Saturday, November 30, 2013

Nine more days.

In nine more days, Elias will have been gone for three years.  I don't even know what to say.  Most of the world thinks I should "be over it" already.  But what I've found is that there are a handful of really incredible people, loss AND non-loss people, who fully support my continued need to remember and honor my first born son.  The rest?  Well, there's just no room for them in my life anymore.  I've filled it with supportive, loving, and inspirational people.

I miss this space - blogging and keeping up with others' blogs.  But some of my favorite loss bloggers have gone on to shutting their blogs down as their journeys have evolved.  (Or they aren't blogging about loss anymore but about rainbow babies or crafts or recipes, etc. etc.) 
I see myself following suit eventually (not blogging about rainbows and crafts but just shutting it down, as I share plenty on other social media outlets anyway!). 

But I do have to say I will miss some of the connections I've made here where people aren't on Facebook for me to stay connected with.

At any rate.

I don't think I'm ready to process three years yet. 

How do I get there?

I've been so slammed at work and with trying to keep everything in balance between family, kids, marriage, friendships, hobbies.  I just hope Elias knows how much I love him, that even if I'm not here in this space writing and reading that I AM thinking about him, every single day. 

My forever baby.

My first born son.

I still want to find more to do in his honor.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Day 30: Growth

After experiencing such unimaginable heartbreak and trauma, I feel that I more intensely feel sadness. I feel more connected to the pain of the world. I've felt for others and have been genuinely moved by their stories in ways I never imagined would be possible. Inversely, I also feel like I am able to more fully experience joy, laughter, and fulfillment in ways I never was able to before this grief broke me wide open. It's like there's this emotional spectrum, and now that I've traveled so far down the dark end, I'm able to travel just as far in the direction of lightness.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Day 29: Healing

I've been at this grief thing for nearly three years, and it's a journey that I don't think ever completely goes away. However, that doesn't mean that healing doesn't exist. I am still discovering what is most healing for me along this path. My incredible children have been so healing for me in many ways. My family, my friends, my career, they've all been healing in different ways. Photography has been healing. Writing has been healing. Reading others' stories, one by one, has been healing. I can't possibly capture all of these things with a photograph, so I'm sharing a collection of cards, jewelry, ornaments, and statues I've received from women in this community (mostly through the mail but some given in person). Not everything I've been given by others in the community fits on this shelf (so if you've sent me a gift you don't see here, please don't be offended!), but these tokens of friendship and support remind me of what has been most healing for me.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Day 28: Special Place

This is a shelf dedicated to Elias and some of the gifts we've received in his memory. He has his place in our home just as any other family member does. I consider it a sacred space and often feel called to pray or meditate near it.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Day 27: Signs

Most of you know that Elias's name and a butterfly are engraved in stone in his memory at the Children's Memorial Butterfly Garden. The balloon release there this June 2013 was the first formal remembrance event we attended for Elias after William's birth. I was so grateful to have Evelyn and William with us, to have them both healthy and safe, and yet I missed Elias so much and hoped he knew that William was NOT his replacement, that no child could ever replace another. It was a day of such conflicting emotions that I wasn't sure how to feel, and yet it was a very special day in that I could "parent" all of my children.
I said a little prayer to Elias and hoped it would reach him, hoped he knew how much we love him, hoped he was happy that William was there with us. It felt like a million little prayers, some thought, some felt, some spoken, being lifted up to him. As we released balloons, looking up we noticed something truly spectacular - a twenty-two degree halo rainbow ring around the sun. I had never seen anything like it before.
They say your child will "wink" at you from beyond, and I have had many little moments like that, but this one was absolutely incredible. What more perfect sign than a rainbow to represent Elias's love and acceptance for his little brother, our "rainbow baby" (a baby after a loss) William? To have that rainbow in an unbroken circle, a perfect ring to represent eternity? It was a very moving experience and was the catalyst for change in my heart: I would no longer wonder how Elias felt about his baby brother, because I knew to my very core that there was just pure love.


 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Day 26: Community

No words can adequately express what the babylost community means to me. I have befriended women and men from many corners of the world through my grief. I have never before felt so much a part of a global community of people as I do now, and although it is full of heartbreak, it is just as full of love.
They have comforted and inspired me.
They have opened my eyes, my mind, my heart.
Some of them only briefly touched base, shared stories and parted ways, while others struck a chord that ran deeper. Over the course of time, friendships forged from pain evolved into something even more meaningful, fulfilling, and beautiful.

Attached is a meditation painting I received in the mail from another babylostmama. Every time I see it on the shelf I am reminded of this awe-inspiring community.
#captureyourgrief
 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day 24: Artwork

Here are just a few of the many paintings, drawings, and ornaments that other people have made in honor of our son. I will forever be grateful to have these in remembrance of him.
 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Days 21: Honor & 22: Words (catching up)


#captureyourgrief

Day 23: Tattoo

I haven't been posting Carly Marie's daily photo challenge here consistently.  It's too much to post both here AND on Facebook.  The response I've been getting on Facebook has been overwhelming, whereas no one really comments here lately.  On Facebook I am also able to filter more who is looking at my posts and pictures, whereas this is public, so I don't feel as free to share certain photos.  I don't like posting photos of myself and others in my life. 
But I will post what I can.
I kind of see myself phasing this blog out, maybe.  I don't know.  I'm torn, because sometimes I really need this space.  Other days, I feel annoyed that it is a public blog that anybody can view, that people can view who shouldn't be viewing, people I have cut out of my life due to their lack of support and friendship in real life.  If they're cut out of my "in real life" I don't really want them having access to personal things like my grief, which I share via this blog.  A private blog doesn't seem to be the answer, but maybe at some point it will be.  I have whittled my friend list down on Facebook and feel so much more comfortable sharing there than I ever used to, and the ongoing support there is incredible. 
So anyway.  Props to those of you who know me and have shown me support there, where I can more freely share.
In the meantime, while I still haven't decided what to do with this space, if anything different, here's the #captureyourgrief photo challenge for today.  My husband's tattoo in honor of our first born.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Day 20: Hope

(What do you hope for others who join this community in the future?)
To make a point to connect with others, to avoid feeling targeted by the universe, to not fear their emotions but to move through them, to know that this isn't their entire identity, to identify and embrace the gifts their child left behind, to recognize the transformative power of grief, to never lose hope for tomorrow.  #captureyourgrief

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Day 19: Support

Yesterday I spoke of betrayal.
Today I reflect on the AMAZING level of support I've received from the people closest to me. My family has been SO supportive, even some of my extended family members, in terms of my grief ...and also letting us know that Elias will always be loved and acknowledged as a family member through remembrance. Participating in walks, lighting candles, writing little notes, giving gifts in his honor around holidays - Elias must feel so loved as a witness to these gestures.
My true friends have been INCREDIBLE. I will NEVER forget those of you brave souls who visited my home in the early weeks after our loss. Those of you who were in awe of Evelyn, held her in your arms, and then held me as I cried. Never in a million years did I imagine that people who haven't known this pain could be so supportive, but they were, and they still are. I had heard that after you lose a child, your friends stop being able to relate to you, and you gravitate to only talking to people who have also suffered the same loss. That is simply FALSE. My non-loss friends have lifted me up and reminded me of my dynamic identity. They've helped me be able to laugh again (without guilt!), to celebrate life, and to find myself. Some of them have known me for years, others only came into my life recently, but together they've woven a gorgeous blanket of support around me that I'm thankful for every day. I wish I had a photo to post of you all.
My husband has been my rock and constant support. We all know that people grieve differently, but it's about mutual respect for one another's mode of grieving. It's okay to go different ways, as long as you end up finding each other again. I'm sure I wasn't an easy person to be around, especially during that time of just waiting for William to arrive. I luckily had two extra weeks of leave due to Christmas break which allowed me to go in for check ups as often as I needed to, and my incredible OB saw me even when the office was closed.  I can't thank him enough for his support!

