Sunday, November 29, 2009


I went back to work 2 months ago. Most of the people I worked with only found out I was pregnant shortly before I left (if they knew at all). Part of this is because I am a private person, but part of it was wanting to keep my pregnancy under wraps, in case something bad happened.

When people who don't know me very well find out that I have two boys, almost all of them say, "well, now you have to try again for a girl." And I look at them, wondering what to say. To some, I say that we won't be trying for a girl, that I had a girl, and that she died. Now, I can't say that to everyone, because sometimes it just isn't worth it, but sometimes it is just the right thing to say. I had my daughter, and she is not here anymore. And that makes me sad.

In a few short months, it will be 2 years since we said goodbye to Shannon. That is really weird to me. In some ways, it doesn't seem like it could possibly be that long. It makes me realize that while I have come far since February 2008, there is still such as long way to go.

Thanksgiving 2009

As Thanksgiving weekend draws to a close, I have been thinking back over the past three years. I started my pregnancy journey in December 2006, and ended it in July 2009. Along the way, I met some wonderful people, and cried more tears than I had in my entire life before that time. But I am, despite the pain and the losses of my butterflies and Shannon, grateful for those that I have met along the way who have provided me with love, comfort, support and a surprising number of laughs. So, I am thankful.

I am thankful for my children, those here with me on earth, and those that soar in a different reality. On our annual trip northward, I told my oldest that I was thankful for my family. And he said, "I know why you are thankful. It is because this year we have a baby, and last year the baby died and this baby didn't die. I have a brother, and the other baby was my sister." And then he asked why the baby died. And I still don't have a good answer for him.

He asked that question a few times this weekend. He doesn't talk about his sister very often but, when he does, it is like a waterfall of questions and issues about why she isn't here. And there are no good answers, other than saying that sometimes bad things happen, and that is how life is sometimes.

Looking back on how far I've come and, recognizing that I still have far to go on this loss journey, I realize that the people in your world make all the difference along the way. This journey would be so much harder if there weren't people who understand that the grieving process doesn't end, even if you have much to be thankful for. But I am thankful, just the same.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Nineteen months....

Damn, that's a long time. I hate that every month, on the 8th, I'm drawn back to figuring out how many months it has been since the most horrible experience that any mom should have to endure, maybe a close second (or a tie) with the "I'm sorry" from the OB that we heard the day before.

I wish there was some magic in the universe that could prevent any other moms from feeling this pain. It can't hurt to wish...

Shannon - it's September, and we miss you so. The butterflies are still here for a little while longer, and the leaves are starting to fall. Much love with all my heart, mommy.

Friday, September 4, 2009

welcome little rainbow

After a long, LOOONG journey, we have welcomed our little rainbow baby. He fills my heart with joy, and provides me with hope. His arrival was bittersweet, as it was an arrival that followed a great loss. His presence in our lives doesn't diminish the sad that exists because Shannon only lives in our hearts. His smiles, which are so much like the smiles of his big brother, remind me of the four little butterflies that flew on before him.

Shannon looked like her big brother, this little guy looks like his big brother, ergo, it seems likely that this little one would have endured comparisons to Shannon, had the two been able to exist in the same reality. But that reality doesn't exist. For to have Shannon would mean that I wouldn't be holding this little one and singing him to sleep, or waking up with him endlessly in the night. And that realization makes me sad, yet happy at the same time. For my life is more complete, but for the gaping hole that Shannon left. And my life is more fulfilled, except for the missing piece that is my daughter in my arms.

Earlier this summer, my big boy commented that, had the baby lived, it would be one, but this new baby was only zero. I told him that was right, his sister would be one. He said, "sister?," and fell quiet. He forgot that Shannon was a girl, but he never forgot her. I thought it was wonderful that he not only remembered his sister, but that she was supposed to come in July. Kids' minds are such amazing things.

When my new one came crying into this world, hearing that cry brought on a lot of feelings. I felt incredible relief that I had this living child, unbelievable happiness and an adrenaline rush that sustained me for hours. At the same time, a feeling of sadness hit me, remembering what we had lost and what we had gone through to get to this point. Since December 2006, when I started my pregnancy journey, I had been pregnant for well over 70 weeks. More than a year. And it seemed that we were finally at the end of that road.

I purposely did not acknowledge my pregnancy because I was afraid that it would disappear. I didn't dare complain about the heartburn or the endless trips to the bathroom or anything else for fear that someone might hear my complaints and think that I didn't want this baby enough, or that I didn't appreciate every kick. I didn't want the cosmic wheel to sense anything that could cause it to take this away from me.

