Friday, June 20, 2014

Should-Be: A Celebration

My t-shirt from my dear friend.
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June 20, 2014 was a day that I had been looking forward to--the last day of spring, and the day that our baby was due. After Alaska died, I continued to countdown the weeks of my should-be pregnancy; this probably sounds stupid (to some) because there is no possible way to fix this nightmare and denying reality doesn't change a damn thing.

Even this week I had waves of denial where the tiniest part of me was holding on to the hope that I would wake up in December 30, 2013 with my little bump, go to the doctor, hear my baby's heartbeat, and carry on with my life as the nervous but ultimately naive mom of three. Oh to have that innocence back. To be the one-in-a-bazillion statistic where you hear about the pregnant mom who gets pregnant with another baby a few months later and gets to carry both babies to term. But this isn't my dream world that ends with my family holding both of our babies--screaming, alive.

This is reality where we can wish and wish and wish and slowly move toward acceptance, and right when I think I have fully accepted this reality, I have to remind the inner dreamer that the nightmare is real. This isn't Harry Potter...I know, HP fans, that's the worst analogy I could think of because, well, Fred and Dumbledore and Tonks and Lupin and Snape and so many others. But Harry got to say goodbye and make a choice. We just have, "I'm sorry, but your baby died. I don't know why." No choice in which path to take. No villain to hate (unless you count nature). I think this lingering denial has kept me sane. If I was capable of fully accepting that two of the most important people in my world have died, I probably wouldn't be able to handle it.

And I'm still pissed off. Two of the most important people in my world are dead. Dust.

So even through the slow acceptance and the anger that has come on quite strong these last few weeks, I knew that today had to be about celebrating Alaska. Over the last several months I have connected with other moms who shared how they handled the due date milestone: The date that went from one of the most anticipated days of a parent's life to one of the most difficult and full of should-be's. After learning from the stories of what others have done, we decided to celebrate Alaska today with simple activities throughout the day and date night.

a giant painting for baby sissy 

An outfit to donate to a family in need. 

A gift from Great-grandma Eva Eileen

Pink bubbles for Alaska
For Alaska Love Elliott

Minnie Mouse from Asher

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Song

We know full well there's just time(Birdy) 

I went to The Fault in Our Stars twice this weekend and had to download the soundtrack immediately after my first viewing. I've been listening to "Not About Angels" by Birdy since I drove out of the parking lot. This is one of those times (as a former student reminded me today) when the music says it much better than any words I could write.

If your heart was full of love, could you give it up?

I have to thank her for reaching out and bringing me a bit of light at just the right moment yesterday (I was in the middle of my unsharable rant when her message popped up). She shared a song called "Alaska" with me and sent her prayers. Later she told me that she imagines Alaska and Auburn to be great like their brothers. I wish I had a song to express how much this gesture really means.

How unfair it's just our love.

Saturday, June 14, 2014


I am still ranting. I can't post the rant that I wrote earlier. It's one of those that I need to think on. I might regret sharing it even though it's been brewing for months, and it's what I really think with a few deleted eff bombs. I wrote about loss comparisons and about how people say that loss isn't a competition. Below is my attempt to write about this again with a calmer tone.

Comparisons are made all the time in the baby loss community--often by those with early losses who don't want to claim that their loss hurts as much as someone who lost a baby later in the pregnancy. How dare a mom be devastated over the loss of a mere fertilized egg that had just a few days or hours to grow? I have seen moms compare their own early loss with a later loss. If this is a competition, there are no winners. Losing Alaska hurts. Losing her baby sibling Auburn hurts. If Alaska had died earlier in my pregnancy would it have hurt less to lose her? Fuck no. I loved that baby girl before I knew she was here. It pisses me off to think that Auburn is supposed to matter less. Hurt less. I had a baby on Monday. He was dead. It happened. It sucks.

