Sunday, October 23, 2011

October 15th

This October 15th, I went to a memorial ceremony for lost babies at Trillium Hospital. My good friend Jackie got the hospital to do the service, after a few years of trying. And it was so nice and touching and sad.  

I was the first one there and met Kevin, the social worker that Jackie has been working with and 2 other women who work at the hospital and were helping with the ceremony. Then the other Mom's, Dad's and sibling started to arrive. I felt like it was a reunion with friends I haven't seen in a long time, although it was less than a month since I had seen most of them. It just feels so good to be with people like me. We all hugged each other and even the hugs seem different than a hug does from a "normal" person. There is shared pain and strength in those hugs. 

The ceremony was beautiful and Jackie wrote such an amazing speech about her spirit boy, Oscar. That is when I started to cry. Here it is:

Two of the greatest mysteries of all are birth and death….for
us here today, those mortal adventures have happened all at once… our
children. Since grieving is a form of love, and we are parents, the grief is
bottomless, shapeless, and timeless.

His name is Oscar Solo, and he was born upstairs, in room 6, sleeping at 9 months….he is permanently 7.5 pounds, 22 inches of lifeless
perfection, and he is my son.

The silence was thick, and the terror was crushing, but, the love in that room, that day was intense. Fate forced us to live his entire lifetime with him in just 7 hours…..his hand,
holding mine, taking in every hypnotic smell from him. Tranced in horror and love, I said goodbye to his body, and to my partial spirit, and left these hospital doors clutching on to a box of Kleenex, instead of my boy.

I am now 3 and a half years into my grief journey, and only now, at this distance, can I begin to understand the trauma I was hit with that day. The loss of someone very unreplaceable, unrepeatable and uncomparable.  Someone I love and miss with all my might….a son, and a brother…I mourn him, and the families he would have started on his own….I mourn that he is parentless, that he never tasted his breast milk that came in for 21 months after….that I never got brush silly curls out of his eyes, watch him play soccer with his dad and brothers, or read him “Goodnight Moon” before bed. I don’t know if he is left handed like his brother, or right handed like his sister……all of these “don’t knows” engulfed me, and spit me out into a
shoreless sea……

Babyloss is painfully isolating…..we are still proud parents, regardless, and there is nowhere to go, nowhere to share the beautiful memories of our pregnancies, or to relive the labour, or to describe the soul-stirring of having them placed in our arms for the first and last time.
Friends and family disappear in all awkwardness…. afraid to talk about it, to remind us….. but, truth is, they are never, not for a single instance forgotten……always swirling around in our minds, patiently waiting to hear mention of their name….yes, we will cry…love and pain is the chemistry of tears. Allow us that, allow us the time to express the gapping hole running right
through us….we cannot rush through the grief, cannot go around the pain…..the work is hard, physical, and exhausting. We must go through the pain, into the eye of it, to find, again,  our own private connection with that little womb-dancer…and to work on the beliefs that
we will find out why this has happened to us, and to make some sense of why they were given and taken…… and, above all, that they will fit perfectly back into our arms again.

We are all parents….the trick is to work out how to parent the sky babies from such a distance, but it can, has, and will be done….i wish you all strength, peace, and grounding focus….i mourn for your every loss, very deeply, and wish you friendship in this horrific time….and I thank you for all the times you have shared your child with me, the stories, and photos. Remember I am grateful if you’ve  allowed me to share Oscar with you…a kind word or compliment of him is never forgotten.

Please find ways to continue survival of this ultimate loss, but, never feel you are alone…..and its okay to cry. Fino cielo, Oscar.

She is such a beautiful writer, person, friend and Mother. 

