Saturday, December 20, 2014

nothing new

I ran out of new things to say.

About once I week I think about posting here. At night when I'm rocking Elliot to sleep and smelling his head and feeling the weight of him change as he falls asleep on my chest, I think about how I should write something.

I miss Oliver every day. This is our second Christmas without him. This year he would be a toddler. Climbing. Talking.

I can't help but picture it. The family of 4 with the two little boys. Playing together. 4 stockings. 2 heads to kiss goodnight.

Its all the same things I have written before. The grief comes on hard at first painful and on waves, but then before you know it life heals over and you just have this deep scar that stays the same every time you look at it. Same scar. Same grief. Same love. Oliver, I still miss you.

I still wonder what you would be like. What your voice would have sounded like when you called me mama. But that's not new, I started wondering that from the beginning. From the day I found out I was pregnant, I wondered who you were. And I always will.

In a lot of ways losing your baby puts you on hold. At first your whole body is on hold. Your mind, even your heart seems to have stopped. But after that, when you start to do normal things and your life resumes, that part of you is still on hold. Still waiting to know someone you will never get to know. Still feeling phantom kicks sometimes at night. I will feel those kicks forever. The kicks I wished for so hard. Lying in the hospital bed waiting to be told what I already knew, that there wouldn't be anymore kicks.

I think the holidays bring the pain of loss to the surface more than normal days because they are the days we had pictured in our minds. You get pregnant and you start doing the math. How old will my baby be at Christmas. What will his first birthday be like. First day of school. First thanksgiving. Will he be old enough to walk? Will we have to baby proof the tree?

These moments are so vivid while you are lying in bed dreaming of your future with your child. Then as your baby gets older the real moments crowd them out. The first imagined Christmas gets replaced by the first real one.

So I will write the same feelings over and over. Cement the same thoughts I had of Oliver time and time again. The Christmas we should have had last year with our baby who was 5 months old (based on due date) or maybe the  7 month old we would have had if he had been born alive.

I will hold on to my what ifs . I will look at my scar and remember the wound. Remember what I lost. Remember what could have been. And those new, wonderful memories we will make with our amazing son, will be stored along side all the plans for what could have been.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Oliver's jammies

My only experience on dealing with a funeral home has been for Oliver. We asked the hospital to do a full autopsy, so it was several days between leaving the hospital and having his little body sent to the funeral home. They told us to give them something to dress him in.

We had so many things. So many outfits for a baby so anticipated and so loved. But they were all too big. All for the chubby full term baby I was expecting, not the 4 pound 18 inch 31 week baby.

My mom went to the store to pick something. I couldn't do it. I call David "Ours" which is French for bear, so we referred to the baby as the bear cub. My mom found a preemie sleeper at babies r us with little green stars and a bear on it. It was perfect.

I put it on the stuffed monkey we had bought ( one of all too many toys) and I snuggled that outfit, knowing it would be the only thing my baby would ever wear. I didn't want it to smell like the store, or like clean laundry. I wanted it to smell like the mommy who will always always love him.

When we went to the funeral home to say goodbye, they had dressed him in the sleeper. It was still big, but it was just for him. Not a hand me down like the rest would be. The jammies he would wear to be cremated. My baby. With the sweet bear and little stars.

Elliot came very soon after we lost Oliver. Surprisingly soon. So soon in fact, that there was still a sleeper, sized 6 months from that same collection left in toys r us. I almost didn't buy it. I almost let the green stars belong only to Oliver, but I wanted to do the thing I had wished for for the other sleeper: put it on my baby. My living, breathing, eating, smiling baby.

Tonight I did that. I put the larger star sleeper on to Elliot and I watched the stars fold as he twisted. Rubbed the soft fabric while I nursed him. Made him laugh.

Elliot tonight- 4 months old

It makes me cry to see those stars, and think of the cremated ashes of that sleeper sitting in the urn on the piano, with the ashes of my baby.

I don't believe in heaven, or that Oliver still exists somewhere, but I do believe I can keep putting the love I have for him out into the universe. I can give some to Elliot, who won't understand why I hold him just a bit tighter tonight. I can honor his memory, and carry that with me. And someday teach this baby about his brother. And looking at the matching sleeper makes me feel like they are connected through me, and through all the love I feel for both of my sons. Both of my little bear cubs.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

rainbow baby

I put my hands on your tummy
Softly above the swaddle
I feel you breathe
I feel you live

I watch you learn and grow
I watch you stretch and laugh
And I watch you cry

I feel you nurse
I feel you squirm
So vibrant
So alive
So dynamic even in sleep

And when you are still
I place my hands on the swaddle
To make sure
To make sure you are not too still

Your life is a gift to us
Your body is whole
Not yet dissipated into the universe like your brother
But a force within you

And in that force you carry him
Just like I carry him
Along our journey

My one year old.

