Mother’s Day (& may the 4th be with you all)

May 4, 2016 at 10:04 pm | Posted in Death, Grief, Jake, life after loss, Love, mother, mourning, Sawyer | 12 Comments
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There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of Jake and Sawyer, but some days are harder than others.  Mother’s Day is one of those days.  Logically it is just another day.  They are both gone every. single. day.  It is not like the first days, weeks and months after they died when the tears so often streamed down my face without me even realizing.  Now most of the time my tears are tucked farther away.   The sadness and the joy of loving Jake and Sawyer is a part of me.

I know I am not alone.  There are so many other mothers in this club with me.  There are mothers who this is their first Mother’s Day without their child (or maybe it is the 2nd or 22nd since their child died).

There are also mothers who have died leaving behind their children.  This is perhaps their children’s first Mother’s Day without their mother (or maybe it is the 2nd or 22nd since their mother died).

There are motherless mothers and motherless fathers. 

There are spouse’s who are filling the role of both parents on Mother’s Day.

Death is part of life.  And no matter how hard some days can be life goes on.

As I have already written, Mother’s Day is not my favorite day.  I try to focus on the 4 positive pregnancy tests and the 4 live births.  I also try not dwell on the 2 emergency C-sections, the NICU, the miscarriage and the 2 deaths.  The truth is that all of these events have made me a mother.

I know that this day is hard for so many.  There are the other mothers in the club whose arms will also ache to hold their children.  There are others who are missing their mothers, grandmothers or partners.  I send hope and hugs to you all.

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Random H’s

April 20, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Posted in life after loss, parents, silver lining, twins | 9 Comments
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Hugs:

Hugs

How To. . .:

Hairdos:

Happy Hairdo

 

Hairdos - A & Uwannabun

Hounds:

Hounds

Hope:

March of Dimes 2011

I Heart the March of Dimes

April 18, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Posted in Grief, life lessons, Love, parents | 2 Comments
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As I mentioned in my last post, our family supports the March of Dimes.  We have walked every year since Jake died.  Our team was named Jake’s Journey.  After Sawyer died we renamed it to Jake’s Journey & Sawyer’s Strides.  This year we are excited because the March of Dimes contacted us to let us know our donations are being matched by the hospital where all 4 of our children were born. 

The mission of March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.  I believe that the March of Dimes is making a difference and saving babies.  

I cannot do anything to bring back Jake or Sawyer but maybe just maybe I can help spare other parents the heartbreak of having to live in world without their child/children. 

Thank you to all those who supported our team this year and in past years.  Thank you also to the hospital for matching funds.  We appreciate all of your kindness and generosity.   If you would like to support Jake’s Journey & Sawyer’s Strides please click this link.

Planning

February 10, 2012 at 8:46 am | Posted in Cemetery, Death, Grief, life after loss, parents, traditions | 7 Comments

The day has arrived, as I knew it would – Sawyer’s headstone is here. And it is 100% correct. Although I will never think that it is right that we have 2 headstones for our children in the first place.

 “The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.”  – Tom Clancy

Evan met me at the cemetery and we discussed what we should do next. Planning an unveiling is not going to be on anyone’s top 10 fun things to do list – but we are going to give it a try. I want so badly to be planning a play date for Sawyer –  not this. I know that we do not have to do it. There are no rules saying that we must have an unveiling.

I know in my gut that I will regret it if we do not have the unveiling. We will not plan birthday parties, play dates, gym classes, summer camps – the list is so very long of the things we will not plan and do for Sawyer. This we can do.

     When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things
you didn’t do more than the ones you did.  -H. Jackson Brown, Jr.  

Perspective

December 4, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Posted in Grief, Love, mourning, parents | 7 Comments
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We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are.
– Talmud

As a child my parents explained that I was named in memory of my Great Aunt Edith while my brother was named in memory of my mother’s first cousin, Mitchell.  In my mind I rationalized that my great-aunt (my grandmother’s sister) was older and her death was more understandable.  Mitchell, on the other hand, died young.  I could not make sense of this as a child.  It was so terribly sad that Mitchell did not live past his teenage years.  I thought about Mitchell’s living brother and how it must feel to be the sibling left behind.

After Jake died my perspective changed.  I knew Mitchell’s death was of course sad for his brother, but I had never thought about how it impacted Mitchell’s parents, my Aunt Sophie and Uncle George.  They took care of Mitchell.  They had to watch him die from Leukemia.  The helplessness they must have felt.  The lost hopes and dreams.  They were members of the bereaved parent’s club long before I was ever born.

