Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Two Years' Raw

A’s second birthday was last week. The pain and rage were as raw and intense as they were two years ago. The agony was so overwhelming that the thought of killing myself crossed my mind (as it did those wretched first weeks). Not as a serious plan, but because there is no other way to escape such oppressive anguish. Be assured I am not going to harm myself, I couldn’t cause E or Dragon any more heartache.

Last year, I sent out birth-announcement-style cards for his first birthday asking our family and friends to perform acts of kindness in his honor. That, coupled with it being his first birthday, elicited much response. This year I did not send anything nor planned a get together of any sorts. We received a handful of texts and calls plus a few cards in the mail. A mere fraction of last year’s showing. It was pitiful.

I have never felt so alone in my grief.

If A was alive to celebrate his second birthday I am certain he would have been inundated with cards, calls, messages and gifts. I know many of our loved ones were thinking of him on his birthday so why the silence?

With his birthday came a heavy depression. I am apathetic towards work and daily responsibilities. It is a chore to drag myself out of bed each morning, yet I toss and turn trying to fall asleep at night. I’m moody and short-tempered. I’m emotional and distracted. I am utterly overwhelmed by the life obligations facing me. I want to hide beneath the bed covers for days. How I wish the world would give me permission to grieve like two years ago; afford me another bereavement period. Weeks of moping around the house ignoring phone calls, bills and responsibilities. No reason to leave the safety of my home.

But life doesn’t stop. And neither does this adventurous 9½-month-old dragon who crawls, clambers, climbs and explores every waking second. So I must tend to my living child. I must fulfill my scheduled work hours. I must keep up the house and feed the family. Because of my depression and grief, I cannot engage in life. However, I cannot fully commit to grieving and depression either, which leaves me in an uncomfortable, unresolved purgatory state.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


I finally feel like I’ve got it together (most days); juggling work, baby, home, husband and other life responsibilities. It is exhausting and consuming, but as of late, I’ve felt that I have a handle on it (most days). There are times I am so engrossed in the day-to-day necessities I forget I even reside in Griefland. And then, while traipsing along, focused on keeping all of my juggling balls in the air – WHAM - I am knocked flat on my back.

Saturday morning I walked outside into the bright, warm sunshine and inhaled the crisp, cool autumn air. It was a picture perfect fall day and it brought me to my knees. 

I went out running errands. As I drove, I admired the day and breathed in the season; my eyes welled. I pulled it together to run into my first stop. Fifteen minutes later, back in the car alone, I spot a small tree already changed color; my eyes well again. I park at the grocery store and blink hard on my way in. I manage to do all the shopping without a break down. In the car on the ride home I cannot deny it any longer. It feels like the wind got knocked out of me. It feels like there is a cinder block on my chest. I sob.

This gorgeous autumn day left me trampled.

I miss him. I want so desperately to know him.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


When Dragon was born we were flooded with presents. The deluge continued for months and months. It was an overwhelming outpouring of generosity – toys, books, baby gear and clothes, so many clothes! But that jaded bereaved part of me always felt that some of the gift giving was compensation for A’s death. Like people felt so bad and pitied us so much that when the opportunity arose to shower us and our newest, living baby with presents, they went above and beyond, overcompensating for their own sorrow and discomfort and for our pain as well.

This shouldn’t bother me. I feel like a jerk even thinking it. I wish I could just shut that part of me up and be grateful that so many people in our lives care about us and adore our daughter.

The same occurs when we run into folks for the first time after Dragon’s birth. To my wary ears when someone emphasizes their joy over the birth our daughter it feels more like relief regarding our son’s death and the subsequent fallout. “I’m so happy for you two!” Why because you think we’re fixed? Because you think we’re moving on and healed? Truth is we are healing and moving forward with our life but I don’t want that misinterpreted as we are “okay” or “over” A’s death. We are still absolutely broken and anguish over our missing boy each and every day. 

Related to the overcompensation is, I think, a sense of relief for family, friends and acquaintances. Relief that Dragon arrived safely. But more so, relief that this must mean E and I are doing better and that judgment alone makes my guard fly up.

When we became pregnant with Dragon six months after A was stillborn, I immediately knew I didn’t want to discuss my pregnancy or feelings with anyone other than E and some close babyloss moms who knew where I was coming from. To that end, I sent an email to all of our family, friends and even my coworkers asking them to please not ask anything and to not expect me to share much about the pregnancy. For the most part, they respected our wishes. Perhaps that restriction fed into the overcompensation when Dragon finally arrived alive and well. That I held our loved ones at arm’s length for a time that when the floodgates finally came down the gifts rushed in.

