Sunday, December 16, 2007

Happy Birthday Keira

Keira is one year old today. We had a little party all planned for her and I sit here now crying because I cancelled it due to snow. People were coming from all over the State and they just couldn't travel.

There were still a few people over and she did get to eat her first cupcake but it wasn't the same. I know I shouldn't be this upset but I am. I feel like she got robbed. I feel like this is going to happen to her often with this birthday.

I can't seem to put my thoughts together as to why I'm so upset. I'm sure it has to deal with the idea of a BIRTHday verus an anniversary of death. I'm sure it has to deal with making sure my subsequent children get the attention they deserve. I'm sure it has to do with her just turning one. I'm sure that it has to do with the few times I can feel somewhat like a normal mom, it seems to go to crap.

Happy Birthday Keira and it looks like Mommy will be making it up to you for years to come...I hope.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Uncle Mike

My Uncle Mike passed away as a result of a car accident. He was only 58. He had two children and 3 grandsons. He wasn't really my uncle but when your a child and a man brings you a real Christmas tree every year, well he is basically on the level with Santa.

I had not seen him in 10 years. Yet I can still close my eyes and see him. See this jolly full of life man walk into a room and just have such a presence about him. He was a big man yet he never scared me, instead he gave these incrediable bear hugs and laugh.

This was only the second memorial I've gone to since Connor died. The first one was for a friend's mom. I think of her as the first woman that has now held both of my sons. I find that I cry hysterically at these services now. I was always tearful but the emotions are so deep. Not to mention the guilt, because if I'm honest some of me is thankful. Thankful that this man, Uncle Mike is now with Connor. Giving him bear hugs and making his Christmas special.

Last night as the kids were eating, I thought more about Uncle Mike and Connor and where they are. I still don't know how I feel but I definitely believe that people find each other...it's the only thing that does give me comfort. And before I could think more, I hear the words...

Mommy, there's a pea up my nose!
And as I have him blow his nose and a pea comes shooting out, I start laughing. Somehow I feel like Uncle Mike is there laughing with me.

Thank you Uncle Mike. I love you and I'll see you sometime in the future.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thought better kept to myself

It's really sad but this is where my mind goes...

My friend, A (the one who just told me she is pregnant) told me yesterday that she has already told her almost 3 year old that she is expecting. She is telling me how cute her little girl is being with the news and meanwhile my brain is wondering "You're only 7.5 weeks...what are you going to tell her if the baby dies?"

I hate that my mind goes there and if I'm honest I hate that hers doesn't.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

My career

I realized that I haven't posted yet about my career. Which does seem a little strange considering how big of a part of me it is.

I graduated college with a B.S. in Computer Science and Engineering. I have often been told that I'm a victim of my own success as I quickly moved into management roles and did not code for long. The best way to describe my career now is Information Technology Project Manager.

I'm a type A individual. My job has always been where I feel in control, helpful, appreciated and respected. I am proud of the work that I do and how it makes me feel. So aside from the fact that I have zero domestic skills, I've always knew that I would be a working mom. My general opinion was a happy mom is a better mom.

So when Connor died, obviously my interest and work ethics were pathetic. I didn't care about my job, I just cared about having a baby to take home. It wasn't until I switched companies shortly after Sean's arrival that I started to feel the passion again for my career. I am not going to lie...it was wonderful. I wondered if I would have changed my mind and wanted to stay home but I didn't. I didn't just want to work...I needed to work. I needed to have a place for myself. I needed to feel the success of accomplishments and failures that I could learn from and actually do something about. For the most part...at work...I have control! I didn't have the "mommy guilt" about returning to work. For me, I still see Sean every day and that's more than I can say for Connor.

Sure, I'm tired sometimes and work can still frusterate me but it's a different set of challenges. Not ones that are life and death but ones that you just learn from and move on. Suddenly any real pressure or stress is removed. At work, I'm not "that person", I'm the manager and I help make things a success. I'm the team player that people count on. I'm the one the client depends on and trusts. Considering how much I have struggled with these values on a personal front, I get to enjoy them still professionally.

I am a proud working mom.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Nov already

It's Nov and my little girl turns one next month. This year has really flown by and I'm not sure I realized just how fast.

My friend, A is still pregnant. Her due date is in June. When I asked what it was, she said she wasn't sure. Who doesn't know their due date...my guess, her due date is either on or right near Connor's due date of June 17th. I know it sounds stupid, especially since I go with his anniversary in March as the big date but jealously does rise in me with the "June babies". Then again it rises in me for the "March babies" and the, well you get the gist. I'm going to make a point to call her once a week. I hope I can do this.

We saw my husband's best friend (his best man and the godfather to Sean) this past weekend. We talked more about Connor then we ever have. We told me that I looked better then I had in years (emotionally). It's nice to know that others do see that I've made progress...even if I don't feel like it most of the time.

Our 5 year anniversary is the 24th of this month. I know that this is an accomplishment and I know that it's an even bigger one considering what we've been through the past almost 4 years. Unfortunately, celebrating much over these past years has not happened and I think I may actually be a little sad if this day goes without some effort on his part. He kinda bombed on my 30th so we'll see.

