Showing posts with label babyloss. Show all posts
Showing posts with label babyloss. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

lilacs, lavender, lilies

I cut lilacs from the front garden this afternoon and put them in vases around the house. Lilacs, lavender, lilies, and columbines all grow in our yard. And they all remind me of Charlotte.

Red columbines sitting in a glass vase on the beside table next to condolence cards and a medicinal smelling bag filled with ace bandages and breast pads. Overflowing vases of lilacs on the first Charlotte's Day; a memorial that should have been a birthday. The lavender my midwife photographed on the morning Charlotte was born. The lilies that bloomed just after she died. Calla lilies, like the ones we had at our wedding.

Flowers from the yard. Flowers that were mostly planted and thriving when we moved in. Within the stunning beauty of the countless varieties that can bloom, petals quietly fluttering in the wind, I see Charlotte. Of course she comes to mind. Flowers blossom for such a short time, it's hardly a revolutionary thought.

And for some reason I can put flowers in vases all over the house if they come from the yard, but a bouquet from the florist with certain blooms can send me reeling. In my mind there is a distinction there, one I cannot fathom or understand.. Trauma and memories have rendered this distinction within my brain, and so, it is. I am not sure anything can change it. Expect, perhaps, time. Time has a marvelous capacity to erase and erode. Even when we don't want it to.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

less stuff, more love {giveaway}

I have a hard time letting go of things. I hoard - mildly - and stuff things in closets because I may need it / want it / use it ... someday. I have a really hard time letting go of books. Even if I didn't like it, even if I'm never going to read it again I hold onto it. Books on a shelf make me so happy. I couldn't live in a home without books everywhere.

Last night I was organizing and rearranging things and I began a pile of books. Then I added a pile of clothes. This morning I began selling furniture we've been meaning to get rid of for a while. Our upstairs looks like a used furniture shop. It's time for a lot of it to go. I've spent the day organizing, rearranging, giving away, selling and tossing things. It feels so good. I was halfway joking this morning when I said, "I want to start the year with less stuff, more love," but it is really nice to watch stuff leave the house. 

While cleaning I found a journal/workbook to help one work through grief after the loss of a baby. My midwife gave it to me a year or so after Charlotte died, but I never used it. It has healing exercises, poems, artwork, places for you to write your story, and much more.

I think someone would really benefit from it so I'm giving it away. If you are in the first year after the death of your baby this is a great resource, but I think it is perfect for anyone who has lost a baby. You can read about it HERE.

This Christmas was a rough one. I've been silent here because all of my energy has been focused on getting through the holidays. It feels good to clean the house and prepare to enter the new year with an attitude of love.

Leave a comment if you would like to be entered to win the journal.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

remembering with you

I received an email asking what can be done to mark the anniversary of a little one gone too soon. I have a few ideas, things that have been done in memory of Charlotte that we appreciated, but I thought I would seek more answers and ideas. Most of what people do is simple, but any gesture matters because we are so worried people will forget.

What have friends and family done in memory of your little one?

Monday, July 15, 2013


I miss Charlotte. As baby clothes pile up in the crib, as I think about painting the nursery a brighter more gender neutral color, as we struggle with deciding on a name (thought we had it, but now we're not sure) and as time flies by - 15 weeks or less left! - I sense the missing. The baby I "lost." The one who, let's be blunt, died. I always say, "I lost my first," but I didn't lose her. I know just where her divided ashes are, but it seems cruel to link the words baby and died.

I know I've been writing a lot about pregnancy. I think it's possible, maybe even easy, to look at my life: what I write, what I share on instagram and facebook, how we live, and see a current that has kept moving. And it has, but not entirely. There is still a part of me treading water back in 2010. I'm never going to be able to let go of that place in my life where the river split and instead of floating calmly to the conclusion I expected I thrashed and fought to an entirely new and unexpected place.

I miss the happiness of Charlotte's pregnancy. I miss the practical side of my personality that asked for gender neutral things in case we had a boy after Charlotte. Or perhaps it wasn't practicality. Perhaps it was intuition. Now I want girly sheets and seeing the closet and crib fill with pink second hand clothes fills me with delight.

