Sunday, October 28, 2012

Guilt & Blame

As humans we are always looking for answers.  What is our purpose?  Why does it always rain after you wash your car?  I find it to be added heartache not knowing why my son & daughter were taken from me.  This is a question that I have asked over and over to myself and to my OB and one that I will never get an answer to.

In the medical world preterm labor is as mysterious as it is devistating.  With all the medical advances that have been made over the years they still seem to have no real idea as to why it happens or how to stop it.  I find that unacceptable.  While doing my own research online I have discovered several suspected causes; smoking, lack of prenatal care, multiple pregnancy, and undetected infection.  I didn't smoke during my pregnancy, I had consistent prenatal care and there appeared to be no infection present.  My only risk factor was a multiple pregnancy.  At my last OB appointment before I went into labor I was measuring at 31 weeks and I was 22 weeks pregnant.  I found this shocking, but the Dr. assured me that this was normal for a twin pregnancy, so I went on with my day.  I never thought that one week later I would be in labor.

I find myself replaying the days and weeks leading up to their birth over and over in my head.  Maybe I walked too much.  Maybe I shouldn't have air traveled.  Maybe keeping up with Gwenevere and cleaning the house was too much.  Maybe my OB should have been checking my cervix more frequently.  Maybe I should have drank more water.  Maybe I should have drank less water.  Maybe I was too stressed.  Maybe I should have been on partial bedrest.  Maybe I should have gone to the hospital the night before.  There are so many what ifs.

It is impossible for me to just let it go.  I want an answer, I want to place blame.  As a parent it is so easy for me to place the blame on myself.  It was my body that began having the contractions that forced James & Penelope into this world too early.  Why couldn't I do something?  At times I blame the medical staff at Sparrow hospital.  If only they would have started me on the Magnesium Sulfate several hours earlier maybe we could have stopped labor.  Sometimes I blame the medical community.  Why hasn't there been more research done on preterm labor treatment, why is it still such a mystery?  Sometimes I blame my family.  Why didn't they do more to help my during my pregnancy, why did they let me be so physically active?  In reality I know that I have no one to blame.  Nobody could have predicted that a perfectly healthy pregnancy could go so wrong.  I had already carried one wonderful baby to term with no problems, so why not assume that I could carry twins.

I still catch myself occasionally playing the blame game.  It's so hard not too.  Hopefully I will eventually come to peace with it.  I will be able to accept that sometimes bad things happen to good people and nobody knows why.  My darling son and daughter were here and gone and I am left wondering why.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Tomorrow will be the two month anniversary of the birth and death of my precious son and daughter.  I honestly can't believe that much time has passed.  When you are stuck in grief it's hard to see that the world keeps turning despite your loss.  As the weeks have gone by, I have felt the heaviness in my heart become lighter.  I cry less often and the pain seems less intense.  However, the past few days I seem to have found myself in a dark place once again.
I am irritable with my family, impatient with Gwenevere and bitter at the world around me. Seeing happy families makes me jealous and angry.  I envy people that get to come home to their complete family, whatever that is for them. I hate that this is who I have become.  I like to think that when friends and family think of me they would describe me as a happy person.  I am not that happy person right now.  I can still smile and laugh, but on the inside it's just empty and sad.
With the holiday season quickly aproaching I  have a sense of dread.  This Christmas I will be buying gifts for only one of my three children.  Our mantle will only have three stockings hanging from it.  I want to just crawl into a corner and wait for the holidays to pass.  I don't want to go to church, I don't want to open presents, I want to have my son and daughter home safe with their Mom, Dad, and Sister.  
I've been told by others that have also lost a baby that it does get better.  I believe this to be true, it must get better.  If it doesn't get better I don't know how any parent could survive.  Most women have said that the first year is the worst.  Every special day or holiday that goes by that should have been your child's first is just a painful reminder that they are not here.  Well, I am two months down, ten more to go.  I know I won't magically feel better in August, but I hope that by then the pain will have gradually lifted.  Maybe I will be able once again feel truly happy and laugh with sincerity.   
For now I am focused on coping with the pain.  It is real and a part of my life for now.  I accept that I will never forget my sweet James and Penelope, but I hold onto the hope that I will come to terms with their death.  This week may be a difficult one, but next week may be better.  The journey I am on is a bumpy road.  It is not a smooth path from sadness to acceptance.  I know I will have bad days and good days.  Even though today is a bad day, I will get through it.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Even On a Good Day

Some days are bad.  Those are the days that I am listless, irritable, weepy and sad.  I cry after I put Gwenevere down for her nap and I allow myself to feel the deep pain from the loss of my son and daughter.  I see people post pregnancy and new baby pictures on facebook and I block their posts.  Their joy just adds to my pain.  I will never again be excited at the sight of a positive pregnancy test, I will be fearful.  On the bad days I am angry.  I am angry at my body for not allowing my babies to live.  I am angry at the world for not grinding to a halt to allow me to grieve.  I am angry at the hospital for not doing more to save my babies.  But mostly, I am just lost.

Other days are good.  I laugh with my family.  I enjoy watching my daughter grow and learn and I enjoy the quiet time with my husband.  I dance, and play, and smile.  Sometimes the good days are the hardest.  I realize at the end of day that I am only tucking in one of my three children.  Gwenevere gets a goodnight kiss and I lay her in her crib with her blankets and I tell her how much I love her.  Then I walk into the other bedroom and gently place my hands on James and Penelope's urns.  They are cold to the touch.  I say goodnight and tell them how much I love them. 

