Saturday, March 27, 2010

My Answers (Questions from a Great Dad!)



One of the wonderful things about the Internet is you get the opportunity to 'meet' people from all over the world. One of those people that I have met is from Living in the Rainbow- these are the questions he asked... along of course with my answers...

1) what things do you have in your home to remember Andrew and Baby E?

When I first got my pictures back of Andrew, I'd envisioned myself plastering them around the house. That didn't happen. But signs of Andrew are everywhere. Andrew was cremated and I wrote here about the perfect gift we found to keep his ashes. It is out in the open, with a picture of Jonasen's hand with my husband's wedding band. We also have a framed picture of Jonasen with his brother's brick and other pictures like that around the house. Above our fireplace we have pictures of all of our children in frames- and in frames the bricks with Andrew and Baby E on them- as they are part of our family- and no one will miss that when coming into our house.

Baby E's picture (though it is only an ultrasound) is also in a frame next to a picture of our daughter's feet in my hand (below). Baby E is not as present as Andrew in our house- though we also have in a frame the paper we picked up with just one letter- the letter E- on it the day we lost our precious babe.

2) what were the most helpful things people said to you in your grief?
This question was easy for me.
His name.
I loved that people would address Andrew by his name- days later- months later- years later. People probably don't realize it but something about hearing people say his name- always makes me smile- and feel full. It means that they remember- that he meant something to others- that his life meant something. And now- (five years after Andrew was born and gone) people still remember our little spark- and refer to (her ?) as Baby E- That makes me smile too.
3) what were the least helpful?
Two things come quickly to mind with this question.
The first was when people would see me so very sad and they'd say, "It'll get better in time." I HATED that- and still do. While I know there is some truth in this statement- what I heard was- this too shall pass- he will pass- you will forget him- you will get over this. That I now know will never be true- but it scared me that I might forget. I will never forget. I'm sure I had said something like this before losing Andrew- that things will feel better in time. I've since taken that statement out of my vocabulary.
The other thing that used to bother me was when people (who had never lost a child) would say things like, "At least he didn't live for a while and THEN die."
First- I have learned through this journey that you cannot compare grief. One person's grief is not more than another person's- it's DIFFERENT. One is not 'harder' than another- it's different. And while it is certainly easier to remember a child who lived- or one that was stillborn- some people (me) choose to also remember the little sparks they had- that left too soon- but still were dreamed about. I choose to dream still- which is why I still remember.
4) what do you think heaven is like?
Ah. I like this question. To me heaven is the most beautiful place- I dream in black and white- but heaven to me is full of vibrant colors. When I close my eyes and dream of going there, the first thing I imagine is falling at the feet of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ- I wonder if I'll have the words to thank Him- for getting me through this- but I know He'll know my heart. Then I imagine him picking me up off the floor (like He has done so many times) and introducing me to two very special people I've waited a lifetime to see- to look into their eyes. I can't wait to get there! This sounds morbid- but it's not. When I die, I pray that people will celebrate! I've had such an amazing life (even at the young age of 34)- amazing because I appreciate it so- mostly because of the lessons I've learned- and the people who have graced it. Until I die, I will take my lessons and share them with my children and anyone else who cares to listen!
5) have you had doubts in your faith? if so how have you overcome them?
Doubts in my faith.
No.
I wish I knew why doubt did not come to me when I know it has for so many (including my husband.) It took him a while, but I am very happy that he has overcome h.is doubts.
But if you had asked- had been angry with God?
Absolutely! And I guess I doubted him in a sense- I would ask Him- why didn't He save my child if He loved me so much?
I remember screaming at Him! Cursing Him! Wondering Why? I can remember those moments- (I still have them- though not as often) I remember those moments and the odd thing was through my anger- and tears- and shaking- that pain- it always stopped... I always found my breath again. I believe that was God.
And when I think of God sending His only son to suffer and die for me... well- I think having lost a son- having known the pain of losing him (without the suffering)- makes God's sacrifice all the more powerful to me. It takes my breath away still when I ponder it. It amazes me.
6) have your reasons for blogging changed since you started
This blog is relatively new- in that- it was started five years after I lost Andrew- what wasn't new was my journaling. I have journals that I look back on now- journals full of letters to a son who will never read them- but I felt heard every word.
This blog is for me to write my story- I was interviewed about Andrew and it was such a small taste of what he was- what our story was- and so this blog was born in hopes that one day my living children will be able to read it, and understand. I love that others have found it and I write for them too. I love reading comments and hearing from others. It makes his life matter- again his life lives on through me and I love that it touches others too.
7) if you could change one thing about society's response to stillbirth what would it be?
I would love to open the world's eyes to stillbirth- to let them know that those of us who have had a child who was stillborn still held that child- loved him/her. I would love to tell people who have just had a child. Think of how much you love that child- that brand new baby- well we love our children too and they looked just like that- perfect- though without life.
I would tell them that and much, much more- but haven't the time. Maybe I'd give them the address to this blog of my thoughts.... ;-)
8) what one question have you not been asked that you would like to answer?
(cheeky huh hehe!) what is the answer to it?
Hmm... This is what I have been pondering...
How do you feel about twins- and baby showers (OK I put in two questions)?
Better. I'm feeling better about twins. I can look at them- but I don't want to touch them. I can feel happy for others- but still more sad for me. I wish I knew why I felt this way- and when/if I will ever move beyond that. Boy twins bother me the most (obviously) but I never get happy when I hear 'twins'. It's like the record scratches and my mind goes blank. A singleton or higher order multiples... fine... but no twins please.
I have a hard time going to baby showers. I don't like them. I would much rather go to a celebration after the baby is born. I am afraid for friends who are pregnant. (Luckily if they DO read this blog- I'm certain they stay away from it while pregnant- or at least they should.) I look at pictures of myself (huge) at my baby showers and I see someone so happy- and then I think... poor thing... if she'd only known she would have never opened all those boxes... I shudder to think how I will be as a grandma- hopefully this is something that WILL change in time. I don't want to pass that worry on to my children. I was good at my nieces shower so I am growing.
Thanks for the questions friend!
And thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Answers (My Beloved Support Group)

