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


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?