Missing our baby boy

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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.