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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cousins

It's taken me awhile to bring up the subject on here, Luke, but I think I can finally get the words out.

You're going to be a big cousin to two little babies soon. This July.

That's right, your Auntie Ali and Auntie Lauren are both pregnant. Yesterday, we found out that Auntie Ali and Uncle Andy will be having a baby girl. We won't be finding out what your Auntie Lauren and Uncle Pooter are having until that cousin actually arrives, since they're going old-school and waiting it out.

It's hard, obviously, looking forward to more nieces/nephews while I'm still missing you the most. It makes me so sad that these two little cousins will never grow up to know their oldest cousin, Luke.

I wasn't planning on bawling my way through the news that my sister and brother were both going to have kids--at nearly the same exact time, but that's what happened when I found this out last November. And I wasn't counting on the fact that I would be the oldest sibling...but also the one with a dead child. No one prepares themselves for that in life.

The first thing that crossed my mind when I found out they were both pregnant...How could this possibly get any worse? Honestly? BOTH of them...I was told they were both pregnant in the same WEEK. Due within 9 days of each other. I could barely stand the sight of a pregnant woman then...But now I was going to have to see my own sister (my best friend for LIFE) and sister-in-law BE those women? I was sitting there...grieving you, and somehow, I was supposed to find it within myself to be happy to be an Aunt again? It was absolutely NOT the way I'd always imagined being told I was going to be an Auntie by either of them. I felt like everything was ruined. Not only had we lost you...but we'd lost the ability to feel the way we SHOULD have felt when we were told the news. I felt like I'd ruined this for my Mom and Dad...that THEY had to be told this so soon after losing their first and only grandchild. It was bittersweet, to say the least.

It was like you were pulling some sort of strings from wherever you are...to tell me that the world wouldn't stop, and that I had to pick myself up and carry on, somehow, without you.

When I first found out the news back in November, everything was so fresh. I couldn't comprehend the idea that more children were going to be coming into our family so soon after you. I won't lie--I thought for sure this would drive me to the point of insanity. This would have been THEE most ideal situation, really, in any other family's reality. Cousins so close in age? A complete and total blessing--they could be best friends. But in our reality? How did it even make sense? Especially so soon after losing you? I thought the world was stopping. And it turns out it wasn't.

I went through the entire gamut of emotions in those two months after losing you, Luke. Anger. Confusion. Fear. Jealousy. Sadness. Happiness. Bitterness. Betrayal. I couldn't believe that I found myself feeling betrayed by my siblings. The two people I've spent the most time with in this world...were moving on without me. I'm the oldest. I was supposed to be the one that had a child first--who could show them the ropes of parenthood. They could have learned from us, Luke. The silly mistakes we would make, being first-time parents.

But that was not to be.

Just revisiting these feelings, today, is making me feel sad again. Sometimes I'm grateful that I went through all of that shock so quickly. Because I got it over with. It was done, the next babies were coming, and we'd all have to find it within ourselves to somehow keep going.

I hate the fact that there will come an end to all of the comparisons that I've been able to have with Ali and Lauren to this point. And the thing is...I ENJOY sharing with them. It makes me feel that your existence is validated, somehow. I can share with them all of my experiences about being pregnant. About what the first, second, and third trimesters felt like. I can give them all the information I researched about baby products and strollers and car seats. I can even share with them my experiences of labor, and actually giving birth to a child. But that's where it stops.

After the birth of their children, that's where our shared experiences will end. Because their children will come into the world crying and full of life, and you didn't, Luke. They will become parents to a child in this world...and we have still yet to have that. I will have nothing to share or compare. We're left with your urn inside your teddy bear and your empty room and they'll be sleep-deprived and overwhelmed by their living, breathing babies.

We wanted to have a family, Luke. And now everyone else is getting to have theirs, but we still aren't complete. I think that's what hurts the most. The jealousy. I don't want it. But for them to get to have this...and not us? When we were supposed to already have you? It's hard not to be jealous. It really really is.

I think the most apparent thing I felt when I heard this news back in November was that I felt left out. And in a way, I still do. Because they have all their hopes and dreams for their children to still look forward to. But for almost 6 months, we've been working on putting our hopes and dreams for you to rest.

