Friday, September 16, 2011

Walk to Remember Dilemma

First, let me start by saying that I know it's been a while since my last post.  A lot has happened since then and I promise I'll update soon.

Anyhow, on to the reason for this post.  Every year, on the first Sunday in October, Rising Hope (the support group Tim and I attend) has a Walk to Remember.  It is held at the cemetery where Brianna is buried and we are encouraged to invite friends and family, basically anyone we feel can support us.

Last year was our first Walk.  We were only 7 or 8 weeks out from our loss, but I really wanted to be there.  Tim and I opted to not to invite anyone make it just for me and him.  The day was everything I thought it would be and more.  It was hard, it was painful, I cried a lot.  But it was also a day of hope for us because of all the children that were in attendance.  To see that these other families had suffered the tragedy of losing a baby and went on to have other kids.  To see that their lost baby was still important to them, that they still took the time to acknowledge his/her short meant the world to me.  I still remember one little boy, maybe 8 or 9.  I overheard him talking and he said that he was there to remember his twin sister, who died when they were babies.  He was so honest, so matter of fact about it.  His parents had raised him to know his sister.  She wasn't some un-mentionable secret, but a real part of their lives.  She still had a presence in their family.  If we are ever blessed to have take-home kids, that is what I want.  For them to know of their older sister, for Brianna to be a part of this family, not hidden away.

Anyhow, back on to my dilemma.  This year, the Walk to Remember is again on the first Sunday in October. Tim and I were planning on going again, just the two of us.  However, he found out yesterday that he has to be out of town for work training for the two weeks that straddle that weekend.  So, he's going to miss the Walk this year.  And while I'm sad that he won't be there, I understand why he can't go.  This training is important and will help him keep his job, which is really important in this economy.  But, at the same time, I don't want to go to the Walk alone.  Yes, there will be lots of other people there.  And yes, I've gotten to know a handful of them over this last year through the support group and even would call some of them friends.  But, it's not the same thing.  I feel that I need to have someone there with me, to support me, to remember Brianna with me.

So, here's the real problem.  Do I invite my parents?  I already know that they have out-of-town plans for the day before, so they may not be able to make it.  Do I want to ask them anyway, knowing they may have to decline?  Will that make them feel guilty/bad for not going?  Also, there's some unresolved things with my Dad over my grief (in a nutshell, he thinks I should be "better" by now, doesn't understand why I still see a therapist every 2 weeks, why I still go to support group every month, doesn't understand why I'd want to be around all the "sadness").  Do I really want my parents there and risk seeing their looks of pity, risk seeing their uncomfortable-ness?  Do I want to risk them seeing my tears, my sadness?  The "real" me that I hide away from them because I want them to think that I'm ok, that I'm "fine" all the time?

Or, I could invite some of my friends.  But, would the invitation make them feel weird?  If they decline, would they feel guilty (not at all what I'd want them to feel)?  If they go, will they feel awkward?

And in the end, the day is supposed to be about Brianna and the other babies.  And will having "outsiders" there as my support group take away from that?  Will I be so concerned with their perception of me, will I worry about their feelings too much that it will take away from the purpose of the day?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Year Ago Today, Part 2

A year ago yesterday (8/10/10), we were thrust into the world of the baby-lost.  Just after midnight, while still strapped to the operating table as the doctors put all my insides back together after the emergency c-section, and with my husband firmly gripping my hand, I was told the news no mother wants to hear.  "I'm sorry, but she didn't make it.  We tried to revive her for 20 minutes, but it didn't work."  Those were the heartbreaking words the NICU doctor had to deliver to me as I laid there on that damn table.  In that moment, I felt like such a failure.  I hadn't kept my baby safe.  She was born too early and too sick from the infection that had invaded my uterus.  And because of those things, she died.

The next few hours are muddled in my memory.  I don't remember being taken back to my room after the surgery.  I'm not sure how Brianna got to my room, I just know that she was there, dressed in a tiny pink dress and wrapped in a matching blanket that the hospital provided because we didn't have any baby clothes for her yet.  I know my OB told my parents and my sister the awful news.  I know that I was hooked up to IV antibiotics to fight the infection in my body, but I don't remember what they were.

What I do remember is that a year ago yesterday, I lost my innocence right along with my baby.  I remember holding her tiny body wrapped in the blanket.  I remember her tiny fingers - they were so long for such a little baby.  I remember her skinny legs.  I remember she had black hair like her daddy and it was starting to take on curl like mine.  I remember her adorable feet, a perfect mixture of mine and her dad's.  I remember thinking she was too purple from the lack of oxygen.  I remember wishing she wasn't so purple, because I would have loved to know what her skin color was naturally.

I also remember the look of sorrow and utter devastation on my husband's face.  I'm sure I had a similar look on mine.  I remember my mom and dad's tears as they tried to comfort me.  I remember my mom holding her newest granddaughter and marveling at how tiny and perfect she was.  I remember my dad's refusal to hold her because he knew if he did, he'd lose it and he was trying so hard to be strong for me.  I remember my sister crying as she held her first niece, saying how beautiful she was.

I remember all the questions we now had to answer.  Did we want an autopsy?  Did we have a clergy member we wanted to contact?  Did we know if we wanted Brianna's body buried or cremated or donated to the state medical board?  And they just kept on coming.  And they weren't any questions we thought we'd have to answer about our baby, so of course we had no idea on what to do and just went with our gut decisions.

I remember holding my tiny daughter for hours, willing myself to stay awake so that I wouldn't miss any of the time with her.  I know I didn't...there is a picture that my husband took of me, sleeping while still cradling my little girl close.  I remember having about 8 hours with her, which in retrospect, is a lot more than some babyloss moms get.  But, it wasn't enough time.  No amount would have been enough, especially since what I wanted was a lifetime with her.

Around 9 am on 8/10/10, we had to say goodbye to our baby girl.  My husband gently wrapped her in her blanket and laid her down on this little basket the nurse had brought in for this purpose.  The nurse then picked up the basket and assured us she would make sure our little one was looked after as they took her to the morgue.  As she left the room, I remember thinking how I didn't want to let her go.  How it was so unfair that my baby had died.  Why me?  Brianna had been with me for 25 weeks and 2 days and I remember thinking I felt so alone without her.  She had been my constant companion.  All I had to do was touch my belly and I felt connected to her. And in a matter of hours, she was gone.  It was too fast.  I didn't want her to go to the cold morgue.  But, I didn't have a choice.  She was dead and that's where the dead go in a hospital.

A year ago yesterday was the day that divided my life into the "before" and "after".  It was the start of this journey into deadbabyland.  It was the beginning of the heartbreak and sorrow.  But it was also the beginning of the change in the way I view life.  I'm now more real, more present, more aware.  It was the beginning of this journey that has led me to realize that joy and sorrow, laughter and tears, hope and heartbreak are not mutually exclusive.  Instead, they are all present all the time.  They can be part of my life all at once if I allow them.  It's not an "either/or" but an "and".

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

1 Year

Dear Brianna,

A year.  I just can't believe it's been a year, yet at the same time, I can't believe it's only been a year.  In hindsight, time seems to have flown by this past year.  But during the year itself, it seemed to be just crawling along.  I don't know if that's because of the grief or because I'm getting older or both.

