Holding Our Angel

Loving After Loss


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Let’s talk about last night…

**Heads up, current pregnancy is mentioned in this post, though not the main topic. Also, some mini-rants up ahead.**

Last night our church held a memorial/grief workshop for those who have lost loved ones. About 50 people attended, which is actually a very small gathering for my church.

When we arrived, we got a paper ornament and wrote Theo’s name on it. We got dessert and then sat down. Someone asked us who we were there for, and we said our son. After offering their condolences (which is appreciated!), this person asked if we had any other children. No, we said. And she then said “Don’t worry, I know it will happen for you”.

First mini-rant:

I realize this person meant well. And other than this statement, she was so sweet and I’m glad we met. But this is a meaningless platitude. Please don’t say this to a parent who has lost a child! Actually, you really shouldn’t say this to anyone because the truth is you DON’T know. No matter what your gut feeling says or how much you “just feel it”, you can’t predict the future and you have no idea if someone will have (additional) children.

  1. As a stranger, you have NO idea what killed my son. None. You don’t know if it was a car accident, a genetic condition, SIDS, cord accident, etc, etc. You just don’t know. And for many people (like Kenny and I), what killed their child may have an impact on if they want/can have more children. Theo’s condition is very likely just a random mutation, but if the doctors thought it was more likely hereditary, Kenny and I would have had to make some tough decisions regarding future biological children.
  2. As a stranger, you have NO idea what my or Kenny’s physical health or fertility is like. You don’t know if we are dealing with an infertility diagnosis, or if we are not able to get pregnant due to other health issues. I know at least one woman who had to have a hysterectomy due to life-threatening complications during childbirth. I know at least one couple who experienced infertility. I know at least one couple who had unrelated medical issues after their child died. You don’t know because these aren’t things that you can see, so don’t pretend that you do.
  3. It is a huge assumption to make that someone wants more kids. If Kenny and I had decided we were done after Theo died, that we weren’t willing to have more children, there would have been nothing wrong with that. It is such a hugely personal decision to make, how many children you have in general, and having children after loss is really fucking hard. Saying you “know” we will have more kids is inappropriate, because you are essentially saying it is not ok to not want more kids. And that’s not true.
  4. This statement just reeks of the idea that having a living child somehow makes the other child dying ok. It doesn’t. Having a living child who was born before the one who died doesn’t make your loss any less. It doesn’t mean you aren’t grieving as much because you have a living child. And the same goes for having a living child after the one who died. Your love for your children are mutually exclusive of each other! I am not going to love/miss Theo any less if Steam Bun lives; just like if Theo was alive, I would not love him any less just because we had more children.
  5. Let’s assume we are physically able to have more kids and want more. And we are successful, and get pregnant again. You don’t know that this child will live. You can’t predict the future, you can’t tell me you know this child will live. I know at least one couple who has lost all of their children. It happens. It is indescribably awful, but it happens. (Personally, I’m ok with people having hope Steam Bun will live. Saying things like “I will pray Steam Bun is healthy and outlives you”, “I hope everything goes well”, etc. is totally fine with me. For me, these statements are different because they acknowledge things might not go as we want, but still have hope they will.)
  6. And, it bugs me how talk of my dead son turned to talk of future children. It felt like Theo was being overlooked, like he isn’t good enough to be acknowledge because he’s dead. He is his own person. He is my son, and he is worthy of being talked about for his sake and not the hypothetical future children. There are so few ways I can talk about Theo compared to how I can talk about him if he was alive, and it hurt so much that at a memorial for the dead, Theo was brushed aside like that. You wouldn’t tell someone who lost their dad “Well, maybe your mom will remarry and give you a new dad!”.

