Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Magical Thinking

I hold the doggy and blankie close. So close. Imagining you boys holding your doggy and blankie close in your tiny white coffins. I think that if I hug tight enough, or feel the warmth and softnes of the texture on my cheek, or bring back the magical feeling from that day in the toy store, that you will feel me holding you...that you will be here and I will be able to feel you in my arms again. If I just squeeze a little bit more, or wrap my arms just so, then you will appear and look up at me and make this vast emptiness go away. You will wrap your little hands around mine and we will rock and snuggle and fall into blissful sleep together as mother and baby should. If I could just capture enough of that warmth, then you would have to come back to share it with me. My belly wouldn't be empty, my heart wouldn't be broken, and my arms wouldn't ache to hold you anymore...because you would be here...safe with me. If I could just hug this doggy tight enough. You would have to be here with us...laughing and learning and growing into the personality shaped by your one year of experiences. If I could just hold this blanket just right...then you would still be inside of me, growing and wiggling. In my mind, you would be safe inside me...part of me...I could protect you this time. This doggy and this blankie connect the three of us, but it's not enough. I have to do something different to bring you back to me. I have to. I can't live like this...holding onto fabric and stuffing. Do you feel the same things I feel? I know you don't. I know there is no warmth when you hold your doggy and your blankie. I know that your little hands don't pull at the fabric and snuggle in. I know that you lie there, motionless...lifeless. There is no magic. So I rub the fabric on my cheek and wish...dream...that you could feel it too. That I could tickle your skin with the softness. That I could wrap you in the warmth. That I could bring you back and make you stay.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

4 o'clock

The ultrasound that isn't.

Hopefully the last of the reminder phone calls has been delivered and I can now get on with the business of...

...healing?

...forgetting?

...moving on?

To what?

I love you Steve

Monday, May 29, 2006

Happy Belated Birthday Mini Miao!!!

Happiness over at The House of Miao!

CONGRATULATIONS!!! AND WELCOME TO THE WORLD MINI MIAO!!!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The year of suck

And the good news keeps rolling on...

Grandma is at home with hospice care. The doctors say she has massive stroke damage and only has a year to live, at most.

Two of five fish died.

There is apparently some sick baby boom going on...as EVERYWHERE we go (even watching the dang television), there is another massively pregnant woman or a woman who has just given birth (or two or three or four...).

Will someone please just beat me over the head with a baseball bat and get it over with already???

Thank you, thank you, thank you

Several thanks you's to go out this morning because we feel incredibly blessed to have such amazing family & friends. Thank you all for making Sam's birthday extra special this year (when Steve and I weren't sure we had the energy).

Laura & Justin
Holley & Chas
Julie & Gerry
Sherry & Zoe
Tracy & Sarah
Aunt R & Uncle P
Grandma & Grandpa B
Grandma C
Great Aunt N & Great Uncle L

Birthday pictures to follow on Sam's blog later today. :o)

And we're headed to the zoo on Monday...lots of pictures will follow that trip.

(end of commercial...now back to your regularly scheduled programming)

It wasn't funny the first time

This call is to remind you of your appointment at...(address)...on Tuesday, May 30th at 4pm. If you need to reschedule, please call...(number)

I really don't think I need an ultrasound of my empty uterus, do you? No? I didn't think so. Thanks for calling.

You would think, after the great medical care I have received, that they could do something as simple as removing my name from their appointment reminder call list.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Happy Fourth Birthday Samuel Charles

I took this picture the other night when we were outside playing. Four years ago I stood by the very same flowering bush, hugely pregnant with you. Four years later...just look at you!

Four years have gone by far too fast for your old mom and dad.

You are our light...our reason for facing each day. It feels like we should thank you. But I don't know how we could adequately thank you for all the smiles and the happiness you have shared. And I know there is no proper way to thank you for all the love you brought with you when you arrived in our lives.

This year has been pretty terrible for our family and now two of your birthdays have been less than perfect. But through it all, you have showed us that the capacity to smile still remains. In fact, the experience of joy is still within our reach...in playing with bubbles, planting flowers, snuggling, watching Thomas on television, sledding, carving a pumpkin, eating ice cream, riding bikes, hugging a cat, dancing, playing music, reading books, playing on the swingset, playing hide and seek, and so much more.

You have grown and learned so much in the past year, we can hardly keep up with you. You have a vocabulary that astounds us every single day. You are curious about everything around you...and you retain the things you learn at an amazing rate. You are developing such hand-eye coordination that we have no doubt you will do something spectacular with it (baseball player...concert violinist...anything is possible). You have a kind personality that always makes me smile to see in action. All your friends rely on your love and understanding...as do your Daddy and I.

I hope that through any bad times, you are able to hang onto the memories and promises of the good times (like Daddy and I do). Remember that no matter what bad things we face, we will make it through as long as we face them together. You have already, in four short years, had to face so many things that never even crossed our consciousness until we were adults. I hope that we have preserved some of your childhood for you. I hope that you won't look back and remember all the horrible days...but will instead remember days like today, your fourth birthday...where you got your very first "big boy bike" and rode it around the living room.

You have made so many of our dreams come true. We love you.

Happy Birthday Sam-a-lama!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Death is not the greatest loss in life.
The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.


- Norman Cousins (1915-1990)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Our bracelets came today



reminderband.com

What words could I use?

Love, beauty, happiness...can all be captured sweetly in prose so that you almost feel what the author is feeling. Sadness can be written about so beautifully that it makes your heart ache for the person behind the words.

But this place...it can not be written about in a way that will adequately convey this darkness. What words do I use to describe this place? This is the place people point to when something bad happens so they can say, "I always knew something was wrong with her...poor thing just needed mental help." This is the place where all the ugly thoughts and feelings lie. This is the place most people are afraid to acknowledge exists. The place where, if you're lucky, you only dip a toe during your entire lifetime. You flirt with it, daring it to swallow you up...not realizing that once it does, it may never let you go.

The same questions turn around in my head incessantly...

What kind of wife and mother can I be that I'm not fulfilled by my husband and son? What kind of family are we supposed to be now that two of us are missing forever? Are we supposed to be a family with only one child? Is Sam supposed to be without siblings? So why our babies? What are we supposed to be without them? How am I supposed to care about the daily happenings in anyones life when I'm barely able to get showered and dressed in the morning? Is it my need to be comforted that is driving my faith? Or is my faith the source of my comfort? Where are you God? How could I have been so stupid? Did I do something to cause all of this? What do I do with the guilt? What bad thing is next?

The questions just don't stop.

I go through the motions every single day. I even smile. My eyes, my face, and my head hurt from crying. My neck and shoulders hurt from being tensed and sleeping poorly. My breasts and my uterus hurt from the absence of my baby. And that feeling of really caring about anything is simply gone...vanished.

I often contemplate sitting down in the middle of the sidewalk and having a good cry. No, not a cry...a hysterical fit. I don't even worry if people would understand. There were so few who understood me before...now there are none. It just wouldn't matter.

People ask me if it's a good distraction to be back at work. What can I say? Sure. I forget I have two dead children by playing lawyer during the day. I can no sooner forget I have two dead children than I can forget I have one living one...do you ever forget you have three living children? Don't you get it? I have three children too...but two of them are dead!

Good God...TWO of my CHILDREN are DEAD! What happened to our life? We were supposed to be happy...

------------------------------------------------------

And before anyone suggests I see a therapist...don't.

And before someone suggests I trust in God...don't.

Just don't.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

All aboard!

This was my train of thought as it steamed out of control tonight...

I am my mother. My mother who inherited her love of gardening from her mother...and has passed it down to me. I remember her when I was growing up...hands always rough and discolored from the grass and mud she had been playing in. Thumbs and index fingers with hundreds of tiny cracks filled in with dirt, no matter how many times you wash your hands.

I am my grandmother. My crazy 80+ year old Polish grandmother who is in the hospital right now suffering from...old age. She's too old to do much these days, but I remember her, outside in her yard, wearing mismatched clothes, hair falling out of her bun and flying all around her head. She was always hunched over her flower bed, pulling weeds out at the roots...one at a time. Even if she was on her way somewhere else, not intending to do any weeding at that particular time, any offending weed was guaranteed to catch her eye and be immediately pulled out. She was always so careful to nurture and grow each individual plant. It almost seemed like she was in her own little world...nothing could distract her from pulling out those invading weeds from her little domain of flowers or vegetables. She's in the hospital now...with no garden to tend at all. I hope she's ok.

My Uncle Tom died. I didn't go to the funeral because it was just "too much" and I didn't want to stress myself during my pregnancy. HA! Fat lot of good it did me, huh? He was such a nice man. His hugs were always genuine. His laughter was always REAL. He always fell asleep after Christmas dinner...just for a short nap. He was better than Dad and cribbage (Dad will tell you just the opposite...nobody really knows who was telling the truth because nobody really understands cribbage like they do). When I was about 8 or 9, we went on a family vacation to Yellowstone National Park. We drove, caravan style, across the country. Uncle Tom wanted to see a bear. He talked about seeing a bear all the way...at every stop...when would he see his bear. We saw just about every single type of wildlife, including moose, buffalo and antelope. No bears. After about a week, my grandparents left us and took an additional trip up to Alaska while we turned back home. They were reportedly about ten minutes away from us when they CBd (remember the days of the CB?) that they had, in fact, seen a bear. But Uncle Tom never did see a bear. We teased him about that for years.

