Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I have now been pregnant for about three and half days longer than I was pregnant with Hudson, who arrived at 38 weeks and 5 days. Jackson is still wiggling around plenty, but he is apparently turned posterior (as evidenced by ultrasound and by the searing momentary pain I get in my lower back when he moves sometimes) and Monday’s sonogram estimates that he weighs 8lb13oz right now. His position and his (apparent) size may be keeping him from making his way further down. We had our first real blip on a non-stress test on Monday—my strip was “reassuring but non-reactive” meaning that his heartrate was accelerating with movements, but not accelerating as much as it’s supposed to. I think it probably really was just a blip, with no real import—when I go for those tests first thing in the morning, he always seems to be moving plenty before I get there and then as soon as they hook me up to the monitor he goes to sleep, so he moves very little and his heartrate stays pretty steady for the most part. At yesterday’s OB appointment, the doctor said I was about 2-3 cm along and he apparently stripped my membranes some while he was checking me in hopes it might get things going for me (he didn’t tell me he was going to do this beforehand, though, which was a bit odd, but I decided if it worked, I certainly wasn’t going to complain). But here I am, a day later, with no change at all. I definitely started having more contractions yesterday than I’d had before, but they never became regular or painful, and they appear to have disappeared altogether today. Holding pattern.
With all the anxiety I’ve had throughout this pregnancy, I’ve been so eager not to be pregnant anymore, especially as we started closing in on the end—when I hit 37 weeks, I said I was going to start a full-on labor induction campaign, doing all the natural things they say might help bring on labor. But two weeks later, I have yet to really do any of that—I still walk the dog once a day and have continued going to yoga, and I’m sitting on an exercise ball all the time now (in hopes of getting him to rotate), but other than that, I’m kind of just hanging tight and waiting. Yesterday, after a Facebook post about the OB appointment, people made several different suggestions, including acupuncture and essential oils. And yet here I am, a day later, having taken no more steps towards pulling the trigger on anything that might definitely get labor started.

It didn’t take a whole lot of pondering about this for me to understand it. I am definitely ready not to be pregnant anymore. I am also pretty ready to meet Jackson, too, I think. But what I am still not ready for is a mommy world without Hudson, a world where I have to learn to mother a living and deeply loved child right alongside a deceased and deeply loved child who we are still so actively grieving. Part of me is ready for Jackson to be born just so that I can stop wondering what this world is going to be like and just start living in it, but another part of me recognizes that his arrival is in some ways the ultimate act of moving forward without Hudson. As soon as he emerges, my attention will be diverted from her in a way that it hasn’t been while I’ve been pregnant—in many ways, the anxiety I’ve had over Jackson has been just another manifestation of my grief over Hudson, and therefore has been another thing keeping me tethered to her.

And yes, I know that all parents having a second child face this reality of how they can possibly divide their attention when that child arrives, how they can possibly love another as much as they love the first, but in my case, my older child is gone. Diverting my attention from her is so very different in that way, because bringing my attention back to her will never mean planning special outings for just her and me once a week or a special nighttime routine that we do just us together so that she knows how much she is still loved despite how much attention her brother is stealing from her. In my case, bringing my attention back to her will mean taking time for myself alone to cry and grieve and remember her, to stare at her pictures and wonder how it is possible that she is not with us, to tell her little brother stories about her and help him learn to say her name and point her out in photos. In my case, like other parents, my love for my second child will be very different than the love I have for my first, except that in my case, the biggest difference is that my oldest child is gone. And this reality still makes me so very sad that part of me is just not ready to proactively jump into it.

This morning I had a dream about Hudson. I haven’t dreamed about her in a while. She was in the arms of another couple and they were trying to coax her to come to me. She was her same 17-month-old self but she was speaking in full sentences, although it still sounded like a baby’s talk. I said, “Hudson, where’s Mommy?” and other things trying to get her to smile or come to me and she wouldn’t. Finally I had her in my arms and somehow I just knew that she was upset with me for abandoning her, for leaving her behind. I asked her what was wrong, and she said, “You hurt my feelings.” And I started to cry. I pulled her close to me into a tight hug and just said, “Oh, sweetie, I am so sorry I hurt your feelings. I am so, so sorry.” And I just kept repeating “I’m sorry” over and over into her ear as I snuggled her close. She hugged me back. It’s always nice to hug her in my dreams, even though this one was so very sad.

