Thursday, May 31, 2012

Life According to Lemony Snicket



Friends can make you feel that the world is smaller and less sneaky than it really is, because you know people who have similar experiences.

—Lemony Snicket, The Austere Academy

     I have just had a slap-in-the-face-come-back-down-to-earth kind of moment.  Last time, I said I had created a beautiful haven where everyone was aware of what I was going through and everyone was supportive and helpful.  And then came the slap.  It started yesterday when I was told to stop whining every time someone gets pregnant.  I hung up on that person.  And today, I was told I needed to be on medication.  I couldn't even hang up.  I had to lecture.  
     After the fact, I must consider...is this just my own fault?  I have done just as Lemony Snicket there warned and surrounded myself with people with similar experiences.  Of course they understand!  Unfortunately, the other billion people I encounter are NOT going to understand--probably ever.  They think that I should be over it, that my impending due date shouldn't mean anything, and if it does then it's off to the pharmacy with me!   But honestly, that reality check is to be expected when I try to build this little virtual grief world for myself.  
     On February 19, 2012, the world did not, in fact, stop turning.  Clocks across the globe did not stop.  People did not, surprisingly, get a memo about Carpenter's death.  (Although how convenient would THAT have been?)  Knowing this, my question is, how do I approach the "real" world?  That world that kept turning while my life screeched to a halt.  Is there any point to the hang-ups and the lectures?  Or am I forever to toe the line, smiling and congratulating every pregnant woman and new baby and never mention my grief?  
     I have decided, NO.  I will not kowtow.  I will be strong, yes, and in time I'm sure I will appreciate the beauty of a pregnant woman or a newborn child.  But I will also allow others to see my grief when it hits me.  I will not hide it.  Because I am tired of hearing every angel-mom talk about this same experience.  I'm tired of us being told to "get over it."  My son existed, exists in my life every day, and some things about that fact hurt so badly there are no words to describe.  I do not need to stop whining.  I do not need to be medicated.  I need to show the world that what I am experiencing is normal.  Maybe each person I meet will understand better the next angel-mom they meet.  I know I've had my share of learning experiences these past few months.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Plan B

     I often wonder what life would be like if someone had just once explained to me that stillbirth was a possible ending to my amazing pregnancy.  (...if someone had even told me it was really a thing.)  I wonder what I would have done differently.  Would I have avoided anyone with a minor cold?  Would I have written down every single kick?  Would I have cherished every backache, stretch mark and surge of heartburn?  But what hurts me the most is wondering how different my labor would be.
     I had been in labor before I delivered Carpenter.  Liv's birth was pretty simple and totally pain free.  I kept hitting that drip button as often as I could, mostly from listening to the girl down the hall screaming like she was auditioning for 16 & Pregnant.  But I didn't really give much thought to doing anything differently.  I didn't hurt, I had fun with family and friends, and I got to take home a wiggly baby.  Why would I change anything the second time around? 
     Now I know why.  And now I know that without an explanation, any subsequent pregnancy could end in the same terror I felt in February.  Mike and I have agreed to try one more time.  We've decided that we could survive this nightmare one more time before we move on to adoption.  And I'm going in prepared.  For the first time since we started discussing babies, I will be writing a birth plan. 
     No, it's not going to be a granola, burn-incense-while-I-birth-in-Liv's-kiddy-pool sort of plan.  It's my Plan B Birth Plan.  A list of little things I can do to help me survive another loss.  A list of things to help me remember the little life a new angel might have.  And yes, that might sound all morose and tragic, but if you're a BLM, you'll agree that even just one more photo would be the difference between holding onto the life raft and sinking into the darkness some days. 
     I know no one wants to think about losing their baby.  No one wants to have a Plan B.  But some of us know all too well the reality of loss, and with this foresight we can be prepared in the future.  True, nothing I can do will suddenly bring a hypothetical angel back to life.  Nothing I plan can take the pain away.  But if I have to hold another lifeless angel in my arms, I will want to focus on being with my baby.  I'll leave all the other details in my Plan B. 


My Personal Plan B Birthplan (Pending many revisions, I'm sure)

Prenatal Care
If possible, I would like to be seen by my OB more often than the norm.
I will be applying for a rented dopplar and will check my fetal heart rate daily.  
If at all possible, I would like to be induced as early as safely possible.  

Triage or ER
I expect to be told very clearly what is happening with my baby at all times. 
Any health care professional will discuss all findings with me immediately.

Labor
I expect that doctors and hospital staff will discuss all procedures with me before they are performed.
I would like any visitors I choose to be allowed in my room at any time.
I would like a quiet, soothing environment during active labor, with dim lights and minimal interruptions.
I would like to play special music during active labor.
Please do not permit observers such as interns, students or unnecessary staff into the room without my permission.

Anesthesia/Pain Medication
I would like to have an epidural as soon as permissible.

Cesarean Section Delivery
I feel very strongly that I would like to avoid a cesarean delivery
If it is necessary, please explain the surgery to me as it happens.
I would like to have a respectful atmosphere without chatter during any part of the surgical procedure.

Delivery
I would like a soothing environment during the actual birth, with dim lights and quiet voices.
I would like to have the birth recorded with photographs, video tape and/or tape recording.

Immediately after the birth
Please place my baby on my stomach/chest immediately after delivery.
My husband would like the option to cut the cord.

Newborn Care
I would like to hold my baby through delivery of the placenta and any repair procedures.
Please evaluate and bathe my baby at my bedside.

Postpartum Care
I would like to have my baby room-in with me at all times.
I would like measurements done of my baby's length and weight.
I would like hand and footprints done clearly on at least one sheet of paper.
If there is any, I would like a lock of hair cut from my baby's head and kept.
I would like as many pictures of my baby with family members as possible.
I would like a priest on hand to baptize my baby as soon as possible.  
I would like a mold of my baby's hands and feet done as soon as possible. 

Additional notes
I would not like an autopsy of my baby so I can spend more time with him/her.
I would like the placenta analyzed as soon as possible.
I would like all staff entering my room to be made aware of my loss so as to be more sensitive.
I would like any funeral home staff to come at the last possible minute to maximize my time with my baby.
I would like to be taken out by such a route as to not pass by the nursery. 
If there is any way my baby's organs or tissue could be used to save the life of another baby, I want to be informed so that this decision can be made quickly.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Grieve Out Loud

     Earlier this week I tweeted, "I have created a lovely haven in Twitter where the whole world is aware of babyloss and we all mourn together, openly."  

