Sunday, December 4, 2011

Baby Marc's Stocking Project

Our sweet Marcus would be five months old tomorrow. The holidays have been hard. Thanksgiving was completely awful. If you know me you know that I try with all my might to be positive and live my life as if Marc were here but sometimes you just have to let yourself succumb to the sadness for a little while. I know I have so many things to be thankful for but this Thanksgiving all I could think about was what I did not have, what I did not get to experience and what I should be doing. I should have been dressing baby Marc in a cute Thanksgiving outfit and taking him to see his daddy's family for his first Thanksgiving. I was up at 3:30am to open at Starbucks Thanksgiving morning and so when we went to Marc's aunts house I was sleep deprived and depressed. His family is so loving and the greeting and hugs were nice but overwhelming at the same time. As the family gathered for a prayer I could feel myself about to lose it and sure enough about two sentence into the prayer I broke down. Marc had to practically carry me to another room and I was sobbing so hard I was hyperventilating.

I am hoping that Christmas will not be as bad as Thanksgiving. I was downplaying the holidays for the past few months, I thought that they would not be that difficult. How could they be any worse than what I was already feeling? Now that the holidays are upon us I can see why they are hard. Part of it might be because in November we hit our four month mark. A time often talked about at the MEND support group as being a time when for whatever strange reason a new wave of grief floods into your world. Maybe four months is when some of the shock starts to wear off. I can see that because the moments where I have real clarity that this is my life now come more often. This is my life. This is my life, living without my baby. The realization that this is something I will have to endure always and there is no waking up from this nightmare seems more real than ever. Maybe it is because the holidays are a time when everyone seems to be so happy and they are spending time with their families. How can we be happy with such a huge part of our family missing? Usually I have my tree up the day after Thanksgiving and I have forced my poor husband to string the lights around the house but it is now December 4th and still no tree or lights. I still have pumpkins that I had planned to try and carve sitting on the front porch.  We have been looking for ways to incorporate Marc into our traditions and to keep his memory alive in our family. I know that Marc and I will give baby Marc many little brothers and sisters and my hope is that we will be able to raise those children knowing about him and loving their big brother. We already started one thing that was suggested to us by some mothers in our support group. Every year we will pick a little boy from the Salvation Army Angel tree who is about how old Marc would be and get a gift for him. We also asked our friends and family who were planning on getting Marc a gift to do this as well and send us a picture or the angel tree info and what they purchase so I can put it in baby Marc's scrapbook.  It was really hard to go shopping for the little 8 month old we picked this year and I cried after we bought him a coat and a thermal shirt.  I could not help but think that I should be shopping for Christmas presents for Marcus. Marc reminded me that this is how things are and all we can do is find ways to remember our sweet boy and create a legacy for him. It is something that Rebekah Brewer Mitchell, the amazing woman who started the MEND (mommies enduring neonatal death) group, says often. She says that we have to create a legacy for our babies since they are not here to do it themselves.

I used to love the Elvis Christmas song Blue Christmas, and this year it takes on a new meaning for me. Marc and I will most likely have a very blue Christmas but there is something you can do to brighten our day. A day when I will be fighting off the "I should" thoughts. I should be watching a five and a half month old laugh at the Christmas wrapping paper. I should be taking him to get his picture made with Santa. The "I should be" list is forever long.

I should be watching him open his stocking on Christmas morning, I should have a stocking for Marc filled with baby toys but instead I am asking you to help me fill his stocking with things that will help create a legacy for him.
I am challenging you to please do one random act of kindness for someone between now and Christmas. It can be small, it can be big, just as long as it is something that is kind and as long as you as you are doing it you are thinking of our sweet baby Marcus. Once you have completed your random act of kindness please email me at with a short description of what you did. In the subject line please write DO NOT OPEN RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS or something along those lines. This way I will not read them, instead I will print them out immediately, fold them up and tuck them away into baby Marc's stocking. Marc and I will open the stocking on Christmas morning and instead of thinking of what we should be doing we will be able to read about all the good things you did in honor of our baby. This will be so comforting to us and I know I am giving you only 20 days for this project but it would mean so much if you could please consider doing this for us.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Different Kind Of Marathon

Last June I had just graduated from college and I was feeling what I imagine a lot of new college grads feel, "what now?" I needed something to work toward other than just getting a job.  All through school your working for so long with this one goal in mind and that becomes your purpose, without that purpose I felt lost. My first solution was grad school but that was expensive and I really did not have a reason to go so I scratched that idea fairly quickly. I finally decided that running a marathon would be a good idea. It would give me a goal to focus on and work towards in this in-between phase of my life.  I found the San Antonio Rock and Roll Marathon which would be run in November and it looked like the one for me. A full marathon seemed a little much to start out with so Marc and I decided we would both train over the next five months for the half marathon which is 13.1 miles.  We got new shoes and began our training with a lot of energy.

At the end of August, after hearing me talk about how much I wanted to start a family and have a baby for many months Marc came to me and said "let's do it, lets try for a baby!" I was beyond excited. I was just waiting for him to be ready! We decided to start trying the next month because my insurance was kicking in at Starbucks in October.  We also continued training for our marathon.  When race day came on November 14th, 2010 I was about 6 or 7 weeks pregnant with baby Marc. 

We were so happy and after months of training we were so ready to run our race. 

Marc ran ahead of me and finished in about 2.5 hours and I ran the whole thing stopping only once for one minute to check that my heart rate was not getting too high for pregnancy. I finished in 2 hours and 55 minutes, my goal was to finish in less than three hours. What a great feeling it is to finish something like that! We joked that one day I could tell baby Marc that he ran a marathon before he was born. 

