Archive | August 2012

Up, Down, Up, and then Down Again

The roller coaster continues… or the climb up the mountain becomes more rocky – whichever metaphor you prefer.  It takes a lot of mental energy to function these days and this week has been exhausting, to say the least.  When I’m the most tired, I’m the most down.  I feel like I have to put so much effort and energy into day to day tasks.  In those moments of extreme fatigue, the sadness creeps in and catches up with me.

Yesterday was a mixed bag.  The school day was fine but as it got to the afternoon I started feeling anxious.  I had my last Maya – related doctor’s appointment.  I was looking forward to seeing my OB because she has a way of reassuring us, but I was bummed because I felt like the door to Maya’s case was closing.  We’ve gotten all the answers there are to get and reviewed the labor and delivery with everyone involved and then some.  She went over the autopsy report with us in more detail.  Basically, Maya was perfect.  Everything abnormal on the report was likely due to her being resuscitated for so long.  I was hoping that talking to the neonatalogist, all the doctors, and receiving the autopsy report would bring us a sense of closure.  Instead, as the door to Maya’s case closes, we are left with no closure and more questions that will never be answered.  It’s so upsetting, frustrating, and painful.

Today was day 3 of school for the kids.  I was feeling good this morning and thought it would be another successful school day where I could function and keep it together – I feel that is what is expected of me at this point.  After lunch, the fatigue caught up with me.  The kids were presenting posters about themselves and I couldn’t stop yawning.  All of a sudden, a thought crept into my head: “Maya will never get to do this.  Maya will never develop a favorite movie.  Maya will never have a first day of school.”  It hurt.  It physically stung my soul.  I could have lost it.  Luckily, I kept it together but the rest of the day was a wash in terms of productivity on my part.  Thankfully, there is no school tomorrow.

I’m so nervous about next week.  As much as I dislike the first week of school, it has been somewhat low key in terms of actual teaching.  Tuesday, I will teach my first science class and then repeat it 4 times.  I’m not nervous about the teaching part – that I can do.  I’m nervous about having enough energy to get through it.  I didn’t think of how difficult it would be to be “on” for three 50 minute classes in a row as 25 eager eleven year olds stare at me.  When I started to try and plan for next week, my head was very foggy.  I couldn’t think straight and I started to feel very anxious.  “What if I really can’t do this?”, I thought.  It’s a roller coaster, for sure.

The unpredictability of grief is very difficult.  I am never sure what will set me off and what won’t.  What sets me off one day may not the next.  In hindsight, I would say the first week of school was overall good.  I really like my students and I’m happy to not be feeling the anger and bitterness I was experiencing last week.  Next week will bring about a new onslaught of challenges as I really get into teaching and conduct my first science lab (we’re making slime).  I know I can muster up the energy to continue to live on, and, when I have my moments, I will take a deep breath, think of my Maya, and proceed as best I can.

Better Days and a Lovely Surprise

Before I had Maya, I knew myself pretty well.  I knew what would make me happy and what would set me off.  I was able to anticipate my emotional reactions to things and I usually knew how long it would take me to get over something upsetting.  Now, I have no clue.  I thought getting back to school was going to be really hard.  I thought I would feel resentful and angry when my alarm went off in the morning.  I thought I would spend my day in a bitter mood.  The anticipation of all this as I discussed in my previous post was terrible.  What have I learned this time?  The anticipation of the tough day is often worse than the day itself.

Yesterday was the first day for teachers.  As much as I was dreading it, I was grateful that we are able to ease our way back in and are not faced with kids on the first day back.  I did go to the welcome breakfast though I stayed close to some colleagues who know my story well.  It was shocking to be back and surrounded by everyone from the district – many of whom I do not know.  I felt very small and insignificant in that moment, but I was OK with that.  With all the sorrow, and empathy I am the recipient of (and very grateful for), moments of insignificance provide a feeling of relief that life does and will go on.

The day was long.  Meeting after meeting after meeting.  I had lunch with some colleagues who I’m friendly with.  They listened to parts of my story and I sensed they were comfortable with me talking about it.  I’m never sure, but it’s so much a part of who I am now that, in certain situations, I will take the risk.  Once all our meetings were over and we had a good plan for the week, I went to work in my classroom.  I was putting names on the desks, which I never had to do before as a SPED teacher.  All of a sudden, an overwhelming feeling came over me.  It was a feeling of warmth, comfort, and confidence.  In that single moment, I thought to myself, “I can do this, and I can do this well.”  I swear Maya came to visit in that moment.  I felt her presence and her strength.

