Sleeping Baby Birds
I hold Birdie while she sleeps. She falls asleep around the same time each night, in my arms, after a bottle, and I hold her for far longer than I should. She's a noisy breather, often with her little heart shaped mouth partially open. I memorize her and enjoy the weight of her on my chest. I hold her for most of her naps too, morning and afternoon. Sometimes for hours. One day she'll be big and not want to be held, is what I tell Beau. Now I would have probably done it no matter what but I think how I only had a few moments to hold our Piper girl. How I wish I had held her longer. It's among the many regrets I have.
I can't tell you how long I held her there in that hospital room, maybe an hour, but it wasn't enough. Then I think would it ever have been long enough? It's all a painful haze with love as a strong under tone and while I don't really think our girls favor each other too much, aside from their noses, there have been moments when I find myself searching for a hint of Piper in Birdie's sleeping little face. And it's there. My sweet baby birds.
While grief does it's ugly little dance, I cry silent sobs on her peach fuzz head and listen to my miracle snore. I read lots of things about grief and the authors efforts to describe how consuming it can be, how it shifts and threatens to ruin you then become a dull roar. All these people attempting to describe the worst sadness but you simply can't. It's different for each person and it can't be adequately expressed but the one common theme is that it doesn't ever go away.
As my grief holding hands with Andy changes I find myself putting it in a box. In my mind it's a regular, medium-sized, brown box. Really, a boring, packing box with tape and all. This box sits in the corner and I sometimes look at it or touch it but last night I climbed inside it as I watched my sleeping daughter. I let myself relive those precious moments that I held out first girl. My soul hurts knowing I only met Piper sleeping. That she never opened her eyes on earth. That I have a whole life before I meet her again.
People say things like enjoy them because time goes so fast. I'm listening. I'll hold her here and her sister in my heart. And one day a long time from now Birdie will read these words. I hope she learns how much she is loved and cherished for just being herself but how she saved us and gave us new purpose.
I do not really feel all too positive right now but I'm thankful that brown box exists because before I didn't realize there was an option to climb out of it. My counselor said that I used to live in that box and she's not wrong.
Goodnight Piper, Goodnight Birdie.
Rest easy Piper girl, until we meet again.
Don't Forget, Please
The shift happened slowly when I wasn't paying attention. First I stopped crying every day, the happy moments crept in then one day was OK, then more good then bad, then my new normal. A term I hated until it was my reality. My grief journey is constantly shifting and keeps evolving. It's slippery and sneaky and drags Andy along too.
Very recently I found myself hysterically crying in the shower, crumbled on the floor, hopeful the water would muffle my sobs. Privately, I let my tears and heartache circle the drain.
In the months following Piper's death I cried everyday, sometimes all day. There was no discrimination, where I was or who I was with I let it happen. It was one of the fears I had early on that I would never stop crying. That I was so very broken that I was actually broken.
I think crying is therapuetic and I thank all of those of you who cried in unison with me. It was an honor and a tribute to my first born. The other night as I sat on the shower floor crying until my face was red I thought about all those things that I feared.
"I have a daughter, she's 6 months" I beamed at a parent of a patients. There is an entire blog post on how I would never not mention Piper in our line up but as my grief matures I find that sometimes I can't rip off the delicate stiches and explain to strangers how my blonde baby died before she even got the chance to leave her mark on this world. I feel awkward or can't cry another tear at work.
But here is a deep seeded fear all of us child loss moms have, people will forget. Time goes on and there's a natural expectation that you'll be alright. Perhaps you have another baby or clean up really good. I finally put a cap on crying in the grocery store but not my car it's free game. And I get it, I've thought to myself shape up Bennett but really deep down I'm scared that people will forget her little life because her physical presence is not here. I like to picture her with sassy pig tails causing a raucous with our tribe. It's why I casually mention that I have had two children and chit-chat about how the first go around I was just as sick. Why I feel weird to take off my Piper necklace and why I let Birdie sleep on my chest and type this blog soaking her head with tears.
Time moves on but there is a big piece of our hearts missing. I'm glad I'm a more presentable and tolerable human. Also, so relieved that I don't cry all the time and I can feel joy. Not force it, really just feel it. Pumped when I go days without Andy.
