Sunday, August 2, 2015

In October

*This post is about pregnancy after loss.* 

Tomorrow I am 28 weeks pregnant with Ramona's little sister.  Third trimester.  Hopefully in two months we'll bring her home alive.  We are happy and relieved as another pregnancy wasn't looking too promising after eight months of trying, six of those with an RE.

I love this daughter just like I love Ramona.  I want to see her face, I love feeling her move, I am well aware that this is a different baby, different pregnancy, etc.  I am not excited, though.

Pregnancy is not fun anymore.  You don't get that feeling back.  When people approach me with excitement and questions, I feel uncomfortable.  I feel insulted and revolted that people assume this baby will be completely fine and alive, like Ramona was some defective model.

The thing is, both my daughters should be here this fall.  We should be preparing to become a physical family of four.  We should be preparing Ramona to be a big sister, not stressing over whether people will forget Ramona and expect us to be 'all better.'  We will never be all better, we are missing one of the most important people in our life.  This baby has already brought so much joy and happiness into our life, but she doesn't take Ramona's place.  They are both irreplaceable, and the sad thing is, we have no guarantee we'll bring little sister home, either.

Life is fragile and unpredictable and as much as I'd like to believe all babyloss parents should be exempt from all other strife the rest of their lives, life doesn't work that way.  We all take the same chances, we just hope the next time will be different.

Monday, May 4, 2015


I always have the best intentions when I start blogging.  Then I go almost five months without a post. 

I can say today is good.  I never thought I'd be able to say this or actually feel it, but some days are good. 

I felt this for the first time a few weeks ago.  We spent the morning drinking coffee and reading outside in the sun.  Her birds were singing and we were content and I turned to my husband and told him today I was happy for the first time in so long. 

I still laugh when people use the phrase 'still sad' to describe our grief.  We will always be sad.  What other way is there to feel about your dead daughter?  I think about her and feel love, pride, even joy sometimes that we have and will always have such a perfect, beautiful daughter, but there will always be sadness.  There is no way around that, but finally we feel other things that are equal to that.  I can feel sadness for the loss of my daughter, but also happiness in the present and hope for the future. 

People who haven't felt this type of loss think it's abnormal for sadness to be a part of the everyday, but besides my family, they have no idea the strides I've made since December 2013.  I'm out of bed.  I don't cry every single day.  I don't think about death all day.  I don't want to die anymore.  My anxiety attacks are gone.  The level of depression I felt the first year, what led me to seek therapy six months ago, has eased.  Today is a walk in the park compared to the early days.  I will take this sadness, this completely normal emotion, over those feelings any day. 

So today is good.  Today is sad.  Those two things have to coexist together, and that's ok.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

To Ramona on her first birthday

I wrote and shared the following with my online support system, a group of women who have similar stories, similar lives. I've read it at least at least dozen times and each time I feel it lacking.  I have more to say, more feelings, more love, why does it feel like it's missing something, everything? I woke up this morning, not Christmas Eve anymore, but my daughter's birth and death day, and realized nothing I feel can be put into words adequately. I can write about my grief fairly well, sometimes I feel like I really put into words how the day to day feels.  The problems with friends, work, the feelings pregnancies and infants bring to the surface, but some things are beyond explaining.  There is no way to describe my love for her, the yearning that tears my heart apart, the regrets and guilt that claw their way to the front of my mind as I drift off to sleep, destroying any hope of resting my mind for just one night.

C.S. Lewis said this about his lost love:  "Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything."  That is Ramona.  She is not a tiny fragment I keep in the depths of my pocket, brought out to examine on occasion, at the 'right ' time, on the special, notable days. She is in me and about me at all times. She is like breathing, blinking, swallowing. All the things you do without thinking, that's how she lives with me. She is part of me, within me, always. There is no way to describe a love like that, it's too huge.  The best you can do is simply feel it.  I feel it today, tomorrow, infinity.  I love you, Ramona.

