Missing our baby boy

Lilypie Angel and Memorial tickers

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rainbows and Grief

Isn’t it strange that with the right situation, clarity comes so swiftly it’s a wonder you never saw things for how they are to begin with?

I’m talking about sleep depravation. Either from child loss or arrival of a rainbow baby (I have both now), we are affected by serious amounts of lack of sleep. Combine this with an overload of hormones, stress, grief and worry and it becomes quite the combination. With this lack of sleep comes lots of time to work through things – by either deep thinking or flat crying them out, we struggle to find answers even when sometimes we know there are none.

So goes the life of a baby loss mother.

Along with this life of ours of grief, sadness, anger and everything else, we deal with coming to terms with things only to fall off the horse again later down the road. That’s where I find myself today. Sitting on my ass in the middle of the road, watching the horse I learned to ride so carefully galloping away from me at top speed. And we had just learned to canter, too. Damn.

With the arrival of our rainbow baby came a whole new host of emotions to the grieving world I thought I was leaving behind – or leaving, at least, the worst of it behind.

Our new son looks so much like the one we lost that it hurts. I have to keep a constant light on in the nursery because with just the right amount of dim, it’s like I’m looking at Brayden. The lips look blue, the eyes closed and face so still…it haunts me. I reach out and touch his little face and find relief that his cheek is warm. I lean down and gently push his back until he grunts and moves, quietly grateful that he responds. Then I realize once again that I never held Brayden, never kissed his cheek and told him how much I dearly loved him. And something inside begins to hurt.

Regret. It sucks.

I would give just about anything to be able to go back and just do that much. My heart would feel so much better, and that memory would be such a comfort. To have been that much of a mother to him, to have been brave and given him what I could have when I had the chance. I’ll never forgive myself for that.

Regret. It really, really sucks.

It’s like I’m reliving what I lost all over again. Before, it was what I almost had. Now, I am seeing (and living) what I really missed.

I don’t like this part. In fact, I hate it. I don’t expect everything to be peachy perfect, but damn…where’s my balance? What happened to the plateau I was on? That wonderful happy place I briefly had that allowed me to think about our loss without dwelling, to remember Brayden without sharp pains or losing my breath.

Maybe it’s the lack of sleep. Maybe it’s the reality of the situation. Maybe this is my forever, the way my life is from now on - one big up and down moment. Maybe it’s everything.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A few thoughts

Most BLM’s are aware that October 15th is International Baby Loss Day, October in particular being the month dedicated to Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness. For those new to this information, it’s a time to remember our lost little ones regardless of when or how they were lost. Candles will be lit in private homes, places of worship, work or wherever else life might find you on October 15th at 7 p.m. Be sure to light in remembrance of your angel or any lost angel.

The inspiration for this post came from Susan at Our Lives Forever Changed. She recently blogged about what this month means, sighting other bloggers who are doing daily blogs dedicated to all things grief related, what may have helped and how life has changed for all of us.

Susan has a daily blog list that she will touch on throughout the month, one topic listed for each day that will be the focus of her blog. I read through them briefly, coming up with my own answers to each topic and the one I kept coming back to was this one: Day 4 - your favorite book. has it changed since your loss?

It’s strange that this one stood out to me...I wouldn't have thought my loss would have affected my taste in reading material. I’m a huge Kay Hooper fan (fictional mysteries with serial killers who always get theirs at the end!), but my most favorite book and quite possibly the only book I’ve read more than once is called The Summerhouse by Jude Deveraux.

I’m not sure why I fell in love with this book. I suppose it may fall in the genre of romance, but that’s not why I love it. The story revolves around three women who by chance met each other at the DMV on their 20th birthdays. Flash forward 20 years later, the women have not seen each other since that day and are about to turn 40. As they connect and get together for a birthday weekend in Maine, you see how life turned sour for all three in the years since they met – shattered dreams, broken homes, heartbreak and misery have visited all of them.

While walking through town, they found business cards to a fortuneteller who clamed the ability to offer you the chance to rewrite your past. Doubtful but curious, they paid her a visit. She offered them each the chance to go to any point in time in their lives for three weeks. During that time, they can choose a different path and change their future life. When they get back, they can choose their new future or keep their current one.

I loved this book because it was very well written (Deveraux is a great story teller) and the characters were well defined. It was fun and imaginative. It had a bit of magic to it. Wrongs were righted. Justice was given. Lives were changed for the better. Second chances were given.

Each time I’ve read it, I’ve closed the book and felt hope…NOT that I think I will be offered a chance to go back in time, but to read such happiness result from so much tragedy was inspiring – even if it is fiction. I always thought, who wouldn’t jump at the chance to have a do-over at one point? Regret, missed opportunities, that guy you made eye contact with that once but were too shy to speak up…who knows what may have happened? A neat thought and perfect for the fiction it was.

Surprisingly, the significance of the book has changed for me. If you would have asked me a year ago if I could have a do-over, I would have said yes in a heartbeat. Rewind time so I would have the chance to change Brayden’s fate. To not have to go through what we did this past year, or face what lies ahead for us. Wipe the slate clean…like it never happened.

I can’t say that now and I wouldn’t do that now. With a rainbow baby on the way, I’m reminded that if we had not lost Brayden, we wouldn’t have this new life we’re about to meet. I can’t take that back, and wouldn’t want to. So…where does that leave me?

I don’t believe things happen for a reason. I’m not sure I believe in fate at all. I don’t believe ‘some things are meant to be’. I believe things happen, good and bad…and hope there is a balance somewhere. I think our rainbow baby is our balance. Life gives and takes away. I can’t go back in time, but I am getting another chance. Even without time travel, I consider myself one of the fortunate ones.

Thanks to Susan for posting questions like that. Even the most seemingly innocuous things in our lives – such as our favorite books - have been affected by our loss. We look at the world differently, see things differently and have new perspective. It’s interesting to see how far reaching that really is. I look forward to exploring more of this in the future.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Our one year mark...Happy Birthday Brayden

So many times these last few months I have wondered what I’d say on the day of Brayden’s birth - the day of his death. I imagined I’d write something that came from the depth of my soul, something powerful, insightful or profound. I don’t think I’m going to do any of that today.

My time with my son was limited, but I like to think I knew him better than anyone could have known him. So here are the things that I know about my son that I hold close to my heart.

Brayden was born on September 22, 2009 at 6:32 p.m. He was 8 lbs 9 oz and 21 inches long. He had tons of brown hair that I would have hoped turned thick and wavy like his father’s, but would have most likely stayed stick-straight and fine like mine. He had my hands, my nose and my mouth…but undeniably daddy’s face. Those chipmunk cheeks came straight from John. So did his tiny ears.

We were in love with him the moment we knew we carried him. Double that for John when he found out we were having the first boy in the family to carry on his name. A son. Someone he could watch grow up to be the kind of man he was – good, kind, honest and loyal. Nicholas was finally going to have the sibling he’d been wanting for years. The perfect baby to round out our family.

Brayden did that - he completed us. He was everything we ever wanted or hoped for, save for the fact that his stay with us was terribly brief. Stillborn, but born still.

Today, I feel no resentment. I refuse to today - it would ruin it. For the first time since we lost him, I can cry and it’s nothing but pure sadness. There’s no confusion, no anger, no bitterness at what we’ve lost. There are no questions as to why. I can shed tears without the silent apologies I offer to Brayden or the secret guilt and shame I feel from his loss.

Today, I’m simply a mother who has lost her child and it’s that simple. It’s not gut wrenching, I don’t feel like my soul is ripping or even that I have a build up of grief that needs to be purged. Without the silent accusations in my head, the sadness I feel isn’t consuming and it’s almost…peaceful. A peaceful sadness…who would have thought?

At the same time, I can’t help but to think - at around this time last year, John would have passing out those little blue bubblegum cigars at work and pulling out that wonderful hospital pic from his wallet. I would have been wondering what to dress Brayden in for Halloween – the infant pea costume I thought was cute, but wasn’t fitting for a boy according to John. Thanksgiving would have been spent with family, and we had looked forward to seeing Brayden’s eyes light up watching the lights on the Christmas tree.

By our anniversary in February…we’d be ready for a sitter ☺

By today, had he lived, he would most likely be taking his first steps. I’d be anxiously waiting for him to say ‘ma-ma’ and be secretly jealous when he said ‘da-da’ first, knowing in my heart John must have been secretly bribing him behind my back. We would have had a wonderful summer, with John toting him around as any proud father would…still gagging over dirty diapers and probably have gotten to where he could pass all of those to me without me realizing it…or pretending I don’t.

He would have had his first haircut. He would be blowing kisses. Bubbles would still be entertaining, and he would be tormenting the dog and cat by pulling on their tails and ears every chance he got. He would be aging his parents horribly by putting everything he could find in his mouth and hurling himself with reckless abandon towards the stairs. He’d be sleeping peacefully through the night.

John and I would have had hectic lives – between karate practice, homework, soccer, jobs, home, daycare, bedtimes and naps. We knew it and we welcomed it. I’m devastated none of it happened like we planned. Sometimes, life just isn’t fair.

In a way, this last year hasn’t been without our little man. We’ve remembered him every step we took without him. He was there in the sense that he was missed. As painful as it was, our lives moved forward with him gone. He was with us in our hearts, and always will be. I still love him deeply, and wish he were here with us…that will never change.

Living without Brayden has been painful, and moving on with our lives has been even more so. You don’t read that in the books. How do you move on when you’ve lost a child? Life moves on whether you want it to or not…you can move with it or it will leave you behind, which is a death within itself. Brayden wouldn’t have wanted us to have life pass us by simply because he couldn’t join us in it.

I’m not saying an official goodbye to Brayden today – that won’t ever happen. But starting today, as a gift to Brayden (and myself) on his birthday, I’m letting go. No more anger or guilt or questions. No blame. No more ‘I’m sorry’. Just simply loved and missed, for the rest of our lives.

Happy birthday, Brayden. Although this is not how I envisioned spending your first year, it doesn’t change how much we love you. Your family misses you terribly, little man.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Leaving the hospital was a blur last year. In fact, it was months before I got around to going through the things we came home with. Pamphlets on grief, paperwork on drying up breast milk naturally, a few pics of Brayden that a kind nurse thought to take…and lots of other meaningless paperwork I can’t remember. I walked away with surprisingly little to show for having a baby. And why would I? I didn’t walk away with the baby.

