Thursday, March 31, 2011

This Life of Mine (Ours)

After Chase died, I wanted to get pregnant immediately.  And I didn't want to admit this right away, because I didn't want to replace Chase--or want anyone else (Patric or the kids) to think I wanted to either.  But eventually I admitted it and yearned so deeply for the physical contact of a new baby that I did not get with Chase.  I felt we needed one more link in our family, to make it 7.  The doctor wouldn't give us permission to try to get pregnant until we had waited 6 months, he wanted 8 months, after my pregnancy with Chase.  He said the longer we waited, the more I would be healed and would be ready for the next pregnancy.  In my mind, I wasn't getting any younger, and didn't want to be having babies into my 40s, though I'm sure I would have changed my opinion of that if I had to!  I told Patric that if we got pregnant again, I was "sure", though I was half joking, that I would need a shrink throughout the pregnancy.  I anticipated those 9 months of being very emotional and me being very scared about what all could possibly go wrong.  Though, even when everything went absolutely perfect at each checkup, we would both look at each other with thoughts going through our mind that everything was absolutely perfect with Chase, so until we brought the baby home, none of this meant anything in our minds.

I was surprised.  Somehow, throughout this last pregnancy, I felt amazingly calm.  It seemed like after our first ultrasound at 13 weeks telling us that everything looked perfect, I had a monkey off my back.  I got through the first trimester (when my 2 prior miscarriages happened) and I credited Chase with this peace that I felt, thanking him for getting me through the pregnancy every day.  Near the end of the 9 months, my emotions started going down a different path as I missed Chase so dearly.  I could see the light at the end of the tunnel so-to-speak and I felt like I should have done all this with Chase--that he was all I really wanted. Fear set in again and I began to get a little anxious, but for the most part, I felt sane.  I didn't feel crazy, as I read comments and blogs from other rainbow baby mamas that had felt the same things I was feeling.

Then Owen was born.

I never once thought of Owen as a replacement of Chase.  In fact, I felt like Owen would help me heal slightly.  He would help me remember Chase and imagine him at ages that I couldn't without this little physical being in my arms and under my care.  But all in all, I thought I would be happy.  I knew there would be sadness because I would miss Chase as I held Owen.  But overall, I pictured a road of fun and happiness ahead of me with the new baby.

What I am about to say is not to be interpreted as I do not want Owen.  That is not the case at all.  He gives me light in my life, he puts a smile on my face, he has made my heart grow bigger each day he is here with us.  What I did not know about this rainbow baby, is the state of fear that would come with him.  I did not know that I would be so scared to lose him; that every cough, grimmace, cry would possibly send me into a mini (hidden) panic attack.  My heart and head are at constant battle....still.  I know in my heart that Owen is doing just fine.  I know that his cries are because he is either hungry or has a dirty diaper and that his collicky moments are because his tummy hurts with gas pains.  But in my head, I am constantly on alert.  Is everything really okay?  And I'm not the only one.  Karly, who is not only Owen's big sister, but his second mommy, asks, "mom, why is he crying?"  Sometimes I say, "baby, he just has a tummy ache like you do sometimes."  But sometimes when my anxiety level is skyrocketed, I say, "I don't know."  Then when I get him calmed down after a crying bout, she asks me, "Mom, is he breathing?"  And the truth of the matter is, I'm always checking.   Now, to some extent, we all do this as mothers.  Even to our toddlers and big kids, we check...all the time.  It's part of our instincts, habits, etc.  But with Owen, our rainbow, it's to a much greater extent.  I look at her with a little smile and say, "Yes, honey, of course he is."  But when I know that my 9-year-old daughter really just asked me if her baby brother is dead or not, my stomach turns.  Because when you have held a tiny baby in your arms that is dead or dying, it doesn't matter if he is your son, your brother, your nephew or your never forget what that feels like.  And you fear it to ever happen again.

Editted to add: Tonight at supper Reese said the prayer.  He always prays, among other things, that Chase is safe up in heaven and tells God he misses him so much.  Tonight, though, he prayed that God will "let Owen stay alive."

