Friday, June 14, 2019

Dear Doctor,


“Science may provide the most useful way to organize empirical, reproducible data, but its power to do so is predicated on its inability to grasp the most central aspects of human life: hope, fear, love, hate, beauty, envy, honor, weakness, striving, suffering, virtue.” 
― Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air

Dear Doctor,

I am certain that you don't remember me. I know you have delivered hundreds of babies (maybe thousands?). I wasn't even one of your patients~ not really. I'm not even a blip in the story of your life but for 16 years now, you've been a bigger part of mine than you realize.

Sixteen years ago on September 15th, I was a week overdue with twins. I went to the hospital to finally get induced and you were the doctor on call that night. The nurses were having difficulty finding heart tones so you stepped in. You ordered an ultrasound and and the familiar pictures of my children appeared on the screen but one thing was different. That beautiful spark we mothers see that stops our heart- that beat of our children- was gone. I knew what it meant. You moved your wand to the other side of my stomach and the same picture came up. You looked to me and said,
"I'm sorry but your fetuses are dead." 
Yes~ I can put it in quotes because though we've only spoken two times in my life, I will never forget your voice. I will never forget those seven words that you spoke. I remember being a bit more alarmed by the word "fetuses" than by the message you were trying to communicate to me.

I looked to my husband and mother (my labor coaches) and back to you and I said, "But I feel movement." You put your hand on my left forearm, gently shook it and said, "I'm sorry, that's you breathing." I took your hand from my arm, guided it to the side of my stomach and you felt it too. You ordered the ultrasound tech to my side where he moved his wand and said, "I'm sorry. It appears that one of your babies has died but the other is right here."

That second fetus you thought was dead is now 16 years old. His brother is not. Yet, there's not a day that goes by that I don't think of that precious boy. For years, I said your name at support group meetings and to all my friends. Angry. Angry that for even a moment you let my family think that BOTH of my sons had died. That you made them think that I was the crazy one.

I went on to have more children and I WAS the crazy one. My wonderful doctor took my worries seriously. She understood what the loss of my son did to me and she treated my head as much as she treated my body. When it came time to do NSTs (for my head), I would first call the hospital. If you were on-call, I would change my appointment. I knew that seeing you again would break me. I was careful but healing.

Nearly 6 years later I was pregnant for the last time and while you would think that as I neared my due date I would be a little less scared, my doctor knew better. She knew me. I was as heart sick as I was for my daughter who came just 15 months after my heart broke. However, I thought I was better and for the first time in three subsequent pregnancies, I didn't make the call before my NST to see if you were working.

After finishing up that NST, the nurse told me that the doctor would be in in a moment to sign off on it. When I asked her which doctor was on call, she said your name. I almost lost my breath but I was stronger. I could do this.

You walked in, glanced at me for a less than a moment and said hello while looking at my charts. I kept thinking. You don't know me. You have no idea who I am. You asked me why I was getting NSTs and I told you that my first son, was stillborn due to a cord accident. You said, "Well, this one looks fine, there's no need to be here," wished me well quickly and left.

It happened again. I was dismissed. I was wrong. I SHOULD be there. I was there for a reason and part of that reason was you.

I walked out of that hospital faster than any pregnant woman probably had and when I hit the door I RAN to my car,  shut the door, and cried.

Again~ I felt dismissed. I had let you do that to me. Again. Why was I so weak?

I have written to you for years in my head- and sometimes in my journals. At support group meetings, I have heard your name come out of lips that AREN'T mine and I know you have not really changed. You just don't get it~ so maybe it's time I shared this story so that perhaps you will. Perhaps you will pause the next time there is a CHILD who has died. Perhaps you will pause and think of your words knowing that what you speak and the way in which you speak it will be on the hardest day of your patient's life and that they will never be forgotten. Words are powerful~ But so is forgiveness.

I have read some reviews on you that said you were perfectly lovely and I always thought~ I'm sure he is. If your baby doesn't die.

I have forgiven you in my head for years now but still it lingers. I thought of you when I recently read this book that I am gifting you. I thought you should read it and then maybe you'd understand, I am not sure, but perhaps this gift can be a gift to your future patients who will share their worst days with you and you can be a source of comfort instead of pain.

I forgive you.

That fetus you thought was dead is 16 now. He's absolutely amazing! He's smart, musical, artistic, athletic, funny and kind. I look at him and I imagine his brother. I wonder.  I look at him and sometimes think~ Thank you for kicking on that night when I needed you too. Thank you for that gift. Thank you for being my SON just like your BROTHER was.

Words matter.

I forgive you.

Laura

Sunday, September 9, 2018

#Because


Our fifteen year old is a runner!

