Holding Our Angel

Loving After Loss


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It is finished

I have finished going through all of Theo’s things and taking pictures of them.

I’m not going to lie, it was hard. It really sucked. All of those little memories I thought I had forgotten or blocked out came flooding back. The things I had forgotten we had. The things I thought we had but couldn’t find, and I’m going crazy wondering if we ever had it at all.  As I took pictures of everything, I packed most of it away nicely. That was so tough, it made it feel so final that Theo won’t be using what we bought or were given. It’s so hard to see his room not looking like a finished room now. His room was perfect and so much fun, but it looks unfinished with everything packed into the closet.

And then there’s all of the cute things he should have used or worn. I cried while taking most of the pictures. And I’ll probably cry while I finish his baby book. Because I shouldn’t be finishing his baby book this way, with a glass of wine and awkwardly leaning away from my computer so I don’t get my tears on it. I should have been finishing his baby book months ago, awkwardly trying to use my computer while nursing or rocking him to sleep. And most of all, including pictures of what is his with him in the photos.

But.

I’m so glad I did it. Because before the pain hit, those memories and things brought a fleeting smile to my face and a small amount of happiness. I remembered things I thought I had forgotten, and I’m so grateful I remembered them. The little moments and jokes are just as much a part of his story as the big moments. Like the fact we got 5 mustache pacifiers at our baby shower from 5 different people. Or the fact that someone sent us a bassinet but it was sent directly from the store and the store never put who it was from on the box. (Side note: if you gave us the bassinet/rocker and didn’t receive a thank you note, that’s why. Let me know who you are and I will gladly thank you!) As I packed things away, I also saved a few things to put around the house.

The recliner we were given by a friend is now the library/upstairs family room. I know I won’t be comfortable reusing the recliner for possible future children, so might as well move it now. Some word art we were given I moved into different rooms. I don’t want his room or stuff to feel like a shrine we can’t touch. I want to incorporate his stuff into the rest of the house, so he can be seen and a part of everything. It’s unbelievably crappy this is my best option, but it is.

I know there will be a day–whether it’s months, years, or decades from now I don’t know–that I will be able to look back on these memories and pictures and feel happiness more than other emotion.

His death was a tragedy, but he was a blessing. For now the tragedy might outweigh the blessing, but I know that won’t always be the case. The sorrow won’t go away completely, but one day it won’t overshadow everything else.


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Only a Loss Mom

Things I only do because I am a loss mom:

  1. Google and search Pinterest for the phrases: “honoring lost children at Christmas”, “Christmas children memorial”, “honoring the dead at Christmas”, etc.
  2. Create a separate Pinterest account for when I am in the headspace to look at cute family photos and all things baby, so my regular Pinterest is as kid-free as possible.
  3. Have more books on being a grieving parent than on parenting.
  4. Add books to my Amazon wishlist on how to teach my subsequent living children about the sibling(s) they will never meet.
  5. Don’t buy said books before I have a living child for fear of jinxing myself.
  6. Always qualify when I am talking about living children or not.
  7. Speak in hypotheticals when it comes to children.
  8. Forever will be in two places at once, and knows better than anyone how you can experience such deep sorrow at the same time as joy.
  9. Have more items that symbolize my child than my child actually used.
  10. Have to go to a gravesite to be physically near my child.
  11. Wonder what I should call the day he died. 
  12. Made a promise to myself that the first baby or child I hold after losing Theo will be one of my own. Don’t be insulted if I refuse to hold your child, just know that I need to hold a child of mine before someone else’s. 


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Faith

I have written, deleted, and rewrote this post so many times.

My faith is very important to me, and it has deepened since losing Theo. But I have also wrestled with my faith too.

It’s hard not to feel like I’m being punished. That I did something truly heinous in a past life and I’m paying for it now. Why else would my baby die when thousands and thousands of healthy babies are born to horrible people all the time? I must be more horrible than them.

But I know that’s not true. God isn’t punishing me, He doesn’t think I am undeserving of a child. He loves me, and you, so much.

But it’s easy to feel left behind and forgotten.

I asked God a lot in the beginning “why?”. Why did my baby die, why didn’t he save Theo’s physical life, why, why, why? And a month ago, I realized I needed to stop asking why.

It’s because I truly don’t want to know. I don’t want God to answer that question. There may or may not be a reason, I don’t know, but the truth is I can’t handle there being a reason. To know that there is a reason for a child to die, and for it to make sense, would completely shatter me. I can’t function being in a world where a child dying makes sense.

So I stopped asking God why; I hope he never answers that question. At least, I’m doing my best to not ask that question. It sneaks in sometimes, when I see wonderful people struggling to get pregnant or I hear about someone abusing or killing their own child. But when I start to wonder, I push that out of my mind. I remind myself I don’t really want to know why.

