While I have a little bit of time....
My blog started as a way for friends and family to stay updated on my pregnancy with Ayden, his birth, and his growth and milestones. Little did I know that it would take the turn that it did. My blog is still a place mainly for friends and family to stay up-to-date on what is going on in the lives of the Joneses, but the content of my blog is certainly deeper than that.
When Ayden went to Heaven, I remember looking at Jeremy and saying, "We have to have another child...soon." My joy had just been ripped from my heart. My reason for breathing and moving through each day had been taken from me. I was so empty, and I knew that even though Ayden could never, ever be replaced, another child would help ease the pain and bring back my purpose.
Grieving and trying to get pregnant are not two things one would ever imagine being easy to do simultaneously. To say the least, it's not at all the situation you imagine yourself in when trying to become pregnant with another child. It's supposed to be a hopeful, exciting time. For us, it was still hopeful and exciting but also terrifying and stressful. It took us three months, and looking back...I don't know how it happened so quickly. Those three months dragged by for us, and negative results were beginning to become cumbersome. But, December 21st rolled around, and God granted us the most beautiful Christmas gift for a Christmas that would hold so much grief. I remember getting the postive result so clearly - I believe I'll always remember it - and I immediately cried and thanked God for answering our prayers.....and then...I pretty much gave God an ultimatum (Note to self and others: Don't do this...it's pointless and really, who are WE to ever think that's ok??) and told Him that He WAS going to let us keep this child. We went into our first Christmas without Ayden....dreading it (we didn't even decorate and we requested that our gifts not be wrapped) but hanging on to hope and our little secret. We kept it a secret for a while, only telling a few choice others who would be our prayer warriors over the first critical weeks.
9 weeks into my pregnancy, we told our parents. 13 weeks in, I let the news be broadcast everywhere. I still remained cautious. Back up to 4-6 weeks - I had had a few scares with some spotting. One such occasion led me to desperately text my midwife in the wee hours of the morning. My timing wasn't so great - she was in labor, herself, with her son! haha In the midst of her labor, though, she was making sure I was okay. How's that for friendship?? I owe her...
Throughout my pregnancy, I was having to force myself to stay calm and relaxed. In normal situations, this isn't incredibly hard to do. However, I was grieving the loss of my child. While my womb was full again, my arms ached for Ayden. (They still ache for Ayden) On the "bad" days, I had to remind myself that the life growing inside of me needed me to stay stable. This took a lot of motivation because at times I wanted to just break down and let it overwhelm me, but I knew I had to stay strong for our baby. This ended up being a blessing in disguise because it helped me find hope and strength that I didn't know I had. Of course, I still had bad days, and I welcomed them. I needed to feel the grief, but I did find a way to spread it out and take it in small doses.
The week before we went on the Respite Retreat, we went for our big ultrasound. I knew he was a boy. Most people were guessing girl, but I knew...it was another boy. Secretly, I did kind of hope for a girl...for something different...new. BUT, I also knew the love of a sweet baby boy, and it is a precious love. The bond between mom and son (baby son), is a bond that is so sweet, and I longed to have that back. I knew, though, that having it back with a baby boy who wasn't Ayden would be difficult for me to take in; it was going to be a process. As we waited in the lobby, we went over our name choices. We hadn't locked in a girl's name, so we did that just in case - it would have been Corren Brooke Jones (pronounced like Corrinne). I remember looking at Jeremy and saying, "It isn't going to matter...he's a boy. It's going to be Collen."
Sure enough, as soon as the tech put the wand on my belly - there he was, legs spread wide open, boy parts in all their glory. She didn't even have to say anything; I had seen it right away, and a smile immediately popped up on my face. We went through the scan to find out that Collen was healthy and developing just as he should. Once we had a moment to ourselves, though, we both looked at each other nervously because we knew another boy meant a higher risk of SIDS. The statistics do not favor baby boys, and we had just lived that nightmare; our fear in that moment was that we would face that fear again with another son.
