Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Perspective: We All Need It

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! - Matthew 6:23-24

When you have had a tragedy in your life, no matter what it is, big or small, social media is the absolute devil. It is a constant reminder that while you feel like your world is completely halted, everyone else's is going on as happy as ever. I took myself off of it for about a month but then felt completely isolated.

Today alone, here are some actual and some loosely interpreted headlines from my social media newsfeed:

[picture of a screaming baby]
Caption: Teething - the struggle is real y'all.

[Link to a blog post]
Caption: Diatribe about how crazy it is to try to raise a baby and you have no time for anything, sleep regression is happening, blah, blah, blah, need glass of wine, such a tough day. #DaddysTurn #MommaNeedsAVacation

[Picture of swollen feet]
Caption: This is just a glimpse of how HUGE I am. Never want to be pregnant during the summer again!

[Picture of piles of laundry]
Caption: Trying to remember my life before kids.

Status Update: Mom friends, what is the best ___________ (fill in the blank product) to help with ___________ (name an ailment). I am going out of my mind!

Last week I knew I had hit the "anger phase" and it was the bazillion pregnancy announcements, gender reveals and birth announcements that really got to me - seriously, are there always this many?!? It feels so cruel. Now, I'm not sure which type grinds my gears more. As everyone responds back with "LOL!" or "OMG, it's the worst!!" and then the one-upper-stories, I want to oh so politely say...

Perspective: At least you have your baby.

But now I need to turn that mirror on myself. I'm sure I've been that person that angered people with events in my life:
  • Gushing about a proposal story when someone's relationship has ended.
  • Discussing wedding planning when someone has had a failed marriage.
  • Going on fun vacations when someone is financially struggling.
  • Talking about my brothers when someone doesn't have a sibling anymore.
  • Getting pregnant when someone else cannot.
  • Complaining about allergies when someone is undergoing cancer treatments.

As I try to navigate this life after loss, it is easy for me to play victim. To be insulted and angered by everyone else who is simply living life the way I had been, prior to the morning of May 26. Announcing my own pregnancy, I wasn't being very sensitive to anyone that was going through infertility struggles. Announcing that it was a boy, I wasn't thinking about how that could effect someone who lost their little boy to SIDs or stillbirth.

Today, I've decided to gain perspective in my own situation, to (if even just for a moment) stop looking at the outside world with anger and say to myself: you were able to get pregnant when you wanted to. You carried him in your womb, forming a special bond. You named him as soon as you could and you knew him, he was your Hudson John. You got to feel his kicks, jabs and hiccups. You got to see him and observe for yourself the miracle of how God takes the best of two people, molding them together to have formed a beautiful baby. No, he didn't live outside of your womb. No, you will never get to have the life you imagined as a family unit. But, you had him for 32 weeks and 6 days, and it was good.

I am thankful for every single one of those 230 days because they were with Hudson. When I start to get angry and resent people for having what I want - a pregnancy or a baby - I will remember the list of things that I am thankful for and Hudson is at the top.

But, all that to say, I would just ask for you to think twice before publicly ranting or complaining about something that someone else out there would give anything to have. I am not the only one dealing with this kind of pain. Early term miscarriages, infertility, still birth, SIDS loss, moms that have loss their babies to other illness; there are several people you know that cringe when they see that because the knife slides just a little more in the heart. They would trade places with you in a nanosecond if it meant having their baby they are pining for, no matter what the circumstance is. Teething, issues sleeping or eating, colicky, whatever. When you are at your wits end, hold your little one tight, take a deep breath for your sanity and tell God thank you. It may be a rough time of growing pains, but at least you have it.

Perspective: we all need it.

Friday, July 17, 2015

I Hope You Never Have to Know

Walking out of the church after dropping off inscription forms for Hudson's niche.
The sky was angry, cloudy, about to rain at any moment but there was this star-shaped opening.
There are holes in the floor of heaven.

Tomorrow we meet our pastor at the church at 9:00 AM. He will walk with us to the garden where the columbarium wall is, right outside the room we held a Memorial Service seven weeks prior. For the first time, we will see the box that contains what is left of the life we created, our first baby. I will want to hold that box and not give it back. We will receive the blanket that he left the hospital in and a small box of ashes to take home with us. His ashes will be blessed and then placed inside the wall as his final resting place.