Daddy and I miss you very much.  We would have liked to have spent your first birthday watching you eat your cake, getting frosting all over your face and in your hair.  Instead, we visited your grave and brought you pink roses and a butterfly balloon.  I hope that you can feel our love where you are.

Today, lots of family and friends told us they were remembering you.  There are so many of them who love you too.  You would have been such a spoiled baby had you lived.  Not only would you have had your daddy wrapped around your little finger, but your Granddad H and Papa S too.  Not to mention your Grandma H and Nana S and aunts and all the other "aunties" and "uncles".  I am so sorry that you are missing out on all that.

Happy Birthday, Brianna.  We love you, we miss you, and we always will.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Great Gift

"If you know someone who has lost a child, and you're afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died - you're not reminding them.  They didn't forget they died.  What you're reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived, and that is a great gift."
~Elizabeth Edwards

I've seen the above quote a few times since Brianna died.  And every time I read it, I am amazed by how true it rings. As we approach Brianna's one-year birthday/anniversary of her death, that quote seems even more apt.  I wonder if people will remember her.  And if so, will they say something to me?  Or are they afraid to say anything because they're afraid to upset me?  Make me cry?  I wish I could say to all my "real life" friends and family that by mentioning Brianna to me, it makes me happy.  Happy that they remember her.  Happy that she isn't forgotten.  Happy that they realize just how important she was and still is to me.  Yes, I may cry and it may make them uncomfortable.  But not mentioning her is much, much worse than saying her name to me.  Just telling me that they remember her, that her short little life mattered means more to me than I can put into words.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Year Ago Today, Part 1

A year ago, today, I was 23 weeks, 2 days pregnant with Brianna.  On that day, I woke up in the early morning hours with a lot of lower back pain.  I thought it was because I had been on bedrest at home for about a month and that my muscles were just tired of laying around all day.  I tried to rest, but nothing seemed to help.  I asked my husband to stay home from work since I didn't feel well.  Around lunch time, I couldn't take it anymore and called the OB.  She had me come in to the office and discovered that I was about a centimeter dilated.  I was terrified as we rushed to the hospital.

Once at the hospital, I was put on medicines to stop the progress of labor.  I was informed that I would be in the hospital on bedrest for the foreseeable future.  They would monitor me every day with a NST (non-stress test) to make sure I wasn't having contractions.  The goal was to get me to 28 weeks.  At that point, we'd discuss whether or not I could go home (but still on bedrest).  I never got to 28 weeks.

Today has been hard.  I keep remembering the fear and the hope of last July 26.  The fear that my baby was in trouble but the hope that the bedrest and the doctors would be able to help me save her.  I remember the kind and caring nurses.  I remember the compassion of my friends and family as they offered to help out with caring for the cats and looking after the house.  I remember the solid rock that my husband was on that horrible day.  Most of all, I remember the tiny kicks and flips of my little girl as she moved inside me, telling me that on that day, she was still ok and alive.

As the next two weeks unfold, I know I'll have more memories.  I know that they will leave me in tears, leave me breathless, leave me aching for Brianna.  I hope that some of the memories will also make me smile as I remember her tiny life and how happy I was that she was ours, if only for a short while.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Almost a Year

If I sit still for too long, the grief takes over.  The lump forms in my throat, the tears well up in my eyes, the ache settles into my arms and chest.  So, I try to keep moving.  Do the laundry, clean the kitchen, buy the groceries.  I find that as I get closer to the 1-year mark, I have to keep myself distracted in order to get through each day.  I sing along to the radio while I'm alone in the car to keep the memories and tears at bay.  At home, I read a lot.  I've spent a small fortune on books for my Kindle.  By reading, I can lose myself into the story.  I read until the wee hours of the morning, tiring myself out so that I fall asleep quickly, without the time to focus on the grief, on all that I'm missing.

I know that eventually, I'll have to stop avoiding it.  I'll have to turn and embrace the memories.  I'll have to acknowledge the loss, the grief, the tears all over again.  It's not healthy to keep avoiding it.  It's not helping me to keep running from it.  But, right now, I can't seem to do it.  Luckily, I have planned ahead and won't be working on the few days before Brianna's birthday.  I can use that time to remember, to go back to last year.  I can relive it all, the good and the bad.  I'll have the space to fall apart, if need be.  Until then, I'll keep singing along to the radio and disappearing into fictional worlds.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

11 Months

Dear Brianna,

I am sorry that this letter is day late.  There's no good excuse for it.  I guess I just don't know what to say anymore that's new or different.  Eleven months have passed since you left us.  And I still miss you.  Every.  Single.  Day.

Yesterday, Daddy and I visited your grave, as we have done on (or near) your birthday every month.  This time, we brought 3 sunflowers...a big one, a medium one and a very little one.  I hope you like them.

(The flag was put by your grave by Miss Sherri, Abby's mom.  I think she was the one who also put the little patriotic rubber duckie there too.  She put them at all the babies' graves.  I hope you can see them and realize how much all of you are remembered.)

Brianna, I hope that you know just how much I love you and just how much I miss you.  You are never far from my thoughts.  And, little girl, you will always be a part of this family.  You were our first baby and you will forever hold a special place in our hearts.

Happy Birthday, baby girl.  I love you.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Blog Calendar

Dear Followers,

First off, thank you so much for "following" my tiny blog.  I never thought I'd actually have anyone besides my husband actually read my blog.  The fact that you all do read it and care about what I have to say is rather humbling.

I was thinking the other day about the calendar I've put at the bottom of my blog.  On it, I've added the birthdays of the dead babies of some real-life friends (and my BLM pen-pal...hi Susan!).  I've done this as a way of honoring the special days in these other womens' lives because I know that in the "real" world, these days can sometimes be overlooked and/or forgotten.  And I never want to forget these children who were so loved and wanted.

So, to all my followers (yep, all 6 of you)...if you want, I would love to add your children to the calendar.  Just comment here with your baby's name (first and middle), their birthday (please include the year too), and your first name (and your partner's if you'd like).  I'll add them to the calendar and on their birthdays, I will make sure to remember them with you.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Another One

Every Wednesday, I work from home.  My desk is set up in the back of our large bedroom, right next to our window.  I look out that window onto the neighboring townhouses that back to ours.  Because of the topography, our second story lines up with their first story, their family rooms, their decks.

A few weeks ago, something caught my eye as I was working.  I looked and saw that one of our back-yard neighbors was on her deck, watering her plants and she was very noticeably pregnant.  It caught me be surprise. I don't know her, in fact I don't really know any of the back-yard neighbors.  But, to see her so hugely pregnant was shocking.  I guess it's because I tend to forget that women still get pregnant and life continues on.  It hurt at the time to see her, going about her normal business of watering plants and caring for her house while so very pregnant because I never got to do that.  I never got that far before the bedrest.  I never got that far at all, even on bedrest.  I never made it past 25 weeks and 2 days.

