From our Broken Hearts

* I don’t normally find it necessary to make disclaimers for my posts. But this is regarding pregnancy loss and I know many friends who may find this upsetting.

It is from the depths of grief and sadness that I write this post. I thought waiting a couple of days would make it easier, but the pain is just as sharp.

I intended to post this Thursday for Thanksgiving how thankful we were for the blessing of our third child, safely into our 2nd trimester at 14 weeks.

Instead I come to you today, having lost our baby, who we have named Miles, this past Friday, November 21st.

This baby was so wanted. So loved. So celebrated. Dreamed of. And now he is gone.

It is fitting that the snow turned to rain as I suffered in the hospital for nearly 24 hours. My soul is full of tears that are pouring like the rain on these cloudy November days.

This pregnancy was so difficult from the very beginning. I felt nauseous from the second I saw a positive pregnancy test back in August. And tired. SO tired all day, every day. I thought it was a good thing. A sign how many awesome hormones were coursing through my body.

But then between 8 and 9 weeks I started bleeding. We spent a harrowing weekend resting and terrified of losing the baby until we went for an ultrasound and were told I had a subchorionic hemorrhage, which is essentially a blood clot between the uterine wall and placenta. I had just months before sat with my friend Jessi in the ER as she was diagnosed with the same problem, but she is well into her 2nd trimester, so I knew it could be ok. Plus we heard his heartbeat. Miles got his first and only picture.

So I took it as easy as I could with two active children to chase after. I scaled back on housework and socializing. I took a nap or rested every single afternoon. I was doing everything right.

Then last Thursday I started spotting again. Heavier. Darker. Scarier.

When our midwife, Audra, couldn’t find heart tones again I tried with all my might not to freak the fuck out. So we scheduled an ultrasound that I should be at right now. The bleeding stopped that afternoon. I felt normal. Thought that I felt the baby moving around.

We were having Nicole and Rola, two of my oldest and dearest friends, over for dinner, to see the house for the first time. We had just finished dessert and I felt a gush. I ran to the bathroom and blood.

So. Much. Blood.

I didn’t even think I could leave the toilet I was bleeding so much. I knew what was happening. I knew he was gone.

So we went to the ER at Sparrow. And after being shuffled around the hospital and being throughly disgusted by how I was treated by the L&D unit nurses, we were finally given an ER room and the most amazing nurse, Carmen.

How do you thank the woman that holds your hand and brings you warm blankets as you’re suffering such a tremendous loss? There aren’t adequate words. She was an angel. Even though she tried to hide it and stay professional, she cried with me.

What hurts the most is that our child wasn’t buried. He has no final resting place. He was lost somewhere between the shitty L&D unit and the ER unit bathrooms amongst the other tissue and blood I lost. And that pains me to no end. He deserved to be delivered, to be held, to be cherished.

The OB doctors performed an incredibly horrific and painful procedure on me without anesthesia or warning of how much it would hurt.

Then I lost so much blood that I passed out, went unconscious for a bit and had to have a blood transfusion.

All while my poor Michael had the scare of his life, with me every second, holding my hands and trying not to fall apart. He was so strong. He is my rock. I don’t know if I could have survived one second of this ordeal without his strength.

After spending 24 hours in the hospital, I was finally discharged and came home to my girls that I had missed terribly to tell them the news.

Cedella cried with me and told me so wanted our baby back and why was the baby sick. Isora seemed to take it easily and not quite understand. But now she sees me cry and says “Is it because the baby died?”

I know it seems harsh or somehow inappropriate to tell the kids the truth, but I don’t know any other way to talk to them. They deserve to know what happened. Why I’m sad. Why Dad is sad. Why we won’t be having a baby this spring. They have been a part of the pregnancy from the beginning and should be a part of its end. This was their baby too.

And now we have to figure out how to go on. How to get back to ‘normal’. How to grieve and process and try and make sense of this.

And even if I know this isn’t my fault I am so angry with my body. It did this to me. To us. Something went wrong in my body and that is the worst feeling ever.

I know we can try again. But that doesn’t make any of this any better or easier. Because I will never hold this child. I will never watch him grow. I will never kiss him or nurse him or hear him say ‘I love you’.

So while I certainly hope we will have another baby some day, it will never be this baby. And that just hurts.

Just as their aren’t adequate words for the nurses that helped me at the hospital, there aren’t enough words for those that have taken care of us in the past couple days.

