Friday, August 18, 2017

5 Years

In the 5 years since the birth and death of my twins it feels like a lifetime has gone by.  The day that they were born and died a part of me died with them.  I've spent these 5 years becoming a new me and let me tell you, change is hard. I am still getting comfortable being a Mom of children that died.  I have made choices that have shaped who I am now and still growing into.  I have continued to speak my son and daughter's name despite the sometimes uncomfortable silence or loud disapproval.  I have braved a terrifying pregnancy in the hopes of bringing one more living child into our family.  I have fought tirelessly through depression, anxiety and PTSD.  I have loved fiercely and unapologetically.  James and Penelope will always be my children.  

Tomorrow is their 5th birthday.  Five years gone.  Words can't explain how much a mother's heart aches for her children after death.  There is an emptiness.  A tight, aching emptiness.  But life goes on.  Most days now are filled with laughter and joy.  The sun rises and sets everyday.  My living children fill my heart with so much joy that sometimes it feels like I might burst.  That is the fickle opposition of grief.  Joy and sadness, all wrapped up in one neat package.

Tomorrow we will do what we do every year.  Celebrate and remember the children that never got to come home.  Cake, birthday cards, balloons.  I wish I could do more.  My love for them is so much bigger than that.  But I know that all that matters is that I know they were here, and they were loved.  As long as I am living they will not be forgotten.  To everyone that remembers them with me.  Thank you.  Thank you for your love and support over these past 5 years.  It truly means the world to me.

Penelope and James- Happy 5th Birthday.  You are so incredibly loved, today and always.

Monday, August 29, 2016


This morning I dropped off my oldest child at Kindergarten.  Wow. I seriously can't believe it.  I remember cradling her as a newborn baby as all the seasoned parents would tell me "Enjoy!  It's goes so fast".  Boy, were they right.  In the blink of an eye my baby is five and half years old and off to school. How did that happen?

I didn't cry at drop off.  I didn't even cry on the ride home.  But as my youngest and I got in house and I said "It's just you and me today kiddo" the tears started to roll.  Tears of sadness, longing, pride, and just feeling overwhelmed.  Sending her off to Kindergarten is definitely bittersweet.  Yes, I struggle with the idea of her being at school all day.  And yes, I will miss her terribly.  But, I am happy to watch her grow up and go through all of these firsts.  Every time we encounter one of these big firsts my heart strings are pulled as I think of my two babies that will never have them.

I saw a meme recently that said "No one ever tells you that the hardest part of parenting is when your children grow up".  I get it, a little.  But not really. It is bittersweet to watch our children grow up and move on and not need us anymore.  But isn't that why we have children?  To watch them grow into amazing people?  I can't disagree more with this statement.  The hardest part of parenting is when your children don't grown up.  When you don't get to send them off to their first day of Kindergarten.  Or help them pull their first loose tooth.  Or drop them off at their first school dance.  Or drop them off at college.  

Yes, it's incredibly hard letting go of our children at these various stages.  I've cried twice already this morning.  But I'm so lucky.  I'm so lucky that my daughter is healthy and alive and going off to Kindergarten.  I'm so lucky that her little sister has turned into a wild toddler seemingly overnight.  These children just keep growing and changing.  And I'm so lucky to be a part of it.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

On the Eve of Your 4th Birthday

My Dearest Penelope & James,

Tomorrow is your fourth birthday.  What I wouldn't give to have you here to celebrate with us.  To watch you open gifts and blow out candles and run around with your friends and family.  I don't really know what our lives would look like had you lived.  But I've pictured it a million times and no matter how crazy it would be, I wish you were here.

Four years ago was my last blissful pregnant day with you.  I grieve the loss of you both.  But I also grieve the loss of who I was then.  The me before the flood of grief, anxiety, depression, insomnia and PTSD.  I was lighter, happier, more innocent. I am not the same person that I was four years ago.  It's hard getting comfortable in new skin.

But now here we are, almost four years later.  I've forged through the deepest depths and come out okay.  Most days are good.  I still think of you and miss you every day.  But life has leveled out.  Your two sisters keep me busy, very busy.  I often wonder how insanely busy our lives would have been with you here.  When I was pregnant with you I never really stopped to worry about how hard it would be to bring home newborn twins with an almost two year old at home.  I just figured we would make it work.  I'm sure we would have.