Tonight, I went outside to check up on Samuel and make sure he wasn't causing his father any trouble in the yard. The flower garden caught my eye. Once I started, I couldn't stop. I was pulling and tearing the weeds and grass out of my flower garden. I looked down and realized I was wearing non-matching clothes...tearing at the weeds...and wondering about Uncle Tom. Where is he now? Does he know my boys? How do I get up the rest of these weeds? What do I put on my hands so they don't crack open and bleed? How much can a person take? How much is too much? My arms hurt. My back hurts. My legs are going to hurt tomorrow. I need more flowers for this garden. First I need to dig up some of this dang grass and get rid of it. I'm tired.

Oh yeah...and American Idol sucked...but I'm glad the winner won (won't spoil it for anyone on the west coast).

Yeah, this train of thought is a fun ride.

Missed appointments and lost dreams

Right this very minute I am supposed to be almost 23 weeks pregnant with my sweet little boy...sitting in my OB's office...making jokes with the receptionists about moving in...waiting to pee in a cup...worrying about the followup ultrasound next Tuesday...feeling my baby boy move inside me.

But none of that is real.

Was it ever?

Or was it all a dream?

The tale of two me's*

There are two me's.

The first me is calm, cool, collected.
I accept what is as what is and know that there is no changing it...therefore there is no need to grieve.
This is the me that sees Travis as the "subsequent pregnancy" rather than as "Travis."
This is the me that says, "He didn't even have a name...you can't be missing him that much...you didn't even have time to get attached."
The me that enjoys the fact that I'm losing weight and not looking pregnant anymore.
This me is a kind, loving, even supportive friend.
This me knows how lucky I am to have my husband and my son and is able to focus on that.
This is the me that says, "You've survived far worse than this...you are fine."
With this me, I can feel "normal" and move about my day as though I am the same person I was before Travis died. Sure, I was forever affected by losing Alex...but I was beginning to feel optimism and happiness again in that new role that had been given me.
This me enjoys a sunny day.
This is the denial me.

The second me, however, is not calm, cool, or collected.
I do not accept what is as what is and, even though I know there is no changing it, I still long for answers. I still want to yell and scream and smash things as I demand answers from the universe.
"How cruel can you be? Forget me...What did they do to deserve this?"
This is the me that looks at the pictures of poor sweet tiny Travis and wonders if I loved him enough.
This is the me that feels like I had a lifetime with this poor sweet tiny soul and feels as though a part of MY soul is now missing.
The me that feels that every lost pound is another step away from my children.
This me wants to yell at anyone and everyone, "Don't you KNOW what happened to us?!?! Cut me some slack!!!" (and generally feels like letting loose a torrent of profanity)
This me appreciates Steve and Sam but can't help but focus on what is missing.
This is the me that doesn't care what I've survived...THIS is all just too much.
With this me, there is no functioning. There is only neverending crying...and incessant searching for answers on the internet. Someone...anyone...who understands.
This me is reminded that bad things happen...even on sunny days.
This is the me that wants to stomp out all optimism and happiness. This is the me that wonders, "Why bother?"

Rational...emotional...
I KNOW I need to balance the two me's...
Unless maybe I develop multiple personality disorder...
Which is looking like a better option every day (At least then I wouldn't have to work so hard to balance all this crap.).



*yes, I know the punctuation isn't correct...my blog...I'm allowed to take liberties with grammar and punctuation...and even invent my own words now and again.

Monday, May 22, 2006

You're so alike...yet different

Comparisons are inevitable, I suppose. Losing baby boys exactly one year apart is freakish enough to make everyone else in the world gasp in horror, so why not join in the fun for myself?

I've spent a good deal of time over the last week going back in time...reading old sympathy notes...sifting through memory boxes...reading what I wrote following Alex's death. I particularly noted how my entries have changed over the past year. It's an almost tangible reminder of the ebb and flow of my grieving process. As I read them, I remembered the entries written through a blur of tears...the entries written with a smile on my face...the entries written out of sheer exhaustion...the entries written when I simply had nothing real to say. It's astounding to me to see the hope and the happiness return to my life...bit by bit...especially now...in the face of complete broken-ness. I read each entry in suspense, hoping that it would turn out well. I'm here living this nightmare and I keep wishing for the freaking happy ending.

It feels like there is nothing left now. Where before at least there was the hope that life would get better, there is now nothing but blackness. I KNOW now. I know what it means to give up hope. And it scares the hell out of me.

My life is now something completely different...something I don't know what to do with. Everyone will tell me, "You still have Sam and Steve." And yes...I know I do...I know I have blessings in my life. But now I know what it means to be given more than you can handle. I know what it means to be turned inward so far that you can't find your way out into the light again. Before, I was dealing with a wrong turn...not correctable...but something you steer around...find an alternate route...enjoy the new scenery along the new path. Now, I'm sitting at the end of a dead-end road...stuck in the mud...in the dark. There is nowhere to go from here.

A friend once wrote me an email (that I blogged about, of course) in which she said:

The image I have had is that you're in a creek or river being swept along in this raging current and you're trying to keep your head above water, and I'm on the bank and there's this chain link fence between us, and all I can do is run along beside the creek and yell these stupid words of encouragement down to you as you're fighting for your life. Sometimes I've wondered if you wouldn't like to throw a rock at me if you had the energy, but still, I keep talking to you just so you know there's someone here and just in case it might help.

Back then, I had delusions that I could beat the rapid and climb to safety on the shore. A whole freaking cheering section could be on the shore shouting encouragment...it wouldn't make a difference. Now I KNOW that I'll never reach the shore and I'm just too tired to swim.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Saturday, May 20, 2006

It's the little things that hurt the most

~I get to drink caffeinated coffee.
~The bottle nipple wash rack fell out of the cupboard at me while I was putting other things away.
~eBay notified me that the auctions on my watched maternity and baby items have ended.
~I'm using his yarn for charity.
~I can fit into my regular underwear.
~I just planted tomato plants without first donning gardening gloves.
~I took the last pill to dry up my milk.
~The laundry still has dirty maternity shirts to wash.
~Tomatoes don't taste as good this week...and I don't think cheeseburgers will ever taste as good.
~There are two, as yet, unused Playtex nursers in the cupboard where I store my crockpot (purchased for Alex). So my crockpot remains on my kitchen counter because I just can't face them.
~I can't yet lift and carry heavy things.
~No matter how hard I try, I can't hide the blood glucose monitor well enough in the bathroom cupboard.
~Baby clothes lurk in the basement AND in "the baby's room" upstairs.

I'm thinking of tackling them all in one day...purging the house if you will. Last time, I foolishly held onto the dream. This time, there is no dream to hold onto...not anymore.

Yeah...I'm a bit unbalanced...so what?

I'm sitting here, crying buckets over Barbaro's Preakness injury. ~sigh~



You have GOT to be KIDDING me

This call is to remind you of your appointment at...(address)...on Wednesday, May 24th at 4pm. If you need to reschedule, please call...(number).

Uh...yeah...I need to reschedule...for the 5th of NEVER.

My baby is dead...so I'm assuming I don't need to pee in a cup this week.

Thanks for calling though.

Back in the saddle...crochet hook in hand



Remember the christening gown? Well, the mom gave me some skeins of yarn as a thank you...to make something for Travis. I didn't have time before he died. So now I'm using it for charity projects. Here's my first hat. I really hope it gets used on a live baby and doesn't end up in some parents' memory box.

More thank you's

Vixanne ~ Thank you for the donation to Best Friends Animal Society in Travis' name. You made me smile with your thoughtfulness.

Melanie ~ Thank you for the gift basket. I loved the bear...Sam, however, said, "No more bears." lol (And I will confess, the chocolates didn't last a day)
And thank you for the donation in Travis' name to Save the Children. A living tribute...I like that.

Kathi ~ Thank you for naming stars after our two babies. For those who are interested...you can find them just inside the constellation Hercules.

Catherine ~ Thank you for the bracelet and the candies. Sam gives the candies a "pretty good" and Steve keeps sneaking them when he thinks I'm not looking (I let him). The bracelet is beautiful and I smile when I wear it.

Cynthia ~ Thank you for your kindness. I wish I had half your faith.

Kelley ~ I don't know if you read this or not anymore...but thank you for the calla lily. Calla lilies are my favorite...I just hope I can keep it alive.

I love you all. And I wish I could take the time to thank everyone who has sent a kind word via comment here, email, or snail mail. But I simply cannot keep track of all the love and kindness that everyone has shown us. Please know that we are incredibly grateful to have such amazing friends and we hold you close in our hearts.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Days of the week

Sunday: Found out Travis was dead on a Sunday. Steve was born on a Sunday.

