Tag Archive | bad days

It’s Been a While…

Wow.  It’s been quite a while since I have sat down to write.  I’ve missed this space.  I’ve missed bringing my grief to the surface and writing about how much I miss Maya.  I have a lot I want to catch up on and I finally have some time this week.  My goal is to write a new post each day recapping the last 6 weeks or so.  I plan to write about Maya’s garden dedication and birthday, the Compassionate Friends Conference that Hackie and I attended, and the end of the school year.  First though, I feel it necessary to write about why I have been MIA from this blog.

Once upon a time, I worked as a camp counselor every summer.  Starting when I was 19, I worked at three different camps over the course of seven summers.  The most recent was a summer arts program that I worked at summers 07 through 10.  In 2011, I was all set to go back to my beloved summer arts program, but was not given the opportunity.  Last summer I had a baby.  As it became apparent that I was not getting pregnant in time to have another summer baby, I began to think about this summer.  This was back in February.  Actually, that’s not really how it went.  I was working on the show at my school and those around me started to bring up the summer.  The director I was working with happens to be married to the camp director and she basically told me that if I was going to go back, I had to make a decision.  In the end, the decision was made for me.  Between my mother and my husband, I was convinced that I would be crazy not to go back to the summer arts program I once held very near and dear to my heart.  They reminded me how quickly I become bored and that having something to do the month of July would be really good.

I met with the camp director and felt good about my decision to return.  There was a small part of me that wondered if it would be a good idea to return part time as I knew what long and exhausting days I was in for, but I ignored that instinct.  In March, I was asked if I wanted to direct Shrek with the middle school campers.  I was over the moon thrilled.  I saw Shrek on Broadway and fell in love with the show.  I was beyond excited for this opportunity and any hesitation I had about returning full time disappeared.

Time carried on and I made it through the end of the school year.  With so many hurricane/snow days, the end of the school year overlapped with the beginning of camp.  This was a big challenge.  School ended on a Tuesday.  The weekend prior to that I had to be at camp all weekend.  We had the weekend of Maya’s dedication and birthday, a full school week, a weekend working at camp, the last 2 days of school, and then right to camp.  I worked 11 days straight and I was so tired.  It was very hard to have no time off between school and camp.

The program is five weeks long.  I struggled.  The days were longer than my school days and the driving distance was more than double.  I was tired and I was having a tough time connecting with the staff.  I was frustrated with myself because there was a point in time when I loved the program so much I would cry right along with the campers when it was over.  This year was so different.  I was different.  I remembered that it took me about 6 weeks to adjust to being at school again after Maya died.  This was a similar set of circumstances.  It was not a new environment, but I had to adjust to being there as the new me.  I, again, had to figure out a way to function and teach and direct alongside my grief.  Some of the staff knew what had happened to me last summer and some were brand new and didn’t know me at all.  As usual, there were circumstances where it was the elephant in the room.

Week 3 has always been the toughest week at camp, and I think that is the case for everyone.  The fatigue starts to catch up with you and the end does not feel near.  Week 3 was very tough for me.  It was right after the weekend of the conference, which I will write about later this week.  I was in tears just about every morning because I did not want to go.  I couldn’t help but think over and over, “I should be at home with my one year old.  I should not be working.”  It was another test of my emotional stamina and I simply had to wait for the sadness to pass.

This past week was the last week of camp – show week.  There is a different show every night.  Shrek went up Tuesday and was truly incredible.  I worked with an amazing cast of 30 fantastic and talented kids.  I was so filled with pride that everything else leading up to that night went away.  I was so grateful that I had the opportunity and was proud of myself that I accomplished what I set out to do.

Now that camp is over and I can officially say I am on summer vacation, I can reflect on how much I grew these last five weeks.  To go back after two summers off and after losing Maya was quite an undertaking (I realize now).  In the beginning, I expected it to be the same, and I expected to get the same level of fulfillment that I once did.  While camp did not meet my expectations and I had some rough and emotional moments, I made it out the other end.  There is no greater feeling than making it through a tough time and coming out the other side.  This was another steep climb up the mountain that is my journey through grief.  Though I stumbled a few times, I made it up.