Ok, first rant over. Continuing with the evening…

Once everyone was seated, the event began. A woman who leads grief workshops at our church spoke, and I was really impressed by her talk. I will be looking into her workshops. She talked about how important it is to let yourself feel everything you are feeling. That all of your emotions, even the “bad” ones, are normal and healthy, and denying that you are feeling them or shoving them aside will only hurt you more than help you. But she also mentioned how important it is to not let the bitterness, resentment, anger, etc. swallow you and consume you. That, as Christians, we must hold onto the hope God gives us. I loved her talk because it is hard, for me at least, to balance that hope God gives me with the awfulness of our situation. It often feels like acknowledging these less-than-happy emotions means I am denying God, but that is not true. And remembering the hope I have in Heaven sometimes feels like I am denying how hard it is to live without your child, but that’s not true either.

Then we sang a few Christmas songs. These were hard to hear, and I kind of wish they had picked more generic worship songs to sing instead.

Then another woman spoke, this time about her personal experience with grief. Her 5 year old son died 23 years ago, and she talked about how her grief has changed through the years. I really enjoyed her talk too, though I’ve been really struggling with the fact that her son died 23 years ago. It hit me while she was talking that this isn’t a temporary thing I’m going through. And I’ve known that this entire time, that Theo won’t come back and we’ll always be grieving, but hearing her talk about grief 23 years later…. it hit me hard. It forced the knowledge that this is truly lifelong to come right to the front and confront me.

Now was the time for the slideshow of those who died. As each picture was on the screen, the family of the one who died went up to the front and placed the paper ornament on the tree. They could also say a few words about the one who died. There were three other babies who died, ranging from 2 months to 9 months. When it was our turn, we opted to not say anything about Theo and simply placed the ornament on the tree. The pastor who was running the evening was the same one who did the funeral for Theo, so he spoke a few words on our behalf instead. As we returned to our seats, someone gave us a gift bag of resources.

After everyone had the change to place the ornament/talk, the evening was done. I went back to the tree to take a picture of Theo’s ornament. I spoke with the pastor and he asked me how the pregnancy is doing. Then he said “Oh! I should have told everyone about the pregnancy. **Gets everyone’s attention** Hey everyone! I wanted to let you know Cassie pregnant!” I never told him the pregnancy was a secret or shouldn’t be announced, so I’m not upset he announced it, but I did cringe a little at everyone’s reaction. They cheered and were very happy. As I was walking back to Kenny, I was stopped by a lot of people saying congratulations. My response to each of them was “Thank you. And I’m so sorry for your loss”.

The parents of the 9 month old who died was talking to Kenny when I found him again. The mom is also pregnant and she asked me “Don’t you just hate everyone’s excitement over the pregnancy?” To which I responded enthusiastically “Yes!”. We had a good talk with them and exchanged numbers, and I hope we’ll be able to get together soon.

Kenny and I kept trying to leave at that point, but more people were coming up to us and saying congratulations, that they will be praying, etc. We thanked them and talked with everyone briefly. But one lady said something that really bothered me. She asked if we knew what we were having and we said no. And she responded with: “Oh! I just assumed you are farther along because of how big you already are!”.

Ok, let’s talk about how crappy of a statement this is to say to ANYONE, not just someone who has lost a child.

  1. Let’s begin with the obvious: making statements to complete strangers (or even someone you know, but especially strangers) about what their body looks like is just a very bad idea. It’s like going up to someone you think is pregnant just because they have a few extra pounds on them and say congrats only to find out they aren’t pregnant.
  2. A lot of people have body image issues. You don’t know if the person you’re talking to struggled with an eating disorder, or just feels very crappy about how they look that day. Many women struggle with weight gain during pregnancy even though they know it’s best for the baby. Pregnancy can really screw with your body image, please don’t add to it by commenting on how the woman looks.
  3. When I was pregnant with Theo, I was pretty tiny until the third trimester when all of sudden my stomach grew every single week. People would comment “Oh, you look so small for being X weeks!” and it really messed with my head. Though my doctor was happy with my weight gain and Theo was measuring on track at every ultrasound, it really made me worry that he was too small and wasn’t developing properly (and I know now he wasn’t, but his lung issue had nothing to do with his size or my weight gain). And then in the third trimester when I suddenly starting growing all the time, people commented on how big I was, which made me worry he was getting too big and something would go wrong during the birth. At the time, we all thought my pregnancy was normal and healthy and I thought pregnancy was easy, but these types of comments still managed to worry and upset me.
  4. These fears are magnified 1,000x now that I’m pregnant with Steam Bun. You have no idea how much time I spend worrying if I am too small or too big, if I have too little amniotic fluid or too much. I haven’t taken very many bump pics, but the few I have taken I’ve compared to me at the same point with Theo, seeing if I am bigger or smaller. You have no idea how many times I’ve asked Kenny to look at the bump pics from each pregnancy or to reassure me that I’m not too small or big. You have no idea how many times I ask my doctors to double check my fluid levels during ultrasounds. At one of our appointments, we got sonograms and I spent an hour that night comparing Steam Bun to Theo at the same point. I thought Steam Bun looked too “blobby” for how far along I was, so I immediately emailed my doctor and asked her to review the sonogram and see if Steam Bun looked how s/he should.