Words can't describe how incredibly proud we are of who he is~ who he is becoming.
We've been busy living life~ following our kids and yesterday we were following him around at a race. There were about a dozen high school teams from all over. We watched as parents wandered looking to see where they could get a good glimpse of the runner they were there too see.

It was a beautiful day in the park and my husband and I had joined all those parents, looking for the perfect place to watch OUR runner. We were following a pack of parents when I looked up and the back of the shirt in front of us said, "Joey's Mom" and I thought, I could use a shirt like that!

Later on we saw another similar shirt only this one said, "Andrew's Mom" and I thought, I could use a shirt like that too.

How odd that with the hundreds of people who were there we saw two shirts mentioning their sons by name and they happened to be MY boys' names.

Maybe not odd at all.

It's September.

On the fifteenth it will be 15 years!
I will not be able to start my morning as I have the last 15 years~ at the hospital. I'll be watching my runner and wondering if his brother would have been a runner too. 

Joey and I were talking about his upcoming birthday~ about how we've been trying to get people to do kind acts to help heal my heart on the fifteenth.

He said, "Mom. I hate that my birthday is your hardest day. I hate that you hurt and that you're sad. It kind of sucks."

And yes, Joey. It does suck. 
It did suck 
and it will always suck.
But what you don't understand is there was one thing that made THE worst day of my entire life 
THE BEST day of my entire life.

YOU!

My sweet boy, how will I ever tell you that YOU are my reason. YOU were the one that got me out of bed. YOU were the one that began to heal my shattered heart.
YOU!

So yes~ I will always wonder. I'll wonder what kind of son Andrew would have been. I'll wonder if he would have been as fast as you, as musical as you, as funny as you. I'll wonder if he'd be as incredibly sweet as you are with your siblings and others. I'll wonder if he'd be quiet and reflective.
I'll wonder and I'll wonder and I'll wonder.

But one thing I do know is that though I will wonder, I will KNOW that this world MY world is so much better because of YOU!

So maybe I was wrong... Maybe having people do kind acts #BecauseOfAndrew should also be #BecauseOfJoey 
because if it weren't for you, I wouldn't be.

So thank you my sweet boy.
I love you more than you will EVER know.

HAPPY Birthday.
And know that my tears are not all tears of sadness. Just like they were fifteen years ago they are also tears of tremendous joy!

I love you,
Mom

And... May it not be overlooked that today~ September 9th~ TEN YEARS AGO my heart was shattered when my sweet spark's heartbeat was no longer. 
Remembering E and so incredibly thankful for my tribe who remembered. You were there THEN and you continue to be here NOW. 
Ten years later. 
Fifteen years later.
I'm thankful.
#BecauseOfYou

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Close Your Eyes and Imagine


Think of~

Your daughter.
Your spouse.
Your sister.
Your brother.
Your best friend.
Your father.
Your mother.
Your son.

What would you do for them?
Anything.

What if what they needed was beyond your reach, but was within the reach of someone else.
Meet Jackson Pype.

Jackson has been battling medical issues since he was a baby.
He's proven to be an amazing fighter but now at age 16, he is in desperate need of your help.
His parents are in desperate need of your help.
His brothers.
His friends.
His family.
His community.
Needs YOU!

Jackson is in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant and YOU could be the one to save him.
His match is out there. 
It could be YOU. 
YOU could be the one who saves this amazing young man!

To "Be the Match" click HERE.
It is painless and costs nothing~
but what it could give is priceless!

LIFE.

So please.

Think of~
A daughter.
A spouse.
A sister.
A brother.
A best friend.
A father.
A mother.
A son.

Jackson.
Please share this!
It could save Jackson's life~ and the lives of others!

I know many of the readers (like I) know the pain of losing a child.
Think of these parents.
We don't want anyone else to lose a child.
Thank you!

Monday, February 5, 2018

This Is Us.


So here I am firing up my computer because I just got done watching "the" episode.
You know.
This Is Us.
If you're reading this blog there's a good chance you watched that first episode and either turned it off because it was too hard~ or got sucked in for more because well... This is us. People like us.

I remember someone telling me I MUST check out the show and I'm not a huge TV watcher but I thought, OK. And right away there we are- I am watching my life- my story- unfold on the screen.

Mom goes in to deliver babies.
One baby doesn't make it.

This is me.

Recently my teenage daughter (my rainbow) started watching the show with me. With a snow-day after the Super Bowl (yay), we both got to stay up to see the infamous #Crockpot episode.

Of course we bawled like babies~ which probably isn't unique to people like us.

And then came the teaser for next week.

I saw the doctor and I put my hand to my mouth and started crying.

My rainbow didn't watch it from the beginning and she looked at me with questioning eyes. I looked at her~ with tears streaming down my face (and I'll admit a few ugly moments where I was catching my breath) and said... "They lost one of their babies. That's how the series started and that doctor knew. He knew just what to say and it brings back so many, many memories of that night with Joe and Andrew." And she cried and understood because just like this is MY story~ it's also her story. It's OUR story.

