Friday, February 29, 2008

Good riddance February

I hate February. It's not rational, I just do. It is the shortest month of the year, yet because I've lost two children in February, my first pregnancy in 2007 and my loss of Shannon in 2008, it has turned into the suckiest month in the entire year. I guess it is good that it is a short month, because it ends that much faster. But not fast enough for me.

31,020 minutes, and counting

Shannon was born three weeks ago today. 31,020 minutes ago (give or take a few minutes). She lived for 17w5d or 177,120 minutes. As they say in Rent, how do you measure the life of a woman or man?

When your child dies, you no longer measure your time in days or hours, but in your minutes. You can go from laughing to crying in mere seconds, and then find something to laugh about again. Time slows down to the point where three weeks has seemed like an entire lifetime to me. My birth experience, and the time I had with my little girl seems like it happened so long ago, but it only happened three weeks ago. I don't know if the altering of time is a defense mechanism that your mind creates to distance you from the intense pain of losing a child, or if it is just another manifestation of the surreal world that people who lose a child find themselves living in. Because no matter how long ago it all seems in my mind, my heartbreak and my tears over the loss of Shannon are right there, just mere seconds away.

Other people's 'everyday' makes no sense to me anymore and doesn't interest me much either. My 'everyday' now consists of integrating how I deal with the loss of my child into everything else that I have to accomplish to continue to be a functioning member of society and to meet my obligations to my job and my family. Most of the rest of it is complete and utter BS and a waste of my time to bother with.

I thought that I would know that I was alright when I had some control over when the tears come out but that isn't it. Maybe some part of me will never be alright, because my life has been altered in a permanent and unfixable sort of way. It is so easy to understand how a person who has suffered a loss can just shut down or not get out of bed, or just have no life left in them or not want to cook or clean or care. It is because there is no bottom to the well that moms like me fall into when their baby dies. There is no bottom to the sorrow or the anger that we are capable of feeling for ourselves and others who have been through a similar loss. But, minute by minute, we all work our way forward to the new reality that is our lives after loss.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Just when you thought it was safe to go into the house

You start crying again... I went to kinko's today, because I had gotten my doctor to lend me the u/s pictures from the last ultrasound when Shannon was alive (Friday) and the one where we found out that she had died (the following Thursday). I wanted copies of the photos - good copies, I don't know why, maybe I am a masochist, maybe I just need them because they were pictures of her when she was alive or something. I don't know. They came out pretty good, but maybe I will try the kinkos that does the photo scanning instead to see if I can do better. I spoke to a researcher on cord accidents last Saturday, and he offered to look at the photos for me and I can't send him originals, but I want to send him decent photos in the hopes that he might see something of note that confirms what we are all thinking happened. There is one where I am pretty sure (in my lay opinion) that you are seeing the shadow of the cord right around her neck, but maybe it is that hindsight thing or a wishful thinking thing. It is kinda like the photographs in The Omen, where you can see the shadow of the guy getting impaled with the stake in the church yard before it happens.

Maybe life imitates art because my life sure has become quite a bit of a horror movie of late.

I am not saddened by Shannon's heart shaped box anymore but the room that was to be her nursery has been added (along with the basement), to the rooms that I don't like to go in anymore. Seeing the pretty ceiling fan, and the cool green color and, most of all, the baby furniture, hurt. It is the same damn furniture that was in there before and the same furniture we used with my son, but now it seems like it is Shannon's furniture and she will never live in that room. Or it is baby furniture that may never get used by a baby again. And it just hurts.

Someone on my support board said that this whole process is like a roller coaster. You never know when you are going to hit a dip. This evening has turned into quite a dip for me. Most of my ride has been smooth lately, but seeing those u/s pictures, and reading the report calling my daughter a "fetal demise" and noting how much she had grown between Friday and when she died (just 5 or 6 days later) really hurts. She was doing just fine, growing and doing all the crap that babies are supposed to do, except for whatever happened to her that killed her. Man, the sucking never seems to stop.

And life goes on... people move on... and new people suffer the same loss that I did and I offer them comfort, because I know how much it sucks. And I feel like the stronger one again, because well, it could be worse, it could be three weeks ago, when we found out she was gone.

Tomorrow is three weeks since I last heard my little baby's heartbeat. Wednesday morning, February 6th. I listened extra long, because I just did, and I am glad I did. If I had known that it was the last time I'd ever know her as my living baby, I never would have gotten out of that bed that day. I would have run the batteries out on that stupid doppler spending every second with my little girl before she was gone.

