Sunday, December 10, 2017

6 months

I cannot believe today marks 6 months.  How is that even possible?  Six months since I gave birth to my sweet son, in the silence of a delivery room.  Six months since I held my boy, since I rocked him and sang him songs, since I gave him his last kiss, since I said goodbye.  Our whole story is written in past tense as I look back to our one, final day together.  Oh how my heart breaks, as I cry these ugly tears and try to figure out what to say.  Because for the most part, there are no words.

Oh Lucas, I am so very sorry.  I'm sorry I failed you, in the most permanent way.  I make mistakes all the time as a mother - some based out of my own sinful nature, so simply because I don't have a clue what I'm doing - but I get to apologize, give hugs and kisses, share about grace, and ask for forgiveness.  I never got to do that with you.  I'm sorry son, I'm sorry for every moment I complained about feeling sick or tired or run down.  I'm sorry for feeling disappointed for a second that you were not the girl I had planned you to be.  I'm sorry for not buying you much of anything special, things that were just for you.  And most of all, I'm sorry my body failed and I couldn't keep you alive.  I wish we had known to try things differently.

June 10, 4:41am, you entered this world, my only child to ever be handed right to me.  You were so small, just shy of a pound, but perfectly formed.  We have the most amazing hand and foot prints from you.  And, in those first few moments, I tried to soak up every tiny little detail.  The cleft in your chin, the slight pudge in your cheeks, your long feet and even longer finger nails, your little unibrow, your 2 single eyelashes, and your pouty lips.  Little pieces I can see in Dean, Warren, and Hannah every single day since.  In the short hours that followed, we attempted to create the only memories we would have in this lifetime.  We tried to make every second count.  I don't really remember too many tears in the delivery room after you were born.  It was like mommy instinct took over and I didn't want to waste a second of our time together being sad and missing out.  I knew from Reagan the importance of soaking up every single moment together.  The other emotions came later, but in the moment there was mostly joy and peace.  I kind of forgot that until now, how strongly I felt God's presence at the hospital.  Because, since coming home, there has not been a lot of peace or joy.  More angst and despair than anything else.  So, I am grateful for that day especially, and for the memories I have.



So today, sweet baby Lucas, we celebrate you.  We remember you and love you and want to do something special for your 6 month birthday.  We are baking you some cupcakes, that each one of us can decorate with whatever makes us think of you.  I imagine this will entail SO. MANY. SPRINKLES.  My child, your siblings love some sprinkles.  I will be sure to take some pictures for you.  Warren wants to send you a balloon, because that is what he knows.  So, be on the lookout for a few blue balloons headed your way.  And we'll make you some cards, carefully decorated and written on.  Probably at least one of them will get crumbled in a ball.  But don't worry, we'll flatten it out and place it gently in your memory box.

Oh Lucas, how I love and miss you.  I wish these last 6 months were filled with memories with you.  I wish I could be sharing about what your favorite book is and what calms you down, how well (or not well) you are sleeping, and new milestones you have reached.  I will never have that post.  I will maybe never know these things.  But know this, you are loved beyond words, my son.



Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Tentative steps

Well, it's been a difficult 6 months for sure.  Nearly 6 months ago, Lucas was born.  Since then, it's been a whirlwind of medical procedures, tests, surgeries, and more pain.  Some days I'm not quite sure how to go on, how to get out of bed and face the world and all the painful reminders.  My heart aches for the feel of our son safe in my arms.  Oh, how I long for those sleepless nights.  August brought another surgery to ready my body.  In September, we did transfer, saw another 2 little baby Savants, fell in love.  Only to have everything come crashing down again just 7 weeks later. Those sweet babies I never even got to feel kicking inside of me.  Then, we planned on doing another transfer at Thanksgiving, only the testing leading up to it lead us to a dead stop.  Everything looked great, but I had retained some placental tissue from Noah.  My body was not yet ready.

Fast forward to December.  We are mid cycle again, and facing more problems than I would like.  Tomorrow I head back to the hospital for yet another surgery, this time to remove an ovarian cyst.  Why?  WHY??  I want to scream at it all.  It's not the procedure itself, it's fairly simple.  It's not the inconvenience of it.  It's just the accumulation of one more thing, one more obstacle.  Some people just get to have sex.  And just like that, the bitterness takes root.  And I find myself questioning over and over again, what's wrong with me?  Why is it always me?  At this very second, I should be nursing my sweet baby.  Or, 17 weeks pregnant.  Instead, I am barren.  Empty.  Prepping for another medical procedure with the hopes that I will one day be able to raise those sweet babies.

So, here is how you can pray for us.  First, the surgery tomorrow.  It's being done by a doctor I've never met in a practice I've never heard of.  He says he can do it, no problem, so we'll see.  I'm also electing to only have local anesthesia as the hubs is out of town.  Anyone who knows me knows that I HATE all these things, and that I much prefer to be completely out for anything that happens in an OR.  Second, we have a transfer on the books again.  On 12/19, we'll be meeting 2 other little baby Savants.  This is hard to share in advance.  I blogged my way through the entire process with Reagan and it was a really beautiful time.  Since then, we've been fairly secretive about the process for some reason, choosing not to share until late in the 1st trimester, after several ultrasounds and labs confirming everything looks good.  And through that all, I've learned it's certainly not any easier that way.  More times than not, my babies still die.  This time, I feel like I need an army of prayer warriors surrounding me, so I'm choosing to be vulnerable instead.  I'm saying goodbye to the cute little surprise facebook announcement because this is infinitely more important.