I am convinced that this show has a writer that has experienced loss. I wonder if we all (who have lost a child) had a moment with a doctor like that. I remember my doctor calling me and checking in and I remember asking her, "What made you call me to come in that day?" (I was scheduled to be induced two weeks after my due date- not one) and she said to me, "God put you in my head that day." I still think back and can remember those words like they were yesterday. They stuck with me. I was (and am) convinced that Andrew had gotten to heaven and told God, "You've got to get that doctor in so she can save my brother! So she can save my mom!!" and He did it. God put me in her head and got Andrew out when he still looked like a pink sleeping baby and got Joe out~ also wrapped in cord but alive and healthy. My doctor saved him. He saved him. That was MY doctor scene.

For those of you not familiar with the show, that first episode the doctor said:

"I like to think that one day you'll be an old man like me talkin' a young man's ear off explainin' to him how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade. If you can do that, then maybe you will still be taking three babies home from this hospital, just maybe not the way you planned."

And that spoke to me.
Early on I remember finding it so hard that I couldn't say I had "babies" (plural).
But eventually I did~ just not the way I had planned.

But those babies have helped me to take the sourest lemon life had to offer and turn it into so much more than anything I could have ever dreamt possible.

Andrew and E are still so much a part of me. So close to every thought.
I know that isn't everyone's story. But this is our story.

This. Is. Us.

*** And a note on that picture~ My beautiful friend snapped it years ago and last November sent it to me again. I was curious at first why she would send me that picture again and then I looked more closely. There were two "new" people in the picture (not new to ME but new to others who didn't always see "us" the way we do).

THIS is us.
How I see us.
And she even got E's pigtails the way I saw them in my dreams.

Us.

Friday, September 15, 2017

#BecauseOfThem


It's September 15th.

For a week I've found myself regularly thinking... "At this time 14 years ago.."
FOURTEEN!
I am amazed at where I've been.
How far I've come.
And I often say it's #BecauseOfAndrew
And it is~partly.

It's funny~ September 15th.
It was the worst day of my life. It was the best day of my life.

Today I have already been moved by friends who have and are doing acts of kindness #BecauseOfAndrew 
~ But like that day I am reminded of the number 2.
There were two very extreme emotions that day.
Two reasons for streaming tears.
Two amazing little boys that changed me.

So while I remember the boy who broke my heart,
Today I also think of the boy who began healing it.
My reason.

The reason I could find my breath after crying so hard I couldn't breathe.
The reason I could get up after my knees would buckle when it was too hard to stand.
The reason I COULD live.

It was all~ #BecauseOfJonasen

And so begins another September 15th where 
I will remember.
I will grieve.
I will celebrate.
I will cry.
I will smile.
I will try my best to give to others an ounce of what I have been given~
#BecauseOfThem

Happy Birthday my Sweet Andrew & Jonasen!
Love you both more than you know!

Friday, May 19, 2017

A Moment of Pause


Sometimes you just need to write.
Slow the train down.
Even when you're a teacher with less than 20 days left in the school year and a million things on your plate left to do.

I don't know if it was because I went to our monthly HUGS meeting tonight.
(Healing and Understanding Grief Support)

I don't know if it's because I learned of another sweet baby who has gone to heaven (unrelated to HUGS).

I don't know if it's because I shared Andrew's story and in doing that~ and talking~ things just pour out and your mind starts to wander and you just feel like you want to share him.

So I did there.
And now I'm doing it here.

A couple weeks ago I was angry with Andrew again. There have been two boys that were picking on his brother. Jonasen of course shrugged it off but I know him. His sensitive heart. His quiet. He wanted to shrug it off but I couldn't. I wanted someone to do something. Andrew should have been there. But he wasn't and it made me angry.

After this had been going on for some time, I finally told someone at the school what was going on. I got Joe's permission of course and we came up with some solutions... maybe moving seats- working on a schedule without them in his classes for next year. Though I asked that person not to talk to the boys, they did because they said they couldn't just let it go (they have a fondness for our quiet Joe too~ as have most who have gotten to know him).  I wanted someone to talk to the boys but I also worried about the repercussions.  I know how cruel 13 year olds can be~ and Joe is an easy target. He's comfortable blending~ being invisible~ he still walks with his shoulders bent and eyes down. Being an artist, musician and runner also make him somewhat of a target with the rowdy, athletic, middle school boy.

When this person spoke to the boys, one of them was in tears. When I heard this I was (not) secretly happy. When Joe was asked if he wanted to know which person was in tears, he told the school person (and later he told me) that he didn't. "Well, I want them to stop but I don't want them to feel bad. I don't want to know that someone else is feeling bad about this. I just wish it would stop."

