Saturday, March 31, 2012

Challenge Days

I knew this morning when I woke up that today was going to be a challenge. Usually I'm pretty good about dragging myself out of bed and getting things accomplished. Today was not one of those days. It was gloomy out and it pretty much fit the way I felt. At 2:30 I finally forced myself in the shower because we had two birthday parties to go to.

It was good seeing family at our cousin's two year old's birthday party. We hadn't seen anyone since we lost Sam and the extra hugs today felt good. I still struggled with keeping it together though. I don't think I did a very good job keeping up conversation. It was also tough because there was a baby there. He was only around 6 months or so but I had to fight back tears knowing that we'd never see Sam at that age rolling around on the floor, happy and smiling. I made it through though.

Our next stop was a friend's birthday gathering, just a small group of friends at their house. On the drive over I re-collected myself and was looking forward to catching up with everyone we hadn't seen since over the holidays. I already knew I feared being in the same room as a pregnant woman, but I was not expecting the affect a tiny, sweet little newborn would have on me. At first Ryan and I didn't notice him as we went around giving hugs hello. I sat down on the couch and that's when it felt like the wind was knocked out of me. Never, have I felt this out of control. It felt like the walls were suddenly closing in on me. There in front of me was everything I knew I would not have in my own arms 14 weeks from now, a sweet little baby boy. I went to the bathroom to try to collect myself and attempt to not be the freak that can't keep it together around a baby. After I collected myself I came back out, it didn't help. The walls were still closing in and people were talking to me but I have no idea what they were saying. All I knew was that I needed to get out. So, less then fifteen minutes after arriving we were gone.

I feel weak that I couldn't keep it together and that I was clearly a ticking time bomb in front of our friends. It's embarrassing to not have any control over your emotions when you aren't in the safety of your own home. I feel terrible that this nice couple was enjoying a night out with their newborn baby and they had to witness me in action. I feel terrible that I most definitely made everyone around me feel uncomfortable as they watched me slowly meltdown before walking out the door without being able to say goodbye. I debated with myself about writing this because not everyday is this awful, but the truth is there are dark days. It's all part of the grieving process and if I'm going to help myself and hopefully others along the way I need to include it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. Hopefully tomorrow will be more good, less ugly.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fear of the Unknown

I recently started running again mostly because of the desperate need to get rid of the 5 pounds and 3 waist inches of baby weight.  It’s just another sad reminder that Sam is in Heaven instead of growing inside my belly.  I also do it because it’s time to be alone with my thoughts uninterrupted.  Usually, a run leads to me writing on this blog, which is why I’m writing 2 days in a row.

Today I thought about my fear of the unknown.  For those of you who know me, you know that patience is not a virtue of mine.  I’m also a planner and like to be in control of things.  These days, I feel like I have control of nothing.  On the outside it may seem that I have it together, but everyday on the inside I’m jumping up and down like a 3 year old screaming, “IT’S NOT FAIR.  IT’S JUST NOT FAIR!!!”  The funny thing about that is in my family we joke about that exact same quote.  When my younger brother was around 3 years old he was having a major meltdown because he wasn’t allowed to do or have something.  To this day none of us remember what the tantrum was about, but we laugh thinking about him jumping up and down like a maniac screaming over and over again, “IT’S NOT FAIR!  IT’S JUST NOT FAIR!”  We’ll, I feel you 3 year old Mart!

I know that my future holds sweet little babies.  I know that I am destined to be a parent not only to Sam in Heaven, but also here on earth.  We’ll have children whether Ryan and I bring them into the world ourselves or adopt a beautiful child that needs loving parents, maybe even both.  My struggle is taking things as they come and not being able to plan it all out.  So, I don’t pray everyday that God let’s us have babies.  I pray that I have the strength and patience for whatever my future holds.  Who knows, maybe by this time next year we’ll be holding our second child in our arms or maybe we will still be waiting for our rainbow.  Either way, I pray that I don’t drive myself and Ryan crazy in the process. 

Sam - Mommy is going to do her very best to work on being patient and calm and let go of control a little, not just in waiting for your little brother or sister, but in everyday life.  I may not be good at this everyday, but I promise to make you proud and try to learn from my mistakes.  I love you little nugget!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Everything Doesn't Happen For a Reason

Everything doesn’t happen for a reason, sometimes it just happens.  Even though I thought we would have to wait 3 more weeks for the genetic testing results to come back I was surprised to hear they were in when I called to check with the doctor’s office yesterday.  The tests showed that there were not any genetic abnormalities, which is a very good thing.  It is comforting to know that our baby did not carry a genetic disorder.  So, we are left with the genetic tests coming back showing no issues and also pathology came back clear.  This means we will never have a medical reason for why our sweet baby had to leave us.  I think I’m okay with that because no reason anyone could ever give me would make it any better.  As far as we can tell there is no reason we should have to go through this again.  That does not mean that lightening can’t strike twice, but I will continue to hope and pray that it does not.

