Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A butterfly for Jacob

Laurie dropped by with Ben and Daniel tonight. It was a nice surprise. I even asked to hold the baby, which is something I've rarely done with Daniel. But I wanted to hold him. As they left, Laurie called me over to look at the stroller. Under the hood, where Daniel looks at when the hood is pulled forward, she put a stick-on butterfly decal. For Jacob. It made me happy. He is included.

After they left, Ted told me he felt sad seeing me hold the baby, which I had been worried about. Oh, what could have been.....

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A memorial tattoo, I think

Ted, my step daughter and I were in Costco today. Shortly after we walked in, I noticed a tattoo on a woman's back, between her shoulder blades. It had the name "Emma", baby footprints under it, and then a date in April 2011 under the footprints. My heart started beating faster. My first thought was that it was a memorial tattoo. I walked by the woman and turned to look at her. She looked tired and her eyes looked puffy, but I could have been reading too much into it. There was no baby there with her. She was with a man and he didn't have a baby. I got a closer view of the tattoo and the footprints weren't the size of a full-term baby. Maybe a baby about 7-8 months gestation, but I could be wrong about that.

We walked by them and I told Ted what I saw and that I really wanted to go and say something to her, but would it be weird? He said that he knows that I want to, and I should go and do it. So I did. I never would have done something like this, going and talking to a stranger about something on them, before Jacob died.

So I went back to where I saw them and walked next to her. I said that I noticed her tattoo and that it is really nice. She said thank you. I asked if it was for her daughter and she said yes and said thank you again.

I really wanted to know more. Was the baby alive? Was it a memorial tattoo? I know someone at work who got a similar tattoo (minus the footprints) for her son, who is alive and well. But I felt like this woman might not want to talk about it. Maybe she didn't want to take the chance of breaking down in Costco. Maybe there was nothing to break down about and her baby was home, alive and well with her grandparents.

I just smiled back at her and walked away, hoping they would notice the tattoo on my ankle. They might realize that I've lost a baby too. Did she think about it after and wonder what prompted me to come to her and say that or did she not think about it much at all?

For about half an hour after, I went over what else I could have said. How could I ask about her baby without saying the wrong thing. How do you ask someone if their baby is alive or dead based on their tattoo?

I imagined a stranger coming up to me and commenting on my tattoo. Would I have answered by saying "thank you, it is for my son who passed away"? Probably not, I would have just said thank you and hoped that they asked more.

What would you have done? Would you have asked more? How would you have worded it?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gone Too Soon Picnic

I posted this on my other blog ( a few days ago, but I feel like it belongs here too. Jacob was my inspiration for the picnic afterall, so it should be on his blog. This is exactly what I wrote on my other blog, so some of you may have already read about it. 

I think it was in June that Jackie and I first starting talking about a picnic/get together for babyloss families and decided on August 20, 2011 to have it close to the Day of Hope. Somewhere along the way, we changed the date to August 21st. I knew I was pregnant when we started talking about it more and kept imagining coming to it and being pregnant and hopeful. I had thought it out and knew that I wouldn't be showing enough for it to be obvious and I wasn't going to tell anyone that it might hurt. Then we found out the babies had died and I worried that it might be hard to see the living children of those who were coming, but it wasn't. Maybe it was knowing all of the heartache that each of the families had experienced.

Jackie did so much work for this get-together. As soon as she found out that the twins I'm carrying died, she said not to worry about doing anything for today which was a load off my mind and good because I have trouble concentrating on things these days. She did so much. I'm just in awe of her. She brought balloons for everyone to release. She created a board of babies' names. It had many names on it when she arrived and we all added the names of other babies that we know. She created handouts for everyone. She even brought blankets which came in really handy when there was a downpour and we needed them to wipe off picnic tables. She also created flyers for the event and distributed them to hospitals (including the hospital where Jacob was born). Jackie - thank you so much for all the work you did! I promise I will help more next year.  Akemi also handed out a card to everyone that said "In our arms for a moment, In our hearts forever" which was a really nice touch.

It was supposed to start at 3. Ted and I got there first, since we live so close, and we could see the rain clouds making their way over. The park emptied fast. It was kind of funny. Elaine and her family and Jackie and hers arrived and we all waited out the storm in our cars. I was getting worried that it wouldn't stop and was feeling badly for all those who travelled far to get there. But the rain stopped, the sun came out and we had a good 2 hours before it rained again.

I don't know about many people came...around 20 I think. I met people I've heard about or who I am friends with on Facebook, but really don't know very well and it was so nice to talk to them.

There were many touching moments. Just looking around and knowing that every family there has lost a baby, or babies. All of the heartbreak that has existed, and still exists. It was a gathering of sorrow and strength.

There was a couple there who lost their son just 3 weeks ago. As soon as I heard how recent it was, I just felt sick for them. Those early days are so, so hard. It is so hard to function and impossible to believe that life will ever get remotely better, much less ever feeling any happiness again. Ted and I spoke with them for a long time. They are so similar to us in our grief, and both of our baby boys died early in the 5th month of pregnancy. The difference was that they got a fatal diagnosis during their anatomy scan and had to make the horrible decision, whereas we found out when Jacob had already passed away. She had all the same worries and regrets that I had. He had all the same worries that Ted had/has. We even laughed sometimes, about all the things we do. Like me being so paranoid about something happening to Jacob's things, that I have a specific plan just for them in the event of an emergency.

Ted and I could both see ourselves in them. The way L was trying to stay strong for M, but still feels so much pain. And M has reacted so much the same way I did. Hanging on to everything that had anything to do with her baby, sleeping with his blanket, looking at her baby's picture all the time and so many other things. I hope they looked at us and could see that there is hope. I got emotional several times while we talked while remembering last summer and just how broken we were and how broken they currently feel.