If everything had gone right I would have a one year old today.

I try not to think about the hypothetical, because if i had that one year old baby I wouldn't have the beautiful 3 month old who woke up all smiles this morning. And today might not have been Oliver's birthday anyway. But I woke up this morning with thoughts of what if. what if I had carried him to term. What would my life be like? Would we be thinking about a second baby? Would we be going crazy from exhaustion as our mobile baby zoomed everywhere? Would he be a good sleeper like his brother?

The only thing I know for sure is that if Oliver had lived he would have been showered with love, just like Elliot is.

Happy would-be one year birthday Oliver.

Love mama

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

for every loss mother: you are not alone

More than one person on your friend list has lost a baby. And on their friend list, there are a few more. Baby loss spins out like a web, connecting mothers for the most horrible of reasons.

After Oliver died we received lots of messages. They were messages we needed to hear, even if I was not able to actually cope or reply yet. Messages from friends, and friends of friends and even family, telling me their story of loss.

Some had lost babies as far along as Oliver was, at 31 weeks. Some were misscarriages. Some were full term. It doesn't actually matter how far along your baby was when he or she died, what hurts and what matters is that the baby was wanted. Loved. Needed.

What surprised me the most, wasn't the large number of women I knew with a loss story, it was the women I knew fairly well, whose loss story I didn't know. Finding out that the worst thing that has ever happened to you happened to someone else too is horrifying. It is hard to imagine this friend or family member going through the pain you are experiencing, and even harder to know that at that moment, you know what they needed and you didn't get it then. Maybe you even said one if those things, like "you are young you can have more" or "at least you weren't far along" or something else that you meant to be comforting that stung. And now all of a sudden here you are either finding out or understanding for the first time and the pain of all those babies hits too.

They are just like Oliver.  Their moms loved them. Anticipated them. Hoped for them. You think of the numbers, 1 in  180 and think if how many people you know. And then you think if how many more there will be. How many young girls will grow up awaiting motherhood, only to find out they get the pain and grief of loss instead.

It is overwhelming at a time when life is overwhelming.

And then you see the other side. The mothers with beautiful families. And you realize that you didn't know they lost a baby because it stopped consuming their life. That they built a family in spite of their loss. And every single woman I know who lost a baby and went on to have more children, has a beautiful relationship with her child or children.

Losing a baby is like losing a limb. It never grows back. It can't be replaced. But one day you learn to walk again, in a new way. Getting the messages from all those women was like seeing someone walk with a prosthetic leg and realizing that someday you can walk too.

Knowing those women had other children, and were happy again made me feel like it was OK to hope for a day when I would feel that way.

You never get over something like the loss of a child, but you can't let it hold you back forever. You just have to know that you are stronger and more loving for the love you knew for your baby and you just have to live that much fiercer and that much more.

That is why I write this blog. For the moms who are sitting in their room recovering from a delivery that broke their heart. Joining the worst club. Feeling their heart break every minute.

It won't end. But it will get bearable. And you are not alone.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Mother's day

Mother's day last year was the hardest day of my life.

In most cases, giving birth on mother's day to your first baby would be cool. You could celebrate becoming a mother. We celebrate mother's day to honor that day, and every day that a mom spends parenting her baby.

But it didn't work like that for me. Mother's day will forever be the day that I met my baby, who never met me. The day I didn't hear him cry. The day I didn't get to feed him. That was the day I spent looking at his perfect, still face and wishing my life could be different.

And now the whole world celebrates. Kids make pictures of flowers out of handprints. Breakfast in bed. Brunch. Everyone takes this day to celebrate. TV. The internet. Stores. It's mother's day everywhere. Elliot will grow up to make me cards. Do projects at school. He won't understand that the picture he drew for me, and the breakfast he helped make and the flowers are all for a day that marks the hardest day of my life.

I also have something to celebrate now. Having Elliot here, literally in my arms as I write this brings me joy. And I'm glad to have a day to celebrate him. Two years ago on mother's day I was just someone child. Last year I was a grieving mother. This year it's more complicated. I never knew joy and grief could coexist so seamlessly, or that I could feel both with the intensity that I do.

