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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Four Mother's Days

I've now had the full gamut of Mother's Days experiences. 

My first was with Luke in my belly. Naive, and waiting for the rest of our lives to happen. 

The second, I'd yet to experience a Mother's Day with my own child. Luke was dead. I was bitter, and I was pregnant. Again. 

The third, last year, was the first Mother's Day WITH my child.  She was 5 months old, but so very alive, thank God. 

I'm still trying to figure out how to be a mom to both of our children. I don't think I'll ever have it all figured out. Grief and happiness are still hard to reconcile. 

I have mostly good, amazing days. And I'm so so glad about that. But I think that's what makes me sad, sometimes. Sometimes I still feel guilty for not grieving and missing Luke every minute of every day. Granted, I do. But it's not the same as it used to be. It used to be so thick, my grief. Now...I just think about him, and I still find it so hard to believe all of it really happened to us. 

He's stil gone. 

I'm still here. 

Our life has moved so far forward, and I'm not sure how it happened, but it did. 

But the depths to which I still miss him are incredible. It's not fucking fair that there are parents on this earth who have outlived their children. It never will be. And yet there are more and more of us walking in these shoes every day. 

It's so not fair that I never got to see Luke grow up. But I thank god every day that I can catch a glimpse of what it would've been like watching Lena. 

For those of you hurting today, just know that you're not alone. Life, loss, and grief go hand in hand. For some of us, not in the order it should go in. But there can always be hope, and maybe even healing in the love we show one another. 

I'll never be fixed. But I don't want to be, because that would mean that Luke didn't mean as much as he did. And still does. 

He'll always be my son. And I'll always be his mama. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Positive

Three years ago tonight, I took a test, and it was positive.

It's the first time we knew you about you, Luke.  But we were so excited and so happy.

It was Friday January13th, 2012. And it was shocking to us how quickly you were conceived.

What's equally as shocking was how quickly you came and went.

Sometimes I kick myself for taking that test on Friday the 13th.  How stupid, right? That's just stuff that's made out to be something in the movies.  Superstition. I don't even believe in superstitions. But it's almost like I was jinxing myself when I'd written this in my journal that day:
I guess it's meant to be, ya know? Now...to get through the next 9 months. Fingers crossed it's without drama.
Without drama.  What on EARTH did I know about drama three years ago?

Three years ago, I was na├»ve to worst-case-scenarios.  I truly thought the word "drama" meant some morning sickness and maybe gestational diabetes. I thought that Jeff having to change our insurance a month and a half before having our son was the end of the world.  What if I have him early, I thought? What if there's some strange gap in coverage and they bill us for everything!? This would be the end of the world.

I never ever ever could have imagined that I'd make it 39 weeks with you, Luke, and walk out of that hospital without you. Not once did that ever cross my mind.  Or anyone else's, for that matter.

The hard truth about stillbirth is that nearly no one can see it coming. It just drops on you like a bomb and you're left with the remains of your shattered hopes and dreams. There are rarely answers. No scientific test came back with anything conclusive about how your cord cut you off. There were no blood clots. No abnormalities. All we know is that you somehow cut yourself off from your cord. And you couldn't warn me or yell for help.  You just slipped away silently.

Three years of hopes and wishes that will never become reality. I often wonder how this will feel in 10 years, or 20, or even 30 years. The should-have-beens have become easier to let go of, but the constant parallel reality I run--where in one life you exist, and in the other, your sister exists--I'm not sure that will ever disappear.

Three years ago, my biggest worry was that we'd just purchased Coachella tickets.  How was I going to brave it through the hot desert in April while 18 weeks pregnant?! For sure I'd get heat stroke. Or cankles.

Sometimes I feel like such an idiot for believing that was the worst that could happen.

I wish somewhere, in the back of my mind, I'd reminded myself that the TRUE worst that could happen would be losing your baby.  That Planet-My-Baby-Died existed and was real.

I wish we never became a statistic. An open book with an unwritten story.

