Thursday, April 28, 2016

Reconceiving Life

Written on February 28, 2016

Precious Baby,

We just found out about you! My heart is bursting with love and joy that this day has arrived. The first thing I need you to know is that you have a big brother in Heaven. We were only given two-hundred and thirty one days with him in my belly and eleven hours with us on this earth to cherish until we meet him again someday. We said goodbye to him nine months ago. Since that time, you have been so prayed for, so yearned for. Now here we are.

I've had a suspicion about you for the past seven days and the first traces of you began last Sunday morning. After getting sick upon waking up, we went to the drug store to get a box of pregnancy tests but the one we took was negative. However, something in my soul told me not to be defeated, it was still early, just wait. Something you will learn about your mama is that patience is not really one of my strengths so waiting was very difficult to do. I waited five days and on Friday morning I took another test.

I thought it was negative upon first glance. At that moment I had reached my breaking point, I was mentally and emotionally exhausted after losing your brother followed by these eight months of praying for you. I completely lost it. I broke down and crumbled to the floor of the bathroom out of exhaustion, anger and disappointment. I've had anger but it has not been directed spiritually, until now. For the first time in the nine months since Hudson's passing, I let God have it. I cried out and put the brunt of my blame and anger on Him for having taken Hudson from us. I was so angry for being yet another month away from having a baby in our arms. As I sobbed on the floor, I begged and begged for the chance to be a mother to a living child, asking what I had to do? Why was Hudson taken from us? Why couldn't we have him here? Why him? Why couldn't we find joy and hope in new life yet?

I sobbed all I could and finally pulled myself together. When I went to throw the test away, I noticed something I didn't see before - a faint second line. I stared at it, wide eyed and breathless. I nearly hit the floor again with different emotions pouring over me. I quickly decided I needed to recant that little episode of blame and anger, and after apologizing profusely to God, I started a different course of prayer and thanksgiving. I asked for you to please be real, that we may be blessed with our rainbow to come and heal our hearts. I didn't want to get my hopes up and forced myself to wait another two days, until today, to retest. Sure enough, that positive appeared immediately and without question. We are pregnant again, and with you.

Your Daddy was unsuspecting. He thought last week's test was it and we'd try again next month, just as we had for the eight months leading up to now. I excitedly went to find him in the house and handed him the test. It was a true surprise to him and now here we are. Rejoicing in our answered prayers, yet sentimental from the time we first found out we were pregnant, and ever so thankful that you are not just a wish anymore. It was not an easy road to get to this point and because of what we've already experienced, I am terrified of losing you too. However, I'm making the decision right now to do everything I can to daily choose faith over fear in our journey to having you in our arms. It won't come easy, there are some days I may fail, that fear may consume me, but I know we have a pretty special guardian angel watching over us. Your big brother's protector duties have already begun and I have faith in him and the Lord to get us through to the other side. When you are expected to arrive is the same time frame we had conceived Hudson. It will have been a two year journey to finally get to this point.

They say that after every storm comes a rainbow. The symbol of the rainbow fulfills a promise, of God's presence in all things and of purpose day by day. We are receiving promise of you, a Heavenly presence watching over us and we are reminded daily of the purpose of you. I want you to know that the reason for you is not because your brother died. There is nothing to say that we wouldn't be pregnant again right now, with you, if Hudson were here. However, your purpose is to mend our brokenness and the joy we experience with you will be even greater than we could have ever thought possible. Hudson taught us how to love as parents; you will enrich that love in our lives and continue to heal our hearts. You will continue to help us find true joy again.

There are so many things I cannot wait to experience with you such as the first time we see you on the ultrasound, and hear your heart beating. I already anxiously anticipate to find out if you are Hudson's brother or sister, so we can know you even more, so we can name you. I can't wait to feel you move and to watch you grow in my belly. More than anything, when the day comes for you to arrive, I cannot wait to hear your cries, feel you breathe against my chest, and see you open your eyes. I can't wait to bring you home and start a life together as a family.

