Holding Our Angel

Loving After Loss


Leave a comment

Seeing a baby

**TW: Living child (not mine)**

I’ve been spending the last few days mostly denying that we are nearing Steam Bun’s birth. Staying busy certainly helps, I’ve been completing surveys online for cash. I wasn’t planning on doing this, but it fills the time and extra cash is never a bad thing. Lol. A couple of the surveys have been on Trump’s administration, and I have thoroughly enjoyed filling those out. 😀

We visited a friend who recently had their second child, a girl. She is their rainbow, their oldest passed away shortly after Theo died. We met them through church, and they are so amazing and sweet. They’ve been very supportive of us, they and their parents both attended Theo’s birthday party. We are so grateful their baby girl is healthy and home safe and sound. I was so anxious for them leading up to her birth (as I am for all of my loss friends expecting another child), so learning she was born alive and well was a huge relief.

We dropped off dinner and some snacks, and a toy for their daughter. We talked about what those first few days with a living child are like, how bonding is going, etc. It’s so nice to have loss friends to talk about these things with. I know I can’t predict what I will feel, but I like talking to/reading blogs of other loss parents and getting as many different perspectives I can. No one has the same experience or handles it the same way, and hearing everyone talk about what it is like for them is very helpful. I feel like I’m going in a little prepared, even though I don’t think I can truly prepare myself for what it will be like.

They asked us if we wanted to hold the baby, and Kenny accepted. Their baby was the first one Kenny has held since Theo, and it was heartbreaking and heartwarming seeing him hold a baby. Because we only saw Theo while he was on machines, we never got to hold like you normally would hold a baby. We only got to hold him on our laps. Seeing Kenny hold a living baby, one that isn’t ours, cut my heart so deep. I couldn’t look at him too long, I really wanted the first time I see Kenny holding a living baby to be him holding one of ours. But he and I grieve very differently and if he felt holding a living baby would help him, then I’m (begrudgingly) glad he did.

I refused, I just couldn’t hold someone else’s baby before I hold a living child of my own. As I expected, they were completely understanding and did not take offense or push me. This was also the longest I’ve been around a baby since Theo died, and it wasn’t as hard as it normally is. It actually wasn’t hard for me at all, I liked being around her even though I wasn’t ready to hold her. I’m pretty sure this has to do with the fact that they’ve lost a child too, so there wasn’t that pressure to coo over the baby and act super excited and happy.


2 Comments

It’s complicated

I took a short break from blogging because I needed to reevaluate if being so open about grief and child loss was still helping me. I think being honest and real about these topics is so important, but it also has some challenges and I wanted to make sure there were still enough benefits for me. Especially as we near Steam Bun’s birth, I expect there to be so many emotions if he lives. I can’t predict what I’ll feel, but I am prepared to face whatever I am feeling head on. That will make some people uncomfortable, because the truth and life can be uncomfortable, and I needed to make sure I was up for dealing with that.

Kenny and I have gotten very specific in our prayers over Steam Bun. We prayed every day for Theo, always asking God to watch over him and keep him safe. Which, technically God is doing, but so not what we meant (obviously). So now when we pray fro Steam Bun we say things like “Please let Steam Bun continue to develop properly, be born alive and screaming, and be born healthy. Please make sure his worst illness isn’t something over-the-counter medicine can’t fix, and make sure he lives on Earth for at least 60 years, dying only after we die. And make sure we don’t die until we are at least 60 years old, and only if we die together”. I used to also throw in something about not going into premature labor, but I’m not as worried about that now. It’s still hard to trust that God will answer our prayers regarding Steam Bun, and I think I’ll be struggling with that for awhile, even if Steam Bun is born healthy.

So I’m on maternity leave now, at the end of my second week actually. It feels like it has been forever already! I’m already ahead of my schedule in terms of completing projects, apparently I work more quickly than I realize (when I want to, lol). Kenny teaches at a university part-time, so I volunteered to do all of his grading and everything for the rest of the semester. Gives me another project to focus on. Lol.

My first project was to remove the koala decal from the nursery and put up the new decal I bought for Steam Bun. It unbelievably sucked to take down Theo’s decal. I cried for most of that, I felt like I was giving up on Theo in a weird way. And there’s no graceful way of removing a decal that size, so many of the koalas and parts of the tree ripped as I was removing them, which made me feel worse. It’s just awful to have to change your child’s room because they died, even if it is to potentially welcome another one home.

Putting up Steam Bun’s decal (owls in birch trees), was easier on me and fun, but part of me thought, “This is going to be a huge pain in the ass to remove if he doesn’t live”. This actually made me laugh, as I remembered Kenny commenting that the koala decal would be a pain to remove when Theo decided he no longer liked koalas. And it just seemed so morbidly funny to be making almost the same comment, a year and a half apart, and yet the comments be so very different.

