Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Dark Day

Six years ago, I walked into work fairly carefree.  I had just had an OB appointment where they had listened to Reagan's heartbeat and told me she was fine.  I worked an 8-hour shift treating patients, climbing all over things, bending/squatting/lifting/teaching, doing what I loved with patients I cared for.  I had never experienced mommy intuition before, so I kept telling myself I was overreacting.  That the nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach was nothing.  I guess I wasn't quite convinced because I made a doctor's appointment, but I wouldn't leave work for it and I wouldn't have Andrew come with me.

What happened next I remember like it was yesterday.  I remember sitting in the office waiting, rubbing my large belly lovingly, telling myself she was just tired and sleeping.  I remember the doctor asking me why I had lost so much weight and scolding me for being concerned about appearances while pregnant - I guess a lot of thin women might get judged like that, but I was kinda pissed at him for the comments he was saying.  And I remember thinking this idiot, judgmental doctor doesn't know how to use a doppler, because he seemed to really be struggling with that.

But then I saw his face.  I saw the alarm in his eyes.  Those eyes still sometimes haunt me.  He reached out and touched my arm and said, let's get a quick ultrasound.  Except, they kicked out the woman who was in the ultrasound room to get me in.  And spoke in hushed voices.  And the doctor stayed in there with me, which had certainly never happened before.  I remember the exact moment I broke.  No words needed to be said, no one needed to explain.  I saw Reagan's still chest.  No flutter in there, no thumb sucking, no waving, no smiling.  My little girl, always so active before, was quiet.  The moments after that were a blur - calling my office to get Andrew's office number because he wasn't picking up and smart phones were newish, and I didn't have one.  Telling Andrew the horrific news over the phone.  Sobbing in the floor of the ultrasound room until Andrew got there.  I'm fairly sure they helped me out to the car, though I somehow managed to drive to the specialist office, where I met a doctor who would change our lives, but at the time I just sat there as he tried to explain what was happening.

Oct 30 is my 1st dark day.  There have been others since, but it was the first time my world was rocked.  I still sometimes have nightmares about the day.  And, every year, it my sad day for Reagan.  A day where I extend myself a little grace and allow myself to wallow.  Because tomorrow, well, tomorrow is her birthday.  A cause for celebration!  Tomorrow, we do happy things for Reagan, remember those precious moments we had together, teach our kids about Jesus and heaven and remind them that Reagan is happy and complete now.  Tomorrow is beautiful.  Today may be ugly and dark and hard, but I have tomorrow to look forward to.  And, at the very least, I can be so very grateful that, for both Reagan and Lucas, that their birthdays and death days were different, that I can have a day of sadness and a day of celebrating.  Because no matter how short their lives, they always deserve being celebrated.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Longing



I feel as though I am at an impasse.  Most families get to make a decision when they are done having children.  They have 2 or 3 or 4 (or 5) and say "I think we're done."  And I've always heard, "you'll know when you're done."  But here's the thing, I don't know.  In fact, I feel quite the opposite.  I have 2 more little babies out there, babies we have already prayed for and named and love, as crazy as that sounds.  My days are completely full, I am stressed to the max, I have more laundry than I can keep up with, more toys than storage space, and an endless amount of junk that I trip over.  Our home is messy.  I forget to meal plan and we scrounge for dinner, calling nachos and hot dogs a meal, and throwing in a few baby carrots for good measure.  It's not a glamorous life we lead by any stretch.

But, through it all, is this nagging feeling that our family isn't done.  Maybe, because of all we've lost, that feeling will never go away.  When Lucas died, we had 8 more freezer babies waiting for us.  And we'd never lost a pregnancy early, so I just assumed we'd still be facing the decision of when we'd have to stop because we didn't have a vehicle large enough for the family.  God had different plans.  And oh, that is so incredibly painful.  And I hate it.  And I kinda think his plans suck.  Surely mine were better.  And yet, I have to rest in the truth that His plans are good, even when it feels so so bad.  So bad.

