Just drive – help everyone arrive alive

April 18, 2016 at 10:08 pm | Posted in Grief, life after loss | 5 Comments
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We are all busy.  We all have too much to do and not enough time.  We often multi task which includes doing other things while driving.   Last week, the world lost an amazing person I was lucky enough to know.  He was biking with his cycling group and struck from behind by a car and killed.

I wish there was something I could do to make this nightmare better for his family and friends.  I know that there are no words that will bring him back. However, maybe if someone reads this and thinks to take the extra time to slow down or pay attention a similar tragedy could be prevented.

His death was sudden and heart breaking.  All was fine and then it was not.  I want there to be something good that comes from this tragedy but right now there is another mother living in this world without her son, another wife without her husband, more siblings without their brother and a community that has lost a beloved and wonderful person.

I wish there was something more I could do.  I wish no parent had to live in a world without their child.

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/crime-law/henry-county-physician-struck-killed-while-riding-/nq2Jg/

 

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February 19, 2016 at 2:05 pm | Posted in Grief, hospital, life after loss | 8 Comments
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quote -darkness

On President’s Day I took the twins to a go-kart, bowling, ninja warrior play place.  Everyone had a fantastic time until one of the twins decided that he was a much bigger ninja warrior than he actually is.  He hurt his ankle and I took him and his sister home.

The next day he was still limping and still on winter break.  I decided I should take him to the doctor while he was home and preempt the call I might get from school about his limp.  After seeing the doctor she decided we should go get an x-ray.

At this point in the day it was close to rush hour in Atlanta.  The closest place to have the x-ray is the children’s hospital across the street from our pediatrician’s office.  I drive past the hospital where Sawyer died all the time.  I know that revisiting certain places (like the place where Sawyer was pronounced dead) should be avoided.   I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder after Jake died and then again after Sawyer died.

I decided PTSD or no PTSD we were going for the x-ray.  And so we did.  One twin went into the x-ray room by himself while I stood with his sister in the hall.  I tried with every ounce of my being to shut out the thoughts of standing in this hospital hall staring at the closed door to the room where Sawyer was taken.

A few minutes later the door opened.  I held onto a hand of each of the twins and left the hospital.

ninja Fletcher

Little boy with just a sprained ankle and a mom who would like to wrap him and his sister in bubble wrap.

Hearts

November 10, 2015 at 7:22 pm | Posted in Grief, life after loss, Love, twins | 7 Comments
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Today the twins had their check up with the pediatric cardiologist.  They were both rock stars during the tests.  Their hearts are structurally normal.  Everything is fine.  We will continue regular activity and come back for our next check up.

These are the results that I want to hear but I would be lying if I said that was all I want to hear.  I know that it is not realistic, but I want someone to explain to me the cause of Sawyer’s death.  I want there to be a medical answer – something I can protect the twins from ever getting.  I want to understand but I know it is very possible that will never happen.

In the meantime, the doctors want to continue to monitor the twins hearts while they are still growing.   Medical discoveries are being made every day.  Maybe one day the channelopathy (or whatever caused Sawyer’s death) will be found.

All I know for sure is that I will continue to love the twins and protect them the best that we can.  And their brothers will continue to live on in all of our hearts forever.

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Remembering

October 20, 2015 at 9:36 pm | Posted in after death?, Jake, Love, Sawyer | 6 Comments
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quote - thank you

For remembering Jake.

And many thanks for remembering Sawyer.

I am forever grateful to all who keep Jake’s and Sawyer’s memories alive.

Life goes on (as it should) but another one of the important lessons I have learned in the 10 years since Jake died is I am no longer the same person.  Some call it their new normal.  I do not think there is anything normal about outliving your child/children.

As a surviving parent I am left to make sense of the unexplainable.  Some say that we all have purposes in life which we fulfill throughout our lifetimes.  So does that mean that Jake and Sawyer just fulfilled their purpose very quickly and therefore they had very short lives?

I wonder what were their purposes?  Are Evan and I supposed to help or continue their purposes?  I may never know the answers to these questions but I do know that I want Jake and Sawyer to be remembered.

The other day there was a discussion in the back seat of our car about ages of the twins’ friends and their siblings.  One of their friends has a brother who was born in September of 2009.  Another friend has a little sister born in December of 2009.   After we had dropped off their friends, Evan and I talked to the twins about their little brother, Sawyer, who was born in November of 2009.

Remembering
By Elizabeth Dent

Go ahead and mention my child,
The one that died, you know.
Don’t worry about hurting me further
The depth of my pain doesn’t show.
I’m already crying inside.
The tears that I try to hide.
I’m hurting when you just keep silent.
Pretending he didn’t exist.
I’d rather you mention my child.
Knowing that he has been missed.
You ask me how I was doing.
I say “pretty good” or “fine”.
But the healing is something ongoing.
I feel it will take a lifetime.