And yet, I still feel disconnected from this pregnancy. It's all so different this time. Different provider. Different type of care. Less handling. Less concern. From all sides, not just the medical front.

There's a part of my mind that wonders if I can only safely deliver boys. Girls are still iffy, questionable and my track record is not good. I have this idea of how the birth may go, but I keep pushing it away because I don't want to get my hopes up or go into it thinking it will be one way only to be disappointed. I'm trying to have the mindset that it's going to be hard, and it will hurt (always thought I might do an epidural with this one - and of course I might - but the thought of that makes me more nervous than the pain of labor) and then it will be over. And then, finally, I'll connect. I'll be able to link the abstract with the actual and understand that what happened with Charlotte was an unusual anomaly.

15 weeks. I'm waiting for the seasons to change. For the hot weather to ebb and the rains to start. Then I'm going to dredge it all up - the anxiety, the panic and the fear - and I am going to dispatch it. Or I am going to succumb to it. Either way this pregnancy will become real to me at some point and I'm going to have to find my way through to the other side.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Three: Charlotte's Day 2013

On Charlotte's birthday we spend time together as a family. Last year we went to the beach, this year the zoo. Once again I spent Mother's Day crying on and off, but haven't shed a tear today.

It was a tough day, but okay too. For the first time in a week I didn't think about guilt or fault or blame. I just leaned into my family and enjoyed the day. Three years ... in so many ways it feels like a blessed miracle that I'm still alive and breathing and living without her. Some of that blessed miracle is all of the people I've never met who remembered Charlotte with us today. Thank you for loving her and supporting us.

If only ...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

11,300 babies (US) // 1 million babies (worldwide)

Photo credit: Save the Children

A couple months ago I connected with the non-profit Save the Children. They put out a "State of the World's Mothers" report every year with a specific focus. The focus this year: newborn health.

You can find the full report HERE and a little bit about my experience with infant loss in the sidebar on page 58. (Charlotte's story is in USA Today as well as The Huffington Post. Find those articles HERE and HERE)

A few facts from the report:

"The US ranks as the 30th best place to be a mother."

"The US has 60% of all first-day deaths, but only 38 percent of live births."

"Newborn deaths now make up 43% of child deaths (under 5)."

"When first-day deaths in the United States are compared to those in the 27 countries making up the European Union, the findings show that European Union countries, taken together, have 1 million more births each year (4.3 million vs. 5.3 million, respectively), but only about half as many first-day deaths as the United States (11,300 in the U.S. vs. 5,800 in EU member countries)."

Charlotte's death was not preventable but many of the deaths occurring in the US and around the world are. The report details the problems, but it also outlines cost effective solutions.

It breaks my heart that so many of these deaths are preventable. In the US, many newborn deaths are linked to premature birth. Women need access to health care - including information about nutrition and the importance of breastfeeding - and quality prenatal as well as postpartum care for themselves and baby.

 Charlotte's third birthday is in one week. By sharing our story I hope to prevent pain and loss for future mothers and fathers. I would appreciate it if you would help by visiting the Save the Children website to learn how you can take action, sharing the State of Our World's Mothers report, the article from USA Today and this post. I can't buy Charlotte a present, or bake her a cake, or ask her what kind of birthday party she would like, but I can raise awareness about neonatal loss so other families can have all the moments parents expect to with their children.

Will you help me?

Monday, May 6, 2013

cease all functions

In late April/early May I swear there is a switch in my brain, or body - maybe both? - that flips over and renders me useless.

I can't make phone calls.

I don't want to shower.

I can't remember anything.

I have lists all over the house:

e-mail this person, message that person, call about this, call about that, do the laundry, sweep ... 

After two (or more) weeks of staring at the list with "get referral of endocrinologist" I managed to do it this afternoon. It wasn't hard, but it felt hard. I honestly thought about calling my mom and asking her to call for me, but then realized I will be 30 soon and I mean, really, how pathetic can a person be?

I can take care of myself (iffy) and I can make sure B is fed, clothed, freshly diapered and loved, but I can't manage much else. J does a lot around here when I'm pregnant, but now that we both have the May blues this ship might go down.

