Baby Loss

How I Look At Tragedy

This post was written on the night after the horrible school shooting in Newtown, CT.

I let my emotions get the best of me, but it was necessary.

Nonsense.

All of it.

Nonsense.

To see what happened in our world today; not a lick of sense in it.

Who walks into a school - A SCHOOL - and does something like this?

Who takes the lives of precious children into their own hands like this?

What's wrong with our world that an individual with this violent agenda can walk into a school and do this to our kids? Our babies? Someone's CHILD.

This is fucked up. Beyond belief.

We're upset. We're pissed. We're angry. We're crying.

Some of us walked away from the coverage early on. Others sat on Twitter and Facebook, watching streams and feeds and took in every word; hung on every possible link.

Picture of the guy who did it? Sure - I'll check him out.

Thousands upon thousands of people shared the image that was *supposedly* him on Facebook. I seriously mean thousands. I saw it. I clicked some news reporter's link on Twitter and I saw it. And I felt sick. And you know what? I still don't even know if that was him.

The reports changed. It was his brother. He killed his mother, his father, his mom's students. 

What the HELL is wrong with people?

People are talking about where we failed this 20-something year old man. As a society. As a country. State. Nation. Whatever you want to call us.

I honestly don't know.

Right now I'm awful, because I honestly don't give a shit.

I can't understand his actions and I am glad he's gone. But then the part of me that is a mother wants to know why he doesn't get to suffer. Why parents don't get their justice.

But would there even BE justice? What sort of justice comes to someone who shoots up a room full of kindergarteners?

Do you know my baby is in kindergarten?

She is. It's her first year of school.

I'm shielding her from all of this. Many people won't be that lucky.

Many moms and dads tonight are holding their babies so closely. Their babies who today walked, eyes closed shut, hand to shoulder (you've seen the pictures, haven't you? Who the hell shared those picture) away from danger into who knew where. Who knew?

The grown-ups taking care of them didn't know. They just did what they knew to do. They protected those small beings as best they could.

I can't even begin to imagine the loss. The ache. The pain. I can't begin to think of what the parents who dropped their kids off this morning, walked them to the bus stop and ran their final steps, blowing kisses, quick hugs, here's your backpack - what are these people even thinking? How do you stop crying when this happens to you? How do you begin to believe again? To trust?

Do you? Do you ever? Is there a faith that brings strength to people during such a hell? Something magical that lifts them up and lets them move forward? How do you be a mother or father to your other children when one of yours hasn't come home? How do you teach their brothers, sisters, that they will be safe, even though their sibling was not?

What happens then? What does school represent? A place of learning, turned sour. Solid framework, so much of our lives, our childhood, our memories, gone. Shattered. Do you build that back up somehow?

I sure hope so. Because if there isn't a way I don't even know where to begin.

I think of these moms and dads tonight. Curled up in the darkness holding their loved ones close. I pray for strength and light, and I send love and healing. I don't know what else to do. I'm not really a praying person. I'm usually one who sends positive thoughts. But I need something to hold onto tonight. Something that reminds me that there has to be a hope, a strength, a greater something somewhere.

Because this? Today? Whatever it was - it was wrong. Horribly, terribly, all kinds of wrong.

And I'm sad. I hurt. It pains me. 

And I would love answers for us all, but I don't think we'll get them. Because the mean man is gone. Or, as I believe, we should try to define him to our children, should we choose to approach the topic with them, the man who did a very bad thing. It's hard when you're trying to teach kids that behaviors are not nice, behaviors are mean, people aren't. But today he is. The mean man is gone. And it's all gone with him.

Including those children. Those adults who were there with them - I don't forget them. 

But as a mom of a young child, it's the children that are foremost in my mind. I just cannot stop seeing the children I have never known, will never truly know. Because they could have been anyone's. They could have been yours. They could have been mine. That is the scariest freakin' thought ever and it's really hard to move past.

