were baptized this summer while we were back visiting MN.  O received a children’s bible as a gift.  I thought it would be a great idea for us to finally start going to Sunday school and reading a bible story each night before bed.  A seems to be paying fairly good attention to the stories each night, but I wasn’t sure what O was learning until a night two weeks ago when A was sick and already asleep.  O and I read the story together, and said our prayer together and I told her we were all done.  She looks at me and says, “Ok mommy, I’ll read one to you”.  O:  “God saved the people from the mean people in the castle.  Then the people crossed the sea.  Then they all lived happily ever after”.  Sounds about right.

Good Choices

It has been a really long few weeks for the Van Sloun’s.  We’ve had strep throat, hives, new teeth breaking through, a fever, possible bladder infection, 3 trips to the pediatrician, one trip to the dentist, Halloween and crazy weeks at work and our college courses.  

Last night when I went to pick up my little posse, I was greeted with C in the office getting his temp taken- great, I thought, that means he’s booted tomorrow- what on earth am I going to do?  We’ll figure it out, I thought, we always do.  Then I walked in with a semi-grumpy and just feeling lousy 9 mos old (yippee- he just turned 9 mos, where did the time go?)-  I digress, I was greeted with 2 incident reports for A and O, awesome.  Turns out O had bit A during naptime.  We pack up our stuff, and I’m thinking about how to handle all of this.

We get in the car and are headed home- I look back at O (who’s 3) and asked why she bit her sister.  She gives me the half smirk I’ve seen in my photos from about her age and it makes me repress a giggle.  She’s says “Mommy, I just don’t know.”  Fair enough.  I truly think some days I would like to bite a few coworkers, and I guess at some stage (probably long after I was three), I learned that wasn’t appropriate.

Halfway home, my phone rings and it is one of A’s friend’s mom’s.  She asked if I got the report that A and her little buddies decided not to do their sports class yesterday (that we pay for) and instead sit in the sandbox.  I sighed, said I wasn’t aware (we get a stack of about 25 sheets of ‘art’ every day), but that we would talk about it and it we agreed it wasn’t their choice to make (at $12 a class…). 

We make it home, I take a deep breath, head inside and tackle it head on. 
O- no more biting or I’m taking a piece of candy each time from your bucket- “Ok mommy, I love you.  But sometimes my sister pushes my buttons.” (Sucker, she’s REALLY good at this for only being 3). 
A- you need to make good choices about participating in sports class, if you don’t want to do it anymore, fine, but we aren’t paying for you to hang in the sandbox-  “Ok”
C- and C proceeds to throw up all over me.

But thinking back on last night, I still smile a bit and realize that they we all have choices and that’s part of the fun in being a parent, sorting through those choices together.  Love them to pieces and I know every day that that is the only choice I have to make.