Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Never "Better"

No one told me it was going to be so hard. No one had to.

I've spent more than a year grieving him, and in some ways it truly has gotten easier. Easier, never better.

I find myself getting caught-up in the excitement of meeting Jack's little sister in a few months time. I have no reason to believe it won't happen, and I have no reason to believe that she won't outlive us. Of course I worry, though I try to tame my wild thoughts with the knowledge there's nothing I can do, yet. Once she gets here, absolutely, but I got him here too.. It was only once he arrived things turned out so horribly wrong...

A year ago, when I was still covered in the first few waves of foggy grief, all I wanted was to be here, in this place where I am expecting again. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, and it wasn't. It took a few months of trying, some medication, and a whole lotta sex with my adorable husband, and here we are. So grateful for a second chance. So terrified of history repeating itself.

My husband is such a trooper- have I mentioned that? The eternal optimist, he refuses to discuss any outcome which does not result in his baby girl arriving safely and soundly. He has already told me of his plans to cuddle with her skin-to-skin, and how he really can.not.wait. He makes my heart swoon, and I really am not sure what I'd do without him. I send him weekly notes from the baby. It's simple stuff, pieced together from various websites like, my "What to Expect" app on my iPhone, and even the Pamper's app which shows a diagram of baby's development. My emails outline her size and the new skillz she is developing (fyi- she's the size of a corn, a little over a pound of sweet baby girl, and is listening very carefully to my words...). I know he likes it, and it makes me feel like I'm helping him bond with his daughter because while I get to experience her jabs and kicks from the inside, it is only just now beginning where he can feel her thumps on the outside. I send him updates throughout the day, "today, she's loving the blueberry muffin I fed her for breakfast", or "she seems angry, please stop and get us a California Chicken sandwich for dinner". The best part? He plays along, and he brings home those sandwiches... nom, nom, nom.

I've been buying baby things here and there, I'm trying to embrace it all. It's hard. I picked up the following shirt, skirt and pants from a Loblaws (grocery store chain, for my non-canuck readers). They were on clearance and they were sweet and I figured why not, right? Here are the three items in the two ensembles I plan for her:


I hung them from our kitchen cabinet hardware for Scott to see when he got home last night. Apparently they're "pretty cute". ha.

I "outed" us on Facebook last week. I thought it was about time to do so. I thought long and hard about how to announce it as I cringe when I see announcements and I didn't want to be one of them.. Possibly I am and have been, but I also felt like I have been posting a lot of sad things, such as Jack's birthday and anniversaries, so if I'm going to share that part of my innards, perhaps I should share the happy pieces too? I am pleased to say we had 70+ "likes" and 45-ish comments, and not a single "YAY, you're pregnant and it's going to be so amazing, barfing rainbows and shit". I am happy it's out there. I finally decided that as much as I am terrified of something going wrong in this pregnancy, I want people "out there" to pray for her, to love her, and to anticipate her the very same way they might have when we were expecting Jack. Does that make sense? I made sure to involve Jack in the process by announcing he would soon be a big brother to the baby girl he had sent us. I'm glad I did it that way, because it very much involves Jack as much as it involved us. I wanted people to know that, I want them to know he hasn't been forgotten and he will be a part of our lives forever... I hope I accomplished this.

SickKids sends out bereavement newsletters with some thoughts/poetry/etc. every few months or so... Today I received what appears to be the final newsletter. It addresses anniversaries and birthdays, and even conception after a loss.  Sometimes I find it hard to receive this stuff as the reality of it all is so damn final. But sometimes it helps, and today was one such day. There was an excerpt included in the newsletter which rang so true to me, that I feel I need to repeat it here.

"Deciding to try for a subsequent pregnancy after a loss requires both deep courage and strength. Having been to the bottom, bereaved parents pick up their broken hearts and make his huge leap that is so difficult in so many ways and for so many reasons. Though different for each individual, many common emotions are guilt, a feeling of injustice to the baby that has died and the constant worry that the worst could happen again...".

Damn right, these are exactly the emotions I have battled. Worrying that Jack would be forgotten because our single ray of sunshine, which exists in the form of his sister, would "brighten" out lives and blind people to the fact she isn't our first born. Worrying that she will live her life in her big brother's shadow... Worrying about whether I can do this again- what if it happened again? I could not do it again... Would I/ could I love her unconditionally, can I open my heart to her and allow myself to fall madly in love with her as I did her brother?