All morning I've just had a feeling. My intuition says you are a girl. It wasn't right away, but within a few weeks I just knew Hudson was a boy. I guess we'll see won't we?

This is where our story begins little one.
I loved you long before I knew about you.
I love you even more now that you are on your way.
I will love you with everything I have until my dying day.

I can't wait to meet you.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Eleven Months

Hudder Bud,

It's the 27th of the month again, my Hudson day. I feel anxious. Anxious that it has now been eleven whole months since you left my arms and next month on the 27th will mark one year since we had to say goodbye. We are about to enter May which means Mother's Day and your Heaven Day are right around the corner. I'm not ready to have been without you for a full year or to come up on either difficult milestone. This past week I was reflecting on this time last year. We were in full nesting mode, the house was a construction zone and I had entered my third trimester with you. Now, here we are one year later and we have entered into a second trimester. Sweet boy I need to tell you something, you are going to be a big brother

Ever since I found out I was pregnant again, it has been a roller coaster of emotions. My time with you was so perfect. I got used to our little routines of waking up with you wiggling away, then you kicking me to sleep, feeling you move around at specific times of the day, especially after meals. Then out of nowhere tragedy struck and just like that you were taken away from us. Waiting to go to the doctor, to see and confirm this new life was so hard and felt like an eternity. Having a sonogram again after the last time, the one where they told me you were gone, left me terrified, I couldn't look at the screen until she said "here's your baby, and there's the heartbeat!" Receiving that affirmation, I could breath again but it brought on so many emotions. More than anything, Mommy and Daddy want you here, but we can't my love. We've desperately hoped for our family to keep growing with your brother or sister in our arms and now we are one step closer to that. I'm so terrified of doing this all over again, but I know we need this and we can do this, with you looking on. Sweet baby, our hearts have experienced joy again with this new life. Joy we haven't felt since you left. Our babies are our greatest joys.

Hudson, your big brother duties start now! You are in a very unique position to be able to watch over us, not only throughout these remaining five and a half months but throughout our lives until we are all together again some day. I want you to know that nothing will ever take away from the fact that you are our first born. We will talk to your siblings about you, you will always be their big brother. I like to believe that you know them before we do and that maybe, in some divine sense, they will know you throughout their life, bonded in a way that we will never understand. You are their guardian angel, as well as ours.

As we continue to ask the Lord to work in us, to help us choose faith over fear, I ask you to be a steadfast presence in our hearts. You are going to be the best big brother.

Oh Hudson, I miss you and I wish that you were here.
I wish I could hold you, look into your eyes and tell you all of this.
I love you so very much.

Forever and always,


Thursday, April 14, 2016

I Can See Clearly Now

I wondered if I'd ever be able to feel pure happiness again after you died. For a long time, behind every smile there were sad eyes. Behind every laugh, the same force that compelled it could sound off sobs at any moment. When I would try to be happy, there was guilt. Showing happiness in front of others was an act that became a chore. For a long time, we had to choose joy, but over time, the choice has lifted and it comes naturally again.

I laughed so hard the other day, I startled myself. It was a laugh without pain behind it and one so deep that I didn't recognize it as my own. I remember it from the old me, but I didn't think it was part of the new me. The light in your Daddy's eyes is so bright again, like the day he proposed four years ago today.

On Sunday he told me he needed my help with his golf swing. He wanted my opinion on what he was doing wrong. We went outside to the net and I watched as he lined up to the ball. It reminded me of one of our first few dates when we went to Top Golf and he had never truly played golf before. I lined him up and tried to teach him to swing. As he eventually started playing the game and taking lessons, getting better and better, he'd still ask me for my help though he had surpassed my skill level. For nearly thirty minutes we played outside, laughing, taking turns, me spouting out advice to sit into the stance, bend the knees more to help with the shoulder turn for better extension, head down and watch the ball leave the ground. All the while, you danced in the wind around us. The special wind chime I was given in your memory played its song the whole time and it brought so much joy that we didn't have to choose to experience, it came naturally.

