Monthly Archives: October 2014

Capture Your Grief-Day 31: Sunset

sunset

D: I put off posting yesterday because I have been struggling with coming to the end of the Capture Your Grief project… I feel like this past month has given me “permission” to freely talk about my angel daughters- death continues to be a taboo topic not ‘appropriate’ for casual conversation… I have feared the end of the month coming because it feels like the end of a time when talking about my girls is ‘socially accepted’. People who have living, breathing babies here on earth will continue to post pictures of Halloween, meeting Santa, reaching milestones… And I have feared coming to the end of a time when it was ‘okay’ to talk about my angels and post pictures that reminds the world of their existence… I will never have the pictures other parents get… But every single time I see these pictures I will undoubtedly think about what it should have been like with Rylie and Avary. I will never stop thinking what it would have been like with them….and wishing I too had a picture to share…

I find it symbolic that there was really no ‘sunset’ to capture for a picture today.. There was just a little peek of color just above the horizon as traffic blared by, snow accumulated, and hale began to fall…We are just in the mist of our storm- we can see hope just over the horizon and down a long road… But it’s not an end… Just because it is the end of the Project doesn’t mean it is the end of our grief journey… I think that ‘end’ will only come when we are holding our precious Avary and Rylie in our arms again and can finally be a true family…

Thank you to everyone who has followed along on our journey this past month…it hasn’t been easy, but it has been eye opening and has allowed me to find myself… And has allowed me to share my beautiful family with the world…

While it likely will not be daily, Eric and I plan to continue blogging through out our journey- and you are welcome to follow along the path to healing and ‘our new normal’ with us…

E: It has taken me some time to express how Capture Your Grief has made me feel as it comes to a close for the year. Although it is “sundown,” our grief is unending, as well as the message and the tools CYG has bestowed on us. It is hard and unfair to say that our grief is now manageable – because it really isn’t at all – but CYG has strongly aided in our ability to approach our grief in a constructive way.

As Danyelle mentioned, we’re going to continue to blog, because this is one of the best tools we have. Expressing ourselves, for ourselves, and for others who may stumble upon this site or be directed here by people who have or are currently going through something similar is what this is all about. For me especially, having had these topics about which to write has expanded my thinking and given it direction. I feel in touch with myself and like my voice resonates with more people than I had ever imagined. I have learned that it is common to feel the ways that I have been feeling. I have learned that I am in a state of mind and being that other people find themselves even if they haven’t experienced the same thing as us. I have learned that although it is deeply personal, there are techniques for handing these feelings and this grief.

I am thankful that we live in an era where this type of healing is possible. I feel added sorrow for the people before me who have experienced something similar and been deterred from expressing themselves or facing their grief in a healthy way. I can’t imagine what my life would be like, or what my relationships would be like if I didn’t feel empowered to say what I want to say. We have truly needed this.

We trust that our girls know that this is for them, and that their parents love them more than even they themselves could have anticipated. That, however brief, we knew and loved them in this life and will pray for them every day we live hereon. We will do our best to progress, for now, with quiet resolve and the painful knowledge that we are parents to two beautiful angel girls. People may meet us from this point forward in our lives and assume things about us at face value, but we have changed and can never change back. We identify as parents and look forward to the time when we can interact with our Rylie and Avary again.

 

Capture Your Grief-Day 30: Intention

039

This is my last real ‘bump’ picture, taken exactly 4 weeks before we lost our girls… we lost Rylie and Avary on our ’20 weeks- baby is the size of a banana!’ picture day…

049

D: I intend to live a life that would make my daughters proud.

When I was pregnant with Rylie and Avary I wanted to become the very best version of myself, for them. They quickly became my everything, and I could not wait to teach my beautiful daughters about the world… It turns out, instead, I will be teaching the world about my beautiful daughters…

While I continue to struggle with my own sadness and heartache many days, I intend to live my life in honor of the lives of my children. The bottom line is they made me want to be better when I was pregnant,  and they have ultimately made me who I am today and who I will be in the future… They have taught me to love unconditionally, to open my mind and heart to others and their personal struggles, and to gain an unparalleled understanding of the fragility of life. These pictures represent a time when I was the happiest I have ever been, the very best version of myself… And all of that is because of them….. I want to live my life being the kind of mother Avary and Rylie deserved to have. I owe that to them. I owe that to myself.

E: My intentions are to be patient and understanding toward all of the people in my life. As we move out of October and into regular, old November, I intend to preserve the sentiment that has inspired us thus far, as if it was still Infant Loss Awareness Month. Nothing will change for us because tomorrow is November; we will have to continue to march forward still. I won’t blame the people I love when they inevitably begin to let memories of our girls fade in their minds because I know that’s natural. At the same time, I intend to continue to discuss them, their existence and the profound impact that they have had on our lives in their short time on this earth, and their continuing impact in the afterlife.

I intend to hold our Soul Bird urns in my hand and to warm the metal with its heat. I will rub their stones and talk to them in my mind throughout the day. Throughout all of my days.

Together with Danyelle, we intend to pursue our greatest dream of having a family. We will be fair to ourselves and Avary and Rylie in waiting until that time is right, whenever that may be. And we intend to make known and clear to any future children we have that their sisters are in heaven, watching down on us all. I fully intend to make their memory eternal in every way I can and with any tools that I can gather.

We intend to plant trees for the girls, and place a bench somewhere between them with their stepping stones at foot. So that we will have a place to retreat and relax and let the blue jays and white butterflies surround us. We will tend to their trees like we would tend to them in mortal bodies. It won’t be the same. It will never be the same. But they will know that we now live for them, as well as ourselves.

We love you girls so much. 