     I once asked a friend to name the first four women who popped in his head.  Then I asked him if he was aware that three out of those four had experienced some sort of pregnancy loss.  Of course he had no idea.  I walk down the street wearing my "1 in 4" shirt and NEVER has anyone so much as mentioned it.  (I have seen people reading it.  Then they look away quickly.)  
     We BLMs have a social plague.  Nobody wants to hear or talk about pregnancy loss or SIDS or genetic defects.  I asked my doctor why no one ever warned me about stillbirth and he said, "Pregnancy is supposed to be a happy time.  Why would we ruin that for you?"  (Um.  Excuse me?  It was pretty damned ruined when I had to deliver a stillborn.)  So, to keep pregnancy nice and shiny for the 3 in 4, no one talks about it.  
     This week I was lucky enough to get to talk with Julie McAnary who founded Grieve Out Loud, a pregnancy and infant loss support network.  Julie's a woman who talks about it.  She opens her virtual arms to all of us, reminding us that no matter how dark and scary our lives get, she understands, and respects our need to talk about it.  I got the chance to find out a bit more about the woman lifting the veil on our stigmas.
Julie, how did you feel in your first days of reaching out to the babyloss community?
"It was a raw and rather numb time for me. I knew I wanted and needed the support of others, but being able to just empty my thoughts and feelings into my blog was more important. I've always been a very 'colorful' writer and was actually quite shocked how the community understood my grief no matter how ugly it might have sounded. They were all feeling what I was feeling, I think I just had the guts to 'go there.'"


How does your Pen-Pal program work?  How are people matched up, etc.?
     "We have nearly 50 different volunteers who make up our team. They each represent particular types of pregnancy and infant loss from miscarriage, ectopic, molar, missed miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm labor, incompetent cervix, neonatal loss, loss of multiples, placental abruption, SIDS, genetic defects, . . . the list is extremely vast.
     "We match you based on your history of loss. For example if you lost a baby to full-term stillbirth, we would match you with someone on the team who also suffered a full-term stillbirth. Spina bifida to Spina bifida. Repeat pregnancy loss, to repeat pregnancy loss, etc.
     "All exchanges are e-mail based, however if a family supplies their mailing address I send them a little something.
     "We have Pen-Pals for fathers and grandparents too, who often get left in the shadows of grief with no one to talk with about their loss.
     "We also have a 'First Step Program' where friends and families can contact us with information on a friend or family member who experienced a loss, but might not have the courage/strength to contact us themselves. We then make the first effort to contact them and establish some kind of rapport."



Is there anything in particular you have carried with you from you personal Pen-Pal experiences?
     "I know just how important it is to have someone to talk to who really 'gets it.' While I have some amazing real life friends, my online friends were the ones who really helped me pick up the pieces and move forward. They weren't afraid to ask me questions about my son, or even mention him. My real life friends seemed to completely ignore the fact that we even had a son, never mind the fact he died. I treat all my Pen-Pals like real life friends.


I love your idea about a babyloss convention.  Do you have any concrete ideas forming? (Cities, dates, details, anything?)
     "Not really. I still consider it a "pipe dream" if you will. I'm from Cincinnati so I'd want it somewhere close to me (although Las Vegas was brainstormed just to bring an element of 'fun' into the mix). I would want it to be a 2-3 day event with keynote speakers, creative project booths, COCKTAILS and lots of pampering going on! It would be our big chance to meet all the wonderful people we went through hell and back with. I owe lots of hugs and tears to a lot of great women out there . . .
     "I thought about trying to set up a fundraiser, but have no idea how to get started. Maybe one day I'll run into someone with experience who can really help me make this dream a reality."



Tell me a little bit about your new project celebrating milestones.
     "Lots of people post on our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/grieveoutloud) looking for ideas for first birthdays, due dates, anniversaries, etc. I consider these milestones.
     "I remember when we were approaching our son's first birthday and how uneasy I felt about it. I knew I wanted to do something, but just wasn't sure how to plan or if I SHOULD plan. I wondered if anyone would remember his birthday, or if anyone would have the courage to acknowledge it? A lot of people didn't and for that, I was bitter and angry.
     "So I thought this exchange would be a good way for families to feel the love from someone else remembering their baby. I also feel like being creative and thinking about someone else will help us think of ways to remember and celebrate our own milestones."




What would you say has been the hardest milestone for you?
     "Honestly, watching other people have babies was/is the hardest thing for me. Obviously because my birthing milestone resulted in stillbirth, I still feel entirely way too much jealousy when it comes to a live birth even if they are complete strangers to me. We're approaching 3 years now and I still have a hard time with jealousy . . ."


Do you have any other charities for bereaved mothers that are close to your heart?
     "I really benefited from other babyloss bloggers, not so much charities. Stirrup-Queens (http://www.stirrup-queens.com/a-whole-lot-of-blogging-brought-to-you-sorted-and-filed) was one of the first websites I found which was invaluable to me for finding other stories to follow. I submitted my link and soon other families were finding me as well.  Glow in the Woods (http://www.glowinthewoods.com) was another website I visited often that focuses on stories and questions for their readers."


     Most people around me don't understand what I'm going through.  I've written about that ad nauseum.  For those of you who aren't BLMs, try to imagine a life where what you consider to be a defining moment is completely taboo in the eyes of the public.  Imagine if suddenly the world didn't want to hear about your job, or your love or anything important to you.  We can't shout out our feelings because the world has apparently turned their deaf ear.  So women like Julie have shown us that even when the world stops listening, we can turn to each other.  She has built our own little virtual world where everyone is aware of babyloss and we talk about it.  Together.  Thank you, Julie.

To visit Grieve Out Loud's website, click here.
To participate in the Voices of Loss pen-pal program, click here
To participate in the Monthly Milestone Exchange, click here

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The New Normal

I've been working on this blog post for a long time now.  It just seems like I can't figure out how to explain it.   Because everyone expects you to go back to normal.  And you do.  You just go to a new normal. 

Before Liv came along, I worked as an event and wedding planner for one of the top places to get married in the state.  A normal day for me would keep me working until 1am, then home to soak my high-heeled feet, and I always got such a high from a successful wedding.  I was a serious businesswoman who stood for no nonsense.  (One of my lazier coworkers referred to me as "that pushy b*tch," and I've got to be honest, I wore that badge with honor.)  Anyway, after Liv, I quit.  My life turned to planning her life, grocery trips and errands.  I became super-organized in things like homemade baby food.  And I still did some events, just to keep my pushy-muscle toned. 

When Carpenter died, the weeks following were obviously pretty abnormal.  I mostly sat in bed, sobbing, watching TV.  When I did leave the house, I had to take an Ativan to keep from panicking on people in the streets.  Triggers were everywhere.  I was broken.  (I still am broken.)  The strangest thing was that I suddenly had no interest in any of the events I was working on.