Until recently, I was afraid that by moving on from my sadness, I was somehow leaving you behind. But, this true happiness I feel is you isn't it? It's you living in my heart and allowing me to experience life with you in a different way. I'm sorry it took me so long to realize it but I do now. I'll let you radiate instead of hiding you away. The new me will always be different, but now I recognize that while always a little broken, it can be more beautiful than before.

I'll let your light shine sweet boy. Thank you.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Chapters of Grief

There has been a lot I've wanted to express over the last few months but I've run into writer's block. I have a number of drafts started but I haven't gotten to the point where I feel like those thoughts and feelings are rounded out enough to share. Or if they are even appropriate to share. When it comes to expressing my grief lately, I've either been in a place of peace with it or in trying times I've felt like a Charlie Brown sketch with squiggles over my head in a thought bubble.

Over the last 10 months, I've been pleasantly surprised by people. I've been disappointed by people. I've been judged by people. I've judged others. I've lost friends, both from my accord, and that of theirs. I've strengthened existing friendships and gained new relationships that run deeper than many that were in my life pre-loss. There is a lot I've wanted to share about all of this but it hasn't been the right time. The truth is, to really go into that place, it may never be right. Maybe those are conversations that will take place in the confines of my relationships with other Parents of Loss who get it and share in those situations of both insensitive negligence and that of enduring compassion. For the record, there has been far more of the enduring compassion than the insensitive negligence but just like other instances in life, that bad can really spread poison over the good.

When someone says behind your back that they refuse to "support that kind of expression" anymore, that it's all "beginning to be a bit too much" or that they can't "coddle you forever" it just taints the well. Oops, I suppose I went there a little bit after all. However, I will never forget a conversation with a friend where I was in tears, hurt by some of these things. She said to me, "honey, your baby DIED. You get to feel however you want and need to for at least a year! Maybe 18 months. Okay, I'll give you two years. And then, if you are still in this place, we will have a little come to Jesus talk. With wine of course. May God help them if they are ever in your shoes." This gave me a much needed belly laugh at the time and the appreciation of someone who, though they haven't walked my shoes, got it. Amen.

You see, not everyone (grievers and non-grievers alike) can realize the ups and downs, ebbs and flows of grief. I didn't as a non-griever and even as a grief newbie. Whether you read this all the way through or not, the one takeaway I want you to have from this, and you meaning: a griever or a non-griever. Someone that has provided the endless compassion, or maybe one that has contributed to the insensitive negligence. Through my grief journey I've learned something that is important for all people to know and try to understand and that is this:

We've all heard about the stages of grief. Anger, Denial, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. There are subsets that I've written about of each one such as rage, shame, jealousy, resentment, guilt, peace, comfort and joy, just to name a few. I am finding that there are also what I am calling the Chapters of Grief. Throughout these chapters, you may experience the stages of grief
all over again in either similar or completely new ways than before.
Each new chapter brings a different sequence for handling those stages. 
Some of us have a lot of chapters in our story and we will keep experiencing grief in
various forms as each new chapter occurs.

And that's okay.

For this specific type of loss, stillbirth, I'll walk you through the various chapters of grief I've been able to label, based on my own experiences thus far and from what I've grasped from the other Parents of Loss (POL) that blazed this path before me.

Chapter 1: Life After Loss

In the first chapter, you are learning how to go through life after a devastating loss. This may be a person's first experience with these feelings and emotions. It's confusing and completely new. Like any big change in life, you have to adjust to it and that takes time.

In my first week following loss, my mind took on total Survival Mode. The gravity of Hudson's passing and what that would be like for us had not yet hit. I had been pregnant and then suddenly I wasn't. I had this traumatizing experience occur yet, I didn't know how to fully process it or take in that this was now our reality. I thought strength, poise and grace were how to make it through. I was expected to fall apart but no, I was going to defy grief and skip over all that ugliness. Right.

For some POL I've talked to, they can't recall those first few weeks after loss. It was a blur, a haze. They started processing immediately. Not me. I had a false sense of acceptance and so much of it feels like an out of body experience, watching the shell of me in action.

