Monday, June 17, 2013

The Love We Carry

I've decided to make some big changes around here. It's time for something new.

As I'm sure some of you have noticed this blog has a weird URL. When I originally made the blog, it was the only name available and so I took it.  It was a very stressful time and, really, that was the LAST thing on my mind. Now, it bothers me.

So, I'm changing it!

I've also been wanting to change the name of the blog for some time now. I've been playing around in my mind with different titles and it finally came to me: The Love We Carry. For our Little Love, Samuel, who we carried for 35 weeks. For the Love we hold in our heart for him now that he's gone, that will be with us for the rest of our lives. 

I hope you like the new look!

From now on, I'll be posting on the NEW BLOG.

Thank you for sticking with us in the good, bad and ugly times I've shared here. It means a lot to know people care about us.

If you're here as someone who loves and supports us, if you're someone who knows this is a lifelong journey with grief, and if you "get it" that Samuel is and always will be our son and we will NEVER stop missing him or hurting that he's gone, then I hope you'll follow me over to the new blog.

All who accept and love us "as is" are more than welcome <3.

Join me on The Love We Carry. 

With Samuel in my heart,

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Little Boy Who Follows Me

It's my honor to share my heart on Still Standing Magazine again today!You can read it HERE.

I wrote about the alternate version of my life where Samuel is here with me and how it intersects my life without him.

He is a love and missed little guy <3 <3

Samuel Evan Fredrickson - Loved with a LOVE that was more than love.

The worst kind of loneliness

This is often my stumbling block. I don't have the words to say how I feel. Sometimes, that leaves me feeling empty and alone. Sometimes, instead of trying over and over again, I just stop trying.

It's very frustrating when, despite my best efforts, people simply don't get it, or - let's be honest - refuse to face the truth of what it's like. Every once in a while, someone (I'm sure "with the very best of intentions"..blah) takes it upon him or herself to "fix me". You know, to "set me straight" about what I should be doing/feeling/saying. You know, to help me move on. (BLAH). 

It's interesting how this always seems to coincide with times I'm *just* starting to feel a bit better. Then, suddenly, out of the woodwork, pops Mr. or Mrs. "well meaning happy helper" to set me back about 5 months by inflicting their completely wrong, arrogant, insensitive and hurtful ideas on me. (You know, becuase they care so much about me and want to help...blah).

**Before I tell you about such an encounter, I want to make a point to say that we have some very supportive and loving friends and family. We are deeply thankful for them and their continuous support and willingness to lay down in the pit of grief right along with us. **

Yesterday, I had a long (longer than I would have preferred) conversation with my father-in-law. If you know him, you know, he's very set in his thinking. He is very religious and it influences everything in his life. Well, after my nightmare the other day at the hospital to see him, he decided he had a lot to say to me. Despite the fact that he had just come out of surgery and was mostly in a drugged state, he apparently was conscious enough to hear what I was dealing with. But, sadly, instead of loving me and hurting with me, he chose to judge me.

He basically called to say I need to: Get help ("you're not the only counselor, you know"), stop being so emotional, learn to control myself, go to church, let people help me, realize God gives some people the gift of children while other just get different gifts, be appreciative for what happened to us (can you imagine??), and celebrate with people who get to have babies. (Plus something about how I need to transform my mind. Apparently that means stop hurting that my son died??)

Let me just tell you right now, I'm no pushover. I mustered up all my strength and fortitude and did my best to push aside the grief fog that's so often overtaking my brain, to come up with logical ways to explain my emotions and experience. I talked to him for a very long time about why what he was saying was so hurtful, WRONG, and judgmental. I hope that he heard me, but I feel in my heart he didn't. It breaks my heart wide open that Samuel's own grandfather does not feel the pain of his death. That he can so easily make light of something so utterly irreversible and devastating. That, instead of helping and support us, he turns against me and coaches Bryan on how to "help" me.

That I should have to explain why Samuel's death is horrifying and deeply painful is absurd to me. What is wrong with your head, heart or soul if you are not massively outraged and devastated by the loss of an innocent life - especially one of your own grandchild? It's beyond my ability to comprehend that people act like it's something to just "get over"; a bad thing that happened in the past and should no longer influence me today. That people do not understand the emptiness in my soul, the irreparable damage to my heart and mind, and the deep sadness that can never be undone, leaves me flabbergasted.  I want to scream: "What is it that you don't get! My BABY DIED!"

Now I know I can't trust him with my heart. In a moment of deep sorrow - from the bottom of my soul and out - I sobbed at the injustice of a baby being born while my beautiful little Samuel had to die. It was an overwhelming visceral response - one I could NOT control - that should have allowed them to see and hear the deep ache in my heart. For reason I can only assume are motivated by self-protection (I get it, I'm a walking talking reminder that life is completely outside of our control and God does not answer prayers like we believe he does and sometimes those we love the most are stolen away forever for no reason whatsoever - no one wants to face that reality), he chose to push back instead of embracing the reality of my hurt.

Much to my disheartened chagrin, this is not the only encounter I've had like this. I hope will all my heart something  I said to him lands and he begins to realize the truth. But there is only so much I can do. (And, really, it hurts me too much to have to keep fighting that fight.)

If you are reading this, listen to me. When you criticize my grief, all you're doing is adding to my burden. Your critique minimizes my great loss (which I will not allow you to do) and leave me wanting to never be around people again and much more anxious than I'm already feeling. Is that what you are going for? Despite your intentions, that's the result.  More often than not, these types of comments are for your own self-protection - to distance yourself from my reality -and it has nothing to do with me. So, please, leave me out of it! You have no right to tell me how I "should" be grieving. I am the one whose life was changed forever, it was my heart (among others) that was shattered. If you want to know what it's like, ask me - don't assume or pretend you know - and I'll try to tell you. There is nothing on this earth as heartbreaking or damaging to the mind and soul than the death of a loved and wanted baby. Our family will never be the same again and I'm the one who has to face it every moment of every day for the rest of  my life.