I started avoiding my email inbox.  Every phone call made me sick to my stomach.  I couldn't handle the idea of working on someone's special day when I was being cheated out of one myself.   The most irritating part was I couldn't bring myself to participate in what seemed like such a petty event.  (And I know it's not petty.  But it's hard to explain that to Grieving-Annie.)

So, I talked to people.  I turned to the internet.  I drove my husband nuts.  But finally someone said to me that not only did they understand, but my reaction is normal.  I was looking for "My New Normal." 

And I guess that's what this is.  My search for the New Normal.  My quest to find out exactly how I carry Carpenter in my heart and still face the world. 

So far, I'm taking the passionate approach to the world, hanging my heart on my sleeve and reaching out to others.  "Healing through helping" is what my grief therapist called it.  I will heal my own heart by trying to help others in any way I can.  I know it's early in my search, but thus far I like the new normal.  It looks pretty good on me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Heartmade Blessings

My daughter was six months old when her brother died.  While we were deciding which funeral home was best, Liv learned how to high-crawl.  She was at home sleeping when I gave birth.  I don't even remember if she was in the room with him at any point.  My sisters did a great job of keeping her at home and entertained.  

But, moving through this process, the one thing that I keep coming up against again and again is, "Will she ever understand?"  Will Liv understand that these pictures on the wall are her brother?  Will she want to hear the story of his birth?  Will she ever find a way to feel close to him?  

As always, I hit the search engines.  I tried to find suggestions from other mothers.  Of course, there are very few people who decide to get pregnant only two months postpartum.  (Nothing but drama for me, I say.)  But a few people had great ideas, and that's how I found Karla Biggs, one of the many volunteers at Heartmade Blessings.  Heartmade Blessings crafts afghans for bereaved parents, children and the families of fallen US and Canadian soldiers.  They call their product "Comfortghans," a sweet tribute to the solace this gesture brings to so many families who are hurting.  Karla was good enough to answer some questions I had.


What inspired you to join Heartmade Blessings?
"I was just a couple of days out of the hospital with having another surgery.  When I went to check the mail there was this box sitting in my entryway.  I had no idea what it was and did not know who it was that had sent it to me.  I know I had not ordered anything and the return tag was not someone I knew.  I opened the box to find love, hugs, thoughts, and prayers just pouring out of it.  It was then that I was reading the letter that we send with our comfortghans that I realized that this was made for me.  I had never been so touched in my life to know that strangers would come together to let me know that I was not alone and that so many were thinking about me and praying for me.  It is something I will never forget.  From there, I found the website and soon after joined.  This has been almost 10 years now."
What goes into each afghan for bereaved parents?
"When we receive a request for an afghan, we will post on our list for an assembler.  From there, once one has taken the request the afghan becomes theirs to assemble.  The assembler will figure what color to make the comfortghan in (if one is not asked for) that she feels would be appropriate.  Meaning if for a male it would be in browns or neutral colors, female may be in pinks, yellows.  Any color works and is always put together with love and hugs.  An assembler will receive her 11 squares as she also has to have one of her squares in the afghan and then choose what color she wants to assemble with.  If a color has been asked for, we do try to get as close to it as we can. One color that we really do not want to use is black.  On occasion a request will come in for one and we never turn away a web request."


What was the first afghan you ever made?
"I believe it may have been an afghan that I did for a preacher that was involved in a car accident out front of our home.  There were always accidents on the corner by our home and my husband and I both being EMTs would grab our bags and hit the door.  We helped this gentleman and he became a dear friend to us. It was such an honor to be able to make this afghan for him and know that he would feel all the things I felt and maybe more in the comfortghan. It was also very touching to me that I was able to hand deliver this afghan to him as most of our afghans are mailed."


What has been your favorite project so far?
"I am not sure I have a favorite project so to speak but can tell you that our OPH (Operation Purple Heart) Program makes my heart break and keeps me pushing on.  Our OPH Program is where we make afghans for the Fallen Heroes Families that we have lost to the war. These family members are Blue Star families and once their loved one has passed, they are then turned to Gold Star families.  Our OPH afghans are done in Red, White, Blue, and also in Amethyst and White. They are very touching to make as with any of our afghans. We also make OPH afghans for our Fallen Canadians.  These are done in Red and White.
          "We have members on our group that are also Patriot Guard Riders (PGR).  We stand the flag lines for our Fallen Hero and their family, from the time our Hero comes home to the time he/she is at their final resting place.  My husband and I are PGR and we ride our bike, but we also have members that drive in their cars, which we call "cages."  It is a true honor to be able to be there to support the family and to give respect to our Fallen Hero.  We have a domain that was done by Edith Smith, who is Co/Owner of HMB, http://www.heartmadeblessingsfallenheroes.orgWe also have Facebook and always enjoy seeing those who have received an afghan from HMB post pictures once they receive their afghans.  It is very touching to us to know that our mission is complete, knowing that all we have put into the afghan is being felt by the one that it was made for."

What's the best part of your work?
"The best part of my work is the rewards I feel once an afghan is complete and has been sent or given to the person(s) that it was made for.  That is rewarding to my heart."


What advice do you have for angel-mommies?
"Being a mommy and losing a child at 6 1/2 months into my pregnancy was so hard and I am not sure to this day that I have words that could express how I feel.  My advice I think would be to take it one day at a time and to never put a time limit on grief.  We all grieve in different ways, the memories we have or dreams we had are lasting and one's mind will always wonder and ask why.  The love and support that family and friends give us will help with those one step at a time."

Do you have another favorite charity we should know about?
"There are so many charities out in the world.  I personally help in anyway that I can to the Wounded Warriors, and to the Gold Star Families.  I have belonged to other groups over the years but HMB has been my true home.  I cannot tell you about all the wonderful people we have on this group that will go above and beyond to make sure that we try to provide comfort to those who need it most."


I originally set out to find a way to help Liv get closer to a brother she would never meet.  What I didn't expect to find was a new lesson in grief from Karla Biggs.   She felt her own pain and craved to support others who had lost their babies.  But she took it one step further with Heartmade Blessings and kept reaching out to others.  She remembered the universality of pain.  We are all part of this club no one wants to join, but now we cannot live without.  Whether through miscarriage, SIDS, or the horrors of war, we are all bound together by our angel-children.  And so often, helping others is the best way to help ourselves. 

Since Carpenter's death, I've poured myself (somewhat haphazardly) into volunteering for other angel-mothers.  It has been therapeutic for me, but that's not the case for everyone.  Perhaps your suffering is so great you cannot stand the idea of volunteering for a perinatal loss charity.  Perhaps instead you could find comfort in giving back to other people suffering the pain of loss.  Because we can all agree that no matter when you lose your child, be it a week after conception or 20 years later, the pain is still unbearable.  And we all need a little comfort.  

