Holding Our Angel

Loving After Loss


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Maternity photos

We did our maternity photos this weekend and it was a lot of fun. The same photographer did our maternity photos from when I was pregnant with Theo.

When I emailed her several weeks ago, she was so sweet about hearing Theo died. And then this weekend, when Kenny and I arrived at the park for our photos, she came up to us and said “There’s nothing I can say, so I’m just going to give you a big hug”, and did just that.

She spent the session alternating asking us questions about Theo and Steam Bun, which I loved. I really felt liked she cared about our whole family, not just a part of it. At the end of the session, she asked me what kind of support we’ve received that was NOT helpful for us. I was a little surprised by her question, very few have asked us that, but thought it was a great question to ask. I wish more would ask that question, honestly.

We included our Theo bear in a lot of the photos, and I can’t wait to see how they turn out. I really hope that this time, we can use her for newborn photos.

I’ll be on maternity leave soon, and have been creating a list of everything I want to do on leave. Then I also planned out every day of my leave (minus weekends) and assigned the various projects to those days. Lol. I’ve given myself probably 4-5 hours of “work” to do each day. The rest of my time will probably be spent reading books (both baby related and not) and watching Netflix. I think I’ve given myself enough things to do so that I don’t feel like I’m just going to be in my head all day, but also haven’t overextended myself. This is also just for my leave before Steam Bun arrives. I’m scared to think about my leave after Steam Bun arrives, both for if he lives and if he doesn’t. It’s hard to imagine a maternity leave with a living baby, and yet I don’t want to think about spending another maternity leave without a living baby.


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Monday Randoms

I have a couple of hummingbird feeders in our backyard. I took them down during the winter, with all of the rain and storms we were getting. I just put them back up a week ago. Almost immediately, the hummingbirds returned (there’s one using the feeder right now actually). Having them back is so nice, and seeing them brought a brief smile to my face. And then I remembered: Theo will never see this. I should be showing Theo the hummingbirds. I would probably have to shush him, so he wouldn’t scare them away. He would probably want to be taken outside so he could chase the hummingbirds and try to catch one. He’ll never experience this, and I’ll never experience watching him discover more of this world. I’ll never see him get excited about bugs or nature or jumping in puddles. I hopefully will get to experience this with Steam Bun, and I’ll be so happy if I do, but it won’t be enough. I don’t mean that to sound awful–we love Steam Bun just as much as we love Theo, but instead of experiencing two of everything like I should, I may only get to experience one.

As I type this, I’m listening to the neighborhood kids playing outside. They’re mostly boys, doing boy things. And Theo will never be joining them in their play.

Last week was my birthday. My birthday last year was awful. It was my first birthday after Theo died, and the last thing I wanted was for it to be acknowledged. Having my birthday come around felt like a huge slap in the face; I was getting older and “celebrating” my birthday when Theo never will. He will forever be just 30 hours old. I got to work early that day because I wanted to take down any birthday decorations my coworkers had put on my desk. Not out of spite, but because I knew there was no way I would be able to spend the day staring at birthday decorations. Fortunately, it turns out my coworkers had forgotten my birthday, which they felt terrible about but I was so, so, so happy for it to be forgotten.

This year wasn’t as bad. It still sucked, but I wasn’t as against having my birthday acknowledged. I wasn’t super eager for it to be celebrated, but I was more numb to the pain of having my birthday when Theo would never. I only got a few calls and texts this year, which I was relieved about. I don’t care if people forgot or psychically figured out I was hesitant about my birthday being recognized, either way I’m happy for the lack of hoopla. This weekend I did have a few people over for a “party”. It wasn’t really a birthday party, but more like a “let’s hang out this weekend, and oh by the way my birthday was a few days ago”.

I feel like the clock reset on my birthdays after Theo died. I turned 1 last year, and 2 this year, instead of my actual age. All time has been reset after Theo died.

Today I had lunch with the rep for one of our vendors at work. I got to put into practice my new rule of trying to let go of stupid and hurtful comments from people who don’t matter to me. I think I did pretty well, her comments stung but I tried to move on from them. She also tried to touch my belly which is just so inappropriate in general–even if Theo had lived, no way in hell would I be comfortable with her touching my belly. I won’t be seeing her again for a long time, and ultimately she doesn’t matter in my life. She’s not someone I’m close to or someone’s whose advice I seek out, so her opinions of my family don’t matter.

**Trigger warning**

I had a doctor’s appointment today. This wasn’t a standard one, but rather a “I’m feeling paranoid and need everything to be checked out” appointment. Last weekend I went to L&D again, this time for decreased movements. So I made an appointment for today because I just had to have Steam Bun looked at again. Fortunately, he was fine last week and is still doing fine. The comments of “you look so tiny!” are still really hard to deal with, it’s hard to hear when you have a child who died of developmental issues, because my mind immediately goes there when I hear these things.

The back pain and RLP was so bad today I wanted to cry. I don’t want to walk for the rest of the pregnancy. Rolling over in bed hurts and getting out of bed hurts, I just want to lie down and not move until Steam Bun’s arrival. Hopefully tomorrow the pain will be better.