I was very close to my Aunt Sophie (my grandfather’s younger sister).   She and my Uncle George did not have grandchildren.  Mitchell had died young and his brother was not yet married.  I realized this at the age of 8 and decided that did not seem fair.  My grandparents had 5 grandchildren.  In my child’s mind I felt like there was something missing for my Aunt Sophie and Uncle George.

My 8-year-old solution was to volunteer to be an “adopted grandchild” to my Aunt Sophie and Uncle George.  First, I called my grandparents and asked them if it would be okay.  They said yes.  Next, I called my Aunt Sophie and Uncle George and they agreed as well.  Finally, I drafted the “adoption papers.”  It all seemed so simple at the time.  Now as a bereaved parent myself I realize that there is nothing simple about the death of your child.

We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.
– Helen Keller

The Club

November 28, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Posted in Death, Grief, mourning, parents | 12 Comments
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There is a club that Evan and I have joined.  Not many people talk about it although many have written about it.  There are no dues for this club – at least not monetary ones.  I have no idea how large the club is in numbers.  There are no rules.  No board members.  Unlike most clubs no one actually wants to join this one.

It is a club whose only members are parents who have outlived their children.

Evan and I first joined in 2005 when Jake died.  There are acronyms like “BLM” (baby loss mother) and “BLF” (baby loss father) that I now find to be very common terms.  Membership in this club has taught me that there are no rules to living when your child has died.  You have to do whatever it takes to get you through the day and to survive.  The tools that I used to rely on to live no longer always help me.

I realize now that this club is made up of parents from every religion, class and country.  There is a good chance that some of your neighbors belong to this club.  I thought we already had a lifetime membership but our places in the club were once again secured when Sawyer died.

“Do not judge bereaved parents.
They come in many forms.
They are breathing, but they are dying.
They may look young, but inside they have become ancient.

They smile, but their hearts sob.
They walk, they talk, they cook, they clean, they work,
they are,
but they ARE NOT, all at once.
They are here, but part of them is elsewhere for eternity.”
                                                                                                –Author Unknown

Thankful

November 24, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Posted in Grief, mourning, parents, twins | 12 Comments
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I looked back at my post from last Thanksgiving.  In some ways I have come a long way.  In other ways not so much.  I wanted to cancel the entire holiday season last year.  It was the holiday season where Sawyer should have been turning 1.  I could not understand how everyone was just going along being happy and celebrating.  I felt the same way the holiday season after Jake died.  I avoided any and all holiday parties.  I could not pretend to go through the motions.   I desperately wanted to scream, cry and run to some place where Jake and Sawyer were with me.

No matter what I do the world keeps on going without Jake and without Sawyer.  This year Evan and I tried to return to our holiday plan from years past.  The first years of our marriage we tried to see all 3 sets of our parents.   We even forced ourselves to go the year that Jake died.  The next year we had to stay in town because we had gotten onto the infertility rollercoaster.  

We did somehow manage to get ourselves back on the visiting all 3 sets of family schedule once the twins were born.  I am still not quite sure how we pulled that off with 3 month old twins.  In 2009 Sawyer was born the third week of November.  We came home from the hospital the week of Thanksgiving.  Needless to say we stayed home that year.  

I have a brilliant friend who came up with the fantastic plan to celebrate Thanksgiving early with her family.  No travel, no stress.  We have not found that happy Thanksgiving place yet.   Maybe we never will.  We will keep trying.  I will continue to be so very thankful for our families and friends and to hold on tight to what I can.  Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

NICU Nurses

September 16, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Posted in Grief, hospital, mourning, NICU, parents | 6 Comments
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This week I, along with 3 other mothers, spoke to group of NICU nurses.  The nurses have bereavement training.  The purpose of parents speaking is so that we can give feedback about our experiences at the hospital.   I listened to the other women recount their bittersweet experiences.  I spoke about mine.  This is the second time I have spoken to a group of NICU nurses.   I am very thankful that this group of people are able to be NICU nurses.  I never could do it.  I am so amazed by their skill and compassion.

The other women who spoke turned their grief into action.  One of the women and her husband started a grief group at their church.  Another women writes a blog.  The third woman started a group called Rock Goodbye Angel.   The purpose of the group is to “encourage families who have lost a baby to regain hope by caring for them during their time of grief so that they know they are not alone.”