To request a Comfortghan, click here.
To make a donation (of postage or afghan squares), click here.
To volunteer to help a family in need of a little love, email hb-comfortghans-owner@yahoogroups.com.
And to let Heartmade Blessings know what a great thing they're doing, click here.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Fairweather Friends vs. Hurricane Babyloss

Someone in my group therapy meeting last week said that she was glad she found our group.  "It's hard to make friends in your adulthood."  But it's worse than that.  Because as you age and mature, as you go out and forge a place for yourself in the world, your friendships drop like flies.

First, you meet "the one."  Poof!  The friends that don't like him--gone.  Then, you move.  Whoosh!  More friends disappear.   As you walk down the aisle you can almost feel the change in your relationships.  "She's so different now that she's married." So, a few more fall off the list.  When I had my first daughter, everything changed.  No more work, so no more work friends.  Almost impossible to go out late or travel.  So suddenly it's me, my husband, our daughter, close family and a few friends who stuck by us.  I guess we thought that would sustain us pretty much until the end.  We'd make some friends through our kids and school, but we were pretty set with what we had.  And then we had Carpenter.  


Nothing weeds out your friends faster than the death of a child.  Almost every couple in our group has had some story of a friend that was close before, made it through all the other tests of friendship, and then disappeared just when we needed them the most.  When the going got tough, I guess they made a run for the door.  And I suppose it begs the question, can we blame them?  It's a lot to ask of a person to stand by you in a situation even you can barely handle.  The world is completely different now.  "Normal" has been chucked out the window and replaced.  I am no longer the same woman.  So, I understand if friends choose to break it off.  I can take that and appreciate their friendship as a wonderful thing I had for a while.  But my gripe here is with those that can't make the clean break.  The friends who keep in touch--sort of.  Those who never call except to ask for something.  Those who never visit but expect us to.  Those friends who never say my son's name but talk relentlessly about themselves. And it is with this anger that I draw my line in the sand.


From here on out there will be those who support us and call and hang out.  These people will be called "friends."  We will make every effort to support them as well and keep that friendship strong.  And the rest...  they shall be called "acquaintances."  Because it's not kind to use a harsher word.  Now, I'm a good person.  I'm not going to stop helping people just because they weren't there for me after Carpenter's death.  But I will stop belittling the kindness and support of my true "friends" by giving the acquaintances the same designation.  No longer will I lump together the people who stayed by my bedside, those that traveled to see us, those who wrote letters with the ones who don't consider my son's death a loss.  


I am making a promise here and now.  I am promising to thank my real friends.  I will show them that their kindness was what kept our family going.  I will be there for them whenever I can.  And I will show them how much they mean to me.  


And the others?  Well, I think we angel-moms lose enough sleep.  Don't you?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Prayer on Mother's Day

Yes, we've been bombarded ad nauseum today with thoughts and reflections on Mother's Day.  This, of course, is exactly why so many of my angel-mommy friends have been hiding under the covers waiting for the clock to strike midnight.  I personally sat through mass wondering how many women would find themselves unsure whether to stand when the priest inevitably invited all mothers to be recognized.


So ironic that the homily focused on how surprising God can be in our everyday lives.  Just when you think he's going to zig, he zags.  (No, that's not what the priest said...)  But it's close enough.  I had come prepared with pink and blue awareness ribbons to share with other mothers carrying nothing but empty arms and heavy hearts.  I was ready to announce my general intercession for all mothers who had lost their children.  I had a little bit of a gung-ho, holier-than-thou, I'm-going-to-stand-up-for-our-rights-since-no-one-else-will type of attitude this morning.  Boy was I surprised.


When the priest began talking about Mother's Day, he did not talk about his mother.  He barely said that word, actually.  Instead, he told a story about a woman he met in a nursing home.  He was a regular visitor to a 100-year-old patient there, and on his way to see her, he stopped to talk to another woman.  When he asked his friend later if she knew this other patient, she asked, "How old is she?"  "93," he said.  The woman replied, "Oh, I wouldn't know her.  She's just a child."


The priest used this anecdote to offer up only one requirement for standing for the Mother's Day blessing.  Any woman who stands must only consider herself a "woman."  So I stood...proudly.  And this is the prayer that he offered up in our honor:


"Today we celebrate Mother’s Day and the great gift we experience in womanhood.  We acknowledge that in every vocation women nurture and sustain life.  O God, Author and Sustainer of all life, from your abundant goodness bless these women with the grace of faithfulness and integrity.  Companion our sisters on their journey and give them a renewed sense of your loving presence.  May they shine as examples of faith and love.  Grant that we, their family and community, may honor them always, in the spirit of profound respect Jesus showed to women.  Grant this through Christ our Lord.  Amen."


In EVERY vocation women nurture and sustain life.  Every vocation.  So, I leave you to enjoy the last few hours of your Mother's Day considering this statement.  No matter if you're carrying your first child, or you have 20.  No matter if you're trying to conceive or have angel-babies waiting for you in heaven.  No matter if you have not or never will become pregnant.  Women are mothers.  We are all mothers.  We nurture and sustain the lives of our family, friends and community.  In our womanhood, we are truly a great gift to the world around us.  ...and that surely makes each and every one of us worth celebrating.  Happy Mother's Day to all women.

