Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Expectations

Today was a tough one.  Exhausting, emotional, full of disappointment and mountains of mommy guilt.  I survived, but not with much grace.

Grief is hard.  It's exhausting and unpredictable.  Some days are okay.  Never good, but okay.  But then some random trigger comes and throws everything off.  And it's so hard to get your footing back.  Today, I wanted so desperately to celebrate Dean.  Four years ago today, we brought his tiny little 5 pound self home, nearly 3 months old.  We were scared and unsure.  I remember holding him in the rocking chair for the first time with tears streaming down my face.  Though, not quite tears of joy or gratitude.  More tears of grief, recognizing all at once a lifetime of little memories I would never have with Reagan.  Knowing all the more that, no matter how many children we had, no one could ever fill the hole she left behind.  Today, I wanted Dean to feel special, to feel loved, to pick out a special lunch, dinner, dessert, and activity.  And instead, I spent much of the day fighting with doctors offices, trying to get things working again after the hurricane, and sick in bed.  I felt like a failure as a mommy.  I had great expectations, but I disappointed him.  And yet, we snuggled in tonight, in that same rocking chair, and read books.  And he called me back in for just 1 more goodnight kiss.  Children, well, they are full of grace.  My sweet Dean.

Today had the added emotion of being the day we expected Lucas to be born.  I remember Reagan's due date coming and being a wreck.  I was newly on bedrest with the boys, just discharged from the hospital, and told to come home and call when "it" (aka my miscarriage) happened.  That's how sure these doctors were.  I had to be medicated to get through the day.  It was bad.  With Lucas, his due date meant nothing to us, we didn't even put it on our calendars.  But, we had this c-section planned.  For today.  This morning, I fully expected to walk into the hospital and calmly tell the nurses that I was there to have a baby.  We had it all planned and thought out.  Countdown was on for THIS day.  And so, today I was reminded yet again of how I failed another child.  I keep going back and trying to figure out what I could have done differently.  Wondering if we missed something at our ultrasound that Monday.  Was there any way we could have prevented it?  I tell myself no, but I just don't quite believe it.

I sat for a bit in Lucas' nursery today.  Looked at all his things that he would never use.  Wondered what it would feel like to hold him again.  To hear his cry.  Hannah woke up right after this and cried out for me - what would that be like?  Then she wrapped her little arms around my neck and settled in for a post nap snuggle.  All these sweet and tender moments we take for granted.  Would Lucas have sucked his thumb too?  Or would he have been addicted to his paci like his brothers?  I'll never know.  What would it be like to hear him call me mommy, to hear him say "I love you."  Right now, he should be about 12 hours old, not 3 months.  Now, I should start the sleepless nights and feeling so overwhelmed with figuring out how to balance the needs of a newborn with the vulnerability of a toddler with the growing curiosity of a pair of preschoolers.  Instead, I am sitting in this empty space.  All I have left is a hurricane-destroyed garden planted in memory of my son.  I am broken.  Still angry, confused, hurting.  But mostly broken.

And here is where I would normally say something about peace and God's grace.  Only today, I am not strong enough.  I KNOW Lucas is being loved and cared for, and I wish that brought me more peace than it does at this moment.  Right now, I just want him with ME.  Selfish?  Sure.  But that's where my heart is, just longing and missing my sweet boy more than anything else.  I'm tired of the grief, of the reminders, of knowing all that I will be missing.  I know the road ahead, because I was STILL walking it with Reagan when Lucas died.  I don't quite know how to be me anymore, how to go forward from here.  It's all just so hard.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

3 months

Today has been hard, so hard.  I miss my sweet babies so much.  I'm not entirely sure what makes some days manageable, where I can live a normal daily life in the place of numbness, pushing it all aside so I can be mostly present with the children I am caring for.  And other days, I'm just drowning in the grief of it all.  Trying to search and grasp for God's goodness and mercies.  Trying and failing.  Where tears fall without ceasing and I can't quite seem to pull myself together.

Three months ago, we learned our precious Lucas' heart had stopped.  For some crazy fluke, some "random" cord accident.  Only it doesn't feel random at all.   And it just hurts.  So much loss and pain over these past 5 years, so much I am missing.  I can't even find the words to express it all.  Today (and his 3 month birthday tomorrow) are completely overshadowed by this incoming hurricane, by preparing our home, setting out sandbags, bringing things inside, and bracing for no power.  I was distracted, though I knew this day was coming, and it caught me off guard.  One of my ways of protecting myself, I think.  Just put up a wall, prepare myself a bit.  And yet, disheartening news, hurricanes, and Lucas being gone for 3 months today just proves to be more than any one person can handle.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Please don't forget my babies

Over the past 2 months, we have been asked how we are doing and if there is any way we need help.  I have yet to come up with a good answer for these questions.  Most of the time I don't have much of anything to say.  Sometimes, I don't even respond to the text.  But I notice the message, and I so appreciate that, in that moment, my son is being remembered.