Monday: Travis was stillborn on a Monday. Went home empty-handed on a Monday. Found out Alex was dead on a Monday. Sam was born on a Monday.

Tuesday: Labored through an entire Tuesday with a dead Alex. Saw Travis alive on ultrasound for the last time on a Tuesday. I was born on a Tuesday.

Wednesday: Alex was stillborn on a Wednesday and buried the next Wednesday.

Thursday: Went home empty-handed on a Thursday.

Friday and Saturday: Travis was buried on a Friday. I suspect both Alex and Travis died on one or both of these days.

I guess of all the days of the week, Tuesdays and Thursdays aren't too bad. Funny what my definition of "not too bad" has been reduced to.

Have a good weekend. And by "good," I mean by a NORMAL person's definition of "good."

C.S. Lewis on God

Since we're talking about God and grief...

Passages in A Grief Observed that strike a chord with me.

Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolation of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand. The conclusion is not "So there's no God, after all" but "So this is what God is really like, the Cosmic Sadist. The spiteful imbecile?"

...

And poor C. quotes to me, 'Do not mourn like those that have no hope.' It astonishes me, the way we are invited to apply to ourselves words so obviously addressed to our betters. What St. Paul says can comfort only those who love God better than the dead, and the dead better than themselves. If a mother is mourning not for what she has lost but for what her dead child has lost, it is a comfort to believe that the child has not lost the end for which it was created. And it is a comfort to believe that she herself, in losing her chief or only natural happiness, has not lost a greater thing, that she may still hope to 'glorify God and enjoy Him forever.' A comfort to the God-aimed, eternal spirit within her. But not to her motherhood. The specifically maternal happiness must be written off. Never, in any place or time, will she have her son on her knees, or bathe him, or tell him a story, or plan for his future, or see her grandchild.

...

They tell me H. is happy now, they tell me she is at peace. What makes them so sure of this? I don't mean that I fear the worst of all. Nearly her last words were, 'I am at peace with God.' She had not always been. And she never lied. And she wasn't easily deceived, least of all, in her own favor. I don't mean that. But why are they so sure that all anguish ends with death? More than half the Christian world, and millions in the East, believe otherwise. How do they know she is 'at rest?' Why should the separation (if nothing else) which so agonizes the lover who is left behind be painless to the lover who departs?

'Because she is in God's hands.' But if so, she was in God's hands all the time, and I have seen what they did to her here. Do they suddenly become gentler to us the moment we are out of the body? And if so, why? If God's goodness is inconsistent with hurting us, then either God is not good or there is no God: for in the only life we know He hurts us beyond our worst fears and beyond all we can imagine. If it is consistent with hurting us, then He may hurt us after death as unendurably as before it.


...

Sooner or later I must face the question in plain language. What reason have we, except our own desperate wishes, to believe that God is, by any standard we can conceive, 'good'? Doesn't all the prima facie evidence suggest exactly the opposite? What have we to set against it?

We set Christ against it. But how if He were mistaken? Almost His last words may have a perfectly clear meaning. He had found that the Being He called Father was horribly and infinitely different from what He had supposed. The trap, so long and carefully prepared and so subtly baited, was at last sprung, on the cross. The vile practical joke had succeeded.

What chokes every prayer and every hope is the memory of all the prayers H. and I offered and all the false hopes we had. Not hopes raised merely by our own wishful thinking, hopes encouraged, even forced upon us, by false diagnoses, by X-ray photographs, by strange remissions, by one temporary recovery that might have ranked as a miracle. Step by step we were 'led up the garden path.' Time after time, when He seemed most gracious He was really preparing the next torture.

I wrote that last night. It was a yell rather than a thought. Let me try it over again. Is it rational to believe in a bad God? Anyway, in a God so bad as all that? The Cosmic Sadist, the spiteful imbecile?

I think it is, if nothing else, too anthropomorphic. When you come to think of it, it is far more anthropomorphic than picturing Him as a grave old king with a long beard. That image is a Jungian archetype. It links God with all the wise old kings in the fairy-tales, with prophets, sages, magicians. Though it is (formally) the picture of a man, it suggests something more than humanity. At the very least it gets in the idea of something older than yourself, something that knows more, something you can't fathom. It preserves mystery. Therefore room for hope. Therefore room for a dread or awe that needn't be mere fear of mischief from a spiteful potentate. But the picture I was building up last night is simply the picture of a man like S.C. — who used to sit next to me at dinner and tell me what he'd been doing to the cats that afternoon. Now a being like S.C., however magnified, couldn't invent or create or govern anything. He would set up traps and try to bait them. But he'd never have thoughts of baits like love, or laughter, or daffodils, or a frosty sunset. He make a universe? He couldn't make a joke, or a bow, or an apology, or a friend.

Or could one seriously introduce the idea of a bad God, as it were by the back door, through a sort of extreme Calvinism? You could say we are fallen and depraved. We are so depraved that our ideas of goodness count for nothing; or worse than nothing — the very fact that we think something good is presumptive evidence that it is really bad. Now God has in fact — our worst fears are true — all the characteristics we regard as bad: unreasonableness, vanity, vindictiveness, injustice, cruelty. But all these blacks (as they seem to us) are really whites. It's only our depravity that makes them look black to us.

And so what? This, for all practical (and speculative) purposes, sponges God off the slate. The word good, applied to Him, becomes meaningless: like abracadabra. We have no motive for obeying Him. Not even fear. It is true we have His threats and promises. But why should we believe them? If cruelty is from His point of view 'good,' telling lies may be 'good' too. Even if they are true, what then? If His ideas of good are so very different from ours, what He calls Heaven might well be what we should call Hell, and vice-versa. Finally, if reality at its very root is so meaningless to us — or, putting it the other way round, if we are such total imbeciles — what is the point of trying to think either about God or about anything else? This knot comes undone when you try to pull it tight.


...

Such was the fact. And I believe I can make sense of it. You can't see anything properly while your eyes are blurred with tears. You can't, in most things, get what you want if you want it too desperately: anyway, you can't get the best out of it. 'Now! Let's have a real good talk' reduces everyone to silence. 'I must get a good sleep tonight' ushers in hours of wakefulness. Delicious drinks are wasted on a really ravenous thirst. Is it similarly the very intensity of the longing that draws the iron curtain, that makes us feel we are staring into a vacuum when we think about our dead? 'Them as asks' (at any rate 'as asks too importunately') don't get. Perhaps can't.

And so, perhaps, with God. I have gradually come to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted. Was it my own frantic need that slammed it in my face? The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just the time when God can't give it: you are like the drowning man who can't be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear.

On the other hand, 'Knock and it shall be opened.' But does knocking mean hammering and kicking the door like a maniac? And there's also 'To him that hath shall be given.' After all, you must have a capacity to receive, or even omnipotence can't give. Perhaps your own passion temporarily destroys the capacity. ...

This is me

You know what...I'm NOT going to be quiet! My first instinct is to run and hide at the slightest conflict or dissent...always the peacekeeper. But now...right now...I don't care what anyone thinks of me. This is MY place! This is ME! The ugly...the honest...the hurtful...the kind...all of me.

And while I appreciate everyone rallying around me...I would also appreciate if you didn't attack one another in the comments of this blog. I have my own opinion of those who show up out of nowhere and profess to have all the answers regarding things they really don't know a damn thing about...and I know you do too. But please, let's try to remain civil to even those people we don't agree with.

You know why I won't be quiet? Because that's what people do...especially women. For years...decades...even centuries...stillbirth has required silent grief. And the ONLY time we are given any insight into what it's like to go through the experience (and survive), is when we go through it ourselves. And then, we are shamed into silence...left without any support...alone...the victim of the unbending judgments of a society who, like some commenters, think they have it all figured out.

Question God? How dare you? Feel anything other than joy? That is just wrong. Forgive and forget. Move on. Feel better. And if you fail to follow the rules, we will say things that will make you want to cry even more. We will emotionally punch you down until you comply. We will show no compassion, but rather show our determination to prove that we are right...whether you are equipped to hear it on that day or not.

If nothing else...this blog has always been MY journey through grief...MY journey to find some meaning...MY attempt to make some sense of the "unimaginable." I put it out there for me...but also because if ONE person stumbles on it and finds themselves a little less alone in this world...it will all have been worth it.

I don't expect anyone to agree with me...I don't even ask you to. Judgments are inevitable. I know that. But you know what? I don't care what some stranger thinks of the way I'm dealing with the death of MY CHILDREN. Quite frankly, I don't even care what people who know me think of the way I'm dealing with the death of my children. When you can trade places with me...then you can have an opinion. This is my battle and I'm fighting it the best way I know how. And I will NOT be silenced.

And I may question God until the day I die. And if He exists...and He asks me why I doubted...I think I'll be ok answering honestly.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"You are so filled with fear."

Fear is all there is left. Or maybe it's that the grief feels so much like fear? (C.S. Lewis)

No, it's all-out fear. How can there not be? How is there room for anything else?

I did it all right. I believed in God. I took care of myself. I followed ALL the rules. I was the good girl. I was the one who never got in trouble.