Friday, May 11, 2012

For Your Tears

I haven't had a lot of experience with funerals.  Of course, just three months ago, I had to host my own little funeral.   As soon as I understood Carpenter had died, I had to start planning.  I made every arrangement, made prayer cards, called family and got the urn engraved.  (Though with Murphy's Law, my niece's 11-week-early arrival that day put all my plans aside...)  But I hosted a funeral for my little Carpenter.  That day, I knew that no one understood.  No one could possibly grasp the pain my husband felt digging that tiny hole.  No one felt the agony I went through putting his ashes into the earth.  It was painfully obvious that some people didn't even know what to say.  And I knew that this was the loneliest I would ever feel.  And nothing could ever comfort me.  
But then I heard about Debby Pucci, and her work at "For Your Tears."  What she does is so simple but so generous and thoughtful that it took my breath away.  Debby stitches handkerchiefs, embroidering them with the phrase, "For Your Tears" and sends them to bereaved families who have lost their children.  Just three little words make this gesture one of the most thoughtful I've ever imagined.  Debby really gets to the deepest level with this wording.  "For your tears."  
Last night, everyone at group therapy was discussing how many people expect us to "move on" and "get over it."  Instead, with this delicate gesture, Debby is telling us all that it's okay to cry, and she's there for us.  This gift supports the grieving process instead of denying or rushing it, an idea that is so uncommon in this society.   I asked Debby to tell me a bit more about her story and why she started this charity work. 
What inspired you to start "For Your Tears?"
"In 2000 our best friends in Chicago lost their 12 year old son to suicide. I flew home and stayed at her side. It was a tragic loss and so very sad.  They were one of those popular families in sports with all three of their sons. He was their youngest. The funeral home had to stay open late as the lines to visit with them were outside and around the building. When I came home I wanted to do something special for them. I actually made a donation for trees to be planted in his honor because they love the outdoors so much. Actually I can see his name on the memorial wall when I am in Mammoth Lakes each summer. I mailed them sheets of stamps because I knew it would be a burden for them to buy them. Like most of us they were living on a budget and paying for a funeral service is costly. I also went out and bought her a music box which played "The Wind Beneath my Wings" which was the song she chose to be sung at his service.  I had seen a beautiful box of handkerchiefs at a store and thought I would send her one to catch her tears.  I put a note inside the music box with the handkerchief and told her "This is for your tears."  After that time when I would attend a funeral I would bring some handkerchiefs with me to give out. I would always dream about giving them out to grieving parents but could never come up with a plan.
          "In April 2009 I decided to start a blog. I had seen a show on Oprah and thought I would give it a try. My blog is called Just Breathe. My friend at bowling had already had a blog.  One day when I came into bowling, shortly after I started my blog, she asked me if I read about Maddie passing away. No I didn't, I didn't know who she was. Well Maddie was a little girl with the biggest smile ever. Her mother's blog, "The Sphors are Multiplying," was a very popular blog. So I stopped over to visit with them and give them my sympathy. I started to feel something stirring inside of me. This is something that only God can give to you. I started going over to the blogs of women who left comments and suddenly I was overwhelmed. I had no idea the amount of women who lose babies. If you haven't had it happen around you or to the people you know, you can be so far out of the loop. To be honest with you when this all started coming about I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. I thought to myself why isn't this on the news. To think that 28,000 babies die each year in the US and I didn't know about it made me sick.  I was ashamed of myself.
          "I had my lightbulb moment! This is a way for me to reach women, to do something that mattered. Within about 2 months I had my blog  "For Your Tears" up and running. I had ordered handkerchiefs, business cards, mailing envelopes, tissue and had the handkerchiefs embroidered.  I also paid someone to make me a button for my blog. So I started contacting these women and asked them if I could mail them a handkerchief. I think they were so kind in allowing me to send them one, trusting me with their addresses. Little by little the word got around. People would put my button on their blogs and I started to get some requests.
          "I used to dream of becoming some big non-profit organization but in reality that was not what God had in mind for me. I came to realize that being small, being connected one on one with the woman I mail handkerchiefs to is more rewarding than becoming big.  Sure, I would love to have my handkerchiefs in every hospital around the world so they could be given out to a mother when she loses her child but that wasn't going to happen. I have at times donated handkerchiefs for projects that baby lost mothers have done which was another way for me to reach out to those in need. I know it is just a handkerchief and I know it can't take away the intense pain you are feeling but I also know that if I can touch your heart for one moment, let you know that I care, then I have done what God has asked of me. 
          "In the last three years I have mailed out 362 handkerchiefs and donated over 200.  But more importantly I have made some very good friends and have watched my baby lost mothers move forward while supporting them along the way. Yes it is not possible to read each person's posts since the numbers are so high but I do continue to check in on everyone to see how they are doing. I may not comment but I never forget about you. You are all in my thoughts and prayers daily."


What has been your favorite project so far?
"Last September a young boy passed away. He was swept away in a raging stream from a freak storm. He was 12 years old. Again my friend from bowling told me about him.  His mothers name is Anna at An Inch of Gray. I mailed out a handkerchief and started following her blog. Her blog is amazing and her words are inspiring. The town they live in surrounded them with love. Everywhere they went there were royal blue ribbons on trees in memory of Jack.  Well at Christmas last year I did our small Norfolk Pine tree with ribbons for Jack.  It touched her heart." (photo below)
What advice do you have for angel-mommies?
"I love the heart God has given to me for you. Share your story, get support through blogging or going to classes. I know that the road you are walking on is full of heartache and intense pain but I have seen the strength that can come with time. There is no time frame for grieving and don't let anyone tell you anything different. You never stop grieving but your heart will heal with the strength you will be given from God."



"For Your Tears."  With three words, Debby is taking a stand to support parents in mourning and remind the world that there is nothing weak or wrong about our tears. It is beautiful and so right that we should openly mourn because truly a life has been lost.  And she is there for us.  Thank you, Debby. 
To help Debby further support families in their journey through grief, please donate here. 
 
Jack's memorial tree.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

ALL Mothers' Day

Listen up people.  I have some proclaiming to do today.  This Sunday is not the official Mother's-Day-to-Mothers-of-Living-Children.  This Sunday is just plain ole Mother's Day.  That's it.  I've said it.  And I seriously shouldn't have to. 


I've seen some Facebook posts floating around about how bereaved mothers started this holiday.  From what I can find online, Mother's Day is actually a celebration mostly based on Christians celebrating Mary, the mother of Jesus.  It's THAT old.  (And since her son died, I guess they were technically right with the "bereaved" part.)  But there have never been any rules or regulations about this day.  Here, I'm totally going to do it.  I'm going to share the definition of "mother."


a. A female person who is pregnant with or gives birth to a child.
b. A female person whose egg unites with a sperm, resulting in the conception of a child.
c. A woman who adopts a child.
d. A woman who raises a child.


That's ME!  And about a trillion other women (give or take 'cause I'm bad with numbers).


Last night I got a call from a friend and I asked her what she was doing for Mother's Day.  She started in about going to see her mom and then her mother-in-law and how they liked to have family dinners and blah blah.  So I said, "No, no.  What are you doing to celebrate your own Mother's Day?"  And she tragically said, "Nothing."  Her miscarriage was in December, right around Christmas, so I know she got screwed out of one holiday.  So I asked why.  I asked her if she feels like a mother to an angel, and she said yes.  But, she said, no one else thinks of her that way. 


You see, there's the big issue.  The rest of the world doesn't open their arms and say "Welcome Angel-Mommies."  There are no Hallmark cards for us.  It took me twenty minutes and two different stores to find a Mother's Day card that didn't say "to my Mom" on it.  Of course, the rest of the world also doesn't protest the angel-mommies who celebrate Mother's Day, either.  Because we are moms, and there's no denying it.  We are just the under-represented.  And whose fault is that?  Well, obviously some blame lies on either side of this, but I'll take some responsibility.