As I look into the future, I have a hard time imagining that anything will work.  Testing has revealed some things that may or may not be treatable and may or may not be contributing to our losses.  That doesn't leave me with any warm and fuzzy feelings.  Statistics are scary, with up to a 25% chance of recurrent stillbirth.  That is very high, too high some might say.  But, we were given these embryo for a reason.  I have 6 more babies, babies I've never met, babies I would love to know.  So, less circumstances change and close this door to us, we will move forward with the transfers, trusting that God is good even when He doesn't appear to be.  Trusting that He knows best, even when I think I could do it better.  It's not a fun place to be, but it's where I am called right now.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The second 1st Thanksgiving

Holidays, family reunions, weddings – they’re all so hard.  Not because of something our families have done, not because it’s hard to be around them, not because we don’t like them.  I hear people grumbling about these events simply because they don’t wish to be around their families – that’s not me.  For me, it’s a huge reminder of everything I am missing.  I feel this deep hole so much more so when “all” the family is gathered.  Because I know it can never be ALL.

We were reminiscing about some interesting Thanksgiving stories earlier this morning, some carefree times.  Know what they all had in common?  They were 2011 or earlier.  Because 2012 was 3 weeks after Reagan died.  And that year, and every year since, I’ve felt this hole inside of me that at times only seems to be growing bigger.  My children are not here with me.  I’m missing seeing the joy on their faces as they taste pumpkin pie for the first time.  They won’t be helping me in the kitchen.  Reagan would certainly be old enough to this year.  Their little sweet faces will not be sitting around our dinner table, will never entertain the other kids at the kid table, will never fight over who gets the biggest piece.

This is our first Thanksgiving without Lucas.  And it’s catching me off guard with how hard it is.  With Reagan, it was SO recent, it was all I could do to get through the day.  But Lucas?  He was born 5.5 months ago.  The pain and grief is not quite as raw.  But, here we are.  Unable to get through the day, unsure how to go on.  I so desperately want my sweet boy back.  I want his cries to be adding to the chaos of the day.  I want these tears to be simply because I’m overwhelmed, not because of overwhelming grief.  Knowing there is a good chance it was my fault makes it so much worse, adding that layer of constant nagging guilt. 

But this is also the first Thanksgiving without Noah.  Without his twin.  Knowing that I should be pregnant, 17 weeks.  Knowing that, if I didn’t have my Lucas to hold anymore, we should be celebrating these lives growing inside of me.  Instead, I am empty.  Barren.  Broken. 


Of course I am thankful for my children that I get to raise.  I am learning more each year just what a miracle they are, how special they are, how blessed we are to have them.  But it does little to take away the pain of so many children we’ve lost through the years, named and unnamed, public and private.  I so long for that day when I will be reunited with my babies and our family will once again be complete.  Living in this broken world, well, sucks.  The only hope I have is the Hope in our future together because of our Savior.  Some days that brings me great peace.  Some days are still very much a struggled to even get through the requirements of the day.  Today happens to fall in that second category.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Hannah Grace Turns 2!!

Happiest of birthdays sweet Hannah Grace! 

I'm not sure I've ever met a child who is so full of joy!  This past year has been a difficult one, but you have continued to bring joy and excitement into our lives.  I love playing tea parties with you - and hippo and puppy.  I love the care and thought you put into exactly how you set each place and who gets what food.  I love seeing you interact with your brothers, holding your own with those big boys and yet still being so sweet.  You love those boys so much - they're the first people you ask for each morning.  Dee?  Yaya?  And you go running into their room, sure to be knocked down, but fearless nonetheless. 

I love how you still cuddle with me, my only child who is calm enough to just rest with her mama.  I love how you need me - how you cry out for me when you can't sleep or reach up for me when you are scared.  I love that you still cling to my legs when I try to drop you off somewhere.  I love reading you books, hearing you learn new words and point out new things on the familiar pages.  I love rocking and singing to you each night.  Even though you sometimes look up at me and quietly say, night night mama.

You are such a happy little girl, waking each morning with a smile.  You've spent much of your live just along for the ride, and seem content to do that.  And today??  Today, my precious girl, you are 2.  TWO.  How can that be?  How can you be growing up so fast??  I had so much fun celebrating your birthday this morning, having a special date morning with my now big girl.  In the past year you've learned so much - you've started to run and throw and tackle with your brothers, you love to ride your bike or the wagon and just take in what's going on around you.  You play dinosaurs and roar with the best of them, yet you are never without a purse and especially love shoes. 

I am so very thankful for you, Hannah Grace.  I'm so blessed to be your mommy, and only beginning to realize what a miracle you really are.  And I love you even more for that.  Thank you for being you - my sweet, spunky, stubborn, adorable little girl.  Happy birthday baby!!

XOXO

Mommy








Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy 5th birthday!

Happy 5th birthday my sweet baby girl!

I cannot believe it has been 5 years since I met you for the first and only time.  I remember having so many fears as I walked into labor and delivery, so unsure of what was going to happen.  I was afraid it was going to break me, the emotions and the pain of it all.  How could anyone survive?  I remember walking up to the desk, holding you protectively in my belly, praying that this wasn't actually happening.  I vaguely remember them talking me through the process but I didn't have a clue what to expect - you never should have come that early. We weren't ready for it.  Throughout that day, your daddy was my rock.  He rubbed my back with each contraction and read to me for hours.  As labor intensified and I knew you were almost here, I got so scared.  I didn't want you to be born yet, because then it would be over.  I would never physically feel any of you anymore, and that just seemed too much to handle.

But then you were born, and this switch happened just like I always dreamed it would.  In an instant, I was a mother.  I loved you so incredibly much.  There  you were, this little piece of me.  You looked so much like me, even though you were so little.  Same little nose, same eyes, same little crinkle in your forehead - Hannah actually has it too!  There was so much joy in your birth.  Daddy and I are still amazed at what a gift that was.  Such precious time together, time I will never forget.  I so vividly remember holding you for the first time, feeling you in my arms.  I remember singing you your first lullaby in the rocking chair, reading you your only little book, holding you close.  I am thankful for every second we had together.  And I've missed you every day since.  Even 5 years later, your absence is felt.  I wonder what you are doing - do you love tea parties like Hannah?  Do you run wild and carefree like Warren and Dean?  Do you pick flowers for us like we do for you?  Do you know how much we love you?  Because, sweet Reagan, we love you immeasurably.

