Baby on Board

I wrote this on New Year’s Eve but wasn’t quite ready to share it yet. We realized that TODAY everything is going perfectly and that should be celebrated without fear. My heart is full. Enjoy…

Reflecting on the past ten years and oh what a decade it has been!

In 2010 I graduated with my master’s and Ralf and I got engaged. I began my career as a speech-language pathologist.

At the beginning of 2011, we bought our home and at the end of 2011, we got married.

2012 was mostly a year of just enjoying each other and being newlyweds.

I think it was the beginning of 2013 that we bought our boat and started enjoying our sunset cruises around the lake.

I had a health scare in 2014 when I got diagnosed with my lymphoma that turned out to be a lot less serious than we originally thought. We decided to try to get pregnant shortly after and Mason was conceived.

The beginning of 2015 was the absolute hardest time of my life. I lost Ralf suddenly to brain cancer while I was 7 months pregnant. My little man made his debut in May of 2015 and saved me in more ways than he will ever know. He was the force that kept me going and hoping for a better life for both of us. Toward the end of 2015, I met Vinnie in person after connecting through a Facebook group for young widows and widowers. Our connection over similar losses sparked a friendship that grew into more.

In 2016 Vinnie moved down from New York to be with us in Florida. At the end of 2016 we decided to move to a new town where we could start our own story together.

We suffered through our first miscarriage in 2017.

In 2018 we had another miscarriage shortly after we decided to get married. We had a perfect, intimate, and very emotional wedding in September.

The beginning of 2019 brought a wonderful job opportunity for Vinnie. We decided to try again and had our third miscarriage. It was devastating. We underwent testing to search for some answers and received none. Everything was absolutely normal. Mason started asking for a sibling incessantly and so we decided to try one more time, despite being very scared.

Now at the end of 2019 we find ourselves 9 weeks pregnant with a baby whose heartbeat is very strong. This pregnancy has looked healthy from the beginning (as evidenced by my nausea and fatigue). We know so very well that nothing is guaranteed in this life, but we are ending this year full of gratitude and hope.

In my heart I believe that 2020 will be the year that we become a family of four.

2020 will be the year I get to witness Mason become a wonderful big brother.

2020 will be the year that I will get to welcome a new life into this world with my husband at my side, holding my hand, as it should be.

And with all the surprises, new blessings, and challenges that are sure to come our way, the one thing I know for certain is that we will get through it all.

Cheers to 2020!

💙,

Maeghan

Our Struggle with Pregnancy Loss

“I want a brother or sister.”

Words spoken so innocently, so genuinely.

Words that stabbed my heart in a way that he, of course, could not understand.

We were in Buffalo visiting Vinnie’s family. It was also my parents’ first trip to his hometown. We were all together in the van, on our way to drop my parents off at their hotel for the evening.

The car went silent.

There was an unspoken, collective feeling of sorrow.

“Oh Baby Boy, if you only knew.”

I remember when Vinnie and I first decided we’d try to get pregnant. It was shortly after Mason’s second birthday. We knew how much Mason needed a sibling, and we both so desperately wanted to share the experience of welcoming a baby into this world alongside our partner – a milestone we’d both been cheated out of reaching with our late spouses.

It happened pretty quickly. We found out early August, on my mom’s birthday, that I was about 4 weeks pregnant. We were so excited and couldn’t wait to share the news. We told our parents right away, even though it would be several weeks before my first prenatal visit. We also told Mason that Mommy had a baby growing in her belly, a concept he couldn’t quite grasp, but was excited about nonetheless. I remember him lifting up my blouse and asking, “Where is it?”

Five weeks went by and it was finally time for our appointment. Vinnie and I waited anxiously for the ultrasound to begin. The technician explained that she would be checking some of my anatomy before looking at the baby. Everything seemed okay at first, but once the baby was visible on the screen, her facial expression changed.

“Unfortunately, there is no heartbeat,” she said.

We were then ushered to another room where we would discuss options with the doctor. She recommended I undergo a D&C since my body wasn’t showing any signs of starting the miscarriage on its own. We received this news the day after Vinnie and Erica’s wedding anniversary and the procedure would take place on Ralf’s birthday.

