Monday, December 31, 2012

Farewell 2012

Dear 2012,

I find it very difficult to accept we're leaving you behind.  Once again, I find myself clutching fast to the moments I cherish, realizing the rest of the world must march on.  But you--you were far too important a year, and while I cannot freeze time, I refuse to forget.

In February 2012, I welcomed my sweet Carpenter into this world.  It was tragically bittersweet, but that day will always rank in my top ten.  I will never forget the day I held his little body, dressed him in white, and let my tears fall on his face.

In March 2012, we welcomed my niece.  She scared the hell out of us (which showed us she'd take after her father) by coming eleven weeks early.  We desperately needed to hear the cry of a living child.  I will never forget the look on my sister-in-law's face when she saw the first picture of herself with her tiny baby. 

In April 2012, a dear friend brought her sleeping daughter into the world.  I did not know them at the time.  I was not there to cry with her.  But I will never forget her short life, her mother's pain, or her birthday. 

In May 2012, I joined Lil Angels Hankies.  Tricia's team has meant the world to me, giving me support, and better--the chance to support others.  There are still days I can't get by without my fellow staff.  I will never forget the day I told Tricia I was all-in.

In July 2012, Mike and I celebrated our two-year anniversary.  We had been rocked to the core, experienced the worst pain a couple can bear, and we had come out of it fighting FOR each other rather than against.  I will never forget the day it really hit us that we could and would survive anything together.

In August 2012, I decided to open up my heart and soul to the possibility of more love, and still more pain.  We decided we were ready to try again to expand our family.  I was scared to death, but I'll never forget the day I finally said "it's time."

In September 2012, we found out we were expecting our third child.  In a sea of emotions, I came up numb, but underneath swelled excitement and pride.  I will never forget the day I told Mike the test was positive.

In October 2012, I joined in the excitement as a dear friend brought her rainbow into the world.  She had shared her joys and fears with me to prepare me for my months ahead.  Seeing the healthy birth of her son has buoyed me in a way I can never explain.  It is because of her strength I know I can keep going.  I will never forget the day her sweet son arrived.

And finally, this month, I found out we're having another son.  During the ultrasound, I was the first to spot the gender, and immediately wished I were wrong.  I was scared of so many things, not wanting a replacement baby for my Carpenter.  But I realized that Carpenter sent his brother to me.  I will never forget the day I found out our chosen name, Matthew, means "Gift of God."  

2012, it has been a roller coaster.  You have given me destruction and growth, terror and joy, fear and hope.  With the good and the bad, I still cling tightly to the memories of what has so far been the most important year of my life.  I will never, ever forget.  Thank you for all you have given me, and for all that was taken away.  Because in the end, it was mine, even if just for 2012.

Here's to 2013.  May it be just as memorable.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Tomorrow will be 10 months since my son was born.  And tomorrow, I will find out what his little sibling will be named.  Yes, it's been ten months without our Carpenter, and our little M is now 18 weeks old.  It feels like some official passing of the torch.  Carpenter celebrates a milestone in Heaven, and M becomes somehow more substantial.  For a mom who has been hiding from a post-loss pregnancy, giving M a name will be a huge moment for me.

I was thinking about those "Little Brother" or "Little Sister" onesies they make for newborns.  I bought one for Liv after Carpenter was born, and she wore it with pride.  (Well, I was proud.)  But today it occurred to me that if I buy big- and little-sibling shirts for our living children, no one will know that Carpenter is our middle child.  Everyone will just think that M is the little sibling, Liv is the big sibling, and there's no one in between.  
As if M has replaced Carpenter.

And that is what has troubled me all day.  

I have heard many people suggest to babyloss moms that once their rainbow arrives, then they'll be happy again.  You know the line.  "At least you can have other children!"  (Yeah.  At least I can punch you.)  And this thought-process bugs the crap out of me.  You see, when we have our rainbow pregnancy, it's not a filler child to replace the hole left behind by our loss.  If that were the case, there would be no reason to have more than one child ever, and they'd be as interchangeable as Legos.  

