I've always meant to do this. Since I found out I was pregnant. I wanted to blog about it. If you ever find yourself pregnant, I assure you, it's all you'll want to talk about. Whether you like being pregnant or not, it's probably the only topic of your chosen conversation. When I was pregnant, I had to fight with myself every time I opened my mouth. I had to remind myself to shut up, because not everyone is fascinated about how there was a little person growing inside me. I hated being pregnant, I mean, it was super interesting, and when I could feel Penny moving I LOVED it. Other than that, I couldn't wait until it was over.
In the movies, they make it so cute and funny with the women eating all the time and running to the bathroom every few minutes, but in real life, that stuff SUCKS. Eating all time like it's guilt free just because you're pregnant. It's not guilt free. You have to analyze everything you eat, you have to make sure it's not unhealthy, you have to make sure it won't harm the baby, you have to make sure it won't make you sick, because if you get sick and you find yourself throwing up, that's really bad for the baby. Most of the time you can't even help yourself, you just HAVE to eat that entire cake. So you eat it and then you feel bad/ depressed. So you cry cause there's not much that you can emotionally handle when your pregnant. Then there's the peeing thing. Yeah, haha, pee, it's funny, especially when it happens all the time. Not. It REALLY does happen all the time. At my job I work at the front desk, where I stand for 8 hours and at our mini bar where I (then, hilariously) serve alcohol. Standing for eight hours when I was pregnant meant I went to the bathroom 4 or 5 times an hour at minimum. Think about that. Think about asking someone to watch the front for you about every 15 minutes. Babies naturally lay just above their mother's bladder and that's why this happens. My Penny just LOVED to do little dances on top my bladder. I would go pee and still feel like I had to pee, when I DIDN'T EVEN HAVE PEE LEFT. It's not adorable. It absolutely blows. At least it did for me. I laugh now, because I hated it so much, and now I can barely wait to do it again. I look at all that agony and I'd gladly go through it again for Penny's brother or sister.
Being a mom was so incredible. I totally get why Octo-mom and Michelle Dugger are completely insane. I totally get why so many women just let themselves go, or stop their careers or college. It's because suddenly you just KNOW that THIS is what you were born to do. Nothing else matters that much anymore. If you're male, or childless, just imagine actually knowing why you're on this earth, why you exist. After I had Penny I knew I wasn't made to do this or that, I wasn't made because my mom or dad created me, because I was supposed to become a doctor or pilot, or whatever people THINK they're supposed to do with their lives. I was made to have Penny. Life makes since now. I used to think my boyfriend, Jake, was soo great and surely what I felt for him was the upmost love a person could feel for anyone. Nope. After Penny, I grew a new heart. It became so huge. I instantly loved Jake more, my family more, and of course my little Penelope. It's still big, however, quite broken. Because of Penny I can't even begin to tell you how much more I love the people close to me.
Having a baby will make a person so much better. Also, you get this sort of high. It has an actual name but I can't recall it. It makes a person very happy and I think that's another reason mom's who've lost their babies get this sad. Grieving mothers also have to go through withdraws from that addictive high they used to get from their baby. I'm slightly ashamed to say that I expected Penny to die, but of course I certainly hoped that she wouldn't. Sometimes I'd force myself to be optimistic, I tried my best not to be sad or cry in her room, but every time I looked at her, I saw a person struggling to live, to simply finish forming. In the past, since the being of people, if a mother saw her 24 week gestated baby born she knew that it would die. That's just how it is; babies like Penny simply didn't survive. So when I looked at my extremely premature baby, I knew. It's in my... evolution, making, mommy vibes? I don't know really know the word.. However thanks to technology, and when the 90's gave us surfactant, there is hope. There are survivors everyday.
I got my Penny for 19 days. Dear God, thank you. 19 days. Had I had Penny in previous times I wouldn't have had that time and Penny wouldn't have had 19 days of life. Which, I guess is a good thing, but maybe not. 19 days of beeps, of bright lights, of unusual moment, and of course all the scrapes and pokes from blades and needles. If you're a mommy who got less than 19 days in the NICU, I know it hurts so much for you, but in a way, it hurts so much less for your baby. That's kind of why on December 18th 2011 we told Penny's doctors it was time to let her have peace.