It’s so very strange when my dreams are as transparent as this one was. Even though we’ve been planning for this baby for almost a year and I’ve been pregnant for nine months and we’ve named him and bought him clothes and I’ve made him things and we’ve imagined many, many ways we’ll work hard for him to know who Hudson was, his actual arrival is just a whole other ball game. Soon he will be here in our arms and Hudson never will be again. In some ways, I expect it will feel like losing her all over again. And there is just no getting around that his birth will be a lurching movement forward without Hudson in a way that nothing else so far has been. And I feel awful about that, more so than I ever realized until just now. I don’t want to move forward without her, even though I know that I must. I don’t want to leave her behind in any way, but this reality doesn’t give me much of a choice. I can’t ever have her back and yet still I must move forward.

And all of a sudden, I’m no longer in a rush to do it.


  1. Mandy, you will and should do all of these things: "taking time for myself alone to cry and grieve and remember her, to stare at her pictures and wonder how it is possible that she is not with us, to tell her little brother stories about her and help him learn to say her name and point her out in photos."

    No one will forget her when Jackson arrives. love, Kate

  2. I don't have anything wise to say, I just didn't want to read without commenting. Witnessing for you here.

  3. Mandy,

    This is so heartbreaking. I am so sorry you have this whole other layer of anxiety. I just can't help but thin that this is exactly what Hudson would want you to do - give some of "her" time to her new brother.

    Also, no disrespect to all of your wonderful friends and internet supporters, but that stuff doesn't work anyway. People just think they do, because they happened to go into labor after doing one or more of those things. I have had three 42-week pregnancies. Believe me, I tried EVERYTHING (except taking castor oil or acupuncture). I read every controlled study I could get my hands on, and if you want to rush nature .... you are going to have to turn to Pitocin. (Though there is good evidence about acupuncture and turning breach babies, so maybe it works for posterior babies too?)

    In any case, none of my kiddos were even 8-pounds. Those extra weeks do not necessarily make for bigger babies, but they usually do make for babies with fully developed lungs and heart who are able to enter the world with ease.

    Jackson can hang for a bit longer if you need a few more days to mourn Hudson.

    My thoughts are with you,


  4. Dear Mandy,

    What Megan said. (((hugs))) Thoughts and prayers.


  5. Yep, you are definitely going into labor.... I expect it won't be too long before Dad is calling me.

  6. We all are here to witness and listen through the transition. And, you have so many friends and family that want to help hold Hudson's spirit here in any way possible, and we will all do that as your hands become full with a new baby. Soon enough, Jackson will burst into this world and add to your mommy role and you will find new ways to honor her spirit as you introduce her little brother to her.

    My thoughts and love are with you as you await and prepare for this transition-

  7. A solo George Harrison version of "Here Comes the Sun" just came on my Ben Folds Pandora station. I just wanted to share, it made me think of you, Hudson, and Jackson. (And I hope that doesn't sound too weird, since I have only been reading recently and you don't "know" me.)

  8. Maybe Jackson will help you reconnect with Hudson, too. I know with my second pregnancy and birth that holding that new baby brought all sorts of fresh memories of the first newborn back. In your case, no doubt, that will be painful but perhaps also allow you to reexperience beautiful moments you had with Hudson and that will bring some joy amidst the longing. And maybe you can find ways to take time with Hudson that are pleasurable, walks and treats she would have enjoyed as well as taking moments to grieve and remember.

    Birth and a new baby are intense and joyful and even in the best of circumstances full of some sense of loss of an old life. It's going to be rough but it will be life lived to its fullest and you have a whole team of bubble blowers across the country holding your virtual hand and waiting to hear about all the complicated ways you will experience this transition, all of which will be exactly right and true. Thank you for giving us a window into your experience.

    Love Erika

  9. Couldn't have said it any better than Erika above. Thinking of you as you begin this new journey. I imagine Jackson just wants to spend a little more time with his sister before he makes his way into this world. Jackson will make his entrance at just the perfect time!