From talking to other moms who are and, who have been, on this road to a rainbow, I know that my paranoia and caution is common. It's so hard not to be hopeful when you and your kind know, better than anyone, that the same hope that can sustain you, is the same hope that stings so much when it is dashed. You want that successful pregnancy so badly, but you are afraid to show that want, or to really freely embrace hope, or to allow that hope to cradle you through the fear. I know that I needed to protect myself. I only allowed myself to kinda start to feel that hope towards the very end of my pregnancy, but only a little. I believed that, until I held that rainbow in my arms and, heard him cry, that I wasn't done. My pregnancy journey was still going. And I am so happy and grateful that it ended well.

Now, my little family, now one bigger, continues down this road of life missing Shannon. The sadness is still there. It will always be there. But I am happy too. And that is very good.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Shannon's first birthday

Shannon was due one year ago today, July 12, 2008. But she died. And, sitting here, on what would have been her first birthday, I wonder what life would have been like, had she lived. And I miss her and love her very much.

Happy birthday little butterfly. I know that you are in a better place, but we still miss you here. Love always, mommy.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The butterflies are back...

It's so very hard to believe that yet another July is almost upon us. Shannon would be turning one soon, and I guess in the alternative universe, where the bad stuff doesn't happen, she is turning one. I look out the window, at the summer flowers that are almost in full bloom and I am struck, again, by how much things change, yet how much they stay the same. I still miss my little girl, she has changed me in numerous ways, some that I recognize right away, and some that are too subtle to really put my finger on.

But what strikes me the most is how much time marches on, whether you want it to or not. If someone told me a year ago that I'd be sitting here, staring at the same flowers, and wondering what was next for me down the road, I would have laughed. I am hopefully shortly going to welcome Shannon's sibling into this world, yet I still worry and wonder and miss my baby girl everyday. I worry about my answer when people ask - is this your second? Well, actually, it's my sixth, but you probably don't want to know that story.

And I worry, and wonder, about the passage of time on the human heart. How does time change how I miss Shannon? Does time make it hurt less - yes and no. Time makes it hurt differently. Time creates a big scab that, for the most part, keeps the hurt in one place, but constantly reminds you that the hurt is still there. At the same time, though, that scab gets slightly smaller with time, constantly reminding you that life does go on, and that you are, despite your best efforts, moving on too.

For me, though, moving on is not moving away from that essential piece of what and who I am because of Shannon. I don't want to change in that way. Shannon made an impact in my world, and through me, I guess, Shannon makes an impact on the rest of the world.

She gives me empathy to cry for other lost babies and sad moms, and to really get why I am crying. She gives me strength, to know that I have made it another day and that I can tell people that, they too can make it another day, and believe it to be mostly true. She gives me hope, that things and people can change because I've changed. And she gives me the butterflies, who linger too long in my garden to be anything other than gifts from her. And I love and miss her for it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

missing my baby

Sitting at my desk, watching the spring plants start to really take off, I'm taken back to this time last year, when I sat in the same spot, watching the same plants, which were much smaller last year, not having had a full growing season yet. I remember just how sad I was last Spring, planning Shannon's memorial flower garden, and missing being pregnant with her. Spring brings some sense of anticipation, of thoughts of warmer weather and being outside and being able to appreciate how all of these little plants live in the cold hard ground for so many months before they just pop out again, bigger than before. It's really quite amazing.

But, this is yet another Spring without Shannon. Instead of wondering what my 10 month old baby would be doing right now, I find myself seeing little girls everywhere I go, and seeing the future that I will miss out on. The little girl on the train, with her pink raincoat and the barbie doll with the really cool spring outfit - nope, not gonna get that opportunity with Shannon. The little girl being trundled off to daycare with her dad this morning with the really cute pigtails. Nope. Instead, what I've gotten this Spring is big, hot tears that show up and catch me by surprise, taking my breath away when I tried to go to sleep the other day because I was wondering how to properly remember and incorporate Shannon into any birth announcements that I might send out this summer. I was in tears last night watching Greys Anatomy, because there was a sick little girl who died in her daddy's arms. I mean, I cried. Full on crying. Over a stupid TV show. I'd blame hormones, but that's only part of it. The fact is that I really miss my little girl.