While losing you both was the worst thing I have experienced, please know that I don't regret you.  Not even for a second.  While it's been hard, extremely hard at times, I am so glad that you are my children.  You have taught me how to love in a whole new way.  A love that is so great that is crosses life and death.  You have taught me my own strength.  That even when I am faced with absolute devastation, I will survive.  You have given me voice for the baby loss community.  There may not be many people listening, but I will always speak of you.  I will not be silent just to make others comfortable.  You are my children and I will always speak of my love for you.  

So Happy 4th Birthday my loves.  I love you from here to eternity.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

19 Days

As I turned the calendar to August upon returning home from vacation, there it was in bold colorful letters- James and Penelope's 4th Birthday, on August 19th.  My heart sank a little.  Gwenevere was asking me a question as I felt my face getting hot and my eyes filled up with tears.  I couldn't really hear what she was saying and I didn't answer her right away as I thought to myself, "19 more days".

I've celebrated 5 birthdays with Gwenevere and 1 birthday with Victoria so far.  Not to mention 35 of my own.  I love birthdays.  I especially love celebrating a birthday through the eyes of a child.  Gwenevere absolutely adores birthdays. I think it's usually around February when she starts asking when her next birthday is, which isn't of course until December.  The cake, friends, gifts, candy, excitement, birthday wishes, all on this one special day.  Each birthday that we've celebrated is also a time to look back an marvel at how much our child has grown and changed.  It truly is a magical day.

Celebrating a birthday of a deceased child is complicated.  Honestly, it's depressing, but important.  Penelope and James' birthday is not only the day that they were born, but also the day that they died.  So yeah, it's sad.  But it's important to me.  Because while it marks the saddest day in my life it is also the only day that I ever got to spend time with two of my children.  It's the only day that I was able to see their faces, hold their tiny hands and stroke their tiny cheeks.  It's the only day that I was able to say "I love you".  It's the only day that I was able to hold them in my arms. To snuggle them and take in every little feature. It may have been the day that we said goodbye, but it's also the day that we met. That's a day worth celebrating.

This month is hard.  I'm pulled back to that place in time when they were born and died and it hurts.  There still isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss my son and daughter.  I don't think there ever will be.  Like grief tends to do, it ebbs and flows.  I will allow myself a few rough weeks this month.  We'll plan a special day on the 19th with cake and balloons like we do.  I will look at their pictures and cry.  Then I will pull myself together as best as I can and continue to move forward.  I miss them so much, but I can't change the past.  It's only 19 days. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Girl Mom

To the world I am a girl Mom.  I have two beautiful daughters, ages one and five.  I don't have Hot Wheels or superhero figurines in my home.  Our toy shelves are overflowing with My Little Pony figurines, magic wands and stuffed animals.  I don't know the pain of stepping on a lego, because my daughter has no interest in owning them.  I am well practiced in washing, conditioning, brushing and styling hair.  I have drawers full of hair accessories. When shopping I can't help but stop in the girls section to browse all of the adorable frilly dresses.  I'm told by other parents that although my children may seem like a handful, they are nothing compared to boys.  I can't possible understand the energy and wildness that little boys posses.  My toilet seats are always down.  Almost always, I do have a husband.  I have never seen an episode of Star Wars: Clone Wars or Bob the Builder.  I don't have any boys.  Except I do.

I have always wanted a daughter.  As much as I'd love to pretend that I didn't have a gender preference, I did.  When I was pregnant with Gwenevere I secretly wished for a girl.  We held a gender reveal party to announce to everyone, including ourselves, whether we were having a boy or a girl.  As my husband and I cut into the cake I was chanting in my head "Please be pink, please be pink, please be pink".  When the cake was in fact pink I cried tears of joy and relief.  I was thrilled that I would indeed be having a girl.  I know girls.  I grew up with a sister.  All of my best friends have been females.  I love all things girly.  I don't know what to do with a boy. 

When we went in for our ultrasound with our twins my husband and I agreed ahead of time that we would want to find out the baby's genders.  This time I was a little more open to the idea of a son.  I just wasn't sure I could handle two boys.  So I went in hoping for at least one girl.  When the ultrasound technician announced that we were having one boy and one girl I was ecstatic.  I would be getting another daughter as well as son.  I would have two girls and a boy.  I could do this.

