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.