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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. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

To Come Back

I was recently asked by a friend what to think about a situation she was in. One of her good friends lost her baby last year. And she told me that she felt like she was distant. Maybe even avoiding her. My friend had a baby of her own very recently...and just wanted to understand. 

It's so hard. So so hard to explain. 

But the short answer...if you ever feel like a friend or family member is being distant after losing a baby...is yes. Yes they are being distant. 

I hid Facebook friends who had babies. The truth was that seeing their perfectly normal lives and babies made me incredibly jealous. Envious of their lives. Of how simply it came to be for them. When we'd lost so much. It broke my heart watching their babies' milestones when my Luke should have been right there alongside them. But he was gone. 

It wasn't their fault. I didn't blame them for what happened. And I would never wish what happened to us on anyone. But watching it come across my newsfeed triggered so many hard feelings. Tears. The unfairness is unfathomable unless you've been there. 

It's so hard to comprehend what it feels like to watch your entire life crumble before your own eyes unless you've been forced to live through it yourself. It's hard to even put into words, really. 

What's so hard for others to understand is that when you lose a baby, especially far into pregnancy or after birth, you will never be the same person you once were. Never. 

I think so many of my friends expected me to just...come back. Come back to work--you're OK again, right? I haven't seen you in a year...you're all good now, right?

The truth is, the pain of losing Luke will never go away. It's always there, lurking in the back of my mind and heart--no matter how amazing my life is going right now. I will always carry him and his memory with me. 

And I'm only a year and a half out. There's still so much life left to be lived. Without him. 

But the thing about life? It is always changing. It's always different. I can say now that I'm happy. I am not in the same place that I was last year at this time, when we'd started trying again. Or 18 months ago, when I found out just 2 months after losing Luke that both my siblings were having a baby.  My experiences have brought me here. I wish the road had been different. That things had been easier. But I'm still standing. Somehow. I was knocked down for awhile, but I'm here now. And I realize that my journey is different from any other mom who's lost a baby. We are all in different, lonely boats. Trying to find our way back. Sometimes we're lucky enough to be led back toward who we were by a rainbow baby. Sometimes it's really soon after, and for others, it's a long time after. And for some, there will never be a way back. 

So if you're a friend--of someone trying to find their way back--please know:

It's not your fault and we don't blame you.
But sometimes, it's easiest to hide in the fog that's covered our lives. 
And some of us may seemingly bounce back. 
But some of us can't. And won't. 
Some of us will want to stay lost on our lonely boat. 
It doesn't mean that we don't want you as a friend. 
It's just that it's hard. 
Unfathomably hard...to return to what and who you once were. 
We have to look toward the rest of our lives... without our own flesh and blood. Without ever knowing them. We've been robbed. 

And that's just incredibly hard to bounce back from. 

So be their friend. Try. Give it time. In the end, they may not be the same person. And things will be different. But try not to be hasty. Because that mama probably needs a good friend like you. 

I'm lucky. I have so many people that weren't hasty with me. I knew I had to do something to get through this. Therapy. Trying again. It all takes courage. When I'd already been through so much. But my friends and family held me up, and I could never repay them for that.  My courage came from them. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Down the rabbit hole

I couldn't fall asleep the other night.

And it wasn't because of Lena.  I'm not sure what triggered it.  It might've been that I realized yesterday that I'm going back to work on March 10--What should have been Luke's 18 month birthday.  It might have been because last week, I found out that Jeff lost all of the pictures from Lena's birth and delivery somehow on his phone.  The only ones we'll ever have of that event--gone.  And then it made me think about how I'd feel if we'd lost those of Luke.

Obviously, I would feel much, much, much, MUCH angrier.  And sad.  And hopeless.

I feel like thoughts of Luke have taken a back seat in the past 2.5 months.  They're not gone. But with a newborn, it's understandable that my brain is somewhere else.  It's completely focused on the growing, needing baby in front of me. 

Thoughts of him have come rushing back in the past couple days.  And I sort of went down the rabbit hole of emotions.  I thought about delivering him again, and I thought about how horrible his birth was...In retrospect, with perspective...How incredibly traumatizing it was to deliver a baby with shoulder dystocia. 