This woman’s comment about how big I already look HURT. It added to my already high anxiety over the health of the baby and pregnancy. And it just made me feel very crappy about how I look in general (and made me rethink what I was wearing). Alright, moving along…

We were finally able to leave. Overall, I’m really glad we went and we’ll probably go again next year. The event was good, and I’m glad we got to connect with the other loss parents. It was a sweet way for our church to remember those who have passed during the holidays.


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Countdown?

I feel like I’m in this weird countdown as Theo’s first birthday approaches.

It feels like when Theo’s first birthday and the first anniversary of his death pass, a switch will flip automatically. Like at 12 am on Dec. 10th, something “magical” will happen and it will all be different.

I don’t expect it to feel that way, and yet I do? This is such a weird state of something.

I don’t expect my grief to suddenly change at 1 year. I don’t expect everything to be sunshine and flowers again, nor do I expect it to suddenly get worse. I expect it to keep doing what it’s been doing: slowly changing as time continues, neither in a good nor bad way, just different than before.

And yet… it feels like once the one-year anniversaries pass, something should be different. That there should be a quantifiable change in myself, Kenny, the world? That I’ll wake up on Dec. 10th, take a breath, and notice what changed.

If there was a slogan to child loss, it would be “Welcome to a state of constant contradiction!”.


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11/27/15

Theo’s due date was 11/27/15.

On that day, Kenny and I woke up to ants in our master bathroom. I am very strict on water being the only food/drink allowed upstairs for this reason. But despite our best efforts, we found hundreds of ants in our master bath that morning, driven in through the roof by the weather.

We showered in the other bathroom, and did our best to clean up the ants as much as possible. I wanted to go right away to the store to get some ant traps, Kenny didn’t. It was Black Friday, traffic would have been bad. We argued.

But we bought the traps and Kenny placed them. We blocked off the door so the cats wouldn’t get at the traps.

We had an appointment that day, and the doctor noted I was nowhere close to labor.

We spent the next couple of days killing ants and cleaning our bathroom several times.


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Stress Management

My stress has been sky-high the past few days. It just seems like I’m getting hit with everything at once and I’m worrying and stressing about e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.

So today I decided I needed to do something about it. Stress is terrible health-wise, and I don’t need it right now. Thankfully, I worked from home today so on my lunch I grabbed a couple of empty wine bottles from the pantry (wine was obviously not drank while I was pregnant with Theo or now, I was saving them to use in crafts). I wrote everything that is stressing me out on them.

And then I smashed them.

It felt SO good. So much fun to smash them. I dropped them on the ground, but I think taking a hammer to them would also be fun.

I then swept the pieces into a pile, dumped it into a paper bag, wrapped the paper bag up and threw it out. This part was surprisingly therapeutic too.

Can I say how surprised I am that I only needed two wine bottles to write down everything that is stressing me out? I honestly thought I would need more… I will be repeating this a few more times, maybe with more wine bottles at once.