I really do wish I didn’t feel this cynical. But I can’t help but think about what the response would have been to A’s birth and homecoming had he lived. Sure our there would have been fanfare surrounding our firstborn child, but would it have been as over-the-top? 

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Hello out there. I realize it has been some time since I last posted. There is a negative portrayal of dead baby mamas who cease blogging after their Rainbow is born. While I can see the appeal and distraction of a new live baby, it isn’t the whole story of what’s been going on in Griefland.

After baby Dragon’s unexpected and traumatic birth, we had the usual no-sleep, constant baby-tending couple months. She then settled herself into a nice predictable routine. And then, the wheels came off. She was fussy and needy. She wouldn’t nap unless someone was holding her. She was crying while nursing and bucking at the breast. Her nighttime sleep actually worsened. I was at my wit’s end trying to understand my child and what she needed because clearly I was not guessing correctly. Meanwhile I was back to work part-time.

Fast forward another 6-8 weeks and after the pediatrician erroneously diagnosed her bloody stools as an anal fissure the G.I. specialist suggested Dragon had an allergy to the dairy in my diet. Since I have been dairy free our daughter is a happier, easier baby. AND THEN she started waking up every 45-60 minutes at night, all night long. WTF kid?! I thought we just fixed your tummy troubles. I was no longer functional – not mentally, not emotionally, not even physically (I was bumping into things, stubbing my toes…).

I’ll save you the drama of sleep training but we are making progress and finally all of us are getting some sleep.  All of that to say, I’ve been absent because I’ve been struggling to meet the bare essentials. I haven’t had the time or brain power to blog. I hope I don’t come off as complaining, I adore my daughter and am thankful for every minute we have together; I just want to explain that these first 6-months have been far more challenging and exhausting than I ever could have imagined and only now am I starting to get back to “normal” - like brushing my teeth twice a day!

Sometimes I wonder if we were “chosen” to have such a high-needs baby. If she had been our first, we’d probably be quite resentful and completely out of patience. But having lost A, our gratefulness at having Dragon keeps the rest of it in balance.

Obviously, if all my time and energy has been devoted to caring for her, I haven’t had much time to spend with A. And the chronic sleep deprivation has eroded the walls that compartmentalize my grief so when I’m laying in bed or admiring my daughter, my eyes well up and I’m flooded with memories of my sweet missing son. I really need to set aside some time to sit and be with him, to be with all the emotions. I miss him.

Most of energy still goes to treading water but now, at least, my head is above the surface. Lately I am struggling to survive but it is a different kind of survival from the grief stricken days. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Toddler Tantrum

“I don't know about anyone else, but a massive toddler tantrum before 6 a.m. is exactly how I like to start my morning!”

This is a FB status I read recently. What I immediately thought was, “Yes please. I’d start each and every day that way if I could.” But, as always, I don’t write anything. Truth is I was rarely on FB before A died and since his stillbirth have avoided it even more so for the obvious reasons. What makes this particular post sting even more is that this girl’s son, the toddler culprit, was born a couple weeks before A. They’d be the same exact age.

I know many babylost parents have expressed it more eloquently than I, but this is just another example of how losing A has affected my parenting. Not that I took things for granted before, but when Dragonette is extra fussy or won’t nap unless she’s held, I am far more patient than I would have been if she was my first child.

I am not a saint of a mother. There are times when I cannot deal with her and pass her off enthusiastically to Daddy or Grandma. On rough days I look forward to a break in caring for her. But this newfound patience is most certainly a gift from my son. He has taught me what is really important in life and to cherish each small moment.

So when she won’t go back to sleep after eating at 3 a.m., I begrudgingly, but not resentfully, get up to walk and jostle her for an hour.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Things People Say

There is always a concern that a rainbow baby will mislead others to thinking you are ‘all better.’ I have found that since Dragon was born only a few people have brought up A in conversation. This is more than a little disheartening. It doesn’t have to be a long, deep conversation about how I’m coping with this living infant given A’s stillbirth but even something more superficial like, “Do you think she looks like her brother?” Or “How much did A weigh when he was born?” You know, typical questions a mom might be asked when her second child is born.