It's even the little things... Like how much it's going to burn to have to pack up Jack's tiny clothing from his dressers- still waiting to be worn for the very first time, but instead going into storage for a while, until another little man (please?) comes screaming into our lives? I think about that sometimes- I spent a lot of time during my pregnancy with him preparing to bring him home, so certain that I would. I dutifully picked up unscented detergent for his baby skin, I washed and folded his teeny tiny pants and shirts, delighting in the belief I would soon be pulling those necklines over a little head... I remember the days Scott assembled Jack's dresser- he spent a whole day doing so, surprising me in the process with both it's purchase and completion. He was so excited as we began tucking away Jack's clothing, diapers, and all things nursery-necessary... It's hard to remember the good times, knowing the bad ones were just around the corner.

Anyway, all I intended to say was that this stuff is hard, and even a year later I still worry, and miss him like crazy and wish with all my might he could be here to welcome his sister into the world in t-minus 14 weeks.  In a way he will be, but not as I had hoped. I hate that part of reality.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

When You're Dreaming With a Broken Heart...

"When you're dreaming with a broken heart
The waking up is the hardest part.
You roll outta bed and down on your knees
And for the moment you can hardly breathe
Wondering was she really here?
Is she standing in my room?
No she's not, 'cause she's gone, gone, gone, gone, gone....

When you're dreaming with a broken heart
The giving up is the hardest part
She takes you in with your crying eyes
Then all at once you have to say goodbye
Wondering could you stay my love?
Will you wake up by my side?
No she can't, 'cause she's gone, gone, gone, gone, gone...."
-John Mayer

So before I write anything I want you, dear reader, to realize that this is all part of my grieving process, and I'm am not an evil person. I wouldn't dare pretend to speak for anyone else, as this whole "thing" is so individual... I feel like I might get some quiet judgement for writing this, but it's truly how I've felt, and so here it is...

Until just a few weeks ago, I would have wished away my little girl just to have Jack back. I would think how perhaps if I offered her up to the universe, perhaps I would be rewarded with his return... I would straight up have traded her life for his.

There- I wrote it, it's out there for the universe to condemn me. 

I would have given up ever knowing this little person just to have her little brother back and forget any of the things we've experienced in the past year. All of that, just to have him. 

But now? Now I couldn't, and I wouldn't. I couldn't give her up. She's given me so much light in such a dark place. Her little kicks and jerks? They give me a reason to smile on the gloomiest of days. I love her, plain and simple. As the weeks slowly passed and the reality of  her  (hopefully) coming home to live (and keep forever) with us in four months (please), has grown more real, I know in my heart I could never choose. And luckily, that choice isn't mine to make. I love her totally and completely, and without any reservation, completely independent of my love of him.

It's hard, because I still want him with all of my heart. I suspect I will always want him, and long for him and the life we would have known together. In a way, I've been able to accept he was never mind to keep. It's almost like that makes it easier on some level, to know he was only able to be with me temporarily, and if it could only be for a minute, I'm still glad that he was here. I'd do it all over again, even if the same results prevailed. I would never give up on him.

It's heartbreaking to wrap my head around. All this time, the past twelve months which has passed since he was here have been all about him. Of losing him. Of learning to pick up the pieces and create some semblance of a life without someone who was so dearly wanted. Of wanting to make his legacy live on in some way, and I think they way it will be is through his siblings, of which I hope to provide many.

Sometimes I wonder why I didn't get to keep both of my babies... One of the non-BLM blogs which I "follow" had a little girl weeks after I had Jack, and she's mere weeks behind me in pregnancy #2...  Her daughter and her new baby will be nearly the same distance in age as Jack and his sister will be... And I wonder, why does she get to be so blessed as to know and love both of her babies?  I can't even imagine that level of happiness, completely devoid of broken hearted-ness, and the significant crossing of fingers I have been doing for the past six months just to get to 22 weeks in this pregnancy.

And I feel guilty for thinking about him versus her. I want both, I want both of my babies to be in my arms and in my life. But it isn't an option, and I have to remind myself, consciously sometimes, that loving her does not negate my love for him. I have no reason to feel guilty- that my love for her is because of him, as it is only through losing him I have gained the capacity to love that much deeper, and so I remain thankful for those small little gifts he has given to me.