Just shy of 12 hours after I had left my house, I returned home exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally.  There was a box on the table.  From a distance, I thought it was one of the posters I had ordered for my classroom.  When I moved closer, I saw that it was from a girl I went to high school with, Melissa.  I was never close friends with Melissa.  She was a year ahead of me and good friends with my best friend.  We are friends on facebook but I have never really been in touch with her so I was surprised to be getting a package from her.  This is what was in the box:

Melissa is obviously an incredibly talented artist who was touched by Maya’s story.  She sent me the painting in hopes that it would bring me hope, comfort, and a smile.  It did so much more than that.  At the end of a very long day in which I put forth a great effort to keep it together, I was moved to tears.  And, for the first time in more than 10 weeks, these were happy tears.  In a single moment, I felt comfort, hope, joy, and pride in my baby girl who has touched someone else.  For however long it took Melissa to create this masterpiece, she was thinking of my daughter and that means so much to me.  I will never be able to thank Melissa enough for what she has done.  Hackie and I will cherish this painting forever.

Melissa owns Lisscat Creations.  She does beautiful work and donates a portion of all her sales to charity.  Please check out her page and like her on facebook.

Unlike many of the teachers I work with, I was able to sleep very well last night.  I went to bed looking forward to this morning and woke up feeling refreshed and ready to face these kids head on – all anticipated anger and bitterness out the window.  I looked at my new painting, thought of my Maya, and left the house with excitement to meet my new students.

Again, the day was long.  There is no way to ease into this dramatic change of pace.  I loved reading off my homeroom list and being the lead teacher.  I loved supporting all the kids and not just a select few.  The kids were wonderful.  I was reminded today of why I decided (when I was 8) to become a teacher – it’s those kids.  I want to make a difference in these students’ lives.  I want to be remembered.  It’s going to be a good year, and I know that I am right to anticipate that. :)

Back to School

This is it.  School starts tomorrow.  The teachers will gather and we will kick off another school year.  The kids arrive on Tuesday and I will officially be back at work.  About 3 weeks after Maya died, I counted how many weeks were left to summer – 7.  That’s not so bad, I thought… I could get through 7 more weeks.  I made a bunch of plans and counted down to the end of summer.  I commented that I never wanted a summer to go by so quickly.  What have I learned?  Be careful what you wish for.

Tonight I will set my alarm for 5:15 for the first time since June 15th – the day I went into labor.  The day before I said hello and goodbye to my precious baby girl.  June 15th was the last day of innocence, the last day I will ever believe that once you hit 34 weeks, 5 days pregnant, nothing can go wrong.  June 15th was the last day that I taught – even though I didn’t do much teaching that day.

Now I have to face it all over again – only this time, it’s so different.  The beginning of a school year is like a new year in the life of a teacher.  So, in a sense, tonight is my New Year’s Eve and I find myself pondering my New Year’s resolutions.  I will still pick out my clothes for the week.  I will still make my lunch every evening for the next day.  These two things make the early mornings more manageable.  My resolutions for this year are as follows:

1. Move up my morning routine by half an hour so I can be at school earlier and get some work done in the morning.

2. Maximize my prep. time, limit the unnecessary conversations with colleagues, leave by 3, and take home as little as possible.

3. Take the dog for a walk as soon as I get home.

4. Read more books.

5. Eat a healthy dinner at the table with my husband and do not turn the TV on until after the kitchen is cleaned up.

This new year marks a fresh start in my career.  After five years of struggling as a special ed. teacher (something I never really wanted to do), I am now teaching 6th grade science.  I’ve always wanted to be a classroom teacher, so I’m looking forward to this experience.  I’m hoping that these resolutions will help me to feel satisfied at the end of every day.  Satisfied with my work, my family, and my health.

As much as I was looking forward to the new school year (especially after receiving my new job), I am now dreading what tomorrow will bring.  Today has seen a lot of tears and upset.  I do not want to go back to school.  I do not want to spend my days with other people’s children when I am supposed to be spending them with my own baby.  I am nervous about the welcome breakfast and seeing all the staff from the district – Who will say something?  What will they say?  Who will act like nothing happened?  I am so nervous for Tuesday – a new group of 11 year olds.  My first homeroom.  My first class led by me.  Establishing classroom routines and expectations.  I have so many decisions to make in the next 36 hours and my head is so foggy.  One of the many side effects of losing a child is the inability to think straight – this has hit me hard and I am terrified that I won’t be able to teach effectively.  None of these students know my story.  None of them know me.  I can be whoever I want and whatever kind of teacher I want, but I don’t know what I want.