What we do know now is something we already knew in our hearts; our sweet angel is a little boy, Samuel Joseph.

Sam - Mommy and Daddy love you very much.  Thank you for making us parents.  You have changed our lives in so many ways.  Hugs and kisses!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Happy Memories

Dear Baby H:

Mommy is so very sorry that we don’t have a name for you yet.  We are still waiting on the results of your genetic testing and it may be another 3 weeks before we have answers.  The pathology results did not show any causes.  I have always been a little impatient, but these past few weeks have been a true test for me.

So, while we wait I want to capture all the great memories I have of my pregnancy with you so we’ll have them forever.

While we already loved you before you even existed, the real ride began on October 29th, only 3 short days after Mommy’s birthday.  On that Saturday morning I suggested to your Daddy that we take a test, just to check.  He humored me even though he thought I was nuts.  He didn’t think there was any way that test was coming up positive in the first month we tried for you.  3 short minutes later those 2 pink little lines showed up on the test and I received the best belated birthday present I have ever received.  Daddy was so excited, and a little shocked mostly because Mommy’s instincts were right.  I knew you were already in there growing away.

For two weeks (that’s all Mommy could last) your Daddy and I had the best secret ever.  We already began counting down the days until we would get to meet you and hold you and smother you with kisses in July.  I was particularly excited because your due date was July 5th which meant there was a chance you could be born on 4th of July, one of Mommy’s favorite days of the year.  There was also a possibility of you sharing a birthday on July 6th with your pap which was also very exciting. 

At six weeks I couldn’t keep the secret from Nana anymore so Daddy finally gave in and said we could tell her.  He wanted to wait until after our first doctor’s appointment.  So, when we went out to Pittsburgh for your cousin Hudson’s 1st Birthday, we told your Nana, Pap and Uncle Mart that you would be arriving in July.  Nana was over the moon!  We told her by giving her a Christmas stocking for you so she could start filling it.  Nana and I even went out and got you your very first Steeler Jersey so you could match Mommy next football season!  It was so hard not telling the rest of the family that weekend, but we knew we needed to at least get through the first doctors appointment before we could tell your other aunts and uncles. 

Following that weekend, we had our first doctor’s appointment and ultrasound.  All of my blood work looked great and everything was going according to schedule.  At our ultrasound, Daddy got a front row seat and even got to see you before I did.  His face was absolutely beaming as he saw your strong little heart beating on the screen.  We got lots of pictures to bring home with us that day and proudly displayed them on our refrigerator.   We even framed one of your pictures for PopPop to announce your arrival.  He was so excited and was smiling ear to ear!  We also got to tell your Aunt Heather and cousin Brayden the big news.  We got Brayden a super cute shirt with a monkey on it that said “This Monkey is going to be a Big Cousin!”  He was excited to soon have a new buddy to play with.  Uncle Michael was working but soon heard the good news too. 

Over the next couple weeks we started to share our news with more family and close friends.  We got to celebrate the news of you with our good friends Lauren and Shaun by having a nice dinner.  At Thanksgiving we got to tell a lot of family in Pittsburgh including Aunt Becky, Uncle Rich, your cousin Hudson, Aunt Kara (we missed Uncs because he was out hunting), Aunt Kathy, Uncle Jerry, Aunt Nik Nik, Uncle Kenny, Uncle Russ, Aunt Kara, Uncle Ray and Uncle Anthony.  Mommy and Daddy had so much fun telling everyone all about you and sharing our future hopes and dreams we had for you.

In December, we went for our 2nd doctor’s appointment and you made Mommy and Daddy very nervous because you didn’t want to let us listen to your heartbeat.  The doctor assured us that it was still a little early, so we tried to stay calm (not so easy to do by the way).  We only had to wait 2 more weeks until our next ultrasound so we could see you again.  We kept busy by going to New York to see Mommy’s favorite Christmas tree.  Daddy and I planned on taking you there someday when you were big enough.  We celebrated the holidays with family and the best part was finally getting to tell the rest of the aunts, uncles and cousins all about you.  They were so excited for Mommy and Daddy and couldn’t wait to meet you.  Next Christmas there would be one more cousin running around with the already growing bunch!  Everyone was making their guesses about whether you were a boy or girl, but mostly just wanted you to be healthy. 

