Monday, May 20, 2013

Thank you

To anyone that is still reading my blog I just want to say thank you.  It means so much to me that you have continued to be part of my healing process.  Yesterday marked nine months since I said goodbye to my son and daughter.  I really don't think I could have gotten through the past nine months without the love and support I have received. 
Before suffering my losses I never really had an appreciation for the pain of losing a pregnancy.  I wish that nobody had to go through what I have experienced, but unfortunately I know that many families have and will go through a similar loss.  For those of you that have never lost a pregnancy or child I hope you never do.  For those of you that have I grieve with you. 
I had the misfortune of an ignorant question today.  I was getting my blood pressure taken at the Doctor's office this afternoon and a woman asked me if I had any children.  This is always a difficult question for me to answer but today I chose to tell her that I had a daughter that was two and half years old.  I didn't have the strength to give a complete answer.  She quickly responded by asking if I was planning on having any more and I told her that I had twins last year that died at birth so I wasn't sure when I would be ready to try again.  She didn't skip a beat and she proceeded to tell me about her friend that had a miscarriage and then had triplets.  She made it very clear that she would never want triplets, it would just be too much to handle.  I smiled and replied that yes, three babies would keep you quite busy.  I wanted to cry, I wanted to yell at her and tell her how insensitive she was being.  Instead I kept quiet.
I don't know what I should expect from people.  I know that everyone asks "What do you do for a living?" and "Do you have any children?", it's just normal conversation.  I will have to always carefully select what my response is.  Am I in the mood to ruin someone's day or not?  My husband always jokes that our story is a real room killer.  He has meetings at work and sometimes they ask everyone to share something unique about themselves.  Micah sure could bring the meeting to an awkward silence by saying "I have two dead children" at his turn.  Probably not socially acceptable.
I guess my point is that I hope by sharing my ongoing story I have shared a sense of sensitivity.  Everyone has a story and some are too painful to share.  I will continue to be honest and share as much as I can.  I hope that I can do my part to help break the silence of miscarriage and infant loss.  It is something that one out of four women experience and it deserves to be talked about.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mother's Day

With Mother's Day looming closer and closer I am reminded of past Mother's Days.  Last year Gwenevere was 17 months old and still toddling around.  I was about 10 weeks pregnant and feeling as nauseated as the day is long.  We had found out about two weeks before that not only was I pregnant, but I was carrying twins.  I was just starting to really process the information and I was getting truly excited.  But more than anything I felt pregnancy sickness.
Micah and I went to the Kellogg Center for brunch with my parents and Gwenevere in tow.  I remember looking at all the food and wondering if I could keep any of it down.  I was well into the Zofran phase of my pregnancy, but it still wasn't enough to stop the nausea.  I nibbled on a couple pieces of fruit and crackers while everyone else enjoyed a delicious meal.  Gwenevere ate pretty well and finished off her meal by scarfing down two cupcakes.  I remember wanting to enjoy the day, but just feeling so sick.
Technically speaking, this will be my 4th Mother's Day, if you are allowing me to count the Mother's Day that I spent pregnant with Gwenevere.  I remember feeling awful that day as well.  The Mother's Day after that Gwenevere was five months old.  She was an amazing baby and I was so happy to have been blessed to be her Mom.  We went out to brunch that day at Troppo's and I brought along a pumped breast milk bottle for her lunch.  I remember we all took turns holding her throughout our meal, passing her around like the bread basket as we took turns eating.  This year will be my first Mother's Day that I am neither pregnant or breastfeeding.  I am baby free.
With this day to celebrate Motherhood approaching I have struggled.  It should be a happy day, but for many of us it comes with sadness.  Not only do I think about my losses, I think of all the other women that have lost a child, or that have struggled with infertility.  I think of all the people who have lost their own mother. What a difficult day this can be. 
Instead of dwelling on the fact that two of my children are gone this year I am going to celebrate.  I am going to celebrate being a Mom, and a pretty good one at that.  I am going to celebrate my Mom, who happens to be one of the best Mom's I know.  I am going to celebrate how lucky I am to have been raised by such a loving, caring, understanding, smart, kind, and all around awesome Mom. I am going to spend some time thinking about how I hope to be half the Mom she is.  She raised two daughters, and while neither of us it perfect, we turned out pretty well.  I am so thankful that she is able to be not only my Mom, but a Nana to my daughter.  So this year we will go out to brunch and have fun.  No nausea, no breast milk, just two great Moms.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Balancing Act

Last night I climbed into bed with Gwenevere and Micah to read books.  It's our nighttime routine and we always read at least six books.  I gathered up several books and set them down on the bed next to my daughter.  The book on top was titled "We Were Going To Have a Baby, But We Had An Angel Instead".  Gwenevere saw the book and she started to whine.  "Mommy no!  I don't like that book, it's too sad".  I swallowed the lump in my throat and I set the book on the floor and picked up "Green Eggs and Ham" instead.

Overall I would consider myself to be a very confident parent.  I have a degree in Child Development and I have worked with infants and toddlers for over a decade.  I am trained in infant and child CPR and I when it comes to cranky kids I know all the tricks.  Since the day we brought Gwenevere home from the hospital I have been confident that Micah and I are doing a good job.  This is not to say that I don't have my doubts and concerns like every other parent, I do.  I also know that we are good parents and we are doing the best we can.  When Penelope and James died I found myself for the first time really doubting my parenting skills.

I don't know what is appropriate to share with toddlers when it comes to death.  I know that I wouldn't want to lie about it, but I also don't want to instill a sense of fear.  Everyone dies, that's the truth.  Somehow that seems like a pretty intense concept to teach a two year old.  I want my daughter to know that she has a brother and sister.  I want her to know how much they are loved and missed.  I don't want her to think that it's bad to talk about them because it makes her Mommy cry.  I just don't know what to do.

 Micah and I decided that even though James and Penelope are dead they are still part of our family.  We have pictures of them in our house, we even have them in our house (in urns).  Gwenevere has named two of her stuffed animals after them.  We talk about them and sometimes cry.  I feel like I don't really know how to grieve in front of my own child, but I'm doing the best I can.  I want her to understand that it's okay to cry when we are sad.  I know she will never feel the sadness that I feel for them.  She won't miss them the same way that I do.  She may never even understand.

I feel like it's a constant balancing act.  I want to keep the memory alive of my son and daughter, but I also want to be a good Mom that is present for my living child.  Most days I get through without crying now.  But some days I cry.  When I do cry I can see a look of concern in Gwenevere's eyes.  That makes me sad.  I am the parent, she shouldn't have to worry about me.  I don't know if what we're doing is really what's best, but it's all we know.  Gwenevere has a brother and sister that died and I am not going to pretend like they were never here.  Like every other parent, I am trying my best.