Today, movement again caught my eye as I worked at my desk.  As I'm on the computer and going about my work business, I glance up as the door to one of the houses behind me opens.  And I see that the very pregnant back-yard neighbor is no longer pregnant but is now holding her tiny baby in her arms as she waters the plants on her deck.  And I cry.  Another baby born into this neighborhood, safe and sound.  And while I'm glad her baby made it here safely (because I'd never wish the hell of babyloss on anyone), I still wish my baby could have come home too.  Oh, how I wish I could be the back-yard neighbor with the baby on my hip as I water plants or tend my garden.  Of the 5 townhouses behind ours, 3 now have babies in residence.  And the occasional glimpse of them reminds me just how much is missing here in our townhouse.  And will always be missing.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Missing (Again)

My parents are hosting a summer party, a crabfeast (we live in the mid-atlantic, specifically in a state known for blue crabs!).  It's to be the last at their house, as they are hoping to sell it this summer and move away.  Their house is an awesome place to entertain and they love to have this crabfeast at least once a year.

Anyhow, just a few days ago, my mom sent out the invite for this year's crabfeast via email.  Here's what it said (names disguised on purpose).

God is great!
Life is good!

J & B were engaged June 2
K will finish her final course by the end of June to earn her Master's Degree

K will celebrate her 40th birthday. (July 6)
Little K will celebrate her 6th birthday. (July 11)
T will celebrate his 67th birthday. (July 23)
J will celebrate her 21st birthday. (August 8)

T & R celebrated their 45th anniversary. (June 11)
Mandy and Tim will celebrate their 11th anniversary. (August 18)

What are you celebrating this summer?

Set aside Saturday, July 16 to celebrate your milestones along with ours as we gather for a crab feast. 
4:00-ish to . . .. .

When you RSVP, please let us know the blessings YOU are celebrating this summer.

All in all, a pretty nice invite.  The theme of this year's party is (obviously) summer celebrations.  But, I can't help but notice the one celebration missing.  Brianna.  As always, she is missing.  Her birthday is August 9.  She would have been 1 year old, had she lived.  Intellectually, I know why my mom didn't include her on the invitation.  Because Brianna's dead.  And in the "normal" world, you don't mention dead babies, especially in the context of "celebrations".  But, it still hurts my heart that yet again, Brianna is excluded.  She's not on the list of our family's celebrations.  She's still that silent, shadow baby that no one mentions.  And, as always, it just plain sucks.

Tim and I will attend the party.  I'm getting much better at being able to survive social outings.  I even find that I can enjoy them, most of the time.  But, it's different now.  I'm only about 90% present anymore.  There's always a tiny part of me that isn't there.  The tiny part that is missing Brianna, wishing life had taken a different path.  It's hard to put into words.  I guess that I will forever live my life looking through the lenses of grief.  Always seeing the shadow girl who should be there but isn't.  It's just one of those fundamental changes that occurred when my baby died.  It's a shift in my world, like the Earth tilted ever-so-slightly on it's axis on August 9, 2010 and I'm the only one who can perceive it.

We'll go to the party, we'll socialize, we'll eat crabs and shrimp and corn-on-the-cob.  I'll have a good time, but at the same time know, it could have been sooo much better had there been a little, dark-and-curly-haired baby there with us.  Secretly, I'll probably be wishing that someone, anyone, will ask me about her, will use her name, will want to talk about her.  But, I won't actually bring her into the conversation.  Mostly, because I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable but also because I don't want to get the looks of pity, the change in tone in the voices of others, the awkward silences because they just do not know how to react.  But, if someone does ask, I will talk about my baby girl.  I will let them know that I miss her, but I am not ashamed of her.  That I am proud I was her mom, if only for a short time.  And I will thank them for remembering her.  I will celebrate her in my own way at this "summer celebrations" party.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Children's Garden Spring Clean

I'm not sure if I mentioned this before, but Brianna is buried in an area of the cemetery that is reserved for the internment of babies.  Years ago, a fund-raiser was done by a lovely couple to raise enough money to buy up 50 adjacent plots in the cemetery to be turned into what is now known as the Children's Garden II.  Over $300,000 was raised and the plots were purchased on the edge of the cemetery, near to the woods.  Each one of these "normal" sized plots was subdivided into 4 "baby" sized plots, so eventually, there will be around 200 babies buried here (there actually will probably be a few more because some of the plots already have twins buried together).  Brianna was buried in the 67th plot.  The plots are donated, free-of-charge to families like us, families whose babies are stillborn or die shortly after birth.  Most of the babies buried in the Children's Garden II were delivered at the same hospital where Brianna was stillborn and some of their parents also go to the monthly support group at the hospital that Tim and I have attended since Brianna's death.

(Random thought - I like to imagine that the other babies from the Children's Garden are Brianna's friends in Heaven.  I like to think that some of the "older" babies were there to greet Brianna, give her the tour, explain that her Mommy and Daddy love her very much but couldn't be with her yet.  I also like to imagine that Brianna has also helped to greet the "newer" babies and helped them too.)

Anyhow, last night, Tim and I joined some of the other babylost families at the Children's Garden for a spring clean up.  After a week of unbearable heat and humidity here in the mid-Atlantic, yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day, with temperatures in the upper 70s and no humidity at all (part of me wonders if the beautiful weather was a gift from our babies).  We planted flowers, trimmed the hedges, cut the grass, and cleaned the headstones.  As I see it, this is our way of taking care of Brianna.  It's a poor substitute for the care we'd rather be giving her.  But, it's all we have.  It's one of the only ways we have to show the world just how much we love her, how much she means to us.

We also had a chance to socialize with the other parents and generally had a good time.  As a lot of you in deadbaby blogland know, it's nice to be with others who get it.  They make me feel like I belong, especially since lately, I don't feel like I belong with all the "normal" people.  Even though I never wanted to be in this "club", I am glad that there is a group of others that have accepted me as I am right now in my grief.  I don't have to worry about what I say making them uncomfortable, because they have the same feelings.  I can mention Brianna, say her name out loud and not get the "looks", the pity, the awkward silences that I get in "normal" company.  I can relax and just be the "new" me.

At the end of the evening, it was nice to look around and see the transformation of the Children's Garden.  It looks well cared for and pretty.  I hope that Brianna and all the other babies can see it and realize it was accomplished out of the love that all of their parents have for them.  I hope it made them smile.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

10 Months

Dear Brianna,

Ten months.  Today you would be ten months old.  I don't know what to say about it.  I feel like I'm just repeating myself every month.  I wish you were here.  I wish you hadn't died.  I'm sorry I couldn't keep you safe.  I love you more than ever.

Now that it's getting hot outside, more and more memories of last year are flooding in.  Driving to work, pregnant with you, stopping at McDonald's for a sausage McMuffin for breakfast and orange juice.  Keeping you a secret from my coworkers until I thought it was "safe".  Making sure to have tons of snacks at my desk to keep the nausea at bay.  All these memories make me smile, and at the same time, make me want to cry because I miss you so much.

Bree, I will always treasure the memories of you.  I will always miss you and love you.

Happy Birthday, baby girl.

Love always,

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Right Where I Am: 9 Months, 3 Weeks

Angie of still life with circles has created a project, asking those of us in the babylost community to write a post about where we right now are in our grief journey.  It's a great idea and I'm proud to participate.

9 months, 3 weeks

I started this post a few days ago when I was doing "ok".  I had it halfway composed, giving a brief history of how the first days, weeks, months felt as a way of comparing that to where I am right now.  Then, I slid down the slippery slope of grief, back to a place of "not ok".