Capture Your Grief-Day 29: Reflect

reflectreflect2

 

D: It is because we loved them so much that we have the capacity to be so incredibly sad without them…

Through out this process I have discovered that I am okay grieving. I don’t have to ‘get over this’ and I don’t have a time table on which I am expected to get back to ‘real life’… I don’t have to not talk about them, I don’t have to hide my feelings or my fears, and it’s okay to not be ‘okay’…

They will always, always be my first born children, Rylie Nicole and Avary Lauren, born on Monday September 15, 2014 at 2:40 and 2:45pm. No one can ever take that from me… Even though I do not hold them in my arms, I am still a mother. I am so incredibly proud to have the most amazing angel babies… I am lucky for the the time I carried them with me, and the hours we got to spend with them. When I cry, I cry with sadness for the experiences we will never have together here on Earth… but it’s okay to cry and when it comes on now, I let the tears flow… It is only because I love them so dearly that I feel such sorrow… And every single moment of sadness, every pit in my stomach, every single tear I shed… They are all worth it.… They are all worth having had the chance to love beyond words and be called ‘parents’ to the 2 most amazing little girls. Half me. Half Eric…. Our little twin angel bees

E: To reflect on Capture Your Grief, I would start by saying it has been a lifesaver. I have cherished this process and couldn’t be more thankful that it happened to be Infant Loss Awareness month right after the loss of our babies, Rylie and Avary.

Girls… We have done this for you, and for us, for our family. We can’t believe that it will only have been about 7 weeks since the worst day in our lives happened when Capture Your Grief is over. And honestly, we’re afraid of what that will mean. I personally love having a structured approach to at least part of my grieving process. This is why I am so thankful to Carly Marie for all she and the community have done to establish and develop CYG. The work you have done and continue to do is groundbreaking. In part, due to the reasons Danyelle and I have mentioned in our past posts: there is so little in the way of science when it comes to something like this. Obviously that is because grief is so deeply personal and subjective. Grief is like a double-edged sword because on one side, you are free to do what it is you need to do and shouldn’t let anyone tell you what that may be and at what point you should experience certain milestones, while on the other side, the fact that grief is so hodgepodge and unorganized and unpredictable, it is so incredibly lonely because you’re the only one in the world and truly in existence who has ever felt exactly like how you feel.

Reflecting, I would say that Danyelle and I have done virtually everything we could to explore different routes of embracing our grief and different mechanisms for coping. We are “young” in this process and like I said above, thankful (if that’s possible) for being able to learn from more veteran sources, what it is they have done and continue to do to move forward. The loss of our girls, this tragedy, happened at a time when the rest of the world is paying a little more attention to people like us than normal.

At this point, I have heard dozens of horror stories, some similar to ours, about the loss of infants, the perpetual struggles that have been faced and have broken some people, and I have made the realization that although nobody I know personally has befallen a faith like ours, miscarriage and pre-term labor has been closer to me in my family than I had thought. Nobody talks about this; what has happened to them. Why would they? Not directly to me anyway. One of the other things I have learned, and what I expressed in the last post as a piece of wisdom, is that talking about our girls to one other and other people is what we will continue to do to remember them, keep them close in heart and soul, and bear witness to their lives.

I have always believed in heaven and consider myself a practicing Christian, but this grief has caused me to face and refine what it is my faith really means to me. The way my thought process works, I needed to find comforting logic to explain what has happened in terms that weren’t unwitting. I am beginning to learn to accept that life is accompanied by a certain amount of chaos. Knowing that doesn’t make it easier, but knowing and gradually accepting that has caused me to view the world differently. I’m still developing that new view through the eyes that have been opened to things previously unimaginable.

Capture Your Grief- Day 28: Wisdom

wisdom2wisdom

D: Today’s topic asks you to provide ‘words of wisdom’ for others who will unfortunately have to travel the same journey… 6 weeks and 1 day after losing Rylie and Avary, I am still figuring this one out…. But here are a few things I can say…

-Be kind to yourself, even when this task seems so difficult… Be gentle with your heart, give yourself time each day just to breathe, and don’t be too hard on yourself…it’s not your fault

-Take the time you need…if you try to suppress your grief, it will undoubtedly come up later, and likely with greater intensity… Go on no one else’s time frame than your own. No one else can ever know exactly how you feel or what you need… The hardest part about this journey is that it is truly yours alone…take all the time you need….

-‘It doesn’t get better, it gets different’… Others won’t understand this, and that is okay… There really is no ‘healing’ from this grief- I am sorry to have to say this, but it’s true… You learn to live with it- to accept that this is how things are now, but the grief never goes away… the loss doesn’t hurt less, it just becomes easier to manage…

-No matter how supportive your family and friends are, find a group who really, truly can understand what you are going though- this may be a support group, an online group, or someone you are put in touch with that ‘has been there’. Trust me- having that loneliness even slightly lessened makes such a difference for your heart…

-Talk about your babies. Say their names. Don’t worry about making others uncomfortable- they’ll get over it…do whatever feels right for you… In my case, I participated in ‘Capture Your Grief’ and started a blog with daily entries and FB/instagram posts… Maybe others are tired of seeing my daily posts…. but it doesn’t matter. It is for me, and for my healing. I say my babies names and every time I do, I feel I am teaching others of the importance of their lives… I am giving their lives meaning…

-This one is hard, but be selfish, even if for the first time in your life… This is about you, your babies, and your healing…. Those who truly care will understand this and still be by your side…Don’t feel obligated to get right back into going out with friends, attending holidays or family events, or participating in things you had previously committed to. This is really hard and you have to do what feels right to you…

-This has forever changed your life. That is okay…take it one day at a time. Some days it feels absolutely overwhelming, and others you might feel like you can breathe again for the first time… There will be steps forward, and steps back… But they are all steps in your personal grief process, and that’s what matters…

-Know that even though it feels this way (trust me- I struggle so much with this one…) you are never really alone… your babies are here with you, (I honestly and whole-heartedly believe this even though sometimes I struggle by wanting more…) your support system is here for you (even if they don’t always know what to say- because they won’t), and you are now part of a ‘community’ of infant loss parents… none of us want to be a part of it, but since we have to be, it sure is nice to know there is always someone who understands and wants to lend an ear….