Do me a favor, don't forget our first girl. Don't forget all those babies who just didn't get their chance. It's sad and horrible and a really hard thing to think about. Time goes on but I still need y'all to hold her in your heart. Time goes on but she is burned in my soul and a part of me can't go on.
Rest easy Piper Kai.
Aren't we all Full Time?
I thought motherhood would look different. I started a blog post ages ago with that exact sentence. I'm still reeling from the shock and hurt that I am not busy mothering a toddler and sacrificing sleep with my 5 month old. But you know what else?
I didn't think the dried oatmeal on my shirt would be holding it all together.. well that and amazon prime. I didn't think I'd be this much of a disorganized mess. I loose everything, drink more coffee than water, don't give enough attention to our dog, don't you dare move anything in my home because I don't know what you'll find underneath. I stepped in something sticky yesterday. I also have more than one friend who is skeptical of my car's cleanliness. Like they offer to drive. Anyone else out there?
When I joke about the lack of clean undies in my house, people say "well you work".
I read an article recently that pit mother's who work against mother's who stay at home. I couldn't help myself and wrote a snarky note to the author. Aren't we all working, all the time? Isn't being a Mom a full time job? I'm still momming it up when I'm at the office or at home. It irritated me much like the breastfeeding chatter. It didn't work for me so why do I let social media tell me I'm less than awesome.
The internet and and society has made it too easy to shame other Moms. I've also learned that carrying and birthing babies opens gates for all sorts of advice and opinions. I've been back to work now for a few months and today re-read an old post about returning to work twelve weeks after Piper died. I didn't want to do it. I wanted to wallow around in my pajamas but work was an important tool in my learning to cope with grief. It gave my brain another option and it continues to be an important tool in keeping Andy at bay. Good old Andy Anxiety.
I get to work about three days a week. I feel like I have the unique perspective of straddling the fence on the topic of working in your home vs. working outside of your home. I'm home more than I'm not. And often when I'm home I'm working harder then when I'm not. But there are certainly times I relish in the adult contact that comes along with the chaos of working in a pediatric setting. I eat my lunch real slow and look at Instagram. But other times I cry all the way to and from work because I miss our daughter. I'm certain being a mother of two has made me better at my job. There is another complete topic on the financial aspect as in going from a two income home to one wasn't going to work for us. So here comes a common undertone to a lot of my feelings, guilt and more specifically mom guilt. I think did I pack her enough diapers? Does she have her hippo toy? Does she miss me (she doesn't)?
Am I doing it all right?
And there it is folks. The question that bands all mother's, everywhere, together. Whether you have it together or not. (Sidenote: If you do come help me). If you work 80 hours outside your home or chase your babes for every hour of your day. Are we making the best decisions for our children?
Do I wish I stayed home more? Often. Do moms who stay at home wish they worked? I don't know. It doesn't really matter. Motherhood is freaking hard and I have a huge tribe that practically begs to watch Birdie and it's still hard.
So whether you are posting a picture of your clean home or dragging your dirty toddler out of Target, I raise my hand in solidarity and assure you, you are doing it as right as you can. I'm proud of you and we need to stick together.
Oh and, my house has always been sticky so we can't really blame work.
Rest easy Piper Kai, I wish your sticky hands were a part of this mix.
When Loving Yourself is Hard
There are times when all the things align and I can feel the physical symptoms of grief. They like to pop up and take the ugly shape of Andy Anxiety. My counselor suggested I name him so he's easier to address. It makes me giggle but gives me a very helpful tool in that I can give him his own identify. He is not me and I am not him. Ya dig? Now Andy doesn't visit as often or stay as long, but once old Andy is here, I feel like I'll always be anxious then skirt around a good old fashioned panic attack making a lovely circle until I have an Ah-HA moment.
I could never list all the things that make me anxious (Beau can) and I can promise you more people then you'd think suffer from atypical amounts of anxiety or post-partum anxiety. Unfortunately, our society full of tiny, perfect squares on your social media veils real life. I am beyond lucky that my Andy doesn't beat me down til the point I can't leave the house. I'm a happy, successful and loved lady. But what about those of us who don't talk about our Andys?
