Saturday, February 27, 2016

Nine Months

Little Bud,

I felt like sitting in your room today and writing from your rocker. I close my eyes and wonder what this room would have looked like once completed. Everything was ready to go in, just waiting for the construction to finish. After you left us, I was thankful that we didn't have to come home from the hospital to your finished room waiting for you to arrive. Now, the longer time goes on, I wish we had completed it. Surrounding myself by everything intended for you makes me feel so much closer to you, I wish there was more. Of course, more than anything, I wish I had you sitting right here with me in this chair and I could rub our twin noses together, saying nosies in a voice that you'd love now but be embarrassed by when you got bigger.

I opened your closet when I first came in here and looked at all the clothes we had accumulated for you at every size. I wondered which outfit I'd be dressing you in today. I had so much fun picking things out for you! Any time I was at the store, I found a reason to get you something whether it was for an infant sized you or a 12 month old you, with everything in between. I haven't had the strength to do this until now but this week I had the urge. As I walked past the baby boy section of Target, I bought an outfit that you would maybe fit into right now. When I left there, I then took it to a clothes donation for an organization I volunteered at for Junior League around this time last year. I sat there for hours sorting through donations and folding the baby clothes with you inside my bulging belly, to get them ready for when a family would need to seek out this shelter and pick out clothes because they didn't have any. While it saddened me to pick out something I would have loved for you, it felt like you gave my heart a hug giving it warmth, knowing a little boy your age had something special when in need.

I wonder who you would be right now and what our life would be like with you. I got an email the other day from the playgroup I had signed you up for through the neighborhood association. I did it last May and I forgot to opt out of it after you left us. They were gathering parents with babies 7-9 months old to get together for a play date. My heart sank. Whether it was the 9 month version of you that came on May 27 or the 7 month version of you that should have come around July 18, I wanted to be one of those mamas, with my baby, going on a play date. I want to go on the group stroller walks with you and go to the park, watching as you take the world in.

I need you to keep watching over us, son. Many people don't understand why this is still so painful because we never had the chance to experience a life with you. It's because I love you so much that my pain is still so heavy. It will always be heavy because my love for you will only continue to grow. I'm sad because you aren't here, but the thought of you brings me happiness. You are happiness, you are love, you are ours.

Missing you today and always.



Friday, February 5, 2016

Guilty Party of One

Guilt is something that has been heavy on my mind lately.

One day I was driving home from work and on a major street near our house. I saw a squirrel starting to run out and then it hesitated. At the last second, it decided to dart across into traffic and I swerved, but he sealed his fate running right into my tires. I shouted out NO and then started saying out loud in my car, I tried to save you, I tried. I couldn't save you and then, I had to pull over due to convulsing sobs. There on the side of the road, hysterical crying, and why? Guilt. I sat there rocking back and forth, I couldn't save you, I couldn't save you. It was a squirrel, but it all triggered an emotional response that I couldn't save my son.

Guilt was the first emotion that I truly experienced, outside of initial shock, sitting in the doctor's office after hearing those haunting words, there isn't a heartbeat. I immediately blamed myself, begging my doctor for a reason, asking her what I did wrong? I couldn't shake the fact that I felt like I should have known there was something wrong. The recurring thought that I am his mother and I couldn't protect him in the safest place continued to gnaw at me for months after that life-shattering moment at 10:11 a.m. on May 26. It then became what kind of mother am I to not know?

We left the hospital with our doctor telling us that the cause of death was a cord accident. As soon as I delivered him, before she even lifted him to be seen, it was the first thing my doctor said. It was a cord accident. Affirming the speculation she had from an ultrasound once I was admitted to Labor and Delivery. In the hospital, I was satisfied with that - if that is even the right term to use. I accepted it and for a little while I had comfort to know why. We asked if we needed to do an autopsy but were assured we didn't, they knew the cause of death.