But, the past is the past, but it is my reality. It is my future that is scarier, because we don't know what is going to happen with the next pregnancy, or if there will be a next one whereas I already know what happened with my other ones - good and bad.

Do we cling to the past because we miss and mourn what is gone, or do we cling to the past because it is easier to deal with what we know than what we don't?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Thoughts for today...

Some tread upon this earth
for many years
And some touch many lives
Some alight for only
a few heartbeats
And touch only a few lives.

But whether a raindrop
or a teardrop
touches the water
Both cause ripples
Both are missed
when the water stills
Neither is forgotten where
the ripples touched.

The Butterfly Lights Beside Us

The butterfly lights beside us, like a sunbeam
and for a brief moment its glory
and beauty belong to this world...
but then it flies on again, and although
we wish it would have stayed,
we are so thankful to have seen it at all.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Baby, baby, where did our friends go?

This has been a rough week. First, I get complemented on my super weight loss - yes folks, the miscarriage and infant loss diet, not highly recommended to anyone with a heart, but it's highly effective! Shoot me.

Then I have to fight with the insurance company over their rejection of my claim - it was their mistake and they are fixing it. But, when my doctor's office tells me that I have to deal with the insurance company myself, I completely lose my shit and the little bit of composure that I have managed to muster up for walking into preggo central - the site of my three failed pregnancies and the one that turned out great. So, they have to put me in a room right away, because there really isn't any good place to put a crying woman in an OB/GYN's office. -- There's a hint to all of you women tired of waiting while your doctor runs late - have a breakdown. Then we get the autopsy report and, needless to say, there really isn't anything there that might help us going forward. I am hoping that there is more information to come, but it really just seems that my poor little Shannon had a terrible cord accident and that was that. I wish there was something that I could do differently next time, anything that I could use to learn from what happened, anything.... but, there's not. All we get is the hope that lightning doesn't strike twice in same place.... not too helpful.

So, I am wondering where some of my friends went. It's interesting who rises to the occassion when you have a loss like this. People who I thought didn't like me, or who I haven't talked to in forever or who were mad at me over a stupid thing from months ago have, in many cases, proved to be the more supportive people through my loss. Friends who I haven't seen in years, or who I see at college alumni things, people who didn't even know I was pregnant have been so much more kind and loving by reaching out than people that we've known forever and who are among our 'closest' friends. That is not to say that some of our closest friends have not been lovely and supportive, but c'mon? Strangers have told me that they were so sorry for my loss.

Is it so hard to say 'I am so sorry for your loss' that people who we've known for our entire lives choose to not call, e-mail, write or anything? It must be. I don't get it. I lost my child. I don't have some kind of contagious disease that is going to cause your nose to fall off. I just want to know that you give a shit, you don't even have to want to listen to me because I may not want to talk to you. But it's nice to say 'hey, I'm here', just the same. Say "I am sorry." You can even finish the sentence with "I don't know what else to say" and walk away. That's enough. It's not a lot to ask. If my grandmother died, you'd say "I'm sorry for your loss." Is this different?

If you don't think that people who have suffered a terrible loss will not remember that you weren't there for them, think again. I will always remember those who were there for me when I needed them. I've already lost one of the most important people in my life - my beautiful daughter. Do friends have to go too?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Things that make you go grrrr.........

So today I got home from work and there was yet another envelope from my health insurance company. I've come to dread these envelopes, because while my health insurance is fabulous, I think that they must want me to have a healthy baby as much as I do, given how much they have paid in medical expenses since January 2007 for my three failed pregnancies. So, I open today's envelope, and lo and behold, it is the bill from my ob/gyn for my delivery of Shannon. Except that my insurance company denied it. Apparently because it was accidentally coded as a voluntary abortion, which apparently my insurance company does not cover, except in cases of rape and incest. Whatever. But I get disproportionately angry anyway, because after all I've been through this year, struggling to have a live child, that this automated machine thinks that (1) I'd voluntarily terminate the one that got farther than the others and (2) that I'd be stupid enough to go to an expensive private doctor to do it. I'm not commenting on abortion. I express no views on whether it is right or not. I am just mortified that I got a letter accusing me of voluntarily terminating my child. And now I will go to the doctor's office tomorrow and tell them that, if they want to be paid, then they will recode and resubmit their claim because otherwise they are chit out of luck. This is stupid.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bringing home baby