My Ah-HA moment this time was two-fold. I had neglected to properly acknowledge a Piper's Day. January 11, 2017 had marked 6 months since her death and the very next day we learned there was a Birdie, formerly known as Squeak, growing in my belly. When you shove grief down it gets rude and aggressive. January 11th marked 18 months without my first blonde and January 12th marked a whole year of Birdie Kai.
Second fold, I had shyed away from self-care, self-love and blamed it on motherhood.
We have five month old who not only requires a lot of care but also is extremely cute, so we opt to play with her all of the other time. I stopped eating vegetables (we all know my donut habit was compounded by Christmas treats), exercising, I got flu sick then Beau did, it snowed its butt off, it's cold, I stopped chatting with God and hadn't stepped in to a church since...Didn't sleep enough, ate too much cheese, and had far too little face time with the strong woman in my life. I can keep going but the whining is stinging my eyes.
All those things in isolation would be manageable but together, a perfect storm. Andy. I had been neglecting my mind, body and most importantly my soul.
I had better take care of myself so I can be the best Mommy to both my girls. And also a tolerable wife, daughter and friend! Yup, I hate/ate a few salads, took a dance class, planned a trip, went to worship loved the heck out of my family, and I wrote this blog to say, hey Piper girl, we miss you. I don't count the days anymore but you shine in my heart every moment.
And now, I'm 100% better, ok that's a social media lie, I'm like 87%. Til next time Andy.
Rest easy, Piper Kai.
One Less Present
I brushed off Thanksgiving but have found myself in an emotional tailspin as Christmas approaches. Christmas is my favorite. I am flailing about and throwing my arms and legs out hoping to catch something to help slow down the torrent of pain that seems to attach itself to this holiday.
At the risk of sounding a tad cliche, holidays are time for family. Set aside for reflection and a reminder to give thanks for the people who surround you but now holidays are hard. For most of us there is an empty spot at the table and one less gift under the tree. There are a million reasons to miss the people no longer earth side and those reasons tend to sneak up and throat punch you, right about now.
The first inclination of how bad Christmas would hurt is when I noted all the specially, monogrammed stockings at Lollys house. All lined up, in my moms winter wonderland, are large red stockings with all of her grandbabies, with the exception of Piper. Now I feel it very important to tell everyone that my people never leave Piper out of the head count or conversations. No one flinches as I casually discuss her or randomly appear red eyed and puffy. Many a time do I find one of them crying in silent remembrance of our baby. But man the missing stocking sent an abrupt reminder of how our first daughter will not be here at Christmas, or ever. I cried, my mom cried.
I thought a good way to spread Christmas cheer would be to drop some holiday goodies off at the NICU that cared for our Birdie. I had been a tad fearful that it might stir up my always present anxiety but grinchy old grief had a different idea. Pulling in to that parking lot, I was flooded with what it felt like to walk out of that hospital in my mismatched PJs, belly still soft, without Piper. I remember the shirt I was wearing and that my shoes were untied. That I couldn't take off my hospital band because it somehow linked me to her. I sat in my car reliving those details until I could pep talk myself in to the hospital. The gift made it in there but I probably frightened the nice girl who accepted it with my Rudolph nose.
Despite all the tears and the pending holiday, time has gifted me strength and an improved self awareness to appreciate where we are in life. Last Christmas, I had set up camp in a deep, dark hole of depression. My anxiety hit a climax with a medication worthy panic attack on Christmas Day. We were trudging reluctantly towards another year, our first year without Pipes. I now reveal in the light and am genuinely happy as new version of myself. Happy. A word I thought was lost to me. A feeling that was so foreign I could not even accurately name it when it slowly crept back in. The darkness still comes and threatens to be all consuming but I have the tools to grieve and live my best life simultaneously. If that's not something to be thankful for then what is?
There will always be one less present and one less stocking. One blonde missing from our line-up.
Piper died, but with grace, we are alive.
So we hang her ornanments and say her name while holding our rainbow a little closer each day. Birdie is not a replacement for our Piper girl but a reminder of how grand life can be. We can only hope that you all have a joyful time of year and we thank you for being a part of Piper's tribe.