So today, on the day of your birth, we celebrate you.  Well, we tried to anyway...  I imagine if you were still here, the day might have been a good indication of what you could have expected.  Temper tantrums from your brothers.  Followed my more temper tantrums.  Some potty on the floor and pooping in the tent.  A little bit of trick-or-treating with fights over candy.  We so desperately want you to have one super special day, but that doesn't seem to be real life at this point.  So, we did the best we could.  We made dinner and had some birthday cake.  We made (well, started...) cards for you with all the glitter you could ever want.  We sent you some balloons (only 3 this year - the kids popped 2 of them...)  And now we're settling down to look through our pictures with you.  Precious shots of us holding you exactly 5 years ago.

I cannot wait until I can run up to you in heaven and wrap my arms around you and have you return that hug.  To feel your arms around me.  I am so thankful that I was chosen to be your mommy, thankful for the profound impact you've had on my life and those around us.  I love you so much Rea Rea.  Always and forever.

Mommy






Monday, October 30, 2017

Five years closer

I cannot believe it has been 5 years.

Five years ago, my dreams of becoming a mother were forever changed.  In an instant, I went from blissfully unaware to broken.  I had never experienced such pain, never even knew such pain existed.  I remember the moment I saw Reagan's final ultrasound, the moment I realized something was actually wrong.  I will never forget seeing her perfect little profile, button nose, and relaxing for a half a second before recognizing that something much bigger was wrong.  I still see that ultrasound image at night when I close my eyes, even with our recent losses.  That image of her still - her chest empty.  With Lucas, that was much less shocking.  But with Reagan, that is the moment that haunts me to this day.

Five years ago, I realized that our family would never be complete.  No matter how many of our children I would carry, no matter how many little feet ran through our home, I would always be missing one set.  Now, I know that number will be much greater.  Mothering after loss has been incredibly difficult.  It's hard to find the right balance of joy and grief, enjoying the moment while still longing for what should have been.  That is especially true on these weekends, when we try to get away to escape it all, try to step away from the grind of daily life to do something special as a family.  Only to spend the weekend breaking up fights, diffusing temper tantrums, and trying our best not to completely lose it with our children.  I so desperately want to make these few days special, to create happy family memories, to somehow prove that God was wrong and she would be better off with us than with Him.  Mostly, it's a complete failure.

October 30 has been my "dark day" for the past 5 years.  Her birthday tomorrow gives us reason to celebrate - to rejoice as we remember those moments together, that feel of seeing her for the first time, the joy of holding our daughter for the first and only time.  But today?  Today brings only pain.  There were so many questions, so many fears in those hours after learning she was gone.  In a way, it was the end of this innocence I had.  A time when I was completely unaware that babies died outside of miscarriage and SIDS.  

Five years ago today, Andrew and I were lying in Reagan's nursery.  The last time it would be hers.  Surrounded by all these sweet girly things we never knew if we would use.  Most of which would be packed away for years, some were given away immediately.  Because, who wants to pass an unused carseat or stroller?  Hannah is wearing the last of Reagan's hand-me-downs, which only went up to size 12 month.  We're squeezing her into them because they are special to us.  But, after another month, all external traces of Reagan will be removed from our family.  

This is the first year I've faced Reagan's birthday when I've not been pregnant or nursing.  It adds a layer of pain I wasn't quite expecting this year.  I feel a bit caught off guard by it all.  Because, for the first time, I am coming to the very possible realization that our family is done.  That we will have no more living children.  Our doctors are not optimistic.  I have 6 more embryo, and there is a good chance that we won't be able to raise any of them.  Once we realized how many IVF embryo we had, we thought we would be facing the question of what to do with the others.  What would we do when we had 5 kids in our home, when I'd experience 4 c-sections and couldn't do another one.  But instead, I'm afraid we'll go through this process 3 more times only to end up emotionally and physically drained, and still unable to carry a child to term.  I've had some more tests run this week that may shed some light on things.  Or, it may all continue to come back normal as doctors continue to struggle to figure out what exactly is wrong with my body and why I keep killing our children.  There was so much guilt surrounding this day - so many unanswered questions - and that was before we experienced the loss of 3 more.  When we thought Reagan would be an anomaly and not the norm for us.  

This sucks.  There is no beautiful or poetic way to put it.  October 30 sucks. Always.  BUT...today we are 5 years closer.  Five years closer to spending our eternity with the little ones we never got to raise.  And tomorrow?  Well, tomorrow we break out the cake, send up some balloons, and celebrate our sweet Reagan, who made me a mommy 5 years ago.  Here's to you, baby girl!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

"When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan.  When a spouse loses her or his partner,they are called a widow or widower.  When parents lose their child, there isn't a word to describe them" - Ronald Reagan, 1988

This month has typically been a month when our loss of Reagan becomes all the more real, when her absence is felt so much stronger.  This year, we experienced more loss than we ever expected to.  Lucas in June, Baby B in September, and Noah on Oct 1.  Starting the month off Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance with a bang.  I find myself today wondering how different life would be if we still had all the babies I've carried here with me.  See, it's a little different when all your babies were conceived at the same time with IVF.  We don't get the "well, if you hadn't lost so and so, you wouldn't have so and so."  Not true, for us.  They've all been around.  Anyway, Reagan and Samuel would be gearing up for their 5th birthday.  Dean and Warren wouldn't be 4, they'd probably be 2.5?  Hannah would be less than 1 - oh, what sweet days those were.  And Lucas, Noah, baby B - all tucked away in the freezer.  And today?  Well, today would be another Sunday, a trip to the pumpkin patch, maybe an afternoon nap.  Today would be a blip on our busy schedule.  I'd causally scroll past the 1:4 statistics that pop up here and there on my facebook feed.