The marathon was completed and over. I no longer felt that in-between feeling that I had felt after graduating. I was going to be a mommy!  Working at Starbucks we open so early that I can work a full day and be off by 11am so that Marc could watch him while I was at work and we would not have to worry about day care.  So what if I was having trouble finding a teaching job, I would just work at Starbucks 20 hours a week to keep insurance and be an almost stay at home mom for baby Marc's first year. I had my purpose now, it was to be the best mommy to Marcus as I could be!  I started my "how to be a mommy" marathon training. I read about birth, read books on baby sign language, articles on circumcision, I read what was in all of the vaccines that he would be getting and by month 6 I had finished all the pregnancy books and was well into the Baby's First Year book.  I invested about $800.00 in cloth diapers after spending literally weeks reading about which ones to use! I actually spent about 7 hours, no exaggeration, trying to decide which cloth wipes to buy. I painted a mural in his room, crocheted him several blankets and outfits for pictures and had so many clothes that I was convinced I would have to change his outfit twice a day so he would get a chance to fit into everything.

When July 5th came we were so happy and after months of training we were so ready to run our race.

Then suddenly and with no warning all our hopes and dreams for baby Marc and the things we were prepared to do died with him.  My purpose died.  In the weeks after baby Marc died I was desperately searching for something to focus on again. I think back to the way I felt after graduating, I had wondered what my purpose was but this new loss of purpose was so much greater than anything I could have imagined.  I thought that registering for the half marathon again would be helpful, exercising releases feel good endorphins and maybe if I had a goal to work toward it would help.  The weeks passed and for several weeks I did hit the gym pretty hard but somewhere along the way the grief sucked all my energy and I stopped training. 

I am going to say some things in this next paragraph that are irrational and I know it but they are feelings that I can't fight and sometimes they are just there. I struggle with so many things everyday, missing my son so much and the grief that goes along with that but also feelings of failure or that I don't do enough. Marcus was my purpose, I am supposed to be caring for him and protecting him right now. I am supposed to be so busy with him as my purpose that I don't have time for anything else. 

Without Marcus, without a baby to care for, I am left to care only for my grief. The grief sucks more energy out than I imagine a newborn could but still I feel bad for things like not being able to get a teaching job or not being able to keep the house clean enough.  I take everything that I can't do so personally as a failure on my part. I mean I have already failed to protect my baby, the ultimate failure! Then at the end of the month when I am not pregnant again I have failed. When the hospital bills come every month I feel guilty that I am not able to help Marc by contributing more to our family financially.  I feel guilty for the money I spent that probably should have gone to those bills but in those first months after baby Marc died getting out of the house to go to dinner or the mall with friends was a form of therapy. I guess there are worse things I could have resorted to other than just buying new things. Sometimes I feel like I am doing anything good enough, with no baby to take care of and no financial way to help what is my purpose.

Marc is amazing and he tells me all the time how proud he is of me and how strong I have been. He helps me to fight these feelings of failure. I can't imagine where I would be without him and he amazes me with his openness and unwavering support. With his help I have come to realize that I still have a purpose. I have purpose in our marriage and in the family that we will continue to build.  We are on a new path and baby Marc is still my purpose just not in the same way.

Mom's with newborns complain how they can't clean the house or exercise because they are so busy caring for their babies. I am sure they feel similar feelings of failure, not being able to be supermom and get everything done. 

I may not have my baby here to care for but I am working hard to care for this grief. The difference is grief offers no reward like caring for a baby.  It's just hard and dirty work.  Sometimes I just can't make myself get up and run or clean the entire house but maybe I can just run one mile, maybe I can just do the dishes. I am learning that I should be happy for the things I can do and stop beating myself up about the things I can't do.  

I will be running this marathon with my grief for the rest of my life. I can only hope that my endurance will build and one day it won't be so exhausting.

The literal marathon is on Sunday and I am not prepared like I was last year. I am not confident that I can do it successfully but I am going to try.  I may not be able to run the whole thing like I did last year. I may have to stop and catch my breath. I may have to walk or even crawl across the finish line but I have come to see that the real triumph is that at least I am out there trying.

"A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying."
B. F. Skinner 

“The "what should be" never did exist, but people keep trying to live up to it. There is no "what should be," there is only what is.”
Lenny Bruce 
Crossing the finish line last year!

Marc & I with our medals

We can do anything together!

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Poem From My Brother

This is a poem my little brother Tyler Fetter wrote for me. I love it, he is amazing!

A flower snipped before it's bloom,
Holds beauty just the same.
It's petals held within a shell,
For a spring which never came.

It's easy yet to feel such gloom,
But sorrows but his cost,
And though great it's yet a shallow price,
To pay for what was lost.

Could you undo the world?
To spite the pain it wrought?
Though I'd gladly live it all again,
I shudder at the thought.

And while it's true he'll never live
The sights he ought to see,
He shall not wilt as we will age
And in our hearts forever be.

-Tyler Fetter

Monday, October 17, 2011

National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

MYTH: A parent who has lost a baby wants to forget it ever happened and move on with their life.
TRUTH: In the words of Elizabeth Edwards, "If you know someone who has lost a child...and you're afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died, you're not reminding them. They didn't forget they died. What you're reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived, and that's a great, great gift."

October 15th is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day (and Oct is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month). Everyone is invited to light a candle tonight at 7 pm in all time zones, all over the world.
If everyone lights a candle at 7 pm and keeps it burning for at least 1hr, there will be a continuous WAVE OF LIGHT over the entire world to remember our little boy Marcus and all the babies gone too soon.