Kevin, Jackie's nurse, a chaplain and one of the women I saw when I first got there all went up and spoke and/or read a poem. Then it was our turn to go up and say our babies' names. I went up 3rd or 4th and said that I was there to remember my son Jacob who was stillborn on June 1, 2010 due to amniotic band syndrome. I said how much we wanted him and how we remember him always, love him and miss him everyday. I also said that I was there for the babies I lost through miscarriage - August, Cub, Madeline and Emma Grace. After I sat down, I thought of more things I wanted to say. That Jacob was our dream come true. That we had never felt so much happiness in our lives as we did when he was with us, that as much as we hurt that he is gone, I feel so lucky that I get to be his Mom, that I got him. That August, Cub, Madeline and Emma Grace brought some happiness back to our lives and we often think of what life would be like if they had been able to stay. 

As we left the podium, we were handed a rose for each baby that we lost. 

We all had little plastic candles with LED lights and held them throughout. When I was up saying my babies' names, I noticed a nurse at the back of the room who hadn't been there before. When I looked back a few minutes later she was gone. Was she there for the babies she has seen born that didn't make it, or did she lose one? 

There was some tea, coffee and cookies for us after and I stayed for about an hour talking to babyloss Mom's and Dad's. I saw an 11 year old girl sitting in a chair crying, then she brought out a photo album and looked through it, still crying. I knew they were pictures of her little brother, born sleeping 3 years ago. I asked to look at them and he is so beautiful. There are moments when it just hits me and it all seems so wrong. Here was this beautiful, perfect baby...just not breathing. 

Afterwards Jackie and I were going to the room where Oscar was born. I have been wanting to see it for awhile. Unfortunately we couldn't get onto the L&D floor because it was 9pm and access is restricted then. Hopefully I will get to see it soon. 

I should be 19 weeks pregnant with Madeline and Emma Grace right now. It hurts so much that I'm not. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Support group

I went to a baby loss support group last night and met 2 new women (I started exchanging emails with one of them a few days before the meeting so I felt like I already knew her). Their stories are tragic (tragic doesn’t even seem like a powerful enough word to describe them), and very similar to one another.

I felt sort of like the veteran of the group since Jacob was born 16.5 months ago and their babies were born in July and September of this year. I watched them and listened to them and was brought back to the place I was in 2 and 3 months after he died. Their tears were just below the surface, just like mine used to be…and still are sometimes. I could see the pain and haunted look in their eyes, even when we were smiling and laughing about something.

I hope that they could look at me and see that it does get better than it is now. That they will still be hurting forever, but that it isn’t all consuming, that they will stop feeling devastated every minute of everyday. I know that when I was in the early days and met someone who was a few weeks to a few months or years ahead of me in the journey, it gave me some hope that I would feel happiness again one day and, more importantly, that I wouldn’t feel like I was being torn apart all of the time for the rest of my life. There is always an underlying sadness which comes out sometimes, but there are happy times too. I always thought that the only way that I would ever be happy again was if I had a baby in arms. Well, I don’t,  but I still find things to be happy about and sometimes I even feel little moments of peace.
I love getting together with people who get it. You don’t have to be on guard, you can say your babies’ names, you can tell people about all of your thoughts and feelings and they get it. No one thinks you are crazy or refusing to move forward. I almost always feel immediately comfortable when I am with another parent who has lost a baby.
Just thinking about them and their babies now makes my heart ache. Those early days are so horrible. Looking back, I don’t even really know how I got through them.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Another due date

Jacob was due on October 14, 2010. Although he probably wouldn't have been born on the 14th, it is still a special day to me.

On October 14, 2010, we found out that I was pregnant with Cub and some happiness entered our lives again. Even though Cub only stayed with us for a short time, he/she will always be remembered too. 

I took the day off work today. I didn't know how I would be feeling and I just wanted to be home. Last night as it got closer to bedtime, the heaviness started to settle in. I fought back the tears because I didn't want to bring Ted down and he always knows when I've been crying.  I kept reliving what happened last October 13th. I had been dreading the 14th for so long and it was almost here. Last year I spent hours writing my blog post for October 14th (Your story). I cried most of my way through writing it. Then I went to bed around 11 and sobbed until midnight. Then I realized I was starving, got some Rice Krispies and ate them in bed. Woke up in the morning, took a pregnancy test and it was positive and our lives changed again. 