But they're not.  Our rainbows are special parts of our family that we chose, we prayed for, we WANT.  Just as much as any other child we might have. I may be scared to death during this pregnancy, but M is a necessity to our family.  M was chosen, prayed for and wanted.

Tomorrow, no torch will be passed.  No attention will be diverted.  No love will shift attention.  As with each of our children, our love and attention will grow in order to make room for our sweet little M.

...right beside Carpenter.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

In It Together

Yesterday, as I was playing around on Facebook, avoiding the necessary shower, I started to notice the world went quiet.  We don't have TV.  If the world blows up, I anticipate my husband will give me a call from work--if he has heard.  So, eventually I started to recognize that something was going on, and went to a news site.  I, like everyone else, was shoved deep into the tragedy in Connecticut. 

Unlike everyone else, apparently, I read through the story one time, on one website, and I walked away. 

I do not want anyone to think I'm not deeply moved by this senseless massacre.  I know the grief of these parents who will, alongside myself and countless others, have a tearful Christmas this year.  I know they are destroyed.  I know this is the worst thing that can happen to a family. 

My issue, with which I've been grappling for 24 hours, is the way we are so often sucked into these stories.  Why?  Why do we sit, glued to the television, staring at the tragedy of others?

Some would say that it's because our country is falling apart.  That year after year, massacres such as this are multiplying.  It all started with Columbine. 

Not so.  Every year for decades--DECADES--there have been approximately 20 massacres of similar magnitude inside the United States.  20.  No, that's not a good number.  Yes, it's disgusting.  But it's not happening every day at every school in America. 

Some would say that the death toll is overwhelming. 

Not really, all things considered.  Approximately 150 people die of massacres every year.  That's a very small number in comparison to the 17,000 who die from homicides of any type every year.  Both these numbers are down from previous years. 

So what is different?  The media attention.

When a crazed man walks into a school and takes 28 lives, the newspapers and television stations show up like locusts to a plague.  For months we will watch as experts dissect the events of yesterday, pondering exactly what could have been done to stop this senselessness.   But nothing can be done.  If it could, we'd have done it. 

When 28 people die in a schoolhouse, we are made to feel like we can do something. 

But when 26,000 children are stillborn each year, when one in four women cry for the children they one talks about it.  When it's happening to everyone, it's not news.  When it happens every single day, no one can profit from the story.  When it affects millions, not dozens, suddenly nothing can be done.

No one was glued to the screen when my son died. 

So what is the point to my story here?  Obviously the loss these families suffered was an impossible one from which they will never recover.  I will not deny them that.  But I will not drown in their story.  I will not stare at the screen, lapping up every detail.  Because I know that every day, many unknown, unspoken families grieve for the same thing--the loss of their sweet children.  And as members of this tragic club, we are charged with one thing:  to stick together.  Let the media and politicians debate over what could be done.  We know that only one thing is to be done.  We must help each other remember our babies, and love each other as brothers and sisters in loss.  The notoriety will fail, the support will falter, but we must not.  Let none of those among us ever forget that we are all in this together. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Voice of Reason

Last night, we had two amazing friends over for dinner.  This is a great couple we met in grief counseling, and Mike and I just love them.  Mike has lots in common with J, and C is too adorable for words, which entertains me to no end.  The best part about our friendship, though?  They get it. 

So it wasn't awkward at all when I started talking about my nightmares.  (Yes, I had another one last night.)  C is pregnant with what they hope to be their rainbow, and she's 6 weeks ahead of me.  She mentioned she had been having bad dreams as well, and I perked up immediately.  

At least it's not just me!

Maybe I'm not crazy!

Could this be normal?

So I just asked her...what was her theory?  And I realized once again that C is a genius.

She told me, "Of course it's normal.  When we're sleeping, that's the only time we can't control our emotions.  During the day we try our hardest to keep it all inside--keep pretending to be okay.  The built up stress has to leak out somewhere.  So we have the nightmares."  


Because she's absolutely right.  We babyloss moms live a strange double-life.  A few days, weeks or months after our children die, we realize that the world keeps marching on, and sadly, we have to keep up.  But we wouldn't dare leave our children behind.  So in public we paint on a face of "normalcy."  We tell everyone--including ourselves--that we're fine.  And after some time even we start to believe that.