One thing I did have, though, was a blanket. They were donated for loss babies, so the loss families could have something to remember them by. Our pictures of Brayden show him wrapped in that blanket. I treasure it beyond words. It’s the only thing I really walked away with that makes me feel like I had a baby, and for a brief time…he was mine, linked to me through the blanket that I still have and can hold.

I’ve been compiling a list for months, ideas of what I would like to donate in his memory for the loss families to follow us. When it comes down to it, baby blankets are what I want to do. I’ve got my quotes narrowed down, maybe a poem or something to add. But when it comes to our experience, our blanket means by far the most to us.

My friend Angela nabbed the blanket from me last December and returned it with our Christmas gift - an ornament she made, replicating the blanket in miniature. I can’t express what that meant to me, and I never did take it down. She had it monogrammed with his name, birth date, length and weight.

We are renovating our house, and are very close to finishing our walk in closet – which will include room for my sewing machine. Working on baby blankets will be my first project. I hoped to have a few done by his angelversary, but I don’t think that will happen. That’s okay with me. It’s enough that they will get done eventually, and possibly one family – if only one – can find the immense comfort that I did.

I already feel one step closer to peace.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The struggle for hope

I cried at my doctor’s appointment today.

My regular doctor had an emergency at the hospital, so I saw the midwife for the first time. She was incredibly nice and upbeat, but came to a pause when she saw this was my third pregnancy with one living child among them.

“Do they know what happened?”

That’s all it took. The tears were streaming down my face before I knew it. I didn’t know what to say, so I just shook my head and swallowed a few times before I could tell her that the final diagnosis was a cord accident…but no one knew for sure.

My sudden tears took her by surprise, I could tell. It was a necessary question, but one I was unprepared for. And, here I thought I was handling things so well. It struck me then that I hadn’t talked about my grief out loud in quite a while. I’ve blogged about it, thought about it some, shed a few tears. I thought it was testament to how far I had come in the grieving process these last months, the fact that I didn’t really need to talk about it anymore.

In reality, the band aide of my silence had been ripped off unexpectedly – leaving my festering and previously buried pain wide open, exposing it even more to the plain fact that I’m afraid. A fact that I had ignored with the help of my silence. If I don’t talk about it, maybe it isn’t real. If I don’t speak the words out loud, they won’t have an impact this time around.

It’s time to put my big girl panties on and face reality. Today’s unexpected breakdown was of my own making and not only unacceptable to me, but probably unavoidable as well. I can’t expect to avoid situations like this while acting as I do.

So, now for another truth: I am currently in “coin” status. I’d like to think I’m a quarter, but with the respect I’ve given to the loss of my son these last few months…I think a penny would be more apt. A wooden one, at that.

One side of me is the happy every day wife, mother and friend. I’m not the woman who lost her child; I’m not a grieving mother. I’m functioning, pregnant and looking towards a bright and happy future.

The other side is the side left unturned: I don’t show it anymore. Because it hasn’t been exposed to sunlight, it’s become dark, dingy and ugly. I don’t look too closely at it, but I know it’s there…I can feel it. Just beneath the surface. I can hide it, but I can’t erase it – so, I ignore it.

The result? Days like this, where me – the coin – suddenly gets that unexpected flip, that slap in the face that my reality isn’t what I made it to be in my head. I AM a woman who lost her child; I AM a grieving mother. These things cannot be divided from me or hidden, because they are now a part of who I am…and cannot be separated. All of me.

So, then I ask myself…how did I let this separation happen? Honestly, I get tired of being “the loss mom”. I don’t want that to be all that I am – most days, I don’t want that to be any part of me. That’s not realistic. What I’m dealing with here is the struggle between moving on without leaving the past behind. Who does that??

WE do that. Loss mothers do that. It’s a fragile mingling of our future lives while incorporating our loss into it in a healthy way. Remember without being devastated. Look back without losing it. Make our lost children a cherished and loved member of our family without reliving “the day” or the months following.

I’m not there yet, obviously. I’m still learning how to intertwine these two events – past and future – without becoming disillusioned, set back or grief struck.

The day will come when peace will find me. I still search my heart for forgiveness every day. I beg Brayden for forgiveness. I hope with everything that I am that I won’t have anything to ask of this new life we are creating, save that he grow big and strong and fight with everything he has to overcome my fear that I will fail him.

Tonight, I’m going to let the side unturned be turned. I can’t promise anything beyond saying I’m going to keep trying to find my balance. Maybe there isn’t one…but it’s worth looking and fighting for.

I’ve read blogs and stories from loss moms who are years and years out from their loss…and thought, “I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want to feel this way for the rest of my life. I don’t want to live each day remembering the horror and sorrow.” But, how to avoid it? Maybe I can’t.

This is my journey to find out. I started this blog to give other mothers hope that life does continue after a devastating loss. There is hope. Now, I’m realizing that although I’ve been candid and honest throughout this process, hope doesn’t come so easily. Time doesn’t just hand you a basket of hope after a while. Before hope, there is peace; before peace, there is forgiveness; before forgiveness, there is acceptance; before acceptance, there is anger; before anger, there is sorrow.

Sorrow; anger; accept; forgive; peace; hope.

I still battle between the first two…sometimes visit briefly on the third. I still have a long way to go, and rushing it will do no good. Time is a factor that bounces in-between these things, so in the end…only time will help give me what I need, if I have the courage to work through the rest.

Hope is there waiting for me – patiently - and I’m slowly making my way there.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Another day in loss world

I’m going to be honest here…these last couple days haven’t been going so well. I’m not sure what’s going on. Another down day? Pregnancy hormones? A combo?

I wasn’t going to blog today, I would really rather talk to a RL friend…but I find myself not picking up the phone and calling anyone. I’m tired of talking about my grief and really think there’s nothing new to say. There’s only the hurt that still resides deep within myself. No one can say anything to make it better…and I certainly don’t need someone to just listen to me cry.

So, once again, my blog will be my therapy for today.

I came very close to holding a baby at my husband’s company picnic this afternoon. I can’t remember the last baby I held, but it was long before we lost Brayden. I wanted to very badly, but I knew I’d lose it. My arms ached to hold him, and I literally bit my tongue to stifle the urge to ask. He was three months old and so beautiful. I forgot how soft a newborn’s skin is and how good they smell. I settled for stroking his little tuff of hair and made small talk with my friend who was holding him. Surprisingly, my thoughts were not of the new baby we’re having in a few short months. My only thoughts were of Brayden, and what should have been.

It’s all just so tragically sad.

Every time I’ve gotten in the car this last week, I’ve heard the exact same song on the radio – this afternoon was no different. It’s a popular song, so I shouldn’t be surprised…but the chorus hit me like a ton a bricks, even though the song isn’t really about loss grief at all. Regardless, I turn it off every time it’s on.

Tell them all I know now
Shout it from the roof tops
Write it on the sky line
All we had is gone now

Tell them I was happy
And my heart is broken
All my scars are open
Tell them what I hoped would be
Impossible, impossible
Impossible, impossible

Those lyrics just tear at me. I was happy. My heart is broken. My scars are open and raw, most days. What I had hoped was impossible has happened to us.

My husband’s coworker and his wife are expecting. She’s due in October, about six weeks before me. She always wants to talk to me at these get-togethers, which I don’t mind, but it conversation inevitably turns to our loss. They are on baby number five, and she told me today she panics every time her baby doesn’t move because of what happened to us. She’s terrified, because she now knows a loss like we experienced doesn’t happen to “other people” – it now happens to the people you know, in your immediate circle.

I’ve actually heard this a few times from friends who have recently had babies. That they thought of us during delivery, or the final stages of their pregnancy. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in a good way. It was in a “that could happen to me” way. And it scared them, badly. I do my best to reassure them, but it’s hard when I harbor the same exact fear. I don’t have words of comfort for them, other than telling them it will be okay - words I, myself, don’t really buy. Because I know that sometimes, it’s not okay.

Ugh, I don’t know where to go from here. Like I’ve said before, my grief is mine and I deal with it the only way I know how. I try not to control it (unless I’m hit with it in public) and just let it wash over me, as it will. These last few days have been really trying. I’m hoping after this blog I’ll feel better, like the weight will be lifted from me for a short time. I try not to sensor what I put on here, but it’s hard knowing some of my friends read this blog and I’m not exactly honest with them sometimes.

Maybe, when I’m asked how I’m doing, instead of saying, “Fine” I’ll just say, “Read my blog”. Then I’m covered.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

10 Months

Sometimes, it feels like longer. Sometimes, it feels like yesterday.

I’m really not sure that I have anything to blog about at this point today. I just didn’t want to let the day go by without a nod to my little man. He’s not forgotten. He’ll never be forgotten.

I feel myself going back up the grief roller coaster as his first year comes closer to a close.

I’m just now understanding that Brayden is about to be a big brother before he got the chance to be a little brother. Our lost baby will soon be a middle child. The hole he left in our family and in our hearts will now be felt from all sides. I can’t describe how this makes me feel. I really can’t.

There just are no words for the pain at this point.

I love you, Brayden, and miss you each and every day. Every single day.

Monday, July 12, 2010

True Friends

“A true friend is someone who sees the pain in your eyes when everyone else believes the fake smile.”

I don’t know that a truer statement could be said.

I am lucky enough to have a friend in my life that knows me well enough to see through my fake smile to my pain. I don’t always like it; sometimes I wish I could fool everyone. I sincerely wish that all loss mothers had someone in their life like this. It’s unfortunate that we feel the need to fake a smile, force a laugh or converse when all we want to do sometimes is run screaming from the room. We don’t necessarily do it for us; it’s also for the benefit for those around us. And sometimes it gets really, really tiring.

I’ve lost track of how many plastic smiles and mindless conversations I’ve had these last few months. Times I can’t recall what I’ve said because “auto pilot” me has taken over. It’s not as bad as it once was, but it’s still a battle.

I get resentful at times. I resent those people who are so happy that I’ve “moved on” or “gotten over it”. No one has put it in those terms, but I have gotten “I knew you’d be just fine” and “I told you time would take care of everything”. Same thing. Sometimes I half expect a pat on the back while being told I'm such a trooper.