To Nicole and Rola. I can’t thank you enough. For being my friends for nearly 20 years. For introducing me to Michael all those years ago. And for taking such good care of my girls while we were at the hospital. I can never repay you but will be eternally grateful for all you have given me.

To my Tribe. My amazing, supportive, incredible friends here in Lansing and all the way from California to Illinois. They sent flowers to the hospital and sent Trisha to hand deliver chocolate to me. These women are the best support system through good and bad and how fortunate we are to have this group in our lives.

To Sudharshan who was the first at our door, despite his wife (my dear friend Maha) and son being in India, to bring comfort and see if we needed anything. He made me a specific healing food and brought food for the family as well. How thankful we are for a friend like him.

To my girls: Leslie, Nicole G, Meghan, Jessi, Nicole H, Ashley, Kristy, Katie and Annie. You talk to me nearly every day. You have supported me throughout this pregnancy. And your phone calls, texts, hugs and gifts have made this just a little more bearable. I know that you all will be there when this still hurts months from now. I know you won’t hesitate to sit with me and cry. For that, I love you.

To Angela, Robyn, Niki, Kristyn, Jen, Natalie and Lucy thank you for your texts and love and for understanding.

To Klisti, Angelica, Desiree and Jessie, who dropped off food, supplies, chocolate and love. You are such incredible friends. I honor you for taking the time to help my family.

But I could not be here, could not do anything without my family and their love. To Mom and Tracey who sat with me for an entire day in the hospital, watching bad TV and eating terrible hospital food. You two are my world.

To my incredible inlaws, my second father and mother, John and Hilda, thank you for taking such good care of the girls and for supporting me, crying with me and loving me as much as your own daughter.

To Kylara and Robbie who didn’t know what to say to make me feel better but called none the less, who cried with me and who suffer this loss with me, I love you guys.

To my mother-in-law Becky, Michael’s grandma Cecelia and my grandma Rose for sending their love and prayers.

To André and Merissa for your love and kind words and beautiful flowers.

And to Sabah and Talia and Diana, my loves, for sending their prayers and kind words and love.

We are so fortunate to have such a big and caring and supportive family. This baby was loved and wanted by each and every one of them. His loss is felt by each and every one of them. Their hearts break with our own.

There is nothing more I can say to you Michael beyond thank you. Thank you my love. Thank you for our life. Thank you for your love. Thank you for walking this road with me. Thank you.

So now we try to go on. Each day will hurt a little less. Some days will hurt more. Today is just one step forward.

Many have asked what they can do for us. The food and flowers and calls and texts are all so helpful in this moment. It is next week and next month and next May that we will need you the most. What I ask is that you not forget us. Don’t pretend this didn’t happen. Don’t hesitate to ask how we’re doing. Don’t forget our sweet baby Miles.

Much love to anyone I have failed to mention that has kept us in their hearts or prayers. Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RIP Sweet Kira

*Please note: This was written on April 5th, the day after we lost our sweet furry best friend. But tonight, nearly 3 months later, I just cried for over 30 minutes with Cedella about how much we still miss Kira. Seemingly out of nowhere she asked me to sing Kira’s favorite song at bedtime. I asked her what Kira’s favorite song was, and she started crying, saying she missed her so much and didn’t want us to forget Kira’s favorite song. And with that we were both crying and talking about all the things we miss about Kira. At the end of the conversation she said she hoped that we would get another dog, even though it would never be Kira. And I sang “My Favorite Things” from the Sound of Music because apparently that was Kira’s favorite song. Our hearts are still quite broken. 

Last night, after a rather uneventful family movie night, while we were putting the girls to bed, our beloved dog Kira started having a seizure. Despite rushing her to the MSU small animal hospital they were unable to save her.

Last night I lost one of my best friends.

And I wasn’t even there. I didn’t know it would be the last time I saw her. I said I love you. I told her not to be scared and that everything would be ok. But I never said good bye. And now I will never see her again.

Kira came into my life just when I needed her to. She came to me at a time when I was freshly alone and heartbroken. I remember that day, 9 years ago like it was yesterday.

I had been obsessively casually stalking PetFinder for weeks, looking for a furry companion so that my life and apartment didn’t feel nearly so lonely.  Corrine, my coworker at the time and still a dear friend, had recently adopted Kira, but sadly Kira and her dog were not a good match. So Corrine walked Kira up to the WAB in Ferndale where I was having drinks with friends so that I could meet her.

