Saturday, March 23, 2013

To Ian, on your brother's birthday

Hello my dear one. It's late at night and everyone else is asleep. This is one of the times I feel closest to you. I almost feel as if you are here to celebrate C's birthday as well. I miss you darling. I wish all three of my boys could be with me together. It would be a wonderful life, but alas, it wasn't meant to be. I don't know if you actually watch over us, in fact I hope you are joyfully and blissfully oblivious to the crap here among the living. Yet I feel you strongly sometimes, especially when it involves N and C and I can't help but daydream that you watch over them, laugh at their ridiculous hijinks, and send amazing love to them (and me). Your birthday is coming up next in the "boys consecutive birthday months" haha. They will celebrate your birth and passage to a brighter world with a party just like this one. I'm amazed at how they celebrate someone they've never met. And they do it with no negativity, just joy and thankfullness for the connection to you in the limited way they know. They feel connected to you as brothers even though you came first. It's amazing. I constantly learn from them. As the grief of your loss fades, I find comfort in our chats, and I appreciate my living children. They heal me. I will always long for you and thinking of your short time here will always bring me pain, but I'm making progress. I will always be a work in progress. I will never be "fixed" or completely healed because I will always remember. And that's ok. I would rather have the experience/memories that I have and be broken, than to have never experienced you and be whole. Which means you have taught me true love in ways I didn't know existed, selflessness, humility, and most of all patience. I'm slowly starting to reach out, share your story, maybe your picture, and I'm trying to help some women get through similiar trying times. Or at least connect with others who have been through similiar experiences so that no one feels alone. You have done that for me Ian. This was not something I did on my own. I fought it for 8 years in fact. But you come to me and whisper to me and your story and your life repeats in my head. I see your story in other women and I could no longer stay silent. I wanted to keep you all to myself. I felt entitled to some selfishness. That if I had to go through those horrors, then I wanted you, the only good and perfect and beautiful part of that mess, all for myself. I wanted to covet you, keep you secret, keep you untainted, my secret that no one else is privy too because they didn't experience the PAIN and the GRIEF. But that is not what your life is about. It's not about me. It's not about this world hurting you, it can't hurt you. What we went through was horrible. But there are so many people going through the same horrors, looking for answers and support. I will be there for them now. I will tell them about my Ian. The ups the downs, the dirty messes of my life, how we managed to build a family with constant loss, sadness, and grief.... this is my job in this life. Your job has been fulfilled and that was to bring us together, albeit briefly, which would lead to great change in me. Meeting you in the way we did, has made me a better person. A person who can now stand up on her own two feet and say "Let me tell you about our first son and what happened to us." I love you sweetheart. I'd give anything for another few minutes completely free of Morphine and all consuming grief, to do it over, do it right, connect in a less messy way. I'd take just one minute. I miss you so baby. Always. I love you Ian.

"It's a sign"

Those words came out of my dad's mouth AT LEAST three times day, every day of my entire life. Subsequently, as I grew older and my relationship with my parents soured, I CRINGED when I heard that and forcefully believed that there was NO SUCH THING AS SIGNS. That there was no connection between something that happens now and something that is supposed to happen in the future. Then we started having difficulties with building our family and after I started suffering losses, my belief in "signs" vascillated depending on which stage of grief I was in. Back then, "signs" to me was wrapped up in a package that involved many other things stemming from my Catholic upbringing. And those things contradicted one another. For instance, "it's a sign that it was meant to be" or "God is in control" completely contradicts "we have free will" and another they taught "if we choose to do bad things, bad things will happen to us and if we choose to do good things then good things will happen to us."

At that point, I had just about given up on Catholicism (please don't give opinions on religion this is just for back story) and I had never experienced these "signs" at that point so I was able to let that whole line of thought go for the moment.

And then I experienced a "sign". A clear and obvious one. Not one that you say "haha, maybe it's a sign!" No this was a ..... a KNOWING. And I was caught off guard because I was getting comfortable in my life thinking that nothing had any rhyme or reason. It took an insane pressure off of me frankly. So this hit me like a ton of bricks. But then a few more occurred, not many, but they occurred during difficult times when we were trying to build our family. Obvious signs and knowings. I didn't know what to do with it. I've been thinking about this for years.