The day I came home from the hospital I did fall apart but the next day, I was on auto-pilot, signing cremation papers and communicating with the church about the memorial service, planning it as if it were one of the events I do routinely for work. My husband grew paralyzed when I'd turn and ask him - what do you think of this song or how about this passage? Don't get me wrong, there was a lot of careful thought and consideration to it, but I was a robot completing things that needed to be done and he was processing the pain straight away. My best friend flew into town and walked in my room in tears to hold my hand and be there with me. I hadn't seen her in 9 months, I could hardly even cry with her as I recounted the experience, I wasn't processing yet.

I had a house to take care of. Two days after giving birth, I decided we had to take care of our bed. The new king mattress was delivered two days... before... so we needed to add wood to the rustic pallet wall and build a new fabric nail studded headboard for a king bed, now. The renovations ended the day after we said goodbye to our baby, so we had to move back into our kitchen and do something with the now new yet empty room that was meant for Hudson. Three days after, I directed friends as they helped us with this and sat to dinner at our table with them that night emotionless. Four days after, the day of his funeral, I played hostess in my house, making sure people had beverages and food, initiating small talk and being sure to say hello and thank you to everyone. I remember telling a friend that I didn't want to burden people with bringing over food, that we will cater BBQ or something. What was I thinking? Thankfully close family and friends knew to step in because I was leading up to the beginning of the realization that my baby died, I am no longer pregnant, he is not coming. I drank way too much wine with the close friends that stayed late into the evening to be there with us. I laughed, on the day of my son's funeral, I laughed and regaled in conversation about happy times. Who is this person? That whole week, I put my pain on a shelf. While I cried out of desperation with my husband every night when we were alone, at night is when I could feel the weight of the loss, and can vividly remember every detail of his funeral service along with each moment that made me sob harder, I was still somehow numb to it at this point. Life after loss had only just begun. Each week after that, the deterioration kept going, slowly at first, then all at once. To say those first few weeks for me were a misrepresentation of what lay ahead is an understatement.

For a while, you want to fight it, you don't want to become your sadness but then, inevitably it happens. Once you get to a point you think you know where you are at with your grief, whammie - another cycle of it comes out of nowhere. That's because you are learning your triggers and how you are going to react to things.

Baby commercials made me roll my eyes or just simply change the channel. Coupons in the mail I'd simply rip up. Receiving actual formula samples enraged me and I'd burst into tears, not just throwing them but slamming them in the trash. Baby announcement coupons telling me to order now! from Minted or Tiny Prints made me sick to my stomach. Seeing pregnant women made not just my heart ache, but my womb ache. I'm serious, my uterus was physically reacting in addition to my emotions. And seeing babies in the flesh? Y'all. My throat closed. I couldn't breathe. I felt like I was bright red due to the heat running up through my face, down my chest and throughout my body. Hot tears flowed. Now, it's been a little over 10 months, and in that time, I've only been able to be around three babies (intentionally) since I held my Hudson. There have been other times but it was unplanned and unprepared for. All three of those babies have been rainbow babies, all three of them have been baby boys. I have still had some kind of emotional reaction to them, either before or after the fact, but those little lives give me so much hope and make my heart so happy. I love those little boys so much because of what their parents have had to endure already to get them. In my heart, it makes it okay to be around them, to hold them and love them.

These reactions are like when you feel like you are going to throw up and you have a set amount of time before you can't hold back any longer and it all just comes out. While I was on leave from work, I muscled up the courage to leave the house and my first outing was to TJ Maxx Homegoods in the middle of the day. I learned that was the mecca for pregnant women and stay at home moms, I was surrounded by bulging bellies and strollers. I felt it coming on as I stood in line and set my items aside, left the check out line and had barely gotten to my car before it got ugly. This kind of reaction or feeling didn't just take place for a few weeks after, it was for months after.  As the time went by, life only got harder and the emotional toll of it (though I eventually learned how to contain the reactions while in public to the inside) worsened.

