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.


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. 


June 10, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Posted in Grief, mother, mourning, silver lining, traditions, twins | 5 Comments
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When I was young I loved to travel.  I would travel whenever I could for work or fun.  After Jake died my desire to travel was gone.  I wanted to stay home so I could visit the cemetery

I have met a few other people while visiting the cemetery.  One grandfather visits his grandson’s grave every day.  He also takes care of the family plot.  Year round he is out there cleaning the headstone, cutting the grass and maintaining the plot.  Although I no longer go every day, I frequently want to go to the cemetery. 

One day I spoke to the grandfather about visiting the cemetery.  He said that it helps him to take care of the plot and visit every day.  I 100% understand and relate to being drawn to the cemetery.  However,  I wanted to know how he felt if he ever missed a day.  He is from the area and his whole family lives within a few minutes of the cemetery.  He has not missed a day since his grandson died over 3 years ago.  I think it is great that he has found a way to comfort himself.

I on the other hand, have family who lives out-of-state.  I no longer travel often for work but I do take trips to visit family and friends.  Every time I am away I stress about not being able to visit Jake and Sawyer’s grave (as I have written about before they share one plot).

When we were snowed in this past winter I did have fun playing with the twins.


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However, I worried about not being able to check on my other 2 children.  I know that they are not really there but I like to check on the little piece of land in the cemetery.  It gives me a brief sense of being able to take care of Jake and Sawyer. 


I am drawn quietly to his grave to check on him,

Just as I’d have been drawn quietly to his crib.

I trim the grass around his marker,

And dream of trimming bangs from his forehead.

I place flowers in his vase,

And dream of placing kisses on his check.

I hold his memory dear to my heart,

And dream of holding him in my arms.

                                                                Author unknown

I know that frequent visits to the cemetery might sound morbid to some people.  Just like with birthdays I do not think there are any rules in this area.  We all find comfort in different ways.  The path in the journey of grief varies – even if you are grieving the same person (or people).  Visit or do not visit the cemetery.  Do what ever helps you at the time.

Not an Unhappy Birthday

June 6, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Posted in Death, Grief, mother, silver lining, traditions | 4 Comments
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“Don’t cry because it is over.  Smile because it happened.”  Dr. Seuss

Today would have been my mother-in-law’s birthday.

Last year at this time the whole family was celebrating her birthday at the beach.  This year is a very different story.  I do not believe that there are any rules in this area.  So, I have made up my own.  On Jake’s and Sawyer’s birthdays I light a candle.   I want to celebrate their birth and their life.

A few other ideas about celebrating a deceased loved one’s birthday are the following:

  • Write the person a letter
  • Visit the cemetery
  • Release balloons
  • Plant a tree in their honor
  • Make a donation in their name
  • Tell stories/look at pictures
  • Whatever brings you any comfort (no matter how slight it might be)

The world is a better place because Jake, Sawyer and my mother-in-law were in it.  Happy Birthday Shelley.

Hope, Hair and Happiness

May 28, 2011 at 11:41 am | Posted in Grief, mother, silver lining | 7 Comments
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After Jake died I did not brush my hair. I did not change my clothes. I did not shower. I am not sure how many days I went on like this but it was quite a few. Finally, some friends strongly encouraged me to make a hair cut appointment. I am pretty sure someone ended up making the appointment for me. And, driving me to the salon. I remember feeling better after the appointment. Thank you to my friends who had the good sense to have a hygiene and hair intervention.

Throughout my life I try to volunteer. The week after Jake died Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. After Sawyer died the earthquake devastated Haiti. I wish I had the emotional and physical energy to donate my time to both of these causes. However, when I  have not had the energy or the time I have donated my hair.  Especially after talking to my mother-in-law about losing her hair I realized how important it is to have the option to wear a wig.

This week I donated my hair for the 3rd time to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths.  Here is my crazy long hair before:

I donated 9 inches of hair:

Here is my hair after:

It takes 6 donations to make one wig.  So I have officially donated 1/2 a wig.

Mixed Up Mother’s Day

May 8, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Posted in Death, Grief, mother, traditions, twins | 7 Comments
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The definition of a mother is “a woman who has, conceives, gives birth to, or raises a child.”

I am so lucky that I woke up this morning to our two happy twins saying “Happy Mother’s Day!” to me.   I am also so fortunate and grateful that I was able to call my mother to wish her a happy Mother’s Day.  I know that there are people whose mothers, grandmothers and/or children have died.  I know that this day can be challenging on many levels.