So I will focus on the joy. I'm going to celebrate the one day I had to hold Oliver. The 31 weeks that he existed. The fact that I got to feel him kick. The way that he changed my life. Made me a mother. This mother's day I'm going to celebrate having both of my sons. This mother's day I'm going to celebrate the two beautiful boys I gave birth to, even though only one of them is alive. I plan to celebrate the tiny hands pulling my hair and the tiny hands that never got to feel my touch. The tiny eyes that look up at my face and the tiny eyes I never got to look at. Because I am a mother to both of them.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Elliot and Oliver

Dear Oliver,
You have a brother now. I want to say little brother, but it doesn't quite fit in my mind that way, because he will grow up and you won't. You will always be my baby and Elliot will age.

He is aging already. the bottom drawer of the dresser is full of newborn clothes that he has grown out of. They are mostly clothes I bought for you. But I bought them for him too. We know we want a big family, so they were always going to be hand me downs, we just didn't know they would be new.

He doesn't look like you. You had your daddy's nose and my chin, and he has it backwards. He was skinny at birth, not as skinny as you but skinny. He is getting fatter now though. And you were both born tall. He was 21 inches, to your 18.


The biggest difference between you both was not the birth, or even the recovery days, but leaving the hospital. When you walk out of the hospital clinging to a memory box, it is the exact opposite of leaving the hospital with a tiny baby strapped into a car seat. When we left the hospital with you, it was the end. I knew I would never get to hold you or sing to you or touch your perfect little nose, ever again. We said goodbye to you and I walked out of there empty, with nothing in front of me except missing you, and days of pain.

When we left the hospital with Elliot, it was the beginning. It was his first time being in a world that he will get to know and explore. But he won't do it alone. As he grows up, I promise you he will learn about his brother. You will always be there with us. Playing in the snow, going on a walk, snuggling and reading stories.

Elliot isn't you. Lots of people want him to be. They want it to be over. Want things to be happy again. That is what I wanted too. The reason I got pregnant so fast was that I was desperate for a baby, to cry and feed and care for. I wanted him to be you, and to take your place. But it doesn't work like that. I could have 10 babies and  would still miss you the same amount. Probably more, because each baby would remind me exactly of what I am missing.

I miss you every day and I love you always.

Love mama

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I love you forever

When Oliver died we didn’t just lose a baby. We lost his first day of kindergarten. His first tooth. We lost his high school, college (and maybe more) graduations. We lost the family he might have someday had and the adult he would become. And for a few months, sitting in the dark in my bedroom, I mourned all of it. Not just the diapers I wouldn’t change and the milk that piled up in the freezer, but his entire future.


This morning I read a blogpost about the book “I Love You Forever” by Robert Munch. The article described how the book was written for his stillborn children and it suddenly made sense.


In the past, reading it, I always thought it was creepy that the mother broke into her adult son’s home. I’m fairly certain that is restraining order territory for most adults. I always thought it was written for children, just like his other books, which take things to an area of hyperbole that doesn’t make sense for adults.


Now I read that book as a loss parent, and I see it in a whole new way. The mother rocking a baby who she can’t hold. Who won’t ever try to flush a watch, or be a teenager, or have a family. Her rocking him like a baby makes perfect sense, because that is all he will ever be.


I love that for most families, that isn’t the message of the book at all. Most parents I think just respond to the poem.

“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
as long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.”


It isn’t exclusive to babies who are lost. Any parent can identify with this love, and this feeling. I’m grateful today for this book, because it articulates something so hard to explain.

Dear Oliver:
“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
as long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.”
Love Mama

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dear Oliver

Dear Oliver,

It has been 288 days since we lost you. It isn't a particularly significant chunk of time. In fact, I had to look it up to find out the exact number. Somehow the number doesn't seem very important anymore. the difference between yesterday and 50 years doesn't seem to matter. What does matter is what we have missed together, but there is no point in adding it up. I don't need the subtotal of what I have missed so far, because I know the sum at the end. A lifetime. All. Everything.

Somedays it feels like it was stolen from me. Like you were stolen from me. I find myself wondering about the what ifs. Would you be 9 and a half months old today? That is how long it has been since I delivered you. Or would you have stayed put until your due date. Would you be 7 and a half months old today? How big would you be? Would you have hair yet? What songs would you like? I can't even miss those things because I will never know, so it feels like I lost them all. Every baby you could look like. Every life you could have had.

The only thing I know for certain is how much I love you, because fat or skinny, bald or hairy, no matter what I would love you. Alive or dead. It doesn't change, not after 288 days, not after all the days.

All my love,

Monday, February 3, 2014

You don't have to tell me.

BabyCenter, you don't have to tell me.
I don't need to look at your description of what a baby looks like at 31 weeks. I know he has a perfect beautiful face. I know he is so big compared to that little speck, or poppy seed we saw on the first ultrasound, but still so small. I know he is long, and not very fat. That he has perfect little fingernails. Perfect tiny hands. Perfect tiny feet.

