5 years his story

Warning: trigger post on loss.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

I’ve never fully shared his birth story. It’s been 5 years and I’m finally feeling ready because I know his soul is being redeemed. Thank you for reading if you decide to continue. I fully understand if you don’t read more.

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

5 years and 2 days ago I awoke to Xavier’s Mommy’s post in the group about Xavier’s passing at 19 weeks and my heart broke. I was in bed and just stunned, never before realizing loss like that could happen. I thought once we were past the first tri we’re good! (I know, so naive!) I prayed for her and him and started my day.

5 years and 1 day ago, I was 19 weeks and I went to the gym to rest my hips in the hot tub. After avoiding the hot tub during my whole pregnancy, due to the warnings I heard non-stop, I was in so much pain I just had to go this one time. I settled in and tried to be brief. I felt him tell me he was too hot, with a little flutter and a feeling of panic. I begged him for just a couple more minutes and hovered with most of me out of the water. (I spent months regretting that until I realized it would have just been something else later that would have evoked the same response.) I finally felt a little relief and climbed out and dried off. I met Raul in the lobby and he looked at me concerned and asked if I was ok, if I got too hot. I said no, that I felt better (with a flutter of doubt), and we went home. I slept so well and was looking forward to the first Food Truck Rodeo in Seattle the next day, Saturday.

I awoke 5 years ago and pulled out my Doppler, and feeling worried from the night before, tried to listen for his heartbeat and couldn’t find it. I called my friend, who was studying to be a mid-wife and would be my doula, and asked her. She assured me that they sometimes don’t find baby easily at this stage and to rest and try listening again later. I got up and got ready, worry heavy on my heart. We went to the ‘rodeo’ and I was freezing cold the whole day, colder than I’d been for months. I knew something was wrong. I called my doctor’s office and the best they could do was an appointment on Tuesday.

But I knew. I knew he had died.

I waited until Tuesday in complete conscious oblivion and praying that what I knew in my heart wasn’t true. We checked in, the doctor who had confirmed my pregnancy was still ok just 10 weeks earlier pulled the portable u/s machine in the room and there he was, still. Still. They sent me downstairs to the big u/s machines, where I still had an appointment the next Friday for his 20 week anatomy scan. The tech didn’t say anything but excused herself and left the room. We knew. Raul held my hand and I turned my head and started crying. They sent us back upstairs. My options were a D&C or induction. My mom was flying in to town on Friday. Surgery terrified me so I opted for induction and asked to wait until Fri. They booked me a check in for Thursday morning. I told just enough of my clients and colleagues to buy a few days.

I spent two days with my angel inside of me. He would move only in reaction to my movement. I cried. I was panicked. I was numb. He was a “threatened miscarriage” from 6 weeks but they said at his 12 week NT scan he looked great! How could this happen to me? WTF do I do with myself with a dead baby in me? Well, I googled and I cried. I tried to piece together an ‘action plan’ for my hospital stay.

I took one last bump photo. I tried not to cry while Raul took my pic. He hated me for making him take it. I have NO regrets about taking it.

I had been seeing 222 frequently in the days before his death. When I got in the car to go to the hospital, our car had a range of 222 and it was 12:22pm. In that moment, I knew what it meant and I hated it. I am right where I’m supposed to be. And it is hell on earth. On the radio came the song Sail by awolnation. That became his song, my anthem of grief. It used to make me cry instantly but now I find a strange comfort in it, a ‘hi mom, I’m thinking of you,’ instead of suicide (which I did contemplate a few times when the PPM pain was too great). 222 is now comforting, I know when I see it, for better or worse, I’m where I’m supposed to be.