With Victoria I can honestly say that I had no gender preference.  I was so worried that I may never bring home another living baby that boy vs. girl didn't even enter my mind.  We found out at 14 weeks that Victoria was a girl.  I felt conflicted.  I was happy at the prospect of bringing home another daughter.  But knowing that this was our last baby, I felt sad that I would never bring home a son.  Then I felt guilty.  I should just be happy that our baby is healthy so far. 

Now that both of my girls are here I am getting used to being a girl Mom.  But I still yearn to be a boy Mom. I wonder what my family would look like?  How different would it be?  What is that Mother Son bond like that I hear so much about? 

I am not disappointed that Victoria is a girl.  I love having two girls, and she is a wonderful addition to our family.  I will just always wonder what life would be like as a boy Mom.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

3 Years of Thank Yous

Thank you.  I can't say it enough.  There are people who will read this that I want to thank and there are countless others that will never see this. 

To our OB that delivered James and Penelope, thank you.  Thank you for being there to deliver our son and daughter.  For listening to their tiny heart beats with your stethoscope and letting us know they were still alive.  For carefully and quickly getting them cleaned up so we could have as many minutes as possible with them before they died.  Thank you for asking us what their names were.  Thank you for telling us how beautiful our son and daughter were. To our Labor and Delivery nurse, thank you.  Thank you for giving us time to snuggle our precious babies.  Thank you for carefully dressing them in their tiny gowns and wrapping them in blankets. Thank you for taking pictures of them, both dressed and undressed, knowing that those pictures would be all that we would have to look back on to remember what they looked like.  Thank you to the volunteers that made those tiny gowns, hats, booties and blankets.  For knowing that parents giving birth to a one pound baby does not come prepared with micro preemie clothes.  Thank you to our families.  My parents and sister that stayed in the delivery room with us the whole time.  Thank you for staying to meet your grandchildren and niece and nephew.  To my husband's parents that drove as fast as they could from out of state to be with us and meet their grandson and granddaughter.  Thank you to our friends that took in Gwenevere for the day while we faced the hardest time in our lives.  Thank you to the nurse that cared for us in the Special Care Unit.  For letting us keep James and Penelope in our room all night.  For being patient while I held them both one last time before being wheeled off to be cremated.  Thank you for calling me at home the next day to let me know I had left my bra at the hospital and that you would hold onto it for me if I wanted to pick it up.  Thank you for understanding that my lost bra was the last thing on my mind and I couldn't go back to that hospital.  Thank you for every friend and family member that sent us a card or flowers or e-mails.  Thank you for letting us know that we were not alone in our grief.  Thank you for every prayer that was said and every candle that was lit for our family.  For every person that brought our family a meal, thank you.  Thank you for knowing that grocery shopping and meal planning were not going to be happening for a while at our house.  Thank you for keeping us fed.  Thank you for understanding that thank you cards did not get sent. Thank you to my husband's coworkers and boss.  Thank you for giving my husband all the time off that he needed.  For bringing heaping bags of groceries to our house and sending dinners.  Thank you to everyone that attended Penelope and James' funeral.  For sitting with us in grief and acknowledging our profound loss.  Thank you for the friends that visited us during the days and weeks following our loss.  Thank you for showing up and being there.  Your presence meant so much.  Thank you for asking if we wanted to talk about the tragedy that had unfolded.  Thank you for listening to our story when we did want to talk and thank you for understanding our silence when we didn't. Thank you for your kind words at a time when you really don't know what to say.

Thank you for the ongoing support.  Thank you for not being afraid to say our baby's names.  For attending our one year memorial.  For knowing that the grieving period never ends, it just changes.  Thank you for donating money to charity in honor of our twins.  Thank you for joining us at various walks and fundraisers.  Thank you for the get togethers and play dates that I often showed up to with red puffy eyes from crying.  Thank you for acknowledging that James and Penelope are still part of our family.  Thank you for realizing that Victoria is not a replacement child.  Thank you to my expansive medical team that got me through my pregnancy with Victoria.  To the nurses that gave me progesterone shots every week.  To the Nurse Practitioner that recognized my fear and called me at home after hours with my test results.  To the ultrasound techs that checked my cervical length every other week.  To the nurse in Labor and Delivery that sat with me in triage for almost two hours at 2am while we waited for an ultrasound machine because I was alone and having a panic attack.  To my parents who were always there to watch Gwenevere during my countless appointments.  Thank you to everyone that has liked and commented on my blog posts.  Thank you for letting me pour out my guts when I felt like my world was crashing in.  Thank you to my amazing support group.  To the strongest group of parents I know.  Thank you for sharing your stories of loss and listening to mine. 