Merry Christmas and rest easy our darling girl.
Rainbow Babies Cry
Oh where to begin? I've opened and reopened this post, cried and shut it because ya know, the feels. A lot has been going down in the Bennett tribe and I thought I'd grace our extended tribe with updates. The holidays snuck up on us, like they always do, and sucker punched me right on in the gut. Halloween and Thanksgiving gave me emotional whiplash as I soaked up my new brand of firsts with Birdie and continued to grieve Pipes. Sunday, I hung my tiny, red P stocking on our tree feeling sweaty, nauseous and really sad. How is it even possible that there will be another Christmas without our Piper girl? I can hardly type it because at this time last year I was belly crawling through life desperate to survive. If you thumb back through last Decembers posts, the pain we felt was insurmountable, hanging on to everyone's holiday cheer, battling panic attacks at family gatherings while buffering life with champagne punch. Birdie B. is pure heaven, brings endless joy and so so much hope that we are excited about all things Christmas. Even though she could care less and her presents are really my presents. It's, for better lack of a word, weird to feel oh so happy and oh so sad in a second.
I went back to work (part time, barely, thanks Beau) Don't worry I have loads to say on the subject and I'm slowly working my way through those feelings. If you are a stay at home Mom, you are my hero. It can be hard and isolating and scary. Driving in my car, to and from work, alone is the time I let it all fall away. I bring those hazy moments in to clear view and dig in to the too few memories I have of Piper and replay them over and over in my head. I don't hold back on the ugly cry or snot. I stopped putting mascara on, again.
But what I really had on my heart is what a fellow PAL mom touched on in her blog post.
Rainbow babies cry.
For those of you less familiar with the term. A rainbow baby is a baby born following a loss.. a rainbow, a promise after the storm. I fought the term for the implication that Piper girl was a storm to weather but began to embrace it as the grief that followed blew like a category 5 hurricane. This time we were all were so focused on my pregnancy then the NICU, by the time we brought home a 4 lb 14 ounce Birdie Bennett, Beau and I looked at each other like
My rainbow baby is, a baby. She needs all the baby things and shows a strong preference for 2 am parties where she cries and one lucky parent paces the house. I was under the impression that she'd be that, a rainbow trailed by butterflies and soft music. She'd smile and coo and sleep at night. You laughing? You should.
By my third sleepless night, where I sat straight up
on the couch in a fully lit living room watching the rise and fall of her tiny chest until exhaustion won and I'd dozed restlessly for moment or two, decidedly Beau or I would sleep in shifts. Don't worry we now ALL sleep in our room with her bassinet within reach. It's Birdies world and we all live in it. Sunday night, we all had an up til 1 am jam session and two wardrobe changes.
She cries. Granted no more, no less then the average tiny person but it goes down. She has a healthy set of lungs that we prayed over, and likes to remind me of a sleepy me asking a NICU nurse "why doesn't she cry?". Fun fact: sometimes NICU babies and in Birdies case a baby with a feeding tube , who was cared for and fed round the clock had NO need to cry.She now looks at you adoringly then unleashes a banshee like shriek.
Yes, we are completely smitten with her and even in the depths of her banshee nights very much in love. But I'm here to tell you, your rainbow baby, is a baby. We do ordinary things like panic when she won't stop crying or sleep. Beau and I have had less than romantic conversations circling the color of poop, how much she drank, what's the teeny red mark on her face. We've bickered about who has and hasn't slept more and who did what last.
There was this unspoken expectation (by all, me included) that upon her arrival, I'd be "normal" or as close to it as I was prior to babies. False. The anxiety was at an all time high. I had spent my entire pregnancy coping with Pipers death and in a hyper vigilant state. I couldn't turn it off. I was humming. That's how I describe the feeling, ready to jump out of my skin drank 13 cups of coffee, crazy. I'm working hard to turn down the volume and it seems to be working with a lot of help from my tribe, with Beau, Lolly and my counselor heading the charge. They held up a mirror to my unsettled behavior and made me take a deep look at myself. Beau is the calm parent, go figure. You laughing again?