Shannon is home. Finally. After 10 of the hardest days of my life, my hopes and dreams for my entire pregnancy and my beautiful little girl are contained in a small heart shaped box adorned with her first name and the date on which she was born. The box was so much smaller than I expected it would be, and holding her again as we drove home from the funeral home left me feeling quite empty inside. At the moment, she is residing in my purse, until I bring her upstairs to my room, where she will stay. I am glad that she is here but, at the same time, this is not the way I want to remember my child. Walking into and out of the funeral home brought out a bunch of questions from my son, ranging from "why did the baby die?" to "are the baby's bones here and can I see them?" and ended with "when are we going to have another baby?" All of these are good questions, and I don't really have the answers to any of them. How do you explain life and death to a 4 year old who wishes that his baby sister didn't die? I cried in the parking lot over the unfairness of it all, then we got in the car and drove home.

I went back to work today. It was tiring, but not terrible. I was left alone for the most part, but the pity faces were a little hard to take at times. I have found, over the past week, that telling people that you haven't returned their call or done something they wanted you to do because you were busy dealing with your child's death and birth really shuts most people up pretty quickly. At first, I was worried that I was tarnishing my beautiful child's memory by using her as an excuse, but I'm not worried anymore. It is my reality. I am just telling you the truth. My child died a little over 10 days ago and I am trying to deal as best I can. If you don't like it, sorry.

People have been saying that I am strong. I am not strong. I am just trying to move on from this tragedy and trying to imagine a future that doesn't have my Shannon in it. I am trying to look toward a future that has a successful pregnancy and another baby in it, but I don't think I am all that strong. I am just doing what I need to do to get by. I think that we all have two choices when something terrible happens to us, we either move on or we just shut down. It's a choice we all have to make at some point. Some people make their decision quicker than others. But we all have to decide. Today my journey took me as far as my bedroom, where my little baby Shannon now resides in a little heart shaped box. I guess that it's a start.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cleaning up the clutter in my life

I have been on this organizational mission in my house for the past week. I am obsessed with getting rid of stuff and organizing things because losing Shannon has suddenly filled me with the feeling that I have entirely too much stuff and that very little of it actually matters, especially now, when the very thing that I wanted the most, my baby girl, is gone. Cleaning up and throwing stuff out is a distraction in a way, because for a time I can get lost in my clutter. I went down into my basement today and was struck by how much baby stuff we had down there - baby gates and strollers and car seats and toys, just waiting for the baby - and now the baby isn't coming for a while (and sometimes I wonder if the baby is coming ever.) I don't want to go into my basement anymore but I have so much more crap to toss away.

The human heart has an amazing capacity to grow in order to love each child and each person in your life. There is never an issue of dividing your love, because as soon as your heart knows that a new child is coming, it just makes new love to carry that person along. Before my lost babies, I had my son, and now I share my heart with 4 children, but there's only one that I get to hold and hug and kiss, and that makes my heart ache for the three that aren't here. There are so many things that I wonder about my lost children. I will never know the answers about the people they could have been - I know that life isn't fair, in fact, it sucks a lot of the time, but how much is one person expected to take before they just can't take any more? How is a woman supposed to survive for nine months with a new pregnancy living with the constant worry that something could go wrong - a worry that is made all the more real by the fact that something that had a 1 in a million chance of happening to my baby did, in fact, happen to mine? How do you come back from something like this?

On the DC cremation stamp front - the stamp has finally been obtained. We expect to get a call tomorrow from the funeral home that we can get Shannon and bring her home to us. Another box full of memories. I guess that by throwing out stuff I am making space in my house for her.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Time flies, yet goes so slowly

Today, I had that feeling that my body didn't feel in the least bit like it had been pregnant. I don't look pregnant, just kind soft around the middle, like normal, and it makes me a little sad to think that the human body can give birth, and just a week later, be back to normal. Of course, your heart and your mind take much longer, but it is sad just the same. I held a baby today, and I didn't cry, so that is a good thing. I also took a cheapy dollar store home pregnancy test, and it was negative. It was the same kind of test that announced that Shannon was on her way so, in a sad way, it is almost fitting that an identical test announced that the hormones she made in me were gone.