I am skipping the pic for this one, because I don't have a photo of all these incredible people in one place, plus I don't want to plaster photos of other people all over a public blog.  : - ) 
It still feels good to share my thoughts.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Day 18: Release

Day 18: Release
I considered skipping this one. It's just so personal. But then that defeats the entire point of spreading awareness and understanding, not to mention how healing this project has been for me. I've made it this far; I can't stop here. This isn't SUPPOSED to be *easy*.
This photo was taken six months after Elias passed away, and I was still very much in raw grief mode. Today, I... think about how many things I've worked on since then, how much I've "released" what was weighing so heavily on my heart in this picture. Like so many balloons into the sky, I've let go of most of my anger, guilt, and "what-ifs" (I think I'm entitled to still have my moments).
But I've still got some work to do. What I'm struggling with most at this point in time is letting go of my anger, hurt, and disappointment with people I thought would be there for me beyond the first month or so after our loss. The past two and a half years have shown me so much about the people around me, and I've lost friends I thought would never leave my side, people I was there for during the traumatic losses of their friends and parents, people who said I should be over it already while the grief was still very fresh, people who judged my parenting in my grief, people I opened up to who used my sincerity against me, people I considered "forever friends" who simply stopped talking to me altogether as if I had some contagious disease, people who said they were giving me "privacy" to justify their absence only to never return.
I am in the middle of the process of not only letting go of those friendships but letting go of the toxic elements those people have leaked into my mind and my heart. Letting go of people is one thing, undoing the damage they've done is another. What has helped me is focusing on the friends I've grown closer to these past two and a half years, new friendships I've forged, and how lucky I am to have had some people by my side this entire time.
But that's a post for another day.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Day 17: Time


This is how long it's been since Elias passed away, which is exactly how old Evelyn is. There's no "losing track" over time when you have a surviving twin, and yet we are so incredibly grateful to have her with us. She's what pulled us through. We celebrate the unique individual she is but of course at times wonder what it would have been like to have them both here to raise together. Every day I'm thankful for the gift of this sweet girl, our daughter, the Tiny Titan.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Day 16: Seasons

This is the time of year where I start to feel really overwhelmed. We have the onslaught of fall Halloween festivities followed by Thanksgiving (which we host), and then we are remembering Elias and celebrating Evelyn, quickly followed by Christmas festivities, New Year's, and now William's birthday (and then my birthday). I try to slow down and cherish all of it as much as possible, snap photos, breathe it all in. Holidays in general, not just the fall and winter ones, are much more meaningful for me now. I think that is part of being a mom. You see the holidays as a child all over again. I love celebrating the holidays with my children and finding creative ways to honor Elias throughout them.  #captureyourgrief
 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Day 14: Family

Had to blur this a bit, as I am not totally comfortable photo-sharing on a public blog.  But in keeping with participating in #captureyourgrief, here's a family pic of us with our first born forever in our hearts.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Day 13: Book

In the early days of raw grief, this book was a great comfort, as its author had been through loss and captured the experiences so well.  Not just the actual experience of loss but the aftermath and the dark humor that comes with it all.  Loved this book.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Day 12: Article

As a Local Leader for this film, the first major film I know of that directly centers around stillbirth, I feel inspired to share the story of its filmmaker, because he is such an incredible gift to the loss community.  Helping to lift the taboo of speaking about child loss, one step at a time.  This is one pretty huge step, this film.  Reading his experience resonated with me on many levels, and I appreciated the male perspective which is so often silenced.

Day 11: Emotional Triggers

The space where I imagine he would be.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Day 9: Music and Day 10: Beliefs

I keep this ornament on Elias's remembrance shelf.  It's from my dear friend and fellow twinlostmama.  My faith has been tested and shaken but hasn't been shattered.
 
Okay so I don't particularly like this group or even this genre of music, but in the early days of raw grief while still in the hospital recovering from my csection, this song was in my head for some reason. And so it's come ...to be associated with the boy I'll always be missing. I didn't know all the lyrics at the time, but this kept running through my head, "'Cause I want nothing more than to sit outside heaven's door and listen to you breathing". I just wanted to know that my boy was okay.
The whole song isn't really relevant, but it can also be interpreted as a song about searching for God in the midst of darkness, which I can certainly relate to as well.

Breathing

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Day 8: Color

Elias shares his colors with his siblings, but I'm okay with that.
The twins' nursery was decorated in earth tones, a gender-neutral woodland theme (where Evelyn derived her interest in owls). The bottom photo is a closeup o...f a quilt that was kept over his crib.
His birth stone (along with his sister's, of course) is turquoise, so that color remains very meaningful for me (and was, oddly, the color of my bridesmaids' dresses six years ago!).
Baby blue sometimes reminds me of my first son, and we have purchased things in his memory that were that hue. Evy wears a blue flower clip sometimes in his honor (for instance, during the Walk to Remember we just attended). Baby blue has come to be associated with William as well though, as his nursery is baby blue and navy blue with red and pea green accents. Like I said, I'm okay with the intermingling of children and colors. : - )

Monday, October 7, 2013

Day 6: Ritual

Our family lights a candle for him on every major holiday, and we get a Christmas ornament to put on our tree for him each year.
We honor his birthday by having a butterfly on Evelyn's cake, writing him notes on balloons, and releasing them into the sky.
As a family, we go to the Butterfly Garden at the park where his name is engraved, and we release a balloon for each year he's been in heaven, usually the day before his actual birthday.
Every day I say, "I love you buddy."
 

Day 7: Me Now


 I can say that in general, I find myself looking forward far more than looking back. However, I need to cultivate a healthy space of remembrance and honoring Elias after completely shielding myself from many things during my ...pregnancy with William (my own and others’ grief primarily). As you all know, I didn’t even formally announce my pregnancy with William. I thrived on privacy, its intimacy and safety. I stand by this pregnancy-after-loss survival tactic fully even though I have been judged for it. Now that William has safely arrived, I am finding my way back to the loss community but am re-examining my level of involvement in it, recognizing that my needs are changing as I strive for integration of this loss as part (but certainly not all) of my identity. This photo challenge has helped me to not only reconnect with this piece of my identity but to also embrace vulnerability, which I was unable to do for nearly a year. It’s healing, but it’s also terrifying. So where am I? Striving for balance. Loving all of my children unconditionally. Trying to embrace something a bit more fluid than compartmentalized. It’s almost impossible to describe. It’s like taking a blurry picture and having parts of it come into focus more clearly than others, having faith that over time you will be able to view the rest of it with a similar degree of clarity and precision, having accepted that patience, reflection, and sincerity is needed to get you there.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Day 4: Legacy

I cry harder than before.
laugh harder than before
feel the sadness of the world more than before
grasp onto moments of happiness more than before
stand up for myself more than before...
set healthier boundaries than before
choose my friends more wisely than before
embrace spontaneity and challenges more than before
live more authentically than before
love more genuinely than before
breathe each moment in more than before
feel more than before.


 I AM more than before.