I didn't know I would be living like this.  In some state of fear, constant fear, that something is wrong with Owen.  I find myself particularly scared of the things that happened to Chase, or the things we saw go wrong with him.  Chase's legs were severely blotchy his last two days.  I don't remember what they call it but it's due to poor circulation and it happens to us all, especially to our fingers and hands when we get cold.  So when Owen's hands or feet get this way, I go back to the hospital when Chase's whole body looked that way and I get so scared.  My heart knows that Owen is fine...but my head remembers.  All the jerks, facial expressions, breathing changes....all of that which is completely normal with newborns, now sends me into a frenzy.  Nothing that shows on the outside, but on the inside, the wheels are turnin'.   My thoughts get worrisome until I see whatever it is I need to see to make me feel better.  
Owen has been a little collicky this past week and it's very hard to comfort him, and then explain to everyone else that he's fine and give them their warm and fuzzy.  Patric is very good about not stressing me out, but I know that he's feeling/thinking exactly the same as me.  The kids are not so good about not stressing me but I can lie to them and tell them everything is fine, whether I know it is or not.  
There are days when I think about all this and just marvel at this life I now live.  I think about what life would have been with Chase compared to how it is now with Owen.  I wonder how this will affect us all long term.  Even Owen.  I never look at him and not think about Chase.  I feel the need to talk to Chase when I'm alone and talking to Owen, too.  I don't know why.   Owen is absolutely awesome.  I wouldn't trade him or everything I've been through (recovery, nursing pain) for anything.  He's worth every ounce of pain I've felt.  I just didn't know that I'd be living in constant fear for his life.  I was so laid back last time (with Reese).  Everything went so smoothly compared to this.  And I was even in the hospital with Reese for 4 days with RSV when he was 7 months.  I don't know, maybe I'll get there.  I tell myself that as Owen gets older, it'll get easier.  Ha!  Maybe if he could just tell me what is wrong when he cries, then I don't have to guess and tell everyone else for him.  But I don't want to wish away time.  I want to enjoy every moment.  I want to love on him and squeeze him and kiss him each day because I know he will grow up so fast.  
I love Owen.  I love having a new baby at home.  I just never knew a rainbow could be so scary.


  1. This is so beautifully written, straight from the heart.

  2. I am always checking too.. for breathing.. my silent tears of fear.. missing Joseph and raising Jonathan real.. We walk a fine line of hope.. love and living.. My heart skips a beat with joy and with alarm with each new day.. but they are here our Jonathan and Owen.. with one foot on our lives and anothr secreat foot in heaven with our other boys... learning from them and loving them as any good little brother can do.

  3. Have to post multiple responses...

    A big sigh.. you always have the most wonderful things to say to me just when I need them. I just wish that I could do that for you right now... even though I know that I can't imagine what it must be like to be in your shoes. I have spent may days thinking about the want for another child.. and then the fear of almost everything you have mentioned here creeps in. I don't know how it will be... I know that another child will not replace Cullen, but I wonder if it will help me to find any slivers of light. I imagine myself doing exactly what you are doing.. thinking of Cullen each and every moment that I stare into the face of another child. I already do it with the three C's.. so I suppose that would not be much of a change for me.

  4. I hope that you will find moments of peace Christy... even if they are fleeting. I hope there will be precious times when you can sit and not feel the fear and anxiety.. if only for a moment. I hope they will grow with Owen... and that in some way Chase's spirit will help to bring that very peace that you so deserve.
    Life 'after' is never what we imagined it to be.. I think some of us never envisioned being able to live the life at all. But we do, and those of us with other children find ways to function in new capacities, doing the very best we can. I know you are doing that mamma, and I hope that this will be yet another place for you to try and find a connection to Chase.. for you and for his siblings as well.

  5. Sending you so much love. And if you ever want to talk on the phone let me know... I'll email you my numbers. You have been such a source of strength for me.

  6. Im there too! I constantly check to make sure Lainey is breathing. Much more than I every did w/ Kyndra. I pray all the time for nothing to happen to my children