I'm so preoccupied with work that I can't even get my thoughts here straight...but that's a whole other post that I don't have time for.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pregnancy Announcements

No...not mine!

General gist of the start of my phone conversation last night...

Me: What's up?

A: Sorry I haven't called. There's just been a lot of personal things going on.

Me: (Ok, is she sticking it to me that I'm not as good of a friend anymore or does she just want me to magically know what's happening in a different state or does she want me to beg for it) Anything you want to share?

A: I'm pregnant but it's not going well.

Me: How far along are you?

A: About 5 weeks but I have fluid in my abdomen...

Me: (Trying to process the medical information that she is saying...she's an OB-GYN) When will you get more definite information?

A: We'll do another scan on Thursday

Me: Ok...then for today you are pregnant and that's a good day.

-------------------------
Yes the emotions were as blah as the conversation reads. I am just not able to be the "YOU'RE PREGNANT. THAT'S SO GREAT" gal. I'm also not the "Everything will be fine" gal. I am excited that she is pregnant, it's a milestone that some people don't get to (I even have two very close friends that are struggling with that right now) but pregnancy in general is still very hard for me. I know what society expects and I'm not able to do it.

She got pregnant a month after Connor died. The day I found out she was pregnant was the day they told me I could try again. Needless to say, my reaction of falling to the ground sobbing in CVS drug store was not the response she was hoping for. Nor was my participation in that entire pregnancy...it was just too hard. I think she understands some aspects but I also think other parts she's not truly forgiven/accepted. We have had a few really raw conversations and our friendship has gotten back on the right track, which prompted me to ask her to be Keira's godmother.

I really hope I don't disappoint her again. I really hope that given this timeline, I'm able to be the friend she wanted for her daughter's pregnancy. I sent her an email this morning thanking her for sharing with me and not waiting and acknowledging that I'm not the jump and down gal anymore (ok, I don't know if I was ever really that girl). If everything goes well, maybe I'll go there for her delivery...but would she even want me to?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Thinking more...

I kept thinking about my last post. I immediately wanted to put the disclaimer on it saying "I'm not sure when I got here and I reserve the right to fall back into complete misery at any time I choose." as I'm fully aware of the roller coaster of this pain.

I tried to pinpoint when I started feeling this way. I don't think it was just this night but it definitely seems to stick out in my mind. My best friend, A and me went to play poker in Canada. It was our "just get away from everything" night. She is suffering from secondary infertility and has been trying for years. After 20 years of friendship, you could say we know each other almost too well. She is the person that calls me crying because she's having a bad Connor day. She is the person that taught me I wanted people to grieve with me not for me. So I guess it suits that she would teach me this lesson too.

So we're playing poker and the guy next to me starts with the chit chat talk. No biggie at first..."I see your married" "yep" "Happily?" "yep". Brief silence where I turn to look at Ang and we have the understanding...it's coming. Sure enough, "do you have children" "yep". At this point, I have not looked directly at him, have not changed my response. Yet he continues "how many" "3". As I know the next question to come, so does Ang. She starts laughing. She can't stop. I hear her mutter "shut up or you're going to be sorry" while she can't stop laughing. Now I'm laughing while he asks "How old are they?" While laughing I had to say my first son passed away and my second was 2 and youngest was an infant. We must have looked insane. We're laughing while we say my son passed away but we couldn't stop. His questions stopped but I didn't notice his reaction. I never looked at him. I don't know if I got the look of horror. I don't know if he gave that pity face. I didn't care, I was too busy cracking up. I actually was laughing because the tables were turning. Instead of me worrying about how this random person was going to put me in a downward spiral, I was laughing because it was inevitable that he was going to ask and I was going to have to make him feel uncomfortable. I'm sure it helped that I knew no one there. I'm sure it helped that she started laughing and that always throws me into non-stop laughter. She knew I was going to acknowledge Connor and she knew this was never going to end (she gets the "when are you going to have another child question). The fact was I enjoyed that night. I enjoyed that I silenced him. I enjoyed laughing despite my reality.

I keep trying to think what released some of my fears of people's judgements. I do think that my 2 successful PALs have helped tremendously. I do think that being done with pregnancy (I'm not having any more) has helped. But I think it's more. Whenever I heard "it won't happen twice" to me during a PAL, I became extremely defensive for all the women that did suffer multiple losses. I took it as some sort of insult/judgement to them. So as I help my friend through her early pregnancy loss, I find myself admitting to feelings and reactions so that she doesn't feel alone. Why should I hide them? Why should I be embarassed? Doesn't that imply we grieving mothers are guilty? Because we're not. Our hearts are forever broken but that's not our fault.

Ok, this probably sounds crazy. I also know that this piece of acceptance does not mean I have many more issues to deal with and jealous responses to work on. Something in me just wants to scream from the rooftops "I have a son that is dead...he died inside of me...I'm not hiding anymore!"