On the flip side, I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in about a year. I knew the instant I ran into her that she had heard our news…she gave me “the look”. All loss moms know what I’m talking about. The softening of the eyes, the pursing of the lips into a smile that’s not a smile, head tilted to the side and the hands that are held out, inviting a tight hug or a strong hand squeeze.

I gave her “the treatment”. Something I’ve used for this type of occasion to divert late condolences or people in general who don’t take a hint: tell some happy news, change the subject and then make a quick exit. I have no need for more pity at this point, and I sure wasn’t ready to have a break down at the grocery store. So, I instantly perked and greeted her. I told her we were expecting again (happy news), told her we were on our way camping (subject change) and acted like we were in a hurry to get to our destination (quick exit).

She kept opening her mouth to talk between my ramblings, but in the end I think she could see what I was doing. So sad, because she was someone I honestly enjoyed talking to in the past. One day, maybe I’ll get the chance to. I know, knowing her, that if we ever really get the chance we’ll have to have “the talk” so she can hear it all. That’s okay, but it won’t be today.

Now I feel like I’m in the in-between. I don’t want to wear my grief openly, but I can’t ignore it, either – it’s part of who I am. I have a very select few friends (for sure one, maybe two or three…maybe) that fall in the in-between with me on this journey. With that kind of friend, I have balance. I’m okay to be fine; I’m okay to have a bad day. I’m okay to talk about whatever it is that’s on my mind at any time without worry of bringing them down or feeling like I’m burdening them.

These friends, I’ll keep forever. I sincerely wish that others like me have at least one like them.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Other people

Sometimes…I feel like such a fake. An alien dressed in human skin.

I still struggle occasionally with public places. Honestly, I don’t think it would be so bad if I didn’t live in such a small town where everyone…and I mean everyone…knows your business. It doesn’t help that I grew up here, so I also get to hear about the skeletons in my parents closets – and to a point, their parents closets - as well as my own.

Sometimes I feel like I have “LOST A CHILD” branded on my forehead. I catch people looking at me, but at first eye contact they look away. Most times, I know them. Lots of times it’s a friend of a friend, or an acquaintance from work or family.

Most people aren’t brave enough to hold eye contact and smile. No one approaches me, not any more. It happened a lot in the beginning, but now that some time has gone by and I’m not the new story in town it doesn’t happen so much.

I’ve lost a few friends…more than a few. I would be lying if I said that doesn’t hurt. It’s not like most of these people were close friends, or I knew them from way back. Just families that we use to get together with that conveniently don’t call anymore.

I feel ostracized, and there’s something I’d like to tell these people.

I want to say: Yes, it’s me. The woman who lost her baby. I’m not contagious; you can approach me. I’m not crazy; you can talk to me. It’s okay if you don’t know what to say; I may not either. Yes, I’ve changed; time does that regardless of what life throws at you. Get to know me again, if that’s the case. My arms are empty and so is my heart; be a friend and don’t ignore it, help me to heal. We experienced a loss of a child, not a loss of sight or hearing; don’t pretend like you did, either. If you see me, say hello and don’t turn away.

You may not understand what we’re going through, but you don’t have to. Ask me, if you want to know. It’s okay if you don’t. Maybe I don’t want to talk about it. Approach me and find out. Don’t cut me out because of an awkwardness you want to avoid; it may be for nothing. I’m still a person, not a leper, so please treat me like one.

Sometimes, I’m still sad; that should be understood, not feared. Sometimes, I want to pretend that my life is normal, just for a second and that this tragedy didn’t happen; that’s where you come in. Tell me about your life. What are you up to? What’s new with you? How’s your family? Because, maybe I don’t want to talk about me. Maybe I’m done talking about me. I want to feel normal so cheer me up, take my mind off of it. Be my friend.

If you can’t do these things for me then please, just keep walking. If my presence makes you uncomfortable, then go; the last thing I want is to bring someone down. But, if you want to talk to me, know about me or update me about you then please…do so. Don’t stand in between. Don’t stare at me and wonder; that hurts us both. Don’t look away as if you don’t know me; that achieves nothing. And, if I approach you, don’t be skittish; I’m not looking for a fresh ear for my grief.

A friend would be good right now.

Video Thoughts

I have been thinking a lot about making a video commemorating Brayden’s life. Malory at Every Life Has a Story makes beautiful videos with pictures and music, giving grieving parents something precious to hold onto and to remember their lost child. I thought, I can do this. I can make a video for Brayden.

The more I look into doing this, the more I’m not so sure I can. I can’t look at Brayden’s pictures for long before I just break down. I can’t imagine cropping them, playing with the tint and exposure, making cute backgrounds and adding music.

My hat’s off to Malory, who’s very first video was her daughters. She might be hearing from me if I can’t pull myself together enough to do this.

Sometimes, I think it would be a good project for me to work on. I love the finished product, and admit that I was addicted to watching each video on ELHAS…sometimes repeatedly. Knowing the pain that each parent felt and trying to see some beauty in the awful tragedy that became part of our lives. Feeling connected – if briefly - to someone or something after a trauma that disconnects you from everything you know. It was a comfort in it’s own way, and I’m truly grateful to have had that.

I’m slowly getting closer to making my own. For months I’ve gathered music and quotes that I like. I’ve thought about Brayden’s story, and how I want it told. And then I think…who am I going to show this to? No one. Maybe not even John. To remember our son that way helps me hold on to him, but for John it only intensifies the pain he feels in our loss.

This would be something for me, and me only. I’m getting there.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Dazed and Confused

Not sure what's going on here. It's not like I haven't been sad, but I'm feeling another shift in grief. I haven't had a break down or the threat of one. I haven't cried. I feel guilty for not thinking of Brayden more often or like I had been. In fact, my guilt seems to be the predominant feeling this last week.

Like many other mothers of rainbow babies, I wondered if my current pregnancy should be mentioned in my grief blog at all. In this case, I think one has a direct relation to the other.

I heard the baby’s heartbeat and felt movement for the first time this week. For the first time this pregnancy, I feel…hope? A little excitement? The knowledge that life sometimes continues? I don’t want to fight excitement about a new baby, but now I find myself in that position. As if feeling joy right now were a betrayal to our loss. A betrayal to Brayden.

I know that sounds silly (and a little text book ) but there it is. I honestly feel like I’m betraying my son’s memory with my eagerness to embrace this new life. I’m also in the stage of picking out nursery items, making lists of what we don’t have and saving money just in case it’s a girl because we already have all the boy clothes. Exactly what I was doing this time last summer.

I’m struggling to find a balance. I don’t want to fight to hold on to my grief. I know the worst is behind me, but far from over. I don’t want sadness to always wrap the precious little memory I have of him but really, what else is there? I didn’t see him smile or hear him giggle. I didn’t smell him right after a bath. I didn’t feel his breath on my shoulder as he slept. All I have are memories of being pregnant and one day in the hospital with him. I can’t change those or make them less sad. As much as I try to inject happiness into those memories by trying to see the positive, all I see is tragedy in what might have been.

So…how to let go of sadness enough to allow myself joy without letting go of memories? Such a mess, all tangled together. This is a new feeling for me, and may take some time to sort out.

I have no doubt that I’ll get past this, as I’ve crossed other hurdles in the grief process that at the time I felt I could not. With time, I’ll figure all this out. For now, I’m still confused.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Control...the illusion?

I wanted to write a bit on a good day and today I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve been using this blog to get out whatever negative, sadness or grief/guilt I’m feeling (which was my intent) but I don’t feel that those things are all that encompass my life now.

It used to be. For months and months, grief weighed me down. My first thought (and the one I’m more apt to speak out loud) is that I have more control over my grief than I did. That’s not exactly the case, but the feeling of being in control is something that grief robs you of, so it feels right to say I have control over it now – meaning I don’t randomly break down in public or cry privately in the shower a few times a day (my family thought I’d taken a new love for cleanliness, I bet).

What’s happened is that my grief has ebbed away, not gone, but become a secondary thing to living. The “ups” and “downs” we experience slowly change to more “ups” than “downs”, so it’s easier to recognize when the “downs” are coming. I’ll wake up one morning not quite feeling like I did the day before – I just feel kind of subdued. That’s a first indication. Subdued changes to semi-lethargic, and even as I wonder where my energy might have gone, I know. A break down is coming – I feel it, but I can put it off just a little until I’m ready to deal with it.

By “ready to deal with it”, I mean I can make sure I am in the position to have the house to myself. Send my husband to work. Get my son to school, and now that it’s summer send him to a friend’s house for an afternoon. Sad music is usually in order, and yes, I have a playlist for just that on iTunes. It helps set the mood, so to speak.

I have a few grief avenues I pursue when having these days. Sometimes I catch up on loss friends blogs. Sometimes I start things off by writing in my own. Usually, though, the best thing I can do for myself is go into the nursery and shut the door. There, surrounded by things meant for my son, I can let go and be truly sad.

I usually cry for a while. That’s okay, because I allow myself that time…I give myself that time. It’s necessary. After I get it all out, I feel drained. After a few hours, I’m functioning again. After that, I’m good until the next round.

I don’t have these days every other day or, I’m happy to say, even every week. I’m not on a schedule, it happens when it happens. I don’t know if other loss moms deal with grief the same way I do, but I actually feel fortunate that I can feel these “down” days approaching and can prepare somewhat. I feel fortunate that they are getting less frequent.

I also feel fortunate to know that the lessening of grief does not mean I don’t miss and mourn my son. It doesn’t mean he didn’t happen, or that I don’t remember (how could I forget?). It hurts like hell to think that it means I’m letting go, but I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a part of it.

I’m not letting go of him…he’ll always be a part of me, and my family. He’s my little man, and always will be. What I’m letting go of is the guilt, anger and resentment attached to his death. Not all at once, and maybe not entirely. But, it’s slowly going.

And, before I leave the wrong impression about compartmentalizing my grief into those “down” days, I can still cry pretty easily if I let myself think about it. Those “down” days aren’t just brought on by a build up of grief – sometimes it’s meeting someone with a new baby, seeing a pregnant woman or – worse – seeing a baby exactly the age my son should have been. Where, months ago, I would barely make it to the car before the tears were flowing, now I think, “Oh, man. I might be taking a looooong shower when I get home.”

