Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hypnobabies Birth Class

Preparing for labor was something I knew that I needed to do, because I was planning on delivering naturally (which I did).

My midwife, Sherri (who you can read about in my series on why I chose a midwife), taught monthly classes for all of her moms-to-be and dads were encouraged to come too. She did a great job educating us on a variety of topics -stages of labor, breastfeeding, laboring positions, what to expect postpartum, comforts for pain relief during labor- you name it. However, she did want her first-time-moms to do some sort of additional birthing class and preparation.

I knew of some ladies that had prepared by either reading or taking classes on hypnosis for child birth. First, lets be honest, the whole "hypnosis" things sounds a little bit crazy. And if you're LDS you may think that you're not even supposed to participate in hypnosis. So for your information the handbook says the following:

"The use of hypnosis under competent, professional medical supervision for the treatment of diseases or mental disorders is a medical question to be determined by competent medical authorities. Members should not participate in hypnosis for purpose of demonstration or entertainment." (Handbook 2, 21.3.5)

It doesn't address birth, yet I personally did not feel like taking a hypnosis child brithing class would be in violation of this policy; however, I did think that it sounded weird so I just referred to it as my "birthing class." There are two main hypnosis classes and theories for hypnotic childbirth -HypnoBirthing and Hypnobabies . I chose the later. I wish I could remember what my reasoning for selecting that one was or why I ruled out other methods like Lamaze out. It might have been recommended, I read a high school acquaintance's  successful hypno birth story on her blog, and I had a couple friends read HypnoBirthing (the one I didn't select) and tell me they liked it but disagreed with some of what the book said. So I opted for the Hypnobabies class which was actually held at my birth center by certified instructors who teach at a variety of locations.

It was a little crazy to figure out scheduling with a class which worked for both Trevor and my schedules. We even missed the first class but met privately with the instructor to get the missed information. Each session would include some "hypnosis" practice, viewing a brief video clip of a successful "Hypnobabies mom", and some education on various prenatal, birthing, and postpartum topics. Each week there are assignments given -most of which included daily hypnosis practice by yourself and with your "birth partner" aka husband.

Even though I selected this method, I think I was somewhat skeptical of it. I thought it was weird that it was called hypnosis and I wasn't comfortable telling people what I was doing. I even referred to the hypnosis as "relaxation sessions." And honestly, that's what I felt like they were. Deep relaxation. They weren't too different from relaxation/visualizations/deep breathing that I had done in various dance classes. I'm sure everyone has heard of athletes visualizing the perfect plays - well I think it's like that - visualizing the perfect birth. Perhaps it's hypnosis, and perhaps I just didn't achieve that level of ability to really relax into hypnosis, because of my inability to really practice every day. Whenever I would put on the CD's, lay down, and breath deep, after a few minutes I would just fall asleep. Every time. Without fail. I was a very tired pregnant woman and a little frustrated that I could never stay awake for it. Oh well, at least my body got the extra rest when I did it!

The part that was most beneficial for me was one of the CD tracks called "Pregnancy Affirmations." It wasn't "hypnosis" but just a CD of positive affirmations that you'd repeat in your mind. It really made me feel better about being pregnant and I'd recommend that CD track to ANY pregnant woman.

So did I use Hypnobabies during labor?

Well ... kinda. We didn't actually go to the hospital prepared since we just went straight from our prenatal appointment where we had discovered the devastating news. So I didn't have my iPod with the "birthing tracks" with me. My mom was able to go to our house and bring me some items, including the iPod. The method suggests listening to it from the first onset of labor so that you can be be "totally in hypnosis" aka totally relaxed the whole time, because if you try to relax when you really need it -it will be too late.

It wasn't until the intensity was starting to build that I decided to use the iPod to relax. I also got in the tub at this time. I also had my midwife cuing me to "relax" (as the Hypnobabies method teaches and trains you to do with a birth partner or assistant) both verbally and by pressing her hand on, I think, my shoulders or my forehead (don't remember now). I was getting a bit shaky, felt like I was struggling to relax (even though Sherri said I was doing great), and didn't think I was hypnotized by any means (maybe I should have practiced my hypnosis a little more). I thought at this point labor was just getting going, but to my surprise I was going through transition and dilated from 5cm to 10cm in about a half hour during this time in the tub "using" the hypnosis.