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Truth that I'm going to admit

A statement was made on another blog and my response to her posts made me realize I want to tell an evil truth.

Part of my response to her entry: Here's a thought, it is just learning to embrace you or the life that you didn't choose. I've recently came to a place where I almost take pride in that I've suffered a loss. Not in that I am glad it happened but that I know truths most people take a lifetime to figure out and some never do. I've noticed the less that I seem to fight not wanting to be seen as different the less I care about the what the difference says to that person.

So here it is...Some days, I enjoy shocking people. I enjoy watching someone squirm. I enjoy watching the horror that comes across their face.

Let me explain before I get saddled with hate responses. At first, I hated these moments. I felt like a freak. They would trigger such pain that I always wanted to run and hide. The enjoyment I feel now is because I can stand there without a tear and say "My first son passed away" and no matter what the response, I survive. I enjoy that I've stopped giving people that power. I enjoy that I've taken control of these situations and they are on my terms now.

I know it sounds strange and if you had asked me even a year ago if I would ever feel this way, I would have thought you were nuts. I do feel a sense of pride now. I feel honored to be knowledgeable about this world of pain and know that occassionally I may help another grieving mother. Sure there are things I'm still jealous about but at the end of the day, I know the truths that people want to hide from. I know reality.

Yes, it's different. Everything is different. However, with that difference came a new perspective. I'm proud that I know the goal of childbirth is not sticking to a birth plan but taking home a breathing baby. I'm proud that I know asking a pregnant woman if this is her first is completely inappropriate question. I'm proud that I know you become a mother the minute you are pregnant and that can never change. I'm proud that I know there is parenting of living and deceased children.

Maybe my hope is that the isolation, the silent grieving will stop if grieving mothers take charge. I may have only been able to get to this point recently but I can say it's had a ripple effect in my life. I don't mind being social again. I don't mind being around moms/babies. The reactions I get now are different. Oh, I still get those "looks" but not as often. I don't know if it's by chance but I'm starting to wonder if it was because I gave them that opportunitity (ok, gave is a bad word in that I really didn't have a choice then but I do now). I wonder if it just comes down to the more confidence you put forth, the less someone questions it.

I wonder if I'm been able to get to this point because I've had 2 successful PAL, that the guilt or fear that I caused Connor's death is reduced. Hmmm...

Friday, October 5, 2007

Blog topics

I realized how badly I've been needed to write to get this out. All of my topics tend to focus more on the loss and the troubles I'm facing. I'm probably giving a view that I'm not enjoying anything about my life now, which is not accurate. I think I'm just focusing on topics that I've been itching to discuss.

So here's a lighter just mommy/woman/professional post. I'm starting to get really excited for the next 6-9 months. By 18 months, Sean became a complete blast and it was amazing to watch how he was understanding my requests. It also became the time when I could finally start paying more attention to myself.

Believe it or not, I've tried to do this earlier this time around. I'm running 1-2 miles each morning of the weekends. I do little exercises every evening during the week. However, I know this is not enough to lose that last 10 pounds that has been on me since dealing with Connor's loss. The problem I (and most women/mothers) have is where do I find time for more. I already go into work around 5:30. Yes, I said 5:30...two reasons (one I've always been an early person and two it's the only time I can get my own work done without interruptions or meetings), plus I don't mind as everyone else is asleep and I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. My husband takes care of getting the kids ready in the morning and I leave work (most of the time) by 4 to pick them up. I'm then with my kids until bedtime (Keira at 7 and Sean by 8), which I then try to unwind for about an hour and then head to bed. Not much time for anything else.

I know what you're thinking, cut back the hours at work. If I'm honest, I really don't want to. I enjoy my job (most of the time). I feel a sense of accomplishment here. I've gained respect. I do a good job. My client appreciates me and I feel needed. This is something I do for me by me. I support my family (I make double my husband but this is mostly only due to our career choices). I often joke that if I did win a lottery (which would be impossible since I never play) that I would keep working...but really it's not a joke, it's the truth. I feed off the deadlines. I feed off the successes. I feed off the losses. I have control at the job.

However, I have been good and have stayed away from working on the weekends. That time is just for the kids. See that's utlimately why I'm looking forward to the next 9 months...the more Keira can play by herself the more that I can start to focus on me again. The more that I get happier with me again, the more I'll invest in my marriage and my children. A happy mommy and wife, makes a better mommy and wife. I just have to wait this period out a little longer.