We took the pictures into our appointment with DeEtte, my midwife, and we talked about how we were feeling about everything. Can I back up again?....
...The day we lost Ayden, I had an overwhelming need to see my midwife. I really don't know why. I had seen her the least out of all of the midwives, but she delivered Ayden. She was there when he took his first breath. She was there when we became a family of three. She was a part of it. She helped bring him into the world. She was connected to my son, and I needed her there in his absence. She was no longer working at the doctor's office I went to, but someone tracked her down for me (thank you "someone"), and she was at my house that night. Relief rushed over me when I saw her. I don't know that I expected her to be able to give me answers or what, but she did bring me so much comfort. So, when we found out we were pregnant again, I knew I had to go with someone who was connected to us and what we had been through. She was the obvious choice....
Ok...back to the "present."
So, appointments continued to go as scheduled. I saw DeEtte every time I went. As we got closer to my due date, I became more and more anxious. DeEtte seemed to sense it; she became more and more reassuring as we got closer, and she would check in via text message at least twice a week. She knew my fears. I was terrified of something happening at the last minute. I had heard too many horror stories of women making it up to the due date and then....tragedy. I had already lived a tragedy; I didn't want to experience another one. When I hit 38 weeks, I was getting anxious. Ayden came at 38 weeks 6 days. The 2nd baby usually follows the same track or comes a bit earlier. As I continued with my appointments, I was making progress, but labor had not begun. At my 38 week appointment, I was getting close to 4cm with no "action" and I was becoming a bit stressed. I did what I could to help things along....A LOT of walking happened that week. We got to Friday and still nothing. I texted DeEtte and told her I thought I'd be pregnant with Collen forever. She suggested that we come in the next morning and she could see what she could do. Jeremy and I didn't tell our parents we were going in (hehe). We met up with DeEtte, and she swept my membranes. When she did that, she reported (happily) that she could have broken my water if she had wanted to, and it looked that we would see something soon. We left the office, and my contractions began. I was having contractions every 10 minutes. This lasted for 5 hours....then went away. Frustrating, to say the least.
Luckily, the contractions began again late that night. This time, I knew it was for real. I laid in the bed watching the clock..timing every little pain. They weren't very strong, so I was afraid they were going to die off again. They continued to come, though, every 5-7 minutes. I waited an hour, and they remained consistent, so I texted DeEtte. She wasn't on call that weekend, but being the awesome midwife that she is, she informed me early on that when I went into labor, she would be "on call" for me. The fact that she was not on call that night was a blessing, though, because she stayed with me through the entire experience.
So, we were on our way. When we got to the hospital, we checked in and were immediately taken back to our room. I got into my gown and got prepped. It was so surreal. I felt like an old pro. This time around was so much more laid back...so natural. We settled in, and the nurse went to put the fetal monitor on me. This was the only stressful part about the entire experience. The nurse couldn't find Collen's heart beat. She searched for almost a minute. The silence coming from my belly was enough to bring my heart close to bursting. Finally, she found it, and I was able to breathe again. The nurse left the room and I looked at DeEtte and said,
"You know I was about 2 seconds away from freaking out, right?"
Soon afterwards, DeEtte decided to go ahead and break my water. At this point in my labor with Ayden, I had already had my epidural. I didn't feel my water being broken. This time, I felt it. What a strange, strange feeling!!! We called it the "bubbling spring." That might be gross to some of you, but it was a pretty cool experience. After my water was broken, the contractions started to come stronger, but they were still bearable. As I got closer and closer, I would watch the monitors to see how strong each contraction was. DeEtte kept commenting on how she couldn't believe I was sitting there smiling and laughing through them. They really didn't hurt. They were uncomfortable, but I was determined..."mind over matter." As I reached 6-7cm, though, the pain was getting to me. I had to decide if I wanted the epidural or not. I decided on pain meds first to see how I managed with those. My contracts started to stall out, so Pitocin was suggested. Once she said Pitocin, I said..."If we're going to do Pitocin, I want the epidural because I know what Pitocin means." So, the epidural was done. (By the way, I want my money back for that epidural because....it didn't work.) I knew it hadn't set in well because I was able to move my legs and the lower half of my body around. I kept hoping it was going to kick in at some point, but it never did.
