Wednesday, June 7, 2017

With

This morning we exhume Vivian's body to be cremated.  My family will be with us.  My mother and father in law, my parents and my brother.  'With' has never held more meaning than this season of our lives.  When others have disappointed me with their 'with'ness, it is the passage in Isaiah (43:2-3,5) I cling to... "When you pass through the waters I will be with you and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.  Do not be afraid for I am WITH you."  Blessed and grateful for my family today. 

Saturday, June 3, 2017


We met with the funeral home director.  It's set.  Vivian will be exhumed on Wednesday next week.  For the last year and a half, her body has rested in Babyland (I hate the name and everything about the place) where her plot is unmarked, covered by grass, as if no one is there.  I don't visit.

"What funeral home would you like?" None, thank you.  We left our baby girl at the hospital because we didn't want to pick blindly and our family with us, were in as much shock as we were incapable of providing guidance.  Just because her heart wasn't beating doesn't mean for one second I wasn't still mothering her.  How do you walk away from your baby?  She didn't belong in the morgue.  Cremation or burial?  With heads spinning, we chose burial and never really gave cremation a thought.  Not sure why.  It was several months later a class mate of mine in grad school lost her little boy in a horrific tragic accident.  She had shared pictures of she along with her other two kids painting the white casket her son would be buried in.  Oh, how I loved the idea...the images were powerful!  Why didn't we think of that or why hadn't someone let us know it was an option.  Gee, maybe because so few bury their babies.  How do you pick out a headstone?  What words do you choose to honor the life you knew, that so few got to meet?  It was an impossible task for us.  We wanted something one of a kind like she was.  We met with tattoo to fine artists thinking an image for a tattoo or print could also be translated into an image to use on her grave stone.  Either they wanted something turn key or there was an obstacle with how the drawing would be 'transferred' to the stone.  Nothing was falling into place.  Out of the blue the thought came, find a hand made clay vessel to hold her ashes in, hike Sawteeth Mountain in the Adirondacks with your boys and spread some of her ashes off the summit.  Finally, something felt right for us.  Peace.

This is a reminder of how little families are supported through baby loss.  This is just one piece out of so many decisions or connections to be made that are missed.  How ill equipped staff/nurses/providers are in facilitating a family through choices that absolutely can and do lead to BIG regrets.  I so wish we would have had someone sit with us and walk us through our choices and the possible effects of those decisions.  Some communities have bereavement counselors, trained nurses, pastoral care and volunteers on call to step into this role.  We're working toward this in our hospital, but nothing comes quickly and time is limited.  My heart hurts for families who are falling through the cracks.  They deserve every resource available, compassion, time, and someone to connect the dots unique to their story of love. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Serenity


http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/firefly/images/1/11/Firefly_class_ship.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20090714124528

The word serenity came to me while reflecting on my day today...I google search the word looking for an image that visually captures the meaning of it. This is what pops up.  It's actually another perfect addition to my day. If you're not familiar with the series Firefly, this is a ship from that show. My husband and I watched the whole series during a Netflix blitz.  Not only was it a good show, but it was time the two of us enjoyed together.  He's the love of my life.

Today my heart felt light, free, unfiltered...not tethered to pain, loss, insecurities, expectations, or fears.  So many days I fight to get through; it's rare to have a full day of exhaling and breathing in life.  The hard work of being in the middle and working through my grief feels like I was given a reward today.

The sun was shining (we always think of Vivian with the sunshine), I enjoyed a coffee chat, took son #1 driving, watched the season finale of Survivor with my family and laughed a fair amount today.  Time stood still like it did when my boys were little...soaking up the moment of watching my oldest grip the steering wheel and jerk his way through a turn a little too fast but all the while seeing him grinning ear to ear... It was forever captured in my mind's eye.  To witness him try hydro painting a scooter part that didn't go as planned and how he tempered his disappointment a little more than he has in the past was a gift to witness. Son #2 walks in the door and greets me with a warm genuine "I had a good day".  Those words are golden.  The last year and a half has been tough on them.  He's been in a long season of being defensive and short.  He was soft today, kind hearted, and thoughtful.  Ethan invited Nolan to the garage to hang out and help him on the painting prep.  Nothing warms a Momma's heart more than to see her kids connecting.   Quit wit rolled off the tongues of both of them during Survivor and we all laughed.  The unsolicited full arms wrapped around your neck hugs before bed... priceless.

Thank you God for joy today.  The middle is making me new.  I am blessed.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

In the 'messy middle'


I need to say a few things... I am hopeful, I have security in my faith, I'm optimistic, I see beauty, I am strong, and I love life.

The truth is, that only less than 1% of the population can truly relate to what myself & family have been through.  Few my age have known a deep loss on the same scale.  It's isolating, it's f***ing lonely.  One author said it well "the loss of a baby is just the beginning of loss."  So true.  You learn who your friends are (the good ones are rare).