Maybe that’s where the control thought comes in. I have just enough of that control over grief to say, “Not here, not right now” and it listens. Not gone, just put off for enough time until I have privacy. Some don’t feel the need to hide their grief, but I don’t really feel that’s what I’m doing. For me, grief is private (LOL as I blog about it…I know).

I acknowledge that my husband doesn’t feel grief the same way I do and even when he has sad days, they are nothing compared to mine. We grieved together, but at this time and stage in the grief process, I prefer to have my break down’s alone. I don’t want to talk it out, I don’t want comfort. I just want to be sad, cry for a while and know in the back of my mind that I’m not worrying my husband. I don’t need more guilt. As painful as it can be sometimes, I feel like it’s MY time to grieve…I don’t have to share it. It’s my pain and I’m dealing with it the way I want to, the way that works best for me and no one else. It’s also a little time that I feel I get to spend with Brayden. Just the two of us, and my grief that he isn’t here. Does that make sense?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Self Torture

I’m doing it again. Torturing myself. I’m not sure why I’m compelled to do this, but I know I’m not the only one. It’s probably just one more fun side affect of losing a child.

I researched cord compression, the most plausible explanation for my son’s death. It fits with all the facts we have surrounding his death, and my current doctor believes it’s the most likely explanation.

Cord compression is where some part of the baby is pressing the umbilical cord to the side of the uterine wall. The first sign of cord compression is a drop in the baby’s heart rate. Second is decrease of fetal movement. Third…there is no third. After the second sign, if undetected, the result is death.

I remember becoming aware of his movements decreasing. It was the Friday before we lost him. I told myself not to panic, this happens towards the end of pregnancy due to lack of room. He’s still moving that’s all that matters. I didn’t want to call my doctor’s office (an hour and a half away) because my doctor was on vacation and I had already had a very unpleasant encounter with his substitute that left me in tears. I would wait it out and just be aware. No need to go through a false alarm this late in the game. We only had a week and a half to go, everything will be fine.

I woke up Tuesday morning realizing he hadn’t moved all night.

I’m not sure why blame is so important here. Maybe it’s not blame as much as misplaced anger over such senselessness. There is really no one to be angry at, when you think about it. Currently, however, I’m angry at my old OB for not thinking weekly appointments were necessary before my c-section. Partly, I’m sure, because he was going on vacation and other patients were being squeezed in until he left.

In fact, the last time I saw him he said, “Well, I guess I’ll see you folks in three weeks!”

When my son was born he was on vacation...again.

Had we had our weekly appointments, would he have been able to detect fetal distress? Had I not been such a fucking coward and gone to the doctor, false alarm and bitch replacement be damned, would my son be here today?

I’ll never have answers. Somehow, it doesn’t stop me from searching for them.

The doctor attending that night at the hospital (coincidentally my OB’s partner in his practice) told me her best hypothesis was that I had undetected gestational diabetes and that’s what killed my son. My OB (shockingly) concurred. (This information came five months after my son’s death via phone call). This conflicted with what the hospital told me was a cord accident.

This put me into a setback, to put it mildly. After coming to terms with losing our child and trying to live again, I get this new information to digest.

After that, I lived for months with the understanding that I was responsible for my son’s death. Months of hating myself, blaming myself and wishing that I could just die too so the guilt would finally leave and justice would be done – how could I ever forgive myself for this? Amazingly, that didn’t happen. I still got up every day, went about my life and managed to function again.

My new doctor has reviewed everything and thinks the information I was given from my old OB was careless. I had no sugar or protein in my urine and Brayden wasn't overly large (born at 8.5 lbs)...two obvious signs of uncontrolled GD. Also, because my son turned breech so late in the pregnancy, there were no abnormalities in lab work and he was perfect in every way, he’s confident saying he believes it was a cord compression accident. It would have been all too easy for it to happen.

Does this make me feel better? Not really. I still hold myself responsible for not going in when some inner voice told me that something was wrong. It’s so easy to mistake paranoia for genuine trouble, but I should have taken that chance. Who knows what may have happened?

Why do we torture ourselves like this? It’s not like it takes a lot to keep the pain alive for us – delving deeper into the how’s and why’s of it only rub salt in the wounds…especially when, deep down, we know we’ll never know why. Not really. We may have a physical answer, something that satisfies the science end of death, but we’ll never have the why us? answered.

Life is so unfair. Trying to see the beauty in it now feels pointless. I just see it how it is – sometimes good, sometimes shitty. But, none of it seems fair.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Another step back

I’ve spent part of this evening reading blogs of friends…older blogs that were written long before I came along to this world. I have to admit, their stories are painful to read but bring comfort at the same time. Other loss moms feel as I do and think as I do. I’m not as crazy as I think sometimes.

I’ve found myself “backsliding” (as I’ve come to think of it). Reliving the grief process, yet again. This is not the first time in the last months I’ve been here, but each time is different. The sadness has shifted, the pain less sharp but deeper.

I spoke with my new doctor this last week. He was shocked at the lack of information we weren’t provided was able to shed new light on the loss of our son. At the time, the news didn’t mean much to me…gone is gone. Now, days later, I feel a little differently. Not better or worse, just different. Knowing he’s gone from a freak twist of fate, an ugly turn of nature, a fluke…call it what you will…makes me angry all over again. The unfairness of it all is startling.

I was able to go into his room the other day and sit for a while. Surrounded by things that were meant to be his, I sat on the floor and pulled out his pictures. I ran my fingers over his photos, held the blanket the hospital wrapped him in and cried. I opened a few boxes of the baby clothes that were packed and pulled a few things out.

Here’s where the crazy part comes in. I sat looking at his swing and wondered if I should get his box of ashes and put him in the swing. I could put his blanket in there, give it a push and rock him for a bit. I sat and fantasized about that for a while – and even though the thought was, at the time, appealing – I then realized I was one step away from wrapping a doll up and putting it in a stroller and going for a walk, introducing my neighbors to my “son”.

I can’t explain where that thought or impulse came from – but I’ll be the first to admit that it was a little off the charts. I don’t even want to guess what my husband would have said had he come home at that moment.

I’m not quite sure where this leaves me. I’m really aching for him right now. Sometimes, I catch myself forgetting that this is my reality. I read stories of losses and think, “Wow, that would be awful” and then remember…it is awful. It happened to us, I know this.

Some of this was brought on by my doctor’s appointment. I lost count of how many people I had to explain our loss to…how many times I had to relive it in one day. I didn’t cry (I’m proud of myself) but I was close. I bit the side of my tongue more than once to hold the tears back. I just wanted to get through my appointment…crying could wait for home.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The best intentions sometimes aren't

I’ve had my first experience with…well, I’m not sure what to call it.

We all grieve differently. Some are internal, some reach out for help. Some grieve longer, while others are functioning sooner. All of us learn to incorporate our loss into our lives, reborn as the parents of lost babies to cope as best we can with our new world.

Sometimes I equate this with the loss of an appendage…an arm, a leg or sight. We are alive, but not whole and learning to live as such. The internally handicapped, with shards of our hearts and souls ripped and shredded, masquerading as normal human beings with no one being the wiser to our tremendous grief.

I understand my reality. I live it and some days it’s painful to breathe.

I remember leaving the hospital. It was so loud…horns in traffic, birds chirping, people in the parking lot on their cell phones. I was even painfully aware of the wind rustling through the trees. I hated all of it. Didn’t the world know I had just lost my son? How could the world go on when one tiny soul was missing? Why didn’t it just stop for a moment in recognition of our grief and pain? Just for a second to acknowledge a precious life gone and that we survived to experience unbelievable pain?

But, the world doesn’t stop, not for a moment, no matter how much we want it to.

And we cope; we all do, as best we can.

Today is International Baby lost Mother’s Day. I received a flower on Face Book from a fellow baby lost mother for this occasion, and I was touched. Nobody can truly understand a loss like this with no direct experience with it. When baby loss mothers gather together to lend support to each other, its truly a beautiful thing and comforting in a situation with very little to offer in the way of solace.

I have a childhood friend who lost her son in February. She was told at 21 weeks he would not survive – a physical impossibility for him, and having to carry him with that knowledge was devastating for her. Our personalities are not the same, but being loss mothers, I felt comfortable passing this flower to her in recognition of Mother’s Day and her loss.

Her reaction was unexpected and hurtful. Like I said, I understand nobody grieves the same way or at the same timeline. I also understand that grief and pain can come out in unexpected ways. Her e-mail to me demanding I erase it from her page was cuttingly direct and personal at the same time.

She said that she didn’t feel the need to “advertise” her grief like “some people” (I would assume that would be me), and because of that “some people” (I would assume me again) treated hers as less real. She also said I wasn’t respecting her process, as I grieved differently than she is.

She said more, but I’m only touching on this part for now.

This is a slap in the face to me in a huge way. Weeks after we lost our son she got her diagnosis and I was the first call she made. We grieved together at that time, talked from four in the morning until five thirty. We talked every couple of days for weeks after…usually about her grief and her situation, which didn’t bother me as it took my mind off of my own.

She had hinted before that what she was going through was worse than what I went through – saying things like “you just wouldn’t understand” (oh, really). I let this go. Knowing her nature and mine, it was best not to touch on it. I told myself I was her grief talking – sometimes, we truly feel like no one else on earth really could understand, even those who have been through it. I don’t think either one of us came out on top, and it’s just stupid to compare the two situations. There are no winners.

Now, however, I’m angry and hurt and all of the conversations we had these last months are coming to mind. After her son passed, she didn’t want to talk about it. At all. I respected that. So, we talked about the future – her plans to try again immediately and mine to wait. How long to wait. What we felt was best for each of us – normal stuff.

Now I receive a scathing e-mail full of talking-downs intended to put me in my place. I’ve moved from hurt to pissed in the span of one morning. I’ve wondered if I was out of line, if she was, if we both were.

My conclusion: a well-meant gesture was taken and blown out of proportion, resulting in harsh words that can’t be taken back. Was it her grief talking? Possibly. Can it be forgiven? I don’t know. By explaining so bluntly her opinion of my grieving process that I inadvertently imposed on her, I feel she went too far.