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1:4 pregnancies end before they really even begin, resulting in miscarriages our society has become so callous to.  1:160 end in stillbirth, delivery after 20 weeks.  I never wanted to know these statistics, much less feel like my life has been built around them.  I never expected to be the woman who loses babies.  I kind of thought our infertility journey was long and hard enough that I would somehow be excused from these statistics.  But life didn't work out the way I had hoped and dreamed.  And, I am living that statistic.  Defying it, really, to have so many different losses, never for the same reason.

Today has been declared pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day.  This day has made such an impact on us in the years since we lost Reagan.  It's been a launching point for Reagan's Garden - exactly 3 years ago today we launched in Charlotte.  And 1 year ago, here in Winter Haven.  I don't even have all the statistics anymore, as HIPAA makes things hard to track, but by last count we have reached well over 100 families, not even including families who have used the cuddle cots we have at various hospitals.  Beauty out of the ashes. 

I am part of an amazing organization of women.  For two years now, I have been blessed to speak on this topic, to answer questions, to break the silence.  I am so thankful that women are asking questions, wanting to know how best to reach out and support their friends/family who are walking this dark path.  And this week, we have plans to make another 32 cards and 12 boxes, to prepare as we anticipate ongoing loss in our community.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Date Night

It's been quite a year.  Pretty awful, actually.  Two weeks into the year, we did our first IVF treatment, followed by months of painful shots, morning sickness, "taking it easy" as I missed special events with the kids to give Lucas the best chance.  All for nothing, as he died 6 months later.  In a world filled with grief and sorrow, we decided to trust God and take another step forward, and we did another IVF transfer.  I felt confident that I was going to have boy-girl twins.  I KNEW it.  In this eerie, weird sort of way.  I never had a single doubt about this transfer, never questioned our decision to do two, although our doctor warned us against it.  He continues to tell me that my body is a failure and I will only kill our children - what do I do with that?  But, despite all the statistics, we decided to move forward, to give our next 2 children a chance.  Only to have that end as well.  I'm at a loss, in this new place of bitterness, questioning everything I've ever thought is true.  I don't know how long it will take to move into a different stage.  I don't know how to ever trust this God that suddenly doesn't seem so good.  One day at a time, I guess.

I feel like I've become the face of loss.  The woman no one knows quite what to say to, how to act around, or what to do with.  I'm not sure exactly who I am myself, so I certainly get where people are coming from.  I can't be too sad, because then I'm not moving forward.  But I can't be too happy or smile too much, because then I'm cold and unfeeling toward the children I've lost.  No matter how I feel or what I say/do, I always lose.  It's this pressure I've put on myself, I'm not even entirely sure that's how anyone else feels.  But to me, it's a constant struggle.  Pull myself together - don't show up to school with mascara running down my face or wearing my PJs.  But don't be caught laughing - because how can I smile and pretend I'm not completely broken and crushed??

But, for 2 hours on Wednesday, I was a person.  I was simply Meghan, wife of Andrew.  Not the face of loss, not grieving mommy.  I was able to go on a date with my husband.  A work function, but only the second time we have found ourselves without kids since Lucas died.  The first time since we lost Noah.  I was able able to focus on something other than my pain, to do something fun.  Sure, it was technically a work event, but I found myself in a room full of people who cared.  Who knew what we had endured and were willing to show me grace and allow me to drink a glass (or 2) of wine, paint a picture, and call it a night.  It was nice to feel like a human being again, to enjoy something - as meaningless as it may be.  An, though this artwork will never replace what is on our walls, it felt good to FINISH something.  A task I have struggled with immeasurably in the past 4 months.

"Moonlight Path"

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Survival

Ugh, this week has been so hard.  So hard.  I'm not entirely sure why the tears are coming so much easier this time.  It's like my pain threshold has been blown away and I'm feeling all the things I've hidden away over the past nearly 4 months.  And there is so much anger.  I used to be this lighthearted person who didn't really have a care in the world.  I used to laugh when I talked and sing in the car and dance around the house.  I'm not sure I'll ever get back there.  Can I be too broken?  I just feel like I've reached this point of no return.  Where I can hardly muster the strength to answer the phone, much less leave the house for something that isn't required.  And the thing is, I did this to myself.  My doctor said he didn't think my body was capable of carrying another child.  Thought I was setting myself up.  Turns out, he was right.  I had so much peace about our decision, I was so confident that we were having those boy-girl twins.  But, what does one do?  Should I leave my children in limbo world??  Frozen, stuck forever in this weird place?  I certainly can't do that.  And, there are 6 more.  But, how much heartache can one person take before it crushes you completely?  I have a feeling I'll be testing the answer to that question.

In the past week, we've ordered a few things for Noah.  He had 1 item - a canvas basket for his nursery that we would fill with his books.  Reading to my babies is one of my favorite things.  I picked it out while on my date with Dean; he approved too.  So, in the coming days, he will also have a frame for his ultrasound pictures and an ornament for our tree.  But, that is as much of a physical impact he will have.  I think that's one of the things that has made this so difficult - there was no moment of joy.  With Reagan and Lucas, I was able to birth them.  I had memories of them kicking and smiling and waving and sucking their thumbs.  I was able to hold them and kiss them and say goodbye.  With Noah, nothing.  One day he was there, heartbeat fluttering.  The next, he was gone.  "There is no sign of intrauterine pregnancy" is the way the news was delivered to me.  (Well, actually, I saw the empty ultrasound by myself because they wouldn't let Andrew come along and didn't think to turn it away from my sight.  But "officially", those are the doctors words).  We found a beautiful sign on Etsy where you can put multiple names and dates of birth of babies who were gone too soon.  As Andrew and I talked about ordering it, we came to the same realization.  We better wait.  Because, chances are, we'll be here again.  Three in 5 pregnancies have now ended in death.  How can it be that I've only had 2 live deliveries?  Only 1 born in the right trimester??  While it seems the rest of the world goes on with their continuous stream of healthy, full term babies?  I have never felt more alone, more isolated.  But the thing is, I don't even know how to be a person anymore, how to interact with other adults.  I'm just barely hanging on with my kids, able to pretend for brief moments each day.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Noah

