Monday, November 30, 2009

Please, December, be a fresh start

1 hugs and kisses
I know I've not written lately - in nearly a month, in fact.  I've wanted to ... I've thought about it many, many times.  But I knew that in order to post something, I'd have to come face to face with my last post about Oliver, and I still wasn't prepared for that.

We've been slowly healing, but we'll always have scars that remind us of him.  His death on November 1st kicked the month off in the most horrible way.  The only good way of looking at it was that it could only get better.  Until today.

Rewind back to the wee morning hours of Sunday, October 11th.  Riley had a yucky diaper that required a very early morning bath.  While Kevin was bathing her, I needed to use the restroom.  I was feeling a little queasy so I thought I'd take a pregnancy test - one that I just had lying around - never imagining what I would see three minutes later.  Two precious pink lines stared back at me - and I shook.  I smiled.  I screamed with joy inside.  Being the impatient person I am, I threw all creativity out the window for how I could share the news with Kevin and instead ran straight into the bathroom and blurted out ... "So ... um ... I'm PREGNANT!!".  We were elated - and shocked.  What a wonderful, wonderful day.

Flash forward to November 1st when Oliver passed away.  The reason we were on the way to Columbus that day - in the opposite direction of where our little guy was being treated - was for a family lunch in celebration of my mom's birthday.  We felt this was the perfect opportunity to share our exciting news, as I was adament to tell them in person.  I made Riley a onesie that proudly boasted "I am the Big Sister".  Our joyous news was quickly overshadowed by the terrible phone call we had received about Oliver, just as we pulled into the parking lot in Columbus.  We still shared our news, but it was quick and amongst tears about our first baby's fate.  It was bittersweet, but it was still a blessing nonetheless.

One week later I had reason to be a little concerned, as I was having symptoms I hadn't experienced with Riley.  It could be normal, but it could be cause for concern, according to my pregnancy books.  Being one who would always rather err on the side of caution, I called my doctor and went in the next day for an ultrasound.  It was on this day - November 9th - that we heard the glorious sound of that heartbeat - 158 bpm - and saw our little bean.  "Everything is perfectly fine," said Dr. Brzozowski.  If he said it, I trusted it.  "And with that strong of a heartbeat at this point, your chance of miscarriage drops below 1%.  We're not out of the woods yet, but your chances are very, very good.  Go home and don't worry any more", he said. 

So I went home and I didn't worry any more.  I thanked God for the miracle that was still in me and let my mind rest.  I was pregnant and all was well.

Today.  November 30th.  Oddly enough, the last day of what started off as the worst month.  I had a routine OB appointment scheduled for 1:45pm.  I couldn't wait to hear that heartbeat again.  "I'll try with the doppler, but if we don't hear anything, don't be worried - sometimes this is still too early to detect and then I'll have the doctor try", said the nurse.  I wasn't worried and actually didn't plan on hearing it, considering I was just 10w 1d along.  Sure thing - she couldn't detect it.  Riley sat on Kevin's lap, munching away on her goldfish and giving me some kind of advice, I am sure, through her babbling as we waited for Dr. Brzozowski to give it a go.  Still nothing.  "Let's go do a quick ultrasound", he said.  For some reason I was still calm.  Normally one to jump to the worst conclusion possible, I hadn't.  Everything was going to be fine.

Except it wasn't.  I watched the ultrasound tech take a few different pictures and watched her facial expressions.  Things weren't fine - things were very, very wrong.  As Dr. Brzozowski put his hand on my arm, I knew.  No words were necessary.  I had miscarried. 

I went numb, just as I had 29 days earlier.  I felt like I was having an out of body experience, just as I had 29 days earlier.  And here I sit as I write, a tad drained of emotion, wondering why I am not bawling my eyes out this very moment.  But if history repeats itself from 29 days ago, tomorrow will be the worst pain of all.  The numbness will wear off and all that will be left is just pure pain.  Writing is therapy to me.  I knew I had to write to begin to let emotion out of my body. 

I am not mad at God.  How can I be?  He had a reason to do this.  For some reason, I was not meant to carry that baby, and God took that baby home to be with Him.  And with Oliver.  Oliver couldn't lie his head on my pregnant belly this time around, so I'd like to think he'll be lying it next to our precious baby whom we will never have the joy to meet, until we're reunited in Heaven one day.

