Holding Our Angel

Loving After Loss


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Guilt and Answers

The guilt over Theo’s death comes and goes. It’s less now than it was in the beginning, and I’ve gone through various stages of blaming doctors and myself and everything else.

I have mostly come to terms with that Theo was beyond current medical knowledge. I’ve made peace with the fact that we’ll probably never get a definite answer (or rather, we’ll never get an answer we like), and the doctors truly couldn’t have truly done anything to save him.

But the one thing that always sends me into a tailspin is when I am asked if my amniotic fluid was ever leaking.

I am so sure it wasn’t leaking, but there is a small part of me that wonders. (This may get TMI…) At a certain point in the pregnancy, you have a tendency to leak a little urine when you cough or sneeze (or laugh). And I wonder, was I mistaken in thinking this wasn’t amniotic fluid?¬†I was so sure it wasn’t, and it was such a small amount… I never felt like I was regularly leaking anything… But could I have missed leaking fluid? What could/should I have done differently?

The other day I was talking to someone, and they asked if my amniotic fluid ever leaked. And thus began the tailspin that lasted the past couple of days.

It got to the point where I needed to check my medical records again (yep, not the first time I have checked my records for this). All ultrasounds confirmed I had a healthy level of amniotic fluid. And I was checked a couple of times to see if I was leaking amniotic fluid, and those tests were negative.

It’s hard to accept sometimes that there are things we just don’t know. Part of me thinks it would be easier to have a definitive answer to why Theo’s lungs didn’t grow (they are pretty certain it is genetic, but are hesitant to say with 100% certainty), but ultimately I know I wouldn’t be happy with that. If they said Theo’s lungs were definitely caused by X, I would be obsessed with knowing what caused X. And then what caused whatever caused X. And on, and on.

Sometimes crap just happens. Accidents happen. Some things can’t be explained in this world. And it sucks.

People tell me I’ll find the answers to Theo’s lungs when I am in heaven. And I just think, I am not going to care at that point. Because I’ll be with Theo.


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Christmas Stocking

Today I ordered Theo’s Christmas stocking, monogrammed with his name.¬†We were pretty sure we would name him Theo, but I held off on buying it before he was born in case he didn’t look like a Theo and we changed our minds.

But I finally ordered it. I can’t believe it’s almost been a year and the holidays are weeks away. All the photos and activities I had planned for our family of three…

We haven’t decided exactly what we’ll do each Christmas for Theo, but we do have a couple ideas so far.¬†I’m sure as the years pass we will change our Christmas traditions involving Theo, which makes me both happy and sad.

Happy because it’s normal for traditions to evolve and change over time, and our traditions would have done that if he had lived. But it makes me sad because there are so few memories and tangible things I have of him, that I feel like we have to do ALL the honoring, memory-making ways to keep him in the family¬†now.¬†If in 5 years I come up with a new way to honor him at Christmas, will I feel guilty I didn’t think of it sooner and hadn’t been doing it¬†all along? Probably. And yeah, that is a little insane, but everything about losing your child is insane.

People joke at how ridiculous it is that Christmas stuff is out in stores already. But I have to mentally and emotionally prepare myself for the torture¬†that is the holidays without my child months in advance. I really should have started a long time ago, and that still wouldn’t be enough time.

But soon I’ll have Theo’s stocking in my hands, and¬†though he won’t be with us physically, he’ll still be part of our family at Christmas and part of our celebration.


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C.S. Lewis

For the most part, I am an open book. There’s little you can ask me that I won’t answer honestly.

Yes, in the past I’ve answered “How are you?” with “Fine” when I wasn’t really fine. But that is changing. A lot. Now you ask me how I am, and I’m going to really tell you.

But there are some days that I REALLY don’t want to talk. It’s nothing to do with you, I am just thinking. Emotions and thoughts are complicated, and some take¬†longer to put together than others. I may answer “fine” when I’m really not because I really don’t know how to describe what I’m feeling or even, I don’t know what I’m feeling. I’ll talk about it when I figure it out, but that day is not now.

Today was one of those.

It was just a weird, indescribable day. At least by me, C.S. Lewis does a good job.

“Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape. Not every bend does. Sometimes the surprise is the opposite one; you are presented with, exactly the same sort of country you thought you had left behind miles ago. That is when you wonder whether the valley isn‚Äôt a circular trench. But it isn‚Äôt. There are partial recurrences, but the sequence doesn‚Äôt repeat.” –C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

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Cooking

Today a friend is coming over to cook with me. We both love food and cooking, but both of us have been having trouble motivating ourselves to cook during the week. So we decided that once or twice a month, we’ll go over to each other’s places, cook a bunch of meals and then split the food we cook. Yay for having healthy food to eat throughout the week and hanging out with a friend!

