Sunday, December 30, 2007

5 Months

Another month has passed. Soon Owen will have been gone longer than he was with me. Now, if that's not a dubious milestone I don't know what is.

As I've mentioned before, I've been working really hard to deal with what is and not what might have been, but in moments like these I can't help but dream of the family we might have had...........

Monday, December 24, 2007


Since Owen died, I've found that my wishes are simpler. Instead of grand plans for the future, I just want to get through the day complete- or complete enough. I don't always wish for perfection or even happiness, just survival. It's something that has made me very sad. I really don't want to just survive. I want to glory in my life. But I am afraid. Do you think one can make a conscious decision to be hopeful again? To dream big while knowing that the worst can happen to you? I'm not exactly sure where I'm going with this, but during this holiday season, I've found myself coming back to the same phrase, time and time again. A friend wrote to me that she wished for me to find "the peace that passes all understanding." It has stuck with me. I think that's really what I need. Peace even when there should be none. Hope when it doesn't make sense to be hopeful. Joy in the midst of sorrow. I wish that for all of us this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

* That Story

In my post 'The Other Side' , I mentioned a story that Dr. M told at Owen's burial that I truly believe helped me survive that awful day. I want to share it with you, but first I need to give you some background. My mom passed away in February 2006 after a brief and awful illness. She started not feeling well around Christmas, was diagnosed with cholan*giocarcinoma in January, and was gone by the end of February. In two short months, she went from being this amazing, caring, full of life woman to someone who could not walk from her bed to the bathroom reliably. My father cared for her until the very end and she died in his arms. She died the day before I was coming to help Daddy take care of her. I think that was on purpose. I don't think she wanted me to have to care for her, she wanted to be taking care of me. My mom was, at the risk of bragging, everything one could ask for in a mother. She loved us unconditionally and with her whole heart, and we knew it. Needless to say her death was the worst thing I had ever experienced. Until I lost Owen.

The night I spent in the hospital laboring with Owen, I had a vision of my mother. She was walking toward me from down a long dark hall and as she got closer, I could see she was holding something in her arms. She pulled away the blanket and showed me the tiny baby in her arms. She leaned over and kissed him and we locked eyes. Then she turned and walked away. That moment gave me the strength I needed to carry on. However, over the next few days I lost my certainty of what I had seen to my all encompassing despair. I didn't tell anyone what I had seen.

At the service, Dr. M (the minister of the church I grew up in) began by saying that something had happened to him that he felt compelled to share. He told us that the day before the service, he went into his office at the church to gather together some materials. Dr. M.'s office is packed from floor to ceiling on pretty much all surfaces with books. He reached up to pull one book down and a card tumbled to the floor. As he told the story, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a card. This, he said, is what I found. It was the prayer card from my mom's burial service, held nearly a year and a half earlier.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Still Here

Just a quick boring post to let you know that I'm still around. I've been ridiculously busy with holiday stuff and trying cope with the overwhelming sense of anxiety and stress I'm feeling. I'm anxious about everything and I hate it. Just dealing with the small stuff is taking everything I've got these days.

I miss my baby. This sucks.

Friday, December 7, 2007


Owen's autopsy revealed some evidence of abnormal bleeding, especially in his brain, which is believed to have led to his death. There really is no explanation for this bleeding which is usually the result of severe trauma (for example, a major car accident or if someone beat the cr@p out of me), cocain.e use, some sort of bleeding disorder (either mine or his), or the oh so satisfying "unknown etiology."
Since we could easily rule out the first two, the doctors suggested that, while it is highly unlikely I have any bleeding disorder given my history of no bleeding problems and two healthy living children, I consult with a hemotologist. So, given my insane need to try and find a reason for all of this, we decided to go for it. I met with hematologist/oncologist several weeks ago. She was nice but her office is in a major cancer center. She ordered a whole slew of blood tests, the last of which I had done this morning. You know your life really sucks when the bald, emaciated cancer patients in the waiting room are tearing up and telling you how sorry they are for you. These particular tests required drawing what felt like half my blood volume for platelet testing and then something the lab tech called a bleeding time test. This was great fun. Basically, he put a blood pressure cuff on my arm, pumped it up, gouged my forearm, and stood there watching me bleed. I guess it went well. After the test was over, he was bandaging me up and commented, "You are so fair, this definitely going to leave a scar. You'll probably have it the rest of your life." I replied, "At least this one will be visible."