If you want to be apart of our lives, you have to realize Samuel is a HUGE part of it and always will be. We will always be missing him and there will be times when the pain of our loss will come out in physical and emotional ways. To feel is to be human.  I love and miss my baby.  I will not, under any circumstances, allow the ignorance or incorrect opinions of others to stop me from expressing that deep love and the hurt left by his death.

If you don't like it, GET OVER IT.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Too much!

Today was rough. R O U G H.

It started out ok. Today was my sisters' 21st birthdays. (For those that don't know, I have twin sisters). I thought it would be nice to take them out to dinner, so we made plans to go to the Melting Pot. I was looking forward to a nice night out. (This is not the rough part.)

The following day is my brother's 21st birthday (long story short, they are adopted and happen to have birthdays only 1 day apart) and Bryan was going to take him out to our local amusement park for the day.

We came up with the plan to stay at a hotel in the cities overnight, since I'd be out with the girls tonight and he'd be out with my brother tomorrow. No need to drive several hours back and forth. Plus, it's nice to be out of the house.

Okay, now to the rough part.

I woke up this morning to learn that Bryan's dad was being taken in to surgery. He has been successfully battling  cancer for the past few years but has recently had a few problems. I immediately began packing up all our things and trying to get us out the door to go to the hospital to be with his mom. We needed to have everything for our overnight stay, but we also wanted to get there as soon as possible (we live about 1.5 hours from them). We threw our stuff together and rushed to be with them.

As we got there, we learned the surgery had been successful - thank goodness!! - and that he'd be in a room soon. Since we knew he was out successfully, and since we hadn't had anything to eat all day, I dropped Bryan off and went to pick us all up something to eat.

When I returned, I was walking to his room when I turned the corner and came face to face with a mother in labor and her husband. My heart stopped for a moment, but I rushed by them, doing my best to pretend they didn't exist while secretly cursing the day I was born and wishing to disappear forever.

I got to the room - Bryan was in the hall -  and his mom pulled me aside and said, "I just wanted to let you know there is a new baby in the room across the hall. Bryan has asked the nurse to keep the door closed" (apparently he explained why and she was very accommodating). "Of course there is" I thought, but just said, "okay, thanks". I felt the all too failure pain in my heart but did my best to just brush it off. We were there for his dad. I did my best to put it out of my mind.

We were all in the room waiting for his dad to be brought in from recovery. He was pushed in and what do you know? The nurse pushing the bed: hugely pregnant. Oh, lord in heaven, of course she is! Deep can do this...(horrible thoughts to myself).

I pulled it together - again - and just looked away. Then, they asked us to step out in the hall while they got him in bed and adjusted. We did. (I'm sure you can see where this is going...)

We're all standing there talking when guess which door opens? That's right, the new baby's door. It's cries filled the hall and I literally felt faint. My heart started thumbing and my legs felt numb. Without even thinking, I started sobbing. And sobbing. And sobbing.

There was an empty room just next door, so I turned and bolted in. Sobbing and heaving and gasping. It was horrible. HORIBLE. I wanted to run out the door and leave, but they were all there and our car keys were in his dad's room. It was ugly. Bryan came in to hold me and comfort me. "I know, I know, I know" he said.  (Who knows what on earth his family was thinking). I cried and cried as my heart broke for the 9 millionth time. I tried to pull myself together but it was just too much. Too many babies... way too many fricken babies. There is only so much I can take and the barrage of babies was just too much. I cried and cried and cried.

After a while,  I got it together enough to come back out to the hall. Puffy wet red faced.

But guess what? Just as I walked out, someone opened the bleeping door again! New baby cries, more ripping noises from my heart. I was so overwhelmed I frantically started looking for the fastest way out but could only go back in the room and sob all over again. What a fricken nightmare!!!! I honestly wished I could die. Right there on the floor. I wished with all my might. I begged whoever could hear my thoughts, please, please, please, just let me be DONE! But, alas, I'm still here.

As I cowered in the dark bathroom of the empty room, with Bryan holding me and tears streaming down my face, I heard through the wall more sounds from the stupid baby's room. If that baby was sent to earth to rip my heart out, then it succeeded.

What a horrible nightmare! If I never hear or see another baby in my life, that would be perfect.

I felt like such a mess. We were there for his dad and there I am having a nervous breakdown in the other room. But such is my life. My ugly, horrible life.

Once again, I pulled myself together enough to go to his room. We got in there safely this time with no sounds from the stupid baby (have I mentioned I hate that baby?) and were able to be with him for a while.

All I could think is why on earth is a new mother in the same wing as a man who just had stomach surgery?? Oh, yeah, because I was going to be there. Clearly, whoever is in charge of how things run in life has it out for me. (Have I mentioned I them too??)

No one said anything to me. I guess they had no idea what to say.

We spent time with his dad and after a while left so he could rest. Thankfully, he is doing as well as he can.

We left and headed to the hotel. I grumbled and hurt and thought of all the ways I could die and wished I would just stop existing all the way there. Again, no such luck.

We checked in and I just went to sleep. What else can you do when your life is a horrible, ugly nightmare?

I woke up and felt a little more able to function.

I pulled together all my inner resources and was able to take my sisters out for a nice night. (Guess what? Our waitress...also pregnant. Someone please just let me die in peace!!)

I'm done. I can't take one more baby or pregnancy or happy family. It's not okay with me. I'm not sure why I try to leave the house. After we get home tomorrow, I'm never leaving again.

Everyone can just keep on living their happy baby-filled lives without me.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

An Anonymous Gift

We just received a gift for which I have not enough words to express my gratitude. It's a gift of money in an amount I'd be embarrassed to say out loud. My mom presented it to me and said it was from someone who cares about us but won't let us know who they are. I am still in shock about it.