There are 4 weeks left to summer vacation.   I have some exciting trips planned and some much-needed downtime at home.  I worked so hard these last five weeks.  I am grateful that I had the opportunity to go back and I am grateful the program lasts only the month of July :)

This Time Last Year

I have been spending a lot of time thinking about this time last year.  I know exactly how pregnant I was and I remember specific details of what was going on at the time.  This period of reflection started for me in anticipation of Mother’s Day.  Over the course of the last few weeks, there has been a lot said in the baby loss community in regards to Mother’s Day – strategies for getting through it, words of encouragement that we are mothers even though our babies are not physically with us.  I ignored most of it.  Mother’s Day was planned for me.  Every year my mom’s family (aunts, cousins, etc) gather for Mother’s Day.  This year, it was decided to also do the unveiling of my grandfathers gravestone (a Jewish tradition) since the whole family would be together anyway.  I didn’t have a choice – I had to be there.  So I didn’t think much of Mother’s Day until a few days before.

Last year, Mother’s Day was so different.  I was exactly 30 weeks pregnant and we hosted the family gathering at our house because many of the members of my family hadn’t seen the house and we wanted to show off the gorgeous mural Hackie had painted in the nursery.  All spring, we pushed to have things around the house done by Mother’s Day – and we did!  It was a beautiful day and I remember so vividly thinking about this year’s Mother’s Day and how wonderful it would be to get to have my own baby at the family gather and to get to pose in the traditional mom picture.

Of course, this year’s Mother’s Day was nothing like what I had pictured and as the day grew closer I began to feel very sad as I focused on what life was like one year ago.  I approached the day with this attitude: No matter what happens, the day will end and it will be one more thing that I lived through.  The day started at the cemetery and I really did not know what to expect.  To those who have never been to a Jewish unveiling, it’s basically funeral part 2.  My grandfather died 10 days after I found out I was pregnant with Maya.  He was 88 and a truly wonderful man.  The unveiling was hard – very hard.  I cried harder than I have cried in a very long time.  I tried so hard to focus on my grandfather but so many of the words read applied to my sweet Maya.  We left stones that spelled out her name on his grave and I spoke to him – asking him to protect my sweet baby and keep her safe.

After the cemetery, we all gathered at my mom’s house for food and togetherness.  I couldn’t eat any of the food, but I was able to enjoy my family’s company.  We took lots of family pictures that included Maya bear.  And I made it a point to be in the traditional mom picture.  All in all, it was a hard day, but it wasn’t a bad day.  I was recognized as a mother, which is all I can really ask for.  I received many messages, texts, and emails.  I got two beautiful cards, flowers, and new bracelets from my amazing husband.  And I received a beautiful gift and card from my mom.  I think I was long overdue for an intense day of grieving.  Though I was not prepared to cry as hard as I did, I needed it.  I needed to feel the sadness in order to feel close to my daughter.

Now that Mother’s Day has passed and I have had a few days to recover, I continue to reflect on this time last year.  It was such a busy time and it was filled with such excitement – my birthday, my baby shower, getting the crib, putting the finishing touches on the nursery, frequenting Babies R Us – I remember it all.  It brings about a new wave of sadness on this journey through grief.  All of these memories signify that Maya’s birthday is so close – 4 weeks and 3 days away.  I am proud to say that I am looking forward to her birthday.  We are planning on dedicating her garden and have invited our closest family and friends to celebrate her life with us.  I think it will be a beautiful day and will bring some peace and closure to the year.

What I’m not looking forward to is after her birthday.  When the year of firsts is over and we begin our second year without our precious daughter.  Will it be easier?  Harder?  What will we do?  Will others have expected us to “move on”?  Will we have our rainbow baby?  There are so many unknowns.  But that’s all this journey has been – unknowns.  I walk this path so blindly never knowing what to expect or where or when my grief and sadness will become louder.  After Maya’s birthday we will continue to march forward as best we can.  We will overcome obstacles, make huge leaps, and fall a few times too.  The one thing I can be sure of is that I will continue to have the support of my incredible husband.  “Together” has become the theme of our year and it is so comforting to know that he is always by my side.