Why don't they have Hallmark cards for us?  Possibly because no one has written any.  No one knows what we want to hear on this tough holiday.  So I started making my own cards.  And I'll be damned if I won't send them in to Hallmark!  Why don't people wish us Happy Mother's Day?  Two reasons.  Maybe we haven't told them about our angels.  Our fault.  Let's shout our babies' lives from the rooftops!  Every other mother does!  Or maybe people don't wish us Happy Mother's day because they don't know how we'll react.  I'd say a good way to spread the message would be to celebrate each other! 


And let's start there.  Let's start by remembering the other angel-mommies in our lives.  I know in the past year, two of my best friends also lost babies.  I know we all know lots of members of our sad little team.  And the only way to receive love is to put it out there into the universe.  So, this Mother's Day, buy a blank card and write a very nice message inside.  Give an angel-mommy some memento of her angel-baby.  Hell, just tell these women you remember that THEY HAVE A CHILD.  But please, don't overlook us.  Don't overlook each other.  Only then will we all have a truly Happy Mother's Day. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

In Our Hearts Photo Pendants

For those of you who don't know, Carpenter was going to be an "Irish twin."  Forgive me, but that's the only known term for it, and my Irish friend said she's cool with it.  Anyway, one of the more difficult everyday issues of being a mommy to an angel is keeping my daughter from eating my keepsakes.  She's ten months old, has eight teeth, and everything goes straight in her mouth.  So of course, when she got her hands on my locket with Carpenter's pictures, the first thing she did was take a bite.  Then another.  This became her favorite toy ever, mostly because no one would let her have it.  But at church a few weeks ago, she grabbed a hold and I decided to pick my battles and let her have it.  Of course, in her excitement, she snapped it.  So now I have a locket that I can't wear and no know-how to fix that.


Luckily, in all my online searches, I came across Celia Barnes from In Our Hearts Photo Pendants.  Celia takes in photos of your baby, ultrasounds, images you develop with your angel's name--whatever.  Then she turns each photo into a lovely pendant for you to wear.  The most amazing part about all her work is how emotionally invested she gets in each project.  It's obvious she takes her time, making sure each one is perfect.  She chooses just the right shape to enhance the photo.  She cares about those angel-babies.  I am so drawn to her spirit and kindness, I asked her to answer a few questions for me. 

What inspired you to start making pendants for In Our Hearts Photo Pendants?
"Heather Mohr first started the In Our Hearts Photo Pendants blog after losing her daughter Madelyn.  That was her inspiration.  I offered to take over as it was too much for Heather to handle after the birth of her rainbow and I didn't mind helping!  My inspiration for helping also comes from the loss of my son Noah.  I wear my pendant of Noah with pride and am so happy to be able to still show him off."


What was the first pendant you ever made?  
"The first pendant I ever made was for myself.  At the time, I was using a different type of pendant and, while it turned out okay, I was in search of a way to make the pendants in such a way that would be beautiful and also be durable.  That is how I came to make them they way I do now."


What has been your favorite project so far?  
"All of them are my favorites!!  I enjoy making them and I tend to "talk" to the babies as I make each of the pendants.  I try to make them as beautiful as I can so that each person that orders one will be as proud to show theirs off as I am of my own."


What's the best part of your work?  
"Knowing that I've given something beautiful to someone that they will cherish forever.  I love, love, love when I get photos of people wearing their pendants!  It just completely validates what was trying to be accomplished at the start of this blog!"


What advice do you have for angel-mommies?
"I wish I had some sage advice to give.  I only know that you have to take each day as it comes and live it to the fullest.  Also, collect any and all mementos and keepsakes that remind you of your little one.  Share them with others, don't be afraid or ashamed to speak often of your little one and keep their memories alive."


Do you have another favorite charity we should know about?  
"Oh my......there are SO MANY other organizations out there!  The first that comes to mind is the Faces of Loss campaign where other women share their stories of loss.  It helps so much to know you are not alone, especially in the first days and months.  Grieve Out Loud is another.  Small Bird Studios, Beyond Words Designs, Sufficient Grace Ministries.  Those are just a few.  I recommend any parent that has suffered a loss connect with these and any other grief network out there.  There is a healing power in our little community where each child is remembered always."




I can just imagine Celia sitting there, holding Carpenter's picture in her hand, talking to him as if he were in the room.  I do that.  It's so amazing to find that a person I've never met cares to that extent.     And she's absolutely right.  We must search out these groups, organizations, charities, so we can make a community for ourselves.  So we can feel a part of something, and feel that people understand this insanity that we call babyloss.  So, today, search out Celia Barnes at In Our Hearts.  Allow this organization to be one more stepping stone in your journey through grief.  I know I have.




Click here to visit In Our Hearts Photo Pendants' blog.
Click here to request a pendant.
And click here if you just want to donate a little money to help more families carry their angels next to their hearts.




My new pendants!!!





Monday, May 7, 2012

Heartprints

In the hospital during my labor, I was surrounded by family and friends.  As soon as Mike called my sister-in-law to tell her of Carpenter's death, she flooded the phone lines so everyone was aware, and almost everyone came.  One of the first people there was my oldest sister, Megan.  She's a caring person who loves her nieces and nephews.  She's a home health care nurse, and a damned good one.  But when my little Carpenter came into the world, it was too much for her to handle.  She couldn't look at his tiny body.  I hope she wouldn't be upset with me for writing this, because I never once was bothered by this.  I knew that her love for her nephew was just too strong for her to accept what had happened to him.  She had dreamed of taking him camping and horseback riding.  She didn't need to see him like this.  So, even though we kept him with us for days and took pictures of him, she has never seen his little face.


I was saddened for her and decided to see what I could do about it.  Luckily, I found Heidi Rempel, founder of Heartprints Photo Retouching.  Heidi accepts submitted photos of stillborn babies and edits them digitally so they look more like the baby each family had dreamed of.  What an amazing gift!  She gives families the ability to share their photos with the whole world, and all at no charge!  I'm overwhelmed by her kindness and willingness to give up countless hours to each family who requests, all the while maintaining a cheerful and caring spirit.  I asked Heidi if I could post a short interview with her.


What inspired you to start Heartprints Photo Retouching?
"I started Heartprints about 6 years ago, after two family members and one close friend all experienced losses within the span of a couple of years.  I wanted to do something tangible to help, and I was aware of the shortage of support in the area of photo retouching.  I am a mom myself, I have two boys who are 11 and 6.  At the time that I started Heartprints, I was staying at home with my boys and looking for something meaningful to do with my spare time.  My eldest child has since been diagnosed with autism and ADHD, and I had to go back to work to help cover medical expenses.  My free time is now very limited and I have had to reduce the amount of time I spend on Heartprints work, but fortunately my clients are patient with me and don't mind the longer wait time for photos."