The Ugly Guilt Monster

I had a pretty good weekend. I dared to click the "happy" emotion in my period tracker app for my iPhone. It sounds silly but until I did this I had not realized how much I have been pushing the few happy times I am given away.  The period tracker application is a neat little tool that keeps track of your cycle among other things like ovulation, days you are intimate, physical symptoms, emotions and weight.

As you can see there are little faces for different emotions you are having on any particular day. The only emotions that have been imputed to date have been things like tired, weepy, nervous, sleepy, sensitive, gloomy, depressed, fatigued, stressed, spacey, and sad.
I have been working on a mural and creating beautiful things always lifts my spirits a bit and so by the weekend I was in a pretty good mood. Saturday I slept in and woke up to my husband making me breakfast. The weather was cool and I relaxed with him in the morning and went to paint the mural in the afternoon. I had a really good day. I felt hope. I felt refreshed. I felt like I could handle this.
Saturday night I was messing with my new iPhone 4s and I went to track my emotions for the day. I had no problem clicking refreshed and in love however, I saw the happy face and paused. Should I click it?
Marc and I have had many talks about how we need to allow ourselves to be happy. I logically know that feeling happiness does not take away from my love for my sweet baby. Maybe a part of me is afraid that if I feel a little happiness people will think I am done grieving. I am not sure exactly what it was but it was so hard to click that stupid little smiley face.
Then...I just did it. I clicked it!
Immediately I felt a pang of guilt.
Guilt is not a new feeling for me lately. I broke down and admitted to our support group that I felt like if I pushed harder or got him out faster maybe things would have turned out differently.  If I had been at the hospital, would have turned out differently?  I have been told that the outcome would have been the same but were they just saying that to make me feel better?
The synonyms for guilt are things like condemned, criminal, damned, evil, felonious, responsible, rueful,  sinful, and wicked. Wow! I don't feel evil or wicked.
Again, logically I know that Marc and I made our decisions based on the information we had at the time and we did not make those decisions lightly. I know that whatever we did, we did with our best intentions and we did what we thought was best for our baby. Still as a parent we are supposed to protect our children and in this case there was nothing Marc and I could do to protect him. Guilt is just another stage of grief I have to wrestle with.
By clicking happy, I felt like I was doing Marcus wrong by being happy without having him here. I had to step back and think...would Marcus want me to be miserable for the rest of my life? Do I really want to focus on my son's death and let it ruin my life? That is the easy way out. To give in. To let the grief take over.
I love my son but I realize I have to live for us both since he cannot live for himself. I have to focus on his life, as short as it was. I have to focus on the things he has given me not the things that have been taken away from me. Doing this will only cause more pain.
He has already given me so many gifts. His life is truly making me a better person. One of these gifts is a strong, deep empathy for the suffering of others. I used to think I was a fairly empathetic person but now I realize that I was just a sympathetic person. I would hear a sad story on the news and think "oh that is so sad"  Now when I hear a story of another persons loss I can really feel it with my whole heart and this in turn makes me a more generous and loving person. What a gift!

But this morning I could feel the strength slowly being sucked out of me. I tried so hard to hold onto the happy, refreshed feeling from the weekend but it is now almost 10pm and my strength and happy stores have been depleted. Probably because I am missing Marc at work and I just realized I haven't had dinner but sometimes it just hits all at once. It also does not help that there was a new stack of bills waiting for me when I got home. The hospital bills are so stressful and we are left paying thousands of dollars for what? I don't have my baby to hold, why should I still have to pay? I spend so much time fighting bad thoughts or emotions and sometimes I just have to let them come.
I really wish I did not have to work and I could just spend every second with Marc doing things that made us feel good.

So I had two whole days where I felt pretty good. I see people posting that they had a GREAT weekend and wonder if I will ever be able to say I had a GREAT day again. I cannot fathom ever saying I had a GREAT day right now.
I guess three months ago I never thought I would have a pretty good day again, let alone two in a row! GREAT days are most likely in our future. I just wish I knew when they were coming so I could have a date on the calendar to look forward to.

"I was always fraught with guilt, and it's such a waste of an emotion. It keeps you out of the moment of being where you are."-KYRA SEDGWICK

Friday, October 7, 2011

Our Beautiful Slideshow by Keri Duckett Photography

Wishing For Rain

I want it to rain. I don't want a drizzle or flash flood that only lasts a few minutes.
These little continual storms are exhausting.
I want a torrential downpour!
I want to push my feet into the cold sodden earth and fall to my knees.
I want large heavy drops to fall down upon my face and take with them some of my tears.
I want LOUD thunder. I will scream and wail with it, holding my head in my hands, looking toward the darkened sky.
I need it to rain, this pain cannot be washed away but I need to be cleansed.
I will throw my hands out and fall completely into the ground sinking deeper into the mud that surrounds me.
I want to open my mouth and drink from the sky as if I could drink enough to fill this hole inside of me without drowning.
Just a drop in the ocean.
Maybe someday I will drink enough to want the clouds to leave. Will the sun come to warm me? Will I feel the warmth of the light? Will it awaken what has died within my soul?
-Jenalea Johnson

Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.
-Langston Hughes

Every Hug Dilutes The Pain...Take A Shovel....If You Can A Wheelbarrow

"There is no way to quantify the pain. Pain doesn't come in pounds or ounces or gallons. You just feel like you are standing before a mountain that you are going to have to move one spoonful at a time. It is a task you can never hope to complete...a mountain that you can never hope to finish moving. you stand surveying that mountain of grief...a loved one steps forward with a hug that communicated clearly. You can almost picture that person stepping up to your mountain of grief with a shovel and saying, "I cannot move the mountain for you...but I will take this one shovel full of your grief and deal with it myself." It seemed to me that every hug helped to dilute the pain a little more...that every sincere hugger carried away a small quantity of the mountain."-From When There Are No Words by Charlie Walton