So is it possible to believe in a kind and loving God, that does not intervene, who does not believe in the "deserving way of life", who knows how our life will turn out and offers us some "knowings" or "signs" to get us through? When and how did he put these things in place... I just don't know. I can't even imagine that I could ever know such things in this life. I've even accepted that my life map was written out for me and I was to follow this exact path in order to learn the lessons I need to learn in this life. I'm able to stomach all of that, signs included, as long as I keep in mind that I did nothing to deserve what has happened in my life. That I try my best and work with the life and experiences that have befallen me. Yes, I'll take that.

I always think about this topic around this time of year because C was born March 24th, our youngest. Ian was born/died on April 14th, our oldest. And N was born May 8th, he is our second oldest. They each have consecutive birthday months. Obviously unplanned. Now that I look back on that (and I did think about this on C's birthday) that is a sign to me that everything worked out as it should have. This is something very important to the boys. The signs that I speak of that happened during the tumultous years were even more shocking.

There are also things that I often think about and wonder if they are signs as well, but I don't know if I will ever put them in that category. N's conception occurred on Ian's due date. We were in such a bad place that we didn't even recognize the date when it came, only after the fact did we realize that we conceived him on Ian's due date. A sign? Not sure. I was born on my maternal grandmother's birthday. Ian, was born and died on my paternal grandmother's birthday. A sign? If they are, I don't know what that means.

Sorry for the random topic, it just popped in my head today and I thought I would blog about it :-)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cutting ties

One of the worst things about this journey is how it has changed me. One of the best things about this journey is how it has changed me.

Confused? Me too.

Today's post will be short. 

As the years have gone by and fires have burned bright, my circle of friends has greatly dwindled for many reasons. I have a great number of friends that I can keep in touch with on facebook and that is great for me right now because I can get/give support easily through there at a time when I am "benched" at home.  I have very few people that I actually spend time with these days IRL. Some of it is intentional and some is not. I'm currently a SAHM and my husband takes our one car to work. I don't have money to see people. It's a bummer but my kids are my priority right now. 

What's sad is that I'm realizing that even though I'm technically "through" the trials of building a family, my relationships are still changing. Even my dearest and closest and oldest friends. Even with people who have stuck with me through the nitty gritty of building our family. I'm trying to understand why I can't stay connected with certain people. I'm realizing that no matter how much I try to be a Melanie that somewhat resembles the Melanie they knew and loved, I'm not. That, coupled with the fact that I still don't have the emotional energy/capacity to put into a "new" relationship between that person and the Melanie I am now, is resulting in me having to cut ties. 

It's sad. But I'm realizing that there is nothing I can do. It wouldn't be fair to string them along. It's not fair to expect others to wait around while I figure out who I am now and how I fit into things., 

I've held a lot of guilt about this but this is something that I have to let go. I have to realize that it doesn't make me a bad person. It just means I'm a different person. Things change. Friendships end. Other friendships begin. Life continues.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pregnancy after loss

I've been struggling to start getting into the nitty gritty on my blog. I've really been struggling with posting Ian's story but I will get into that another time. Bear with me. Please leave feedback of any kind- comments, suggestions, requests, anything, I need the feedback to fuel me. I need to know that people are hearing me or else I feel alone and I hate feeling alone. So please COMMENT, even if anonymously! And if you are friends and family reading this, most likely you are not the ones mentioned below ;-) The whole preaching to the choir thing ya know.

I'm noticing that I feel anxiety when I blog instead of it being therapeutic because I feel everything needs to be fully and perfectly detailed and laid out. I feel it has to be long, informational, accurate, sometimes positive, etc. And that is making the thought of consistent blogging sound daunting and overwhelming. So instead of hide. I will try and post more frequently but it will be messy, emotional, and sometimes short, sometimes long. Sometimes I will write a bit and then come back to an idea. I need to get this stuff out there. So that's that :-) Also, I love punctuation of all kinds!!! I'm Italian, I need to speak on the internet in the same way I talk in real life and punctuation helps with that.

I've finally decided on the first topic from my list because I've read some blogs of women going through a difficult pregnancy after loss, and they are struggling with their feelings and with the feelings of others. I'll explain. 