Here's the thing, there are no "right" words.  There is nothing that anyone has ever said that helps take away the pain, guilt, anguish, bitterness, etc of what I am feeling.  There was nothing with Reagan either.  It's part of why I still feel uncomfortable myself when I have a conversation with a new loss Mommy, when Reagan's Garden brought me woman after woman who had experienced the same pain.  Even then, I had no words.

One of the biggest questions I got after starting Reagan's Garden was from friends who were trying to comfort their friends who had just lost a child.  Wanting to know what they should do and what they should say.  The one thing that stuck out to me with Reagan was how no one wanted to talk about HER.  Maybe they would ask how I was doing, but after a few weeks even that became few and far between.  I can really only think of 2 friends who EVER asked about my healing and only 1 who made the jump to ask about Reagan.  But I remember sitting there, feeling so grateful someone loved me enough to want to know my daughter too.  (thank you dear friend!)  To want to know about the labor, about what it was like to see my firstborn, about how I felt when I had to give her back, what it was like to pick up her ashes.  So, that is what I always shared with those who would contact me - to make sure to mention the child by name, to bring him or her up in the conversation on how you are doing.

The other point I always stressed was that this is a long-term journey.  It was over 4 years before I could hear of a woman pregnant with a little girl and not feel myself being pulled into a world of bitterness and pain.  Now, bear in mind I had a second daughter 3 years later.  So, Hannah was turning 1 and I still felt like I somehow had a corner on the market of all baby girls.  Ridiculous, I know.  Along that 4 year journey we also experienced life in the NICU and isolation and the birth of 3 children and a move, so maybe that played a role in the delayed healing.  Or maybe that healing time is completely normal?  Who knows.  Regardless, we felt completely forgotten after about 6 weeks.  No more cards, no more flowers, no more "I'm thinking about you texts".  It was like all healing was supposed to be finished.  And I wasn't ready.  I was still reeling, still trying to figure out how to get out of bed and get to work.  And then I'd come home from work and either go to bed and crumble or run to God with Hope.  One of the 2 extremes, nothing in the middle.  With Lucas, I am so thankful for friends who have continued to check in on us, who are loving us the way they know how.

For anyone who has friends who have experienced infant loss, please remember our babies.  Please use their names.  When you see something that makes you think of them, let us know.  When your heart is heavy for us, let us know.  When the texts stop coming, when the cards stop coming, we feel forgotten.  I will live every day of the rest of my life missing my 2 children.  I gave birth to them, held them, and said goodbye, all in a matter of hours.  That is all the time I will ever get here.  I will never forget, and I see reminders of both children everywhere I turn.  But it is so comforting to know that someone else remember them too.  That I am not as alone as I feel, but that Lucas and Reagan made some impact on a life outside our home.  People may say the wrong thing, may even say something that ends up being unintentionally hurtful.  But, at least they are trying, and at least they remember.  The silence hurts most of all.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Two Months

Today marks two months since I said goodbye to Lucas.  Two months since I last saw his face.  Two months since the last day I was physically able to be his mommy, since I kissed his little forehead, since I studied his upturned nose, since I sang him songs, since I held him close.  Two months of constant heartbreak, continual reminders, and overwhelming doubt and guilt.  The thing is, I know it gets better.  I know from Reagan that in a few years, I won't want to scream anymore.  I won't find myself sobbing uncontrollably as often.  It's hard to see and feel on moments like today, when the grief is crashing over me.  When it seems like the world has officially moved on and we are left on our own, still struggling to understand what happened.

It took about 2 years before I stopped counting the months after Reagan died.  Two years before I stopped catching my breath at the dates 30/31/1 - the day of her death, the day of her birth, and the day we said goodbye.  I imagine the same will be true with Lucas.  That the dates 9/10 will be a trigger for quite some time.  That I won't want to be around people or work on my happy face on those dates for a while.  So, here I am today, only 2 months into this second journey.  Broken, and yet so very thankful for those precious moments we had.  Grateful for these pictures I can pour over, for the memories we have, for the special family time I will always cherish.  And I'm thankful that I am secure in my future with Lucas and Reagan, that I know our story is not over.

My dear, sweet Lucas, I miss you so very much.  And I love you so very much.  Not a day goes by that I don't think of you or wish you were here with us.  You would have loved our mountain escape, loved playing in the woods with your siblings.  I could just imagine you in a few years, rolling around with those crazy boys and fighting for who would get the biggest walking stick.  I'm afraid you would probably never have won that battle.  I HATE that I won't know, though, that I'll never get to see that moment here.  My heart breaks for all the things that I will miss.  But I am so thankful for you, and that I am your mommy.  Always and forever, my love.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Hands Full



"You've got your hands full!"

Over the past 4 years, I've heard this statement constantly.  I used to get it when I'd go out alone with just the twins, especially as people would learn they were twin boys.  And once I was pregnant with Hannah, the comments increased.  Spending hours walking through Target or Publix while our house was on the market, with Hannah crying or nursing and pushing a double stroller with screaming 2-year-old toddler boys, well, I could see where they were coming from.  My hands were literally full.  But the comment always stings.  Because, my hands aren't as full as they should be...