Was it painful? No, I don't think it was. Call me crazy but I didn't think it was painful. Was it intense? A big fat astounding YES. Was I able to do it? YES!! Do I believe that any woman that puts her mind to it and prepares can do it. YES, YES, YES.

Do I attest my success to the Hypnobabies class. Um....only kinda. Was it the tub, my midwife, or the "hypnosis" that got me through it? Or was it that my body is just made to birth babies? Or the prayers of my faithful friends that I would have a quick and easy delivery? Or a tender mercy of the Lord? Probably all of it.

Do I think I would have been more able to rely on the hypnosis aka the "deep relaxation", if I had been the "perfect Hypnobabies mom" and practiced more successfully ? I think so. But I guess I'll never really know.

So there you have it, a little bit about why I chose it and how I feel like it went for me.

Would I do it again? I think so. I think I'd like to do it for real and not just half-heartedly and see how it goes. But we'll see. Every birth is different and may need different things. I guess we'll just have to wait and see when that day actually comes.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Faith in His Timming

I have learned so much in my endeavor to live out my life as a mother. I feel like I can better relate perhaps just a little bit to women who may experience infertility. I know what it's like to hope for and dread the beginning of each menstrual cycle. I know what it feels like to plead with the Lord for the blessing of a child. I know what it feels like to mourn over the life that I had dreamed of and don't have. I know what it's like to anxiously take a pregnancy test even before it's quite time, to read the negative results, quietly tuck it into the trash so no one knows I was hopeful, and still hope that it was just too early so it's a false negative. I know what it's like to have a face wet with tears as I plead with the Lord that He hears my prayers and feels my aching heart to be a mother.

And after various experiences, I now know what it's like to recognize that faith is not that He will give me what I want if I have enough of it. Faith is me trusting in Him. Faith is finally believing that He knows all and has a plan for each of us and that He will give me not what I want when I want it, but that I will accept what He will give me when He gives it to me because He is the Great I Am and has a perfect knowledge of all things.

Last fast Sunday, February 5, I when I was in DC staying with family I started my period. I was so heart broken. I sat on the hide-a-bed and let tears fall down my face as I sat with my 2-year-old niece, Jenna. She was so sweet and concerned. She let me hold her and hug her and listened as I told her that I was sad. I wanted more than anything to have another baby on the way. How long must I wait?

I called Trevor and told him about it. I asked him how long we needed to wait before we asked our family to pray and fast for us. He said he'd call his sister and his parents right then. He got a hold of his sister but not his parents. I was too timid to ask for anything so I didn't ask Scott and Maryanne. Trevor told me that he was going to fast and pray that we would have patience and understanding.

His prayers were answered.

Through a variety of conversations I feel like my mind was enlightened concerning the timing of things. I realized that it was less about me and what I wanted now but more about what the Lord may need later. I realized that the timing of when a child is born makes all the difference in his or her life. It influences when they'll start school, who their friends will be, when they might be serving a mission, and so many other things. What if the Lord needs my child to be born at a particular time in order for him or her to be an influence for good for other individuals whom he or she may not encounter if born at a different time? Maybe this whole conception thing isn't about me but about other people in this world.

Yes, in a way it is about me. Heavenly Father knows my wants and desires and, like any loving parent, wants me to be able to experience happiness and joy. Yet He is also the loving parent of so many other people and has a plan for each of them too. He has a plan for each of my children. And that plan may very well not be aligned with my plan--or rather my plan not aligned with His.

And I guess that's when we need faith. We need the faith to believe in Him. Believe that He is All Powerful. We need the faith to trust in Him and His plan.

I had this realization, but I felt as if I needed that faith. On Tuesday, as prayers were offered in the temple, I knew that I needed more faith. I needed to trust Him.

"Your faith in Jesus Christ grows as you become better acquainted with Him and His teachings." (Preach My Gospel, Christlike Attributes, p116)

I turned to the scriptures to seek understanding. Tears wet my face as I read verses in the book of Abraham:

"...If there be two spirits, and one shall be more intelligent than the other, yet these two spirits, not withstanding one is more intelligent than the other, have no beginning; they existed before, they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are gnolaum, or eternal.