Unbelievable.

I was so fearful of the anesthesia and something horrible happening, but I trusted my doctor’s judgement and went forward with the plan. While I was being prepped for surgery, I had multiple nurses offer me condolences for my loss.

“If they only knew,” I thought.

Just a couple days after that, feeling awful both physically and emotionally, we decided to evacuate because of Hurricane Irma and the uncertainty of the storm’s path. Vinnie didn’t want me dealing with the added anxiety of being stuck in a dark, scorching hot house for days. We secured our home, loaded up the car with the essentials, and headed to Alabama to stay with my brother and his girlfriend. All while Mason was sick with a cold and very high fever. It was, to date, the most stressful and challenging time of our relationship.

Six months passed and we decided to try again. It took a little longer this time, but I got pregnant within two months. We were scared but mostly optimistic. I told myself I wouldn’t get too excited until we officially heard the heartbeat. Vinnie and I both lit up when we saw the flicker on the screen.

One-hundred seventeen beats per minute. Loud and clear.

All signs pointed to a viable pregnancy. Although we knew we still shouldn’t get our hopes up until reaching the 12 week mark, we couldn’t help it. We had names picked out. We were making plans for the nursery. We just knew everything would be fine and this would be our rainbow baby.

We decided we wanted to get married before the baby’s arrival.

One week before our second prenatal appointment, we announced the exciting news to our parents and our siblings. We also told them that we wanted to have a very intimate wedding in just 2 months. Everyone was ecstatic and the nuptials were planned in less than a week. Flights were booked. Hotel reservations were made. The venue was contracted. Everything had seemingly fallen into place.

Then, one evening, I started to bleed. I called the doctor’s office first thing next morning and they said I shouldn’t panic because spotting during the first trimester is usually not a cause for concern. I begged them to squeeze me in at some point that day so that we could have some peace of mind, given all that we’d both been through. They agreed. We arrived at the clinic and the technician asked me some questions before performing the ultrasound. I knew what was happening as soon as I noticed that the flicker we’d seen during our previous visit was no longer on the screen.

“Are we missing a heartbeat?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied.

The dam broke. So many tears.

To top it all off, this happened on Vinnie’s birthday. I remember thinking to myself, “What kind of cruel joke is this? Please tell me how this isn’t supposed to feel personal at this point. How much more will we be asked to take?”

The technician left to give us a few moments to ourselves and then once again led us into another room to wait for the doctor. At this point we were both breaking the news to our parents.

Vinnie looked at me through tear-filled eyes and asked, “Do you still want to marry me?”

“Of course I do.”

The doctor walked in with a look on her face that suggested she knew very well that there were no comforting words she could offer. We discussed options once again. She felt I could “successfully miscarry” this time without surgery, with the help of some medication, since my body was already starting to reject the baby. We decided to take that route because we were in horrible debt from the previous D&C due to my hospital deductible being so high. We picked up Mason from school, went home to quickly pack our bags, stopped at Walgreens for my medication, and headed down to Miami so that we’d have help with Mason while we endured this horrible process.

While I have to admit that I didn’t feel as much physical pain as I’d anticipated (perhaps because of the additional pain meds I was prescribed), the emotional trauma of seeing our unborn baby at the bottom of a toilet bowl, and watching Vinnie fish it out to place it in a receptacle that we would have to return to the doctor’s office, is indescribable. The “specimen” was sent off for “fetal testing” that never occurred because apparently it did not arrive to the lab in time. We never got a clear answer as to who messed up – the clinic or the lab. Regardless, the point is that we never got any kind of closure or explanation.

As difficult as it was, Vinnie and I made the decision to focus our energy on our upcoming wedding. It was an emotional ceremony and a beautiful day filled with so much love. But I know that in our hearts we both silently acknowledged the absence of one special participant.