***

I took a pilates class today :) Didn’t want to, and it took a little nudge (thanks!) but I did it and it felt so good… I signed up for a few more in the coming weeks… you have to start somewhere! I also registered for a support group that meets next week, and sent in a job application…. There are still 101 dishes in the sink, but it feels good to have had a day about me and my healing…

E: I’m kicking myself because as I sat down to post, I realize that my entry for “wisdom” had accidentally been deleted. It was about seven paragraphs and I was really happy with what flowed out of my head and into my fingers. I was in the zone for this one… Now I’m not going to struggle with trying to remember what it was I had said because then it won’t be organic.

Danyelle and I continue to grieve in different ways, as we had expected, but we have been learning together… What she has expressed in this post and what our pictures depict are how I feel as well, and the basis for my deleted post. I know we’re not going to get over this, but rather, as time goes on, we’re going to infinitesimally approach the limit of what it means to heal. Truly recovering from this would be having our babies back here on earth with us. But since that can’t happen, I imagine that we will very gradually get to a point where we truly are wise from experience in having needed to evolve, and capable of helping others in similar situations.

What has helped me the most thus far includes:

1. Talking to your spouse and other trusted people in your life – nothing can come from nothing, so holding back and keeping your feelings buried won’t allow anything good to occur.

2. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. If you say something a dozen times, that’s what you need to do. It’s part of your process and you should embrace what’s in your mind at the time. Say it out loud. Tell your spouse. Don’t be hesitant to sound like a broken record in front of your support system.

3. Nobody can tell you how you will handle the grieving process. One of the biggest hurdles for me and probably many people before me, is not having rules to follow. This is one of the few things in life that as it becomes better documented, the system gets looser and more abstract. There are no ordered steps, there is no best way of handling your grief. There is nothing specifically you need to do, or places you need to go. It’s so personal that it becomes lonely because nobody understands what it’s like for you. Even people who have had the same thing happen to them will not handle it like one another.

4. Accept that some days, you’ll be flooded with thoughts of guilt and anxiety. Even if you did everything right every step of the way, and know that this is not possibly your fault, you’ll have nights and silent moments where you’ll still beat yourself up over the idea that you did something to deserve this. That you weren’t careful enough. It’s not your fault. Let the feelings pass over you. They won’t last and will happen less frequently over time.

5. Smile and love life. That is probably extremely hard to hear and deal with depending on your personal journey. It’s not “moving on” and it certainly doesn’t mean forget the past. There is room in your life to remember your little angels and still laugh at a joke. You won’t feel that way at first either, though.

6. Be prepared to break down out of nowhere sometimes. Like right now, hah. Let it come. You’ll feel things and be witness to things previously incomprehensible. Things that nobody should ever have to experience. For us, we saw our first born baby girls at the beginning of this… thing. Avary took breaths for four minutes. I was a father. That alone is life-changing. It’s another thing that nobody can describe to you. It’s your gift. The thoughts of missing that moment, let alone your childrens’ lifetimes to follow are truly overwhelming and they’ll come out of nowhere as you continue to go through life.

7. Talk to your angels as if they were here with you. No matter what your belief system is, nobody knows what happens after life. It makes us happy to believe that Rylie and Avary can hear us. So we talk to them and believe that they find ways to “talk” back. Hold them close to your heart and keep them there throughout your days. They’re a part of you, whether or not they’re physically holding your hand, or spiritually holding your heart.

Capture Your Grief- Day 27: Express

Express

For our baby shower the plan had been to ask for signed books instead of cards so that the girls would always think of our friends and family when they would read them… shortly after losing the girls my mother-in-law Dianne gave us this book…

D: Express. The topic today asked you to write about anything that you feel hadn’t been addressed throughout the Capture Your Grief project-to write about you, your grief journey and your babies. I decided to make a list of 10 things I have learned since losing Rylie and Avary.

1) Baby bump pictures, ultrasounds and anticipation are not enough to guarantee getting to have your babies here on earth… My innocent belief of that is forever gone…The ‘Miracle of Life’ is one I will never again take for granted. 

2) There is no ‘safe zone’ in pregnancy…. Getting past your high risk zone for miscarriage doesn’t put you in the clear. Everything we had read, everything the doctor had said, was about getting past the first trimester… statistically I suppose that is still right… but nonetheless, I know now you are never safe from premature birth and loss until that baby is crying innocently in your arms…

3) ‘It will never be me’ doesn’t really apply in life… We all want to think ‘it won’t happen to me’ until it does- and then it turns your whole life upside down… Before I thought I was safe guarded from ‘this’- I naively thought that because I had recognized and sympathized for others’ losses that that would somehow keep me safe from tragedy… I would not have wanted to read a blog such as this one while I was pregnant or before becoming pregnant- why would I want to read about what could go so horribly wrong so infrequently?? That wouldn’t be me! I wouldn’t fall into that tiny percent of women who lose their babies this far along! Guess what? It’s not just a statistic- it’s me…

4) Making all the plans in the world doesn’t stop life from happening… No matter how prepared you are, what you had planned, how many dreams you made for the future… No matter how careful you were in your pregnancy… Life can still be cruel and rear it’s ugly head… I have said so many times “but it’s not fair!” or “But I did everything right!“. The bottom line is sometimes that just doesn’t matter. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and no that’s not fair, but that’s still how it is…

5) Grief for all the tomorrows that will never come… Grief of losing babies that I never had a chance to know… It is an absolutely indescribable pain… And the isolation that comes along with that is unbearable some days… It’s feeling alone even in a crowded room because nobody else can ever truly know how you felt that day, or how it continues to haunt you now…

6) There will always be regrets. There will always be ‘what if’ and ‘if only’… That is my life now… It’s not about how to stop these thoughts, it’s about learning to ‘accept’ despite all the ‘what if’ possibilities…. Yes, maybe if I had ‘just done that’ I’d still have my girls and be innocently pinning halloween costumes for twin girls on Pinterest right now instead of writing this- but we will never ever know… You just have to learn to live with that unknowing…

7) I will never ‘get over’ this- I will never ‘move on’- and I will never get back to ‘normal’. When you ask if I am ‘okay’ try to imagine the new reality in which I am taking my every breathe… Yes, I am ‘okay’-whatever that means now… But that will never, ever negate what life has handed me…

8) Hope. When your entire life and all you dreamed of has fallen apart, hope is what keeps you holding on. Hope is why you get out of bed in the morning instead of just giving up… Hope for a better tomorrow… Hope for more peaceful days… Hope that you will one day wrap your arms around living, breathing children here on this earth… Hope for a future where a rainbow brings a little bit of light in in the mist of the storm clouds…Hope is what keeps you going even when you feel like you’ve got nothing else…

9) My heart has the capacity for more love then I ever dreamed possible…. Even with the broken-hearted, hard-to-breathe, heavy feeling I possess, I still love my daughters more than I have ever loved in my lifetime….