And the Lord said unto me: These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all.

I dwell in the midst of them all; I now, therefore, have come down unto thee to declare unto thee the works which my hands have made, wherein my wisdom excelleth them all, for I rule in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath, in all wisdom and prudence, over all the intelligences thine eyes have seen from the beginning; I came down in the beginning in the midst of all the intelligences thou hast seen." (Abraham 3:18,19,21)

Reading these verses I was taught or rather reminded of the infinite wisdom of the Lord. I was reminded of the eternal nature of spirits and that God the Father knows all. He knows better than I do. He is the ruler over all and He is the perfect ruler. How prideful and unfaithful for me to think that I know best. How could I imagine that I know better than the Lord. I cried over my lack of faith and my heart plead to Him that I could truly trust Him and know that He is in charge and that He knows what is best.

My heart has changed and my faith has increased. I will trust Him.

Monday, February 27, 2012

I will never forget about Luke's life or death

I came across the following quote on the blog of another angel mother:

If you know someone who has lost a child or lost anybody who's important to them, and you're afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died, they didn't forget they died. You're not reminding them. What you're reminding them of is that you remember that they lived, and that's a great, great gift. (Elizabeth Edwards)

I couldn't feel it is more true. I have not forgotten about Luke or his death -not today, not tomorrow, not ever. 

I guess I can see why people wouldn't want to mention him -it's obviously a sensitive and emotional subject. I can't really blame someone for not wanting to bring up something that will leave me with tears in my eyes. Something that's potentially really awkward. 

But why? What's so wrong with shedding tears over a loved one? Would it really be that bad to to embrace someone as they remember their loved one? Perhaps instead of an awkward moment, it could be a beautiful, sympathetic, grief-sharing opportunity. 

I think it hurts me when people
don't mention it. 

I went to a party with some old friends from high school. I honestly didn't know what to expect going into it. Perhaps not everyone knew that I had been pregnant and that Luke died, but I know some of the women
did know.  It wasn't my party, so I didn't expect attention to ever be turned toward me, but I thought at least someone would quietly turn to me and express some sort of condolence. Nothing was ever said. It was strange -walking away from there . . .wondering . . .Do they care? Do they know? It was kind of an empty feeling. Perhaps one that comes from neglect. 

The Lord has blessed me with a forgiving heart, so I don't hold it against any of those woman. So if you were at that party and now you're here, doing some internet surfing, perhaps after you've finished a late-night feeding with your own baby - I really don't hold it against you for not saying anything. I can't blame you, if you thought it would be awkward so you held your tongue. Or if you just didn't know. I don't blame you or hold it against you. But I can't deny the way it made me feel to not be acknowledged.

I beg and I plead with anyone that reads these words that in the future when you know someone is grieving or going through a hard thing that you
do say something.  Even if it's the words "I don't know what to say..." or "I've been thinking about you" anything really would help a grieving person know that you care. Because when your world is turned up-side-down because of the death of your child, the care and love of others is sometimes the only thing that sustains you. 

It's healing to know that others care. It's healing to know that others haven't forgotten about me. It's healing to know that other's haven't forgotten about Luke. 

I am so grateful to you--friend, family, or even stranger--who has
 gone out of your way to acknowledge us and our son. Your compassion helps this world be a wonderful place. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

To Conceive or Not to Conceive - conceiving after a stillborn

I must confess, I was a little taken back that a woman (who I had just met, but new about my stillborn baby) so casually asked, "Are you trying again?"

I think that a couple's decision to conceive is a very personal and confidential (unless they want to reveal it) matter. I think it becomes a particularly sensitive matter, once it follows the loss of another child.

"When to have a child and how many children to have are private decisions to be made between husband and wife and the Lord. These are sacred decisions--decisions that should be made with sincere prayer and acted on with great faith." (Neil L. Anderson, Children, Oct 2011)

I was equally taken back by the advice of a stranger on flight we were on recently.  We had a conversation with this man who tried to tell us that we should wait to have kids. He accidently became a father as a teenager. In contrast, Trevor and I had made a decision that we wanted our family to grow. I think his advice was supposed to be for himself!

