Its simple right? You get pregnant, feel nauseous, grow to the size of a blimp and give birth. Its really not a complicated process... or so we are brought up to believe. If you really take a look at your pregnancy app and read all those cute tidbits, you quickly realize there is a LOT of room for error. Our babies truly are a miracle! Now I know it's hard to believe when you've thrown up bacon and eggs for the third time this morning, but after my experience, each living, breathing, eating, screaming, pooping machine has defied the odds, they have survived the process and have made it into our world, a truly unique gift. I learned the hard way its not all decaf and multivitamins, it's not a simple process and it will never again be an easy process.
A simple blood test, commonly known as the AFP or Spina Bifida test, was done along with all the other genetic tests I requested. I had done them all before with our first child and we had stellar results, but I wanted it done again. This test would put me in one of the worst positions any parent could be put in. The results of this particular test, according to one doctor, meant my husband and I needed to consider a medical termination. I requested more information as a simple blood test was not enough information for either of us and after tackling a local OB, who did not believe anything was wrong, my amazing midwife (my primary care giver during this pregnancy) referred me to an OB over an hour away. I just had to wait three weeks. Just hold on for three weeks. How sick was my baby? Was it one of these famous false positives they talked about on the pregnancy boards?! Would we have to move closer to the city? Would my child ever dance? Would my child ever take his or her first steps? What happened?! Family would reassure me that baby was fine and I needed to just relax.
The day finally came, at just over 18 weeks and three weeks after my results, I was getting my ultrasound and an OB was going to get me through this. After a very thorough interview he rushed me into the ultrasound room and had his tech start my level II.
I knew right away. No heartbeat. No pulsing cord. No wiggling baby.
Days later inserting those pills for the induction was the worst moment of my life. In my eyes I was, in fact, aborting my child. Even though he no longer lived, I was forcibly removing him and that just wasn't right. It was wrong. I would avoid the second dose of pills for hours.
On February 8th 2013 Noah Issac was born.
The day my son was born my life changed. My eyes were only for him, the world looked different, I felt different. I wept for weeks, I barely slept, didn't cook and the phone didn't stop ringing. Every day hushed whispers into the phone could be heard as my husband assured family that I was adjusting as well as could be expected. My oldest son, not even 2 yet, clung to me and looked at me wide eyed, "mom, are you okay?" My son's first full sentence, one filled with purpose, understanding, love and concern. My eyes filled with tears as I lied, "mommy is fine, just sad today", I put a smile on my face. I would later hide in the laundry room to bawl my eyes out.
Finding local support was impossible where I lived, but the internet became my sanctuary. I found tons of support and my inbox was flooded daily with condolences and, surprisingly, stories of loss. It made me angry. Here I sat grasping at straws of support from strangers online and all this time 2/3 of women I knew had suffered a loss of their own! Why was I just hearing all this now? Why is no one talking about it?! My anger only got worse as well meaning friends and family used common, ignorant, phrases as words of comfort: "It just wasn't your time", "God needed your baby more I guess", "You can try again later!" I would turn to my husband in anger, "Who's right is it to say when it's my time? Who needs my son more than me?! Another baby wont fix my heart or bring back Noah!!" I even had one family member ask me if I had been drinking during my pregnancy, as if the medical test backing an unknown cause of death was impossible! Someone is to blame, right? I spent hours pouring over the food in my cupboards, re-accounting how many cups of tea or coffee I consumed. Could it have been my nausea medication? In the end I knew it was NOTHING I had done. There was no doubt in my heart.
No one meant to offend me, but no one knows what to say or how to react. They want to say something, but how can they pick the right words when no one talks about loss, healing or the process itself? I see constant posts online from other mommies-to-be asking what the signs for miscarriage are. The worst part is telling them there are no clear signs. It just happens. Why are miscarriages top secret? Why are we not banding together and educating one another?