So it is especially wonderful when those few people do talk about A. In particular, I was touched by a card one of my mother’s friends sent, a woman who I have met only a couple times and who (to my knowledge) has never lost a child. She wrote this:

“Congratulations! I remember feeling a little sad during my second pregnancy – not wanting to displace my first or love him less. Then number 2 comes along and miraculously it is wonderful! Your heart just gets bigger and you love even more. A is not forgotten. God bless both your children.”

It was a perfect sentiment. Without minimizing the stressful subsequent pregnancy, she made me feel like a ‘normal’ mom; plus she acknowledged A and his absence.

In contrast, I sat across the room from E’s aunt the other night. She had Dragon in her arms and we were chatting. She asked me if Dragon was my mother’s first grandchild. Obviously she didn’t think that question through, but I wasn’t going to just let it slip by; let A slip by. So I replied that A was the first grandchild for my parents and that they are over-the-moon in love with Dragon. Sheesh!

And so the quest to keep my son in people’s minds and lives continues with the added challenge that they are happily distracted by his little sister now.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Some more...

...random thoughts.

My sleep deprived brain, which is coursing with mommy hormones, is playing tricks on me. It's telling me to return to the hospital. That he is exactly where we left him. Down the hall to the corner room. Crack the door and peek in to see our precious son in the isolette right beside the window. We wanted him to experience the beautiful sunset that fateful birthday. 

Let's just go get him. He must be there, right where we left him.


We are 5 weeks into breast feeding. My boobs leak, often. Most times it just happens naturally an hour or so before she's due to eat again. But they also leak when I think about my babies. I was laying in bed trying to fall asleep and all I could think about was sweet A. Sure enough the milk starting flowing. In a way this comforted me. My boobs, my body still recognize him as my child even if so many others no longer mention him.

Many family members and friends are lining up to meet Dragon. A few of them, for various reasons, have never seen A's photos. I want to make it a rule - If you haven't sat with us in the heartache of looking through his album, then you don't get to snuggle this warm, living bundle of adorable-ness. You cannot acknowledge half of my children. It's all or none.

And don't me started on our friends who never sent a text, card, email or called after A was stillborn. Never said a thing, even 7 months later when we got together or the first time since his birth.

But I don't make any such rules. And I don't cut said friends out of my life. I am trying to be forgiving. Trying.


It is low tide. The waves gently carry my son further away from me. I stand on the shore his infant sister at my breast. Clutching her with one hand, my other arm reaches desperately for him. He floats calmly on the waves. I cannot reach him. I cannot put her down to dive in. I scream; call his name, implore him to come back. I crumble to the ground sobbing, knowing he is beyond my reach. I glance down at the baby on my chest and cry harder.

Why does it feel like one or the other?

Saturday, February 2, 2013


This is just a quick, disjointed post of random thoughts.

I wanted this second child to be a boy. She is not. I worried (worry) about raising a daughter because of my own tumultuous relationship with my mother. Now that she’s here, I feel a little better. Perhaps I can keep the mother-daughter anxiety at bay until she hits middle school and the shit hits the fan.

I really thought this baby would look like A. She shares some characteristics – I see A in her nose and eyebrows – and her resemblance to her brother is growing as she does, but she is also her own person. Sadly, the time when she most looks like her big brother is when she is so soundly asleep that her tiny mouth drops open. With her eyes closed and her mouth agape she looks like her stillborn brother whose sweet mouth would not stay closed.

Like all babylost parents with their Rainbows, I often think how different it would be if A were here too. As hundreds of questions run through my sleep-deprived brain (When to introduce a bottle? How do we treat her crusty eyes? When will she sleep longer stretches?), I feel resentful. If A had lived, we would already be seasoned parents. We would know the answers to these questions and have loads of experience under our belts.  I also contemplate how challenging it would be to have a toddler running amok while trying to tend to a newborn. Seriously, this tiny dragon is wearing us down. I don’t know how we’d be able to manage a 15-month-old on top of this; but I still very much want him here.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Little Sister

Baby Dragon is still alive and healthy. We are combating jaundice with frequent feedings. This is working and it’s also packing on the weight. She’s gaining an average of 2 ounces a day!

The frequent feedings have left E and I complete zombies, but it’s worth it. Plus we just got the go ahead at her 2-week well child checkup to relax the feeding schedule to on demand. If we’re lucky she’ll give us a solid 3 ½ hours between feeds.

It’s been just 2 weeks and already she is changing so much. Her face looks more like a baby than a newborn. Her belly is distended now. Her arms and legs are thickening with new creases showing up daily. A few of her features resemble her big brother’s but for the most part she is her very own person. Although I wished for this baby to look like A it is so much better for me that she’s uniquely herself.