What has been your favorite project so far?
"After working on several thousand photos, it is difficult to choose a favorite project.  There have been a few that have been forever engraved on my heart - the parents so desperate to show off their baby to grandparents, aunts, uncles and big brothers and sisters...  losses from long ago when photography consisted of a quick Polaroid picture of poor quality, that I have been able to improve and restore... and of course, the work that I have done for my own family and friends, so close to home."


What's the best part of your work?
"Just knowing that I am able to bring a little peace to grieving parents makes my job completely worthwhile.  I have had so many parents tell me they are finally able to display their photos in their home, or introduce their sweet babies to friends and family for the first time... to know I had a part in that truly warms my heart."


What advice do you have for angel-mommies?
"Take as many photos as possible of your baby, even if you don't think you will ever be able to look at them... they may become very precious mementos as time goes by and you begin to heal.  Don't let anyone set a timeline for your grieving - it is not a linear process and there will be many ups and downs.  It is ok to feel moments of happiness and peace, it does not make your grief any less and is part of the healing process.  Take good care of your physical self - remember to eat, sleep, breathe fresh air and soak up the sunshine... it will help."


Do you have another favorite charity we should know about?
"First Candle is an organization that is working toward the prevention of Stillbirth, SIDS and SUID.    I do hope that someday there is no longer a need for my services."




I couldn't appreciate more the work Heidi is doing through Heartprints.  I would encourage those who can to donate so that she might keep going in this selfless endeavor.  Also, I know some are not as lucky as I am in having photos in the first place.  So, please let this inspire you to find some way to remember your baby.  Make a scrapbook of hospital items, plant a tree, photograph their funeral or angelversary parties.  Do something to keep your baby close to you.  It's never too late to start.


To request photo retouching, click here.
To donate to Heartprints so that one more family might share their baby with the world, click here.


Heidi's Handiwork!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lil Angels Hankies

I've recently been chatting with Tricia of Lil Angels Hankies.  Tricia is a very sweet person who has decided to give of herself to us angel-mommies in a very special way.  She embroiders gorgeous handkerchiefs with an angel-baby's name and sends it, all at no charge!, to the grieving family.  She handles approximately 120 requests a month which both breaks my heart and uplifts my spirit.  I'm so looking forward to receiving mine!  These hankies are such a beautiful reminder to feel free to cry for our babies.  But at the same time, with their names so lovingly embroidered on a handkerchief, we are shown that they will always be with us.  I asked Tricia if she could give a short interview explaining a little bit about Lil Angels Hankies for me to share.


What inspired you to start Lil Angels Hankies?
"One of my best friends lost her baby on November 8, 2011. I thought and prayed and tried to think of what I could make her in honor of her angel, Alice. It finally hit me: a hanky. I thought it was so simple and symbolic... Her angel could wipe away her tears, it was white which symbolizes purity... And it had her angel's name and birthday on it and just seemed so perfect. Exactly one month later, on December 8, I realized this was a mission that was going to go much farther than just to her. I started then and never looked back."


What has been your favorite project so far? 
"I think my favorite one was one for a momma who wanted 3 angels names on there. It was fun to be creative and do something out of the norm."


What advice do you have for angel mommies?
"My best advice is to always recognize your angels and don't forget that they existed. Also don't let others forget. I think too many women think it makes people uncomfortable when they talk about it, so they don't. But the truth is, we went through something very painful and life-changing, and our angels are very much a part of our lives forever. It can be therapeutic to talk about, to blog about, and to tell our story. I also think it can really help when you help others who are going through something similar. There is something amazingly powerful about helping other mommies suffering and grieving the loss of their child."


What a lovely tribute to her friend's angel that Tricia would start this charity! My point in writing this is twofold.  First, I hope all the angel-mommies will request a handkerchief.  Keep it as a reminder to embrace your tears and share your story with others.  Second, get the word out about this amazing woman and this amazing charity.  Tricia's work is dependent on donations.  So, give if you can!  Just remember that 1 in 4 of us have a story, and we have to support those who support us.  Thank you, Tricia, for your overwhelming support. 


To request a handkerchief, click here.
To follow Lil Angels Hankies on Facebook, click here.
To donate to this cause, click here

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Heart to Hold

I know this is one of the best-known charities out there for us angel-mommies, but I wanted to share my experience with them in the event someone hadn't heard of them yet.


After Carpenter was born, I jumped on the Pregnancy Loss Bandwagon.  I poured myself into group therapy, signed up to volunteer wherever possible, and googled.  Such a clinical approach to self-healing, obviously.  But I was mad, and I wanted to know why no one had prepared me for this.  With my mom's breast cancer, at least we had heard of it before.  Susan G. Komen slaps a pink ribbon on anything that stands still to get their message out.  But stillbirth--well, that's just something that happened in the 1800s to Amish people, right?  Well, that's all I would have thought before February.  Now I know it's all-too-real and unfortunately, still difficult to find information on.


However, the first group I found in my grand search was Abi Crouch's "A Heart to Hold."  Abi lost her son, Corbin, to stillbirth when he was full-term.  It was her midwife who brought her the very first heart, sewn by another angel-mommy.  A little flannel heart-shaped pillow, stuffed to be the exact weight of your angel baby.


Abi explains on her site that the heartache after babyloss can be helped greatly by just having something to hold in your arms.  I see all over Facebook how true this is.  Girls writing about sitting with their hearts on their laps, falling asleep with them, just to feel a bit closer to the baby they said goodbye to.  I saw how important this was, and immediately signed up myself and a friend to receive our hearts.


The most amazing part of AHTH is that they are able to keep up with the demand.  On the day my heart shipped, 24 other packages went out as well.  That's far too many broken hearts for one woman to deal with, so she's created a movement.  At least once a month she organizes sewing parties around southern California, inviting volunteers to cut, sew or stuff hearts for new angel-mommies.  But too many of us from outside the state wanted to help.


So AHTH came up with their "Hearts from Afar" program.  Anyone who wants can apply for their patterns and rules in order to contribute.  I was so excited about AHTH, I signed up for Hearts from Afar weeks before my own heart arrived.  After getting the instructions, I got to work.


1.)  Print out large and small heart patterns.
2.)  Buy fabric.  Flannel or receiving blankets only, and nothing that is "overtly baby."  Too many broken hearts already...
3.)  Wash the fabric in fragrance-free detergent and dry without a dryer sheet.  No allergens in the hearts, please.
4.)  Sew your hearts.  There are no rules for this, but I suggest surging your stitches, just in case.
5.)  Pack them up to ship!