So, where does that leave me?  And how can you support me?  Pray.  Pray that God would open a door, that we would know where to go from here.  With my last surgery cancelled, my odds of conceiving are hovering right around 0%.  And, my odds of loss if we were to defy that first statistic are right there around 75%.  So, it's pretty bleak.  Basically, I cannot carry another child.  The decision to be done has been taken away and put firmly in the hands of an uncaring doctor and crappy insurance plans.  We know God is bigger than all that.  But we also know all too well that God doesn't always work the way we want him to.  That wanting it isn't enough.  So, pray that God would work a miracle.  Or that he would take away the desire for me to carry my own child.  Or that he would bring a surrogate into our lives and work out those details.  Or that he would bring a birth mama into our lives.  Most days, I am too weak to pray for these specifics.  Because, as the months go by and they don't happen, it only seems to deepen the wound.  And that is where my village comes in.  That is where and how you can help us as we continue to walk through the grief and guilt that comes after losing so many little ones.  And the ongoing pain and sting of infertility.




Sunday, August 5, 2018

Grief

I've heard a lot about grief over the past 6 years.  I've walked through it every day.  Some days I can live in the moment and enjoy my children and genuinely smile.  Some days, I do a pretty good job of faking it.  But there are other times when it is still crushing, when it's overwhelming, when I don't know where to turn.

It's been nearly 2 months since I last sat for a few minutes to process through and blog, since Lucas' first birthday.  In that time, we had a wonderful family vacation and the twins 5th birthday.  F.I.V.E.  It's kinda a big deal.  And yet, I let the moment pass.  The pictures are still on my camera, unedited.  The sappy blog post is buried somewhere in my mind, but I haven't found the strength to write it yet.  Every moment in my life is tainted with the despair of missing my children.  It's not fair.

Much of this blog has also been about my faith.  About learning to trust God in the journey into motherhood, then the loss, then the horrors of my pregnancy, and then rejoicing.  But the ugly truth of it all is that now, well, now I am too broken to believe anything I have written before.  The walls are too high, the grief too intense.  I don't doubt God's existence.  I know He is there, that He created me, that He sent Jesus.  I believe in heaven, I trust that my children are there.  But I don't really know what I feel about God's character anymore.  I don't trust that He has planned good for me.  It sometimes seems like He is kicking me while I am down.  I'm not sure how to reconcile with that- the truth of my life,  what we have endured,  the pain and heartache that goes with losing so many children - with the God of love I hear so much about.

And here's the other things I've learned.  Grief is lonely.  You walk this road alone.  I carry the burden, the guilt, all on me.  I can't look at another pregnant woman without catching my breath, even complete strangers.  Walking past someone with a baby does the same, and I find myself trying to find a way to hide.  It's not that I'm angry with them, most of the time I don't even know these women, it's just that I'm so sad for me.  But I'm past the point where it's okay to be sad, past the point where people understand that it's still hard, and so I just have to stand there, expressionless, pretending all is okay.  But it's not okay.  And I'm not sure it ever will be again.

Image result for weight of grief sculpture

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Happy FIRST Birthday!

Happy 1st birthday my sweet little Lucas!  It is hard to believe a year has already come and gone.  That one year ago I welcomed you into my arms, snuggled you tight, and said goodbye.  That is has now been 1 year since I last saw you.  Oh, how I miss you so very much.  More than I could ever put into words.  But you are still so very much a part of our family.  We remember you all the time - every holiday, ever special moment, every time there is another little boy that would be about your age.  And we wish that we were able to know life with you, to watch you grow over this past year - see those first smiles, comfort you when you cried, watch you figure out sitting and crawling and walking.  It would have been such an incredible year.

But instead, you are celebrating BIG TIME up in heaven.  You have so many little brothers and sisters there to have a party with.  And I'm sure Reagan is showing you the best things to do on a first birthday.  And Jesus is there too, that must make for an extra special birthday.  I cannot wait until we can celebrate with you one day.  Until then, we do the best that we can.

