Holding Our Angel

Loving After Loss

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Self-care has been difficult while dealing with everything.

When I was pregnant with Theo, I was very healthy. I exercised regularly until 38 weeks, modifying the exercises the farther along I got of course. But I stayed moving for the majority of the pregnancy and was proud of myself (and I’ll admit–a little smug!). Once I hit 38 weeks, I went on leave and decided to enjoy my last weeks as a couch potato. Lol. And overall, I ate pretty healthy with Theo. I would say I ate healthy about 75-80% of the time, though I certainly used the pregnancy to justify the larger bowl of ice cream. I wanted to give Theo the best start at life.

And then he died.

After he died, I focused a lot on being healthier. I started exercising as soon as I could after the c-section, and I ate as healthy as I could. I got rid of a bunch of crap in our lives to make us and our home healthier. This was probably mostly a way to feel in control more than anything else.

But as soon as I got pregnant again, my whole attitude shifted. All of a sudden I couldn’t motivate myself to workout or eat healthy. I just didn’t (and still don’t) see the point. Thousands of women are on drugs, smoking, or drinking during their pregnancies and their babies live. I’m not denying the health problems associated with those habits, but the babies live. It just feels so pointless to do everything right when the baby still dies in the end. It didn’t help that until I was 10 weeks along, my doctor recommended I not workout due to a complication (that has since resolved) they found. That lost momentum had a big affect.

But self-care goes beyond physical health.

I’ve been focusing more on mental health lately. Even more than a year out, and there’s still only so much energy I have and sometimes I have to ration it. Mental health is a higher priority than physical right now, though I have noticed a correlation between better physical health and better mental health for me. Still, I’m giving myself a pass on the missed workouts and crappy eating because that’s just not what it important to me right now.

So I’ve been focusing on what makes me feel good mentally/emotionally. Like new makeup or clothes, giving myself permission to feel whatever I need to feel, or venting here. There will be some big changes to our lives in 2017. I hope for the better, but honestly I’m preparing myself for the worst. Some of these changes Kenny and I are in control of, some we are at life’s mercy.


A lovely trip

**Trigger warning**

So last week I’m in the office, and I decide to walk around the block on my break. Gotta combat all the fro-yo I’m eating some how…

And I slip on some freaking leaves and fall forward. Fortunately, I did not hit my abdomen against the ground, but my wrists and knees got a little banged up.

I was tempted to just sit there, but I was close to another building so I walked there and sat in their lobby while I called my doctor’s office. Told the nurse what happened, she said she thinks I should go to labor and delivery, but needed to call them first to double checked. After putting me on hold, she tells me L&D won’t accept me since I’m not far enough along (by like 3 days but whatever…) and tells me my options are to go to the ER or come in that day for an appointment. First available appointment is 2.5 hours later, which I accept.

After I hung up I was feeling like I should go to the ER instead, so I text a friend who agreed with me and headed to the ER. The doctors and nurses there were very nice, agreed that going in right away was the right thing to do, and saw me pretty quick. Steam Bun had stopped moving about 20 minutes before the fall (which is normal so far–that time of day I tend not to feel anything), but I was telling Steam Bun the whole way to the ER to start moving so I would know s/he is ok. As soon as I entered the ER, Steam Bun started kicking (already listening to mommy!) so I felt some relief.

Everything looked good and heartbeat was fine.

I felt…mostly relieved, though I was still fighting to ignore that voice in the back of my head. Fortunately, a couple days later I had a regular prenatal appointment scheduled, and my doctor was able to confirm again that the placenta and everything was fine.

One small victory in this: I resisted playing Dr. Google and reading all horror stories after a fall. Woo! Usually Google is the second place I turn, and it always makes it worse.

But in other news, I was about ready to throw my computer at the HR department the other day. I plan on going on leave sometime in the next few months, so I figured now would be a good time to gather all of the paperwork I would need to complete. This is what I did last time I went on leave, and had no problem getting the paperwork early. I emailed HR a couple days ago and was told to reach out 2 weeks before my scheduled leave date and they would provide all information then.