Day 5: Memory

When I think of my child, I think of pure love. He was held his whole life. He had his sister by his side his entire life. He only knew innocence, purity, and our love for him.
I think of Elias in more symbolic terms, because I know his spirit is so much bigger than anything here. He’s on his own journey. Butterflies, stars, and the moon all remind me of him.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Day 3: Myths


 A parent's love is unconditional. It transcends life and death. To believe that a parent needs to "just get over it" is to lack any and all understanding of the love shared between a parent and a child. To believe that I sho...uld "just get over" my first born son, a precious child I carried for 37 weeks and lovingly prepared a nursery for, is to disregard him as a person and as part of our family. To accept me as a friend is to accept my whole family, not just the children you can see. I am a changed person. Get to know the new me. I don't need "fixed" or to "get over it" or to pretend my son didn't exist in order to spare your discomfort.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Day 2: Identity

Day 2: Identity
We had his name chosen long before our son came to be. When we first started talking about starting a family, we agreed to start looking at names WAY in advance, because I am a bit of a name nerd and get way into this stuff.... Flipping through the name book, my husband read the name “Elias” out loud with such enthusiasm, and immediately I fell in love with it. I'll never forget it. We were walking in the park in our back yard when we chose his name. This was two and a half years before he was born.
Out of all of our children, his name was the only one that we both readily agreed upon, as if it had already been decided. Later, I learned that it was a popular name in Finland, and I was excited to honor my paternal heritage through his name. 
 My husband passed his name down for Elias’s middle name, a family tradition. (And, since Elias will not be able to pass his name down to his own son for a middle name, we passed it down to his little brother.) Elias means “The Lord is my God.”
He was our first born and will always be our forever baby.
 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Photo Challenge: Accepted! Day 1: Sunrise

Participating for the first time in Carly Marie's Capture Your Grief Project.

Not sure I will be able to post all my photos here daily, as I am already posting them on FB, and that might get a little ridiculous to keep up with.  Hoping to get them all here though eventually.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tightrope Walk

This isn't a rainbow baby blog.  I remember being in raw grief and reading loss blogs that had turned into rainbow blogs, and in that raw grief it was just something I really couldn't handle.
So I rarely post here about William.  Or Evelyn, for that matter, except to share the complicated balance of raising a single twin.  My surviving children get plenty of love and attention on Facebook, so this is Elias's space, and a space for me to share my grief.  Anyone who believes I am "stuck" in my grief because this blog doesn't mention William or Evelyn often, well, they must not be people who know me very well, because I am batsh*t crazy over all of my children.  (They also must not understand how much of a trigger photos of babies can be for women who are in raw grief.)

Obviously then, I don't post photos here often.  In fact I barely have time to post here at all.  I maintain many of my relationships, connections, friendships, etc. via real life and Facebook. 
And the fact that life pulls me away from this space is a reassuring thing for me and my grief journey.

However, this relates to Elias.

Oh how alike these two look.  So much that people in public start to comment. 
And it makes my heart sing, and it makes my heart sob.

We will never know what Elias would have looked like at eight months old, as William is in this photo.  Evelyn and Elias were obviously fraternal twins, and many fraternal twins look nothing alike.  But those two certainly did at birth.  The fact that Will shared their features at his birth as well and is turning out to resemble his sister as he grows is something that just really pulls at my heartstrings. 

I know, I KNOW, that William is his own separate person.  His own amazing unique individual self.  Just as Evelyn is, just as Elias had been (and still is). 

And so here it is, another balancing act for me.  Catching glimpses of what might have been, what could have been, and by any outside accounts we have that "perfect family!" of one boy one girl.

Yesterday a nurse said, "You're so lucky" after asking what genders our children are.  (She didn't know our history at that point.  I wonder if she would have said that, knowing?)

We are lucky.  Even with the missing, and the grief, and all of it, we are lucky.  I know that.  But as time goes on, I realize more how complicated this life will continue to be as we perform these daily balancing acts, hopefully improving in our grace and agility to maintain our equilibrium.  Living the life that is while sometimes straying to thoughts of what could have been.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

So Much on my Mind and Heart

I don't even know where to begin.  This is going to be a mess of a post, because my heart is just so heavy, and it could be for many different reasons.
I feel for so many of my friends and their hardships right now. 
THAT is first and foremost, surely.

My high school friend whose baby girl just had surgery to remove a tumor, and they just found out it was a neuroblastoma.  I know it's good that they caught it so early (they are thinking stage I), but she is only ten months old, and it just breaks my heart that she is going through all of this right now.

And I'd be lying if I didn't admit that my mind goes to my own baby, my sweet second son, and how much I just want HIM to be okay, how terrifying it is to remember that it isn't just miscarriage and stillbirth that potentially threatens our sweet children.  The second he was delivered healthy and screaming I let out the biggest sigh of relief I've ever breathed in my life, and yet the worry is still there.  It's not the same as the fear of stillbirth, but it's there.  I feel my anxiety creeping up.  I want to just tuck my surviving children away into a bubble and protect them, but I know that's not healthy, nor is it possible.

I feel for a friend in the loss community who has already suffered a stillbirth near term with one of her multiples and now faces the seeming imminent  premature delivery of her rainbow baby, as her water has broken at 27 weeks. 
When I found out, the first feeling I had was anger.  Just pure anger.  I haven't felt angry like this in a long time.  Why can't those of us who have had traumatic losses be protected somehow from experiencing problems, hardships, or losses in subsequent pregnancies?

I haven't prayed much lately, but God, here goes nothing.

Please let my friend's sweet baby girl be cancer-free.  Let there be no more tumors wreaking havoc on her innocent little body.

Please let my friend's pregnancy last at least a few more weeks (she's hoping six!) so that her precious baby won't have to suffer any negative effects of prematurity.

From the bottom of my heart, I am just really sad.  My personal problems will have to wait for another post, because they shy so in comparison to what these families are going through.  And right now, my heart is heavy for them.

I keep telling myself something my therapist wrote on a piece of paper the last time I saw her, which was probably about seven months ago:

There is no such thing as absolute certainty, but there is assurance sufficient for the purposes of human life.
~ John Stuart Mill

Monday, September 2, 2013

Epiphany, Perspective, and Freedom.

I'm still here.  Not writing as much as I'd like to be or keeping up with blogs like I'd love to be, but I'm here.  Life happens.  Things are really nuts for me with starting a new position job-wise.  It feels amazing to walk into a building where I was NEVER pregnant.  To walk halls without specific grief triggers.  To be amongst new coworkers who don't know me well, who may have heard through the grapevine that I lost a child but don't know the details, who weren't directly involved in my life during the time of my loss. 
To know I am being treated as I am for who I am, not for what I've been through.
I feel more readily able to compartmentalize personal from professional, keep my heart from being worn on my sleeve, keep my work from following me home too much, and I think this new environment is the reason for it.  And, well, as a mom to one twin in my arms and one twin in my heart, the art of compartmentalization is something I've become particularly skilled at.

It's just a really nice change having a new position. 

I may have said this before, but I'll say it again.  After baby loss, most people do something drastic.  To maybe mark what happened.  To maybe "deal" with what happened.  To try and survive what happened.

Take an exotic vacation (but we have no $ to do that). 
Move to a new city (but we LOVE where we live - the people, the city, the weather). 
Have an affair or get a divorce (but we still love each other, so no thanks). 
Have another baby right away (but...just...no.  For so many reasons, I couldn't do that right away.)
Get a tattoo (which is what my husband did). 
Make all new friends and let go of the old ones (Okay, so I've done a little of that, deleted 300 people off of FB and am much more selective about who I let "in" to my real life, but I still have a few of my old friends, the real ones who care to invest the time and energy into getting to know the new me.  They are few and far between, but they're gold, and they know who they are).
Get a new job (Ding ding ding ding ding!!!  Winner winner, chicken dinner!).

(Loss moms am I forgetting anything on this list???)

So I'm not sure how much attention I can give this space as I enter this new chapter of my life.  But I can't bring myself to shut it down.  I still need it.  Yes, need.  And that's what keeps it here.