So no actual rainbows over here. She is our miracle, she is a baby, a delicious dose of real life. My ordinary journey as a mom, fills my heart to the brim. If I haven't bored you enough, I can regal you with what I ate for lunch.
Rest easy PKB.
Tiny Little Pumpkins
I am a feelings person. I have a lot of them, I over share and bore Beau to no end telling him every second how I feel about something or other. This is why this stage has been hard for me. I find myself crying often, my grief bubbling over and mixing with love. I have a difficult time explaining exactly what this particular tidal wave is comprised of but there goes nothing.
Life got real, real busy with our tiny miracle. Busy to include the run of the mill things like diaper changing and late night feedings but mainly just falling more and more in love. We spend hours smacking each other or calling "babe, babe" to witness her gummy smiles. She finally helped me to accomplish the task I'd been striving for, get busy living life, and in such a less forceful way. Like an honest breath of fresh air.
My new role to our daughter earth side, left me with less intentional time to grieve. Your rainbow baby fills your arms and bandaids your heart but that wound still exists. Those wounds still need attention and in order to do so I've had to compartmentalize the pain as to fully embrace what motherhood looks like now. As a feelings lady that's been a brand new challenge. I remind myself that I carry her in every move we make because she shaped my new existence. I truly believe that she saved her sister, and in turn gifted me Birdie. Again, Piper lives in everyone who loved her because her brief existence touched them too.
It's hard to admit how gutted I feel about Halloween. I know it's Halloween. I have an old blog entry, that I never shared, highlighting how I wandered around Target a lot during my leave after Pipers death. One particular day, last October, I had escaped to the Target one town over so I wouldn't see anyone I knew and found myself openly sobbing at the tiny pumpkin costumes. Subsequently scaring the heck out of some male shopper in the next aisle. I was sad and majorly pissed off that I wouldn't stuff my daughter in one of those costumes and scam candy out of the neighbors. I whispered to myself "Piper died but I'm alive" and took my niece trick or treating, who happened to be the cutest darn pumpkin in town. I regularly faked it until I made it.
Here I am, I made it but am still confused how it could hurt this bad. I'll be over here whispering the same mantra "Piper died but we are alive" and plan to stuff Birdie Bennett in her pumpkin costume.
All the feelings.
Rest easy Piper Kai.
Family of 4
October is infant and pregnancy loss awareness month. I wanted to talk a bit about what it's like to be a family of four but look like a family of three. Carrying another baby helped me cope with Piper's death. I've talked a lot about the earth shattering fear I've lived with the past (almost) nine months but haven't touched on the healing aspect of growing Squeak. It gave my heart another chance to expand. It gave my body and mind another important task.
We miss Piper. I don't think there will ever be a day in my life when I don't think of her or weave her in to my day dreams. Beau and I talk often of being parent to two baby girls. We like to fantasize what it would be like to parent them, just 12 months apart. The fun, the love and the challenges of maneuvering two car seats in the back of his fancy car, (that I'm not allowed to eat in or drive for that matter). Today my arms feel extra empty and I feel sad that I missed out on being Pipers mom as she grew up.
It's the now heavy reality of knowing what I am missing. Beau and I spend a lot of the day gazing at Birdie and yelling to one another to come swoon over typically baby things like yawning. Many times one of us come dashing from room to room to witness a gummy smile. I had imagined all the things I would miss now that I'm experiencing them with Birdie it adds another layer to my grief.
Having your rainbow baby baby helps fill your arms but it can never replace your babies. It occupies your heart but it can never repair it. You get to love extra because you have survived the unimaginable. I've typed and talked about how you don't need to know pain to know love but for me it feels so intense. I have to pinch myself, not only to stay awake, but to remind myself that I am truly a mother to a living, breathing miracle. That's not always the case though. Sometimes there isn't a rainbow after the storm but you still have to fight like hell through the pain.
We find ourselves accidentally calling Birdie, Piper. In fact our family, friends and even a nurse who had heard me speak at the stillbirth summit did it in the NICU. Sometimes people don't even realize they have done it. You might think that's horrific and painful but I count it as a victory. I have successfully told our story and spoke of my child so often, that on occasion, her sister is called her name. Piper lives in all of us. Her story will never die.
Rest easy my girl.
