Thursday, May 29, 2008

Loose "change"

Our children change us... whether they live or not. Lois McMaster Bujold, "Barrayar", 1991

Change is something that moms who've suffered the loss of their children know all too well. In a moment, a heartbeat *the stopping of a heartbeat* everything changes. Hopes and dreams are shattered and an unspeakable sadness creeps into your life and fills up all your empty spaces. What do you do with that? In some ways, I guess the answer is nothing. There is nothing you can do. There is nothing you can do to change what happened to your baby. There is nothing you can do to change what happened to you. It just IS. And you putter along though whatever shitstorm life has just thrown at you and you hope for the best and you make it up as you go along and you hope that no-one can see that you are not strong, that you just are trying to keep your head above water long enough to make it to the other side of this terrible thing. I don't know what that other side looks like, I am not there yet, but I think that I will not be surprised to find out that it looks like more of the same old, same old.

One of my more recent favorite quotes is from the Jam - 'bullshit is bullshit, it just goes by different names' I'd heard them sing that line probably thousands of times over the past 20 years or so, but I heard it after I lost Shannon and I wrote it down in my little book of stuff that I write down when I want to remember it. There is an immense amount of BS in the world, and a real lack of understanding of what it means to be a grieving mother. There is no handbook, there is no memo, there are no guidelines for how people can relate to you.

I am having a birthday party for my son this weekend. Other than a few close friends and family, no-one has seen me since the baby died. I am a little worried about that. I am worried that someone will say something and make me cry. I am more worried that no-one will say anything, which will make me cry later.

Shannon - I found out 16 weeks ago that you were gone. I miss you, little one. That's all. I just miss you. Love, Mommy

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Strange dream

I had a dream the other night. In my dream, I went to a book signing, and I was waiting in a chair for my turn to get my book signed. There were a lot of people there, and someone was telling people when it was their turn to go and get their stuff signed. I kept waiting, and then I realized that I was still sitting there while others who came in later than me were being told they could go. Then, a woman sat next to me and almost right away, the person in charge indicated that it was her turn and she got up and went. At that point I had enough. I turned to the guy and said "I have been waiting. The lady behind me has been waiting almost as long as me, and that guy has been waiting too. You are letting people go ahead of us and it isn't fair." At that point, the guy just let everyone get up at the same time and go. I think I just wandered off at that point, and I don't think I ever got my stuff signed. Then I woke up.

I am not one for dream analysis, but the big point was that the burning question in my mind was "when will it be my turn?" I have been waiting for my happy baby ending since December 2006 and watched while others got to go ahead of me, even some who came later. It was like an "anvil" dream, not even a crucial plot point and almost like bad TV writing, because it seemed so obvious. But this has been a week of little mental breakthroughs where the wall that I've built between my loss and my life has been passing information though.

I don't want to be "that person" - the one that people are concerned about. It's not the concern that bothers me, per se. Its that people asking about me makes me terribly sad because I hate to be in the place where I am the person that people ask about. I have lived all of my adult life as the person who got by on their own. I've never really asked for help, and I've never needed it. People always assumed that I was ok. That I was the strong one. That I would be fine. And it doesn't seem that people think that anymore. But what hurts the most is that I don't believe that anymore. I am vulnerable because I lost someone that was terribly important to me, and now I want to be pregnant again and there is no guarantee that it will happen or that, if it does happen, that I won't get another tragic outcome. That is really scary. And I am not one who lives life scared. Before, I always knew that I would be ok, even when things really sucked. And I don't believe that anymore. And I never needed it, but I always thought there was a net. And I've found out that there isn't one. And that is really scary.

Shannon - it's your big brother's birthday today. Please send him a hug. We missed you a lot today. We love you. - Mommy

Saturday, May 17, 2008

My little boy is turning 5 next week. It is a huge milestone for him. He is starting kindergarten, and moving on to a whole new chapter in his life. He misses his sister a lot. It shows in subtle ways, like when he mentions babies nonchalantly and asks for a sibling, and not to subtley, like when he says he misses the baby and asks why the baby died. He acts out sometimes, and gets angry because he can't always process what he feels.

He is obsessed with yard sales and garage sales, like his dad, and he sometimes asks if we can have one to get rid of his "baby" things. I can't part with those baby things because I really want another baby. I want it more than just about anything. Some mental health professionals say that for moms who are mourning the loss of a baby, often one of the only things that helps the healing is to have another baby. Not a replacement baby, but a baby that somehow helps to take the hurt away a little by allowing the mom to focus on something other than her pain of loss. I wonder how true that is. I don't think that I will ever be over losing Shannon, but I would like to believe that we'll have another baby. I'd also like to believe that someday I'll be able to think about her and not cry so easily.