You know how I said it's not bad this year because I'm not crying all the time? Well, I guess it is bad. I guess it's just a different kind of bad. It's a 'I just want to eat tacos and cheeseburgers, drink liters of ice cold diet soda (don't worry, I won't) eat spoonfuls of cookie dough, cuddle with B and stop using the phone/showering/engaging with the world.'

And I don't think I realized how bad it is until I went from bed to the gym in my pajamas and spent two weeks trying to find the courage to call for a quick referral. When Charlotte died it's like all of my little idiosyncracies mushroomed into full blown phobias (I didn't drive or talk on the phone for a long time). After a while they settled back into idiosyncracies, but when spring comes they become phobias once more. Does that make any sense?

This is one of those, my baby died and it just might have made me crazy posts.

Thanks for listening.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

may ritual

At the beginning of May I make a batch of egg free chocolate chip cookie dough.

I press it into a glass container, snap the lid closed.

When I feel sad, or overwhelmed or angry I take the container from the fridge, unsnap the lid and spoon out a bite of cookie dough.

If it's a bad day - looking at you Mother's Day - twelve spoonfuls helps a little.

There is something comforting about cold cookie dough and salty tears.

This year is not too bad so far.

It seems like there's a little less grief crouching behind the smile.

Last year was bad. There were a lot of spoons in the sink.

There have been some tears in the car - for some reason they often come in the car - but overall it's not too bad - yet.

This helps.

And of course B soothes much of the raw ache.

I still see her in him.

3 years.


Here it comes.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

old hat

Last night at loss support group I realized something: I'm no longer a rookie.

It's almost been three years and when I talk about Charlotte I don't cry.

In fact, I haven't cried in a long, long time for my little lost girl.

My tiny 5 lb. 7 oz. first baby who barely drew breath.

The soft mew of a kitten can still send me spinning back to the sun drenched room where she was born.

Those heart stopping moments when she tried to cry.

Three years.

It's knocking me sideways, people.

Upside down too.

I guess it's time to make the cookie dough.

Because eating a spoonful of cookie dough every time I felt sad last spring was really therapeutic.

Three years.

Somehow I've become someone who has walked the road long enough to have a little grief wisdom.

I'll leave you with a picture of me and my girl.

You've seen it before.

Of course you have.

But this is all I have. I can't give you a new picture because our time to capture her narrowed from a lifetime to an hour in seconds.

Charlotte - forever missed.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

what it's like

You say yes, you'll go, because there's no twitch in your heart telling you otherwise. You do okay. You smile. You participate in the games. You bring an appropriate gift. You manage. You leave when it's polite to do so. You drive to the grocery store to pick up a few things on the way home, tears streaming down your face. Because you're angry. Because you wish it didn't hurt so much nearly three years out. Because you wonder, as you often do, why your baby wasn't safely delivered. You wipe your face. Buy your groceries. The clerk asks if you've done anything fun with your day. You say no. She is chatty and you don't want to start a conversation about babies. The person in front of you narrowly escaped. You drive home, unload the groceries, change into pajamas. You eat frozen mac n' cheese because you're sad and it will make you feel (temporarily) better.  You squeeze your seventeen month old tight. You inhale his very presence. You count your blessings. You exhale anger and missing and hurt and sadness. You decide to be sick for the next baby shower that comes along.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

for charlotte

I was shopping at Target on Saturday when I spotted a mug on the clearance shelf. It was a sweet little mug with a bird on each side. I bought it because it reminded me of Charlotte. I don't often find things that remind me of Charlotte, but I fell in love with that mug.

When I arrived home I had a message from a friend who makes beautiful jewelry. She wanted to know if it would be okay to make a necklace in honor of Charlotte and sell it in her Etsy shop, The Jovi Lyne Collection. $10 from each necklace would go to a baby loss charity of my choice (Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep) AND I would be gifted a necklace.

It was one of those strange moments when I swear Charlotte is near. When I can sense her darting past me, a shadow with breath. If I could just make the world slow down for a second I would see her. The mug, the necklace, little items that coalesced into one big Charlotte day.