After Christmas we finally got to see you again at our 12 week scan.  We were very nervous since at the last appointment we didn’t get to hear your heartbeat, but the technician pulled you up on the screen and right away we saw your flickering heartbeat.  She also turned the sound on so we could hear the sweet sound.  I was sad when she turned the volume off.  I could have listened to it forever.  You had already grown so much in the 6 weeks since we’d seen you last.  You had a clearly identifiable little nose, a little head (or actually big like your Daddy’s head), cute little belly, and your arms and legs were moving all over the place.  You kept Mommy and Daddy very entertained while the technician took all your measurements.  You were even growing a little ahead of schedule so I  knew you were an overachiever just like your Daddy.  We got lots more pictures that day and took them home to proudly display them with your others. 

That week was also a big week because we started to look for our family home.  We wanted it to be the perfect place for you to grow up in a nice neighborhood, with a big yard.  We looked and looked and kept on looking because nothing was really clicking.  In between all of the house hunting we had more doctors’ appointments and each time got to hear the sweet sound of your heart beating.  With all the appointments in January, I actually got to hear your heart beat 4 times that month.  Every time you did great and the doctor always measured you at least a week ahead.  In January, I even began to feel little flutters of you dancing around in my belly.  It mostly happened when I was sitting at my desk during the day.  You must have liked lunch time! 

In January, we also got to go back to Pittsburgh and visit Nana and the rest of the Pittsburgh family.  This was the first time Nana or anyone there got to see the cute little bump you had become sticking out of my belly.  Even your Aunt Mandy came out for some quality time and she brought you a beautiful picture from Lila, made just for you!  Aunt Mandy also brought you your very first Penn State Tee.  We also got to go to the Children’s Museum with Aunt Becky, Aunt Kara and Hudson.  I know you couldn’t see anything, but I know you still had fun!  On my way home I met your Daddy to continue hunting for a house.  That is the day we found it!  Mommy knew right away that this was the house that Daddy and I wanted to bring you home to.  Later that week we put an offer in.  Now, we are just waiting for our closing on April 30th.

In February you, me and Daddy kicked off the month by eating yummy snacks and watching the Super Bowl.  This is when Daddy also started having nightly chats with you and mommy got to feel a few of your precious little kicks.  The next weekend we went to celebrate Brayden’s 2nd birthday.  At this time you may have been developing your hearing, so I like to think you were dancing around to crazy Tootsee the Clown and enjoying listening to all the kids run around.  Everyone was very excited because they knew Mommy and Daddy had their big appointment in a few days to find out the big question, boy or girl? 

I’ll end the story right there because this is a happy story.  This is the story of all the good memories that Mommy and Daddy had with you and got to share with family and friends.  I just wanted you to know that I am thankful and happy for every single moment I got to spend with you.  I love you very much little one and always will.

Xoxo –


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Grace, Courage & Strength

Grace, courage and strength are words I’ve heard a lot lately.  I am proud to embrace and embody these words.  It would be very easy for me to sit at home everyday in my jammies and cry locking the rest of the world out.  Believe me, some days I would really like to do this.  There are two reasons I don’t.  The first and most important reason is that although I need my time to grieve I want to honor the memory of my baby.  Nothing I do will bring him back, so each morning I get out of bed, put one foot in front of the other and keep going.  Even though my little one is not here with me on Earth, as a mother, I’m not going to let him down.  The other reason is that it is not in my nature to shut down, shut people out or give up hope.  This is why I’ve chosen to share my journey with people. 

A few weeks or days (can’t quite remember) before we lost our baby, Ryan and I were both reading in bed.  I’m always reading some fiction girly fluff book, while he reads his smarty pants non-fiction books.  This particular night I don’t remember what book he was reading, but he stopped after a certain point and was giving me one of his usual recaps.  The story was about a study that shows even if you are not happy, if you pretend to be happy then real happiness will soon follow.  There must be some truth to that and I think Ryan has been putting embodying it.  Even though times pretty much suck right now he comes home from work everyday with a smile on his face.  I’m not as good at this as he is, but he makes it pretty darn hard for me not to smile too.  He is truly the man behind my grace, courage and strength.  He keeps me going.  While he is feeling his own grief and sadness he is always there for me and always behind me.  I’m so thankful we found each other to go through this life together.