Another baby would make my son very happy. He'll be a wonderful big brother someday. He would have been a wonderful big brother to Shannon.

Sometimes a reminder is helpful...

When things go wrong,
as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low,
and the debts are high,
And you want to smile,
but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
when he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit,
It's when things seem their worst that you mustn't quit!

C.W. Longenecker

Thanks Leana, for that reminder.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

14 weeks - yep, still sad

It really doesn't go away. I wasn't entirely sure that was true, but I guess it is. I think, for me anyway, the enormity of having lost 3 in a row may be part of the reason why I am still so sad but, that said, it really sucks to always be so close to tears. What I have found too is that it is sad that so many of the people who were such supports have kinda moved on, not in a really overt way, but they have gotten on with their lives and there are a lot fewer e-mails and stuff. And that is ok, I guess, because in some ways I have gotten on with my life too, except for this gaping hole in my heart. And, of course, except for all the freakin' tears.

My flower garden is doing well. As long as I keep up with pulling the stupid vines (Bishop's weed) that are trying to choke out the flowers, the flowers continue to do well. It's morbidly ironic that some stupid vine keeps trying to choke Shannon's flowers, particularly given how Shannon died. But that is morbid humor for you.

I found out this week that I actually had a placental abnormality, extrachorialis, with my pregnancy. The doctor didn't think that it had anything to do with Shannon's death but it probably would have caused her to come early. Another irony. I have accepted that the cord accident is probably the closest we are going to come to an answer on how Shannon died, and that is going to have to do.

I had an ok Mother's Day. It's hard to be sad and happy at the same time, but I was. It was bittersweet. Last Mother's Day I found out that I was pregnant with what turned out to be my second angel. This year, I am mourning yet another loss. But, at the same time, I am blessed to have a wonderful little boy who loves to say "happy Mommy's day" to his partially unhappy mommy. Who's mostly ok, except for the freakin' tears.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Normal is having tears waiting behind every smile when you realize someone important is missing from all the important events in your family's life.

Normal is feeling like you can't sit another minute without getting up and screaming, because you just don't like to sit through anything.

Normal is not sleeping very well because a thousand what if's & why didn't I's go through your head constantly.

Normal is reliving that day continuously through your eyes and mind, holding your head to make it go away.

Normal is staring at every baby who looks like he is my baby's age. And then thinking of the age they would be now and not being able to imagine it. Then wondering why it is even important to imagine it, because it will never happen.

Normal is every happy event in my life always being backed up with sadness lurking close behind, because of the hole in my heart.

Normal is telling the story of your child's death as if it were an everyday, commonplace activity, and then seeing the horror in someone's eyes at how awful it sounds. And yet realizing it has become a part of my "normal."

Normal is having some people afraid to mention my baby.

Normal is making sure that others remember them.

Normal is that everyone else goes on with their lives, but we continue to grieve our loss forever.Normal is weeks, months, and years after the initial shock, the grieving gets worse sometimes, not better.

Normal is not listening to people compare anything in their life to this loss, unless they too have lost a child. NOTHING. Even if your child is in the remotest part of the earth away from you - it doesn't compare. Losing a parent is horrible, but having to bury your own child is unnatural.

Normal is realizing I do cry everyday.

Normal is a new friendship with another grieving mother, talking and crying together over our children and our new lives.

Normal is not listening to people make excuses for God. "God may have done this because..." I love God, I know that my baby is in heaven, but hearing people trying to think up excuses as to why healthy babies were taken from this earth is not appreciated and makes absolutely no sense to this grieving mother.

Normal is being too tired to care if you paid the bills, cleaned the house, did laundry or if there is any food.

Normal is wondering this time whether you are going to say you have more than one child, because you will never see this person again and it is not worth explaining that the other children are in heaven. And yet when you say you have one children to avoid that problem, you feel horrible as if you have betrayed your other babies.

Normal is knowing I will never get over this loss, in a day or a million years.And last of all,

Normal is hiding all the things that have become "normal" for you to feel, so that everyone around you will think that you are "normal".

missing you

Today marks three months since I found out that my baby was gone. I wish I could say that it didn't hurt, but it does. It hurts and it sucks and I still feel this gigantic hole in my heart and my life. I miss my little baby.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Dear Shannon

mommy was thinking about you a lot today. It was a beautiful day and it reminded me that if life was fair, or even a little reasonable sometimes, you would be coming to meet your family soon. But life isn't fair or reasonable, and you are gone. In the alternative world, where you lived, I'd be getting ready for your first summer here and figuring out what we'd be doing during the weeks before I went back to work. We miss you a lot.