Unassuming and sweet as she always was, Kira came right up to me, sat down next to me. She wasn’t one to lick or jump up on you, but she had a way of looking right at you and giving a little doggie smile. That doggie smile won my heart and sealed the deal. That was it. I fell instantly in love with her. I took her leash, water bowl and bed and that was that. She was mine.

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A few months later, after a crash course in Pet Care 101 and bonding with the sweetest dog who would lick my face clean, but only when I cried, I met Michael.

I remember the first night he drove me home and I introduced him to Kira. He said he wasn’t much of a dog person. In fact he didn’t seem to care for her at all. But Kira didn’t mind. She enjoyed the challenge. There wasn’t a single person with an aversion to dogs that didn’t appreciate her. She had a way of making everyone love her.

And he did. He fell for us at the same time. Michael, through teary eyes, told me how he remembered falling in love with Kira. And what a good dog she was.

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Poor Michael. He had to take her to the vet by himself. He had to give them the consent to put her to rest. But thankfully, he got to be with her. To say goodbye. To tell her what a good dog she was and how much she meant to us. He said in the end she was looking in his eye as he talked to her and licked the end of his nose as if to say goodbye.

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She was a more than just a good dog, she was the best dog. She didn’t jump or lick. She didn’t chase squirrels or pull her lead on walks. She could be without and fence and come home when she was called. And even though she was known to go on a few walkabouts throughout her time with us, she was never gone for long, never lost for more than a few harrowing hours, she was just really good at making friends.

I’ll never forget the time we took her camping with Tim and Amie. We decided to go kayaking for a couple hours, and left Kira on her post and chain at the camp site. We came back and she was gone. No tracks, no trace, just gone. We all panicked, because we all loved her so very much. Turns out she escaped her collar and was chillin in the truck with the Park Ranger. When we finally came upon his truck she was sitting in the cab, grinning like a jackal. He said she was such a sweet dog that if no one claimed her he would have taken her home and kept her.

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Thankfully she never got away from us on any of the other road trips we took her on. And she was fairly well traveled. She loved camping and going up to the cottage, though she was never ever interested in going in the lake. But she loved the car and meeting new people so road trips were her favorite. The last road trip we took with her was down to South Carolina a couple Thanksgivings ago and she was happy than a pig in shit for the entire car ride.

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She was just the kind of creature, with the ability to make anyone, even those not crazy of dogs, love her.

And man did people love her. I can think of countless friends that will be heartbroken to hear that she’s gone. Everywhere she went, every house party and BBQ she was loved.

Despite her extreme and room clearing gas, she was so loved by Kate and Chris that she lived with them after our house flooded and we didn’t have a home for a few months. And she became absolute besties with Juniper. For obvious reasons…

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On one occasion while visiting us in Hamtramck, Chris Thurber slept with Kira on her dog bed.

And Tim and Amie loved her so much that they adopted Jolisa because she reminded them so much of Kira.

So many others gave her so much love and attention, treats and pats on the head. She was very very loved.

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I will miss the way she turned around in circles when she heard her treat bag rustle any morning. I will miss the way she nudged your arm or hand when she wanted her head rubbed. I will miss the way she would wake herself up with her god-awful farts. I will miss how she would lick my salty tears off my face when I cried. I will miss how fiercely and lovingly she cared for and protected the girls.

For the second we brought Ella home from the hospital Kira was glued to her side. She would follow us around the house and lay wherever Ella was, as close as she could possibly be. They were never far apart in her first few years. And over the past year as she slowed down and became more weary, she would often still sit under Ella’s feet or lay right by her bed. And Ella would always pet Kira as she passed her and give her hugs and love.

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And though Isora never quite treated her as gently and sweetly as Cedella, Kira tolerated Izzie’s not-so-soft pets and tail pulls. Because Kira was a kind and loving soul that way.

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She was a deeply loved part of our family. And I can’t believe she is just gone. It is shocking and painful. We are SAD. But I know that when you lose someone you love with all your heart we often say we’ve lost a piece of our hearts. But I want to believe that we don’t lose a bit of our hearts, but rather our hearts grow a bit more as we absorb and archive a little piece of our loved one’s soul and memory.

Please hold your furry children tight tonight. An extra treat, an extra walk, and extra snuggle. They are so dear, so precious, so important, and they are gone too soon.

*Added April 6th – Just when I thought Isora couldn’t really understand or express feelings about losing Kira this conversation happened while I was putting her to bed.