After Birdie was born, she was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit or NICU to immediately address her respiratory distress. Along with her immature lungs, she was thought to have aspirated some fluid during her abrupt entrance in to this world. There were some complications during my c section that resulted in Squeak being yanked a few times from my rib cage. She required breathing assistance via a CPAP for about 24 hours before she was weaned off oxygen for another 3 days.
After my blood pressure stabilzed, my hospital bed was wheeled to the NICU and I was allowed to see my tiny miracle for about 5 minutes before being taken to the postpartum unit. Again I was without my baby in my arms, but she was alive. They told me to sleep. Yeah. I stared at the clock willing the feeling to return to my legs so I could crawl to my child. I called the NICU every 45 minutes to ask about our baby.
The anguish of our first child dying and then watching Birdie struggling to breathe was enough to crack the strongest of people. This experience has easily shaved 10 years off my life and there will never be enough concealer to rectify the bags under my eyes. When Birdie started experiencing apnea episodes and I watched all of her numbers plummet and our girl essentially hold her breathe, I do not have the right words. It's a special level of fear hearing alarms go off and everyone rush to your child's bedside. I wanted it to be me. I begged for it to be me. It's watching your heart beat outside your body and you can do nothing to control what is happening. Fortunately the staff realized very quickly what this issue was and the appropriate medication administered.
The medication thankfully resolved the apnea of prematurity issues immediately but I'll watch her breathe until she's 18.Then we tackled the bottle feedings. Preemies have difficulties coordinating the whole suck-swallow-breathe situation, while eating. My kid didn't even get a go at a bottle for 8 days due to oxygen needs. Thanks to a mighty NICU speech therapist, my kid can now eat. Eat a lot. At 4 am. Fun side note. I AM a pediatric speech therapist and MY kid ate better for the NICU speech therapist, Beau and pretty much any nurse. I sobbed in my car on more than one occasion.
Thats what the NICU feels like. Holding your breathe. Waiting for the bad, waiting for the good, waiting. Tip toeing through the day. Counting every mL drank and the scale move up by grams. I've googled how many grams to an ounce, ounce to lbs more than I care to admit. The NICU is driving away from the hospital, trusting other people (very awesome,capable people) to watch your baby so you can have a break from the hospital room. The NICU is walking past the well baby nursery, top full of crying, fat babies and grieving your birth plan. My birth plan did not involve my guts being removed. I've had one baby vaginally and one via c-section. Folks, c-sections are not the easy way out. I'll post about that on a later date. It's fighting the guilt. You should feel nothing but happy and gratitude for your tiny baby but you can't help but cry.
The baby blues are a real thing. I cried over everything. We are on high alert for any post partum anxiety or depression as parents who have experienced child loss are at higher than average risk. I am pretty in tune with my feelings but I still have a counselor and my family keeps an eye on things. My hormones are a little more even now but I just cried because she's another day older so there's that.
The NICU is hard on your marriage. While Beau had all the faith in the world about our medical team I felt the need to be there every second I could. I would get really snippy about having to leave and I'll give you a guess who had to deal with my madness. I'm sure I set a record for the number of questions I asked or things I worried about. But I'll continue to stand on my soap box about how love conquers all and marriages should evolve, bend to withstand life. I made a grand life choice in making Beau my partner, he is for sure the calm to my storm. Love you babe.
The phenomenal NICU nurses, Beau, families and our well established tribe helped me keep in together as best as possible. Reaching out to a friend who had two babies in the NICU was a vital life line. Having someone tell you it's ok to cry for 12 hours for no reason or for a reason helped me to feel validated.
If you ever know someone or are someone experiencing a NICU stay I'd be happy to talk to you and have a party over every mIlliliter your kid drinks. Every day that monitor doesn't sound. Cry with you. Bring you a beer.
Im grateful our NICU stay was 21 days. I know many a brave families experiencing longer stays or parents of babies with critical issues. I'll tuck you right in my heart with my girls.
Rest easy Pipes.
Birdie Kai Bennett
My tiny miracle, our rainbow of hope made a dramatic entrance via emergency C-section, August 19th at 8:55 p.m., at 35 weeks and 1 day. Weighing 4 lbs, 9 ounces and 17.25 inches. She immediately opened her eyes and Squeaked.