I think that the 4 of us gave the nurses some helpful feedback.  A few suggestions came out of the discussion:

  1. Hospital staff (nurses, chaplains, etc.) perhaps do not need to bring up topics such as funeral arrangements and autopsies while the baby is still alive.  Parents of babies in the NICU are trying to focus on hope and survival.
  2. Inform everyone in the hospital when there has been a death so before they come into your hospital room they already know.  This way when the person who comes to empty the trash they will not ask how the baby is doing.  Our hospital puts a dove outside the door to indicate tha the baby has died.
  3. It would be great if there were separate entrances and exits for parents whose baby has died.  Waiting in the wheelchair after being discharged from the hospital all the mothers are in the same area.  It was excruciating leaving Jake in the hospital and waiting with happy new parents and their babies did not help.  On the flip side, when I left the hospital with the twins, I was waiting in the wheelchair for Evan to pick us up.  I was sitting next to a mother with empty arms.  I knew what that meant and my heart broke for her.
  4. Continuing bereavement training is helpful for caregivers, friends and family.

“Though we encounter it as suffering, grief is in fact an affirmation. The indifferent do not grieve, the uncommitted do not grieve, the loveless do not
grieve. We mourn only the loss of what we have loved and what we have valued, and in this way mourning darkly refreshes our knowledge of the causes of our loves and the reasons for our values. Our sorrow restores us to the splendors of our connectedness to people and to principles. It is the yes of a broken heart. In our bereavement we discover how much was ruptured by death, and also how much was not ruptured. These tears lead directly to introspection.”  Leon Wieseltier, The New Republic’s literary editor.  (sent to me by my sister-in-law Melanie – thank you!). 

Anniversaries (again)

September 10, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Posted in Death, father, Grief, mother, mourning, parents | 4 Comments
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The tragedy of 9/11 and its’ anniversary are kinds of grief.   It is of course, an enormous source of grief for all of the families and friends who lost loved ones.  It is also the kind of grief in which you realize that the world as you knew it will not ever be the same.

Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans the week that Jake passed away.   A very close friend of mine took her 5-year-old son in for his check up and the pediatrician found a rare heart condition.   My grandmother had died.  I felt like the world was coming to an end.   So, I asked the rabbi who presided at Jake’s funeral about the possibility that the world was ending.   He replied with an analogy.   He said that it is like when you decide you are going to buy a certain kind of car.   Once you make the decision you start seeing the car every where.   So, my take away from his explanation was now that I was grieving I would start to see grieving every where. . . Turns out you don’t have to look too far for grief in this world.   The record 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti shortly after Sawyer died.

I know that 9/11, where close to 3,000 people died; Hurricane Katrina, where 1,500-1,700 people died; and the earthquake in Haiti, where almost 230,000 people died are tremendous losses compared to the death of two babies.   But, those babies were mine.   And, my world will never be the same as it was before they had died.

There is not a contest for who has the most grief.   I am not trying to compare my losses to these catastrophic tragedies.   There are not any winners here.  In grief we have all lost.   However, there is still the next day and the day after that.  And one day, there is a point where we will realize that our loved ones are dead but we are still alive.

I posted the above last year at this time.  On the anniversary of 9/11 and every day, my heart, prayers and thoughts go out to not only the victims but to those who they left behind in this world. 

Just Jake

August 14, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Posted in Death, Grief, hospital, mourning, parents, silver lining | 21 Comments
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Dear Jake,
I cannot believe that you would have been 6 years old today.  In some ways it seems like so long ago since I held you and in some ways it feels like last week.  I have so much to thank you for and I do not think I have ever told you.

First, I would like to thank you for choosing us to be your parents.   I remember running downstairs after taking the pregnancy test and seeing the positive result.  I could not wait to tell your dad.  I was completely filled with joy.  I have not been truly happy since that day.  Do not take this the wrong way, I have been happy.  It is just a different kind of happy and it is often bittersweet.  That wonderful March day I was just so blissfully unaware of the tragedies that life could and would bring.

Second, you made me understand how short and precious life really is.  You showed me in your brief time with me how pure and simple love can be.

Lastly (at least for now), I want to thank you for the strength you have given me.  It is difficult for me to explain but the night your youngest brother Sawyer died you are who was with me.  In the emergency room, you are the one who held me up in the hallway.  I am sure without you I would not have been able to stand let alone walk.  I kept telling myself if I could live in a world without you, I could and would somehow find a way to live without Sawyer.

I wish that we were having a birthday party with you today.  We are not.  Perhaps you are having a cosmic celebration with your little brother, your Mom Mom and your great-grandmother.   Whatever you are doing please know how much I love and miss you.

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