Uh, not an acceptable answer to me (especially considering last year). So I pushed back, saying that I want to have all of the paperwork now so if I need to go on leave earlier than planned (such as premature labor), I have it ready for me to fill out. I was told no, HR will not give me any paperwork or tell me what information they need from my doctor until 2 weeks before my scheduled leave date. I was told it is “just easier” this way.

So I emailed a second HR department, which technically does not oversee my division but they have a reputation of being more helpful. Told them I know it is early but I would like all of the paperwork and everything now so I can be prepared. They had no problem with this, and were able to give me all of the paperwork I need. I mentioned the first HR department wouldn’t help me and why, and the second said there is nothing wrong with getting everything ready early and that it actually helps them when employees are on top of stuff like this (imagine that…).

I emailed Kenny a copy of the paperwork, so if something should happen (knock on wood) he can complete it for me so I have it ready to send to HR at a moment’s notice.


Christmas, Heaven, and Misery Loves Company

I’ve been thinking a lot about these things because the holiday cheer is waaaaaaay too overwhelming for me this year. So I’ve been mostly hiding from it, especially this last week.

I think in general, our culture is way too uncomfortable with anything remotely sad and puts way too much pressure on those who have reasons to be sad. You’re always told to “look on the bright side”, and if you are sad too long then it’s “misery loves company”.

Yes, misery does love company. Because those who are sad tend not to pressure others who are sad to “just get it over it”. One of the reasons I love the loss community, even when we aren’t talking about our children, is because there is no pressure to be anything except what I am in that moment. If I’m smiling and happy, great. If I’m sad and miserable, that’s great too. If I’m flip-flopping on my feelings or just feeling a whole lot of nothing, that’s great as well. There are moments and days (even weeks) where I’m able to focus on the blessings and good in our lives, and moments where I can’t. Or won’t. Having moments or days or weeks or more where you just need to sit with the bad is ok, there is nothing wrong with that.

I’m happy for those who are able to have the picture-perfect Christmas this year, and who are caught up in the holiday cheer. I’m jealous of you honestly. But I will forever not be a part of that group. I’m not saying every Christmas will be as difficult as this one, but I will never be a part of that ideal Christmas holiday. Mine will forever be tinted gray, there will always be a looming dark cloud. And I’m ok with that. I’m not going to pretend it is anything but what it is. If that ever changes for me, I’ll adjust and accept what it has become. Basically, I’m just going with the flow on what I’m feeling and I’m not going to pretend to be anything else.

I’m not going to ask you to change how you are feeling either. If you are able to get caught up in the joy of Christmas, I’ll be happy for you. From the sidelines, with a box of tissues in my hand. I’m not going to try to change your mind, just like I ask that you don’t try to change mine.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Heaven lately. What it will be like, and what it means for me as I grieve. And truthfully, while Heaven is mostly comforting, it isn’t completely comforting to me.

I’ve often wondered what relationships will look like in Heaven. I do believe I will be Theo’s mom in Heaven, but will my relationship with him be one as a parent? What I mean is… will I be parenting him in Heaven? Or will we have a relationship more as friends?

I don’t doubt that Heaven is untold joy, peace, and love. That my imagination of that happiness is only a drop in the bucket to what it is actually like. But there are certain things I am confident will never happen in Heaven, and that makes me so sad.

Theo will never get hurt in Heaven. He will never fall down and scrape a knee, never have his heart broken, or a bad day. And that is mostly a good thing, but it hurts because I am missing out on those things. I am missing out on being the one he turns to to kiss his boo-boo and for comfort. I will never be able to help him when he’s upset. Those things won’t happen in Heave, because nothing bad happens in Heaven. And therefore I will forever miss a large chunk of what it means to be a parent. And I have to grieve that.

And though the joy and happiness here on Earth can’t compare to that in Heaven, I also have to grieve all the happiness I won’t be able to watch Theo experience.

Though I can’t say for sure, I tend to believe marriage as we know it on Earth doesn’t exist in Heaven. This is where I wonder about relationships in Heaven the most. Will I be able to watch Theo fall in love for the first time? Will I be able to see him have a marriage, have kids? I tend to think not, I don’t think those things happen in Heaven, at least how I know them now. Maybe they do, maybe they look different than what I expect them to. But I have to grieve that as well.