We pulled in to the hospital parking garage, got checked in. They made me sit in a wheelchair and pushed me to the end of the hall. It was dark, there was a white butterfly on my door. They hooked up an IV and started fluids. They put pitocin tablets up against my cervix and we waited. Slowly the contractions started to build. The dr came to check on me. She told me rather matter of fairly but with a soft touch that I could have any pain meds I wanted. I held off for quite awhile. Once the sun came up, the contractions got stronger. I asked for something for the pain, they gave me morphine. My doula came. My mom arrived. The contractions got stronger. Cervical cheeks came and went but I was little fuzzy, a little more numb. Finally they said it was time to push. It wasn’t too hard, I remember feeling his sack slide out. They popped it, cleaned him up and helped me birth the placenta. They asked if I wanted him autopsied but I declined, the thought of cutting him open made me physically ill. I was ok with having the placenta checked out. (The only thing his placenta results revealed was that he was missing a blood vessel in his umbilical cord. I believe the bleeding I had at 5-6 weeks in, just before I met you ladies, was related to that blood vessel issue as that’s when the cord forms. But that’s another story.)

He was so tiny, he fit in my hand. He was not a typical 19 week old bc of that missing vessel. His left arm was not fully formed, his head and torso were excessively swollen. But his feet and legs were just perfect. (His right side was visible in the NT scan and was formed properly so that’s why they didn’t catch anything amiss.)

I was told I could have as much time with him as I needed. The nurse dressed him as best she could, but he was too tiny for regular hospital clothing. My doula left to tend to her life. My mom went to get some food. DCW stepped out too. I ordered food for myself, and sat with my son on the pillow next to me. I pretended he was ok. I talked to him, I held him. I WILL NEVER AGAIN JUDGE A POST-PARTUM MOM FOR ACTING “CRAZY”. I get it now. I understood what a ‘mother’s love’ meant finally and it did me no good. I didn’t know before that it could hurt this terribly. I didn’t know before that it would be so beautiful. He was so beautiful. I could see Raul in him. I could see all the hard work our bodies did, G’s and mine, to build him as he was.

I spent a good 8 hours with him by my side before the nurse came to take him away. He would be transported to a nearby funeral home. I couldn’t watch her walk away with him. I wanted to scream to bring him back. To let me take him home, please just let me take him home. (Repeat after me, I will never judge a PPM mom again.)

The grief counselor came but I was too numb and in shock for her to be any good. The u/s office downstairs called wondering why I wasn’t at my 20 week scan and that they’d have to charge me for no-showing (um, hello, you saw me three days ago, who the fuck forgot to cancel my appointment?!?). That was the first, but not last, person I had to tell that my baby died. Pretty sure I cursed those words at her on the phone. They checked on me a couple more times then said I could be released. It was dark by now. Raul helped me pack. They put me in a wheelchair again.

Coming out to the lobby and to the elevator was a LARGE, maybe 30+ family of a patient. Happy, excited, cheering, with balloons. I wanted to scream at them to shut up. Instead I looked away, trying not to burst into tears. That moment, that moment right there, has been the hardest moment of my life. To wheel past all of those happy people without my baby. To go home without my baby. I succeeded in keeping my composure until the elevator doors closed. Raul helped me into the car and drove me home.

We held a small funeral service for G a couple days later. I got to see him and say one more good bye. I didn’t want to leave. Raul had to pull me away bc it was someone else’s turn.

I don’t remember much after that. The day I checked in to the hospital was the last day of summer. The day I left it was fall and started raining. It rained for days. I couldn’t get out of bed. My milk came in, a stinging giant Fuck You from the universe. Raul made me sage butter pasta for a week straight. I wore allthebras. He forced me to go outside on walks, and pointed out the lovely bits of nature. He watched me slide down and wouldn’t let go of me. For all of my bitching about him, he saved my life.

After 2 weeks I had to go back to work, to deal with my projects and the volunteer gig I had signed up for (as Madam President of a professional organization.) I threw myself into distractions. I still bled for 6 weeks.

I joined the FB group Stories of Babies Born Still. I learned how common this is. I heard stories of heartbreak worse than mine. I didn’t have a fully put together nursery I had to dismantle. I was not due in a week or due last week.

If I had a super power, it would be perspective. I can see both sides of the coin. I can understand the other’s point of view (even when my ego doesn’t want to admit it!) and if I ever seem callous or dry or harsh, it’s because of this power. Seeing these stories of others, of still born babies, of nicu babies lost, and since then of Syrian babies killed, of women who choose abortion, and so much more, gives me a weird comfort. Comfort that I got off easy. That my experience was only this bad. And I felt guilt about that for a long time, but a special reiki session helped me make peace with this. I understand now that he chose me as his mother and he only needed that little amount of time on earth to reach perfection.