Ever since I have read this paragraph these words have been repeating in my head every time I receive a hug. Last week was my first week back at work.  Returning to work has been much harder than I anticipated. I could not really pin point what they were until I talked with the MEND (mommies enduring neonatal death) group last week.  One it was a place where I have lots of memories of being pregnant.  The last time I spent time there I was so excited and happy, now I am anxious, weepy and sad there. Thoughts of things I should be talking about with my coworkers came flooding into my mind. I have been gone for two months, I should be telling them all about how my sweet baby Marcus is doing. Instead I am thinking about what I have been doing the past two one wants to hear the dark places I have been.  Another thing that makes returning to work hard is the fact that I can no longer have 100% control over who I let in.  When I was staying home I could choose to only leave the house on days I felt strong. I could choose who I let come over and talk. I had the option of laying on the couch all day if I was having a weak day. I never know what feelings the next day will bring so I never know if I will feel strong enough to tell a customer that my baby died when they unknowingly ask how he is doing.  Will I be able to make it through the work day without a complete break down?

I feel so fragile at work. It is so strange because at times I know I look normal on the outside but I know how quickly I can be broken by a particular song, words, a pregnant woman, a crying baby, something totally unexpected! Last week someone said "wow this year is flying by," simple statement but I had to hold back tears. I was thinking the time is dragging so slowly! I cannot wait until the end of the year! This has been the worst year of my entire life and I am ready for it to be OVER!

Then I feel like crying again. I think can I say this has been the worst year of my life.  I was the happiest I had ever been in my life while I was carrying my sweet Marcus. Seven months of this year were the best months in my entire life! This is just one example of a downward emotional spiral spurred by an everyday conversation.

One of my concerns the week before I came back was how I would be treated at work. I was afraid that people would expect me to be back to normal.  I was afraid I would make people uncomfortable if I cried.  I was afraid they would be annoyed with me if I need a few extra breaks during a busy time or if I just could not handle it and needed to leave early.

Well I did break down several times last week. I did need extra time in the back.  I did have to leave early four out of the five days I worked.  I was making drinks Saturday morning on drive through bar and I was silently crying, tears were streaming down my face as I made lattes and I know the lady in the car at the window had to have noticed. I cry on the way home most days because I feel so much emotion throughout the work day and I just need to get it out.

But I did realize that my fears about my coworkers were unfounded. I am so grateful that I am surrounded by such a wonderful group of people at work. They have truly made me feel loved. They made me feel comfortable and did not shy away from my tears. When I cried they hugged me and I thought about them taking a shovel for me and it helped. I shared this metaphor with a few people and my boss Jenny said something that was really special to me, she said "forget a shovel....I'll take a wheelbarrow."
I anticipate that break downs at work will come fewer and father between as time progresses but I know there are more to come.  I won't be able to predict them and that is a source of anxiety but I am comforted in knowing that I work with great people who will be there to help me up.

A lot of the BLM's (baby loss mammas) in the MEND group have shared that the support they initially received tapered off quickly and they were left with just a few special people who were there to stick it out with them.

"At some of the darkest moments in my life, some people I thought of as friends deserted me. Some because they cared about me and it hurt them to see me in pain; others because I reminded them of their own vulnerability, and that was more than they could handle. BUT real friends overcame their discomfort and came to sit with me. If they had not words to make me feel better, they sat in silence and I loved them for it." - Harold Kushner

This great book tear soup also puts it very well. It is about an old woman who has suffered a big loss in her life and she is cooking a batch of "tear soup." Tear Soup gives a glimpse into her life as she blends the different ingredients into her own grief process.

"There were also days when Grandy hungered for a thoughtful ear.  Sometimes she would ask total strangers, "Care to join me in a bowl of tear soup?"  "No thanks," most would reply, "I don't have tome for tear soup today." Even some of Grandy's friends hurried past her house and pretended not to notice the aroma of tear soup coming through her open door. Most people can tolerate only a cup of someone else's tear soup. The giant bowl, where Grandy could repeatedly share her sadness in great detail, was left for a few willing friends."

The simplest things that some of you have CONTINUED doing for me really do help. Your quick emails and texts that let me know your thinking of me have helped to brighten many of my dark days.  I really have discovered who those true friends are. It is easy for me to sit around and think about how unlucky I am but I am reminded by you that I am blessed. I read that most people can tolerate another's loss for about a month before wanting the bereaved person to get back to normal. I have so many REAL friends who are continuing to offer support even when others have ceased to do so. I am not afraid to ask for your help. I still need you and I will continue to need you for a long time.

So please, take what you can. A spoon, a cup, or a bowl of my tear soup or a shovel...maybe even a wheelbarrow from my mountain. When it is your turn in the kitchen I will help you.

If your friend is the one making Tear Soup:
  • Be there for your friend, even when you don't understand.
  • Be a source of comfort by listening, laughing, and crying
  • Stick close to your friend and defend their right to grieve.
  • Allow your friend to make mistakes... or at least to grieve differently from the way you would grieve.
  • Send flowers. 
  • Send cards. The message doesn't need to be long. Just let them know you haven't forgotten them. Send one every few weeks for a while.
  • Call your friend. Don't worry about being a bother. Let your friend tell you if they don't want to talk about their loss right now.
  • Answering machines and e-mail are great ways to keep in touch, allowing the bereaved person to respond only when they feel up to it.
  • Try to anticipate what your friend may need. Bereaved persons sometimes don't know what to ask for.
  • Avoid offering easy answers and platitudes. This only invalidates the grief.
  • Be patient. Don't try to rush your friend through their grief.
  • Give your friend permission to grieve in front of you. Don't change the subject or tell them not to cry or act uncomfortable when they do cry.
  • Ask them questions. But don't tell them how they should feel.
  • Invite your friend to attend events together, as you normally would. Let them decide if they don't want to attend.
  • Don't assume because your friend is having a good day that it means they are over their loss.
  • Be mindful of holidays, birthdays and anniversaries.