I don't like crying, it messes up my already messed up sinuses. I don't like crying because it doesn't make me feel better anymore, it just makes me feel spent. I don't like crying because it isn't going to bring back the little girl that I haven't held in over a year and will never hold again. It makes me realize that, no matter how much time goes by, no matter how far removed time makes the death of my little girl, it will always be there, just a moment away, waiting for the tears to start.

And Shannon will still be gone, even though her butterflies will be back soon.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Different Child by Pandora MacMillian

A Different Child by Pandora MacMillian

People notice
There's a special glow around you.

You grow
Surrounded by love,
Never doubting you are wanted;
Only look at the pride and joy
In your mother and father's eyes.

And if sometimes
Between the smiles
There's a trace of tears,
One day
You'll understand.

You'll understand
There was once another child
A different child
Who was in their hopes and dreams.

That child will never outgrow the baby clothes
That child will never keep them up at night
In fact, that child will never be any trouble at all.

Except sometimes, in a silent moment,
When mother and father miss so much
That different child.

May hope and love wrap you warmly
And may you learn the lesson forever
How infinitely precious
How infinitely fragile
Is this life on earth.

One day, as a young man or woman
You may see another mother's tears
Another father's silent grief
Then you, and you alone
Will understand
And offer the greatest comfort.

When all hope seems lost,
You will tell them
With great compassion,
"I know how you feel.
I'm only here
Because my parents tried again".

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.

I’ve got a secret I’ve been hiding, under my skin…..

In the loss journey, there are a lot of stops on the road. And I’ve reached another stop. so here goes if you haven't figured it out.

We are Pregnant again.

We are 24 weeks today. And, I did NOT tell anyone until these past few weeks. We couldn’t. Losing Shannon has taken away that ability to just put it out there and figure that everything will be ok. Because I don’t believe that it works that way. I worry every day that it doesn’t work that way. I don’t believe in happy endings. I believe that stuff just happens. And I have no end game. I get up every day and hope that nothing bad happened. I wake up every night and hope nothing bad happened. It is always in my mind.

And, rationally or irrationally, we needed to get to March, and out of February, when two of our babies died, and make sure that this one didn’t too. Yes, it may be morbid – welcome to my world…

And no, being pregnant does NOT take away any of the grief I feel over my little baby girl. Not a bit. In some ways, it makes it more acute. As I sit here, crying for Shannon and (Lucy and Tristan and Gregory and Richard and Dash and Josie and Tyler and Collin and for all the other lost babies of my dear other deadbaby moms,) I know that this is a really long road. And I am nowhere near the end. And even getting to the end of this pregnancy won’t bring me to the end of this road. This baby is pretty much due on what would have been Shannon’s first birthday, IF she lived. But she didn’t. So, what do you do with that? Knowing that in a different universe that that cake would have one more candle, and a different baby in front of it, and all you do is hope that this year, you have a reason to be happy.

This blog was never meant to be about anything or anyone but Shannon. And it always will be. I don’t plan on playing out this pregnancy publicly, and talking about it here all that much. I don’t think that works for me. But the feelings and the fears are very intermixed, and how I feel now is just another part of this journey – Shannon’s journey – and we are on this road together, Shannon, baby and me. And it has changed me and how I feel. And reality is that a lot of you already know. And more good thoughts in the universe can't hurt. And I feel it’s more intellectually honest to put it out there. And it only seems right to say it out loud. And I really hope it works out this time.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Thirteen months

Now that that first year, that sad sad terrible first year has come and gone, time is speeding by. It's so hard to believe that this much time has gone since we first met Shannon, and said goodbye to her. It's hard to believe that, this time last year I was planning her memorial garden, and today, I sit here watching the first green start to poke its way out of the cold Mid-Atlantic ground. There were so many tears then, and there are still tears now, but they don't come as often, and I find that my grief and sadness, while always there, are further back, and don't fly forward nearly as much as they used to, but when they do, it is still often unexpected and much stronger than you think that it should be, after thirteen months.

And I've come to recognize the person that I see when I look in the mirror again. I guess, for better or for worse, this is me, and it's probably as good of a me as I am going to get anytime soon, if ever. And I am ok with this new me, for the most part. I've learned that while grief comes in all shapes and sizes and likes to sneak up on you sometimes and say "boo" and see if it can scare the crap out of you, you develop this "worldliness" about you that helps you be less scared. That sounds weird. I guess it is more like a wariness or maybe a weariness, where you just know that this is a world where bad stuff can happen and that sometimes it does.