(If you do this, make sure you wear protective eyewear. Shards of glass in eyes are not fun.)

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Questions and Pregnancy After Loss

So I “announced” at work the other week.

I sent everyone in my department an email letting them know I am pregnant, but that I do not want to talk about the pregnancy. I gave them the rough dates of my maternity leave (exact dates will be determined later) and told them I will bring it up if I want to talk about the pregnancy.

I am seriously dreading though emailing HR and asking for all of the paperwork for maternity leave. While I was on leave last year (11/13/15 was the first day of maternity leave for me for Theo, which is such a mind fuck knowing that very soon I’ll be hitting my due date and then the last day I was pregnant and… just ugh), my company was merged with another company, and now we form a new company. This new company has different policies on maternity leave… hopefully to my advantage, though I’m not sure.

If I go back to work and this baby lives… how the hell am I going to be able to talk about this baby?

Seriously…. when people have babies (who live) at my work, an announcement email is sent around saying “Baby Blahblah is here! 105 lbs, 1,000 oz on July 45th”. A pool is started a few weeks before the coworker’s due date on when the baby will arrive, size, etc.

I don’t want those emails to go out regarding this pregnancy, but it’s just going to come across as unfriendly (to say the least) if I don’t offer any information on this baby. It’s not like I can return to work and pretend I never had a baby, that the baby is alive… Questions will be asked, and I’ll be expected to answer at least some of them. And it sucks because these are questions I will never be able to answer about Theo. Everyone will ask when I’ll bring the baby in for them to see, ask for pictures of the baby… which they never did for Theo. (While I obviously understand why they didn’t ask when I would bring Theo in, it bugs me to no end when people don’t ask for pictures of Theo. Ask!) How will I handle these questions? Will I want to show off this baby, talk about this baby all the time? Will I try not to talk about this baby too much?

And then there’s the can of worms of how much I’ll worry about what others think about how much I do or do not talk about this baby. (Hi! I’m crazy and over analyze everything as much as possible. Welcome to my mind!) And of course, I’ll over analyze what I think this baby thinks of how much I talk about him/her and if s/he feels loved.

I am hiding the pregnancy as much as I can, clothes-wise. I don’t want to deal with the questions from complete strangers about the pregnancy. That was fun with Theo, so not looking forward to those questions now. I can imagine the conversation now:

“Is this your first?”

“No.”

“Where’s your oldest?”

“Dead.”

*person runs away*

There will be a day that I can’t hide the pregnancy any more, at some point I will look pregnant and strangers will ask about it.

It kind of panics me to have to talk about this with friends/family, but not as much. Because I know if I’m having a rough day, I can say “Nope, not talking about that right now” and they will understand.

On a different note, about a month and a half ago I got this card from the funeral home where Theo is buried. It was the shape of a thank you card, so obviously not a bill, and I put it in my “do not want to deal with now” pile of junk. Today I finally tackled some of that pile, including the card. It was a card stating the funeral home is doing a memorial for all who are buried there on December 11th, and they wanted to know if I wanted a free ornament engraved with Theo’s name. Response was required by November 11th. Oops. I filled it out and popped it into the mail today. I probably won’t get the ornament, but it is so sweet of the funeral home to offer, and now I know for next year.

I think I need a nap, way too much thinking and worrying being done. Actually, what I need is some yoga.


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Faith, Politics, and More

Go to the bathroom, get a snack, and get comfortable–this is a looooong post.

I am not a very political person. I stay (mostly) informed enough to form an intelligent opinion on important issues to me, but for the most part, I just stay out of politics. I generally don’t make political comments on social media, because that’s not me. But President-Elect Trump has changed that, and I refuse to be quiet about this.

It is utterly despicable and embarrassing that Trump is our President-Elect.

I will admit I have a lot of privilege. I am white, born and raised in a middle-class family, and a college education was just assumed for me. I am not the first in my family to be born in the U.S or to go to college. I am a practicing Christian. I have a good, white-collar job and so does my husband.