Choosing Happiness

We are almost two months out from our loss. Some days are harder than others and I know I will continue to struggle with my grief for years to come but this week has been pretty good. Today I feel a rare moment of clarity.

I have several books on dealing with grief and one of the rules is not to compare your grief with others because the intensity and duration of episodes of grief is different for everyone.  Still that is what I have been struggling with this past week.  I have always been a positive, happy person and I have always felt like I had some built in natural ability to adapt to life's obstacles.  That idea I had of who I was and what I was capable of was shattered the first few weeks after Marcus died.  How could anyone adapt to this type of loss, it did not seem possible. I have never been faced with an obstacle that can compare with this one so I wasn't sure what was ahead of me. I still am not sure what feeling are going to arise as the days and months pass by but I can say that I am beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I read the blogs of other mothers dealing with losing their children and compare their feelings with mine.  Most of the time their words sound as if they were reading my mind and reading their words helps me to realize that I am not alone in my thoughts and feelings.  However when I read their stories and I see the depth of pain still being felt even many many years out I start to feel a little guilty.  I feel guilty because I can already feel my natural happy self returning. I feel like this should not be happening so soon after losing our sweet baby boy.

Don't get me wrong my pain is by no means gone or lessened in any way. I still cry or get teary eyed many times throughout the day. I still feel a sharp pang when I see mothers out with their healthy babies.  There are moments I hear so clearly the NICU doctors voice repeating, "Marcus is brain dead" over and over.  I will always long to hold him and there will always be times I imagine what it would be like if he were here.  I do not think there will ever be one day in my life that I do not think about him.

With that said, I feel like I will be happy again soon. There are brief moments throughout the day that I feel my love for life returning, only now it is more intense.  A new appreciation for the things and people I have in my life has come over me.  I talked with Marc about this yesterday, I told him I was worried that I should not be feeling these happy feelings yet. I told him I was worried that maybe I was feeling this way because I was somehow burying my pain and not allowing myself to feel it.  Talking to him helped me to see that this is not the case.  We have all the same sad feelings and thoughts that many of the other mothers and fathers in our position have.  We allow ourselves to notice the babies which seem to be EVERYWHERE and think that should be us right now, the thing is we CHOOSE not to dwell on those thoughts.  What good does it do to dwell on all the things we should be doing?  We have both asked ourselves why this had to happen to us but how does it help our emotional health to constantly ask "why me?"
The bottom line is it doesn't! My insightful husband then said something that really resonated with me he said life is going to keep going on whether we are ready for it or not. The time we have left on this earth, with each other, with the ones we love, with our future children is not going to pause while we grieve so the sooner we feel ready to be happy again the better.  There is no reason to feel guilty about our ability to bounce back from this. The sooner we can accept that yes, this horrible thing happened to us and make peace with the fact that we cannot go back and change what has occurred the sooner we will be able to live our lives and be happy.

“History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.” - B.C. Forbes

Marc & I after running our 1st half marathon Nov 13, 2010. I was about 6 weeks pregnant with baby Marc.

A Letter From My Son

This "homework" was to write a letter I would like to get from baby Marc. Here was the prompt.
Thank you for sharing....
You are right...
I understand...
I'm sorry...
I appreciate (or love)...
I wish...
I promise...
Thank you...


Thank you for sharing your feelings.  You are right, none of this is fair, you and daddy should not have to be suffering so much.  I understand that you did everything you could to make sure that I was healthy.  I know that every choice you made was the best you could do for me.  I wish that you knew how much I knew, wish that you knew how much I loved you back. Thank you for loving me so much. I know that you loved me, I felt it everyday. I heard you and daddy talking to me and singing to me. I'm sorry I can't be there with you now but I promise that I will never leave you.
I promise that you will make me a big brother and you and daddy will get to do the things you were supposed to be able to do with me.  I promise that you will always remember me and one day you will be able to think of me and smile instead of cry. It's alright to be happy again, I know it doesn't mean you have forgotten me.
I love you, I love daddy and I'm sorry that you don't get to see me open my eyes or smile, but I smiled when I was inside of you.
I smiled when I heard your voice.

A Letter To My Son

This post is the writing prompt or "homework" that I received from the psychologist last Thursday. Of course I put it off until the last day, until about 3am this morning, it is now 6:30am and this is just the first half of the assignment.

My sweet baby Marcus,

I am sad.....

     It makes me sad to think of all nights I spent dreaming of what it would feel like to breastfeed you, to bathe you, or sing to you. It makes me sad that I will never get to do those things with you. It makes me sad to think about how incredibly happy and complete your daddy and I felt our lives were while we were waiting for you. What a strange feeling it is to from such a high to such a deep dark low in just a matter of hours.  It makes me sad to remember the days when I was so happy carrying you inside of me. Your daddy and I would sit in your nursery and talk about the things we were going to do with you as you grew older.  He would lay with me on the couch for hours and watch your little feet and elbows moving around.
     It makes me sad to think of all the times I sang to you and talked to you while you were inside of me. Knowing now that this was the only time you would hear my voice and respond makes me sad.
     When your daddy and I do things that we would not be doing if you were here it makes me sad. I should not be able to go sit through a movie at the theater, I should be at home feeding you every two hours. I should not be able to go and have a glass of wine with a friend or have the time to do my crafts.  I should be busy caring for you.
     It makes me sad when the rare and brief feelings of happiness come over me and I realize that I am feeling happy for a moment.   Basically I feel sad when I realize that I am not sad for a moment if that makes any sense at all.   I guess this overlaps with feeling afraid because I feel afraid that if I feel and look happy again others will forget that I lost you.
It makes me the most sad when I remember holding you and hearing you last little breaths as you died in my arms.