Boy, when I type that it makes it sound like I'm not being grateful to have my living children and have them dependent on me. The truth is in the middle somewhere. I was never the SAHM type. In fact, it's a running joke that I don't have a single domestic skill. And I'm ok with that but it does mean that I don't have the "oh, I love the baby/infant period" of parenting. I love the toddler phase. I'm excited for the next phase. I just want to keep finding parts of the old me I did like (you know, the 10 pounds lighter parts, etc). I just need the time to do it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Late talker

Sean's vocabulary has exploded and he's now pretty much repeating everything we say. He says complete sentences that are longer than 3 words. However, had you asked me how Sean's talking was at his 2 year birthday, my answer would have been completely different. He said words but maybe a couple dozen. The only word combination he said was "mama's car". He's always been on the low end of the "normal" range for his verbal skills. For the most part, I didn't know what a child should be doing and by when. I had the attitude that I was just glad he was breathing. People didn't say anything to me about his lanaguage until after he turned two. Then the questions set in. Shouldn't he be talking more? Are you sure you shouldn't have him checked out for autism? At first I blew this off but the more people made comments the harder it was for me to ignore. Sean didn't show any of the other warning signs of autism but I kept wondering if I was ignoring something just because I was afraid to face it. So when I finally got to a point that ok, maybe I'll just have him checked, the talking increases and now doesn't stop. I don't hear the comments anymore.

Aside from the amazing feeling it is to have a conversation with your child, I wonder about my reaction or lack of reaction to the situation. Did I not act because I truly felt there was nothing wrong? Did I not act because I was afraid that he did have autism? Did I give into the mommy pressure of child comparisons and worry for nothing? By ignoring milestone developments, did I create the situation where my child was a late talker?

Here's the thing. Do I know that I could help his development along faster if I worked hard with him...yes. But I also know he will learn it eventually. I also know that he will learn it faster when he's ready.

I guess we'll see what happens with Keira.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I'm 30...

This is what I wrote to my closest friends...

My twenties are over, I’m now 30.

I always expected that when I wrote that statement, I would be sad. However, I’m really not. I don’t know if I can really explain it well but I’ll try. It boils down to the fact that I don’t have any desire for my living children to stay little. I want to see them age. I want them to grow old. I want them to turn 30. That’s what my mother gets today…she gets to see her daughter turn 30. It may be a gift that you can’t control but seeing your child age is the best gift possible.

I sent an email below 2 years ago with my wants/needs for the year…it’s funny to read those wants and compare to the reality. One was "to have the courage to give Sean a sibling", I didn’t exactly need courage as Keira’s pregnancy was an “oops”.

So what’s my biggest lesson of my twenties…I can’t control everything. I definitely made every effort and did manage to make most things happen but when it comes down to it…usually the things that can knock you flat on your ass are the ones that you just can’t control. Of course the type A project manager and the mom in me still struggles with this emotionally but I can’t deny this fact especially when it’s so clear when I am trying to support other grieving mothers.

This leaves me to what are my wants/desires for the next five years:

That I learn how to gracefully and proudly be a mother to three
That I will have seen Sean and Keira enjoy their birthdays each year
That Sean and Keira will know more than “Connor’s Necklace” about Connor
That I won’t traumatize Sean and Keira by being sad mommy occasionally about Connor
That I will value how my marriage has survived and my husband is standing next to me for the long haul
That I will cherish the friendships that I’ve unintentionally tested to the limits and held strong
That I will continue to gain respect in my professional career
That I start thinking positively about the link I share with my birthday being Connor’s half anniversary
That I will finish my book related to Connor’s loss and the journey through a subsequent pregnancy
That I start having a comfortable saving/retirement/etc accounts
That I keep figuring out who I am now and start enjoying it

Thank you for growing with me…for the good, the bad and even the ugly. I don’t know what is in store for me in my thirties but I’m grateful to know I’ll be figuring that out with all of you in my life.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The tooth is gone

Sean now has a huge gap where his front tooth once resided. He did really well at the appt and for the most part seems to barely even notice anything happened or is missing (not even playing with the spot with his tongue). Unfortunately, this did not seem to bring any comfort and I have a feeling it will be a while before I look at him without seeing the reminder of my failure.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Tooth appt is tomorrow

So the pulling of Sean's tooth happens tomorrow. The nice part about having to wait so long for an appt...I somewhat pretending this wasn't really happening. The bad part about having to wait so long for an appt...I get to feel the guilt all over again.

I'm reading the instruction sheet and one of the items says..."Do not allow your child to bite his/her lip, cheek or tongue if a local anesthetic is used. Remind your child..." LOL, yeah right. Sean is too little and I know he's going to further hurt himself, simply so that I can feel as much guilt as possible!

I feel absolutely sick to my stomach. I feel like I failed him. I know it's just a tooth and a tooth that would have fallen out eventually but the weight sitting on me right now is unbearable. I have so much to do at work today but I can't focus. I keep wishing I could just blink my eyes and make this all go away. Then I start having flashbacks from after Connor's death when I had that same desire.

Am I being dramatic? Yes. Am I glad it's just a tooth and not something more serious? Yes. The problem is with this issue...it's a result because I didn't listen to myself, my gut. I blindly followed a doctor and now my son is paying for it. I feel like I didn't learn any of my lessons and my son is paying for it. I feel I could have prevented this appt but failed to take the necessary steps. I'm responsible for making him go through this traumatic event tomorrow.

The worst part...I've pretty much played it off as not a super big deal to anyone in real life. Not because I don't think they would listen or try to be supportive but because if I admit it to them, the guilt feels even heavier. Somehow if they pretend it's not a big deal then I can keep up the facade too.

