7 1/2 Months

Emily's Balloon flying away at 6 months

7 1/2 months is such an important time for me. That is how long Emily has lived, and now how long she has been gone.

I just now realized that it is also the time we have been TTC in earnest. Last month we began to TTC and I had an emotional setback. It is amazing to realize what can trigger these moments, and last month it was when we began to TTC. I spiraled downward with anger toward my mother. I was upset that she was not a bigger advocate for her own health, as she is for everyone else, and now she was gone. As a nurse she was very knowledgable and compassionate and demanded the best for everyone. Everyone except herself. I was upset that she denied having a stillborn son even when we asked her point blank. I understand that it was a different time, and that was her way of coping, but frankly I didn’t care. I was her child and I wanted her to share her experience with me. If she had it could have made a difference and helped me with Emily when she wasn’t there. I was mad that she was dead and I couldn’t talk to her about all of this.

The 6-7 month mark I began screaming in my sleep again, that had subsided some until then. I also had my first full fledged panic attack. It was overwhelming and scary and took some time before I realized what it was. I remembered my social work experience and training and did the “old school” trick of putting a rubber band on my wrist and snapping it. It is best to do that in the very beginning of feeling a panic attack, but I didn’t realize that was what I was feeling and thought better now than never and did it approximately 3 minutes into the attack. I took deep breaths sitting on the floor with my head between my knees and stayed like that until it subsided. I then drank a lot of water and began calling my support network and talking through it. I didn’t have a trigger, which you usually do for a panic attack, so I determined it was the culmination of all of my feelings and emotions until my mind and body could not take it anymore and sent me the signal that I needed more support. Repression is never helpful and very harmful both physically and mentally. I recommend anyone to reach out and develop a support network if you feel like this, there are many out there. I have my sisters and my awesome friends from my SHARE group.

I’m at a better place now. I have comfort that she always loved us and wanted the best for us at all times to the best of her ability. I am sad that she had to deny her son, our only brother, instead of sharing him with us. I’m sad that times were worse for women in those situations back then, and that she was never able to grieve her only son properly. I can’t wait to see her and hug her and tell her it is ok and give her a big hug, with Emily who I know she is caring for so well. I can’t wait to see my brother that I was never able to know or hear about.

I have to have hope. It is all I have, and I desperately need to cling to something positive. Emily’s 6 month angelversary was difficult for me. I did a balloon release, and so did a dear friend of mine that I met on-line. Her son was stillborn on the same day as Emily and I just know that they are great friends. The picture above is the balloon release she did for our babies and so many others. I chose that picture as a reminder that we are not alone, and there are so many others.

I’m thankful to be back at work and to be very busy, to have focus and a purpose. I love all of my students as my own and can’t wait to know who will be in my classes this year. I can’t wait to make a difference in each and every life of every child that I have this year. Children are such a blessing and treasure and I’m excited to know my new ones, and “old” ones that I have had the privilege of teaching for multiple years, or teaching the siblings of other students I have had in the past. I love the uniqueness of every child.

Running, yoga, and attending my monthly SHARE meetings have been beneficial for me. The on-line groups I am a member of and connecting with other BLM (baby loss mothers) have had a positive impact on the grieving process and my life. I have met some of the most amazing people I have ever known in my entire life during this process.

I am trying to remind myself of my blessings, run when I get upset, and don’t miss a yoga class to help me stay centered. I am choosing to see the positive in anything that happens around me and most of all HOPE.

Love and blessings to all! XOXOXO

p.s we tried with “gusto” this month so we’ll see!:-)

 

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The Dilemma of TTC

So I met with my hematologist last week and am only now just posting this. I needed to digest and think about the information first, which is something that I tend to do with everything. OK, it is something that I am working hard at doing now before I fly off at the mouth and then think about everything later!

Yoga helps, it helps a lot to learn to calm and relax, starting in the mind into the body. I’m getting better at it, and no, I do not cry anymore. Instead I settle in on my thoughts and just feel them. It’s new and different for me as someone who grew up in an atmosphere of emotional repression and it feels GOOD! I intend to keep up with it.