This week I don't need a description.
 I know what it feels like to hold a baby that size. I know that his skin is soft, and delicate. That there is just enough fat in his cheeks to make them perfect. That his little bum is so tiny. That his chin, and nose, and legs, and ears have already decided which side to take after.

You don't have to tell me about the kicks. That there will be more, and that I should be feeling them all the time. I'm aware of every second that the baby isnt kicking. The poor thing probably just wants to sleep, and here is me, drinking cold water and poking my belly, just so I can be sure.

From here out it is all new. I won't know next week, what to expect at 32 weeks. But anything is better than numb. And empty.

All the back pain and round ligament pain, and heartburn. The possible insulin shots, and stretch marks, and running (waddling) for the bathroom, all of it is so much infinitly better than chosing a funeral home. Choosing an urn. Saying goodbye.

Next week you can tell me. About how fat he is getting. and how he will continue to change. But this week, I don't need to read it. This week I know.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Nearing 31 Weeks

Dear Oliver,

Your brother will be 31 weeks along on Sunday. That is the oldest you got to be. From here on out he will get to do things you didn’t get to do. He will keep growing and be born alive. He will get to cry in our arms. He will get to open his eyes and learn to see. He will get to hear our voices with no fluid in the way. He will eat all the milk instead of giving it away.


I have been afraid of this moment since I got pregnant again. I was afraid he wouldn’t make it, that I would have to say goodbye again. I was afraid people would think that it was a setback, but that things were “ok” again. Things will never be ok again. Not wholly. Not for our family. But they will be good, and I am afraid of that too. I’m afraid that this new baby boy will show me exactly and in excruciating detail what I missed out on with you.


In fact this is what I am afraid of most of all. I know what it felt like to deliver you. To hold you. To touch your face and to know I couldn’t keep you. But I didn’t know what it felt like to feed you, and nurture you and watch you grow. And now I will know. I will know what I missed with you.


I’m sorry that you couldn’t do those things with me. I think I tell you I am sorry in every letter that I write. I will never stop being sorry for whatever it was that caused you to die. I am sorry that we will never know, and that I couldn’t save you. That I couldn’t protect you. I am sorry that at this time last time I didn’t know what would happen. I’m sorry to your brother that this time I know. That his birth will be bittersweet, because I will think of you. And miss you.


All my love,


I took this the day before Oliver died, to show how huge I felt in relation to this comically small watermellon.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I stopped posting.

I stopped posting on this blog. The reason I stopped at first was that I found out I was pregnant again. I wasn't ready to tell people, so I decided to take a break from blogging until I new what to say, and somehow I just stopped.

baby Speck

This pregnancy is terrifying.

There is no way to write about Oliver without writing about the baby who is 27 weeks along, who I fear dying daily. Every twinge, every pain, makes me afraid something is going to be wrong, and that before I know it I will be grieving another son I will never get to know.

And when he kicks, and lets me know he is still alive in there, I feel guilty. I feel guilty for loving him as much as I love Oliver. I feel guilty knowing that this particular baby would not exist if his brother had survived. I feel guilty that we plan to give him all of his brother's unused things. All those gifts that were made with love.. for another baby. If Oliver had lived, his younger siblings would have used those things. I watched my sister learn to ride my first bike. I watched her sell my old stuffed animals at garage sales, and get to keep the money because they were "hers" now. I know the people who gave us beautiful gifts, did so picturing a baby using them. Being snuggled. Being loved. The blanket that was knit with love was meant to be wrapped around a baby, and it will be. But I can't help but feel guilty, that the baby wont be Oliver.

And I feel guilty for the new baby. The day I found out I was pregnant with Oliver was the best day. Every moment of being pregnant- even the ones that sucked- was amazing. I made special announcements to tell the world he was coming. We told our parents with special Christmas gifts, so that Christmas mornign we got to see them unwrap the news that they were going to be grandparents for the first time.

And now it's bittersweet. I told my mom I was pregnant again with a phone call. A terrified phone call. I don't lay awake at night picturing taking the baby on walks by the river, I lay awake wondering if I could survive losing him. If I could plan another funeral for another child. His whole life he will have the shadow of not being Oliver.

I am terrified that he will be overshadowed by his dead brother. And terrified that he won't. Im afraid that the living breathing son reaching milestones will become more real, and his brother who would have been, will fade away. And when he does, part of me will too.

And more than anything, I want baby Speck to live. I want him to be born, and cry, and poop on all our stuff, and keep us awake for endless hours and get gum on the cat, and take my car and get married and be happy. And the hardest part is knowing that there is no guarantee.