I hope I can come to terms with this quickly because he's not going to have a tooth for a very long time. What if every time I look at him, I feel this guilt? Oh that thought is too much for me to handle right now!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Milestones

I can't believe Keira is already 8 months. Time really has flown by this year.

Keira started crawling and pulling up this weekend. I remember when Sean hit these milestones, time seemed to speed up. Before I knew it he was walking. Now granted Sean did these at 8 months also and was walking by 10 months. So we'll see if Keira stays on the same track.

She's way more vocal then Sean was but Sean had more expressions at this point. It's interesting to look at their month pictures for comparisons and similiarities.

I do have to acknowledge a difference between how I see Sean and Keira. But before I can, I have to give a little background story. Years ago, my best friend (A) and I wondered whether parents really knew if their babies were not that cute. And whether we would know if our babies were truly cute or not. So when I had Sean and I just thought he was incrediably adorable, I had to constantly ask A whether it was just me. The same happened for Keira. The general consensus is that we seem to have very cute kids. With that said, I realized there's a difference with how I interpret cute for Sean versus for Keira. With Sean, I wanted to smoother him in kisses. With Keira, it's this adorable sweetness. I want to cuddle her. I don't know if this is just a difference in the boy versus a girl or their personalities or what. It's just an aspect of motherhood that I didn't know about and then wonder what it would have been for Connor.

Here's more recent photos of Sean and Keira...


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My sister's wedding

I watched my little sister get married this weekend. Her husband is perfect for her and she looked wonderful. My sister is a very caring and thoughtful person. She put a single white rose on a table near where they got married and made the note in her program that this rose was for all the people that couldn't be there with them today. I found out that Connor was one of the primary people this was done for. Tears filled my eyes because I kept trying to keep the thought out of my mind but I couldn't...my family wasn't all there. I was missing one child to be in the pictures.

Majority of the weekend, I had a great time. Not much sleep but I enjoyed seeing everyone and hanging out. Unfortunately, there is always this nagging feeling in the back of my head. For instance, when I heard the comments throughout the weekend...you know, the ones that are innocent..."so when are you going to start having children", "you better give me tons of grandchildren", etc. I wish I could say that I was far enough away from my loss to respond to this with indifference but I'm not. I know why...I still feel judgement. I know that it's not really judgement on their part but it feels that way because I'm ashamed. You can tell me until your blue in the face that I did not cause Connor's death but at the end of the day...I'm the mommy. I'm the one and only one that could have kept him alive. Logically I know that it wasn't my fault but it doesn't stop me from believing that everyone else thinks it is so that I can punish myself a little more.

I know that I probably sound like this hasn't gotten any better but it has. I didn't cry at all. I didn't even feel like I was going to cry. It just kinda lingers under the surface. Ultimately, this is what I struggle with now...how to be happy and still a little sad all at the same time. How to not let it consume every occassion yet how to not let it be forgotten. I guess the best way to describe it now is more like phantom pain. I'm living life. I'm enjoying my kids that are alive. I'm just feeling this ache over a piece of me that is gone and it's enough to not ignore but I'm not drowning in it either anymore.

So what was my secret wedding wish for my sister...I hope that she has as many children as she wants and that they all stay with her. She's already had to face the death of a nephew...that's plenty.

But for today, she's in Vegas and given my addition to poker, I'm jealous.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Still feeling a little robbed...

So my dear friend had her beautiful second daughter this past Friday. This time around was different then the first in relation to me. Let me try to explain...

For Connor's pregnancy, her due date for her first daughter was only five days after Connor's due date. We were suppose to get to have this cute story and take maternity leave together, etc. Only instead I said goodbye to my child and feared the day she would deliver hers. We had been open with each other and she waited a until the initial excitement slowed to call me to tell me the news. At first, I was relieved then the flood of sadness, jealously, envy...well, you name it came over me. I sobbed for the rest of the day. Ok, I sobbed for days. I went to their home and met this beautiful little girl but I kept looking at my friend and noticing that her arms were empty and my child was no where to be seen. I am thankful my friend acknowledged that my grief was not her or her daughter's doing but that I had to process all of it. She is a true friend.

So when she told me she was pregnant again, I was still pregnant with Keira. My thoughts were at the end of that pregnancy and I didn't really think about the differences. However, when I got the call the DAY that she went in for labor and was at the hospital that evening. It smacked me right it the face. We were robbed of this bonding. We were robbed of the experience of raising our first together and bringing a second into the world at the same time. I'm thankful our friendship survived but I'm feeling sad that I missed so much. I'm feeling sad that my family will never feel complete.

But I'm also feeling grateful that I could be there this time. That I held her second daughter and was able to just focus on her. She's absolutely beautiful and her mom is one amazing woman. I'm so thankful she had a happy ending.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Pay it forward...

I really haven't shared with anyone in my real life that I've started this. Not even my husband or closest friends that have stuck it through with me. I know that I will eventually tell them. In some ways, I hope this will be an avenue for them to truly see into my mind when I can't always communicate directly. Yet, despite this hope, I'm holding off from telling them.