That's where I am right now, in the land of "not ok".  Tears, sadness, hurt.  I was doing better a few days ago, damn it.  I was able to look back and see how far I've come.  I was thinking "it's nice to go days, even a week or two without crying".  Then, BAM, here come the tears, the tightness in the throat, the weight in the chest.  The unbelievable longing for Brianna.  For her to be here with me, in my aching arms, to snuggle, to kiss.  God, how I miss her.

I know what triggered the slide down this time.  But knowing that doesn't make it hurt any less.  That's how the grief goes these days.  I'm more aware of the triggers.  I can step outside of it and analyze it and figure it out.  But, at it's core, it still hurts.  It always will.  But at almost 10 months, I also know that the "down" days won't last forever.  I know there will be "up" days.  I also know the "up" days can't be forced.  Happiness, laughter, smiles will return, but in their own time.  And there will still be tears and pain and heartache.  Here, in this new "after" life, I've learned that  happiness and sorrow, laughter and tears, smiles and heartache can co-exist.  You can have all at the same time.  Life is now a constant contradiction because Brianna will always be both present and absent from my life.

The other day, while I was in the shower, I was giving this post a lot of thought.  I had just read Angie's post and was contemplating just where I was in my grief and my life so that I could contribute to this project.  It just felt so important to put it out there, for others who will come behind me and maybe find some similarities in their journey when they get to 9 months, 3 weeks.  To know they are not alone.  As I typically do on a Saturday, while I was showering, I had music on in the background.  Right as I was contemplating this post, "Ordinary World" by Duran Duran came on and I caught the lyrics.  Even though the song is about a lost love between adults, all I heard was the lost love.  As someone put it on a blog I frequent (sorry, I can't remember just which one), every love song is now about my baby.  The chorus to "Ordinary World" summarizes how I feel lately.

"But I won't cry for yesterday
There's an ordinary world
Somewhere I have to find
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive"

I know that somewhere out there is my new ordinary world and I will keep searching for it.  And on my way, I will find a way to survive.  And I hope that one day, I'll find that I'm doing more than surviving.  I hope to one day look around and realize that I'm thriving.  But, today, right where I am is still a mixture of emotions, good and bad.  It's messy.  It's a lot better than it was months ago.  But, it still hurts.  I still miss her.  I still want her here with me.

Summer Vacation Planning

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always taken a vacation in the summer.  Both of my parents used to be teachers, so summer was the only time we could vacation.  Every year, a new adventure would await...trips to Florida, trips to the ocean, trips up and down the east coast.  Looking back, I realize just how blessed I was to have all these vacations with my family.

Last year, we took our "summer" vacation a little bit early.  We did a road trip across the U.S.A. at the end of April with good friends of ours.  About a month or so before we left, we found out I was pregnant, so we thought "ok, must make this trip the best ever since we won't have the freedom next year to do this since there will be a baby".  So, we did.  We had a blast.  It was long days in the car, but it was fun.  We saw so much of this wonderful country, from the tree covered Appalachian mountains, to the grass and farmlands of the midwest, to the beautiful vastness of the desert.  It truly was a trip to remember.

After that trip, we settled into a normal routine of work and home, saving up vacation days for the fall "when we'd need them for the baby".  Then all hell broke loose in mid-June and I was put on home bedrest followed by hospital bedrest in July.  Then Brianna (and I) got sick, Brianna was delivered early and then died.  Not at all a way to spend a summer "vacation".

So, now it's almost summer again.  And we're starting to plan our summer vacation.  I desperately want to get away, to have a week or so somewhere other than here, to take a break from my job as well as try to take a break from this grief.  Because, this grieving thing is hard work and damn it, I deserve a break.  I want to be able to enjoy a new place.  I want to get lost in a new experience and maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to relax a bit.  Of course Brianna will be with me, she always is.  But maybe it won't be so damn hard for that one week if there's a new physical perspective.  Maybe I'll enjoy myself and have fun, maybe I'll smile more, maybe I'll laugh more.  Maybe I'll find a bit of the "before" me, buried somewhere deep down.  I just want to be able to take a deep breath and just be.  Maybe the lump in my throat will shrink some and I won't be on the verge of tears every day.

Tim and I have an awesome opportunity to go to Aruba with some friends.  But, we're finding it hard to "pull the trigger" and book the flight.  Beyond the exorbitant cost of the airfare, we just don't seem to be able to definitively say "yes, this is what we should do".  Tim says that he just can't envision us on this trip.  So, last night, we started talking about other ideas.  Maybe San Francisco?  How about New England?  A cruise?  They all cost a lot.  But, I think there's something more holding me back.  Because as much as I crave a summer vacation, I can't help but think "we shouldn't be able to do this".  We shouldn't be able to spend this kind of money, because we should have an almost 10 month old baby girl here with us.  We should be paying for daycare and diapers and baby food.

Other friends of ours are going to the Outer Banks this summer.  We went with them 3 summers ago, before we were even trying to get pregnant.  It was a great time.  Those same friends are going back to the Outer Banks this summer.  That is the trip we should be planning.  We should be trying to scrape together the money for the rental house.  We should be buying baby girl swim suits and summer outfits.  We should be looking forward to seeing Brianna at the beach with our friend's baby boy and the older pre-schoolers.  But, those plans aren't ours to make.  Brianna's dead and won't be enjoying her first trip to the beach this summer.  And because it would be too painful for me, Tim and I aren't going either.  I can't bring myself to go and see all the kids playing and be constantly noticing the missing baby girl.  It would hurt too much.  And if others didn't notice her missing, it would hurt that much more.  And why would they notice?  She's not their baby, they aren't constantly missing her like I am.

What I really want is my baby back.  I want her with a longing bone deep.  Since that's impossible in this life, I'm going to settle for a good summer vacation.  I need a break from the stress of my job and the hard work of grieving.  I want a vacation from this life and for one week to just be free of it all.  I just need to make the decision on where to go and just do it without over-analyzing it.  So, any suggestions?  Where should we go to have a relaxing time?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Step 1 Towards Trying to Conceive (TTC) Again

DISCLAIMER:  There will be a lot of icky talk in this post about cycles, and bleeding, and such.  You've been warned!

After the D&C for my missed miscarriage back in December, we were told by our perinatologist to wait at least 2 full cycles before trying again.  The plan was laid out like this: wait 2 full cycles, then have blood drawn so that they could "throw the book at me" and run a bunch of tests to see if there are any underlying medical issues that could cause problems in future pregnancies.  (Who knows?  Maybe they'll discover something that could help further explain Brianna's death or the miscarriage in December.  I've been told most likely not.  All the doctors believe that there is no link between Brianna's death and the miscarriage.  Just shitty luck, twice.  But, better be safe than sorry, which I am all for.)

Ever since the beginning of January, I've been waiting for my two full, normal cycles.  Because my body took forever to stop bleeding from the D&C (a full 8 weeks of bleeding that was on again/off again) and because my cycles are typically longish (average 35 days), I finally completed my second cycle this past weekend.