She forwarded a bit of the message that came along with it. She edited out the names and refuses to tell me who it's from.

RaeAnne, Bryan and baby Samuel's story has touched out hearts in a very
deep way.  We have cried with them, cheered with them, prayed with them,
we have hung on every word, we have thought about that precious beautiful
little boy and the impact his life and story has made in our life and the
lives of thousands.  It seems so horrible that someone would have to go
through this to make a difference in so many others lives but Samuel's
story is not being wasted.  Oh no not one little bit.  Every heart beat
and kick, every item of clothing, the crib, the chair, the books, the
music, the verses RaeAnne shared, the bitter bitter tears she and Bryan
and all of you have shed are not wasted.  They are pointing to love, deep
deep love. 
We would like to do something special for them.  We don't know their
exact needs but they do.  We would like it to be anonymous so that it can
be celebrated as a gift of love not concerned with who gave it.  Let us
know what would be helpful.  Maybe to help with her All That Love Can Do
project.  Maybe something for their house.  Maybe a bill paid off that is
hanging over there head.  Maybe just for fun money.  Let us know how we
can make an impact in this story.  It would be our pleasure to do this
for Samuel and his mama and daddy.  
Looking forward to your response. 
I simply have no words. There are so many things we can use it on. We're tucking it safelty in the bank until we can find a way to use it in a way the honors the gift to it's fullest extent.

Here's my problem: How do you thank someone if you don't know who to thank?

If you are the person who gave the gift, please know it has touched us deeply. I cried when I read the words you wrote about Samuel. This gift means the world to us. I wish I had deeper, more meaningful words to let you know how much it means. I have no way to repay such a kindness, or to match your generosity. I wish I could tell you in person. Thank you. Words are not enough to say that fully. Thank you.

We send our love to you. Thank you for caring for us.

with Samuel in our hearts,
Bryan and RaeAnne

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

on Rainbows

I'm really frusterated tonight. Really, really, really frustrated.

I was cleaning today and I went to vacuum Samuel's room. It's not really a big deal, I do it all the time with the rest of the house. Today, I bent down in his closet to reach to the back corner with the nozzle and I just about lost it. I'm not sure what it was specifically, but I just was overcome with anger - rage, even - and a massive wave of sadness. Why is he not here? I did EVERY SINGLE THING that a person does to have a baby. Every. Single. Thing. Including giving birth. But, no baby to be found anywhere in this family. I'm so outraged. How can this have happened? Where is he? I looked around at all his things I and I could just throw up. I'm so tired of their unused newness. I miss him desperately.

Instead of having a one-year-old, I have nothing to show for it all except a bunch of unused stuff.

I realized something: if I ever want to use any of it, I'm going to have to do this all over again. All of it. And with ZERO guarantee of a good outcome. (And, really, zero guarantee of even being able to get to the point of beginning again. No one said if you have one baby you'll be able to have another).

There is something happening in my circle of the babyloss world. People are having their rainbows. I'm starting to hear announcement after announcement of people who lost a baby around the time Samuel died, saying they are expecting a new baby. A rainbow is a beautiful thing. It's hope that you can go on to add to your family and find some joy in the pain. But for people like me who don't have one, it's also just another group I'm no longer apart of. Now there are two sets of people I don't fit in with. Great. I'm very happy for most of them (no, not all. Sometimes I think people get pregnant way too fast just to try to fill the void. Babies are not replaceable. Bodies and hearts need time to heal before you should even think about doing it again - in my opinion). I know first hand how much these babies are deserved, loved and wanted. That's wonderful to know these hurting mamas will soon have something to fill their empty arms. But all it does it remind me how painfully empty mine are.

Right around the time of his first birthday last month, it was like people suddenly felt they had permission to start asking us if we're going to have another baby. I could practically feel the you think they'll try again?!? Some were bold enough to actually ask us. Some just asked people who know us in an attempt to gain "insider information".

Let me just nip that in the bud right this second.

WE are the ONLY ones who will make that decision. WE will let YOU know if we decide to add to our family. WE will not feel pressured to do something we don't feel ready for, just because YOU think it's time. Of course we want a baby to raise. We had a baby. It's not our fault he's not here. It's incredibly defeating to do everything we did and to end up where we are. Not really a motivation to do it all over again. It's extremely emotional to think of everything involved in having another baby. We know what can - and does - happen all the time. Not all babies live. You don't get a free pass just because you lost one already. We have lost our innocence and know far too many people and stories to be so naive about it. Just because most everyone we know pops out babies like it's nothing doesn't mean it'll be smooth sailing for us.And even if we do get to keep a new baby, we'll always be missing Samuel. Our family is forever broken; someone precious will always be missing.

So all this is to say that I'm hurting tonight. My arms ache for my baby. The one I had already. The one who should be here now. My little Samuel. Maybe, in someway,  also for the ones I hoped to have all along. I'm extremely angry he was snatched away from me for no reason. I'm frustrated that other people are just getting pregnant left and right and I'm not in that group. I'm angry that it has to be so very hard for us while other people just breeze right through it. It's not okay that this happened and there is no one to blame. Sometimes, I just want to stop existing. That would be so much easier.

My heart hurts. My soul is enraged. My life is empty. There is nothing I can do but keep going.

Such is my life.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A million things

I've have a million things to say, but can't seem to find a way to get them out. I've come here time and time again the last few weeks to get it out, but the words don't come together.

The fuzz-brain of grief combined with the meaninglessness I feel every day has taken it's toll on my ability to find the words. But tonight I've decided to try. This is why:

I've noticed something lately in the babyloss world. Grieving mamas feeling as if their time is up. Like they have lingered too long and their feelings are not what they "should" be. I've heard the exact same sentiment from several people: "I feel like I have nothing new to say. Like people think I'm a broken record and should be done by now" (or something to that effect).