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Animal Instinct

I remember reading a story a long time ago about a gorilla at a zoo that had a baby that had been born dead or died shortly after and she continued to carry it around with her- the zoo-keepers thought she didnt realize it had died, but now I'm not so sure. Sometimes, I think that if it were an option, if I weren't afraid of other people committing me, I would have brought Owen home with me and carried him around with me until there was nothing left. Even now the urge to have him with me physically is so strong that I sit caressing the tiny spot of blood left on his gown. That stained gown is one of my most precious posessions. It's all I have of him.

Monday, December 3, 2007


I was passed the flame of fortitude by C. over at My Resurfacing a few days ago. I'll admit it took me this long to figure out exactly how to display it and how to pass it on (technology has never been my strong suit.)

As C. stated so eloquently, "The flame represents strength, resiliency, perseverance, and honours those who share their struggle and their journey - regardless of how difficult - with so many others. "

With that in mind I would like to pass the flame to three women who inspire me:
Yummy Sushi Pajamas
Missing Micah
Southern Bella

I have been blessed by the women I have 'met' while blogging. Just knowing you are out there has gotten me through some days when I felt the fight had gone out of me. It is because of you that my flame still burns.

A Sore Spot

Last night, JD was talking about something and referred to our empty bedroom as Owen's room. I about bit his head off and snapped "That's not Owen's room. It never was." I surprised myself with my vehemence. Later, I apologized to JD. I guess I still get really angry when I am reminded of what might have been.

Friday, November 30, 2007

4 Months

Four months ago today, right this very minute, I was holding Owen and kissing him goodbye. I sang him a John Denver song that my parents used to play and I always loved.

Oh Montana give this child a home,
Give him the love of a good family and a woman of his own,
Give him a fire in his heart, give him a light in his eyes,
Give him the wild wind for a brother and the wild Montana skies

I wish I were the one to be giving him a home.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Although I've never considered myself an overly religious person, I've always had a deep sense of faith. I prayed regularly. Even through everything that went on my mom's illness and a subsequent death, I kept praying and my faith was unshaken. All of that changed when Owen died. I suddenly found that I couldn't pray and, I'll be honest, that scared me. Yesterday I was going through some old papers and I found a notebook I had kept while taking a course on Judaism before JD and I married. In it I had written down a quote from the rabbi. He said "Don't pray for G-d to change things in your life. Prayer doesn't change things, prayer changes people and people change things." It doesn't make everything better but, it was what I needed to hear. I don't know what I believe anymore but I know I believe something.

Monday, November 26, 2007

What Would You Do?

I have a friend, S. We have been friends for almost a decade now but, due to time, family and distance, we probably only talk around 2-3 times a year now. Circumstances being what they were (mild hyperemesis, two small children, a move out of state, summer vacations, etc.), I never got around to telling her I was pregnant. Then Owen died and I crawled into myself and hid for the next few months. So, of course I got a nice newsy email from her a few days ago wanting to catch up. She asked how things are with us and I don't even know where to start. I find the thought of explaining everything just too exhausting to contemplate. At the same time, I can't write back and not mention Owen. So, I've done nothing.

Friday, November 23, 2007

What It Was

Well, as the first major holiday after losing Owen, thanksgiving was okay, I guess. There was lots of good food, mostly good family, and a few sad moments. I did host thanksgiving dinner at our house and so managed to stay busy enough that I wasn't constantly thinking about how the day should have been. I'm glad its over though. The holidays feel like one more thing I need to survive in order to learn how to live without Owen.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Other Side

I spend so much time here talking about the awful things(and believe me there are a lot of them) but, if I'm truly honest, there have been some good things that have come out of losing Owen. Most days it is a stretch for me to see them but lately its been getting a little easier. Don't get me wrong, I'm not happy about any of this and given the choice I would give any of these back to have Owen here with us, but that's not an option and I am working really hard to deal with what is and not what might have been. So, in that spirit, I've been working on a list of things that have happened that I am thankful for. I guess these are blessings that Owen brought into my life.

First, JD- my husband, my lover, my friend, my partner, thank you for loving Owen as much as I do and not being afraid to show it. You speak of him naturally and without shame. I have never loved you more as a man than I did in the moment after I handed him to you for the first time. You looked at me, tears streaming down your face and whispered "Oh Ashleigh, he's beautiful." You still look at his picture and talk about him as your little guy. Thank you for being more, just more everything, everyday.

