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.


Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people standing and suit

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.



video




Saturday, June 17, 2017

How are you

I've been asked how I'm doing more times in the last week than ever before in my life.  While I appreciate that we are being considered, that people are checking in on us, I haven't figured out the appropriate response to that yet.  Just exactly how honest and vulnerable to be.  Because, I'm afraid if I utter one word of truth, I'll lose it.  The truth is, I'm barely holding it together.  I cry constantly, any chance I let myself think about what is happening.  I feel immense guilt when I try to play with my living children that I am forgetting Lucas, but guilt when I am hiding in the bathroom from them because I can't let them see me like this.  How do I love them, support them, encourage them when all I want to do is find a quiet spot.  I am not okay.  My body has failed, and another child of mine is gone.  I'm left in this horrific place, experiencing normal postpartum pains, engorged and unable to cuddle with my kids, all painful reminders of what should have been.  I still need maternity clothes, but I can't bear to put them on.  Instead, I have them in a pile in my closet, unable to pack them away yet unable to put them on.  So I'm settling on my 1 pair of stretchy pants that still fit, despite the fact that it is 95 degrees outside.  And yet, I know when this goes away, so will any physical trace of Lucas' life.  And that, perhaps, is the cruelest of all.

This week, I'm planning Lucas' memorial service, trying to figure out what words to use to communicate so much more than just my grief, trying to find the purpose behind his life.  His service is Wednesday.  Along side this, Father's Day is tomorrow.  And I can't bring myself to come up with all my usual cute handmade gifts, all the special things I would normally do to show Andrew how much we love and appreciate him.  No man is more deserving, no man has done more for their family.  I tried to go shopping today, and found myself sobbing uncontrollably in the Walmart parking lot.  Walmart - the last date I had with Dean, the night before Lucas died, when Dean was just so excited to pick out special juice and suckers, and when I thought nothing was wrong.  What a terrible place to be my last happy spot, because I normally hate Walmart.  And then, in one week, we are celebrating Dean and Warren's 4th birthday.  A birthday party, two weeks after Lucas died.  How??  How can I face our friends and family, put on my happy face, and sing to my oldest boys?  How can I celebrate them while my heart is still breaking, when my body is still recovering, when my mind is still reeling??  I don't want them to resent Lucas, to miss out on things because he is gone and Mommy needs more time.  But it's all just so hard.  Putting one foot in front of the other, taking steps forward in life, seems so much harder this time.

So, how am I doing?  Well, not sure any of this fully answers that question.  I'm broken, hurting, confused, angry, and torn.  I'm overcome with guilt, facing the truth that my "hostile" environment will likely cause this again, trying to come to terms with the fact that these 3 I have here may be all I ever have.  I'm searching for peace and guidance, as the truths I have known to be true seem to be, in fact, false.  I am paralyzed at the thought of facing people, of running into the multitude of women I know who are pregnant or just had babies, afraid of the bitterness I've battled for years after Reagan died.  And, ultimately, I'm not sure where to go from here.

Friday, June 16, 2017

One Week

It has been one week.  One week since our lives were forever changed, shattered.  One week since we headed to the hospital, praying I was overreacting to the lack of movement I felt the night before.  One week since I thought surely everything would be fine, that God wouldn't have us endure this again.  One week since our triage nurse told us, with tears streaming down her face, that she couldn't find a heartbeat.  And one week since I saw my baby Lucas, appearing to just be sleeping, but ultrasound missing that little heart flutter.  I remember this sound coming out of my mouth, hardly recognizable.  I remember crying out "no" and repeating all sorts of words of anguish in this weird babbling.  And then I remember going numb, feeling too much pain to even let myself feel anymore.  And less than 24 hours later, Lucas was born.

Grieving this time is so very different.  We had few responsibilities with Reagan and every second of every day in the weeks after she was born were spent thinking about her, doing things for her, crying over her.  But now?  Well, there's so much more going on.  Just like in pregnancy, poor Lucas doesn't get as much attention as I'd like to give him.  But I will say, I didn't smile for a long time after Reagan died.  And now?  Well, my kids are crazy, and they're funny, and sometimes they'll say ridiculous things to make me laugh.  Or at least smile.

I find myself frustrated that they don't have a clue, that their lives are unphased by our family's tragedy.  I would never wish them to be so sad, never want them crying and broken, but sometimes I just wish they'd recognize that Mommy and Daddy are sad and just need a few minutes every now and then to think about Lucas.  Probably too much to ask of our almost 4-year-olds.  Instead, they are fighting over toys and throwing temper tantrums, far more than usual, over the most ridiculous things.  I don't know what I would do without a community willing to step in and take them for a few hours in the afternoon.