We exchanged information and I hope we keep in touch. They just came to Canada too, so not only did they lose their baby, they are in a new country.

Jackie had the great idea for us all to go to the water to release our balloons and it was perfect. It was the first time Ted and I have done a balloon release for Jacob and it was nice.

We are looking forward to next year.

Heading down to the lake for the balloon release

Ted's balloon
Now I feel bad that I didn't write more for August, Cub and
the twins. Just add it to the pile of regrets.....

Off they go

My friends

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Gap

Melissa posted this on her blog and I love it. I just needed to have it on my blog too.

by Michael Crenlinsten

"The gap between those who have lost children and those who have not is profoundly difficult to bridge. No one, whose children are well and intact can be expected to understand what parents who have lost children have absorbed and what they bear. Our children come to us through every blade of grass, every crack in the sidewalk, every bowl of breakfast cereal. We seek contact with their atoms, their hairbrush, their toothbrush, their clothing. We reach for what was integrally woven into the fabric of our lives, now torn and shredded. 

A black hole has been blown through our souls and, indeed, it often does not allow the light to escape. It is a difficult place. For us to enter there is to be cut deeply, and torn anew, each time we go there, by the jagged edges of our loss. Yet we return, again and again, for that is where our children now reside. This will be so for years to come and it will change us profoundly. At some point in the distant future, the edges of that hole will have tempered and softened but the empty space will remain - a life sentence. 

Our friends will change through this. There is no avoiding it. We grieve for our children, in part, through talking about them and our feelings for having lost them. Some go there with us, others cannot and through their denial and a further measure, however unwittingly, to an already heavy burden. Assuming that we may be feeling "better" six months later is simply "to not get it." The excruciating and isolating reality that bereaved parents feel is hermetically sealed from the nature of any other human experience. Thus it is a trap - those whose compassion and insight we most need are those for whom we abhor the experience that would allow them that sensitivity and capacity. And yet, somehow there are those, each in their own fashion, who have found a way to reach us and stay, to our comfort. They have understood, again each in their own way, that our children remain our children through our memory of them. Their memory is sustained through speaking about them and our feelings about their death. Deny this and you deny their life. Deny their life and you no longer have a place in ours. 

We recognize that we have moved to an emotional place where it is often very difficult to reach us. Our attempts to be normal are painful and the day to day carries a silent, screaming anguish that companies us, sometimes from moment to moment. Were we to give it its own voice we fear we would become truly unreachable, and so we remain "strong" for a host of reasons even as the strength saps our energy and drains our will. Were we to act out our true feelings we would be impossible to be with. We resent having to act normal, yet we dare not do otherwise. People who understand this dynamic are our gold standard.

Working our way through this over the years will change us as does every experience - and extreme experience changes one extremely. We know we will have recovered when, as we have read, it is no longer so painful to be normal. We do not know who we will be at that point or who will still be with us. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

14 months

Today is 14 months since Jacob was born and it hit me hard this morning. I thought about it last night and this morning when I woke up. A few hours later, Ted and I were sitting on the couch and I just started having flashbacks of the hospital and started crying and felt terrible. I told him that we had better go out and do something because I was having flashbacks. I cried a lot while getting ready to go out. It's been awhile since I cried like that.

We went downtown Oakville. We went to the garden and sat for awhile while I cried. Then we collected some dirt over the place he is buried to put in the container Jessie gave me on his first birthday. I've been meaning to get the dirt for awhile, but it worked out well that we did it on an anniversary.

We left the garden since I was just getting sadder there. I got my craving (a breakfast BELT from Tim Horton's, even though I just had cereal 1.5 hours earlier) and went to eat near the lake. A very pregnant woman walked by and it bothered me, even though I'm pregnant. I realized while walking downtown that if I saw Dr. A (which has happened twice there), it would just make the flashbacks worse. Maybe that is my answer about seeing a different OB this time around. 

It is so hot out today. I love hot weather, but it has been too much for me since getting pregnant, since I'm already warmer than usual. We came home and I spoke to a friend. Then I took pictures of an outfit for a 9 month old that would likely fit Jacob now. It was on the bear that my family gave us for Christmas. 

I felt a bit crazy when I was putting it back on the bear after. I pretended I was dressing Jacob and was talking to him as I did. I hesitated to even write that here because I felt so crazy doing it. But what is the difference from talking to him as I walk around the house everyday? 

We are going to a movie this afternoon, just to get out of the house so that I don't dwell too much. There isn't anything that we really want to see (well, Ted wants to see Cowboys and Aliens.....I'm just not up for that). I think we're going to see Crazy, Stupid, Love (I can't wait to see The Help when it comes out this month). 

We went to the cottage last week and it was nice. But Jacob was missing the whole time. While sitting at the lake, I imagined one of us staying in the cottage because he was napping. When we saw the duck with the 3 baby ducks, I imagine pointing them out to Jacob and watching him as he watched them. I imagined taking him in the water and waiting to see if he liked it or not. 

We hiked around a waterfall that we pass on the way to the cottage, called Brooks Falls. We have stopped there many times, but this time I found a metal plate on a rock with a dedication to Wayne Brooks, who lived for 50 or 60 years. Under it was a dedication to Melanie Brooks with one date, June 1, 1996. Oh, it made me sad. I got home and tried to find more information online, but haven't found anything. 

At the falls

Ted's friend and his girlfriend came up for a night. While making dinner, she asked me about Jacob and it was so nice to talk about him. She apologized, worried that she was asking too much but I told her that I like it, that I love to talk about him. 

No trip to the cottage is complete without writing Jacob's name somewhere. I wanted to carve it in a tree, but we didn't have a good tool to do it with. Next time. 

At the end of our stay, my parents and sister, brother-in-law and nephews came. And he was missing. 

Always missing.