As the weeks go by since I said goodbye to my son and daughter I have more good days.  I find myself able to get through a whole day without crying at times.  This isn't because I have forgotten them or moved on.  It's the process of grief.  I know I will always have bad days.  As time goes on they will be fewer and far between.  I also know that I will never have a day that I don't miss James and Penelope.  They are a part of our family.  Most of my days will be good days, but even on a good day I am still missing two of my children.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Our Own Timeline

I keep reminding myself that every family has it's own timeline.  Ours just looks a little different than most family's.  We have had three children in 20 months, yet only one of them is home with us.  We also had one miscarriage smack in the middle.  Is our family complete?  I don't know.

Micah and I planned on having two, maybe three children.  When we discovered we were pregnant with twins we were so happy.  Our family was complete.  I was ready to schedule my tubal ligation right then and there.  Early in the pregnancy I suffered from hypermesis.  This meant that when I wasn't vomiting I was dry heaving.  I had never felt physically worse in my life.  All throughout the first trimester I would cry to Micah that I could not get through it.  The days went by so slowly, I never thought I would see the day that I could keep down my saltine crackers and sprite.  During week 6 I pronounced that this was the last time I would ever be pregnant.  I told Micah that I didn't care if we had another miscarriage, this was it.  Gwenevere could be an only child, she was enough for me.  Nothing could make me go through this torture again. 

Now the question comes to me frequently.  Will Gwenevere be an only child?  I was an only child for nine years.  I had a wonderful childhood.  I had both of my parent's undivided attention and love.  I was the center of their world and I loved it.  Then, the summer before 4th grade the news came that I was going to be a big sister.  I was thrilled!  Although I had moments that I resented my new sibling about the time and attention that she took away from me, I loved her.  Now in adulthood I can't imagine my life without her.  Who would I call when our Dad showed up at my house wearing flip flops?  Who could I complain to about my Mom thinking that yogurt was a perfectly acceptable lunch?  Who could I laugh and cry with and know that no matter what she would always be there?  She is my sister and I am so grateful to have her in my life.

Lately, I seem to see pregnant women everywhere.  I feel a deep sense of envy.  I should be pregnant.  Today I would be 30 weeks pregnant with my twins and I would be huge and uncomfortable.  I would be loving and hating every moment.  When I see a pregnant woman I am most envious of her ignorant bliss.  Of course I am assuming that she has never been through the loss of a pregnancy or child.  I remember very well my first pregnancy with Gwenevere.  At times I felt concern, but I assumed that I would give birth to a perfectly healthy baby.  I didn't know at the time that sometimes healthy babies die.  Now, the thought of being pregnant is terrifying.  Forty weeks is an awfully long time to live in terror, especially since pregnant women can't take Xanax.

Can I overcome my fear?  Micah and I have discussed our options.  We know that we may have a normal pregnancy that results in a healthy baby.  We also know that I may go into preterm labor again and lose another child.  We know there are medical interventions available for single pregnancies to prevent preterm labor.  We also know that because we conceived twins naturally we have double the chance of twins again. We know that if we become pregnant with twins there is not much that modern medicine can do to prevent preterm labor. We know that if we lose another child we may be broken beyond repair. But are we willing to sacrifice having more children because of fear?  Maybe.

For now, my spirit and body need to heal.  I gave birth to twins just 7 weeks ago.  They were born and they died.  This is now part of my life, part of my story.  I have to take the time to honor their existence, they are my son and daughter.  I have to honor myself and give me time to make peace.  I have a new identity.  I am the Mom of 3 children.  I have one living child and two babies that died.  James and Penelope are part of our timeline.  Strangers may ask when we are going to have another baby.  They don't know our family's timeline.  They don't know that Gwenevere has two siblings already. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Big Sister

The other day Micah and I were talking about Penelope and James, as we often do.  Micah remarked that someday Gwenevere will have to tell the story of her brother and sister that were born and died.  Two sibling that she never even met.  Although I still feel pangs of guilt about many things revolving around their death I have come to terms with most of the decisions we made that day.  One regret that I have lingering on is that our twins never got to meet their big sister.

Of course they would not have been able to meet her in their short lifetime.  Micah and I were the only people that got to hold them before they died.  However, our parents and my sister were all able to hold them and meet them even though they had already passed.  In all the chaos of that day I never stopped to think that Gwenevere deserved to meet her baby brother and sister.

She would probably have no memory of them.  She is far too young to understand the concept of birth and death.  But someday, when we talk about James and Penelope, I would have been able to tell her that they were able to meet.  I could tell her that even though she was only with them for a short time she was a wonderful big sister to them..

We kept both Penelope and James with us all night in our hospital room the night after they died.  It wasn't until the next morning after they were blessed by the hospital Minister with a Unitarian prayer that we said our final goodbye.  Shortly after, my Mom and Sister brought Gwenevere to the hospital to see us.  She came in the room and snuggled with me in the hospital bed while trying to pull out my IV.  I wanted to cry.  I looked at her and I realized it was too late.  The big sister never got to see or touch her little brother and little sister.

Several days after we were home I was putting laundry away and I saw her Big Sister shirt crumpled in the basket.  I hugged the shirt and cried.  I gently folded it and put it in the closet with all of my maternity clothes.  I then went and got Gwenevere and brought her into my bedroom.  We sat on the bed together and I showed her the few photos that we have of James and Penelope.  I told her all about her brother and sister and how much I loved them and missed them.  I told her how they were born too little to live.  I knew she understood nothing of what I was saying, but it felt good to let her point to the pictures and say "Brother, Sister".  

She may never get to be the typical Big Sister.  She won't get to hold them, try to feed them bottles, steal their toys from them, fight on car trips about who's touching who, chase them around the house, take baths together, and grow up to talk about their crazy parents.  But she IS a Big Sister.  I will continue to talk to her about her brother and sister.  I will show her their pictures and let her ask questions.  Even though she never met James and Penelope, she will know that she had a baby brother and sister and we loved them very much.