Last night I was telling Ted what was happening last year and he asked if he was there when I was crying. I reminded him that I was lying in bed sobbing while he hugged me, then joked that I've done that so often that each episode of that has probably run together for him. He said it sort of has. 

After driving him to work today, I spent some time online and got ready to start Jacob's baby book. I've had it since last May, but hadn't written anything in it until day, mostly because I worried about screwing it up. I even had trouble deciding what colour of ink to use, so I ended up using both (kind of by accident). I didn't come anywhere close to finishing it, but I'm glad I have started it.

Without paying much attention to the time, I decided to have a chocolate cupcake for breakfast (hey, why not?). I decided to put a candle in it and sing Happy Birthday to Jacob. I know it sounds a little crazy to do that, but I also know that the babyloss Mom's will understand. 

Then I lit a candle after (a separate one from the one in the cupcake). As I was lighting it I looked at the time and it was 9am, the same time that Jacob was born. 

I started working on his baby book. I reread my post of Jacob's story from last October 14th, which brought a lot of things back. I stared and stared at the pictures of my belly. I wish I could better remember how it felt.

I left for the garden after about 2 hours (yes, I only got 5 pages into the baby book). 

I am lactose intolerant, but when I was pregnant with Jacob, I wasn't. I clearly remember having a Hot Fudge Sundae form McDonalds one day when I was 4 months pregnant (I know, so healthy...but I only had one). I didn't feel sick at all after, which was a miracle. I also had a Crispy Chicken Sandwich once when I was pregnant with him. So I went to McDonalds and got both items and went to the garden. 

I sat there eating them and talking to him. Then I read him 3 books: Peter Rabbit, a book about butterflies that my family gave Jacob/us at Christmas, and Love You Forever, another book my family gave to Jacob/us at Christmas. I felt a little self-conscious doing it, but it also felt good. I read the inscriptions to him and everything, because I love them even more than I love the books. 

I went to my Mom's for a few hours and then Laurie came by with the kids. I took Ben for the rest of the day. We went to the garden again and I bought Ben an ice cream, which we ate there. Ben knows that Jacob is in the garden. I explained to him again that Jacob is his cousin and that I miss him alot. He knows that Jacob is in Heaven. A few weeks ago he asked me why he is there. I just said that God wanted Jacob to be with him. A few hours later, we were driving and talking about the day and Ben said that he doesn't need Jacob anymore. He didn't say it in a way that made me think that he had ever seen/played with Jacob, but I felt bad when he said it and told him that and had to explain why (Ben is asking "why" about everything). 

We also went in the church to look for something and I saw the minister that was there when I was in labour and the next day. We chatted for a minute then I said Jacob was due on October 14th, that we lost twins in August, etc. He hadn't heard about the twins so he gave his condolences and asked how Ted was. I love it when people to remember to ask about Ted. 

Ben and I had a great time at the park and then throwing stones in the water. Every time I made one skip over the water, Ben wanted to give me a high five. 

As Ben and I walked from place to place, I held his hand. I love the feeling of a child's hand in mine. And everytime I hold Ben's hand, I think of the babies whose hands I will never hold. I wonder if I held Jacob's hand enough. I don't think so. I don't even clearly remember doing it, but I know I did. I remember kissing him a lot, touching his soft belly a lot and rocking him. 

I'm exhausted now. Living in the past is hard. So is living in the present, although it does get easier. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Another first and a dove release

It has been 16 months since Jacob was born, so we have been through all of the "firsts" - Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day. But there is always another one lurking around the corner that I hadn't thought of.

We went to my sister Laurie's house for Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. I was doing ok, no tears or trying to fight back the tears, but there was some numbness.

When we all sat down to eat, Ben was in his booster chair and Danny was being passed around the table and another "first" was taking place. Our first family dinner with a baby to be passed around and played with and admired since we lost our babies. And he was adorable. Smiling and awkwardly lunging for arms to suck on, items to put in his mouth. Ted and I started holding hands and seeing what else we have missed. Jacob would have been almost 1. There would have been 2 babies being passed around, or another baby in a high chair, or we would have had him on our lap.