To my friend, A, thank you for being the kind of friend that everyone wants but few have. You have gone above and beyond for me time and again. Thank you for always saying the right thing, even when that's nothing at all. Thank you for listening to me talk about Owen and not once getting uncomfortable or making me uncomfortable. After Owen died, I asked you to find some books to help me talk to J about our loss. Not only did you do just that but, not being satisfied with what was out there, you sat down and wrote one yourself. There are no words to tell you how much that meant to me, how much that means to me. Thank you seems inadequate but, thank you.

To my dad, who when we called that awful Sunday afternoon responded only "I'm turning the car around right now. I'll be there as soon as I can."- thank you. Thank you for taking care of things for us in the first few hazy days. You made sure there was food in the fridge and clean clothes in our drawers. Thank you for taking care of all the details. Thank you for making all those awful phone calls. Thank you for allowing us to bury Owen with Mom. Thank you for knowing that was the only place I would feel safe leaving him.

To my oldest and dearest, A., thank you for sending that beautiful gown for Owen. Do you know that was the only gift he ever received? I'm glad it was from you. Thank you for having enough faith for both of us right now.

To my cousin M, at 18 you are more of a man than many 3 times your age. Thank you for taking care of J & K those first few days. You made sure they felt safe and happy, when the rest of the world was turned upside down. Thank you for coming to Owen's burial. Thank you for not being afraid of my tears. Thank you, I'm sure its not how you planned to spend your last few days home before leaving for college.

To the nurse who cared for me after Owen was born, thank you for treating us with kindness and dignity. Thank you for talking to Owen and fussing over him just as you would have if he were a live baby.

To the nurse who sent us Mrs B, thank you for knowing that the hospital chaplain wasn't right for this and sending us someone who was.

To Mrs. B, thank you for being with us in our terrible time. Thank you for caring for us- we were strangers to you and you stayed with us long into the night. Thank you for calling at 2 in the morning to check on me. Thank you for coming back to the hospital at 6 the next morning to be there when Owen was born. Thank you for dressing him and baptizing him for us. Thank you for sharing your own story of loss. You were a gift to us that night.

To D, the funeral director, thank you for letting me know as soon as you saw us that you had Owen. It helped to know where he was. Thank you for dressing him yourself and for crying when you told me you had.

To Dr. M, thank you for leading Owen's service even though we are not members of your church. Thank you for not preaching to us about God's will. Thank you for finding the perfect words to help us say goodbye to our son. Thank you for sharing that amazing story*(I'll share the story another time in another post), it helped me keep breathing.

To my brother, thank you for letting me cry on your shoulder the day we buried Owen. In your arms that day was the first time I felt safe enough to really let go.

To my sister in law, M, thank you for wanting to see Owen's picture. Thank you for insisting that your mother look too.

To my Mother-in-law, thank you for, after finally seeing Owen's pictures, having the courage to look me in the eye and say "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I just didn't understand."

To my friend C, thank you for reaching out. I know how hard that must have been for you. Your own catastrophic loss was so fresh, a lesser person would have hidden away, but you did not. Despite your own pain, you have gently guided me down this path. I am thankful to have you.

And to Owen, thank you for opening my eyes. I love you always.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Opposite of Thankful

I've been working on a post for a few days now, sort of the opposite of my "Bite me" post. It seemed like the right time of year to talk about the people who have really gone above and beyond for us since we lost Owen and how we truly do have so many things to be thankful for. I was hoping to finish it up and get it up today, but I woke up this morning in a funk and I'm just not in a thankful place. I know what brought it on and I guess I have only myself to blame. I've been reading birth stories online. I read one last night that was just beautiful. She described feeling her baby slide out of her and then hearing the baby cry for the first time. I can't get it out of my head. I read it and all I could think is how badly I wanted that. The feeling of birthing Owen is still so vivid and so is the terrible silence that followed. I'm definitely not thankful for that.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Milestone?

Over the past few months, whenever I would think about the days when Owen died and then was born, I would have a physical reaction to it. My heart would start racing, I feel would sick to my stomach, sweating, etc. It would continue until I would feel like I was going to die and I would force myself to think of something else, anything else. I suppose I was having panic attacks, although I don't know for sure. It kept me from dealing with what happened to some degree and made it really hard to share with other people. It's part of the reason that I started this blog 8 weeks after he died. It took me that long to get through writing out his story. I would write a few sentences and then have to stop for awhile until I was sure I was going to survive and then I could start again. I guess I thought it would always be like that. However, things seemed to have changed now. I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but I realized yesterday that I was thinking about those days and not feeling that physical reaction. I went and got out the box of his things and went through it. I looked at all the pictures we have of him and cried. I felt sad but not sick. As I sat there and stared at my beautiful little man, I never once had to look away for fear of losing myself completely. I guess this is progress. I guess the intensity of it is fading some. As strange as it is, that makes me a little sad too. I feel like I'm leaving him behind, again.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Cheese Stands Alone

