Thursday, February 7, 2013

5 years gone....

Five years ago today, I got news that no pregnant woman wants to hear.  I was told that my precious baby had no heartbeat.  I was shattered.  My baby girl was gone.  There was nothing I could do or say that could change that.  My doctor murmured how sorry he was and gave me his promise that we would find out what happened.

Then, like before, I got to go out of the office through the back door, past the staff lunchroom full of giggling office staff eating their lunches, and not passed all those moms who were likely not going to be told that day that their baby girl was dead. 

5 years later and I can still remember every minute of that day so vividly.  Going back to my office, forcing myself to eat lunch, getting a friend to drive me to the hospital so my husband could go home and get us some clothes and stuff and the camera so we could take pictures of our little girl when she was born, silently, into this world.

I remember going back to my office and reaching out to the loss moms, the ones who had been through what I was about to go through and telling them that I was going to be giving birth and that I'd be back.  I was setting my place at the table where no one wants to sit, and introducing myself to the community where I would spend the next days, weeks, months and years of my life.  Leaning on them, and letting people lean on me, and learning to move on in a world where my Shannon would never be.

I wonder sometimes what it would be like to have a daughter.  I have sons.  I wonder if she would be a girly girl, or if she would be rolling around in the dirt.  But there are no answers, only questions.  And while I wouldn't change anything about the life I have now, I wonder about what things would have been like if Shannon had lived. 

And, like I do every once in a while, I use today to thank all of those people who were such a support to me in the dark, dark days after her death.  My BBC loss moms, my loving spouse, my oldest child, my parents, my friend Lynne who, even though just about to give birth to her own daughter, spent time with me on the phone while I was at the hospital, my dear friend Melissa who offered to drop everything to drive hours and states to sit with me if I needed her to.  I truly am a lucky woman to have had so much left, even after losing so much. 

I have come a long way since 2008.  I am stronger than I was that dark, sad February day.  I am different.  I am a loss mom. 

I love you, babygirl.  I hope that the sun is shining where you are, and that you find a butterfly to play with tomorrow on your birthday. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


This has been a difficult week for many people.  The tragedy in Connecticut, so many little lives gone so quickly.   It is sad.  Very sad.  And, for many loss moms, it seems like we have been transported back to a place in our grief which many of us had moved from.  A place where it was really hard not to cry all the time, where songs made us cry, where it all seemed very new and very terrible.  A place  where the stories of the little children and those who died trying to save them and those who came to try to help, and their parents, friends, and community make us hurt in a really raw way.

I've come to understand that our reactions, my reaction, as a mom and as a loss mom, to this horrible tragedy is entirely normal.  We all lost something, as a nation, last week.  As parents with living children, we can only imagine how absolutely heartwrenching it must be for those moms and dads who lost their child.  We hold ours a little closer and a little tighter. 

As loss moms, we remember our pain over losing someone we loved dearly and who was a part of us.  We know pain.  We know heartbreak.  We know the pain of having someone we loved taken from us.  We understand and share a commonality of sudden and unexpected loss.

Yet, I know that every loss is different.  I didn't get time to know my child.  I didn't hear her laugh, or cry, or do any of the things that the parents and families in Connecticut did with the people they lost.  I don't pretend to understand the depths of their grief and pain, because no one can.  Grief is entirely personal.  It just is.

I wish there was something that any of us could do to help with that pain, that grief.  But there isn't anything we can do to take it away.  All we can do, as loss moms, as parents, as humans, is offer to carry a piece of their burden for them, and to walk along side them on this path.  Life gets better in time.  It really does.  It is never the same, but you continue to move forward, because that is what we do.  It is what we have to do.

But a loss never really goes away.  Sometimes the grief hits you, like the big wave that it is, and drags you backwards to a place you thought you left behind.  Holidays, anniversaries, birthdays.  Due dates.  Milestones.  They are always there.  There will always be reminders of the person who has left us.   But reminders can be good things too.  Because they remind us that we have loved, and we love, and we are loved by our child.  Love is always a risk.  But with great risk comes great reward.  And, sometimes, great pain.  But it is always worth it.

I send my deepest sympathies, love, peace and healing to the newest people joining us on our path.  You will never be alone on this road.   

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

four years

Four years ago yesterday, I got news that no parent to be wants. I found out that my precious baby had died. I got to do the walk of shame out the back door of the OB's office, then down the elevator with my husband to the street, where I got the task of calling my folks to come down and watch my older child, so I could get induced to deliver a child who was already gone. To do all that work, only to meet someone I'd been waiting for, only long enough to say goodbye. Today, 4 years later, I walk past that building almost daily. I walk down that street where I crumbled, and where I cried, and I still think of that day. And how much it sucked. And 4 years ago, after getting that horrible news, I went back to my office, to wait for the doctor to call with the hospital plans. During my wait, I reached out to a community of beautiful women who had suffered losses in the second and third trimesters. And they reached back for me and held me tight. How strong they were for me, how wise they were, how helpful they were in telling me what to expect. My friends are peppered generously with those beautiful women, and they continue to be there for me, and I for them, and we continue forward, through our rainbows, and our rain, and we share a bond that just helps. They are still there, 4 years later, strangers who knew that I needed them. Now friends. I've said thanks to them before, and to all of those who were my support system then, and now. And I thank all of you again today, from the bottom of my heart, for being there where I needed you. You are rockstars. Each and every one of you. Four years have brought a lot of changes. My rainbow is getting to be a big kid. My big kid is getting to be an even bigger kid. And I still wonder what that little girl is doing, and where she is, and if she can see the snow and the butterflies there. February 7 and 8 are, to me, the 2 worst days of the year. Every year. But good things came from losing Shannon, and even though there is a huge hurt on my heart from losing her, it's sometimes good to remember the good things (and people) that came from those days too. Shannon - mommy misses you and wishes you a happy birthday. I know that today should not have been your birthday - it should have been months from now - but it is the best we've got. Love you forever, love you for always, as long as I'm breathing, my baby you'll be.