Life unraveled after the hospital. I had so many questions that would come to me at 3:45 am when I couldn't sleep, or at 1:50 in the afternoon as I stared at a TV screen, and there were not answers. The guilt came back, I no longer accepted the "diagnosis" of his passing and the blame I put on myself started to become did I have too much sugar or caffeine? I'd eat a little square of chocolate or drink some Orange Juice (all things permitted) because I loved how it would make him move and wiggle around. One of my favorite joys of being pregnant was feeling him, this little precious life. I started to obsess over the thoughts of did what I love most about my pregnancy cause his premature passing? If I hadn't done those things, would he not have moved around so much? Would he not have become wrapped in his cord? Would he be with us right now if I hadn't done that? I know that as a pregnant person, not eating sugar is just ridiculous, but I was trying to assign myself blame. Then after a few months it became but what made it a "cord accident" exactly? Just because he was wrapped in it? Babies are born living with cords wrapped all the time, so was there physical damage to it that my doctor saw? What if there was something else and now we will never know? What if it's something that would effect a future pregnancy and I'll repeat the same horrible fate with another precious life? The layer of guilt gave me so much regret, coupled with some severe neuroticism.

After two months of that, August began the intense thoughts of I wouldn't be doing this if we had Hudson. It consumed me and it continued to do so well into the fall which I believe to be one of the catalysts to the depression that followed. It affected me for our birthdays, any date nights we'd have, any social outings. At work, any big projects I was working on or events in the evening I was attending, I thought about how I wouldn't be doing this or I would still be on maternity leave if Hudson were here. It affected me with any extra-curricular activities such as volunteer work and committee meetings. It affected my relationships with friends because I became withdrawn feeling like I couldn't enjoy what I was doing. In my mind, I should be tending to my newborn, but I'm not because my son wasn't born alive. 

In conversations with people and in my recent posts, I have admitted that January felt better. There are a number of reasons for that, but one of the main ones that I can pinpoint is that after surviving the holidays, I finally feel like I have reached a point where I am no longer at a stage of my grief where everything I do makes me think well, I wouldn't be doing this if we had a baby or I wouldn't be here right now if Hudson had not died. This past weekend I took a girls trip to Napa. It was the first getaway I've had where even if Hudson were here, I think I would have still gone on a trip like that at this point. If we decide to go out one night, or if both of us have to work late, I know we'd be doing that anyway with my parents or brothers watching our baby.

However, I now carry a different kind of guilt. I've made it through the first few layers and now it has manifested into a new kind. The guilt I feel now is that I cannot relate to the majority of people in the same way as I used to. It makes me feel bad that I cannot enjoy the conversation and excitement over certain things like I once did. It goes back to my post about the Haves and the Have Nots. I wish I could relate to friends that are excited to start a family some day, or for those trying for a baby. As much as I yearn for a family, the process of getting to that point for us again will not be fun or exciting as it was before we experienced loss. The road has already been met with heartbreak and challenges without an end in sight. It is absolutely terrifying on many levels but it is something we need. It scares me to think of being pregnant at the same time as good friends because now I have been thrust into the world of what ifs. I don't know a pregnancy without something terrible happening because that has not been my experience. So my mind says what if. What if something happens to us and I have to go through what I've been through already?! Watching the shadow babies come, alienating friendships because it rips my heart to pieces to see a child within the same age range as the one I lost, no matter how much time goes by. I also fear for my friends. I fear the what if for them. What if this happens to them and then they have to watch us bring a healthy baby into the world, and they are stricken in the confines of their own grief now knowing this other side? I see pregnancy announcements, gender reveals, cute nursery finds, etc. and all I can think is yeah, that was us too and now look where we are.

I sit with different types of people in conversation and listen to their hopes and dreams. I listen to friends talk about their kids and think how even when I have my own who are those ages some day, my family will still be broken. I will always have a child missing and that will always make me sad. I am onto a new phase of grief, I'm mourning the self I used to be which makes me feel guilty for not being the person, friend, daughter and sister I used to be. I miss blissful conversations of future play dates, joint family vacations, having mom's brunch on the first day of school some day, or just the excitement of going through the same phases of life together with our peers. I am forever on a different path and though those conversations may take place again, they will be met with fear inside and a little bit of guilt for immediately approaching it in my mind with caution.