10) I will never, ever be the same person I was before September 15, 2014. I cannot be, I do not want to be. That is the day I became a mother to the most amazing, beautiful, little princesses… That is worth all the pain, heartache and grief I will forever endure… Those little girls made me the person I am to become. Learning to love with my entire heart and soul… It will always, always, have been worth the pain…

E: I don’t feel particularly creative for this entry. I certainly share Danyelle’s expressions, which are beautifully transposed from our emotions. I would say that I feel very disorganized in life right now. It seems like there are a thousand things to do and we both have little motivation to do them. There are projects that I have been working on, with loose deadlines that I feel pressure to complete. Art as a form of expression is suffering in me. I feel creatively lazy, but figure that’s normal. Now that we have been stewing in this pain for six weeks, I am afraid for the point at which we can say weeks have turned into months. And I have yet to determine how this affects me, but I tell myself I have been “spoiled” by all of the time that I have been able to spend with Danyelle. This is my first week going back to working from the office full-time and I miss her, is all I know right now.

Capture Your Grief- Day 26: Healing Ritual

HealingRitual

 

D: This is a picture in daylight…but our ritual is to look out the skylight as we lay in bed at night and talk to the girls. We do this every night… Some nights we have a lot to say, and others we simply tell them we love them and say goodnight… Sometimes I cry, and sometimes I feel okay… Sometimes we see a couple dim stars twinkling and we know they can hear us, and other times I beg them for signs if they are in fact still ‘with us’- needing the reassurance just to get through some days…We find comfort in having a set time each day that includes them, even though we will never ‘know’ them in any way other than this… So that even as time continues to pass and we become even further removed from our loss…. We still regularly incorporate Rylie and Avary into our lives…. It’s not really ‘good enough’, but it’s all we’ve got…. and in our situation you learn to take what you can get… If looking out for ‘signs’ and talking to the girls at night makes life a little more bearable, then for today that is good enough…

E: At night, we talk to the girls out loud together in bed as we look out of our skylight at the clouds or stars or the moon. I don’t really speak to Rylie and Avary out loud very much other than that, mostly because I think that my thoughts are more organized than I can speak. I never really know the right things to “say” because it seems like I’m giving a presentation to them. Rather, my stream of thoughts and what I specifically mean, I do my best to “send” to them throughout the day.

Speaking to the girls together out loud though, gives closure to the day. It makes Danyelle and I feel connected to Avary and Rylie and to one another. This is about as ritualistic as I imagine we’ll get, but it’s a ritual I really look forward to now. I think that as time elapses, what we say to the girls will probably become a bit more abbreviated. Even now, having spoken to them out loud at night for the past six weeks straight, what we express in front of one another to the girls is a little repetitive. But that’s a good thing, because I take comfort in the consistency. Speaking to them is a time when we are all four close together and a time when we share a meaningful family activity. We strive to be “think outside of the box” people, but having the consistency is a basic definition of ritual. What I personally say to them may be delivered with more fervor one night, and less so the next, but the message to them continues to reflect the same thing: my feelings for them, about them, my wishes and desires for their safety, peace and togetherness.

Over time, what I say out loud to them – I feel – becomes more refined, succinct and maybe eloquent. We need to hear our own words as much as we want them to hear how much we miss them and how devastated we are to be living lives without them.

Looking out through the skylight at nighttime is relaxing. I think it calms us to be peering into a great unknown. The skylight is our window to their world now. Their world is framed by what we can visualize and sometimes we’ll see unexpected butterflies flitter past in the day, or two leaves plot down at the same time. I’m almost excited to see what will happen next. We believe that the girls are all around us, ethereal and close by no matter where we are. But allocating a specific time of the day, during which we participate in something ritualistic like talking to our babies through the skylight is one of the few things we can do to assign special meaning to them. We do this for them (and for us), in honor of them. To remember them and keep them close to us.

Capture Your Grief- Day 25: Mother Earth

No peach or plum sprouts yet, but the cactus are always sure to poke through.

No peach or plum sprouts yet, but the cacti are always sure to poke through.

motherearth

 

D: Today is an absolutely beautiful fall day… The kind of sunny warm day that really lifts your spirits… It’s a nice change… Eric and I had an ‘experience’ this morning that really makes me feel like the girls are with us today which combined with the weather has made this day such a blessing… Come spring, we will be planting 2 flowering trees (species TBD) in honor of our Rylie and Avary, but today we planted yellow daffodil bulbs in their memory… Come spring, and many springs there after, the daffodils will bloom and remind us of our girls… Yellow will always, always be their color….