Honestly, truly, I don't think of her as often as I used to. We're approaching three years and while she is always a part of me her memory is not as heavy as it used to be. I no longer feel like I'm dragging her with me everywhere I go. My grief is a little more comfortable these days. It's become part of my walk, my story, my heart. I don't have to shout about it because those who need to know do. It's very different than how it used to be, back in the beginning, when I wandered around shouting grief and pain at anyone who dared cross my path.

Losing my daughter is quiet and integrated (but not accepted, no never accepted, I don't believe in that stage of grief) and so much a part of me I'm no longer trying to wrestle the idea to the ground and choke it until it somehow spits out my Charlotte whole and breathing. And then a day like Saturday comes along and it's like Charlotte comes roaring forth from the comfortable spot to reside in a more prominent part of my memory for a while. It throws me off, unsettles me a little, but in the murky waters of my unsettled soul is a whole lot of gratitude for those who wish, and strive, to remember her.

If you want to buy this necklace in memory of my girl and to support Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep GO HERE. If you would like a necklace made that reminds you of your lost babe contact Joellen via her Etsy shop for pricing and details. Just go check out her shop. I love her piec

I was setting up a shot when B asked to be picked up. He pointed at the necklace, asking what it was. I leaned in to talk to him and lifted the necklace to explain. Not the shot I was going for, but beautiful in its depiction of my life with one child here and one gone.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

third christmas

I'm in a cinnamon roll coma. It's been a few hours since I had one, I think I need to have another. Keep the sugar high rolling along. Brunch went off without a hitch this morning. I'm getting pretty good at this cooking/hosting thing. I feel so adult, having Christmas for J's side of the family at our house.

I can't believe this is our third Christmas without Charlotte. When I write out the gift tags, I wish her name needed to be penned. When I stack the presents by the tree, I see the empty spaces. When I think about what a two and a half year old girl may like, I wonder what my two and a half year old would want. Life without her is constant wanting and wishing. I cried in the kitchen yesterday when that feeling of someone important missing suddenly and unexpectedly washed over my soul.

Darling, darling Charlotte girl,

You are loved. You are missed. You are remembered. Merry Christmas, baby girl.

Love you to the moon and back.


Monday, November 5, 2012

hey, mama!

Bennett's language skills are developing at a rapid pace. Every day a new word comes out of his mouth and I stare at him astonished. Watching a child grow and develop is amazing. I can't believe Bennett knows enough about the world to reach his hand toward a fire or stove and say, "hot."

His first word was "this." I think. I'm pretty sure it beat out dada and mama. All day long he points at things and says, "this." Today he tried out, "what's this?" Bennett talks all the time, but now that I understand some of what he says our relationship is deepening and growing. I had no idea I would love his voice so much.

As I prepared Bennett's lunch this afternoon he circled around my feet asking for food. I stopped mid-prep and looked out the window at brightly colored leaves spiraling to the ground. I wondered, what would Charlotte's voice have sounded like? What would her first word have been?

I know all of the firsts I am missing, but I've never cataloged them. It would take too much time, and overwhelm my brain. But every now and again a first joins with a missing piece of a life and person I'll never get to know and knocks me off balance for a moment.

I don't even know what her cry sounded like. I know she made noise when born. I remember that, but the specific shape and timber of her cry is lost to me. It is only through Bennett that I've begun to realize what was lost when Charlotte died. There's a sharp irony to that particular truth. As he grows so does my list of missed opportunities and questions about who she would have been.

Monday, October 22, 2012

"just a miscarriage"

Last Monday I huddled in the rain with a small group of people. Some I knew, some I didn't. We gathered to celebrate and remember our lost babies. I turned to the woman next to me, "Who are you here for?"

I was trying to capture the stories of everyone present. I wanted them to know their loss mattered and I wanted them to know they were not alone; that their story had been heard.

She turned slightly, "Oh, I just had a miscarriage. Years ago."

I wanted to say, "Oh no. No, no, no, no, no. You did not just have a miscarriage. Your baby died. And it still hurts enough that you came to an event by yourself years after the fact to connect with and remember your child."