I Googled it again...like I have so many times before.  And frankly, every time I read about it, I still don't understand how I lived through it.  Every article I read about it mentions potential "fetal or maternal demise." Many of them--from journals of medicine--talk about how it's literally an obstetrician's worst, unforeseen nightmare in the delivery room.  That it's frightening to even a seasoned OB.  That it's unpredictable, and can turn things south SO easily.  It's listed as an "obstetric emergency."  And?  THIS only happens in about 1% of deliveries.  It's like I won the shitty lottery of possible birth stories.  The odds of stillbirth at 39 weeks are less than 1%...And then we added ANOTHER 1% chance onto THAT.

I lived through all that.  And I still don't really understand how. 

Then I think about the what ifs of that scenario.  We didn't have a great idea how big Luke was in the womb.  We had no clue what was coming with his delivery.  What if he hadn't already died before delivery?  Would something have happened to him then?  At that point?  What if he'd been born alive...but then gotten injured because of the shoulder dystocia, that we were given a baby who could grow up with cystic fibrosisErb's Palsy?  Paralysis?

I could have been the mother of a baby who was paralyzed at childbirth.  He could have died DURING childbirth.  I could have had a post partum hemorrhage and...I don't even know.  Thinking about it blows my mind.

I think about all these things, and then I look at Lena.  Who's perfect.  And somehow, I'm fine too.  And I think about my OB, who, the more I think about it, I probably had more of an effect on than I initially believed.  She told me once that our delivery with Luke had given her PTSD, and I think now I've come to understand why.  Not only did she have to deliver the news to me that my baby had died inside of me at 39 weeks for no foreseeable reason, she then experienced what might've been one of the worst possible deliveries she's ever had to do.  I feel like we have a relationship that not many patients have with their OB.

I remember blacking out somewhat during labor, and that moment when what seemed like every nurse on the floor came rushing into our room to help her deliver Luke.  I had no idea what was going on, and it was my first delivery.  I had nothing else to compare it to.  One nurse pushed Jeff aside, and was literally on top of me at one point, pushing from my pelvis.  I knew it wasn't good, but the only thing I knew was that I had to get through it so that I cold meet Luke.  So that we could finally meet that boy that we'd waited 9 long months to meet.  Even if he was already gone.  And I held on for that. 

And now that I know more, I realize what we may have been subjected to after his birth, if he'd been alive.  Our lives could be so different.  I always picture Luke as a perfect, healthy baby.  Who doesn't picture that for their child when they're pregnant?  But what if he wasn't?  What if he was disabled from all of that?  It's entirely possible.

It's also entirely possible that none of that would have happened during delivery because had he been alive, he may have helped himself out.  He would have wanted to find his way out...And maybe he would have been just fine.

But I'll never know.  That was the moment my life was at a fork in the road.  One where Luke had died, and the other where he could have lived.  I suppose there were actually more forks in that road.  I could have died.  He could have developed paralysis later down the road.  But none of those sideforks ever came to be.  We hit a dead end.

In a way, I feel like I dodged a bullet.  I can never know for sure, but it's possible.  Not that I would love him any less had he been paralyzed.  But the thoughts about what could have been...I don't even know.

So now I sit here, with Lena.  Both my OB and my MFM foresaw the danger in another delivery for me, and insisted on a c-section this time.  And I can't thank them enough.  I trusted them in their decision for me from the beginning, but the more I read about what happened to me, the more thankful I am. 

Thankful that this is where I'm at right now.  Thankful that this birth was the exact opposite of Luke's.  It was calm and beautiful.  There was no panic.  There were happy tears.  There was relief. 

I hate that I'll never know what would have been for him, but because of him, I'm here, now. 

And I'm thankful to have had and held him the most.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Filling that hole (in my ♥)

Lena is 2 months old already.

The time has completely flown by. And all I've been doing for the past 2 months is watching her. Watching her eat. Sleep. Cry. Throw up. Grow. There are times when I feel like I can literally see her growing. Today she was so interactive with me and Jeff. She knows us and our faces and voices. We make her happy (sometimes?). 

