Team Bee Bear Bunny – March for Babies

My family has very personal reasons for supporting the March of Dimes – our daughters, who have all been personally affected by prematurity and stillbirth. Addah was born early, at 33.5 weeks, and she spent 10 long days in the NICU before she was able to come home. Last July, her baby sister Clara was stillborn at 42 weeks 3 days, yet her memory lives on, always. We all mourn the loss of Clara, no one more so than her two sisters.

These girls are so important to us, and we support the March of Dimes in their mission to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Every day, thousands of babies are born too soon, too small and often very sick. Through their research and outreach, we can help those who need it the most.

We are walking in the March for Babies on April 27. 2013 in Greenville, SC, to do our part, for our daughters and for every family that has been touched by premature birth and infant loss, and we need your help.

Please support us, even if you aren’t able to walk with us. You can visit the Team Bee Bear Bunny page to make a secure donation, if you are so inclined, and you can join our team if you’re local to us and want to participate. We would be thrilled to have you join us!

Thank you for helping us give all babies a healthy start!

March for Babies - Team Bee Bear Bunny

Playing The Blame Game

I have become an old pro at playing the blame game in the last eight months since my baby girl was stillborn.

I’ve blamed almost everyone at one point or another.

I have blamed the {well-meaning and compassionate} women in my various natural birthing groups. Why did they encourage me to go past 40 weeks of pregnancy? Why did they have to be so supportive that I felt like I would be a failure if I gave in and had a c-section without a real reason?

Why did they tell me about all the women who went to 42/43/44 weeks and still delivered their healthy babies at home, into the arms of their mamas and daddies and siblings? Why did I believe it was okay to make life and death choices based on other people’s anecdotes?

Why did I assume that just because it happened that way for them, that it would happen that way for me? Why couldn’t it have worked that way for me, when it worked that way for everyone else?

I have blamed the doctor who insisted that I must have a scheduled c-section at 36 weeks, and who asked me to find another doctor when I declined to appear for that scheduled c-section. I have blamed the doctor who mangled my uterus in 2002, leaving me with horizontal, vertical and diagonal incisions, which lead to years of secondary infertility.

I have blamed no one more than myself. I made the decision to decline that scheduled c-section. I still believe a preemptive c-section at 36 weeks is ridiculous, but if I’d followed doctor’s orders, my daughter would most likely be here today. I made the decision to stay pregnant past 40 weeks, past 41 weeks, past 42 weeks. I had a six week window in which my child could have been born and been fine, and I threw myself from that window.

I used to believe that I was strong. In all honesty, if Clara had been born healthy and vaginally after 42 weeks 3 days gestation, I would probably have been obnoxiously crowing with delight and pride in my supreme womanhood. I might be one of those natural birth mamas who tells all the newcomers to the group that I went to 42 and a half weeks, implying that if I can do it, so can you. I might scoff sweetly at women who have been enduring prodromal labor for a month, telling them that I went through extended labor for six weeks. Even if I had delivered a healthy baby via c-section, I might still shake my head at women who complain that they are 40 weeks and ready to have a baby now, darn it… thinking to myself that I’m superior to them because I held out for so much longer before I succumbed to a surgical birth.

I can tell you right now that I am not superior to anyone. I allowed fear and pride and other people’s opinions to color my judgement, and it is the single biggest regret of my life. I have tried to make up for it, by giving an alternate viewpoint to the “you can do it if you just believe in yourself” stance on natural birth and postdates pregnancy, and I like to think that maybe it will make a difference in someone else’s birth choices, but it doesn’t make up for what my family has lost.

Friends, family, fellow loss mamas, the doctor who stepped in and showed compassion after Dr. 36 Weeks walked away, my best friend, my dear husband… they’ve all told me that it’s not my fault, that I made the best decisions I could with the information I had, that I couldn’t have known, that it is not my fault my daughter died.

I don’t believe it, not for a second. I wish I did, but no matter which way I replay the whole scenario in my head, I come back to knowing that if I had made better decisions, I’d have my third daughter here today.

I am nearly eight months in, and I am endlessly playing the blame game, always coming up the loser.

Playing the Blame Game

Remembering Our Baby This Christmas

It has been two days since I last posted, and I have to say, it was a welcome break from the frantic posting schedule of November’s NaBloPoMo. I am still fighting the remnants of bronchitis and hoping to see the last of it very soon.

It is obvious to us that we’re going to have a rough few weeks coming up… it’s already hard. We should be celebrating our five month old baby’s milestones — sitting up, rolling over from back to tummy, grinning and teething — and instead we’re wandering around like sad, lost zombies, trying to find meaning in the gloom.

David, Lakin, Addah and I have been talking a lot about how to honor our little Clara during this Christmas season. We don’t want to let our grief completely surround us, so that we miss out on opportunities to celebrate how special our baby girl is to us.

The girls have had wonderful ideas — and our favorite is Random Kindness for Clara, which will we introduce tomorrow on the blog. We’ve been making a list and plan to implement as many of these as possible this holiday season.

We invite you to participate in Random Kindness for Clara, in honor of those touched by miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss. Check back tomorrow for more information!

We Are The Rememberers

David and I are going to our first infant loss support group meeting tonight, hosted by Share Upstate. We’ve talked about going to a meeting since July, but he normally works too late. I’m very nervous about going, at the same time that I’m looking forward to it. I think it will be a very good thing for us to have people around us that have been through similar losses.

I’ve met wonderful people online who have helped me in processing Clara’s death, plus I have this blog as an outlet for my emotions. David doesn’t have those connections or the writing outlet, and he feels like this will help us with working through our grief.

I hope he is right.