I said, "I'm so sorry for your loss," and turned to speak with someone else.

In the past I have ranted something fierce when someone I know drops the "just a miscarriage" line, but I try to hold back when meeting someone for the first time.

Can we drop the qualifiers, please?

My heart aches when someone says, "I don't know what you've been through. I couldn't do that. My loss was so early. It's different. Not as painful. Not as difficult."

I don't think that's true.

Just because Charlotte lived long enough to be given a name and have a birth date does not make her any more human than a baby who died at 8 weeks.

I know I've said this before, but I'm going to say it again: your loss is the most painful for you because it was your baby(ies) who died. My loss is the most painful for me because it was my Charlotte who died.

I don't know what it's like to miscarry. I don't know what it's like to choose between miscarrying naturally and a D&C. I don't know how it feels to see blood when you least expect it.

I don't know stillbirth, or genetic disorders that make it impossible for babies to survive.

I do know what it's like to miss a tiny soul who carried unfathomable depths of hope and happiness within their tiny heart. All of us who have lost babies know that unique pain.

We create entire lives in the space of time between, "I wonder if ..." and "I am!!"

If you erase the labels - stillbirth, neonatal loss, miscarriage ... - you'll see what's really missing.

Boys and girls and dancing and jumping in puddles and first words and 'I love you mama' and brothers and sisters and weddings and laughter and tears and joy and comfort and a feeling of completeness.

Let's forget about stillbirth, neonatal loss and miscarriage and focus on what really matters:

My baby died.

Your baby died.

We're both heartbroken.

We'll always miss them.

Friday, September 7, 2012

sage, parsley, grief

I am bent over a cookbook, ticking off ingredients in my mind and thinking about the task before me. It's a blazing hot summer day. I have written down a new roast chicken recipe on my meal calendar and I am determined to attempt it despite the early September heat. I begin making the spice rub: I measure rosemary and thyme, then reach for sage. The bottle has never been opened before. I don't often cook with sage. I tear off the seal and begin measuring the small amount I need. 

I pause.

Smell the herb. Pull back. Smell it again. And I'm gone. Flying through time to the same kitchen in a different year during a different season. There isn't a little boy playing on the floor as I cook. It's raining outside. I am weak and tired. My eyes are swollen and sore. The microwave is in a different place, next to the sink, and resting on top of it is a bottle of sage tincture. I twist the cap, pull out the dropper - which makes a slight ting against the glass, and watch as the sage darkens the water I drop it into.

My daughter died three days ago. My breasts are bound. They ache with the need to feed a newborn. I am sore from birth and suppression. Suppressed milk, suppressed sorrow, suppressed grief. I replace the dropper. Take the tincture. Shuffle back to the couch where I will spend countless hours in the weeks to come.

B bangs an oatmeal container against a cupboard. I inhale deeply, as if I am coming to from a long daydream, and continue preparing dinner. I put the chicken in to roast, take a break and then prepare the sauce. I pull parsley from the produce drawer. Wash it off. Give some to B who toddles around proudly with it clenched in his fat baby hands.

I slice the bunch lengthwise. And I'm gone. Flying through time to the same kitchen in a different year during a different season. I expect to see my midwife bending to place the parsley she bought so we could make restorative smoothies in our old fridge. I wait to hear her soft laugh and feel her gentle hand on my shoulder. I wait expectantly for her calm voice to filter through the dense layers of grief. But when I turn around seeking comfort there is only a little boy contentedly dropping a measuring spoon through the small slot at the top of the stepping stool in the corner of the kitchen, crushed parsley at his feet, forgotten.

This dinner is a memory minefield. I feel my heart breaking all over again as I work the sage and parsley in my hands. It amazes me how a scent can throw me back to a specific time and thoroughly entrench me there. Just as the sight of a red and white helicopter with a large cross painted on the bottom winging across the sky can bring me to my knees with prayer and remembered sorrow, the scents of parsley and sage bring spring, May and the ripped raw feeling of early grief roaring forth from the dark corners of my mind.