No matter how much the thought of it makes me physically ill, the alarm will go off at 5:15 tomorrow morning signifying another school year.  I have to find a way to face it.  I’m trying very hard, with every positive bone in my body to have a good attitude and it’s just not there.  I hate the beginning of the school year and I was so looking forward to not having to deal with it this year.  During my pregnancy, I thought about the first day back and that Maya and I would be carrying on with our well-structured routine while I thought of my colleagues returning to work.

The only way I can face tomorrow is to move my grief, sadness, and anger off to the side and face the day head-on knowing that 2:15 will come and the day will end.  Tomorrow signifies a turning point in this journey.  My life now consists of more than just the fact that I lost my daughter.  It also now consists of the fact that I am responsible for educating other people’s children.  I know I love teaching and I now get to do what I always wanted as a classroom teacher.  I am hoping that, with time, I will find the passion again and feel less angry and more grateful for my job.  I am hoping that I will grow to enjoy my weekly routine and that time will pass a little more quickly.

Going back to school finds me at the base of another steep incline as I continue this journey up the mountain.  I know I can start the climb.  I know I have supportive colleagues and I want to believe that as soon as I see those eager 11-year-olds, I will become “Mrs. Warrensford – science teacher extraordinaire”.  I know she’s in there hiding behind “Annalee, grieving mother”.  I know I can be both.  By the end of this week, I am hoping I have figured out how.

Trying to catch my breath

This has been a tough week… a really tough week.  The fact that my daughter died has become very present in my life.  That sounds weird, but for the last month or so I distracted myself so well that I had a break from my reality.  This week, there has been a lot of contact with various doctors and a lot of talking about what happened to Maya.  It’s overwhelming and hard to deal with, but also necessary in this journey towards healing.  As I mentioned previously, I spoke to my OB on Tuesday.  Today, I had an appointment for a perinatal consult with the maternal fetal medicine doctor at the hospital… I’ll get to that in a minute.

This morning, I had a list of things I needed to get done.  I woke up highly unmotivated and pissed that the sun came up and I had to face yet another day without my Maya.  One of the things on my list was to call the neonatologist that treated Maya at Children’s Hospital.  About a month ago, my husband called to try and reach him – we had some questions.  We were told he was away for a few weeks and that he would call us when he got back.  He never did and it’s been on my mind since we got the autopsy report.

I looked him up on the website and called the number that was listed as his office phone.  I was expecting a voicemail or a secretary and what I got was him!  I wasn’t prepared to speak with him but was pleasantly surprised that he answered the phone.  He spent 25 minutes on the phone with me.  He answered all of my questions and expressed how much families like ours affect him.  He was so kind and compassionate.  I got off the phone feeling so grateful that we have such great doctors helping us find closure and peace.  I also felt like Maya’s little life had a profound impact on the entire NICU team and that brings me so much joy.

Now back to the MFM doctor.  I wasn’t quite sure what the appointment was for.  My OB wanted me to consult with the MFM prior to getting pregnant again.  It was fine.  We went through my medical history and what happened to Maya.  There was nothing discussed that we didn’t already know.  She said we should wait a year before trying to get pregnant again – I cut her off and told her no.  She tried to tell me that I wouldn’t be emotionally ready to carry another pregnancy in the near future.  This upset me.  I don’t like being told what to do and I don’t feel like its fair for a complete stranger to diagnose my emotional state.  Grumble.

My phone conversation with the neonatologist was great.  The meeting with the MFM doctor – not so much.  And so today was another up and down kind of day.  It’s exhausting to say the least.  I’m very ready for this week to end as it has been very tough.  Although, next week is the start of school and I don’t want to deal with that either.  I’m sorry I’ve been so whiny lately.  Do you know those videos of the middle of a busy train station that are put in fast motion with everyone coming and going?  I feel like I’m stuck in the middle of that.  Everyone and everything around me moving so fast and me left feeling dizzy and confused in the middle.