 

 

Faith?

November 10, 2014 at 11:40 pm | Posted in Grief, life after loss | 7 Comments
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After Sawyer died a rabbi spoke to me and Evan.  Evan told him that he was very angry.  The rabbi told Evan to go ahead and be angry at G-d, ” because if anyone can handle it, He can.” This made sense to me.

The rabbi went on to tell us a story that did not make too much sense to me at the time.  He told us about a rabbi and his wife who were walking back from their son’s funeral.  The wife asked her husband, “what now, what do we live for?” The husband answered that we live for our living children and to carry on the memory of our son.  Tragically, the next child of this couple dies.  And once again, walking back from the funeral the wife asks her husband, “what now, what do we live for?” The husband gives the same answer, “we live for our living children and to carry on the memories of our sons.”

The story goes on until the couple has walked back from the funerals of all their children. The wife once more asks, “what now, what do we live for?”  The husband says we are to carry on the memories of our children and we are reminders to everyone else in the village to be thankful for what they have.

My initial response to this story was, “why us?  Why do Evan and I have to be the reminders?  Why can’t we just have Sawyer back?”   Over the years my thoughts about this story have changed.  I know that we cannot have Sawyer back.  I know that we will always carry on Jake and Sawyer’s memory.  Evan and I did not choose this journey but here we are – and I may never truly understand why.  I do know Jake and Sawyer do remind us to hug the twins a little tighter and to appreciate what we do have.

“I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.” Mother Teresa

 

Pathology is No Place for Politics: Update

November 6, 2014 at 11:14 pm | Posted in Grief, life after loss | Leave a comment
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In the spring I wrote a post about a Mississippi woman who was accused of murdering  her stillborn baby.  Rennie Gibbs was 16 years old and 36 weeks pregnant when she was admitted to an area emergency room.  Her baby was diagnosed with “fetal demise” – the  umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck.  Doctors induced labor and Gibbs delivered a stillborn daughter she named Samiya.

Gibbs’ case is part of a wave of “fetal harm” cases in which women are prosecuted when their babies are stillborn or otherwise die and traces of drugs are found in their system.   In this case,  medical facts establish the cord as the cause of death.  Medical professionals, including Sawyer’s pathologist, determined that it is impossible to conclude that drug use on the part of the mother caused stillbirth.

The charges have been dropped against Rennie.  Thank you to Chris for commenting on my past post with the update.  Every mom feels guilt when their child dies – even without being charged with murder.  I am so glad that the judge in Mississippi dismissed the charges.  He ruled that the “law was unclear in Mississippi as to the appropriate charge, if any, to be levied when a pregnant woman allegedly consumed illegal drugs and allegedly caused the death of her unborn child.”

Return to Zero – Breaking the Silence

May 16, 2014 at 7:26 pm | Posted in Grief | 5 Comments
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Return to Zero premiers May 17th (tomorrow) on Lifetime at 8 pm/7pm central.   This is the first movie made about the stillbirth of a child.   The mission of the film is to break the silence surrounding stillbirth, miscarriage and neonatal death.

“The impact that one stillbirth has on the mother, the father, their family, and friends is devastating — a shock-wave of pain, guilt and then, too often, silence. The majority of those affected, especially the mothers, suffer in this silence often believing that their grief and trauma is theirs to bear alone.

While planning to entertain and enlighten all audiences with a dramatic tale of the strength and resilience of the human spirit, RETURN TO ZERO intends to break through the silence and become a beacon of cinematic light to the millions in search of answers, understanding and healing.”

Unlike the new show Resurrection, I know that I will be watching Return to Zero.

Pathology is No Place for Politics

March 24, 2014 at 8:18 pm | Posted in Grief, venting | 6 Comments
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I read an article recently about a young mother losing a child that presented a whole new take on a sad situation.

The death of any child is heart breaking, and a horrible situation no parent should have to suffer. In this case, a poor 16-year-old in Mississippi lost her baby at 36 weeks to what was most likely the frighteningly all too common situation of where the umbilical cord gets tangled around the baby and causes death. The teenager had to deliver her stillborn child and figure out how to deal with such a sad and horrid situation that would leave any mom filled with guilt (even though there was nothing she could have done to prevent it). It must have been even harder to be only 16 and having to deal with one of life’s greatest tragedies.

But then, for this girl, things got exponentially worse. Apparently in Mississippi at the time there was a pathologist who has quite a reputation – for being politically motivated and having an agenda. When he found evidence that the girl in question had used drugs during her pregnancy, the pathologist concluded that the drugs had led to the baby’s death. And he, along with local law enforcement (which also has an agenda to reduce women’s reproductive rights) decided to charge this 16-year-old girl with murdering her child. They alleged that her use of drugs was a “depraved heart” killing of her child.