* * * * *

People have been asking me how I've been doing with the whole neighbor-who-has-twins-thing.  I feel so blessed to have people who care enough to read something on my blog and check in with me in real life (although most of the people in my real life don't know this space even exists, which is mostly just how I like it). 

Amazingly, or not-so-amazingly, I'm kind of okay.  I say not-so-amazingly because really it shouldn't bother me so much to see twins.  I mean they are everywhere.  I have twins in my family, I have friends that are twins, I have friends that have twins, I have students that are twins, and I will never forget that I am a mother to twins, even if society doesn't consider that to be the case.

I will admit that it helped immensely to find out that the babies in that candy-apple-red stroller are twin boys and not boy / girl twins.  I can't tell you enough how much that just helped me "cope", if you can even call it that.  I had my initial freak-out when I saw the woman with that double stroller, I had my angry and bitter moments when I kept seeing her repeatedly, and then I had the rational realization that since I live right by the park this was bound to happen and not something that God / The Fates / The Universe was plotting against me.

I don't want her babies.  I just miss my Elias.
And honestly, I miss him so much more than I miss that "twin experience". 
He is so much more than double strollers and matchy outfits and "built in best friends" and all the other things that society pushes on our culture about twins.  To even have fixated on any of that stuff, even for a minute, just seems to lessen his worth somehow or cheapen his wonderful individual soul that I never got the privilege of getting to know outside of gestating him.  I hope he can forgive me for that, because I'm having trouble forgiving myself.  All this time I have been celebrating Evelyn's individuality while still grieving the loss of "twins", not realizing that I should have just been grieving Elias, that the other stuff really doesn't even matter when you really think about it.

Epiphany. 
Perspective.
Freedom.
 
I'm getting there.

 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Double Stroller

Twinlostmamas know what I'm talking about.
I know I'm not the only one.

The dreaded double stroller.

Even though I push one now, with my toddler and my baby in it, every time I see one, I stop for a second, just to see.

I try not to gawk.  I try.

The other day, I saw this gorgeous bright red double stroller going down the sidewalk on our street.  I thought to myself, "There goes twins."  Then, immediately, "I hope they don't live on our street."  Then, more rationally, "Just because it's a double stroller doesn't mean it's twins."

A few days later, same stroller, same lady, passed us in the park by our street.

I quickly glanced into the stroller as they went by and saw them.

Four bare baby feet sticking out.  Clearly twins.

I kept walking, but my heart was breaking, and that anger was bubbling.

WHY?  Why couldn't that have been US?  Why did it have to go SO WRONG for US?  Will the self pity party ever end?!

Today, same stroller, same lady, walked by a path near our yard.  Her bright candy apple red stroller screaming, "LOOK AT ME!  LOOK AT US!"

My heart started racing, and I wanted to go inside immediately.

My single twin yelled, "HI!"

My heart was smashed into pieces.

"Hello!" the lady responded.  "When they're older, we'll have to come over and play!"

No.
No.
NO.

No, you won't.

You won't, because you can't.

You won't, because I can't.  I can't take it.  I just can't take it.

You won't, because your pity for me will make me ill at ease.

You won't, because I can't have my daughter watch what should have been.

I can't have all that I wanted flaunted in front of my face.

You won't, because just seeing your candy apple red double stroller makes me want to vomit.

Tonight, the tears fall.  Of course they fall for my boy.  My first born, the twin I never got to raise.

But they also fall for the friendship that could have been mine, that should have been mine, had Elias lived.  In an alternate world, my perfect gorgeous first born son came out kicking and screaming just three minutes before his sister.  There was no Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep taking photos of precious moments I couldn't have possibly let soak in.  Rather, swarms of visitors came with bouquets of pink and blue balloons, just the way I envisioned they would.  In an alternate world, I got to experience raising twins, a dream of mine since childhood.  In an alternate world, I am not a broken person.  In that world, my heart isn't gaping, shattered, confounded, obliterated.

In that world, I jump from my chair when I see that candy apple red double stroller.  I jump up to greet this woman and offer her help.  "I know what you're going through!" I say, and we swap stories about sleepless nights, about having no time to cook or work out, about how misunderstood we are as twin mamas, about how we wish people could just treat our children as individuals and not sensationalize them due to the simple fact that they were born at the same time.  We exchange numbers, and make plans, and my twins are thrilled that another set of twins lives so close by.  They stare, unable to believe they themselves were ever so little, and offer to give the babies their bottles.

In that world.
The world where double strollers don't have the power to shatter my heart.

The world where double strollers are just double strollers.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Broken and Elated

The other day, I had one of those moments which happen several times a day.  One of those moments where I look at my daughter Evelyn and feel flooded with emotion. 

I was buckling her into her car seat, and I kissed her on her forehead, looked into her sparkling blue eyes, and said, "Do you have any idea how much I love you?" not really expecting a response.

And then I hear this adorable toddler voice respond, "Two."

I froze, because something in her response was triggering something deep within me.

"What, honey?" I asked her.

She looked at me, holding up two fingers, and said, "You love me this many, mommy."

Suddenly, I was back in that funeral home, identifying Evelyn's twin brother Elias's body.  People had said I didn't have to be the one to identify him, but it was one of the last (and only) things I could do to parent him, so I went.
I stood there, trembling, with my husband and my father, peering down at my perfect boy.  Hot tears flooded my eyes, spilling down my face, and I told him how much we all loved him.  How much we wanted him here.  How I would have done literally anything to bring him into the world safely.  How sorry I was.  How I was going to show his sister twice as much love, shower her with twice as many kisses and hugs, since I couldn't do those things for him.  How I hoped he'd be able to see all of this from heaven and rather than be jealous of it, know that we were loving him too, through his twin sister.

My heart felt broken and full all at once.
I blinked hard, smiled, tousled Evelyn's hair, hugged her tightly, and said,

"Yes, honey.  That's right.  I love you times two.  You're absolutely right."

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Quick Question - No more Google Reader???

Now that Google Reader is no more, what are all y'all bloggy peeps using?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Right where I am 2013: Two and a half years and one day. Or, 914 days.

This post is a part of this incredibly inspiring project, in case you're curious.  This is my third year contributing.  Here's is last year's post, and here's the post from the year before that, in case you're even more curious.

Two and a half years and one day.

914 days.  Being back there at day one doesn’t come as readily anymore.  I’m not thrust there unwillingly as often as I used to be.

Most days, it seems like it’s been a decade.
 
But some days, it seems like yesterday.  I can see the doctor staring at the ultrasound screen with a perplexed expression.  Moving the wand over my stomach back and forth, up and down, a look of panic rising in her eyes.  Leaving the room to get another doctor, who also goes through those same motions, shaking her head, “I don’t see anything.”
 
That’s how I learned that my son had died.  “I don’t see anything.” 

 Like he just disappeared into thin air.

Like there was nothing left of him.

Like he’d never been there in the first place.

Like the entire diagnosis of “twin pregnancy” had simply been a mistake that they only realized at the 37 week mark.

I have fought tooth and nail to make sure that my son’s memory hasn’t disappeared into thin air.  To be sure that there’s something left of him, that his legacy is a meaningful one.  To be sure people know that he did exist.  That I am a mother to twins: One in my hands, one in my heart.

I’m so tired of fighting.  My nails are dirty and bloody from clawing my way through the turmoil.  My mind is dizzy from denying my grief, from fixating on grief, from not knowing grief’s proper place.  My mind is frayed from the post traumatic stress of losing my baby at term and subsequently carrying another child to term.  My heart hurts from holding my dead child, from not feeling like a good enough mother to any of my children, from losing people I thought would never leave my side much less kick me when I’m down, from feeling so isolated at times in my type of loss.