Sadness

I’ve been neglecting this blog.  I think about writing on a daily basis.  I read several baby loss blogs per day and nod along feeling better that I’m not the only one living through life after loss.  My hope is that I have loyal readers who nod along when they read my posts, which brings me to the guilty feeling I’ve had about not writing.  Almost daily, I plan to write.  I have several posts composed in my head, and then when it comes time to sit down and write, I don’t want to.  I think I’ve figured out why, which I’ll get to in a moment.

For over a month, I had a post in my head.  A post about “acceptance” (though I hate that word).  A post about turning a corner in my journey through grief.  A post about feeling better, more productive, and happy.  For now, that post will have to wait.  I’m no longer feeling that way.

I’m feeling so sad.  It has been nine months.  Summer changed to fall changed to winter and now spring (though it doesn’t feel that way).  Holidays have come and gone.  Days, weeks, and months pass by.  Nine months.  Nine months without Maya.  Nine months trying to make the best of a life I wasn’t supposed to have.  Nine months dreaming of what could have been – what should be.  What I’m struggling with most is how to balance my feelings.  I miss Maya terribly.  I long for the life I was supposed to have with her.  I also want so badly to be pregnant.  I never thought it would take this long, and it is beyond frustrating.

So here I am.  So stuck and so sad.  I find myself wanting a break from it all.  I think about the movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and I wish for just one day I could have a break from my memory.  This sounds awful, but this is a place for honest, raw feelings, and sometimes that’s how I feel.  I will never forget my precious Maya, but with the memory of her comes this heart-wrenching grief that is exhausting.  This is why I haven’t written.  I’m crying as I write this.  To write, I have to go to my darkest place.  I have to feel the sadness in every inch of my body and completely focus on it.  I haven’t had the strength to do that lately.

I want so badly to mother Maya here on Earth, and I can’t.  I want to have a living child that I can take care of.  The moment Maya was born, I felt the love that every mother describes – the love for a beautiful life that I helped create.  I still have that love for Maya but I’m limited in the ways in which I can show it.  I am so ready to mother a child here on Earth.  I read so many stories of women getting pregnant with their rainbows very soon after their loss.  I thought for sure that would be me.  I feel like life is laughing in my face making me feel like the biggest fool for thinking that I can plan out and then execute the life I want.  We have now been trying for 7 months with no luck.  Now, the reality I am facing is another holiday season with no baby.  A full calendar year with no baby.  It makes me so sad.

So where do I go from here?  Was I a fool for thinking I had turned a corner in my journey?  I don’t think so.  I have said from the beginning that grief is not linear.  I have been in this dark place before.  I turned a corner, felt more positive, and then turned another one.  This is how it will always be as I live through my grief and sadness for the rest of my life.  As I’ve said before, it’s my constant companion – growing louder and softer on a daily basis.

I was hesitant to write today.  I actually stayed at school to write this because I knew if I went home it wasn’t going to happen.  Though I had to dig deep, cry, and be brutally honest with my feelings, writing this has helped.  I need to remember that exposing my sadness for the world to see helps me acknowledge and release those feelings.

I will be OK.  I am OK.  This is my life now.  Some days and weeks will be more sad than others and I am learning how to live through them.

 

 

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.

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.

Surviving the Holdiays 2012

**Before I begin this post, I just want to mention that I have updated Maya’s name gallery.  It gives me such joy to see Maya’s name written in creative ways and I am so grateful to those who have taken the time to do it and to share it with me.  Please check out the page!

And now for today’s post…

I knew the holidays would be tough this year.  Last year, I was 10 weeks pregnant on Christmas day.  Hackie and I knew very well that it would be the last Christmas where we indulged each other because this year all our efforts would be put into making the holiday magical for our new baby.  My family celebrates Hanukkah.  When I took the big family Hanukkah picture last year, I mentioned that this year there would be a new little one in the picture and I told my mom that she would get the honor of holding her new grandbaby.  A year ago, we made big plans and had great anticipation for what this year’s holidays would be like.  Today, Christmas Eve, I am not only missing Maya terribly, I am devastated to not be able to see any of those plans come to fruition.  All of those plans, all of that eager excitement and anticipation died with her.