I have to be honest, I've been succumbing to that same feeling too. Like I "should" be moving on and "done" with this.  Like people are as tired of hearing about it as I am of feeling it. So I've keep it inside. Why bother to explain the same thing over and over again.

But here is the truth of it all: there is no moving on. Every single day I wake up to the same empty life and hurting heart. Every day I wish nothing more than to be spending time with my son. To watch him grow, learn and explore. Every empty day my heart hurts more and more. There is no end. There is nothing I can do differently. There are times when I WISH I could "move on". To stop hurting and feeling so lost and empty. (Please don't misunderstand that for wishing I could forget about Samuel!) What makes it so hard and the reason grief is what it is, is that it's permanent. I will have to do this for the remainder of my life.

So I got to thinking, why should I feel badly for talking about it? I'm the one who has to face it every day. It's my life that's been forever changed...why pretend for the sake of people who have no clue what it's like for me? Anyone who grows tired of hearing about it can just walk away. (As so many have done; lucky them to have such an easy life). So I'll write for the people who are walking this same ugly path. The ones for whom there is no escape. The group in which I am a reluctant but permanent member.

My grief is different now. There are moments where I feel as if I can actually do this. When I think I can find a way to incorporate his death into our lives enough to keep going and making a new version of life for us. But it's usually not more than minutes or hours after feeling that way that I'm back to sobbing my eyes out and screaming inside for life to be different. There is no escaping the feelings. This is not how it should be. There is no way to forget that.

I miss him all day every day. Most days, it's all day long. He's the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last thing I think of before going to sleep.

There is always this alternate version of reality going on in my imagination. One where he was never sick. One where he lived and lives on. I can see it playing out all day long: this little shadow of our life as it should be. A big boy with a toothy-slobbery grin, chunky legs and busy little hands. I can hear the sounds that are constantly missing. The "dadadada's" and the laughs and the fusses. The banging and rattles and crashes of toys on the floor, and dishes on the highchair tray. I can smell the cheerios, and diapers and sweet "all-clean" baby-after-bath smells.

I'm still so angry. It seems that everyone on this earth is having babies right now and every single day it haunts me. Why us? How on earth did this happen to us? I have no idea how to ever be around babies ever again. For the protection of my already broken heart, I have to stay away.

It boggles my mind how I can be living such a nightmare all the time, while most everyone else has no clue what it means to hurt like this. It's a very hard way to live when the way you feel all the time is mostly indescribable.

If I could only find the words to say how utterly empty, meaningless and pointless life seems when the joy of your life is stolen away for no reason.

I guess the only way to say it is this: imagine all the joy and happiness, busyness and meaning, hope and love that comes from a new baby. All the plans and dreams of their life, the goals for how to raise them and play with them and enjoy them.

All of that dies when a baby dies. What remains is the opposite of all that. And there is nothing you can do about it.

All the while, you watch as everyone around you lives that very life. That's why there are no words to describe it. It's the shattering of your soul and heart. How could anyone "get over it"?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Healing Mothers Day - my part

I'm a part of an active babyloss community online. It's a place where everyone is willing to say to the world, "My baby is important" and not allow people in the non-loss world to take meaning away by ignoring what happened to them. Once a baby is conceived, it's forever a part of that family. Period. No other person has the right to determine when a baby is a person or when his or her life starts "mattering".

There is a huge movement in the community to start breaking the silence about babyloss. To help the non-loss community understand we will not stop talking about this. Baby loss happens all day, every day. It's not something to be overlooked or ignored. The grief of losing a child is the hardest type of grief to face. There is no pain like that of losing an innocent, new life. Every single day, for the rest of the our lives, there is a loved and wanted person missing. It's the loss of hopes and dreams and the spark that's within a person to live life to the fullest. Life is no longer something you can understand. The world no longer makes sense. I can tell you first-hand what that does to the heart of a mother. I can tell you second-hand what that does to a father. A parent's greatest fear is the death of their child and we have to live it every day of our lives.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter".  I've never been one to be quiet about things that matter. And let me tell you, Samuel mattered! I refuse to stop talking about him, or grief, or how his absence it felt so strongly, all day every day. I don't care one bit what non-loss people think. I'm the one who has to face it every day of my life.

**Side note: It's always funny to me when someone who has NO CLUE what it's like to lose a child tries to tell me how to grieve or judges me for "not getting over it" or "moving on by now". Clueless people should keep their enormously incorrect opinions to themselves. It always makes me wonder, "Do you think you'd be "okay" after only a year if one of your children died?" If you believe you would be, then maybe you better think about how much you love your child, or why their life is not important to you. Samuel was loved and wanted and we incorporated him into our family from the moment we knew he existed. That's why I will never "get over it". **

(As a general rule in life,  if you have never experienced something, you have no right to tell the person facing it how it should be done. Just listen and love. Wouldn't you want the same?)

I have been thinking for a while, it's great that we're all breaking the silence on Facebook and within our groups, but what does that do for the rest of the world? The real world. We need to start taking it out of our circles and to the public view.

I read THIS by Carly Marie on Still Standing Magazine.Yes! It's time to heal Mother's Day!

I can remember - even before I was pregnant - thinking how hard this day must be for mother's without children. For those that faced infertility or loss, this day had to be a nightmare. A day where motherhood was paraded around without a word about those who longed for it, but, for one reason or another, were unable to enter into it. (Imagine how you'd feel if there were a day to honor people who have something that was stolen from you? People who did nothing more or less than you did, but for some unknown reason are able to have it while you are not. Can you imagine that hurt and resentment and bitterness?)