Putting together Steam Bun’s nursery has such a different feel than when I did it for Theo. With Theo, there was no doubt he would come home. We were past the “safe point” in the pregnancy and naively thought a healthy baby was a given at that point. We naively believed healthy pregnancies end with a healthy baby, that SIDS and childhood cancer were the only threats we faced. And those were things that happened to “other people”.

Now it’s a weird tug and pull, torn between wanting to prepare and be excited for this baby, but knowing that every additional thing I do is just one more thing I’ll have to undo if he doesn’t live. I think we’ll have to move if Steam Bun doesn’t come home. And preparing for Steam Bun has brought up new aspects of grief I didn’t know before. I mourn the rose-colored glasses I used to have regarding pregnancy, but mostly I mourn what Steam Bun is missing out on. As I change the nursery, I’m keenly aware that it’s not changing how it’s supposed to be changing.

At this point in my alternate life (the one in which Theo lives), we would be debating if we should even bother with buying Steam Bun a crib. After all, both the boys would have to share a room and we would eventually need to buy a bunk bed. Would we try to move Theo to a bunk bed now, and let Steam Bun use his crib? Would we keep Steam Bun in our room for as long as possible, to let Theo keep his crib for as long as possible? Would we use this opportunity to change the theme of the boys’ room to a more typical boy theme, like superheroes or dinosaurs?

I’ll never know the answers to these questions.

Instead of talking about how to prepare Theo for having a younger brother and sharing the spotlight, we talk about the best way to tell a younger sibling their older sibling is dead, and when. We talk about if we think Steam Bun will grieve because he sees us grieving, and if that is healthy or not. Instead of learning to prepare an older sibling for a baby, we talk to loss parents about how they deal with handling their grief while parenting a living child.

Steam Bun will never have the older brother he should have. He won’t have an older brother to torment him, play with him, protect him. I’ll never be able to say “go play with your brother” unless I want Steam Bun to play with Theo bear, or an imaginary Theo. And though it’s normal for kids to have imaginary friends, what if Steam Bun says his imaginary friend is Theo?? I realize I’m getting ahead of myself here, but is it normal for a kid to have their deceased older sibling as their imaginary friend? These are the things I think about.

Last weekend we were hanging out at a friend’s backyard and I got so many mosquito bites. It was a last minute thing and I forgot to put on bug spray, not that it helps me much as I am candy to mosquitos. Every time I get a mosquito bite, the bite welts and I will get hives if I scratch it. I wasn’t sure what I’m allowed to use for the bites while pregnant, so I called my doctor to double check. She also gave me a list of symptoms to watch out for (for West Nile Virus, etc.). I was not at all concerned about the bites until then, and now I’m paranoid. Lol. I’ve managed to resist googling WNV + pregnancy so far, hopefully I can keep holding out.

I had appointments with the fire department this week to have the car seat checked in both of our cars. It’s strange driving around with the car seat base in my car again. The car seat itself is in the closet, and there it will remain until we leave for the hospital. But it’s still strange, opening up the door to the back seat and seeing a car seat base. As I walk past cars, I peer in and see if they have car seats or other signs of kids in the car. I wonder what their family is like–have they lost a child? Was the road to the family they have an easy one? I wonder if people will walk past my car and see the car seat base and think the same thing. (This sounds creepier than it is: I’m not going up to each car and sticking my face against the window. Lol. I just glance in as I am walking by.)

I’ve been meticulously saving the receipts and boxes for everything I’ve bought for Steam Bun. Last time, I threw out all the boxes right away and saved receipts for only the big items or the things I wasn’t sure would work. Now I’m saving receipts for even the nightlight I bought, with all of the boxes piled up in the hall closet.

Grief, pregnancy hormones, and loss brain are a dangerous combination. It’s exhausting dealing with all of this honestly. Though I am not wishing for a preemie, I’ll be so grateful when this pregnancy is over. I think Kenny’s looking forward to it being over too. 😉

Since I know I’m having a c-section this time, I’ve been doing research on c-section recovery. My postpartum care last time was definitely lacking, and that can only be partially blamed on me discharging myself against medical advice from the hospital. At my 4-6 week postpartum appointment, I was cleared for exercising and when I asked what kind of exercises were safe to do all I was told was “go slow”. Fortunately, I soon found a loss mom who is also a personal trainer, and she was able to give me really good information on how to safely return to exercise after a c-section. I’ll also be trying a belly binder this time, which I did not know about after my last c-section.

I’ve been off facebook for a few weeks and it’s been so refreshing! I did sneak on to Kenny’s facebook and immediately regretted it. My anxiety and PTSD were immediately triggered, and this only confirmed facebook is no good for me. There is one thing I miss though, a small facebook group of loss moms that focused on mental and physical health after loss. Having that community for support in dealing with PTSD, body image after loss, etc. was so great and I miss it. The loss community is truly like no other. Maybe I’ll try to start something like that locally after Steam Bun’s birth.