Up until recently, I was comforted with the knowledge that surely we would be pregnant by now.  Surely, the weight of our first holiday season without Maya would be lessened by the hope of a new baby.  I guess I was being slightly naive.  I am not pregnant yet and I am tormented by the idea that if it takes much longer, we may be enduring a second holiday season with grief alone and no living child to share the magic with.

I’ve been having good weeks and bad weeks.  This past week was really tough.  In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, I felt quite numb.  When I turned the corner to go down the road to school on Monday, it hit me hard.  Still, the shock of this tragedy came in fits and spurts.  I feel like my body was protecting my brain from feeling the horror all at once.  By Friday, I was relieved to have arrived at the end of the week.  Still, on the day before vacation – a day that since I started school as a child was always so joyous and exciting, I was feeling so sad.  I was not excited for vacation.  I would rather be at work today, skipping vacation and the holidays all together.  It all came out at the holiday concert.  Our chorus teacher announced that they were all going to sing “Lean On Me” dedicated to the families in Newtown.  I made it through about two thirds of the song before I lost it and had to leave.  There were only a few who saw me and, with the help of a caring guidance counselor, I was able to pull myself together and get through the rest of the day.

Yesterday was my family’s big Hanukkah party.  This is the first time we all were together since I had Maya.  The last time we were all together was Mother’s day, when I was 30 weeks pregnant.  While I was looking forward to seeing my family, I didn’t want to go.  It’s the times when the whole family is together that it is ever so clear that someone is missing.  As soon as Hackie and I pulled out of the driveway to head to my mom’s, I started to cry.  When we got to my mom’s and were setting up the room so that all 20 of us could fit in the family picture, I started to cry.  I remembered my Aunt’s tradition – every year since 2004, we have written down what we are thankful for and what we wish for in the coming year.  We put our papers in a little pouch and they are saved year after year.  I’ve always enjoyed looking back and smiling with the satisfaction that my wish came true.  In 2008, I drew a diamond ring hoping Hackie would propose in the coming year, which he did.  I can only imagine what I wrote down last year and the thought of looking at it was too much to bear.  Every time I thought about it, I started to cry.  As my family started to arrive and each of my aunts, uncles, and cousins hugged me just a little longer than usual, I started to cry.  I wondered if I would be able to stop being so weepy.  Eventually, the crying subsided and I was able to really enjoy myself.  I wrote down what I was thankful for and what I was wishing for and stuck it in the pouch with the others.  I decided not to read last year’s paper.  As I always do, I took charge of the family picture.  I placed my Maya Bear (which I’ll have to post about another time) on my mom’s lap – where Maya should have been.  It was a very hard day.  Surrounded by loved ones and comforted with the hope that next year’s party will be different, I survived.

Today, Hackie and I will head to his parent’s to be together.  Growing up, Christmas was always different for me.  Some years, my mom did her best to fulfill my need to be like all the other kids in my class and got us a Christmas tree.  Some years, I traveled to my Dad’s and celebrated the holiday with him and my family out there.  Some years, I hung out with my mom and didn’t do much of anything.  In the last 4 years, Hackie and I have made our own traditions.  I always say that Christmas is his holiday and so I let him pretty much call the shots.  We spoil each other and the dog.  We’ve always gotten a tree and played Christmas music while decorating.  Last year, which was our first Christmas in our new house, Hackie decorated the front of our house and it was so beautiful.  I’ve really enjoyed celebrating this holiday with him and coming up with new traditions for our little family.