And look what happened.

But if I'm honest with myself, I have to admit that I only did the right things because I was afraid in the first place. Fear is nothing new to me. I believed in God because I was afraid of what He would do to me if I didn't. I took care of myself because I was/am afraid of illness and death. I followed the rules and never got in trouble because I was so afraid to disappoint anyone...I was afraid to get in trouble and be punished.

But those were things that made sense (if only to me). Do A and be rewarded with B. Don't do C and avoid D. It was an easy system.

But now...now the system is a mess. There are no guarantees. There is no sense of justice. There is just the waiting for the other shoe to drop...For the next bad thing to happen.

Believe in God because I'm afraid of what He'll do to me? I'm already afraid because I've seen it. Does that mean I believe more or less? Maybe I believe...but I hate. Or maybe I don't believe at all. Who knows.

Take care of myself to avoid illness and death? Ha! Good one. Something as tiny as a speck of nothing ripped it all apart in an instant...and I didn't have a fighting chance against it. What good did the vitamins and the healthy eating do? No good whatsoever...unless you want to classify delivering a "perfect" dead baby or two into the world as a good thing.

Follow the rules and don't disappoint...avoid punishment. Well, it would seem that punishment comes in all forms. And I see the questions when people look at me. "What's wrong with HER?"..."TWO dead babies...I just can't IMAGINE"..."Maybe she's learned her lesson and will just stop trying now." I followed all the rules and my body betrayed me. And now it seems the world around me loves to pass judgments and issue punishments for things they THINK they understand.

So yeah...I'm afraid. I've always been afraid. But now, the fear is palpable. It's no longer a fear that plays by set rules. It's more a fear of the facts of life...the chaos and randomness that I KNOW is out there. It's a fear that has me jumping at shadows behind the door...real or imagined. Because regardless of what anyone would have you believe, bad things can happen to ANYONE. Just because you pray...or eat the right foods...or are a nice person...none of it immunizes you from the possibility that your perfect world can be destroyed in an instant. None of it.

And I wonder...how much of my life has been pure luck up until this point. How many times have I clung to the system because it suited me and my view of the world...when it could have so easily been destroyed that much sooner? Is this what they mean by the phrase, "Growing Up?"

My husband and my friend and I were in NYC two weeks before 9/11. We rode the subway past the World Trade Center because I wanted to experience a real NYC subway ride (once was enough, thank you very much). As I stood in the Courthouse on September 11th and watched the towers fall on television, I thought how lucky we were. But NEVER did I really contemplate that it all could have ended on that day. The system would have been destroyed.

As I laid in the hospital laboring with Samuel, I remember the nurse having me lay on my left side because his heart rate appeared to be dropping with the contractions. She didn't seem particularly concerned and so I wasn't concerned (belly fat was ultimately deemed the culprit for interfering with the monitor). In THAT moment, it all could have gone wrong. We were so lucky.

Those are just two of the more dramatic moments in my life that I can remember feeling "lucky" or "relieved"...but never really conscious of what I could have lost. Now, looking back, I marvel at the coincidence that led me to a place where I could deliver two dead babies. Maybe I have already cashed in my two good instances with those and now I have to pay the proverbial piper his fee.

I don't know. And I don't care. The fear is here to stay...but it's really nothing new.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

More C.S. Lewis

No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.
At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or confused. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be around me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.

...

And grief still feels like fear. Perhaps, more strictly, like suspense. Or like waiting; just hinging about waiting for something to happen. It gives life a permanently provisional feeling. It doesn't seem worth starting anything. I can't settle down. I yawn, I fidget, I smoke too much. Up till this I always had too little time. Now here is nothing but time. Almost pure time, empty successiveness.

We are those people

-----------------------------------
We were the people normal people didn't want to talk to for fear our bad luck would rub off on them.

Now we are those people even we didn't want to talk to for fear their bad luck would rub off on us.

An interesting twist to the story of us.
-----------------------------------
Was it the lunchmeat I ate?
Was it God's way of punishing me?
Was it another undetected infection?
Was it that I stopped taking prenatals?
Was it that I didn't sleep on my left side?
Was it the cup of coffe I drank each morning?
-----------------------------------
They say lightening doesn't strike twice...and maybe they're right.
Maybe Sam was my lightening strike and it's not going to happen again.
Maybe THIS is what is "normal" for me.
-----------------------------------
Was it that I just couldn't love him like he needed?
Was it because I was sick the day after conceiving him?
Was it because I twisted funny in my chair on Thursday afternoon?
Was it because I couldn't let go of the anger over his brother's death?
Was it because I joked that we were "ahead of the game because he was alive?"
-----------------------------------
Why was I so stupid? Why didn't I just wait to talk to Sam about the Beast? One more week and I could have spared him the heartache...the confusion...the sadness. One more week and Travis could have tiptoed in and out of our family without unnecessarily disrupting Sam's world.

But nooooo...I had to be cute and take him to the ultrasound. We had to call the baby "the Beast" and talk about names. I had to encourage Sam to talk about sharing his toys...about dressing the Beast in red...about playing together...only to disappoint him again. I am an IDIOT. I am the worst kind of mother.

I don't learn...and therefore doom my innocent kid to live through painful repeats of my mistakes.
-----------------------------------
msfitzita writes today about how we are more than our sorrow...how we have something other than our tragedy to offer the world...how we are not just "...pitiful, hopeless, helpless thing. Broken, damaged and useless."

She's right, of course. But I'm beginning to wonder if there isn't a point where a person loses that...where a mother does become defined only by her tragedy.

I know mothers who are defined solely by their children. They have no hopes or dreams or aspirations other than to be good mothers to their children...to have their children grow up to be good people.

And if that is so, then it must be so that there COULD be women who are defined by their dead children...by the tragedy of losing those children. It doesn't seem so unbelievable that such people exist.

And if they exist, the question becomes...how did they come into existence? Were they just not strong enough? Was the tragedy that much stronger than their strength...their will to remain amidst the living? Did they resolve to fight...and lost anyhow? Or did they just resign themselves to the way things are...and not even attempt to fight the battle?

I ask these things because I need to prepare. I could imagine how easy it would be to give in...when I had one dead son. Now that there are two of my flesh and blood sharing a plot in the cemetery, I hear it calling me. Insanity. Desperation. Abandon. I no longer have to imagine it. I can hear it...feel it...taste it...all around me. Is it worth the effort to fight it? I look at Sam and obviously answer yes.

But I wonder if I'm fighting a losing battle. Will I be defeated anyway...no matter how valiantly I fight? And what am I really fighting for? What is left of me, outside of this hell, that is worthy of saving? Tell me the joy will return. I will believe you because I've been there too. But I know that the return of my joy can so easily be followed by a sucker punch to the gut.

You think you're happy now? I'm not through with you. And I'm not talking about job satisfaction...or whether you like your house or your car. No...I'm going to toy with the lives of those you love. What are you gonna do about it? NOTHING!

Maybe that is what drives some women so mad that they seek solace in the pain. For within the pain there is comfort in the expectation. There are no surprises. You know not to plan for the happiness, but to accept the welcome familiarity of the sadness.
-----------------------------------
He didn't leave...he was lurking...and I fear that he lurks for me as well.
-----------------------------------
Now that we have become the people we didn't want to talk to we know the judgments. Somehow defective. Somehow cursed. Sad. So sad. What happened to them was just so sad. What were they thinking?
-----------------------------------

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Moments of insanity in the rain

As I drove in, I saw the most magnificently beautiful pink flowering tree hanging above Ella's grave...the pink and silver pinwheel I put next to her headstone spinning like mad in the breeze. That's when the tears started to flow. I could barely steer the damn minivan around the last curve to my boys' grave. As I slowly coasted into my customary parking place under the deep red tree (no longer a mere sapling), the sobs escaped. It was here...the cry. I knew it was coming eventually...I had just hoped to hold it off for a while longer. But it snuck in without invitation regardless of my need for control.

I pulled myself back together, removed my suit jacket, and stepped out into the rain. I was wearing my black flat sandals. My bare toes squished in the cold water and mud as I made my way back to their grave...my boys...my dead children. How did I end up here? Standing in the rain, up to my ankles in mud and water, talking to my dead boys. Whose life is this? Whose dead children are these?

I started yanking the pansies out of the mud and muck. The sobs returned as I ripped and pulled them from the earth, flinging their remains into the woods behind the gravesite. I hacked at the globs of mud, chopping poor unsuspecting earthworms who ventured into my hysterical path. The rain water ran down my scalp and my neck, around my breasts, sending drips running downward to the stream paths of the pointless stretchmarks on my belly. I didn't feel the cold. My fingers and toes grew numb as my rampage continued toward the ultimate satisfaction...a gaping hole in the area directly in front of Alex's headstone...the area where flowers should be.

I remembered the petunias in the van. I had been driving them around since Friday before Travis' funeral but hadn't had a chance to plant them because it has been raining for the past seven days. How appropriate that it started raining last Tuesday, the day after losing Travis...and it hasn't stopped raining yet. But since I had already gouged the earth in my rampage and was soaked to the bone, I figured I might as well jump right in to the planting phase of things.