Today was probably one of the brightest days I have had in this journey… I think it was a combination of the weather, ‘feeling’ the girls, and choosing to do something in their memory in honor of the topic “Mother Earth”… I spent many hours outside and for the first time in all of this, I honestly felt at peace for a little while… I was able to soak up the sun, watch the birds, do a little gardening, and honestly, truly feel the girls with me- and for these few hours, that was enough… I find hope in starting to have times like these… even if it only lasts a little while…

We decided to join my sister and her family at the pumpkin patch today. The weather was perfect and it felt good to see my adorable 2 year old nephew who adores us…And I had a nice time. I am very happy I decided to go, and I really wasn’t sure I wanted to go at all… but even in my happiness to be outside enjoying family on a beautiful fall day, I can’t escape the pain…

Can you believe there was a couple, each carrying a teeny tiny baby onto the hayride?? Seriously, I can’t go out the seldom times I have without seeing infant twins?? Or my nephew AJ with a huge smile on his face won’t go down the slide until I hold his hand… and my heart dies… I won’t get to have this, this type of moment, with my two year old child for who knows how long… and never, ever with Rylie and Avary…. Never…. Every single thing we did that day I instinctively think of what it should be like because I should be pregnant… I pick AJ up- oh shouldn’t do that I’d be breaking my lifting restriction. We sit on the floor to carve pumpkins- oh there’s no way I’d be able to get on the floor by now… We pick out pumpkins and I can’t help myself… I get 2 tiny ones just for my girls… It is all-consuming- this pain I feel for what I no longer have, and for the things I will never have…

On the way home I start obsessing about having a baby. Before I even became pregnant, I wanted a baby so bad. I felt like it would fulfill me in such a positive way. When I found out we were having the twins, I was so incredibly excited- I could not wait to have them. I could not wait to hold them and feel their soft skin and smell that baby smell… I could not wait for my life to change in all the ways it would in the chaos of having babies in our lives… Losing Rylie and Avary has put such sadness into my heart… I yearn for them in a way I never knew before their loss… But their loss has not taken away the desire I have to have children. Not at all… if anything it has heightened it ten fold because in the anticipation of their arrival I began to dream of our future…

I felt guilty when these thoughts first arose, like I was being disloyal to their memories by thinking of wanting more children, especially so soon after losing them. But I honestly believe, and know in my heart, that there is room to remember, grieve, honor, love and respect my daughters while also loving a child here on this earth… my grief for the loss of Rylie and Avary will never, ever go away… just as my longing to be a mommy to babies here on earth has not subsided with their loss…

I am not ready to be pregnant again. The very thought terrifies me, and some words I have heard stick with me: “You will know you are ready to try again when the desire for a baby outweighs the fear of losing one again”… I like this, and I like to think I will know when I am ready based partially on this very statement. But that night on the car ride home, after seeing so many children and families and it becoming so obvious what we don’t have by no chose of our own… I really really longed for a baby. A baby without need for pregnancy of course. I thought about adopting a baby, finding some pregnant teenager who didn’t want her baby anyway (because hell, everyone else can have babies- whether they want them or not) and then finding an agency to make it legal. I thought about finding a surrogate who would carry a baby for me. Or maybe a baby would just end up on our doorstep- I wouldn’t question that! But then I became frustrated because I want a baby now like I had planned for, and all these rational options would take too long, and the irrational ones, well, I need not say more….

I am thankful for my ‘good’ days, even when they end in such despair….even when irrational outweighs rational, and when I long so desperately for something that is so far far away in my future…

E: In anticipation of day 25, I decided on day 10 to prepare some of my seeds for germination; hoping, that by day 25, they would sprout and I could be proud of the symbolism for renewed life and hope. Well, the seeds that I had selected were peach and plum pits, which can be kind of tricky and more hit-and-miss than anything else. They did not sprout yet, and although I was under the impression that germination for these species could occur in less than 15 days, they can take up to several weeks. So, here’s hoping that they will sprout still.

The symbolism is obvious enough… of course we wish that we did not need to plant anything in memory of our angels, but we do… Not-so-oddly enough (if you know me), I had already told Danyelle way back in the first trimester that I was going to plant cherry trees – Rainier cherry trees – for both of the twins, just to be one of those things that you can share with them one day, “I planted these when you were born and they’re as old as you.” The cherries are actually the ones in my all-time favorite picture of Danyelle. Sadly, those seeds didn’t germinate either.

Getting seeds to germinate is tough… It’s a frustrating hobby, honestly because of the rate of failure. Danyelle and I had talked before about the fact that when we were anticipating starting a family, we naively figured that babies were “just what you get.” No hardship, no struggle, no grief. But that didn’t happen for us. We lost them. We took all the right steps. When I plant seeds, my fastidiousness dictates that I take all the right steps. Make every step perfect, then your “odds” go up. There is no answer for why some seeds don’t germinate. Certain chemical processes don’t happen – or don’t happen enough, or at the right time, etc. But I’ll never know why seeds fail.

That has only started bothering me lately because I have had more success as this hobby in the past. The cherries didn’t sprout. The plums and peaches didn’t sprout (yet). I don’t know if I can handle more failure and still have the same enthusiasm or optimism that I have always had. I don’t know what kind of person I’ll be if I can’t have faith and a certain amount of hope that when you do everything correctly, you can expect a certain amount of success.

With plants, well, there are lots of opportunities to try. If they don’t make it, you can set the system up again. Out of respect for my angel babies and angel babies everywhere, I am not going to compare and contrast them to plants, save for one point: with kids, there is a lot of time to dwell and consider. You can’t just set the system up again because you’re taxed so heavily, it’s not possible for many reasons. So, you think about the failure, a lot. You question the logic, or lack thereof and you try to live with a certain amount of chaos.

One way that Mother Earth helps me cope is the concept that, life finds a way. And I have to trust that next time will be different. I certainly will never forget the past, but we have to learn all over again how to look forward to the future.