I am afraid...

     I am afraid that I will never have more children. I don't know why I fear this because I am healthy, I had beautiful and perfect pregnancy with you, it only took us one month of trying to conceive you and your daddy and I agreed to try to give you brothers and sisters very soon.  I am afraid that if or when I do get pregnant again it will not be the peaceful, joyous time that it was with you.  I am afraid that instead it will be an anxious and stressful time.  I am afraid that this empty feeling I have in my heart will never go away. I am afraid that I will never feel whole again.

I am angry....

     I am angry that everyone else has their babies. All my friends and acquaintances that were due around the same time as you had successful deliveries.  While I am happy for them, a big part of me is angry that they are getting to enjoy the things that I was cheated out of enjoying with you. I am angry that I did everything I could possibly do to make sure that you were healthy but I still lost you. I wanted you, we planned you, we carefully thought about you before you were ever conceived.
     I am angry that there are people who think you died because we had you at home when I know this is not the case.

I am sorry....

     I am sorry that I could not protect you. I am sorry that our best was not good enough to keep you alive.

I love...

     I love your daddy for being so loving and caring for me so gently in the days after your death.  I love my mother, your Mimi,  for sitting with me into the early hours of morning making sure I feel asleep that first week you were gone. I love her for washing my hair when we got home from the hospital and I could hardly move.  It is so strange, of all the helpful things she did and encouraging words she said those first few weeks that is what I remember most. My mommy washing my hair.
     I love that I have all these beautiful pictures of you. I love the picture of your daddy reaching down to feel your head as you were being born, the look on his face is priceless.  Although physically painful I love remembering the amazing feeling I had as you were making your entrance into this world. I felt so powerful doing it on my own without any drugs. I have never felt such an overwhelming feeling of love.  I love the few hours that we had with you. I love that I was able to sing you a lullaby before you left us.

I wish....

     Wow, my wishes could go on forever. I wish things were different. I wish that I could hold you in my arms and sing to you again.  I wish that I could tell you that on the 4th of July, the eve of your birth, that you hated the fireworks. They were so loud, you were kicking so hard and I thought how funny it will be to tell you this every fourth of July.
I wish I had more memories of you.
I wish that I could have seen your eyes. Just once to see them open, to see how blue they would have been.
I wish that I could have seen you smile, roll over, crawl, heard you cry or laugh, felt your fingers grasp mine.
I wish that I could fast forward through this time, through this grief. I wish I did not have to find things to distract myself with just to make it through the day.  I wish that my eyes were stinging from being up all night with you instead of from being up all night crying because I am without you.

Thank you...

Thank you for the 40 weeks I got to spend with you while you were inside of me. Thank you for showing me how precious and fragile life is, because of you I will never take a single moment with the people I love for granted.

I have learned...

I have learned that without a doubt I chose the best man to be my husband and your daddy.  I have learned that our relationship is stronger than I could have ever imagined.  I have seen how generous and thoughtful my family and friends could be.  How fortunate I am to have friends that do not shy away from me and allow me to talk about these sad things. I am slowly beginning to see that I am stronger and more optimistic than I thought I was.

I want for myself...

     One day I want to be able to look at your beautiful face in these pictures and not feel like I am in a deep dark pit. I want to look at your beautiful face and remember you with happiness.  I want to be able to think about the days you were alive inside of me and remember them with a smile instead of this intense sadness. I want to give you lots of brothers and sisters and I want to tell them everything about you. I want to experience all the mothering things that I have missed out on with you. I want to be able to let go of the constant thoughts of what I SHOULD be doing right now and try to focus on what I am doing. I want to be able to look into the future with the hope and happiness that we had before we lost you. 

Rainbow Baby

I had never heard this term before but people on the grief support forums have a term for a child born after they’ve lost one-a rainbow baby.

"The term Rainbow Baby is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope."

Getting pregnant again is all I think about. Sometimes I feel a little guilty that I have this overwhelming need to be pregnant again right away. I know that our next child will never replace Marcus but I do think that it will be healing for me.  When it does happen, what a great way to think of baby Marc's little brothers and sisters.

Hard Days & My Amazing Husband

The past few days have been so hard. I am having a really hard time looking forward and staying positive. Tears seem to just fall so easily from my eyes, sometimes they last for just a moment and other times they go on for hours.  I have been wishing that I could just curl up in a ball and let this sadness consume me. On a particularly hard night this week I told Marc that sometimes it actually feels like my heart might just stop beating. Is that possible? Can you die form a broken heart?

In an effort to not surrender completely to my sadness sometimes I find an escape for a few hours. Organizing my collection of beads, counting stitches while crocheting, or mindlessly watching Netflix movies.  Sometimes I get the energy up to leave the house and go for lunch with friends or a shopping trip but when these things have run their course and the distraction is over it is like crashing into a brick wall.  Usually this happens in the evening, at the end of the day when I have finally become exhausted from the effort it takes to distract myself. I use up all of my energy on just making it through the day and then I just have nothing left.