Another thing we say in this community is that there is no "at least" in baby loss: least you have other children. least you know there was probably something wrong with the baby. (This one makes my head explode. I'm serious. My brains are on the ceiling right now just thinking about it. As if this possibility would make having dead babies ok...) least you know you can get pregnant again. least your baby is at peace. least nothing.

I agree that there is no "at least" yet I say at least I had more time with Alaska. At least we know that she's our daughter. We think that Auburn was a boy, but we don't know.  When I say "our boys," Auburn isn't included. When I say "my daughter," Auburn isn't included. I refuse to put him in either category. We just don't know. He's our tiny angel. He's a baby sibling. He's not a son or a boy. And he's certainly not our girl. Just because he doesn't fit into a category doesn't mean it's easier to lose him. In some ways it makes it harder. I would happily have carried him for months if it meant that I could know him for longer even if he died before he was born. Messed up, I know. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Announcing Auburn

We decided to wait until the boys were done with school before we told them about their newest baby sibling. Announcing a pregnancy has always been an exciting time for us (although I suck at actually speaking such announcements with my whole socially awkward thing that I have going on). With Alaska some of the joy was taken away when people were judgmental that we told so early because "What if something happens?" We told the boys and close friends and family, but the boys couldn't keep the secret. Seeing the disapproving faces of those who didn't agree with such an early announcement was beyond irritating: Yeah. What if something happens? Maybe we should wait until the "safe zone" *insert bitter cringe here* before we announce. Oh wait! There is no safe zone? Right. The safe zone is bullshit. (I guess I'm still ranting a bit.)

So we decided to tell the boys about baby Auburn a few weeks into the pregnancy. There were several reasons to wait but none of those reasons had anything to do with getting closer to the magical safe zone. I wanted to tell the world about our rainbow baby, but I also wished that I could go 40 weeks without even knowing I was pregnant. I wanted to tell people, but I couldn't stand the idea of all possible reactions:

  1. Excitement over the new baby meant that people would think Alaska didn't matter any more. 
  2. Relief meant that they thought we were over our daughter. 
  3. Worry meant that they were thinking we might lose this one, too. 
  4. Hesitation meant that they were judging us for trying again, for not being satisfied with the blessings we have.

Essentially, any person who I shared my news with was potentially going to piss me off (especially if they were happy for us). I knew that this was ridiculous and also part of the territory, so I reached out for help. A fellow mom who I met through an online support group for pregnancy after loss reminded me that my new baby deserved to be celebrated just as my other children were. I knew this for myself as I tried to balance the hope and joy and fear and love that comes with pregnancy after loss, but I hadn't acknowledged that others could celebrate our new baby without taking away from Alaska. I needed a couple of weeks to work this out before others knew about our new baby, so it was a relief to wait.

I painted a rainbow and "Big Sister Alaska" on a onsie and put it on one of the bears that we got after Alaska died. When the boys saw it and worked out what it meant, they were crazy with excitement. Elliott bounced around and yelled, "My wish came true!" I knew that this was his wish because he had shared it with me a few weeks earlier. He wanted another person to join our family. Someone that we hadn't met. A sibling who lived.

We talked about how we hoped that baby Auburn lived. The boys knew that anything could happen, but they definitely helped me go forward with hope for the short week that we had before we found out that baby Auburn was gone. We looked forward to the possibility that baby Auburn would be with us to celebrate his big sister's birthday on New Year's Eve 2014.

On the night of Elliott's 9th birthday he said that his birthday wish was that Auburn was ok. And then I had to break his heart with the news that I had hoped we could save for the next day. Some parents choose to keep early losses from their children. I understand the need to protect them from more pain, but I wouldn't change our decision to celebrate Auburn's short life as a family. He's part of us, and I wouldn't feel complete if Auburn was a secret. I'm also not sure at what point in Auburn's life it would be acceptable to include him as part of our family other than the very beginning. It's the only way I know when it comes to my babies.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Sentiments

I woke up this morning and reminded myself that I'm not pregnant anymore. Again. And then I read a quote that Angela Miller posted at A Bed For My Heart.
God gives us only what we can handle. Apparently God thinks I'm a bad ass.
I cannot tell you how much of a load of bullshit that sentiment is to me. Angela pointed out that everyone is a bad ass, and I completely agree. We think we couldn't handle "it" (it is a lot of painful crap that happens to people every day), but we people handle "it" every day. People who probably felt they couldn't the day before it happened to them.