What we’ve learned this week is that it was most likely my labor and delivery that killed my baby girl.  This has been very hard to process.  On the one hand, I wanted so badly to believe that there was some underlying condition and that the outcome would have been the same no matter what.  On the other hand, an underlying condition could have been genetic and therefore a risk for future pregnancies.  I’m very torn on how I feel.  I thought the autopsy would bring closure and instead it brings more questions that will forever be left unanswered.

My world is spinning.  Will it ever stop?  Will I ever catch up?  We have one more appointment scheduled with my OB next week.  The neonatologist offered to meet with us, which we may or may not do.  Then what?  The book on Maya closes and we look forward to a future pregnancy and bringing Maya’s little brother or sister into this world safely?  No.  The book on Maya will never close.  She will live on through me as she continues to affect the lives of others.

Struggling

Today has been hard.  After a summer that I strategically filled with distractions, reality has hit me right between the eyes.  With NH, New York City, Disney, and then trips down to RI in the off weeks, I didn’t have to face my reality head on.  Sure, it was there and there were certain things that reminded me of what my life now consists of.  But I had enough going on to occupy my mind and time that I had some respite from real life.  Now, with little to look forward to and school starting in a week, reality is rearing its ugly head loud and clear.

I went into school to work on setting up my new classroom.  I got a new job, which I’ll blog about later.  It’s a welcome change and I thought another good distraction.  However, I wasn’t supposed to go back to work until after Thanksgiving.  There’s that phrase again… “supposed to”.  I say it so often now because life was supposed to be so different from what it is.  I counted down the weeks until school started.  I never wanted a summer to pass by so badly.  I thought having something to do and a solid routine would help pass the time.  Now that we’re less than a week away, I want nothing more than to crawl into a hole and hide.  Anger is a part of grieving and today, I felt angry.  I don’t want to set up my classroom.  I don’t want to deal with the beginning of the school year.  I don’t want to teach.  I want to mother, and I can’t.

My fabulous OB called today.  She got the autopsy report, which I’ll also blog about later.  It’s nothing all that conclusive, and she only went over it briefly.  It left me feeling sad.  I’m sad about what happened to Maya.  I ask over and over again, why her?  I’m also sad because the autopsy report was the last piece to this puzzle before the door closes.  I don’t want the appointments and the contact with my doctor to end.  I don’t want the door to close because I feel our time with Maya getting farther away.

Right now, reality sucks.  It’s so hard to face each day and to wrap my head around a new school year.  I am in such a fog and I can’t think straight – how am I supposed to teach?  I am so tired.  During the weeks leading up to Disney, I was running on adrenaline.  Adrenaline to get through the summer and get to our trip.  Now, I have nothing left.  Functioning every day is exhausting and I am nervous about what September holds.

My mom assured me that having a tough day today does not mean that I am back where I was in June.  Between spending an extended period of time at school and hearing from the doctor, there was a lot on my plate today and it broke me and brought me back to the dark place.  She reminded me that today will end and tomorrow can be better.  As much as I want to feel the low moments because they allow me to grieve my loss with every ounce of my soul, I am so uncomfortable in that place.  I feel like it’s a setback in my healing and I get frustrated and confused.

I am putting so much pressure on myself to be as close to the old me as I can.  I’ve convinced myself that if I can be the old me, interactions with other people (especially colleagues) will be less awkward.  The truth is, I have changed and haven’t quite figured out who I am now.  There are glimmers of the old me but I will never be the same and I don’t want to be.  This new finding of identity is hard and tiring.  I’ve learned that interactions with other people are awkward no matter what because there will always be an elephant in the room.

Getting back to school feels too much like the old normal.  One of the common phrases in the babyloss world is finding the “new normal”.  Hackie and I are slowly learning what that means.  However, the new normal feels too much like the old normal and I don’t like that.  Being back at school at the start of the school year is just another reminder that the world around me still goes on while I look backwards, trying to climb up the down escalator.

Today reminded me that grief and healing are not linear.  Though I feel I have made progress, I can still go backwards.  I can feel relief and joy one day and anger and sadness the next.  I can go days without crying and then lose it out of nowhere.  This is a never-ending process and I am only at the beginning.  There will be setbacks and there will be milestones.  There is no right or wrong way to travel on this journey.  I am doing the best I can.

It Happened…

I knew it would.  It was inevitable.  I just didn’t know where or when.  And I didn’t know how I would handle it.