So, this past Tuesday (5/17/11) I made the call to the OB/GYN office.  I was told they would fill out the lab form and I could swing by to pick it up.  Two hours after that call, I picked up the form and at lunchtime I had 18 vials of blood drawn.  Yes, you read that right...18!!!  They are doing a full autoimmune panel workup.  They are also testing me for thrombophilias (blood clotting disorders) and antiphospholipids (not sure on this's something to do with an autoimmune disorder according to Dr. Google).

The blood tests are step 1 on our journey to start trying again.  I'm scared and nervous to begin down this road.  What if I can't get pregnant again?  Or, what if I can, but then miscarry again?  Or worse, have another 2nd trimester loss?  What if I have to go on bedrest earlier than I did with Brianna?  Can we handle that financially?  Can we handle that as a couple, emotionally?  But, even with all these fears and questions, I know we'll try again.  We want a family.  We want kids of our own running around the house.  We want the midnight feedings and crying and cooing and smiles.  It is the thought of having Tim's children that helps me put the fears aside and say "yes, we can try this again".  It won't be easy, in fact it will be downright terrifying.  But, it's worth the risk to be able to bring home a live baby that is a product of our love, part me and part Tim.  Brianna will forever be our first child, our first "one".  It's because of the love that I have for Brianna that I am willing to try again.

Monday, May 9, 2011

9 Months

Dear Brianna,

Today, you would be 9 months old.  But, since you were born early, had you lived, you would also have what the doctors call an "adjusted" age.  So, today, your adjusted age would be 5.5 months old.  Who knows what milestones you'd be hitting now?  The ones for a 9 month old baby, like sitting up on your own, starting to get up on all fours, starting to try to crawl?  Or the ones for a 5.5 month old baby, like rolling over, starting to eat baby food, smiling, laughing?  But, baby girl, you'll never hit those or any other milestones.  And that makes me sad.

Yesterday, your dad and I visited your grave.  We brought you flowers, like we do every month for your birthday.  This month, they were yellow roses and as always, there were 3 of them.  One for me, one for Daddy and one for you, all together as a family.  We miss you very much, baby girl.

Happy Birthday, Brianna.  I hope that you know just how much we love you.


Friday, May 6, 2011

The Triplets

Three years ago today, three beautiful boys were born into this world.  Unfortunately, they weren't able to stay.  So, today, on their 3rd birthday, I remember them with their mom, my friend Amy.  They will never be forgotten and they will always be loved.

Happy Birthday Boys!

Anthony Michael - May 6, 2008
Ian Vincent - May 6, 2008 - May 7, 2008
Mateo Joseph - May 6, 2008

Thursday, May 5, 2011

17 Years

Seventeen years ago, on May 5, 1994, Tim and I officially became boyfriend and girlfriend.  I was 15 and a freshman in high school in a town I had moved to the preceding October, thereby making me one of the "new" kids in school.  Tim was 16 and a sophomore and had gone to school in that particular district his entire life.  I remember bits of that warm spring day in startling clarity (it's startling because my memory is usually very awful).  I was wearing a lavender t-shirt and white jeans and after school, I was hanging out with Tim outside the doors to the school, waiting for my dad to drive me home (my dad worked for the school system and his office was at my high school).  I remember standing up against one of the concrete pillars that supported the second story overhang of the building.  Tim was circling me and the pillar while riding his bike.  We were just talking, teasing each other while we flirted as high schoolers do.  We had only started talking to each other as friends a few months before (I swear it was in December that I met him, he swears it was later than that.  It's still a point of playful argument to this day!)  I don't remember what all was said, but I do know that Tim asked me if I wanted to be his girlfriend and then asked me out for our first date.

Seventeen years ago today, I was just a young girl with a crush on the tall, dark and handsome sophomore I barely knew.  Today, I'm a much older woman with a deep love for that tall, dark and handsome man.  He knows me, my hopes, my fears, my flaws and despite it all, loves me just because I am me.  He asks nothing more of me than I just continue to be me and for that, I am grateful.

Tim, happy anniversary.  I love you more today than I ever thought was possible 17 years ago.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mother's Day Musings

When I was a kid and teenager, I never really did the whole Mother's Day thing.  Once I got to college, I at least tried to send my mom a card on Mother's Day.  As I got even older, I started to realize just how much my mom really meant to me and wanted to express that on Mother's Day, so over the last few years, I've sent her flowers.  I also would send flowers to Tim's mom and grandmothers to say "Happy Mother's Day.  We love you."  I realized that it was important to let the moms in our lives know just how much we cared and that you can never say "I Love You" too many times.

Over the two years that we were trying to get pregnant, Mother's Day was just a tad bittersweet.  I still was sending flowers to our moms, but secretly wishing I had my own child so I could be a mother too.  I just wanted so badly to finally belong to the "mommy club".

Last year, I was 12 weeks pregnant with Brianna on Mother's Day.  We had told our families a few weeks before that day that we were finally going to be parents.  So, on that first Sunday in May, while at a Mother's Day lunch at my sister-in-law's house, I was included in the festivities.  Even though I technically wasn't a mom yet, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law both gave me my first Mother's Day cards.  It was wonderful to finally be on the receiving end and to be full of so much joy.  At the time, I was looking forward to the next Mother's Day, when I *would* have a baby in my arms at the family Mother's Day gathering.

Then the unthinkable happened in August and Brianna died, before she was even really born.  Since her death, I've struggled to see where I fit in.  Am I really a mother, since I never got to parent my baby?  How can I be considered a mom when I don't rock a baby to sleep, I don't get up in the middle of the night to give bottles to a screaming baby, I don't have take her to doctor's appointments and have her vaccinated?  I don't do any of the things a mother is supposed to do because I don't have a live child to care for.

Now, as this Mother's Day is fast approaching, I'm wondering, yet again, am I a mother?  I was pregnant on Mother's Day last year and technically wasn't a mother then, but I was still included.  Everyone believed I'd be bringing home a baby at the end of the pregnancy and therefore I was an expectant mom.  But now?  What am I exactly?  What is the word for a woman who was once pregnant but now has no children?  Am I even still considered a mother?  Will my family even acknowledge it this year?  Will I get cards?  Flowers?  Or will they all think it's too painful for me and just not send anything?  Will I be left out?  Should I be?  Am I only just a daughter this Mother's Day?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

8 Months

Dear Brianna,

Spring has come to this part of the world again.  The daffodils and forsythias are blooming in abundance, the early trees are blossoming, and it's the Cherry Tree Festival in Washington D.C. this weekend.  This has always been my favorite season of the year, when new life springs from the ground.  I've always loved the cool mornings that grow into balmy afternoons.  I've enjoyed the smell  outside just after a spring rain.

But this year, baby girl, my joy of the spring season is clouded just a bit.  You should be here, enjoying your first spring.  I should be taking you on walks around the neighborhood in the warm evenings.  I should be posing you with all the spring flowers and taking lots of photos to post on FaceBook, just like my friends are starting to do with their kids.  But, I'm not.  Instead, I'll visit your grave today and leave you daffodils and tullips, as my way of sharing this spring with you.  I wonder, does Heaven have spring?  Do you get to enjoy the flowers and spring rain like I do?  I hope so.