I know for a fact that the majority of people who brought us food, sent memorial gifts in Hudson's name, provided us with special gifts did not receive a proper thank you - cringe. I tried to thank people via text or email as much as I was able, but when it came to sitting down and handwriting out a thank you to someone for the support they had shown after the death of our son.... nope, couldn't do that over and over and over again. I sat on the couch one day and stared at the thank you note box for an hour thinking, let's do 5. We can do 5. I'd get through half of one and have to throw it away because I didn't have the words, or my tears had made the ink run. I couldn't go there. I'm so sorry if you were one of the people that was not properly thanked. Please know how much your kindness meant to us, and still does.

When a POL reaches a point in time where they re-enter a more "normal" social environment, there are certain aspects of their new life that even the toughest of the tough can't be fully prepared for. I avoided this for a long time because I just didn't feel ready. It probably wasn't until the 7 or 8 month mark did I allow myself the ability to start going to things that my Pre-Loss-Self would have done because I finally felt like I had learned my triggers or how to control them well enough. I thought I knew how to put my Big Girl Pants on and get through something tough but let me tell you, attending social events in life after loss? That's a whole new kind of Big Girl Pants and I don't know who sells them. Around every corner there is someone ready to ask the question - how many kids do you have, or do you have any children? It may be someone you haven't seen in years and doesn't know what happened. It may be someone you were just introduced to making simple conversation, because that's what you ask people, I know I did pre-loss. The questions, the reminder, the fear of what you are going to answer, always there, lurking.

Then, there are the insecurities one may have not had since awkward teen years but now are back with vengeance. As you are introduced to people, or see people that they haven't seen since before, you have the potential to over-analyze every little aspect of the experience. When they see you or when your name is said, there's a flicker of recognition in someone's eyes. You immediately wonder what that flicker meant, what they are thinking about you. For those you just met, that wave of recognition in someone makes you feel as though they are thinking oh so this is the girl who lost her baby. Or if it's someone you know but it's been a while, you wonder if they are judging you - how you look, if you seem happy, if you look uncomfortable.

Those social situations also lend themselves to less than bearable topics of conversation for a POL. You are attending something with an age group of peers who are at least 50-75% made up of people in your stage of life or ahead of you. Not the grieving parent stage of life, but the parenting stage of life. You may be surrounded by people that have just become parents and the conversation is geared toward mom life, breastfeeding, sleep schedules, and baby gear. It's how precious their child is, and then the motherhood complaints that no one thinks twice about (note, I wouldn't have if I was not a grieving mother). These precious children have every right to be gushed over and pictures shared of them. These moms carried them, labored with them, and work hard to take care of them, of course they deserve to talk about and show off their most incredible pride and joy. However, I just want to scream - please wait for me to leave! All I can think about is that I should be gushing about my son too and comparing notes. I look at these other moms and think would we be doing play dates together? Would we be better friends now because of our babies, rather than the mere acquaintances we are now? What would life be like right now if my baby were here, too?

You go through a period of time (for each person the length may differs) of fixation over if my baby were here ... fill in the blank. There is a lot of anger, resentment and jealousy that derives from this and it's not fair to those that it is directed to, but it's also not fair that POL lost their child yet yours is here and you are happy as ever. It's a really crummy Catch 22.

Then there are the milestones and days that make your heart tender. There are holidays, which for me personally were the worst. That first year you are learning how to do life as a bereaved parent without a child you had yearned for and planned a life for. The rest of your life,  you are wondering who that child would have been and what life would have been like with them here.

Stages of grief, all over the place, again and again. And again.

Chapter 2: Trying to Conceive After Loss

For each couple, the timing for this next one is different. Some people are told they need to wait months for medical reasons. Others decide to wait because their hearts can't bear the thought of that yet. Some are ready to start trying to conceive again very soon after their loss. I think it is safe to say for most people, you are still dealing with Chapter 1 when Chapter 2 starts. For me personally, Chapter 2 has been just as dark and stormy as Chapter 1.