It's been nine months since Noah was born sleeping and placed in his cherry wood urn, with his name of course and Noah's ark engraved on the front. I talk about him as if his short life could fill a book, as if his short stay on this earth was years, not 18 weeks. I wish more mothers could speak so comfortably about their babies as I do, I wish I could hold the hand of every mother in the process of a stillbirth or miscarriage. The truth is, for centuries we have been having babies and losing babies. We as women have been getting through our grief, each in our own way, we have been getting through the turmoil of loss. For some reason along the way, maybe we just stopped talking about it and sharing? I would hate to think we never have.
A "Rainbow Baby" is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm after you have experienced the loss of a child, stillbirth or miscarriage. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope. It is a term about the baby one has after the baby that dies. No matter the storm, when you trust God, there is always a rainbow waiting.
So I started off the countdown at a great pace. I thought I was going to make it through the next 27 days without going bonkers but tonight, that has proven to be untrue. I would like to know how a BLM who is not expecting a rainbow is suppose to get through this, the first birthday. I started off strong by planning to put all of my motherly efforts (or whats left of them) towards helping raise donations for a local charity in lieu of the 1st birthday party we are suppose to be having for our little boy. My positive attitude took a huge dive tonight. I guess on this long ass road of grief, distractions are still playing a huge roll in keeping ones sanity.....just like in the beginning right after Michael died. If we were pregnant, maybe I would be distracted with preparing for a new baby? I doubt it, I would be freaking out just as much...maybe more. The pain and anguish that I felt in the first few months is so up in my face right now. It's all coming back. Rushing over me like a tsunami wave. Knocking me and all of my progress to the ground and shattering the pieces of my once broken and thought to have been, partially healed heart. It's hard to look out and know I will survive this when it feels like my heart is gone. Maybe TTC isn't the best thing for us to do right now. Nights like this make me wonder if another baby will ever be what is best for us. If you read this please take a look at the link above and read about our celebration plans for Michael. DONATE IF YOU CAN!!! We are trying to do some good in his memory and would appreciate any and ALL the support we can get!
I decided to join in on the "Right Where I Am" blog project by writing my first letter to Michael-
To my sweet Michael,
Well baby boy, it has been almost 10 months since your Dad and I had to say our hellos and goodbyes to you. Everyday of these last 10 months have been the hardest days of my life. There have been some happy moments mixed in, but mostly sad and bittersweetness. The 9 months we had you here with us were the happiest I have ever been. As I sit here late at night while the rest of the house is fast asleep, I am thinking about all of the memories we should be making. Instead of holding you close and spending sweet alone time with you, I am alone with only tears and your unforgettable memory sweet boy. Your Dad and I have tried to make you so proud of us. We both miss you and wanted so much more for you and your life. You deserved better! You didn't deserve to die so soon. Our hearts are broken by your absence, but mostly because we can't do anything to change it for you. We had so much love to give to you...we still do, but I think we have a hard time figuring out how to express it to you and to each other.
I imagine by now you would be trying to crawl. For some reason I think you would be walking before you turned a year old too! I try to picture who you would look like, but you looked like both of us when you were born, so I have a hard time seeing your growing face. I think that is the hardest thing that I am having to come to grips with. We can't watch you grow up or change, progress, succeed or fail. To us you will always be a baby. I try to think of you as the age you should be, but again I have a hard time seeing you as something you never were and will never get the chance to be. I wish there was some way we could send our love to you. Maybe a love courier with a confirmation return to let us know that you got it.
You as an abstract person/spirit is so unfamiliar to me. I have had such a difficult time knowing how you NOW fit into my life and what I can do to try and keep you and your memory alive- in our family. As much as it feels so good to be writing this letter to you Angel Bear, it hurts too because you are not here to get it. You will never get to feel us hug you or taste ice cream.
For now darling boy, I hope you can cut your dear Mom some slack while I try to figure all of this out. I wasn't prepared to raise you as a memory, I was prepared to raise you as a rambunctious little boy. This is all a work in progress. You still deserve to be loved with all of the love that we have for you. You are always with us Michael, and you will never be forgotten!