Now that I'm a mother with no baby, this day hurts my heart. I feel cheated in a way I can't fully explain. I should be running after my busy boy, wearing a pretty flower and enjoying a Mother's Day Brunch. Instead, I'll stay as far away as I can, to protect my heart from the sights and sounds that bring me to my darkest place. The place of deep sadness, hurt, and confusion inside a heart that'll never be complete again in this lifetime.

I know there are more people who feel the way I do, living near me. (Although I have yet to find them since Mankato likes to pretend that all babies live). I knew I needed to do something to let them know they are not alone. I knew I needed to break the silence in the real world.

So I did the only thing I could think of: I called our local newpaper and told our story. The woman I spoke with said I could send something over and she'd see if it was something they would print. I sat down and wrote. I sent it over and never heard a word back. I figured it just was too much to think they'd print it.

Yesterday, I was carrying in groceries and my neighbor called across the fence that she was coming over with something for me. She soon arrived with a beautiful yellow rose bush and a mother's day card. She told me how Samuel was very special to them and how I'll always be his mother. I cried. Right there in the doorway with my huge potted plant in one hand and the card in the other. She cried too and gave me a big hug. For the first time since he died, I felt like someone on the outside - someone who has never read my blog or seen what I say on FB -  really, truly got it. You don't stop being a mother just because your baby dies. It's just a totally different way of parenting, but it's parenting, none the less. She looked in my eyes and I knew she got it. When someone gets it, I feel so much lighter. I don't have the weight of trying to explain the unexplainable and I can just be. It's such a relief.

She and I talked for a while. She said,  "I read what you wrote in the newspaper and I thought it was very brave and wonderful of you". I got kind of flustered. Apparently, they had printed it without ever saying a word more to me!

After I thanked her profusely and she left, I went online in search of it on the newspaper's website. I found it! As I'm sure happens a lot, it was cut down quiet a bit, but it was there! I asked Bryan to bring home a copy.

I truly hope my words help someone feel less alone. I hope they help someone know it's okay - and good! - to remember a child who died and to honor the mothers who face this heartache every day.

You can read what I wrote HERE. It's not the full article I wrote, but it's enough.

Let's celebrate all mothers. This Sunday and every day.

These are a few of the lines cut from what I wrote. I think they are worth saying:

The bereaved mother is still a mother. She deserved the same attention and honor as all other mothers on this special day.

“Whether in her arms, or in her heart, a mother carries her children with her forever”.  – RaeAnne Fredrickson of All That Love Can Do

“A Mother is not defined by the number of children you see, but by the love that she holds in her heart.” – Franchesca Cox of Small Bird Studios

One final note: My cousin sent me a text with this quote. It meant a lot to me <3

Friday, May 3, 2013

Worth it

Samuel was worth it all. I can't say that enough. I would do it again, just to know him. It doesn't make it easier now, but I gave him my whole heart and I would do it again.

I just heard this song and I've been playing it on repeat for the past hour. It's perfect.

Please take the time to listen. For Samuel <3

Afraid to love, something that could break,
Could I move on, if you were torn away?
I'm so close to what I can't control
I can't give you half my heart, and pray it makes you whole

You're gunna have all of me, you're gunna have all of me,
Cuz you're worth every fallen tear, you're worth facing every fear
You're gunna know all my love, even if it's not enough
Enough to mend our broken hearts, giving you all of me is where I'll start.

I won't let sadness steal you from my arms
I won't let pain keep you from my heart
Trade the fear of all that I could lose, for every moment I share with you

You're gunna have all of me, you're gunna have all of me,
Cuz you're worth every fallen tear, you're worth facing any fear
You're gunna know all my love, even if it's not enough
Enough to mend our broken hearts, giving you all of me is where I'll start.

Heaven broke into this moment, it's too wonderful to speak
You're worth all of me, you're worth all of me
So let me recklessly love you, even if I bleed
You're worth all of me, you're worth all of me

You're gunna have all of me, you're gunna have all of me,
Cuz you're worth every fallen tear, you're worth facing any fear
You're gunna know all my love, even if it's not enough
Enough to mend our broken hearts, giving you all of me is where I'll start

You're gunna have all of me,
Cuz you're worth every fallen tear, you're worth facing any fear
You're gunna know all my love, even if it's not enough
Enough to mend our broken hearts, giving you all of me is where I'll start
It's where I'll start

Thursday, May 2, 2013

At the heart of it all

I've been having a rough time. There is no need to pretend otherwise. Lots of sadness, lots of anger, lots of hurt, confusion, resentment, bitterness, and heartache. Lots of feeling dazed and detached. Lots of wondering how this could have possibly happened.

At the heart of it all, is love. A deep and strong love for my precious little Samuel Evan. My son. My baby. My little love.

I just miss him. That's all there is too it. I miss him. I miss him. I miss him. 

When I feel overtaken from all these emotions, there is not much I can do but face them and deal with each one until I find a sense of calm again. As I peel each layer back, I can see the deepest part. The place where love resides. That's the place I like the best. The place where it's just us.

All the other emotions happen because something so incredibly precious, so absolutely irreplaceable and never re-occurring, has been stolen away. I'm a mother without her baby. Can you imagine anything more destructive to the soul of a mother than to lose her baby? I've been seperated from the one I was made to love, for the remainder of my lifetime. No wonder I'm so heartbroken. Nothing on this earth can be done to correct the wrong. It's permanent.

I guess that's what's making year two so hard. I'm starting to really feel the permanence. I feel this deep dark sadness - this huge gaping hole in my life - and life around us is going on as if nothing happened. People are started to test the waters with us again and it feels so wrong. Nothing has changed! He's still missing! My life is still in tatters but no one seems to notice.

A year has passed, but it feels like a week, or a month, or some amount of time I can't explain. A blink of an eye and an eternity all at once.