I’m still grieving, too.

And this member of the “some people” club is choosing to “advertise” their hurt and frustration on their blog ;-)

At this point, I’m disappointed, hurt and feel like I’ve lost a friend when, ironically, through my loss I’ve found tremendous support through online friends and groups.

I suppose there are people out there who do not need those things. I just hadn’t encountered one until today.

Friday, April 23, 2010


As I sit here with tears streaming down my face, I can’t help but go over the grieving process…as I live the revival of the grieving process.

Yesterday was seven months to the day marking our loss. I’ve tried to let the day go – it’s not fair, to me or the memory of my son if I relive his passing each month.

Easier said than done.

That is the rational side of me. The side that says it’s normal to miss him and still grieve, but not to watch each month slowly tick by with each passing of the 22nd. The side that tells me I have a family that needs me to be okay, that I have a living son that needs his mother.

The mother side of me is slipping back to those first few months. The pain is intense again, and I have thoughts I wouldn’t dare murmur out loud. I’m angry and devastated all over again. And I miss our son so much that I just want to lay down, pull the covers over my head, close my eyes and cry until there’s nothing left.

I knew the grief would come in waves. I thought it would be shorter waves. I didn’t think I would be kicked back to the beginning at this point, but that’s where I find myself.

I hate this life and this reality. I hate the way I feel. I miss my son. I miss him so much. We feel him gone every day…I feel him gone every second of every day.

It’s like my heart is breaking all over again.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Today, I wish...

Today I just miss my little man...so much that I hurt all over, centering in my heart.

Today, I just wish I had held him...just once, for just one memory.

Today, I wish I had run my finger over the soft skin of his face, so I could have the memory of him imbedded in my skin.

Today, I wish I had just once put my face to his tiny head and breathed in his scent, so at night when I lay down I can imagine, for just a moment, that I have a piece of him with me…if only a memory.

Today, I wish I had nuzzled his hair, memorized each strand as it touched my cheek, so I could remember how it felt when I feel like I have nothing left.

Today, for the first time, I wish I had been stronger in the moment I needed to be.

Today, not for the first time, I hate myself for being weak and not wanting to look reality in the face.

Today, I just wish I could have that moment back. The only moment I had. The only moment I would ever have. The moment I can’t ever have again.

Today, I live and breathe regret with everything that is in me.

Nothing gold can stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

As I look up to the skies above...

As I look up to the skies above,
The stars stretch endlessly--
But somehow all those rays of light
Seem dimmer now to me.
As I watch the morning sun appear,
The shadows still don't fade—
As if the brightest light of all
Was somehow swept away.

Though I see the branches swaying,
And watch their dancing leaves--
The echoes carried on the wind
Don't sound the same to me.
As I listen to the morning birds
Sing softly from afar--
It seems to be a mournful tune
That echoes in my heart.

Another day has come again,
As time moves surely on--
But nothing now seems quite the same,
To know that you are gone.
The days and weeks and months ahead
Will never be the same--
Because a treasure beyond words
Can never be replaced.

The loss cannot be measured now,
The void cannot be filled--
And though someday the grief may fade,
Your mark will live on still.
For even with my heavy heart,
I know that I've been blessed
To have been the one who's life was touched
With warmth so infinite.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I’ll start this blog off with a warning – there will be triggers, particularly for those trying to conceive.

I’ve not once hidden my feelings on here, so it would be a shame to start now. It would defeat the entire purpose of this blog, anyway.

I discovered on Friday that John and I are pregnant again. This was unplanned, as we had decided to wait a few more months to actively try and had, these last few months, taken extra care to not get pregnant.

Nature found a way, despite the fact that I don’t feel ready.

I think I’m still in shock – days later – and haven’t fully digested the information. In my plan, I had a few months to mentally gear up, maybe look at baby things and get in the spirit – it’s hard not to get excited while looking at adorable little girl dresses, tiny baby boy shoes and all the neat toys and accessories that are out now. Then we would start trying, I would buy pregnancy tests, get excited at the tiniest hint of nausea and figure out a creative way to tell John when we got our positive.

My plans never work out…should have seen that one coming.

I feel almost guilty writing this – there are so many mommies-to-be out there who don’t get the opportunity to discover an unplanned pregnancy, many women who suffer repeated miscarriages, and those who have difficulty carrying their children to term.

But, this is about me. So, with a respectful nod of acknowledgement to those unfortunate women out there who struggle with similar issues, I’m forging ahead with what I feel.

Which is funny, because I am unsure of how I feel. I really don’t know. I’m not elated, excited or exactly happy. I don’t feel pregnant in the way that I should – morning sickness, dizziness and a strong sense of smell are all present. The joy is missing. The grief is still there.

I knew I would be grieving for Brayden still, be it a month or year or ten years from now. I didn’t expect it to absolutely eclipse any happiness I would have in a future pregnancy. I didn’t expect to receive congratulations with a frozen smile and a not-so-believable lie about how I’m excited, too.

Because I’m not excited, and it breaks my heart to say that.

I really hate that I feel this way. I’ve been trying to shake it, doing everything in my power to change my way of thinking. Nothing is working. I feel less than happy – in fact, I feel almost nothing. Void. Empty. If I’m honest with myself, I don’t expect this pregnancy to carry out – like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I would suppose those feelings are normal. I would also suppose that it’s me just protecting me on some level I don’t understand and can’t change. It doesn’t mean I like it – I just don’t get it. It’s not fair to the new baby, and it’s not fair to me.

John is more than excited, which lifts me up just a little. To see him so happy after what we’ve been through means the world to me. Why, then, can’t I be that happy? I just feel…nothing.

It’s only been six months, but it’s been a lifetime. I’m not scared like I’d thought I’d be. I’m not nervous. I’m not anything. I’m here, and I’m pregnant. That’s about the extent of my thoughts at this point.

I’m not sure how to snap out of this. I just feel…sad. What’s wrong with me?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Daddy's grieve, too

I’ve been so focused on my own grief, I haven’t really given much thought to my husband.

He was the strong one when we lost Brayden. He fielded the visitors and phone calls. He made arrangements with the funeral home. He made sure I had plenty of ice and pressed on my stomach when I coughed or sneezed. He squeezed in the hospital bed and let me cry and cry when I couldn’t sleep and needed his arms around me. When he wasn’t doing that, he slept in the fold out chair beside my bed and didn’t leave my side.

When we got home, he ran the errands into town so I wouldn’t have to go. He made arrangements before I got home to have the nursery door secured shut, so I wouldn’t once have to walk by it and see it empty. He learned how to cook entire meals, pack lunches, do laundry, and shower and dress a third grader. He endured buckets of my tears without shedding any of his own.

He put up with my listlessness and sporadic bouts of sadness, grief and anger while being my rock. He never complained. He never got thanked. I asked him a few times why he didn’t cry – the responses usually varied between “guys grieve differently” to “I suppose it wasn’t real to me yet”.

These last few months have been difficult for us. While I’m nowhere near being over my grief, having to go back to work so soon after losing our son was very hard for me. I was a little resentful, even though it wasn’t John’s fault. It was a practical decision for our family. Still, it hurt to go.

I’ve seen a change in John these last two or so months. He’s ranged from clingy to angry at the slightest thing, and I had told myself that it was the transition from being a full time worker to nothing – it’s big change, and takes serious adjusting.

A few weeks ago, he added drinking to the list. The man I married was never a drinker. He would get angry, drink and pick a fight…usually over something small. A few times he left, coming back hours later even more angry. I just didn’t understand it, but I put up with it for a while.

It all came to a head last week. We had a fight to end all fights, and I seriously considered that maybe we were done, or at the very least needed to a separation. It was all just getting to be too much to handle. I was stressed as well, and thought he was acting rather selfish with no thought to our family.

The other night, the day after we had our biggest fight of our marriage, we talked. That’s one thing we have always been able to do until recently. We stopped really talking to each other about the things that matter – how we feel and how we are truly doing. I had a list of bottom lines I was going to hand to him, things that needed to stop, and behaviors that needed to change. I was prepared to hear a list of his own, and ready and willing to see if we could come to a meeting point to make things work.

What I got during our conversation was a surprise. I walked away feeling ashamed of myself for not giving him what he needed, as he tried to do for me. For not keeping in mind that I’m not the only one who lost a child here, but rather one half of a whole that did.

Don’t get me wrong on this – he still acted like an ass. It doesn’t excuse his behavior. It just explains it.

I asked him what was wrong, and he started right in with all of his gripes. Our 9 year-old son back-talking too much was irritating him. My attitude wasn’t the best after work, he wanted me to smile more and hated that he couldn’t make me. He didn’t feel like he could control our situation or contribute to our family. He was frustrated and he felt useless. He couldn’t do anything getting a job when there were none to be had.

He couldn’t change the fact that our son was gone forever.

At that point, his face crumpled and he completely lost it. For the first time since we lost Brayden, he cried. And cried and cried. Sobbed while he talked.

He wished he had made me go to the hospital sooner…three days, he said. If he could go back and change it, he would make sure we went in three days before we heard no heartbeat.

He said he hated that our doctor was always on vacation and never there for appointments or our delivery. If he had been around, maybe he would have known something was wrong.

He cried when he talked about his friend with three beautiful boys, and said that was suppose to be his life…OUR life…and it was unfair and wrong that we were denied our chance to have it.

I wrapped my arms around him, completely stunned that all of this was pouring out of him. Of course, I was crying at that point, too. As he cried into my shoulder, he kept saying, “That was my boy….he was my boy…my son.”

And I let him cry while I told him it was going to be okay. I didn’t realize how ready John was to be a father until that point. I’m unsure of when he realized it himself.

The last few months, I really envied John his cool head. I felt very alone in my grief, and resented the fact that he didn’t join me. I thought Brayden didn’t mean as much to him as he did me, and took him at his word that it just didn’t feel real. Turns out, he didn’t feel that he could join me in my grief...so, he put his own sadness aside until I was on my feet again.

I read that men process their grief differently, and that in some cases they will realize their grief months after the fact. I don’t know at what point I stopped thinking that applied to my husband.

I don’t know at what point I forgot I was one half of a whole, that his needs became non-existent or that he even had any.