So instead I wallow a little bit, and I hug my baby about nine hundred times tonight. Because she's here and I love her and she's safe and she's mine.

You do the same.

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Warm Whispers

I have a thing for sleepwear. I like cotton nightgowns, silk nightshirts and girly pajamas. I own six bathrobes; one of them purported to be “The Softest Robe Ever.” It’s soft, alright. It’s also very fluffy, and putting it on makes me feel like a lavender-hued Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. I hold onto it for those two or three days a year when the temperature dips so low that warmth trumps frump.

Two of my robes are girly. The silky peach one channels Hedy Lamarr. The sheer black one was an impulse purchase from a Victoria’s Secret catalogue. It has bright pink feathers at the collar and cuffs. I’ve never worn it; but you never know.

The red robe is short, made of cotton and features a very large dragon embroidered down the back. It’s one of my favorites. Depending on my mood while wearing it, I either feel like a prize fighter or a naughty Geisha.  

The black one is heavy and hooded and used to belong to a man. It’s a Bill Blass. 1998 was a very good year.

The one I wear is flannel and plaid, tartan plaid, in blues and greens. I remember tearing open the Christmas wrap covering the box it came in, and looking around to see what my sisters’ robes looked like. For several years, since we all had married, my mother bought four of the same thing in different colors. One year it was sweaters. Mine was beige.  Have you seen me? Well you can’t if I wear beige.
  
Blue and green are not my colors either. I’m more a red and black or, better yet, a turquoise and silver kind of girl. And plaid? Honey, please.

And yet, that’s the robe I wear. I take care to make sure it hangs on the outside of the hook so that in the morning, as I stumble out of my bedroom and into the bathroom, I can grab it without thinking.  

This morning I noticed a hole - a slice really - in the back. The fabric around the slice was thin, very thin; thin enough to make me wonder if the slice wasn’t really a tear; a surrender to time. The discovery inspired me to inspect further. As it turns out, there are lots of holes, some of them bigger than others; you would expect that in a 30-year-old robe.

This morning, as I drew the robe around me, I felt her. I imagined her hands on the robe, as she chose it, as she wrapped it, and the image comforted me.  

“It’s going to be alright," Mom whispered. “You’ll be fine. He’s here with me, you know. Your boy is here with me.”

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Ask The Band: Help Coping With Baby Loss Anniversary

On the 13th of November, 2005,  I gave birth to a baby girl. She was four months premature, and didn't even make it out of my womb. I was only 16.

I did everything I could to make sure that she would have a good life. I found a great couple and talked to them via text/email/phone at least four times a week. I was absolutely positive they would provide the best life for my unborn child.

While I was in labor, I sent a text to the adoptive mother and asked her to make the 40 minute drive to the hospital. By the time they arrived our baby was gone.

It was so fast; I can't even remember most of the process. All I can remember is the guilt. I felt like I had failed them, and I knew I couldn't face them.

It's been seven years now. When will I be able to stop thinking about this? When will I stop feeling so sad? How long does it take to get over something like this - something that really shouldn't have had such an effect on me?

I know she wasn't mine. I couldn't have taken care of her. But I can't stop thinking 'what if?' What if she was healthy, what if I would have kept her, what if I did give her to those people...

What would have been different if I were raising her?

I miss her. I never even got to see her beautiful face - I can only imagine it. It hurts so bad.

The last three days gave been harder than the actual day I lost her. I can't get out of bed. None of my friends know what I'm dealing with because I'm to embarrassed to tell them. I really just need someone to talk to who isn't going to judge me.

So please, if you read this and have any advice on how to get over it and move forward, please share with me. I really don't know how much longer I can stay in bed without just dying...anyway, that's all I've got. Thanks.

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Spotlight On: Baby Loss - The Isolation Of Grieving My Dead Son

The creation of human life is one of the most complex and shockingly beautiful things that our bodies are designed to do. The microanatomy that goes into this task is so astonishingly complicated that it's a miracle any of us walk around at all. And yet, most of us do. Most...but not all.