I love them both. Equally. I will want them both, forever.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Year On

Here I am, one year from the date when a wonderful team of neurosurgeons at SickKids told us our son had no brain function. A year from the date I watched a younger member of their team cry silent tears as my husband and I sat there trying to comprehend what had just taken place. I asked stupid questions, like whether this was fatal. Of course it was.  I asked whether they could open his skull to alleviate the swelling. They told us there was absolutely nothing they could do. The swelling was so severe that there was no discernible brain matter, and they had never seen anything like it.

I often think about those doctors, both the neurosurgeons as well as the neonatologists and the nurses we met while at SickKids... Whether they knew all along we were facing an uphill battle. Whether they have ever thought of Jack, or of his family, since he died... Promises of recovery were never made to us, and we were cautioned we were dealing with a very sick little boy. But still, until we were told he had no functioning, I don't think I had let my mind "go there", to the place where we would ultimately have to say goodbye.

January 5, 2011.
I remember we didn't cry when we were told. Looking back we were both in shock. I tried to act logically while my  husband sat there stone faced and took it all in while I turned quickly on my heels and went to be with my boy in his isolate. I wanted him to know that it was okay, that he could go, that I already knew it was just his body which remained, and that his spirit had been set free. I wanted him to know, at that very moment, how much he had been wanted, longed for, desired. How much I would miss him all the remaining days of my life. I wanted him to know he would always be my beautiful son, that no matter what happened, I would carry his heart within mine until it's final beat.

A year ago today, we delved into the world of organ donation. Initiating the steps which would ultimately result in a liver donation to a sick little boy in the United States. Something I am so grateful he was able to do, yet so sad would be the final chapter to his life. Of course, it it had been up to me, he would have grown to be his own person with his own life and family. But that can never be.  Fuck.

In the beginning, there were promises he would always be remembered. That he would be cherished, and adored and missed from afar. That we could always speak of him. But here we are, a year later ad people want us not to speak of him as though he was some sort of imaginary figure. But he wasn't, and he isn't imaginary, and he is very much a part of the story of our lives as any living children we may be blessed with would be. I conceived him. I carried him. I birthed him. I loved him. Then I said goodbye, all too soon. He was real, and he is adored.

My husband's family has been quite clear in their most recent behaviour that they don't want to talk about him.  They didn't even call or email or anything on Jack's birthday... Not because they didn't remember, but "because somethings are better not talked about"... Do you know how much this infuriates me? To know you are discounting the greatest tragedy of my life for your own comfort- so that you can avoid the feelings of grief? Do I think they have any idea how often I replay the last moments of his life, and wish desperately it would have been me that lay there, breathing through a ventilator, rather than him? Do I think they had any concept of the fact that not calling did not equate with us not missing him over here? That rather than recognizing it would have been his very first birthday, they instead chose to ignore it for their own benefit?

I know it's painful. I know this, because I live it day in and day out. At the end of the day, they can lay their head upon their pillow and sleep comfortably knowing their two boys continue to live and breathe. All the while I tuck a tiny stuffed bear given to my boy by a sweet nurse at SickKids into my shirt, to snuggle safely all night long. How wonderful it must be to be ignorant of the fact their son's life is very much different to the one they have because someone is missing. That by simply closing their eyes, they're able to block it all out. I know they loved him, but to push him aside like he belongs in only a memory is not only an insult, but it's infuriating. The only they've fooled into thinking he no longer matters is themselves.

At the end of the day, no one will tell me how to grieve my son. No one will tell me not to speak of him. No one will tell me when enough time has passed to have "gotten over it". It burns to think that one day he won't be spoken of, that he'll fade into the background- that is not okay with me. Of course I cry when I speak of him- I MISS HIM. Plain and simple. I will continue to miss him even once my arms are filled with his sister, because I love them both.

All it does is reinforce why I was worried about being pregnant once again. Because rather than being a source of hope for what we pray will come in the form of a healthy baby, it makes me feel like people see her as an opportunity for them to be grandparents again, because it was taken from them. But it's not about them- not in the least. At this point, I would be surprised if I even let them into the hospital to meet their granddaughter once she is born, because if he isn't anything to them, why should she be, just because she's (hopefully) alive?

I have so much more to say, so much more. But this is all I can get out for now.
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