I find myself feeling separate from what is going on around me a lot of the time now. I can be surrounded by people, even engaged in animated conversation, yet I feel like I am completely alone. I went out last night with a bunch of friends and all I could think most of the night was how different I felt than everybody else. It's a little better when JD is with me but when I'm by myself in a group, its a struggle. I feel like what happened should be obvious when you look at me. I feel like I should have a neon blinking sign over my head that reads "My baby is dead." I don't know how to make this part of me and not all of me.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Nervous Nellie

One of the many things that has changed about me since Owen died is my ability to cope with stress. I used to be a relatively laid-back person and I liked that about myself. I had a general belief that although life has it ups and downs everything would come out all right in the end. I'm finding that I no longer feel that way. I have this constant anxiety, like I'm waiting for the other shoe to fall. I've become somewhat neurotic and superstitious and I don't like it at all. J is on a field trip with his preschool this afternoon, just a walk to a local market- maybe a block or so from the school, and I am terrified that something bad is going to happen to him. I think he's going to get hit by a car. I'm sitting here planning out what I will do when they call me and tell me; what things I'll need to pack to bring to the hospital, who I'll have to call, etc. There is a part of me that realizes how completely ridiculous this is but, then there's that little voice whispering "but what if?" Losing Owen taught me that we're never really safe and its a lesson I'd rather not have learned. I don't want to be afraid forever.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Not Quite Funny Story

As a sort of background, you need to know that we moved to the town we currently live in from a different state in late spring of this year. As a result, J started a new preschool in September and, for reasons I'll go into in another post, most of the parents do not know about Owen. So, I was at a mother's event the other day and a group of mothers began trading "war stories" of pregnancy and birth; who had an easy time, who had complications, etc. There is one particular mother who is one of those people who no matter what you talk about she has done it and better (or worse as the case may be.) I like her though and generally find it a funny aspect of her personality. Anyhow, of course, she was going on and on about how difficult her pregnancies were and all I could think is I could end this conversation right now. All I'd have to do is say some pithy like, "Oh yes, poor you, that does sound awful. My last pregnancy was relatively easy, that is, of course, until the baby died." As it was, I didn't say anything.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Something like Hope?

So, we are pretty sure that we are not finished building our family yet. We don't have any plans in mind about doing anything about that yet, but one of things I felt the need to do as part of this whole process was find a new midwifery practice. We were unhappy with the last one for a lot of different reasons. The biggest one being they made me feel like a leper after Owen died. It was so uncomfortable both speaking on the phone and going to the office. Like maybe they thought stillbirth was contagious and I might contaminate their other patients? Or maybe I was just too big of a bummer, who knows? Anyhow, so yesterday JD and I went to have a consultation with a different practice. It went really well. The midwives there just seemed to get it in a way that we have not encountered in "outsiders" yet. I had mentioned Owen's name once in passing in the phone when setting up the appointment and everyone there remembered it and used as comfortably as if he were one of our living children. It's amazing how much that means to me. They basically said that how our next pregnancy (should there be one) is handled is mostly up to us. They will provide whatever support we need. If we need to be seen weekly and talk to them every day, then that's we will do. They will offer and support any and all testing we want, but we don't have to do what we don't want to. They even said while they don't generally support early inductions without a medical reason, they would certainly make an exception for us if we got to 37 weeks and just couldn't handle it any more. It felt good to be with people who just seemed to get it. One midwife commented that we may end up feeling like we just need to survive a subsequent pregnancy and not revel in it. Who knows what will happen but I left the office feeling lighter, like maybe we could do this. There was a tiny glimmer of something like hope there.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bite Me

This is dedicated to all the people who have said and done insensitive and just plain stupid things to us since Owen died. I have decided to get it all off my chest here and then try and let it go. Wish me luck.

Bite me to our midwife who, while I was laboring to give birth to my dead son, advised me not to wait too long to try again because one, it would make me forget "this", and two, I'm not getting younger. Nice, huh?

Bite me to my mother-in-law who, when we called her that Sunday to ask to her to help take care of J&K while we were in the hospital, told JD that she couldn't come until after 10 am on Monday because she had an appointment to get the oil changed in her car.