But grief is an overwhelming force.  No matter how strong we are--no matter how thick the mask--our grief still gets to us.  

And it can be truly scary. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Okay, last night--again--Mike shook me awake.  I was sobbing in my sleep over another scary nightmare.  In this horrible dream, a weird hybrid of my husband and brother was playing with Liv--but a little too rough.  He was shaking her, really hard, and I was begging him to stop.  She eventually stopped laughing, and I sobbed while he yelled at both of us.  I couldn't move to save her--I couldn't do anything.  

I'm losing it.

Today I had my regular injection of Progesterone, and figured I should mention the nightmares to my nurse, just in case she had any suggestion.  Ever the supporter, she mentioned that if this keeps going on long-term, we'll talk to the doctor about my options.  There might be risks, but insanity is pretty risky, too.  But that's a far-off discussion.  

Anyway, as I was talking to her, I felt myself start to slip.  I realize that right here, right now, 16 weeks is where I lose it.  I have lost my grip on the numbness that kept me safe for so long.  I have lost the shield that keeps me from reliving my son's short life in this pregnancy.  I have lost the protective distance I kept between myself and this little life inside me.  

It's over.  I've lost it.  

So what now?  Well, apparently when those walls come down, my first inclination is to hide, hide, hide.  I've barely left my house in two days.  I have three emails waiting for a response in my inbox--which are kind of important.  And what, you might ask, am I doing in my little cave?  

I don't know.

Worrying?  Staring at my newly-discovered bump?  Panicking?  Yeah, panicking seems fair.  Today I called Mike freaking out about the baby names we've chosen because up until this week, I've honestly not given them a second thought.  As if deep down, I wasn't sure we had any use for names.  But suddenly we're creeping up on the anatomy scan.  

And this is all just a little too real.  

You see, with your first pregnancy, no one tells you anything except pregnancy is sunshine and puppies and maybe a little morning sickness.  Your hair and nails will benefit from the prenatal vitamins.  You'll have a glow.   

Your first loss tells you that while this might be true, it couldn't be less important.  You realize just a minute too late that every day of pregnancy is a delicate gift that you must take the time to be grateful for.  You lament not cherishing every kick, every surge of heartburn.  

Your first pregnancy after loss, you've lost the naivety.  You know full well you should celebrate every single moment and kick and trip to the doctor for your millionth shot.  But some of us are just a little too scared.  Some of us are scared to death.

Yes, I know this sounds an awful lot like yesterday's post, but until today, I hadn't taken the time to say out loud to another person exactly how I was feeling.  And today, when I spoke up...

I lost it.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Two Strange Developments

So, I'm 16 weeks 4 days now with M, and we're having a strange time recently. Of course, most of that is probably due to the toddler who has decided to start her terrible twos about 8 months too early. I'm beginning to suspect she knows I'm pregnant and cannot have a stiff drink the moment Daddy comes home. 

Anyway, for about the tenth time in the past month, last night I woke up sobbing. I've been having terrible nightmares that generally end in Mike having to shake me awake and console me back to sleep. 

Last night was pretty scary. Mike was a soldier suffering from PTSD, and during his treatment, somehow Liv and I were able to enter one of his flashbacks. He was walking through an old prison which was ankle-deep in rotting pumpkins. Slowly, zombies appeared before us, reaching out, trying to grab Liv. Mike was behind me, crying, saying he didn't want to die. I kept pushing forward, scared, but reminded him that "even if you do, at least you'll have someone wonderful to look forward to meeting in Heaven." 

I woke up sobbing. 

I hate these nightmares. But I keep having them, despite having a generally wonderful day yesterday (disregarding the terrible twos). 

 But I have a theory, based on my newest development. I'm beginning to accept and become conscious of my pregnancy. Yesterday I put on an old t-shirt and noticed a baby bump that was just weeks ago a malformed blob. I'm 16 days from finding out M's gender. This baby is slowly becoming something I cannot put out of my mind. And I'm more afraid than ever. 


Here's hoping that week 25 will bring a little comfort my way. For the next 9 weeks...I guess I'll just steer clear of scary movies. to deal with the toddler.