Dear Ramona,
Tomorrow you will be one. It is not the birthday I pictured for you. I imagined you surrounded by family and friends, laughing and squealing with your little mouth that looks just like your daddy's, unwrapping birthday and Christmas gifts. I dreamed about seeing The Nutcracker with your Aunt Jess and cousin Savannah in a few years. I smiled when I thought about your yearly daddy/daughter Christmas shopping trip and the drum kit your dad wanted to get you and your first ice skates and so much more.

This year will be silent, as silent as a year ago tomorrow at 7:51pm, when you slipped into this world without a cry.

That night a year ago, I was so afraid. Afraid to see you, afraid of my life without you in it, afraid of everything. When I saw your face, I was amazed. You were just as I pictured you, I knew you right away. Your dad and I created a beautiful, perfect little girl, death cannot change that. I cherish every precious second I was able to spend with you, forty weeks and 3 days of bliss and happiness and hopefulness. Now when I am afraid, I try to think about your face, the perfect calm I felt when I looked at you after hours of pain and sadness and fear, and you soothe me.

Tomorrow will be hard. Your family will be together, along with Aunt Jess and Uncle Lloyd and we will be missing you and Savannah, but we will also be celebrating you. You made me a mother and you made your dad a father. We will always be grateful. We will light a candle for you both, and for Wesley and all the other babies who should be here. If death is not the end, I hope you are with Savannah and others who love you. If death is not the end, I hope you are waiting for us. If death is not the end, I hope whatever comes after is where dreams come true. You are my dream, my heart, my life, my little bird.

You are our love, pure and infinite.

Love forever and ever,

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Trusting people with your grief and with your sadness is not easy.  Kyle and I have what we call our bubble.  These are the people we trust with Ramona's memory and the people who understand how much she means to us.  The people who don't question our sadness, our isolation, our anger, and all the other feelings that come when you lose your only child.

Our bubble is small, but supportive.  We are gradually bringing more people into the bubble, but in the beginning it was hard to let people in.  To let people in, you have to trust they will never question your love and your pain.  They will never question the validity of your child's life.  This is hard for people.  They want to comfort you, and they think that comfort means making it better and putting things in perspective.

There is no perspective when your child dies.  I can assure you.  It is not better that she died before we got to know her.  It did not happen for a reason.  Maybe we'll have more children, but maybe not.  Even if we do, we never get to parent Ramona.  Each day, week, month, eventually years, brings another bundle of firsts we will never experience, that she will never experience.

We go through each day with a smile plastered on our faces, because we know when people ask 'how are you' they don't want to hear 'really shitty.'  A friend asked me if I'd rather not have people ask how we're doing, and I said yes.  I'd rather they not ask.  Not unless they are willing to hear the real answer.  I'm not into small talk anymore.   

Sometimes I get home from work and my face hurts from forcing a smile for nine hours.  My heart hurts from the people who back away when they ask how the baby's doing and I tell them she died. My hands hurt from clenching to restrain myself from typing something I don't mean to people who text or email and don't mention Ramona's name. The one thing I told people brings us comfort when they asked what they can do for us, they can't do.

Her first birthday should be in two weeks.  Some days it looms in the distance, a dark volcano we're slowing moving towards with no way of turning back.  Part of me is nervous that no one will remember, that we'll get the usual cheery "Merry Christmas" messages without a mention of Ramona.  I hope people know better, I hope they remember her and say her name.  Trust is the hardest part about grief.  Trusting people will remember your child, trusting that there is something good on the horizon, trusting the world holds more than suffering. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Room

I've been thinking about minimalism and simplicity lately.  If you saw our house, you would probably wonder how that's possible.  We have a lot of emotional and consumerist clutter.  I'm pretty picky about what I keep, but sometimes it's still hard for me to get rid of birthday cards and gifts I don't have use for.  My husband is worse.  He still has a movie ticket stub collection.  Thankfully it's still at his parents' house, because it is not coming into our home.  I love him, but a woman's got to have a code.  That code is 'No ticket stubs. Ever.'

I like the idea of minimalism.  After moving last year, I realized how much useless junk we have.  I don't necessarily want to have zero possessions and all white walls, but I do want less junk.  Less of what I don't love.