3 years ago, things were so uncomplicated. But I didn't know how much love I was capable of carrying, then. I've come to find out, it's a lot. Things are the New Normal, now. Definitely not the normal I was expecting 3 years ago, though. I don't think I ever saw this Normal coming.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Lena at 1


 One year.

Your little sister is one year old now.

I can't believe how fast this year flew by. The milestones. They just came and went, one by one. I feel like such a new mom still, and yet it's been over 365 days since we met Lena for the first time. 

She is amazing. She crawled at 7 months and walked at 9. We weren't at all ready for that. Right now, she runs. Mostly AWAY from us (already!). She dances. She is obsessed with Yo Gabba Gabba and Peppa Pig. Anytime she hears singing, she shakes her bootie. She just figured out that she can give kisses to us, and she opens her mouth and just slobbers all over.  

She loves nothing more than playing with PJ's bowls in the kitchen. She dips all of her toys on her water bowl. She loves eating. Alllllll the food. She also enjoys putting every. Single. Thing. In her mouth. A couple of weeks ago, I pulled 3 screws out of her mouth. I almost died.

I think her favorite pastime might be feeding US food.  After she's already tried it.  

We've only had to go to the doctor for a sick visit once. And it was for a fever that went away that night.  She's been an incredibly easy baby.  She loves sleep. 

And she's happy. You can see it. 

And she makes ME so happy too. 

I'm so thankful for this little girl.  She's made our cloudy days so much brighter.  She wouldn't be here without you, Luke.  I can't help but think about whether I'd rather have you or her.  It's a thought no parent should ever think about and I could never settle on an answer because I want you both. 

So I like to think that a piece of you lives on in her.  I sincerely hope that's true.
 



Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2015

In 2012, when we lost you, 2015 seemed like eons away.

And here we are, on the brink of another new year.  Another new year without you.  Another new year where I continue adjusting to the life that I live now--The one where I lived through tragedy that no one could ever imagine happening to them.

Since losing you Luke, I've read and heard so many stories.  So many unbelievably heartbreaking stories.  It's like I've became a magnet for them.  Once you've had your own unbelievable heartbreak, I suppose you almost seek more of those stories out.  As if it dulls the blow?  I don't know.  I think it does help sometimes, to know that I'm not alone.  To know that there are some other humans on the planet who have gone through this. And lived to see joy in life again.

What I do know now that I didn't know then is that my heart has so much room in it.  I didn't know how much love it was possible to carry--Especially for someone I never did, and never will know.  But also for others' lost loves.  For all of the families that have lost their much-wanted babies.  Every. Single. One. I hear about, my heart hurts.  And holds a place for them. I feel like you gave me that.

And the relief is that now, almost 2.5 years out, I've found happiness again.  I count myself really fucking lucky.  Because Lena is the most amazing thing to ever happen to me (us). It's so hard, being a parent after losing your first baby.  Because a lot of times, I feel like I need to be better.   Like I need to appreciate everything more. And that's a lot of pressure to put on yourself.  Especially considering it's fucking hard just being a parent in the first place. I'll admit that a lot of times...I feel like I fail at being that really-effing-amazing parent.  Because I'm too caught up in trying to get the dishes washed or the laundry put away or keeping Lena out of the dog's water bowl.  I feel like I kind of suck at being present more than I should.  Because I know what it means to have everything taken from you.  I know I need to really take in all the moments.

And there's the guilt again.  The guilt in grief.  The guilt about not being a better parent?  I'm not sure I saw that one coming.  It's not pervasive, but it lurks.

Again, I wish I was one of those naive people that had no idea what any of this feels like.

So in 2015, I'm gonna do my best to kick that guilt to the curb.  Cause I'm doing the best I can.  And in the words of Thom Yorke, "The best you can is good enough."

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Will I ever feel different?

You know what sucks?  Feeling bad about feeling bad.

There are some parts of grief that just make you feel bad about yourself.  As if what happened wasn't bad enough.

For me, it's cropped up pretty often in the past two years.  And it's about birth.  I hate how I feel when I hear about babies being born.  

