It's a jolt to discover you're the exception to the rule; that the plans you'd made took a different course, not at all what you'd expected or wanted. Yet, as is so often the case in looking back from the distance of time, or place, or circumstance, something in that change brings a different insight and a new promise...perhaps completely unlike the original blueprint, but extraordinary in its own right.
This was our journey toward parenthood. However, lest you get the mistaken impression that the pitfalls were not devastating or the losses not profound, I ask you to walk the miles with us. From there, you can draw your own conclusions.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.23(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Songs I Would Have Sung, Letters I Would Have Written, Dreams I Now Have RealizedA Memoir of Pregnancy Loss, Adoption, and Birth
By Jayne H. Easley
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2009 Jayne H. Easley
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Beginning
I was twenty-six when I met Bruce on a blind date, and I was certain it was destined for failure. I'd had my share of friends trying to find my soul mate, and the results had typically been as far from anything soulful as it gets. This time though, despite my continued expressions of hesitation and anxiety about how the inevitable bomb might affect our friendship, I reluctantly agreed to a set-up with the uncle of my matchmaker friend's husband! Just trying to figure out the relationship was challenging enough, especially since the uncle I was about to meet happened to be younger than the nephew was!
As hackneyed as it sounds, I truly fell almost instantly in love with Bruce. He was nothing like I'd expected and everything I could have wanted. We had a fantastic time on that first date talking for hours over dinner in a quiet seafood restaurant. We never looked back from that point, and on May 20, 1978, a year and a half after our initial blind date, we were married, outdoors in a wonderful spot on the water. With the seventies drawing to a close, the Vietnam War finally over, and Fleetwood Mac'sRumours winning Album of the Year, our journey had begun.
The first year of our life together was typical of most newlyweds. We moved into a great home on a creek, settled into a routine, and looked to the future. We had decided to give ourselves a year before I got pregnant, just to enjoy this time, and become accustomed to our new lives together. We had already sewn our proverbial wild oats, lived independently, and were reasonably successful in our respective careers before getting married. So when the end of that first year came and we decided to take the giant step into parenthood, we assumed it would happen quickly as it had for all of our friends. Two months passed then five, then seven. When we'd tried unsuccessfully for a year, we decided to find out if there was a problem and if so, what we could do to fix it.
Chapter TwoThe First Stage of the Odyssey
A good friend at work had suggested her ob-gyn to me. The doctor was young and had a great new practice with another physician. Even though it meant traveling to the next town, some twenty minutes north, I decided to take Katy's recommendation. It was the beginning of our relationship with Dr. Roger Jones, the physician who would become our guide, our friend, and our hope.
In that initial meeting, Roger talked with Bruce and me about infertility and the various strategies that existed to bring about a successful pregnancy. He scheduled us for the first battery of tests and arranged for us to meet with him again once we had gathered all the data. We completed the questionnaires and exams and awaited the conclusions with considerable anticipation. As it turned out, we were both in good physical condition to achieve conception, but could probably benefit from a little extra help.
Anyone who has ever participated in the fertility dance is well aware of the physical and mental machinations required to fulfill the regimen. The thermometer, the alarm clock, the calendar, the casting aside of spontaneity (and often, passion), the contortions, the hope, and so often the disappointment, are all ingredients in an effort to determine the exact time of ovulation and thus, optimal fertility. I suspect it is one of the rare times in a man's life when sex isn't all it's cracked up to be!
Pharmaceuticals have come a long, long way in the many years since Bruce and I began our odyssey. In those days, we didn't have the product sophistication to pinpoint when I was ovulating, or was close to my period, or especially whether or not with virtual certainty, we'd been successful in conceiving. For several cycles, we participated in the fertility marathon, hoping at the end of each that this would be the one. For many agonizing months, it was not.
After repeated failure in this regimen, Roger decided it was time to bring in chemical reinforcements. I began taking Clomid, a fertility drug that helped to regulate ovulation and by extension, greatly enhance the chances of getting pregnant. The drug must have been the missing ingredient, because in just a few months, the magic happened. At long last, that little tadpole-looking guy found his eagerly waiting egg of a gal and the two became one!
Finally, after gymnastics, thermometers, and the help of a little white pill, we found ourselves expecting our first child. Our excitement was infectious. Family and friends knew how much we wanted this baby and how long we'd tried to conceive. This would indeed be one very welcome addition to our lives-the long awaited start of our family.
My pregnancy was fantastic. I felt great, never had the first moment of morning sickness, and carried on with my typically active life. In those early months, there were all the extraordinary milestones: the first time we heard the swooshing sound of the baby's heartbeat, the kicks that visibly moved my growing stomach, and the indiscernible sonogram views that looked more like amorphous JELL-O than human form. I had the usual obstetrical routine: monthly visits and exams and the standard questions about how things were going. Every indication pointed to an unremarkable pregnancy headed to a successful outcome.
