Tuesday, June 11, 2013

3 years

May 31st and June 1st were 3 years from when we found out that Jacob died and when he was born. I was more solemn in May, without really realizing it at first. His birthdays do get easier, but they are never easy. May 31, 2010 was really the worst day of my life...the day I found out, the day I saw him lifeless via ultrasound, the day I called and told Ted and my family that he was gone. There were a lot of flashbacks. We have a package at a department store where we get one free sitting and photo a month for a year. So I took Emily and Jacob's bear in and got pictures of them together. I don't have the picture back yet, but I took some the night before at home.

June 1st had lots of flashbacks too and I had a good cry at 9am, the time he was born. I had prepared a box to donate to the hospital as I have done for each of his birthdays. I was dreading going, even though I have had a very good experience there in the past year. So the night before I gave myself permission not to go to the hospital the next day and it was liberating. I felt a weight lift. I just felt sick at the idea of being there, whereas in the past, I didn't as much. I felt closer to him there. I thought I would feel guilty about not going, but I didn't and I don't. I will go this month sometime, but I don't know when.

I have always written a blog post on his birthdays too, but just didn't feel up to it until now. I'm surprised that I'm okay with that and not wracked by guilt. I know he knows I love him, no matter what I do or don't do or when I do it. I was also so busy on his birthday that I didn't even make him a cake until that night (which I then ate most of by then end of the weekend...last year I ate 22 cupcakes over his birthday weekend. I'm noticing a trend).

I received a beautiful gift from Allison... Jacob's silhouette. I get the sense of what he would have looked like when he was older from it. I love it.

We went to the garden and blew bubbles for him on his birthday. Then I decided we should go to the Bread and Honey Festival that my brother-in-law had a booth at. I had planned to go the next day because I didn't think we should go on his birthday but then I decided that it is better for us to stay busy. I thought of him there all the time, but it was ok. We went out for dinner and had a nice time. Three years ago, I couldn't imagine that 3 years into the future, I would be taking care of a living baby and actually feel any happiness again.

Another thing I couldn't do was eat Mini Wheats for breakfast. I ate them on the drive to the appointment where I found out he was gone. I didn't eat them again until the past few months. I took the box out the morning of May 31st this year and just couldn't do it.

I still have a few Werther's Originals in my winter coat pocket from the winter of 2010. I can't bring myself to take them out. I sucked on them when pregnant with him to help with the nausea. I guess the nausea stopped and I didn't need the last two in there. I think they will stay there forever.

I have been meaning to post this video for months. My Grandma died 2 days after Emily was born and her memorial service was at the end of October. My uncle made a video of pictures from her life which ended up being about 9 minutes long. While I knew he was working on it, I didn't expect him to include Jacob. But one day I got an email asking if I wanted his photo included. I sent him two ultrasound pictures and he included both among the photos of the great-grandchildren. It hits me hard every time I watch the video.  I couldn't help but cry as I watched it for the first time, as I rocked Emily at the back of the room. Ted told me it was hard for him and my Aunt told me that even though she knew his pictures would be there, it still hit her hard. I love that they still think of him when it comes to things like this.

Our boy, never forgotten. Loved and missed constantly.

Friday, April 5, 2013

His name in the garden

When we buried Jacob in the Memorial Garden at our church, the one thing that bothered me (aside from the fact that we had a baby to bury in the first place) was that there was nothing there with his name on it. Inside the church is a book with the names of those buried there, but it is in a glass case and the pages are turned each month to the corresponding month in the book. I haven't even seen his name in it yet.

My Mom told me that someone at the church was working on getting a plaque up so that names could be engraved but then I didn't hear anything for a year or more. Last summer, we found out that it was happening and it made me happy. I've had 2 letters about it since, about the dedication ceremony, but just found out on Easter Sunday that his name was there. Ted found it. We both touched his name with our fingers. It was hard not to cry.

I go to the church about once or twice a week but I don't usually stop in the garden because I have three kids with me and it was freezing cold. I always look in and say hi to him though. So I don't know how long his name has been there and I feel guilty/sad about that.

It was/is so bittersweet to see it. I stared at this picture and listened to a babyloss song for the first time since I was pregnant with Emily. It is hard to listen to that music again. I used to listen to it all the time. I was sad all the time.