If there's one thing I know, it's that we're not giving up on having a family someday. You'll always be a part of it, though, Luke. And as much as I wish you could be here, I know that I don't want to keep feeling this feeling of being left out and jealous for the rest of our lives. I want to know what it's like to be a parent to a living child. I know I'll be trying to figure out how to be a parent to you for the rest of my life, but I want the other side of that as well. Any sibling or cousin you ever have will know about you. You will never be someone whose memory we sweep under the rug to forget about. Even if you never breathed a breath on this Earth.

Maybe these two babies are going to be born into our family so that I can see for myself--that babies ARE meant to be born. To give me hope and maybe confidence that what happened to us ISN'T how this is supposed to go.

It's not fair that this is the way things have to be. So so so so not fair. But I feel like if I can't change it, I'm at least getting closer to figuring out how to live with this. Because the future is coming whether I want it to or not.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sharing is Caring

First things first, I'm sure that many of you babloss mamas saw the call for this on many email lists/Facebook feeds you may be subscribed to, but if you'd like to participate in a perinatal loss study, please read below:
"Have you experienced perinatal loss (loss of a baby shortly before or after birth) within the past year? Do you know a woman who has experienced perinatal loss within the past year?
New RESEARCH Opportunity - posted on behalf of Jennifer Huberty, PhD - an ASAP member...... pelase consider participating in this important study.....

We are looking for women who have experienced perinatal loss to participate in an interview related to health and physical activity behaviors. If you do not reside in Omaha, NE you can participate over the phone. To participate in the study please contact
Dr. Jennifer Huberty, PhD at jennifer.huberty@asu.edu 602-827-2456 or Katherine Rolfsmeyer at info@befitminded.com"
I'm finding that lately, I feel like it's all I can do to talk about my experience. About Luke. To make him matter. And amazingly, lately, it doesn't bring me to tears. Last weekend, we went to get massages at a local day spa. We'd had a gift certificate there for quite some time, and we finally decided to use it for some fancy massages. I was pretty excited. When I made the reservation, I didn't really care if I got a female or male masseuse--whoever's available, I said.

So of course, Jeff and I get taken away to our separate massage rooms, and I meet my massage therapist. She seems nice enough. We start chatting, and we pass by Jeff and his lady in the hallway. She asks if that's my husband, and I say yes. Then she tells me he's cute. HA!

So we get to our room, and we start chatting. It's funny how some people are very chatty during a massage, and others aren't. I think I tend to project an air of "please talk to me," because it's really what people tend to do when I'm in this situation. I really don't mind, but this time was interesting.

She asks me if we have any children, right off the bat.

This girl was younger--Certainly much younger than me and Jeff. But I made the decision that I'd answer this question from now on with "Well, it's complicated." Because if anything, that's what our situation is.

I told her about Luke. And I didn't cry. She saw my tattoo, and said it was amazing. And then she told me that she had a miscarriage last year. It was only about 9 weeks, she said, but she's still devastated by it. She tells me that she's still struggling with it, and that her husband's parents went out of their way to blame it on her for happening. She said it was a cultural thing...

My heart broke for her. I'm so lucky, in that I honestly and truly have NEVER been made to feel guilty for what happened to Luke. If anything, I projected guilt onto myself at first...but it never came from anyone else. And I can imagine that just making the situation twice as heavy.

Maybe that's why I feel like I've reached a sort of healing in what seems like such a short amount of time? I don't know. It's probably a combination of my surroundings and my general outlook on life. But I'm so glad things weren't made even harder than they should be by people who should have no say in how this feels.

We chatted a lot about what it's like, losing a child. I'm hoping it was therapeutic for her, because it was for me. When I left, I left her a note in the tip envelope, to remind her to check out the OC Walk to Remember's website. For support and information about participating in the walk itself in October.

I hope we end up seeing her at the walk in October. I wish nobody new ever had to join our cause. But I hope she shows up, at least to share a day with people who understand.

Dear Finley



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tax Man

Last Monday night, we got our taxes done.

We've been getting them done by the same guy for a few years now, and we really like him. He's the type of guy that you can sit and talk with and feel like you've been friends for years, but you know, he also does our taxes. We'd probably be friends with him outside of the situation if the right opportunity presented itself.