Most of all thank you to my husband, my partner in grief.  Thank you for grieving with me.  For being strong when I couldn't be, but also showing your own grief so that I knew I wasn't alone.  Thank you for always taking my side when it felt like nobody understood the nightmare that I was living.  Thank you for your unfaltering support and love.  Without you, I don't know where I would be.  Thank you for helping me gather enough courage to try again.  For listening to every worry I had and both comforting me and acknowledging my fears.  Thank you for being the best husband and dad that I know. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Awareness Month

These days it seems like everything has an awareness month.  Every type of cancer, illness, disorder gets it time to shine.  Since 1985 Ocotober has been Breast Cancer Awareness month.  Breast Cancer deserves a month.  It deserves year round awareness.  One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.  That's a pretty terrifying statistic.  You have a friend, neighbor, or coworker who has battled breast cancer.  While treatment options have gotten much better over the past 30 years it is still a horrible diagosis.  Many women fight and survive.  Many women fight and sadly lose their battle.  So what is the point of an awareness month?  

Fortunately most breast cancer can be detected early on through screening processes.  Monthly self breast exams and annual mammograms can help detect breast cancer early.  The earlier the cancer is found, the better the chances of treatment being successful.  The other purpose of an awareness month is to simply rally support.  It wasn't that long ago that the word "breast" caused people to blush.  Women had to keep their diagnosis to themselves and suffer in silence.  We have come so far.  Breast cancer awareness is everywhere.  Pink is everywhere.  Pink water bottles, pink ribbons, talk show hosts in pink, football players in pink, breast cancer walks, go pink day.  Women and men that have struggled with breast cancer are finally getting the support that they deserve.  Money is being donated to help fund continued research towards breast cancer.  There is still a long way to go.  Ideally all breast cancer will some day have a cure. 

Because there are only 12 months in a year, many causes have to share the spotlight.  October is also National Liver Cancer Awareness Month and National Down Syndrome Awareness Month.  And while I couldn't even find it on the official list, October is also National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  I think we can all understand why awareness is important for cancer.  Awareness can help raise money for finding a cure.  It can also encourage people to do early screening and know what early symptoms look like and when to go to the doctor.  So why awareness for miscarriage and infant death?

One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage.  One in 160 pregnancies end in stillbirth.  Six babies out of every 1000 born will die before their first birthday.  Parents of these babies are everywhere.  They are your friends, neighbors and coworkers.  Yet, you may not know it.  There is still a stigma associated with pregnancy loss.  It quietly happens all the time, but it is often hushed and swept under the rug.  So many families are left to grieve alone.  

When I had my first miscarriage I was heartbroken.  I was 10 weeks and we had only announced to our immediate family and a few friends.  I knew a couple other Moms that had been through a miscarriage.  But I never thought it would happen to me.  I didn't realize how common pregnancy loss is.  I didn't know what the grieving process was like, because I had never seen it.

I got pregnant again three months later with my twins.  There wasn't a day that went by that I wasn't afraid of losing them.  As time went and I got through the first trimester I started to relax a little.  After their anatomy scan at 18 weeks I started to finally believe that we would be bringing two healthy babies home with us.  I had no idea that I could even go into preterm labor at 22 weeks.  But I did, and they were born too tiny to survive.  

Following their death I couldn't contain my grief.  I was unable to grieve alone, so I reached out.  I started attending a support group for bereaved parents.  I started writing my blog.  I posted pictures of my son and daughter on facebook.  I poured out my grief where ever I could. I was shocked by how many women came forward to tell me about their loss.  I don't blame any of them for keeping quiet about their pregnancy losses.  We live in a society where miscarriage and infant death is taboo.  Nobody is comfortable hearing about it and very few people are talking about it.  I for one, am tired of the silence.  

So as you wear your pink this month in support of breast cancer.  Think about doing something for miscarriage and infant loss awareness as well.  Wear a pink and blue ribbon.  Post something on facebook, or twitter or instagram.  Light a candle for all the grieving parents.  While we are not fighting for a cure, we are fighting for awareness. And if you are one of those grieving parents know that you are not alone.  It may seem like you are, but we are here to listen to you, hug you, support you and help break the silence.