Once I hit transition, I gritting my teeth through the contractions and breathing through the pain. Jeremy was a lot more relaxed this time around, and he slept through most of my labor. I remember him being up and awake from time to time...going to update everyone in the waiting room...but I don't really remember him being right there until it was time to push. (Sorry, Jeremy, if I'm not giving accurate info....I was kind of distracted) DeEtte and my nurse (oh, she was wonderful...) kept me focused and relaxed. Even up until it was time to push, the contractions weren't exactly painful. I just felt so much pressure! After about 9 hours of labor, it was time to push. At this point, I became a little scared. My epidural hadn't set in, and I was feeling everything. This was all new, and I didn't know what to expect. But, he was coming, so I had to just trust my body and myself. I pushed for 20 minutes....I remember shaking so badly at one point because I was feeling it all and was just ready for him to be out. (I even turned down touching his head, which I had said I wanted to do, because I was so focused on pushing). I remember them telling me his head was on its way out (and I remember Jeremy's smile when he said, "He has a head full of hair!") , and with one last push, he was here.
Collen's cry was music to my ears. He was crying as soon as he was out. Soon after he was delivered, he was placed on my chest, and my world changed in that moment. Memories flooded my mind. It was April 27th again...and I was holding Ayden again. I became overcome with emotion. It was surreal because I was in two places at once. I was aware that this was Collen, but I was also with Ayden, too. Collen looked so much like Ayden; I just held him and cried. I think we all cried. DeEtte knew how special that moment was for us, and I'm so, so happy that she was there to experience it with us. I wouldn't change one thing about Collen's birth. It was pefect; he is perfect; our lives have purpose again. We never stopped being parents, but we now get to parent again. Collen, our restoration of joy, was finally with us, and we were so, so happy.
Collen is almost 3 weeks old now. He is definitely his own person. He is unique and has a personality all his own. I see similarities in our two boys, but they also have characteristics of their own. Collen will make certain faces or expressions that look so much like Ayden, but then he also makes faces and expressions that are so uniquely "Collen." I love that. I love that he shares qualities with his brother. I love that he has his own qualities. I love that I will continue to see his brother as he grows. In a way, I think it will help me heal to "see" a little of Ayden in Collen because it will allow me to picture Ayden as he would have grown. I've never really been able to imagine Ayden past 4 months old. Even now, when he should be almost 17 months old, I still see my 4 month old baby....and that sweet, sweet smile.
We pray that Collen will always know how much we love him and how much he was wanted. We hope he will "know" his brother and love him as we do. It saddens me to know that he and his brother won't play together. They will never "touch" each other. They won't know each other or get into trouble together. We are the parents to two boys, but to onlookers....we are new, first-time parents. We plan to tell Collen all about his brother. We already have...
We love our boys, and we are so blessed to be the parents to these two beautiful little men. God certainly chose them for us, and I can't imagine loving any two people more. Our joy is being restored, but we will always love, miss, and grieve Ayden. But, we have hope. It is our earnest prayer that our family will be whole again someday.
I continue to battle fear. I pray over Collen every night - much differently than I did with Ayden. With Ayden, I prayed for his health and his life, but I also acknowledged my acceptance if God should choose to take him before we were ready for Him to. Although I know I would still have to accept it, I can't even go there right now. I pray, every night, that God would keep Collen's airways open, heart beating, and brain functioning. I ask Him every night to please, please let us keep him. My prayers turn to pleading, and I pray for His mercy....to not let us face loss again. Ultimately, I realize God is in control, and there's nothing we can do to prevent something from happening, but I have to believe that God wouldn't allow it to happen again. That's what I hope, at least.