Bite me to the first chaplain they sent me in the hospital who immediately told me that I shouldn't be angry with God. My baby is dead, I'll feel however I damn well please and if God has a problem with that then its just too bad. He also told me not to grieve or miss the baby because he was never mine to begin with. You were preaching to the wrong audience, Father T. All you did was make me thank my lucky stars I wasn't raised Catholic.

Bite me to everyone has told me that they "know just how I feel because they have lost their grandmother/grandfather/dog." Yes, someone did, in fact, compare our loss to the death of their dog.

Bite me to people who, when making those kind of comparisons, justify it by saying "loss is loss." Anyone capable of saying that has never lost a child.

Bite me to the Medical Center for billing us incorrectly so that I get to spend hours on the phone telling clueless and unfeeling people our story. Bite me again to one particular woman for implying I might be making it up to avoid paying them.

Bite me to the nurse at our former practice for saying "Congratulations" when I arrived for my six week post-partum - You saw me in the hospital, you knew he died! Bite me again for then hiding from me when I was leaving.

Bite me again to my mother-in-law for asking JD if I was "better yet" 5 days after Owen was born.

Bite me to the security guard at Maternity Discharge who made fun of me as I tearfully thanked the nurse who cared for me after my delivery. I know you didn't know my story but was that really necessary? You could see I was leaving without a baby.

Yet another bite me to my in-laws for not coming to Owen's burial service. Yes, I get that you are uncomfortable with our religious choices and death in general, but couldn't you get over yourselves for one minute and be there for JD, your son???

Bite me to every woman who has easy uncomplicated deliveries and takes it for granted. I am so jealous of your innocence I could scream.

One final giant bite me to my very own body. Why couldn't you keep him safe?

This actually feels kind of good- care to add any of your own?

Monday, October 29, 2007

D- day

So today is the day. Owen was due today. While he may not have actually been born today, I have reason to believe that, had everything gone perfectly, he would be here by now. (K was born over 4 weeks early and J arrived exactly on his due date.) Up until now most of my thoughts have been along the lines of I should still be pregnant and I have found myself, for the most part, acting accordingly. I have had a difficult time doing anything that I normally wouldn't do while pregnant- drinking alcohol, lifting heavy objects, strenuous exercise, etc.- even though I know that there is no reason for me to avoid these things. Now, though, all I can think is we should have a baby now. The 'aching arms' feeling so many of you have talked about has become so real for me in the past few days. As I think about the upcoming holidays, all I can think about is how different things will be than we had planned. I always host Thanksgiving for our families and JD and I had spent many hours discussing whether or not we would be able to. "After all, we would have a newborn!" I said. Whether or not we would be able to spend Christmas eve at my dad's place. "All of us in the same room with a newborn??" JD said. We went over and over these things- what a waste.
Today is just Monday- nothing special, nothing exciting might happen today. It's just Monday. Owen has been gone for 13 weeks.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Sometimes I want to hold Owen again so badly that I fantasize about sneaking into the cemetery and digging him up and taking him home with me. I know there's probably not much left of him but I want what is there.

And yes, I am aware how crazy that sounds, but I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Stranger

One of the things I am struggling with quite a bit now is the loss of who I was before Owen died. I look at pictures of myself taken in the days and weeks before we lost Owen and I don't even recognize that person. There's one in particular that haunts me. A picture taken in June, about a month before Owen died. We were on vacation and in the picture I am on the beach, laughing. J & K are in the background playing in the sand. I am looking somewhere just beyond the camera lens. I look at this picture over and over. The woman I see there is content. I see her, smiling and confident, and feel an odd sense of detachment. I stare into my own eyes looking for clues- clues to what I'm not really sure; maybe some foreshadowing of the nightmare that will shortly begin, maybe some answer to how I will continue to survive. I envy her, but also pity her- she has no idea what's coming. I may as well be looking at pictures of a stranger- in some ways I guess I am.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Last Thing

So my dad called the other day and told me that when he went to visit my mom's grave, he discovered that Owen's stone was there. So on Saturday, we went to the the cemetery. I like how permanent it is. I need for something about Owen, other than his loss, to be permanent. Standing there, I realized it is probably the last thing we will ever buy for our son. There are so many other things I wanted to give him. Owen, I had so many plans for you, for us.