It's kind of amazing the stuff that you had to be undone because you aren't here anymore. You have to cancel the daycare and reverse the leave and undo the benefits and reorganize your home, your job, your marriage and your life. The stuff that my husband and I had planned to finish before Shannon came, sits in large part unfinished because there is no sense of urgency anymore and, frankly, why should there be? Our July baby turned into no baby and I am still searching for answers why. My son wants to have a yard sale to sell his little kid toys because there is no little sister or brother coming anytime soon. We're not ready for that sale, because we're still holding out hope that there is still a maybe baby. I thought 2008 was going to be the year that my maybe baby came, maybe my luck will change for 2009. Maybe....

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Food for thought

I got this in my e-mail box the other day.

Don’t miss our Mother’s Day offer of a FREE meal for those who became a mom (or became a mom again!) in 2008!

FREE Dishes for New Moms
Being a new mom is the hardest and most rewarding job we’ll ever have. Well, it just got a little easier… and more rewarding! This Mother’s Day Week, Let’s Dish! will give a FREE Ready Made meal to anyone who has become a mom ( or become a mom again) in 2008. Just come into any of these Let’s Dish! locations between May 4 and May 11 and pick up your free dish (serves 4-6). No obligation. No small print. See just a few details below.*
Pass it on!>

View your “Free Meal” invitation online> Use our email “Email this” tool above to pass this on to your new mom friends! Or, share to your favorite group on Facebook or more using our “Share This” tool below!

*Meal selection is subject to availability. Offer valid at Let’s Dish locations in Baltimore (Timonium), Columbia, Gaithersburg, and Rockville Maryland; Alexandria, Ashburn and Fairfax Virginia. Offer is NOT valid at Bel Air, MD and Leesburg VA locations. Meal recipient must provide valid email address for mom, and proof of birth or adoption (valid proof includes birth certificate, birth announcement, hospital bracelet or other item with child’s name and date of birth or adoption between 1/1/08 and 5/11/08). One meal per child. Yes, moms of twins get two meals.

I am going to see if I can get my meal ... maybe I will bring Shannon's memory box as proof of her birth since we can't get birth certificates in D.C.

Twelve weeks down, a lifetime to go

What have I learned and accomplished since Shannon has died:

1. I finally wrote the letter to the stupid insurance company explaining to them, with exhibits, that my daughter died before she was born so, it is legally and physically impossible for her to have been an abortion. Maybe now they will pay the freakin' claim so my doctor's office will get off my back.

2. I forced my doctor's office to find my chart today, which has been "misplaced" since February. Yes, they lost my file after I had Shannon. Today, in response to my records request, they gave me stuff from my previous 2 miscarriages. I explained to them that I was a repeat customer, and that I actually needed the medical records from this most recent pregnancy, not any of the others.

3. I planted a rainbow garden for my little girl. Except for the white flowers, which something keeps eating, the other flowers are doing great. Especially the purple ones, which is nice, because purple is my favorite color. I'd like to think that Shannon would have liked purple too.

4. I got called bitter. I like that one a lot.

5. I've discovered who some of my real friends are, and learned that some people just are not or cannot be there for you when you need them. I've been bitterly disappointed by some people, and filled with hope and comfort by some that I least expected to step up to the plate and be there for me. I've also learned that you don't choose your family, so there is little you can do, except be kind of appalled, if they don't check up on you after you lose your child. Important lessons to learn but the timing could have been better. All I can say is that the karmic wheel evens everything out in time.

6. I've met some wonderful people in the world of the dead baby blogs, and at babycenter on the 2nd/3rd trimester loss boards and the TTC after a 2nd/3rd trimester loss board. They have been family, friend, companion and life preserver.

7. I've realized that I am entitled to how I feel, no matter how crappy it might be.

8. I've learned that grief is deep and it doesn't go away just because you want it to. The process of moving on is just that, a process, and you just have to let it come in time.

9. I've learned that I am not alone, even if I feel that way sometimes.

That is a lot for one quarter. Only a lifetime left to go...

Shannon - mommy misses you lots and lots and loves you more. So do Sean and Daddy and the birds. Happy May Day. Love you squirt.