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Monday, December 31, 2012

The End of the Innocence

I really can't say just how happy I will or will not be when 2012 comes to a close and 2013 makes its appearance. There's a part of me that says "Fuck 2012." But then there's a part of me that yearns for...ALL of this year, EXCEPT the terrible part. How can one year simultaneously be both the best AND the worst of your life?

2012 started with so much promise. We found out we were pregnant on January 13. I was shocked, but we were SO happy and excited that we'd become parents THIS YEAR. Things really seemed to be coming together for us--For once. My pregnancy was so smooth. We took Luke to his first concerts in my belly--Wilco, Ryan Adams, and then finally, Coachella. Jeff graduated with his MPA in May. We got a lot of things done to our house that we've been putting off for awhile. Jeff passed his comp exams RIGHT in the nick of time--so that we could FINALLY concentrate on being Mommy and Daddy.

And then September 10th happened.

I've never had my world turned upside down so quickly. In one instant, our entire lives were altered forever. I suppose that's what tragedy does to you. I've been lucky enough to not have to experience tragedy in my 33 years on this planet. But it caught up to me--to us. That day was supposed to be the most amazing day of our lives--the day we met our firstborn child.

And we got to meet him. But he had no heartbeat.

Falling in love and saying goodbye at the same time hurts more than anything else. I can go back to that panicked feeling--when they told us Luke didn't have a heartbeat anymore...and I feel it all over again--just at the thought. The shaking...I stared at the ceiling. I couldn't believe something like this was happening to us. How were we going to get through this? How could I deliver our son...knowing he was gone?

I've been able to find a LOT of courage in these past 3 months. Everyday...I bristle at the bitterness. The pain and bitterness of seeing Luke's things around our house. His crib. I bristle at Facebook--At everyone's happy families and baby pictures. The jealousy is incredible. I want to be happy for them--they're people I care about...but I always just end up feeling sorry for myself and Jeff. I want to delete my account on Babycenter so I can stop getting age appropriate emails telling me he's 3-6 months old this month...but I can't bring myself to delete him. It's just...wrong. I shouldn't have to choose to delete our child.

We went into this process--of having our first child--with an INCREDIBLE naïveté. Not a worry in the world. Not until that terrible day when our innocence was shattered. There's no pregnancy book in the world that really delves into the possibility that you can carry your baby--with no sign of problem--for 39 weeks, and NOT take him home with you. Not a single one I read, anyway. The thought never crossed my mind that WE could experience the terribly insignificant chances of stillbirth. We won that lottery. Somehow. I wish that could've been the Powerball, and not the shittiest lottery imaginable. 1 in 160 births are stillborn. That's a 0.6% chance there. But only 2%-4% of those stillbirths are cord accidents like we experienced--when the doctor is too late to save them. The odds...are insane.

And now our innocence is lost. We had a funeral service for our son. This year. I want nothing but to have a living child now. But I know what can happen. I know now that making it to the end of the first, second, or even third trimester...Doesn't mean anything. At least not to me. Sending pregnancy announcements and ultrasound pictures will never guarantee us that we get to take home our baby. Having the most "uneventful pregnancy ever" doesn't necessarily mean our son will be born alive. I can take care of myself...carry him as a completely responsible mother--no gestational diabetes, no strep, nothing, and STILL not get to take him home.

There can just as easily be "no reason" we lost him. And we just have to somehow accept that. Talk about breeding pessimism.

I wish I could go back in time to the innocence we once lived in.

We don't have the luxury of time to wait around for it to return, unfortunately. I feel that we're doing the absolute best we can getting through our grief. I feel like we've carved out a space in our lives where Luke will exist--forever. But I wish we didn't have to walk through hell and experience all of this. I wish we could be those naive parents that just get to go through life with their living children, complaining about all the things new parents complain about. I wish we could be those people.

But we can never be those people. We'll always have a sadness behind our eyes...where Luke will be forever.

And in 2013, we'll try again. I started out 2012 reading pregnancy books that were so generic--The Mayo Clinic Healthy Pregnancy Book. And I finished 2012 reading Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of Your Baby. I definitely didn't see that one coming. Ali gave me Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart for Christmas, and that's next on my reading list...and I hope to start reading more pregnancy-after-loss books in 2013. Hope.

I'm scared to possibly get pregnant again. Hell--I'm scared for everyone I know who's pregnant. I don't wish these feelings on anyone--Ever. I know I will be a complete wreck...worrying when (if?) we get pregnant again. Is the heartbeat there? Will the baby get stuck in the cord again when he or she turns down? The feelings of having to deliver another baby...Going through the same motions again...scare the hell out of me. Having to have two children full term...just to come out with one. It's so unfair. So so so unfair. Thank god I have an amazing therapist.

But if I've learned anything this year, it's that we have no control over our lives. We have limited control, yes. But in the grand scheme of things...what will happen, will happen. You can do everything right. Be a good person. Take care of yourself and your family and friends and your child in your own womb. And still find yourself in the depths of darkness. This is not a place you ever expect to find yourself in. Nothing you could plan for. And yet it happens--to so many of us.

I didn't know how strong I could be. I think I know now, but I think the real test will be having to go through this all over again...hopeful for a different ending. I'm so thankful that so many baby-lost parents now blog and write about their experiences. Reading that my feelings are exactly the same as so many of yours makes me feel like so much less a freak. And I'm so thankful for the people I have in my life to lean on. They know who they are.

2013 is going to be filled with a lot of new, scary, and exciting experiences. My fingers are crossed that this will be the year things go right for us. We've already beat the odds...so this time, hopefully we can just not.

Monday, December 24, 2012

This Christmas

It's our first Christmas without you, Luke. You're heavy in our thoughts now, and we wish so badly you were here with us.

You have the most amazing family ever, though. And friends that we call our family. Your Auntie Ali made you the most amazing Christmas stocking, ever, though. Opening it brought me to tears. She gave it to us last night, and I I wish so badly that I was filling it with toys for you tonight.

Don't worry. It will always hang for you at Christmas. I just wish Santa could bring you back to us.

I love you always and forever, my sweet boy.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The What-If Game

The other day, I saw a bunch of Dr. Seuss stuff on one of those daily sale websites, and it made me think about when Jeff and I were talking about how to decorate Luke's room... It sort of set off this thought process of what-if scenarios in which Luke somehow makes it, and everything played out the way it was supposed to.

What if I didn't take that pregnancy test on Friday January 13th?

What if he was a girl?

What if we decorated his room in Dr. Seuss instead of Star Wars?

What if we named him Neil instead of Luke like Jeff wanted to at first?

What if I hadn't woken up on my back so many times?

What if we'd had his baby shower earlier? What if he could feel how totally unprepared we were till those last couple weeks?

What if I hadn't gone to Coachella? Would that have had something to do with this? It was at 18 weeks, so I figure it doesn't, but what if I just hadn't gone?

What if I hadn't helped PJ up into the car that week?

What if I'd had a stress test that Friday at the OB? Or a 4D ultrasound? Things they do for high-risk mamas? Would we have known that he was in trouble? That his cord was wrapped too tight?

What if I'd decided to go to the hospital sometime on Saturday? Would he still have been there with a heartbeat? Would they have been able to save him?

And then there's the worst one? What if I got to be Luke's mommy outside of the womb? We were so close.