This year, we weren’t sure what to do.  I wanted to be supportive of my husband and his favorite holiday so I defaulted to him.  I told him that if he wanted to get a tree and decorate, we would.  If he wanted to do presents, we would.  If he wanted to do nothing, I’d be OK with that too.  It took a while to figure it out, but it eventually became clear.  We purchased a hot pink tree that’s small and put it in front of our Maya wall.  We’ve gotten a few ornaments as gifts and will purchase one new one a year in honor of our angel.  We did not decorate or get a large tree.  We are taking a trip later this week and decided that would be our gift to each other.  We decided not to purchase gifts for others and asked that none be given to us.  Instead, we decided that we would collect donations for Cradle to Crayons, which is an organization we are volunteering at in January.  We will also be purchasing some items that would have been appropriate for a six month old little girl and will donate them in memory of Maya.

We decided to spend Christmas day as just us and Halee.  We need to be home and it’s too hard to host our parents, which was the original plan.  I’m not quite sure yet how we are going to spend the day.  I think we are going to wait and see how we feel and let the day unfold.  We are thinking about releasing some balloons for are angel and we may go bowling in the evening, which is one of our favorite things to do together.  We will survive the day together.

Yes.  It totally 100% sucks that Hackie and I look at this year’s holidays as something to get through rather than enjoy.  However, I have come to realize that traditions can be paused and getting down on myself for not enjoying the holidays this year is not going to do anyone any good.  Next year, the holidays will be different.  I’m not sure how they will look and I’m not making any plans, but I know they will be different as another year will have gone by.

As hard as this has been, I continue to be comforted by the love and support I have received, especially from my husband.  He is my backbone and I am blessed to have him by my side so I do not have to navigate this road alone.

If you are grieving this holiday season, I wish you peace and comfort.

 

Happy Birthday Mama!

I have been neglecting my blog, and I really don’t want to.  It’s been two weeks since I last wrote and I’ve thought about writing every day.  I’ve been somewhat uninspired and I’ve also been lacking energy to do much of anything.  Now of course I have about five posts running through my head.  However, today’s post comes on a special day and is for one very special person.  It’s my Mama’s birthday!

My mom is a pretty incredible person.  She is genuinely happy – no matter what.  My happiness at the core come from her.  She raised me to find the joy in a situation no matter how difficult it was.  She taught me how to see things from multiple perspectives, how to give people the benefit of the doubt, and how to remain optimistic in the darkest of times.  My mom puts everyone before herself and values family more than anyone I know.  She is the epitome of gratitude.

When I was in college, I had a rough time.  I often felt like I didn’t fit in, and the typical college lifestyle didn’t appeal to me.  When I started dating Hackie in the middle of my freshman year, I fit in even less because I was in a committed relationship.  Still, I stayed focused and overall pretty happy.  The reason I was there was to become a teacher and I knew I was getting a great education.  It all caught up with me Junior year though when I started experiencing severe panic attacks.  My genuinely happy self hid and I was so frustrated.  I felt like I couldn’t get a handle on my own thoughts and emotions.  I felt completely out of control.  Naturally, it was my mom to the rescue.  She reminded me of all the crazy phases I went through as a young girl and how they were all just that – phases.  She reminded me that this was another phase and that it too would pass.  She reminded me that I did not live in this dark place, but that I was just visiting and, no matter how long it took, I would come out the other end.  When I reflect back on that phase of my life, I think of how calm my mom was.  Her calmness at a time when I was feeling such high levels of anxiety was exactly what I needed to get through and eventually past this phase of my life.

When Maya died, my mom was right there – shocked and devastated just like the rest of us.  However, she was devastated first and foremost for me.  It was probably two weeks before she grieved for her own loss of her granddaughter.  She helped take care of me as I recovered from my c-section and brainstormed things we could do to help pass the time.  She simply made herself available.  We spent a lot of time together and she was, and still is, so strong.  She listened as I talked for hours.  She never judged.  She gave me exactly what I needed without me having to ask.  I would not have survived these past (almost) 6 months without her.

I have said before that my mom’s strength is contagious.  Again, in true Mama fashion, she has helped me remain optimistic in the darkest time of my life.  While some might argue that any mother would be supportive and amazing in a time like this, my mom does it with absolute perfection.  She is and has always been my backbone, and I am eternally grateful.