It's the worst bipolar feeling.  I sit and wait--wait for other mama's pregnancies to come to an end.  I think about them so much.  And I keep them close in the back of my mind. Because I want those babies to be OK.  I want them to arrive and be fine and crying and everyone gets their happy birth.  I want it to be normal for them.

Because I don't want to hear about an ending like yours, Luke.  My heart doesn't want to have to hear about that happening to anyone else.  I don't want anyone else to have to go through what we went through. I read stories--about it happening to someone else--total strangers, and it hurts me.  I know that pain and I hate that others feel it too.  

But at the same time, the jealousy creeps in.  When I breathe that sigh of relief after hearing baby and mama are doing fine, it begins. Will I ever not be jealous?  That that baby hung on just long enough to make it out to the other side?  That that family won't have a hole in their family tree like we do?

I would never wish stillbirth on anyone.  And yet the jealousy and hurt always come creeping back in.  It's so unfair. It makes me feel like I'm a bad person.

But then I heard about Lydie.  And I know that I'm not a bad person. Because talking to her Mama, and realizing there still are people out there, going through what we went through, my heart is broken for them.  I'm jealous about others' healthy babies, but when I hear new loss stories, my heart still breaks for them. I know what shoes they're walking in now.  I hate it FOR them.  

I know that I wish this would never happen to anyone else.  

I'm just wishing for the family that I thought I had, but never will.  And that will always suck.  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Love as a dimension

Love isn’t something that we invented. It’s observable. Powerful. It has to mean something. Maybe it means something more, something we can’t yet understand. Maybe it’s some evidence, some artifact of a higher dimension that we can’t consciously perceive. Love is the one thing that we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space.

We went to see Interstellar last night, and above all the special effects and doomsday scenarios...this is the scene that stuck with me the most. A discussion about dimensions...how maybe, just maybe, love is something unexplainably scientific. That it might be a dimension that's not yet seen in a physical way...how else can we explain why we continue loving those gone, long after their death?

I can only hope, Luke. I can't explain how, or why, but I know your love has a presence that I can't explain.  So I hope that my love for you does the same, in whatever dimension you're in...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

2 years

730 days.

That's how long it's been since we said goodbye. 

Actually, I guess maybe the last last time we said goodbye was at the funeral home two days after the hospital...there were a lot of goodbyes though. 

It's so weird to not know what to call today. I say it's your birthday. It's not. We can't even get a birth certificate for you. But it's not really the day you died, either. We knew you were gone the day before. That was the first goodbye. It's so odd to think that your death came before your birth. 

So yeah. I don't really know what to call today. Anniversary?  Death anniversary? I hate saying Angel-versary. I don't know. The second year wasn't as hard as the first. I can say that for certain. But I can still relive that 24 hours in the hospital like it was yesterday. From walking up to the check in desk...getting reassured that everything would be fine. To the silence of that final ultrasound. 

Deafening silence. 

The disbelief is still fresh. I'm still in disbelief. But the physical pain is so far gone now, it hardly seems real anymore. What we went through hardly seems real, and yet the reality is so very grave and terrible and life-altering.

I miss your face. I regret not exploring you more when I held you. I was so afraid to hold you...that you might break more than you were already broken. All I wanted to do was fix you. As a Mom, that's all you want for your children. No one can prepare themselves to hold death in their hands. I know I did all I could, but how do you squeeze in a lifetime's worth of hugs into just a few hours? I knew it was impossible.

Holding you and then watching you get taken away at the hospital, that was the second goodbye.  I tried so hard not to think about where you were going and how and with who.  It was all surreal. I was just making plans for your birth, and there we were, all of a sudden, planning a funeral. 

I still don't understand how we made it through those first hours. Days. Weeks. But somehow, here we are, two years later. We survived.  It's so true that you have no idea how strong you can be until you're forced to be it.

So much has changed in two years.  Outwardly, you can't see our brokenness anymore.  We look like a normal family.  But we will always carry you.  You will always be there.  Your teddy bear will always sit on our shelf.  Here, and not.

We have so much to be happy for, but it's still so hard letting you go.

It seems so simple for everyone else to just move on.  But that will always be impossible for us.  