Friday, October 19, 2007


It's funny because I really haven't felt much anger since losing Owen. Everything I've read about grief and everyone I've talked to has mentioned anger as one of the initial stages of grief and I've been feeling like maybe I'm doing it wrong or something - until yesterday. We got a bill from the Medical Center where I had my prenatal care and where Owen was delivered. I was glancing over it and at the bottom I notice a charge for a Fetal Nuchal Translucency scan and the date of service- August 16, 2007. My heart just stopped and I was (and am) livid. I know my anger over what is obviously a mistake is irrational and misplaced but I can't help myself. I called the phone number on the bill and of course its a billing service not related to the Medical Center in any way and the woman I speak with knows nothing. I explain I believe there's been an error and I know I didn't have this particular service. And then she asked if I was certain. I almost lost it, through clenched teeth I told her that yes I was certain as the pregnancy had ended over two weeks earlier when the baby was born dead. She told me that she would have an account manager "look into it" and call me back. She never said she was sorry and no one has called me back. I think I hate them now and I am very very angry.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Eight Years

Eight years ago today JD and I were married. While this is not the path I imagined, there is no one else I would want by my side, holding my hand as we travel. This morning he woke me by placing a tiny box on my pillow, inside was a beautiful ring- diamonds for me, he said, and rubies for Owen. Like you, it is perfect for me. I love you JD.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day

Today, in honor of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness day, I am lighting two candles. One for my Owen and one for your lost child.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

You Can't Miss What You Never Had?

I have the dubious fortune of having a dear friend who has also lost a child. I don't want to share too many details without her permission, but C lost her infant daughter at about 2 weeks of age. We were friends before children came into either of our lives and now have this bond that neither of us ever imagined. While I wish we did not share this, I am thankful to have her. She is one of two friends I have that still say Owen's name out loud and are willing to talk about him. Anyhow, the other day we were emailing and I admitted that I felt I didn't miss Owen. I felt horrible about admitting that, and sort of embarrassed too. I felt like I was doing something wrong, I mean how could I not miss my son? I knew I loved and love him, shouldn't I miss him? After thinking about it for several days, I think it's how I was defining missing that was wrong. I was trying or expecting to miss him the way I would miss J & K if the unthinkable happened and they were gone. I would miss specific things about them - the things that make them who they are. However, with Owen born still, I really don't know those things about him. I never heard him cry. I don't know what he liked or what made him fussy. I never saw his eyes open. I don't know what his breath smelled like. All I can do is imagine who he might have been. I've decided to change the way I think about it and give myself permission to miss what I never really had.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Destination Unknown

These past few days have busy, full of the mundane things that make each day fly by and leave you wondering what you actually got done that day. I went most of the day yesterday without thinking about Owen and I don't know how I feel about that. Actually, that's not true, I know exactly how I feel about that. I feel awful and guilty. After all, what kind of mother "forgets" about one of her children? But then again, it felt kind of good to feel a little bit "normal" again. I mean what exactly is my goal on this path of grief? To go days without thinking of him? To "move on," as so many well-meaning people have suggested I do? To remember him and not feel like I would do anything to have him here with me? None of that seems right. I don't know how to do this and I hate it.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Conversations in the Car

I was driving J, my 4 year old, to school today when he announced that there was a baby in my belly and it would be coming out to play with him when it got bigger. I reminded him that while, yes, there had been a baby in my belly, he was not there anymore. Baby Owen died and would not be able to play with him. He told me he knew that baby Fluffy (his name for Owen) died but that there were lots of babies in my belly and someday one of them would be big and healthy and would be able to come home and play with him. I wish I had his confidence. I had a vision of what my family would look like and it did not include photographs of a dead baby, my dead baby. Oh Owen, I wish things were different.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


JD and I stayed by the grave long after everyone had left. The gravedigger came to bury Owen. He was a huge man. I could tell he was a little uncomfortable with us there. I imagined that he did not bury many babies. He drove forward slowly in a backhoe, the bucket filled with dirt. And then I did something unexpected, even by me. I asked him if we could do it. He was surprised but willing. He and JD gently lowered Owen into the ground by hand. Then he got us a shovel and together JD and I buried our son. When we had finished, the gravedigger got on his hands and knees and gently patted the earth smooth. I thanked him for taking such good care of my son. Then I went home and threw out my shoes.

Friday, September 28, 2007

August 2, 2007

We buried Owen with my Mom. When I say this I mean that because he was so small we were actually able to dig down and place him right on top of her. On good days, I actually get some peace from knowing that they have each other now. There was no one who loved infants more than my Mom.