Penny's lungs suddenly became very ill and she couldn't take in oxygen properly. Nothing would stabilize, and if somehow they managed to fix her, if Penny made it out of that hospital, we were told her life would be very miserable. They think she wouldn't have given us much longer had she stabilized. Maybe a day or two. We weren't going to let her suffer anymore though, it was time for Penny to go. She was never really supposed to come to begin with. She was supposed to finish growing inside me until March, but that didn't happen and my Penny held on as long as she could.
The night before she died she had a surgery to remove and replace her PICC line. The surgery was not successful and we almost lost her. Jake, my dad, and myself sat there in silence when after the surgery Penny started to slip. We didn't cry, we barely blinked. I stayed as calm as I could, I could feel the beginnings of some sort of attack, but I knew if I gave in, they would take me out of Penny's room and I'd lose the precious time I had left. So outside I was silent and calm, but inside I was fighting not to break into hysterics. Looking back I wonder if Jake and my dad were too. One usually thinks that they'd flip out if they knew their baby in the NICU was about to die, but in my experience you don't, not if you want to be present for your baby's last moments. It's amazing what your body will do for you.
I wanted to tell the doctor to stop several times as she attempted to revive Penny the night before she passed. I watched her try, and try again to help her. She was dying, but she was supposed to die. I knew this. She was just too little. I just wanted her to let her go and let her finally rest. Of course I didn't say this because I wanted Penny to live MORE, and if that doctor possibly could do it, I was definitely going to let her try. After ages of trying to revive Penny one of the nurses came to tell us that she probably wasn't going to make it through the night and if I needed to call anyone, now was the time. I closed my eyes, turned, and buried my face into Jake's shoulder. My first and immediate thoughts were to thank God, or whoever, whatever, gave me this amazing, brief love, this baby. Thank you, thank you so much for letting me have her this long. Somehow the doctor got her stabilized and Penny lived through the night. I like to think she was giving us some mental preparation time.
The next morning was when all her stats dropped again and we said our goodbyes. We finally got to hold her for the first time. I passed her to Jake and my dad (nobody else could make it up to Memphis in time, so it was just Jake and Dad.) to make sure they got to hold her while she was still alive. It was a weird freeness for Jake and I after Penny went. We were both so sad, and we cried, but we both expressed how strangely free we felt. It was nice to feel some sort of relief. After Penny died in our arms we held her for about an hour, took a few more pictures, and then I walked away from her. It was a lot easier for me because my dad volunteered to hold her until it was time to take her to the morgue. It was kind of like just leaving her body with my dad, and not forever. I don't know how much longer he held his first grandchild.
A local funeral home cremated Penny for free. A woman named Kitty did the actual cremation and she cried when we left the funeral home, which really touched me. I'm glad Kitty was the one to handle Penny's body. I couldn't bear to pick Penny's ashes up a few days later, so Jake did it. I haven't seen them, and just today, for the first time I looked at the box her ashes are in. We're going to spread them in the ocean this April during our stay in Florida. For everyone in the world who was not Penny's mom, I'll try to explain what having her was kinda like.
It was sort of like winning the lottery. Winning to lottery is awesome. You say and think it all the time. But REALLY think about it. Being super rich would be incredible, you could have almost everything you've ever wanted to have. I wanted her so, so bad. I know it's sad but that's another reason why I felt like she wouldn't make it. No one ever wins the lottery. No one ever expects too. I knew I'd never be able to have anything as great as Penny. I'm mortal. Hardly worthy. Definitely too much amazingness for me.. But damnit, Jake deserves Penny, the lottery. My dad does. My mom, my whole family. This is when the anger comes. They said I'd have anger. Why did this have to happen to THEM? This is MY burden. I should be the only one that has to feel this. I hate that they suffer. My dad felt, I'm sure something close to mother's love for Penny. I have no idea what grandpa love feels like, but I know what it looks like and I hate that that was taken from him. I want to tear down walls it makes me so angry. I hate that my mom woke up crying for weeks. Waking up after losing Penny sucks. And for awhile I really dreaded it. To wake up, be alive, to exist. But I still do it, everyday. Everyday I'm here and Penny is not. Penny is why I was born and now she's gone. I feel like I'd deal so much better if I just lost a baby. Babies die everyday. But no one ever loses just a baby, and I was no exception. I lost PENNY. That was PENNY who died, not my baby. Penny, who just happened to BE my baby. To me she was so much more than just a tiny version of Jake and I that grew inside me. She gave and did so much for me. I wish I could thank her, and I wish that she knew how very much I loved and still do love her.