Aside from people's opinions (that obviously don't matter) there are medical considerations to consider with conception--especially after a loss.

I must confess, it was August, just shortly after Luke's birth, when I was searching online for answers to this very question. As I read through a forum whose contributors were all mothers of stillborn babies I quickly came to one conclusion--there is no conclusive time that you can begin conceiving again. (The varying opinions a little later also prove that there is no conclusive answer.)

Of course, if a woman is recovering from a c-section, she must wait for that massive surgery to heal. I feel so blessed that I was able to deliver vaginally so that recovery from a c-section isn't even a factor in my equation. Other health issues that may have caused the loss of a baby might  need to be resolved before another conception, but I didn't have any health issues. I was healthy and Luke was healthy. So before even consulting anyone for their opinion I concluded that we could try to conceive whenever we felt ready and wanted to.

Our insurance company offers free consulting with a nurse. I decided to ask Leah, the nurse I had been in touch with throughout my pregnancy, her opinion on conception. She said because I had been healthy and Luke was healthy and the cause of his death was a "cord accident" and I did not have a c-section, there was no medical reason to postpone conception and whenever we felt ready would be fine. She also said that if my uterus was still recovering from postpartum than I probably wouldn't get pregnant until it was ready. I felt good about Leah's opinion especially because it made sense to me and maybe because it's what I wanted to hear.

My midwife, Sherri's opinion on the matter was to perhaps have 2-3 menstrual cycles to know that things are regular and then whenever we're ready.

Because I had my postpartum checks with my midwife, I hadn't been back into a doctors office since August. In January I went in for my "annual wellness exam". You can imagine my surprise when the doctor told me that I should wait 12 to 18 months before conceiving to "allow my uterus to heal." I was so taken back that I neglected to inquire further about what she really meant about my "uterus healing." When I first wrote started writing this post I couldn't think of anyone specific that I knew, but I was certain that children had been born less than 1 year apart from each other (sometimes planned but probably by surprise too). Since then I found out a friend and old roommate of mine is expecting her second and her first baby is 8 months. So if other parents have children less than a year apart, if I wanted, couldn't I also have my children be spaced less than 1 year apart?  Needless to say, the doctors advice didn't settle with me so I may or may not have disregarded it. Okay, let's be honest. I totally disregarded it!

Like I said at the beginning, a decision on when to have children is a private matter, but it's evident that Trevor and I already made the decision that we wanted our family to be more than the two of us. So when it's right hopefully we'll have another family member join us.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Beautiful Services for Bereaved Parents

Now that I am a bereaved parent I have discovered a variety of things that people do to offer love, support, and healing to other parents. It's amazing all of the things that go on that you just have no idea about, until you're part of the group too.

As I mentioned before, my sister-in-law, Magen, gave me a necklace with Luke's name and his birthstone that she ordered from an Etsy seller. Even though it wasn't created by someone particularly for bereaved parents, it is a simple and lovely piece of jewelry to have to honor Luke.

And my sister-in-law, Maryanne, gave me a lovely Christmas ornament made by an Etsy seller and mother of a stillborn baby (who tells her story here).

Another mother of angel babies, informed me of Molly Bears. The creator of Molly Bears, Bridget, lost her baby, Molly, because of a true knot in her cord (the same thing that took Luke's life). She created a stuffed animal that was the same weight has her daughter. She found comfort in having something tangible to hold when her arms were empty and aching. She now makes weighted bears and sends them to hundreds of bereaved families. Stuffed animals aren't really my thing, so I didn't order one for myself, but I think it's great for those that can find comfort in it.

I discovered Christian's Beach through a link on another bereaved parent's blog. Carly's son, Christian, was stillborn. She now offers a beautiful service of photographing your deceased child's name in the sand at sunset. You can read more about why she started doing this on her website. She does it for free unless you want the rights to print the picture or post it anywhere (blog, Facebook, etc.). The $25 charge or donation goes towards care packages in hospitals. I thought that this was a beautiful thing. I loved that she would do it just for Luke and continue to give with the money that I gave her. I love sunsets and her beach pictures are simply astounding. I liked the idea of having something lovely to represent our son who isn't currently with us. I decided to add this photo to our wall of photos in our living room.