I sloshed to the van and grabbed some petunias as a crow sat up in the highest tree, mocking me with his cries. I tried to ignore him but he insisted on being heard. I told him to shut-up. He crowed again. I told him to shut-up again. He crowed again. I found myself yelling hysterically, "Just leave me alone! Please! Just shut-up and go away. I don't believe in you anymore."

My tears mixed with the rain...but who would know...certainly not my boys. They don't know anything. The will never know anything. I froze my toes and my fingers nearly off to plant some flowers for some boys who will never know that they are even there...that I was even there...sobbing in the rain...yelling at that damn crow overhead.

Finally getting everything just the way I wanted it (I am apparently obsessed with the directional abilities of the boys' pinwheels...the MUST catch the same breeze and spin together), I climbed in the empty minivan, kicked off my squishy sandals, and turned the heat on high to thaw my toes. I listened to some piano music and watched my expertly placed pinwheels spin in unison. As the song changed, I noticed that the crow was gone...replaced in song by some other bird with a much sweeter song...a cardinal? I don't know...I couldn't spot him. But the tears tapered off and I found a sense of finality. Not peace. There will never be peace. But it's over. This is all there is. Two dead boys in the mud. And a headache from crying.

in memoriam

We have been asked by more than one person if there is any special place for donations in Travis' name. Steve and I have talked and there are two charities that we feel strongly about that we think would appropriately honor Travis' life.

Save the Children and the Public Animal Welfare Society of Cleveland, Ohio.

Save the Children has a memorial donation page online here.

Unfortunately, PAWS doesn't have such a sophisticated giving program. But you can get instructions for donations here. If you pay by mail, you can include a note and I'm sure the Director, Amy B., will let me know.

Thanks so much for thinking of our little Travis.

Which is worse? those who know? or those who don't?

"I'm just so damned angry for you."
Uh, yeah, me too.
"I mean, it's just not right."
I agree.


"Are you glad to be back to work?"
Guess so, what else am I going to do? Might as well come in here and pretend like nothing is different.
"Yeah, I mean, life goes on."
[really? thanks.]


Person who only knew I was in the hospital (didn't know I was pregnant):
"So did you have the plague?"
No.
"Well, I hope you're feeling better, whatever it was."
[No matter what it was, maybe you should get a clue that it's not a joke when someone is in the hospital...oh...and it's none of your damn business either.]


Person who didn't know I was in the hospital OR that I was pregnant
"Sounds like you have a cold...take care of yourself."
[That would be snot from supressed crying...I wish it was only a cold.]


Oh...and let's not forget that great email about how people were saved from dying on 9/11 by sheer coincidence...from someone who knows all about my pregnancy and Travis' death...that includes this great line...
Now when I am stuck in traffic, miss an elevator, turn back to answer a ringing telephone...all the little things that annoy me. I think to myself, this is exactly where God wants me to be at this very moment.

and this line...

Next time your morning seems to be going wrong, the children are slow getting dressed, you can't seem to find the car keys, you hit every traffic light, don't get mad or frustrated; God is at work watching over you.
May God continue to bless you with all those annoying little things and may you remember their possible purpose.


Pass me back my cape...I didn't say all the things I WANTED to say...I emailed her with...
I love you. And I don't want to hurt your feelings. But please do not send me anymore God-related emails. God and I are having issues right now and I just can't deal with it at work too. I hope you understand.


And it's only noon. I'm going to go to the post office, buy a large fully caffeinated and sugared beverage, close my office door, and eat my lunch in peace. I hope.

Imagine it

A friend emailed me (hi friend) and I think she hit the nail square on the head...

To be honest, I do imagine what it's like, but I don't
know if I'm right. I imagine you're almost numb. I
imagine you just feel finished, just plain finished
with all this. Sort of a "screw this all, I'm moving
on" feeling. I imagine you are so hurt that you can't
even feel all the pain and that instead you are numb
and angry. I imagine you have just flipped a master
switch somewhere to turn it all off, as much of it as
you can, that you're stepping outside yourself now to
survive, that you appear to be "functioning" much
better than you were after Alex's death, but that
you're really on auto-pilot because the wound is so
deep it doesn't even bleed. I don't presume to know
how you feel, but I do try to imagine.

You're right -- it absolutely sucks that the rest of
the world can return to our lives. No matter how many
hundreds of times a day I think about you and Steve
and your boys, I can always turn my thoughts back to
my own life. I imagine that has to be one of the most
infuriating things of all. But it's true. You're
right -- it's the way it is. It's one more thing that
must make you feel so terribly alone and angry.


But let's be clear. I'm not angry AT ANYONE. I'm just angry. I don't want anyone to spend their lives in mourning with us...we've got the mourning covered pretty well ourselves.

I'm just angry.

And sad.

And tired.

I haven't even cried the cry. Maybe you know the cry I'm talking about...if you're lucky, you don't. Sure, I've had short bursts here and there...but I've kept it to a minute or less. I have to control something. And if I don't control the tears, I will never be able to stop them.

And I'm right back to square one with the questions. Why did this happen? What am I really crying about? Comparisons are inevitable...but did I want THIS baby or A baby? In this moment, the moment where I contemplate hurling my full coffee mug at the wall and smashing it into a billion pieces, I would take ANY living baby.

But how to mourn an unfinished baby? I just don't know. At least with Alex, I knew bits and pieces about him. We had time. There was no time with Travis. He came and went before he was even real. And if he wasn't real, how can I miss him so much?

I have only a handful of purely happy memories surrounding Travis' existence...

Finding out I was pregnant and emailing my friend (same friend from above) before even telling Steve.

Calling Steve in his car as he was pulling up the driveway and telling him, "I have something for you that's way better than a candy bar." (I'm not so sure a candy bar wouldn't have been a better choice)

Calling my mom and rambling into the phone...something like, "I was going to wait to tell you until after dinner, but then I thought I'd be obsessing all through dinner about how to tell you, and I really want to enjoy dinner, so I'm just calling to tell you now and save myself the mental torture...I'm pregnant."

The lone card I got congratulating me (thank you so much Amy).

Buying the purple bear and the little yellow bear rattle for Travis.

The countless emails of support and love from the above mentioned friend, all through my all too short pregnancy.

Laying so awkwardly in bed that night and feeling Travis move on the outside...and sharing that single moment with Steve.

The set of charms from the same friend, arriving in my mailbox just in time for Alex's birthday. As coincidence would have it, also in time to welcome me home from saying goodbye to Travis. But knowing they were sent in love and remembrance of Alex...and love and anticipation of Travis' arrival makes me smile nonetheless.

That's it...that's all there is. No late night rituals. No special foods that would make him dance in my belly. No songs or voices that would incite special responses. How I wish we had more time. How glad I am that we didn't have more. How angry I am that he had to hang in there as long as he did and put us through this. How does one wish for less and more all at the same time?

on auto-pilot because the wound is so deep it doesn't even bleed

Yep...that's a perfect description.

Aren't wounds that don't bleed...deadly?

Monday, May 15, 2006

One week

I'm back to counting weeks.

Tomorrow, me and my unimaginable grief and sorrow will return to work...to my life...as if nothing is different.

Yesterday I hauled my unimaginable grief and sorrow with me to the PAWS 4 A Cause run/walk fundraiser. I wore the XXXL t-shirt that had been ordered special for my pregnant belly and I only briefly cried twice. It was a decent day...the rain held off until we were done. But I walked around as though a blanket were thrown over me...everything muffled by the unbearable wrongness of everything.

"This is one of the things I'm afraid of. The agonies, the mad midnight moments, must, in the course of nature, die away. But what will follow? Just this apathy, this dead flatness? Will there come a time when I no longer ask why the world is like a mean street, because I shall take the squalor as normal? Does grief finally subside into boredom tinged by faint nausea?" --C.S.Lewis--

How do people react to unimaginable grief and sorrow? They tell you they can't imagine what you're going through...that they're thinking of you...and then they return to their life. That's the way it goes.

I'm currently selling all my conception, pregnancy, loss, and pregnancy after loss books on eBay...check em out...prices are very reasonable. I decided to sell them when I consulted the section of Empty Cradle, Broken Heart titled Another Loss.

After your first loss, your greatest fear is that it will happen again. If it does, it can be devestating. You may wonder if it's a sign of deeper problems, a prelude to chronic infertility or an inability to bear a healthy baby. After a number of losses you may feel more anxious than ever when you are pregnant. You may fear that you could never survive another loss. But you are probably more resilient than you think. And you will probably gather up the courage to try again.

PROBABLY?!?!? Gee...thanks for that helpful insight. I guess me and my unimaginable grief and sorrow are on our own.

One week down...how many more are in store?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

I didn't get anyone a Mother's Day card this year. I usually shop in the last week before the day and I just couldn't find any cards that said what I was feeling. "Here's hoping your Mother's Day doesn't suck as bad as mine" is apparently not a Hallmark sentiment.