I don’t remember much of the service. In the great kindness of the universe, my milk came in that day. I was in so much pain. It was hot and I was still bleeding heavily. I remember my brother hugging me like he would never let me go. I remember JD beside me holding my hand. I remember my father rubbing my back while I stared at the tiny coffin. Mostly, I remember the heat.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Story- Part V

Owen was beautiful. He was big for his gestation. 3 pounds 3 ounces and 15 inches long at just barely 27 weeks. He had long thin feet like K. He had my father’s nose and my husband’s eyebrows. He had a tiny bit of the dark wavy hair J had been born with. I unwrapped him and examined every part of his tiny body; his long fingers and tiny penis, his perfect ears and miniscule toenails. I noted the places on his feet and legs where his skin had already begun peeling. I was in love with all of these things. He looked peaceful.
As the hours passed, JD and I took turns holding him and kissing him, whispering to him, and trying to memorize his tiny body. We had a lifetime of parenting to squeeze into those hours. We cried a lot but also laughed some. He had hairy shoulders just like his dad.
Soon, some of the physical changes that accompany death began to take place. I took a blanket and wiped away the fluid that began to leak from his nose. I remember the nurse was distressed by this and offered to take him then. But I wanted to care for him. I knew it was my only chance.

The Story- Part IV

It was a long night, but once the induction began we didn’t cry. In fact, we joked a bit and reminisced about the labors of our other children. JD slept some and I watched him. I couldn’t pray that night. I thought a lot about my mom who had died 17 months previously. I asked her to take care of my baby, to hold him tight and sing to him so he would always know how very much I loved him.
Early the next morning, I woke JD. “It hurts- I’m so uncomfortable now.” He called the nurse. She and the midwife checked me – 9.5 centimeters.
“Almost time.” They left to call the chaplain.
Almost immediately I felt the overwhelming urge to push. I moaned to JD to get the nurse. She came quickly.
“Please. Can I push now? I need….”
“Oh – let me get Janet quick.”
JD took my hand. “I don’t want to do this. I’m scared.” I said.
“I know. Me too.” He kissed me on the forehead.
Janet and the nurse arrived and I started pushing. It didn’t take long.
“There’s his head” I heard “You need to push hard for the shoulders.”
I felt his body slide out of mine and began to sob. It was the only sound in the room.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Story- Part III

“Oh my son. My baby boy. I’m so sorry” I whispered over and over. I covered face with my hands and cried in a way that I have never cried before. I thought I might be sick. I thought I might die from the hurt of it. But after a few minutes, it was like a switch went off inside me and I remembered I wasn’t finished. This wasn’t over. I still had a job to do. I took a deep breath and dried my eyes.”Ok, what do I do now?” I asked.
The doctor cleared his throat and wiped his eyes. “I know this is difficult but you need to make some decisions. When you are this far along you need to deliver the baby.” I nodded. I knew this and even wanted to deliver my son. “We can admit you and induce labor now or-“
“Yes. That’s what I want. Let’s do this now.’
“Ok. We will make you as comfortable as possible. We will give you whatever you want pain relief wise. We can even give you medication to make this seem like a dream. Whatever you need.”
It hit me in waves; this was really happening, this was my life now. I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to live this life and be this baby’s mother. “I need to call my husband. Please I need my husband.”
“Of course,” said the nurse “I’ll get you a phone.”
“No, my cell phone is my purse. Please get it.”
“We’ll give you a few minutes of privacy.” the doctor said “We’ll get things organized for the induction and call Janet the midwife on call.” They stepped out.
I struggled to get the number right. My hands were shaking.
JD answered on the first ring
“I need you to come here. I need you to come here right now,” was all I could get out.
“What?” he said sounding panicky. ”What’s happening? Is it the baby?”
All I could do was cry. How could I break his heart like this?
“He’s gone. He’s just gone.”
“Oh no...oh... no...” he breathed.
“Call daddy. See if he can come and stay with the kids. I need to deliver the baby.” I was in business mode now telling him what he needed to do to prepare the kids for me being gone overnight, reminding him to bring some things for himself.
An hour or so later he arrived at the hospital. He entered to the room and took me in his arms and we cried together.
“He’s a boy, JD. I asked and they told me. He’s a boy.”

It was not how I had planned to introduce my husband to his newest son.