My mom is so inspiring.  Little girls often say “I want to be just like my mommy when I grow up”.  I still feel that way.

Happy Birthday Mama!  I love you!

The Holidays, etc…

These past two weeks have gone by really fast.  They’ve been productive, I’ve been feeling better physically, I’m sleeping really well, and Hackie and I are very much in sync with each other.  Overall, life has been going smoothly and I think that helps time move.  However, I’m not all that thrilled at how fast these past two weeks have gone.  I feel like the holidays are fast approaching and I’m not ready.  I feel like I’m in a car, driving head first into Thanksgiving, trying desperately to come to a screeching halt and realizing that my brakes don’t work.  (If that doesn’t paint you a visual picture of how I feel, I’m not sure what will.)

Before I get to and then get through Thanksgiving, I have to get through tomorrow – I’m dreading it.  Tomorrow is the 16th and Maya’s 5 month birthday / angelversary.  It also marks one year since my positive pregnancy test.  For the past two weeks, I think at least once a day “at this time last year, I was pregnant but I didn’t know it”.  Starting tomorrow, I will think about what it felt like to get the positive test, to know that I was growing a human, to get excited about telling our parents and friends, to know that my life was changing forever.  I remember that day so well – it was busy, but so exciting.  Now, I will spend my days thinking, “at this time last year, I was pregnant and so eager and excited”.  I will remember how naive I was at this time last year.  I will think fondly of all the memories that go along with my pregnancy.  I will reflect on how different I am now and obsess over how long it will be before I can feel that level of joy and anticipation again.  Tomorrow will be a tough day.  I know that.  Having to work will help – I think.  Knowing that the day will end will help.  Hackie and I have planned a date for tomorrow night so I’m hoping that will make it a little easier to get through.

Thanksgiving is heavily weighted and I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do.  First, it’s my favorite holiday.  It sucks because I’m not looking forward to it and I can’t get excited about it this year.  I’m actually dreading it and trying to figure out strategies for getting through it.  Last Thanksgiving, we told everyone close to us that we were expecting.  We started with my parents, then Hackie’s parents, and then the rest of our families and closest friends.  Everyone was so excited and we were thrilled at how well our plans of telling everyone went.  Thanksgiving day, I woke up to my mom on the phone with the hospital – my grandfather had fallen in the middle of the night.  He hadn’t been doing well and had been in and out of the hospital.  He died that Saturday.  He was 88 and his body was failing his brilliant mind.  Still it was a great loss for our family and I was so sad that he wouldn’t get to meet his great-grandchild.  The roller coaster of emotions that weekend was hard to bear.  However, I was glad that I could tell my family some good news in a time of such sadness.  My cousin put it best when she wrote, “when one door of happiness closes, another opens” – Little did we know…

I remember making a comment last Thanksgiving of how excited I was that there would be another little one joining the table in a year.  This would have been Maya’s first major holiday, and I would have shared my excitement with her.  She would be at such a fun age, and it would have been so fun to watch everyone in the family ooh and ah over her cuteness.

My positive pregnancy test and announcement.  The death of my grandfather.  Our first major holiday with no Maya.  It’s going to be very hard.  I know that.  I do not know how I will feel that day.  Hackie and I will be at my mom’s and my step–siblings and nephews will be there too.  I have already told my mom that I reserve the right to not sit at the table.  I have learned that in this journey called grief, I cannot predict how I will feel and I need to take what I need.  The last thing I want to do is ruin everyone else’s holiday and/or make anyone uncomfortable.  I refuse to sit at the table sobbing while everyone looks at me with pity.

I will get through tomorrow.  I will get through Thanksgiving.  It’s a process and if I’ve learned anything in these last five months, it’s that I cannot plan and I cannot prepare.  I need to live through it and intend to do the best I can.