But it was the best one! M got a very sweet Mother's Day card that he hand wrote for me. Even though his is the only one that deeply mattered, I felt forgotten this year and still do. Last year Mothers Day was full of happy giggles and smiles for this girl. I received tons of cards, text messages and flowers from friends and family. This year it was silence, shaded with gloominess and heavy tears. I got one card from M, no flowers and 2 text messages from girlfriends. I tried really hard to be the strongest MOM I could be and not let this get to me. But it is so hard to have Micheal gone and no one to acknowledge that he was the reason I became a MOM. Yes, I did say MOM! Even though I do not have a live child or currently am not with child, I am a MOM. I am tired of feeling like this. Always having to remind people that I am a mom, and I do have a child.
I guess it stems from the lack of support we have gotten from people we know or who claim to care about us. In the beginning after we lost Michael I was so afraid that people would forget about him. No one says they forgot. They just choose not to remember I guess. This all sounds very bitter and jaded maybe because I am. Maybe I just expect too much from people. It's all very sad and unfortunate. Maybe next year if we have a live baby, people will be be more willing to acknowledge my motherhood. Maybe...........
There really are no words. None that can truly grasp the essence of the emotions felt by me or any other parent that looses a baby. I know I haven't been blogging as much so this post may be out of the blue and pretty depressing but it will be short. I MISS HIM! All of the time! He was my first.....my baby, my son. My little boy that I had so many plans, hopes and dreams for. The little man I anticipated holding in my arms as I fed him from my breast while admiring how handsome he was.
ALL OF THAT GONE, NEVER TO RETURN AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I still have the unfair question of WHY, and just like always missing him, that question will never go away either. We may have a functional answer to the question on the surface as to WHY Michael died but it is useless to me and my heart that aches for him constantly. I don't think I can or have been able to accept the fact that I will be grieving for the rest of my life. Like the naive person I am, I have been looking for that time when I will be able to breathe with out the stabbing pain in my chest, or be able to walk by random baby stuff with out that gut wrenching tear slicing through my stomach. I am living my life to the best of my ability, but some days, like today-IT'S JUST HARD.
Grief is unrelenting and unpredictable. It has no right or wrong and it is non-specific. But everyone that has been affected by grief can say the same thing, it changes your life and leaves you alone. This can mean something different on so many levels to a lot of people, so take it the way that fits you in your own life because on one level or another it is true.
Well I have made it through the first 2 weeks of school and I am still here. I miss all of you and have tried to keep up with you as well as I can in between studying for Adv. Patho., Pharm., Lab, Skills, and 2 more religion classes. I go to a private Catholic College so Learning in the Dominican Tradition and Intro. to Christian Beliefs are classes that I am able to take.
We have had 1 major test and 4 quizzes in 2 weeks. Out of those grade, I made 3 A's, yes I made an A on my first test, and 2 B's. I was going to write at the end of last week but I was so overwhelmed I decided not to. This week I am a little more accustomed to the schedule and the expectations as well.
There have been a few days that I have felt overcome with grief. It's so hard to allow myself to go with it since I have to sit through 4 hour long lectures. There are a few classmates that I have gotten close to and THANK GOD they are so encouraging. I am very lucky to have made friends with 2 of the most compassionate ladies I have ever met. After sharing what we have gone through after Michaels death, they have really embraced me and my grief. Last week was hard and there were a few days that I was just so upset, but these girls really stepped up and gave me the hugs I needed and shoulders to cry on. I was able to open up to them and express the emotions I was having at the moment I was having them. It was a relief and a blessing.
I have known one of the girls for over a year, so they aren't total strangers. Her name is R. She is a breast cancer survivor and we hung out a few times while I was pregnant and during her chemo and radiation treatments. The other girl, her name is B, and I hit it off right away. You know there are just some people you can connect with. Needless to say, they have been placed in my life for a reason.
So, one of my other classmates is pregnant and has a few children already. For me, it's not a big deal, well it wasn't a big deal until she started making comments about being an incubator and not a mother. This just so happened to take place on one of my sad days, so I am sure I was hypersensitive. I really wanted to say something but I decided it would be better if I didn't. I wasn't mad and it didn't hurt my feelings. I really can't explain how it made me feel, but I remember that I didn't like it. Maybe I was envious of her. Jealous of what I didn't have anymore. Now every time I hear her talking, I cringe.