This morning, daddy made a special breakfast, just for your special day!  He cooked eggs, bacon, and breakfast potatoes.  Then omelets and toast because, well, Savant boys love to eat!  We made smoothies to drink from Dean's new cookbook.  And then we worked outside in your garden - we fixed your flowers, pulled out the weeds, pruned everything so it didn't get overgrown, and put out some new mulch.  Then we had a little pool party.  You're big brothers are learning how to do cannon balls, you wouldn't have been far behind them!  Hannah still doesn't like to jump, but she will soon.  She follows whatever her brothers are doing, loves to copy them.  I imagine you would have, too. 

After lunch your brothers made you the sweetest cards.  They wrote every letter themselves.  Dean drew a snake and a goose and a lion with trees and a rainbow.  Warren drew you an amazing sunset and a rainbow cake with lots of candles.  They finished up while I took Hannah to her dance recital.  When we got home, we made homemade pizza and cooked it on the grill.  Then we enjoyed your birthday cake and sent you up some balloons with messages from each of us.  I think you would have enjoyed the special day we created for you, and I hope you were able to look down and see how much we love you. 

I miss you so much Lucas.  So very much.  Sometimes it still catches me off guard, takes my breath away, even a year later.  I'm sorry we couldn't keep you here with us.  Always know that you are loved, you were wanted, and that you are so special to us.  All my love, always and forever sweet boy.

Mommy








Friday, June 8, 2018

Anticipation

The anticipation of the first birthday in heaven is always the hardest part.  With Reagan, we had the distraction of tiny baby boys who were still learning how to eat and life was about measuring their volume intake and making sure they hit their minimums, and trying to get them to sleep for a few minutes at a time before the pumping/nursing/bottle feeding schedule resumed.  But I still remember breaking down almost constantly in that week leading up to her birthday, not knowing what to expect, unsure if I would make it through the day.  Her actual birthday was a really sweet time, a chance to celebrate her life and remember our time together.  Maybe it helps that she was born on the day after we learned she had passed away?

This year is much the same, only it's been followed by grief upon grief.  Only this year, I have learned I will never have that rainbow baby, never carry another child.  It's been 1 month since we officially learned that our last babies were gone.  There are too many "should have beens" to even keep up with anymore.  And I find myself feeling panicked about the weekend, about our sweet Lucas' first birthday.  Because he was the last baby of mine I will get to hold.  And so, in addition to grieving everything we are missing with him, in addition to trying to help his birthday feel like a special time just for him (while juggling dance recitals and whining 4-year-olds - because when you're baby #5, that's what you get), I am also still grieving the loss of 8 other babies and the reality that we are done.  Even my body is reminding me of the failure.

I miss my Lucas so much.  These reminders, pictures of him at his last ultrasound healthy, remembering that one year ago, we were happy and completely unaware.  That one year ago was the last time I would every feel him kick.  I am still a bit in shock by it all, even a year later.  I know I have given everything I have to these babies, given them the best that I had to offer.  It's just so hard knowing that it wasn't enough, that I wasn't enough.  Though I know there isn't anything I could have done differently, I live with that guilt every day. 

If we had known something was going wrong, if we had known about the cord, we could be celebrating our sweet boy's first birthday today - on the last day he was healthy.  I keep thinking that I somehow missed a warning sign, that I should have known.  I'm the mommy, that was my job.  But I didn't know until he was gone, didn't have a clue.  And so, this weekend, we will celebrate our sweet boy.  We will make him cards and bake him a cake.  We will look through our pictures and have a special day to remember what it was like to hold him for those few hours. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Hardest One Yet