I miss you. Today and always. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

September

It's getting close to your birthday--What should have been your second birthday--and things are starting to feel different.

The time warp of grief and loss is so confusing at first. You relive moments leading up to and after the loss so often.  The freshness is constant. 

But lately, I feel like losing you was so long ago, Luke. 

The other day, I came to a crazy realization, after seeing Lena's weekly development email from Babycenter.  Lena will be exactly 39 weeks old on your second birthday. We lost you at exactly 39 weeks.  Which basically means that she was born on the same day that you were conceived.  On your second birthday, Lena will have been alive with us twice the amount of time that we got to spend with you. 

That makes my head spin just thinking about it.

I guess that's probably why I feel like it's been so long since we parted. So much has happened. Our lives are so different. I know Lena so well now. She has a personality and she's adorable but challenging and trying to walk. So much happens in the first year of parenthood. And it goes by so fast, and it's so intense. 

We missed all of this with you. I still think about that on a daily basis. I still wonder what kind of personality you'd have. If Lena looks like you would have. But I think the hardest thing to come to grips with is the fact that I'll forever grieve the family that we should have been. It's so hard to imagine our lives without Lena at this point...and without you being gone, she likely wouldn't be here. Without you being gone, I might never have had a daughter. Which is insane, because at this point, that's all I know. And though I have a son, I might never know what it means to raise a son.  

Grieving all of that is still hard. 

The happiness that Lena has brought us is immeasurable. I honestly don't think that I'd feel as much closure with what happened to you if she wasn't here. Which in turns rips my heart out for all of those parents who lose their babies and are never given another chance...

There's an element of healing in the fact that we still get to be parents. We still get to have all the experiences we should have had with you...just with your sister. It's another chance, thank god. Because I don't know what I'd be feeling today, nearly 2 years out, if we were still struggling. 

The life that we live now puts you in the background so often. We know we are a family of 4, missing one, but outwardly, we're only a family of 3. I wish I could be one of the lucky ones that gets to count out their kids as they load them in the car, but I'll never get that chance.

We're making the best of what we have.  I wish I had more time to plan something special for your second birthday, sweet boy. I've set up our team with this year's Walk to Remember, but that's about it. 

So this is what it's like to be two years out from the day your life is forever altered. The dullness makes me sad, in a way. Fresh grief feels right. The sadness connects us. But here? I feel so much how you're still a part of me--a part of our story. But it's just a dull ache connecting us now. 

For Luke's second birthday, I would love it if you're reading this if you could either join our team to walk  with the OC Walk to Remember on October 4 in Tustin or make any donation in his name to our team, Luke's Skywalkers. Just to know that others are thinking of him in some way on his birthday on September 10 will make all the difference in the world...


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

When you're always missing one.

There are still times when I sit here...and I try to comprehend what happened with you, Luke, and I still don't believe it.  I'm still in disbelief.  How on earth could we have experienced stillbirth, in 2012?  And how could it have been you that we lost?

These thoughts cross my mind almost daily--when I think about you.  I wonder if this stage of grief will ever end?  Disbelief.  I've accepted it.  I know that.  I accept it every day when I see Lena alive and growing. She wouldn't be here without you, Luke.

But the depths of what we lost that day. I still can't believe that all of this happened to me.  To my family.  I would do anything to make it different, but to know--every day--that there is nothing that me or anyone could do to make it different--It's still a hard pill to swallow. Still.  It's hard to come to grips with the fact that I can't ever fix this.

I'm a normal mom to most, now. People see me with Lena in the stroller and just know that I'm her mom. I wish there was some way for them to know that I'm your mom too, Luke. That you're the reason I'm her mama. 

For some reason, these thoughts are really sad for me today. I always wonder if things will ever feel different, but deep down, I know the answer will always be no. Because you will always be part of me and my life and in my soul. And I will always have this hole that's missing you. We don't get a do-over. 

And as we get further away from saying goodbye to you at that chapel...it will always stay the same.   You will always be the same. The worst part is that it feels like everyone else gets to move on.  And I'm torn between wanting to and not.