It's been 5 months since we met Michael and had to say goodbye at the same time. I still feel like it was a dream. I was taking a bath last night after a pretty long day. As soon as I started to splash water onto my stomach and chest I realized why I had not taken a bath in such a long time. Michael loved the water! I was a pretty avid swimmer and took a ton of Water Aerobics classes during my pregnancy. He always got really active when I was in the bath tub or swam. Taking a bath was always really special for me. I would sing to him because it was the only time I thought I had a pretty singing voice, so I would sing my little heart out to him while pouring water onto my expanding belly. Just watching him move to the sound of my voice and the water was the ultimate bonding experience for me. M would always come into the bathroom if he heard us and would join in too. Well I wasn't singing last night, but I guess out of habit he came into the bathroom while I was in the bath. As he was sitting next to me, I could see the tears in his eyes. He was looking at my body, my stomach.
The place where our son was for 9 months, was now, no longer there. The domicile for our precious baby boy that M had connected with on a daily, no hourly basis was in fact gone. I know I have said this before but Dads have to have it the worst. We, as women have the chance to physically bond with our children, where men only get to see our bodies change. They have to somehow process the correlation of our growing wombs and belly's, to the arrival of their long awaited son/daughter in order to build any kind of physical relationship with them. Granted there are other ways they can bond, but the most tangible and realistic has to be the divine metamorphic properties of the mothers body.
That was the first time we had been in the bathroom, in the tub together since Michael was born. There were no more sounds of me singing or vast movements of my swollen belly because the reason for both of these was now in the arms of God. The little life that M and I had spent so much time with in that tub was not there anymore. He is gone, along with a huge part of our hearts. UGGH! I could see the hurt and surprise on M's face. I don't think he quite expected that heavy of a reaction to take place inside of him. But neither did I! We didn't have to say anything to one another. Like a perfectly orchestrated movement, I lifted myself out of the water as he went to get my towel. In perfect silence he helped me out of the bath and into bed. We both laid down together and were heartbroken all over again, experiencing the same exact emotions at the same time. Even though it was brutally painful, it was so beautiful how in sync our hearts were. It is just amazing how much communication can take place in silence, especially with someone you are so connected to.
I miss my little boy more and more each day, but I know God has a plan for us and for him as well. Only faith can get us through this and onto the next phase of our lives. I remember I blogged a post a few months ago the said FUCK HOPE, I want my son back. This is not that post today. I do have hope, some days. That is what keeps us going I think. Faith, HOPE and Charity...these are the 3 virtues that allows us to share in God's nature. Not to be all preachy but this has helped me come to be at peace at little more.
Its scary how a persons mind works when they are so desperate to change things in their life or how they feel. I have had an incredibly hard day today and I am not really sure why. It could be a lot of different things. What I do know is that I am so desperate to have him back. While realistically, that will never ever happen, I did the strangest thing. I actually Googled how to get my baby back. I do realize that this sounds very strange and a tad bit unhealthy but I call it desperation at it's peak. My utter desire to have Michael here with us, now, is manifesting into a deep sense of depression in my body. I am trying very hard not to let it take over my life but I cant see it getting any better.
Now, I am well aware that the majority of people out there are not necessarily interested in my bad days and really would just like for me to get over this, but guess what! I'm not over it and the death of my first born son is taking an awful toll on me. In the very beginning, I thought I was really going to make it. Now I am not so sure. Maybe this is just one of those days that you just have to get through in order to make it to the days when the pain is more tolerable. Frankly, I would rather not have to deal with any more days at all if any are like this one. I should be looking forward to a New Year, starting school again, and getting married.....but I don't want any of that. I wish I did. I wish I could muster up some sort of happiness, but all there is, is helplessness and hopelessness.
I want to turn my heart over now. I'd like to be able to just call up some company that deals in the tragic loss of children. A company that specializes in taking the broken hearts of parents off their hands. It would be a positive thing if I were able to get on this blog and tell the world that I have found some kind of lasting peace in Michaels death or that I have become so dependent on my faith in God that I am able to accept his dying for no reason, but I can't....it's not that I don't want to, but I seriously can't. I am too exhausted from the day in and day out emotional chaos that I try to keep organized, not only in my heart, but in my head too. On top of that I have to try very hard to keep M's feelings in mind as well. He lost his son too and it is not fair to be selfish! Those things in and of themselves are a lot for my little peon brain to deal with. Hats off to those that can do it, but I am not cut out for it.