Not an hour passes without Clara passing through my heart and mind, and while I never want to forget her, I would like for the pain to dull a little, for it to not cut through me like broken glass whenever I remember her sweet face.

We are the rememberers poem

We are the rememberers,
the people left behind,
to keep the one who’s gone from us
alive in heart and mind;
the people left to cherish and preserve a legacy.
Yes, we are the rememberers…
and we will always be.

Grief: A Painful Blur

Yesterday was our little nephew Jasper’s 2nd birthday party. All week, we planned to go, and looked forward to going. When it came down to it though, we didn’t go.

I feel really bad for this, and it’s hard to explain to those that we love. We don’t want to hurt feelings, or have family angry with us, or thinking that we just don’t care. We care. We care a great deal, and that’s part of the problem.

David and I still struggle, every week, every day, sometimes every hour, with the loss of Clara. The smallest things — a certain song on the radio, a comment a stranger makes in passing, pink balloons on a neighbor’s mailbox — unhinge us. Something will strike a nerve with me, and I feel a lump in my throat, a pounding in the back of my head, hot tears rushing to my eyes. I look at David, and he’s looking back at me, and we both know that the other is feeling the same wave of pain. One of us reaches for the other’s hand, and we get through it.

We’re always waiting for the next time that grief will swoop in, out of nowhere, and we haven’t yet been disappointed. We tend to just avoid situations and things that we know will upset us, but even that isn’t as easy as you might think.

Even our television shows are full of babies lately.

The Walking Dead (spoiler) — baby and a c-section that kills the mother. I thought the baby was stillborn at first. We almost had to turn it off… it was hard.

Once Upon A Time — a memory scene where Snow White mentions that her baby daughter never spent a night in her nursery, complete with audio of a baby crying. We both cried, like babies.

Doctor Who (Season 6, Episode 12: Stormageddon) — adorable baby. That’s all it takes really… we cried.

Babies are everywhere. I notice that a lot more now that I’d rather avoid them, so as to not fall apart. There are a lot of babies in our families. Sisters, sisters-in-law, cousins (lots of cousins)… I am so happy for every new baby born, every new life that we add to our families. But oh god, it’s hard to be around.

I have to assume that this part passes at some point in the grieving process. David and I both have cousins with babies that we haven’t met, but would like to. We’re frozen by this desire to see/touch/hold the babies, and terror that we’ll fall to pieces if we’re in the same room with them.

We’ve missed out on happy moments because of our grief. I haven’t been able to babysit my niece and nephew like I had planned, because it was too hard to be around them all of the time. We missed Jasper’s birthday party, because it was a particularly hard weekend of missing Clara, and we knew we couldn’t handle being around little ones.

It’s frustrating and heart-breaking… and I don’t know if we’ll ever get over it, but I hope so. I really don’t want to be stuck in this repetitious and painful blur of grief for the rest of my life, and I know David doesn’t either.

Grief: A Painful Blur
No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear. – C.S. Lewis

Silence Has The Loudest Voice

Some days are better than others.

I say that over and over, to everyone who asks how I am.

Honestly, the truth is more that some moments are better than others. I can’t remember when I last had an entire day that wasn’t filled with sadness and emptiness and tears, intertwined with little bits of happiness.

The happiness is real, but it fades so quickly, acquiescing to the sadness like a scolded child.

I smile and laugh out loud over a goofy text message conversation with David. I take pride in Lakin’s excited tale of how she helped her team win the intramural basketball game. I grin at Addah moving like Jagger in the back seat on the way to school.

And as soon as I am alone again, I feel the hollow sadness settle back down over me, making it painful to function and hard to want to.

I miss my baby.

I miss her every moment of every day, and the nights are worse. The nights are often impossible, leaving me awake and fumbling for words to convey what I’m feeling at 4:00 in the morning, knowing that I have to be awake and alert at 6:45 to drive the kids to school and David to work. I don’t mind that part, doing for my family. It’s coming home to a silent house that I dread.

I should be hurrying home to nurse my baby, worrying over whether she’s gaining enough or too much weight, complaining that she kept me up all night because she’s going through a growth spurt. I would gladly {gleefully} stay up all night for that, every day of the week.

I should be doing those things, but I am not, because my baby is gone, passed away, lost… dead. In the place of my beautiful baby girl, I have silence, which I fill by trying to do a lot of things and not actually doing a whole lot, most days.

I spend far too many long minutes scrolling through pictures of the babies in my due date groups, tormenting myself by imagining what Clara would look like, what she would be doing. I feel an unsettling mixture of sadness and anger and bitterness and contentment, watching these babies grow up and knowing that my girl never will. I try to capture my grief in photographs, but there is no photograph that shows how empty I feel on the inside… how light my arms feel with no baby in them.

Yesterday was one year since we found out we were pregnant with her. So many hopes, gone. We want another baby, but our hearts aren’t really in it. Not yet. We’re stuck in what feels like an endless cycle of coping and grieving and propping each other up until the next time one of us collapses into tears.

There’s no solution, no easy answer to this one. My usual responses to this kind of bleak depression are no longer an option, so there’s no bottle to put down, no drugs to quit taking, no failing relationship to end, bleeding wound to bandage, or stressful job to quit. There’s just each day, coming at me like a freight train, loud and manic in the mornings and evenings, and tragically silent all day long.

I miss my baby.

I have to carry on through each day and try to make a happy life for us. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, coping with depression, trying to pull myself up by my bootstraps and figure out how to incorporate this intense pain and loss into the happiness that comes naturally, from living in a loving family with goofy kids and a young-at-heart husband.

It’s awful, and I fail often, but I am trying.

There are times when silence has the loudest voice.
~ Leroy Brownlow ~