Sunday, July 21, 2013

Missed out

And with my last entry, not even 24 hours later, I was welcoming my brother and his wife's baby into the world.  Within 48 hours, 2 little lives came into my life--into our family.

I will say that being at the hospital with my brother was a breath of fresh air.  The last time I was there, it was all bad--from start to finish.  It started with fear that something was wrong with Luke.  And ended with me being wheeled out the back door without my baby. 

This time was different.  There were no fears.  Just happiness.  Excitement.  Crying babies, and happy parents.

The flip side is so much better than the side I experienced the first time.  I have hope that this can be our side in December.

But this past week has just been hard.  Everything has changed for the two people in my family I'm closest to.  My siblings are entering parenthood.  Nearly simultaneously.  And watching it unfold is hard on me.

Because it's all that I've missed out on this past 10.5 months.  Everything that was supposed to happen with us and Luke, but didn't.

I don't hold it against them. They're doing what any new parent does.  Exactly what I would have done in September if things had turned out differently.

They're sort of absent from the world--adjusting.  Getting used to feedings and new sleep schedules.  Cries in the middle of the night and wanting to take a shower.

Continued congratulations and pictures and comments from friends who can so identify with you as a new mom.

I never got that.  No one I knew identified with me.  No one should have to.

If they weren't my siblings and the people I'm closest to in this world, I would have hidden them on social media--like I've done to others these past 10 months.  But I can't do that to them.  Because this is my niece and nephew they're talking about.  I have a stake in their lives.  I want to see what's happening with these two-they mean a lot to me--a lot more than other people who have had kids since Luke.

This was the part that I feared the most--the aftermath of their pregnancies.  The part where our experiences no longer crossed paths.  And it sucks.  I could keep up with their pregnancies--I made it all the way to the end, just like they did.  But now, they're experiencing a whole new set of events and emotions that I never got to experience.

I don't know how much worse this would be, if I weren't actually pregnant right now myself.  I feel that it might have been torture.  I don't know, but I'm relieved that it's not.  I actually have something--for us--to look forward to.  Thank God.  I know that I'm not far behind.

But I should have been ahead of them.  And I'm just sad.  Mostly just sad for myself.  Not mad at them.  Just sad that this happened to me and Jeff and Luke.  

The good that the sight of those two babies brings me happiness.  I wasn't sure how that would go, but that's another relief--that I don't feel bitterness toward them for being born.

My brother and his wife named their son Ethan.  Ethan Luke.  When my brother told us on Sunday that it was a boy, I threw a party inside, because I knew that was what they were going to name him if he turned out to be a boy...and a really big part of me wanted to know for sure that Luke's name would have life.  And now it does. 

And with all of this swirling around so quickly--I think it IS doing something to me that makes me more confident about this baby.  That Bowie WILL be born and be fine.

Which is more than I could ask for right now.

We find out if Bowie's a boy or a girl on Wednesday.  We're in the middle of packing up our house to move the last week of this month.  So much is changing.  But right now, I'm looking forward to all of it.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The things I wish I didn't know firsthand

I wish I didn't know that you can go through 9 months of pregnancy...with ZERO problems...and STILL lose your baby.

What it felt like to wake up panicked because I "just had a feeling" that something was wrong.

What it felt like to be induced for labor.  Or have an epidural.  Knowing that there would be no crying baby to greet me at the end.

The shivers that come when you're told that your baby has no heartbeat.

I wish I didn't know that they post a picture of a falling leaf on your door at the hospital when your baby has died.

How to come to terms with the fact that all the hopes and dreams and plans for the future would just...need to be erased.  

What it felt like to get wheeled out the back door of the maternity floor so as not to see "happy people."

What it was like LEAVING that hospital without my baby.

The ins and outs of mortuaries and arranging funeral services.

The pain of having to tell everyone I knew that we lost him. What it feels like to not get to announce something that everyone seemingly sees as a given when they find out you're pregnant and make it to the end. 

What it feels like to carry a full-term baby...that had already died.

I wish I didn't know what death felt like inside of me.  Or to be haunted by the memories of putting our hopes and dreams for you aside.

I wish I was new.  Unscathed.  Naive.  I wish my innocence wasn't shattered last September. 

I wish my first experience of motherhood was like seemingly everyone else's:  Filled with balloons and crying babies and sleepless nights and pictures and happy posts on Facebook and growing up and a lifetime of memories.

I was robbed of all of that.

And now I'm going to go through this again.  With a different perspective.  One that's deeply rooted in fear, but also deeply rooted in optimism that this time HAS to be different.  Because lightning can't strike you twice.  Because what happened to Luke was against almost all odds.


I wrote this about a month ago.  And everything I wrote just stung my heart even more today.

Today, your first cousin was born, Luke.  Madeline Ainsleigh.  She is perfect.  Beautiful.  And best of all, alive.

When Ali texted me late Thursday night to tell me she was going into labor, I felt the entire gamut of emotions.  Fear.  Happiness.  Pity for myself. Tears.

Yesterday I made it through the day with a rock in my stomach.  Waiting.  Waiting for my sister to get the ending that everyone should get for their pregnancy.  Deep down I knew everything would be fine.  They rarely aren't fine, right?  But then I felt that extreme loneliness that you feel when you join this shitty club.

Luke was still gone.  And Ali would get to have her first baby. And she did.  And all was well with the world.  Thank God.

I wish that the rest of my life wouldn't be tainted by this sadness that I have for what happened to me.  Today when I heard the news that Madeline was born and she was fine and healthy, I can't explain the relief that ran through my veins.  Happiness for another niece to spoil. Relief that she was alive and born without problems.  Relief that Ali was fine.  Relief that it was over for now.  Relief that...Ali didn't have to go through what I went through.