But I am a woman. And I am married to an Asian man, whose parents moved to the U.S. from Taiwan before he was born. I am the mother of two biracial children, one of whom may or may not be a girl. Steam Bun may or may not be LGBT in the future (and I will love him/her no matter what).

And I am truly frightened for the safety of my family. For myself. For my friends who don’t fit the straight-(rich)-white-Christian-male mold. For those I don’t even know who don’t fit that mold.

I understand and respect everyone has a different opinion on political issues, and I do not expect everyone to be a Democrat or a Republican. I consider myself basically in the middle: I agree with the Republican party on some issues, the Democrat party on others. If you were to take a look at my voting record, you will see that I’ve voted for a mix of Republicans and Democrats and on a variety of issues. I understand and respect differences in opinions on taxes, foreign policy, etc. I may not agree with you on them, but I have no issue with you voting for “the other side”.

But I have an issue with every vote for Trump. Because every vote for him was a vote for racism, sexism, ableism, and just discrimination and prejudice in general. And I do not respect that. I do not and will not tolerate that. I do not understand or respect how you can prioritize paying less in taxes over the safety and well-being of fellow human beings. Because a vote for Trump was a vote against my family-an interracial family with biracial children, one the child of immigrants, with at least one of us being female.

I have not experienced racial discrimination. I am white, it’s not directed at me. And I have not experienced any discrimination for being in an interracial marriage, though I guarantee that would not be the case if Kenny was African-American or Hispanic. (Did you know that interracial marriages were mostly illegal until the 1960’s? Had I met Kenny then, we would not have been allowed to be married.) But I have been sexually harassed and I’ve experienced first-hand sexism at college and work.

I have had to defend myself against men who felt they were owed my body simply because they are a man and I am a woman and I was in their presence. I have had to deal with being cat-called and verbally sexually assaulted. I have had to “let slide” sexist comments at work or college, made by men in their 50’s or 60’s simply because I am a woman. I work in finance, it is still a boy’s club. I have witnessed other women I work with experience the same sexism and sexual harassment. I have witnessed non-white coworkers experience racial discrimination.

Do you know what happened these incidents were reported to HR or my boss? I was dismissed and told I either misunderstood what was said or was being overly sensitive. Or my favorite, “But so-and-so is so nice! No way that could have happened!”. Same for others who have reported them.

The “locker room talk” Trump said is NOT locker room talk. Locker room talk is harmless. What Trump said is verbal sexual assault, plain and simple. If Kenny were to say those things about me or another woman, I’d be packing a bag and crashing at a friend’s place. Debating if marriage counseling can fix the very basic problem of Kenny not respecting me or women (for the record, Kenny would NEVER say those things about me or anyone else). If Theo said those things about a woman, I would be appalled and ashamed. Ashamed of him for using such vile language, and ashamed of myself for failing as a mother and not raising him properly.

I asked Kenny how he would react if he overheard someone saying those things about me or his hypothetical daughter. He said it would take every ounce of self-control to not punch the guy, and he still would probably end up punching him. (And don’t even try to say I am “lucky” to be married to a man like that. A woman is NOT “lucky” for being in a relationship with a man who has basic respect for her and women in general. THAT IS WHAT SHOULD BE EXPECTED.)

If Steam Bun is a girl, I have so much more to worry about than if Steam Bun is a boy. Why? Because our culture reinforces that women are only good for their bodies, which are to be made available to men. Instead of teaching boys to not rape, sexually assault, or use demeaning language toward women; we teach girls how not to get raped and how to let inappropriate and hurtful comments roll of your back without standing up for yourself too much.

Trump’s language toward non-whites is NOT “no big deal”. He words made it very clear those not fitting his white-mold are not welcome here and should be seen as a threat. He exacerbated the “us vs. them” mentality. He made outrageous statements that were not based on fact but fear. They were not an over-exaggeration by the “liberal” media. They were his words, they were filled with racist and anti-non-white sentiments and were vile and shameful.