It was so nice to have some questions from my last post and because I tend to be quite wordy... (imagine that) I think that I may take a few days to ponder and respond in my 'Moments of Pause' type way. DeniFay from Making Our Troxclair Family asked me the first question about the support group that I have written about on here.

When I delivered my boys I was bombarded with information. It came at me so fast that I hardly had time to digest it. My head was spinning from becoming a mother for the first time and having to care for a little one, to becoming a mother for the first time and realizing that my baby would not be coming home with me. We were making decisions quite quickly- what to do with Andrew's body- the naming of our boys- and we didn't have a lot of time to think things though. When someone mentioned a 'support group', I shrugged it off thinking that a support group would be for people without any children and I had a beautiful one in my arms...

When I came home and reality sank in and the fog that surrounded me began to clear, I hit a wall. I read everything I could get my hands on about stillbirth and (specifically) cord accidents. I gave my doctor a 40 page report with highlighted portions. (as if she needed that) and I sought support from CLIMB (center for loss in multiple birth) and ELIMBO which was a support group on-line for people with a loss of a multiple. And that is when I remembered the mention of that support group and I dug through all of the mementos, papers and brochures that I was sent home with and found a card with a picture of a bear holding a broken heart. It said HUGS which stood for Healing and Understanding Grief Support and it said that they met the third Thursday of every month.

I could hardly wait for the meeting to come and when it did come I realized that this community of people, this 'secret society' was much bigger than I had ever imagined. Early on I saw how people could get stuck in their grief and I felt that though I was in so much pain it never got so dark for me that I couldn't get out of it. It was at that time I made a promise. A promise to my son, and to myself that each month I would go. I would go and speak his name and remember him. I would go and share the blessings of his life by making someone else's journey a little less lonely. I began attending meetings- all of them- and gave my contact information out to the hospital to share with others. While my story is unique in having had lost a twin, at the end of the day, I lost my child. I lost my individual baby. And I still miss him terribly.

My hospital has done a tremendous job with families who have lost a child. My experience (as horrific as it was) was so much more peaceful because of the nurses and my doctor. The staff at my hospital has been trained and I have spoken at two conferences for the medical community to give them a glimpse into the heart of a grieving mother.

As intimidating as a 'support group' can sound, HUGS is a very comforting environment (at least I've found it to be that) and there is always a nurse that is there as well. We take turns sharing who brought us to the meeting and talk about any hurdles we're facing and celebrate those we've conquered. It's a unique group and I have met some of my dearest and life-long friends at those meetings.

I learned recently that other hospitals in our state have heard about HUGS and are starting their support groups based off of HUGS. Perhaps one of the best things about our hospital is that when they have a good thing going, they don't keep it a secret- they share it.

If there is not a support group in your area (and there may be...) I would contact your hospital and ask if there is any interest in starting one. The people reading this blog know that perinatal loss happens far too often and I know that new people come through those doors far too often- and that there are those that can't muster the courage to come to a meeting- but they're hurting just the same. The support of families who have gone through this and shared their stories and experience is what has helped me get where I am. I believe that every life you come in contact with changes you. God has changed me through Andrew's life- and I will strive to change others (to let them know they'll be alright) through his life as well.