I know I’m getting way ahead of myself, but my biggest fear for the future is of this happening all over again.  It’s not impossible.  I’ve read enough blogs and heard enough stories to know that we could find ourselves in that 1% again.  I know God has a plan for all of us.  I really just hope upon hope and pray that the tough times Ryan and I have both been through are enough for two people in one lifetime.   I’m putting every bit of my strength into this tough time and I’m not quite sure what I’ll have left in me.  Will this courage and strength carry over if there’s a next time?  I sure hope we never have to find out.

Friday, March 23, 2012

i carry your heart with me

I’ve always loved this poem.  Reading it now, it means so much more.

i carry your heart with me 

By E. E. Cummings

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Guardian Angels

One month, our little angel has been with our guardian angels for one whole month already.  Ryan and I both have very special guardian angels up in Heaven, his mom and my pap.  As sad as I am these days, I smile when I think of our baby with them. 

My pap was my favorite person in the whole world.  My dad wasn’t really a part of my life growing up or even now, but because of my pap I never felt like I was missing out.  He loved me enough for 10 dads. My mom and I lived with my grandparents for most of my childhood and some of my favorite memories come from that time in my life.  Every night my pap and I would sing songs before bed.  My favorite, “You Are My Sunshine”.  He taught me how to play softball, helped me with all my school projects (ok sometimes did them for me because he was a perfectionist), let me ride the tractor with him to mow the lawn at camp, we did everything together.  I looked up to him because he would do anything for anyone and was the glue that held our big family together.  In 2002, he lost his battle with cancer.  I can hardly believe that this summer it will be 10 years since we said goodbye.  I still miss him everyday and always will.  I know that he is taking such good care of our baby now singing him songs, teaching him games, letting him help out in the yard and even him a little bit about creating mischief. 

I never had the opportunity to meet Ryan’s mom and I wish everyday that I would have met him a few years earlier so I could have gotten the chance to know her.   I love hearing stories of Susan and how much she loved her family and friends, how she was a great teacher, mother, wife and friend.  I know she loved to host parties, find great deals shopping and traveling.  I also know from her battle with cancer that she was a very strong and courageous woman.   I know that she also is taking such great care of our sweet baby.  He is the best dressed kid there, gets lots of books read to him, says his prayers every night and gets smothered with hugs and kisses. 

There are many days where I get so angry at the universe because I feel like I’m being teased.  Everyday I walk to work and see more pregnant women than I ever noticed before, there’s new babies and cute baby bumps all over Facebook, pins all over Pinterest of baby and nursery ideas, and even when I try to escape in a gossip magazine it seems every celebrity on earth is pregnant.  I’m obviously not angry with all of the pregnant women.  I wish them nothing but happiness and good health.  It’s just a constant sad reminder of what I don’t have, a happy healthy baby kicking in my belly.  It’s in these moments that I remind myself that even though my baby isn’t with us anymore, he isn’t alone.  He has more love than any little baby could ask for right there with him in Heaven.  For that I am thankful.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thursdays and The Most Absurd Thing I've Ever Heard

Thursday used to be my favorite day of the week.  Every Thursday marked a new week in my pregnancy.  I would receive a Baby Center email describing all the wonderful ways my baby was growing.  Today would have marked 24 weeks.  Baby H would be about 12 inches long and weigh around 1 pound, his lungs would be developing branches, his brain would be rapidly growing and taste buds developing. 

Our 20 week scan was also on a Thursday, turning my favorite day to the most dreaded day of the week.  The day we found out every Thursday going forward would be a day of emptiness, a day of what could have been.  I know Thursdays won’t always mark a could have been week, but for now they make me sad.

I recently posted on Facebook a link to an article about what not to say to a miscarriage survivor.  What I heard yesterday will not show up on any of those lists, but by far takes the cake for anything I’ve heard.  I don’t work in a conventional office where I have a ton of people around me all day long, which these days I’m quite thankful for.  I work in retail and have an office in the back of one of my stores.  For the most part I fly solo all day, but I do venture out on the sales floor and backroom to interact with the store team.  Yesterday, I was headed to the backroom and ran into an associate that I haven’t seen since we lost the baby.  I guess it was out of sheer shock at the change in my appearance i.e. missing baby bump, but still not an excuse.  Here’s how it played out:

Associate:   “WHOAH!  You’re deflated.” 
Me:  “Ummm, I lost the baby”
Associate:  “Seriously?”
Me:  “Ummm, yes seriously, 3 weeks ago”
Associate:  “Oh my God, I’m so sorry”

Is she for real????  After that I turned and continued on my way not entirely sure what else to say to the girl.  She clearly was embarrassed and felt bad, but it’s not my job to make her feel better.  It’s not my fault she is insensitive and lacks a filter.  I’m proud of myself because I did not have a total breakdown after this.  In hindsight I find the absurdity of it comical.  From here on out I don’t think there is the possibility of hearing anything worse. 