I've written about this before, and I know that sometimes these sayings help people. They've pretty much always felt empty to me even when I wasn't on the receiving end. And since I'm feeling honest, I will admit that sentiments like this piss me off. I am no stronger than anyone else. I know the stories of so many people who have experienced loss, and I still wonder how they do it even though I know that they just do even when they don't want to. And to think that I'm some sort of special bad ass because my babies died and that they died because I am a bad ass who could handle it. Or maybe because I needed to experience this for some fucking REASON: Everything happens for a reason. Really? Does it? What is the reason that some people lose over and over? What is the reason that some are born with a winning hand and die in old age still holding those same or better cards?

I still have a charmed life. Still after losing Alaska and Auburn I know that I am incredibly blessed. I wouldn't trade places with someone who has it better. I just don't buy it that everything happens for a reason. Shit happens all the time. Tragic shit. Good shit. Crazy shit. What is the reason for me having more than I deserve? What is the reason for those who suffer poverty and abuse? What is the reason for natural disasters that wipe out entire communities? What is the reason children die of diseases? If there is an answer other than, "I don't know," or "Shit happens," I don't want to hear it.

I feel a little bit guilty writing this because I acknowledge that these sentiments do comfort some people. I mean no disrespect to those who find peace from those words. Even when a person says something to me like, "Everything happens for a reason," I understand that they say it with compassion and support, and I appreciate this immensely. I am still going to share my rant because it's where I am in this moment, and I write to share all of my journey.

So even though I'm clearly experiencing a heavy dose of the anger stage of grief, I find joy every day with my family and friends. When the boys and I stepped outside into the sunshine this morning, we were hit with raindrops. Elliott wasn't sure how the rain was falling when he was standing in the sun, so we decided that maybe Alaska and Auburn were sending us good morning kisses. He was convinced that this was true when the rain stopped just after we closed the car doors. I know that my magical thinking about raindrops being angel kisses on a cloudy day probably sounds like a load of bullshit coming from a person who just ranted about empty sentiments. Oh well. One moment at a time.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Happy Birthday Baby Auburn

Happy birthday baby Auburn!

Well, I wish that this was a different sort of announcement about our tiny baby Auburn, but it's not. Alaska is a big sister, and her baby sibling is with her. Auburn was very young and only survived the first few weeks of my pregnancy. We don't know if he was a boy or girl, but some of us felt that he was a boy. We named Auburn not long after we found out that I was pregnant. We had chosen first names for either a boy or a girl, and Auburn as the middle name for either. So we got our June baby on New Years Eve and our New Years baby in June. This is not how it was supposed to go. Alaska should still be growing and just days away from her birth. That's not how it went, though. Auburn should be growing with the joy and fear that comes along with a rainbow baby. I knew that this might happen. I've known with all of my pregnancies that people lose babies every day, and with Auburn the possibility of another loss was very real. Even with this knowledge, we celebrated Auburn's life with love and joy. We were supposed to get our happy ending around Alaska's birthday. Now we have two angels to celebrate.

In some ways I can't believe we're here again, but another part of me shrugs and says of course we're here again. Why wouldn't we be? Why would Auburn get to live when Alaska didn't? Why would I even think that we could bring home a sweaty, crying baby? What seemed so easy 6 months ago has become almost impossible to imagine. I have always felt blessed to the point of excess. I still am.

We have a beautiful family. A year ago I thought we were done having children, and I was happy with that knowledge. I love my family. I still wish I could bring my babies back.