I have also discovered Sue-Ella Signature Designs through Christian's Beach. Sue-Ella makes handmade custom jewelry. You can choose to have things put inside --like ashes, sand, a locket of hair (not really my thing)-- or have hand or feet prints etched or imprinted in the jewelry. I think the hand and feet prints are so sweet. I have a fear of something happening to the little ink prints we have of Luke's hands and feet. Maybe if they were put in metal I wouldn't worry as much about them getting accidentally destroyed. I think I'd like to order a piece of Sue-Ella's jewelry, but it's a little more expensive and I haven't decided exactly what I'd like. I do like the sweet angel wings even though I don't believe angels actually have wings.

I'm sure there are so many other services and things available to families that have lost babies or children. I love that people that have suffered have found a way to reach out to others to offer love, support, comfort, and healing. I've had some thoughts on something I could do to continue to give, but haven't come to anything conclusive yet.

A thanks to the time, energy, and love given to those in need. This world is a beautiful place filled with caring souls and kind hearts. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

Luke, Valentine's Day is a day dedicated to showing the people that you love most that you love them. I probably seemed like anybody else buy flowers that week, but I was different. These flowers seemed  more important and more meaningful to me because they were for you. Happy Valentine's Day my angel. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Baby Showers & Facebook

Did I mention that I'm okay with other pregnant women? Well, I am. I know some mothers aren't, after loosing their own child. But I am and have been since August, so much, that I kinda wanted to prove it when I had the opportunity to host a baby shower. The first shower was in November. It was for my dear friend and neighbor Ruth. My friend Emily and I wanted to throw her a shower for her first girl anyway, but I partially wanted to do it so that my friends and neighbors knew that I was okay with pregnant women and babies. We were also able to throw a shower for my other dear friend and neighbor Michelle in January (who just delivered her son with my midwife Sherri as per my recommendation!).

Eliza, Ruth, Baby Ember, & Michelle 
Diaper cake and onesie & receiving blanket cupcakes

Fun shower game, by Emily
Delicious cupcakes and ice cream bar, by Ruth

In contrast, a couple days ago I was scanning my Facebook feed as I waited in the airport. I thought, Is there a post on here that doesn't have to do with a pregnancy or birth announcement?! I just wasn't in the mood for it. But when you're twenty-something and most your friends are married, it makes sense that they're  posting about having babies. I mean, I am too, but my baby isn't living. Like I said before, I don't resent these people, I just wasn't in the mood to read about their bliss. Luckily, I didn't have to, and with one click I was no longer reading about ultrasounds, feeling baby kicks, and all that other exciting baby stuff.

I guess it's like anything though - sometimes you're just not in the mood for it. I mean, I like ice cream, but if I'm not in the mood I don't eat it. So I guess it's the same with pregnancy and babies. I like it. I even love it, but if I'm not in the mood to hear about it, I don't need to. I know that's not very profound, but it's reassuring to me to know that I'm in control and I don't need to subject myself to everyone else's baby bliss if I don't want to.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Baby Shower Thank Yous

I was given a couple wonderful baby showers when I was pregnant with Luke. I felt so blessed with the abundance of gifts that I received. I was prompt (which isn't usually like me) to send out thank you cards to the majority of the generous gift givers. I ran out of cards and needed to still write to some of my closest friends and family members. There were also a couple people whom I needed new addresses from, so their cards were not sent.

One day in August or maybe September, I finally got around to tending to all of the paper work that had piled up in our office. Amongst unpaid bills, there was paperwork about grieving from the hospital (which I glanced at and also threw into the trash), explanation of benefits (or lack thereof) from my insurance company, an application for ordering a death certificate, and beautiful sympathy cards given to us by an assortment of friends, acquaintances, family members, and even strangers. Many of these things seem like they would be difficult to sort through and deal with, but I looked at each item and dealt with it almost as if it were any normal paperwork or mail. As I continued sorting I found a couple unsent thank you cards.

The discovery of these cards sent me into an unforseen fit of tears. I grabbed the cards and shoved them deep into the garbage. I wept more for feeling ungrateful for the kindness and generosity that had previously been bestowed upon me. But how was I to send those cards now? Should I just rewrite them? Should I just write a PS that explained that I had written them before I knew that I wouldn't be bringing my baby home from the hospital? I couldn't do either, so in the garbage they remained as I knelt on the floor and wept.