Part of me has always sort of believed in a sort of fatalism--that whatever will happen in our lives...will happen. I believe we have influence over our lives, but obviously, we aren't in control. If that's the one thing I've learned from losing Luke, that's it--There is nothing we could've done to change this outcome this time. There was no seeing this coming. There was nothing to warn us. And so it happened. Had we had a warning, or something to tell us something was wrong, we would've had some influence on the situation...but not this time.

And I'm not saying there's a reason. I don't believe there is. It's just...the actions of the universe. And we're just humans--living in it.

There's a line in a song by Bright Eyes that's always struck me--since the first time I heard it. It goes like this:

Everything that happens
Is supposed to be
And it's all predetermined
Can't change your destiny
Guess I'll just keep moving
Someday maybe
I'll get to where I'm going




I kinda can't help but feel like this has never applied to me more.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Three Months

Today would be your three month birthday, Luke. You'd be a quarter of a year old today.

Today was your pretty typical Monday for us. We got up and went to work all day. I went to the gym after work, came home, and made us chicken curry for dinner. Right now we're watching Home Alone.

I would've skipped the gym, for sure, if you'd been here.

Yesterday we took our family bassinet back to Grandma and Grandpa's house. It's out of our bedroom now. I wish you could've had the chance to sleep in it--even just one night. Tonight we're also putting away your coming-home outfit that's been sitting out for you on your changing pad. I suppose wherever you are, you probably don't need clothes.

It's getting harder for me lately to be out and about. Seeing everyone with their children for the holidays...hurts. Our house is decorated for Christmas. The tree is up and decorated. But you should be here. We should have taken you to our first visit to the Christmas tree farm. Maybe had your picture taken with Santa somewhere. Maybe I'd actually have gotten any Christmas shopping done by now. I don't know.

We miss you, Luke. A lot. So many people wish you were here. If impossible things were possible, my only wish on Christmas, forever, would be to have you here with us. Your ornament is hanging at the top of our tree. I wish it was a baby's first Christmas ornament--and not an in-memory ornament.

I've held up pretty well today, and I'm proud of myself. But that doesn't mean I love you any less. I love you with everything I am, Luke. Everything. And I'll always be missing you. Till hopefully we meet again someday.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Guilty of the Norm

It's hard being a mom who's lost their only baby at the brink of being born.

We're coming up on 3 months without you, Luke. Monday it will have been 3 months since that terrible yet amazing day we met. The crazy moodswings and bursts of tears are definitely fewer and farther between, but your absence still crushes me to the core sometimes. Usually when I think too hard about our reality.

One quarter of one year--gone by--without you. When you should've been here.

Lately, I find myself feeling guilty. Everyone says not to--and deep down, I know I shouldn't feel this way. But I feel guilty for not honoring you more while I was pregnant. For not taking weekly pictures like everyone else seems to do. I feel guilty for saying I wasn't a huge fan of being pregnant. Guilty for being sort of mad that you were a boy. I feel guilty because I feel like my life is going on, and yet you're left behind. You'll forever be lodged in my memory at the hospital that day. You'll never grow. You'll never change. You're stuck in those moments. Forever.

And here I am, moving forward, somehow. I think about you every day. A lot. But I'm finding it easier to have fun. To smile and laugh with my friends and family. Sometimes I catch myself in the middle of being happy, and feel guilty. Shouldn't I be grieving you more, still? Sometimes I even feel normal--Like the normal I was before you. And I hate that. Because my entire normal was supposed to change when you were born.

Talking to my therapist the other day, I came to the realization that the most fucked up part of this entire journey is the fact that on that day almost three months ago, our entire lives were supposed to have been turned upside down by a screaming, crying baby boy. We were supposed to have been dumped into the world of parenting, having no idea what we were doing, but doing it anyway. I was supposed to go on maternity leave for awhile--to spend time bonding with you.

We were so ready for that change.

But instead, we left the hospital that day, and were forced to go back to our lives before you. That normal. Our normal lives. We spent 9 months getting ready for our normal to change and do a 180. But now we're in our real normal life again. We go to work. Go to the gym. Come home. Have dinner. We go out with our friends and walk the dog. Everything is back to normal.

Except totally effed up.

Sometimes I feel like I'm normal-old-me again. But it's different. I guess it's that New Normal that all baby-lost parents talk about. There's always a deep sadness that I can dwell on at the drop of a dime, and if I go there, it still hurts.

I guess sometimes I feel guilty for feeling normal. Like somehow that's not honoring you. But deep down I know that's not what you'd want for me. That's why I'm trying to embrace that old normal again. It's just that now my old normal includes you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving: If not thankful, grateful


This Thanksgiving...is going to be weird. What was supposed to be our first holiday with our son turned out to be our first without him.

Last Thanksgiving, we'd really just started talking seriously about when to have kids. We'd decided that 2012 would be it. It's crazy to look back at how different our lives are now. I never would have guessed that we'd get pregnant so fast. And I never would have guessed that we'd have a son...and then lose him, in the very same year.

So much has changed.

It's hard for me to talk about being thankful right now. I'm so bitter. I'm still hurt, and I don't know how to make this go away. In all honesty, it won't. Luke will never come back. But I have my better days. And I'm thankful that the really terrible days seem to be making fewer appearances.

There's Jeff. My rock. I'm not convinced I would have survived labor if Jeff wasn't there with me through every terrible step that we took that day we lost Luke. I literally told myself I had to make it through this...for him. If for no other reason than I couldn't possibly leave him alone. In some ways, I feel like losing Luke has brought us closer together, and I hate that that's what it took.

I say that a lot. There's so many things I've learned since losing Luke. I had no idea just how many people cared about us before this. I had a charmed life before. We have friends and family who we obviously know cared about us. But the depth?

There's our immediate family and closest friends--Who walked every terrible step of this journey side-by-side with us, and shared so much of our grief in those hours and days immediately after everything happened. Luke's death...hurt them as much as it did us. All those expectations of life in the future...were nearly as shattered for them as they were for us.

I know I still haven't answered many of those messages and emails and text messages that I've gotten from many of you in the past couple of months. Just know that they haven't gone unnoticed. Every single one came through. And I'm so grateful to all of you that have reached out to us. Who brought us dinner. Sent us cards.

I feel so lucky to be able to call Gallup my other family. And the same goes for Jeff and his coworkers. Things could have been so much more difficult for us had we not had such an amazing support system of friends where we work.

Then there's everyone who donated and walked for Luke's team for the OC Walk to Remember. I still can't comprehend how much support there was. For walking with us. And for all of your donations made in Luke's name. The day Ali set up that page for us, and we saw everything rolling in, even from some of YOUR friends that we didn't even know? It was a ray of light in our terrible journey. It restored my faith in humanity, honestly. The outpouring of love and support from so many people touched us so deeply.

Through this blog, I've read about so many other families that have gone through the same things we have. Every story is sort of different, but it breaks my heart that this happens to other people too. But I find strength in reading your stories. We're all in different places in our journeys through grief, but I'm so glad we have each other to relate to. No one should know this pain, but I'm so thankful that I'm not the only one carrying it and sharing it.

This is our first holiday without our son, and I'm still trying to figure out how to navigate my way through this phase of my life that I never saw coming--Never made plans for.