But I've been reading some blogs and have a few less sarcastic thoughts which I will share with you (Sorry...I have no mercy for your souls).

To everyone on the road to becoming a mother...by whatever route...

I can't tell you you will get there. But I hope you will. I hope all your dreams come true.

To everyone who is a mother...with living or deceased children...

I won't say "count your blessings" because that, quite frankly, makes me want to vomit. But I will say "cherish the happiness...whatever amount you have been blessed with." If misfortune visits you, you will have good memories to look back on.

Sadly, I have very little of that from my time with my sweet Travis. I spent so much time in denial, so much time afraid to fall in love, that the happy memories are few and far between. Even the shortest life...even the life of a 20-week stillborn boy...is worth celebrating with happiness and not regret.

Be proud of your motherhood...for whatever time you have/had it. You are/were part of the miracle of life. No matter what you believe...God or not...YOU were an integral part of creating life. That is amazing.

Thank your mother. You are here because she was strong enough to take the risk that her heart would be broken into a million pieces. I can think of no greater love.

Happy Mother's Day

Friday, May 12, 2006

Thank you

Mom and Dad ~ Thank you for taking care of Sam and everything else when we needed help. Thank you for taking pictures of our Travis...we will cherish them forever. Thank you for the flowers and the poem.

My sister and her husband ~ Thank you for being here. Thank you for the flowers for Travis. Thank you for hanging out and just being normal with us for a bit.

My brother ~ Thank you for being here. Thank you for taking everyone shopping and getting the good beer for Steve. :o)

H and C and A ~ Thank you for being here and for making the cemetery a fun place for Sam. Thank you for one of very few smiles and laughs on this awful day. Thank you for the birthday gift for Sam. I think he may have fallen asleep with the tractor in his hand.

Julie and G, her hubster (don't know if he's ever been named on the net, so I won't divulge his identity without permission) ~ Thank you for driving five hours to be here. Thank you for the flowers and the cards and the lovely gift. It means a lot to me and I am wearing it. (I hope the house was still standing when you got home)

Laura and Justin ~ Thank you for being here. I know it wasn't easy for you to face the sadness with Milo on board...you are amazingly beautiful people and we are lucky to call you friends. Thank you for the flowers. And thank you for the birthday gift for Sam...it's in bed with him tonight. :o)

dbm, dbp, and baby O ~ Thank you for the flowers. Your thoughtfulness across the miles means so much to us. Give that sweet little boy a kiss and hug from us.

David and Toni and crew ~ Thank you for the flowers. Thank you for introducing us to this wonderful circle of people who have kept us afloat when we thought we were going to drown.

Catherine ~ Thank you for the rose for Alex. It is beautiful and perfect. It may seem silly, but it is nice to be able to add memories to his remembrance box...it keeps him alive at least a little bit.

Mel ~ Thank you for the charms. Each one carries thoughtfulness and love, not tainted by the bad stuff. We have so few of those happy-only memories of our boys...it's so nice to smile when I think of them.

My Mother-In-Law ~ Thank you for the card and gift. I know it takes a weight off Steve's mind to be able to take time off work to spend with us without worry.

The people at my office ~ Thank you for thinking of us and supplying us with enough food to last the entire weekend (and probably beyond). You are good people.

Everyone who left an email, ecard, comment, or post on a message board ~ Thank you for thinking of us.

Dan at the cemetery ~ Even though you don't read this...Thank you for taking such good care of our boys. We know it's especially difficult for you and we appreciate the effort you make for them.

The staff at the hospital, including Dr. I, Dr. A, and Dr. E ~ Thank you for taking such good care of us and offering us more than just medical care. The love you shared with us will help us face the coming days and months with a sense of peace that would not have been possible without you.

If I have missed you with a thank you, it is not intentional. I am really working hard to keep it all together and I am maybe not doing as good a job as I should.

I love you Travis...my sweet baby boy

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Happy first birthday sweet Baby Alex

Dear Alex~

I was approaching this, your first birthday, with such trepidation because I didn't know how I would handle it without you here. And then your little brother Travis died and your whole day has been overshadowed by thoughts of him as well. I'm so sorry for that.

You would think, that on this day of all days, you would be the center of attention. You would think I would have learned my lesson...not paying attention cost you your life. May the universe or God or fate forgive me for that.

I love you.

I have never loved anyone like I love you...and I never will.

I have never missed anyone like I miss you...and I never will.

For the past year I have sat at your graveside, praying and crying and hoping for some peace...some understanding. I thought I was about to find some when Travis left us to be with you. Now I fear I will spend the next year sitting by both of your gravesides praying and crying and hoping for some peace again.

You should be here...enjoying first birthday cake and presents showered on you by everyone who loves you. Instead, I lit a candle and thought of you in heaven with your baby brother.

We so would have loved to know you...to welcome you into our lives...to seek adventures...to learn and grow together. But this is all we have now...a few fleeting memories of the short time we got to hold you in our arms. You were so beautiful. My arms ache to hold you again. I so wish I could kiss your cheek again.

Please take care of your little brother until I see you both again.

I love you so much.

Happy first birthday baby boy.

Mommy

Happy Birthday Sweet Alex

A happy reason to have a May 11th!!!!!!

Caitlin Jemima arrived at safely into the worl at 3:09pm on Thursday May 11th!

She weighed 7lbs 9oz, and is 50cm long.

Everyone is recovering well.

K and the dog are currently highly intimidated by all those women but everyone is hoping he will get over that.

E and S are very excited to have a new sister!

CONGRATULATIONS JILL!!!!!!!!!!!!

WELCOME TO THE WORLD BABY CAITLIN!!!!!!!!!

When you're right, you're right

Kristin ~ You're right. It's 4:30am and I can't sleep and it's time for the ugly to show itself...and I want to write about it. Not because I want to keep it as a memory for myself...but because I need to get it out or it will eat me alive.

--------------------------------------

If you're sensitive at all...don't read this. I respect you all enough out there in the blogosphere to give you that much warning.

--------------------------------------

WHAT THE F***?!?!?! What did we do to deserve this?!?!?! I am so absolutely pissed off that I can't see straight!!!

I'm lying in bed thinking about what to say at my son's funeral! Another son...dead on the same God-damned weekend. Left me too soon to be buried in the same place on the hill. This isn't the 18th century! And I don't live in Bangledesh! I've got family who don't even WANT their kids! What the f*** did I do to deserve THIS?!?!?!

I want to destroy something. I want to throw dishes and break everything that is breakable. I want to scream until I have no voice left...and then I want to scream some more. I want to make other people cry. I want someone else to hurt as bad as we are hurting. I am SO TIRED of holding it all together!

I'm tired of family who can't be bothered to even call...or who do call to let us know they'll try to fit us into their "crazy schedule." I'm tired of family who can't be bothered to acknowledge that we lost ONE child...let alone two.

I'm tired of friends who treat me like I have the f***ing plague...it's NOT contagious, you know?!?!

I'm tired of being the God-damned supportive friend who takes care of everyone else while I feel like I'm dead inside. How long can I go through the motions?

There is no God. Do you HEAR ME???? There is no God! I don't care about your peace or your faith or any of that CRAP! Leave me alone! My babies are DEAD! I don't give a shit that they're together in heaven. What good does that do me?!?! NO GOOD! Maybe it helps you...with your healthy, LIVING, children dancing around your feet...but it does not help me one bit.

Yes, this is the ugly. The stuff that I've never had the courage to say out loud for fear people would be offended. Well too f***ing bad folks...here it comes!

Oh yes, it's 4:30am and I can't sleep because this is the stuff I think about.

I think about being in that hospital room all those hours delivering Alex and NOBODY but Steve to hold my hand. Who was holding his? NOBODY! He was left there all alone to be the strong, amazing man that he is...while his heart was breaking into a million pieces. And again in that hospital room delivering Travis and NOBODY cared but MY parents. I think about him holding me up at Alex's funeral...and I worry about him holding me up at Travis' funeral...all alone. And I'm so f***ing pissed off at the world for that...for leaving him all alone.

And I'm so unbelievably scared that I will lose everything. When we met, he wanted six kids. Now what? What do I say to him? I'm sorry just doesn't seem to be enough.

And my poor sweet Samuel. I can't seem to keep a promise to him anymore. And he is so hurt and angry. Why did his brothers leave him all alone? Why did they go to heaven together instead of coming home to play with him?!?!?! How is he not supposed to hate them for turning his mother into this...this person...this bitter, angry, hateful person? this person who says things like, "Oh, Sam, I don't think there are going to be any more babies," when I've dangled the idea of a baby we can dress in red, his favorite color...a "red baby" to play with and love?

I'm so unbelievably angry at Travis. If you were going to die, why did you wait until you were so big? Why did you make me see your image on that damned ultrasound screen and fall in love with you? Why did you make me deliver your dead body into this world only to have to bury you on that hill? WHY?!?!?! My poor, sweet, unfinished Baby Travis.