Happy 8-month birthday baby.  I love you and always will.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"I Won't Let Go"

I am a country music fan.  Every day at work, I listen to the "new country" station on Slacker Radio on my Android phone.  Every day on my drive home, I listen to "The Highway" on Sirius/XM.  I can name most current country songs and the artists singing the songs after the first few notes.  I'd do awesome on "Name That Tune" if there was an all-country version.  That being said, it should then come as no surprise that I've heard the new Rascal Flatts song, "I Won't Let Go".  Below, I've included the lyrics to the song for those of you reading who don't want to watch the video (yes, Tim, I'm looking at you...I know how much you hate listening to country).

It's like a storm
That cuts a path
It breaks your will
It feels like that
You think you're lost
But you're not lost on your own,
You're not alone

I will stand by you,
I will help you through
When you've done all you can do
and you can't cope
I will dry your eyes,
I will fight your fight
I will hold you tight
and I won't let go

It hurts my heart to see you cry
I know its dark this part of life
Oh it find us all and we're to small
to stop the rain
Oh but when it rains

I will stand by you,
I will help you through
When you've done all you can do
and you can't cope
I will dry your eyes,
I will fight your fight
I will hold you tight
and I won't let you fall

Don't be afraid to fall
I'm right here to catch you
I won't let you down
It won't get you down
You're gonna make it
I know you can make it

Cause I will stand by you,
I will help you through
When you've done all you can do
and you can't cope
I will dry your eyes,
I will fight your fight
I will hold you tight
and I won't let go

Oh I'm gonna hold you
and I won't let go
Won't let you go
No I won't

The first time I heard this song, I broke down in tears, which probably wasn't the safest thing since I was driving at the time.  And every time since then, when this song comes on the radio, I turn it up and just let it wash over me.  You see, to me, this song is my husband.  When the grief gets to be too much, when I just lose it and start crying, he's the one right beside me, keeping me afloat.  He reminds me that I'm not alone in this hell, that he is right there beside me, holding me up, helping me fight my fight, giving me the support I need.  He is the one who holds me tight and let's me be in the moment, telling me it's ok to cry and miss our daughter.  He makes it ok to wish it was different at the same time acknowledging that it never will be.  He is truly the only other person in the world who knows just how I feel, because he is Brianna's father and he misses her too.  We are on this road together.  So, even though sometimes I feel alone, all I have to do is reach out into the dark and I'll find him there, ready to hold my hand.  And I know that no matter what happens in the future, he will never let me go.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Yesterday, on my drive home from work, I was hit by a memory from my pregnancy.  You see, this time last year, I had just found out I was pregnant.  From our calculations, I was about 6 weeks along, so it was very early.  And luckily, I didn't have severe morning sickness.  Just slight nausea in the mornings, but not enough to worry about.  Even though, Tim was so sweet about it and put Saltines next to my side of the bed so I'd have them every morning if I needed them.

As I was driving home yesterday, the memory of the crackers hit me.  It made me smile, remembering the sweetness of that action by my loving husband...even that early on in my pregnancy, and he was doing his best to take care of me and the little being that would be our baby.  He was stepping into his role as a loving father.  And after the smile, I then cried.  Because that's how it goes these minute, a smile by a wonderful memory and then the sadness because memories are all I have left of my baby.

I have a feeling that the rest of this spring and summer are going to be this way.  The season has changed and now the little things are bringing back memories of last year, when I was pregnant, happy and naive.  And as much as I welcome the memories, they also bring back the pain of loss.  It's just another facet of this never ending grief.  During the fall and winter, the grief was very hard and mostly pain and bitterness.  It was all about the loss of the dreams and plans...Brianna should have been here for Thanksgiving and Christmas and she wasn't.  But, she also wasn't in existance the Thanksgiving or Christmas before.  Now, though, the grief has changed into bittersweet, because of the memories.  Last spring, Brianna existed, if only as a tiny embryo inside of me.  But she was real.  That is the sweet part...the memories of her.  But, the bitter is still there too...the loss of her, the pain it brings, the longing for her.  As always, the changing nature of this grief leaves me breathless.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sick Day

For the last 10 days or so, I've been battling a nasty head cold.  Over the last couple of days, I developed a cough that has messed with my vocal chords, giving me a much deeper and huskier voice.  The coughing got so bad that I decided to take today off of work and actually go to the doctor.  Turns out that I have the beginning of a sinus infection, so I am now on strong antibiotics for the next 10 days.  Tim also hasn't been feeling well, so he took a sick day today too.  We've spent most of the day together, watching movies and cuddling with the cats.

And even though I'm sick and all, today has actually been a good day.  I still miss Brianna tremendously and the thought of her can still bring me to tears.  But, I'm learning to take the good with the bad.  I'm learning that it's ok to have good days, to laugh again, to enjoy myself.  Being sad won't bring Brianna back and being happy won't make me forget about her either.  Slowly, I'm learning how to navigate through my "new" normal and balance all the emotions.  Don't get me wrong, I'll surely have many setbacks on this journey.  But, at least I'm finally to a point where I realize that I have to move forward in order to keep living.  I owe that much to not only myself, but to Tim and Brianna too.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

7 Months

Dear Brianna,

Seven months ago, your were born and then you died.  Or really, you died and then you were born. Or maybe it was both at the same time.  I'll never know the exact order of it.  We don't know if your heart stopped beating before the c-section or during it.  But, we do know that it stopped.  And part of me wishes the doctors had been able to start it again, to give you a chance to fight, to feel me holding you, to have you hear your Daddy's voice.  But another part of me is glad that they couldn't revive you because I wouldn't have wanted you to feel any pain, having to be hooked up to machines for months on end without knowing if you would live or die.

Baby girl, there are only a few things that I know for certain right now at this point in my life.  Two of them are that I love you forever and miss you always.  I really hope that wherever you are, you can feel my love for you.  And I hope that when I do finally get to see you someday, you'll know who I am right away.

Happy Birthday, Brianna.

Love always,


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Ceil's Reading

At a forum on a babyloss website that I frequent (I think I've mentioned it before...Glow in the Woods), I came across another DBM (dead baby mom) who goes by the name Ceil.  She shared a link to a video of her reading an essay at a writing contest.  Her essay was about her son Kai and how his death impacted her life.  I wanted to share that video because her words capture the way I feel and she does a better job than me in explaining just what the loss of a baby means to us DBMs.  As a warning, the video is a bit long (about 10 minutes) and can make you cry.  So, here's the link.

One part that really stuck with me since I saw the video is when she talks about how us DBMs can go back to the way life was before we got pregnant (sleeping in late, spending time without the responsibility of children, etc) but how it's not what we want.  We had prepared ourselves for life as we knew it to change and had embraced that change.  And then, in the loss of a precious heartbeat, the routine of life didn't change.  Because there is no infant to keep us up at night, no infant that is reliant on us for his/her every need.  There is no baby to snuggle, to marvel over, to delight in.  We don't get to join that club of motherhood.  Instead, we had the membership of "Club Babylost" thrust upon us.  And even though our routine wasn't altered, our lives were shaken at the core.  Life itself did change.  And in ways that none of us ever wanted.  Ways that I am still trying to understand.  This is not the change that I signed up for when I got pregnant, but it is the change that has happened.  And all I can do now is hold on to this new type of life and muddle my way through, hoping that at some point it gets easier or less painful.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Smallest Things Mean the Most

One of the various support websites I visit on a regular basis is Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope.  Recently, they posted an idea for a writing prompt.  It was "Valentine's Day is quickly approaching. Write about something special a friend, family member, or other loved one did for you after your baby(ies) died that really touched your heart."  So, I thought that it would be good to use this prompt for a blog entry, since it would help me focus on some of the blessings in my life.