And yet, a corner has been turned, and in the shadows, a gleam of light shines brightly.

I may be tired, but I’m not empty.  I don’t feel so much like I have anything to prove to anybody.  I know my son was real, that he was real even when his heart stopped, that his surviving sister will always be a twin, that I will always miss my first child.  I know that, sadly, yet comfortingly, I am not the only one to lose a twin at term.  I know that I am not a freak in losing my son to something that claims the lives of one in five thousand.  I know that I did the best I could with my subsequent pregnancy, that it was in my best interest to hide that pregnancy for my own very personal reasons, that most people don’t understand because they simply can’t understand, and I wouldn’t wish loss or post-traumatic stress on anyone, so I must forgive them their ignorance.

This war?  It isn’t mine.  It never was.  It’s so much bigger than me.

I will continue to love my first son.  I will express that love unashamedly in ways others may deem as odd.   A blog.  A balloon release.  A candle.  A memory shelf.  A kind gesture to another loss mama.  These are the things I do to quietly parent him.

But I’m not fighting any more.  I used to literally feel like I was fighting for my very life, just merely trying to survive.  There’s no me versus the world anymore.  That anger has simmered some.  I am surveying the damage, the fallout, from the grief and trauma that has struck my life, taking stock of the casualties, the friendships that did not survive the blows to my life.  Silence has spoken volumes to me these past two and a half years.

But I’m not angry about that anymore.  It’s okay.  I don’t want people to be anything other than who they really are.  And I mean that sincerely, at last.

I cry harder than before.
laugh harder than before.
feel the sadness of the world more than before.
grasp onto moments of happiness more than before.
stand up for myself more than before.
set healthier boundaries than before.
embrace spontaneity and challenges more than before.
love more genuinely than before.
breathe each moment in more than before.
feel more than before.
 
I am more than before.

This gleam of light I see shines in many forms.

It shines in the form of so many epiphanies that have come my way.
It shines in the form of such incredible new friendships I’ve embraced, both in and out of the loss community.
It shines in the form of a marriage that has been to hell and back and has survived and strengthened through the course of weathering the storms.
It shines in the form of my beautiful daughter who will always carry part of her brother with her.
It shines in the form of my miracle rainbow baby boy who carries his big brother’s name as his middle name.
It shines in the form of this love I carry for my first son, a love that no one could ever snuff out.
It shines in the form of signs from above, such as this incredible 22 degree halo rainbow ring around the sun during our balloon release yesterday.
This gleam of light I see shines in the form of this new me that I am still getting to know. 

Wounded, ripped wide open, yet fierce, passionate, and more courageous than ever before.

 

Friday, May 24, 2013

If Only They Knew.

The other day, while waiting for the bell to ring to let students go to their next classes, a conversation between students caught me in my tracks.  I stopped entering grades into the gradebook, my ears perked up, and my breath hitched.  My heart was racing, and I felt like I was going to vomit. 
I stayed calm and professional, of course, but everything in me wanted to just run out of the room.

"Yeah, I guess I'm the older twin.  I mean I was born eight minutes before my brother.  So I don't know, I guess you can call that older, but we're basically the same age."

Other students respond to that, but I can't hear them.  Then he says,

"We were a MONTH early!"

When no one seems particularly impressed, he goes on, "I had jaundice too, which is where your skin is all yellow and they have to put lights on you."

Another student pipes in, as if to show him up,

"Well, when I was born, my umbilical cord was wound tightly around my neck.  Like, a bunch of times.  I was purple, and I wasn't moving or even breathing!  Isn't that craaaazy?"

More responses that I can't hear, as I'm feeling dizzy at this point.

Then she says, "Yeah, they even put me in the stupid kid classes when I started school, because they thought I was going to be slow from not getting enough oxygen.  But I never needed them."

Someone responds, "Uhhhh, no kidding, Ms. Straight A's!"

Laughter ensues.

I'm dying inside.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mother's Day

Very emotional on Mother's Day holding this little guy who came into being (unbeknownst to us) last Mother's Day. So overwhelmed with joy and gratitude that he made it here safely, that I could hold him in my arms this Mother's Day, that my gorgeous girl Evelyn is such a great big sister to him, and that his big brother Elias will forever hold such a special place in all of our hearts.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

International Bereaved Mothers Day 2013

For those of you who aren't on my FB page, I wanted to be sure to pop in here to wish you a day full of reflection and hope on this Bereaved Mothers Day.
It's exactly the space I'm in - one of reflection and hope.
Looking back at my post on this holiday two years ago, I just can't believe how different I feel today.  I can't quite explain it.  It might be what I've heard some people call "integration".  I no longer feel the need to defend myself at every turn for loving and remembering my first born son.  He will always be my forever baby, my son, my reason to look forward to heaven.  I will always love him, always miss him, and that's just the way it is.  He's part of me.  Forever.  And there's comfort in that.

I'm glad I took the time two years ago to write that post, to flesh out my feelings on the "holiday" that Carly Marie started.  It is a necessary one.  It stands in such stark contrast to the commercialized bubble gummy Hallmark holiday of Mothers Day, which undeniably recognizes a very different kind of parenting.  Not the "delicate parenting" I describe in the aforementioned post.

And I still love this poem so much, written by the lovely Angie, my friend and fellow BLM, in honor of this sacred holiday.

I stumbled upon an article today and found this quote that I felt really resonated:
"The good news is that healthy grieving does result, at the time right for each of us, in an experience of integration. We take stock and say: I am changed by our loss, and I have changed my life as a result of my loss. And we are not shriveled permanently like a dry stick because of our loss. We can feel alive again…probably wiser, maybe quieter, certainly full of gratitude and a desire to contribute from what we have been through.
And all in good time."

~Elizabeth Harper, Ph.D

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Door Closed

I don't like to write about work here.  It just doesn't seem like the place.  But I have to say that I just fought like hell to get a different position that I've wanted for the past decade.  I apparently wowed everyone with my interview, and yet somehow, I still didn't get the position. 
This feels like such a grief trigger right now.
2013 has been a great year so far of redefining myself, settling in with our new family, focusing on what really matters.  I was so looking forward to this new chapter career-wise, and now it just feels like the book has been slammed shut right in my face.
It feels like a betrayal.  An unfairness that cuts deep to the core.
Why after all I've been through did I expect the world to be just?  Of course it isn't.  I'm deserving of this position, and I would have done a phenomenal job at it, but now it's out of reach.  And it isn't because I did anything wrong.  The world doesn't work that way.
I don't know where to go from here.  It's not the kind of position that's easy to find. 
I'm so sick of feeling like I do everything right just to get screwed over.  Staying away from the pity party is going to be a challenge for me after this major setback.  The past few weeks, thinking about my chances for this position excited and energized me at work.  Now, knowing I lost my chance, I just want to stay in bed under the covers and cry. 
Clearly not an option.
I'm just so sad that this didn't happen for me.  I feel like I'm crashing from all the anticipation of thinking I might get to have a fresh new start.  It amazes me that I actually got my hopes up that things would go in my favor.  I know I have a lot to be grateful for, but I'm just really angry, and feeling like I'll never be okay with this or how it all went down.  Feeling like I'll never be excited or energized about work again.  Feeling burnt out on what I currently do.  Wishing I had another calling to fall back on.  Jealous of people who work their dream jobs every day.  Jealous of people who still think that things work out for the best in the end.