Stupid Thyroid

Originally, this post was going to be called ‘Stupid Halloween’ and was going to be about how upset I was that I couldn’t dress Maya up and post cute pictures of her on facebook.  Originally, I was going to write this post yesterday.  However, yesterday was really hard – as in ‘I really couldn’t stop crying’ hard.  Because of the hurricane, school was canceled for three days.  Spending days alone in the house is not good for me.  I need my routine, and when I have the time for my brain to take over, it’s sob city.  So, needless to say, I couldn’t write yesterday.  And now, a rant about Halloween seems silly.

So instead, I will rant about my thyroid.  However, in the interest of keeping this interesting, I decided to let my thyroid tell its side of the story first… (excuse me, I’m feeling creative/silly this evening).

Hello!  I’m Annalee’s thyroid.  I’m not very effective.  It all started in February of 2010 (except not really).  Annalee went for a routine physical and was lectured about being overweight.  Now, with her wedding only 6 months away, I knew she was trying to lose weight, but I was making it difficult -haha!  On a whim, the doctor tested me and found that I was being slightly lazy (read underactive).  Annalee went on meds, felt better, lost some weight, got married, and lived happily ever after!  And I was off the hook… whew!  Well, not really.

Fast forward to June 2011.  Annalee had been off birth control for about 9 months and started actively trying to get pregnant.  Little did she know that I was mad about the changes in hormones and became even more lazy.  After a 72 day cycle, a trip to the endocrinologist, and some more blood work, we found out that it’s not my fault after all!  Annalee has antibodies that don’t like me and attack me (read Hashimoto’s).  It’s not very nice and it makes me under-perform.  A change in dose, a few more months, and Annalee is pregnant!  Woohoo!!!!

Throughout her pregnancy, I did pretty well.  There was one adjustment in the beginning and then I was perfect!  It’s been made pretty clear that I am not in any way responsible for what happened to Maya.

Thanks thyroid.  I’ll take it from here.  (I hope that wasn’t too corny).

My original plan was to keep this blog more as an emotional outlet, rather than writing about my physical ailments.  However, this is so much a part of my life right now and I need to get it out of my brain!

Typically, after a pregnancy, the thyroid dose is decreased.  However, Hackie and I are hoping to get pregnant again soon (there I said it), so I thought that I could just continue on my ‘pregnancy’ dose and be fine.  How naive and stupid of me.  After some longish cycles, I started to think that something was up with my thyroid dose.  I actually thought that I didn’t have enough in my system as the symptoms were similar to those I had last summer prior to the increase in dosage.  My hair has been coming out in clumps, I have been very tired, and I’m struggling to lose the rest of my baby weight.  I gave in and got my blood work done.  What was found was that my dose is too high and I am now overmedicated.  All of the symptoms I was having coincide with having too much thyroid hormone in my system, including long cycles.

So, I’m back to my pre-pregnancy dose and I’m hoping that within the next month or two I will be feeling better.  Like I said, I hesitated to write all this here and reveal so many personal details about myself, but it plays a huge part in my life.  I also remembered reading some other women’s blogs that reference thyroid disorder and pregnancy.  I found it so comforting and educational to read about others’ experiences.  Perhaps someone will benefit from reading mine.

Personally, I think that thyroid disorder is overlooked.  Doctors won’t test it until you complain of symptoms and even then it’s not consistently measured.  Mine probably went undiagnosed for at least 4 years, if not more.  At this point, I have come to terms with it and understand that there are much worse things that a person could be diagnosed with.  I am grateful that mine was caught when it was and is fairly under control.  I have learned that I need to trust my doctors and trust my body, rather than trying to self-diagnose.

There are days when I feel like my thyroid condition is yet another thing in my already massive pile of crap that I am dealing with.  I then remind myself of what I do have – a loving husband, a beautiful house, a gorgeous dog, a precious angel, and the ability to go to doctors, get the medicine I need, and live an overall healthy life.  For all of that, I am grateful.

I Want the World to Know…

I am proud to say that I stuck with CarlyMarie’s Capture Your Grief project.  I have posted a photo every day for the month of October.  I’m slightly bummed that the project is coming to an end.  It’s been a good outlet for me.  Today’s prompt is ‘Your Grief – Tell the World’.  This is the picture I posted:

You’ll have to click on it to read.  The points I made are just a few of the things I would like to tell the world.  So, I decided to let today’s prompt inspire my blog post.