Most of you who know me know that I have always wanted lots of children. I made Marc agree to at least three when we got married. During one of the most painful parts of my labor I just remember thinking how much I loved my little boy who was almost here and how if I never had a chance to raise another child I would be fulfilled to just raise him. It hurts to think about how completely happy and fulfilled we were before this and now to look at how far away that feeling is.  Sometimes it seems like that feeling is forever out of reach.

Marc is amazing! I don't know how I ended up with such a wonderful man as my husband. I still have no appetite and Marc has to remind me to eat. He actually called me from work around 4pm to make sure I had eaten because he knew that I would forget...and I had.  If it were not for him I am pretty sure that some new kind of alien species would have started growing in our refrigerator since I have not attempted to clean the kitchen...or anything around the house for that matter.   He is always there to wipe my tears, he takes me in his arms and reassures me that we have to hang on to our hope because we will be happy again.  He is constantly telling me how much he loves me, how strong I am and how proud he is to be my husband.
A few nights ago on another rough night, he reminded me of a very important portion of our wedding vows.
"I will share your pain, that it be divided."  He told me that I do not have to carry this alone, that he will always carry a portion of it for me.
So for him I go ahead and force myself to get out of bed each morning.
I will try to smile for him at least once a day because our vows also say "I will share your joy, that it be multiplied."
For him, I will try to hold that hope that we will have more joy to share in the future.

I found this poem:

It must be very difficult

To be a man in grief,
Since "men don't cry"
and "men are strong"
No tears can bring relief.

It must be very difficult
To stand up to the test,
And field the calls and visitors
So she can get some rest.

They always ask if she's all right
And what she's going through.
But seldom take his hand and ask,
"My friend, but how are you?"

He hears her crying in the night
And thinks his heart will break.
He dries her tears and comforts her,
But "stays strong" for her sake.

It must be very difficult
To start each day anew.
And try to be so very brave-
He lost his baby too.

--Eileen Knight Hagemeister

I always feel better after writing so I will try to end on a more positive note. I found a father's blog about the loss of his daughter who was stillborn.  Here is an excerpt from his blog that I really liked.

"For me, the question really comes down to, what is healing vs. accepting the new reality? Acceptance, in my book, does not necessarily mean healing, but rather coming to a point where a bereaved person realizes that no amount of sadness, anger, or hopelessness is going to make things different and the process of grieving allows them to start moving forward again.

In other words, it is not TIME itself that helps, but rather what you DO WITH THE TIME. If you curl up in a ball, pull the shades, and let your sadness take over, no days, weeks, or months off the calendar are going help make you feel better. But if you use that grieving time to reflect and express your sadness and anger in a healthy way so the pressure does not become unbearable, life can become worth living again.

Believe me, it is not that I don't understand that sometimes the sadness is so overwhelming it seems completely impossible to ever think of being happy again. But, I also don't believe that we are dishonoring our children and the love we feel for them by allowing ourselves to smile, be happy, and feel hope."

My Words for Baby Marc's Memorial

These were the words I managed to get out at Marcus's memorial.

Dear Baby Marc,

Just as we were getting ready to say hello we are now here to say goodbye.

We had opened our hearts in welcome to you and it hurts that we cannot fulfill all the welcome we had to give. While we loved you without seeing, we wanted to see too: the particular shade of blue your eyes, the color of your hair, and who you might resemble. We wanted to hear the special sound of your own laughter, to watch your personality unfold and to see how you may have changed the world. But while these things have been taken away from us, my sweet baby, I want you to know how much you are loved.

From the moment we knew you were coming- I have loved you more than anything I have ever loved in my life. I will always cherish the few precious memories I have of you, like how excited I was to tell your daddy you were coming. The feeling of your little elbows, feet and fists as they explored your home inside of me and the hours you daddy and I spent watching you move. I will never forget the look on your daddy’s face the morning I woke him and told him you were on your way or the incredible feeling of giving birth to you.

Even though you will not be physically here with us we will carry you in our hearts always. We will carry the few beautiful hours we had you in our arms and keep your spirit alive with stories for your brother and sisters.

As you daddy told me, although your time with us was brief, your short life has impacted and changed ours forever. Because of you we are better people. You will always be a reminder to never take anything for granted.

Everything good I do will be for you.

I love you forever,
Your Mommy


I felt it was time to start sharing my story. I feel like this will be a healing thing for me to do.

I woke up at 4:30am thinking my water had broke. It was not a gush so I was not sure that my water really broke. I waited two hours a half hours! Everyone was sleeping and it was so hard not to wake Marc up but I wanted to be sure. I was still leaking water at 7:30 and I could not wait any longer so I sent a text to my midwife, Ginger-who assured me that what I was describing was my water breaking. I had very mild contractions all morning with no pain. Ginger came to check at 11ish and I was 1cm, so my midwife left and said to call when I felt painful contractions.

I could not just sit around and wait so I wanted to go to a movie thinking that it would kill time. So we all went to see Cars 2 around 2:30. A little over half way through the movie I could tell the contractions were increasing in intensity and duration. Marc kept asking if we should leave but the movie was almost over so I waited.  On the drive home something changed and the contractions got much more painful and all I was thinking was I want to be home now! Someone called the midwife because as soon as we got home I was already feeling pressure. Ginger arrived about 5 or 6 I am told but at this point I had no concept of time. I was in a lot of pain but coping well with the birthing pool. I do not think I could have done it naturally without the water. It was amazing how much it lessened the pain.  Marc was amazing! He was so supportive. During our pain coping techniques birthing class I thought for sure that I was going to want him to rub my back and do the things she showed us but it turned out I did not want him to touch me or even breathe on me too much! However I needed him sitting behind me and I needed to hold both of his hands and squeeze them very hard during contractions. I was dilated to about 7 cm now and very quickly I wanted to push really bad but I wasn't dilated completely so with Marc and Ginger reminding me to breathe I fought the urge. Baby Marc's heart rate was strong the whole time.