A Different Kind of Loss

I've been on a sort of "high" lately.  I feel very different.  My skin is thick.  My claws come out easily when necessary.  I stand up for myself like never before.  I'm fiesty.  I fight like hell for what matters to me like never before.  I don't anger easily, but when you cross that line, be ready to deal.

Because the universe has thrown me enough grief to last a few lifetimes, I will not willingly take any more than I have to.

Which means cutting people out of my life when I need to with minimal guilt, if any at all.  It's a simple equation, really.  If you detract from my life more than you add to it, then goodbye.

I have to look out for me, because, well, no one else does, and the universe, the gods, fate, they all don't give a flying duck.

If I can learn to live without my son, then I can learn to live without frenemies, right?

But.

What about the people who have just sort of drifted out of my life?  This has been on my mind so much lately.  One or two people in particular who have simply drifted away for no apparent reason.  No blowout.  No goodbye.  No explanation.  No sob story about why we just can't be friends anymore.

Just silence.

More silence in my life where there should be noise.

All the loss moms know what I mean.

I am changed.  I am different.  I am still figuring all the ways in which this is true.  But one thing for sure I know is that I am a way better friend than I've ever been.  And the people who have sort of just left me behind after my loss, well, it's too bad they don't take the time to get to know the new me.  Because I'm fiercely loyal.  I live in the moment more than ever before.  I don't let anxiety cripple me like it used to, because life is just too short, and I want to live mine more fully.  My sense of humor is better than it ever was.  I've never understood gallows humor until my loss, but trust me when I say that it is a real phenomenon.  People who have been put through the ringer in life just come out on the other side able to laugh more easily.  Not when the grief is raw, no, but that phase gives way to one where you want to just suck the marrow out of life.  Because you've gone so long feeling dead inside.  Soak up every little piece of joy there is.  Hold onto it for dear life.  Balance that scale a bit where grief has for so long made things extremely lopsided and heavy in its favor. 

I need that humor, that laughter, that mindless fun. I need the silliness, the shenanigans, the lightness that was so missing when I was in the raw days of grief.

But oh, you wouldn't know that, if you've walked the other way.

And I'm learning, still learning, how to simply be okay with the friends who have just drifted.  No blow out, no goodbye, no explanation.  It's easier to do with some people than it is with others, isn't it?

And the funny thing is that my life is so full.  So very full with my family, my career, my hobbies, and the friends that I still have and new friends I've made.  So much that when opportunities for even more friends arise, I just kind of shrug and say, "You know what?  I think I'm good with what I've got."  Not at all in an arrogant way.  In a contented way.
Friendships are an investment.  They say you don't want to put all your eggs in one basket, but on the other hand, you don't want to put your eggs in so many different baskets that you lose track.  I find myself able to maintain and enjoy my current friendships, kindly, tactfully, gently turning away opportunities for more, yet I keep looking back at those one or two who kept promising to keep in touch, to write to me soon, to call me back, followed by months and months of silence.  Not for my lack of effort, either.

I have this insatiable appetite for understanding others, I guess.  And I will never understand turning your back and walking away from a friend when they are going through the roughest storms of their life.  Or worse yet, making empty promises to stay in touch when you have no intention of following through. 

It confuses and confounds me in ways I can't quite put into words.

I guess some people just assume that after you've lost a child, that becomes your entire identity, all that you are, and you are sad 24/7, wearing black clothes, sobbing in the candlelight.  So they just walk away and don't even get a chance to see that the stereotypes they've built in their minds are horribly misguided.

Well.  Just pile on the lack of closure, keep it coming.  Because, you know, I don't quite have enough unresolved emotions in my life.

Looking to soon delete contacts from my phone and Facebook of people who obviously feel they are "above" staying friends with someone who has lost a child.  I think I may just have to settle for that as being my closure to so much unfinished business.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Heartache of Easter

Easter is always so incredibly difficult.  The first one after the loss of Elias was filled with so many mixed emotions.  And even with all of the progress I've made in my grief over the past 2+ years, I feel like holidays such as Easter just get more difficult to navigate.

Did I buy enough baskets?  Candy?  Toys?  Should we dye eggs?  Do the kids even care when they are so young?  Did I take enough photos with the kids all dolled up?  Should we go see the Easter bunny?

And aren't all of these things simply massive distractions from what the holiday is really about?

I think that's why I fixate on them.  I need the distractions. 
From the holiday and from my grief.

Many loss mamas express that they feel every day that goes by they feel further away from their babies.  Further away from that last time they felt them kick, heard their heartbeat, kissed them, and held them in their arms. 

I understood this sentiment in a way but not fully, as I never felt "further away" due to time passing.  In fact, it's more like every day that passes I am possibly one day closer to Elias, as when my time comes I hope with everything in me that we will be together again.

I hold onto this hope. 

Even still.

I do, however, feel that every day that goes by I am further away from God.

Two plus years out from when I still believed in Him with every fiber of my being.  I miss that so much.  I miss praying and not feeling silly about it.  I miss going to church with genuine faith in my heart.  I miss raising my voice in love and praise for something so much bigger than me.

Now, my prayers seem to be directed at my son.  I prayed to Elias when things were going rough, and he seemed to be helping me through.  I prayed to Elias to send me a little brother for Evelyn, and he did.  I prayed for him to be healthy, to be born alive, and for a little piece of my heart to be healed.

The prayers I aim at my son seem to be heard much more often than the prayers I ever directed at God.

I say all of this very tongue-in-cheek.  Obviously I don't really believe (nor did I ever) that people simply pray to God and get everything they ask for.  If that was the case, there would be no poverty, death, heartache, or anything horrible happening in the world.

That doesn't mean I don't still find irony in how things have unfolded.

And it doesn't mean I'm not allowed to still be So.Freaking.Angry. at times when I reflect on how strong my faith had been during my pregnancy with the twins - stronger than it had ever been - and how betrayed I felt by God when my son was stolen so swiftly from me.  I had been so worried about Elias, and people kept telling me, "Let go and let God." 

If I had believed less in God, maybe my son would be here.

Biggest.  Worst.  Irony.  Ever.

During family photos and holiday pictures, we like to have Elias represented somehow.  He is and will always be part of our family, so it seems fitting.  It helps to ease the pain of missing him, just a tiny bit.  It's a statement to him that we haven't fogotten him, nor will we ever.  In our most recent family portrait, we included a butterfly from Pottery Barn that my mom had purchased for his second birthday. 

When Evelyn visits Santa Claus, we always have her holding a stuffed animal in Elias's memory (or wearing a butterfly clip in her hair). 

Every Easter, Evelyn has her picture taken with the Easter bunny, and she holds this little blue stuffed bunny that we bought for Elias's remembrance shelf. It sits next to his urn except for the one day it gets to make an excursion out of the house to visit the Easter bunny. 



It warms and breaks my heart all at the same time to watch her hold it, play with it, snuggle, and kiss it.  I say, "Evy, will you take good care of little bunny today?" and she proudly proclaims, "YES."

I don't know if I will ever get back to that place of unwavering faith. I don't know how to even go about trying.

Tomorrow, I will be going to church.

I won't deny my children the chance to have the unwavering faith that I so miss from my own life.

Friday, March 22, 2013

"Our Secret", Part Five.

I don't think anyone really reads anymore, and I know I kind of ostracized myself by keeping so quiet about my rainbow pregnancy.  Nevertheless, I still come here to write for my own sake, and I don't like starting a story and not finishing it.  And before I finish our rainbow pregnancy / birth story, I want to say that one of my fellow loss friends did exactly what I did - HID her pregnancy (as much as she could) until the baby's birth.  It was really validating for me to be able to talk to someone who felt the same way I felt.  And when people had a strong shocked reaction to her posts on Facebook, she simply said, "It just didn't feel right to get everyone's hopes up."  Yes.  Yes, exactly that.