If I'm honest, I think it's because of two reasons. First, the one that really doesn't have much basis...what if they don't like what they read and I now lose them. I lost so many friends (I'll save that for another post) after Connor's death, I am terrified of losing the few that stayed with me. I know that my thoughts can be offending to them. I know that my thoughts can unintentionally hurt them. I know that we have a core difference. I guess I keep waiting for them to figure that out and say this is too much trouble and be done with me. I type this fear and yet there is a part of me that knows the fear is unfounded...knows that they won't abandon me. All I can really sum it up to general fear of loss that can now consume me, whether it be from death or ending relationships.

The other reason is I want to make sure this is worth it. I want to make sure that I'm gaining something by exposing these feelings. That it's helping me to process my loss and what that means to my life. That it's worth continuing. In most of the things that I've done since Connor's death, I've found that the majority of time when I can say yes to this question...is when what I've done has helped another grieving mother. For my pregnancy with Sean, I purchased two outfits. A preemie outfit for if he died and a regular outfit for if he lived. I took both to the hospital with me the day he was induced. Thankfully, I donated the preemie outfit to the hospital. So for my pregnancy with Keira, we did the same thing. This time I knew who was receiving the preemie outfit. It was a family, whose daughter had a terminal condition and would only live for a short period of time. A few weeks after I was home, I received a thank you card in the mail. This family had included their daughter's obituary and a lovely card of gratitude. In the card, she indicated that she would "pay it forward" and begin donating to the hospital little outfits for unexpecting parents that will need them. I know that the first outfit brought some other mother comfort just as much as the second one did but somehow knowing it...well, makes a difference. I know what you may be thinking...I just want someone patting me on the back but it's not that. Every response doesn't pat me on the back, instead it validates Connor's life and purpose. And yes, for that...I can't get enough.

So I guess I'm hoping this blog will eventually be a source for additional ways to "Pay it Forward".

Monday, July 30, 2007

What's the difference...

I get asked this question often. What's the difference between parenting and parenting after loss? I'm surprised that I can never really answer this question clearly despite the overwhelming feelings I have related to this fact.

For starters, a grieving mom's world is different. I don't know how many times I've had to hear "if something were to ever happen to my child, I would just die" and my thought (not response but thought) is "welcome to my world, only you're not that lucky to die instead you have to live without your baby". The unimaginable is reality. Their worst fear is my life. A grieving mother doesn't have innocence. A grieving mother doesn't assume everything will work out and be ok. A grieving mother doesn't pretend that death is not an option. This is the viewpoint that everything is now placed into. "Oh, your baby doesn't do that yet..." response "at least he's breathing". "If you don't put your toddler into a good pre-school, it could seriously set him behind the curve..." response "he'll still be breathing".

Yet when we do allow ourselves to worry about what our child is doing, the worry is ten fold. I know what you're thinking "all moms worry, how can it be any more?". Well, I'll tell you. Do you think that if you do x, your child will DIE? Do you think that if you child doesn't do y, your child will DIE? No, you worry about whether your baby is a genius or that you are not doing the right games with him. Let me be clear, I understand that and do not judge you for that worrying. I just worry about different things. He has an ear infection (which Sean has only had one), only I didn't think just give him some antibotics and he'll be fine...I went to this being some strange diesase being misdiagnosed and he's going to DIE! This constant -waiting for the other shoe to drop- feeling is relentless. Some innocent people will respond with "you can't live your life that way" but to this I reply "There's no one who wishes more that I could have my innocence back, but I can't. This wasn't my ideal life either but it's my life and the only way I can live it".

Then there's the isolation. Yes, some is completely self-imposed. I see judgements from other mothers when really they are not judging. I see stupidity when it's really just innocence. The best way that I can sum this up is that I am still aware of the lack of education related to pregnancy loss. I have a hard enough time continuing to remind myself that I didn't cause Connor's death...yet, I can't stop but continue to highlight this fact to others. Maybe I do think in some way that other people still assume I must have done something wrong and maybe this is just in my head but I don't think so. Want to know why...because I was one of them! Any time I heard of loss, I wondered what monitoring wasn't done...what warning sign was missed. I wasn't even a mother. I wasn't even considering pregnancy and yet I went there. I went there because I had to believe it didn't happen. So majority of the time, I'm left feeling like I don't TRULY connect with mothers that have not suffered a loss. I have many friends that stood by me after Connor died and even one mother that I met afterwards...so it's not to say that you can't but it's definitely harder to "fit-in" when you're "that one". To be my friend nowadays takes a significant amount of effort and willingness to go into the world of the ugly.

The issues that only grieving mothers face...how to tell Sean and Keira about Connor? How to not always be "sad" mama to Sean and Keira at holidays? How to be happy and sad when a child hits a milestone? How to be happy and sad when you see your children interact? How to incorporate loss into their life without being traumatic? How to answer the simple questions like "how many children do you have" and how you want to teach your other children to answer the similar sibling question?

