Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Giving Thanks

This week has been a hard week for me to actively recognize things that I am thankful for, although in the midst of everything there really are a lot.

When thinking of what I am thankful for, one of the first things that comes to mind are some people. Of course, first and foremost, my husband who is my partner in everything. Also, our friends and family who have been so supportive and loving.

But tonight I want to recognize some other people. I want to recognize the women who call themselves bereaved mothers, those who make up this broken but united community to which I belong. These women are the ones who truly understand what I've experienced and how I feel. Who understand the grief in carrying your child for 9 (or perhaps less) months and then giving birth to death. Who know what its like to be wheeled out of the hospital with empty arms and your baby's going home outfit still packed away in your bag. Who drove home from the hospital with the empty car seat in the back of the car. The women who had to pack away the toys, and pack and play, and swings that never felt the warmth of their baby's body. Who have an empty nursery in their home and drawers full of precious bitty baby clothes that will never be worn by their baby. These women are who I am thankful for. The women who I can share my fears, and thoughts, and heart aches with, and who can say "I understand" and mean it.

There are the women in my support group that I get to see every month, and one friend who I get to see more often for coffee and crafting. The women in my online support group community who support me, grieve with me, and uplift me anytime I need it, day or night. The women I have met through blogging who email with me and share their stories with me. And one special friend who I get to meet in just a few weeks when she and her husband come to visit! For you all I am thankful.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Christmas Ornament Exchange

Last night I signed up to participate in a Christmas Ornament Exchange for bereaved parents. It is being hosted by Only Love In Your Lifetime. Participants will be assigned another bereaved parent/couple to make an ornament for and they will receive one in exchange.

The holidays are an especially hard time, not only for the sadness we feel in this moment, but for all of the memories and moments we have been robbed of in the future. Having the opportunity to say out loud the name of someone else's baby and create a unique and personal ornament for that baby and family brings me peace. Knowing that someone will be doing the same for us feels really good.

The deadline to sign up and participate is this Wednesday, November 27. If you would like to participate you can email rememberthelove4@gmail.com with the following information:

Your Name:
Your Address:
Your Email:
Your Baby's Name (if named):
Baby's Gender (if known):
Special Dates for your Baby:
Things/Colors/Items/Animals that remind you of your baby:
Are you willing to ship internationally (in case there are international participants):

Your family assignment will be received by December 1 and your ornament should be mailed out by December 16. You can learn more about Only Love In Your Lifetime on their Facebook page and you can also view the event there.

Friday, November 22, 2013

This is Your Brain on Grief...

Do you remember this commercial?

This is me, and my drug is grief. Thankfully, because of the amazing women I have met along this journey who commiserate with me and validate me, I know that it is "normal" for me to have scrambled eggs for brains these days.

For those who have experienced "pregnancy brain" let me tell you, you've got nothing on "grief brain". I am constantly in a haze, and there are times when even doing the most routine mundane tasks really takes a lot of thinking to figure out. I feel like a total airhead a lot of the time.

This morning, and not for the first time, I messed up my own Starbucks order. Granted, I am one of those annoying people who has forty two requests with my coffee {sorry}, but seriously I can't even order coffee now. Tonight Chick-Fil-A did not have the soda I wanted, so I just randomly picked something else that I didn't even really want because I saw it and said it, which was easier than trying to think and make a decision about what I really wanted. I have always been a little indecisive and prone to flustering, but it is getting a bit ridiculous.

I know I need to be "gentle" with myself, and that my brain is reacting this way because there are times that it needs to shut down a little to protect itself, but its hard to feel confused and out of it a lot of the time.

Hoping for peace and clarity,


Thursday, November 21, 2013

So Far Away

"Gone Away"

Maybe in another life
I could find you there
Pulled away before your time
I can't deal it's so unfair

And it feels
And it feels like
Heaven's so far away
And it feels
Yeah it feels like
The world has grown cold
Now that you've gone away

Leaving flowers on your grave
Show that I still care
But black roses and Hail Mary's
Can't bring back what's taken from me
I reach to the sky
And call out your name
And if I could trade
I would

And it feels
And it feels like
Heaven's so far away
And it stings
Yeah it stings now
The world is so cold
Now that you've gone away

I've always liked this song, but it definitely has a new meaning now. {Yes, Lilly loving, pearl wearing, Michael Kors bag carrying me loves rock, especially 90s grunge rock like Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Soundgarden. Is that weird? Probably.}

This song came on the radio when I was on the way home this afternoon and it had me thinking about Heaven and Emma. I was thinking how it truly feels like Heaven is so far away. I know I will see Emma again, but it will be so long until I do. Thankfully the Bible says that time in Heaven is not like time on Earth, so I know that for sweet Emma it will only feel like the blink of an eye before her mommy and daddy are there with her.