As the mother of biracial children, I am so worried for them. How will I combat the message that they aren’t good enough because they aren’t “fully” white? How will I protect them against acts of hate? How will I teach them this attitude isn’t ok, when they will be bombarded with it every day? And thanks Trump, for basically saying my family isn’t welcome here! We’re not going anywhere, sorry to disappoint you.

Why does it matter that our President-Elect uses such language? You may be thinking that Trump is only one man. And he is, but as the President-Elect his words and actions touch everyone. One thing I learned while studying accounting was that a company’s culture starts at the top. If the CEO/President has a bad temper, makes inappropriate comments, participates in shady deals, etc., this will trickle down throughout the entire company and become the culture of the company. This will happen in the U.S. with Trump as our President. People will see that the President can get away with such comments and outlook, and they will mirror it. By electing Trump, we reinforced that it’s ok to demean women. We reinforced that African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims, and everyone else are not as deserving as whites. This has already started–if you don’t believe me, google “Day 1 of Trump’s America”.

Trump did not create discrimination. He is not the first, nor will he be the last, to hate so many. The problem is his campaign and Presidency normalized discrimination in a way that it was not in a long time. His position of power and authority make it ok to be discriminatory and prejudicial.

And you might be reading this and thinking, “Yes, but Hillary…”. There are no buts! Is Hillary perfect? No, she’s a politician. She’s had scandals, and I agree with her on some things, and disagree on others. But she is not filled with the racist, sexist, ableist, etc. sentiments Trump is; and that in and of itself is why she should have been the President-Elect. (Never mind the fact that Hilary was infinitely more qualified than Trump to be President. But voters were unwilling to see past their hate for Hillary, while willing to do exactly that for Trump. And they instead elected a completely unqualified white man instead of a woman. Hi there glass ceiling!) You say you didn’t like Trump, but did you vote for him in the primaries? If he is hated so much by Republicans, why did you pick him in the primaries?

I’m now going to rant a little about faith and politics. This is directed at Christians, if you are not a Christian, feel free to skip the next few paragraphs.

There needs to be a separation of church and state. I say that as a Christian. Why? Because it is not fair to expect non-Christians to follow Christian values.

You are not doing the Lord’s work by judging others and dictating how they live. Telling them which birth control they may or may not use, how they form their family or procreate, etc. is unhelpful at best. Beside the fact that not all Christians agree on these things and these stances have no biblical standing, judging someone and how they live will only drive a larger wedge between you and the person you are trying to “help”. It is unfair to have public policy reflect the beliefs of a small group of people, and force everyone to live by those rules.

Do the Lord’s work by treating others with respect, love, and kindness. Help others with no strings attached–give to help them, not to receive attention or to blackmail them into believing what you do. Do those things simply because they are the right thing to do.

Jesus loved unconditionally. He gave unconditionally. He never treated those who were different than him worse than he treated his followers. He treated everyone the same regardless of who they were, where they were from, what they did, etc. He never judged, but rather simply accepted them as they were. He forgave unconditionally.

Jesus was very strict with Christians. When Jesus saw Christians do things that were against his teachings, he reprimanded them. But he only expected his followers to live by his rules, never those who didn’t follow him. There are so many instances in the Bible where Jesus is reprimanding Christians for not being loving to others or giving generously to those who need it.

Ok, enough about faith. Back to just politics.

The repercussions of Trump and Pence in office is horrific. I lurk the 3T (trouble trying to conceive/infertility) board on a parenting forum, and learning about Pence’s stance on reproductive health is horrifying. It goes way beyond abortion rights, and into what medical treatments are available to those experiencing a loss or infertility and what happens after the loss. Pence is completely unfit to be in office, and he and Trump are a threat to so many Americans (many of whom voted for them!).