Most women do not experience pregnancy or infant loss.  While 1 in 4 is high … too high, I am still in the minority.  So many times, people say, “I can’t imagine”.  And this is what I’d like to say to them: “You’re right.  You can’t imagine.  And I wouldn’t want you to.  Until you are in this place, you can’t know what I am going through, so don’t try to pretend you know.”  I read somewhere that when you experience the loss of a child, you not only have to deal with your own grief, but you have to educate everyone else on how to deal with you.  It’s a lot of pressure.  This is one of the reasons I started my blog.  If I can help just one person learn how to better interact with a woman who has lost a child, I will have accomplished my goal.

One thing that has bothered me greatly is that I feel as though, around certain people, I cannot refer to my pregnancy.  This has been one of the most difficult things to deal with.  If I reference my pregnancy when not talking about my loss but of that time in my life, all goes quiet, everyone becomes awkward, and I feel like an idiot while putting my foot in my mouth.  Apparently, when your baby dies, you are not allowed to talk about your pregnancy, you can’t relate to others who are pregnant, you can’t reminisce about cravings and swollen feet.  So, I want the world to know that the fact that Maya died does not mean that I have to forever avoid talking about when I was pregnant with her.  If anything, I will talk about my pregnancy with her more because those are the only memories I have.  Please do not cringe when I reference my pregnancy.

Time has become very strange.  Sometimes it feels like time has passed so quickly.  Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and other times I wish I could fast forward through life.  Then, I remind myself that life is a gift and I need to cherish each day.  Today, October 30th – 4 months and 2 weeks since Maya was born and died, is very significant.  It’s made even more significant by the fact that we just had a big storm that resulted in down power lines and no school.  One year ago today there was a big storm.  It snowed.  There were down power lines.  We had no power.  We had nothing to do.  We made Maya.  I find it very strange, sad, meaningful, confusing, etc. that one year later the circumstances are so similar and I am so different.  I am such a different person now.  I want the world to know that.  I am forever changed.

In the weeks following our loss, the support came pouring in through our mailbox, facebook profiles, and cell phones.  For about a week, we received large stacks of sympathy cards every day.  With each day that followed, the stack got smaller, the facebook notifications lessened, and our cell phones matched the silence of our home with no baby.  I think this is what happens with any kind of loss.  Everyone provides their sympathy and condolences in the beginning and then, for the most part, go about their lives.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been several people who continue to provide us with support, ask us how we are doing, and remind us that they will never forget our baby girl.  I want the world to know that my world has come to a crashing halt – still after 4 months and 2 weeks.  While you carry on, Hackie and I are still devastated and still trying to pick up the pieces of our world that has come crumbling down.

Many people comment on my strength.  They marvel at how ‘well’ I am doing and how I appear to have fun and be happy every now and then.  Fine.  I’m doing ‘well’.  I am a strong person – I’ve always been that way.  I can have a good time and feel happy.  But, I am not, by any means, healed.  Most days, I am still sad.  Most days, you would never know.  I go to work, I teach, I interact with colleagues, I appear to be ‘fine’.  I am not.  Most of the time, I breathe a big sigh of relief when I get to the end of a day.  I can’t cry at work.  I can’t appear sad.  My students do not know my past and I don’t want them to.  So I keep it in.  I want the world to know that though I appear ‘fine’, ‘happy’, doing ‘well’, ‘strong’, I am still sad.  I am devastated.  I miss Maya every second of every day.

I’ve said it before.  The best thing that you can do for anyone who has experienced the loss of an infant is say their baby’s name.  Let them know that you are thinking about them.  Let them know that you will always remember their baby.  I know that as time passes, I will find the light, I will feel hope once again, and my grief will fit into my life in a different way.  For now, I want the world to know that my grief is very present in my life.  On some days, it defines me.  I want the world to know that life for me is very hard and I am doing the best I can.