I feel cheated and sad and angry that Luke was stolen from us. But if there's anything I can ask of all of you who love us and Luke...it's to remember him. Remember his birthday each year. And all that could have been for him. I wish every day that this could all be different, but I know that none of us can ever change it. We'll forever have an empty seat at our Thanksgiving table without him. And that hurts my heart.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Back to the Grind

I went back to work Monday.

It's a strange feeling, going back to something that's completely the same and yet totally different at the same time. Another one of those situations I've often found myself in lately that's a complete mindfuck.

I'll admit that it was easier than I expected it to be. That's probably due to the fact that I work with an amazing group of people, many of whom I consider my best friends. In many ways, my work is my home, and I guess I'm lucky to have a place that I can call work AND home. Knowing that...made it easier.

Everyone was amazing. It was really great to see everybody in person, and thankfully, there wasn't much awkwardness.

The work part, though...That part was harder to get back into the swing of things. My brain definitely has a much harder time focusing on things now...Every once in awhile, I just stop. There's a part of me that feels like work is just...stupid. Caring about deadlines and graphs and data...Why? None of it seems as important as you were to us. It isn't.

It's like you've left a permanent imprint on my brain, Luke. You're there, at the forefront of my mind even when I'm not actively thinking about you. I hope that never goes away.

2 Months Without You

Today is your 2-month birthday, Luke.

I can't believe it's been 2-months since we lost you.

Things seem less debilitating today than they did a month ago. I miss you so much, though. I wish I could be posting a picture of you in a cute onesie with a big "2 Months" on it today. It would be big, too, cause you'd definitely be a big guy by now.

Today I'm finding that the tears come a little bit slower than they did just a month ago. But they don't hurt me inside any less. Trying to get used to the idea that I'm still your Mom, just without you? That's still the hardest part to comprehend. Sometimes I still feel like we're just waiting for you to make your appearance. That you'll show up soon. But then reality comes back around, and I go into your empty room and see everything that's still waiting for you. That's our reality. We'll always be waiting for you.

That hole in my heart will always be there for you.

But the one thing I'm thankful for most right now, is that somehow, I feel you're sending me strength to get through this. I've somehow avoided crumbling into pieces after losing you (at least so far). Part of me feels guilty that I'm not.

But then another part of me is proud that you gave that to me--You gave me that strength. And that makes you the best son in the world right now.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Last few days of #captureyourgrief

The last week of October turned out to be kinda rough for me.  I really wasn't in the mood to finish doing this, but I wanted to finish the challenge eventually, so here we go...

Day 26: Their Age


I took this picture of my cankles the day before we went to the hospital.  Luke was born and died at exactly 39 weeks gestation on September 10, 2012.  It seemed impossible--if we made it that far, that we could have lost him. 

Day 27: Artwork


Pretty early after we found out we were having a boy, Jeff and I agreed to do Luke's room in a Star Wars theme. One of the first few things we bought was a Wampa rug off of ThinkGeek.com, and just a week before we lost him, we'd finally gotten these prints hung up that we had found on Etsy. I'm in love with them, and I wish he could see them.

Day 28: A Memory

There are so many memories I have, this being my first pregnancy. I can almost replay the entire thing back in my head--nearly week by week. I hope I never forget these memories, because playing them back in my head is all I have of Luke.

At about 18 weeks, we found out we were having a boy on a Wednesday, and then the next day, we went to Coachella, AND celebrated Jeff's birthday that weekend. There was so much to be excited about then. Jeff was so excited we were having a boy, and we talked about the possibility of someday bringing him to his first Coachella with us. We got him his first concert tee that weekend, too. So much to look forward to.

Day 29: Music


Pearl Jam's Light Years pretty much sums up the way I feel about losing Luke. I can't even think of one that's by any other artist that hits it on the head as well, and...well, it's fitting. We had they lyrics printed in the program for Luke's service, and to this day, I still haven't found a more personally-fitting song that we could have used.

Day 30: Your Grief – Tell The World

I don't want to be here feeling this. It's the last thing that was supposed to happen to me in MY LIFE. Nothing can prepare you for these feelings, but the one thing that we have going for us is knowing that so many of you care...and were/are there for us when we need/ed you. I know I'm a strong person, but this has shaken me to my core, and without your love and support...I don't know what this would be like. And I don't want to.

Day 31: Sunset


I kind of cheated and didn't take a picture on October 31...It was a bad week for me, and I was actually at my acupuncturist's office as the sun went down anyway...So I took this picture earlier this month--when we headed to Solvang/Santa Barbara to get away from everything. I've neglected my photography skills for a year or so now, and I decided to try to get some sunset pics on a sunset sailing cruise we took through the Santa Barbara harbor. It was a gorgeous sunset, and I could feel Luke shining down on us the whole time...I somehow managed to perfectly catch the sun setting inbetween the sails on this sail boat. I love this picture. It's beautiful and peaceful. Now if only I could find that within myself.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Mondays

Mondays seem to be the worst days for me, Luke.

Today I decided that I needed to scan everything we have that's a memory of you--Mostly pictures from the hospital.  It's not much, but the thought of losing any of that, to a fire or a burglar, or whatever...makes me want to throw up. 

Plus, I'm going back to work next week.  I feel like I need something, anything, on my phone to remind me that you were real.  So often lately, you don't feel like you were real. 

I find that when I'm distracted, it gets easy to feel that way.  And I hate that.  I hate that the only time you seem real to me is when I'm looking back at your things and reminiscing about everything I thought was going to be for us.  I should just be able to come home and see you.  But all I have right now is one folder on my computer--that holds all of the pictures from your entire life.  And a bassinet that holds a teddy bear , your memory box, and all of the sympathy cards we've received since you left.

Everyone keeps saying that things have to get better.  I have a really hard time thinking that.  But I do know that there's no way things could possibly get any worse.  I'm having a bad case of the "Why me?"s today.  These past few years have been...a struggle for us.  The struggle with this house alone has been enough of a headache to cause most people to go crazy.  But I was strong.  I got through it.  Daddy was done with school this year. I'm not gonna lie.  When I found out we were gonna have you, I FINALLY felt like things were finally going to fall into place with us.  That things were going to STOP being completely shitty, at least for a little while.  Because we'd have our own family.  And yes, crappy things come up when you have kids, but at least you have each other.

And we don't even have that right now.  I have your Daddy.  And our families.  But you're missing, and you complete our little family.  The weight of thinking about how you're never going to physically be in our family makes my brain ache.  I am going to struggle with missing you for my entire life.  And the farther away from September 10, 2012 that we get, the farther from real you become.

So going back to work next week is going to be the next step that I'm forcing myself to take to being farther away from you.  I hate that this is what I'm forced to be doing.  I hate that it's not that I'm forced to be going back to work so that I can afford to take care of you.  I hate that I'm taking this step because it's helping me move forward with my life.

And those are all things I'm going to have to get good at living with, I suppose.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Now you know how you really feel about it

I've watched my fair share of Friends reruns in the past 6 weeks.  It was always one of my favorite shows, and something about it makes me feel...comfortable.  Maybe it's comfort in my past?  I don't know.

For obvious reasons, I find myself turning the channel whenever the show I'm watching deals with someone having a baby.  Or tons of parents and babies (thanks a lot, Project Runway--for making an episode that dealt entirely with making BABY CLOTHES for the first time EVER this season).  It's painful for me to watch.  Knowing that was me--Not that long ago.  I identify with those feelings, but then I have a whole load of other feelings that came from everything that happened after losing Luke.  And now I'm different.

