Archive | January 2013

Baby-Loss Family

I feel like I must begin this post by acknowledging and showing appreciation for the three Mamas who nominated me and my blog for a Liebster award.  I am honored and touched.  At this point in time, I am not in the right headspace to follow the directions – answering the questions and nominating others.  I hope you all understand and know just how much it means to me to be recognized.

This morning, as I went through my typical morning routine of checking blogs and facebook, I learned that United Through Pregnancy and Infant Loss, which is a community support group on facebook is hosting Baby-Loss Family day today.  I quickly joined the event and scrolled through the stories.  I shared my precious Maya as I will take any opportunity I can to share my baby with the world.  And then, I started to reflect.  After all, it is what I do best.

We are a family.  Ask any of us and we’d take a one-way ticket out of this club if we were given the opportunity.  However, let’s face it, once your in the baby-loss family, you’re in forever.  When Maya died, I felt so alone.  No one else spent 8 months carrying that baby girl, no one else felt her kick and wiggle, no one else tried so hard to get her here safely, and no one else has the permanent scar that reminds me of what happened.  I felt like a failure, I felt disappointed in myself, and I felt so alone.

Almost immediately after arriving home, I had an email from a friend who had endured a very similar loss a year prior.  In a way, she was my gateway into this family.  She pointed me in the direction of online resources, which led me to other resources.  Soon, I was spending upwards of 6 hours a day reading, searching, and hoping to find stories similar to my own.  I had a need to feel less alone.  I needed this new family.

Now, 7 months, 1 week, and 4 days later, I am comforted by the knowledge that this baby-loss family exists.  I have reconnected with friends in real life who have gone through loss or who have been especially touched/affected by Maya’s story.  I have met new online friends from all over the world who read and comment on my blog, and connect with me on facebook.  I have several blogs that I follow that validate my feelings.  I often find myself nodding along as I read a post.  I feel so reassured that what I’m feeling is ‘normal’ and OK.

Thank you to United Through Pregnancy and Infant Loss for hosting this day.  I have been especially sad this weekend.  Why?  I’m not quite sure.  I’ve come to realize that there will be days when I am more sad than others.  I do not have to have a reason or a specific trigger for crying and feeling sad.  My baby died.  That’s enough of a reason.  Anyway, being reminded of this family that I am a part of has helped bring light to this otherwise dark day.  I am grateful that this family exists and that none of us have to feel alone.

To all baby-loss Mamas who I have crossed paths with in real life or in the online world, and to those who may read here that I do not know about – you are not alone.  We will continue to navigate this road together and I am here for you as you’ve been for me.  I believe our babies are now all angel friends – looking down and smiling because we have found each other through this common bond.

If you are reading here and we have not yet connected, I would love to know who you are.  Comment here, connect with me on facebook, send me an email.  We must stay united and continue to support each other.

Escape Tactics

I am the first to admit that grieving the loss of my baby girl and living with the pain of not having my baby here to mother is my new reality.  This is my life and I have to live it.  Like any tragedy, we as humans must find a way to survive.  There is no end to this grief.  It will be my constant companion, growing louder and softer throughout different stages of my life.  However, like anyone forced to survive, I have come up with strategies, methods, and mechanisms to help me live on each day and continue to find joy wherever I can.

One strategy is escapism – ways to escape reality for just a little while.  Almost immediately after Maya was born and died, we started planning trips.  It was a way to escape, and a way to survive.  First New Hampshire, then New York City, and then Disney.  Yup!  Hackie and I went to Disney World two months after Maya was born and died.  Were we crazy for going to the one place where there are the most babies and young children concentrated in one spot?  Some may think so.  However, we love Disney and being in Disney World is the ultimate escape from reality.  Everyone there faded into the background, and Hackie and I played.  We laughed, we had fun, we escaped.

Every day when I go to work I am escaping.  I love my new job.  I love my students.  I love the school that I work at.  My work is my reprieve.  It is the place where I can stay busy and focus on being the best teacher I can possibly be.  It is the place where I can interact with colleagues who know what happened to Maya, and treat me just the same as they always have.  It is the place where I can stand in front of students who don’t know my past and be whoever I want to be.  It is a place where I can escape.

When I was really little, I loved to read.  Then, in my middle school/high school years, I didn’t really like to read.  College was the worst.  When reading was no longer required, I found my love for it all over again.  It took me about a month after Maya was born and died to be able to focus and concentrate long enough to be able to read a book.  The first book I read had been recommended to me by a nurse at the hospital – When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner.  This book had a huge affect on my grieving process.  It helped me understand my own tragedy.  It helped me gain clarity on the difference between religion and spirituality.  It helped me understand humanity.  It helped me begin to heal.  And, surprisingly, it helped me escape.

