Archive | February 2013

Doing Your Taxes After Your Baby Dies

I must apologize first for neglecting this blog.  Writing has been so therapeutic for me and I always have the desire to write.  The problem that I am having is that finding the time and level of focus required has become difficult.  I have several posts in my head – they are coming, I promise.

I feel that this post is important for several reasons.  First, I want to get my own thoughts and feelings out on the subject.  Also, I feel this can be one of the most educational posts I write, and I am hoping that at least one other family will benefit from my story.

For our taxes this year, Hackie and I decided to seek the help of a “professional”.  I will  not identify where we went, but it’s a very popular tax-filing business, so to speak.  We sat down with the gentleman and immediately felt uncomfortable.  We explained the changes that took place in 2012 and then dropped the bomb:

Us: “We had a baby.”

Tax Man: “Congratulations”

Us: “She died shortly after she was born.”

Begin even more awkward appointment.  We asked the question – “Can we claim her as a dependent?”  He turned to his trusty book clearly rattled by this unusual(?) set of circumstances.  He quickly told us that he thought we could and nodded in delight of his findings.  Hackie: “But we never got a social security number for her”.  The tax man’s face changed, he slammed his book closed, and stated, “Well that stops us right there.”  He advised us to move forward and try to get a SSN for her.  We could then file an amendment on our return.  I felt very uneasy about this whole thing and frustrated that we were told by more than one person that getting a SSN for Maya was unnecessary.

The appointment proceeded in all its uncomfortableness and we got to the end.  We were told that we owe, AND that if we could claim Maya, we would not owe.  Talk about a punch in the gut.  We were missing some things so we left unfinished and very frustrated/upset.  After a week of putting off the follow-up appointment, we decided to discontinue with awkward tax man and find a different means of filing our tax return.  We also continued to ponder this SSN business.  Something just didn’t seem right to me – get a SSN for a child who lived 9 hours just to be able to claim her on our tax return????

Hackie turned to his Aunt who is an accountant and with whom we are very close.  He explained the situation and she offered to do some research for us.  Within about 10 minutes she texted Hackie this, which she found on the IRS website:

Born and died in 2012.  If your child was born and died in 2012, and you do not have an SSN for the child, you may attach a copy of the child’s birth certificate, death certificate, or hospital records instead. The document must show the child was born alive. If you do this, enter “DIED” in column (2) of line 6c of your Form 1040 or Form 1040A.

Take that Mr. Tax Man!  My first thought after seeing this was an immense amount of relief.  Hackie and I were very stuck and torn about whether or not to get a SSN.  After relief, I felt somewhat stupid for not doing the research myself.  In the end, this news really lifted my spirits.  Sure, I am happy and relieved that being able to claim Maya will make it so we do not owe the government money.  However, this whole experience and outcome stands for so much more…

Often times I look at my life now and am bothered by how, on the surface, it looks so similar to my old life – my life before Maya.  On a daily basis, I wonder what I would be doing if she were here, how our weekends would be different, and how the daily mundane tasks like running a quick errand would not be the same.  When I reflect on the new normal versus the old normal, I sometimes feel like my precious baby girl faded from our lives.  We planned for her and counted on our lives changing for her, and then she was gone.  The tax ordeal and the thought of not being able to claim our daughter again made me feel like she’s just faded away, remembered by only a handful of people.  Getting the news that we could claim her without a SSN made Hackie and I both feel like she matters.  She matters not only to us and our family and friends, but to the government.

In all the baby loss things I have read and communities I belong to, I have yet to find anything related to taxes.  I’m hoping that someone benefits from reading about our experience.  In 2012, we had a baby.  Though that baby lived for 9 short hours, she was born alive and she lived.  She mattered.  She matters.

Eight Months

My Dearest Maya,

I can’t believe so much time has passed.  I think this is the first time since the day you were born that the 16th falls on a Saturday – so I counted the weeks: 35 weeks since you were born and left us far too soon.  I carried you for 34 weeks, 6 days.  You have now been gone longer than you were with us and that breaks my heart.  It reminds me that I will live the rest of my life without you here and that time must pass.  I want so badly to go back to that day 35 weeks ago – I would have held you longer, given you more kisses, and taken more pictures of your beautiful face.

It’s now the middle of winter, which is always a tough time of year.  I can’t help but wonder how having you here would have made it more fun.  Adorable sweaters, cute little hats and mittens, and a little red nose would make this time of year not so bad.  We had our first major blizzard last weekend.  I thought about what it would have been like to dress you up as a little snow bunny and take pictures of you out in the snow.  I thought about holding you up at the window watching Daddy shovel as you marveled at the pretty snowflakes falling.  I thought about us all being cozy and warm inside the house together grateful for some extra family days at home.