The feeding schedule afforded me barely an hour between feeds which meant I could either sleep for an hour, eat something and shower or make a few phone calls before it was time to put her back on. While I love the closeness of nursing, I am only just now beginning to enjoy her like I had hoped. Now with a bit more time in between sessions I can kiss her, play with her; just plain stop and admire her. Except that is dangerous territory. Whenever I take some time to stop and wonder at this tiny, beautiful being, I well up. I’m still trying to grasp that she is our daughter, that she is ours to keep.

I cry at least every other day. Sometimes because I am so grateful for Dragon and so in love with her. Sometimes because I envision our future with this child and already I want to slow down time – I want her to stay tiny and curled up for a long time. Sometimes because I miss A even more now that I know how it’s supposed to go. Sometimes I can’t even discern what brings on the tears.

To be honest, with the traumatic birth, general anesthesia and then strict nursing schedule I haven’t had much time to process it all. I need some quiet time to process her birth, how it all went down. I need to process that she is mine and allow the maternal connection to really sink in. I need to re-assess A’s birth now that I can compare it to a “normal” delivery experience. I need to re-mourn our darling son because now I understand much better what he and what we missed out on – there is so much more to grieve.

Like I said earlier, they detected the umbilical cord around Dragon’s neck at our weekly BPP. It was actually wrapped twice around her neck. This was the impetus to induce right away.  Most of that Wednesday we just hung out in the labor/delivery room. I was admitted early in the morning and the Cervidil wasn’t inserted until 3pm. So we ate, listened to her heartbeat on the monitor and tooled around the internet trying to calm our nerves.

By 11pm I was having painful contractions that required me to focus my breathing. At 3am the Cervidil came out. I was 2cm (I can’t remember what percentage effaced). I had hoped to be further along and was on the brink of tears. The hospital staff assured me this was good progress given we started at high, tight and not even 1cm. Some women, they said, require a second round of Cervidil.

After a 2-hour break, wherein I was allowed to eat again, they started the pitocin drip. Throughout this ordeal I was constantly doubting my decision to force my body into labor. Every half hour the pitocin drip was turned up a bit. By 6am we called our doula and she arrived. I continued to breath through contractions and tried to rest in between.

Our midwife, who is awesome, allowed me to continue to eat throughout the day. We changed positions, walked the halls and sat on the birthing ball trying to help things progress. When I was checked mid-afternoon and found to be 4cm I again felt like giving up. I considered how much “easier” it would be to have a C-section. I felt envious of the anonymous women in the room next to me who had delivered her baby hours ago (you’d think they’d soundproof the walls of labor/delivery rooms better). I wanted to call the whole thing off. My confidence was non-existent. My conviction to continue laboring without pain medicine was waning – big time.

In early evening I was 6cm and we were at the full pitocin dosage. The midwife gave me the option. We could stop the pitocin and take a break. (This was very enticing because I had been laboring since 11pm the day before without hardly a wink of sleep.) But when we started back up we’d have to start at the lowest dosage and work our way up again. Or we could dial the pitocin down a couple notches and see how we progressed. As tempting as it was to pull the plug and have a Pit vacation, I knew I didn’t have the mental or emotional endurance to start from scratch.

The pit was dialed down and I kept working through each contraction. They were getting very intense but I had a good 2-minutes between contractions, which was just lovely (no seriously it was; I’m not being sarcastic). By 6pm the midwife, doula and nurse were prepping the room for delivery. Baby was coming within the hour they said.

I continued to change positions as suggested by the knowledgeable team and baby sank lower and lower. The external heart rate monitor remained on Dragon the entire time. I could feel her very low in my pelvis but did not yet have the urge to push. The midwife suggested I lay on my right side. I did. Baby Dragon fell off the monitor so they suggested I flip to my left side as baby obviously didn’t like this side. I flipped over and then felt lots of discomfort high up under my ribs. This was unusual because all of the pain and discomfort had been down low. I mentioned this out loud but the nurse was too busy trying to locate Dragon’s heartbeat again.

The midwife reached in to check if I was dilated fully and could start pushing. What she felt entering the birth canal was a tiny hand, not a baby head. In addition she could feel a portion of cord.  This is where things get frantic. Immediately she paged the attending doctor who came in and confirmed Dragon’s hand and cord were coming first. Now there are a handful more staff in the room palpating my belly trying to determine how baby is lying. They wheel in an ultrasound machine and throw an oxygen mask on me. I am still having intense contractions and trying to breath best I can but the scene is panic inducing.