I went out in public with other people today. It was ok. Am I ready to go back to work? Not really, but we'll deal with that in a few days.

According to the funeral home person, they are supposed to get the stamp for Shannon's cremation tomorrow and, if they can, they will cremate her tomorrow. I really need this to be over so I can have her physically home with me and my family. I think it will be a helpful thing for my healing to have her here with me.

Friday, February 15, 2008

DC Bureaucracy is driving me mad

Shannon was born sleeping in D.C. Accordingly, D.C. law governs our ability to cremate her and to bring her home. So, they require some stamp in order for our funeral home, in Maryland, to cremate her, in Maryland, so that she can be returned to me and my family, in Maryland. So, why is this such a problem? Only because getting the stamp from the city is some impossible task.

You know, I might be willing to accept a delay if I wanted a marriage license, or a driver's license, but this child (my child) is waiting, and her family is waiting, and it's a freaking stamp. And they make me pay for it, on top of everything else.

How many families have to feel that their lives are on hold because there is so much bureacracy involved in taking care of the final needs of their loved ones? Why does this have to be such torture? All I want is to bring my baby home.

Oh Mother, my Mother
I touch your tears
invisible fingers
soothing your skin.

I know you think of me so often
in the day, in the night,
in your dreams
going into an empty nursery
knowing I'll never be there

but I am . . .
in your heart
in your soul, I shall always be
for you gave so unselfishlyof yourself.

Inside of you, you created
such a world for me
a world of laughter, of love
of sadness, of sorrow
every emotion people come to know
you shared with me.

And even though I may never
feel your arms around me
I felt your heart beating,
like a lullaby, singing me to sleep
and your spirit giving me a safe haven
already protecting me
nurturing me
preparing me of things to come

But sometimes the journey
of life pulls souls apart
and yes, I had to go onto another place.
I wish I could stay
I wish this was a decision
I could make
and I know you do too.

Know this wherever you are:
I will always remember
that yours was the first love
the first joy, the first soul
I will ever know
you gave me courage to
go on in my journey
I hope I can do the same
for you

Your heartbeat will always
call me to you.
I found this on the internet, and it touched me. I know that others mourn Shannon's passing too, and that she was a finished baby, but I wanted to share, just the same ...

Just Those Few Weeks

For those few weeks-
I had you to myself.
And that seems too short a time to be changed so profoundly.
In those few weeks-I came to know you...
And to love you too.

You came to trust me with your life.
Oh, what a life I had planned for you!
Just those few weeks-
When I lost you.
I lost a lifetime of hope, plans, dreams, and aspirations...
A slice of my future simply vanished overnight.

Just those few weeks-
It wasn't enough to convince others how special and important you were.
How odd, a truly unique person has recently died
and no one is mourning the passing.

Just these few weeks-
And no "normal" person would cry all night
over a tiny, unfinished baby,
or get depressed and withdraw day after endless day.
No one would - so why am I?

You were those few weeks my little one
you darted in and out of my life too quickly,
But it seems that's all the time you needed
to make my life so much richer
and give me a small glimpse of eternity.

-Susan Erling

Starting a blog to remember my baby Shannon

I decided to start this blog as a way to remember by beautiful baby Shannon Elizabeth, who was born sleeping on Friday, February 8, 2008, at 4:08 a.m. She was 17 weeks, 5 days old when we found out that she had died. I had been able to find her with my home doppler on Wednesday morning, but she was gone when I went to look for her on Thursday morning. We were not expecting this at all. She had been perfectly fine at her ultrasound on Friday, February 1, moving and healthy, and doing everything that she was supposed to do. Less than a week later, she was gone.

I had two first trimester losses in 2007, in February and in June. Not alot of people know about the second loss, there are even some people that we didn't tell about the first loss. Now, we have our third loss and, in some ways, this loss of my beautiful little girl is the hardest of them all because she was doing so well and she was so real. Everyone thought we were out of the woods, and I had just started to be happy about my pregnancy and to tell people and we were busy getting Shannon's room painted and ready for her arrival in July. Now, here we are in February, waiting to bring her ashes home. Not the same thing. Not even close.

I decided to start this blog to chart my journey back to life and to remember the time that Shannon graced my life and the life of my family. I haven't completely figured everything out yet, but I know that I am a different person for having had my time with her. Healing and moving forward is the best tribute I could pay to her and so it is what I need to do.