Ever since I got my necklace and made the decision to wear it every day, I knew I was taking a risk.  People were going to notice and people might ask me about it.  I decided I was OK with that but was nervous about the unpredictability of when and where this might happen.  The first time was at Panera a few weeks ago – the cashier commented, “and who’s feet are those your necklace?”  Reply: “My daughter’s”.  I started to shake, but the conversation ended there – phew!  I was with another babyloss mom at the time and she explained to me that I would start to develop scripts on how to interact with strangers when the topic comes up.  So I started to develop a script in my head for the next time this would happen.  What if they ask how old my baby is?  I will reply, “she would have been ____, but she died shortly after she was born.”

It was noticed in Disney by an employee at the entrance – just a complement, nothing more – phew!  I began to wonder why I was so relieved when someone didn’t ask about my necklace.  I love talking about Maya so wouldn’t I welcome questions about my necklace?  The truth of the matter is that I don’t want to ruin someone’s day, I don’t want to be the target of pity, and I don’t want to risk someone stumbling over their words and saying the wrong thing.

And then today the inevitable happened – the conversation went further.  I ran into the bank to make a quick deposit.  I left Hackie in the car.  The bank was quiet and empty.  I walked up to the teller and the first thing she said was, “I love your necklace! Are those your baby’s feet?”  I thought a simple “yes” might suffice but it kept going.  She asked the question I was dreading.  “And how old is your baby?”  Without thinking about my rehearsed script I told this woman the truth.  “She actually passed away shortly after she was born.  She lived for about 9 hours.”  I braced myself for what was next and I started to shake.  Did everyone else in the bank just hear me?  Did I just ruin this woman’s day?  Did I make her feel like crap for asking?  What was she going to say next?  Would it devastate me?  I told myself over and over again to keep it together.  She simply said how sorry she was, and how she couldn’t conceive of such a thing.  She then said, “I hope I didn’t hurt you by asking.”  I looked at her, smiled, and said, “not at all” as I clutched my necklace tight.  She then went on to ask if it was expected or unexpected – a question I haven’t had yet but decided I was OK with – she was curious.

This was a much anticipated experience.  A complete stranger asked about my necklace and the conversation got to the point where I had to tell the truth.  I was shocked at how I handled it.  When I got back to the car and shared the experience with Hackie, he told me that I handled it perfectly.  I smiled – yes, perfectly.  I shared my precious Maya with someone else.  Perhaps that woman will now hug her children and/or grandchildren a bit tighter tonight.  Perhaps she will find more joy and have more gratitude for life’s gifts.

I now know that should a stranger ask about my necklace, I do not have to worry about where the conversation might go.  If I must share what really happened to Maya, I will because she is my daughter and I am proud to talk about her and share her life with someone else.  I know that not everyone will be as careful as this bank teller, who avoided saying the wrong things.  However, if someone is interested enough to ask how old my baby is, I will tell them the truth, brace myself for their reaction, and smile knowing that my little Maya has touched yet another person.

The Happiest Place on Earth

Less than 24 hours after Maya died, Hackie and I had the idea to go to Disney World.  We were trying to figure out how to get through the next few months.  We were all set to devote ourselves and our lives to taking care of our daughter and now we didn’t have to do that anymore.  What were we supposed to do with ourselves?  He was all for it immediately.  I hesitated to book the trip feeling like it was wrong and a little crazy.  We just lost our daughter and now we’re going to go to the one place in this world that is completely filled with babies and young children?  I also felt like I wasn’t supposed to have fun and be happy.  I was supposed to spend the summer sad and grieving.  Still, I was desperate for something to look forward to.  We booked the trip so that the last night there would be our anniversary.

Disney holds a lot of great memories for Hackie and I.  We went there on our honeymoon for 10 days and had an amazing time.  It was a time when life was simpler and Hackie and I were naive and innocent.  This time around, the trip served a different purpose.  It gave us something to look forward to during this very long summer, and it was a very good distraction from our sucky reality.

In addition to reliving many of the memories of our honeymoon and feeling like Disney experts, we talked a lot about Maya.  We noticed little girls who looked like her and discussed who her favorite Disney princess would have been.  We discussed whether or not she would be as fearless as her mommy and daddy and go on all the scary rides.  We knew she would have loved Disney World as much as we do.

We also talked a lot about what the future holds for us.  We made the decision to go to Disney every other year and declared that in 2 years we would be going with Maya’s little brother or sister.  We noticed large families with school-aged children and pictured what that would be like for us.  How would we handle our rowdy kids in a restaurant?  How old would our kids be when we declared they needed to walk rather than be pushed in a stroller?  Which park would be their favorite and would everyone be able to agree on what to do next?  How many pictures would we take?