So far, I've sewn and shipped 23 hearts.  I've got fabric to make about 20 more right now.  Sadly, my contribution is merely a drop in the bucket.  Almost 2 million babies die in the US every year during pregnancy.  But Abi continues on, fighting the good fight, to provide a little something soft for empty arms to hold.  I know I wouldn't get by without mine. 


So, I hope you will sign up for a heart.  I hope you will volunteer if you can.  I just hope more than anything you will get the word out.  It's not necessary for us to feel alone.  There's help out there.  I will continue to search it out.


Sign up for a heart or to volunteer here!


I'm so sorry I might have to punch you right now. Original Posting on March 7, 2012

Yesterday we got another condolence card.  The outpouring of support is so strong, and we couldn't ask for more.  People have sent cards, food, flowers and the week I came home I was almost never allowed to be alone.  (I hate being alone most of the time, and apparently everyone knows it.  Probably explains why there were 15 people in my hospital room at any given time.)  ANYWAY, my husband grabbed the mail, so he opened this card.  It was from my cousin.  A lovely card in soft colors with a sweet sentiment inside, she had simply written, "I'm so sorry for your loss.  Please let us know if there's anything we can do for you."


I was cleaning the kitchen, so I was barely paying attention until he walked out to take the garbage and yelled, "Anything you can do?!  How about bring my son back to life?!"  That kind of drama almost never surfaces in my house (except when I am the perpetrator), so I followed for more information.  He explained how he was tired of token responses.  Unfortunately, until you're knee deep in this mucky situation yourself, platitudes are your only device.  And the card was sent with deep sympathy and caring.  I know my cousin, and all the others who wrote us the same things, do love us.  But I have to agree with him.


The "let us know what we can do" thought is kind.  But when was the last time you called up someone and asked them for help?  Really?  Do they really think I'm going to call and say, "You know, I'm exhausted today and really emotional.  Do you think you could get dinner for my family tonight?"  It's not going to happen.  I read in a pamphlet I was given that people are not supposed to offer hypothetical and vague efforts to support a grieving family.  Instead, they should say, "I'm going to do XYZ to help out."  My husband's old office staff sent us dinner last night...and damned if I didn't see that as a light at the end of a tunnel.  No one really asked if they could do something for us.  They called him and said, "We've done this.  When would you like it to arrive?"  Specific generosity.  I loved it.


But the part that really bugs me is the "I'm sorry for your loss" part.  Yes, obviously I believe your sympathy and appreciate it.  But really, he wasn't just my loss.  He was my son.  I know I called everyone I know to tell them the name we picked out the day we found out his gender.  Could you possibly call my dead son by his name?  Again, partially unfair.  How could anyone know?  I never knew these things.  Until three weeks ago, I had no idea that hearing my son's name would be a life raft that keeps me from drowning.  But now I've made it my crusade to spread the news.


So, to those of you lucky people who haven't dealt with this loss, or been ringside for the destruction (how many metaphors can I cram in here?), I offer you this advice.  Get specific.  Why are you so sorry for us, and what do you plan to do about it?  I'd always wondered at the Southern tradition of sending food to a bereaved family, but I swear the next time someone loses a loved one, I'll be there with a pie to listen to everything about their loved one's life.

Advice From Modern Family, Original posting on March 7, 2012

Every morning I attempt to catch up on my overflowing DVR list while eating breakfast and watching Olivia eat her toys while standing, sitting and then crawling.  My cup runneth over with excitement, as you see.  (And don't pretend that you're all fulfilled with staying at home.  TV enters the equation and you know it.  Or you're a robot and we can't be friends.)  Anyway, today I was watching Modern Family from last week and fell over myself to text my husband when Cam yelled at Mitchell, "Could you just witness my pain instead of criticizing it?"


I don't know why guys and girls are wired so differently.  It seems as if we get together under astronomical odds, and homosexuals were actually following the Darwinian path of least resistance, insofar as relationship harmony goes.  (One day it will be equally difficult to be yourself and start up a relationship for all.  I believe that wholeheartedly.)  When I have a bad day, I turn to my husband, which at this point should tell me that Rafiki would still be hitting me upside the head with his stupid walking stick.  How have I not learned to duck?


For the record, when I call my husband and say, "This has been the worst day ever," and then I burst into tears, I have a specific response in my mind.  He should say, "Honey, you poor thing.  Why don't I come home right now and I'll take care of Liv while you tell me all about it?"  What I get is, "Yeah, well, why don't we just seal the ashes container we've already got, blah, blah (sounds of typing in background)."  While he means well (and my imagined response is anything but fair), I just wish guys understood that any attempt to fix the problem is not only useless but infuriating.


Often times women have decided their course of action before even turning to you for emotional support.  We may have just fought for hours to get something done and just be so close (yet so far) that we need you to listen to our anger so we can get past it.  If you tell me how you would do it, it's as if you're saying that I am incapable of doing it right without your help.  If I wanted you to tell me how to do it, I would be very specific.  I would not call crying.  I would not go on and on about how hard it has been up to now.  I would say something like, "Honey, do you know where I can buy an urn for the baby?"  That's it.


Until I say that sentence, please assume I just want a listening ear.  There are days where all I do is play with Liv, run errands and wait until the clock hits 5:30 (and please be home on time because I do watch the clock for the last hour).  But there are days where I am completely destroyed by this loss and the best I can do is choke back the tears so I don't upset Liv.   Thanks for listening.

Survival, Original Posting on March 6, 2012

Apparently today I need a little help.  I did buy the urn.  It's gorgeous, at least online.  But in the midst of hundreds of ridiculously expensive urns and my complete inability to provide "the best" for my son, I lost it.  So I called my husband at work who apparently did not realize I needed his complete and undivided attention.  Which made me want to punch someone.  Obviously I talked through my feelings and explained what I was feeling, blah, blah, blah, I've already experienced this and don't want to do it again.  SO, I thought I'd write out some not-so-healthy alternatives to talking out my feelings as a means for survival.  ...some of which I've already done.


Eat an entire sleeve of Thin Mints.
Sob uncontrollably and then pretend to be laughing to not upset my daughter.
Go for a walk and get distracted by trying to figure out which house was the pedo house on the internet.  
Throw things.  I've not tried this yet, but it seems cathartic.
Demand I'm not cooking dinner.  Choose somewhere delicious to eat instead.
Refuse to clean the house.  I hate cleaning the house.
Watch Liv eat all my magazines and paperback books.
Netflix all episodes of Psych and time how long it takes me to figure out whodunnit.
Refresh Facebook every five minutes.
Call everyone I know to spread Facebook gossip.
Sob again.


See?  I'm practically healed!  Look at all the ways I have to overcome my grief.  Feel free to adopt these for yourself.