As I finished writing this post the song 'Ronan' by Taylor Swift began popping up in my Twitter and Facebook feed. This song ... it says it all ...

I remember the drive home when the blind hope
Turned to crying and screaming, "Why?"
Flowers piled up in the worst way
No one knows what to say about a beautiful boy girl who died.

I miss her so much.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

encouragement needed

image from here

This afternoon I received an email from a fellow loss mama.  Quite frankly, it broke my heart.  This line in particular made my heart hurt:

The truth is, I just really need to hear from others that it's ok to be sad at 3 months and that there is no timeline. (I believe that, but it's hard when so many people think I should be just fine now).

That right there is why I wrote a book on what to do after your baby dies.  I wish it was done (we're close) so I could send it to her.  I hate that people feel so alone and isolated after their baby dies.  I hate that we are expected to be over a loss so huge it's incomprehensible; to sit and think about it breaks one wide open.

I want her to know the following:

There is no timeline.  There isn't a right or wrong way to grieve.  Three months out is a very, very raw time still and sadness is appropriate and understandable.  You will never be over the loss of your son.  He will always be with you.  Your grief will change, your sadness will wax and wane, but you will never, ever be over it.  Over it doesn't happen when your baby dies.

Will you be the others?  Will you join me in lifting this mama up and coming together as a community to reassure and love her?

Here is her blog address if you want to read more about her story and see pictures of her sweet Samuel.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Right Where I Am 2012: Two Years, One Week, Three Days

Once again Angie is providing a place for the babylost to explore where we are at in our grief.  Here is my post from last year.

I've been up since 5:30 am.  Charlotte's brother decided it was a perfectly acceptable time to get up and begin our day.  He is eight months old, nearly nine now, and watching him grow has shifted the shape of my grief.

Charlotte's second birthday deathday anniversary day has come and gone.  I'm not as bereft as I was after the first one had passed, but I do feel  empty and sad.  It feels like each day before the 14th of May is a build up, a waiting, and then her day comes and it's anti-climatic, so hollow, and somehow I have to find a way to make it meaningful.

And after her day I find myself in a place of watching the spring rain soak the ground and nourish new life, which just guts me.  Spring is a time of growth, of budding, blossoming, blooming, and having a spring baby that died feels like a spectacularly cruel joke.

I feel like the world is going on without me, all I want to do is sit in the grief for a moment, but there's no time.  That's the biggest difference between now and one year ago.  I can't be with the grief like I want to.  I can't fall apart as I would like. We are far too busy with life, family, an eight month old for me to curl up on the couch for a week and let the world fade.

There have been few tears.  I sobbed through Mother's Day, but didn't cry a tear on her day.  I rarely cry, my grief doesn't manifest itself in that way anymore.  Or maybe I don't have tears left, perhaps that first year without her brought so many tears I am wrung out.

I want to cry today.  I'm exhausted.  I'm not eating well.  I'm not eating enough.  I am so worn down.

After her day it takes me a while to regain my footing, find the blessings and joy in life once more.  Prayer and meditation help.  I've rediscovered God and faith this year.  I pray daily once more.  I've accepted the non-answers surrounding her death and life.  I don't understand, but I accept that she's gone and my love and wishing won't return her to me and our home.

I'm in a place of near stability.  Yesterday marked four months of weekly counseling sessions.  Counseling has dispelled much of the anxiety, anger, and raw grief.  I wish I would have started when I was pregnant with Bennett, but I couldn't see a way to manage it.  I wasn't coping well enough to find the help I needed.

Last week I told my counselor I hate this time of year because the remembering hurts so much.  I don't want to feel like I did two years ago ever again.  Those emotions feel dangerously close on her day, which makes me anxious and panicky.

Losing her was so awful - indescribably so - the pain seared my heart, burned my soul.  I'll never be the same again, and just thinking about it makes me feel nauseated.  My counselor reassured me, "But it won't hurt that bad again.  It's been two years, you're healing."

So I am.

Not forgetting, not setting aside, not ignoring, but finding a way to comfortably carry my grief as I build a life without the sweet girl who made me a mama.


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