So tonight, after my parents arrive to town to be with us in our days of sorrow, I'll go to bed.  I'll fear what my dreams will bring the entire time I drift to sleep, and tomorrow I will face incredible pain.  But I will get through this.  'And this too shall pass". 

Please, December ... be a fresh start.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."  -John 16:33

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Oliver, My Hero

0 hugs and kisses
November 1, 2009 will forever be remembered as one of the worst days of my life. Have you ever had to hold the paw of the one you love most, and kiss their nose just before they peacefully drift off to sleep forever?  I hadn't had to ever in my life ... until this past Sunday.

Oliver was our miracle baby from the beginning. A puppy with all odds against him, he fought through a horrible case of pneumonia and stunned all doctors by not only surviving, but thriving - all the while, winning over their hearts. He loved children. He loved his brother, Wendell, and would bathe him each night before snuggling up tight to him to sleep. He would run so fast that his little moustache would blow in the wind and remind me of Falcor from "the neverending story"; thus his middle name.

He just turned 4 on Wednesday. Since he was I'll, we promised him a full celebration as soon as he was healthy again. We bought him a monster sized loofa dog on Saturday - his favorite toy - to have on hand for his homecoming this coming Tuesday, the day that the vet told us to expect him back home.

We breathed a sigh of relief when we received the update call at 6am this morning from the emergency vet. He had a stellar night and was even up walking around and would be offered some water. Things were looking up and we were on cloud nine.  That Oliver - he always pulls through.

Then just over 4 hours later a call came in. We were on the road to Columbus for a 60th birthday lunch for my mom .  "Oliver is showing trends we don't like .... More x-rays needed .... More bloodwork ...".

At noon another call. "Weak ... Potential liver failure ... Septic shock ... Potential we will lose him".  A follow up call. "30% chance of survival with second surgery. 0% without it ... $5000 to try ... In pain".

Decision time. Gut wrenching, rip your heart out of your chest, cause you to vomit, decision. Take the chance? Or let him go peacefully?  It was awful.  Worse than awful.  So much to consider.  People waiting for an answer.  Being three hours away.

With prayers to God and a temporary sense of peace, we made the decision. With a wavering voice, I told my husband, "Oliver needs to be Jesus' puppy now".  The decision was one that, given his past health history, the vet thought was best. Then it was time to get to him. The vet thought they could keep him comfortable until we arrived, so we could hold him and tell him once more how incredibly much we loved him. Waiting in that stale room was so painful, but nothing compared to the pain to come. The doors opened and Oliver was wheeled into the room for his last encounter with us. He laid so quietly in his familiar bed, unable to lift his head to look at us. But we talked to him. And pet him. And kissed him. And reminded him of how much we loved him and how we would miss him terribly and never let him be forgotten. We told him it was going to be okay. We apologized for what he had to go through and that we couldn't save him. We cried. We shook. We felt more lost than we ever have in our life.

Holding on to him as he took his last breath is so foggy to me now. I felt as though I was having an out of body experience. I saw him take his last breath - I felt it - yet I still keep waiting for him to walk down the hall. I keep waiting for him to scratch the front door to ask to go outside. I keep waiting to hear him make noises as he dreams through the night. I can't wrap my head around the fact that none of that is ever, ever going to happen again.

This is the most pain I have ever experienced. And it is double painful because I have to watch Kevin go through the pain as well - and I want to protect him. While I hate that Oliver died at such a young age - and feel that he was cheated out of life - I am thankful that Riley was young enough to not have a clue what was going on and that I could protect her from pain as well.  Sunday was painful, but we were numb.  Monday was the hardest - the numbness had worn off, but the pain was still there.  The house felt 'wrong'.  It was still.  It was quiet.  And that was the oddest part of all - Oliver didn't bark.  He didn't make noise.  The fact that quiet and stillness felt weird shouldn't have.  But his presence was gone.  We knew he wasn't there.

I asked my mom how I will ever survive losing a person in my life if I am enduring this much pain from a pet. Her answer was so right.  I am experiencing the same amount of pain for my pet as I will for a person because he WAS a person to me. He was a family member. He was my first baby. I will miss him every single day of my life. God Bless Oliver.