But this also makes me so sad. Because Theo would be eating solids by now, and we would be introducing more and more new food to him. We got a Baby Bullet as a shower gift. I was so excited for it, I couldn’t wait to make all organic baby food for Theo. I was going to start cooking with him at a young age, keeping him in the kitchen while I cooked so he would have a love of cooking too.

I miss you Theo. Today, like all days and every day until I die, is so bittersweet.


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The break

My mini-break went really well.

I spent my days doing a little bit of yoga, reading,¬†and journaling. I spent a lot of time praying and just thinking. I got the On Coming Alive journal, and I like the journal a lot.¬†I read a book on¬†TTCAL and a light-hearted fun read. I haven’t read a fun book in a long time.

It was a great 4-day weekend, and I started my Monday feeling recharged, which is exactly what I was hoping for.

I had plans to visit Theo’s grave and a local garden where you can plant flowers for someone you lost, but I decided to skip these activities. I was enjoying being a hermit, and so we will visit those places next weekend, along with Theo’s tree. Kenny will be coming with me, so it will be a nice family day.

I realized how much of myself died when Theo died. I have more anxiety now, I am more pessimistic and cynical. And I spend so much of my energy preparing myself for triggers, even for¬†the most basic activities like walking across the street to get my mail. I also have some weird¬†thoughts–like being grateful my new dentist also lost a child because she gets it. My innocence of the world is gone-there are some things you just can’t un-know. I’ll never get back that me, the Before Theo me. I can embrace my newer parts, shine them up a little bit, and work with them.


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Deserving

Something I’ve been working on with my therapist is the idea of who is deserving to hear my grief.

I’ve been pretty open about what I am feeling and going through. And the majority response has been great. Most have really encouraged me to talk with them–even though they can’t understand. I joined a new church group in April¬†and my first night there I talked about Theo’s death. I had never met these people before that night, and none had kids, but they immediately embraced my grief and cried¬†and walked with me ever since.

But I have really struggled with a few of my coworkers. Most of their hurtful comments have been unintentional, but some have¬†been so hurtful that I seriously doubt how the comments could be unintentional. Not all of my coworkers have made such comments, but the pain from those few have caused me to just stopped talking about it altogether at work. Doesn’t help that I’ve had a coworker try to gossip with me over how another coworker is handling a loss (I quickly shut the first coworker down and made it clear I was not going to tolerate that). That¬†incident has just made me so wary of telling any coworkers anything.

While it is hard to share my grief, being so vulnerable and raw about something so personal, it is also hard to hear about someone’s grief. Not everyone knows how to respond to grief and child loss (or any difficult subject, actually) with respect, compassion, and grace. And those who do, I’m learning, have a special¬†gift. And I’m learning that not everyone deserves to hear my grief.

Because despite how much I wish I didn’t go through this and I would give back every lesson for Theo, my story has valuable knowledge to give someone else. Maybe it’s hope that they can survive whatever is going on in their life, or what keepsakes to get from the hospital as their child dies.¬†Or how to treat a loved one who is grieving.

But some people¬†won’t take the¬†opportunity to go real deep, for whatever reason. They won’t open their hearts to this pain, and therefore they miss out on a beautiful relationship. I’ve seen first hand how many of my friendships have deepened in amazing ways, and I sincerely doubt they would have changed so wonderfully if it hadn’t been for Theo’s death.

So I’m letting go of any obligation I feel I owe anyone who doesn’t deserve to hear my grief. I don’t have to share my story with them.¬†I don’t have to be angry with them, though I think I will always have a little knee-jerk reaction of anger to their responses. But I feel sadness for them; they are missing out on so much, and not just with me, but life in general. And most importantly, not sharing with certain people doesn’t dishonor Theo or my grief.


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Taking a (very short) break

For a few weeks now, I’ve been feeling like I just need to shut out the world for a bit. I need to escape the triggers, the stupidity of certain non-loss people (don’t worry, if you’re reading this blog, you aren’t one of the stupid people who bug me).

I thought I would take a weekend, but I also really need a break from work. I’ve been back at work for almost 7 months now, and aside from a couple of sick days, I’ve had no time off. So when I looked at my work calendar, I thought the 5 and 6th of September would be good, since it was a holiday weekend. And then it hit me.

The 8th and 8th are 9 months. NINE MONTHS. It hit me like a ton of bricks. How did that sneak up on me? HOW did I not realize the 8th and 9th were right around the corner? I have a lot guilt over being surprised by 9 months. So I took those days off work and gave myself a 4-day weekend (and a 2-day work week, yay!).

So the 8th-12th are my “black out days”. I will not be turning on the TV, using the internet,¬†or my phone. I will not be leaving the house except for two activities, and will watch a sermon online so I don’t have to go into church. These are my trigger free days. My chance to regroup, maybe regain some emotional energy, and just take a break from everything.

Kenny will not be participating in this, so if you really need me, call or text him.

I’ll be back sometime next week. Know that I’m thinking of all of you and your children. ‚̧