  10. Oh Mandy, I've said it before but our stories are similar in many ways. Just wanted to let you know that I'm am sending love and best wishes to you all. Little Jackson will be in your arms before you know it, and little Hudson will always be in your arms too.Praying that all goes well and you are able to enjoy bringing new life into your family, lots of love, Kell x

  11. Thinking of you Mandy... and hoping that time will be exactly what you need it to be.

  12. RE: Mary Louis Quinn's post above: I agree. I have always felt this way -- the child in utero was in the space that only been occupied by his/her siblings. I used to joke that I wondered what the older kids had written on my uterine wall for their younger siblings to read. When my Madison (#3) was born and I first held her, I was overwhelmed with the spirit and presence of her older siblings. Blessings Mandy. Mariann

  13. I've been reading your blog since Ed lost his journal. Your pain is heartbreaking Mandy and I'm so sorry you are forced to struggle through this. As I was reading this post about how you don't want to move on without your girl, even though you know you have to, something occurred to me. If you chose not to move on -- not to have another baby, not to reorganize Hudson's things to make room for your sewing table, and every other thing you've had to do so far -- it wouldn't bring Hudson back to you. It would only deprive you of the chance to have some joy coexist beside the pain, loss, and grief. I have so much faith in you that you will be able to balance loving and mothering your new baby Jackson with loving and honoring your precious Hudson. Your heart has a remarkable capacity to grow. Wishing you a safe and healthy birth, and that the experience is exactly what you want and need.

  14. I know our positions and our griefs are very different, Mandy, and I am not trying to project my experience onto your own. But I want to tell you that nothing I have done in the nearly two years since J was stillborn has lessened his spot in my heart, in our stories and talk, in my thoughts. Having a new baby has meant that my time and energy have shifted a great deal, and that I have less time to dwell with him than I did before. Sometimes I have to schedule in my time to think of him, to grieve, to vent the sadness so I don't explode. But the thing I promise you is that, as you move into life with Jackson, you will continue to carry Hudson with you. Just as you have all this time, you will hold her, love her, miss her, pore over photos for another peek at her gorgeous little face. She won't be erased in our minds and hearts, and she will certainly still be rooted and centered in yours. You aren't leaving her behind by continuing to live. You are surviving, and that in itself is a tribute to what she showed you about taking joy in the world. Much, much love.

  15. mandy- one of my dearest friends in the world lost her husband on 9/11. he was on the first plane to hit the world trade center. they had found out just two days beforehand that she was pregnant with their second child. her pregnancy, as you can imagine, was wrought with grief, deep shock and sadness. but she held together and focused on creating a healthy space for baby to enter a world she'd never before imagined in her life.

    your words today reminded me of hers as she readied in her final days prior to giving birth. she was so ready to have the baby, yet reluctant too, to start this new phase without the love of her life. felt that in so doing it would be marking a new chapter from which she could never return.

    the birth of her son was an enormously emotional and above all cathartic experience for her. she said she felt as if so much more than her baby came out of her body that day- months of worry, grief and sadness- which in turn made a space for lightness to fill - for hope - for resilience and healing-- she said she was never aware of how strong she was until that day.

    i hope this for you, mandy. that the process of welcoming jackson into this world brings with it a physical, emotional and spiritual healing you might not be able to see from this side.

    all my love to you and ed.

  16. I think of this same thing, Mandy. The upcoming birth of our second child brings about a new phase of grief. And I'm not talking about the stages of grief-- the ones that people mistakingly think we should move through in order, brush our hands off, and finally exclaim, "Well, that's done!" I'm talking about the reality of how the grief/love/pain you have for Hudson (and I have for Miles) will always be there. It takes a different shape, I guess. And I agree with you that it's easy to see that, along with the joy of the upcoming birth, it may feel like losing Hudson all over again and will likely bring new grief along as well. I'm thinking of you!

  17. Mandy, Its so heartbreaking that Hudson isn't here physically with you to see her baby brother.

    You are about to embark on another tangent of this journey called grief. Having another child opens up a whole new plethora of emotions.

    I remember Dempseys's birth being bittersweet...and while I was thankful and besotted by our new family member...I also sobbed and grieved that Savannah would never get to experience her baby sister.

    I wish you all the very best, there are no band aids or miracle will cope and be sad and happy and be angry at the unfairness of it all.

    I wish I could give you a hug. Jackson will shine some light on your dark days I'm sure.

    Sending love
    Diana Doyle x

  18. Standing with you and holding you in love...Renee P.