We ended our conversation with promises, and feeling closer to each other than we had in months.

And I slept better that night than I had in a long time.

I don't know what the future holds for us; but, right now I'm more than ready to find out. Because I know we'll do it together.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


We had our son cremated. Neither my husband or I have family plots at the cemetery and I couldn’t stand the thought of Brayden being buried all alone in the cold and the dark. Besides, I’ve always had healthy dislike for cemeteries…they are so sad to me. I didn’t want my baby in a place I felt was warped in sadness…our situation was sad enough. So, that left us with little option given the way we felt.

Now, we are faced with what to do with his cremains (the proper term for cremated remains). There are a number of things we can do. We discussed and discarded having his ashes made into diamonds – completely inappropriate, and just a tad weird in my opinion. We talked about placing them in the ground and planting a tree – which was our original idea, but we are unsure if we will rebuild or move in the future, and I don’t want Brayden to be left behind if we decide to go.

And right now, I really hate that he’s in a little box.

When my mother passed away, my grandmother kept her ashes in a box on our fireplace mantel. For over twenty years, that’s where it stayed. I’m not okay with that. I don’t think it’s healthy – remember your loved ones, but let them go.

We talked about having a little memorial and spreading his remains in a beautiful spot on a mountain or in the river. The thought clogs up my throat and makes me panic. I would literally have nothing left if we did that. Nothing of him left, just things that were intended for him.

I found a couple websites that make beautiful jewelry that hold tiny amounts of ash or hair – they seal closed, so you can keep a small piece of your loved one with you forever. I’m considering it, as it would let us have a memorial service and I would still have a tiny piece of him to keep with me (literally, as morbid as it is). Deep down, I don’t think I’ll do that either. I don’t want his ashes hanging from a chain on my neck.

I’m not one to create a shrine of him in our home. I won’t make a mantel and put his things there and torture myself by looking at it everyday. That would be too hard, and again, unhealthy for me.

So, I’m still left with very little options. Maybe I’m just not ready to let him go.

Maybe I never will be.

I won’t let him sit in that little box for much longer. I have a decision to make, and with summer almost here…little time before our window of opportunity closes on us.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Trying Again...

I’ve done a lot of thinking over the last couple days…with a few conversations with online friends and a good friend I have here thrown in. I don’t have any conclusions yet. I’m starting to really think that there aren’t any. In fact, I’m positive there aren’t. I will never hit a point to where I’m okay with this. I won’t suddenly wake up one morning with less anxiety over pregnancy. I won’t ever stop thinking of my son, and how we lost him.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Brayden. Not with my usual sadness, but a little more objectively. Backing off of my feelings and taking a good hard look at our situation. How would I feel if I were pregnant right now? Would I be happy? Would I panic? Would I be a nervous wreck? Will I freak out? Will nine months and a baby’s first year stress me out to the point of aging me ten years?

Yes, to all. I would feel all of those things, just as all of the brave mother’s of losses have before me. What happened to us was tragic, heart wrenching and cruel. It almost destroyed me. It doesn’t mean it has to happen again. It doesn’t mean it won’t.

So, where does that leave me? It leaves me with a little more knowledge to walk into my next pregnancy. I’ll buy a Doppler. I’ll find a doctor that will understand my pain, and who will hold my hand through this journey. I’ll keep my good friends close to me and hope that they understand I’ll be leaning on them more than ever.

This is my plan. When I’m ready…I’m almost there.

I hope anyone who reads this and has this same fear can find meaning in it. We can’t let this fear hold us from what we want most. We can’t continue to see our friends, families and loved ones go on in their lives, have and raise healthy babies while we sit by and watch, terrified because we worry about something that may or may not happen. What we can do is realize that it’s worth the risk and face our fear.

I want this dream. Like anything worthwhile, it won’t be easy.

And, I don’t expect it to be.

I will probably go back and forth on this, but there really isn’t a point because my mind is made up. We will have our family. I will learn to cope with my fear and overcome it to make it happen.

Getting these feelings out in the open has helped. Isn’t it said that the first step to healing is admitting the problem? I’ve admitted it, and at first I felt crappy…what mother doesn’t want another baby? I’ve always dreamed of having kids. Admitting I didn’t want the pregnancy made me also admit that I still want children.

With my hands out to each side, I weigh my options…I want children, bottom line. I didn’t even have to think about it.

We will start trying in a few months. If John had his way, we’d start now. I’m not quite there yet, but feel very lucky to have a husband who is okay with any decision I make…even if I say I’m done.

I will use these next months to adjust my thinking, think positively and keep in mind that this is exactly what I want.

I want this. I’ll work for this. I’ll sacrifice for this.

Because, that’s what mother’s do. ;-)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Now...and Then.

I have a confession to make. It’s a hard one, so bear with me.

I don’t want to be pregnant again. I don’t think I can do it.

My husband doesn’t know this. I’m just now realizing it. I know six months isn’t a lot of time, but with the path I’ve traveled…I’m very clear on this. It’s not that I don’t want to complete our family – I want that will everything that I am. I want a baby so badly that it’s a tangible emotion. But, lets be realistic. I’m part of an elite group that knows…not just thinks, KNOWS…that life isn’t fair and not everyone gets a happy ending. I’m even content knowing that, in an odd sort of way. I get it. I understand. I just don’t think I can go through this again.

And that’s what I’m really talking about. Every pregnancy, birth and raising of a child deals with risks. Most don’t come close to touching those risks…and I’m happy for them, truly. But, those risks touched us. So, now I’m aware and walking into situations with new eyes. Death is a natural conclusion to life – and unfortunately, it can happen in the middle or beginning of it. I’m not okay with those odds anymore. I’m absolutely terrified of being pregnant again.

I’ve been hiding behind a barrage of excuses. I would like to lose more baby weight. Work is going great. We aren’t on our feet yet. Just a few more months…anything to buy myself more time putting it off. It has nothing to do with losing Brayden, and everything to do with it. I miss him more than anything, and I don’t look at this as having a “replacement” baby. He can’t be replaced. But, I know now that this is a risk you take to have a family. I know that this could happen to us again in our next pregnancy. SIDS could happen. Accidents could happen. Another cord accident could happen.

It scares the living shit out of me.

I’m sure from an outsider’s perspective, this seems extreme and paranoid. I don’t care about an outsider’s perspective. This is my perspective. And I’m scared. Truly and honestly terrified.

Emotionally I’m fine. I still cry almost every day for Brayden, but that sharp stabbing edge of grief is dulling…I’m free to be sad without being devastated. I’m healing. As painful as it is, I’m moving on…Brayden will always be with me, but I’m entering a point in my life where here on out, my loss won’t consume me.

And, man, do I want a baby. A real, living breathing baby. I don’t feel this is a betrayal of my son’s memory – he was a gift, and a dream come true for us. I will love him always. But, we still have that dream of a family. To fulfill that dream, I have to chalk up my fear and do my part.

Does the fear outweigh the dream? No. Because of this, we will try for another pregnancy. Is it normal to feel this way? Absolutely – I’m not alone, I know that. I know it’s normal to feel this way. What I didn’t expect was for the fear to consume me to a point of standing still. I’m hoping that this fear – like my grief – will subside to a point of manageability over time.

Sounds silly when I put it that way, doesn’t it? That’s just me. I’m coping the only way I know how, getting through each day the best way I know how.

John is ready to try again. Honestly, I am too. I want our dream to come true.

I’m just so scared. So, so scared. I just can’t lose another child. I just can’t.

This is new for me. I’m not afraid of anything (with the exception of ticks, which is more of a very strong dislike, not a fear really…nasty little things). I am strong. I can handle what is thrown my way. I have never been afraid…until now.

Now is different.

Now is after Brayden. Now is post-loss. Now is a reality check. Now is real life.

I don’t like now. I like then. Then, when I didn’t know what I know now. Then, when my rose tinted glasses were fully in place and I was fearless, limitless and ready to take life by the horns.

I miss then.

I feel better getting my fears out on here. Admitting fear usually takes care of the fear itself, rendering it powerless.

Lets hope this is true…I’m counting on it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Walking through water

Six months. Specifically, six months today. Has it really been six months? Really? It feels like a lifetime. When I look back at all my family has been through, it has been a lifetime.

When will I see the 22nd of each month go by and not think of the day I lost my son? Will it be next month? The month after? When?

It’s so hard to describe the place I’m at right now. Some days, I’m okay. I’m sure I have whole days where I don’t think of what happened to us go through my head (although none come to mind). Some days, I think of Brayden, talk to him in my head, tell him how sorry I am and how much I miss him. Other days, I think about THE day, the day we lost him. Those are probably the worst days.

There is a woman at work who is pregnant. I really hate seeing her. I hate her little round tummy, the congratulations she receives and the glow that she has. I hate watching her get bigger, remembering where I was at that time in my pregnancy. How happy and excited we were, and how everything changed.

Six months. Wow. Such a small amount of time, but it doesn’t feel that way. It’s like I’ve been walking through water these last months, each move slow and taking so much effort to get there. It’s been such a struggle, and yet I’ve come so far.

I’m making this entry short today. I’m remembering my little guy, thinking about him and still mourning him. Today, I don’t feel like I have unanswered questions or venting to do. I just want to remember him and nothing else.

To all the mommies out there who have lost their little ones – I’m remembering you today, too. My heart breaks for every new loss I hear about, and the ones I don’t.

I hope that peace finds all of us. I hope all of us find peace. Life moves forward for everyone, but for us…we’re still walking through water.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Living with loss...and guilt.

Through support groups, I've made a lot of new "friends" online; all of us connected by the one thing we wish had never touched our lives - our loss. And while our stories may be different, there are a few things that ring true for us all. After a loss and the devastating grief that comes with it, also comes the unexplainable and gut wrenching guilt. We all have it. Each one of us. I don’t know why, really, and yet I do.

It’s easy to tell a loss mommy or daddy they have nothing to feel guilty about. From an outsider’s perspective, it’s pretty clear that accidents and horrible twists of nature and fate happen. Be devastated and ask why me. Sure…but don’t feel guilty. Get angry, cry when you need to and grieve…but don’t feel guilty.