I don't know. It has just been a really long time.... And I miss my little girl.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Friends forever

I had a moment this weekend when I thought it would be ok to post a link to my blog on Facebook. So, I did. For less than 24 hours. And then I took the link down. I don't know why I thought that I was ready to put the blog up, but I guess, in the end, I just wasn't ready.

I guess, for lack of a better way to say it, I am not entirely ready for my land of the living to be invited into my land of the dead. And, reality is that some "friends" might actually be referred to as people who didn't exactly shine when Shannon died. On the other hand, some other "friends" showed me immense love and support. But, I don't know if the casual reader, the person who is looking to find out what I've been up to the "x" years since we last chatted, is looking for more than a place where I express my feelings about loss and life and life without my little girl. The people who might live and/or be more comfortable full-time in the land of the living might not get it.

There is a great book I read in high school, can't remember the title, but it contains the following: Why am I afraid to tell you who I am? I am afraid to tell you who I am because you may not like who I am, and it is all that I have. All of my Shannon world, while stronger than it was just a few months ago, is too new, too fragile, too fresh to me. I'm just not ready. While my world without Shannon is a big part of who I am, I can't write worrying about whether I am going to offend someone who *might* read my blog, figuring that I am going to critique bad tv or write about my love of thin mints, and instead reads something else. Because, those are also parts of who I am. And I caveat that by saying that I don't worry about offending the casual reader who might stumble upon my blog when searching for information about certain "D" list celebrities who *might* share my daughter's name. They are on their on (mostly because I don't know anyone who might actually search for such information)

Memories of a life lost

A Vast and Sudden Sadness

--This article appears in this week's Newsweek. It is about stillbirth and the use of photography to remember our lost babies. Shannon was technically a week and a few days short of being a stillbirth, but it is all the same, regardless of the name you use. The photographs and memories which we made of her help to sustain me through some of the harder days. I am glad, despite the enormous sadness depicted in those photos, that we have them. I will treasure them forever as the visual record of her.

When mom's first find out that their babies died, and that they'll actually have to go to the hospital and go through labor and delivery, they often ask what they should do. I am forever grateful that there were moms out there who told me to bring a camera. Some hospitals actually have a "care package" of sorts for parents like us, which contains a disposable camera. Mine didn't. Some hospitals will take photos for you. Mine did, but lost them and found them months later. But we had our camera, and we have photos of our little girl. They aren't always easy to look at, because the day was so overwhelmingly sad, but they are part of our life, her life, and our memories and short time with our little girl. And they helped.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Was born sleeping on February 8, 2008
in Washington, DC, USA
She died on February 7, 2008.
"She is loved and missed."

Monday, February 9, 2009

One year ago

One year ago, my little girl was born. That day really sucked. Seriously. One year later, it still sucks, but only because I miss her and I still don't understand how it is that such a terrible thing could happen to an innocent creature that had everything ahead of her. I don't get it.

I don't get how some stupid people have 14 kids because they are dumber than a bag of dirt and think that they are some kind of "parenting" expert who will be able to support 14 kids on giving other people advice. Here's some advice - don't listen to stupid women who get 8 babies through IVF and think that is ok. So many of us just want one. The one we lost. The one that broke our heart. The one we didn't get to keep.

I don't get how there are so many moms and dads who don't want the kids they have, who treat them so terribly, who just don't care, who do unspeakably bad things to them. All the while, so many of us mourn what we lost and feel the sadness of the universe bearing down on us. I weep for more than my loss, I weep for the losses of my friends, and the losses of people I don't even know. Because I know what loss feels like.

We did a balloon release for Shannon's birthday yesterday. We set two balloons free - one yellow and one pink. And, because nothing is easy, they went right into a tree. The yellow one worked its way free first, and ran right into another tree. Eventually the yellow one got free of the second tree and went on its way, hopefully to brighten the evening of my evening star. The pink one - well, it got free of the first tree and went right for the second tree. One bounce, two bounces, three bounces, POP!, no more pink balloon. So, being the anal retentive tree-hugger that I am, I trotted off into the street to pick up the carcass of the pink balloon and brought it home. I'll put it in Shannon's memory box as just another pathetic reminder of a rather pathetic year. Then, my husband said, I don't like pink anyway. I said, neither do I. I'd like to think that Shannon let that balloon pop because, being my child, she just wouldn't have been that into pink either. At least the yellow one flew free. Frankly, I'd have rather have just had her here instead. Oh well.

Shannon - we miss you lots and love you more. I don't think Happy Birthday is right, because there was nothing happy about the day that we said hello and goodbye for the first and last time. You'll never be forgotten, my little one... I love you. --mommy

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The day before....