This upcoming week I’ll be working on Steam Bun’s baby book. I’m so conflicted about this one. Ugh.


2 Comments

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.


1 Comment

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.


4 Comments

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. ❤


Leave a comment

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.


5 Comments

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.)


1 Comment

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.


1 Comment

Theo’s Party and Steam Bun *U/S pic in post*

p1030097The belated birthday party we threw for Theo went really well! We ended up raising $1,867 for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital!

I am so glad we had the party. We had a lot of fun, and it was so good to see our friends gathered celebrating Theo. Such a good reminder that they still love and think about Theo.

The color s of the party were yellow and gray, Theo’s nursery colors. I had an p1030098Italian soda station, a hot chocolate station, and an Italian restaurant did the catering. The cake was from Costco, and I picked a baseball theme cake as I know Kenny was so looking forward to teaching Theo baseball. We played board games and held a raffle and had a photo backdrop set up for pictures. The backdrop was the only thing that incorporated Steam Bun into the party–I made it out of yellow, gray, and navy blue tulle. Gray and navy blue are Steam Bun’s nursery colors. The backdrop is of both my boys.

I brought Theo bear to the party, and everyone sang happy birthday to Theo while Kenny and I were holding Theo bear. I almost cried at this point, but that was the only time during the party I was sad. A friend and loss mom asked if they could take a picture with Theo bear, which just melted my heart.

p1030100I’m also so relieved we waited to have this party. If we had pushed ourselves to do it around his actual birthday, I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself. But I had fun, even though it was 2.5 months after his actual birthday. I see a lot of loss moms doing wonderful things in memory of their children–fundraisers, RAK, etc. and sometimes I’ve wondered why I “wasn’t there” yet. Especially as a Christian–shouldn’t I be pushing myself to help others in honor of Theo? This party helped me realize that I have to go at my own pace, and I’m so, so glad I didn’t push myself to do this fundraiser before. I think I would have felt a little bitter and resentful if I had done it earlier, and that would do p1030104nobody any good. (Not a criticism of those who do these things right away, just sorting out some feelings of guilt I had on not doing that earlier.)

On Sunday we had the 3D/HD ultrasound of Steam Bun. He looks so much like Theo and Kenny. Just like everything else, it’s both a good and bad thing. I love feeling like I was looking at Theo when I saw Steam Bun, and that they will have that connection. But I also felt some pain, it’s a reminder of what I won’t get with Theo and a small part of me worried that I won’t be able to separate the two in the future.

Steam Bun was being his usual stubborn self and we couldn’t get any photos of him without the cord in his face. He was chewing (well, not chewing since he doesn’t have teeth but chomping? sucking?) on the cord and playing with it, and that freaked me out. It was both cute and made me laugh, but also concerning to me. I asked the tech if she could see if the cord was wrapped around his neck, and she said she wasn’t allowed to confirm anything like that as that is classified as diagnostic but that she would try to get me a good look at his neck so I could see for myself. Fortunately Steam Bun soon moved his head around, and I could see his neck was fine. We saw Steam Bun moving a lot. He also had his feet in his face for a little bit, and his wrinkly feet looked so much like Theo’s. We go back in a week and a half to try to get better photos.

img_20170226_1_14


2 Comments

It’s the little things

A couple of months ago I read Always Within: Grieving the Loss of Your InfantIt’s a collection of stories about pregnancy and child loss.

There was one story that really stood out to me, it was by a woman who buried all 4 of her children (her oldest two were killed in a car accident when they were a few years old, and then she had twins who were stillborn). Her whole story was incredible, but she had one quote that really stood out to me:

Just the other day we got our house painted. That’s good, most people would say. No, it was not good. Do you know that all the fingerprints my children left on the walls were painted over?

This quote resonated with me so much, there are so many little aspects to child loss that hit me randomly. Things I never expected to hurt.

Last year, our taxes were difficult to do. Theo was born alive so we were able to claim him on our taxes as a dependent. I didn’t care about getting the tax break, but being able to claim him as a dependent meant SO much to me. He got a SSN, a birth and death certificate. They mean everything to me because it’s proof that he was here. I don’t have a child in my arms to prove I am a mother, so I hold onto as many tangible things as I can that prove he is my son. And being able to say on my taxes I had a son, a dependent, felt like a small validation.

This year we can’t claim Theo as a dependent. He was not alive at all in 2016, so according to our government he is no longer my dependent. I mean, I get it from a purely tax perspective. But it cuts like a knife to know that this year we can’t say Theo is ours. I’ve been putting off taxes for a couple of weeks, but we really need to do them this week and it just sucks to say we have no dependents when we have a child already.