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. 

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Father’s Day

June 19, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Posted in father, Grief | 4 Comments
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A grieving father is often refered to as a “forgotten parent.”  As I quoted Harriet Sarnoff Schiff, in this post nowhere in the history “of sex discrimination is there a more glaring injustice than that thrust upon a bereaved father.”  It is hard to find resources for a bereaved father.  However, I did come across the Grieving Dad’s Project, which was created specifically to assist father’s with their journey through grief.

This week I helped the twins make Father’s Day cards for Evan.  They made him art projects too.  I can not help Jake and Sawyer wish their dad a happy father’s day so here is my best attempt:

A Father’s Day Wish From Heaven

Adapted from Jody Seilheimer poem
A Mother’s Day Wish From Heaven

Dear Mr. Hallmark,
We are writing to you from heaven,
and though it must appear
A rather strange idea,
We see everything from here. We just popped in to visit,
your stores to find a card
A card of love for our father,
as this day for him is hard.
There must be some mistake we thought,
We saw every card you could imagine
Except we could not find a card,
from a child who lives in heaven.

 He is still a father too,
no matter where we reside
We had to leave, he understands,
but oh the tears he’s cried.
We thought that if we wrote you,
that you would come to know
That though we live in heaven now,
We still love our father so.

 So you see Mr. Hallmark,
though we no longer live on earth
We must find a way to remind him
of his wondrous worth.
He needs to be honored,
and remembered too
Just as the children of earth will do.

Thank you Mr. Hallmark,
We know you’ll do your best
We have done all we can do;
to you I’ll leave the rest.

Find a way to tell him,
how much he means to us.

No more NICU

November 28, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Posted in father, mother, NICU, transient tachypnea | 6 Comments

Evan went to the NICU first.  He reported that it was not at all like with Jake.  There were no huge machines hooked up to our baby.  In fact, he was the biggest baby in there.  I just wanted him back in our room – back in my arms.  

It was time to feed him so Evan wheeled me to the NICU.  It was a trip I had made many times before to see a different baby boy.   I choked back the tears.  Inside the NICU it looked the same.  The isolates, the nurses, the babies and our baby boy.  I knew he was a different baby boy but it was all too similar.  The room was hot and it began to spin.  I got sick and begged Evan to wheel me back to my room.  

In the hospital room I cried and tried to pull myself together.  Evan stayed in the NICU and would come back to the room to give me reports.  All the reports were good.  We were told that often once a baby is admitted to the NICU the baby will usually stay until it is time for the baby and the mom to go home.  I pumped and sent milk to the NICU.  I worried about not bonding with the baby.  I worried about not being able to name the baby.  I worried about not being a good enough mother.

The next day I worked up the courage to return to the NICU.  It was still hot.  The room still was spinning but I was able to feed our baby boy.  Bridget, Jake’s NICU nurse, was working that day.  She was not Sawyer’s nurse but she came over to talk to us.  We had not seen her since the morning Jake had died.  It was comforting to see her.  She had recently had a child of her own.  She told us how often she thought of Jake.  Bridget looked at our new baby and as she spoke about him I knew that this was different.  This baby was not Jake.  He would not stay in the NICU for long.  However, I still did get sick as soon as I got back to my hospital room.

The next day our baby boy was brought back to our room.  And we named him, Sawyer Brady.

I am Sawyer

Looking back now maybe this was Sawyer’s way of letting us know that everything was not perfect.  Maybe he was trying to prepare us for what was to come.

Sawyer’s Story (part 2)

November 23, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Posted in father, mother, NICU, parents, pregnancy, transient tachypnea | 6 Comments

The morning of November 17th we drove to the hospital.   It was all going according to plan – we had even packed a bag.  The previous two emergency c-sections Evan had to leave the hospital to go get our things.  

It took a few times for the doctors to get the epidural correct but before we knew it I was being wheeled into the operating room.  I remember the doctors calmly talking about their day during my c-section.  There were three people in the operating room with me and Evan.  In contrast,  Jake and the twin’s birth were both crowded and far from calm.  At 1:52 our beautiful perfect baby boy was born.  

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We all went to the recovery room together.   I could not help but to think back to the recovery room after Jake was born.   Evan and I were there without our baby.  We did not know if we would ever see Jake alive again.   Now, here we were holding our full term 8 lb, 1 oz. baby boy.   Not only could we both hold him but I was able to feed him.

We all left recovery and went to our hospital room together.   I did not want to let go of him.   Two hours after being back in the hospital room I tried to feed him again.   His color seemed to change.   We asked a nurse to come in the room and take a look at him.   She said that she needed to take him to the nursery to check him out.   The nurse came back a few minutes later to tell us that he was being admitted to the NICU for transient tachypnea.

My brain could not process what was happening.   Our baby (who still had no name at this point) was perfect.   He was a full term baby.  He was 8 pounds!  Jake was 14 weeks early so of course he would go to the NICU.   I had even thought there would be a good chance the twins would go to the  NICU.   How could our full term singleton possibly be in the NICU?    

