On Loss and Remembrance

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day and today I send love to all of my family, friends and readers that have lost a pregnancy or baby.

One in four woman will lose a baby in their life. 25% of women. So many more than you may ever know.

It’s a sad and often silent sisterhood.

I didn’t learn how much miscarriage and child loss affected those around me until I became the 1 in 4.

When I became pregnant in 2011, while Michael and I were working desperately on keeping our marriage together, I was elated. Sure, everyone always tells you that a baby can’t fix what’s broken. But we were already on the mend. Our pregnancy was something to bind us even closer together.

But just as swiftly as I found out I was pregnant, I began to spot, and then cramp, and after several devastating hours in the emergency room it was clear that I had lost my baby.

It was hard. So very hard. But like all hard things, I wrote about it, and the outpouring of stories, love, compassion and support I received was remarkable. You can read my thoughts and the kindness I received HERE.

I have lost my father, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, beloved cousins. Attended countless funerals, memorials and wakes.

But losing my baby was something so intimate and personal and internal for me. No memorial service. No coffin. Largely just me and my sadness.

I know so many brave women that have named their Angels. That honor them with tattoos or trees or statues.

But I haven’t.

Not because I don’t long for and miss who my baby could have been. But because I am not strong enough to give my baby a name. To memorialize. To constantly remember.

It hurts in such an abstract and hard way. It’s like I can’t touch the grief. It’s there. Right under the surface, a nagging sadness in the corner of my heart. But I can’t cry it out. I can’t grieve it away. It aches but I’m used to it.

And then there’s the guilt. Guilty for longing for a baby that was lost when just months later I was graced with my perfect and healthy Isora. Perhaps guilt is irrational in this circumstance. But it’s there. I can’t help it.

So many friends have suffered losses in the past couple years. Mamas who gave me the excited news about being pregnant only to call to tell me something went wrong. Friends who lost a baby and feel that was their one and only chance to be a mother. Women that have suffered multiple miscarriages only to finally be blessed with a rainbow baby. And one incredible mother who has lost three dear sons, in such a short amount of time, whose courage and strength are inspiring to thousands of us.

My heart and soul goes out to each and every one of them. My tears pour out onto my keyboard for them. Whether they suffer in silence, or welcome people into their journey, they are, each and every one a hero. Heroes that are capable of making life and surviving beyond the life they have created though it pains them to do so.

I know that the ache in my heart is part of motherhood. Part of life, really. And while I would love to be holding my baby, instead I choose to accept that this baby was lost so that Isora could be born.

So I light my candle today…for Dani, Jen, Leslie, Kaitlyn, Stephanie and of course my dear Diana and the hundreds of others.

May each of you find peace and comfort from the grief. And may your Rainbows light the way.

 

Wordful Wednesday: Why? Just why?

As summer winds down we are trying to cram so much into every single day. I had so many grand ideas of things to post today but my computer died last week and I haven’t gotten back to editing photos yet. Besides the fact that while me and my two incredible kids are busy living, laughing, loving and just being, there are families out there suffering so much.

I just can’t stop thinking about how fortunate we are for what we have. Or how unfortunate and shitty some people have it.

My awesome friend Alex lost her home to arson earlier this summer. This sweet sweet mama and her family lost everything but the clothes on their backs. Thankfully Alex, Scott and Bella are safe and sheltered and looking for a new home. After our house flood and simultaneous miscarriage I thought life would never be the same. But I was astounded by the rallying of our loved ones around us.

And this situation is much the same. Our incredible Crunchy Momma community here in Lansing pulled together and organized clothes, food, toiletries, gas cards, cell phones and toys. Showering Alex with donations within hours. It is inspiring how much we pulled together.

Despite living with family (SO much like our situation) they are living their lives and looking for a home and moving forward. They are sad and still shaken but so very strong. If you want to help the Schroeder family move into their own home check out their YouCaring site HERE.

I’m so proud of how strong Alex has been through all of this. Because what is a mother without strength?

Strength defines Diana Stone. Many of you have read her blog Hormonal Imbalances or followed her pregnancy on Babble. She was one of the first blogs I followed. She encouraged me to write more and helped me through some rough times and always, always took the time to respond to me and send emails and answer my questions.

And now, after losing her twin sons at just over 19 weeks old in May 2012, she is fighting for the life of her 2 week old son Kaden.

All I can even summon right now is the question “Why?”

Why is this happening to her? Why again? Didn’t she suffer enough when she lost her boys?

It’s not fair. It’s bullshit. It makes me angry.

I am not a Christian like Diana. In fact I don’t subscribe to any one form of religion. But I believe in a higher consciousness. A human connection. The power of so many minds and souls focusing on one thing has the ability to make a change. I truly believe that prayer can work.

And so I pray. Begging pleading cries into the universe for this child.

Prayers for this child whose heart isn’t working because of a random virus. Totally undetectable. Totally unpredictable. Totally random. It could have happened to any of our children. But it happened to Diana.