And me...let's not forget me. This body that I HATE...hate with more passion than I have ever hated anything in this world. What did I think I was doing? Oh yeah...right...I'll just pop out a living baby...no problem. I'll even go shopping! HA! Shopping! What the f*** was I thinking? I bought baby clothes...baby clothes...like I was going to have a baby or something! Oh my God! What an absolute idiot I am! And I didn't even have anything small enough to bury my son in. I planned for a dead baby...but not one this small. I figured I'd at least get to 30 weeks. How f***ing stupid I am! So my boy is going to be buried in donated clothes made special for babies his size...clothes I can freaking make myself for charity but don't have on hand for my own son! I am SO STUPID!

Oh yeah...this is the ugly. And there's more...and I'll get to it. But right now I need to go remember the dead son I delivered last year. And Friday I need to spend time burying the dead son I delivered this year. Calming breaths and peaceful thoughts and all that bullshit...while the ugly festers underneath.

You're right Kristin - writing for me is just what I needed. Now maybe I can sleep some more before the sun comes up.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Thank you

I have been overwhelmed by the number of emails I have received with kind thoughts and loving gestures. I will try to reply to each of you individually, but it may take me some time. It is difficult to type while crying...the letters keep blurring all together and the snot clogs up the keyboard (sorry...a lame attempt at humor). I'm just going to take some time to myself for now. But I wanted you to know that we appreciate the love and caring you have sent to us and we hold you all close in our hearts today and every day.

If you would, please send some love to Alex tomorrow, May 11th, his first angel day. It is so complicated to explain how we are feeling right now about him. It seems like so long ago...yet it seems like yesterday...that we had to say goodbye to him. We miss him so much. But now we know he is not alone wherever he is. We will bury Travis on Friday morning at 10:30am. If you would, just think a thought for him at that time so that he has as much love as it takes to get wherever he is going...even if it is without us.

We love you all.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Goodbye

He didn't have any clothes that would fit him until he was full term. We called him The Beast for 19 weeks and five days...He didn't even have a name. We didn't know he was a boy until three days earlier.

But on the day of his death and birth, his daddy bought him a soft blue blankie with barns and cows on it, and we chose a name for him from our list...Travis Leo...I hope he likes them both.

I woke up at about 4:30am Sunday and just knew something wasn't right. We called the doctor at 6:15am after I finally convinced myself that I wasn't just remembering last year. Steve stayed with Sam while I went in to the hospital, fully hoping that they would tell me I was crazy and send me home...after hearing that sweet heartbeat sound on the doppler. But by 9am, when the nurse said, "We don't know anything for sure," I replied with, "Please don't do that, we both know for sure."

Induction started Sunday morning at 11:30am. Travis Leo was stillborn at 4:30am Monday, May 8, 2006. He weighed 1lb, 9ozs and was 11 inches long. He had his brothers' nose, ten fingers, ten toes, and appeared physically perfect...except for the dead part.

I held him briefly before passing out from the medication....then again when I awoke later in the morning. I called my parents and they came to see us and take pictures. This time I was prepared. I guess experience pays off in this, at least.

I asked for all sorts of testing, to cover infections, chromosomal abnormalities and physical defects. We just had the ultrasound on Wednesday and I was/am healthy, so that provides some clues that it wasn't an infection like with Alex, but I wanted to be sure.

I felt it was inevitable. I couldn't believe that we would be so lucky as to bring another living baby home with us...THIS baby...our Travis. Maybe I cursed us all. Maybe I'm being punished for not believing in God anymore. I really don't care about the who or what or why this happened to us. It happened...and our lives will forever be changed.

I looked at our Sam yesterday and saw two ghost children dancing around with him. I thought to myself how Alex should be almost a year old. Then I thought how, in his absence, Travis should be an exciting expectation in our lives. There is nothing that will fix this.

I was just beginning to feel that Alex was a blessing in my life. I was able to think of him with a smile and not with tears. Similarly, I was just beginning to think of The Beast with a smile and excitement instead of only fear. But quite honestly, all that happy bullshit was just that...bullshit. Let's face it, this isn't a blessing of any kind. That's just what I told myself to make myself feel less horrible. The time spent carrying babies that will never be born is wasted time. There is no blessing in any of it. I just didn't want to admit that I had wasted so much time...time picking up Sam because he weighs too much, time learning with my horses for fear they would hurt me or the baby, time drinking alcohol and partying, time working because I was grieving a dead child and hoping for a new one, time digging in my garden because there was a danger of cat droppings, time being intimate because I was too tired or too sick or too scared. And what did I spend my time doing? Crying, grieving, ranting at God/the universe, being afraid. All that wasted time...for nothing. What an idiot I am.

There is nothing more I can say that I haven't said already. And quite honestly, I don't think I will be online for a while...if at all. There is no amount of talking or typing that is going to heal me. There is nothing I have to say anymore that is positive or supportive or helpful. It all seems so pointless...for me anyway. I wish you all well and thank you for all the kindnesses you have shown me. Kate, I received the rose for Alex. It is beautiful and absolutely perfect. Thank you.

If you ever have a moment, please send a smile out into the universe for our Alex and the baby boy who died without a real name...our Travis.

We loved them both when they were here with us and we will love them forever.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

I wanted to make you all aware that our baby has died. I don't know why yet. I am leave to meet Cathy at the hospotial.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

I don't know why I thought I could do this

I can't do this. I'm not strong enough.

I'm trying to remember that I'm only 20 weeks. But the time of year, the invading memories, the re-living, are keeping me awake at night.

Did I feel him move today? Did I feel him move yesterday? I don't want to miss it if he's in trouble.

But what kind of feeling should I have here? Would I even know if he was in trouble?

No, I can't feel those kicks on the outside...that was last time. I haven't gotten to that point this time...that was last time...last time when I wasn't paying attention. But now I'm paying attention. Just because I can't feel him moving doesn't mean he's dead. Right?

I can't do this. I'm not strong enough. I want to go back to my denial and distraction.

Let me tell you about my new vegetable garden...

Friday, May 05, 2006

Silent connections

So many times we touch other people's lives and don't even realize it. We bump into one another online or "in real life" and don't imagine the impact that we might have on someone and their way of thinking.

I used to belong to a Due in June 2005 message board, a place where women gathered online to share stories, questions, concerns, and joys. I wasn't extremely active, but I THOUGHT I had made a friend or two. When Alex died I heard from one or two, but they quickly faded into the background when they eventually delivered their healthy bundles of joy and got on with the business of being mommies. I always wish them well...but I was also a little bit sad that they so easily forgot me.

So I lurked on their board before they went private to keep up with them, without intruding on their happy safe place where they talked mommy-talk. Call it a sadistic obsession...watching their babies that should be like mine...grow and learn new things and fill their lives with such happiness. I couldn't help myself. And I was surprised to find that occasionally, someone would remember me...maybe not my name, but at least mine and Alex's story. It was often in the context of, "I wonder what happened to...?" But after a while their board went private and I haven't been able to lurk and see what's going on with them. Not hearing anything from any of them, I assumed that I was forgotten.

Then two weeks ago I was lurking on the Due in September 2006 message board and saw this post by another mom who happened to be on the first board with me...

Is anyone else getting scared...

That one of us will have a late loss? We had 3 lovely ladies lose their baby girls at between 22 and 24 weeks on my June board. Plus also one beautiful boy stillborn at 36 weeks

Every time I start to get excited at how far along we are all getting, I then worry that we aren't far enough. I think until we are all over the 26/28 week mark then I will start to breathe a bit more easily, but I'm worried that it will happen to one of us as well. Especially with so many of our September Mummies on bed rest already, it's really starting to hit home.


There it was...in black and white...someone still remembered us.

I don't know what it was, but there was something about that moment that made me think about all the silence...all the women out there who suffer in silence and hide away from other women...afraid to make themselves known for fear people will judge them. I thought to myself, "Now here is a perfect opportunity to change that...to open up the communication and stop hiding." (Like I said, I think I need a super-hero cape some days.) So I sent her an email...

I would ask if you remember me...but I see that you at least remember my story of having lost my son at 36 weeks last year, and I should say thank you for remembering Alex (what we named him) in such a nice way. I know a stillbirth can shake everyone to their very core and it is hard to be blissfully naive after it happens to you (or near you). But it makes me smile to read how you referred to him. Thank you.

Now...you're probably wondering why I'm even aware of your post. Well...you see...I've been lurking because I am pregnant again...and due in September. How's that for a coincidence? I don't post, only lurk, because I don't want to make people uncomfortable with my story. Plus, I often find it difficult to relate to a lot of the conversations. But I lurk and read and wish everyone all the best.

I smiled to read that you were expecting again as well. I can't believe that you're going to have two under two! You deserve a medal for that!

Anyway...I just wanted to reassure you in some small way. Do your kick counts and speak to your doctor if you EVER feel like something "isn't right." With that, you shouldn't have to worry about a late loss.

Hugs and best wishes to you!


I thought it was a decent email. Nothing judgmental...acknowledging how special her thought was to me...not too creepy (I've been spying on you for no reason other than morbid curiosity).