I'm going to go through this all over again sometime this coming week when my brother and Lauren have their baby.

And then again, when I have Bowie in December.  Except then, I'll be in the driver's seat again.  

The loneliness...struck again today.  I hadn't felt it in awhile, but there it was.  I thought back to the day we came home from the hospital after leaving Luke.  Led through the back halls of the hospital.  Emptyhanded.  Empty-carseated.  I remember that feeling of extreme isolation.  That no one I knew--Not a single person--Understood what it felt like to deliver their full-term baby after they already knew he was gone.

I know I'm in a different place now.  I've found my people.  You're all here.  You live all over the place.  My therapist is even one of them.  And I can't describe what a relief THAT is.  This isolation is one that you don't want to be in...and you don't want OTHERS to be in.    But you want nothing else but to NOT be the only one that knows these feelings.  These feelings are so thick, they can choke you on a daily basis.  There's no control over them, because they're maternal and wild, and so ingrained in human beings.

And in some ways, I don't think anyone can understand just how thick these feelings are until they are the ones giving birth.  Mothers.

We take life for granted.  One of my sister's friends who was at the hospital in Portland with them last night, texted with me, and she told me that while she was sitting there in the waiting room, a group of teenage boys walked into the waiting room.  And one was a baby's daddy who was being delivered as well.  He wasn't in the delivery room with his baby.  She told me she heard him saying that his life was over.  Everything was over for him.

And it made both of us so angry.  Life isn't fair.  There was a boy--A literal boy--Who probably got to see his baby and hear that baby cry last night.  He wasn't ready to be a father.  He clearly doesn't even understand what he's just been given.

It's not fair that he got to meet his baby and we didn't.

But I hope he one day understands just how lucky he is.  And I hope he never has to understand the pain of losing that child--no matter how much he thinks his life may be over because of it.

 Life's a beautiful thing
And it's a gift
And life's a beautiful thing

Oh don't waste it, doll

Thank you Ali and Madeline...for showing me, again, that babies can be born fine and healthy.  I needed that affirmation more than you knew.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

10 Months? How?

The other day in therapy, it really hit me how close to the 1-year mark we are, Luke. 

Almost one entire year without you.  Almost one entire year that your existence has been missed.  Greatly.

10 months feels like an eternity.  And at the same time, these past ten months were crystal clear in my memory.  It's like my brain is working overtime trying to magnify and remember the short, fleeting moments we got to spend together. Because the farther away we get from September 10, 2012, the less discernible those moments will become.  And so I feel like I have to do all I can to remember.  To keep those memories for the rest of my lifetime.

These next few weeks are going to be an emotional rollercoaster for me.  Both of your cousins are due to be born soon.  I should be chasing a 10-month old who's probably crawling around, but instead, I will be waiting for their calls...packing up our condo to move...and wishing that you could be here to meet them and experience all of this change that's happening in our lives.  But it's going to be without you.  Your cousins will never get to meet you or know who you are.

But that's not going to stop us from celebrating you.  I want to make you a first birthday cake in September. Like I would have if you were here.  

Your first birthday is going to be here before I know it. I'm not making plans about how I'll feel, but if there's one thing I know, it's that this pain in my heart is never going to go away. It will dull, I'm sure.  It already has. But it will never be gone. And I don't want it to be. 

I miss you. Even knowing that we'll have another baby soon doesn't change that. I'll always miss you. You can count on that. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

All the things we'd hoped for, for you in life, Luke...

But were shattered by your death?

We get to pass them onto someone else.

You're going to be a big brother.  Sometime this December.

I know that some people might think that by having another baby, we'll be "fixed". That our hearts will be mended. Because we'll finally walk away with a living breathing baby. 

But this doesn't fix anything. The hole you left in our lives and hearts will always be in my heart. We'll always be missing a child at the dinner table. My "oldest" child in this world will not truly be my oldest child, and from an outsider's perspective, their point of view will always be incorrect.

The questions have already started this time around...

"Is this your first?!  No?  How old is your oldest?!" (This has already happened)

I've told myself that I will not lie.  I've already had to put on the anti-liar hat and say things to complete strangers that I'm sure were not the careless answers they expected to this question.  This child is our second, and you were our first, Luke.  And you always will be.  Nothing can change that order.  I think about just how much we're missing by not having you here with us.  I think about the fact that I'm the oldest sibling in my family. What would my family be like if I weren't still here?

It's things like that that are hard to grasp.  We'll never know what we're missing about you.

But this little baby...has already given me hope.  The worst has already happened with you.  It can't possibly happen again.

So we'll get to have a new version of our family.  I wish you could be here with us at Christmas when we welcome this little one...but I know you'll be watching to make sure everything goes right.

In a way, that's a comfort--I have you, up watch over me--to make sure this goes right.

I wish we had years and years to grieve your death.  But our time here is short, and you've shown me that.  But you've also made me a Mom.  And I guess it makes me special that I'll have one angel watching over me, and I'll have one here with me on Earth.

Now all we have to do is get through the next 5ish months.

I've been writing a few entries before we wanted to let this out of the bag...So those will probably be up in the next few days...

Baby's nickname is Bowie.  As in...Rainbow Baby.  But connects to Luke.  My sister and I nicknamed Luke Jemaine in the womb.  From Flight of the Conchords--mostly because we thought it was an awesome name to never use.  But Jemaine appears as David Bowie in a dream that Bret has....and, it all just seemed to fit...So until this one has a real name...It's sticking.