The hospital classified him a miscarriage because he perished at 19 weeks, one week shy of the ‘cut off’ to be recognized as still born. I didn’t get a death certificate. I did get a cremation bill.

My grandma, who had 3 early miscarriages of her own, has, for the last 5 years, knitted small little baby blankets for me after she first heard he was too little for the hospital clothes. I tuck a card and a blanket in a ziploc and deliver them to hospitals in his name.

It was hard to be an invisible mother. It’s much easier with a rainbow baby because at least now the world recognizes I am a mom. But it’s still hard. He’s not in pre-k. He’s not losing teeth. He’s not riding his bike next to me. All these things he will never do are thoughts I usually just try not to think.

Then I’ll be alone in my car and that song, Titanium, comes on. There’s something about it, I can’t explain. It transports my heart back to that hospital bed and I’m instantly in tears. Tears of sorrow. Tears of joy. Tears of strength. I am titanium. I remember my lesson from my first son. My purpose is to pick up the pieces of my broken heart and carry them forward, to grow them into a new love. To spread love. To be love. To calm my fears, to trust my strength. To run in the fields on these most perfect feet I have, with angels lifting me up, and Bear by my side, reminding me of all I have lost and all I have gained.

I am sitting on the floor in Bear’s room as I type this, crying of course. And just as I typed that last sentence, in his sleep he rustled and then said, “whoaaa!” and I have to giggle. Thank you my son.

 

I love you forever.

I like you for always.

Beyond when I’m living,

my baby you’ll be.

Advertisements

Even a Rex sometimes cries…

I cried the other day. That doesn’t sound like much of an event, especially when I have friends who cry at least once a day over what seems like trivial events to the outside world. I realized afterward that it’s been about a year since I had a really good, ugly cry. That’s a long time for someone who previously would cry at the sappiest of movies.

Leading up to my dry spell, I spent so much time crying, mourning my lost loves, that one day, I had to stop. I had to stop crying. I had to stop to survive. If I kept mourning with so many tears I would wash away my resolve to live. So I stopped crying. I put up a wall and tried to find other outlets for those emotions. Crying couldn’t be one of them.

Then the wall was punctured. A long, stressful day led me to crumble the next morning over a seemingly dumb event. It wasn’t the event that made me cry. It was the build-up of all that emotion that I tried so hard to acknowledge and let go but never really let go of. It’s the emotion that hangs onto the edge of your heart or gets stuffed into the fringes of your mind. That emotion needs out, and like water flowing downhill, it will find a way. It will leak out in the worst of places if it’s not dealt with, felt and really, truly let go.

I admitted defeat. I admitted the Universe got the best of me. I let down my walls.

Time stood still for a moment. That pesky and persistent resolve to carry on swelled up. My emotional self wanted to bash it back down.

It is in these weak moments that I think of a young woman* Oprah interviewed many years ago. Her ex-boyfriend had set her on fire and she survived but with terrible scaring. She’s had dozens of surgeries and just living is a challenge. Although she wanted to give up, her sister tells her to take 5 minutes a day to feel bad, to cry, to let down her walls. At the end of the timer, she has to stop crying and carry on.

That interview has stuck with me. That young woman was honest, vulnerable and so sad. Her strength and carry-on-ness has stuck with me.

Allowing myself a few moments to feel sad, it was soon time to stop crying and carry on.

When I looked up after drying my tears, this is what I saw.

heart in the sky

When was the last time you let down your walls? When was the last time you really felt, and then truly let go of, those bottled up emotions?

*I tried to find the story of the particular woman mentioned above, but could not find it. If I do, I’ll add it in the comments.

Grief: the silent RAWR

Grief. Loss. I am not a fan of those words for so many reasons, but they hold weight over us in a way that few other words are capable of.

Grief we feel, loss is what we almost had or had once upon a time. Beyond the letters themselves, there are few other words that can adequately describe to another human being what grief feels like. Wanting someone to understand grief without experiencing a loss is, in my humble opinion, darn near impossible. What is also striking is that the loss or reasons for grief can vary dramatically from person to person but the depth of pain, hurt and fear knows no bounds.

