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.