Trying again is off the table, indefinitely. We are working on our own well being and making sure we each get to a really good place, emotionally and physically, before deciding what we are going do. I know we would love another baby and to give Mason a brother or a sister, but I also know that we can’t continue to experience  so much pain. Maybe, in time, we will find the courage and our perspective will change, but for now we are at peace with the way things are.

We’ve also learned just how committed we are to getting through anything together, as a couple – and that’s a blessing I will never take for granted.

A Love Without Limits

Mason is finally asleep and I am very uncomfortably lying next to him in his Lightning McQueen bed. What a challenge bedtime was tonight! He is currently obsessed with legos and was building a firetruck with Vinnie as I told him it was time to go potty and then night-night. He threw a huge tantrum because there was one tiny little piece missing and he didn’t want to leave the truck unfinished. We tried reasoning with him and explaining it was already late and that we’d look again in the morning because the piece was nowhere to be found, but in true “threenager” fashion he dropped to the floor and screamed bloody murder for the godforsaken lego piece. (Can you tell what a huge fan I am?)

I was left with no other choice but to pick him up kicking and screaming and bring him to his bed. At first it was that defiant, exaggerated, and – for lack of a better word – bratty cry that small children often use when they don’t get their way. After a solid half hour or so, though, it turned into a genuine sob. He cried as if he’d lost the most important thing in the world to him. His cheeks were covered in his salty tears and his little squeals of agony were absolutely heart wrenching. So much so that the disciplinarian in me took a backseat to the nurturing mother that could not stand to see her baby in so much pain. I pulled him close, told him I was sorry he was so sad, and cried with him. Then I held him until he finally calmed down and closed his eyes.

He won’t remember this moment when he is older. Hell, it’ll probably be forgotten in the morning when he wakes up. Lord knows that legos are not worth that kind of heartache and that’s a lesson he will inevitably learn as he faces real challenges in his life, as we all do.

The truth is, it wasn’t about the lego for me. That little white snap block will turn up somewhere in this house and all will be right in Mason’s world once more.

What I was really thinking about in those moments was all the things I won’t be able to protect him from as he grows up. I hope he lives a wonderful life and that future struggles are minimal, but many things will be completely out of my control.

And then I thought about my mom.

What she must have felt witnessing me go through the darkest moments of my life and not being able to make it all go away. Watching me bury my husband with a huge pregnant belly and all the difficult changes I had to endure in such a short period of time thereafter. I know she would have traded places with me in a heartbeat to spare me from the pain I was feeling.

But she couldn’t.

There was nothing she could do other than to be there, listen, hold me as I cried, and support me unconditionally as I started to move forward with my new life. I hope, from the very bottom of my heart, that she knows that was enough and that the gratitude I feel for her during that time of my life is second to none.

And I hope one day Mason will look back on his life and remember a mom who’d do anything for him – even if it meant helping him build the same lego firetruck a million times to see him smile.

 

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Photo taken by Melissa Perez of Simply Captivating

No such thing as planning in parenting

We’ve been going through a very difficult phase trying to decide whether or not naptime is still a necessity. Mason has never been a sound sleeper, but recently putting him to bed at night has become quite the ordeal.  Even if we start the process at 8:00pm, he sometimes takes over an hour to fall asleep. So, we decided to try skipping the mid-day snooze to see if that would help. Initially, it seemed to be working because he was drifting off more quickly at night, but then he started getting extremely cranky midafternoon. Eventually, I guess, the lack of sleep accumulated because he was absolutely miserable for 2 days straight. We attempted to dine out at restaurants twice over that weekend and had to leave before even placing our orders. Oh, and we received plenty of disapproving glares as we carried our kicking and screaming toddler out into the parking lot….

To read this full article, click here.

An Unexpected Bond

A few weeks ago, my mom sent me a text saying that she’d been cleaning out her filing cabinets and came across some really nice pictures of Ralf and me. She asked if I would like to see. Then, she took pictures of the pictures with her phone and sent them my way.

There we were.

Just 18 years old, freshly graduated from high school, filled with hope and anticipation for the future that we already knew we wanted to build together.

So in love.

So happy.

And, completely clueless of what was to come.