After successfully reading that first book, I decided that I was now at a place where I could focus and concentrate long enough to really enjoy a good book.  A colleague had sent me a novel along with a sympathy card.  The story was wonderful and really allowed me to escape into another world.  I realized that I had found a new survival method – escapism through literature.

I have an advantage in that I like all different types of literature – fiction, memoirs, young-adult novels, etc.  Scholastic had a big warehouse sale back in December for teachers.  I went by myself and had the best time picking out new books for my classroom library.  I got an amazing deal and I mostly picked books that I want to read too.  I came home from that sale in the best mood – I had escaped to shop for books, and the thought of escaping while reading those books made me so happy.

I have set a goal to read 50 books in 2013 – that’s about one a week.  I’m thinking about adding a page here on my blog of books I have read so I can keep track.  Once I’ve started a book, I have no problem sitting down and reading (as long as it’s good).  There are times though when I procrastinate starting a new book.  My strategy for avoiding this problem this year is to always have the next book ready to go.  That way, I’m always looking forward to the next book on the pile.  Currently, I’m in the second book of a young-adult trilogy.  After I finish the trilogy, I plan to move to a book my mom got for me written by an advice columnist.

Sometimes I think of my grief as a person – my constant companion.  Sometimes she’s loud and sometimes she’s quiet.  Sometimes, she jumps out and surprises me out of nowhere.  Sometimes, the times when I’m missing Maya the most, she’s comforting.  And sometimes, I need to hide from her.  Sometimes, I just need a break.  Whether it be on a trip, at work, or lost in a good book, occasionally escaping my grief is a necessary means of survival.

 

I Used to Like Roller Coasters…

Yup!  I used to love the thrill of being whipped around, feeling weightless, strapped down, and completely out of control.  I used to love roller coasters – until I ended up on this one.  This one never ends.  For the last 7 months and 4 days, I have been on a roller coaster with no end in sight.  No place to catch my breath and stop screaming for just a short period of time.

I’m so tired.  The constant shift of emotions does not stop.  I have bad days and better days, good weeks and weeks that seem like they will never end.  I perform a 6 hour production every day at school.  My students have no idea what goes on inside my head – and most of my colleagues don’t either.  That’s how it should be.  At this point, I should be able to function effectively and do my job well – and I am.  But it’s so exhausting.

Back in December, Hackie and I took our dog, Halee to the vet for her annual check-up.  She received several routine vaccinations that she had gotten before.  Almost immediately, I knew something was wrong.  Halee became very lethargic and though she never lost consciousness, she was unresponsive (wouldn’t look up).  She was having an allergic reaction.  After some antihistamines and about 10 minutes, she was wagging her tail and on her way to acting like herself.  In those 10 minutes, I spiraled into panic and extreme upset.  Thank goodness my husband was there.  All I could think of was that I couldn’t handle another loss.  I needed my dog.  It was awful.

I’m on my way to understanding that grief is a roller coaster and that it will never end.  I get that there will be ups and downs, long climbs and sudden drops.  I will forever live with the pain of losing my daughter.  When it gets unbearable is when the roller coaster jerks unexpectedly.  You know the sharp hairpin turns that you don’t see coming that leave you with awful whiplash?  That’s what the vet visit was – an awful unexpected jerk that was just plain horrible.

Traveling the road to another baby has been a roller coaster in and of itself.  Each month hopeful.  Each month convinced that this month will be it.  Each month new symptoms that surely mean it’s happened.  Each month extreme disappointment when I realize my hopes and dreams will have to continue to wait.  I’m so tired.  Again, the roller coaster of emotions – fear, eager anticipation, frustration, and then guilt.  Guilt that perhaps I am too focused on getting pregnant again and not properly grieving the loss of the baby I already had.

I have come to realize that the more time that passes, the more unpredictable my grief becomes.  My sadness can be triggered in the most unexpected moments.  It used to be that I would replay the events of my labor and delivery in the car on the way to and from work.  Now, it does not follow a pattern.  It usually plays through my head once a day – but I never know when that will be.  My sadness is now connected to a feeling of disappointment.  My life is not what I want it to be.  It’s not what it is supposed to be.  As more time passes and the length of time between Maya and baby #2 increases, I grow more and more disappointed that I don’t have what I want and that it’s not in my control.