And in that moment I learned that my 13 year old is much more kind and full of grace than his dear old mom ever has been or ever will be.

Wow.

I thought to myself~ who is like that?? And as I was telling this story at our meeting I felt like my question was answered. That light bulb went on and I knew.

Jonasen.

My Grandpa Jonasen~ whose only son was killed in a car accident at age 27. Who was an incredible musician~ A quiet and sensitive soul~ Who (though an incredibly talented jazz musician) told me once he stopped playing in the bars because he worried that someone would come to see him play and perhaps have too much to drink and he didn't want to be the reason for someone else's pain.

I remember telling THAT story for years and thinking, "Who thinks like that?"
No one.
But my Grandpa Jonasen.
And now my son, Jonasen.

And as I spoke and uncovered what I was feeling and what I was thinking I had to give the back-story to the group and I'll do that again now here (for anyone who may be curious...).

When I was pregnant, we had to come up with 8 names~ firsts and middles for 2 boys or 2 girls. Truth be told the boy names were easy to us. Our first born would always be Jonasen. To carry on the name of my Papa and one of my best friends. It was a last name but I didn't care- we could call him Jonah or Jonas or Joey. My husband had chosen the name Andrew. He LOVED the name Andrew and imagined them talking about "Drew" over the speaker at sporting games. It sounded so good with our last name.

And so when our boys were born~ we had a problem...

Our firstborn was supposed to be Jonasen.
Our firstborn was dead.
Jonasen was supposed to carry on the name.

And so I remember saying to my husband... What do we do? Jonasen is dead. He looked at me, tears streaking his face and said pointing to our second son, "That's Jonasen." Pointing to our first son he said, "That's Andrew." I was heartbroken~ the name he wanted. I pleaded with him... we could name him something else!!!! But even though I said it, I knew his name. "That's Andrew."
Those were the last words my husband spoke for a long, long time- Too suffocated with grief- unable to speak anything beyond his boys' names.


My sweet sensitive soul. My precious, musical Jonasen had a rough go lately and all I kept thinking was~ if ONLY he had someone to stand up to those little punks! If only HE would stand up to those little punks! But that's not how a musical, artistic, old-soul works. That's not how a Jonasen works. They reflect. They ponder. They wait...

I was angry. Andrew could have stood up for his brother. He WOULD have.

And that's when I got to thinking... perhaps we never chose their name at all. Perhaps their names chose them. My sweet sensitive soul is meant to be in this world making it a kinder and nicer place. Andrew (who would have kicked those kids' asses... perhaps) was meant to cheer on his brother from another place. Perhaps he moved the pieces in his own way... played the game.

Perhaps he was the play maker who got to heaven and said, "God. My little brother- he needs to stay. I'm going to take this one for the team. Get him out!" Maybe that's the reason God "put me in her head" that day she called me to be induced just hours after he went to heaven (though none of us were aware at the time). Perhaps he knew (like the doctors did when they were delivered) that HAD we waited that extra week as planned, Jonasen wouldn't have made it either.

Perhaps he was the play maker who told the person at school. You need to stand up for my brother because I can't do it from here but you can. Make them know. Have his back. Do what needs to be done. And he did.

Those boys have been quiet.
They've left Jonasen alone without so much as a sideways glance.

I don't know if any of this is actual truth.
But it's my truth.

Bullies suck.
But having a twin brother whose got your back (no matter where they are) is a pretty kick-ass thing.

I'm not mad anymore, Drew. I love you! Your brother is one pretty amazing 13 year old!
And so are you!

~ Mom

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Hug

My Joey on the right with my best friend's rainbow.

It still happens.
There are still moments when I hold my breath-
close my eyes-
and can't believe I've come this far.

Jonasen is now 13. He's taller than I am and his voice has deepened.
He's still soft-spoken.
Reflective.
Thoughtful.
He's still a child that seems to find me when I need him~
Just like his brother.

I remember that moment when he was not even a year old~
Andrew's ashes had arrived and when I got them I crumbled.
Sank to the floor.
So deep in my grief and cries that I didn't think I could get out~
But there he was-
He had heard me- 
Crawled over to me- 
His head on me as I cried.
I remember gathering him in my arms-
my lifeline.

Tonight I was thinking of Andrew as I often do.
No longer in that deep grief but a quiet wondering.
I was thinking of him.
And also of his brother Joe-
My twins.
Thinking of how proud I am of Joe and I have to think his brother must be too.
I was just standing there in the kitchen.
Thinking.
Joe came to me (as he sometimes does)
with that single word, (he sometimes says)
"Hug."
And took me in his arms~
my head now resting on his shoulder.

There are still moments when I hold my breath-
Close my eyes-
and can't believe I've come this far.

But I have.
We have.