Lesson for all:  think before you speak. (Although I think most people already know this rule, the girl yesterday still needs to study up or limit her human interactions.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Day the Storm Came

For those of you that don’t already know, we said goodbye to our sweet angel three weeks ago on February 21st.  For 20 amazing weeks I fell more in love with our precious little one everyday, counting the days until we would meet.  One of my biggest struggles has been the silence that surrounds miscarriage/stillbirth.  My baby grew for 5 months inside of me; I need to recognize his sweet but short life.  I came across a website,  It is a place where mothers of baby loss of any shape or form be it, early miscarriage, late miscarriage, stillbirth, etc can tell their stories.  It has made me realize I don’t need to be afraid to share my story or talk about my baby.  Eventually I would like to share my story on the site in hopes that other women won’t feel as alone in their journey.  For now, I want to share my story with friends and family, because it has forever changed the person I am.

I don’t think I need to tell anyone how exciting the moment you find out you are pregnant is.  You immediately begin planning your child’s life, what the nursery will look like, where he will grow up, what kind of parent you will be.  You find complete joy in sharing the news with family and friends.  You start shopping for cute little outfits, toys and books.  You immediately feel a kind of love you have never felt before.  You worry about your child everyday.  Is he safe and sound in his little cocoon?  Are you doing everything you can do to protect him?  You count the days until you are through the first trimester.  You breathe a sigh of relief when you make it past that point and your chance of losing your precious little one drops to 1%.  Never in a million years did I think we would be that statistic, that 1%.  I was busy blissfully enjoying every moment of my pregnancy, every little movement and kick I was feeling, every little inch my belly would grow. 

What should have been filed under best moments of our life, “Pink or Blue Day” also known as the 20 week anatomy scan will now be filed under absolute worst moment.  We only spent a few minutes with the ultrasound tech before she made up an excuse to leave the room.  What was probably only a few minutes felt like a lifetime before the doctor entered the room.  It’s all a blur looking back on it, but he put the wand back on my belly and continued to look at the screen while asking a lot of questions, then putting down the wand we heard the words we will never forget, “There’s no easy way to tell you this, but your baby does not have a heartbeat”.  Surprisingly, we remained calm, we did not cry.  We listened to everything he said and were even able to ask questions.  The baby was measuring 20 weeks on the spot, everything looked ok with the exception of one very important thing, a heartbeat.  2 weeks earlier we had heard the sweet thump thump on the doppler at our regular ob appointment.  How could there just be nothing now? 

Decisions needed to be made.  We could either choose to deliver the baby which could take anywhere from 12 -36 hours or have a surgical procedure called D&E which would only take 30 minutes under anesthesia.  We couldn’t bear the thought of delivering our baby only to never bring him home with us so we opted for surgery.  In hindsight and after reading many stories of other women’s losses I question myself and my decision.  Did I let my little one down?  I will never hold my sweet baby.  I will never know if he had my little nose and Ryan’s cute dimple like I’ve dreamed of.  My only memories will be the feelings I felt during my pregnancy, the sweet sound of his heartbeat and the precious few flips and kicks I felt in the days before he left us.  I’ve come to accept this guilt as part of the grieving process.

I keep referring to our baby as “he” although as I write this we still do not know, pink or blue?  My only hope is that I will feel some sense of closure in the next week.  We will find out if our first child is our son or daughter.  We will also get the results of the genetic testing back and hopefully have answers why and how to prevent this in the future.  We look forward to giving our little one a name and proper memorial. And I take great comfort in knowing that he is being looked after by his Grandmom and Great-Grandpap in Heaven. 

Baby H – Mommy and Daddy love you very much.  We think about you all the time and miss you very much.  One day we’ll meet again and we’ll make up for all the kisses we weren't able to give you here on Earth.

To my family and friends - I would not be the person I am today without you and I definitely would not have made it through these last few weeks.  Thank you to everyone for all of your love, support, cards, flowers, snacks, meals, texts, phone calls and visits.  Whether Ryan and I say it out loud or not, we will continue to need you to get through this.  Please don’t be afraid to talk to us or acknowledge our loss.

"If you know someone who has lost a child or lost anybody who's important to them, and you're afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died, they didn't forget they died. You're not reminding them. What you're reminding them of is that you remember that they lived, and that's a great, great gift.'"
~Elizabeth Edwards