Someone shouts out to prep an OR stat and all of a sudden the cords and monitors are whipped off me and they’re wheeling my bed down the hallway. E has to remain in the labor room – there is no time for him to get prepped and they’ll be knocking me out with general anesthesia because I did not have an epidural.

The anesthesiologist is in my face urging me to focus on her and only her. She’s asking me pertinent questions about past surgeries and my experience with anesthesia. Simultaneously there are a dozen people rushing around the OR - two people are wrapping my calves, one inserts the catheter, another drapes and swabs my belly, two separate people strap my arms down, a resident is holding an oxygen bag over my face. It is crazy.

The doctor tells me they’re going to push the anesthesia and that’s the last I remember. Next thing I know, I’m groggily waking up in the post-op recovery room. I feel like hell and am very confused. E is there holding a bundled baby and tells me it is our baby. That our daughter is here safe and sound. I can hardly keep my eyes open. With the assistance of the doula, E manipulates my breasts and gives our tiny Dragon her first feed. I can’t muster the strength to raise my arms. Shortly thereafter E leaves with the pediatric nurse to accompany Dragon for her first bath and examination. I am pushed to our maternity recovery room to get settled. E and Dragon rejoin me a little while later but I’m still very drowsy.

Fortunately, she was never in distress and was healthy upon delivery. E says they brought her to him approximately 15-minutes after I was hectically wheeled out of the room. He was able to stay with her from that point on.

Supposedly what happened is this. The umbilical cord was not particularly long and it was wrapped twice around her neck. As she descended the tension on the cord increased. To relieve the tension and save her own life, she twisted at the last minute into a transverse position. The midwife says in her entire life, she’s never seen that happen. I have to credit our little girl for that maneuver and the incredible hospital staff who got her out so quickly.

Like I said, we are home and trying to adjust to the lack of sleep. Dragon is thriving and we are over-the-moon in love with her. Honestly, I just can’t get enough of her.

I may fade and in and out of the blogosphere, but I am always here reading and abiding. Thank you for taking the time to read to the end of this post.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Dragon's Here!

A's little sister was born yesterday evening after 20+ hours of induced labor. She caused some major scares and drama but in the end she is here safe and sound. We are feeling well and recovering in the hospital. Dragon is an excellent breast feeder, let's hope my nipples can keep up with her.

I will share details of her birth story once we are settled at home. She really gave us a fright.

Thank you all for your well wishes and your support during this challenging pregnancy. You online BLMs are a lifeline!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Better Safe Than Sorry

This morning I headed to the perinatalogist's for our weekly BPP and NST. The ultrasound tech took extra time to examine cord blood flow with the Doppler and seemed to try a dozen different angles looking at the cord. Having had 8 previous sonograms in the last few months, I knew this was unusual. She commented that my fluid was 9.8, well into the normal range, but just last week it was 16. So a significant drop. She said she would bring it up to the doctor while I was on the monitor for my NST. Moments after being hooked up totje monior, the doctor hastened into the room looking quite serious.

"Many baby's are born with the cord around their neck. Only in about 15% of cases is it serious or dangerous. However, with your history I think we should induce. I'm going down to talk to Labor and Delivery."

The fluid level is not a concern, but Baby Dragon's nuchal cord is. I immediately called E at work and told him we were having this baby and they were admitting me. Good thing I just packed the hospital bag and washed baby laundry (literally in the last 48 hours).

An hour later the paperwork was done, IV in, vitals taken and E was here by my side. My cervix is high and tight, not even 1cm. All the pineapple, red radpberry leaf tea and sex these past couple weeks could not force my body into an unnaturally early labor.

Because my cervix is still mostly closed  a manual dilation like the foley bulb is not an option. We have opted to delay the insertion of Cervidil because our midwives are not on call today but they come on in the morning. Twelve hours of Cervidil then the pitocin is started and by that time our midwife should be here.

I don't mind waiting because we are constantly on the monitor. As long as baby looks good, there is no rush.

All that being said. I am still terrified and very anxious. I am not looking forward to hours and hours of medicated labor. So far I've kept it together but the tears are barely below the surface. I will surely break down at some point here. I think E is just as scared, anxious and excited as I am.

37w3d. 1 hour until Cervidil is inserted. Wish me luck.