So, as a week has past, so many things have happened.  I was induced and Lucas was born.  We were able to spend some time with him, and then we said goodbye.  Since coming home, we've expanded our Reagan's Garden space to create a Lucas Garden.  For Andrew, this involved moving sod and digging up plants.  But we now have a space outside where we can sit and look at flowers planted for each of our heavenly children, carefully picked and planted through tears.  We've created a photo book for our boy, with our favorite pictures of the day and our pregnancy, special moments that celebrate his brief life here with us.  And we've begun the work of planning his memorial service.  I remember planning Reagan's, knowing I would be speaking, and breaking.  I remember telling my mom how no parent should ever have to do this, that it just felt so very wrong.  And here we are, doing it again.  Trying to create a service that will honor Lucas' life, that is unique to him and how we think of him, but that will still point to the hope we have in our Savior.  Because ultimately, without Jesus, this would be the end.  Lucas' life would be over, and we would never see him again.  And, though I am still incredibly hurt and angry, though  I am confused and broken, I HAVE to trust and rest in that truth.  I have to remember that God is good and His plan is perfect, even when writing those words makes me want to scream.  I get eternity with my boy.  With my sweet Lucas.  With Reagan.  Our story does not end here.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Anger

It's the middle of the night and I should be sleeping.  Ultimately, I should be sleeping with baby Lucas dancing away in my belly.  But instead, I am lying awake in pain.  Physical and emotion.  With Reagan, I was in shock at what I experienced after delivery.  I certainly hadn't gotten that far in my pregnancy books to have a clue about labor, delivery, and postpartum healing.  This time, I felt more prepared.  And yet, I'd just done this twice with living babies.  So, now my body and my heart know that feeling too, what it's like to be up in the middle of the night because of crying, to be bone tired because of caring for a little one (or two).  And that makes these middle of the night wake-ups so much more painful.  I know what I am missing.

So, I am angry.  I keep hearing that I am strong.  And brave.  Well, I don't feel strong.  I feel weak.  I couldn't protect my child, couldn't keep him safe.  I tried, but I failed.  And it seems that God failed me too.  I know he didn't fail Lucas - that Lucas is safe and happy and healthy.  That Lucas has his Heavenly Father to care for him, and 2 siblings to play with.  But it just doesn't seem like God is really for me this time, and I am so angry with Him right now.  The moments of peace, the joy at seeing my son, they're there at times.  But right now I just want to scream.  I'm angry that I am planning a memorial service for the second time.  I'm angry that I endured 12 weeks of daily shots that my body fought every step of the way - bruised and swollen and some days unable to walk.  I'm angry that my morning sickness never went away, that I had 23 weeks of feeling so sick.  I'm angry thinking of all I gave up to try to keep Lucas safe - the events we didn't do, the food I didn't eat, the time I spent resting instead of playing with my children - and that NONE of that even mattered.  He's gone anyway.  And all my attempts to protect him weren't enough.  I would gladly give up anything to protect my children, and I naively thought I was doing that.  I'm angry that God chose to take Lucas early, that this freak cord accident happened to us when we've already endured so much.  I'm angry that this is my 4th, FOURTH, 2nd trimester baby.  I'm angry that my postpartum body serves as a constant reminder of what should be but isn't.  I'm angry that my milk coming in creates so much pain that I can't snuggle my children, can't sleep at night.  I'm angry that I finally allowed myself to relax and start prepping for his arrival, that shipments are still coming in.  That we were just picking out the few things we wanted new or different for this time around.  I'm angry that I ordered a whole stack of maternity clothes, laughingly saying it was about time on baby #5, only now to face a stack of unworn clothes I'm going to have to return.  I'm angry that my laundry is full of the few maternity clothes I did own and that they don't have a home anymore, that they are just sitting there in Lucas' nursery.

I KNOW the Truth.  I know that God has a plan, a purpose.  I know that His ways are best, that His plan is sovereign.  But why? WHY?  God can use another family now, because I just cannot anymore.  Reagan forever changed my perspective on heaven and my eternity, and I am thankful for that in these early days.  But it just hurts so much to feel.  And so I keep bouncing back to numb.  I imagine it's my way of protecting myself.  But I don't want to be numb.  Or angry.  I just want my boy back.  I just want to find a way to do something, change something, that would give us a different outcome.  I want to go back to Monday when we got incredible ultrasound pictures of him, when we were reassured that he was healthy, when I saw him sucking his little thumb.  To go back to those moments when I thought life would be okay.  When the worst I planned on was being sleep deprived and overwhelmed.  I want to go back to that time and beg God to spare his life.  But I've been down this road before, and I know that none of that is possible.  That I will spend the next days, weeks, years bouncing back and forth between places of peace and understanding, anger and bitterness, and utter despair.  That I will feel Lucas' absence at every family gathering, every holiday, every birthday.  That I will always keep track of what he should be doing - when he should be born, when he should be walking, when he should be going off to preschool.  The knowing made the hospital time so special, allowed me to focus solely on him and our time together, gave me a chance to soak up and memorize every aspect of his little body.  But now?  Now, the knowing only hurts.  I'm angry about things that haven't even happened yet because I know that they will.