My hematologist reviewed my information and reiterated the risks of my Factor II mutation. In her words, “I can’t tell you not to get pregnant, but I have to make sure that you are aware of all the risks.” and she did. I am at an increased risk of stroke, heart problems (attack and so on), DVT, PE, severe pre eclampsia that can lead to all of the above. Basically, she wants me to know that I could die from a pregnancy. Hard to hear. I am still dealing with my feelings of bitterness about this. I can’t help but think if it is SOOOO serious (and yes it is but this is my little vent) then WHY is it NOT a routine test for pregnant women? Why was it ok for me to die then, but not now?

She went on to verify that I will be seeing a high risk OB (not a general) and the Perinatal Associates once a pregnancy is confirmed. She doesn’t want me to begin the Lovenox now until a pregnancy is confirmed. I am on a cocktail of prenatal vitamins (with DHA), an extra 200 mg of Folic Acid, and a baby aspirin daily for conception. She said that in case they do not mention this she wants me to know additional risks of a pregnancy regarding the baby (I at first typed fetus because that is what she said, but now I HATE the term fetus. That is a “feel good” way of saying baby because it IS a BABY.) If I develop any stroke, heart, DVT, PE symptoms, protein in the urine and so on too early in the pregnancy it will have to be medically terminated to save my life. If I manage to get far enough along in the pregnancy they will induce me and I’ll have a preemie.

I appreciate the honesty. I’m glad someone finally had the guts to tell me the BAD things that CAN and sometimes DO happen in a pregnancy BEFORE the fact. I wish OBs would do that, so this doesn’t hit us out of nowhere, but instead prepares us to know that sometimes the worst can and does happen. I wonder why my high risk ob didn’t give me that talk during my preconception visit? Why did it have to come from my hematologist? I am thankful that I have her, she is an excellent doctor.

I am still thinking about this. Our plan is to TTC beginning next month. I am preparing my body by reducing caffeine, taking all my pills, exercising, and eating super heathy (I have been channeling Dr. Oz during my meal preparation and consumption.) I read Dr. Oz’s book YOU Having a Baby, and am currently reading Pregnancy After a Loss. As of right now my mind is not changed for TTC. If this pregnancy (providing I do indeed conceive, who know the future) ends badly I am not sure that we will try again. I know that I CAN live through it, and indeed would, but I can’t be completely blind to the medical risks to myself.

I miss Emily each and every day. I think about her each and every day. I would love to have a living child to raise. I would love to have a child that will carry Emily’s memory with them, that would think about and love her too. I hear stories about young children finding their siblings memory box, and going through it and parents having candid talks with their children. I hear (and see) stories of siblings releasing balloons to their sibling that has died. That is so precious. I hope that Emily can have a sibling to do this for her.

Right now I keep thinking of the movie Steel Magnolia in which Shelby (Julia Roberts) tells her mother, “I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.” I know exactly how she feels.

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Empty Bottles

Empty Bottles

This is the second month I have done some things that may seem odd to some people. It may be odd. I don’t know. Right now, it seems like something I need to do. I have been buying baby bottles, and not just any kind of bottles! I remember when I was pregnant researching the best bottles, particularly for a breastfed baby, and saw great things about the Tommee Tippee Bottles. Oh, they are too expensive, I decided, and when I did my baby registry I just put Playtex on the list.

Well, a few weeks ago I was mad. Mad that I sat there and decided to get “inferior” (I’m sure they are perfectly fine!) bottles because of their cost. I went to Babies R Us and bought a newborn pack for sensitive stomach. Why? I don’t know, my sisters babies were gassy and fussy so mine probably would be too, right?

Now, will I even have a living child to use them? I don’t know. Can Emily ever use them? Of course not. I’m grief stricken, not insane (there is a difference). I can’t explain why I felt I HAD to get those bottles, but I did.

I remember at one support group meeting, my first meeting, there was a wonderful woman there who talked about buying baby things for her baby. She said to give yourself permission to, and go ahead and do it. You can donate it to charity later (or consign, that’s my thought also). Another woman I met told me she bought an item off her baby registry every month until she didn’t need to anymore.

I guess I’m not too strange, although I feel like it sometimes. It feels odd, off center, to be buying bottles for yourself and not a baby. Well, it is backwards actually, isn’t it? I SHOULD have a baby here right now using them all up and keeping me busy every second of the day, but life isn’t fair and nothing is guaranteed, and that is a fact. You can be given something infinitely precious, and it can be yanked back forever in just a few months (or moments) time.