I hope you never have to know what it sounds like to hear the words your child has passed.
I hope you never have to know what it feels like to go through labor to know it will not be joyful in the end.
I hope you never have to know what it looks like to see your lifeless child in your arms.

I hope you never have to watch the door close after your child is taken from your arms, knowing you will never see them again.
I hope you never have to discuss a final resting place for your baby.
I hope you never have to plan a funeral to celebrate a life you didn't get to experience.

I hope you never have to know what it is like to say goodbye to your child before their life had the chance to start.

But if you do, if you ever have to experience this, I hope you know you are not alone.
I hope you know you gave your baby the best life they could have, however long they were with you.
I hope you know you are so loved and the world is here for you when you are ready to re-enter it.
I hope you seek peace. I hope you seek acceptance. I hope you seek strength.
You are not alone.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


Dealing with grief and loss is tricky and different for every person. I am learning not to hide from it, embrace it, be honest about where you are in your coping, and work through it with those you love and who love you. This is a hard week, it would have been the week we welcomed Hudson into the world. Our first due date calculated was July 18 and then at some point in the second trimester it was bumped up to today, July 15. Both register to us as Hudson days.

Between today and Saturday, we would have had him here with us as science predicted, had there not been a cord accident. This is the final realization that it was not a dream, this was very real and he is not coming. Instead of letting sadness get the best of us, let's create happiness. If you are reading this, whoever you are, that means you are part of our support system - whether we see you frequently, haven't in years, or have not had the privilege to meet yet.

Today through Saturday, anytime you see something beautiful or inspirational, an act of kindness or love, anything that brings a smile to your face, please post a picture on social media of it with #ourbudhud. Using this hashtag, we will be able to collect these pictures in one place and turn them into a special "book of happy" in memory of Hudson and in honor of all precious angel babies that were born sleeping. These pictures will help illustrate hope and healing to those coping with loss and we'd like to turn them into something we can give to other bereaved families as well. If you feel inclined, post a "happy" and share!

This book is a step to create beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3) and share with those who need it. At some point in our lives, we all do.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Stages of Grief

My senior year of high school, I took a Shakespeare class as an elective. I remember writing a paper on Macbeth, using the 5 stages of grief as my outline. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. Experiencing grief myself, I'm finding that those stages are not sequential, they are all over the map. I feel like we hit Acceptance first. We had an overwhelming strength about things in the first two weeks following the loss. We were brokenhearted and very sad, but we both seemed to have a calming peace in our hearts and acceptance of what had happened. I truly believe that was the power of prayer and we were feeling the Holy Spirit working in us as we were processing the loss of our child, allowing our hearts to be open and accepting.

As time passed, the sadness came out more and things were just hard. I'll call that depression. We can be have a perfectly good day and then there is just a random trigger to make things sad, without warning, tears will just flow. One thing without fail though is that Wednesdays are gloomy days. For those that have experienced grief or loss, do you find that you have/had a day of the week that is just harder to get through than others? The week I returned to work, I had a coworker come by my office to give me a hug. She had gone through loss with the death of her father and had just simply said our losses are not the same but she understands grief. We talked about it a little bit and she said that Sundays were particularly hard days for her and that's when I realized I had a pattern with Wednesdays and that it is normal to have a day that is more difficult than others.

Though I went to the doctor on a Tuesday to discover that we had lost Hudson, he was born on a Wednesday, and his most recent due date was set on a Wednesday. Before our loss, on Wednesday mornings before getting out of bed, I would excitedly look at my Ovia Pregnancy App and it would tell me what size he was that week, how he was growing/changing, and what was happening with my body. Now, instead of counting 34 weeks, 35 weeks, 36 weeks, etc. I'm counting how many weeks he's been gone or had we been able to deliver him alive at that time, how old he would be.

I had a particularly hard day this past Wednesday. I came into work with sunglasses on to cover up tear stained eyes. I guess I felt like being mean to myself and had looked at Facebook that morning only to see more announcements of the child-bearing type. My work was so supportive and thoughtful when I came back. They knew I would have hard days so they added a curtain to the window next to the office door so that I could close it for full privacy when needed. That morning, I closed the curtain and shut my door. Shortly after, my boss tapped at the door. I could see her shoes at the bottom of the window that wasn't covered. I opened it for her and she knew I had been crying and just gave me a hug. I blurted out to her that I was just mad. I was mad to keep seeing all of these things and it's not fair. She told me I should be mad and not to feel bad about the way I feel, she was glad that I was mad.