Some days are just hard.  Some situations I just can't understand.  I'm sure I will never know why we are the ones on this journey, why our pain continues as I buckle under the weight of it all.  Some days, it's just too much.  So many questions, and no answers on this quiet night.  Now, that number of heavenly babies has increased to 10.  I don't quite know what to feel, what to think.  I don't feel surprised or shocked.  This is what I know now.  Loss.  Death.  These are my new normals.

The day started like any other, completely normal.  No  pain, no sign anything was going wrong.  As we're walking out the door for church, I start feeling pain.  Enough that Andrew thought I looked bad and probably should stay home and rest.  Before they even got out of the neighborhood, I had to call him back home.  I knew something was wrong.  We called the doctor, who said go to the ER. We called the fertility specialist, who said go to the ER.  We waited it out a bit, but things were only getting worse.  I needed that confirmation.  We knew from the boys that it was possible to have bleeding and continue being pregnant, though this seemed different.  Much more painful.  I didn't want to cling to hope only to have it ripped away tomorrow.  So, we headed to the ER, where we spent long periods of time waiting before I ultimately delivered our tiny baby in a plastic kidney dish.  Which they then sent off to pathology.  The whole process is terribly cold, unfeeling.  Not a lot of compassion in the ER.  A stark contrast to labor and delivery, so at least I have that to be grateful for with Reagan and Lucas.  A few more hours of waiting, ultrasound confirmation, and we were sent home.  That was all.  I think there are some ways perhaps Reagan's Garden could expand to help with this, though I haven't thought into what that would look like just yet.  We just deserve better.  Our children deserve better.

Overall, I'm numb.  I'm still very much grieving Lucas and working through the raw emotions of that.  I didn't expect pregnancy to change the grief I felt for our sweet boy at all.  I knew it wouldn't, because I lived that with Dean and Warren after Reagan died.  I knew this baby would never take his place.  I just don't feel like there's space in my heart for more grief, to process another loss.  But I know I loved this sweet child.  I know that, no matter what I told myself, I had hope.  I'm telling myself I expected this, and to some extent I did, but deep underneath it all was a hope that all my fears would be for nothing.  Tonight, Warren asked if next time we could have a baby that came home to live with us instead.  How do I even respond to this??  How do I help them understand when I cannot myself.

Today is the start of infant loss awareness month, it's the month of Reagan's birthday, and now it is also the birth month of a child we will never know.  A child we have 4 single images of, and will never get a new one.  A child I never even got to feel kick inside me.  A child we have known about for 5.5 years and laid eyes on for the first time exactly 1 month ago.  A child we call Noah.



Bittersweet

9/28/17

Oh, to be back here again.  Another sweet little baby Savant has gone on to heaven.  I now have 9 babies away.  Five of them I knew about for only 5 days.  Two of them lived inside of me for less than 7 weeks - I have a single picture.  I will never get another.  I never really got a chance to know them.  And of course, two of them I carried and labored and birthed and held, then ultimately had to say goodbye.  There is so much grief here.

Today was ultrasound day.  Less than a month ago, two babies were there.  We had no signs or indications that either of them would be lost.  I was actually really confident that my next pregnancy would be twins.  Boy-Girl twins to be exact.  And maybe this pregnancy was, but I will never know.  Because there on the ultrasound, was one baby.  Only one.  My doctors tell me this is the best possible outcome with my history.  I'm sure, medically, they are right.  But emotionally?  Well, how is it "best" to have a baby die?  Again.  It doesn't feel right.  There is no sense of relief that I won't go through the twin thing again.

BUT...there was one baby.  One little heartbeat fluttering inside a little gummy bear.  Sweet baby.  But, I was measuring on the small side of normal, which has never happened before.  We grow big babies here (well, relative to their birth weeks anyway), so small has never been in the cards.  And the heart rate wasn't where we'd like it to be, a bit on the low end.  Still considered "normal," I've been told not to worry, but I can't help but let my mind go there.  So, this little one needs some major prayers.  Because, honestly, I don't have the strength to do it myself.

Sweet little peanut <3 

Pregnancy after loss

9/9/17

Pregnancy after loss is a beast.  The emotions are not what they should be for this stage of life.  There's not a lot of joy, not a lot of hope, and definitely no planning for the future.  It's like I have somehow convinced myself that it won't hurt as bad if I try to keep these babies at arm's length.  Right... With all my other pregnancies, I started secret pintrest boards right away.  With Reagan, well, she was my first and we were BEYOND excited.  And super naive.  Didn't have a clue, really.  With the twins, we were assured in those early appointments that stillbirth was so rare, it would surely never happen again.  I can't say there was a lot of joy in that pregnancy with all the complications surrounding it, but stillbirth wasn't really on the radar.  Then came Hannah, and for once I got to see what a normal pregnancy was all about.  No complications, no bed rest, no bleeding.  It was wonderful.  Lucas went along the exact same way.  We had no reason to doubt.  So, I still feel a whole lot of that initial shock, because we just didn't know to expect anything.  I was told "it's like getting hit by lightening twice."  Along with that comes this feeling of complete distrust.  Because no matter how normal the pregnancy, no matter what week we reach, my body may still fail.  My babies may still die.  They've actually said that I have a 1/20 chance of it happening again.  5%.  That almost seems like too high a percentage to ever try this again.  Almost.