After Brianna died, there were many things that our family and friends did for us to show their support and love.  We received flowers and condolence cards from lots of people.  It was all very wonderful.  As time went on, though, it seemed that people started to fall by the wayside.  I know it's not intentional, it's that they just don't know what to say or do or they get busy with their lives again, which is all very understandable.  Which is why when people did remember her or us, it was even more appreciated.

Which brings me to the point of this write up.  On the one month anniversary of Brianna's death, we received an email from our good friend JD that simply said "I know that today is a month and wanted you to know I'm thinking about you."  To know that he remembered us and Brianna on that day meant the world to me then and now.  It was this small gesture, this remembering, that touched my heart.  It helped me get through that first milestone of "one month" and made the pain just a bit more bearable.  So, to JD...from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for that acknowledgment.

Over the last 6 months, Tim and I have realized just how truly blessed we are to have both JD and his wife, SA in our lives.  They don't expect us to be anything other than who we are.  They give us the space we need we when need it but at the same time make themselves available to talk when we are ready to talk about anything.  They have shown us throughout this whole grief process what true friends should be like.  And we will be forever grateful for that.

Valentine's Day is the day to remember your loved ones.  Typically, it's reserved for just your significant other.  But, on this Valentine's Day, I want to honor those friends that I really love like family.  So, JD and SA, Happy Valentine's Day.  Thank you for your continuing support and friendship.  It has meant more than you could ever know over these last few months.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

6 Months

Dear Brianna,

Six months.  I can't believe it's been just half a year since I held you in my arms.  Yet, I also can't believe it's been only six months as on some days it feels like an eternity.  Six months feels like such an important milestone on this grief journey, but I can't explain why exactly.  Maybe it's because 6 months is about 26 weeks, which is just about how long I was pregnant with you.

In these past 6 months, I've learned a lot about myself.  I've learned that I can have my dreams smashed to bits and somehow manage to keep on moving.  I've learned that it's ok to put myself first when I need to.  I've learned that I have the capacity to feel, really feel, many emotions deeply, and some all at the same time.  But you know what, baby girl?  I'd give up all that I've learned in a heartbeat if it meant you could be here with me.  Because at the end of the day, I still miss you and want you here with me.

Happy Birthday, Brianna.  I love you and always will.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

On the Outside, Not Looking In

I've had a bad week, with the last few days being the worst.  This past Thursday marked 3 weeks since my D&C that I had to have because of a missed miscarriage.  I thought by now, the residual bleeding would be done and I could start looking forward to having a few "normal" cycles.  You see, according to my OB, I have to have at least 2 regular cycles, then go in for some blood work to have tests done to see if I have any underlying conditions that could be causing issues, which may or may not be linked to Brianna's death and this last miscarriage.  But, since I am still having light bleeding from the D&C, I can't even look forward to having a normal cycle yet.  It is just so discouraging.

Then, yesterday, a good friend of mine delivered her son, safe and sound.  And while I'm happy for her, the fact that she gets to bring home her healthy child just magnified my grief over Brianna's death.  I feel like a horrible person because I can't even bring myself to send her an email or Facebook message to offer any congratulations.  I refuse to look at the pictures her husband emailed out of the new baby.  I've "hidden" her and her husband (as well as a few other friends) on Facebook so I don't have to see the happy status updates and congratulations to them.  I'm terrified that the fact that I can't get past myself and my grief is going to ruin this friendship.  And I worry what that will do to my husband, who is also good friends with them.  I want him to be able to still stay in contact with them, if that's what he wants, but I worry that he won't because he feels that he has to protect me from being hurt any more than I already am.

I just so wish that it wasn't like this at all.  I wish I was a stronger person, able to handle the fact that others get to bring home their babies even though I didn't.  I wish I could be more mature in this situation and take the "high" road.  But all I'm capable of right now is to stay down here on the "low" road, wallowing in my grief and sadness and jealousy.  So, as a result, I stay away from my friends, including all of the rest of this group of friends.  I just don't want to hear about the new baby, even if it's something I might just overhear.  I don't want to have to sit there and pretend that I'm ok when I'm clearly not.  And I don't want to ruin everyone else's good time with my gloomy attitude.  So, I just shut myself out of my life on purpose.

My best way of explaining just where I am right now is like this.  Shortly after Brianna died, I felt like Tim and I were on the "outside" of our lives, looking in.  I felt like we both wished that we could be back on the "inside", where our friends and family were waiting for us.  Over time, Tim seemed to manage to get back on the "inside" and then he helped me to get "inside" as well.  Then, we found out we were pregnant again and seemed to move closer to the middle of the "inside".  Then, I miscarried and was immediately thrust back to the "outside".  But this time, Tim didn't come with me.  He stayed there, on the "inside", close enough to see me on the "outside", but he wouldn't follow me.  I was still looking in, wishing I could join him, but realizing it would take some time.  Then my friend had her healthy baby boy.  And I'm still on the "outside", but now I'm not even looking in anymore.  I don't want to look in and see all the people there, enjoying the new baby, enjoying their "normal" lives.  I just want to turn my back to the "inside" so I don't have to see it anymore.  I hope that one day soon I will be able to turn around and again start looking in and that will be followed by actually moving closer to being on the "inside" again.  But right now, I can't.  I just simply can't.  And I hope that Tim will be patient with me and just wait there on the "inside" until I can join him again.

So, that's where these days find me.  It's a very dark, sad place to be, here on the "outside".  But I read on a blog post somewhere that the tunnel always gets darker as you move through it, journeying towards the light on the other side.  I just hope that this isn't a really long tunnel.

Friday, January 21, 2011

My Rock

During the first few days after Brianna died, I was a mess, both physically and emotionally.  I was numb from the shock of losing our daughter.  I had trouble concentrating on anything.  And here I was, in the hospital, being peppered by questions from the staff on what I wanted to do with my dead baby.  Did we want her cremated, buried, or donated to the State Medical Board?  Had we chosen a funeral home to handle her remains?  Did we have a pastor or chaplain or priest we wanted to come to the hospital?  And the questions just kept coming.  During all of this, Tim was so calm.  He was my rock.  He was the one who stepped in and told the staff to slow down.  He was the one to ask if we really needed to make the decisions right then or did we have a few hours/days to decide.  He was the one to take the questions, one at a time and help me concentrate on making the decisions.  He was the one to make all the calls to the funeral homes and visit them to decide on the right one for us.  He was the one who fielded all the phone calls from our friends and family as they were finding out what had happened.  During it all, he was my support.  I couldn't have made it through those first few days without his support.