Then the part that may be the worse for a parent...the guilt. I can remember saying a thousand times, don't take that baby for granted. If I'm able to bring a baby home, I will never take that child for granted. In most of the ways, I believe that I have fulfilled this but talk about pressure. I don't know a mother, who doesn't hit a point of "just get me away for a few hours" from her baby. Completely normal...taking care of a baby is extremely hard work. Now factor in this promise and have that feeling...HOW DARE I NOT WANT TO BE WITH MY CHILD EVERY MINUTE! So I stay put, then get nasty then fight with my husband then sob...all so that I don't have to admit that I need my own time. Because admitting that somehow indicates that I am taking my baby for granted.

Yes, most moms struggle but I dare say not to the lengths a grieving mother suffers.

Friday, July 27, 2007

It worked!!!!

It became quite obvious this was a game to him and was testing his limits. "Close door mama"...mama closes door, screaming begins. Repeat fifty times. I finally started not even making eye contact.

Last night...he went to bed with no fight at all. You could tell he was sleepy. It was catching up with him but I didn't believe it would be with no fight at all. I probably shouldn't be making any declaration right now as that will just mean that it will be horrible tonight but I slept last night and even went to bed by 8:30 myself!!!!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Please sleep...

So I have to start off with fully admitting that in general, I've had this aspect of parenting extremely easy. Sean slept from about 7 to 7 starting about 6 months old (Keira is already doing the same). At 2.5, we moved him into a big boy bed. We only did this because Keira needed his crib. He climbed everything except for his crib. He would just lay down and go to sleep. I swear, we transitioned him to the bed with zero problems. We were putting him down more around 8 but no getting up or crying at all.

Then we went on vacation. We had to sleep with him. So this had put an idea into his head and now our lovely no hassle bedtimes have become a little more difficult. This has been going on for about a week. The first few days it was screaming matches but now it's just a "keep getting up and seeing if they put me back to bed". Now I realize that this is part of a toddler testing his limits. That in itself is not the problem. So what is the problem...

I take the parenting approach of "no backing down". I will reason. I will remind him of something that will not occur, if he continues (ok, threaten...so sue me). This is not the hard part. The hard part is feeling like I'm not taking every advantage of loving/kissing/hugging my child. I know this is completely unreasonable. I know that being a parent is also loving my child. Yet, the guilt doesn't stop. I remember so often saying "don't take your baby for granted" and despite knowing that parenting is not taking them for granted, it's not what comes to my mind. My child needs me and I'm not giving him what he wants. I know what he wants is bad but so what...I just want to make him happy. I want to give him everything I can't give Connor.

I stick to my guns and he ends up saying something cute and then goes to sleep but I'm left feeling like I just want to cuddle him. I just want him to tell me that I'm doing the right thing so he doesn't blame me. I guess that's really the gist. I get nervous that if I do something wrong with Sean, he'll be able to tell me one day. Which then goes to my hidden underlying fear, it will mean that I did something wrong with Connor, but he just can't tell me. That I didn't parent Connor correctly and I can't mess up the chance with Sean and Keira!

Talk about pressure...which leaves me just pleading that Sean will go to sleep without incident so that these thoughts don't overwhelm me at the end of a long day.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Writing...Again

Right after Connor died (I mean days after), I got online. I searched "stillbirth", "stillborn", "pregnancy loss", "infant death"...anything just to know that I was not alone. To find anyone that could give me a sense of hope. I stumbled onto a message board. Keep in mind, although very active on computers, I had NEVER posted in a chat room or on a message board to this point. Not to mention the state of shock that I was in, I wasn't completely paying attention but I found this thread that was talking about their stillborn son. I wanted to know more. I wanted to hear that stories of successes after loss. So I posted and posted and posted. Before I knew it was I writing an online diary, exposing every raw emotion and asking every question that came to mind.

I don't remember when I realized that the site was www.mothering.com and it was a natural mothering site. I had no idea what that meant. This was my first child. As I explored the other boards, I quickly figured it out. Yet the pregnancy after loss board was fairly different. There were no judgmental statements, just acceptance. I "confessed" to being more mainstream but no one seemed to care. So I continued posting and some of the moms on their were definitely part of the reason that my sanity didn't completely disappear.

I really didn't think about what I was gaining from writing at the time. I just had this intense need to hear from other grieving moms that what I was feeling was normal. After stopping (shortly after I had Sean) and especially recently, it's become very clear what I gained from publicly writing. First, my husband and friends were able to see the true side of what I was feeling. Somehow it was always easier to type then to say. Plus, to hear others agree with me reduced some of their fears regarding whether I was doing as well as could be expected. Now I forget that they don't have this glimpse into my mind and I get upset because they are not responding to what I need. Second, I've always been a pretty raw and honest individual, who was comfortable with how I felt regarding something. Only this time, I felt more lost then I could even comprehend. I questioned everything. I questioned questions. Hearing that others felt that way but maybe couldn't articulate it, reinforced my need to share. Every thank you I received for sharing, somehow gave Connor's life more meaning. I still get occasion private messages based off those threads and the feeling I get from that...well, is what contributed to starting this blog.