We’ve passed what would have been your first Valentine’s Day.  I would have dressed you in the most adorable pink outfit and put pink bows in your hair.  You would have made Mommy and Daddy some kind of Valentine craft while at day care and we would have loved all over you when we got home.  We also would have given you some kind of Valentine themed toy or book.  It would have been a special day.

I imagine at this point you’d be trying lots of different kinds of foods, crawling all over the place and possibly pulling yourself up.  You’d be discovering new things every day and babbling all the time.  I think you’d love your room.  Every time I walk by I think of you looking at the beautiful mural your Daddy painted you.  I wonder if you’d have had a favorite character that you enjoyed looking at.

I hope you know how much you are loved and missed.  We think of you all the time and every day we find more and more that reminds us of you.  I’ve noticed that most mornings the sky is pink when I leave for work.  I think that’s you saying good morning and I hope you hear me saying good morning back.  As we slowly move into spring and the flowers start to grow, I know I will feel you around us more and more.

I miss you Maya.  I love you so much and am forever blessed that you are and will always be part of my life.

Love and miss you always and forever!

Love,

Mommy

Making a Change

I had my annual appointment with my fabulous OB/GYN yesterday.  I was very anxious and emotional.  I thought I would be in there pregnant before being due for my annual.  My doctor was amazing as usual and helped put my mind at ease.  She validated my feelings and concerns around my thyroid and together, we came up with a plan that I feel comfortable with.

One thing she asked me about was my diet.  I threw out the wide range of excuses that I use for not eating well – the main one being that the bad foods I eat make me happy.  (Awful, I know.)  She asked if I’ve ever thought about going gluten free.  Though I’ve thought about it and even tried some gluten free cereals and cookies, I never jumped fully on that bandwagon because many gluten free products contain soy, which is toxic to the thyroid.  She told me that she’s done a lot of research recently and that gluten has been closely linked to decreased thyroid function and fertility.  She suggested I try it, assuring me I would feel better.

I left my appointment feeling reassured and optimistic.  I had a lot to think about.  I told Hackie how the appointment went and we discussed our options.  I told him what my Dr. said about gluten and he jumped on board almost immediately.  I told him I wanted to do more research and really think about what it would mean for us to go gluten free.  We went out to dinner and both ate a lot of bread – perhaps we knew what was going to happen next.

This morning, I got up feeling a sense of enlightenment.  There are lots of things in this world that make me happy.  I do not need to overindulge in food to feel joy and happiness.  I need to eat, first and foremost, to live.  Maya taught me that tomorrow is not a guarantee and that life can change in an instant.  The only way for her to live on is through me, and I need to live the healthiest life I can for her.  I need to feel my best and be my best every day – that’s what she would have wanted.

I started researching and quickly found that nearly 100% of people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis have at least gluten sensitivity, if not gluten intolerance.  My basic understanding is that the gluten increases the thyroid antibodies, which are what attack my thyroid gland and decrease its natural function.  My first reaction upon learning this was to be really pissed.  I’ve discussed my thyroid problems with several doctors and none of them ever recommended I go gluten free.  I feel like I fell victim to western medicine – the idea that a prescription drug will fix everything!  Then, I was pissed at myself for not doing this research sooner.  I am so grateful to my OB for opening my eyes to something so simple that has the potential to make a huge difference.

Hackie and I headed to Trader Joe’s and stocked up.  We both agreed that, to avoid feeling deprived and resentful, we needed lots of foods that we know we will like.  We realized that there is very little that we have to completely give up and that many of the foods that we like are naturally gluten free.  When we got home, we cleaned out the fridge and the pantry.  I threw the half a pan of amazing brownies that were left in the trash and we compiled two bags of food to give away.  Our fridge and pantry now look lighter and healthier.

We were told we would feel better in a week.  I’m looking forward to feeling the effects of going gluten free.  I know it will not be easy and I know there will be times when I am tempted by certain foods.  I am beyond grateful that my dear husband is doing this with me and is as excited (if not more) by the idea of living a healthier lifestyle.  There have been times before when I’ve dramatically changed my eating and it works really well and then I fall off course.  This is the first time Hackie and I are doing something together.  This is the first time we have literally cleaned out the foods that are off limits.  This is the first time it feels like a lifestyle change and not a diet.  This is the first time it will work and it will stick.

I’m doing this for myself, my husband, Maya, and my future children.  I fully believe it will make a difference and can’t wait to come back here and report on my progress!