Guilt over a loss is something hard to explain to those who haven’t experienced it. I think some people think they understand, but they don’t. Not really. Knowing what I know now, I can say that I never truly would have.

Before the guilt really sets in, and after total grief has taken over, there is anger and blame. It’s usually unfounded, but it’s there. I was angry at the powers that be, nature, and the world. Then it got more focused…I became angry at other new moms with happy, healthy live children, my doctor for not being there and the friends I had who suddenly couldn’t find the words of comfort I needed to hear and left me alone. I was angry with my husband for not knowing how to comfort me, and the solitude I felt in my grief. Finally after being angry at anything and everything around me, I got angry with myself.

I just knew that somehow it was my fault that my baby died. No, our baby, which made the guilt worse. I took my husband’s son away. My body failed, and I was to blame. My body had betrayed me, and I could never forgive myself.

Was it because I worked all the way through my pregnancy? Lifting things that maybe were a tad too heavy? Not exercising like I should have? Not eating healthy like I planned? Or worse…suspecting he wasn’t moving a whole lot those few days leading up to his death and not saying anything. Keeping my mouth shut because I thought I was being paranoid. Could I have prevented that if only I had spoken up? Would my son be with me now if only I had said something?

I’ll never have my answers. The truth is, most of us won’t. It’s a peace we have to find in ourselves, a knowledge we have to come to terms with. Knowing my son won’t come back even if I had an explanation for his death didn’t stop my mind from running over all of the events that led up to it. It didn’t stop me from hating myself because I went against my instincts that something was wrong.

My only job was to protect him, and I failed. Failed in the worst way.

No one could have told me it wasn’t my fault when I knew that it had to be.

I’ve worked through most of that in the last few months. I’ve asked a lot of whys. It’s hard to wrap your mind around the fact that sometimes, shit just happens. And sometimes, that shit happens to you.

That’s putting it extremely mildly, I know. But it’s almost a bottom line. I’m not alone. I’m not the only one who has experienced this. Horrible things like this unfortunately happen every day. I’m not alone. I’m not alone. The thought breaks my heart and brings a bit of comfort at the same time.

Why do we feel the need to place the blame somewhere? I ask this as I still look for the answer. I think it’s because loss is a consuming, devastating, debilitating, life changing event and we need to know that there’s a reason we are experiencing it. There has to be a reason this happened to me. I’m a good person. We didn’t deserve this.

At the same time I was thinking that I must have done something wrong, I would think I did all of the right things. I didn’t drink. I didn’t smoke. I didn’t do drugs. I went to all of my appointments and took my vitamins every day. And, I was happy.

I was happy.

We’ll never know why this happened to us. I’ve slowly learned to forgive myself. Almost. Letting go of the guilt means I’m absolving myself of all the responsibility and blame in our loss. Acknowledging it wasn’t my fault. Telling myself that I can let go, and it’s okay.

Strangely, the guilt is the strongest connection I have with my son. I’m not ready to let go of it just yet. I’m not sure I will be able to. The goal now is finding that peace within myself and coming to terms with what happened. No wishing, no blaming.

Just peace.

Time will give me that. I will give me that…with time. Until then…I’m still a work in progress.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Oh, The Things People Say...

As I look back on my first blog, I realized it was terribly lacking in something. The true, horrid emotions that were going on at that time. The invisible fist that was gripping my heart and squeezing to the point of stabbing pain. The constant state of not being able to breathe and fighting for air just to scream. The denial, which I lived with for a while and was my friend…and the reality, which would intrude on the denial and had the power to shatter me into a million sharp pieces repeatedly until I just wanted to wither and die.

For as many holes I have in my memory from that time, I remember some things with startling clarity. How it felt when I heard no heart beat. My mind screaming that they had to be wrong. The gratefulness of the pain after surgery, for the slight distraction it provided. And, the looks I got. I hated those looks. The polite inquires as to how I was doing, made with eyes filled with sadness and pity. I hated that. Really hated that.

Everyone knew. I hated that, too. In small town life, it’s asking too much to be invisible, but I wanted to be. I wanted to go to the store, get my stuff and get out before I got the look. It never happened. Not once. Not at the bank, gas station, school or restaurant. Everywhere I went I got the look. I felt like a circus freak on top of my pain and confusion. It was constantly nerve wracking.

And the things people said to me…I’d joined an online loss support group, so I thought I was prepared. I was wrong. Horrible comments combined with the look made me a hermit for a few months. It was almost impossible for me to leave my house.
I’ve mentally compiled answers to each thing that was said to me – since I spent so much time at home, my mind went over it a lot. What would I say if I could have those conversations again?

“Be grateful – now you have an Angel looking over you.”

Well, guess what? I had a baby, not an Angel. I want my baby. I’m not grateful for an Angel…thanks, though.

“You can have another one someday.”

I wanted the one I had. I’m not looking to replace him. Ever.

“That’s just too bad.”

Yeah, I was a little bummed, too.

“It was God’s will.”

Seriously? Your God can kiss my ass. I want nothing to do with a deity who wills this on anyone.

“You should feel lucky you still have the one you have.”

Lucky am I? So that’s what I’ve been feeling…and here, I thought it was devastation and grief. Thank you so much for straightening that out for me.

“That’s too bad. After all that hard work, too.”

It’s like we were building a house that burned down or something. This isn’t just “Oh, drat. What a bummer.” I told myself she was either drunk, or sobering up and not in control of herself. It made me feel a little better – my thoughts, not her comments.

“You seem like you’re doing just fine.”

Yes. I’m up for the Best Actress at the Golden Globes next month. Be sure to tune in. (Maybe I’m in the wrong profession…)

“Isn’t nature weird like that? Maybe he wasn’t normal – like what if he had Down Syndrome or became a serial killer or something?”

Yes, unfortunately that was said to my face. With enthusiasm. I understand where she was going with this, but this was not the way to cheer me. I took pity on her and let it slide because she was young and never had a child. Still, she should really come with a warning label or something. Preferably on her forehead or mouth. Preferably with a plastic bag on top of that – a silencer of sorts.

“The Lord works in mysterious ways. It’s not our job to ask why.”

Thanks for the tip. Takes a load off my mind, really.

“Do you mind if I pray over you?”

Uh, can I put the lettuce in my cart first? The grocery store is a tad inappropriate for this kind of thing…and don’t you have a door to go knocking on? Pamphlets to give out? Orphans to rescue? Or, at the very least, someone else to smear weirdness over? Hey, there’s someone I know….excuse me. No, please don’t follow me. Stop chanting, you’re freaking my son out. Is there a cop around?

One of my favorites…

“It’s best it happened sooner rather than later. At least you didn’t get to know him.”

First of all, it almost goes without saying that the older your child is, the harder it would be to loose them. No parent should have to outlive their child – it goes against nature, so don’t tell me what’s best because you really don’t know shit about it. I spent nine months getting to know him. Nine months of planning our lives together as a family, each day dreaming of how it would be. Nine months of wondering what he would look like, curious about his disposition, wondering if he would he take after me or John. Each second of every day consumed with thoughts of the moment that we would bring him home. His room was ready. His clothes were there. We had a breastfeeding plan, diaper bags stuffed with necessities and a bigger car to accommodate our growing family.

The moment I saw his face, I got all of the answers I was going to get and no more. I wouldn’t ever hear his laugh, see his eyes open, soothe his tears or hear him call me “Mommy”. Never. I won’t see him grow tall like I imagined. He won’t wrestle with his big brother, snuggle with me on Saturday mornings or squeal with laughter when I tickle him.

From the instant I knew I carried him, I was his mother in every sense that one can be a mother. I knew him while he was growing inside of me, before he was born. I knew him better than anyone. I loved him more than anything.
That might not sound like much to you, but I don’t really care what you think. Nine months was a lifetime for us, and all the memories I have.

Thanks for shitting on them. Have a nice day.

I really wish I were making those up.

In case you didn’t pick up on it, sarcasm is my defense. These people are lucky I was in the state I was at the time – they would have heard these answers, believe me.
On a serious note, the best thing anyone did for me was tell me they were sorry for my loss and let me cry. I did have a woman approach me at the grocery store, look me right in the eye and said, “I’m so sorry your baby died.” Surprisingly, it didn’t bother me. I appreciated her frankness and honesty. It was refreshing. No pity looks, no small talk until she could get around to asking questions, just direct truth. Then she kept walking, which made it a little weird but kept true to the direct no-nonsense statement she just threw my way. I think I actually smiled a bit on the inside for a moment.

I think finding what to say to someone like us is hard. No, let me rephrase. I think finding the appropriate thing to say to someone like us is hard. Sometimes people just don’t think.

I had a very good friend lose her baby recently. Different situation, same outcome…we both came home without our sons. Before, I thought I would know what to say to someone like us if the moment ever came and I needed to. Turns out I really didn’t. I did, however, know what not to say. The above list, for starters. I knew not to push. I knew she needed space, and not to pry. My door and phone lines were always open. And, I told her I was sorry…so very sorry for her loss. I cried for her a few times – especially when I thought back on what I went through. No one should have to walk that road.

I’m glad I’m at a point where I can talk – or write, in this case – about some of this. It shows me I’ve come far. And I can joke about it, in a dark way. Nothing about my situation is funny, but I really would say those things given the chance again. That and more. I would LOVE to unload on some of these people. Some were just flat out stupid.

A kind elderly lady, whom I’ve known my whole life, sent my son a birthday card. It said, “Happy 9th Birthday! Hope all of your wishes come true!” On the inside, she wrote, “Sorry the baby died.”

She meant well. I know she did. Still…ugh. Reminders everywhere. I chalked it up to old people are cheap and she didn’t want to spring on a sympathy card, so she combined two in one. Good choice.

I hope you read this with a grain of salt. I wrote it with one…and a shot of tequila and wedge of lime. Ba-dum-chick. I know, I know, that was awful. After morbid humor comes bad humor, and after that comes good, and with good comes the knowledge that I’m slowly getting better. Please hang in there with me until I get to the good. The jokes will get better...I hope ;-)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Our Story

My husband, John, and I were expecting our son to arrive via c-section on September 29, 2009. It was a completely normal pregnancy. Our ultrasound looked good, and I’ll never forget the look on John’s face when we were told boy, or the way he repeated it for days after. Pregnancy, as a whole, was pretty uneventful and I was counting the days until it would be over.