Jacob would have been a little bit older than Danny last Easter, so now I see what we missed at our Easter dinner.  August would have been a little bit older than Danny now, Cub would have been a month younger.

I don't know if anyone else thought about the missing people at that table. I like to think that they did. I do think that they did.

On Saturday I went to the Farmer's Market with Laurie, Mom and the kids. We stopped at Zeller's for a snack in the restaurant. While we were sitting there, I looked across the restaurant and remembered. When I was 4.5 months pregnant with Jacob, we decided to put an offer in on the house we have now. We were waiting for our agent to go and get the paperwork ready, so we went to Zeller's for lunch. I looked at the place we sat and tears filled my eyes. I think Mom and Laurie both noticed, but they didn't say anything. I had to fight to get them to go away, but they did.

Dove Release
The Perinatal Bereavement Services of Ontario (PBSO) had a dove release on October 2, last Sunday. I liked it a lot more than I did the butterfly release that we went to on June 13, 2010, but that was only 12 days after Jacob was born and it was too soon.

Ted has been having a very hard time lately. Very, very sad. He didn't want to go to the dove release because it would make him feel worse. My Dad and 2 of my sisters, Lindsay and Jessie, all came. It was in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, which is a huge, huge cemetery. It was pouring rain and it was cold. I had my winter coat, hat, gloves and boots on and the butterfly umbrella that my Mom gave me.

We signed in and waited near a building since it was pouring. I looked around and I could pick out the Mother's. They all had a certain look. I started guessing when they lost their baby - in the past 6 months, the past year, or more. I told Lindsay and Jessie that I was doing this and they asked me what I thought about various people.

We started to walk to the Children's Garden, which took about 10 minutes. Many people were sombre, others were talking. Last year I would have been one of the sombre people, this year I was one of the talkers. It was still raining and my feet were soaking wet, but I sort of liked that it was raining.

When we got to the tent where the ceremony was taking place, it had stopped raining. We wandered around a little, looking at the garden. Then the ceremony started. One family went up and read a poem and then we were invited to go up and say who we were there in memory of. I was about the 5th person to go up. Everyone was going up with their husbands. It didn't even occur to me that I didn't want to go up alone. When there was a pause and no one went up, I went. As I turned around at the podium, Jessie was beside me. I had no idea that she was following me. I'm so glad she did and realized than that I hadn't wanted to go up alone. I said that I was there in memory of my son Jacob who was stillborn on June 1, 2010 and the 4 babies I've lost through miscarriage, August, Cub and the Twins. Then we went back to our place. I thanked Jessie for coming up with me and she said that she didn't think that I should have to do it alone. It also made me happy that the other people would see that I wasn't the only one there for my babies.

As the other families went up, I saw the ones that I was guessing on the timeline for and I was right every time.

The actual dove release was nice. The woman who brought the doves read a poem and then she opened the 2 white boxes with the birds inside. About 40 heads popped up at once and looked around. It was so cute and many people laughed a little. Then they all flew away.

When it was done, I went to talk to a Mom who lost her son on August 13, 2011. We talked for awhile and I gave her my contact information (and I spoke to her on Friday night). Monica and Nigel were there and it was nice to see them again. I learned more about Pearl and Ryan and the baby they lost through miscarriage.

I thought that my Dad and sisters had started walking back to go inside a building to get warm while I was talking to people, but they were just a few feet away talking to the woman who brought the doves. The doves are homing birds and will fly back to their house in Scarborough. Not only will they fly back to their house, they fly back to their cubby hole at the house. We learned some more about the birds, then Lindsay and Jessie pointed out a dove in a tree nearby. The woman said that they do all kinds of events - birthdays, weddings and events like these. At these types of memorial services, there is always one dove that hangs around until the last person has left. It gave me chills.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

16 months

What is life like 16 months after you deliver a sleeping baby?

I no longer wake up every morning and think that maybe it was a bad dream. It is my reality and I know it won't change.