I have to grieve every part of parenting here on Earth, the good and the bad. I have to grieve missing those late night feedings, the toddler tantrums, him sneaking out at night as a teenager. Disciplining him, watching him participate in whatever after school activities we would have put him in. Him getting a bad grade, him graduating, his first job, first apartment, first time he realizes the world is cruel. All the good and the bad here, I grieve.

Heaven doesn’t fix these heartaches now. When I am in Heaven, I believe these heartaches will be fixed. How, I really don’t know. But I’m not in Heaven right now, so all I can do is deal with this heartbreak and not deny it.

We haven’t gone to church all month. Or, I haven’t. Kenny has a couple times. I’ve been watching old sermons online instead. Our church is just too….Christmas-y for me. I can’t stand seeing all of the happy people, or listen to everyone happily talk about their Christmas plans. The happiness is just too crushing, and I feel like an outsider looking in. I don’t know if our church has acknowledged that Christmas is often painful for people, but I hope they have. The holidays would be a lot more bearable if people didn’t look at you like you were an alien if you weren’t enthusiastic for Christmas.


Pictures with Santa and More

Last year I joined a facebook group for child loss almost immediately after Theo died. I saw several members post pictures of themselves with Santa, with them or Santa holding a picture of their child. I wanted to do this, but was not in a good state (and not just mentally, less than 2 weeks postpartum is rough physically!).

This year, Kenny and I worked up the nerve to get our picture taken. I held a picture of Theo and Kenny held Theo Bear.

The lady who took the picture asked me how far along I am, and I answered truthfully since I figured I won’t see her again. She looked very surprised and said “Oh…”. Alright then.

But Santa was amazing. After we had our picture taken with him, we talked for a few minutes. He asked us about Theo and commented on how handsome he is and how much he looked like Kenny. He told us his wife worked in SIDS research and they both volunteer with March of Dimes. He was a sweet man.

We got a Christmas card from someone who I really wish hadn’t sent me one. When I saw the envelope, I handed it to Kenny and said “If this is just a Christmas card with a picture of their new baby, toss it and don’t describe it to me”. He tossed it right after he opened it. I don’t hate all Christmas cards this year, just that particular one and I’m glad Kenny handled it for me. We’ve enjoyed looking at the other cards we’ve received so far.

I loved Donuts and Yoga’s recent post on Intent: most people mean well but unintentionally say/do things that are hurtful, and you have a right to be hurt or angry at what was said/done. It’s ok to point out how you were hurt, so the person can correct their actions. Sometimes “it’s the thought that counts” is meaningless. After all, if they really do mean well and care about you, they’ll want to know so they can better help you.

After visiting Santa, we went home and Kenny held Theo bear on his shoulder while he sat on the couch. He’s done this many times throughout the year, and it kills me a little every time. But last night was the hardest, because he turned to me and said “I can’t wait for Steam Bun to arrive so I can hold a baby”.

Knife, meet heart.





That sums up Theo’s birthday and Heaven date (I’m trying that out as a way to refer to the day he died). The anticipation of the days was nothing compared to the days themselves.

I made a list of the things I wanted to accomplish on those days. It gave me a sense of purpose for those days. On his birthday, I went to Party City and picked up some supplies for his birthday party fundraiser in February. I also picked up a mini Christmas tree at Lowe’s to decorate for Theo.

We plan on buying Theo a new ornament every year for Christmas, and I want all of his ornaments displayed on his own tree. So far we have 4 ornaments for Theo–one given to me by a coworker before he was born, one given by the funeral home when we buried him, one given by our church, and the one we picked out for him this year. The tree I got this year is the perfect size for his ornaments, and as we collect more I will get larger trees to fit them.

I also picked up a few things at Target we’ve been needing: a couple new soap pumps, some command strips to hold pictures, and some soy wax melts to make the house smell good. I really should have learned my lesson by now about Target–Target is baby and pregnant women heaven and is a bad place to go on my tough days.

I put up most of our Christmas decorations on Thursday as well. I only have our main tree left to put up, and I’m not sure I feel like doing that this year. We’ll see.