See, here's the problem.  I believe life begins at conception.  I always have.  So, this means my embryo are my children.  That is how Andrew and I talk about them.  These "freezer babies" are just as much ours as any of the children I've birthed.  What was it about Lucas that made us love him so much?  It wasn't that he snuggled up to me, it wasn't that he was a "good" baby, it wasn't that he told me he loved me or stopped crying when his mommy held him.  No.  What made us love Lucas was simply that he was ours.  He is my son.  That is all that we needed.  So, I feel the same way about our freezer babies.  They are my flesh and blood.  I was chosen to be their mommy.  For however long that may be.  And so, we took a giant leap, and I now have 2 babies growing in my belly.  We don't know for how long, we don't have guarantees of tomorrow.  But for today, they are there.  Some moments I am paralyzed with fear, some moments I am distracted enough to not think about it.  How's that for a start to life, babies?  Ugh.  It will get better.  And, though I am instinctively trying not to connect, I know I already love them.

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.

Monday, July 10, 2017

One Month Closer

One month ago, I was holding Lucas for the first time.  I'm so grateful labor was long enough that the horrors of yesterday are separate from the joys of today.  Because, holding Lucas was pure joy.  Delivering him, helping him into his first and only diaper, kissing his sweet forehead, reading him his first book...these are the moments that make me feel like his mommy.  And I can celebrate that today.

I thought for a long time about what I'd like to do for today.  Yesterday was miserable, reliving the moment we learned he was gone over and over again.  But today?  Well, it's still so difficult of course, there is still so much pain surrounding the memories.  The quiet of his birth, the lack of monitors beeping, the smiles on the doctor's/nurse's face.  But through it all, there is immeasurable joy.  Because our time together was so special, full of such great memories.  Memories we knew would need to last us a lifetime, and so we absorbed every second of our time together. And I can sit here today and look back through our pictures, and remember his sweet little face.  And how ridiculous it was the he had a unibrow at 23.5 weeks.  And that a nearly 1 pound baby could have a little chub to his cheeks.  Oh, he was so cute. 

So, I imagined what we would have done today if he survived.  If he was fighting it out in the NICU today.  Well, for the boys, we bought them presents - clothes, a new book to read as we sat together in the NICU, and some special things for their room.  At 1 month old, we finally began to think of decorating their room.  But Lucas is gone, and doesn't need those things.  But...maybe another little boy would.  Maybe another little boy born today would appreciate a surprise blessing.  So, we headed to the store.  And I took a few deep breaths and headed into the baby boy section.  And together, the kids and I picked out some special items for a baby boy we would never know, including a pink plaid romper that Dean absolutely loved.  If it came in 4T he might have gotten one.



And then we did the most difficult part.  We walked into the hospital, past the triage room, past the memories of the gut wrenching cries I let out, down the hall of labor and deliver.  And we handed everything over to the nurses with tears in our eyes, with tears in their eyes.  Then we walked out.  The ride down the elevator was the hardest part, remembering it all too well, when I made that trip after handing over my son.  


So today, I am 1 month closer.  One month closer to be reunited for forever with my sweet Lucas.  And Reagan.  And Reagan's twin.  Half of my children are gone.  I pray they would be proud of us, that they would always know how much we love and miss them.  My dear Lucas - Mommy misses you more than words could ever express.  My heart breaks at knowing all the moments I will miss, all the while knowing that you are loved and cared for beyond what I can fathom.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

One Month

Today marks 1 month since the darkest day of my life, again.  One month since we learned our sweet Lucas had gone to be with Jesus.  One month since the nurse sadly shook her head no, tears streaming down her face.  One month since my life shattered.  One month since I last had hope.

There are so many painful reminders all around me.  Even fun things that I can now do that I couldn't because of my pregnancy restrictions - jump into a pool, ride a roller coaster or water slide with Warren and Dean, carry Hannah AND my diaper bag, go for a run - all these things that I've been looking forward to doing again, but now they're surrounded by guilt.  Guilt because Lucas is gone, because I shouldn't enjoy something that I shouldn't be doing if everything was perfect.  I've loved seeing my kids' faces as they laugh at me in the pool again.  Hannah was too little last summer to remember any of it, so she's especially found joy at swimming dates with mommy this week.  But, underlying it all, mixed in to each "happy" moment, is the grief and pain at missing my boy so desperately.

I miss Lucas so much I physically hurt.  Sometimes I feel like I can't breath through it all.  But I've tried my best to put on my happy face and make Lucas' life count for something.  I could so easily bury myself in my covers, hiding from the world, never leaving our home.  It's what I actually want to do every second of every day.  But then my desire to be Lucas' mommy takes over, and I chose to shower (sometimes), get dressed, and take a step forward.  I do my best to not go running from the park when the pregnant women gathered around me are complaining about how miserable it is to be big in the heat of the summer.  I try not to break down while looking for children's books and seeing the display of  "Big sister" books.  Because, Reagan should have had those first, and then Hannah.  But ultimately, we have no reason to be reading them in our home.  Broken.  I would do anything to go back to June 9 and have a different outcome.  To arrive at the hospital concerned and anxious and be told that everything was okay.  As I lie awake at night, I relive those moments over and over, questioning, processing, and ultimately crumbling all over again as I hold Lucas' sweet baby blanket and look through his pictures.  I cannot believe it has already been a month since he died, that tomorrow will mark 1 month since I met him and said goodbye.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Disappointed

I've been asked a lot these past few weeks how I'm doing.  It's not a bad question, it's a very natural one.  And one that lets me know people are still thinking about us and remember Lucas, so I appreciate it.  But it's given me a lot of reason to think through my answer.