The past couple weeks have left me with two main observations:
1. My grief has changed. Somehow, it's become more apart of me than before. As if it's settling in for the long haul. (lucky me). The indescribably pain is not as often and not as quickly-ascending as it's been in the past year. I'm starting to feel how my life is going to feel from now on: forever changed, forever incomplete.

2. The love never changes. Even on a "good day", I'm no less in love with him than on the days where I can hardly function. That gives me hope. Maybe this pain will change again, maybe it won't hurt so much, so often, but my love for him will never go away. It doesn't fade with time. I like that.

As I try to figure out who I am with this hole in my heart and life, I find that I'm not the person I once was. I'm much more sad, all the time. I'm not as quick to find anything funny or exciting. I just don't care about much anymore. It's hard to care when things are so skewed.

This past weekend, Bryan and I went away for a few days. It was nice to be out of the house and to just be together. We had a beautiful suite at a B&B and enjoyed our time away.

While we were out walking, we stopped at the beach and wrote Samuel's name in the sand. We always feel good when we're doing thing for him, together.

As we drove to my parents home after our trip to thank them for the weekend (they very generously paid for us to go away), I cried and cried. I wished with all my heart we could have been driving to pick him up. I bet that's the best feeling in the world when you've been away from your baby and you get to go and pick them up again. What horror to know I'll never be able to do that. I'll be missing him with no resolution, for the rest of my life. 

I miss him. I miss him. I miss him.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The things that mock me

All of his things are mocking me. Every time I see them, they call out: "Why did you buy us? We're just sitting here, collecting dust. You should have let someone who is capable of having a healthy baby buy us instead!"

I'm about ready to burn them all in a pile.

All the little outfits, the little shoes, the diapers, the car seat, the stroller, the crib, the blankets, the toys, the bouncy seats and on and on and on. It was all a huge waste.

Who did we think we were, buying all this stuff? How arrogant of us to think we'd actually be bringing home a baby to use it all!

Everything in our house is a lie. It looks like we have a baby, but there is no baby. It seems like we're a happy little family, but that's a lie too.

How dare we move into a home with lots of bedrooms? Did we so stupidly think we'd just get to fill it up?

We belong in an apartment. At least then it wouldn't seem like we're trying to be something we're so obviously not.

I'm so sick of this house and these things and my life!

Where can I go to escape it all? How can I move away forever and never have to see any of it ever again?

Everywhere I look, everywhere I go, all I see is happy mamas with healthy babies. I could just scream at them, "Who are you to deserve this?!?"

Mother's Day crap is EVERYWHERE. I'm so sick of hearing about it, I could throw up. It can't possibly pass soon enough.

Clearly, year two: not over it yet. 

What a big huge ugly mess.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


I haven't had much to say lately. I'm worn out. Completely and entirely. So many times, I have wished I could find the "Exit" door to this mess and just walk away forever. But, alas, no such door exists, so here I am.

For a few days, I felt like I was going to burst out of my skin. I was stuck in a horrible rut of not sleeping, not eating well, and not caring about anyone or anything. I was am empty, angry, hurting mess. A mama without her baby. It was rough. I finally decided enough was enough.

*On a quick side note (aka soapbox): people like to use the word "choice" when they are talking about grief. They like to think it's a choice to be sad/depressed or not. As if you can choose to be in a bad place, or to pick yourself up and "move on". Let me be clear about this: it's not a choice. When you're in the deep dark pit of pain and grief, there is no choice in the matter. When your baby has died and the world keeps turning, while you're overwhelmed with pain and torturous questions of "why" with no answers, when you are living a nightmare you can possibly imagine as your life, it's not a choice. It's a maze you can't escape. The only "choice" you have is to face it head on - and in doing so, find healing - or to pretend it's not real and end up a mess later when it forces it's way in. It's only a person who does not understand, who says it's a choice to feel so badly.  (It reminds me a wave-pool. The waves just keep coming and coming and you can only ride along. When they do let up for a moment, that's the time you can try to pick yourself up a bit before they start again).*

After my big freak out, I pulled it back together and I put a lot of his things back. I realized I can't have so much of it all over the place all the time. It's like a constant reminder that I have things instead of him. I decided to have only a select few out at a time, and then rotate. So far, so good. I do love that just about every room in our home has something of him in it. He's our son and that's how it should be. We love him!

This weekend, we are going away for a few days. My parents had offered to send us away for Samuel's birthday, but we chose not to go. I asked my mom if the offer was still good and, since it was, we took them up on it. (Thank you! to them). We need it. We are both tired and need a break (not that we can get away from it, but there is something to be said for getting out of the house for a while).

One thing I'm very bad at is taking care of myself. Yes, I can stand up for myself. Yes, I will tell you exactly what I need (support, love and encouragement) and what I don't want (judgement, pushing, belittling, etc) in terms of my grief, but I'm not great at doing things just for me.

The person I was before this was someone who appreciated the nicer things in life. I liked a great restaurant with a chef-prepared meal. I liked shopping at finer stores and having things I could be proud to own. I liked to travel and try new and exciting things. I enjoyed being pampered with spa days and shopping sprees and the like.

Now, I couldn't possible care less about those things. They seem so trivial. (and, they are).

But I also know that sometimes in life, you need to do things that make you feel good, even if they are meaningless.

So, earlier this week, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I dressed up, I did my hair and made myself as presentable as I could, and I told Bryan we were going out to dinner. It was good. It was nice to be out of the house, there were no babies to be seen and the food was delicious. It was a good night out.

And since one good thing deserves another, I decided to buy myself some new clothes for this weekend. 

Other than maternity clothes, I haven't gotten a single thing for myself to wear in about 2 years. Partly because I have no place to go, partly because I'm not feeling the best about how I look, and partly because I just don't care at all (and clothes are at stores and stores are full of babies - let's not forget that piece).