Our birth story is a scary story with a very happy ending. Let me tell you how kick counting saved my baby.
Early that same day I noted baby bird was moving less frequently. After monitoring her movements for an hour I was overcome by fear and an extreme urge to go to L&D. Call it mothers instinct. I had counted kicks several times a day since week 28 per our doctors suggestion. If you are not familiar with kick counting, it's when you pick 1-2x a day, when your baby is most active, to monitor their movements. You should ideally feel 10 movements in an hour. I used an app on my phone or a post it on my desk. Birdie, like her sister, was very active in utero and rarely made me "worry" about lack of movement. Typically following cold water and a lay on the couch, I would get 10 movements under 10 minutes, but never longer then 30. I felt 3 in 45 minutes.
My mom drove me as Beau was out of town for the day. It was the longest drive of my life. Upon arrival to the hospital, I began to hyperventilate and experience the worst panic attack of my life, fearing the absolutely worst. I was in respiratory distress by the time I made it to L&D and immediately hooked up to a fetal doppler, revealing a slow but present heartbeat. Initially they said she was "sleeping" but I knew my baby and knew that heart rate was far too low following the dozen or so NSTs. I adamantly said over and over, very loudly, that something was wrong. Fortunately, my concerns were not ignored and my doctor was paged. Slowly the heart rate began to decline. I was flipped on my side and pumped full of juice in an effort to wake baby. I required oxygen as I continued to hyperventilate. "Deep breathes" the nurse chanted. An IV line was started and baby did begin to show some small accelerations. I can not even begin to explain the fear. Two of Piper's nurses were there and took turns sitting with me on my bed as my mom tried to keep Beau up to date.
Doctor arrived and started a biophysical profile. After baby did not move for several minutes she exited the room and returned very quickly. "Ready to have baby, today?" She had confirmed with our speciality team that baby was in distress and was better out out than in. As I briefly panicked about having a preemie, my doctor said we have everything to lose by leaving her in my belly. Things moved fast from that point as I was prepped for surgery.
Beau was racing down down the interstate to be by my side as I sat in the brightly lit operating room and my spinal tap was put in. I'd like to say I was handling this with grace but in reality after I was numb, I began thrashing around in panic. I couldn't feel anything from chest down and while that's the game plan the loss of what little control I had went out the window. I began screaming and needed to be strapped down. And later medicated. The amazing surgical team kept telling me this was to save our daughter. My mom sat with me as Birdie was delivered, with a yank and a squeak. Beau entered the room as they lifted her above the screen. She was breathing on her own and had a heartbeat, not needing resuscitation, but needed a few minutes to fully come around.
"Happy Birthday", said our doctor. Silence. "There's a true knot in her cord".
You can read that line as many times as I've replayed it in my head. The anomaly we had been assured would not reoccur, almost claimed our second daughter's life. We have been told in is a 1 in 10,000 occurrence, and we should be things of medical textbooks. Lightning struck twice, but this time I was ready.
With all the testing we had done, kick counting and motherly instinct is what saved my daughter. Theory is when she flipped back breech she pulled her cord too tightly, similar to Piper except that she pulled hers engaging for birth. It's also their thought that it was tight enough to restrict growth but not tight enough to register on any of their tests. We are hoping to have more answers at our 6 weeks follow up with the specialist. The rarity of this may have an underlying genetic component. She had consistently measured in the 2nd percentile but was born closer to the 13th with her head in the 75th, gestationally our neonatologist believes she was closer to 34 than 35 weeks.
Without Gods grace, our daughter would have lived only another hour or two. I can't focus on the fact too long or I won't make it. The responsibility is too heavy and the what ifs too much to handle. Birdie is HOME following a 21 day NICU stay, secondary to prematurity. She is a born fighter. She's now 5 lbs 2 ounces,18 inches of pure JOY. She is everything and more that I've dreamed about for 8+ months, for my whole life.
While it will never be fair or make sense as to why we don't have our two blondes together, in this life. Piper sent Birdie to us and gave me the knowledge to save her sister's life.
Rest easy Piper Kai Bennett, we miss you everyday.