The Story- Part II

When I got the hospital, I couldn’t find away in other than the Maternity Discharge exit. It was Sunday afternoon and the entrance I usually used was closed. I knocked on the door at Maternity and told the security guard I didn’t know how to get to L&D.
He asked "Is it for you? " I nodded and he escorted me to the desk.
The nurse was expecting me and took me a labor room. She had me get changed and get on the bed. She was so certain everything was ok.
“Let’s just see what’s going on with this baby” she said.
“Besides giving me gray hair?” I tried to joke.
She put the monitor on me. We could hear what sounded like a heartbeat thumping along.
“That’s me, isn’t it?” I said.
She nodded and moved the monitor around some. The same rhythm maybe slightly faster could be heard again. “It’s still just me. Isn’t it?”
The nurse looked more serious and then said "Sometimes when you are early these monitors don’t work so well. Let me get the ultrasound."
She left. I was 26 weeks and 6 days pregnant. The heartbeat had never been difficult to hear. She came back with the ultrasound and the attending physician.
He introduced himself and said "Let’s see what we can see. Do you know what you’re having?"
"No," I said "and I don’t want to… unless it’s very bad."
“No, no” he said. “Don’t think like that.”
As the image pulled up on the screen, all I saw was stillness. The doctor looked around and around, stopping here and there for a moment, not saying anything yet. But I had seen. I had seen the heart; I had seen that it was not beating. He turned off the screen and looked at me. I could see the sadness in his eyes.
“I do see something that concerns me.” He began softly.
“I know, it’s not good, is it?” I asked as tears began to come.
"No" he said gently. "It’s not. The baby’s heart is not beating. I’m so sorry."
I began to sob.
“Oh honey” The nurse said as she handed me tissues and rubbed my back.
“Do you you know if it’s a boy or a girl?” I asked.
“It’s a boy. He’s a boy. I’m so very sorry.” The doctor sounded choked up.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How are you doing?

I'm asked this question all the time now. Friends and family are full of concern for my well-being. Over and over again, I hear myself answer the same way, "Oh, I'm okay."

I say this because I'm touched by their concern. I appreciate them asking. I want to say the right thing. I want to protect the people I love from this. I want it to be true.

The real truth of the matter is I'm not okay. I'm not sure I'll ever be okay again.

I think that's a big reason I started this blog, to have a place where I feel safe saying that I am not okay.

The Story- Part I

I awoke that morning with a start. Sweating, my heart racing, like I had just had a bad dream but, there wasn’t one I could recall. I couldn’t shake this unsettled feeling. I went to check on the kids. I’m not sure why. They were both sleeping peacefully. I know I went to sigh thinking “Everything must be ok” when it hit me. There was silence inside me. The baby who had been poking and thumping me nearly continuously for the past 12 weeks was still. I sat on my bed, hands on my belly and gave a little jiggle. I felt a slow wave of movement. All I could think was how sluggish that felt. I thought maybe breakfast would help. I felt nauseous but forced down an English muffin with jelly. I waited and nothing happened.
We got in the car for the ride home from my in-laws where we had been staying for the weekend and JD asked me what was wrong. He said I been acting weird since we got up. I didn’t want to say it aloud.
“I don’t feel the baby moving.”
He grabbed my hand and looked at me carefully. "Maybe it’s sleeping."
“Maybe,” I agreed, wanting him to be right and somehow knowing he wasn’t.
“We’ll call the midwife when we get home.”
I called her and she was more blasé than I wanted her to be. “Drink some coke and lay down. Call in me in an hour if nothing changes."
I drank the soda and lay in my bed listening to the kids play in the next room. JD peered in periodically “Anything yet?”
“No,” I forced out and began to cry. JD wanted me to call the midwife right away.
"It’s only been 30 minutes," I said. "We should give it more time." I prayed ferociously hands on my belly; begging God to change what I knew in my heart was true.
I called the midwife and she was still blasé. “As babies get bigger they move less-"
“No,” I said “this is different. I have two children already. I have been pregnant before. I know something is going on.”
“Well, why don’t we have you go to L&D and checked out just in case.”
I told JD I was going in and the midwife thought everything was probably fine. He hugged me. I went to say goodbye to the kids. I didn’t want to go. I knew once I walked out the door nothing would ever be the same. I know it sounds so melodramatic but that’s how I felt. I hugged J & K so tightly. I was so afraid for what I knew might happen while I was gone. I threw my cell phone and charger in my purse and walked out the door. I saw the kids waving from the window and couldn’t stop crying as I waved back.

Monday, September 24, 2007

We named him Owen

8 weeks ago today my life changed forever. My third child was stillborn at 27 weeks gestation. And now my entire life is divided into before and after. It's still so overwhelming it takes my breath away when I allow myself to think about how permanent this change is.