There is so much sadness and yet so much truth in that statement.  I shed a tear when I read it, because I knew that feeling to my very core.  That feeling of wanting to protect everyone else, shield them in case we happen to bring more death and pain into the world through our desire to build a family.

*              *                *

The beginning of "Our Secret" was much more fun.  I think that's partially why I put off typing the end.  We had a positive outcome ultimately, but oy, what we went through to get there.  He is every bit worth it.  But oy.

I posted in Part Four that I had a scare around 26 weeks or so.  And, well, that wasn't to be my last scare.  For some reason around holidays I would feel my anxiety really ramp up.  I guess it's the pessimist in me, the Lindsay who feels targeted by the world, the side of me that feels beat up by life.  Things would be going great, but then it would be Thanksgiving, for example.  We always host Thanksgiving at our home for both my family and my in-laws, so it's a pretty big deal.  I'd be checking on the turkey, mashing some potatoes, fixing my makeup, cleaning the sinks, and then suddenly start to PANIC.  I'VE BEEN TOO BUSY TODAY SO SOMETHING HORRIBLE PROBABLY HAPPENED TO THE BABY WHILE I WAS DISTRACTED!

That thought went through my head every so often. 
But then the baby would move several times, and I'd say, "Thanks, buddy."  And all would be well for a little while longer, at least.

I think a little part of me figured it would be JUST.MY.LUCK to not only have lightening strike twice (well, it would be three times, technically), but that it would happen ON.A.HOLIDAY.  Because the only thing worse than having the worst possible thing happen to you is having it happen on a day that's inherently supposed to be full of joy and celebration.  And, well, my warped mind was having a pity party and figured that if my luck was going to take a turn for the worse once again, it would probably happen on Thanksgiving just to give me some more sick irony to add to all of the previous ironies with the loss of my firstborn son.

I definitely knew I had PTSD when on Thanksgiving night, I could not feel the baby move, and I really started to freak out.  I started sweating and shaking and breathing fast.  It was horrible.  I lay awake for a half an hour, maybe forty five minutes, alternating positions, drinking ice water, doing everything I could to rouse him.  It was the second time I really feared he was gone.
Finally he woke up and then wouldn't fall back asleep - he had such a dance party in my tummy.

I felt anxiety around the twins' second birthday, which is a given.  I had an OBGYN appointment the day after their birthday, and when the doctor said baby was great, I said to him, "Now I know for sure that history isn't repeating itself at least."  How irrational is that???  I had this fear that my baby might die on the exact date my son had died.  Getting past that date was monumental.

Christmas.  Oh, Christmas.  This was possibly the worst Christmas ever (second to the one I spent in raw grief over the loss of Elias).  Our two year old daughter had a fever over 100 degrees.  It was terrifying.  She was miserable.  I actually thought, here we go again.  How horrible is that?  I thought, Here I am, weeks away from giving birth, and the universe is trying to snatch one of us away again so that we won't all be together.  AGAIN.

It was a really rough three or four days, but then she was better, and we were ready to celebrate the new year and all it would bring.  (Other than the anxiety of another holiday - and yes, you guessed it, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day royally freaked me out, in theory at least.  But baby was cooperating with kick counts, thankfully).

We were set to have a c-section at 37 weeks (pending good amnio results).  At 36 weeks and 2 days, I woke in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and I could not feel the baby move.  Once again, I went downstairs to lie on the couch and try different positions, drinks, foods, etc.  After an hour and a half, I really thought he was gone.  I can't quite put into words how that felt.  I was panicked in a sense while also staying calmer than I ever thought I would be facing that kind of situation.  It was the longest he had EVER gone without having movement I could perceive.  I had to wake up my husband and our two year old daughter, because there was no way I could drive myself to the hospital.  It was 4 a.m.  I tried to feel him move the whole way there in the car but felt nothing.

When they got us in a room and put the monitor on, everything seemed to be going in slow motion.  His heart tones filled the room, and I immediately started sobbing, and shaking, and praying that he would stay healthy.  I heard the nurse say, "Mommy's crying happy tears, honey" a couple of times to my daughter, and I felt a pang of guilt that I hadn't considered how my reaction might upset her.  But there was no room for that consideration, because honestly, I really thought I'd just lost another child.

The doctors assured me there was no reason to deliver at that point.  I had another appointment in just two days.  At that appointment, my OBGYN told me I could be seen daily to allay my fears, as I was so scared of 36 weeks and 6 days, which was when I lost Elias.

I made it exactly 36 weeks and 6 days at which point my blood pressure spiked and I had a black floater in my vision.  I was sent to the hospital for monitoring, and my OBGYN met me there.  When he saw my blood pressure had stabilized, he wanted to send me home.  I could tell.  He held my hand and started to murmur reassurances.  I felt like I was going to crack.  It was all too much.  Thinking about going home and having to worry that something might happen in order to stay pregnant just for one more day did not seem to make much sense to me. 

Right then, a nurse came in and yelled that they found protein in my urine, and that was the point at which my doctor looked at me and said, "It looks like we're gonna be having a baby today!"

I am eternally grateful that my OBGYN, Dr. G, did not take any risks and simply chose to deliver.  I am also extremely glad that the on-call OBGYN, Dr. V, was there to assist with the c-section.  She apparently had a talk with Dr. G and told him that if I had been her patient, she would have planned all along to take the baby at 37 simply due to my history, and with complications starting to brew there was simply no point in taking the risk of sending me home at 36 weeks 6 days.  Dr. V was also the first person to show us our baby back when we thought we might be miscarrying very early on, and she was also the on call doctor when I had had a prior blood pressure scare (and had been incredibly understanding to our situation - not sure if I ever shared that here).  How poetic is it that the doctor to show us our baby on an ultrasound for the first time was also there to deliver him (not being my OBGYN and being in a practice of several doctors!)?  I thought it was pretty awesome.

Right before the c-section, Dr. G looked at me, put his hands on my shoulders, and said, "Maybe, for you, this is the easy part."

Yes.

The only part of the csection that was terrifying for me was after they gave me the epidural they were dopplering for his heart beat before cutting into me...And they couldn't find it at first, or even after five seconds or so, which is basically a lifetime when you're THAT close to delivery.  Then a nurse yelled, "There it is!  Nice and strong, not distressed!" and they cut into me right then.

When Dr. G pulled William out of me and announced, "It's a boy!!!" it was so bittersweet, but more sweet than bitter.  Those moments truly belonged to my precious William, my second son.

My husband said it was that very moment that the light went back into my eyes that had gone missing ever since the fear had taken over.

My OBGYN had a tear in his eye when he delivered our son, and while nurses were still working on me, he walked over to me and kissed me on the cheek.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Busy. Just too busy.

Just popping in to lament the fact that I have had no free time at all to blog.  I am of course blessed beyond measure to have a healthy living newborn baby (ten weeks old already!) whose demands of course take precendence over all else.  I have also been back at work for a couple of weeks.  Everything there is snowballing, and I'm feeling extremely frazzled.  I have to take a personal day Friday to attend a wedding and a half a day on Monday for some training.  It takes HOURS of preparation to miss a day of work in my field.  It's more work than being at work, basically.  Then, I am preparing to interview for a new position, so I've had to update my resume, work on a cover letter, and basically do a lot of things that I haven't thought about since 2005.  It is a very odd thing to focus on something OTHER THAN family planning, getting pregnant, staying pregnant, grieving, etc.  My entire life has been consumed by pregnancy (and loss and/or aftermath) since 2009 when we started trying.  I am feeling so rusty professionally, and it is not so easy to balance everything, but I'm doing my best.