And this is where her incredible strength will be tested to it’s absolute limits. I pray the most for her to have the strength to make the tough calls and to fight for her son no matter what.

She showed that strength when she fought for Preston and Julian. She showed that strength when she went home and went back to mothering her Bella the best way she knew how. And she shows it now, as she pumps every day in hopes of giving her son a few precious drops of liquid gold. As she watches him undergo procedures and tests and tubes and IVs.

I don’t know that we can ever understand why illness and disability strikes one family and not another. Why when it rains it insists on pouring. But I do know that we are damn lucky to have two healthy little girls.

Whatever your faith, or lack there of, please spend a couple moments thinking about this family. They could use all the help they can get.

Or if giving is more your way of showing concern please consider donating to their YouCaring fundraiser HERE. They are out of their home, away from their daughter and without any end in sight for Kaden’s hospital stay. Every penny helps them to stay close to their son and hopefully move the entire family closer to the hospital.

I can’t imagine watching my baby through an isolette. I can’t imagine being hundreds of miles away from my daughter. I can’t imagine not knowing if my baby’s heart was going to give out. It’s devastating just to think about.

Diana, Sam, Bella, Preston, Julian and Kaden. You are all in my heart and I am praying for you each and every day. Hoping for better news for all of you soon.

 

Light a Candle Today

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. But I think I’d rather call it Remembrance Day.

Last year, on May 14th, Michael and I lost our baby. When I was finally able to put words to the page I wrote about it HERE.

To say we were devastated is an understatement.

We had been trying to hard to rebuild our marriage and trust. Trying to keep it together and get along. And when I was late and took the test it was like a ray of light shined down on us and told us that it wasn’t all in vain. That our family was worth fighting for.

And then just as quickly as we were blessed with this growing child, she was taken away from us.

I kept thinking that it wasn’t really happening. I kept trying to reassure myself that some ladies spot all throughout their pregnancies and never lose their child.

But I knew. I knew in my heart that we weren’t ready and that the universe had a different plan for us. I knew the second we went to the hospital that she was gone.

And though we lost that baby, and our home just a week later, it was as if the tragedy of loss was the glue holding us back together.

Michael and I needed each other and held onto each other just a bit tighter.

We spent the next couple of months living with my loving inlaws, John and Hilda, getting smothered by love and good food and joy.

And by July, just like our lovely midwife Clarice discouraged but predicted anyways, we were pregnant again.

Thankfully our Isora came into this world happy and healthy on St. Patrick’s Day. Like my pregnancy with Cedella, there was no issue, other than the regular pregnancy complaints. Everything went perfectly.

While we are so incredibly thankful for our sweet Izzie Boo, nothing will ever fill the hole left by our Angel.

What really strikes me about grieving this small tiny baby was how abstract the whole idea of her is. We will never know if it would have been a boy or a girl (though I’m used to the pronoun so I use ‘she’ here). We will never know if she had Daddy’s eyes or Mommy’s hands. We will never know if she liked singing or hated her carseat.

But we do know this. She was loved and will always be loved. Though she was scarcely but a burgeoning idea in our minds she was our child.

Sadly, when I wrote about losing her, many many friends and family members came forward to share their stories and losses. And while it was so incredibly powerful to fell such a blanket of sisterly love and connection, it was also so incredibly sad.

It’s sad to know that so many I love have lost children and yet rarely talk about it. Is it because we are not allowed to grieve these children if they don’t have names and faces? Is it easier to forget they ever existed? Or is it too painful, too hard, too heartbreaking to discuss their loss?

In my case I was pregnant again so soon that I felt I didn’t have the right to be sad for one child when I had already been blessed with another. And though maybe it doesn’t make sense to most, I needed to accept the loss of one child in order to embrace the coming of another.

That doesn’t mean I don’t long for that other child. Maybe I always will. But she died and Isora was born and I could not for one second imagine my world without my smiling second born.

My sweet friend Dani (mom to an angel named Jordan) sent this to me:

To the Child in my Heart.

O precious, tiny, sweet little one. You will always be to me so perfect, pure, and innocent. Just as you were meant to be. We dreamed of you and of your life and all that it would be. We waited and longed for you to come and join our family. We never had the chance to play, to laugh, to rock, to wiggle. We long to hold you, touch you now and listen to you giggle. I’ll always be your mother. He’ll always be your dad. You will always be our child, the child that we never had. But now you’re gone…but yet you’re here. We’ll sense you everywhere. You are our sorrow and our joy there’s love in every tear. Just know our love goes deep and strong. We’ll forget you never – The child we had, but never had, and yet will have forever.

Author Unknown

To Dani, Diana, Jen and Leslie and all of the Mamas out there that have lost a baby or babies, you are braver than you know and you are all my heroes.

Take a second today and light a candle for everyone who has suffered the loss of a pregnancy or infant. You may not know their story or their pain, but I know your thoughts and prayers are appreciated.