This feeling stems from that closed room upstairs.  All the clothes she didn't wear, the toys she didn't play with, the books she didn't read.  I know they are just things, but they are things I'm not willing to part with.  Not now and maybe not ever.

I do not like keeping things simply because they have an emotion attached to them.  One of the first gifts my husband ever bought me was a printer for my digital camera.  It was an amazing gift that only worked for about a year and the supplies were crazy expensive to boot.  I couldn't get rid of that thing for years.  It sat in closet after closet until I realized I would always remember the feeling of opening such a perfect gift from someone so important regardless if I had the printer or not.  I remember it now, eight years later.  He knew I loved my camera and taking pictures, so he gave me this amazingly thoughtful gift.  That's why I love him and married him.

It's different with Ramona's things.  They are just things.  I know this.  She didn't wear the clothes, she didn't play with the toys, I didn't read her the books.  In my rational, practical mind, these are all reasons to not keep them.  The emotion behind them is too strong, though.  I made memories in that room and with her clothes and toys and books.  I washed her dresses and onesies and socks and hung them up and folded them with her inside me.  I rearranged the furniture and debated where to put her blankets and what to put on her shelves.  The top drawer of her dresser was organized to the nth degree with dividers and I was so proud of that drawer.

The night I went into labor, when I thought she was still alive and would be coming home with us on Christmas Day, I went into that room to get my bags.  I was giddy from excitement and fear, the way a first-time mom should feel.  I can faintly remember that feeling.  It bubbled into my chest and I couldn't stop laughing. 

I hold on to the memories of her alive and safe now.  The memories attached to her things were not the memories I thought we'd make, but they are all I have.  So out goes the ugly wrought iron baker's rack, and the faded Beatles glasses that turn our hands black.  I need room for my daughter. 

The good memories are starting to peek through the dark clouds of my mind.  For the longest time all I could remember about her were the darkest, saddest moments, so when I can grab on to a good one, I hold tight.  While her room is just a room, and her things will not bring her to me, I need them more than anything else I possess.  A room that is empty but not. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Left behind

I did something today I haven't done in a long time, so I thought today would be a good day to return to this blog.

We're doing a diaper drive at work, so I went into Ramona's room to get some packages to donate.  We received a lot as gifts, but they've been sitting in her room for almost a year now and I figured it's nice to donate some in her name. It's also better than going to the store and buying some. I hate the baby section.

While I was in there I straightened her things and threw some things away. We still have her stroller box and lots of gift bags I need to recycle.

It is bittersweet to be in her room. The yearning I feel for her is unbearable, but remembering how wonderful it felt to arrange her room and fold and hang her little clothes and the anticipation of meeting her is sweet. I'm glad I have those memories.  Cleaning and straightening today made me feel slightly normal for a few minutes. After that feeling fades I'm alone in the house again, missing her.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Good Things

This week I had a better conversation about Ramona with a six year old than I've had with most adults. 

Her name starts with an M, too, and she's been hanging out our desk talking our ears off.  She always looks thoughtful and constantly asks, "Why?" 

She saw that we were putting stickers on things and wanted to help.  While we were stickering, she told me her brother had died.  It was unclear as to how old he was or other details, I could tell that she loved him very much, though.  After a few minutes of talking she asked if I had any kids.

It's hard for me to know how to talk about Ramona with kids.  Some understand 'died' and take it in stride, others might not understand or become fearful.  It makes me sad, because I don't like to lie and say, "No, I don't have any kids."  It's not true, but what do you do?

At first I told her no.  She said, "My neighbor doesn't either, and she says I'm like her kid." 

I smiled, and thought for a second. 

"Remember when said I don't have any kids?" I asked.  "That's not true.  You know how you told me your brother passed away?  I have a daughter and she passed away, too.  So she doesn't live in my house, but she lives in my heart."

She nodded very seriously and said, "My brother who died talks to me and tells me to do good things.  My other brother doesn't believe me, but it's true.  He tells my head and my heart to do good things."

She made my head and my heart feel good that day.