Mason sat next to me on the couch as I scrolled through the images. In his precious little voice he asked, “What you watching, Mommy?”

I returned his question with another question.

“Mason, who are these people?”

“Mommy and Daddy in Heaven,” he replied with a shy smile.

“That’s right, Baby.”

I took the opportunity to talk to him about his father. I explained to him, as I have many times before, how much we loved each other and how excited we were to have a baby. Mason listened intently as I told him, yet again, the story of how his Daddy in Heaven was a fireman who drove a black RAM and knew how to operate a big boat.

Then I explained that Daddy in Heaven was called to be with God while Mason was still in Mommy’s belly. He loves to hear about how the doctors took him out of Mommy’s belly, how his Yaya placed him on Mommy’s chest for the very first time, and how she fell in love instantly.

He smiled so innocently, paused reflectively, and said something I was not quite prepared to hear.

“I want him to hold me.”

My heart dropped into my stomach.

“Oh, Sweetie. He wants to hold you, too. And I believe one day he will.”

I pulled him in close, squeezed him tight, and reminded him – for probably the millionth time that day- just how much Mommy loves him. Then, a few minutes later, the front door opened and in walked his Daddy on Earth. Mason screamed in excitement and ran into his arms.

And he was held.

Sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way we plan or even hope for, but we must be grateful for the unexpected blessings that come our way.

I know with all my heart that Ralf watches and rests in peace knowing that his son is so loved and cherished. Until the day he can finally hold him in his arms, just like he always wanted to.

I truly believe he will.

A Family Portrait

Ralf died just two days before our scheduled maternity photo shoot. It ended up being the day of his funeral instead of the day we were going to have our first family portraits taken.

Those that know me well can tell you how much I love pictures. I always used to make elaborate collages of my favorite snapshots as a teenager, and still have more picture frames around my house than the average person. I think it’s amazing how a camera lens can capture a moment and freeze it in time forever. Since losing Ralf, my appreciation of the art has grown even more. Our wedding photos and video are so beyond cherished.

During my last two months of pregnancy, and then once Mason was born, it broke my heart to think that we would never have the type of family pictures I’d always wanted.

I hoped to find companionship again one day, but I never imagined finding a man who could love me so deeply, despite my brokenness.

A man who would take Mason into his heart without hesitation and love him the way I know Ralf would have.

A man who could make all of our future family photos whole again.

I never truly believed we could find that man…until we did.

This is OUR family picture.

The faces and participants are different from what both Vinnie and I originally envisioned, but the bond and love captured are exactly what we’d always hoped for.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but they could never adequately describe the value of this one.

Thank you, Michelle, for doing what you do.

💙,

Maeghan

http://michelleguzman.com/blog/

A Mother’s Oath

I carried him in my womb for 9 months. Luckily it was a pretty “easy” and “uneventful” pregnancy. Inside my womb where he was protected and untouchable, at least. Outside, my world was crumbling during those last two months. His little beating heart was the only thing that kept me going…

To read full post, click here.

To My Fellow Imperfect Parents

A couple of months ago, while sitting in the waiting room at my dentist’s office, Good Morning America was on the television. Kyra Sedgewick and Kevin Bacon were the featured guests, and they were talking about their experiences raising their children. Kyra said something that I thought was pretty powerful.

She stated, “They’re born kind of perfect, you just have to try not to mess them up too much.”

Wow. Isn’t that the truth? But then again – it seems like a lot of pressure and responsibility, doesn’t it? Then I thought, “Oh God, am I messing up my kid?!” And once again the self-doubt settled in…

To read full post, click here.

Living in the Now

Earlier tonight, I was snuggled up behind Mason as I lay with him in his new car bed waiting for him to fall asleep. He was facing away from me and my arms were wrapped tightly around his delicious little body. Somehow my hand inadvertently ended up perfectly wedged between the mattress and his chest, and I could feel every beat of his tiny heart on my fingertips. I usually leave shortly after I’m sure he has dozed off into dream land. But tonight, I lingered for a while longer…

To read full post, click here.