As I was thinking all these thoughts I came to a stoplight, and this was the sky I saw in front of me:

The picture is not as clear as it was in person, but in the midst of the gray cloudy sky there was an opening where the bright sun was shining through. I like to think it was a a little bit of Heaven and Emma shining through telling me that they are not too far away at all, all I need to do is open my eyes and look.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Saying No, or Not

This afternoon I read a great article from Still Standing Magazine about saying no. It talked about not worrying about others perceptions of you and your grief, and being bold enough to say no to anything that is too much for you.

It was a fantastic article with a great message, but here is my question, how do you say no to the things that the world requires of you?

Well, I have the answer, you can't, because the world moves on even when we don't want to or don't know how. I can't say no to getting up and going to work everyday, cleaning the house (I can stretch that for awhile, but major dirt puts me more over the edge than I was to begin with), or buying food. These are necessities that even at my worst I can't avoid, at least not for as long as I might like to. No matter how badly I want to stay in my pajamas and sit on the couch the world won't let me, and I'm a little irritated about that. So much for all the nonsense about not letting anyone put a timeline on your grief. I feel like the world has moved on and is telling me, get up, get out there, be okay. So, I get up, do my job, do fairly okay at being "fine", come home, and start all over again the next day.

Have you ever seen a scene in a movie or tv show when someone is standing in a city and everything around them is blurring by at super speed? That is what it feels like. I am stuck standing still, hyper aware of everything around me, while the world continues to rush by at crazy speeds.

I will end this by sharing that Britt and I are going to start seeing a grief counselor. I think that seeing her will give us some good tools to help deal with our grief, especially as the difficult holiday season approaches. For me I almost feel like the grief is getting harder rather than easier to bear, so I am looking forward to having someone who knows what they are talking about to offer some support.

Keep on trucking friends, tomorrow is a new day, or so they say...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Warning, It's a long and wordy one...

This week we have done a lot of traveling along our journey and I have been debating whether or not I felt like writing about it. We had 2 doctor's appointments this week, and sharing about medical things feels a little too personal. However, when I think about what this blog is its a little late to worry about being too personal. I think lately I have reverted back into my typical pattern of burying my feelings deep inside and occasionally pulling them out for only me to examine. So, in an effort to stick to the reason I began this blog: sharing my story for friends and family to follow along, facing and dealing with my own emotions, and to reach out to other parents of stillbirth, here goes….

On Monday we went to see a perinatal (high-risk pregnancy) doctor. Seeing this doctor was something we asked to do, rather than it being medically recommended to us. All of the testing and facts related to Emma's birth did not suggest that there was any complication or treatable/preventable cause for her death. That being said, living through this has been extremely traumatic, and getting additional support is something we really need.

Going to this appointment brought a lot of anxiety. The appointment was in a medical office at the hospital where we found out Emma had died and where I delivered her. Being there was very emotional. It was also stressful to know we were going to be rehashing Emma's death and delivery. I was so happy to have Britt with me. I always feel stronger when he is there.

The appointment ended up going very well. The doctor confirmed that there was nothing that could have been done to prevent Emma's death, as it was truly a cord accident. In his words, "we were struck by lightening." That's certainly what it feels like. At my request he ordered a panel of blood tests to be done for rare clotting disorders, in order to rule them out as a cause of her death. 5 tubes of blood this afternoon later, and we are waiting for the results. The doctor felt very strongly that the tests will not show anything.

One of the things I best remember from this appointment was talking about some regrets I have and him saying, "there are no wrong decisions here." Of course other people could tell me that, I could tell myself that, but hearing it from a highly respected and recognized doctor goes a little farther with me. Some of the best news of the appointment was his belief that there is no reason that this should happen in our next pregnancy. While that is comforting to my heart, it does nothing to help my brain. The trauma of your first child being stillborn leaves you to believe you will never have a living child, at least thats how I feel. Why should I think I will ever have a living baby when Emma should have been here and is not. Obviously life does not work the way it is supposed to.

The doctor agreed to see us through our next pregnancy, whenever we are ready for that step, and even though it is not truly medically necessary he will provide any extra monitoring possible. He also said he will likely have me delivered around 38 weeks. If the baby is developed enough to come on out, then next time around that's what he or she will do, no waiting for trouble this time. The doctor said that I would be a candidate for a VBAC, and I said….I am past the yearning for a natural birth experience, and I would really rather have a living child in my arms. Open me back up and give me my baby!