Pregnancy after loss

I've had the pleasure of sharing stories and following a few women around the world via internet who are currently pregnant after experiencing a loss. I know that for me, being able to share my struggles with these ladies and have them understand and KNOW exactly what I'm talking about has been incredibly healing for me and enlightening in many ways. I think these women are brave and strong for reaching out during the toughest times. I did not choose to connect with anyone during our roughest times over the last eight years. There were a number of reasons. I've always isolated myself in times of extreme stress and trauma. That is my "go to" defense mechanism and it may not be the best, but it's what I had at the time to get me through. Also, the supportive internet communities were not built up the way they are now back in the early 2000's when our difficulties started. I can count on one hand people I've met in real life who have experienced similar losses and struggles. Baby loss and struggles with pregnancy are NOT talked about enough. Yes, it's hard to and depressing to discuss dead babies and negative feelings during pregnancy. I'm seeing a lot of these women struggling with it now and I've decided to bring light to this particular topic. The lack of proper support in all aspects of our life while going through the tragedy that is multiple loss while trying to build a family was a BIG issue for my husband and I. We blindly made our way through this journey with little to no support. The devastation, depression, and difficulty we experienced was made MUCH WORSE by the general lack of understanding, consideration, sensitivity, information, and insight. It doesn't have to be this way. So let's talk about it.

Please read- Women/couples who have experienced a loss at any gestation of pregnancy no matter how early or late, no matter what the circumstances were, no matter if it was child 1, 10, or 100, SHOULD NOT BE REQUIRED BY SOCIETY TO FIND ANY SUBSEQUENT PREGNANCIES/BIRTHS/CHILDREN STRESS FREE, JOYFUL, EASY, ETC. We should not be made to feel BAD for experiencing and verbalizing our feelings at any time in our lives. WE SHOULD NOT BE REQUIRED TO LIVE UP TO ANYONE ELSE'S EXPECTATIONS for how we should be feeling during subsequent pregnancies. WE SHOULD NOT BE TOLD BY ANYONE ELSE TO FEEL EXTRA THANKFUL for this "second/third/fourth/millionth chance". Another pregnancy with ANOTHER BABY does not replace the baby we lost. So don't say "at least you can have more" or "Hey, at least this one is living, be thankful for that". KEEP THOSE COMMENTS TO YOURSELF. Period. 

There are so many aspects to pregnancy after loss that are indescribable. Your mind, emotions, soul, and body go through horrors that no one should have to experience, but here we are. So at least let us GRIEVE and PROCESS and GROW OUR FAMILIES how we choose. When you get pregnant after a loss, you have to endure the loss again, over and over, at every stage of this new baby's life. Can we say PTSD anyone? Repeat trauma? It's a real mind fuck I'll tell ya. No, it's a SOUL fuck. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. When I think back to my pregnancies after losing Ian, I can't BELIEVE what I endured. I can't BELIEVE we made it out ALIVE and still married. Especially with many other losses peppered in between and after my two living sons. Subsequent pregnancies can sometimes bring us a whole new level of fear, stress, anxiety, isolation, guilt, heart ache, pain, apathy, grief and so on. Things that we were expecting to feel. Things that aren't talked about widely and are taboo. We certainly don't need others "expectations"  and thoughtless comments on top of all the other crap we have to deal with. 

"The bright side" and "the positives" don't need to be brought to our attention to support us or "help us" to have a successful pregnancy. We don't need that kind of support. If you don't know what else to say, then say CONGRATULATIONS and nothing else. Comments like "wow, this one must be meant to be. Everything happens for a reason" or "why are you stressed, things are going so much better and you are farther along" or my favorite "I know that this one will work out. No worries.This one will be fine" minimizes our pain, minimizes the life of the baby we lost, and minimizes the ENORMITY of carrying a baby after a loss.  "I know this one will be successful" and "everything happens for a reason" always gets my goat.... I can't stand it when people claim they they KNOW things will work out this time or that things didn't work out last time for a reason.... UMMMM, are you GOD? Are you psychic? Did you come back from the future to tell me this? NO. Don't tell me that to make me feel better or because you think I need to hear this crap. We don't want to hear your guarantee because NOTHING is guaranteed. Another breath on this earth is not guaranteed. No one knows the future outcome of any situation. NOTHING IS FOR CERTAIN SO WE DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT. If you say it because you are uncomfortable with loss and pain and want to bury it and ignore it, then you shouldn't be having this conversation to begin with. Or if you really want to say something supportive find another "go to" phrase like "I'm here if you need me" or even "I know it must be difficult and scary going through another pregnancy, I'm here if you need to talk". That one is awesome in my book!