Isora: I miss Kira Mommy. Do you miss her?
Me: Of course honey. I miss her so much already.
Isora: Me too. Don’t worry. I find her. She’s in the stars.

I don’t know how she knows that. I don’t know where the concept of Kira being in the stars was learned. I like to think that children know so much more than we give them credit for. And in this case I do believe she knows Kira has gone to another plane and that we will be with her again one day. Kids. They have the ability to simplify the most complex things, don’t they?

RIP sweet loving Kira. We all miss you so much already. By all of us.

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(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday: Here Comes Santa Claus

What a week. It’s been sad and trying to say the very least. Sad for any one with a heart. So incredibly unimaginably hard for the people of Newtown.

Despite this sadness the holiday season marches on. Cheerful Christmas tunes in every store. Lights twinkling in front yards. Rolls of wrapping paper being cut and taped into sweet surprises. It IS the most wonderful time of the year.

Perhaps the best thing we can do to honor those sweet babies that lost their lives is to continue to live ours. To celebrate their youth and the significance their loss has had on our national discourse. Perhaps they will be more than just the most important people to their families. Perhaps they will become symbols of peace. Symbols of change. May they rest in peace.

Saturday, the day after such a devastating tragedy, was the annual Crafts with Santa program at our library. One of my Mom’s popular and wonderful kid’s programs of the year. Kids and their parents come to make a bunch of crafts then they can visit with Santa, take photos and each child gets a book. And it’s all FREE. Best. Program. Ever.

This year was certainly busy, but it had the highest volunteer rate of any Santa day yet. So much so that I didn’t have to ‘man’ a table. I was free to walk about and visit with old friends and take tons of pictures. It’s at once so relaxing because I can enjoy myself (as much as anyone with two children under 3 can enjoy themselves at a chaotic event). But it’s a bit sad to realize that my Mom can handle all these programs without me. Not because the library staff isn’t great (they are) but just because we put all these things together ourselves for so many years, and she doesn’t need me anymore. :(

After crafts came the real magic. Santa time.

Being VIPs of the library means that we got to answer the staff door when Santa came a knocking. And this Santa? He’s brilliant. A real snowy white beard and the long white hair to match. And he has the most kind and twinkling eyes. So mischievous and yet sweet.

Cedella got a chance to say hi and shake hands and talk to him for a while before she had to get her Christmas dress on and before Santa had to make his entrance. The perks of being a library brat, right?

I get to play elf to Santa for the afternoon with my friend and old co-worker Mary. And yes, I say lines from Elf in my head the entire time.

It feels great to watch all the different children come and sit (or scream) on Santa’s lap. Listening to what they want for Christmas is hilarious and oh so sweet. And our Santa’s response is always so kind and yet doesn’t put the parents on the hooks for things they don’t have the inclination or the funds to buy.

Our Santa never brings live animals “because they don’t fly so well on the sleigh”. And expensive electronic items “are very popular so they may not make it, but may I bring you some surprises instead?” What kid says ‘no’ to surprises from Santa? Not a one.

When at last all the kiddies were done with their Santa lap-sitting it was our turn.

Time for Isora to finally meet the Man in Red.

It didn’t go so well…

And even though she got a chance to warm up to him before it can time to sit on his lap, Cedella wouldn’t sit with him. But she did stand next to him as long as I was holding her.

And then this happened…

Santa “And what would you like for Christmas young lady?”

Cedella: “Presents”

Santa “What kind of presents?”

Cedella “All of those…” pointing to the entire cart full of wrapped books for the library kids.

And with that Santa chuckled and Cedella got shy and our visit with Santa was over.

After a very welcomed trade with her little friend Avery, Cedella scored a Tinkerbell book. And sat right down in the middle of the library to read it. (That’s her proud librarian Grandma right behind her).

I couldn’t let their sweet dresses go to waste. So I snapped a few pictures of them with the library’s gorgeous tree. I love this one of them looking at each other…

And there’s my sweet angels with their whole lives ahead of them and so many Christmases to come ::deep breath::

And my sweet Izzie Boo.

Seeing these pictures and knowing that their are families that won’t be celebrating the holidays with their children, whether its from the senseless violence in Newtown, the devastation of the wars in Middle East or due to the tragedy of childhood cancers and illnesses. We will be lighting a candle and praying for peace every night for the rest of the year for them. It’s not much, I know. But it’s something.

Merry Christmas to you all and to all a good night.