It's been 72 hours since Lucas was born.  Since I saw him for the very first time.  My precious child.  I've been questioning if we missed something on Monday's ultrasound.  If we should have looked more at the cord.  Not that we could have known anything was coming, but those doubts are there nonetheless.  Reagan was 3 days shy of "viability."  Lucas though, he was on the other side.  If we had seen something on Monday, could he have survived?  And would we have wanted that life for him?  I just don't know.  But oh, how I long for him.  How I miss him.  How I wish I could have heard his laugh just once. He looked like Warren - would he have Warren's giggle?  Or seen his eyes.  What color would they be? Would he start to get my freckles like Dean?  Would he snuggle with me like Hannah?  I'll spend the rest of my life wondering these and so many more.  How can one sleep when I keep thinking of more?

Oh my sweet Lucas, your mommy misses you so much.  So very much.  Amidst the distractions of your siblings, amidst caring for them and managing their temper tantrums, I long for you.  I don't know how to do this every day, when it hurts to much, to try to stay strong for your siblings, to put one foot in front of the other and just keep going.  I'm so sorry son, so very sorry.  I love you dearly, and this was not at all what I wanted.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Saying Goodbye

Yesterday, I said goodbye to my son.  It felt like my heart was breaking into a thousand pieces.  I don't know how I am going to make it through this again.  How much can one endure?

Lucas was born in the early hours of the morning while the rest of the world was sleeping.  I had a handful of regrets with Reagan.  None in our time together, but I always thought if I would do it again, I would stand strong in my decision to not use pain control and not cave in the final hour.  I wanted to feel every second of time I had with her.  And I so wish we had pictures.  Our hospital didn't say anything about infant loss photography, and we just didn't know our options.  The only picture I have of Reagan's face is the one in my head.  So, I knew going into this again, I didn't want to make the same choices.  I battled through some intense labor, but God knew when I'd reached the end of what my body would tolerate, and Lucas was born relatively quickly, 9 hours after induction began without the need for a 3rd cesarean.  He was quietly cleaned and handed to me.


He was beautiful.  His face was just perfect.  He had a sweet little upturned nose, peaceful resting eyes, and big pouty lips (just like Reagan and Dean).  He had a true Savant chin, and just a hint of pudgy cheek.  The hair that he did have was blonde, just like Reagan's.  I could see pieces of all 5 of us right there on his little face.  


Lucas had the most precious little hands.  Perfectly formed, just tiny, resting.  I held his hand for a moment, relishing the feeling of his little fingers on mine.  The detail was amazing, truly amazing.  And I just soaked it in.  And he had some big boy feet!  All the texture in the sole of his foot, long thin toes.

  


We were so blessed to be able to spend some time with our sweet boy before we had to say goodbye.  I knew from Reagan all the special things I wanted to do.  So Andrew went out Friday night to get him a few things that would be just for him.  No hand-me-downs allowed when you have such a brief time together.  He found a great blue and white blanket used for our professional pictures, the one thing Lucas was wrapped in that we get to keep forever.  He also bought him a few books so we could have some new reading material for our special boy.  We spent our morning soaking up every second we had together - took some pictures early in the day, had the kids come up and meet their baby brother, rocked and held him while reading his new books and singing all our favorite songs.  It was a special time filled with a mix of joy and sorrow.  I am so grateful for those precious hours with Lucas, and so devastated that those hours are all I get.  

  

  


  

And then, that was it.  Our time was over.  A lifetime of memories were crammed into those few hours.  I couldn't hand him over.  I couldn't let him go.  Knowing what it feels like to never see your child again, knowing the recovery that was ahead, knowing the stillness I would feel in my belly as I tried to sleep.  It was all suddenly to much for me.  I am broken.  Again.  Oh, how I miss my Lucas.  Andrew bravely carried him over to the nurse, swaddled in his sweet blanket, gave him a kiss on his forehead.  And then we fell apart, leaning on each over, overcome with grief.

Less than 12 hours after he was born, I was home.  I am so thankful for our doctor who made an exception for us and allowed us to leave without spending the postpartum time, allowed me to come home and snuggle 3 of my kids.  And I am so thankful that I have those kids.  That the sounds of their laughter fill our home.  That they can make me smile.  That Hannah knows how much I need her baby snuggles and is willing to crawl up in my lap and let me hold her.  That Dean and Warren love their baby brother so much and want to know more about him.  That my parents drove down to meet Lucas and help with kid management so I have the time to sit and write and process some of this out.  That I have a community that rallied behind us and took care of our kids without question while we were in the hospital, are bringing us meals and supplies.  God is providing for us during these dark days when I have no strength, when I am so angry with Him, when I just want to scream.  Even now, I know that He is with me.








Saturday, June 10, 2017

Time together

Our brief time with Lucas has been incredibly sweet. He enter the world silently early this morning at 4:41AM weighing 14.8 ounces and 11.5 inches long. Our lives will never be the same. 

Holding my baby boy

Reading Lucas his first book

Such a sweet little hand holding on to Mommy's 💙

Big man baby feet