Trust me, we KNOW how lucky we are for this next baby in our belly. We are appreciative in ways you can't even imagine. HOWEVER, all of our feelings of appreciation, love, thankfulness, and even gasp JOY can be smothered and even snuffed out by FEAR of losing this new baby in our belly and the following:

Women who have suffered a loss and then achieve another pregnancy have been robbed. Robbed of precious things that can never retrieved or bought back or reclaimed. We've been robbed in some of the worst ways a person can be robbed.

*Robbed of the life of our child/children we lost.

*Robbed of the joys of pregnancy. 

*Robbed of the innocent joy and sharing that couples can enjoy with each other without the huge black cloud of fear, traumatic memories, and shared pain.

*Robbed of connecting with your baby without the constant fear of another loss at EVERY SECOND of this pregnancy. 

*Robbed of a pregnancy free of a previous or many previous losses, subconscious and sometimes conscious defense mechanisms trying to wean there way into this innocent space and protect us against further loss/trauma/pain. 

*Robbed of sharing the news early, joyfully, and without hesitation.

*Robbed of being able to shop and plan early. 

*Robbed of experiencing a birth that is untainted by the thoughts and feelings of another experience with another child.

*For many of us this was a loss of "firsts". First baby, or first boy, first girl, all the firsts of that pregnancy that was lost. We can never those "firsts" back in a successful subsequent pregnancy.

Even after our rainbow baby is born healthy, alive, and kicking, everything we experience with that baby is tainted with the memory of another who could have been. NO, we can't "get over it" or "forget them" or "move on" because the memory is always there. It's like telling us to remove our brain or have a lobotomy. It can't be done.... or undone. No amount of appreciation, no immense gratitude for having a healthy baby, no amount of unconditional love, can make it ok that our other baby/babies died. But that's for another post.

So if you've experienced a loss and have dealt with the world wondering what the hell was wrong with you during a subsequent pregnancy when you weren't elated and were super cautious- YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 

~If you've experienced a loss and have dealt with the world judging you for having post partum depression after a rainbow baby is born- YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

~If you've experienced a loss and have dealt with the world minimizing the presence of the child you carried and the impact the loss of that baby had on you and your partner- YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

~If you've experienced a loss and have dealt with the world wondering why you are still grieving and having difficulty parenting any other children because of depresssion, anxiety, grief, sadness, insomnia, etc.- YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 

~If you've experienced a loss and have dealt with the world wondering why your rainbow baby didn't automatically heal your relationship with your partner (or God, or anyone else for that matter)- YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Hopefully I've been able to verbalize the great injustice done to those who suffer loss and are trying to build their families and raise some awareness for those who are lucky enough to never have to experience pregnancy loss. If a friend or loved one is having difficulty in a new pregnancy after a loss, keep your expectations, ignorant comments, and observations to yourself. Don't try to placate them, or relate to them, or tell them empty things you think they want to hear, and don't feel you have to try to keep it "light". Recognize that this is hard and that this isn't your run of the mill pregnancy. Many of the comments from others that bring pain are not said with that intention. But PLEASE be aware of the things that come out of your mouth when you speak to someone who has gone through/is going through ONE OF THE WORST HORRORS a person can experience. I'm still appalled when I hear someone's early miscarriage disregarded  and blown off as "well, your body took care it early before it had some horrible defect" or "well, it wouldn't have survived anyway so why are sad" and the oh so comforting "well, be glad it was an early one so you can get back to trying". Do any of those sound comforting? NO. If you don't feel that babies are babies unless they are born, or five pounds, or "perfect" then don't be put in a situation where you will be speaking to a woman after a loss. Or just keep your mouth shut! If you can't earnestly offer support with no tone or hint of condescension, DON'T SPEAK to the woman who suffered a loss. I personally would rather have NO SUPPORT from a person that is going to inadvertently say the wrong things and cause more pain. 

This is not something I ever had the emotional capacity/energy at the time to confront. I regret that now, of course, because they've probably hurt others after me just out of sheer ignorance. Hindsight is 20/20 and I'm seeing it as a different person now- a person not in shock, a person not reeling from trauma, a person not trying to just keep the peace and make others comfortable, a person that wants to advocate for others who may not have the emotional capacity/energy to confront this right now. 