As I have written about before, I often silently tell myself to “remember the past, hope for the future but live in the present.”  No matter how many times I repeat this saying I cannot help but to think about past Mother’s Days.  .  .

Mother’s Day 2005 – I was pregnant with Jake.  We spent the day with my mom and my grandmother.  My brother, sister-in-law and our 10 month old nephew had the whole family over to their house.  We had not been for the nuchal screening test yet.  I was blissfully ignorant and happy.

Mother’s Day 2006 –  I was in a no (wo)man’s land of mothers.  I was a mother with no child to care for and raise.  Jake had been dead for less than a year.   Evan and I went to the cemetery.  We planned Jake’s unveiling and hoped for the possibility that Jake would one day have a brother or a sister. 

Mother’s Day 2007 – I was pregnant with the twins.  I still felt like I was living in a no (wo)man’s land of motherhood.  Jake had been gone for nearly 2 years.  We went to the cemetery.  We had gone for an OB appointment the Friday before Mother’s Day.  Our OB, who was one of the few people who met Jake, said to me at the end of the appointment that I should be really happy because I was now going to have my first official Mother’s Day.  I still remember how those words cut through me like a knife.

Mother’s Day 2008 – The twins were 10 months old.  According to anyone’s definition I was now a mother.  Jake had been dead for almost 3 years.  I was happily exhausted.  We visited Jake at the cemetery and spent the day with the twins.

Mother’s Day 2009 – I was pregnant with Sawyer.  The twins would be 2 at the end of July.  Jake would have been 4 that August.  We visited Jake at the cemetery and spent the day with the twins.

Mother’s Day 2010 – Sawyer had been dead 4 1/2 months.  The twins were almost 3.  Jake would have been 5.  We visited Jake and Sawyer at the cemetery.  I cried most of the day and tried to play with the twins.

Today we went to the cemetery.  One of the twins left a toy for her brothers.  She said she was leaving the toy to make Jake and Sawyer happy.  As I sit here and write I think she makes me happy.  So do all three of her brothers.

So sad

March 14, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Posted in Death, Grief, mother, mourning | 17 Comments
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I have tried to write this post several times in the last week.  I cannot seem to find the words but I am going to try.

Evan’s mother lost her battle with cancer.  I was very lucky to have her as a mother-in-law. 

She was an amazing artist

She was an amazing business woman

She was an amazing athlete.  In one 9 month period, right after chemo for the cancer which had returned to her bones, she had 3 holes in one. 

And most importantly, she was an amazing mother, grandmother, wife, sister and friend.  I am so sad that she died.

A few weeks ago Evan and I were talking.  He told me that in a perfect world his mom would be healthy, happy and teaching art to all 4 of our children.  Here she is playing with the twins last summer:

I like to think that Evan’s mom is now with Jake and Sawyer.  Maybe, just maybe she is teaching art to them as I write.

More Magic Moments

February 24, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Posted in Grief, mother, silver lining | 15 Comments
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As I wrote in this post,  I try to appreciate good moments.  For the past 2 weeks Evan, the twins and I have been at Evan’s mother’s house.  My amazing mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer 18 years ago.   She was on a form of oral chemo through the spring of 2003.  At that time the cancer came back in her bones.  Since 2005 she has had chemo 3 weeks on and 1 week off.  She had beaten all the odds until this year.

We are here spending time with her.  It is not easy but worth it.  Every day there are some good moments.   A rabbi has been coming to the house.  She explained a Hebrew term called “yikar.”  There is no exact translation but it means “treasure” or “gem.”   I try to etch these moments into my memory so that I will always have them.

I cannot help but think of precious moments we had with Jake and Sawyer.  All of Jake’s time with us was in the NICU but there were some good moments.  The days when Jake was doing well and reducing his reliance on the ventilators.  The day that I was able to change Jake’s diaper for the first (and only) time.  I always smile when I think of the one and only time Evan changed Jake.  Jake peed on his dad.

We were lucky enough to have more magic moments with Sawyer.  Among my favorites are bringing him home from the hospital and introducing him to the twins.  Evan’s mom was not able to meet Sawyer.  The weekend that they were supposed to visit was the weekend that the twins got sick.  Her immune system was compromised and we could not take a chance that the twins would get her sick.  The trip was postponed.  Sawyer died before they were able to visit.

One day last week it was unseasonably warm.  Evan’s mom was able to sit on the back deck.  She was able to visit with some friends.  The twins played in the snow and mud.  I will try to focus on the yikar – the treasured moments that we are able to capture.

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.

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