I no longer cry everyday. I do feel sad everyday.

As I lie in bed before going to sleep, I always think about Jacob and miss him so, so much. I stare at the wall and think of what should be. I hold his blanket, go to sleep, wake up and start a new day.

I look at Jacob's ultrasound picture at least once a day. I still talk to him in my head. I still write his name (and August, Cub and the Twins) on the shower door every time I have a shower. I have 2 pictures of Jacob in my bedside table that I look at almost every day.

I am better at protecting myself now. I don't keep in close contact with friends who are pregnant.  I want to, I am happy for them, but it makes me even sadder for us. When a fellow babyloss Mom wanted to meet me with her 3 month old baby (Cub would be 3 months old now, I said that I would love to meet, but I have to wait until I am in a better place to spend time with the baby and see her mothering the baby). She said she would leave the baby at home. Even last month, I wouldn't have said that, I would have gone and felt terrible for hours after. My Mom wanted me to join a choir with her that will sing Christmas carols at different places in December. I'm not exactly looking forward to Christmas. I'm not dreading it as much as I was last year, but I'm not looking forward to it. I had to say no to her more than once about the choir. I used to love Christmas carols, but I don't listen to them anymore and I certainly don't want to start singing them now. Normally I would have given in to make her happy, but I stayed strong and said no, even though I knew I was disappointing her. But I did was is best for me.

Jacob has made me stronger in many ways.

Pregnant women still bother me. I don't get tears in my eyes as soon as I see them, but I still hate to see them. If I'm not feeling particularly terrible before I see them, I feel very sad after I do. But I can't stop staring at them either.

Days have highs and lows. Everything reminds me of him and of what could have been.  I should be spending my days with Laurie, my nephews and my Mom. All hanging around, watching our kids. We would have been thinking about trying to get pregnant again. Jacob would have been pulling himself up by now, maybe even walking. Ted and I spent some time at Laurie's today. We had a good time. Jacob was missing, as always, as were August, Cub and the Twins. Ben was fun and we had fun playing games and I held Danny a lot. Ted later told me that it was really hard for him to see me with the baby, that I looked so good and so natural holding him and interacting with him and it made him really sad. He has felt really down every since.

Ben thought that it would be great for us to lie down
on the living room table together to watch a movie. 

We are in a much better place than we were in last year. Our anniversary this year was much better. I didn't have to fake my way through it like I did last year. Last year at this time, I was still consumed by Jacob's loss, by how pregnant I should have been, and still trying to figure out how I could have failed him. Now I know, really know, that I couldn't do anything to save him and that I didn't do anything wrong. But I still go over things I did when pregnant and wonder if that was the turning point. Things like shifting a full container across the floor, like lifting up my nephew. Did doing those things cause the amniotic bands? I suppose I will always wonder. But even then, all of the research that has been done has not determined a cause.

Small things are coming back to me about Jacob's birth lately, like the fact that the first attempt at an IV didn't work and they had to try again. I had forgotten about that until I saw a picture with a bandaid on my arm while I was holding him.

Every month makes a difference really. Sometimes it's hard to know exactly what that difference is, since my grief for Jacob has been complicated by 3 subsequent losses. But when I'm feeling really bad, it's always because he is missing. August, Cub and the Twins were very wanted and very loved, but I knew Jacob the most and I can't stop from thinking, at least once a day, how old he should be. What he should be doing. What life would be like taking care of him full-time, of getting ready to go back to work next month. I hate that I don't know what it is like to stay up at night with a baby, to have the amazing moments after birth of seeing your baby for the first time. Of feeling the baby's warmth on your skin, or nursing, of feeling so much joy that it is indescribable. Of feeling some peace again. From what I've read from other babyloss Mom's who have had a baby after a loss, some peace comes with that baby. And joy.

Last night, Ted said that we have been really scarred by all of our losses. We have. It impacts us in every way possible. Even in ways that we could never have guessed. We don't feel like normal people anymore. We never will again. I don't want to.