I'd love to not feel this dull pain.  But if all I have left is the memory of you and what you could have been, how will I ever let that go? It's a puzzle that will never be sorted out. 

Sometimes I hear terribly devastating news, like the spat of unexplainable murders that seem to happen on school campuses on a daily basis now...and it hurts me so much deeper than I feel like it does most people. I know what those parents feel. Not on the same scale, because I realize how amplified the pain must be to lose your child when they're so far into LIFE. But it triggers my empathy more than ever before. It hurts my heart on a physical level.

I hope I never have to experience pain like this in my life ever again. Sometimes I think I'm desensitized to minor hurt...because it's not the worst hurt. I know the worst hurt and I live with it every day. Sure, it gets less achy and more dull, but it lives with me. It's become a part of me and who I am. 

I guess the thing is...the farther into life we get, the more of these kinds of hurt we have to carry. As time goes by, life gets heavier. There's joy too. But the hurt that comes with the years is nearly unavoidable. 

I can't help but feel like we got one of the worst hurts doled out to us really early on. With years left to learn how to live with it. And that part still doesn't feel fair.  

It's not fair that I now look at pictures of Lena, sleeping...and sometimes catch a glimpse of your face, Luke. A face that I have never actually seen at this age, but can piece together from the memory of your sweet face that I was only able to spend one real day with. 

When you're always missing one, you're stuck thinking about what could have been...forever.  There's joy and happiness now, thank God. But nothing will make me miss you any less. Nothing could ever make up for losing you. 

You're supposed to be 22 months old this week. Almost two years old. You'd barely be a baby anymore. 

And that's just so hard for me to imagine right now. What should have been?  I'll never know. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

"Happy and sad and back again, I'm not crying now too much. I think about you all the time, It's strange and hard to deal..."

Here we are again, at the day when the rest of the world tells you to appreciate your mom. The day that's still so painful for so many for so many different reasons. The lucky moms don't have to think about pain. But there's the rest of us. Those who are missing someone. Their child. Children. Babies. Their own moms. Maybe they never had either. 

Sometimes these days that are meant to make people feel good can be so bittersweet. 

I found myself missing Luke more today. All around, we had a wonderful day with Lena. She's getting so grown up so fast. We ran errands for a good part of the day with her and she was a champ. She's happy and beautiful and smiles at everyone. But then we were at Old Navy buying her socks. And they had these swim trunks for boys that just...I wanted so badly to buy them for Luke. I find myself doing this so often. I see something that's specifically for little boys, and it's all I can do not to walk out of the store having bought it. 

I still don't like letting him go. And there are so many times I've asked myself if this will ever get easier. Would it get easier if we have another boy someday? What if we don't? What if we have another baby and it's another girl? Would this be even harder? 

I don't know. 

What I do know is that I have so much to be thankful for. Lena means the world to me. To us. I love seeing her grow. Sometimes it's still surreal that this is now my life. It still doesn't really feel like mine. I'm still trying to fit into these mommy shoes, one where I'm a mom to an angel son and one that mothers my daughter here on earth. 

What's so hard for people to know about me...is how much I still think about Luke. How close I keep him to my heart. There's this strange thing that's been happening lately when I put Lena to bed. We have a video baby monitor that notifies you with a sound on my phone when there's noise or motion in her room. It's kind of wonky sometimes, and it picks up the strangest things. But I've noticed that most nights, at around 10:45, I hear the motion notifier. And I'll look at the monitor, and Lena is sound asleep. 

And I think of Luke. 

I don't know what I believe about spirits and ghosts. But what I do know is that this happens almost every night when I go to bed. And I like to think that it's him. It's him visiting his sister, watching over her.  

I like to think that he's always close by. 

Tomorrow will be my first Mother's Day with a child to hold after two where I was unable to hold either of them. I'm excited, but I'm also missing him so much. Someday, I hope she signs her Mother's Day cards to me with her brother's name, too. 

I wish you all the best possible day, tomorrow. There are so many ways that this day can be difficult when it should be joyous. This life isn't perfect, but all we can do is make do with what we have. And I'm hoping that for all of us, we have love. At least that.