NoMoreTomorrows

Surviving is not Living

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Do You Have Kids?

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It’s amazing how such a normal part of small talk and getting to know someone can be so profoundly awkward and difficult. When people are talking about getting to know each other, kids is something obvious to chat about. Before I was a babyloss mama, it seemed like such a simple question. Now, I realize it’s really not that simple at all. Last night I was at a networking event and I was reminded how such a simple question that should have a Yes or No answer, isn’t all that simple afterall.

“Do you have kids?”

Well… do I have kids. I know they mean do I have LIVING kids. Am I currently raising children. I don’t, and I’m not. But I did have a son. 

I saw the positive sign on the pregnancy tests. I heard his heart beating and saw him on the screen, and said that he was dancing. I heard his hiccups. I have proof. Ultrasound photos. He was there. I felt my body change. I threw up everyday for most of the 9 months. I lost bladder control and control of many other bodily functions. I can share in those awkward pregnancy stories too. I have them. I felt the butterflies. I felt the kicks, in my ribs, to my bladder. I felt his heel in my belly button. The cravings. The heartburn. I know those feelings too. I had the crazy hormone fluctuations. The excitement. The dreams. The fears. I felt my hips swell and fall out of socket. The back pain. Many uncomfortable nights of sleeping. Being wedged between pillows for support and then being stuck and not being able to roll myself out of bed. The plans. The baby showers. Picking out names. Calling pediatricians. Looking for daycare. Packing the bag to the hospital. Setting up his sleeper. Washing all the baby clothes. I felt the labor pains. Hours of labor pains and the needle in my spine to make it go away. I have proof that it happened. The scar where they took him from my body. I held him. Kissed his little nose. Saw 10 fingers and 10 toes. I have a lock of his pitch black curly hair. My milk came in. All the normal pregnancy stuff. I had a beautiful baby boy. I am a mom. I belong in the mommy world too. I can compare pregnancy stories with you. I belong. 

“No, I don’t”

“Oh lucky you.”

Yeah. Lucky me.

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Written by No More Tomorrows

February 21, 2014 at 10:25 am

Posted in Baby Loss

For the Mothers Who Are, But Aren’t

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My first Mother’s day was May 2008. At that point, and  prior, Mother’s day was a  whole other concept for me. It was about life, mothers who had given life to children, and celebrating those women. I might have thought about bereaved mothers fleetingly, but I never really considered what a difficult day it must have been for those mothers who could not see and hold their children. I thought of the mothers whose children sent them cards and made them dinner and  finger painted messy pictures and gave hugs and snotty kisses.

I was in my second trimester with my son. I anticipated a lifetime of all of those things. I looked forward to all of the years I would spend with my son. I was  a mom, and the following mother’s day I would raising a 6 month old.

That isn’t how it happened, and now, Mother’s day has a very different feeling for me. I still celebrate the wonderful mother I have, and the friends and  family I have that are wonderful mothers to their living children, but more so I think about the mothers who are often forgotten. The ones who question if they can still call  themselves a mother, the ones who look longingly as their friends and family receive gifts from their children, and are  acknowledged by the world as mothers, and who never question how to answer when someone asks them if they have children.

Mother’s day of  2009 approached and I dreaded it. I asked  for the day off work. I readied myself to have a flood of emotions come over me.  They never came. I was at  peace that I was still a mother.  I  think another part of me realized that even if my son had lived, at 6 months he wouldn’t have realized what the day was. For the next couple years Mother’s day wasn’t as difficult of a day to get through as I thought it would be.

But there’s something about this year that is beginning  to change. Perhaps it could be that I’m missing the  Mother’s day hug of  a 4 year old boy who is starting to understand holidays and wants to make his  mommy feel special. Perhaps it’s because I’m turning 30 this year and starting to wonder if I will ever again feel the flutters of this precious child I helped create coming to life and growing within me. Perhaps I am beginning to  feel like time is running out. Perhaps it’s the world continuing to turn and  friends continuing to welcome  home baby two and three and four…

Or perhaps it is the weight of sadness that too many women face alone each day, and especially on Mother’s day. The women who have tried for months or years and yearn to  see those two lines on a pregnancy test. The women who have seen those lines and yet weeks or  months later endure a heartbreaking miscarriage. The women who  have felt  life within and yet have held death in their arms. The women who have  no living children and not only doubt if they can call themselves mother, but start to doubt if they can even call themselves woman, after  so  much devastating loss and a body that has failed them on countless occasions.

So this Mother’s day, while I do celebrate with all of you who are terrific mothers, forgive me if my love and attention goes more  towards those like me, who  try to stifle our jealousy, congratulate our mother friends like it isn’t sometimes the  most difficult words to utter, and wonder if the day will ever come that we know what it is like to hear a child call us mommy.

