Tag Archive | plans

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.

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.

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!

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.

 

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!

Five Months

Dear Maya,

You would have been five months old today!  Such a fun age!  We would know all the things that make you laugh and all the things that make you mad.  We would have gone shopping for a winter wardrobe and picked out a cute Thanksgiving outfit for your first Thanksgiving.  We would be getting ready to send you to daycare, which would have been so hard for mommy, but so exciting for you.  Life would be so good.

I miss you so much my dear girl.  The world has dulled slightly without you here.  Daddy and I are doing our best to stay busy and have hope for the future.  We talk about you constantly and most of the time smile when we say your name.  There is so much that we do that we wish we could share with you.  I’m often so sad when I think of the things you will not get to experience.

Today has been especially hard because exactly one year ago, Daddy and I found out you were growing in my belly.  We named you Boo for the time being and dreamed of what you would be like.  We immediately made lots of plans for you and discussed how we’d change our lives to fit you in.  I’ll never forget that day.

I’m sorry you don’t get to experience Thanksgiving.  It’s Mommy’s favorite holiday and involves lots of eating.  I’m not sure how much you would have gotten to eat of the Thanksgiving meal.  Perhaps some baby food, though I’m not sure we’d be there yet.  I think you would have been a good eater.  I think you would have been growing so well.

Daddy and I miss your cheeks.  We knew you’d have chubby, kissable cheeks because Daddy and I both have those cheeks.  We would have kissed them all the time.  I think by now you’d have those cute chubby thighs and the little line around your wrists.  Everyone would have been so excited to see you at Thanksgiving and your cousins would have had so much fun playing with you!

I love you so much Maya.  Please help Daddy and I get through our first big holiday without you here.  Sit on our shoulders and whisper in our ears that you’re here and that you’re OK.

It’s hard to believe another month has gone by.  Somehow, perhaps with your help, we are surviving and we are living.

I love you always and forever.

Love bunches,

Mommy

Post Pregnancy with No Baby

This post is going to begin with a somewhat whiny tone – it will get better, I promise.

One of the greatest difficulties of losing Maya is that I have to deal with the aftermath of being pregnant, with no baby to show for it.  It sucks.  Yes, I say that often, but sometimes it’s the only way to express how I feel.  It’s hard enough to have a finished nursery, drawers filled with onesies and socks, stacks of bibs, shelves of books, and a glider that’s still in the box.  Add to that the physical reminders that I was recently pregnant, and we have ourselves a great big suck fest.

The first thing I had to deal with was recovering from my c-section and having my milk come in all at the same time.  The first few weeks after my loss, I was in a real fog, so I don’t remember much.  I cried a lot, I slept a lot, I tried to convince myself that this didn’t really happen to me.  All things considered, I recovered fairly quickly.

I gained too much weight during my pregnancy, and I was already overweight to begin with.  I lost about half of it fairly quickly and then my weight-loss flat out stopped.  I wasn’t breastfeeding, so I didn’t have that to help.  I refused to continue wearing maternity clothes and quickly packed those away in the attic.  So, I’m fat, my clothes don’t fit, and my feet got bigger too so most of my shoes don’t fit either.  Because of all this, I have felt like a slug.  As I’ve mentioned, functioning is exhausting so I’ve had little motivation to exercise when I get home.

Loss is so multidimensional.  Not only do I grieve the loss of Maya, I grieve the loss of the hopes and dreams I had for her and for us as a family.  Not only do I have to recover from giving birth, I have to see the scar and the stretchmarks every day when I look in the mirror.  Not only do I have to get up and face each day without my daughter, I have to go work when I was supposed to be on maternity leave.  Every thought that I have comes back to Maya and to what happened and to what should be.  This loss has found its way into every part of my life.  I cannot escape it.

With my new found clarity, I am learning how to embrace my loss.  I know that sounds a little strange, but I feel like I am starting to accept it as part of my life and I’m slowly figuring out what to do with it.  I’m learning who the new me is and I like her.  I’m learning how I can mother Maya and honor her life.  This week, I finally found the motivation to keep track of and limit the food I put in my mouth.  I have also walked Halee a mile and a half every day this week.  I feel so different.  My head is less foggy, I have more energy, and I am in an overall better mood.

Hackie and I have a lot to look forward to and plans for the next 4 weekends, which include a birthday party, 2 walks (Walk to Remember and March for Babies), and a wedding.  All of these plans are helping time pass and helping me to live on.  There are a lot of celebrations coming up and I think I will be able to find the joy in each of these occasions.  I’m starting to find glimpses of the happiness at my core – and that feels good.

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.