I’m not going to lie.  The trip to Disney was hard.  Every baby that I saw was a reminder of what I do not have.  I thought a lot about the fact that I shouldn’t have been able to go to Disney this summer.  I should have been home with a newborn.  Still, I’m glad we went.  Hackie and I spent some much needed time together and he was so comforting every time I felt a little down.  Our love continues to grow stronger.  We were able to get away from real life for a little while and the time passed quickly.

When we walked out of Hollywood Studios to head back to the hotel to get on the bus and go to the airport, I cried.  I did not want to leave.  What was I going back to?  Real life – which is currently defined by the fact that we lost our precious baby girl.  Real life kinda sucks and we have very little to look forward to.

When you are preparing for your first baby, that is the ultimate thing to look forward to because life changes forever.  When Maya died, we grabbed at anything we could to look forward to – hence the trip to Disney.  Now, I’m not sure what’s next.  I know I want to live in the moment each day and Hackie and I have some short term and long term goals of things we want to accomplish together.  However, we don’t have that big thing to look forward to anymore.  At least, not right now.

I will say that Disney earned its tagline of being the happiest place on earth.  We had a really good time and look forward to going again.  Next time we go, it has to be with Maya’s little brother or sister – it just has to.

Two Months

Dear Maya,

Today you would have turned two months old.  We would have figured out a good routine by now and I think you would know how to smile at me.  Oh how I wish I could see you smile.  I wish I could hear you laugh and watch you discover the world around you.  I wish I could watch you interact with your big furry sister, Halee.  She loved you so much – laying on my belly the whole time you were in there.  I wish I could have gotten to know you better.  Now, I am only left to dream about what you would have liked and disliked, what your favorite color would have been, what would have made you mad, and what would have brought you excitement.

I miss you my sweet girl.  With another month past, I feel the time that I had with you moving farther and farther away from me.  School starts soon.  I wasn’t supposed to go back until after Thanksgiving.  You and I were supposed to spend these next few months together – just us and Halee during the day counting the hours until Daddy arrived home from work.  Instead, I have to go back to work and spend time with other people’s children.

Mommy and Daddy have started to find the ‘new normal’.  We are getting used to life without you here and I hate that.  I don’t want to know life without you.  Life without you is very hard.  The world moves on around me and I feel so tired trying to keep up – all the while looking backwards on what should have been.

I started this blog exactly one month ago.  Lots of people have read your story.  Lots of people have been touched by your little life.  You are so special and I am so grateful that other people now know that.  I feel your presence when I write.  You give me the strength to share this journey with others and to allow them to help me through.

You are so beautiful, Maya.  I love you more and more each day and I miss you terribly.  Continue to watch over Mommy and Daddy and to remind us to slow down and find the joy in all the beauty that life has to offer.

I will love you forever my darling girl.

Love always,

Mommy

 

Maya’s name in the sand thanks to CarlyMarie!

What Not to Say…

I had an appointment with my primary care doctor today.  I thought I should consult with her before trying to get pregnant again.  I thought I should bring her up to speed on what went on.  I thought I should bring up the shoulder pain that I experienced while pushing.  I thought all doctors would know what to say and what not to say in a situation like this.  I thought wrong.

She had not looked at my chart prior to me sitting in her office so I completely caught her off guard and she stumbled on her words for an hour.  I have been so spoiled by my incredibly compassionate OB that I was so surprised at how incapable she was at finding the right things to say, or better yet, avoiding the wrong things.

Almost everyone I have encountered since Maya died has said, “I don’t know what to say” or “There are no words”.  They are right.  There are no words and there is no manual for how to interact with someone dealing with tragedy and grieving such a devastating loss.  Though there are no right things to say, there are wrong things.  Let this be a guide…

-Don’t tell me this happened for a reason.  There is no reason.

-Don’t tell me that she is in a better place.  The best place for her is in my arms.

-Don’t compare me losing my daughter to you losing your dog.  (One of several inappropriate things the doctor said today).  I have a dog.  I act as though she is my child and I don’t know what I’d do without her.  Therefore, I understand the love one has for his/her dog.  I also understand that however upsetting it is, we are supposed to outlive our dogs.  We are not supposed to outlive our children.