Capture Your Grief- Day 24: Forgiveness

812

 

D: Forgiveness. The only person I need to learn to forgive is myself. To forgive myself for us losing out on our ‘everything’… Forgive myself for not scheduling our structural US a week earlier, for not realizing my back pain may have been an indicator something was wrong, for not protecting my daughters… I need to forgive myself for possibly missing the signs, for not insisting on pelvic exams even though they’re not protocol in ‘healthy’ pregnancies, and for making life what it is now… I need to forgive my body for betraying me, for the early labor or the cervix insufficiency- whatever it was that took my sweet precious babies- it was because of me, my body… I need to forgive myself for not being in the mindset the day I lost the girls to take more specific pictures to aid my memory of them- pictures of their tiny hands, or tiny feet… their perfectly shaped ears, or the two of them holding hands… After the fact, I think of so much I wish I had known, or done differently, or done better…

I know hindsight is 20/20. I know that I did everything I could have with the knowledge I had at the time. I know this. I know it was my first pregnancy and I could not have possibly known. I know that I called my MD a week before when I had been concerned just about having a cold. I know that my back pain was explained by sitting at a continuing ed course in a desk chair for 2 days straight, and I know I did not blatantly ignore concerns or ‘signs’ I may have had. I know I would have given the world to still have my girls here with me now… But that does not change the guilt I feel, or the forgiveness I cannot seem to find…

I think maybe I didn’t pray enough. Maybe I didn’t give enough in my life. Maybe I thought too many negative thoughts of others. Maybe I had karma coming. Maybe I just have bad luck…

I know that is not how it ‘works’, but again, it does not change how I feel. I run over and over in my head the days leading up to losing Avary and Rylie. What could I have done differently? I had scheduled my structural ultrasound for the 16th and not the 12th because I had a continuing ed course scheduled for that day and I didn’t want to move it. Stupid me… putting my career ahead of my children… I know it wasn’t like that at the time- My doctor had said to go at 19 or 20 weeks and in my head it was ‘well I’ll still be pregnant on the 16th- why mess with my course I was already registered for? I am still within my recommended time-table’… I couldn’t have known… I started getting big quickly the 2 weeks before losing the girls…. that combined with sitting at my course for 2 days in an uncomfortable chair explained the back pain… I was only 20 weeks- why would I have thought contractions instead of the more obvious reason? But then getting big so quickly- why didn’t this concern me? Why didn’t I ever wonder if my cervix could hold such an influx of weight so quickly??? Because incompetent cervix is so uncommon that your doctors never even mentioned it to you and its not routinely checked for this early in pregnancy… Even talking to the doctor after our loss, he reassured me that I did nothing wrong… He told me even if I had gone in on the 12th instead of the 16th that if I had already dialated too much they still may not have been able to do anything to stop it because the pressure of twins is too great to prevent the premature rupture… But hearing this does not change the fact that we do not know for sure – maybe it would have changed things. Maybe it would have changed the course of my entire life… I could have stayed in the hospital in head-down trendelenburg for 15 weeks! I could have done anything to save my babies… 

I don’t think the guilt will ever go away. I do not think I will forever be able to fully forgive myself for the way things ended up. This has literally changed the entire course of my life, forever. I will now likely try for babies I would not have if the girls had lived…  that’s just the fact of the matter… I will forever feel guilt for the loss of my precious babies at the same time as *hopefully* loving children here on this earth that would never have been if Rylie and Avary were here on this earth with us… The guilt I feel feeds the pain of what isn’t and never will be… I feel it deeply every day in every thought and every reminder of memories we will never make… ‘If only….’ plays over and over in my mind…

I think the only way I will ever be able to ‘forgive’ myself in any sense of the word is by knowing without a doubt how differently I will handle things next time- I owe that to my sweet sweet girls, and to any future siblings they may have. I didn’t ‘know’ then what could and ultimately would go wrong… but I know now… I will forgive myself, to the best of my ability, by being overly cautious next time… The moment I find out I am pregnant, I will stop working- the physical exertion needed in my job is not worth the risk- whether this ends up doctor ordered or not, this is what Eric and I decided we will do. I will insist on weekly doctor appointments between my primary OB and my specialist where I will have regular cervical lengths done and live at their office if that’s what I need… I will go into the ER as many times as it takes during my pregnancy to assure myself things are okay. I will get the cerclage if that is what’s best and I’ll give myself weekly progesterone. Even if not doctor ordered (though it likely will be) I will be on bedrest for 9 months and will likely go insane but that is okay… because just like I would have for Rylie and Avary, I would do anything to ensure a healthy pregnancy and babies here on this earth with me…

In preparing to write today I found a quote:

“Forgive yourself. Life still holds a new chance to become a better person” -Lailah Gifty Akita

…I’m trying…

 E: Our two most awful days on this earth: Monday and Tuesday, September 15th and 16th. Whatever time I wasn’t holding my little babies or Danyelle or talking to the doctors, or crying inconsolably, I was asking, “What have I done?? What could I possibly have done to deserve this?” I was certain that this was my fault. I knew that there had to be something that I had done or not done that was cause for this all to happen… Danyelle could not possibly have been making me lunch, sending me off to work in the morning and not have an inkling of what was about to happen unless this was an act of some higher power.

I seriously immediately thought, “Why God? I pray to you every night! I thank you for everything you have blessed me with in my life. I thank you for the health and well-being of my loved ones, my wife, my babies inside of her. I humbly ask you to keep them safe, let them be born healthy and with no complications. What have I done so wrong in my life that you would kill my two girls? What message are you sending? How am I supposed to live better to avoid this wrath??” I Didn’t blame God, I blame myself and thought this was punishment. What other explanation are you to draw when medicine and science have no explanation? The people who are  best at delivering babies have no idea what went wrong. For someone who believes in a higher power, why wouldn’t you think He has something to do with this?

I struggled with that for about a week. We bought two books and rented one movie about heaven and I deeply analyzed my views about heaven and God. And they’ve changed like I said before. At first, I thought this was punishment. Then I remembered that God is a loving God, not a menace. So, if he loves us, why did something completely inexplicable in logical terms happen to us? My ideas started changing a little. I thought to myself, I am not without fault. I do things that I am not proud of, I sin just like the rest of us, I have moments where I am ashamed and knew I could do better. I do not always think to put others first, I am selfish sometimes. But I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I do my best to live a good and selfless life, while there are innumerable people in the world bent on destruction, greed, murder. As horrible as it sounds, as I am thinking to type now, I thought then; those are the people who deserve to have their children killed. Not us. I started to blame myself a little less because that concept didn’t make sense to me. As overwhelming as it seemed at first, that I was being punished for something, It didn’t make sense. Nothing I’ve done in my life would ever deserve retribution that malicious.