Ultimately, some days are better than others.  Some days I can run and play with Hannah.  Some days here little giggle makes my heart soar.  Some days I can enjoy her.  (I should state Warren and Dean are gone this week...)  But other times I can hardly get out of bed.  I want to curl up in a ball and hide from the world.  I find myself absentmindedly rubbing my belly before I remember with a start that all that remains is a pudgy reminder of the child I once carried.  And then I cry this big, ugly cry, and Hannah gives me this look like Mommy's gone crazy.  And so the cycle goes...

When I think about it though, I'm not as angry anymore.  Still a bit bitter and jealous of all the other women who seem to have it all so easy, who go through pregnancy without a care, who conceive the exact weekend they want, and then have the audacity to complain in front of me about their pregnancy symptoms.  But mostly, I'm disappointed.  I'm disappointed that the God of the universe, my heavenly Father, who I can think of as "Daddy," is letting this happen.  That the first pregnancy when I trusted Him, when I wasn't overcome with anxiety and worry, ended like this.  I know better than most that babies die, we learned that with Reagan.  I know that pregnancy can be filled with complications and end with severe prematurity, we learned that with Warren and Dean.  And I know that I can think everything is about to go wrong, live in fear for 8 long months, waiting for terrible news that is never delivered; we learned that with Hannah.  But this time?  Well, this time I really trusted God.  I never thought something would go wrong.  I had only a few brief moments of anxiety, once when I didn't feel him for a few days around 18 weeks, and once as I approached 21/22 weeks when we lost Reagan and I went into labor with the twins.  I feel like my Daddy has failed me, that He has let me down.  Again.  That He didn't take care of me.  Or Lucas.  And though I know Lucas is actually very much taken care of, that He is loved beyond what I could ever do, I'm not really strong enough to remember that in the daily moments.  I just miss my sweet little boy too much.

I had great plans for this week, this time with just Hannah and Lucas.  I was going to put the twin's room together with their big boy beds and their new bedding, as we transitioned their old cribs into Lucas' room.  I was going to get everything ready for Lucas' arrival as, now in the 3rd trimester, I knew he could potentially arrive at any time.  And now, I'm sitting in a quiet house while Hannah naps.  My new to-do list includes boxing up my maternity clothes, cancelling our diaper subscription, unsubscribing from pregnancy emails, and trying to stop the auto shipments of the medications that were going to help keep me from going into labor.  How much can one endure?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

FOUR

Happy 4th birthday Warren and Dean!!

Wow, I cannot believe we are here, that my little boys are not so little anymore.  In some ways, I feel like it has taken forever for us to reach this point, forever for them to finally hit 4.  (And 4 sounds so old to me, right??  Like suddenly they should be self-sufficient??)  But in other ways, well, it seems like I was just holding their tiny little bodies as they battled for their lives.

I've learned a lot about micro preemies since Warren and Dean were born, a term I didn't even know existed.  But, here is what I know about my boys.  They are fighters-for the first years of their lives, they battled every day.  The battled to eat and gain weight, to maintain their temperature, to breathe on their own, to hit their milestones, to meet their developmental goals.  Things we took for granted with Hannah took months or years to accomplish.  Or we're still working on them.  Starting life in the 2nd trimester is certainly not the way we would have chosen for them.  But they are strong.

And Warren and Dean are funny.  They have these great little personalities, with a bit of spunk mixed in.  They make me smile or laugh on days when I don't even want to get out of bed.  Warren has the greatest giggle, and Dean, a deep belly laugh.  Their imaginations are incredible, and anything goes during play time.  They can build intricate towers, bridges, or jets with legos, and can work on them for hours.  And they are each others' best friend.  There is something special about a twin bond, something that runs deep when every moment of life is shared together.  We didn't see this much in the first years, but oh we do now.  There is no one they would rather play with, no one they quite love like one another.  It's quite tender to see.

I'm so thankful I get to be their mommy, that I get to know all these great things about my sweet big boys.  Warren and Dean - you bring so much joy and happiness into our home, and a bit of chaos, and a new volume level that I've grown to love and appreciate.  I love you so very much, always and forever.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Missing

A piece of my heart is missing.  Two, actually.  Ripped out suddenly.  I'm overcome with it all, with the shock and disbelief that Lucas is really gone.  How?  How can this be?  How can life just keep going on all around - how do we smile and celebrate our twin's 4th birthday, how do I take them to the park, how do I take a breath and put on my happy face and pretend to be fine?

I felt like it took 4 years with Reagan.  Maybe that's too long, maybe that's not normal...but it took me 4 years before I could celebrate with other women when they got pregnant, when they had girls.  Four years before I wouldn't spontaneously break down in the store when I saw someone who resembled what I imagined her to look like at 2, 3, or 4.   My heart always ached for her, I always missed her at family events, holidays, vacations.  I always wondered what it would have been like for Hannah to have a sister to play with.  I still wonder those things, still feel that ache, but it's an ache filled with less bitterness and anger and angst.  It's more of a recognition that our family is incomplete, that our daughter is missing.

But now??  Can a parent really overcome losing 2 children?  Can I go through these years of grief again?  Can I face a future always wondering, always thinking about what we are missing out on with Lucas.  This time around, I know more.  I know what it's like to hold a crying baby when they just need you in the middle of the night, I know what it's like to nurse a baby to sleep, I know what it's like the first time they call you mommy.  I feel more deeply what I'm missing with Lucas because it's not just what ifs in my mind, it's what I've lived through over the past 4 years.  So many beautiful little moments I'll never have.  Oh my sweet boy, how I miss you.