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Getting to know me

So apparently I’ve been nominated by my wonderful friend Randi for the “Getting to know you” award! Randi is an amazing mom, woman, and friend, and has been there for me through the hardest thing life can throw at you. Though I wish we had met in any other way, I am so glad we’ve become friends! ❤

Who are you named after?

I’m pretty sure I’m named after Cassandra Peterson, who played Elvira. My (former) middle name is the name of a popular allergy medication, and there was a time I tried to have everyone call me by that name instead of Cassie, but it never caught on. I feel like Cassie fits me better now so that’s good.

Do you like your handwriting?

Sometimes, when I am actually taking the time to write neatly, then I like my handwriting. But when I’m writing notes during meetings as fast as I can? I’m lucky if I can read my writing, let alone like it.

What is your favorite lunch meat?

Haha, I had to laugh at Christine’s and Randi’s responses to this question, as that is a big part of why I am a vegetarian. So I’ll go with eggplant.

Longest relationship?

I joke with Kenny that my longest relationship has actually been with myself as a vegetarian–over 7 years now! But longest real relationship would be with Kenny. In July we will celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary and our 6th dating anniversary.

Do you still have your tonsils?

Yes, and I get sore throats all the time. I kind of wish I had them out when I was a kid.

Would you bungee jump?

HAHAHAHAHA.

No. I couldn’t even finish the ziplining course, no way I am bungee jumping.

Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?

No. I untie them when I have to put them back on though.

Favorite ice cream?

Oooh, this is a toughy. French vanilla is one of my favorites, but so is anything with Oreos.

What is the first thing you notice about people?

Their eyes. I think you can tell a lot about a person by their eyes.

Football or baseball?

Neither, I find both boring. I’ll go to the occasional game as being in the stadium with all of the fans is fun, but I hate watching them on TV. Kenny loves baseball and (fantasy) football, so I know way more about these sports than I actually want to.

What color pants are you wearing?

Currently, none. Pants are overrated.

Last thing you ate?

Homemade veggie sushi. Yum.

If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

Some shade of dark green, green is my favorite color.

Favorite smell?

Another tough one. Rain, a fire, Kenny’s cologne, and the smell of something baking or cooking.

Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone?

Kenny. I was grocery shopping and called him to ask what kind of chicken I should get him.

Hair color?

Dirty blonde. I want to dye it with henna (I am allergic to regular hair dye), but I don’t like the permanence of henna.

Eye color?

Brown

Favorite foods to eat?

Anything with pasta. I love pasta.

Scary movies or happy endings?

I used to love scary movies (especially psychological thrillers), but now I will only see movies that are happy. I need that escape from reality.

Last movie you watched?

How to Train Your Pet Dragon

Favorite holiday?

Blah.

Beer or wine?

Wine, but I did have this amazing cabernet sauvignon beer. It was a limited edition run by a local brewery and it was soooo good. I was so sad to learn that it was a one-time thing, it was the best of both a wine and a beer.

Night owl or early bird?

I used to be an early bird, but since Theo died I’m becoming more and more a night owl.

Favorite day of the week?

Friday

Favorite quote?

“To love another person is to see the face of God” from the musical Les Miserables.

Nominations?

As the majority of blogs I read are also by loss parents, I am nominating Crystal at Living Through Our Loss. I love her kindness and sincerity, and her perspective while still being honest. She has been so kind and helpful to me, and is an amazing mom and woman. ❤


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Defending grief

Something I’ve realized in short bursts the last few weeks was pounded into my head this weekend.

Our church did a sermon on conflict and how to resolve conflict properly. It was a good service overall, but one point really got me. The pastor said to ask yourself one question before you bring up an issue with someone: am I upset about this because this is a genuine/important issue, or am I upset because my ego is bruised? Basically, pick your battles.

And that got me thinking…how much energy do I spend defending my grief to people who don’t matter? How much time and thought and words and actions have I spent on making sure the person who said something stupid to me knows my grief and feelings are valid? So what if the store clerk thinks my feelings aren’t valid, just because they think that doesn’t make it true. I know my feelings are valid and that’s all that matters.

So I resolved that I am going to do my best to not care what strangers say about my grief. If someone who is active in my life unintentionally says something hurtful, I will let them know why it hurt and how I would like them to respond next time. And I truly know that with people close to me, if they do say something hurtful, it really wasn’t intentional–they were saying what they thought I needed to hear. And I think they would be open to me saying that didn’t work for me, here’s what I would actually find helpful.

Strangers or people who are acquaintances at best, their thoughts do not matter. I will do my best to let their comments roll off my back. I don’t doubt that some comments will still sting, with something as intimate and raw my child’s life and death, I would be lying if I said their comments will never hurt. But it’s ok for me to feel hurt at their comments and move on. I don’t need to let them know they are wrong or how they have hurt me–I don’t have to waste my energy defending myself to them. I have nothing to prove to them.