To most everyone I've become the person who lost her baby. And you know what, that's okay, for now. I understand. I know when in my presence all most people can think about is "dead baby, oh my God, how sad, dead baby, dead baby." Don't be ashamed, it's all I could think of at first too. Don't feel weird around me, please. Don't be afraid to accidently make me cry, or ask me questions. I've only cried once since Penny died after someone asked me questions relating to her. It was at the doctors office when I made an appointment to get back on all my old meds. (Except my previous birthcontrol, obviously.) I don't know what made me break that day, but I did. Maybe because I was at a doctors office, I have no idea. Bottom line, if you have questions, no matter how grim YOU might think they are, they're not. If it's about death, that's fine, because that's part of Penny. If it's about Penny's life, that's even better. I remember most people were shocked to see how happy I acted so soon after Penny's death, and most thought I was just heavily medicated. I'm not, and I don't plan to be. After weeks in the hospital, watching Penny, and then seeing her go, seeing people I like and care about made me really happy. I'd be so confused as to why they were acting so weird and cautious around me, and then I'd realize, and immediately sober up. They don't expect this, and seeing me makes them sad. That's okay. It eventually wears off if you spend enough time with me. Sometimes I do want to cheat though, (and there's nothing at all wrong with that) take medicine for my sadness, but I feel like I'm building strength out of not taking it.
I'm doing well. Sometimes I'm still fake, I laugh at what I know is supposed to be funny, I pretend to care about things I really don't give a **** about. I act and function as normal people are supposed to. The fakeness is rare now, and I'm proud of myself. The little things definitely don't matter, and it still takes a lot to catch my interest, but I'm better, less zombie-ish. I'm scared sometimes that I'm just suppressing my sadness and that's why I'm doing so good, but I don't really think so. At least, I hope not. I think after I have my next baby, I'll get depressed. Doing and experiencing all of my mommy things and knowing that's what should have happened with Penny also. I hate being sad, and I do avoid it, but surely that's not suppressing it. If a sad song comes on the radio, I can sit there, listen to it, think sad thoughts to the point that I become so depressed that I start cursing God for leaving me here among the living when my child is dead and gone, or I can turn the damn channel.
Driving and sleeping are the worst. That's when the sad thoughts creep up on you. That's when there's no distractions. Driving is a little more bearable because if you turn the music up loud enough your mind shuts up. You do get a lot of evil looks from old ladies in the car next to you though. I usually just glare right back. I still hate, HATE sleeping. If I ever get prescribed anything, it'd be some sort of sleep aid. I rarely cry, but when I do it's at bedtime. Most of the time I stay up playing games or reading hilarious things online. I've been through many, many books. I pretty much refuse to give my brain free time to think. Going back to work was great, but rough. The front desk kept me pretty busy. I still have my dark moments now and then, but I can usually vanquish them before they get out of control. The bar was torture. It's usually pretty slow and there was no work or computer to distract me. I also used to think about Penny there when I was pregnant. I'd look up baby info on my phone, and that's how I used to pass the time. It's been hard, but I recently got a new phone, with lots of fun new apps and it's been a life saver.
For a long time I fought with myself about even starting this blog. Why must we ask ourselves how we feel all the time? Why do we feel the need to feed our sadness? So far this hasn't made me feel too sad, it's been sort of relieving, I feel like I've lost a few pounds. That's probably why this post has gone on so long. I don't talk about how I feel very often, and here I can do it without really doing it. I feel like I should go ahead and end this now, but I can't until I mention how wonderful Jake has been. I'd be a very different person if it weren't for him. He does the things I cannot do. I lean on him completely. He makes my smiles real and I laugh everyday because of him. He's the only person good enough to be Penny's dad. I try to think how I'd would deal with this without Jake and it makes me shudder. I hate to think some women go through this without someone. Some people don't have my amazing family. My dad who loves and took pride in Penny. My mom who I can still feel safe with, even though I'm 24 and have had a baby. My step-mom who stays strong and makes sure we're all okay, we're all still in one piece. Does this really happen to people who don't have Jake or my family? I hate that.. Well, I'm off now, simply because this is so long. I'm sure I'll be back very soon.
P.S. My friends (and even their parents) have been great too. I'm so blessed to have you all, and so was Penny. I know so many of you thought, prayed, and did so, so much for her. I love you all very much.