So on at least two occasions these past few weeks, I've seen The One After "I Do."   That episode--I can't not watch it.  It's the one where Rachel found out she's pregnant, but didn't tell anyone, as it was right before Chandler and Monica's wedding, and she wasn't sure what she was going to do.  The episode ends with Monica finding out about it, and Rachel takes another pregnancy test just to be sure.  Phoebe lies and tells her that the new test was negative.  And Rachel comes to realize that she's upset it's NOT positive this time..."How can I be upset over something I never had?"

And Phoebe says "I'm just kidding, it's positive. Now you know how you really feel about it!"

I can't even say how hard that part hits me.

It took me a long time to understand that I wanted to have kids.  I'm 33.  Most people just fall into parenthood way sooner.  I'm...a control freak, and I went through most of my 20s knowing that I wasn't ready to become a parent.  It wasn't that I didn't trust my relationship with Jeff.  Or that I thought I couldn't do it.  It was more that I liked my life how it was, and I wanted  to continue on that path.  And also that  I wanted to be in the best  possible place to have a kid.  But we both knew that we wanted to have a family together...someday.  That was always in our plans.

I'll admit that even when we started trying to get pregnant last December, I'm not sure I completely knew how I felt about becoming a parent.  And it happened so fast.  But when I figured out that it was time to take a test, deep down inside, I knew we were ready for it.  If that test had come back as negative, I surely would have said the same exact thing--"How can I be upset over something I never had?"

I found myself saying the same thing when I found out that we were having a boy.  I'd always wanted a girl, and it was sort of a blow to me at first when we found out.  I got over that, though.  I really did.

It's horrible how this is all turned around on me now.

Now I know how I really feel about it.  I wanted to be Luke's Mom.  And now here I am, crushed about the life I'm never going to have with him.  I would do anything to change the way it is.  Anything.  But there's nothing that can change this.  

It's like a cruel joke that life is playing on me--"Now you know how you really feel about it."

I do.  And I hate that there's nothing I can do to change it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

#captureyourgrief--Day 22

Place of Birth

Luke was born at 5:23am on September 10, 2012 at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, California.  When we went in that Sunday afternoon, we got nothing but amazing care from the staff at the medical center.  We had quite possibly the best nurse in the world...Sheri, if you're reading this, we couldn't have gotten through that day without you. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Inevitable.

Today, I had to call 6pm to return some shoes that I'd ordered online.  Of course, I had to call them because when I tried to file the return on their website, for some reason, my account was down.  The woman on the phone today had never seen this "in her entire career" there, so of course, there was that.

So I'm reading off my order information to her.  First I give her my email address.  Fakeplasticlove at gmail dot com.  She tells me she loves it.  That it's totally one-of-a-kind.  I agree with her and say thanks.  Then she asks what nationality my last name is.  I tell her that my husband is half Japanese, but I'm actually mostly German. 

And then there it was.  "Do you guys have kids!? Mixed ethnicity kids are so gorgeous!"

I had actually thought about how I'd answer that question before.  It was maybe sometime last week.  And I'd told myself that I wanted to answer YES to that question...because we DID have a child.  Luke was real.

But I...lost my strength to care and go through making the conversation awkward.  And I told her "No, we don't."

She then apologized because I probably sounded like I got hit by a truck when I answered.  She said she was sorry if that was too much questioning.

The truth is, Luke was beautiful.  She was right.  I just wish we got to see his beauty grow up. 

I'm not angry like I was the other day.  Today, that mostly just made me really sad.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

#captureyourgrief Day 19 & 20

I've been behind on a couple of the posts this week...some of them, I feel like I couldn't really post anything about yet at this point...But here's to catching up a little bit?

Day 19--A Project
Mom and I have been talking about doing something to remember Luke with...We're just not sure where to start.  It'll probably be a bit artsy, but we haven't really nailed anything down yet.  In the meantime though, THIS is my project.  For me.  I've been a blogger for a long time now...I don't put it out there for the world to see anymore.  But for this blog, I feel like putting it out there for anyone else that's going through this pain could only help someone.  I know that I've found comfort in reading other baby-loss moms' blogs--Knowing that they're farther along in the grief process--but they're still going.  They have families.  They still remember their babies, but they've found a way to do that and continue on living.

It's also kind of serving as a way for  me to...think right now.  I used to mess around with coding a long time ago, so it's sort of fun and a challenge for me to customize, etc, right now.  Maybe that's getting me ready to go back to work in some way?

But if I can help someone else feel better, that makes me feel better.

Day 20--A Charity/Organization






I've said it many times, but I'm so thankful for the OC Walk to Remember.  The day everything happened...we found out about them at the hospital.  They fund training for nurses at hospitals in the area who are taking care of patients like us at the hospital.  They provide things for you at the hospital that  you probably weren't expecting to need.  They fund support groups to help the grief process in this situation, and they host an annual 5K in Tustin.  This year we raised over $5000 for them, and I can't be more proud.  This is not a club or organization you want to join, necessarily, but when you find yourself in it...you'll be glad they exist. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

5.5 Week Checkup

Today was my first checkup at my OB without you, Luke.

Not gonna lie.  It was rough walking into my doctor's building without you in your car seat.  My heart pounded in my chest as I walked down the hallway toward her office.  I'd been in that office so many times this year.  So many times--with no fear or question in my heart about how things were going.  Not once did I feel scared that anything could happen to us or you.

This time was so different. And all the damage was already done.

Thank goodness the waiting room wasn't terribly full when I got there.  Daddy met me there from work, and I was so happy when he showed up.  It was wrong with it still being just the two of us sitting in the office together, but I was proud of myself for not crying in the waiting room.

That changed once we got inside the exam room.  Seeing my doc again was hard.  I like her a lot, and I'd never not trusted her or her decisions about our care.  She told me that we'd changed her.  That she really rethought what she tells her patients about doing kick-counts.  That she's going to recommend it to all of her patients now, because while it's not something all doctors tell you how to do, it's important to TRY to know when something's going wrong.  She's not sure we could have changed anything, though.  It was such a short amount of time between that Friday--when you were seemingly fine at my doctor's appointment, and Sunday morning, when you were already gone.  She said she's never seen anything like it--that babies are born with nuchal cords and knots in their cord all the time--and they're fine.  But for some reason, you weren't.  Maybe it was because you were so big and healthy.  I wasn't measuring as big as you turned out to be, and she said that definitely caught her off guard.  She had no idea you'd be almost 10 pounds, considering you were a little less than 7 pounds at the ultrasound just three weeks before.  With me being so tall, it wasn't easily seen in my body just what a big guy you were.  She told us that it was really hard on them too...That this doesn't happen very often.  Sometimes they go a year or so without seeing this.  And then this happened.  And apparently this happened to another patient in their practice a week after us.  She said this hurt them too...