Wept for guilt of ingratitude, wept for my son, wept for my aching arms that longed to have him with me. It hurt. The pain was strong, but I needed this moment. Looking back I think I hadn't cried enough yet and I think it's what I needed at the time. So I let the hot tears flow as I mourned.

I eventually managed to calm myself and continue sorting through the array of papers I'd accumulated only to discover Luke's ultrasound pictures from the day that we found out we would be having a boy. The tears came again and I didn't try to stop them from flowing.

Oh, the excitement and hope that these pictures used to hold. And now they're some of the only pictures and memories I have of my son. It didn't feel fair. It didn't feel real. How I wished I could exchange those pictures for what they used to be--anticipation and excitement of a future day, but now that dream is gone and there's no going back to that hope that they once held.

But there is still hope. Hope for a different dream. Hope for a different day. Hope that I will live my life in a way that will allow me to be worthy to live again in the presence of God, with my son and with all of my family members.


“Hope is the anchor of our souls. . . . 

“Hope is trust in God’s promises, faith that if we act now, the desired blessings will be fulfilled in the future. . . 

“The unfailing source of our hope is that we are sons and daughters of God and that His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, saved us from death”

Friday, February 10, 2012

Big Changes Ahead

Well we have some exciting news! Some of you have already heard, my wonderful and amazing husband, Trevor, has gotten a GREAT job lined up once he graduates in April.

First, I'm so proud of him for finishing school! He wanted to be done last year, but he decided to hold out just one more year to earn his Master's degree. He's not quite done yet, but he is working hard at it almost every day to make sure he'll be all done come April.

As for the job, it will be for a company called Pariveda Solutions. They flew us down to Dallas a few months back, but at that time Trevor hadn't officially accepted the offer. I guess you could say all our ducks weren't in a row yet. We're thrilled to have the opportunity for such great employment, especially at this time when it seems like so many people are struggling to find work at all. This company has all the things our personal finance teacher at BYU, Scott Marsh, taught us to look for in a company -health insurance, 401k investment with matching options, ability to grow within the company (just to name a few). When Bro. Marsh told us to look for these things it sounded nearly impossible to find something like that. Well the good news, we did!

As for the big change, Pariveda has office locations across the country, but none in Utah. So we're going to be moving. We wanted to be near family so we selected the Washington, D.C. office, because Trevor's brother Scott (who came to visit) and his family live out there.

Last week I flew out to start hunting for housing. My incredibly kind sister-in-law, Maryanne, drove me all around town to look at apartments. I found some potential options and mostly just had a great time playing with my nieces and nephew.

Painting Nails
A night out for some yummy pizza
Making Vanetine cupcakes
We're so thrilled for this new adventure! Yet so sad to have to say good bye to our life in Payson that we love so much.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Grandparents' Love

When we were on our flight to Seattle in September, Trevor started talking to the woman sitting next to him. He told her that we had recently lost our son and we were headed home to spend some time with family. She shared how her daughter had also lost a baby. She explained that it's especially hard because she feels the pain of both losing a grand-baby and watching her own child mourn. I hadn't really thought about that.

We have such loving mothers. Both of our moms came to the hospital as soon as they were able, with no hesitation and Trevor's dad came shortly after.

Grandma Banks
Grandma Barb

Thanks for your love, your compassion, your service, your tears,  your sacrifices, and your prayers. We're so lucky to have you and Luke is lucky to have each of you as his grandparents. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

6 Months: Pain Knows No Time

I know in August I thought because my loss was so recent to me that it was more painful than others who had experienced loss less recently. It's strange now to think that I thought that way. Especially now that it has been 6 months - some days the pain is stronger now than it was in August. How naive of me to think my pain was more poignant because it was more fresh! For me it seems to not be less poignant with time, but more or less poignant depending on the moment. 

Some days I curl up in the nursery chair with the quilt I made for Luke and simply weep. I miss him. I long to hold him. I long to watch him grow. Other days I quietly put my necklace around my neck and smile at the sweet memory of my beautiful son. The hurt of death does not encompass me daily. 