So, I forgave myself. I know that I’m not perfect and I re-accepted that concept. I told myself, I did my best, I took as many precautions as possible to foster a healthy environment for Danyelle and the girls. I fed her water and spinach and purified the air around her face! I picked up after the dog and cleaned the litter box and scrubbed my hands raw. We ditched our hand soap for a more natural surfactant – just in case. Well, “in case” came and stole our children from us, despite the best laid plans. This wasn’t our fault. I forgave myself.

So, if this wasn’t my fault, could I blame God? No, I couldn’t do that either because I am a scientist and a Christian both. I know that this happened for a reason. A scientific reason. I know that we live in an advanced society, but society is always advanced when viewed through a current lens. The fact of the matter is, something caused this pregnancy to start before it was time and the fact that the best doctors in one of the biggest and best cities in the world don’t know why simply means that medicine hasn’t caught up yet and solved all of the world’s problems. I accepted that. I thought, even though we were part of an incredibly small percentage of cases experiencing this particular type of loss (0.3%, as mentioned in another post), there was a reason why- that someday, after we have donated enough time and money to the cause, professionals will determine and safeguard against it, just like all of the other things we know to do or not do during pregnancy. This problem was part of real life and not some act of divine intervention-for-the-worst. Could I still blame God for not preventing it, being that He is almighty?

Also no. Having faith is not about blaming anyone. Yourself or God. Having faith is trusting that there is a reason and that you may not understand anymore than that. The reason is not that God needed our babies dead. That’s ridiculous. Why would God benefit from that? There is nothing He “needs.” God allowed this to happen because he created a universe governed by physical laws. The rules are not broken at whim. Is there such thing as luck? Blessings? Miracles? Maybe, but I believe they will function within the parameters of the laws governing this universe. I believe that God’s role in this universe is largely observatory. But, our babies are not in this universe anymore and so I actually take comfort in believing that they are with Him now in a place where there is nothing unknown, shocking or terrible.

I don’t blame myself anymore. I don’t believe we’re being punished, although it feels that way still. We seek to understand that when we do “A” we can expect “B” to happen. When it doesn’t, we freak out. But that doesn’t mean we did anything wrong. We just don’t understand “A” well enough yet. I don’t blame God, because having faith is accepting that He is a loving God and that living your life in as good a way as possible is not cause for unwarranted vengeance for something. I don’t blame the doctors or modern medicine because they did not prevent this from happening. Everyone we’ve met in that field has taken extra wonderful care of us and I have no reason to doubt that they did what 99.7% of the time is the best course of action.

I have no one or thing left to forgive. That doesn’t make this process less painful, but maybe it saves a little bit of heartache and conserves energy that can be better directed elsewhere.

Capture Your Grief-Day 23: Inspiration

couragedoesntalwaysroar

 

D: At this point in my grief, I don’t have much inspiration. I find hope in talking to others or reading stories of women who successfully have their rainbow baby after loss, but even that is not a guarantee. It does not bring my babies back, it does not give ‘reason’ to why they are not here with me, and it is not necessarily how ‘my story’ will go… I want to say that I am looking for inspiration to start a new hobby, start an organization in honor of my little girls, put my heart into work and find a new job that I love… but the truth is, I don’t really care about any of that. All I wanted was my babies. I wanted, more than anything in this world, to become a mother and to experience all the ups and downs my life with 2 infants would bring. I find it hard to become inspired about anything other than that- being a mother to children here on this earth. I want that desperately, and in my grief at this moment, I have no inspiration for anything else. I want to be like some other loss mommas who have been inspired by their child’s short life to start this program, or that organization in honor of their child… but I’m not there yet. I still just want them, and nothing else really feels worth while…

I woke up 2 nights ago to my dog acting strange… usually she sleeps right at my feet and does not get up until morning. I awake to her whimpering and hiding in the other room. I go to check on her and she has blood coming from her ear and she’s shaking. She won’t let me touch her ear to check it out. You know how things always seem worse in the middle of the night? Be it the dark, half-consciousness, lingering feelings from a dream- what ever it is? Well, I thought my dog was going to die. I thought she must be going off into the other room to hide and die. I thought she must have gotten a tick in her ear that I missed somehow and she was going to die. I was terrified.

Now, my dog gets frequent ear infections- has since the day I got her. This is not all that ‘unusual’- granted it doesn’t usually present itself to this extreme without warning, but it isn’t that unusual. But this is how my life is now. I have truly heightened fear of everything since losing the girls. I am personally aware now of how quickly life can change for the worse, and it terrifies me now. I cannot be ‘inspired’ right now because I am lucky I am holding my head above water. I have heightened fear of losing my dog, losing my husband, getting mugged, having a car accident… you name it. I am afraid of anything more happening at a time when I can hardly handle my life as it is now…

My inspiration right now is just holding onto hope… hope that if I keep trudging through the day to day, one day I will feel inspired… I will find the desire to be inspired again… and that inspiration will lead to a brighter tomorrow.

E: When I think of being inspired, I think of being compelled to do something – an activity or a thought that changes your mind and behavior. Inspiration tends to carry a positive connotation because you don’t generally hear about people being “inspired” to do destructive things. Stripped down, inspiration to me, right now, basically means; what I am driven to do. I don’t seem to have any particular sort of drive right now because aside from how we live our “normal” lives, there isn’t much motivation to achieve anything. There is no one for which our drive is directed.

When Danyelle was pregnant, I was inspired by our babies in utero to work extra hard, to take as much responsibility off of Danyelle as possible, to learn what I needed to learn in anticipation of their arrival and to create a safe environment for ‘my three girls.’ Now, I don’t have very potent inspiration to do much, because there is little depending on me.