So today, right after Mother’s Day (yep, it totally sucked not to have my Mom or baby here to share it with. We kept busy working in the garden all weekend) and a looonnngg day at work I passed by Babies R Us again. I went inside again, and got another pack of bottles (3 pack of 5 oz. The other kit only had 1 5 oz. bottle and that didn’t feel like enough for me) and then I got a 2 pack of medium nipples. I walked around looking at things and then passed the bedding section. OH how thrilled I was when I finally ordered her bedding set! It is so beautiful, it’s still in her room, laid out and untouched. I wanted the entire theme and hadn’t purchased it yet, and didn’t know if I would have been able. It’s gorgeous, but pricy, and today it was on clearance. Yes, you all know what I did. I picked up the wall decals, the matching plush blanket, and the crib sheet. They were out of the mobile or i would have gotten that too.

How long will I do this? How long will I keep her things? I don’t know. I feel that I need to have them and hold onto them now. I know at my support group they said do not take anything out until you feel ok to do it. I don’t feel ok about anything now, except a relief that I bought these things. It could be because I am upset that I had to call and cancel my baby registries within a week of setting them up. It could be that I feel so heartbroken that she didn’t have her party, her celebration. I know it’s hard for women that have had their showers to look at the nursery and all the things in preparation that they can’t use. For me, since I didn’t have a shower I am upset about NOT having things for her, to get ready for her. I was waiting for my shower, to see what I needed after, and I feel guilty that I was so focused on money and how to afford my 12 week maternity leave. *sigh* This is a lose-lose situation. The only way to win, to feel better would be for Emily to be alive here with me, and since that is not reality I have to settle for these empty bottles, this empty life without her.

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Life’s Messy…Live With It

Teachers can be a bit of control freaks, and a bit perfectionists. We can’t help it, that’s how we are, and it is reinforced through our job when we get the best results from our students because of these characteristics.

Since I returned back to work  from my 6 week maternity leave February 9, 2011, I felt that part of me sliding away. I tried to hyper plan and constantly analyze my students, to grade, file, grade, file….Nope, it hasn’t been working and it IS out of my control.

The paperwork??? Stack and stack and stack. I’ve never had so many piles before in my life. I grade them, I use the papers to teach or reinforce them, then I stack. My room is messy. I don’t have the energy to file and file and file. I leave after school because I need to get home. I do my lesson plans and if I’m lucky I’m two days ahead of them having everything ready.

I have some stacks at home too. Luckily I have Alex here and he is good at going through the mail, or putting my clothes where they belong. He doesn’t touch the dishes though. On more than one occasion I have left a stack of dishes overnight (scandalous for me!) so I could watch tv or go to bed early. I make do with the clothes I have and do laundry less.

Yep, my life is filled with stacks and messes and I have learned that it is just too bad. I used to get panicked when I was barely behind in school or house work. I have learned that right now life is messy and I am doing the best I can. I have to be gentler and kinder to myself and let some things go to keep from having a total breakdown. I feel that I could. I feel like a strong wind or an emotional push could send me over the cliff into the darkest part of my grief and I may never come back out again.

So, my life is messy now and I am living with it and that IS OK. It is ok to let go some of my expectations of myself and just live through now. Because now is hard. Really hard. I miss her and how my life should be now and it is so sad to live each day how it is right now without Emily, and that this is how it will always be. I’m focusing on myself and it IS OK. I’m working out to feel better and it does help. I’m blogging and it helps.

Someday it will be easier to accept that I am always going to live without Emily, but until then it is ok to be messy and to take things one day at a time.

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Why I Love Children & Other Things

A scene from Rabbit Hole

I had a good week at work. I have found that my students help me heal in so many ways. I have one first grade student that says every two weeks or so, “I miss Emily.” So do I, I tell her. One other time she said she wanted to know who she looked like and was sad she didn’t know. (OH, how I LOVE this child!) I told her that she looked just like her Daddy but had my eye shape. “Oh great!” She said and her beautiful face actually lit up.

Yesterday another student told me I looked sad and why? (First grade again, what I have found is my healing grade). I simply looked at her and before I could answer she said, “Oh! I know why! You miss your baby!” “Yes,” I told her. She looked at me wisely and said,”I know, if I had a baby and it died I would be sad too.” It is that simple, that honest, and that true. I love these children so much, adults could learn so much from them!