She went on to try to assure me that this was SUCH an uncommon accident.  She'd never seen it before.  And that next time around, she will do everything in her power to reassure me that your brother or sister will be ok.  We'll get a Perinatologist and NSTs at least twice a week.  More ultrasounds to check the cord more often.  She told me that she for sure would deliver at about 39 weeks, maybe sooner, and if the measurements are similar to yours, we'd do a c-section.  She told us that if you had been alive when she delivered you, she feared she would've broken your clavicle trying to get you out--they would have had to be much more aggressive because we couldn't have taken our time.  That's how big you were.  She told us that it would've been a scary delivery regardless, and she wished she would've been more prepared for that. 

They didn't find anything in any of the tests to tell us what happened, Luke.  We're both happy and sad about this.  Happy, because it means that there's really no reason this could happen to us again.  But we're sad--because it means we'll never understand why or how we lost you.  She ordered more blood tests for me today--to rule out everything possible.  I gave a total of 18 vials of blood today, Luke.  There were only supposed to be 9, but the lab worker said he used a needle that was too fat the first time, and he punctured my vein too much and messed up the samples.  Great.

So we discussed the future.  My doc said that as soon as I get my next cycle, we could start trying again if we wanted to.  Obviously, we need to do what's best for us, but just thinking about this right now hurts me, Luke.  I'm so torn on everything.  I don't want to replace you.  I don't want to start trying again right away just to fill the hole that's been left in our lives.  But at the same time, I do.  This wasn't how it was supposed to be, and I wish this wasn't a decision that we have to make.  Daddy and I aren't exactly young.  We can't wait years to work on fixing ourselves after losing you...

But then there's the thought of going through being pregnant again, only with all of this on my mind.  The entire time.  I'm going to be a wreck.  Going through this again--Even if everything is FINE the entire time, I don't know if there's anything anyone will be able to do to reassure me that it will all turn out ok.  Nothing will be ok until we hold your brother or sister in our arms.  And I won't believe anything anyone tells me until that happens.    


I don't know what to do.

Everyone keeps saying to take our time and figure out what's best for us, but I feel like time isn't on our side.
I need to call back a therapist that Angela found for me.  This therapist has gone through a stillbirth herself, and I'm hoping she can give me some advice here, because I honestly don't know what to do.  I feel like right now, all I can do is miss you.  

All I know is...it still  hurts.  A lot.  I know I'm strong, but this is just hard.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ugh.

Dear Cord Bank Registry--

I have unsubscribed from your emails MANY times.  Yet for some reason, I keep getting them, as well as flyers in the mail.  When I say UNSUBSCRIBE, I MEAN IT.

Seriously.  Like salt in my wounds.  And today you send me a SURVEY?  Eff you.  I hope the part where I talk about trying to unsubscribe many times because I delivered our son stillborn gets back to SOMEONE at your company.

Ugh.

Also, to the lady at Old Navy, who felt the need to comment with "Oh, fun--all things for YOU!" when I checked out?  I know you meant well. But I would much rather have been using my 40% off coupon today buying clothes for my 1-month old son.  Instead, I'm participating in some effing retail therapy in a store filled with seemingly ALL stay-at-home-moms trying to avoid the baby and maternity sections at all costs.  Probably not what you'd call FUN.

I think maybe the Anger stage of grief is kicking in today.  

Monday, October 15, 2012

#captureyourgrief--Day 15

Wave of Light

Today is pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Chewie and Bender miss you as much as we do, Luke. It's just not right without you.

Memories of the future

Something I need to figure out how to do--How do I give up on the future that Luke was supposed to be in?

The things that hit me the hardest, that I think about on a daily basis, are the tiny reminders of things that were said and done before all of this happened...when our future had Luke with us. The enormity of losing him...suffocates me sometimes.  Usually when someone dies, you remember all of the memories with them.  The things you did together.  Friendships.  Family time.  That's why this situation is the most backwards thing ever.  The only thoughts and experiences we ever got to have with our son were those we imagined and foresaw in our heads.

I feel like my entire life is going to be divided on a line--Pre-Luke, and Post-Luke.

In some ways, it's a blessing, because none of it was real.  But in other ways, it's the worst possible torture to think about all that might have been.  Yesterday I had a meltdown when I came home from shopping with Jeff at Target and Old Navy.  It was the same Old Navy that I'd shopped for maternity clothes at--and I couldn't wait till I could buy cute kids clothing for Luke there.  Then there was Target.  Mom, Jeff and I had actually JUST been at that Target the Friday before we found out we'd lost him.  We were shopping for some random things for him--Diapers, wipes, a few things that Mom still needed for her house when she'd take care of him.  Jeff insisted we get this really cute hooded towel with a shark on it.

Yesterday I saw so many Moms pushing their babies in strollers.  With their diaper bags and snacks in tow.  That was supposed to be me.  Us.  But everything that I'd built up to expect in my head...Is never going to be real with Luke.

Nearly everyday I go in Luke's room.  And the thing that hurts me to look at the most is all of his clothes hanging in the closet--washed and ready for him to wear.  They're organized by size--from Newborn to almost 24 months.  We got so many cute things.  And I'd imagined him wearing all of them.  I couldn't wait till he could fit into the shirt we bought him at Coachella.  Or the Angels onesie.

We were finally going to be using the family bassinet with him.  

Auntie Ali's special nickname for Luke was going to be Jemaine.  When we couldn't figure out what to name him, Ali had suggested names that start with J, since Jeff and I are both Js as well, and the funniest name we could come up with was Jemaine (since we are sort of obsessed with Flight of the Conchords and all).  It was never serious, but surely that would be his nickname. 

I think back to my last day in the office.  When I said goodbye to Joey, he said how he already felt like he knew Luke since, ya know, they were already Coachella-going-concert-buddies and all.

We were finally going to join the realm of people who have kids.  Something I've watched from afar for a long time, but would finally be able to understand what it's actually like.  

It's thoughts like that--that slay me.  When I get too deep in my head with those thoughts, the tears come.  And there's so many thoughts that trigger that.  Now, we're parents.  But with empty arms.  I don't even know what that means, really.  If your hopes and dreams for your child never have a chance to come to be, how exactly can you call yourself a parent?

Deep down, I know Luke will always be alive in my heart.  And physically, he'll always be a part of me.  But giving up on the future...but still having memories of thinking about what it would have been like?  It's the worst mindfuck I can think of.

Tonight is October 15--Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  Tonight, we''ll light a candle for our little guy and hope that he can somehow share that moment with us....

I miss you, Luke.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

#captureyour grief--Day 14

Community

On  October 6, we participated in our first Walk to Remember event here in Orange County.  I wasn't even sure if I'd be ready to do this when we first heard about it in the hospital, but I'm so glad we participated.  The community of support for parents like us is huge.  Between blogs I find on the internet, groups like Walk to Remember, and support groups (that we haven't even had a chance to participate in yet...but will), I'm so glad we're not alone.  

The grey shirts are everyone walking for Luke--But everyone else pictured has lost someone important to them as well.  The support is overwhelming. 

#captureyourgrief--Day 13

--Signs--This kind if goes along with symbols, but everytime I see sharp rays of light reflected, I feel like Luke is there with me.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

#captureyourgrief Day 11

Supportive family and friends

I can't even fit pictures if everyone that belongs in these pictures. ALL of you have been amazing to us...and we couldn't do without all of your support.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Today is your 1-month birthday, Luke

Today is your 1-month birthday, Luke.