Last night, I went out. Thankfully, since Mankato goes to bed at 8:30pm, no one was there and I could look around without the threat of a horrid baby sighting.

I found several things and I feel nice in them. What's strange is that I look in the mirror and I don't recognize myself. I don't know who this sad person is and I'm tired of feeling so broken. I need to start to figure out who this new version of me is, so I can readjust to my new life.  I'm not at all okay with it, but there is nothing else I can do. 

* Side note, part two - I had to fight myself not to go buy something for Samuel to wear. I know it's crazy, but I have such a strong urge to get things for him (although I feel like I'm cheating if I go near the baby section. It's like a siren will go off saying "she's not allowed here!!") I can't even believe he would be so big now. How I wish I be dressing him in the adorable little outfits for little boys. He would be precious <3. One more thing I'm missing out on. *

This weekend, I hope we can focus on us for a while. I hope we will be able to breathe a bit and relax. All new parents need a break from time to time and we're no less entitled to a break than any other parent of a one-year-old (I still can't wrap my head around that - a one-year-old - what on earth!). If he were here, I'm fairly certain someone would have to pry him out of my arms for us to go away, but there is nothing I can do about that. Instead, he come with us in my heart, as always. 

I hope we can be refreshed to face this life once more upon our return. I'm trying to learn to take advantage of the calm - to use it as a time to recharge - because I know how quickly the next wave of hurt can come crashing down.

Here's to a peaceful weekend away!

Friday, April 19, 2013

the big plan

Last night, for the thousandth time since Samuel died, we had the same day over again.

It goes something  like this:

I can't sleep the night before, so I stay up until 4am. I finally force myself to go to bed and don't wake up until just before 1pm. By this time, I've missed making lunch for Bryan and I come downstairs to his dishes on the counter and a pang of guilt that I can't even make lunch for the man.

I go online for a while, reading up on the ugly and beautiful world of Babyloss. I may clean a little, I may read a little, I may daze out in to empty space for a while. It doesn't matter.

Around 4:45pm or so, I figure I better make myself a little presentable, so I put on a clean shirt and brush my hair. That's me, getting presentable. I make some feeble attempt to have the house look like I've done something today, and then I stand in front of the fridge for 10 minutes trying to figure out what on earth I'm going to make.

I throw something together and then welcome Bryan home. He goes upstairs for a while, I call him to eat.

We eat, we watch TV and he goes to bed, but I can't sleep so I stay up all night again and we start off we we did the previous day.

This is my life and I'm absolutly FED UP with it.

I'm sick and tired of feeling like this! I'm sick and tired of being a babyloss mother. I'm sick and tired of him always being absent.

Around 11pm last night, I finally snapped. I'm ready to be done, so I'm going to be. I had a plan to force myself back in to the world where babies live and grief ends.

I put away a bunch of his things, and I took everything out of his crib. I want to take it down and put it away, but I can't by myself.

I decided I was sick of only living in a world where babies die, so I decided I would change up who I see in my news feeds and let some non-babyloss people in. I was going through my friend list to see who might be okay and I decided to read some friends pages. I went through several of the people I miss the most and read through the past few weeks.

Two things happened:

1. I realized what a weird world I live in now. We only talk about babyloss. We don't talk about anything else. Seeing comments about nothing is very strange to me.

2. I cried my eyes out and realized there is no escape. I can't just pretend I don't belong to this club. It was horribly painful to see all the smiling babies and happy families who have no clue what this is like. I truly am an outsider. He should be the one taking first steps and eating bubbles in the tub. I'm not okay with seeing other babies who get to do what was stolen from us. I'm just not.

Here I am, 2 hours into my "I'm not going to live like this anymore" frenzie and I'm a mess.

This IS my life .I can't pretend it's not. He died. He's missing.

I have no where to go where that won't be true.

Thank goodness I can't disassemble the crib alone! I probably would have had a nervous breakdown in the light of day.

Maybe instead of trying to run from it, I just need to find a way to bring something - anything - positive back in. Let me tell you, that's EXTREMELY hard when nothing matters anymore.

I guess all I need to do is try. It's all I can do.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dark Days

Things have not been good. I'm in a very dark place. Reliving all the moments of his birth, reliving the shock of him being taken away, the phone call - "he's gone" - and the "I'm sorry, you won't be able to be with him". The zombie-esque days of pain meds and "did this all just really happen" questions and "I never even got to hold him".

I play the day over in my mind, looking for where it all went wrong. In my version, instead of sending him to Rochester, I yell "STOP! Don't take him! Bring him to me and go away!" Then I hold him and kiss him and snuggle him for days.

Where was I that day? Why couldn't I think clearly enough to ask/speak/tell someone something. Why did they take him away from me?

Yesterday was the day last year that I finally got to hold him. The day I said goodbye.

my favorite <3 <3

tiny, perfect little piggies <3

I sure so love this little guy <3

Holding him for the first time

My beautiful boy, laying on the ugly leaf blanket at the funeral home.
I look at the pictures and see how damaged I was. Huge black and blue marks from all the IV attempts. Puffy face from all the days of crying and fluids at the hospital. Dark eyes from crying and no sleep for days and days. But what I see most clearly, is the shock. I can see that I don't yet fully comprehend what's happening. That this will be my one and only chance to hold him for the rest of my life.

I see his beautiful little face; I remember his soft skin and hair, his tiny button nose and little curled ears.

I miss him. That's all there is to it. I wish I could pick him up and run away and tell the whole world to just leave me alone. To hide where no one can find us.

It's far too late for that.

I'm just not okay with any of this.

I miss my baby.

Year two so far: just as ugly and empty and broken as the first.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Celebrating Samuel

Well, I woke up today and checked: nope, I'm not "over it". I've been told grief ended at one year...I guess all those well-meaning and totally smart people who know about these things even though they've never experienced them were wrong. How odd! (*Please read the preceding with large quantities of sarcasm).