When you reach the point that you are ready to try to conceive again, that is met with all kinds of bittersweet feelings. You are still mourning the life that was lost, but are so anxious to have new life again. Then, there's the possibility that it won't happen how and when you'd like it to. There's a struggle that leaves you with stages of grief all over again, on top of the sadness you already carry.

Unless it has happened to you, one probably cannot fully understand the extent of how hard it is to have had something, it was with you, you felt it, you were so close to having it in the flesh, then it was suddenly stripped away from you. Everyone else around you is receiving that thing but you can't as easily as when you first had it. You are overcoming the mixed emotions you have on becoming pregnant again, the thing that wrecked you in the first place, and the fact that the baby you had will never be here. When thinking of a new pregnancy, you have to accept it as a new life, not a continuation of the one you lost.

You spend each month "trying" and then it is followed up with the crushing defeat that this wasn't the month that magic happened. With every negative test I had, three more people in my life celebrated a positive or welcomed a living child into their arms. It began to feel like a cruel joke the universe was playing. For us, we started on fertility drugs in addition to fertility-specific acupuncture, their magic Chinese herbs, a gluten free diet, supplements sworn by, endless numbers of ovulation test strips and charting. Essentially it was my "get pregnant now" voodoo concoction. Then came the platitudinous offerings "not to try so hard to get pregnant again" that it's "all in God's timing" and "someday I'll see this was His plan all along." Nope, you cannot say that to me. Couple that with the unsolicited fertility advice from the people that let's be honest, have no idea what it means to try for a baby because they sneeze and become pregnant. Again with the crummy Catch 22, it's not fair to them, it's not fair to the POL, yadda yadda yadda.  I need the reader to understand something: I know this is absurd and irrational. That's why it is so frustrating to feel it. In no way should the people in the POL's life halt their own and not reproduce until said parents have a baby in their arms. That's ludicrous, I know that. On the flip side, the non-grieving community needs to know just how hard that is and why a POL may become even more withdrawn and continue to have a difficult time.

Why do we still struggle with loss so much, even later down the road? In this chapter, with each month of a negative test, I mourn the loss of my child even harder. It's a reminder of what was taken from me and what I am even further from receiving. At this point, though I sustained a pregnancy for 8 months, my arms are still bare. We started trying in August 2014 so it feels as though we've been trying for a baby for 20 months. All I want is Hudson but I've accepted he is gone. I know I can't have him here in this life, so please Lord, the opportunity to be a mother to a living child, to have a house full of littles, is the next best thing.

Grief cycling through, yet again.

Chapter 3: Pregnancy After Loss

In talking with other POL that have gone on to conceive and have their baby after loss (referred to as a rainbow baby), Pregnancy After Loss is a whole new chapter of grief. You are so thankful and filled with joy to have this opportunity, to be hopeful about new life and feel "back on track" again. However, the anxiety and fear of the what if can be crippling. Every pregnant woman is cautious about the first trimester and risk of miscarriage. Most women will go on to have healthy, perfect pregnancies after completing a first trimester. However, one in four women will not sustain a pregnancy beyond the first trimester or they will experience loss in a second or third trimester. The POL are all too conscious of this.

Every appointment is a benchmark to get through and be able to leave there knowing your child is still alive, because in our case, you never truly reach a point that you are "out of the woods" and sometimes you can find yourself waiting for the other shoe to drop. We've been in the dreaded situation where we thought everything was fine and normal, we were within weeks, days, for some even hours, of delivering that baby when everything changed. Going through this life knowing loss, we meet others that share the same grief but all losses have been different. We now know just how many ways a baby won't make it. So let's say A happened to me, but what if next time B happens, or C, or D... needless to explain further, it is an anxiety-ridden constant fear until that living baby is in your arms.

