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 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.