As the days turned into weeks, I spent a lot of time online.  I was searching the internet for stories of others like me, women who had lost their babies.  I discovered a huge online community of babyloss parents. And among this community, there were many websites that had different advice on how to grieve and how life would look in the aftermath of this horrible loss.  One thing I found through all my reading was that marriages were either made stronger or they fell apart due to the stress of the loss.  This really hit me hard.  At this time, I was starting to drift off into my own world of grief, leaving Tim on the outside, looking in.  It was after reading the sobering statistics about marriages failing after a loss that I vowed that Tim wouldn't lose me too.  He had already lost his first child, our beautiful daughter, and I was damned sure he wouldn't lose his wife too.  I wasn't sure how I would stay connected to him, but I knew that I had to try my hardest to make sure that connection still existed, day in and day out.  I knew that even if it got strained at times, as long as I could hang onto even the smallest thread of a connection, we'd pull through this awfulness as a whole couple and our marriage would survive.

Over the last few months, it has been hard.  There have been times where the two of us have noticed a disconnect in our relationship.  It was during these times that we made more of point to talk to each other, to draw out the other's feelings and discuss what was going on inside our heads.  Even though I wanted to crawl inside myself and shut out the whole world, Tim included, I knew that would be the sure way to losing my marriage and more importantly, my best friend, my husband.  So, even though it was emotionally painful and brought me to tears (sometimes even sobbing), I would tell Tim exactly what I was thinking on my darkest of days (even if it took some coaxing on his part to get me to open up).  It pained me to know that he felt awful too, knowing that he couldn't "fix" it and that there really isn't anything that can be done to make me better.  But by telling him just how I am feeling, our connection remains intact.

In the last 6 months, Tim has been my reason for getting up each day.  He has been the one to carry the hope for our future when I couldn't anymore.  He has been the voice of reason when I was in the depths of despair and grief, thinking that no one could understand.  He has been my rock of support, allowing my to grieve my way, no questions asked.  Without him, I'm not sure I could have made it this far without a complete emotional breakdown.  And I know that in the coming months and years, he will continue to be my rock, no matter what.  And for that, I am forever grateful.

Tim - I love you more today than I ever thought was possible.  I am proud to call you my husband. And if Brianna was here, she would be proud to call you Daddy.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

5 Months

Dear Brianna,

Today is your 5-month birthday.  I still can't believe that it's been five months already since you died.  Sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday and sometimes it feels like it's been years.  Baby, I miss you.  These last few days have been really hard.  I think about you all the time and have been playing the "should be" game.  That's where I think of all the things we should be doing with you.  At 5 months, you should be starting to try cereal and start on baby food.  You should be smiling and cooing and interacting with us.  You should be starting to sit up, with help of course.  You should be here with us, stealing your daddy's heart every day and wowwing us with all your accomplishments.  But, you're not here.  And it hurts, more than I ever thought possible.  But, your daddy and I are surviving, a day at a time.  It's really all I'm capable of these days.

Baby girl, I hope that you know how much we love you and miss you.  You will always be my girl, my first child, my little Neon light.  I will always remember you, especially on your birthday.

Happy Birthday Brianna.



Saturday, January 1, 2011

December Wrap-Up

Sorry I haven't been writing much lately.  December was a crazy month and I just wasn't up to blogging about it at the time.  But, I think it's time to summarize everything that happened over the last few weeks, if for no other reason than to just sort out all the emotions that have been stirred up.

So, at the end of November, I started feeling sick.  You know, the kind of sick that might indicate early pregnancy.  So, on 12/2/10, I took a home pregnancy test and surprise, it was positive.  Tim was thrilled.  I was terrified.  It was too soon, I thought.  Brianna hadn't been gone for even four months yet.  We were told to wait at least 6 months before trying again.  And here I was, pregnant again.  Surprise doesn't even begin to describe how we felt.  You see, it took us 2 years of trying to get pregnant with Brianna.  We thought getting pregnant again would take some time.  We never expected to get pregnant after only one (yes, you read that right...ONE) time without any contraception.  But, there it was on the little stick..."pregnant".  And thus began the roller coaster of emotions that was December.

I immediately called my OB for an appointment.  I made a point to stress to the receptionist my history of loss and that I had to see a specific OB.  She understood my feelings and I was squeezed into Dr. E's busy schedule.  So, on 12/16/10, Tim and I met with the doctor.  He was surpised to see us for the reason we were there, but seemed happy for us.  We discussed all kinds of things, from VBAC possibilities to what the next step in the game plan would be.  Because I had only had one period between my c-section recovery and getting pregnant, it was hard to use my cycle as a way to determine gestation and the due date.  So, I was then squeezed into the sonogram schedule.  I was so nervous waiting to see the heartbeat.  And equally relieved once it was there on the screen.  It was determined that I was 8 weeks pregnant and my due date would be 7/27/11.  Tim and I were so happy, even if it was mixed with trepidation and worry.

So, even though it was pretty early, we started telling close friends and family the news.  Everyone seemed really happy for us and wished us the best.  No one said anything remotely bad and were very sensitive to our feelings.  I was worried that telling them so early was a bad idea, but Tim reminded me that these were the same people we would tell if anything bad happened anyway.

The next step was to see the perinatologist that my OB recommended.  He would help me formulate a plan for this pregnancy to try to avoid the infections and pre-term labor that had led to Brianna's death.  So, we met with him on 12/30/10.  First thing was to look at the little one on an ultrasound.  I was terrified going in that there wouldn't be a heartbeat.  And my fears were realized.  No heartbeat.  And the baby and sac were only measuring 8 weeks, and I should have been 10 weeks pregnant.  It was just awful news.  Tim and I cried together, right there in the sonogram room.

After talking with the perinatologist, I was sent to my OB for an immediate appointment.  Since it was pretty apparent that my body still hadn't gotten the message that the baby had died (no spotting, cramps, or other signs of a miscarriage), we decided to just go ahead with a D&C.  I wanted it as soon as possible.  I lucked into a spot at the outpatient surgery place at the hospital for that afternoon.  So, at 4 pm on 12/30/10, I had the D&C and was no longer pregnant.

That's the quick and dirty version of my December.  I am still trying to process all the emotions.  This time is very different than when I lost my Brianna.  I'm mostly just sad and disappointed.  And for whatever reason, it has made me miss Brianna more.  Don't get me wrong, I feel bad that this new baby is gone too.  But, I hadn't really allowed myself to see this pregnancy as a real baby.  I couldn't go there.  I had to protect myself, just in case the awful happened.  And when it did, I was very sad in the loss of the potential baby.  And mostly very disappointed that I had let everyone down, again.

Intellectually, I know it's not my fault.  It's just another very bad luck, sad situation.  But emotionally, I feel that since my body can't keep a baby safe and healthy, it somehow is my fault.  And I felt bad having to tell the friends and family that again, we had lost a baby.  And even though they were all great and supportive, I still had to bear their sorrow and disappointment again.  I basically just feel like a failure right now.  And I hate it.  My whole life, I believed that if I just tried hard enough, I could do anything and achieve my dreams.  And the past few months have shattered that viewpoint.  All I really want is children.  I've tried my hardest, done everything I was supposed to do and I don't have my children.  I've had two pregnancies in the last year and no babies to show for it.  So, that's why I feel like a failure.

I apologize for the rambling of this post.  But I just needed to put the thoughts down to get them out there and clear up my head a little.  If you're still reading, thanks for bearing with me.  I appreciate it.