Friday I went for a loooong walk around the neighborhood and made some plans for Theo’s party. I came up with a way to incorporate other children gone too soon, so I’ll be posting about that shortly.

I had plans to visit his tree but it rained almost non-stop since Thursday morning so I didn’t get the chance.

I still have a lot of texts and calls to return. I’m slowly making my way through them. Kenny and I appreciate all of them so much, but we’re taking our time responding. We haven’t forgotten about you.


Weird Feelings

I have a friend who faded out of my life after Theo died. I received a card from her, signed only with her name, and that was the first and last time I heard from her after Theo. I was hurt, but honestly I soon forgot as everyone else in our life stepped up for us in amazing ways. The few times I’ve thought of her over the last year, I figured she would come back into my life when she was ready. Our friendship may never be the same, but as I’m slowly learning, that’s ok. I need to accept people where they are, and not be disappointed in where I want them to be.

And then I had a dream about her a few nights ago. The majority of my dreams are crazy–think Inception type crazy–but this dream was different. It felt so realistic, and when I woke up, it took me a minute to realize it was a dream. Kenny and I were fixing cars in a large mechanic garage (this is not the realistic part–my knowledge of car repair is limited to knowing AAA’s number. Lol), when she and her husband came in. After we exchanged pleasantries, she asked me how I am really doing. And I went off on her. I spent like 10 minutes telling her how much she hurt me and how angry I was.

I then woke up.

I was truly surprised by this dream, over the past year I had no anger toward her. Hurt, yes, but nothing to the extent I had in my dream. Or at least, that’s what I thought. My dream made me pause and think that maybe there are some things I haven’t dealt with yet.

Fast forward to tonight. Kenny is getting ready to go to the grocery store and I start freaking out. I have this overwhelming feeling that he will die. I tell him to be careful, drive safe, that I love him and I want him to come back. I repeat this for about 5 minutes. He asks if he should stay. I say no, because rationally I know I can’t let my anxiety interfere with necessities like grocery shopping. He leaves.

While he is gone, the friend from the dream calls me. I stare at my phone in shock, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t answer right away because I immediately thought of my dream–was my dream warning me that the next time I would talk to her I would go off on her if I don’t deal with some things? And then I thought–if my dream came true, does this mean Kenny really will die tonight? So I didn’t answer, because I needed the phone to be free in case I got that dreaded call.

I started pacing around the living room, fretting about Kenny. I wanted to call or text him, but I didn’t want to distract him if he was driving. And then 7 minutes after the call from that friend, Kenny came home, safe and sound. I’ve never had a bigger sigh of relief.

I’ve heard many say the anticipating of certain dates (like the first birthday) are often worse than the day itself, and I’ve found that to be true for me so far too. I think these last few days before his birthday are really fucking with my head and increasing my anxiety. I’ve been sleeping more lately. This morning I slept in until almost 10 am, which is super unusual for me.

Fuller House season 2 aires on Netflix on December 9th. I turn on Netflix yesterday to distract myself with Friends, and I see their countdown to when Fuller House 2 will air. And all I can think is–now I know exactly how much time until Theo dies.

I have a dentist appointment tomorrow. I have to get some work done on a single tooth. My last cleaning was in September, and when the dentist told me I needed this work but that it had to wait until I was at least in the second tri, I freaked. I don’t like doing anything that isn’t safe to do for the entire pregnancy. But my dentist lost a child to development issues as well, so we had a good talk and my perinatologist signed off on this work and the meds she will use. My dentist even said I could try the procedure without medication, which I’m tempted to take her up on. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.


Kick counting app?

So I realize this is a weird place to make this request, but I don’t feel like sifting through app reviews and googling seems like a bad idea.

Can anyone recommend a good kick counting app? I am looking for one where I can log individual kicks and not just sessions. I would also like to be able to see patterns, and be able to compare one day’s data to another. I want to be able to determine what is normal for Steam Bun, instead of just going by the 10 kicks/2 hours rule.

And not a requirement, but I would prefer an app that does not provide updates on how Steam Bun is developing and what’s going on in the pregnancy week by week. I hate those updates, they are borderline triggery for me. But if the best app provides those updates I’ll deal with it.

I have an iPhone if it matters.

Thank you!