I think this will help me talk about Theo with strangers. There have been times I’ve stayed silent about Theo because I was scared of someone’s response, and I don’t need to be scared of that. Someone’s reaction to my grief isn’t my responsibility–if they have a poor reaction, that’s a reflection of them. It’s not a reflection of me, and most importantly, it’s not a reflection of Theo.

They can’t hurt Theo or his memory.


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Social media and grief

I wrote this huge, very long and rambling post about what effect I think social media has made on my grief, debating whether or not to keep my facebook and instagram.

At the end of it, I was crying over one point: the number of photos I have of Theo will never increase. Never. I will always be sharing the same photos of Theo until the day I die. And that convinced me I needed to get rid of facebook. I’m keeping instagram though.

I realize that may not make a lot of sense, but trust me when I say this version is about 1,000 times more straightforward than my original mess of a post. Lol. Basically, even though I found a couple of facebook groups very helpful in my grief, I no longer find those benefits outweigh the overall negative effects of facebook on my grief. I don’t feel that instagram has as much of a negative impact on my grief, so I’m keeping it.

Maybe later I’ll be able to write more clearly how social media has played both a positive and negative role in my grief.

(Fun fact: I had to look up affect vs. effect, and I’m still not completely sure I used the correct word.)


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Prepping for a living child

Is terrifying and exciting. It feels like we’re jinxing ourselves–like how dare we be so presumptuous to assume we will have a living, healthy baby at the end of this. And the more we prep, the more we’ll have to undo if he doesn’t live. But at the same time, if we don’t, it’s like we’re admitting defeat before the results are in. Either way just sucks for us.

Thursday we bought the car seat and stroller. We went to Buy Buy Baby, which is a PTSD minefield. The last time we were there was when we returned Theo’s car seat and stroller a couple of weeks after he died. Going there to buy the car seat and stroller felt like we were forgetting about Theo. It sucked so much, but I didn’t start crying until we were back in the car. Fortunately, since we went on a Thursday night, there were few people in the store and we were able to get in and out in about 15 minutes. We bought a different brand than we did for Theo, as buying the same would have felt so wrong. We opted to buy these from the store instead of Amazon as I wanted to “test drive” the stroller I picked out.

The strollers were located right next to the section of baby and pregnancy keepsakes (like the monthly chalkboards, etc.). and it sucked so much to walk past all of that. I had planned out the monthly photos we would take to show how Theo was growing. But what do I actually take monthly photos of? A tree. And it will forever just be a tree. Last night brought up a lot of emotions. Our first time in BBB we were creating the registry for Theo and we were so excited, we had a lot of fun looking at everything and pointing out all the weird pregnancy and baby things they sell. This time, it was like we were keeping our heads down to avoid seeing everything around us.

I bought the wall decal for Steam Bun’s room, and even managed to bring in the decor items we bought from IKEA about a month ago (maybe longer?). They’ve been sitting in the trunk of our car since we bought them, but they are now in the house. In a couple of weeks I’ll buy the baby monitor and the rest of the nursery decor. I’m really torn on when I should start removing Theo’s decal and installing Steam Bun’s. I want to wait until I’m on leave…but it’s a little physically intensive taking down/putting up a floor-to-ceiling wall decal and I’m not sure how much physical activity I want to do when I’m that far along. Blergh. Ultimately I’ll be putting Theo’s decal on one of the walls of the playroom/library, but I’m not sure when I’ll get to that.

I’m going on maternity leave soon, and was talking with a coworker about a few things she’ll handle while I’m gone. She commented “I’m so jealous of you! You will get a few weeks of peace and quiet, all to yourself. Must be nice!”.

Though I know she didn’t mean it this way, all I could think was “Yeah, my life is awesome. My house is deafeningly quiet because my oldest is dead. Who wouldn’t be jealous of me?”. I didn’t reply to her remark, just directed the conversation back to preparing her for my leave.

I’m looking forward to maternity leave because it’s a break from work, and I know I am getting burnt out. But at the same time, I am also dreading it. I will be home all day by myself, with no Theo to look after and enjoy, in a quiet house and little to do. I feel like I should reread those infant care/development books we have, as I’m fairly certain I’ve forgotten everything I learned before Theo was born about what medicines babies need, etc. I’m creating a list of everything I should do while on leave, but I have maybe two weeks’ worth of tasks to keep me busy. The rest of the time it will just be me and my thoughts…

And in other work news, the pregnant coworker who had the baby shower last week is apparently 38 weeks pregnant. I know this, not because I asked her, but because a different coworker sought me out to tell me she ran into pregnant coworker in the bathroom and pregnant coworker looks like she’s going to pop! She’s so big, and she’s got that pregnant waddle, it’s so funny!

I just stared at this coworker and walked away. I’m sure when pregnant coworker has her kid, an email will go out to everyone with a picture and the baby stats. Unfortunately, I will not be gone by that point, so I’ll be having to deal with those emails. I’m surprised the baby pool emails have started yet, usually by this point someone starts a pool for everyone to place bets on the baby’s size, birthdate, etc. (Or, maybe the pool has started but they’ve left me off the emails? That would be nice!)

Blah.