So, how do I move forward from here? When all I want to do is hide, curl up in bed, never face the world again.  How do I give my kids a fun summer, let them be kids and run free and play, when I just don't have the strength?  I keep thinking back to that last moment of hope, and that's what hurts the most.  The last moment I thought things might be okay.  Obviously we headed to the hospital for a reason, but home dopplers are unreliable.  And I had just felt him the day before.  I just keep thinking back to the ultrasound tech, and how she took a minute to scan things, face blank.  I remember anxiously looking at her, eyes darting between her and Andrew, waiting.  And then she silently shook her head.  That was it, that was the end.  I feel naive for thinking things would actually be okay, for having that moment of hope.  I feel disillusioned and disappointed by the God I've served for as long as I can remember.  And right now, I'm too weak to even cry out to Him.  I'm living in a fog.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Lucas' Memorial

Lucas had a beautiful memorial service yesterday.  Our families and community rallied behind us to help us put together something that would celebrate our sweet boy and his brief time here with us.  I've had several people ask if we would record Lucas' service, which we did not do.  I didn't think to talk to Andrew about it until the service was starting, and then I wasn't sure I would want to watch it again, thought it might be too painful.  But, I have the words I shared about my Lucas:

Isaiah 65 “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.  But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.  I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and crying will be heard in it no more.  Never again will there be an infant who lives but a few days or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.  They will build houses and dwell in them, they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.  No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat.  For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people, my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands.  They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune, for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them”

I first studied these words in detail after the death of our first daughter, Reagan.  I poured over them, relishing in the truths and promises of the Lord.  I found so much comfort in knowing more about my eternity, and my entire perspective on life was altered.  I never imagined I would be reading them again after experiencing the same loss.  Never thought I would find myself in this place again, saying goodbye all too soon to a child I loved so dearly.

I first laid eyes on Lucas in January and, amidst the craziness and distractions of raising 3 other little ones, I loved him in an instant.  He was such a happy boy on all our ultrasounds – we watched him smile, watched him wave, watched him suck this thumb.  He was always active, never quite wanting to be still for his pictures, very much like his older brothers.  When we found out we were having a boy, we were shocked.  I had been so sure he was going to be a girl.  But oh, we were excited.  And we immediately started planning how we would do life with another Savant boy running around in our home.

We dreamt about how Lucas would fit into our crazy, messy life.  It certainly would have been an entertaining place to grow up, with older brothers who are wild, carefree, and loud, who love to play and laugh and sing.  I could see Lucas following around behind them, wanting so badly to be a big boy just like them.  And I could totally see them plowing right over him, knocking him down.  But I would have been right there to kiss away the tears and make his boo boos all better.  Hannah would have been a great big sister, once she got over her jealously of not being the baby anymore.  She came to every appointment with me, watching the screen intently, learning to say “baby” for the first time.  Andrew was excited to have a 3rd boy, to complete his golf foursome, to coach his baseball team, to teach him how to be a man.  And me?  Well, I was just ready to care for him.  To love him, give him kisses, rock him to sleep.  I didn’t want anything more than to just be his mommy and all the daily tasks that went with that.  I wanted to see him play in the woods, to zoom trucks around the house, to build the most intricate train track, to stack Legos and form tall towers or whatever his imagination could think up.  I wanted to dance with him in the kitchen when he was still too little to stand, to jump around and be silly to some of my favorite songs, and to hold him at night when he just needed his mommy. 

But God had different plans for Lucas.  And, though I can’t wrap my head around the why, that I can’t understand His will and His plan, I am so grateful for the time I had with my son.  I’m thankful for the quiet moments in the middle of the night when he would kick so hard, grateful for the way he’d wake me up by pounding on my bladder.  And I love that we got so many ultrasound pictures, that our ultrasound tech was kind and let us see him for longer than was needed for the measurements, that we have pictures of him smiling, that I saw him suck his thumb, and he waved to us.  These are precious moments I will treasure. 

On the morning of June 9, I woke uneasy.  And I couldn’t find a heartbeat on the Doppler.  As we headed to the hospital, I prayed that I was wrong, that I was overreacting, that our sweet boy was fine.  God chose to answer those prayers in a different way than I had hoped.  As I saw the image of our son, still, on the ultrasound, I broke.  We broke.  And our sweet boy, Lucas Robert Savant, was born the following morning at 4:41 am.  He weighed 14.8 ounces and was 11.5 inches long.  He was perfect.  He was fearfully and wonderfully made, beautiful.  I think he looked the most like Warren, but I could see all my other children in his sweet little face.  He had Reagan’s big pouty lips, Dean’s upturned nose, Hannah’s full cheeks, and Warren’s eyes, eyebrows, and chin.  I wonder what he would have looked like when he laughed – would his nose crinkle a bit like mine and Hannah’s?  Would his eyes pour with tears like Dean’s when he got sad?  I hate that I will not know the answer to these questions any time soon; that I have to watch my other children grow up knowing our family is incomplete, knowing they have an older sister and baby brother that are but a memory to them.

Having faced this before, we knew our time was limited, that we had a few hours to create a lifetime of memories.  I loved my morning with Lucas.  I’m so thankful he was born in the quiet hours of the morning to give us some time together.  I took in his face, memorizing each little detail.  I read him some new books, rocking him in our chair, kissed his forehead, and sang him a lullaby.  All these normal things parents get to do with their children, only I knew I would never do them again this side of heaven.


But that is where Isaiah 65 comes in.  I don’t get to those things with Lucas here, in my timing, in my will.  BUT, I get an eternity with Lucas, filled with Joy and wonder as we worship our Creator.  There will be no weeping or crying.  Infants will not die.  And I will be reunited with the children I lost.  We will get to see them laugh and smile.  We’ll watch them dancing on streets of gold.  We’ll run and play ball, and explore God’s creation.  And as we walk through the pearly gates into heaven, Lucas can run to us with his tiny perfect feet and embrace us for the first time.  Oh, what a moment that will be.  Lucas is loved perfectly now by the God who created him.  He is well cared for, longing for nothing.  Never will he experience the pain and heartbreak this world brings.  He went straight into the arms of Jesus.  Today, I am resting in that, in where my son is, in our eternity together.


We also chose to share a slide show of Lucas, sharing most all of our pictures of him and how we spent our time.