I realized this last night before I went to bed and cried myself to sleep.  I thought of everything that you would be by now.  You'd probably be growing out of your 1-3 Month old clothing by now because you'd probably be the size of a 3-month old already.  We'd be hanging out with Chris and your cousin Amanda this week, and the family would be gathering to celebrate.  You'd have been a pro at nursing by now, and you'd be healthy as a peach.  I'd be tired, yes, but it would all be worth it, because you're so amazingly cute.  You'd probably have learned how to smile at us by now.  And I'd get to see your amazing blue eyes everyday.  We'd have gone to the new pediatrician I found.  You'd be wearing your Halloween onesie and we'd take pictures at a pumpkin patch soon.

I'd be a wreck because I'd be worrying if I was doing everything right.  But that wouldn't matter.  Because you'd be here with us.

But you're not.  I wish I knew why.
 
I heard your Daddy listening to this song the other day, and it never hit me as hard the million times I'd heard it before as it did then.



If I keep holding out
Will the light shine through?
Under this broken roof
It's only rain that I feel
I've been wishin' out the days
Oh oh oh
Come back

I have been planning out
All that I'd say to you
Since you slipped away
Know that I still remain true
I've been wishin' out the days
Please say that if you hadn't have gone now
I wouldn't have lost you another way
From wherever you are
Oh oh oh oh
Come back

And these days, they linger on, yeah, yeah
And in the night, I've been waiting for
A real possibility that I may meet you in my dreams
I go to sleep

If I don't fall apart
Will my memory stay clear?
So you had to go
And I had to remain here
But the strangest thing to date
So far away and yet you feel so close
I'm not going to question it any other way
It must be an open door for you
To come back

And the days they linger on, yeah
Every night I'm waiting for
The real possibility that I may meet you in my dreams
Sometimes you're there and you're talking back to me
Come the morning I could swear you're next to me
And it's ok

It's ok, it's ok

I'll be here
Come back, come back
I'll be here
Come back, come back
I'll be here
Come back, come back

#captureyourgrief--Day 10

A Symbol

In Latin the meaning of the name Luke is Light Giving. I always liked the symbolism in that...so now I catch myself looking for bursts of light wherever I am, hoping that he's somehow there with me.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

#captureyourgrief--Day 9

A Special Place

Since I haven't really had much time to figure out grief yet, for now, it's Luke's room. We never got around to getting the desk out of there, but it's just gonna stay for now. The car seat needs somewhere to go...

It's the place I imagined him being in the most.

How do funny people get through trauma like this?

I don't know how well you knew this from inside my belly, Luke, but me and your Dad are kind of...jackasses.  Or maybe not jackasses, but we operate with a heavy hand of sarcasm.  We're funny people.  And no one even believes us when we tell them how old we are.  I still get carded and I'm 33 years old.  I'm not sure that's a compliment, or a sign that we're just immature, but that's who we are.   My favorite movie is Tommy Boy.  Or Billy Madison.  Maybe Old School.  I don't do chick flicks.  Both me and your Daddy crack terribly un-PC jokes on an hourly basis.

So you can imagine how hard it is to go through something this traumatic when we're like that.

I'm emotional, but I've never been through anything in my life that has hit me this hard.  Obviously, it should hit me this hard.  Losing a child is like losing a part of yourself.  Part of me died with you.  And I feel like I don't know how to grieve over losing you while being who I am.  Going through the day with spontaneous bouts of tears is just not normal for me. I realize it's not normal for most people, but it feels so opposite to who I am.  I don't want people treating me differently because of what happened.  

I hate feeling guilty for smiling or laughing.  I know you wouldn't want me to feel that way, but it's hard.  I'm torn.  Mourning you is a rocky road.  And I'm going to be traveling this road for the rest of my life.  That might be the part that's hardest for me to think about right now.  Everyone says it gets easier--It doesn't get better, it just gets easier.     

All I want is to just be me.  I just wanted to be me with you

And now I need to figure out how to do that without you. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

#captureyourgrief--Day 8

Jewelry in memory of Luke

It's only been a month since we lost Luke, but literally about a week after, I got an email from one of my favorite websites, #shanalogic. And I saw this necklace, which was pretty much exactly the same leaf they put on my door at the hospital when we found out we lost him. It's a subtle reminder of him.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

#captureyourgrief--Day 7

What TO say?

Pretty much anything along the lines of "I'm so sorry". There's nothing anyone can say that will make this better, but to genuinely say you care means the world.

I'll say that I've been pretty lucky in that I haven't really had anyone say something really terrible to me about what happened. Most everyone we know loved Luke in their heart already...and they share our pain with us. That's comforting just to know that.

Healing

Tomorrow it will have been 4 weeks since we lost you, Luke.  Today is 4 weeks since we found out the horrific news that you no longer had a heartbeat.

One month.  It doesn't seem like very long, but in some ways, it feels like an eternity.

It feels like it was so long ago that I was pregnant with you.  My body is pretty much physically healed at this point, and that makes me sad.  It means that almost all traces of you are gone from me.  The spots that appeared under my arms are gone.  That pain in my pelvis is almost unnoticeable now, aside from a few creaks here and there.  My feet don't hurt anymore.  My stitches have dissolved, and I'm back in my pre-pregnancy clothes already.

It hurts to think that you were so fleeting.  Here and gone so fast. 

But not your spirit.

Luke's Skywalkers--OC Walk to Remember 2012
Yesterday was the OC Walk to Remember.  When I found out it was happening so soon after we lost you, I was kind of scared that we wouldn't be ready to participate in something like this.  But I'm so glad we did.  Your team was huge, Luke.  So many people walked for you, yesterday.  That picture doesn't even have everyone in it that was there for you.  They miss you too.  Sometimes I feel guilty for smiling, but I couldn't help it yesterday.  It was filled with tears AND smiles.  Hearing your name mentioned so often...that's all we ever wanted anyway.  You're still our son, even if you're not here.

I know my emotional healing has a long way to go.  But I felt your spirit there with us, yesterday, Luke.  Daddy and I still miss you so much.

    

Saturday, October 6, 2012

#captureyourgrief--Day 6

Day 6 is kind of a tough.  For the most part, I understand that it's hard to find the right words to say to someone that's...in our situation.  Death is hard enough to talk about.  An event as tragic as ours, is just beyond awkward to talk about.  It's traumatic.  And who likes to talk about giving birth?  But what about when that's all you have to talk about your baby?

Anyway, the day we were making Luke's funeral arrangements at the mortuary, we met with Pastor Rick.  Rick sat down with us, and we started talking.  Jeff said something along the lines of 'Maybe God needed Luke more than us.'  And Rick stopped Jeff and basically reiterated no, that's not true.  You needed Luke more than anyone.  This just shouldn't happen.

And he's right.  I would never wish this on anyone.  And there is no reason for cord accidents to happen to babies at 39 weeks.  It just does.  It's part of this mysterious, terrible, wonderful world we live in. 

So for today's "What Not to Say"?

It doesn't.  Not this. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

#captureyourgrief--Day 5

A Memorial

I feel like this is the greatest memorial Luke could've left behind--Helping others through the worst times of their lives. Tomorrow we're walking in the Orange County Walk to Remember in memory of our sweet boy, and the amount of money we've raised in his memory simultaneously saddens and overjoys me.