That said, I very very very much miss this space.  I miss commenting, getting comments, and being a more active blogger, although I've always been sporadic.

I would love to write the final part to "our secret" and share William's birth story here.

I would love to take the time to reflect and write about where I am grief-wise.

Both of those posts will have to wait, for now.

I think about all of you out there who have had losses, I think of you and your little ones on an almost daily basis, and I will never completely abandon this community, even when my life gets ridiculously busy.  But right now, I just need to focus on getting things done professionally. 

Spring break and summer break are both looming, and I can't wait to have a moment to myself (maybe?!).

Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Our Secret", Part Four

For the most part, I was filled with joy and hope during my rainbow pregnancy.  It was an inner calm that I find difficult to describe.  I even thought to myself, "Where's the crippling fear???" During the first half of my pregnancy, that fear was kept at bay.  Maybe because I knew it would do no good, that I had no control if I lost the baby that early, that doctors could do nothing to save a baby that early.

I first felt my anxiety truly spike at 24 weeks, maybe due to that being "viability" in the medical community.  There was a CHANCE that if the baby was born it would survive (albeit a very small one).  The fact that I knew so many women who had lost babies due to complications of prematurity helped me to stay somewhat calm about staying pregnant. 

When you've had a stillbirth, no matter "why" it happened (which in my case I will never know), you no longer trust that the safest place for your baby is in the womb.  (I'd even venture to say you no longer trust that the safest place for ANYONE's baby is in their womb, as evidenced by the anxiety many loss women feel simply seeing another woman pregnant!) 

I started monitoring movement and tried doing kick counts, even though I wasn't advised to do so for four more weeks.  Typically, I would feel pretty regular movements.  Thankfully, I always felt a kick or movement while on my way to my OBGYN appointments.  Loss moms know why this is so important.  You see, many of us had to hear those horrible words, "I'm so sorry" while at a routine OBGYN visit.  This makes visits to the OBGYN during a subsequent pregnancy especially stressful, as they serve as triggers for our traumatic experience.  I found that my anxiety was significantly calmed as soon as I felt the baby kick, typically while driving to the appointment or even in the waiting room.  I mean really, what would be the chances of a baby dying in between sitting in the lobby and then going in for an ultrasound?  (I have yet to hear such a story even with all the contacts I have in the community.)  So not much to worry about there.  I always thanked this baby for being active right before an ultrasound was to be performed.  It made the whole doctor office visit experience so much easier for me.

Well, one day I was driving to an appointment, and I was maybe 25 or 26 weeks along.  I did not feel any movement on the way there.  I took a deep breath and poked my belly.  Nothing.  Okay, NOT MESSING AROUND HERE I said, and pulled into a drive thru to order a milkshake.  Surely that would wake baby up, right?
I remember choking down this chocolate milkshake, which under normal circumstances would have been absolutely delicious.  But not this time.  Worrying that your baby might be dead kind of kills your appetite.  I waited and waited.  Nothing.  The tears started falling and I chugged more milkshake, which to me tasted revolting, all I wanted was my baby to be okay.
Sitting in the waiting room, still nothing.
Waiting in the examination room, still nothing.
My OBGYN took longer than usual to come in, which made things ten times worse.
My husband hugged me and told me things were going to be fine.  That worrying and crying wouldn't help anything even if something was wrong, but that nothing was wrong anyway.
I said, "How do you know?"
*sigh*

My OBGYN came in and once he heard my concerns gave me a hug and let me cry.  I just looked at my husband and we later talked about that moment and how we both were thinking, "STOP HUGGING ALREADY AND JUST DO THE STINKIN' ULTRASOUND!"

I couldn't even look at the screen.  I was so afraid of what I would see.  I squeezed my husband's hand as my doctor said, "Okay, baby looks great.  There's the heartbeat."  I let out a huge breath and started sobbing.  He stopped the ultrasound so that I could get myself together.  After, he continued to examine the baby, and everything was perfect.

Lesson learned: really, kick counts don't work well before 28 weeks.  This is why they don't prescribe them until 28 weeks, people.

Easier said than done though when you feel an insane amount of pressure to make sure you are doing everything in your power to bring your baby into the world kicking and screaming this time.

So relieved baby was okay.
I don't think I will ever truly enjoy a chocolate milkshake ever again.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Heavy Heart

This week it felt like my grief was re-emerging (not that it ever really goes away, but you know).  I just had such a heavy heart.  I felt so angry about losing Elias.  I felt like I was losing him all over again. 

Monday was my postpartum appointment.  It was such a normal experience - going in all smiles with a gift for my OBGYN, women in the waiting room making superficial comments about how I don't even look like I had a baby, everyone ooohing and ahhhing over my son. 

Everything went so perfectly smooth.

I got home to an email on my phone - a newsletter from CLIMB (center for loss in multiple births).  William's birth announcement was in there, along with my friend's birth of her rainbow baby girl.  We both had our rainbows on the same day, and we both had rainbows the same gender as the babies we lost. The babies we lost were both part of boy girl twin sets.  My loss was tragically close to delivery while her loss was during delivery, likely due to a medical mistake.  Seeing those two birth announcements next to one another, I felt so grateful that we found one another and made a connection, especially in those early days where we both needed support.  But then I just got really pissed off.  Why did she have to lose her daughter?  Why did I have to lose my son?

I think the injustice of it all struck me especially hard due to my just having come from my postpartum appointment.  A postpartum appointment where things went perfectly right for once.  That's how things are supposed to go.

I'm angry that I know anything other than how things are supposed to go. 
That I know what it's like to go to a postpartum appointment without your baby.
That I know what it's like to go over preliminary autopsy results with your doctor.
That I know what it's like to agonize whether or not you or someone else did something to cause the worst pain you've ever known.
That I know what it's like to feel like the ultimate failure of a mother.
That I know what it's like to have your baby in an urn on a shelf rather than in your arms living and breathing.
That I know what it's like to say hello and goodbye in one breath.  To kiss a baby for the first and last time.  To go to sleep and never want to wake up in a world where your baby will never grow up.

It's all so wrong.

I let myself go there - I let myself imagine what it might have been like to have both of my twins here healthy and happy, to bring them both to a postpartum appointment, to have a gift for my OBGYN rather than anger and confusion over what happened, to have joy in my heart rather than the heaviest grief and inner turmoil beyond my wildest imagination.

Why didn't I deserve that?  Why didn't I deserve to have him here after carrying him for 37 weeks? 

One thing is certain.  My son certainly didn't deserve to die.
That anger is still there simmering beneath the surface, and nothing seems to help when it flares as it has this week.

Yesterday I thought to myself, all of this on top of already having had a loss.  The baby I miscarried yet rarely talk about.  We have an ornament on the Christmas tree every year but have no ritual for mourning that loss, and it makes me sad.  Then I realized what day it was...February 20th.  If that first baby hadn't miscarried, if he/she had been born on their due date, they would have turned three years old yesterday.

*sigh*

...But then I would have never gotten pregnant with the twins, so Evelyn wouldn't be here...And then I wouldn't have lost Elias either, so then William wouldn't be here....I hate these mind games my brain plays! All the alternate realities just twist my heart. 

I feel like it will take me a lifetime to process everything I've been through.  I don't mean it in a pity party way, just being reflective here.  I do feel Elias has made me a better person in many ways, even though some of these posts I write don't always communicate that.  I love the children I hold in my arms so very fiercely, so isn't it a betrayal somehow that I wish the children I lost could be here?  In no scenario would they all have been here realistically.  All these thoughts just leave me with a heavy heart and no resolution.