On another note I have been having nightmares for some time now. I can’t remember them, but I know that Alex becomes startled and wakes me. I have actually been waking up screaming. I’ve never done that before. I discussed this with my group and have found that this is normal and common. It is Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and is common after a traumatic event such as a stillbirth. I wonder when, or of, I will ever have a peaceful sleep again?

I had my first yoga class this week. I have always had a “high strung, nervous” temperament. My Mother did too, so I come by it honestly. I need to know how to relax, to calm, to be able to find quiet and peace in my mind and body. During my beginners yoga classes while she was teaching how to breathe and stretching postures, I was in the back of the room, and began to quietly weep. It happened off and on during the class in my quiet gentle movements and breathing as I relaxed body and mind. I’m glad the instructor didn’t point it out, as it seemed that I needed to do this. It felt like a cleansing of my mind and I am glad that I decided to learn yoga. I wonder how long this will continue, and if I will always weep during yoga?

I have been doing a lot of wondering, as you see in this post and in several others. While grief is not new to me, it is in term of my child’s death. I am continuing this journey and reflecting on my thoughts and feelings which is helping a lot, especially as time continues on and I learn to live without Emily. We’ll see how it goes and who I will become, I’m interested to know the “new me” that I am becoming. A better person, I hope, someone Emily would be proud to call her mother.

On another note I am looking forward to the new movie with Nicole Kidman called, “Rabbit Hole” about the death of her child. I have been told that everyone who has had a child die can relate to this movie. I hope it brings awareness to the general public about how the mind of a grieving mother thinks and how to best support her.

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Here’s What Sucks- right now

I realized that lately (with the help of a friend!) all I have been doing is copying and posting poems and sayings from other people. I think that is the “easy way out” for me, copying what I am feeling without the process of writing what I am feeling and continuing to work through my grief. Grief is a process that right now seems as vast as the skies above, seemingly unending. I have been told that it is more managable over time, and I believe that, however I need to work through my emotions until I get there. I have been told that this far out since Emily’s death that I have been relatively positive, and although I don’t feel that way, I’m glad to know that I have some of that positive in me somewhere. I believe it is because I have been through grief before, and recognize some aspects of it since my mother’s death two and a half years ago. That is different in its’ own way. The death of my mother is more of a death in the past, and all of my memories in the past, and Emily’s death is a death in the future.

I decided to talk about how I feel about what sucks now, what sucks for all of us angel moms after the death of our babies.

  • 1. It SUCKS losing baby weight with no baby.
  • 2. It SUCKED after Emily died that my milk came in without being able to feed my baby.
  • 3. It sucks that I’m going to be 36 tomorrow and instead of thinking about working on baby #2 we are grieving that baby and still planning #1,
  • It sucks that with my age the chance of having a statistically healthy baby continues to decline when Emily should already be here.
  • It sucks to be working on remembering Emily when I should be making memories WITH her!
  • It sucks that Mother’s Day is coming up, and although I AM a mother no one will recognize that.
  • It sucks that people avoid me as if I am contagious and won’t look me in the eye or talk to me. The reality is that 1:165 babies born are stillborn (March of Dimes website stats).
  • It SUCKS to be left out of baby showers and other invitations that have to be done with my friend’s baby. I want to be included, I LOVE babies and want to celebrate babies born and healthy.
  • It SUCKS that NO ONE says Emily’s name or asks about her, or what I went through (OK, not everyone, but 99% that are not other angel moms).
  • It SUCKS that if I barely mention Emily’s name, or birth that people actually RUN and change the subject as if it is taboo.
  • It SUCKS that people think of their comfort before my own, I AM the one whose baby died!
  • It SUCKS that Emily’s death was preventable but our health care insurance companies decide what is part of the “normal screenings” and we are unaware of the dangers out there!

    I feel better! I think I will add onto this as I feel something new! I do want to give a shout out (you know who you are!) to all of you that have been incredibly supportive of myself and Alex during this time. I would like you to know that in my experience you are the exception, and not the rule and I truly appreciate you!

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    I Wish Heaven Had a Phone- a Poem

    I wish Heaven had a phone so I could hear your voice again. I thought of you today, but that is nothing new. I thought about you yesterday and days before that too. I think of you in silence, I often speak your name. All I have are memories and your picture in a frame. Your memory is a keepsake from which I’ll never part. God has you in His arms, I have you in my heart.

    Missing you, now and always Emily.

     

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