Mother's Day.  It started with the world's biggest hug from Dean, as he called out Happy Mother's Day and ran toward me, jumping into my arms.  Oh my sweet, big boy.  He was quickly followed by Warren, who informed me that gluten free pancakes were coming my way.  These boys are obsessed with baking me gluten free goodies.  And so, I was sent back to my room to wait on the breakfast.  In toddles Hannah, with her hair all a mess, her soft curls bouncing every which way as she climbed up into my bed and arms.  "Happy Mudder's Nay" she says.  Sweet girl, and my heart melts a bit.  It was as promised, gluten free pancakes (of which I get about 3 bites before little hands reach in and grab the rest).  Served alongside some sweet handmade cards.  Dean's was my favorite this year, as he chose to draw our family.  Cue the tears.  There in a line are the 5 of us, plus Lucas, Reagan, and Noah.  No one ever has to remind Dean to include those 3, he does it automatically.  They are as much a part of our family to him as those siblings he gets to fight with every day.  I LOVE that, the sweet innocence of it all.  Often Jesus is in our family pictures too, since that is who is taking care of the others.  He probably would sit and draw all 11 if he knew about those babies too.  And, here's the thing, I waited so many years for these moments, for the chance to have handmade cards filled with the things the kids love.  I wouldn't change that, our morning family time.  It was exactly what I needed.

But as the day has gone on, it's all getting to me.  The physical pain of this miscarriage is worse than I expected.  And way later than the others.  And it just feels like a slap in the face to be facing it today of all days.  And it makes me angry.  And immeasurably sad.  Last Mother's Day I was pregnant with Lucas, woken by his little kicks.  I remember feeling overwhelmed with it all at brunch as I struggled to picture myself being able to manage a 4th kid when the oldests were only 3.  It seemed impossible.  And now?  Now, I will never know.  I'll never get the chance; it was taken from me.  The finality of it all seems to be pushing me over the edge today.  This deep longing for the children I never got to know.  It's like this whole last year has been a complete waste, full of nothing but pain and grief and agony.  Part of me is still stupidly hopeful for a miracle, part of me is so jaded and bitter with it all that I am overcome with hopelessness.  It's a constant back and forth until the emotional ups and downs get the best of me, and I return once again to numb.  I don't know how to get through this one, how to go forward from here.  It just all hurts too much.  Especially today

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Bereaved Mother's Day

The first Sunday in May is the International Bereaved Mother's Day.  A day you just don't really even know about unless you have lived through some sort of trauma related to being a mother.  For us, that trauma just seems to keep piling up.

There have been so many Mother's Days over the years when it has been a struggle to even get out of a bed.  So many years of longing to be a mother and being barren, years of having a day where I wouldn't receive that flower at church, where I had no handmade art or breakfast in bed.  And then, my first "real" Mother's Day, our sweet Reagan was gone and I was hospital bound with the boys, still being told they would not survive.  I'd like to say it got better from there, and to some extent it did, but the scar of those early years in our marriage certainly never left.  But, between last year and now, I have lost 9 babies.  This time last year, I was pregnant with Lucas and had 8 embryo tucked away in the freezer.  Today??  Well, I have nothing.  No babies to hold, no babies growing inside of me, no babies in the freezer, and no hope of ever carrying one again.  The agony of it all is almost unbearable.  I am broken - my spirit and my body.  I have failed again.

There are few things worse than watching the positive pregnancy line fade into nothing as the days go on.  To have those moments of hope and joy come crashing to a halt.  No matter how many times I told myself "don't go there yet," no matter how many times I repeated the statistics to myself, no matter how much I tried not to get invested, well, I was lying to myself.  I jumped right into this again, like a big stupid idiot, thinking that THIS time would be different, that THIS would be our happy ending, the miracle we had been praying for.  I let myself get swept away in it all.  And I don't know where to go from here.  The idea that I wouldn't have more children never even crossed my mind until a few months ago.  After 5/5 successful transfers, I just assumed the others would work too.

So, I end my journey as a new mother.  A little ironic that it falls on this day.  No more maternity clothes, no more baby gear, no more night feedings.  The last child I will ever birth was our sweet Lucas, and I only got a few short hours with him.  I'm not sure how to do this.  How to keep moving forward when there is just so much pain.  How can any person lose so much and ever be normal again?  How could I have carried 11 babies that I will never get to parent?  So today, on Bereaved Mother's Day, I get to be sad.  I get to cry the big ugly tears on the bathroom floor and let everything fall apart around me.  Today is my day.  Today is about the 11 that are gone.  Because next Sunday, well, next Sunday is really about my living kids, about doing something special with them, about celebrating the 3 we have here.  I have to pull myself together and go on.

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