I opened my eyes to the second year of his absence with the same emptiness and longing I've had since he left. I guess it's time to begin year two of missing him. Only 40-60 more years of this until I'm done.

In a way, I feel very much the same as I did on the day after he died. It's like a numbed shocked sadness and hollowed out feeling. I'm somewhat reliving those moments in the hospital. I can feel it. It was terrible. I didn't even get to hold him. It was over and there was nothing I could do about it. That's how I feel about his first year: It's over and there's nothing I can do about it.

This past weekend, we celebrated and remembered our sweet little guy.

Our plan for a while had been to go to the zoo on his birthday. We both decided that's what we would have done if he were here, so that's where we wanted to go. We also both agreed that we would feel it out when we woke up, and not push ourselves if it was overwhelming. Staying in bed all day was a perfectly acceptable option, should we so desire.

The weather has been crazy here. It's been snowing and very cold for the past week. So we were not even sure if we'd be able to go.

Friday was very hard. I spend the majority of it just staring off into space or sleeping. The weight of the upcoming days was just too much for me. When Bryan came home, we talked and looked at the weather and decided to go to the zoo Saturday instead, since it wouldn't be snowing/raining that day. 

We both had lots of trouble sleeping. When we finally got up on Saturday, we both felt okay to go. So we bundled up and headed out to the Como Zoo. This zoo also has a conservatory, and I thought it would be something beautiful to remind us of heaven.

We arrived and gathered up our courage as we watched all the families with kids and babies walking up to the door. "We can do this for him", we agreed and walked inside.

We went to the conservatory first to see all the lovely plants, gardens and water features. It was very beautiful. The lower garden room smelled exactly what I think heaven smells like. Fresh, beautiful and wonderful. It was very busy. I wish we could spend time there alone.

We dropped some coins in for Samuel.

The smell is wonderful

the red lilies were just about as tall as me!

HUGE red flowers

Koi pond

I know Samuel would have loved to watch the water and fishies

Tiny little pineapples - no bigger than an egg

After the conservatory, we went outside to the zoo. Como is a very tiny zoo so we only spent a couple hours walking around. I know Samuel would have had a great time.

There were some really cute and fun to watch monkeys chasing one another. I wondered what he would have done when he saw them. There was a seal that was playing catch with a Frisbee. I know he would have really enjoyed seeing it.

Crazy-mustached monkey

Huge, sleepy monkey

Crazy, huge, hairy monkey

Zebras (inside for the winter)

17 foot tall Giraffe (also inside)


Sleeping Polar Bear


Frisbee throwing seal
It's so hard to watch families with children Samuel's age. I always wonder what they did that was so special that they got to keep their babies. I wonder what it feels like to have no clue that babies die for no reason sometimes. I will never know that feeling.

We went out to a nice dinner after we left and then went home.

We were both very tired and worn out, but we both agreed it was good we went.

We stayed up until midnight. There were lots of tears and memories. A year without your heart feels like a lifetime and a moment. I can't believe it's been a full year. My baby's not a baby anymore. We missed it all.

After a fitful night of tossing and turning, we both woke up. What do we do?? We had no idea.

I'd been toying with the idea of going to the hospital to thank the nurses who helped us when Samuel was born. Obviously, I have lots of negative feelings about that hospital, but I know the nurses cared. We decided to take them a card and some cupcakes. I also decided to bring the rest of the stuff from the hospital boxes and see if they would take them.

In spite of the rain and cold, we walked up to the floor where I had visited so frequently that week one year ago. The place where he came into the world and the place where I died inside. One year ago exactly. We were there at the same time as I had checked in that final time. It was surreal.

As we walked in, I noticed a man crying and another man holding him and comforting him. There was a group of doctors and nurses all gathered around in the nursery. I wondered if another baby had died. Why else would it look like that? I hope I was wrong.

We walked to the desk and we both immediately recognized the two woman there. They had both been there for Samuel. The woman we spoke with remembered us right away. We told her is was Samuel's first birthday and we wanted to say "thank you" for taking care of us. We gave her the cupcakes and the bag of things for parents who lose a baby. She took them and said how special they will be for families who need them. She gave us both hugs, we thanked her and left. I hope that when the staff eats the cupcakes, they remember our boy <3

(Side note: isn't it CRAZY how easy it was for me to give the box items to the nurse? She took them right away and thanked us. Why on earth did I ever bother with asking? We should have just brought them in to the OB floor in the first place! Oh...bureaucracy...gross.)

We came home just in time to watch the clock tick over to 6:28pm. Happy First Birthday, Samuel! We lit his candle and sang the saddest version of happy birthday that's ever happened. How is this our life?

We ate some cake and cried, then we released one of the animal balloons for him.

Daddy's notes <3

Mama's notes <3

Samuel's special candle, next to the box of his ashes

I re-assembled the cake (it's been the fridge) and we blew out his candle together.
Zebra cake mix!

We watched the huge balloons tumble and flop around as it went up and imagined him waiting to grab it as it flew up to him. Oh my goodness, we sure to miss him.

What a huge mess.

This is the opposite of how our life should be right now. But there is nothing we can do except just keep going, day by day.

There is one thing I know for sure: Samuel is one loved and missed little guy <3

We were very fortunate to have so many people support us this past week for his birthday. We asked people to write him name in a special way and we got some really amazing responses. Click here to see them!

We also have received texts and cards, flowers and cookies, stuffed animals and gifts, balloons sent up and donations made in his name. All of these things are very special to us and we appreciate them all. 

If you were one of the people who participated: THANK YOU SO MUCH! They really helped us feel good that he was remembered. Thank you for taking the time <3 We have some great friends, family and supporters.