Whether you’ve lost a friend, a grandparent, a parent, a spouse, a child, a fur-baby or any other being or maybe even a job or the dream of a future, it hurts. It hurts a lot. It feels like your heart has literally been shattered into pieces, left in broken tatters. You wonder how you haven’t died from a broken heart…yet. You wish you could go with them just so the pain will stop. You wish you could turn back time to when that future was possible. Each breath hurts. Each smile takes pain to crack. Some days you wonder how you will ever carry on.

I say carry on because moving on is not possible. You will never forget, not for a day, rarely for a moment. Moving on, getting over it, letting it go, growing up, all of those mean words imply forgetting. You can’t forget. Forgetting is not an option. Carrying on is. When you carry on, you carefully and compassionately pick up the pieces of your broken heart (oftentimes with help) and with a brave face, move into the next present moment. You carry your loss with you, in your heart. The scars on your heart make you stronger. If you allow it, the cracks in your heart let love sweep in and out like the ocean waves.

Frozen tear on leaf

Grief hits your insides like waves, sometimes a large wave tumbles over you when you least expect it. Sometimes you brace for impact only to find the wave barely crossing your toes. To lessen the waves of grief, there are things you can do. There are tools to help you find and pick up those broken heart pieces.

When faced with a wall of grief and a shattered heart, it is time to mourn. Mourning is the work you do to process the grief. Mourning takes many outward forms: crying, writing, crafting, talking, sharing and so many more. Mourning is what saves us.

You will mourn not only the past and the present but also the future. Honoring the future you thought you had by acknowledging the present you’ve been given requires a strength that feels impossible to summon at times, but is absolutely possible.

If any of the above strikes a chord with your heart, I encourage you with all of mine and all of my RAWR to find a HEALTHY outlet for your grief. Many people turn to destructive behaviors which will only cause more pain and suffering. It takes strength to talk to a friend, go for a walk, cry, smile, write, sing, play, work, create, and mourn.

Just when you think you can’t go on, you can’t possibly be strong enough to [insert mourning activity here], that is the moment to think of your loss. Feel the love you had for that person or dream. It is in that love that you will find the strength to carry on.

Marie and Rauls lucky 5 leaf clover

searching for clovers of hope

I carry on. I am a survivor of grief. I mourn. I mourn on a daily basis. This post is my mourning. This post, and so many other moments of mourning are what saved me. What moments of mourning have or will save you?

*this post was originally published on A Day at A Time

**this post is dedicated to Indy and George. ❤

Puzzle Pieces

A year ago today a Friend of mine took his own Life.  I wrote this a few days after he died & just wanted to share it with you.  ❤

“I’ve been thinking about Friends & Family a lot the last couple days after learning about the death of a good Friend of mine from my Childhood.

The people in our lives are like Puzzle Pieces.  Most of the people we encounter are like the Middle Pieces & help connect our Lives together.  May it be a Friend or just an Acquaintance or a Family Member you speak to occasionally.   There are some people though that are more like the Edge Pieces.  They are more important in the shaping of our lives.  People who we have confided in & shared our Lives with.  People who we love.  Even fewer still are the People I think of as Corner Pieces.  People who truly shaped us & really did help us become who we ARE.  Most of these people are our Parents & Siblings.  Some of these few Corner Pieces are Friends.  The People that were a major influence in what we became & who we turned into.  People that if it weren’t for them & something they did, we would not be able to say “I am Me.”

I can honestly say that Dustan Wilson was one of my Corner Pieces.  There is so much of who I am today that stems from the Friendship I had with him in Middle & High School.  I’m lucky to have had him as a Corner Piece as he helped me grasp the idea of being ME & not conforming to what “They” think I should be.  He helped me become an Individual.  Thank you Dustan.  You were an amazing Friend.  ♥

Most of you are my Middle Pieces, several are my Edge Pieces & a handful of you are my Corner Pieces.  Regardless of what Piece of my Puzzle of Life you are, without You, I am not Me.

*KODI*”

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.