-Don’t say to me “at least she didn’t develop a personality that you got to know” (again from the doctor today).  I get what you are doing – you are comparing the loss of my infant to the loss of an older or adult child.  They cannot be compared.  They are different.  They are awful.  To compare like that is to diminish my loss and that is not your place.

-Don’t tell me that I will move on.  I go into depth on what those words really mean here.  I am living on and doing a pretty damn good job at it.

What can you do?

Sit with me and let me speak about my daughter.  Say her name.  Ask me questions about how beautiful and perfect she was.  Ask me how I am doing, even though I will probably lie because it is very hard to put into words how I am doing.  Tell me that you are thinking of me and my husband and our precious angel.  Say you are sorry for our loss.

If any of the above makes you uncomfortable, simply say and do nothing.  Honestly, it is OK.  It is better than saying the wrong things.  This kind of loss and grief is uncharted territory for most people, as it should be.  I completely understand that you don’t know what to say.

I wish I hadn’t gone to the doctor today.  It probably wasn’t really necessary.  I clearly made her uncomfortable and she truly did not know what to say.  Unfortunately, she felt like she had to say something rather than simply go about her medical business so she said a handful of the wrong things that made me feel quite hurt.  I know this will not be the last time that the wrong thing is said to me and there may be more hurtful things to come.

In the meantime, I continue to be grateful for all the supportive people in our lives.  The countless number of people who have simply said and continue to say “I’m thinking of you” is getting us through each day.  Though Hackie and I have both endured hurtful comments, we are mostly exposed to support, love, and comfort by our family and friends both near and far.  Thank  you from the bottom of my heart.

A Meeting with Doctors and Feeling the Highs and Lows

We had a meeting yesterday at the hospital.  I had requested a meeting to review what we know happened to Maya.  There is a lot of fogginess for Hackie and I when it comes to the memory of that day so we were hoping that some of the gaps could be filled in.  We met with my OB, the OB who delivered Maya, the pediatrician, and the head of their department.  Overall, the meeting went well.  There wasn’t anything shocking revealed and there are still more questions than answers.  Here’s what I learned:

-I was actually good at pushing.  For the hour or so that I was pushing, Maya was doing better than she was doing throughout the labor.  I made good progress and was good at bringing her down.  This was news to me.  I was utterly exhausted during that hour and was falling asleep in between contractions.  I thought I was a total failure at being able to push my baby out.  Turns out, she was indeed stuck.

-Eight minutes before she was delivered, they checked her heart rate with the Doppler.  It was nice and strong.  When she came out, she was not breathing and had a very weak heart rate.

-The doctors were just as shocked as we were.  For some reason, I had convinced myself that the doctors knew the fate of Maya as I was being wheeled in for my c-section.  I also thought they had seen this before and maybe weren’t as dumbfounded as we were.  What I learned yesterday is that this does not happen often (especially in that small hospital) and they were, and still are, completely shocked.

-We still have no idea what went wrong.  We continue to wait for the autopsy report.  After yesterday’s meeting, I feel more strongly that it was not my labor and delivery that caused Maya’s death.  It seems as though my labor and delivery were relatively normal and this is just a freak thing that happened.

Though we still do not have the answers we want, the meeting put my mind at ease in some respects and filled in some gaps.  The strangest part of the whole thing was that I was the least emotional person at that table.  I basically led the meeting with my questions and was very business-like.

Afterwards, I tortured myself wondering why I wasn’t more affected by the meeting and the somber look on all the doctors’ faces.  I asked myself, “What is wrong with me that I am not more sad and emotional?”  I want to cry and scream and grieve with every ounce of my soul – but I can’t.  I have become desensitized to the highs and the lows.  I also hate pity.  I’ve dealt with a lot in my life and the last thing I want is for others to feel bad for me.  I am a strong person.  On Maya’s due date, I went to Panera for lunch and lost it.  Everyone who I was with stopped eating and stared at me.  I did not want this to happen at the  meeting yesterday, and I knew that if I lost it, the meeting would turn into a comfort session for me rather than getting the answers to our questions.

I know I will feel the lows again.  And I know that I cannot predict when they will happen.  The purpose of the meeting was to get some answers, and I needed to keep my emotions in check in order for that to happen.  I’m pleased with how it went and it was nice to see the doctors again.  Hackie and I are so blessed to have such compassionate doctors who were clearly affected by Maya’s death.  They have our best interest in mind going forward and I couldn’t be more grateful.