Several doctors and nurses explained to me that transient tachypnea was very common.   It is extra fluid in the baby’s lungs which would normally be squeezed out when the baby went through the birth canal.   During a c-section there is no squeezing so the fluid was still there.   I heard the words but it still did not make any sense to me.  This could not possibly be happening.

Reason no. 999 NOT to open the mail

October 1, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Posted in Death, father, Grief, mother, parents | 8 Comments

I have known for several years that opening mail can be very risky.   The first one of Jake’s medical bills that I opened sent me into such a tailspin of tears that I to this day will not open anything from the hospital (where I had all four of our children).   The letters from various doctors not able to process Jake’s bills because they did not have his social security number added to my inability to open mail.

Note:  Social Security cards take approximately 6 weeks after birth to arrive in the mail.   Death certificates, oddly, take much less time.   All were additional pieces of mail that I would/could not open.

I foolishly let my guard down.   Our twins are mildly – ok, outrageously obsessed with Halloween and costume catalogs.   They study costume catalogs for hours and often try to sleep with them.   The catalogs have caused a few disputes so, I have been anxiously awaiting the mail these days in hopes that a new costume catalog will arrive (and temporarily resolve the disputes).    Yesterday, I got the mail.   There were no costume catalogs.   However, there was a large envelope addressed only to me from the Cord Blood Registry.

My mind started to create ideas for what could possibly be in this envelope addressed only to me.   We were not able to store Jake or the twins’ cord blood.  The only cord blood we stored was Sawyer’s.   The first thoughts which popped into my head were the following:

  1. The Cord Blood people have found something in Sawyer’s blood which would explain why his heart suddenly just stopped.
  2. The Cord Blood people were writing to apologize for the difficult time they gave us when we requested for some of Sawyer’s cord blood be sent to the Mayo clinic (where he is part of a study).  
  3. The Cord Blood people were writing to me to tell me that this was all a horrible mistake (I know that this crosses the lines of impossibility but it was a very brief thought/wish/hope).

None of the above thoughts were correct.  I went against my better judgment and opened the large envelope.   It was a birthday card.   A birthday card for Sawyer.   The very thoughtful Cord Blood people not only sent a card but a gift.   A book.  A book for Sawyer.   The book is Where is Baby’s Belly Button?.     I guess that the part of the company which handles requests for the cord blood to be sent out to the Mayo clinic does not communicate with the part of the company which sends out the birthday cards.   I guess the woman we spoke to extensively about the need for our baby’s cord blood so that it could be part of a study to help determine his cause of death was not able to flag our file to indicate our baby is dead.   I guess the Cord Blood people send cards and gifts early because Sawyer’s first birthday is not for another month and half.

I could not cry I was in such disbelief.   And, as you can read I have reverted back to the anger stage of grief (at least for the moment).   I will put Where is Baby’s Belly Button? on the twins’ bookshelf right next to the copies of the Best Ever Big Sister and the Best Ever Big Brother books by the same author.

Fathers

September 7, 2010 at 10:36 am | Posted in father, parents | 15 Comments

In her book The Bereaved Parent, Harriet Sarnoff Schiff wrote, nowhere in the history “of sex discrimination is there a more glaring injustice than that thrust upon a bereaved father.”  I could not agree more with this statement.   Evan, during that awful August, took care of everything.  Evan spoke to the doctors.   He spoke to the nurses.   He took care of Jake.  He took care of me.

I remember once waking up in the hospital around 2 am and trying to figure out where Evan was.   I could hear him but I could not see him.   It turns out he was in the bathroom trying to check all of the messages.  He wanted to make sure he let all of our family and friends know the latest update.   He wanted to ease everyone’s worries if possible.

Evan returned to work 2 weeks after Jake and later Sawyer passed away.    I on the other hand was home on “maternity leave” (which being home on maternity leave with no baby is no picnic – but this post is about fathers not mothers).    Evan got up, got dressed every day and worked.

Jake’s headstone was ordered and when it came in it was wrong.   The name on it was Jack.   The next headstone to arrive was also wrong.   I could not handle it.   Evan took care of all the details and made sure that by the time I saw it, it was correct.   I thank him more than I can ever express in words.   I am still amazed at his strength.

It must be very difficult

To be a man in grief,

Since “men don’t cry”

and “men are strong.”

No tears can bring relief.

It must be very difficult

To stand up to the test,

And field the calls and visitors

So she can get some rest.

They always ask if she’s all right

And what she is going through.

But seldom do they take his hand,

“My friend, but how are you?”

He hears her crying in the night

And thinks his heart will break.

He dries her tears and comforts her,

But “stays strong” for her sake.

It must be very difficult

To start each day anew

And try to be so very brave –

He lost his baby, too.

(Author Unknown)

Evan holding Jake

Evan holding Sawyer

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