There isn't a day that I haven't gotten out of bed, I'm holding on to a 3.8 grade point average in grad school (just started the program after we lost Vivian), my marriage remains strong, my kids seem to be happy and sane, I care for others as a nurse, and I started a perinatal loss committee at the hospital I work at to make a difference in the lives of future families with a loss.  Life hasn't stopped and we've never been more aware that it doesn't.  We have instant perspective on the fragility of life, so we don't need to hear that it could be worse.  I think we're persevering, but we still need to talk about the path we're on with our grief.  It's so intertwined with our daily lives.  To bring it up in conversation is a need.  When I say this, I'm confident I'm not playing the 'woe is me card', I'm not wanting you to feel sorry for me and I'm not wanting to make you feel uncomfortable or guilty.  Tough love is far from helpful and minimizing what we think or are experiencing hurts.  Throw out something encouraging, anything.  Say you were reminded of Vivian somehow/somewhere.  Listen even for just a few minutes.

 Brene Brown (my best friend in print) says we can't skip the messy middle.  We're definitely smack in the middle.  We'll come out stronger and better and all that other great stuff.  We didn't have that 'academy award winning' recovery that our culture so loves and claps for, but we need to be in this place... the messy middle. For those who have listened and been in the arena with us (a Brene Brown phrase - if you haven't read one of her books, you really should), we are beyond grateful!



Monday, May 8, 2017

Navigating life after baby loss


Autonomic.
The thoughts come without warning. My stream of consciousness is like a river. Now and then there's snags that ensnare you. You break free but there's always another one coming... My boss shows us new pictures of her beautiful young granddaughters and points out their coordinating outfits that she bought referring to herself as "Mimi'. The tears flood my eyes instantly as to what would have been... the thought of my Mother showing off a picture of her granddaughter in an outfit she delighted in buying. A snag from the river. I suck back the tears and break free.

The cheering from a sweet, small voice just a few feet away..."Go Mason, go Mason, go!" A little sister rooting for her big brother at the track meet. Snagged. Vivian would have been hanging from the fence too, cheering on her big brother. Nolan would have LOVED it. I break free once again.

Watching my husband hold and feed a friend's baby - this is his first time he's held a baby since our loss of Vivian. I take notice like looking through a camera lens (the old kind, not on a digital screen), there's no joy on his face as there would have been had our baby girl been held by us all these months. Snagged. Loss just keeps showing up. We keep breaking free.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Tonight I'm angry. Most days I'm strong and focus on the wide endless love of Vivian. Not right now. Triggers in my night act like an autonomic response, depressing the rewind button in my visual memory replaying the hardest of days... My pregnancy was hard having cholestasis and all that it encompassed physically and emotionally. Vivian died. Our grief individually, as husband & wife, and as a family have been one tumultuous road. Days after losing her, my Mom & I went shopping for something for me to wear at her memorial service. We sit down at a table with four chairs and within a few minutes, a man asked if he could use the two other chairs. We were unaware as he sat down that he was holding a baby girl. The tears just flowed as we silently finished our sandwiches with the two of them at our table frolicking and smiling at each other. Josh went to the hardware store early just before 7:00am one weekday morning and as he's in the lumber aisle, a Dad holding the hand of a sweet toddler girl pass by him; she looks back at Josh with a gaze that draws him in. Within the same week, I went to the mall by myself and I decide to stop in a gift shop for women and there in the middle of the store is a display with the exact pink rose colored stuffed bunny I bought Vivian when I found out we were having a baby girl. There's no other baby/toddler items in the store! In December, Josh & I visited the Angel of Hope Memorial with Vivian's name on the wall. As we're heading out of the park (there wasn't another soul in sight during our walk over or during our visit), we see a young vibrant couple coming toward us. She is clearly pregnant and right behind her is a photographer. The park is large and we happen to cross paths with them? Could we be any more diametrically opposed?! Instance after instance seemed as if a knife already in our open flesh wounds was being twisted. Tonight I don't want to do anything good with what we've been through. Tonight I don't want to be strong. Tonight... I just want to carry her.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Vivian...11 months today. In any given day, I think of you too many times to count. I wonder what you would be doing, what your giggles would sound like, and the endless ways in which your brothers would torment and tease you. Today I ordered more pictures to begin putting together your scrapbook. I wanted more. I longed for more visuals of us celebrating you, of us capturing doing life with you. There wasn't even a single picture of me with my full on baby belly. Oh I was cute, too. There wasn't a picture of Mom & I spending the day in St. Louis shopping for all things Vivian. The day was filled with such joy and love! Anticipating, preparing, dreaming and planning for your arrival. The two of us with our love for fabric oodled over the most beautiful dresses we'd ever seen in a baby boutique. To be immersed in a day of all things girly and feminine seemed a right of passage...soon to be three generations doing life together...Mother, Daughter and Granddaughter. What a gift. We should've taken more pictures. Some details of memories are already fading. I stop to remind myself that no amount of pictures would ever truly capture or depict the love and joy of you. A deep soul love that was created before you were ever visible to us.