Next Wednesday, July 15 is his revised due date. Our first due date calculated was July 18 and that is what we marked on every calendar we owned, then at some point in the second trimester, it was moved up three days to July 15. Both dates register to us as a Hudson Day. In a perfect world, somewhere between those days, our sweet baby would have arrived as science predicted. Even now, Max and I ask ourselves, would he be with us yet had this not happened, or would we still be waiting?

Last night, Max and I made one of our favorite salmon dishes and enjoyed a quiet evening at home. We were watching Grand Budapest Hotel and between sips of sauvignon blanc, I said out loud, "this would have been our last weekend, just the two of us." He said he had been thinking about that earlier in the day, too. Today I woke up crying. I fought back tears while on a long walk with Max and pup. I sat in his rocker, clutching that lamb with tears streaming down my face. I am just in a funk. I am supposed to go to a birthday party today that I put together for a close friend, but I can't fathom being around people. Many of the people going are those I haven't seen yet since our loss. I am just exhausted of putting on a smile and brave face to feign that we are fine and normal.

Within the first two weeks after loss, I had told myself over and over again, almost as though I was trying to ingrain it in my mind, that I don't want our joy for others to be robbed. That mantra didn't work because right now, I just can't be happy for those that are expecting. Every pregnancy announcement makes my stomach hurt. Every time I see a gender announcement, I am infuriated to see someone else who will welcome a baby boy and have a quick sense of relief to see when it is a baby girl. All the pictures announcing a birth of a healthy baby and happy parents makes me cry and then boil. I know it's terrible, I know that, but that's just where I am right now. I would NEVER wish this experience on ANYONE but I don't understand why everyone else around us is living out the joy of happy pregnancies and delivering their perfect, living babies but we lost Hudson and have to go through this nightmare.

I see little boys in pictures, on the street, in the grocery store - doesn't matter what age - and my heart just aches wishing I'd be able to see my Hudson at that age someday, but I never will. As I sit here typing in my office at home, I hear my neighbor's three year old son in the backyard gleefully shrieking "mommy! daddy!" as they do yard work and it's another dagger to the heart, followed by clenching teeth and a scowl. I just don't want to see or be around it at all. I don't want to be jealous of what everyone around us has - a growing family - but I am finding that to be the case.

Friends, I think this would be called reaching the anger phase of grief and I apologize. This is a phase I can't wait to come out of because I've never felt less like myself. How do we become okay with it again and allow our hearts not to be saddened or worse, hardened, when we see a little one that should have been around the same age as Hudson? How do we rejoice with several of our close friends and family members, who we love dearly, that announce their pregnancies or birth their children in the coming months? How do we break past the anger to find that peace and acceptance again?

Disclaimer: right now, I write this just for me. When I hit publish it's a release and I share it with women that are going through this same kind of loss. We are in a sisterhood no one wants to be a member of, but once you are, it is a support system like no other. Our words help each other, and they help us navigate how we feel.  

Outside of those women, few people know about this blog and I don't know when/if that will change. But if you are one of those friends expecting, know we love you. Know we are happy for you deep in our hearts. Right now it's just hard to break past the pain and hurt to allow that happiness for you to be the main emotion and I am so sorry for that. We will get there again someday.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

From Nesting to Nothing

Max has always been an early riser and me? Not so much. Through seven years of knowing him, and two and a half years married, I have started to become one though. During our pregnancy, I loved waking up to the feeling of "what are all the things we want/need to get done today?!" - which is such a Max-ism. He is the type of person that has to have purpose in the day, to accomplish things every day. He betters me because of that.

I started putting Hudson's nursery together at 16 weeks, the week we found out it was a him. Leading up to it, I could only really think of girl names but could only picture a boy nursery and I had a very specific one in my mind. You see, I had two songs for my baby that I sang leading up to our gender reveal, Who Loves You Pretty Baby by The Four Seasons and Wagon Wheel by Darius Rucker. One was for a baby girl, one was for a baby boy. Wagon Wheel was the nursery inspiration for a boy. However, so much of it stayed in my mind because we had a pending renovation coming up and our contractor told us we would need to move everything out of the room. We decided to wait and assemble the crib once construction was complete so the date we had set to do this was for June 6, because I plan everything and I had a running timeline by week of what we were going to do. We planned to assemble his white crib with dark brown accents that would pop against the dark brown hardwood floors and newly painted Bleeker Beige wall, putting all other furniture items we already had in place. On June 13, while Max was at his brother's wedding in Wisconsin, that I wouldn't be able to travel for, my two lifelong best friends would slumber party with me and we would hang things in the nursery, adding all the finishing touches. My mom had all three of us early so I wanted to be prepared at least a month in advance in case he came early.