Anyway.

Last year at tax time, I was pregnant. About 3 months, to be exact. I remember discussing with him how this year would be sweet, because we'd get to take another deduction for our baby! He was pretty excited about it himself, being a tax guy.

This year was totally not as we expected, obviously.

Both of us went to the appointment, which probably wouldn't have been the case had Luke been alive. I'm not sure if he'd made a note in our file about changes for next year or not, but he didn't mention anything at first. Then we inevitably came to the part of the meeting where we discussed our disability pay for the year--whether there was anything we needed to do? I took my full maternity leave, so my W2 was missing a substantial chunk of my pay for the year, which dropped my reported income considerably. We were also sort of confused about Jeff's claim...And oh yeah, are therapy bills tax deductible in any way?

So all of that led up to the inevitable part where we filled him in on what happened in September.

Life presents strange opportunities, sometimes. And the look on his face when we told him what happened was not really what I expected. He seemed to take it pretty personal. And then he told us why. This happened very recently to one of his friends...Nearly the same exact scenario. And it's been hard, because he didn't know what to say or how to act or what to do for them. And then he flat out asked us what he should do, because he's been struggling with it.

First, the fact that he cared so much about doing the right thing at all struck me. Most people blurt out the same tired cliches over and over when they hear someone died. "He's in a better place." "God needed another angel." "Everything happens for a reason." I know in the end...they're all just trying to make you feel better. But the reality is...nothing will make this feel better. All of those thoughts are just cliches to TRY and make us feel better. But they're just words.

I told him that the worst thing he could do is avoid them. And maybe the best thing to say is just "I'm so sorry this is happening to you." I'm not an overly religious person, and it bothers me when people play the religious card in death. The bottom line is that life equals death, in the end. We're humans, and that's all there is to it. There is no rhyme or reason to the order in which these things happen.

I told him to really, honestly, try not to make any discussion with them be about how he feels. Inflicting your thoughts and beliefs onto them...at this time of incredible pain, is mostly just self-serving, so don't make it about you. I've now been the shoulder that people cry on--ABOUT US--a few times, and I can't tell you how awkward that can feel. Sometimes I feel like joining them. But then it also angers me that I'm having to be strong for them. It's my life they're crying about...and I'm the one getting cried on?

I told him to try not to be afraid to talk to them about their child. Their child was real, just like Luke. And bringing them up doesn't make us sad...because we're already sad. That part is forever. They're at the forefront of our minds 24/7. There's no "bringing them up" because they're already there--a constant. So don't feel like you mentioning them is going to make us hurt. That part is already done.

Getting all of this out--to someone that genuinely needed the guidance--felt so good. I hate that we're getting asked for advice in this scenario, but if our experience can help someone be a better friend, or family member, or person, then I'm all in. All in. Because grief isn't spoken about enough. It's something people sweep under the rug...trying to avoid the inevitable pain that already exists in our hearts.

But it never really goes away. It just becomes a part of our existence. Luke will always be a part of me, and to share his story with others gives him meaning...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

5 Months

I ain't afraid of hurt
I've had so much it feels
just like normal to me now...


Normal. It's different now. It's been different for 5 months now.

I miss being pregnant with you, Luke. I've been feeling a lot of phantom kicks lately, and it's weird. I miss being happy and looking forward to all the changes that you would bring to our lives. I miss the naive optimism I had about how things would turn out for us. I miss being a normal person that looked at pregnancy as a happy, exciting, fun time. I miss those times when my biggest fear was having to take the 3-hour blood test for gestational diabetes.

I miss looking forward to your future. I miss being able to read back through my past journal entries without feeling like I'm missing something. It's like I spent the past year preparing for nothing. I know I was doing what any Mom does...but to have done all of that...for nothing? Hurts.

I miss my life before this neverending sense of underlying sadness and heartbreak crept in. It's forever.

I feel so jaded. We've experienced the worst thing a parent can experience. But we have so much more life to live.

I just want something to look forward to. To be excited about. I wish I could be excited about you turning 5 months old today, but I can't. Today I'm wistful. For the life that we should have had. On the outside, I feel mostly normal. But I'm different. You're missing.

5 months seems like so long...and yet completely not. Missing you today, my sweet boy.