The doctor also recommended that I see a nutritionist, which was the appointment I had this morning. Heading to this appointment was another stressful experience. This time I went by myself and for some reason on the way there I started having major anxiety, like feeling like I couldn't catch my breath and being lightheaded. Once I got there I had to go into the main hospital (this was a different hospital). I tried unsuccessfully to ignore the signs for labor and delivery as I made my way to central patient registration. There at check in they made me a hospital bracelet I had to wear for my appointment, even though I was going to an outpatient center. That brought back the major anxiety. Last time I wore one of those I was in the hospital with Emma. Not okay. By this point I was barely holding it together, and as soon as I got in with the nutritionist and she asked what brought me in I burst into tears. The good news is, I always feel better after a good cry.

A little backstory on seeing a nutritionist. I have always (like my whole life) been classified as "underweight" based on my height and weight. Its nothing I can help and its always been that way. I always say I was meant to be a short person. I have small hands and feet, skinny arms and legs, and a small frame in general. If I was not so tall my weight would come out in the normal range instead. 4 months post-partum and I am back at my pre-pregnancy weight, which means I am back to being "underweight".

Anyway, starting my last pregnancy as "underweight" did not have any negative effects. I gained 36 pounds during the pregnancy and each week Emma measured as growing as she should. She was born a healthy (and hearty!) 8 lbs 3 1/2 oz.

However, the perinatal doctor understood that I wanted to face a subsequent pregnancy controlling every possible risk factor and making sure that I am doing anything and everything to help in having a healthy living baby. That being said, starting pregnancy at a healthy/normal weight leads to a healthier pregnancy and outcomes for mom and baby. Cue weight gain time.

The nutritionist was wonderful and spent a lot of time talking with me about healthy weight gain and ways I can achieve it (not cheeseburgers, fries, and milkshakes…dang!) The goal is 5-10 pounds which will put me on the low end of normal. To be totally in the "normal" range for my height I would need to gain 22 pounds…that would look ridiculous on my slender little self and is totally not necessary (the nutritionist agreed, by the way).

Anyway that's the story there. It feels really uncomfortable to share, as weight is something really personal to talk about it and has always been a sensitive subject for me…I drank Ensure in middle school to try and gain weight because I didn't like people making comments about how skinny I was. I always say I would not go up to someone who is overweight and say...jeeez you are so fat, do you eat all the time? Just as people should not say…jeez you are so skinny, do you eat? Discrimination works both ways. With that I am stepping off my soapbox for the night and snuggling up with my hubby. So glad tomorrow is Friday, this week has drained me.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Weight of Grief

Today's just one of those days. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to wake up in a year or so, when the grief is hopefully not so heavy, and God willing I will be holding a living child in my arms?

Friday, November 1, 2013

All Tricks, No Treats

I just started out this post with the words "for those who have not lost a baby", and then I went back and deleted it because the words of the wonderful woman who leads our support group came back to me. I didn't lose my baby, I know where she is, she is dead. It may sound harsh, but the truth is harsh. Putting this in terms that sound nicer or are easier to hear doesn't do anything, so I will start again…

For those who have not experienced the death of their baby it's hard to think like we do, or realize the thoughts and feelings we go through each day. For many, last night was a fun holiday where their children dressed up for trick or treating, or having no small children they happily opened their doors to neighborhood children while admiring costumes and passing out treats. For parents whose children have died Halloween is one of the many days we just have to get through. It is a reminder that our children will never dress up and get treats, that we won't get to hold their hand and walk them around the neighborhood, or sneak a piece of their candy after they go to bed (I know I would have done that!). Its a reminder that so many other people (even those who are seemingly undeserving) have what we can't. It feels like we rang the doorbell at the house that was passing out all tricks and no treats. We anticipated the excitement and sweetness, only to be greeted with bitterness and disappointment.  

Some people in the world might say…don't dwell, you can't project like that, you need to look forward, think of doing these things with your future children. And I say, I am looking forward. Looking forward to our life without Emma in it. I say, I'm sorry if my thoughts are depressing to you, but this is my life, how do you think I feel? I say, you just don't get it, because if you did you would know those statements are ridiculous. 

Now think of any other event in life and how it must be from my perspective. First day of school, any and every holiday, summer vacations, birthdays, anniversaries, and the list goes on. I truly wish that there wasn't a single person who understood this because then your babies would be alive, but because the statistics say otherwise I'm glad that there are people out there who know exactly how I'm feeling without me ever having to say it. It's hard feeling misunderstood. But for now, one more "event" is out of the way until next year. Time to keep plugging along.