In the past month, Hackie and I have done some traveling.  Just after Christmas, we went to Washington DC for 4 days.  Hackie had never been and I hadn’t been in a long time.  We had so much fun.  Our days were packed with activities and we ate some amazing food.  We talked about Maya and about our future – fantasizing about traveling with our children.  We returned feeling refreshed, recharged, and ready for the new year.  We were also in the “convinced I’m pregnant” stage.  When we returned and found out I was not, the high I had been feeling shifted to a low.  I went back to feeling tired and disappointed.

Last weekend, Hackie and I flew down to Florida.  My parents are there for a few weeks and we needed a dose of warm weather.  The weather was gorgeous.  We had a wonderful time sitting on the beach, swimming, going to the aquarium, and enjoying my parents’ company.  We wrote Maya’s name in the sand and fantasized about coming back next year with a little baby and taking pictures on that beach.  I came back with a nice sunburn, a fresh batch of vitamin D, and a lot of energy.  Being in Florida made me realize that I probably have a case of the winter blues.  This is probably why I’ve been so tired.

So, Florida was an up, Washington DC was an up, getting unexpected gifts from friends is an up, having a great day with Hackie is an up, getting a look from Halee where it’s clear she is saying “I love you” is an up.  I feel them all and I try so hard to soak up the moment and to milk every ounce of joy that I can out of the feeling.  The lows are less predictable and are often hard to get past.  Walking by the empty nursery, seeing an infant car seat base in the car parked next to me at work, watching the young couple play ‘pass the baby’ while they take turns bowling.  Most of the time, the low moments are caused when I’m reminded of what I do not have.

Currently, I grieve two losses.  I grieve the loss of my precious Maya, which is something I will do for the rest of my life.  I also grieve the loss of the life I had envisioned for myself.  A life where taking care of myself and Hackie comes second to taking care of our child.  A life filled with sleepless nights, dirty diapers, tons of laundry, and most importantly lots of love and laughter.  I will never get my Maya back.  I know that.  However, I will get that life I had envisioned.  Someday I will take care of my child here on Earth.  Someday the grief of losing my baby girl will sit elsewhere in my brain as my primary role shifts from mourning the loss of my angel to caring for new life here on Earth.  Someday the roller coaster will feel different.

Seven Months

Dear Sweet Maya,

It has been too long since I’ve written here.  Though it seems fitting that my first post of 2013 is my seven month letter to you.  Exactly seven months after I found out I was pregnant, I gave birth to you.  Today is very symbolic.  After today, you will have been gone longer than we knew you were there.  It makes me sad.  These last seven months have gone by faster than the seven months I knew I was carrying you.  This makes me sad too.  I find myself wanting to go backwards.  The more time that passes, the farther I feel from you.  I have to work so hard to keep your memory alive, and to remind others that you were and still are very much a part of our lives.

I miss you sweet girl.  Every day, I feel like I can’t possibly miss you any more and then the next day my longing for you becomes stronger.  The longer we go without you, the more I miss you.  I wish you were here.  I wish my life were different.  I want so badly to care for you.  I want to change your diaper, give you a bath, dress you in adorable clothes, read to you, and sing you to sleep.  I want to kiss your chubby feet and laugh alongside you as you discover new things.  I want the life I was supposed to have.

Winter has set in and we’ve had a few good snows.  I fantasize about taking you down to the park to go sledding.  Daddy and I would have taken turns holding you on our laps as we rode down the hill.  I would have loved taking picture of you all bundled up – your little nose all red.  I think you would have really loved being outside.

I’m sure you would have been crawling by now.  We would have baby-proofed the house and Halee would have followed you around as you crawled from room to room.  I think she misses you too.  She lays on the floor of your nursery almost every day and I see a longing in her eyes.  She knows that Mommy and Daddy miss you.  She feels our pain.  You would have loved your furry sister and she would have been so protective of you.

By now you’d be developing a little personality.  You’d have likes and dislikes – oh, how I wish I knew what those were.  I think you would have laughed a lot, but I also think you would have been a little curious trouble maker.  Just like Mommy and Daddy – I think you would have loved to try new things and take risks.  It would have been so fun to watch you grow, develop, and learn.

We are almost halfway through the winter – two and a half seasons without you here.  It’s not getting any easier.  In fact, as time marches on we discover more of what you are missing – more of what we are missing without you here.  There are more events you should be at, more plans that should be different, more reminders of what life should be.

Maya, I hope you know just how much I love you.  You have made Mommy and Daddy’s love for each other stronger.  You have helped me to see just how precious life is.  You have made me look at life through a different lens and understand what is truly important.

I miss you my sweet girl.

I love you always and forever.

Love always,

Mommy