Written by No More Tomorrows

May 11, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Posted in Baby Loss, Grief

Weighing in on the Duggars

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There has been a lot of talk about the Duggar family lately, from becoming pregnant with their 20th child, to Michelle’s miscarriage, and their decision to take photographs of their daughter.  Let me just tell you, I’m tired of all the talk. This family has put themselves in the public eye, and I realize that means it opens them up to be talked about. But once again I am reminded that people oftentimes don’t think before they speak, and that many people have no filter, no concept that a public figure they are speaking about is an actual real person with human feelings and emotions. I think that’s the first lesson we should remember; “Famous” people are still people.

My opinion of the Duggar family isn’t that extensive. I don’t watch the show. I don’t know much about them, and I tend to, as a rule, not make opinions about things I don’t know of. How I wish more people followed that rule in their own lives. The one thing I have thought, and stated on one page that referenced Michelle and her miscarriage, is that I worry about her health these days. I would hate for something to happen to Michelle and for her to miss the chance to see her children grow up and her grandchildren born. That would make me very sad for that family. I don’t know much about the family but it is my understanding that they believe God will give them as many kids as He wants and will stop them from conceiving when He decides it’s time. I don’t personally agree with that belief, and I think it’s a dangerous belief to have. But that’s as far as I go with my opinion.

But it seems that everyone else has so many more opinions about this family, about how many kids someone should have, about their miscarriage being for the best, and about their decision to take photographs and share the photographs. There’s a bunch of people talking who have never experienced the loss of a child, and I think it’s about time people keep their opinions to themselves.

I remember the bereavement counselor coming into my room during my labor and telling me about Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.

(Clicking the image will take you to the About Us page of their website. There are no images on that page. If you navigate the site, you will see examples of the photography they provide. If these images will be distressing to you, don’t navigate out of the About page)

 

I remember at the time being disturbed that they would ask if I wanted pictures of my dead son. Why would I want them?  Every day since that moment I am so thankful that I said yes. Once my son was born and I left the hospital, I had already started to forget his precious face. With the gift that my photographer Scott gave me, I will never forget Damien’s face. I can look and see he has my face. I can remember. NILDMTS provided a priceless gift for me. I could never thank them enough.

There are many people who have never walked this road, and I respect that they don’t know what it is to grieve such a huge loss. I know there would be questions about why certain choices are made. What I don’t understand is why people take it upon themselves to judge how others grieve. I don’t understand why people think it’s their place to say hurtful things. I know that nobody knows the right thing to say when a baby dies. Let me let you off the hook, there’s nothing you can say. There’s no magic words. There are, though, a lot of things you can say that aren’t helpful. Please don’t preach to the family. Don’t tell them it was God’s plan. Don’t say God needed another angel. Don’t philosophize about why it happened or guess that maybe it was best and that there could have been something “wrong” with the baby. I think I could safely say most if not all mothers would rather have a special needs child they can hold in their arms than a baby they never got to know.  Regardless of what your faith is and what theirs is, don’t try to answer for why this happened. Just don’t. It’s not helpful. If they bring it up, then that’s a different story, but don’t insert yourself into that place without their permission.

What can you say? You can say you are sorry for their loss. You can say I love you. You can say you miss the baby/or you’re sorry you never got to know the baby. And if, IF you really really mean it, you can say that if they ever need anything that they can call. But if you’re not okay with being woken up at 3 am to a crying friend, ridden with anxiety and grief, don’t say to call if they need anything. Only say it if you mean it.

I’m tired of people pretending they know. “Well it was only a miscarriage”. “Oh, so your son didn’t actually die, you just lost a pregnancy.” “It’s wrong to grieve that way.” “Wasn’t that a year ago? You’re still dealing with it? Should you talk to someone?” “It’s for the best.”

I’ve heard some of those things about the Duggars. I’ve heard some of those things about me and my son. I’ve heard those things said to others. It’s hurtful, no matter who it’s said to or about, it hurts me to know that people are willing to say such hurtful things.  I think we can all do a better job at being sensitive to others’ pain.

Written by others:

Why did the Duggars photograph a stillborn baby?

Precious Photographs: An Open Letter to Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar

 

 

Written by No More Tomorrows

December 20, 2011 at 10:43 am

Posted in Baby Loss, Grief

Pushing through

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In the interest of not letting this time of year get me in a hole, I decided what better way to fight it than to get back at working out.  I do have a weigh in tomorrow afterall. Last weighin 10/15/2011 was 295 pounds.

So Saturday I did hip hop, yoga and 30/40/50.

Sunday I did kickboxing, yoga and 30/40/50.

And today, so far, I walked 1.5 miles during lunch.  Oh, and ran to the bus stop because I was late, so that was about 30 seconds of running. And I didn’t feel like I would die. Progress.

30/40/50 is 30 pushups, 40 squats, and 50 crunches.

This time of year is hard for me. Today kind of starts it all.

October 31, 2008 was my last doctor’s appointment with my son that I got to hear his heartbeat.