The words of the book The Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination stand out to me concerning the matter of time. She writes:

" goes on but ... death goes on, too, ... a person who is dead is a long, long story. You move on from it, but the death will never disappear from view. Your friends may say, Time heals all wounds. No, it doesn't, but eventually you'll feel better. You'll be yourself again. Your child will still be dead."

It's true life goes on yet death goes on too. It's not something you "get over" or that you "move on from" (like a middle school crush). It is something that will always be a part of my life. I will always have a child who has departed this life. That will never change. 

The difference for me, though, is that I don't feel like I've ever not been myself like the quote suggests. Grief never consumed me into being someone I wasn't. I've been me for the past six months (and for 24 years before that). For the past 6 months I've been me --a mother with a loving heart, a caring wife, a friend, a neighbor, a seamstress, a chef, a writer, a hairstylist, a painter, a traveler, a designer, a dancer, or whatever else I am. I've been me. Me with an aching heart. I haven't been consumed by an aching heart that made me be something different. I've simply been me with a heart that longs and yearns to meet my son. And that will never change. 

If that is what grief is then it is surely something that will last until the day I die. And I'm okay with that. I want my heart to always long for my son. I want him to always have a place in the forefront of my mind and heart. That is where I put things that matter most to me, and there he will forever stay. 

My sweet baby, Luke, I love you more today than I did yesterday, because with each passing day you are continually entwined into my life, my heart, and my faith that I will see you again. I love you more than earthly words can express. I am so grateful that you are forever mine. I love you. Love, your mommy. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Do you have any kids?

This is not the first time I have tried to write this post. I think my inability to concisely summarize my thoughts is a realistic demonstration about how simply nonconclusive they are.

How do I answer the question --"Do you have any kids?"--?

This first expert is from a blog post I wrote a few weeks after Luke was born. It was part of a writing that I could not and still can not seem to make much sense of for a reader. Like I said, I think it just goes to show how there is no clear way to explain each awkward situation and my inability to answer clearly. 

The first week back at church we thought if anyone inquired about our baby we could just tell them, "We left him at home." Can you imagine what people might think?! They'd think we were completely irresponsible and a little bit crazy (which might be kinda true). We thought it was better that they think we're crazy than us try to have to explain why our son wasn't with us at church. Luckily, no one asked. 


Here are two incidents from the past week and how I responded:

I was cutting my friend, Genn's, hair at her house. A friend of hers, whom I did not know, came over to see the new cut. Making small talk, she asks if my husband and I have any children. I respond, "Yes, we have one son." Choosing not to elaborate I leave it at that. She asks what his name is. "Luke." And we discuss the spelling of the name. Then she inquires, "How old is he?" I inform her that he was born the same weekend as Genn's baby.

All of my statements are true. Yet it was somewhat deceptive. This woman thinks that I have a handsome, nearly, 6-month-old baby probably being watched currently by my husband who is on his way to pick me up for our dinner date.

When in reality I am the mother of a child that is no longer living. I am a mother that takes fresh flowers to my child's grave. I am the mother that aches to hold a baby that is my own.

Yet how could I tell her that? When she is making small talk, how could I inform her of my reality?

Tonight a woman at a Relief Society activity (not in my own ward) casually asks if we have any children. I fumble over words and say something to the affect of "...well no, i mean...not currently living...with us..." and scrunch up my face in confusion at the words I said that just came out of my own mouth. That fumble of words didn't even make sense! Not living with us? Did we give him up for adoption? Does he live with someone else?

Yet how do I tell a stranger, without making her sorry she asked, that our first and only child was stillborn, while sitting on the other side of me is a pregnant woman of twins, nonetheless, (which chances are more likely that her babies will suffer a "cord accident")?

I hope to never deny Luke's existence. He is my son. He is my child. Yet sometimes it's just not the right time to tell someone of the horror of your reality or the horror that could potentially be their reality.

Sorry to any woman who has started reading this blog and has the fear of your baby's umbilical cord tying in a knot ...or a fear of any other thing that may cause fetal demise. I wish I could tell you it doesn't happen. I wish I could tell you it won't happen to you, but that's a reality I can't promise you. And that's a truth I hate to bring to any woman's understanding.