Every day leading up to May 26, the day our world shattered, we were nesting and planning in some way, some how.

We came home from the hospital the afternoon of May 27. I went through labor, gave birth to our son but left the hospital and came home without our baby. Hudson would never be in his perfect room that was all ready in my mind. I would never sleepily enter the new hallway from our master suite area, the hallway that used to be a needless porch that I was calling Hudson's Hallway, into his room where the new door was added to rock him, feed him and soothe him in the middle of the night.

When we came home from the hospital, workers were there. The 24 hours leading up to that point were a whirlwind and we had not yet told our contractor what had happened. They were working hard to hit their deadline of Thursday, May 28 (the next day). The deadline we had given them because friends would be arriving that night. The friends that would be hosting Hudson's baby shower on Saturday, May 30.

I sat in the car crying while Max went around to the front of the house to tell our contractor, Joe, what had happened. He was devastated and brokenhearted for us. We specified that we wanted them to keep working so we could have it completed on time so we were not still in chaos the remainder of that week. He pulled his men for a break so I could enter my house in peace. I came into my new beautiful kitchen that was without the plastic tarps for the first time. When we bought the house, we did so knowing we would be able to create the kitchen of our dreams. I had carefully designed it with the look and materials I knew would create the warmth and mood for us to enjoy cooking for ourselves and our little family. Upon entering its completed state, I immediately resented the whole space. I looked at that white farmhouse sink. We had debated double basin or single basin for a week. In the end, we decided single basin. After all, that would be so much easier to bathe Hudson in. I went over to that sink and I wanted to break it. I stared at it and hated it because we would never bathe him in it.

With Max's hand in mine, we silently walked into his room. From the time we bought the house, we referred to that room as the nursery. It was a pale blue color but I knew regardless if it were a boy or girl, we would repaint it something neutral. The room had just been painted and the new doorway from Hudson's room, into Hudson's Hallway, into our master was done. The wood floors had just been stained. I stood there, staring at the shell of a room and hit the floor sobbing. Never before had I heard the kind of sounds that were coming out of me. Max dropped next to me and we just held each other. Rocking back and forth, crying for our child we had to say goodbye to a few hours before, in the room we couldn't wait to bring him into. I opened the closet door and grabbed at the little white Kissy Kissy gown with blue pin dots, with a tiny matching hat, that I had purchased for him to come home in the hospital in. I wept into it, you were supposed to come home, to this house, to this room, in this outfit. And now that would never happen.

On Thursday and Friday, we were in distraction mode. We were surrounded by family and friends at all times. The workers met their deadline, finishing the last of the final touches for our renovation project to be complete. A deep cleaning crew was in on Thursday. We needed to be kept busy so we continued nesting. Our family members helped us stain and add boards to our rustic pallet headboard wall that we now needed to be a bit larger to fit the king-sized bed we had purchased 5 days before. We went "just to look" and see the Memorial Day sales, but ended up getting a new and larger mattress as we prepared for our growing family. My mom and mother-in-law helped me build a new king-sized fabric headboard with nail heads to go between the pallet wall and the bed. That night, Max's brother and some of our friends came to help us move everything back into our kitchen and put furniture into what was supposed to be Hudson's room.

That night, I had almost forgotten that we had this loss. For a little while I felt normal, I could smile, even laugh, and then it took a really crappy reminder to let it flood back. We were just shy of living in our house for 1 year. The family before us had a 2 year old and a baby. The fridge stayed when they moved and we didn't use the shelves in the door of the freezer often. I went to grab one of our frozen beer mugs that had sat in there unused for months. When I reached in to grab one from a shelf, I felt around only to find a frozen bag of breast milk that had been left behind. REALLY? I didn't know how to react so I sarcastically dealt with it before chunking it in the trash. The irony was that my milk started coming in just a few hours before. I was in pain all bound up in ace bandage wraps and a sports bra with cabbage (seriously, modern medicine hasn't found something less archaic than cabbage leaves on your boobs already?!), severely uncomfortable and pissed at my body for not knowing there wasn't a baby to feed. Then there I was, holding a frozen bag of another mom's breast milk for her living baby. Pretty sure I muttered some choice words that are not appropriate to blast on the world wide web.