Though there is fear and I know a whole new kind of grief awaits, I am ready for this chapter. I have anxiety about sonograms, because of the time that revealed my son was gone. My eyes swell with tears thinking about when it comes time to hear a heartbeat again, remembering my optimism when we couldn't find Hudson's... maybe he's breached, she said. I can only imagine how I'll be as a pregnancy progresses and I've started to feel movements. I'll sit at work, typing at my computer and suddenly think - hmm, have I felt the baby recently? Then panic ensues as I eat a square of chocolate to coax a wiggle and be assured. I've read that babies die from a cord accident between the hours of 9 pm and 6 am, when mom is sleeping and blood pressure is lowered. Yep. I fell asleep to him kicking me, woke up late and in too much of a hurry to get to my appointment to notice anything, confusing Braxton Hicks with big movements. Sleeping is overrated anyway, right?

I'll be a new kind of basket case friends! But oh how important this chapter is and there is a lot for a POL to overcome throughout it.

Grief is still there, in different ways, but very much there.

Chapter 4: Parenting After Loss

Once that living baby has arrived, enter the next chapter of grief, Parenting After Loss. Something I can't yet speak to but that other POL have imparted to me. Let me first clarify that it is such an incredible blessing filled with happiness and thanks, never to be taken for granted, but I am focusing on the grief aspect of it here.

Once you have this living child, it's a whole new type of grief because you are now experiencing everything you wish you had been able to experience with the child you lost, the one that isn't here. You mourn that you never changed their diaper, nursed them, enjoyed a bath time, rocked them, watched them begin to recognize you. Having that next child, there is sadness that you are not introducing this new baby to their big brother or sister. You feel guilty, and some even said shameful, by enjoying life with this new baby because would this baby be here if your other had not passed away? Maybe, maybe not. All of these firsts, you didn't get to have but now you do. While so thankful, it can bring sorrow.

An even bigger piece of the anxiety and angst puzzle is keeping them alive. I know it sounds morose but we can't help but think it. Parents go to the pediatrician for a check up and leave with an order for blood tests that reveal cancer. Parents put their baby down for a nap and they don't wake up due to SIDS. There are accidents such as drowning, furniture falling, car crash, choking, that can happen at any time under even the most careful care. No one gets a free pass in life because they've already met devastation.

Now, saying all of this, I feel the need to tell you that I am not a pessimist. Even with the loss of my child, I still don't consider myself glass half full.

You may disagree with that if all you know about me is what you've read here.

I used to be the eternal optimist until my "dreamer" phase ended sometime in college. When I say dreamer phase, I was the person that just always believed everything would always work out no matter what. Sunshine and bleeping rainbows! Then, one day I simply woke up from that dream, for no particular reason other than maybe learning the ways of the real world and that it requires a little more elbow grease than just having good thoughts. From that point on, I considered myself a realist. So that's what I am, a realist. I weigh the best case scenario and the worst, then set an expectation based on that.

Am I saying these things are going to happen to a POL? No. We happen to be hyper-aware that they exist because we've already experienced something that every person thinks happens to other people, because stillbirth wouldn't happen to me. 

Grief. You are so ugly sometimes.


The Chapters are the stages repeated in various ways, taking on new shapes and forms under different circumstances. There are other kinds of grief that have their own chapters: the death of a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a friend, a family member, even a marriage ending.

Something I had written about previously that had been said to me by another POL is something I'm beginning to understand and experience more and more. I'm going to paraphrase the idea of it here in my own words and while not everything I've written can apply to these other types of losses, this can:

When you go through an extreme loss, it is like your skin has been cut open. It's a deep cut and takes a while to heal. As you continue to experience grief, that cut becomes irritated, re-opened sometimes, it can become infected. Over time, with proper care, it begins to scab over forming a tougher layer of protection to the wound. While things may keep scratching at that wound, it keeps healing a little at a time until someday it becomes a scar. It'll always be there, it can be a visible outward sign of what you have endured, but it does heal. 

To those with wounds still fresh and open, in my experience, yes, yes and yes to this.

I know have more chapters to go, and beyond what I've been able to identify so far, but I can say confidently now that my wound is healing. It gets reopened from time to time, but it is getting better as I cycle through the stages in my Chapters of Grief. I'm getting tougher. I will wear my scar proudly.

I'm still writing my story. Keep writing yours.