I've tried support groups but majority of the people there are new to their loss (18 months or less), which is as expected. The issues that I face now are different than that first year. They're different after I was able to successfully have another baby. I'll still go to the memorial sessions but that's about it. I'm not going to discuss parenting after loss issues when the mama next to me just buried her baby.

I hate how few resources are out there for infant loss but I hate even more how few resources are out there for life after loss.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bye-Bye Tooth

That's what Sean looked at me and said after we left the dentist...Bye Bye Tooth. There are definitely moments when I disliked that he has started talking. When he first told me something hurts (yes, I knew something hurt before but now he tells me he is in pain). When he shouted for his daddy instead of wanting me (yes, I know he's a daddy's boy but I don't want to hear it). But this is by far the worst, when he can remind me that something bad is happening because I didn't prevent it.

The dentist started asking a series of questions...Pacifier use, no...Thumb sucking...no, Bottles in bed...no, Continuous bottles...no, Bottles beyond a year...no, candy...no, cake/cookies...no. What she didn't ask me...did I question the ped when he told me not to worry, so I brought that up myself. I know it was stupid but I had this intense need to further explain how it got to this point...that I wasn't a bad mother.

Many people (friends, coworkers, dentists) have shared stories about lost teeth at an early age. They are doing this to help ease my fears of speech issues, behavior issues (sticking tongue through the gap, etc), and perm teeth alignment issues. The problem...even if it works out for the majority of people, that gives me no comfort. I just now am expecting to get those bad small chances to occur.

At this point, there is no other course of action. His tooth will be gone and we'll just have to deal if any of the issues arise over the next 4+ years as we wait for his perm tooth to come in.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Don't worry...everything will be fine

The first time that I heard this statement and ended up on the wrong side of the statistics was with Connor pregnancy. I was low risk. My pregnancy was planned. My pregnancy care was routine. I had no existing health conditions to cause concern. So for the first time in my life, I truly bought into this line. I wasn't being pessimistic. I wasn't planning for bad scenarios. I happily buried my head in the sand.

So you can imagine the shock when I just couldn't shake the feeling on March 15th that something was wrong. So when the feeling was still there the morning of the 16th, I went to the OB office for a "little peace of mind" heartbeat rate check. They couldn't find the baby's heartbeat, little did I know that I would never have true peace of mind again. I went to the hospital for u/s check, which my husband and I heard the "I'm sorry" statement. We selected to be induced immediately and elected to have every test that could be run performed. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on the issue or viewpoint), we were never able to figure out why Connor died. This put his loss in that 3% category which is unexplained with possible cord accident (meaning no true knot, etc but may have been kinked for a period of time).

I am able to say that logically I have come to terms with the fact that I did not cause my son's death. Emotionally, I still feel the guilt. After all, it was my body that did not keep him alive.

Now to the present...Since Sean's tooth came in at 6 months, I had been asking his doctor at every single well baby visit if the discolor on his tooth is a problem. I got the standard response "Don't worry...everything is fine". No children see a dentist until they are about 3. So I believed him, yet the feeling still nagged at me. So when Sean hit 2.5, I figured that was close enough and took him to a pediatric dentist. THE TOOTH IS DEAD WITH AN ABSCESS. This was definitely something to worry about. I called the ped office, their response "well most of the time it is fine". I never end up on that side of the statistic! I wouldn't have cared if the ped didn't know, but to not tell me the possibilities or even refer me and let me make that choice, well just sends me over the edge.

Unfortunately, this has brought up a ton of things for me and I can’t say that I’m handling it very well. I feel like I listened to dismissive advice again and now this son is paying for it. I may now be able to let go of certain things that most moms worry about but the failure issues…they are intensified. I barely can look Sean in the eye. And if his tooth is yanked, I’ll have years to look at a reminder that I blindly followed without pushing harder if things were truly ok.

I'm sorry Sean.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Introduction

It's almost too overwhelming to start. Yet I keep reminding myself that I haven't been able to find any alternative solution to help deal with the emotions or situations that I now face in life after the death of my son.

The quick rundown of the basic stats...
This year I'll turn the big 3-0 in September.
I've been married for 5 years this November (together for 9).
I have 3 children.
Connor, born silently March 17th, 2004
Sean, born February , 2005
Keira, born December, 2006
I am a working mom with a B.S in Computer Science Engineering (now working as an IT Manager).

So why am I starting this after over 3 years past his death? Actually, it's quite simple. There's just not many resources available to grieving parents. Now eliminate the resources really targeted more for the parent, who just suffered their loss (i.e. <= 1 year mark) and there is almost nothing. I need a place to vent as to why things are different. I need a place to help sort out the emotions I deal with that stem from his death.

Many people asked me how I delivered a baby when I knew that the baby had already died. My answer is still the same today...Delivering was the easy part, I was in shock. Try living life when you know your baby has died. Try parenting other children after you know your baby has died.