If I had known it would have been the only time I would have with my son, I would have done so many things differently.

The morning of September 22, I woke up to the realization that I slept all night and had not felt our son move. I called the local clinic (the hospital is over two hours away) and made an appointment to go in later in the morning for a doppler reading. Just to check. I wasn’t really panicking at that point – I knew the last few weeks it would get tight in there, but deep down I knew something was wrong. He was just too still inside of me.

Before John went to work, he stretched out beside me in bed and put his head on my tummy to talk to our son. He said, “Hey boy, you better start moving. You’re scaring your mommy.” Each second that went by and he didn’t move told me something was terribly wrong, although I stilled the instinct to panic. John took my hand, looked into my eyes, brushed back my hair and said, “Baby, you’re going to be fine. You’re going to feel so silly when they hook you up to that machine and you hear that little whomp whomp whomp. Just wait, you’ll see.”

I didn’t have to wait long at the doctor’s office. It’s small and usually packed, but I got in within a few minutes. I stretched back on the table and lifted my shirt and waited while the doctor made small talk about babies and families, trying to sooth me because she could see I was upset. After she put the doppler on my tummy and moved it around, we both got very quiet and listened. Empty static. She moved it around. Nothing.

She excused herself, saying something about something and left the room. I already had tears streaming down my face; I knew. My baby was gone. I didn’t know why. I didn’t know how. But I felt him gone.

Another doctor came in and tried the machine with the same result. They offered me transport to the hospital, but I declined. I wanted my husband. I called him at work and tearfully told him they couldn’t find a heartbeat and we needed to get to the hospital. My next call was to a friend of mine to make arrangements for our nine year old, Nicholas, who was at school. She agreed to take him for us.

John picked me up, and minutes later we were tearing down the road to the hospital. We made a two-hour drive in under an hour. Checking in was fairly fast, and before I knew it I was once again laying on a table, this time hooked to a sonogram. On the screen before me was an image no mother ever wants to see – the unmoving form of my child.

The ultrasound tech was kind, and discreet, as she went to get a doctor for confirmation. Then that doctor got the attending physician for final confirmation. Minutes passed before we got the news that no parent should hear.

“The fetus shows no viable sign of life. There is no heartbeat.”

Not, “I’m sorry.” Not, “Your baby.” No warmth or comfort. No sympathy, just facts.

After the Nazi doctor informed us he was really and truly gone, she made arrangements for us immediately to go to surgery. I was prepped without delay. I had two nurses getting blood samples…or something…one doing a catheter and the lobotomist…who was not aware of our situation and asked me if I was excited. Seeing everyone in the room shake their heads at her in unison is something I will never forget. She felt really awful. I told her it was okay.

I opted to be knocked out. To be fair, the nurses tried their best to talk me out of it. They told me I would not be numbed, so I would wake up in severe pain. I didn’t care. I really didn’t. It couldn’t compare to what I was feeling, anyway. It was one more memory I didn’t want.

They wouldn’t let John be in the room with me. I would have preferred he be there, but I understood. So, he went to put gas in the truck and promised to be back before I woke up. I was just glad he had something to do. At that point, I couldn’t think. I was just glad if I didn’t have to.

I woke up in recovery. My stomach was on fire, like a hot knife had been imbedded in my midsection and the pain stretched throughout my whole body. I had a panic attack. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t breathe. I remember thinking I wanted John there and suddenly he was, holding my hand and brushing my hair back from my face, telling me I was okay and to breathe. No one seemed to understand that I couldn’t breathe. My body was burning with pain and I couldn’t inflate my lungs…I thought I was dying. I actually remember thinking, “Wow, I guess I’m going to die now.” And strangely, I was okay with that.

Brayden died from a cord accident. A freak, fluke of nature that snuffed out his life before it began.

After recovery began my long journey to healing. It didn’t feel like healing.

First was the shock, which began to set in pretty quickly. We were in the hospital for four or five days…I don’t remember. To be honest, my memory of that time is pretty vague. I talked a few times on the phone to people, but I couldn’t tell you who. I had quite a few visitors who made the trip to see us, but I don’t really remember who, or how long they stayed. My cousin came from 400 miles away – flew in after work and had to fly back that night. That I do remember. That was my favorite visitor, if I can claim one of those. It meant a lot to me.

We named our son Brayden. William Brayden Brown, to be exact. It took us months of negotiations to come to that name. At my baby shower, I received a diaper cake with his name on it. I still have it.

Seeing him was hard. Very hard. The first time the nurse came in with him, I cried hysterically and made her leave. I just couldn’t look at him. Because this wasn’t real. This wasn’t happening. Not to me. Me, with the uneventful pregnancy and a happiness I worked hard to achieve. This devastating truth couldn’t be my life. I didn’t want to believe it was real.

John was brave enough to look at him. I couldn’t. In fact, I got up and went across the room and looked out the window, crying the entire time. I didn’t turn around until she had left. John told me he was beautiful, and it broke my heart. He wrapped his arms around me as I sank to the floor and sobbed and sobbed.

The nurse, Gail, brought him in the next day, and I knew it was my last chance to see him. John had made the arrangements at the funeral home, and Brayden had to go. He couldn’t wait until I was ready. He couldn’t wait until I got brave. This was my last chance.

Gail sat on the couch in our room and held him as I got my first good look at his face. John was right, he was beautiful and perfect. I saw so much of John in his face. To this day, I sometimes look at John and see Brayden. He had tons of thick hair. He had my nose and my mouth. He weighed in at eight pounds, nine ounces. My perfect, still son.

I didn’t hold him, a fact that still bothers me sometimes. In a way, I’m glad I didn’t. I asked Gail if he was cold. She said yes. His perfect skin was ashen, and his lips purple. I wanted so bad to reach out and touch his cheek with my finger. Caress his silky hair. But, I didn’t. I sat beside him and cried and cried and cried. I didn’t want to feel for myself that he wasn’t there.

The last glimpse I got of him was the back of his head as Gail carried him out. I wanted to scream. I wanted him back. I wanted more time. I didn’t get any time. No time to say hello. No time for goodbye.

By the time we left the hospital (Friday, I think), three or so days before we were due to have him, we were bringing our son’s ashes home. By that time, shock and numbness were there, with horrid bouts of awareness.

When we got home, there were flowers. Lots of flowers. From friends, family and coworkers. To this day, the smell of flowers brings me back there. It was nauseating in our house, although they were sent with good intent. Families stopped by with casseroles. People I had not heard from in years were calling and sending cards. John’s work (he got laid-off the day we had Brayden) collected donations to send in a card.

We got Nicholas back that night. Telling him was hard. He took it hard. He was so excited to have a sibling. He cried, threw a few things and cried some more. I could sympathize…I wanted to do the same.

That Sunday was my son Nicholas’ birthday. We had a party with a homemade piƱata. John grabbed a cake from the store. I had planned on making one. It went off without a hitch, and each second of it was torture. My nerves were raw, and even being around close friends and family was a strain. My brother brought over hotdogs and hamburgers and made it a cookout. I’m grateful he helped make it special. I couldn’t help much at that point. Smiling and taking pictures was enough to do me in.

The next few months are sketchy. I never went back to my doctor. I suppose I was angry with him for never being there during appointments (even at the time of our hospital stay he was out of state). I did speak to him over the phone, I remember him asking me lots of questions. I told him my memory wasn’t working right – I couldn’t remember anything, moment-to-moment, day-by-day. I was repeating conversations, and I felt like my brain was a sieve with everything just dumping out randomly.

I was diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder, with after pregnancy hormones and shock to blame, and put on Prozac. I didn’t take it for a while. I didn’t want pills to make me better. At this point, I had a very good friend who called me everyday (for MONTHS) who suggested I take it, after I confessed I’d been having some darker thoughts. Now, I don’t mean suicide thoughts. It’s more like I thought about death objectively. A lot. All of the time. I would spend the whole day just laying in bed, just thinking about death and dying. She urged me to take the Prozac, at least give it a try. I did. And I’m so glad I did.

After a few days, I felt surprisingly normal. I could get out of bed. I could make dinner for my family. I was functioning again on a level I had not been. After a month or two and several failed attempts to function without it, I was successful. My body, and mind, didn't need the help anymore.

I am now five months and two weeks post loss. The shock is gone, but the sadness will always be there. I miss Brayden every day.

I still haven’t done anything with the nursery. His things are still in there. We painted the room yellow and blue, and John built custom shelving to go up. I was worried we wouldn’t get it up before he was born.

Life has been hard, but it’s getting easier to breathe. I learned to think and talk again. I learned to smile again and with time, I learned to laugh. The first few times it felt so wrong to laugh. I felt like I was betraying my son by being happy, even for a moment.

I’m not the same person I was before this, that goes without saying. I’m learning, and getting to know, the new me. A part of me died that day with my son. That’s part of life after loss.

My goal with telling my story, which I don’t think I’ve told in it’s entirely to anyone, was to give hope. Hope to all of those lost parents out there who have had to go through this. A connection that you can only find with someone who has had this awful experience.

I have to be honest – I no longer believe life is beautiful. There are beautiful things, to be sure, but not true lasting beauty like I once thought. With beauty, there’s also harsh reality, and I’m living it. Life isn’t beautiful – it’s life. Truth and lies, up and down, beauty and pain. Two sides of the same coin. You just can’t have one without the other, and I’ve experienced both.

Maybe I’m just being pessimistic. Reliving my story was necessary, but hard. I don’t like to think of those times. The only thing that keeps me from wishing it all could be forgotten is Brayden. I can’t trade his memories in for anything. I just can’t.

I’m not sure if anyone will read this – after this long blog, who knows? What I do know is that after I got home from the hospital, I spent a lot of time searching the internet for…something. Anything. Any one thing that would make me feel like it’s okay, a reason, a divine explanation of why this happened to us. I knew I wouldn’t find it, but it didn’t stop me from looking.

Later, I’ll post some things that helped me through the tough spots. I’ll also write more about the grieving process, and how we’re getting through it.

To any readers out there, specifically mommies of losses, your story is worth telling. Your child had a story, and you can let the world know what it was. My son had a story. He was real, and he was loved. And I thank you for reading his story.