5 years his story

Warning: trigger post on loss.
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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.

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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.

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To the Mom at the park whose son has Down Syndrome

Dear Mom at the park whose son has Down Syndrome, I’ve been to this park many times since before I can remember. I’ve played in the wading pool. I’ve run around on the grass playing with my imagination and later my younger brothers. I’ve rowed on the lake and run up and down the stadium steps. I’ve walked the lake dozens of times with my dogs. I’ve stumbled across the green grass in the dark with my BFF, both of us inebriated after her bachelorette celebration. I’ve nursed my baby on the benches around the lake, by the theater and by the basketball courts because that’s where he melted down. I’ve taken my baby swimming at the pool. I know this park well, but this was my first day at the playground with my little boy, Bear.

Greenlake Greenery

Bear and I have had such a journey to get here. I remember the NT scan and genetic testing. I opted for it mostly because it was one more opportunity to see him when all I could do was feel his little flutters. I needed that reassurance even though my odds of having a child with down syndrome were low. I needed that reassurance because the last scan I had of my first little guy missed all of his problems because abnormal nuchal translucency wasn’t one of them. I came close to that alternate universe. That universe where my first son survived and had such incredible physical challenges that life would never have been the same in so many good and bad ways. As my little rainbow literally face planted in the sandbox and started eating dirt I looked around in the hopes that no one would be judging me for letting him eat a little dirt before I reeled him in. After two younger brothers I know boys = loud dirt.

Bear loves dirt

It was then that I noticed you.

Your son caught my eye next. It might have been the way the light reflected off the fire trucks parked next to us. Or really it was the halo of loving energy he exuded that caught me, entranced me. He was laughing, having such a good time. Then I noticed something a little different. It took me a few moments of watching him to put my finger on it. Suddenly it clicked and I realized he has that magical extra chromosome. That chromosome that opens hearts and comes at everyone with love. I saw how tired you were, trying to corral him into the stroller as it was time to go. I saw his older brother patiently helping you and him. I saw his older sister resisting leaving because she too was having a ball. I saw his older brother getting behind the stroller to push him around. I saw you watching me watch you. I saw you turn away, maybe embarrassed or feeling self conscious or maybe angry because I WAS staring.

Mama, I want you to know what I was really thinking.

I was really thinking your son has such a lovely soul that shines right through his beautiful face. That crocheted blue hat he was wearing looked so soft and framed his face just right. Its color made his complexion even brighter. I was really noticing his cherry red cheeks, flushed and happy from playing in the crisp morning. I was really seeing his joyous self excited by all the people and commotion. I was really watching how lovingly his siblings interacted with him. I was really thinking to myself, “Wow. He is such a beautiful little boy.”

I want you to know what I was really thinking because I don’t want you to think for one more second that I was doing anything less than marveling at the miracles of your life. I was humbled to be in your presence. You’re a veteran mom and I don’t doubt you have had to fight a lot of battles on behalf of your children. I can only imagine how you felt after your NT scan, or if you even had one. I can only imagine the stares you’ve already faced. I can only imagine the challenges you’ve faced. I hope you know, in your heart of hearts, that you are winning and wonderful and my hero.

With RAWR, Marie

Moment of RAWR: Supermom Ninjas

This is a tribute to the Supermom. It’s Thursday. I know you’re tired. You are probably tired to the “I just put the empty paper grocery bag in the refrigerator and didn’t even realize I did it until I went to make dinner hours later” level. And yet you soldier on. In the name of love, responsibility and with a touch of the human spirit of carrying on, your actions are not lost. Someday your children will be old and will realize just how hard this all was.

I know you’re battling lost socks, single socks, dishes, the rest of the laundry, yummies, errands, work, unfinished homework, dirty diapers and poop patrols, dental appointments, dank trash, dust balls and more. It’s like you have to be part ninja or maybe just part dinosaur to get it all done and still survive. Either way, you know you can’t stop. You know the insanity of it all, doing the same chores over and over and wishing for different result. And yet you soldier on.

So for you, the Supermom, here’s your MOMENT OF RAWR.

DinosaurFunny_ninjas

 

Love, All Grown Up

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit. Be a tree, give fruits, flowers, shade to others without expecting anything from others. Whatever you want from others first you have to give that to others. Whatever you give to others, you will be given in return. If you give love, respect to others then surely you will be given love and respect from others. That’s why we should learn to give good things to others.”- Deepak Panwar freeimage-814506 A couple years ago, my husband and I found ourselves in the midst of a marriage crisis. We had no idea how, but we had gone from twitterpated young lovers to disillusioned married people. We fought constantly, and our words were almost always disrespectful, sarcastic, and unkind. We tried everything we could think of to reconnect: Date nights, talking more, sharing interests… it all just ended up serving as the Band-Aid over the gunshot wound. We were toeing the line of ending a marriage and splitting a family.

I stumbled across an advertisement for a marriage self-help book one day. In my head I scoffed and thought about how silly and trite it probably was. But, part of me knew I was running out of options to save my marriage. I ordered it, and jumped into reading. Of course, some of it was exactly what I expected in terms of catch phrases and fluff. To my complete shock, the main message was absolutely revolutionary to me. It told me to stop demanding and expecting from my partner. To stop speaking and behaving disrespectfully. My brain rebelled, “But, he makes me angry! He disrespects me! I’m not going to roll over and let that happen to me! I’m not going to bend over backwards for someone who won’t do the same.” I sat with these feelings for a good week until I finally figured I could probably swallow my pride long enough to give it a go… because honestly, what else could I do?

We decided to table the issues we had been arguing about for months. It wasn’t about better listening or communicating more clearly. It wasn’t about expressing needs asking for concessions. The focus was on the here and now- our words and actions towards each other in each moment. We were challenged to behave as we did in the beginning of our relationship with random acts of kindness and love. It wasn’t overnight, but change started to happen. We began to look at our relationship in terms of what we could bring to each other, and not what the other person owed us. Hearts softened, and we learned that though we couldn’t take back old slights and wrongs, we could forgive them without having to battle over who was right or responsible. Our words and actions towards each other became kind and respectful. The knot in my stomach that was all the old hurt and anger I had been hanging onto started to melt away, and I felt like I could breathe again. Of course, no couple is perfect, and sometimes old habits like to run amuck. But, we continually came back to the idea that we were in this relationship to love each other, not to tear each other down or win emotional battles.

What is left today is a relationship that feels all grown up. We are happy and, dare I say, still a bit twitterpated. We are tackling life one day at a time, and we do it knowing that we are a team. Not because we have to be, but because we choose to be. We love, laugh, trust, respect, forgive, and keep moving forward.
couple on beach
Relationships grow and evolve through so many phases- lust, twitterpation, adventure, comfort… But I truly think that love grows into its finest form when you realize that your highest calling to your relationship is to treat your partner with infinite kindness and respect. When you can look at them and know that you want nothing more than to never be a source of pain or disrespect to them… and that is reflected back at you. That it’s not about being right or in charge. That it doesn’t matter who makes more money or has more success. I think it’s when you realize that you can take on the world and anything in it… because you are a unit based in respect and driven by the desire to do right by each other. That binds you tightly to each other, and how can trials tear you apart if there isn’t a gap for a foothold to be had?

#Erin

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*”

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