When a baby dies, we are fragmented. Shattered, we must pick up the pieces and put them back together as we pay tribute to our children, our tables forever missing one, our families incomplete, our treasures in heaven, our babies alive only in our hearts.

It is through our stories that they live forever. These children were here and they mattered. They were loved. They are loved.

It's been just over three years since I last held my sweet boy in my arms, tiny at just twenty-two weeks gestation. Three years of not changing his diapers or watching him grow. Three years of aching every time I see my friends fly through their own healthy pregnancies. Three years of a guilt-ridden jealousy of every parent who doesn't know the depths of my sorrow. Three years of never knowing how to answer the question “how many children do you have?"

Three years of hurting.

I know that death is a part of life; from the moment of conception, it's a solitary promise. The only question is how much time we have between our first moment and our last. All of us, on some level, know this.

But that will never relieve the suffering of grief. The risk of pregnancy loss will never erase the pain. Like so many other women, I knew the odds. I kept track of the statistics. I celebrated my way into the second trimester. But when the grim reality of stillbirth was visited on my family, I was unprepared for a different reality: the reality of a complete and limitless grieving.

This is a different kind of grief than the kind I carry for my father, who died when I was fifteen. Or for my grandmother, who died three years later. My sorrow for them is tempered by the memories I have; ones I can share with others. I have comrades in my grief, people who help me remember and be grateful for our times of joy.

Our time before loss.

In sharing these memories, our loved ones, for a moment, live again.

We don't have treasure chest of memories to share and hold dear. He's already dead in the photographs we have; every memory of his existence outside of my body completely entrenched in heartbreak. Talking about my son is, by its very nature, an exercise in grieving.

I have amazing people in my life who have not only allowed me the room to grieve my son in my own way, but who have reached out in an attempt to touch my son's memory with me. I don't think I can tell these people how wonderful and rare and beautiful and needed they are. I don't think I can ever thank them enough.

But these people are rare. They are the exception to a very tragic rule.

For many, pregnancy loss is a difficult, terrible, avoid-at-all-costs topic of discussion. The awfulness of a dead baby lends itself to stilted conversations; to awkward pauses and hurried condolences. To overly cheerful nods towards the silver lining of my living children, as if they somehow are obligated to, or even can, “make up” for their brother's death. As if children are interchangeable.

And instead of the sharing of memories... silence.

This is the awful truth about pregnancy loss: so much of it is absolutely carried alone. People don't know what to say, so they say nothing at all. Nobody wants to remind me of my heartache, but it has never for one moment been forgotten. How could I forget the boy who should have been my future?

And why would I ever want to?

I'm not angry at anyone for being absent or silent or unsure. I understand. I really, really do. I don't even know how I need to grieve; how can I expect anyone else to? But just because I understand, it doesn't mean it hurts any less.

It doesn't mean I feel any less alone.

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Spotlight On: Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss: The Need

The creation of human life is one of the most complex and shockingly beautiful things that our bodies are designed to do. The micro-anatomy that goes into this task is so astonishingly complicated that it's a miracle any of us walk around at all. And yet, most of us do.

Most...but not all.

When a baby dies, we are fragmented. Shattered, we must pick up the pieces and put them back together as we pay tribute to our children, our tables forever missing one, our families incomplete, our treasures in heaven, our babies alive only in our hearts.

It is through our stories that they live forever. These children were here and they mattered. They were loved.

They are loved.

It’s taken me all evening to work out what to type so expect pure ramble. 

I used to love writing. To spill my thoughts and feelings out onto the screen, but then life and 'stuff' got in the way and for months now I have forgotten to sit down and have a decent one-to-one with myself. 

Who am I? I am Lucy and I am 31 years old. On Thursday, July 2, 2009, as my son was dying I - the Lucy I had grown into over the past 28 years - was reborn into someone unknown.

When your baby dies, you have three options.

1. You become so consumed in your grief that you cannot see a way out from it, other than to end your life, as all you can think about is wanting to be with your baby.