I wish that this wasn't a club that anyone had to join, but knowing there are groups like them out there trying to help soften the blow...to be able to contribute to that is a tiny ray of light in our lives.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

#captureyourgrief--Day 4

Your most treasured item

This is the hardest one to look at, because it holds everything from that day inside of it. His blanket, his bracelet, his hand and footprints, his pictures...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

#captureyourgrief--Day 3

A self-portrait after your loss...

Jeff and I, today, in Santa Barbara. On a trip we definitely hadn't planned on taking anytime soon.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

#captureyourgrief--Day 2

A self-portrait before your loss.

Here's the 3 of us before our world changed forever. Just 3 weeks before we lost you, Luke. We were so naive then...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Searching for your light

Today your mom posted a picture of the dawn for the first day of the Capture Your Grief photo project. It reminded me of this short poem I wrote in my journal on Sept. 19, just after I had gotten home to Portland.

Morning
Morning is the cruelest time
When I'm awakened from the comfort of dreams
Back into the nightmare of reality
And your name is on my tongue
But I have no voice to say it
Just the lump in my throat
When will I be able to see
Your light
With the dawn?

I still think of you every day upon waking, Luke, and I'm not sure this will ever change.

#captureyourgrief--Day 1

Something I wasn't really aware of before 3 weeks ago?  October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  It's not a club any woman ever wants to join, but the more time that passes, the more I truly believe that the more I talk about what happened to Luke, and the more I read about other parents' stories of similar experiences...I feel less alone.  I feel like...at least there are other people out there who understand how I feel...

And with that, I'm doing this: Capture Your Grief

So here we go...Day 1--October 1, 2012: Sunrise--Fullerton, California:


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sometimes I think you were too good to be true, Luke.

By far, you were the easiest pregnancy I've ever heard of.  Ever.  And everyone I knew agreed.  I couldn't believe how lucky I was that you were such a gift.  It started when we started trying to get pregnant.  It was practically unbelievable that we'd only been trying for a month when I took that positive test.  I'll admit, at first I was terrified.  I couldn't believe how lucky we were.  And how simple it was for us.  I'd gone into the process with a grain of salt, knowing that not everyone does this easily.  Especially at our ages.  I fully expected this to take a year--maybe longer.  Or not at all.  I was ready for whatever happened, though.  But when I realized how late I was, I knew it was time.  I was shocked.  And scared.  But so happy and excited.  When I told Daddy I needed to take a test...I made him look at it first.  I've never felt those feelings of excitement in my life.  I cried, but I was so happy. 

I hate that writing about this now is making me cry tears of sadness...

Those first few months weren't fabulous.  I was nauseous a lot.  A LOT.  I didn't like food.  It was insane.  I lost almost 12 pounds that first three months.  But I never threw up.  Not once.  I know people who had morning sickness their entire pregnancies.  They'd run to the bathroom all day.  Not me.  Sure, I had nausea.  And I couldn't eat pretty much anything.  But it wasn't that bad.  And it went by before I knew it.

And then there were the completely uneventful doctor appointments.  At our first ultrasound at 8 weeks, they found your heartbeat right away.  You were so tiny.  But your heartbeat was perfect.  And it always was--at every appointment.  The NT ultrasound was perfect too.  The tech had me drink some REAL coffee to wake you up though--cause you were facing a weird direction and she couldn't make you move to get your measurements, etc.  But everything was awesome.  And so it went.  Every appointment.  The doc declared that I was having the "most boring pregnancy ever!," which was a good thing, apparently.  I'd lost weight in the beginning, which was good for me, being a bit overweight to begin with.  I wasn't even blowing up like some people do.  It was perfect.

There was that silly gestational diabetes test that I freaked out about.  I failed the first one.  I'd eaten watermelon for breakfast like an idiot.  I convinced the doctor to let me take it again, and I failed AGAIN.  by like, 5 points.  So I had to take the 3-hour test.  It was torture, but in the end, it turned out I didn't even have gestational diabetes either.  Again, we were perfect.

Then there was the appointment that Friday before we lost you on Sunday.  It was perfect too.  I'd only gained 6 pounds over my starting weight.  The doctor put the doppler on my tummy, and yep, there you were again.  And we were so close.  SO CLOSE, Luke.  I was 1cm dilated already, and we were told you could be coming "any day now." 

Everything went perfectly.  And yet somehow, we still lost you. 

I think that's what makes this the hardest.  There was nothing that prepared us for this.  With a pregnancy that easy and that perfect...for something like this to happen at 39 weeks, when you should've just been with us, it's the most unbelievable thing in the world.  How?  Why?  How could there be NO signs?  How and when did you get so wrapped up in your cord?  Why couldn't it have waited until you were ready to come out?  You would've had a chance...

Even labor, after we found out we'd already lost you...you were perfect. I was so scared of actually giving birth, being a first time Mom, but in reality, it turned out to be nothing compared to the mental and emotional pain we were going through.  I was induced from 1cm.  I was given Cytotec, Pitocin, and an epidural--all things that I was scared of before going into this.  And yet honestly, it was nothing.  Nothing compared to losing you. 

I wish there was something that would've prepared us for this.  But at the same time, I just have to thank you, Luke.  For being so perfect to me while we were together.  You give me hope that  I can do this again.  Someday. 

I just wish you could be here when we get there. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

There are so many things I hope you know,  Luke.  Or come to know from wherever you are.

You were SO wanted.  So very wanted.

I know that when we first found out we were pregnant with you, I really wanted you to be a girl.  So much.  When I found out that you were a boy at that ultrasound, it took some adjustment for me to be excited.  For some reason I never saw myself having a boy as our first child.

I can't tell you how much that hurts me to think about now.  How stupid it was--to think that way.  You were a blessing.  Whatever you turned out to be.

So many people were waiting for your arrival.  Obviously, Daddy and me were the most excited.  But you have SO MANY people in your family, Luke, who couldn't wait to meet you.  Nana and Grandpa.  Nana was so excited to take care of you when I would go back to work.  Grandpa couldn't wait until you were able to play catch with him. Vovó couldn't wait to see your sweet face.  Grandpa Ken was excited all the way from Virginia.  Your Aunties...Ali, Lauren, and Lauryn...they couldn't WAIT to spoil you.  Everyone wanted to babysit you.  Uncle Chris couldn't wait to turn you into a Dodgers fan, and Uncle Andy would have taught you how to play guitar.  Uncle Pooter couldn't wait to have you as his permanent baby model--All he wanted to do was take adorable pictures of you.  And they would've been SO perfect, too.

And PJ was going to be your best friend.  Sure, she's a dog.  But she was finally getting used to seeing the stroller and your carseat and your toys laying around.

Mommy and Daddy's big extended families were waiting for you too.  And our friends.  And our work families.  When they say "It takes a village," I truly believe that your Daddy and me have that village.  And now all we're missing is you.

Literally the day before you left us, Daddy and I had finally breathed a sigh of relief--we were finally ready for you to come home.  Sure, we'd procrastinated a lot--but at almost 39 weeks, we finally made it.  And I was so glad you decided not to make an early appearance like so many other babies.  We'd gotten so much laundry done for you, and the rocker finally came in and we picked it up.  The car seats were installed in both of our cars.  I cleared out a space in the kitchen cabinet for your bottles, and I'd sanitized them already. The baby monitor was set up and we'd tested it out--it was so cool--we could watch you from our iphones.  We could watch you sleeping or giggling from wherever we were.

