Tuesday, 25 March 2014

409 - Our Beautiful Rainbow

Stella's birth was by far my most painful delivery.  It was emotionally difficult, but physically difficult as well.  My water was broken at 4pm and the induction drugs were started.  For many hours I felt great, I was simply chatting with Shawn and my mom and waiting for the real contractions to arrive.  Eventually they came with full force and began to run into one another without a break.  Stella was face up and needed to turn.  As a result, I was labouring on all fours in an effort to get her turned around.  Once the contractions were on top of one another and I didn't have a break in between, I began to think of Hope often and was emotionally overwhelmed.  At 5 cms I asked for an epidural and could barely stand the pain as I waited for the doctor to arrive.  The epidural went in easily and as I finally started to feel a little bit of relief, I felt intense pressure and wanted to push.  The epidural had only been in for 10 minutes when I asked the doctor to check me again.  He was surprised to find that I was now 10 cms and ready to push.  

Unfortunately, my labouring on all fours had not done it's job completely.  Stella had turned, but only half way.  She was coming out sideways, shoulders stacked on top of one another!  As a result, she was quite stuck and pushing her out was slow and extremely painful.  Unlike the other two deliveries, I screamed with each push and begged the doctors to hurry up and get her out.  It was about 30 minutes before she finally arrived and was placed on my stomach.  I was instantly aware of how much she looked like Sadie.  She doesn't look like Hope at all, it was Sadie's twin!  Although I'll always wonder what Hope would have looked like as she grew up, I'm thankful that Stella looks like Sadie. 

Before Stella was born, I began grief counselling to prepare for the emotions that would come with her arrival.  When Stella was handed to me in the delivery room, I sobbed.  After arriving home with Stella just 12 hours after she was born, she went 6 hours without eating and would not wake up enough to eat.  We ended up taking her into the children's hospital to make sure she was ok.  As we made the all too familiar drive, again I sobbed.  Stella was perfectly healthy, just extremely exhausted from her delivery.  Since then, my face has been full of smiles and it reflects the feelings in my heart.  Although I feared I would be on an emotional roller coaster after Stella's birth, I was wrong.

Stella has now been home with us for two weeks and we are so thankful for her.  Sadie is absolutely enthralled with her sister and is asking to hold her constantly.  She is always willing to help out with her little sister and is so excited to introduce her to others.  We are proud of Sadie and the way she has adjusted so far to Stella being home with us.  Stella is an extremely easy going baby.  She rarely cries, unless she's hungry or you're changing her diaper while she's hungry.  She sleeps well during the day and is starting to sleep more at night.  She eats a LOT and is sure to grow with the amount she consumes in a day.  

I feel such gratitude for her healthy life and after all we went through with Hope, I realize what a blessing her health is.  Getting up to nurse her in the night is a privilege, not a burden.  I remember what it felt like to get up and mix feeds, pump, run a tube feed and then sterilize all the equipment with Hope.  That was not easy in the night and we were exhausted.  Getting up to cuddle in a chair with a sleepy baby nursing is a completely different experience.  Sleeping in my own bed, instead of a rock hard mattress in the hospital is incredible.  We spent so much time at the hospital with Hope, our time at home with her was so brief it's hard to even remember how it felt.  Each day at home with Stella is a gift.  I hope the gratitude never fades as I enjoy the blessing of having both my girls at home.  I'll always know that a third little girl is missing from each family photo, but I'll continue to find comfort in the knowledge that Hope is pain free in Heaven.  

I love getting to watch Sadie enjoy her sister on a daily basis.  I love that I can care for Stella's needs and still be a mom to Sadie at the same time.  Caring for Hope often involved not being able to care for Sadie, that was never easy.  Newborns are a lot of work, but after the journey we had with Hope, it feels like a much easier road than the one previously travelled.  

Thank you to everyone that prayed for us through my pregnancy and the arrival of Stella.  Your prayers have clearly made an impact as I find such peace in caring for Stella and welcoming her into our family.  