For the last six weeks, I go into his room and piddle around. Healthy or unhealthy, I don't care. I've re-arranged it three times. I've continued my search for the perfect ottoman to accompany the rocker and just switched out the one I had with a new one a week ago.  I didn't put up the peg board but used some of the items I'd found to decorate his changing table dresser. I've organized the drawers of his little things. I hung his monogram and a framed picture of his foot prints. Just this past weekend, I finally took the changing pad out of the Zulily box and put the Aden and Anais white cover with beige stars on it. I knew it, those stars did match the wall color and the crib sheet set perfectly! Sometimes I just open the closet and stare at the outfits we had accumulated, arranging and re-arranging by size, then by season, then by color. My boss had told me that after every doctor's appointment, she would treat herself by getting a little present for her baby. I started to do the same with a new little outfit, a soft lovey, a pacifier, or little socks. Each time we would go to the drugstore or grocery store, we would come home with a box of diapers just to help stock up. Those are all organized in the closet and I can't bring myself to return them.

Now, while I emotionally anticipate the approaching due date, I have no more nesting to do. Part of me is antsy like I should be doing something, I should be preparing for something. Then the other part of me doesn't want to do a thing, knowing I've done all I can do to create the perfect home for the son that will never experience it.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


I remember studying Kafka's Metamorphosis my junior year of high school. It has been 14 years, so I can't exactly remember all of the symbolism in the story, but some parts of it are fresh in my mind today. What I remember is that a man, Gregor, becomes a cockroach overnight. He cannot do what he could before, he was changed and had to adjust to his new self. Throughout the story, Gregor finds himself trying to communicate, trying to respond behind the closed door in which he cannot open, but no one can hear him or understand him. Once he has found a way to free himself and to communicate, those on the other side of the door are startled and repulsed by his transformation, either running away from him or trying to shoo him back in the confines of the dark place he had emerged from.

Then the rest of the story ends poorly for Gregor and those from the outside world end up with the happy ending. That is not the part of the story that I am looking at to relate to grief.

Grief is a dark place. When you are taken to that place, you transform and are no longer the same self as you were before. In our case, I look at life now as "before loss" (BL) and "after loss" (AL) because I am a changed person. In many cases, people can be afraid of your grief transformation. It can be intimidating to them because they don't know how to be there for you, what to say, how to act, what to do and sometimes because of that, they ignore it all together. Their discomfort on how to act toward you can make you feel like they are trying to shoo you back into a place of isolation because you are different and they are not sure how to relate to you anymore.

This is the first loss we have ever experienced. Neither Max or I have ever truly grieved before and while I don't want to speak for him, I know I didn't truly understand it. Other people's pain was frightening to me because I didn't know how to help them. I wanted to fix it somehow, but because I couldn't, I was the one who ignored it and sometimes never acknowledged it out of fear of making it worse for them.

Recently, we saw a grief counselor who went through the paths that people grieving can take. Something that was important to both Max and me is that we didn't want our loss to define us. It was important to us to come out of this loss in a way that Hudson would be proud of. Instead of being confined to a dark, isolating place for who knows how long, I thought of the metamorphosis of a butterfly.

Before loss, we were the caterpillar.

The grieving process is the chrysalis, where we are isolated in the dark. However, if you really look at it, that darkness is where you are being nurtured and held close in a cocoon. It is representative of your faith and God's arms around you, working in you. It is the support you have from friends and family, nurturing you and helping to ready you for the point where you are transformed.

When you emerge from that chrysalis, you are now something else, something different, but if you allow it, you emerge something beautiful.

I believe we are still in our chrysalis stage and though it can feel dark and isolating at times, we are held together by those we love and our faith. Never in my life have I physically felt the power of prayer and it is phenomenal. In times when our grief was the heaviest, we were given an overwhelming sense of peace and acceptance, allowing us to have an abnormal amount of strength.

We will continue our metamorphosis and emerge from our personal chrysalis to navigate our after loss life. When we do, we are determined to do so beautifully.