I had finally packed my bag for the hospital and loaded music on my ipod.  I had a nursing bra and pajamas, and the house was as  clean as it was going to be.  

I know it took me and your Daddy a little bit longer than most parents to be ready for you...I hope you didn't sense that.  Because by that Friday, we were there.  All we needed was you in our arms, and we'd be complete.

Instead, now we're left with empty arms and your empty room, and a gaping hole in our hearts.  And all  I can ask myself is "Why?"  Why did this happen to you?  To us?  To all of us?  Seeing so many other people with their babies hurts me so much.  I keep telling myself "It's not fair."  Somehow people have kids who are "accidents."  And they're fine.  This is the most unfair thing that's ever happened to me.  I remember when we were kids--We used to complain to our Mom and Dad that something wasn't fair.  And my Dad would always say "Life's not fair--You better get used to it."  Somehow...I don't think this is what he was thinking.

I was robbed.  I feel like you were stolen out of me.  You were stolen from your family.  We were robbed of the privilege of being your parents in this world.

I  know we'll always be your Mommy and Daddy.  But that doesn't take away the pain that we'll never get to know what kind of person you'd grow into.  That we'll never get to cuddle or hug you.  I'm so glad that we did get a chance to hold you at the hospital, even if it wasn't while your spirit was still with us.  It's the closest we'll ever get to you, and I hope you know how much that means to us.  I wish I could hug you every day...but until we meet again, those short cuddles will have to do.    

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A letter from your Aunt Ali


Yesterday, it was creamy oatmeal with butter on a cool, almost-fall morning.

The day before that, it was the sound of your Uncle Andy quietly playing guitar in the other room while I was working.

Today, it was the warm, sloppy morning kisses from Muffin, your furry Boston terrier cousin.

These are the kinds of things that catch me off-guard and break my heart a little more each day since you left us.

They're simple, everyday things that I never thought much about before, never paused over, never really appreciated as much as I should have. But now I think of you constantly, and these tiny facets of life overwhelm me as the things you never got to experience. This is incomprehensibly unfair.

When I notice these things, my sorrow bubbles up and often spills out of my eyes, and I feel a thick lump in my throat. Sometimes it's a wonder to me that I can continue standing when there is obviously a bowling ball in my chest that wasn't there before.

But underneath all that sadness, Luke, there's something else I didn't expect, and I know it's a gift from you.

A sense of peace.

The days after your death were the darkest our family has ever experienced. We all felt lost and desperate. Not only did we each feel a very personal loss of our son, grandson, nephew, but we also had to witness the terrible grief of the people we loved the most in the world. It was double-stuffed grief. I wished for Doc Brown to show up with his DeLorean and take us back to September 7, when your mom was at the doctor and you were simply, perfectly, alive! Maybe we could've warned someone, Luke, so that all of us could've experienced your birth the way we had imagined it instead of the way it turned out to be.

(Doc Brown, by the way, is a character from the popular '80s movie Back to the Future—he turned a funny-looking car into a time machine. I know you would've liked this movie, and your daddy would've bought you Converse sneakers like the ones the other main character, Marty McFly, wore. Those are your daddy's favorite shoes.)

There are no time machines outside of Hollywood movies, though. So we found ourselves stuck here in the present, with our hearts ripped out and our arms achingly empty and our minds completely incapable of believing what had happened to you. I am trying to put it into words but there's really no way, except maybe to say it was H-E-double hockey sticks.

I know you're probably wondering where the sense of peace comes in. Hang on; I'm getting there. In case you haven't noticed yet, your auntie is verbose.

A couple of days after your mom and dad came home from the hospital, I was driving over to their house in Grandma's old Caravan. It was about 100 degrees, and her car has no air conditioning, so I had the windows down and the hot Southern California air was blowing on my face. While sitting at a light, I was distracting myself by punching the radio station buttons, trying to find something decent to listen to. And on the third station I tried, I heard Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (aka Iz) strumming his ukulele and singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".


I couldn't believe I was hearing it at first. It's not a song that often gets played on the radio, in my experience. In fact, I can't recall ever hearing it on the radio before. It was like someone had just turned on the soundtrack to the movie of my life, and I knew instantly that I was meant to be sitting in the hot, old car at that moment hearing that song. It was like a big, warm hug from the universe. I finally felt permission to let go.

My stomach and heart had been in knots ever since I got the call about you on Sunday afternoon. It seemed each moment that followed brought a new trial that I just couldn't believe I would pass. I wanted to collapse and disappear, and yet I knew I had to be with my sister (your mommy). So there was the phone call to the airline, throwing clothes in a suitcase, frantically driving to the airport, saying good-bye to your uncle, going through security, getting on a plane. That part felt hard because it involved a lot of activity, but the two-hour plane ride was a million times harder because all I had to do was sit and think about you and what had happened and how everything was suddenly, painfully, different.

And that was only the beginning.

Then there was the hospital, and the heartbroken faces of everyone I love, and your mommy having to do something nobody should ever have to do in a just world. There were crying nurses and doctors, and a chaplain in his uniform, and finally you in your mommy's arms, perfect but still. And there were your daddy's eyes, which should have been filled with pride, but they were filled with tears instead. None of it seemed real, but it hurt for real, until it seemed I couldn't feel anything anymore.

But then Iz was singing about trouble melting like lemon drops, and even though nothing was okay, I suddenly knew that somehow, everything would be okay. I don't know how, and I don't know when. I just know that this grief-filled place is not the end, and I believe you're the reason this peaceful feeling washed over me.

No, there's no time machine so that we can go back and keep you from getting tangled up in your cord. There's no way to give you the life you should have had. There's no way to erase the pain your mommy and daddy, and all of us, will live with for the rest of our lives. There's no going anywhere but forward now, and forward sometimes feels like a big, black hole full of unknown monsters.

But maybe there is peace simply for the reason that the worst has happened, and we're still here. It feels like the peace that washes over the battlefield when the battle is done, or the stillness that fills the sky after an explosive thunderstorm, or the quiet that follows a great earthquake.   

This doesn't mean that there won't be aftershocks. I know we will feel those all the time, for a long time to come. We'll still cry for you every time we see something that reminds us of you. We'll think of you on holidays, when you should've been with us, and on regular days, when you really should've been with us. We'll wonder why, and we'll be afraid, and we'll long for ourselves the way we were before this happened, all full of hope and naïve trust in our charmed lives. We will be crazy people, because, as the pastor said, this is crazy-making stuff.

Still, I can't shake the feeling that you're just somewhere over the rainbow, and it's not so terribly far from where we are. And birds fly over the rainbow…so why, oh why, can't I?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Last night was the first night since you were born that I haven't spontaneously been awake at 5:23 am--the exact minute you were born.  Every day before today, I've woken up for no reason.  It's impossible for me to wake up at ANY given time, usually.  But you did something to me.  It's like your daily reminder--that you're still here, somehow.  The first few days, I woke up, looked at the clock, and started bawling.  It's gotten easier.  The night before last, I woke up, looked at the clock, and just kissed Daddy on the shoulder and went back to sleep. 

I miss you.  I should have been waking up in the middle of the night to feed you--not to cry at the remembrance of you.

But I already feel like you're fading away from me.  And in a way, that's the last thing I want.