Mentally, I have been inspired by the various support groups and mothers of angel babies that Danyelle has been in contact with – she shares as much as possible with me about how she finds inspiration in their messages and by offering the details of their struggle. I am inspired by the fact that these people have managed to get though this – to whatever degree they can, and by whatever definition “getting through” means. I maintain hope that our lives will be equally as fulfilling as if by some miracle our babies survived and we were holding them now – but really, I am not inspired to think as such.

My inspiration will probably pique again when we are pregnant again, and I have greater purpose than I do now. Because then, I will be needed – throughout the process – by Danyelle, and for the sake of our future baby/ies. I am inspired by the idea that not all is lost, it is just rather plunged into a deep hole. But I am holding on because I can see light faintly at the top.

Capture Your Grief-Day 22: Self-Care

photo

This first bloomed in early September from a plant Eric has been nurturing since our wedding in May 2013

D: ‘Before’ self-care was very important to me. I am a physical therapist and have an undergrad degree in exercise science. I know of the impact exercise and physical activity can have on endorphin release and overall well being both physically and psychologically… I know you eat well to avoid cancer, diabetes, obesity, hypertension… I know that self-esteem is improved with good hygiene, caring for yourself, and feeling good about your appearance. I know these things.

Even a year before I was pregnant I was taking my prenatal vitamins because my doctor had said it was good to prepare the body. I sleep 8 hours a night, I drink 80 oz of water a day, I avoid pop and caffeine, I eat my fruits and veggies every day, and I never skip my morning yogurt.  I watch my saturated fat intake and I don’t touch sweets too frequently. I stay moving and active, even work keeps me on my feet 8 hours a day. I am healthy because it feels good and because I have too much in life to look forward to to not to be healthy…

And then I lost Rylie and Avary. And even knowing all I know… I don’t care. I know the point of Capture Your Grief is to examine different areas of life and really confront your grief- but I was dreading this day because I knew it would make me examine that which does not make me happy right now… I know what I should be doing, but I just don’t care enough…

I don’t take my vitamins anymore. I don’t know where my water bottle is half the time. I eat brownies for breakfast and frequently forget about lunch… It is with much encouragement that I even get up and take the dog for a walk during the day… What did being health conscious get me? A lost pregnancy and 2 angel babies I will never have here on earth… I know these 2 things are not directly related… but it feels that way. It feels like- why bother to put so much effort and thought into my health and well-being when that was suppose to lead me to a happy life?? You are healthy to avoid adverse reactions in your life- be it high blood pressure, heart disease, premature death… I was healthy, but still the one thing I wanted more than life itself I lost. It makes it hard to care really… It makes it hard to be a priority when it feels like “why bother?” When other people are smoking and eating fast food and drinking too much coffee- they still get babies… but I do everything ‘right’ and I have to find the strength to get through each day that is now my life without my precious babies… It makes it hard to care…

Today, I am not ready to commit to focusing again on ‘self-care’ and my well-being. But the topic is making me start to think and consider, and I think that is a good start. Because of the thinking this day’s topic has made me do, I took my vitamins today. I ate lunch, and I cooked veggies with dinner. I painted my nails and took the dog for a walk. I looked up pilates and tai-chi classes that I may enroll in. It’s not easy to put my self first when I feel so low and undeserving… but today I made a conscious effort to try… and I will keep doing that…

E: I aim to treat myself in the same fashion as described by Danyelle. That’s something we’ve always agreed upon and a reason why we have mutual respect for one another. We keep each other in check and for as long as I can remember, it’s been because we want the best for one another – we want each other to live long, healthy lives in which we are capable of doing anything we want and participating in whatever activities may come our way. We both won’t ever get on a motorcycle or skydive or probably pretty much any other extreme sports. It’s not like we’re suppressing any desires, we both legitimately prefer to live life, erring on the side of caution.

We take our vitamins, we check for lumps, we ask one another about semi-uncharacteristic things that may be happening, like; “Is your stomach upset right now?” after eating a sausage sandwich, or; “Is my lymph node supposed to be throbbing a little?” – things I have to assume most couples do, but that nobody really talks about. When Danyelle was pregnant I used to ask her every six seconds if she was drinking enough water — writing this now, I realize that I can list a dozen things that I made sure she was keeping up on, because I was so invested in something so amazing that I wanted to help and participate as much as possible — but I don’t really need to list them. The point is the same as Danyelle’s above: Now, it really isn’t that important to take extra good care of ourselves. At least it doesn’t feel that way. We aren’t gearing up to serve as role models for two little humans. To make sure that they learn by example and eventually logically of the innumerable reasons to take care of yourself. We feel sad and low, and as good of a high as working out is, or however rewarding those veggies for dinner are, they just don’t warrant the effort right now.

I haven’t enjoyed snacking irregularly or going a few days without something green – I’m not happier this way, but maybe a brownie or two at 8:00am is a little bit of instant gratification, something we’re both lacking.

The other aspect of self-care that resonates in my head is the idea that in the face of tragedy, sometimes it’s actually a good idea to eat “comfort food” or grasp that waning little morsel of gratification when it’s dangling in front of you. You don’t feel better, but it’s a treat for a moment. My favorite writer, David Sedaris, writes about his brother – an actual, living “character” called Rooster appearing somewhat often in his life stories – he will insist that these are the times to go out and get a “F**k-it Bucket,” a big container of randomly assorted pieces of candy, “because, sometimes you just gotta eat some candy.” I don’t plan to live my life in this haphazard way forever, or for very much longer, because I trust the people who have gone through similar situations when they say that your pain will never be gone, but you will get through the struggle you’re facing now. For now, and for reasons I can’t imagine could ever be more deserving, I’m going to do what feels gratifying. I’m going to hug and kiss my wife, I’m going to take a few more abbreviated work days so I can spend time at home together with my love. I’m going to eat Rainbow Cone and brownies because they’re sitting there in the fridge. I’m going to lick my wounds and not try to fool myself into thinking that life is back to normal now.

I’m going to look out over the sunrise, drink a cup of coffee, make breakfast for the two of us, pray to my angels, speak to them at night and look for signs from their manifestations here on earth. When it’s time to do something different, I’m sure I’ll know.