From the very beginning, we've been missing our children.  I used to cringe when people said that to me with the twins, because it was a painful reminder that my hands should be more full.  These past several weeks, Dean and Warren have started to become slightly self sufficient.  They play with each other, they can open the car door and buckle themselves into the car seat, they can clean up their own room.  All these tasks I had been working on with them since I got pregnant with Lucas, and they are finally mastering it.  My goal was to try to make things a little easier on myself before he was born, to lessen their dependence, to make my hands less full so I could care for Lucas and Hannah without feeling quite so overwhelmed.  They're all good tasks, all things Dean and Warren should be doing anyway.  I don't regret this emphasis on their growing independence.  But it hurts, that reminder that I don't have 2 of my children here, that I won't actually ever need this ridiculous quad stroller.  I'm not overwhelmed with the tasks of parenting and the sleepless nights from a crying baby, but overwhelmed with the crushing grief of missing my son and daughter, and the broken dreams that haunt my nights.  I still cannot believe we are back here again...


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So, as I heard this statement last week, another "you're hands are full" comment as I walked quickly through publix to grab a few items, with children who wanted what they could not have and were happy to let strangers know, I let a few tears fall.  Knowing and longing for the babies I never got to raise, never got to experience their temper tantrums or the angst of going on a grocery run with 5 kids 5 and under.  So many moments to grieve, so many reminders surrounding me.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Celebration of Life



So, last night I gathered with a group of people who get it, who KNOW, who are part of the club you never want to be involved with.  And we celebrated our babies together.

We headed up with Winter Park for a night out, to the Celebration of Life for the Finley Project.  I wasn't sure how I felt about all this - a bit overwhelmed, a bit guilty, a bit unsure.  But also excited, grateful for a chance to feel understood, to not feel like I needed to just get over it.  Because, we learned nearly 5 years ago, that just never happens.  And I struggle to function in everyday environments, feeling like I have to pretend to have it all together, trying my hardest not to cry or scream or break down at the sight of every pregnant woman or newborn baby.  Trying not to go to the dark and bitter place, trying not to blame God for this awful new normal I am living.

So, yesterday, I could just be me, Meghan mommy of 5, desperately missing 2 of my babies.  I arrived early to the event and was sent up to a suite for some time of pampering with the other mommies.  This involved massages, hair, and makeup, a chance for me to not have to worry about getting myself put together because someone else would take care of it.  As I sat there, I battled through guilt - guilt at being out, at relaxing, at allowing myself to be pampered.  And I battled the ever present bitterness, sitting between pregnant women rubbing their bellies, thinking that was EXACTLY what I should be doing now.  And yet, there we were, all women with all different stories, yet deeply connected.  We shared in the loss of our children.   For without that, we never would have met, would have had no reason to be together in this room.

And, for the first time since Lucas' memorial, we got to talk about our sweet boy.  We were able to share about him and a bit about his story.  We got to hear about the other boys and girls who are his new playmates.  We connected and bonded over this indescribable pain as we shared the beauty and heartache of our stories.  It was emotional, sure, but so wonderful to have people who asked real questions, who didn't cringe or become silent, who hugged us even though we had never seen them before.  I even met another mommy who also had 2 stillbirths.  I've often felt like I was the only one, the only one who has had to endure this not just once, but twice.  And it's helpful to know there are others out there too, and that we are all making it through.  Overall, it was a beautiful night, a great way to honor our sweet Lucas.


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Saturday, July 15, 2017

What happened

For the most part, our community has been overwhelmingly supportive.  People have supported us in some incredible ways as we face life without another of our children.  But, here recently, I've been getting some questions.  And some subtle hints, almost accusations.  So, I want to just address this upfront.  Because, I feel like even when people haven't asked, they're wondering.  What happened?

With Reagan, we never knew.  We had no clue why she died.  One minute she was healthy, the next she wasn't.  She was normal, I was normal.  And yet, she was gone.  I've spent nearly 5 years questioning myself, wondering if I did something wrong.  Did I eat the wrong food?  Did I come into contact with something?  Did I not sleep enough, not eat enough vegetables, not wash said vegetables long enough, work too hard, swim in dirty water, etc.  I imagine I'll wonder these for a lifetime.  Because, we have no answers.  None.  No clue, not even a guess, as to what went wrong.

For Lucas, that is different.  He was healthy, I was healthy.  And yet, he died.  It's like getting struck my lightening twice.  But this time, we have some answers.  I still wonder if I should have known something, I still question my mommy instincts, I still wonder what is wrong with me.  But, the answers help cut down on the blame, on the guilt, just a bit.  Lucas suffered a cord accident.  There, I wrote those words.  Our precious baby boy, perfectly formed, died because of a "fluke".  His cord developed abnormally thin in the middle.  We knew about his velamentous cord insertion and were monitoring that, but that was not the area where they found a problem.  It was right in the middle, where it suddenly became only 2mm in diameter on the outside, not enough space for nutrients to continue to pass.  That is all.  Not a syndrome, not a condition that Lucas had, not something I put on my face or ate or did or didn't do.  Having an answer helps some days.  The questions do not.