And two weeks went by with no response and the self-doubt crept back in. What was I thinking?!?! I should just learn from other people and keep quiet. Nobody wants to talk to me...nobody wants my bad luck to rub off on them.

And I almost blogged about it yesterday. It would have been a not-so-nice blog post about the silence surrounding preganncy loss, as this and another situation or two have caused me to harbor some anger and resentment at other women (both those who have never suffered a loss and those who HAVE suffered a loss...curious topic to explore another time).

But something stopped me from posting.

And today, while lurking on the DIS board again, I came across this response, from the same woman I had sent the email, to someone's inquiry about a seemingly "missing" member.

I remember her user name, but not her sig or any other details. She could be lurking, or something may have happened - not everyone feels comfortable coming on here and sharing bad news and prefer to slip out un-noticed.

I know there is one lurker here, who sent me a lovely email (sorry I haven't replied yet!), who's just not comfortable with posting right now. There's bound to be others too.


I had assumed too much about this woman. My own insecurities had gotten the better of me and I had filled in motives and intentions where there were none. Instead of thinking this woman was simply busy with life (she does, after all, have TWO toddlers and is pregnant), I jumped to the conclusion that she was deliberately ignoring me...choosing to silence my voice for her own comfort.

So now I'm left wondering how much of the silent grief theory is put upon me by the people in my life and how much is actually the result of internalized mistakes that I have made. How many times have I ASSUMED how people must feel about me? How many times have I hidden away because it was too uncomfortable for ME to step out of my shell and face the truth? Sure, some of it has been legitimate based on the insensitive remarks and reactions of other people. But some of it clearly is merely a creation of my own psyche.

Maybe it started out as a protection mechanism. Those initial insensitive remarks and reactions by others REALLY hurt...so much so that you think you might die if you have to hear another. And whether we like it or not, after a while you do become more capable to handle things...to address the issues head-on. But the old protection mechanisms are hard to shake off. They have become comfortable cloaks to keep me safe. Or so I thought before today.

Maybe the protective cloak is actually shielding me from some very good people who would be very positive influences in my life. Do I really want to sift out the bad with such a wide net that it excludes the good as well? I will run the risk of the insensitive. But I AM better equipped to handle them now. I know what I want to say because I have the advantage of having heard all the stupid comments and given them much thought over the past year.

Like I said...So many times we touch other people's lives and don't even realize it.

Maybe it's time to start paying attention and filling up the silence. (somebody pass me my super-hero cape)

Cinco de Mayo

I remember last year's Cinco de Mayo...

Alex loved Mexican food and I was happy to have a reason to indulge him.

Nachos and fake beer and baseball on television...it was all so lovely.

I'm glad I have that happy memory.

For in a few short days the memories turn to complete crap.

Happy Cinco de Mayo if you're of the mind to celebrate that sort of thing this year.

Now aren't I just a ball of sunshine today?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my Dad's birthday. He's 29...again. :o)

My Dad was sort of "forced" into retirement within the last couple of years...but it's been good for him. At first I worried that he'd sit in his recliner all day and do nothing. But he has managed to find projects to keep himself busy. He's doing so consulting work as an electrical engineer (his field of education and experience). And he's doing some things around the house that he's been waiting to work on "when he had the time" (now I'm jealous and want him to come work on projects at my house).

And to tell the truth, he just SEEMS happier. I know it was rough on him for a while, but he's managed to find the positive in his life and make it...nice. Oh sure, we still hear him ask my mom the standard, "Did you leave that door unlocked again?" when we arrive for a visit...or the, "Do you have a quarter?" when we telephone and ask to speak to my mom...but we're also hearing other things. Occasionally, when he's not so guarded, he'll respond in kind to an, "I love you," instead of providing his regular, "mmm hmm...shape up." And he laughs a whole lot more than he used to. Before, when he was working, and we would tell a funny story, we would most likely get an eye roll in return. Now, we actually get laughter. It's...nice.

I don't know that he ever reads this thing. But I know my mom does...and that's pretty much the same thing (you know that's how dysfunctional families communicate, don't you?).

We love you Dad!

Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

What to blog about today...?

1. Don't EVER consult Dr. Google.
2. My belly hurts from where they pushed in on my fat with the ultrasound wand.

That's all I've got.

Talk at ya later!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I COULD freak out...but I won't

First...Steve...I told you so. I was right, I was right, I was right.

It's a boy! We will update on names from the short list here in a bit. Famous quote in the decision process, "This is your kid, not a pair of pants." (Said in response to Steve's, "I'm a guy...we don't like to shop around...when we find something we like, we go with it).

Anyway...ultrasound photo will follow sometime.

The details...

Weight approximately 14 ounces.

Big head measuring 21 weeks 5 days.

Four chamber heart looks good.

"Space" in the intestinal area that is most likely a loop of the bowel, but could be something more serious like an adhesion, a bowel obstruction, or a couple other more complicated terms I didn't catch because I was trying not to freak out. I knew we were in trouble when the technician asked the perinatologist to step in. She SAID it was to check the upper lip and some brain anatomy...she LIED...big surprise.

The perinatologist said that there are no other indicators typical of the more complicated "issues," so he is pretty confident that it is just a looped bowel that will work itself out. And even if it is more complicated, "it's better that we know about it before the Beast is born," which means it's not fatal...and is even treatable. But to be sure, we will go back in four weeks for another look. I'm sure my mom will call with a diagnosis based on what "her doctors" think sometime before that. I'll keep you posted. (Love you, mom!) :o)

I'm not freaking out. Steve was. But I'm not. And I think Steve's doing better now that he's had time to digest the fact that the Beast is at least alive...so we're doing pretty good considering our track record. I guess there is something to be said for perspective.

Went to see the OB too. I love him (sorry Steve, but I do).

First, we chatted about the flight surgeon certification program he just got back from. It apparently included a week of survival exercises...during which he got a total of six hours of sleep and lost ten pounds. He doesn't look like a tough guy...but he's apparently tougher than me...I NEED my sleep and my food.

I lost one pound so I'm up a total of five for the pregnancy to this point. For this reason alone, I LOVE the gestational diabetes diet.

Blood pressure was good, but I can't remember it because I was still trying not to freak out at that point.

The good news was that I can discontinue testing my blood sugar for now! YIPPEE! As long as I stick with the diet, it looks like my levels are doing great, so there's no need to keep sticking my fingers. I will go back in four weeks for the tasty glucola test, just to be sure.

Quad screen was normal.

I asked about the kick counts and he said not to be too serious about it for another three or four weeks. The quote was, "They (the nurses) like things done their way, but I'm the doctor." LOL

OK...names...the list is here in front of me and Steve seems settled on one name, but I'm still mulling it over. I'll let you know.

Edited to add:
Having mixed feelings about the Beast being a boy. But I'm planning to shoot for alive and healthy for now...I'll deal with the emotional turmoil later. :o)

Edited again to add:
There was a woman leaving the hospital with her new baby girl (sitting in a wheelchair with a nurse behind her with the carseat...baby all dressed in pink from head to toe)...and for the first time, I could see myself there. I could see myself taking a baby home again. It was a very welcome change from the standard freak out.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Pictures from my yard

Primroses in my Alex garden

Don't ya love how this one is yellow...with red buds? hmmm....

The reason Steve isn't allowed to mow the lawn


Pansies for Alex

Ranunculus for Sam

Daffodils before the big freeze.

Any ideas what this is? I have ONE in my back yard.

Pink Tulips

The one remaining red tulip (planted five years ago when we first moved in)

Isn't this the most gorgeous color tulip?

This is the bird that has taken up residence in the tree off our deck. He does not like it when we are out there and gives us a "talking-to" every time.

How's it going in there? Better than out here?

Tomorrow is the big ultrasound day. In all my genius mental state, I suggested bringing Sam, forgetting that we hadn't even really started talking about the baby in his presence yet. WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY BRAIN?

So we started in slow this weekend with the concept that there is a new baby in mommy's tummy. I wasn't sure he "got it" until he looked at me Saturday afternoon, unsolicited, and said, "I wish we would have a girl." Well...hello! OK! We'll see what we can do for ya, kiddo!

So, of course, last night I was up most of the night wondering about the status of the Beast. Did I feel the requisite movements? Oh, heck, I'm only 19 weeks...it's not until 20 weeks you're supposed to count 10 kicks in two hours. And then my brain got caught up in a math problem. 10 kicks in two hours...what if I start at 1am and count until 2am but then restart the clock? I mean, who decides what two hours you're supposed to use anyway?

And I'm having real trouble adjusting to the gestational diabetes diet. It has brought up a LOT of unresolved feelings of anger that I'm carrying around with me. See...I did EVERYTHING I was SUPPOSED to do the last time. And I'm sure you can guess where that thought leads me...

Yep...completely mental.

But I'm happy to report that as of this morning's coffee, the Beast is still alive and kicking.

***edited to add : the kick count requirement is per my gestational diabetes nurse counselor...I presume it's earlier than most people because I grow big babies and therefore can feel more than most people a lot earlier. It still doesn't fix the math problem...which I'm going to ask the OB about tomorrow.