To read more about my thoughts on support groups, you can click on the label below, "The Secret Society of Angel Moms" (and I apologize for saying moms- as I know there are many -amazing- dads in the 'secret society' too...) and as for the picture above, that is my little Joey at about 7 months at the memory garden for babies at our hospital. That picture now hangs in the room where you will find me-
The third Thursday of every month.
At 7pm.
In Megan's room.
Changing others- as they change me.

Thanks for reading and being part of my on-line HUGS group!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ask Me.

To those who have lost children, and those who have not,

Every third Thursday of the month you will find me at my local hospital in Megan's room where I meet with old and new families who have lost children. After six years, I go now to be the supporter more than the supported and often I have had people contact me with questions they have. I know that when I was trying to find my way (especially in those earlier years) I sought the advice of those who had been on this journey longer than I and it made my journey a lot easier, and lighter, knowing I wasn't going it alone. I know too that many of my friends didn't know what to say to me- or ask me- and felt a loss- they wanted to say something- anything- but didn't know quite what to do- or what not to do-

Now I would like to extend an invitation to those of you reading my words. At the suggestion of a friend, I would like to invite you to ask me any questions you may have. Please know that I enjoy talking about my journey, which is why I keep this journal of thoughts. Also know that I rarely cry when I write these blogs so if you're worried about a question making me sad- don't- Of all of the posts I have written, I have only cried while writing two of them. My scabs are well healed and those who know me in real life, know that I can tell my story, Andrew's story, Baby E's story often without a crack in my voice- not because I don't miss them- but because I feel very comfortable in my reality since I have lived it for so long. I can talk about them as I would talk about my four living children- with peace.

So please, if you want, ask me. Ask me anything. I look forward to sharing my heart with you. And if you wish to leave a comment anonymously, or send me an email, that's ok too.

Hugs-
Laura

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Questions- Ask me...

Most of what I write is triggered by you.
What you've said at meetings where I've sat.
What you've written in blogs that I have read.
What you have asked me.

My dear friend I met through this blog lost his daughter and recently wrote a piece answering questions that others had asked. I absolutely loved the post because I respect him and believe he is doing an amazing thing for fathers who have lost children by sharing his thoughts- and for mothers who may want a man's perspective on such things...

And as I read, I recalled a question that I have been asked on more than one occasion. Like my friend, I enjoy hearing from people who read my thoughts and who ask me- ask me about Andrew- and Baby E- ask me my thoughts-

If you could do it all over again, would you wish Jonasen to be a singleton so you would not have had to experience the pain of losing Andrew? After all in the end you had one child come home with you, as you would with a singleton. Do you wish his birth would have been just that? Just one? Joy without the pain?

Such an interesting question because the world sees Jonasen as a singleton. When I was wheeled out of the hospital, I had a baby in my arms and no one knew the sorrow in my heart. They saw a mom with a baby. A very normal thing to see coming out of a hospital.

The short answer: No.

A few months ago, I met a grieving mom. She had two daughters, born too early, and like me is raising a twinless twin. I feel blessed to know her, to help her through this journey- and for her to help me- and to see her smile again has been such a blessing. One thing that has stood out to me though is that she has described the day her girls were born as the worst day of her life.

September 15, 2003 was the worst day of my life.
And-
September 15, 2003 was the best day of my life.

On that day I lost a piece of myself. I lost my innocence. Though I would go on to be pregnant four more times, I would never again feel a peace about it. Never buy a single thing for the unborn baby(babies) I carried. I became a person who worried more than she had on September 14th. I became a person who's ears were tuned in to the words, 'loss', 'stillbirth', 'miscarriage'. I became a person who spent nights angry with a God that she loved. I became a person entirely different than the one that existed on September 14th.
And-
On that day I grew my heart. I saw what my husband and I would look like- through the eyes of a child created in love. I nursed a baby for the first time and gazed into the eyes of someone who needed me. Truly needed me. I fell in love as I never had before- an unconditional love. I became a person who would spend nights thanking God because I never knew before how precious life was. How precious he was. I looked at all children as a blessing. A true miracle. The day he came into my life was the best day of my life. I became a person entirely different than the one that existed on September 14th.

It was the best day of my life.
And-
It was the worst day of my life.

And I would not change it.

Andrew is part of Jonasen's story. He is part of my story. He is so much a part of who I am, who I have become, who I am becoming. I would not change it. I would not change our story.

And I had said it before. I would do it again and again- even if I knew I would experience that pain again- even if I knew I would lose a child again- I would do it if it meant I would feel that joy. That love. That peace. And I did. I took the risk of becoming pregnant again four more times (though only three children came home)- I took the risk and grew my heart because the joy- that joy- far outweighed the pain.