* * *
Reality sometimes has a way of grabbing you by the throat and often when you least expect it. Many years later, a beloved cousin would tell me shortly after the premature death of her husband that, "Things change in an instant." I didn't know then how true that was; I had not been so cruelly tested yet, but we would soon discover the unbearable impact of that reality. Almost imperceptibly, I realized an absence of activity. I was in the beginning of my ninth month and had become accustomed to the baby's frequent reminders that he or she was a presence that before long would make a wondrous, long-anticipated entrance. On many occasions, Bruce and I, like so many couples awaiting the birth of their child, would just lie on the bed watching and feeling the baby's kicks. It was comforting and reassuring-an unmistakable statement of fact that our little one was alive and thriving with a voice all his or her own-until the voice became silent.
I kept telling myself everything was okay. Maybe the baby had just gotten to the size that in the limited space, made moving a difficult challenge. When I called Roger to tell him about the changes I was experiencing, I was told he was out of town, but his partner, Dr. Dan Jenkins, whom I'd met on many occasions throughout the course of the pregnancy, would see me that afternoon. Bruce would come up right after work to meet me at the doctor's office.
There are those moments in life that we never forget no matter how many years pass or how much happens beyond them. Dan's face when he held the stethoscope on my now very large belly spoke, in silence, the thunderous reality that there was no heartbeat. Our baby was dead before there was ever a chance at life. In that instant, our dream came to a crushing, unthinkable halt. It was one of those terrible junctures when time stops and movement stalls as though slogging through a foot of snow. The situation is framed in a kind of surreal border that has no escape, yet cannot possibly be happening.
When Bruce came into the examination room, it was obvious that he knew, as well. Holding each other to cry was all either of us could express at that moment. We clung to one another as if in trying to absorb the other's anguish it might be diminished for both of us-it was not.
Clearly, it had not been any easier for Dan. It initially fell to him to confirm the reality to Bruce and me, and then to undertake the terrible task of relating to us what had to come next. I was scheduled for delivery the following morning, and it would take place in an examining room where a labor-inducing drug would be administered. Bruce would be by my side through it all. Dan would inform Roger of what had happened and ultimately relay to all of us the cause of our baby's death. The office staff would make arrangements with a funeral home of our choosing. Obviously, we were not the first couple to experience this agony, and we wouldn't be the last.
Our hearts were broken, our bodies ached from lack of sleep and hours of crying, our minds struggled without success to make sense of the terrible circumstance we were now facing. The morning of January 23, 1981, dawned cold but sunny and we had a terrible journey to travel.
Chapter ThreeFacing the Sorrow Together
The memories of certain events in our lives seem to have no discernible beginning and no definitive end. In the span between the emptiness of the confirmation of our baby's death and his ultimate entrance into the world, there was an intertwined series of prescribed events. Medical preparations were made, and together, Bruce, I, Dan, and Cathy, the OB nurse, reached the moment of delivery.
In looking back, I realize much more completely than I did then, that it was a time of incomprehensible contradictions: the first time we saw and held our son would be our last. The extraordinary anticipation of seeing his face, learning his gender, and substantiating the milestones of the past several months would be replaced with only the memories of his coloring, his personhood, his connection to us. The experience that should have been one of the most profoundly joyous of our lives was indescribably sorrowful. Our beautiful little boy emerged with the umbilical cord, the conduit of life, wrapped around his neck five times. Though he was perfect in every way, the lifeline between us had been the cause of his death.
From a scientific standpoint, there was little that the medical community could give us in the way of answers to the host of whys we expressed. It was a fluke of nature, a terrible event that just happened for no discernable or acceptable reason. From the far clearer vantage points of time and circumstance, I have come to feel differently about the nebulous basis for what happened, but more about that later.
The genuine sorrow and sympathy expressed by Dan, Roger, Cathy, and the entire office staff, meant a great deal to us. It marked the beginning of a long, caring, but tumultuous journey that would span a decade of heartbreak and joy.
We decided to pay tribute to our son and our brief time with him by spreading his ashes in a much-cherished point of land near the creek behind our home. Our family and friends honored his memory with us and we are certain, held their own children a little closer after sharing our loss that day.
I guess we all tend to venerate the extraordinary events in our lives with our own hallmarks, whether real or perceived. For me it came when, as we spread our baby's ashes and spoke a few words of love and farewell, a solitary seagull flew overhead. Even now, after all these years, whenever I'm at that point of land near the creek, I look for a gull and find great comfort when one happens to fly overhead. There were other healing steps as well. To this day, so very many years later, I still have the baby blanket that a dear friend had made for him and the knit cap that would have kept his head warm at birth. In our son's honor, Bruce and I planted a dogwood in the backyard and I've saved in a small basket with blue ribbon trim, all the cards and letters lovingly sent to comfort us. These mementos and tributes truly helped to get us through the days and nights of profound sorrow and immeasurable emptiness.
