Missing our baby boy

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Being there...

A friend of mine announced her surprise pregnancy a few months ago. Surprise being the operative word, since she had her tubes tied last year. She's 37, her oldest just graduated high school and her youngest was set to start kindergarten in the fall. Surprise was an understatement. Once she got over the shock, excitement took over. A baby! Not planned, but wanted none-the-less!

After visiting the doctor and verifying her pregnancy, she got some terrifying news that no expecting mother wants to hear: blood tests showed her baby's chances of Trisomy at 1:12. They had ruled out Trisomy 21 with an ultrasound, but it didn't change the odds for 13 or 18.

She called me immediately. What does this mean? Is this bad? What should I do? I knew some, just from being in support groups for years, but not enough to share with her. What I knew of those odds is that they were not good. I did know of other mothers who had better odds who were still struck down by tragedy. I wrote a friend who knew more about it and didn't have much hope in the reply, she knew more than I did but the odds were still up in the air. Blood tests can only show so much and aren't exactly accurate but a good guideline of what could come.

She opted for an amnio for confirmation and waited almost two weeks for results, during which time we talked daily. I could hear her distancing herself from the situation and the pregnancy. She was upset, of course, and the wait caused a lot of anxiety and stress. I was stressed for her and honestly was deep down prepared for the worst. Of course, I never told her that. All I could do was listen and try to keep her thoughts positive as much as I could. Her age had a lot to do with the odds, as well as some high levels of aft, which could have had to do with her body as much as the baby's and the tests don't take that into consideration. All I could really say was that nothing was for certain, so just keep calm.

The doctor's office called her last Thursday with the news: her baby was fine. Levels were perfect, baby was healthy. She called me first :-) She was excited, but it was relief that I heard the most. She was free to bond with her pregnancy, something she had been holding back on as much as she could.

About an hour after I got off the phone with her, I found myself bawling my eyes out as I washed dishes in the kitchen. Just bawling. I didn't really understand it at first, why I was filled with grief and sorrow when I should have felt the relief that she did. I ran it all over in my mind...why am I crying? Why on earth am I sad right now? She just got the best news, so why am I not happy?

I was thinking about Brayden, not reliving the whole situation, but the precious moments I spent looking at his still face. The moment it all came together for me, my baby died and here he is. Why did that come to mind?

Because I just found out that my friend escaped having that exact moment, that's why. Because I was terrified that she'd become a member of this group that I belong to. Because she's a wonderful, bubbly, energetic person and that could all have been wiped away in an instant. Tragedy could have taken her joy in life. One call could have changed her forever.

I don't want her to be like me. I cried because she wasn't going to end up like me.

Not that I'm completely terrible, but I'm changed and not completely for the best. The part of me that feels empathy has all but died. Very few things upset me any more, just as very few things move me. I live in an emotional gray area, never completely swinging either way to joy or sadness. Just gray.

Not a way I want my friends to live.

I suppose I cried so hard because every day for two weeks I expected to get a call that wasn't favorable. I ran through my mind what to say, how I could help and what support groups I could turn her to. Suddenly, the need for that was gone and it's like the rug was swept out from under me. I had unnecessarily built myself up to help her in her grief, and when her anxiety turned to elation in an instant...well, I suppose I couldn't down-shift that fast. What I thought was shared grief turned into me reliving my loss alone. While I was tremendously happy for her, I couldn't help but cry for myself.

For my friend, she isn't welcome in this club of sorrow and sadness. The dues are too high and the membership grows daily.

I'm happy that she'll stay as she is, bubbly and optimistic, with one more little one on the way :-)

I'm happy she won't be like me.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Almost Four Years Later...

I've been thinking a lot about what my life is like now as I approach the four-year passing of my son. There's no way to sum it up in a few words. It's not better or worse, but it's not the life I was hoping to have. I think all loss mothers feel that way. I guess I should go into a little detail...this is a blog, after all.

It’s easy to get caught up in life and forget my lost son, and don’t judge me harshly, but I’m okay with that. I’m okay with moving on. I don’t hold on to my grief like some loss mothers do. To be perfectly honest, I feel sorry for those who are devastated to the point of a standstill with life. I’ve met those who are 10+ years out from their loss and grieve just as deeply as the day they lost their child.

I don’t want to be that.

In conversation with them, they’ll tell you about how their inability to move on has crippled their lives to a point. Marriages have fallen apart, bonds with living children were difficult to establish and keep…but it didn’t stop them from grieving for the child who was lost to them. They became so engrossed in their loss, hurt and anguish that they’ve let life slip by them because they can’t get past the pain.

I don’t mean to come off as insensitive or scornful to these women. We can’t help how we grieve…or can we? I purposely don’t surround myself with things that remind me of Brayden. His pictures are locked away, we have no shrines here, and his ashes are in a box in my room. I don’t listen to the sad play-list I have on iTunes (yes, it really is labeled ‘sad music’). I don’t talk about him much.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t have my days where I wish for what could have been. It doesn’t mean that I don’t hurt or don’t still grieve. I do. I will always have a piece of me that’s gone. I won’t ever forget, and that’s the thing about all of this…I don’t have to surround myself with reminders, I remember that day and that’s enough. I refuse to punish myself with constant sadness. I can’t change what happened, but I can change how it directs my life.

My grief won’t own me.

Part of this attitude that I have comes from seeing how my family was affected by our loss. My husband doesn’t talk about it because it’s ‘too sad’. My oldest (at the time almost 9, now almost 13) still cries at night occasionally over his brother. I feel like how I handle my grief will direct how they handle theirs. They’ve been hurt enough and I owe it to them to move on myself and give life a chance. If I lose myself in grieving over something I can’t change then they’ve not only lost a brother, but a wife and mother as well.

Time has healed me about as well as it can. I’m okay with that, too. I have often wondered if I had lost a daughter instead of a son, would things be different? What if I had a rainbow daughter and said goodbye to my chance for a son? Yes, that would have added on to the grieving. I’d like to think, though, that I would eventually come around to the point I’m at now, but I can’t say for sure how long that would have taken.

Life just sucks sometimes. Period. Understatement, I know, but true nonetheless. It helps to know I’m not alone, that there are other grieving mothers out there in all various stages of grief and no, I’m not alone. But this grieving mother is okay, for now.

I’m okay and I’m good with that.