Close to 7pm I was told I could push. Finally! It was painful but pushing felt so much better than trying not to push. I pushed for only 30-45 min. When baby Marc's head came out, Ginger felt the cord around the neck.. It was very tight. She told me to push hard because she needed to get him out quick because his heart rate was at 120 and she didn't want it to drop more. I pushed hard and he was delivered at about 7:30.  Ginger placed my sweet baby on my chest but he wouldn't take a breath...she suctioned his mouth, moved him around, gave him air by mouth, then quickly clamped the cord, and started CPR.  I was in shock at this point, the moment I had dreamed of was going so drastically wrong. I sat in the birthing pool holding Marc, praying our baby would be ok. My mom immediately called 911 and the medics arrived in like 4 minutes. They rushed baby Marc off and Marc and Ginger went with him. I had to stay to be checked by the midwife assistant and to sign a release saying I did not want to be taken to the hospital. If I would have gone with the ambulance they would have taken me to Harris not Cooks to be with my baby. The medics called to tell is the baby was doing better and was in NICU and this is what I was told on the way to the hospital.  But by the time I arrived maybe 45 min later the doctors had done many tests and told Marc and I that baby Marc was brain dead due to the loss of oxygen from the cord being wrapped around his neck. The doctor read all of Gingers notes, he assured us that there was no one to blame and this would have happened even if I would have given birth in the hospital.

Marc and I both were in shock. We could not even cry. I was thinking why can I not cry? I should be hysterical. I think now that it is coping mechanism for your brain, a way of allowing you to handle a massive blow like this without completely losing it.  It was such a numb feeling.

Marc and I had to make the decision to take our sweet baby Marcus Alan off of life support. They gave him pain medication to make sure that he was not hurting and we took turns holding our baby. I held him and sang to him. I told him everything I could think of telling him, how much I loved him and would miss him. I promised him that everything good I do in this life I will do for him. I counted his fingers and toes, caressed his beautiful little face. We talked about how much he looked like Marc, but that he had my nose. It was so surreal to be holding this perfectly formed little baby but to know that we would not get to take him home. He was so beautiful he just looked as if he was sleeping.

My sweet little baby, our sweet Marcus died peacefully in my arms at 11:45pm.  I am so grateful for the few hours we got to spend with our baby. We should have had a lifetime but since we don't I cherish the time I had my baby with me. The hours he was in my arms and the months he was inside my womb. I am thankful that I took the time to talk to him while he was inside of me. I am thankful that I made sure to cherish the hours I spent with Marc feeling him explore and kick.  I am so lucky that I hired my amazing birth photographer Keri, she had been at the house during his delivery and offered to come to the hospital and take more pictures. They have already brought me so much comfort. I love having a beautiful portrait of my son to hang on my wall and I love that I have a family picture to carry with me. We will hire her again to take pictures of his brothers and sisters.

Everything about my pregnancy was normal and uncomplicated. The birthing process was amazing, I had completely natural childbirth and I was only in labor 15 hours - it was only painful for about 4 or 5 of those. Everything was normal up until the very last moments. I made the decision to have baby Marc at home because that is what I believed was best for him and I do not believe that had I been at a hospital the outcome would have been different. My labor was progressing normally and very quickly and his heart rate was strong. There would have been no indication that something was wrong until we could see that the cord was around his neck. By then it would have been too late for a C-section at the hospital. The odds of a baby dying from a cord accident is one out of every thousand babies and there really is no way to predict it in an otherwise normal, uncomplicated pregnancy. You just never think that it will happen to you.

The past three weeks have been the hardest three weeks of my life. I have never felt such intense sadness.  At times my heart and chest literally feels as if it is being squeezed so hard that I have to actually remind myself to take a breath or it might actually stop beating. I think of all the things I should be doing right now. All the things I have been cheated out of. All the things my sweet baby has been cheated out of. It was so hard when my milk came in, a reminder that I have no baby to feed.  I tell myself that I need to let go of those things I have fantasized about doing with baby Marcus for the past 10 months. Nothing can change what has happened so what is the point of dwelling on these things. But sometimes I cannot help it. I should have a three week old right now. I should be giving him his first bath, I should be taking newborn pictures, I should be up at 8am after being up all night with a newborn instead of being up at 8am after being up all night writing about losing him.

But then I try to be positive.
This is a horrible thing that has happened to me, to Marc, and to our family. But I am still a very lucky woman. I am so lucky that I am healthy and Marc and I will be able to make baby Marc a big brother. I have an amazing man to walk with me through this.  I did not know that I could love him more than I already did but everyday his strength and courage proves me wrong and I do love him even more. He is my rock and I could not handle this without him.
I am lucky to have amazingly supportive family and friends who love us and baby Marc.

I know that the only way to bring honor to Marcus Jr's life is to live my life the best I can. To not take any moment for granted. I will be a better mother and wife because of him. Right now most of the time my heart is heavy and hurting but the past week I have had moments, very brief moments of lightheartedness, a moment where I feel hopeful, where I feel strong and able to get through this.  However these moments are so brief that I often feel frustrated once they are gone, I desperately want to hold on to them but they go so quickly.

Time will not heal this wound. There will always be an empty space in my life where Marcus should be. In 10 years when Marc and I have other children and we are taking a family photo I will grieve for my child who will not be able to be in that photo. Every year on July 5th I will think of how old Marcus should be and the things I should be able to do with him.
I can only hope that time will allow me to hold on to those moments of hopefulness and lightheartedness for much longer.