November 1 was my due date.

November 5 was when I found out he had passed away in utero.

November 7 was when he was born.

November 13 was when I said goodbye.

The first year, in 2009 from about the beginning of October to the new year I was in a pretty deep depression. 2010 was better. I think it will continue to be better. It’s not that the pain is lessened. It’s just that I’ve learned to cope better. I’ll always miss him. I’d have a three year old toddling around. Life would be very different. And he’ll never get to have the milestones I see all my friends’ children have. He’s never coming back. And that’s a pain so deep, I just can’t describe it.

It’s time for me to be healthy though. It’s time to stop punishing myself for failing him.

I’m pushing on through. Because life is kind of beautiful. And I’m tired of sitting on the sidelines watching it go by.

 

Written by No More Tomorrows

October 31, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Posted in Baby Loss, Weight Loss

Strength in All Things

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I have doubted myself and what I can accomplish and get through for a long time. I have thought I was weak for a long time. I still do. I think about losing 180 pounds and it seems like such a big task, something I am not strong enough for.

And then I remember what I survived.

“To think that providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling

This is…

How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive”

Natalie Grant – “Held”

 

I was single, unmarried, working part time and struggling to pay my own bills and put food in my own mouth, let alone two mouths. He was a product of lust, not love, something I never planned to have happen. It wasn’t my dream. It wasn’t ideal. But from the moment I found out that this life lived inside of me, he is all I wanted. I knew I would struggle, that we wouldn’t have an easy life, but all that mattered was this baby. I knew that no matter what happened from then on out, he would always come first, and I would make whatever sacrifice necessary to provide him the best life I could. I also believed that his father would do his best also, and that although we wouldn’t raise him together, that we would both do our best to raise him well. I’ve come to find out I was right about that. Sometimes that makes the pain that much worse, to know there are so many children whose parents spend more time fighting each other than loving their children, and then to know my son would have had all the love in the world from two parents, that although they didn’t love each other, respected each other and would have provided a peaceful and respectful atmosphere for him to grow up in.

I had plans, and dreams, and hopes. I dreamt the biggest dreams for him, and for my life also. All of a sudden I realized I needed to be the best mom he could have. I made goals to be healthy, to finish school, to get a good job that could provide for him and be stable. I planned. I dreamt. I hoped.

And on the afternoon of Wednesday November 5, 2008, around 1:30 in the afternoon, they were murdered. And I felt like I died right along with them.  I heard the words that no woman ever wants to hear.

There’s no heartbeat.

I didn’t need to hear the words, at least not really. Maybe I needed them just so that what I already saw was real, but I saw the ultrasound, I saw my son not moving. I heard the silence. Over the 40 weeks I had gotten used to what his beating heart looked like on screen. I had learned the difference between the swooshing of the ultrasound or heart monitor and his heartbeat. I knew what I was seeing when I looked at the ultrasound screen and didn’t see the movement that looked like the flickering of a light. He was gone.

Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you? Been hit in the gut?  It was like that, only not. It was a million times worse. It’s something I can’t really describe to you in a way you’d understand unless it’s happened to you, and if it hasn’t, I pray it never does.  My world stopped. I remember bringing my hands to my face to try not to scream as tears built up and spilled over. I held my breath and cried quietly, my body shaking, gasping to breathe, but trying not to make noise. I had two doctors in with me, they handed me Kleenex. I held my hands and the Kleenex over my face. (Even in a moment like that I was still worried about being seen doing the ugly cry. I really hate crying in front of people.)

I’m so sorry. Carrie I’m sorry.

They just kept repeating it. I guess even doctors, who I’m sure have seen it happen before, don’t know what to say in a moment like that. I remember watching Dr. Montgomery on Grey’s Anatomy breaking down when she had to tell a couple that their baby was dead. As critical as I can often be of doctors and the medical field in general, they do have hearts, and no matter how many times you deliver bad news, I can’t imagine it’s ever easy.

They asked me who they could call and I couldn’t even focus enough to answer. They said that Stacy was listed as the person to call in my file and I nodded when they asked if that’s who I wanted to call. They both left and I got off the table to get my purse and get my phone. My legs shook and I sat in the chair. As if on autopilot I started making phone calls. I called my boss at the time, who was a friend also. She sent someone to be with me since she couldn’t. Stacy also showed up.

My mind raced. It was like I was in a daze, but the thoughts still came.  What do I do now? What do I do with the baby stuff? How do I deal with this?  I need to breathe.  But how?

November 7 I met my beautiful son, and just as quickly as I finally got to say hello, I had to say goodbye. It is the hardest thing that I have ever lived through. It is a road I travel every day, a little bit further, a little bit easier. I have learned to live in a world where my son never got to. I have survived what would probably be every parent’s greatest fear. I am strong.

So why do I forget that so often?

Written by No More Tomorrows

July 11, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Posted in Baby Loss, Fear, Grief, Stories