I don't know how I would have faced our loss without Bruce's love and support and that of our families and friends. To carry a child within you, regardless of how short or how extended the time, creates a bond of life and dreams that is unlike any other. Pregnancy loss is very broad in its reach, crossing lines of both present and future, affecting roles that were actually realized and those that were greatly anticipated. It is, arguably, a particular and cruelly unique bereavement that when apprised by those who have never known it, seems comparatively easy to overcome. Trite affirmations that assure there will be other opportunities, or that it's nature's way of protecting both parent and child from a lifetime of disability, or that thankfully, the child was taken before it was ever known, while statements of intended comfort, serve only to enhance the sense of isolation and misunderstood grief.
Chapter FourMoving Forward
We made the decision early on in our grief to follow the medically prescribed three-month waiting period and begin to try again. This time, I started taking the Clomid as soon as the effort to conceive began anew. However, getting pregnant before with fertility medication, and returning to the same regimen within a comparatively brief lapse of time, did little to speed up the process. I didn't get pregnant again until the following February. This would make my due date sometime around Thanksgiving-a very fitting holiday-and for me, a much-needed sign that things would fare significantly better this time.
As with our first pregnancy, the initial several months were uneventful. I felt great, had no morning sickness, and looked forward to the successful outcome that had so painfully eluded us in the past. I was on the regular monthly office visit regimen and the baby was growing and progressing as expected. During that time, my best friend's father was very ill and ultimately lost his life to a brain tumor. I got the okay from Roger, my physician, and flew to Maine to be with her and the family for the funeral. While in Maine, and on many other occasions during the first and second trimesters of the pregnancy, there were no indications of any problems, and Bruce and I began to give ourselves tentative permission to relax just a little, but the nemesis was not to be stilled.
At the start of my seventh month and without warning, my water broke. Frightened and fearing the worst, I called Roger and went to his office immediately. He discovered that the membrane had indeed ruptured, but sufficient fluid remained in the womb. The baby had not been compromised, but I would spend the next several weeks in very limited activity until we could reach a stage of confident viability: preferably, no less than thirty-six weeks. The gap between that goal and the present twenty-four weeks felt extremely daunting, but we had no choice, and any effort was worth enduring to have a positive outcome.
Despite reassurances and inactivity, the anxiety was almost overwhelming. This couldn't be happening again, especially when we all believed the first loss was a fluke. Time began to move at a sluggish pace on those long, quiet days, but we were grateful for the successful passage of each one and the chance to move another small step closer to having a healthy baby. One week passed, then three, and then, another month was behind us.
On October 27, a much-loved relative came by and offered to cook his special scallops in wine dinner for us. We were grateful for his company, the prospect of a terrific meal, and a break in the all-too-familiar daily routine. The evening went well, and we all enjoyed ourselves. It wasn't until late into the night that the problems began. I awoke feeling sick to my stomach. Whether it was due to the rapid race to the bathroom, the forceful reaction of vomiting, or just another horrific time of reckoning, I began to experience contractions. Bruce called Roger and we were directed to come to the hospital right away. I was twenty-eight weeks pregnant and a long, long way from the thirty-six weeks we had all been aiming for.
When we arrived, I was in full labor, and there was no stopping the momentum. It was also determined that the baby was in a breech position. For this reason and more significantly, due to the loss we had endured nineteen months earlier, it was felt it would be best if we delivered at the Medical College of Virginia. MCV was a renowned teaching hospital in Richmond. The neonatal intensive care facilities and innovative medical expertise seemed the best course to take. The decision was made to perform a cerclage prior to the trip, essentially stitching my cervix closed. I was carried by ambulance, and Bruce followed behind in our vehicle on the more than seventy-mile journey north; each of us hoping that the outcome would be far better this time.
Excerpted from Songs I Would Have Sung, Letters I Would Have Written, Dreams I Now Have Realized by Jayne H. Easley Copyright © 2009 by Jayne H. Easley. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Beginning....................5
Chapter 2 The First Stage of the Odyssey....................9
Chapter 3 Facing the Sorrow Together....................17
Chapter 4 Moving Forward....................23
Chapter 5 Continuing the Journey....................33
Chapter 6 A Renewed Sense of Hope....................39
Chapter 7 Traveling a Different Road....................47
Chapter 8 Parenthood....................55
Chapter 9 Against the Odds....................59
Chapter 10 So Much for Schedules, Mom and Dad!....................69
Chapter 11 We Have Another Miracle!....................75
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This memoir is a book about loss, but also about life. The author draws you in and walks you through her and her husband's journey of devastating pain while exuding strength through grief to hope and eventually healing and birth. While the author is compassionate, sensitive and honest in the telling of what had to be a most difficult and challenging journey; I found myself completely captivated. I was so deeply moved that I read it in the course of one very intense evening with a sense of awe and admiration. When the anticipation of your baby's birth turns into the grief of miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant death, no words can ease that loss. Just knowing that others have walked this painful path; will give others the strength and courage to try again and never give up on hope, as the author exemplifies throughout her memoir. Through this family's tears and compassion, this book projects that the sun shines through the darkness bringing with it love, hope, healing and life in abundance. "Songs I Would Have Sung..." is a terrific book which the author should be very proud of writing.