Friday, June 3, 2011

3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days

Since we said goodbye. It seems like forever sometimes. And sometimes it hurts like it was yesterday.

Sometimes Love is a Moment
Sometimes Love is a Lifetime
Sometimes a Moment is a Lifetime

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mothers who have lost a child - Erma Bombeck, May 14, 1995

Mothers who have lost a child - May 14, 1995
Erma Bombeck

If you're looking for an answer this Mother's Day on why God reclaimed your child, I don't know. I only know that thousands of mothers out there today desperately need an answer as to why they were permitted to go through the elation of carrying child and then lose it to miscarriage, accident , violence disease or drugs

Motherhood isn't just a series of contractions. It's a state of mind. From the moment we know life is inside us, we feel a responsibility to protect and defend that human being. It's a promise we can't keep. We beat ourselves to death over that pledge. "If I hadn't worked through the eighth month." "If I had taken him to the doctor when he had a fever." "If I hadn't let him use the car that night." "If I hadn't been so naive, I'd have noticed he was on drugs."

The longer I live, the more convinced I become that surviving changes us. After the bitterness, the anger, the guilt, and the despair are tempered by time, we look at life differently.

While I was writing my book, I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Grow Up, I Want to Go to Boise, I talked with mothers who had lost a child to cancer. Every single one said death gave their lives new meaning and purpose. And who do you think prepared them for the rough, lonely road they had to travel? Their dying child. They pointed their mothers toward the future and told them to keep going. The children had already accepted what their mothers were fighting to reject.

The children in the bombed-out nursery in Oklahoma City have touched more lives than they will ever know. Workers who had probably given their kids a mechanical pat on the head without thinking that morning are making phone calls home during the day to their children to say "I love you."

This may seem like a strange Mother's Day column on a day when joy and life abound for the millions of mothers throughout the country. But it's also a day of appreciation and respect. I can think of no mothers who deserve it more than those who had to give a child back.

In the face of adversity, we are not permitted to ask, "Why me?" You can ask, but you wont get an answer. Maybe you are the instrument who is left behind to perpetuate the life that was lost and appreciate the time you had with it.

The late Gilda Radner summit it up well: "I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned the hard way that some poems don't rhyme and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what is going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.

On Mother's Day

On Mother's Day, we are reminded of what we have. We are also reminded of what we lost. And for loss moms, Mother's Day can be a bittersweet reminder of our babies.

On days like this, I am drawn to Shannon. I love my children. I love all my children, whether I got to give them a hug today with my arms or in my heart. And today I am reminded of a comment about Mother's Day by a great writer and observer or the universe - Erma Bombeck. She said:

This may seem like a strange Mother's Day column on a day when joy and life abound for the millions of mothers throughout the country. But it's also a day of appreciation and respect. I can think of no mothers who deserve it more than those who had to give a child back.

In the face of adversity, we are not permitted to ask, "Why me?" You can ask, but you wont get an answer. Maybe you are the instrument who is left behind to perpetuate the life that was lost and appreciate the time you had with it.

Her full column appears in the next post.

So "happy" Mother's Day to all the beautiful mommies whose babies soar with the butterflies. You love them and they love you. And sometimes it helps to be reminded of that.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Someday I'll be able to read other mom's blogs without crying all over my keyboard. Someday maybe I'll be able to read that book that sits on my nightstand about the mom who lost her baby and not cry when I'm a few pages into it. Someday maybe I'll feel healed enough. But I think I'll always cry. I think that losing Shannon left a door open in my heart that only other loss moms know about. A door that lets us cross over into each other's pain and let's us share our burdens with each other so that each of us can bear our pain, and help others bear theirs.

I think we do that because there are so many others who shut themselves off from us when we had our losses, so they wouldn't have to feel our pain, or "catch" our bad luck.

But even if that someday happens for me, I'll never believe that everything happens for a reason. And I'll never stop missing Shannon.

A week or so ago, we went to dinner with one of the "someone's" who disappeared when Shannon died. They likely disappeared because they were, at the time, pregnant with a girl and were likely freaked out by my Shannon's death. When I saw them, I was cordial, friendly even a little, but I was surprised to admit to myself that I was still kinda mad, in my heart, that they had ditched when the shit hit the fan for us. And that is ok.