I think about Jacob so many times a day, I can't even guess how many times.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Having a child in both worlds

Being a parent to a child on earth and a child in Heaven is a constant balancing act.

One of the many tough parts is knowing what to say when people ask how many kids you have. It's a question that I get  a lot. Right after Jacob died, I told myself that I would always acknowledge him to others. If they ask if I have kids, I would tell them. But I haven't always done it. It is different when you are actually asked the question. Do you make them feel uncomfortable by saying that I have one here and one in Heaven (that isn't even true in my case, I have 5 in Heaven but to get into the miscarriages just seems like too much).

So I find that I usually just say yes if asked is Emily is my first. I always feel bad after and say something in my head, like "my first living" or "my first to come home from the hospital". I say sorry to my lost babies too, for not acknowledging them.

I met someone a few weeks ago who asked me this question. I said yes, feeling uncomfortable as always. Later on, I was asked how I know a mutual friend and it came out that we met on a birth board for Rainbow Babies due in March 2012 (I lost those babies after we met). So then I was caught in my lie and I talked briefly about Jacob and my miscarriages and wished that I had just told the truth in the first place. But a few weeks before that, I was at a birthday party and meeting friends of the child's Mom and was asked if Emily is my first and I said no, that my first was stillborn, and I quickly changed the subject so that they wouldn't feel awkward, and I could tell they did. I hate how I try to protect other people instead of telling them what I want everyone to know about.

I talked to Ted about it after that party and he suggested that I say no, that I've had a few losses. I love that response. They can ask more or we can just move on. But saying it is hard. I've been asked since then and I didn't say it, even though it was on the tip of my tongue. I was asked if Emily is my first yesterday when we were at a kids' music thing. I said no, that I've had some losses. I guess she didn't hear or wasn't sure what she heard, so I had to repeat it, which I found uncomfortable. But then she said that she had the same thing (miscarriages as it turned out, she has 3 living children) and told me about someone she knows who lost their one-month old and how it is always a hard question to answer. I didn't leave that conversation feeling particularly happy or unhappy with my answer, which I guess is good.

I wonder what it will be like when Emily is older, 3, 4, 5 and older than that, assuming we don't have any more kids. Maybe I won't be asked the question as much. Maybe people will come right out and ask why we don't have more.

I walk to my sister's house twice a week to babysit. So Emily and I go by the place where Jacob's name is written in the cement and every time I pause and think of the two worlds my children live in.

I never have to worry about Jacob and my lost babies being hurt, hungry, getting needles, cavities filled, feeling excluded by friends, upset, stressed...all the negatives. I worry more than I probably should that something bad will happen to Emily. But I worry so much that my lost babies are lonely. I don't worry about whether or not they know that I love them, they must. I can't accept anything other than that. But I know of so many babies that have passed and know that there are millions more that I don't know about. I imagine that they are all together, happy, playing, watching us, waiting for us.

Several times a day, sometimes just for a few seconds and sometimes for a few minutes, I wonder what it would be like to have Jacob here too, or  August or Cub or what it would have been like if the twins had lived. Having 2 babies at once seems so exhausting, but exciting too. I go to playgroups and see Mom's with twins and know that that could have been me. It should have been. I see Mom's with a boy about 2.5-3 years old and imagine that I have Jacob with me too. Getting two kids in and out of carseats, entertaining two kids while at home. How much laundry two kids would generate. I don't feel the sharp stabbing of pain most of the time when I do this. I feel a bit subdued, but not really depressed. Sometimes it's like imagining a scene from a movie of what should have been. I don't imagine that it will ever stop. I don't want it too. But if I had any one of those babies, I wouldn't have Emily and I can't imagine my life without her.

From being with my nephews so much, I can really imagine what it would be like to have a little boy in the house. All the bigger-kid toys mixed in with the baby toys. How I would be taking care of 4 kids 2 days a week instead of 3. Dividing my attention between my kids so that both get what they need. What the bedrooms would look like, what bath-time would be like. So many different scenarios to imagine.

Sometimes Emily looks behind me and smiles and laughs while looking up near the ceiling and I always wonder if we are getting a visit. How I wish I knew for sure.