Many people have asked me if I will continue to blog.  This blog was started to share Hope's story and her story has already been written.  I have decided that since Hope was with us for 412 days on this earth, I'll write 412 entries onto this blog.  After that I'll enjoy my girls at home and no longer write about the ins and outs of our daily lives.  This entry is number 409, that leaves 3 entries before I'll finish, likely just in time for the one year anniversary of Hope's death.  Thank you to everyone that has journeyed with our family.  It has been a long road and was full of a lot of ups and downs, we don't even want to imagine how it would have felt to walk through that without all the support we've been given from you all.  

Friday, 14 March 2014

The "Rainbow" has arrived!

On March 10th at 11:19 pm, we welcomed Stella Hope Koslowski into the world.  She weighed 6 lbs., 6 oz. and was 21 inches long.  She is the spitting image of her older sister, Sadie.  She is perfectly healthy and we are rejoicing in the safe delivery of our rainbow baby!  I have intended to write about her entrance into our lives several times since Monday, but right now Stella likes to party all night and I am finding it hard to stay awake long enough to blog!  Stay tuned and I will write more when the fog clears. : )  Thank you so much for all your prayers for our little family!  We are in love.

Monday, 10 March 2014

The Night Before...

I've been told I'll get a call that tells me what time to come to the hospital tomorrow.  I have no idea when that will happen and can only hope it truly happens tomorrow.  There is always the chance that every other woman in Calgary will decide to deliver tomorrow and I'll be postponed.  I am trusting that God will have control over the timing and praying that I get a call earlier in the day and not later.  The baby is fine, I'm simply overwhelmed emotionally and my body appears to be trying to go into labour, but failing.  I've been induced with all of my deliveries.  My body will break my water or begin contractions but never makes it far enough on it's own and I end up with an induction anyway.  I feel confident that this is the right decision.

This little girl, this upcoming delivery and this pregnancy have been an experience I was not fully prepared for.  We were obviously shocked to find out we were pregnant so quickly after losing Hope, but were excited and knew that we had many months to adjust to the idea.  I spent the majority of those months in denial and focused on the fact that I was pregnant, but not the fact that I would be having a baby.  Thanks to a lot of help from a grief counsellor, I've been able to dig into my pain and allow myself to bond with this new little girl and not allow my fears to hold me back.

This does not mean the fears simply go away.  After losing a child, you are no longer free to assume that everything will be fine.  It doesn't matter that the echo looked great of this baby's heart, the list of complications that can happen is still quite long.  I fear a lot of things that will likely never become reality, but until I hold my healthy baby girl in my arms, my heart is not truly at rest.

In reading through materials for parents about to have a child after the loss of another, I have learned that I am not alone in my feelings.  Any pregnant woman struggles at the end of pregnancy with the patience of waiting to meet their baby and to finish being pregnant!  The intensity of all that when you've lost a child is just so much greater.  I was comforted to know that this is normal and that often woman begin to lose their minds much earlier than I have.  At this point, although I feel my daughter move within me, I need to see her breathe in front of me.  I long to see her breathing and alive.  Sadie will always be my baby girl, but Hope was truly still a baby and the last time I held her she was no longer alive.  My arms ache for the feel of a warm baby's body, a rising chest and eyes full of life that look up at me.  This is not filled by any baby, it is a feeling that I believe will only go away when I hold a baby belonging to Shawn and me.

I hold a lot of fears about the hospital.  The experience is too familiar and it's a struggle for Shawn to be there as well.  I'm not sure how I'll feel about the IV's, the doctors coming in and out, the nurses, the smell of hospital laundry, the sounds around the ward or the experience all together.  I'm not sure how I'll feel emotionally as I go through the pain of bringing this life into the world.  I'm truly overwhelmed tonight as I think about it and can only pray that sleep comes quickly and deeply so tonight will be over soon.  I'm praying that our daughter and myself will go through labour without complications and that when I tell the doctors I'd really like to stay in the hospital for the shortest amount of time possible, that they understand and let us come home.

Thank you for holding our family up in prayer tomorrow, as I should be receiving that phone call to go and begin our induction.  I'll be sure to post an update, and a picture, as soon as I can get home and back on the computer.