I know this isn't the same "Goodbye to 2010" blog post that everyone else is posting. I just don't care what year it is anymore. 2010 or 2011, it doesn't matter! It's not going to change what happened and why in the hell does a New Year mean things will get better? I pray you all have a great year in 2011! That all your dreams, hopes and aspirations come true! As for me, all of those things died on Aug 12, 2010 and were buried in Duluth, MN on Aug.30, 2010.
We have been on Holiday vacation on the Twin Cities, MN and the Northern Woods of Wisconsin. We will be returning to Nashville on the 2nd of Jan. While we have been here, we were able to visit Michael at the cemetery and look at his plot marker. We buried him with his grandfather, who we named our son, Michael, after in hopes that the name would live on. Now we are sadly reminded of how they both are gone and buried together when we hear or even see that name. It was a bittersweet visit.
I think I cried the hardest I have cried since I held his lifeless little body in my arms the day we got to meet him for the first time. It was excruciating to be in that cemetery and I cried, I cried loudly and my body was physically shaking. We held each other and cried together, M and I. After about 20 minutes I was terribly exhausted and couldn't cry any longer. It was the strangest yet sweetest feeling of peace that just washed over me and M. We both felt it at the same time and said, "Did you feel that?" In sync our hearts are!
I'm not sure how else to explain it, but we had a small glimmer of what it felt like to have our family united, together in one place. I have since felt much more closer to my son. He has touched my heart, down to the core of my soul. I love you and miss you every day, baby boy!
"The consolation of losing a child is that you have less fear of death for yourself." - Elizabeth Edwards
Why and how is one suppose to incorporate the phrase or action of "moving on" into their lives? Especially after the loss of our baby. This is a question that has frequently passed in and out of my mind lately along with the myriads of hopeful, anxious, sad and fearful feelings to go along with it. What will moving on consist of for me? If you were to ask some random person from off the street their answer would differ from mine or from anyone who has lost a child. "Normal" people would probably give a generic answer. Something like "out with the old, in with the new". But not me. I like the old. I miss the old and I am terrified of the new. I don't want to just toss the old out like it's some meaningless transaction of time and lost person. The old was stable and planned. There were expectations to have and goals to meet. How are we going to move on from that?
We have had a few Christmas parties to attend lately. It's been nice to go and pretend that I am not a broken spirit under the make up and all the weight I have lost since Michael was born. But I always wonder out of all the people we come in contact with, how many of them know? What do they think about me being out and trying to act like I'm ok? Am I acting like I'm ok or can they sense my intense and uncomfortable awkwardness. It's like I'm moving through the motions trying not to feel self-conscious but all the while I'm wishing I was in the back kitchen washing dishes, not having to be social. The expectations and goals have changed from what they once were. I can no longer take comfort in the thought of going out into public looking like crap because I have been up all night with my baby because, I don't have a baby. Now I have to put a lot of effort into going out into public. The old thoughts of being able to stay home from the parties this year to take care of him are no more, instead we are attending them trying to look like we are not letting the loss of our son kill us. God I pray I am able to pull it off this year and in the years to come.
The holiday spirit just isn't around for me right now, its kind of just numbness. Maybe that is what my moving on will be. NUMB. I don't want that though. I still have the hopes of other children in our lives. I don't want to be numb for them. They deserve to have an amazing Mom that loves to celebrate the holidays. I guess my moving on is still up in the air and can really be whatever I want it to be. Michael doesn't want us to be unavailable for his brothers and sisters and he sure wouldn't want us to give up on everything. Incorporating the action of moving on really is just a matter of moving through. Moving through the pain, moving through the grief, and the injustice that I feel every second of everyday is my moving on. Being able to move through this season of my life is imperative for the next one to come. I'm not leaving anything behind or letting go of the old. It's coming with me. Were are simply moving on the way we can and know how.