It's already going so fast. 

I've felt a sensation of relief these past 2 months that I haven't felt since losing Luke, though. Relief that things are normal again. And I know that's weird. I feel like I should be more paranoid now that I have her here. But just watching her become who she is...it's settling. It makes me so happy to see. 

Maybe I'm relieved because I know she's getting a chance to be things. To know us as her parents. The chance that Luke never got. 

In a way, I feel like I'm betraying my grief--by being happy. But I know that it's at a turning point now. I still think of Luke. Every. Single. Day. I sometimes hear Lena coo and wonder to myself if that's what his coo would have sounded like. If he would have made the same squinty duckface smile that she makes. 

And then I know I'm not betraying my grief or him. These questions will haunt me for the rest of my life. I might not ask them as often at some point. But they'll always be there.  There's a pain in knowing that.

But watching her grow will so often trigger these feelings. And all I saw for him was in my imagination. They were my dreams for him that will never be realized.  

So it's a relief. To know that Lena can take my dreams for her and make them her own. To know that she'll know me as her Mom. That's the part about losing Luke that hurts still--that I never knew him outside of my body. Our relationship was in my head and imagination--In the future that now never existed.

To never have had a give and take relationship with him...still gets me. So I'm going to take every day I get with his sister and try to make it count enough for both of them.

Stillbirth--leaves a hole in your heart.  That space will always be occupied by my hopes that never got realized for him.  But slowly, I feel like my heart is filling in with other love. 

Thank god for the evolution of grief.  For letting me realize that there's room in there for both of them.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

From both sides now

The past month and a half have been the fastest days of my life.

Lena has been with us one month and 16 days now, and it seems like she's been with us forever.

Getting the hang of parenting a newborn though...is hard. I know now what it means to have a newborn to take care of. Who needs your attention nearly 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. Who needs you in order to continue living.

It's so strange--watching the living, breathing thing that Jeff and I created--every day. Watching her grow and become more than she was yesterday.

There are times when I look at her and lose it. When I cry because of so many things. Sometimes it's because I'm so shocked at how perfect she is. Sometimes it's because I'm so tired of the screaming and crying that I just have to join her. And sometimes it's because I literally see her brother.

So many times in the past 16 months...I've thought about what Luke would look like. What he'd be doing. How he'd be progressing, developmentally. And it's so weird being on this side of things now. It's so weird being able to watch everything progress just how it should.

I've seen it all, from both sides now.

I'm surprised actually, how healing having Lena has been for me. I'm not consumed by my grief for Luke. But the moments that get me most are the times when she's quiet. When she's sleeping peacefully with her lips pursed together.

That's when my brain goes there and puts the two of them together.

I never got to see air breathe through Luke.  All I know of what he looked like was his quiet peacefulness.  His eyes closed.  His lips closed.  His body limp.  And there are times in the past month and a half where I've picked Lena up and seen him--perfectly.  It's both healing and heart-wrenching. 

I'm so happy she's here.  Taking care of a newborn is incredibly hard, obviously.  There have already been days where I've been so frustrated I just cried.  But for the most part, it's been amazing.  In some ways, I'm relieved that she looks so much like him.  At least they would have looked like siblings.  But Lena will grow up to be whoever she wants to be.  She'll reach her milestones at her own pace and grow and learn and just be.  

And until the end of time, I will never know any of that about Luke.  He's a forever-open book.  That will never be written.  I spent so much time looking forward to take part in his story, to teach him and learn from him--and still--to this day--I don't want to put that story to rest.  But I don't have a choice. 

There's no going backward to see him have life.  He is frozen in time with us for just that one day.  It's so hard accepting that that's all we got with him, when we'll have so much more time with his sister. 

It's so not fair.  That we can never be together or make it right or even know who he would have become.  My entire life--This wonder will always be there.  Without answers.  Just comparisons to his sister. 

Parenting from both sides, now.  They're both incredibly taxing.  Both emotional.  Both filled with love and exhaustion.  I guess they're not so different after all.  It's just too bad that the physical representation is completely different.