2. You go through the grief process, you meet lots of friends through your grief and it soon becomes your life - you let it define who you are.

3. You go through the grief process, you meet lots of friends through your grief but somewhere along the line, you go off on your own, needing to do something, somewhere, somehow but not quite sure what, how or where.

I won’t lie; over the last thirty-eight months I have experienced all three of the above - although not to the extreme where I did take my life, otherwise I would not be typing this now. Obviously.

I simply cannot explain the overwhelming need to be with your baby in the beginning, even though the logical part of your brain knows that the only way to be with your baby means that the overwhelming need will take you away from everyone you love and from everyone who loves you.

I do not think badly of the women – and men - who do follow that need. In fact, I think they are ultimately stronger then they believe themselves to be; it takes a lot of courage to take yourself away from all that you have ever known. Thankfully I was able to bring myself out of those thoughts quite early. Instead I turned to the ever-so-faithful Jack Daniels for a short while, before again coming to the realization that it didn't matter how many bottles I downed or how many tears I shed, he, Bobby, my son, will not come back.

It’s easy to look back now and see that I was stuck in point two for pretty much 18 months after his death.

Due to fertility problems, it had taken Steve and I 28 months to get pregnant with Bobby. Not surprisingly, we were not able to fall pregnant again straight away - even as I type this we are still childless.

I fell into the world of Internet support groups. I was even an admin on a Pregnancy and Infant Loss Board, helping others who had recently lost or those who I had met through Bobby's death. As time went on, it dawned on me that those whom I had spent so many hours, days, and months, not to mention emotional effort, into helping, were moving on without me. One by one they all fell pregnant. They formed new friendship circles and because I could no longer relate, I was left behind.

Out of all of the emotions I have felt since the day he died, that realization cut deep to the core, allowing the green-eyed monster to appear. I know that it was not premeditated, but I felt used, let down and stuck emotionally because ultimately, I had put my grief on hold, instead concentrating on helping them move forward.

Resentment slowly set in; with every new pregnancy announcement came the sweaty palms, the rushed heartbeat, the sick feeling at the bottom of my stomach. I had no choice but to be outwardly 'happy' for my friends, to not feel upset when pictures of their scans appeared on their Facebook wall and board profile. Each time I would subconsciously remove myself from their life for nine months until their baby was born safely.

I am ashamed to say that at certain points, a tiny, nasty part of me had wanted that pregnancy to end so that I could get my friend back. Then I would again be needed and things would go back to how they were.

It is amazing what your baby dying does to you, both physically and emotionally. This is the first time I have ever confessed to those feelings and reading them back doesn’t so much make me sad but instead makes me proud for how far I have really come in my lifelong journey.

I remember falling into the third point as though it was yesterday. It was in November 2010 and a very dear friend at the time had set up a non-profit organization to help those like us. Unlike before, this help wasn’t an emotional, intense ‘help’ - it was practical help. It gave me the freedom to still make a difference, but at a safe distance.

Having volunteered for this non-profit for a year, the opportunity came for me to go off and start my own. I am very proud to say that my baby, Upon Butterfly Wings, turned one on the October 1, 2012.

It wouldn’t be a lie to say that UBW has saved my life - not physically so much but mentally.  Still having empty arms three years on, it has given me a purpose; it has given me a meaning to my life. Before Bobby died, I never knew what I wanted to be; what I wanted to do ‘when I grew up.’

I obviously still have moments where I will sit and cry over the need to have my little man here, right now. The need to see him in his preschool uniform, the need to know the color of his eyes and the sound of his voice. Thankfully, these days are overshadowed by the feeling of pride that not only was his death not so much in vain, but that because of him, there are mums and dads out there who are actually being helped and there are babies who are being treated with dignity and love.

Because of a need to help, by learning to live with and eventually understand and quite like my new mind, I now have the drive and determination to change a very small part of the world. There is no reason, apart from my own doubts, that need cannot happen.

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