I am genuinely scared of what this means for my health insurance: will I have access to birth control after Steam Bun is born? Will I be able to do the genetic testing I want, for a reasonable cost? And if Steam Bun has the same genetic condition as Theo, will we be allowed to terminate for medical reasons if we choose that route? If we choose to not terminate, will Trump/Pence force us to keep Steam Bun on life support longer than we wish? You might think I’m being paranoid, but this is my reality. I’ve had one child on life support, and there is a (minute) possibility this child will die of the same condition (or a completely different one! Because there’s more than one way for babies to die!). And then of course, how much will all of this cost us? We do well financially, and I am freaked out I won’t be able to afford medical care. Our medical costs for Theo were minimal, I can’t imagine having to worry about money while burying another child.

If you voted for Trump, I do not want to know. Really, I don’t. But I want you to know one thing: I am steadfastly against your opinion/vote, but I am not against you. I will not pit myself against you or refuse to associate with you. I will treat you exactly how all humans deserve to be treated: with respect, love, and kindness. I will try to change your mind and have you see why Trump has no business being in politics, but I will do so in a respectful way.

I refuse to give in to the “us vs. them” mentality. People who are different are not the enemy. I do not consider anyone of a different race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, etc. against me. They are not threatening my or your way of life just by existing. Fearing “the others” is not the answer, nor is segregating ourselves. Opening yourself up to everyone is the only way we’ll make this country better. Telling them “I don’t understand where you are coming from, but I accept you as you are and I will treat you how I want to be treated” is the best thing you can do. Because they are worthy. You are worthy. I will show everyone as much love, kindness, and respect as possible regardless of who they are. Because it’s the right thing to do.

We live in scary times. There is violence and hate everywhere. But that’s always been the case. Pick any point in history, and you will learn all the ways humans had of hurting each other at that point in time. But fighting hate with hate will not solve anything; again, history has proven this multiple times.

I mean none of this to imply that I am perfect. I am far from it. I am impatient, I’ve made mistakes, and I curse at other drivers on the road. But I am always striving to be better than I was before, and I always work on treating others how they deserve to be treated.

What are Kenny and I doing about this? To start with, I signed the petition to have Hillary elected. Will it actually work? I doubt it, but it was something I can do while I figure out the next step. Both Kenny and I agree we need to get involved, with what we’re not sure yet. We’re still in shock from this election. We’ve been doing a lot of praying for our country, and praying that God uses us in some way.

Protest. Volunteer. Make your voice heard. But whatever you do, please do it peacefully. Let’s not stoop to Trump’s level and give him more ammunition.

And on a slightly related note, here’s a song I love. Casting Crowns is a Christian band, and I’ve listened to this song hundreds of times since Theo died. The words just so perfectly sum up how I feel in this grief, and now sum up how I feel about this election. Especially the first few lines:

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining


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Second first time mom *TW*

I joined a parenting forum while I was still pregnant with Theo. I wasn’t active until he died, and I found great comfort in the loss community there. Those women are incredibly supportive and kind, it’s a great community.

When I found out I was pregnant with Steam Bun, I decided to join my “birth month board”. The women there are just as supportive and kind. And we talk about almost everything, pregnancy related or not. There is talk on which gear second-time moms recommend, what to do about childcare for your older children while you’re in labor, etc. And I want to join those conversations so bad!

Because technically they apply to me. We spent hours researching baby gear for Theo, so I can make recommendations on what we bought for him and will use for this one. But Theo never used any of his stuff, so my recommendations don’t really mean much because I have no idea if they are actually useful or not. Did Theo love the Momaroo we bought? I like to think he would, but was it a useful purchase? No clue.

Technically I have a child to worry about when I’m in labor with this one. But not really, because I don’t have to drop Theo off at a friend’s house to be watched while I have a second baby. So I have nothing to contribute, because saying my first doesn’t need a babysitter because he’s in Heaven isn’t exactly a helpful answer. And will probably come across as bitchy, even though I don’t mean it that way and really is just a desperate attempt to make myself feel normal.

It’s maddening that I can’t throw in my parenting experience for dealing with waking up in the middle of the night, because I woke up in the middle of the night to phantom kicks and fears I had slept through Theo crying. I never experienced waking up for midnight feedings. And the only inconsolable crying was my own, not Theo’s.