The day before Shannon died. Wednesday, February 6, 2008. I was so sick Monday that I stayed home Tuesday. On wednesday, we had a workman coming to install ceiling fans, so I went to work and took Sean to school.
I remember using my doppler that morning and listening to my baby, never realizing that I'd never hear that sound again. I remember lying there, with the doppler, just listening for what seemed like a long time that day. Who knew that it really was such a short time?

On the way home that day, I remember being so very angry at my son for telling a lie. I was really angry. Who knew how stupid that was at the time?
I remember having so much trouble going to sleep that night because of my stuff nose. I remember taking a sudafed and sleeping all night. Who knew that I wouldn't wake up from the nightmare that awaited me when I opened my eyes that next day?

That was the day before. Who knew that it was going to be the last day of my old life? Who knew that was the last day I'd still believe that happiness was really attainable? Who knew that my life now seems more appropriately among the dead and grieving, instead of in life?

Things really do change in a heartbeat (or the lack thereof). Who knew?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Stuck in a moment at 4 am

Sometimes grief is a weird thing. It is like running around in a dark room that you are completely familiar with, except that this time someone moved a wall. And you run right into that wall, unexpectedly and painfully and find yourself gasping for breath in your bed at 4 am, when you have to go to work in a few hours, crying uncontrollably and wondering what the hell just happened to you.

After I looked at the clock, I realized it was 4 am, which was the time when Shannon was born. So, was the time significant? I don't think so, the grief I felt was not about her birth, it was about what happened next. It was about the time we spent with her after she was born. The end of the time we spent with her. Knowing that we would never see her again, when is it the right time to let go, to give your baby (your dead baby) to someone who is going to walk away with her and take her somewhere where you will not see her again until you pick up the urn at the funeral home. The person who is going to take your daughter somewhere (where?) into parts of the hospital that regular people don't get to go.

When do you, when can you, let go? How do you decide that it's time? How do you get to the point where you'd rather leave the hospital than stay there with the body of your child, to get away from the hushed voices and the people who walk past your door with the butterfly on it and the doctor who keeps coming in to say he's sorry. How long is too long to stay? When it is better to leave your dead child to return to your living child? The one who doesn't know that his sister is dead, the one who only knows that mommy didn't come home the night before.

Barry Manilow says, "letting go is just another way to say I'll always love you so..." Kate Winslet, in the sappy end to the sappy Titanic, tells her doomed love "I'll never let go." It's all crap.

You never let go, it all keeps coming back. No matter whether you are a day or a week or a year away from that terrible day. Even if you wanted to let go, you can't. And I don't know if I want to. Because I think it is always supposed to hurt on some level.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

11 months, and counting

Shannon was born 11 months and 9 days ago. That seems like a ridiculously long period of time to me right now. In just a few weeks, she'll have been gone a year. And I don't know what to say about that. My husband is about to leave the country for two weeks, and he gets back on Shannon's birthday. I wish I could go back to a time when February didn't fill me with dread and deep, deep sadness, but I lost two pregnancies, one year apart, within one day of each other. That really does make February suck, big time.

I feel like I've made good progess on healing this year. I will always miss my daughter, I will never get to see if she would have turned out to be some super awesome kid, (I suspect that she would have, despite her mom), but I am a stronger person now. I am a more compassionate person now. I understand the unspeakable now. I care a lot less about the unimportant things in life. On the good side that isn't so good, I have a lot less patience for stupidity and shallowness now. Why is that bad, well, only because there is so much of it around me - in the misplaced priorities of others, in the people who'd rather complain about the fact that they got a *X* when they wanted a *Y* (when all they should want is a living baby), in the people who poop on others just to get what they want first, in the list of others who I deal with regularly who just don't have a clue. I'm a lot more tired than I have ever been. And I still wonder if I will get my happy ending at the end of all this loss drama.

This past week, I had my yearly review at work. It was fine, but they mentioned that I had some "health issues" last year. Yes, Shannon is apparently a "health issue" when you work in a law firm and you are being reviewed by a room full of men. I don't even know if they knew what they were saying or what they had been told about my loss, or if they were just told that I was in the hospital or something. I suspect that they were told that I had a loss, but beyond that, who knows. And they said they were sorry and that they hoped everything was ok now. I wonder what "ok now" means, but I am not going to try to go there with a room full of men, so I dug my nails into my hand, said yes and thank you... Some discussions just aren't worth having.

And, on some level, I guess I am "ok now," if only I really knew what ok means...