I've been at many different parts of this spectrum and I've heard it ALL and dealt with many different types of ignorance and lack of insight. I've had more early miscarriages than I count, some most people don't even know about because I didn't want to deal with all the wrongs things that are said/done, and my hubby and I decided it would just be easier to deal with on our own. That's pretty sad but that's how it is. We lost our first child Ian, second trimester loss, sudden, unexpected, back at a time when I had very little knowledge and was VERY naive. I've suffered through two INTENSELY HORRIBLE pregnancies with cerclages. How can I look back at a successful pregnancy and categorize it under "horrible" you ask?

^Because I had a harsh lesson in "there are no guarantees" and I went through every possible thing that could go wrong so that I wasn't blindsided again.

^Because I haven't forgotten the overwhelming FEAR, SADNESS, and SHEER TERROR that I felt during every.single.second of every single pregnancy that if I coughed, sneezed, ate, pooped, peed, had sex, sat down, stood up, bent over, walked, cried, and even breathed, it would cause the demise of this much loved new little baby. 

^Because I haven't forgotten that I had to GRIEVE for the living child that was in my belly at that moment because I had to be psychologically prepared in case that baby died as well. If I wasn't prepared, I'm fairly certain I would have gone off the deep end in some way.

^Because I haven't forgotten the spiritual turmoil

^Because I haven't forgotten

^Because I remember the SMOTHERING and SNUFFING of each positive feeling that can accompany finding out you are expecting- joy, appreciation, gratitude, excitement, sharing, etc.

Society as a whole, needs to be better about validating people's feelings experiences, no matter how negative and uncomfortable, in general. Fuck taboos. We are HUMAN. It's in our nature to share, to try and understand each other, and to gain knowledge. WE CONNECT AND HEAL BY SHARING, whether we are teaching, learning, commiserating, sympathizing, empathizing. Sharing that leads to understanding and healing CANNOT be successful if there is judgement, pre-conceived notions, egos, disrespect, pity, ignorance, and expectations involved.  Among many other things. Shit happens to everyone. All kinds of shit. This is just the particular shit we have had to deal with. Ignoring it, burying it, spinning it, and trying to change it is helpful to NO ONE. 

So there is it. The first topic that was discussed from here, COMPLETE! If there is another from that list that you want me to address next, please let me know.

Please provide feedback even if it's one word and anonymous. Let me know that you here reading, please. I need to know that things I say and feel are meaningful and that it reaches others in some way. Thanks!!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Two simple yet profound realizations

I shouldn't even call them realizations because I've known these things at many times in my life.  I suppose I've forgotten for various reasons of late and they both hit me like a ton of bricks all at once yesterday, so maybe we can call them re-realizations? Let's get on with it shall we?

* Women are AMAZINGLY strong... in ways I never thought even existed until the last 8 years. We can ENDURE things that would make gods whimper and cower. I think our particular nature makes this even harder on us. We are amazing.

* I'm an isolater in times of stress. This is for all of you who do the same. I have people in my life I can talk to but I usually choose not to for many reasons unrelated to them. However the RELIEF I got from talking to my brother on the phone the other day was immeasurable. It was therapeutic. I forget this every.single.time. Having someone who loves you unconditionally, knows your heart, knows your story.... is priceless. Sometimes I have to remember that I can't live in my brain and shut everyone out. That's a miserable way to live.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Haven't been doing well

I haven't been doing well lately. Well, I've been doing well in some aspects, keeping the house clean, supporting others, but in other ways not so much. Ian's been on my mind a lot lately. More than usual. The boys are getting older, the reality of not having anymore babies is hitting hard, and the three month of birthdays is coming at full speed- C is March 24th, Ian is April 14th, and N is May 8th. Last year at this time I had three miscarriages in a row, a D & C and then two home miscarriages, yikes. I'm so glad that is all behind us and that we are finished building our family. It's still difficult knowing we won't go through any of the "baby stuff" again. I REALLY enjoyed it this time around with C because I was able to stay home with him. A lot of friends have been having babies which is always wonderful and I've been talking with a lot of women via internet regarding cerclages and their precarious pregnancies, offering advice and support.... it brings everything back though. But it's ok because I'm able to deal with it now and think about all of it without deep depression. It still hurts though, I still miss Ian, I always will, my boys will always be growing fast, and some days are much harder than others. I've been having some harder days of late. The lack of parental support and very little family weighs on me. Hubby and I have to rely on each other solely and that always makes us stronger, but sometimes we just need a break and need someone to carry us. Or hug us. Or tell us they understand that life is hard and we are doing alright considering.