Would my joy have been so sweet had I not known the pain?

I don't think so.

But it is. So very sweet. And it is why I say to others- try- try again. It is so very hard- so very scary but that joy at the end is so very, very worth it.

And as for September 15th, 2003... I would have chosen to have them again- have had him again. Because though he did not stay in this world, he stayed in me. He was born in me. That I would not change.

Life is all the more sweeter for having them. Both of them.

Andrew & Jonasen.
Together.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

This I know

Jesus loves me, this I know-
And I knew it then.

Of all the questions that I have been asked...
How do you know?
How can you still believe?

I still pause searching for words to best describe my faith. A faith that has sustained me as it was tested, as it grew. My faith. It is my faith. My God. It is my God. The one reason I can still be. Be still. But how to answer this question so others know- can feel it too...

Jesus loves me, this I know-
And I knew it then.

In the room where mere moments earlier I had learned that one of the children that I had been dreaming of for the last nine months was no longer alive. In a room that felt dark, cloudy- In a room where the silence was deafening and yet serene-

Jesus loves me, this I know-
And I knew it then.

Though my eyes could not focus, would not focus, I knew He was there. I could feel Him and I felt Him. Felt a peace beyond description- A warmth indescribable. A single tear fell, not of sorrow, but of thanks. Peace.

Jesus loves me, this I know-
And I knew it then.

In that moment, God had my child. God had His child. And He was taking him home. And for that- that sacrificial love I will always thank Him, always praise Him, always worship Him. And one day I will go there too-Home- when He calls.

Jesus loves me, this I know-
And I knew it then.

Even though I screamed at Him from a physical pain- The absence of a boy- and the scars that he left- scars that no one saw but me. I screamed at Him. The Pain! But I found my breath. He sent it to me.

Jesus loves me, this I know-
And I knew it then.

And months later, I sat in a quiet room with my Grandfather- A man nearing 90 years- and we talked and we cried. For he had traveled this road. He had lost a son. He had cried these tears. Felt this pain and still he knew.

With tears streaming down his cheeks, "You know it truly is amazing. It isn't time that heals these broken hearts of ours, it is His grace, and aren't we all the more blessed that He has so much to give- again and again in those times we need it most. Blessed."

Jesus loves me, this I know-
And I knew it then.

Yes I believe. And though the dark days have come, they have also gone. And every step of the way I was never alone. Not once. For He was there with me. And though I have pondered it many times, I still lack the words- but I will never forget that night- those nights- when I needed Him most- and I searched for Him- though He needn't be searched for- He was there all along. Waiting.
For me.

Jesus loves me, this I know-
This I knew.

This, I know.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Twins- in a word

Twins.
I hate the word.
Even when the word was used with my name.
I wasn't a fan.
I was going to have babies.
Individuals.

Twins.
At a work meeting last week.
I heard the word.
Over and over.
She had twins, another had twins, another expecting twins.
Is everyone having twins?
I hate the word.

Twins.
It still makes me pause.
Pains my stomach.
Races my heart.
Steals my breath.
I hate the word.

Just a word.
A word I don't like to hear-
And yet somehow it finds me again and again.

Just a word.
And I feel drawn to it-
It is so hard to look away.
So hard to keep quiet and not scream!
Tell them!
Tell them all!

A word.
That once described something I had.
Something I dreamed about.
Something that was so close.
So very, very close...
Twins.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

March

Last year I wrote you here.

You were a spark then. A dream. And I'd wondered if you would always be that to me. A baby we'd wanted so badly. A baby. A baby frozen in time.

For with your brother we had a name, and a face. We could picture ball fields and all things boy.
With you. We didn't know. We don't know. And so I wondered, if you would be that- our forever baby. Due in March.

I wondered if I would think of you mostly in September, when our hearts broke, when your heart stopped-
Or you'd come to mind in March, when our hearts should have grown-

A year later I know the answer.
Both.

This March I am not folding my arms over a belly that should be swollen with life- I've been holding a new one. Your brother. A miracle that never would have been, had you. And I like to think you knew that. Knew last March that while I folded those hands over a belly I thought was empty- you knew- you knew that I was wrong- for there was a heart beating in there- a heart that would grow ours yet again.

And I know that.
And I feel peace.
And yet I still wonder what you would have been.
Who you would have been.

Weeks after losing you, I got the phone call that your cousin would be born, my Goddaughter would be born. And as happy as I was to hear those words- those wonderful words- that they were expecting- as happy as I was- I was more sad for us- and for you- for you would have grown up together- just a month apart.

And so like your brother, I have a living beautiful breathing reminder of what could have been.
But what wasn't meant to be.
You.
Not my forever baby.
My spark that would have been one.
One.
This month.
March.