I pray every night still that God will either raise Theo from the dead, or wake me from this nightmare. And in the next breath, I ask God to give me the strength to continue if that first prayer isn’t answered.

Losing Theo has been a real test of trusting God, especially with everything we went through with the genetic results (which now feels like a million years ago). I can say it’s easier for me to trust God now than before we lost Theo, but it’s still a struggle. Knowing that in the end I have little control over the health of my potential future child is so difficult for me to come to terms with. I struggle with and pray about it daily. I pray every day we will have a healthy child who outlives us (and that we live past retirement). I don’t know if it will happen, and that unknown scares me. So I do my best to trust God will carry us through whatever life throws at us, good or bad.

Though I have struggled with God, I feel much closer to him now. He’s been there to hear every emotion I have, whether good or bad. I’ve screamed at him, cried and laughed during prayer. I feel like God gets my pain, and is carrying me through this grief. God is as heartbroken over Theo’s death as I am.

 


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They’re everywhere…

I think we’re in a baby boom or something because I see babies everywhere. 

And if there are no kids present, people are talking about their kids. Usually when I have no option to escape. 

I have to go to the grocery store after work, which I am really dreading. There’s a reason I go shopping at 7 am on Saturday–no pregnant women or babies. 

Moments like this I wish I had a private island or remote cabin I could escape to. Just for a few days, just long enough to rebuild my emotional strength to face the world again. 

I never noticed how much our society places an emphasis on babies and kids until now. 


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Being Defined

I think it’s safe to say I define myself as a mom. And a large chunk of my identity is as a loss-mom.

But I don’t always want to be defined as a loss-mom.

I posted in a scrapbook group I’m a part of pictures of a few layouts I made for Theo’s baby book. Because he’s hooked up to life support in the photos, I briefly mentioned he died so I wouldn’t have to answer 100 times “Is he ok?”. There were a lot of comments commenting on the layouts themselves, and several commenting on how handsome Theo is. Normal comments that a parent of a child who did not die would have received.

And there were also a lot of comments stating how sorry they are for my loss, and unfortunately a few sharing their stories of lost children. The outpouring of love from complete strangers truly touched me.

But it bugs me how I can’t talk about Theo like a “normal” mom. I can’t make small-talk about Theo with non-loss parents without the sympathy looks. I can’t talk about Theo to strangers without the inevitable coming up: he died. And once that comes up…it all changes. I’m out of their club and into a different club no one wants to acknowledge (except those of us in it).

I ran into a former coworker today and she asked to see a picture of Theo. I happily showed her and she asked who he looked like more. We chatted like that for a couple of minutes. It felt so normal, like what a non-loss mom would get to talk about. It felt so good. And then she noticed that the picture was on instagram and that the caption said “Happy 3 months birthday!”.  She commented that it’s been longer than that, and I said yes. I was about to say I could find a more recent picture of Theo and then I realized.

I can’t.

I will never have more recent photos of Theo. I’ll only have my same stories to tell about Theo, the same facts to spout off. Only guesses at where he would be developmentally right now; I can’t tell non-loss parents that I think he would be crawling like crazy and chasing the cats now…because they’ll give me “those” looks.


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Loss Brain

Can I just say how much loss brain sucks?

I’m walking this fine line between taking control of things I have control over, but not trying to control everything. Because I can’t control everything (and that is unbelievably frustrating).

We’re making healthy changes to our lifestyle that will (hopefully) help our next child develop correctly, but have the added bonus of making us healthier.

It’s hard to not second guess every decision I make, wondering if it will have an impact on my future child. Am I eating enough? Too much? Am I getting enough vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients? Am I getting too much? What about my water intake, my activity level, do I have too much BPA in my life, is it safe to fly…

The list goes on.

It drives me crazy sometimes, but I’m lucky that I have amazing women in my life who keep me sane.

There are a million million things I can’t control in my life. And that’s ok. I’m doing the best I can, with the information and resources I have. I’m letting love and hope guide my choices.

I repeat that to myself so many times a day.

Fear                                                                                           love


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It’s 6 o’clock somewhere…

Well, it is 6 pm and no word from the geneticist today.

I’m slightly annoyed, but mostly worried. This is actually unlike her to not respond to us–normally she is great about getting back to us right away.

She was supposed to call this morning, and when I hadn’t heard by 2:30 I emailed her. Actually, I emailed at 2:15 even though I was trying to wait until 2:30 (the patience thing is still a work in process). No response or call. I’m going to email again tomorrow around noon and see what’s going on.

This has me worried our results aren’t good, and they found anomalies with our genes, but I’m trying really hard to not think like that. I need to hold onto the hope–that this delay in her getting back to us probably has nothing to do with us and our results are good. That we’ll be able to conceive naturally without a high chance of this happening again.

Just hurry up and wait. Motto of the last 6 months.