They did all this despite the fact that no medical facts support that conclusion. They ignored the science that points to the cord as the cause of death and ignored the medical facts that show that while drug use is certainly a terrible idea for a pregnant woman, it does not cause death of the child (and not in this case).

For six years now this now 24-year-old from an impoverished background with drug issues has not only had to deal with the death of her child, she has had to deal with being accused of killing her child, of having a “depraved heart,” and with the very real fear of being tried and found guilty of murder by a Mississippi jury.

I just cannot imagine.

When Sawyer died, since his heart stopped at home, investigators questioned us in the ER.  Then they followed Evan and I home from the hospital to view the scene and talk more about what happened. They quickly concluded that what ever exactly happened to Sawyer, it was biological, not something that anyone did to him and not something that could have been prevented by some action we could have taken (or not taken) at home.

We knew that, logically, but it was also helpful to hear that from those who looked into it. Further, the pediatric pathologist who examined Sawyer to try to determine the cause of death also ruled out any external causes, and ultimately focused on his heart stopping, likely due to a genetic, undiagnosed arrhythmia. (It’s still a working theory, but it’s the best any doctor can say at this point.)  The pathologist was compassionate and helpful in trying to get us not to blame ourselves for Sawyer’s death. She explained things so we could understand them, and she spent extra time meeting with us, emailing with us, and even went above and beyond to help us get Sawyer’s DNA in a study at the Mayo Clinic looking for certain arrhythmias that she and some other scientists believe may account for many of the SIDS and SUIDS deaths that still occur far too often. She also happens to be quoted in the article — taking a sane, rational, scientific-supported view of the case, unlike the Mississippi pathologist out to “get” this girl.

I cannot fathom how this girl must feel having had not help and comfort from investigators and a pathologist, but blame, condemnation and being charged with “depraved heart murder.” It must be like a second sledgehammer to her own heart. First, her baby dies. That is heart-crushing on its own. Then, she is accused of killing her child and must fight for her own freedom and future. That guilt and feat must be not just heart-crushing but soul-smashing. For a sixteen-year-old girl from poverty probably few of us can truly comprehend.

I am not excusing her drug use. As a mom, protecting our children is of the utmost importance. I’d never do something that might harm my children. She made that mistake. But I cannot judge her for that, because I do not know her or her true circumstances, or why she did that.

What I do know is that science says she did not kill her child. What I also CAN understand is the depths of despair and guilt a mom faces when her child dies. No woman should go thru that. No girl should face that, let along without care and support of those around her. To blame her for her child’s death here, to prosecute her for murder, to claim to the world she has a “depraved heart,” must be causing her unimaginable pain.

I can barely make it though losing Jake and Sawyer even with being told by everyone that I did everything right, but that some things cannot be fixed or prevented. Without that love, caring and support, and in the face of accusations of killing my own child (no matter how wrong-headed, illogical, unsupported by science and politically driven they might clearly be) I don’t know how I would be able to go on.

 

Another Thank You

November 30, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Posted in Grief | 5 Comments
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Thank you to the cemetery people for fixing Jake and Sawyer’s headstone markers.  I never did make the call to let them know that the markers were shifting again but when I went to the cemetery the other day this is what I saw:

photo2

New headstones.  New bolts.  No more moving markers. The stones are even placed exactly how their sister carefully arranged them on Sawyer’s last birthday.  One less thing to worry about.  Thank you.

Odd but NOT Ok

September 12, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Posted in Grief, Jake, life after loss, Love, Sawyer, venting | 12 Comments
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Dream

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 cheek.

I hold his memory dear to my heart,

And dream of holding him in my arms.

Author unknown

I no longer have any way to physically take care of Jake or Sawyer.  The best I can do is going to the cemetery and checking on their shared plot.  I know that frequenting a cemetery does not work for some but it is something that I need to do.

Over the last month both Jake and Sawyer’s nameplates have been slightly shifting.  I thought maybe the bolts were loose.  I shift them back and feel better.  Until yesterday.

IMG_3678

I could not even shift the plates back.  And, where are the bolts?!  I do not understand.

I called the cemetery office and immediately broke down into tears trying to explain to the receptionist what I was calling about.  Who calls about missing bolts from not just 1 but 2 of their sons’ headstones?!  She finally understood me and agreed to send out a maintenance person.

No one can explain what happened to the bolts that should be securing the nameplates to the granite.   However, they are both repaired for the moment.   We are going to wait and watch to see what happens.  I am so not okay with this.

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