In so many ways, I’m a first time mom. I have no Earthly parenting experience to contribute, I never experienced anything I should have. But I’m not a first time mom, I’m just on the outside of normal mom conversations and it hurts so much. Even conversations about my pregnancy with Theo are iffy–I feel like I can’t offer advice or commiseration because my pregnancy ended in a sick baby dying, and I’ll somehow imply that because you are experiencing the same pregnancy symptoms I did, you’ll have a sick baby too.

And if Steam Bun lives, and we experience all we should with him/her, it will be the first time we experience it and not the second like it should be.


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An update on me

*Trigger warning: this post is on a sensitive subject and may be triggering for you*

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I’m pregnant.

We’re so excited, beyond terrified, guilty, disconnected, grateful, and a million more things.

I have thought long and hard about whether to announce on my blog or not. I consider myself an open book and tend to share whatever I am thinking/feeling, so it seemed natural to talk about this pregnancy. But there were so many things to consider–how Kenny feels about being open, being a trigger for someone else, how I would feel about making an announcement and then this child dying, and how much of Theo’s “space” I want to devote to this pregnancy. (There are so few things that are just his, that I struggle with taking some of his space “away”. But I would be lying if I said his sickness, death, and my grief don’t impact this pregnancy.)

I also really debated about whether I should do a social media announcement, and discussed this at length with my therapist. I want to be respectful of the people who have experienced loss or infertility–whether I know about their struggles or not. I know how much announcements can sting, and I really hate the idea of being a trigger for anyone else. The idea of people asking me about the pregnancy and assuming I want/am able to talk about it because I posted on social media terrified me. What if I can’t handle people talking to me about the pregnancy and regret “going live”? But my therapist brought up a really good point: I deserve to be excited about this pregnancy and doing normal things (like announcing) will help me be excited and happy. This baby, no matter how long s/he is alive, deserves to be celebrated.

In the end, I decided to talk about the pregnancy here (obviously), and do an Instagram announcement. If you are friends with me on IG, this is a heads up that you will see it soon. If you need to unfollow me, I understand. ❤

We’ve nicknamed this baby Steam Bun. I don’t like the term rainbow baby, for many reasons it just isn’t for me. I don’t expect anyone to remember that, I know rainbow baby is a very common term in our community. I don’t really care if you call this baby a rainbow baby, I just won’t be using that term.

I will not be releasing information on when I am due or how far along I am. I just can’t handle others’ anticipation leading up to my due date. Theo was a week and a half late, and I got a lot of texts each day asking if he had arrived yet (which was so sweet and I loved at the time!). It’s going to be nerve-wracking to deal with that now, and in the interest of my sanity, I am not going to release my due date. You will find out after the baby is born, hopefully alive and well.

Pregnancy and babies are still triggers for me. This doesn’t just magically go away just because I’m pregnant now (though I wish it did!). I’m not sure I’ll ever be really ok with them, they will always be “tainted” for me. I will celebrate with you whenever I can, but I will always think of Theo and my loss first.

While I will be talking about this pregnancy here, I am not sure how much I will be sharing. I may end up sharing a lot, or very little. I’ll play it by ear, and it will also depend on how much Kenny wants out there on this pregnancy. But I will always put a trigger warning or the word pregnancy in the title of a post when I am talking about it.

This pregnancy has been an emotional roller coaster so far, to say the least. My anxiety is heightened and I’ve called my doctor (and Poison Control) over the stupidest things that I wouldn’t care about if Theo hadn’t died. I’ve done a lot of side research, grasping for an answer that will magically make this one healthy. I’ve had a few moments of peace, but those are few and far between. Fortunately my doctors are very understanding, and doing a great job at validating my fears/crazy but not going overboard with unhelpful tests/information.

I feel like I have been such a Debbie downer in this post, so I’m going to end it on a happy note. We really are so excited and in love with this baby. Keep Steam Bun in your thoughts/prayers!