Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's happened again...

Well, someone who was a few years younger than me in high school just lost twin boys last night.  It is just unbelievable how many people have to experience this pain.  I still don't know if I'm just more aware of it, or if it really is happening more.  This makes a grand total of five babies that have been stillborn (past 20 weeks) just in Monroe since we lost Harper.  I've also heard about two babies lost to SIDS, and a few miscarriages.  And its not even been five months....

I feel like more people I know are losing their babies than having living babies.  I just can't make sense of it.  Every time I hear of a loss I just lose the ability to function.  I walk around in a fog, feeling like I got punched in the gut.  I'm sure I will toss and turn all night. It has consumed my thoughts all day.  I hurt for those new families hurting for the first time, and I hurt for me all over again.

I know that these babies are bringing more awareness to pregnancy loss.  It happens and it happens a lot.  No one is immune.  I read somewhere once that stillbirth does not discriminate.  It doesn't care what race, religion or ethnicity you are.  It doesn't care how long you tried to get pregnant or how badly you wanted a baby.  It doesn't care how many weeks you put into taking care of your unborn baby.  It doesn't care how nicely your nursery is decorated or that the car seat is already installed in the car or that the bottles are already sterilized and in the cupboard.  Stillbirth doesn't care about your plans, hopes, and dreams.  It can happen to anyone.

And no one ever expects it to happen to them.  That is something that has bothered me from the beginning...I felt that people looked at me like somehow I knew I was going to lose Harper.  And that others assume its not going to happen to them.  Just because you pee on a stick and see a plus sign does not mean you are going to bring home a baby in 9 months.  Just because you feel kicks and hear your baby's heartbeat does not mean you are going to bring home a baby.  Just because you make it past 12 weeks, or 25 weeks, or 40 weeks does not mean you are going to bring home a baby.  I wish all pregnant women knew this.  Not so they would live in fear, but so they could be aware that this is something that happens and it can happen to anyone at any point in a seemingly healthy pregnancy. 

I hope that all of these precious babies not only bring awareness to other expectant parents but also to the medical community.  There has got to be a way to reduce these numbers.  I don't know how and I know modern medicine still has it's limitations...I just wish there was a way that more could be done to prevent stillbirth.  I wish there was a way to prevent so many people from experiencing a pain no words can describe...

Friday, December 24, 2010


I wanted to really make a note of the progress that I have made.  That was my original intention with the previous post.  But then before I got the chance to rethink my journey thus far, I slipped back a bit.

Here goes...

Initially I felt numb.  It's hard to describe that state of fogginess.  I understood what was happening, but I did not believe it was actually happening to me.  There were many moments during that day that I almost felt like I was watching the scenes from a movie.  Maybe it was the drugs they were giving me to help with the labor pains, but maybe it was just a coping mechanism.  I felt very removed from the situation.

Once I saw her I felt overwhelming sadness mixed in with the numb fogginess.  I cried more than I thought possible.  I didn't know what to do or how to feel.  Part of me just wanted to run away, part of me wanted to freeze time so I would never have to let her go.  I didn't know what to expect...I was scared of what she would look like...I didn't know if I wanted to hold her.  I was very guarded with my heart at first, but I was already so head-over-heals in love with her there was no real way to protect myself .

The next emotion I felt was brokenness.  They exact moment I had to lay her in her bassinet and walk away felt like she was being ripped from my arms.  Tears are welling in my eyes as I write this because that was the most painful moment of all.  I was the one who laid her down, but it felt like she was being forced out of my arms.  That was the last time I held her.  My heart broke in that moment.  And then I had to leave the Family Birth Center.  Without a baby.  That's just not natural.

The emotion following was aggravation/annoyance.  The nurse was trying to make small talk with me as we waited for Joel to pull up with the van.  She mentioned something about the weather and blah, blah, blah.  SHUT UP!  DO YOU REALIZE THAT MY BABY JUST DIED AND I AM GOING HOME EMPTY HANDED.  I DO NOT CARE ABOUT THE WEATHER!  This is what my heart is screaming, but instead I just nod my head and will Joel to pull up.  I did not realize how often I would continue to have this feeling; even with the most well-meaning people.

That night I was relieved to be home.  Things somehow felt normal there.  It was me and my husband and my kids...just like the night before, and the night before that, and the night before that.  She was never really part of our daily wasn't the whole "some one's missing at the dinner table" thing.  Denial set in.  I honestly thought I might wake up the next morning and feel normal.  Like it was all a bad dream, or just a bad day.  But the next morning felt anything but normal.  It was all so surreal.  Going to the funeral home to make arrangements when I should have still been at the hospital getting to know my new baby.  The next few days went on like that.  Just feeling so much like, "This is not really happening to me."  I was thankful for the business of planning funeral stuff though.  It kept my mind occupied.

After the memorial service was over I panicked.  Now what?  What am I going to do now?  How am I going to get through the next day?  It was all over.  We had buried her body and celebrated her short life.  Was I now supposed to carry on a normal life?  It was so overwhelming.  Joel was off work for another week and we tried to keep life as normal as possible for the kids.  We took a trip to the zoo and that was the first time I was confronted with my emotions when seeing newborn babies and pregnant women.  I felt like they were everywhere.  I saw a woman pick a tiny baby up out of a stroller.  Her legs were still curled in like she was still not used to life outside of her mother's womb.  My heart sank.  Then I saw another women sitting on a bench nursing her newborn baby.  Was this not supposed to be me right now?  What happened?  How did things go so wrong?  I did not want to be envious of women with babies...and that has proven to be a hard bridge to cross.

After Joel went back to work it was back to reality for me too.  I still had to take care of my two living children.  I felt as if I was going through the motions.  At first my children were my only source of joy, but by the time Joel went back to work I began getting frustrated with them.  The guilt set in big time.  I wanted to work on Harper's scrapbook and I would snap at them when they were demanding things from me.  I just wanted them to leave me alone.  It hurts so much to bring back these feelings.  I still loved my kids, but I needed time to grieve.  I did not know how to keep being a mom when I was hurting so much.  There were so many nights that I would tuck them in and I would look at them and think "What have I even done with you today?  Did I even talk to you or read to you?"  And then I would lay in my bed and cry.  The internal tug-of-war was exhausting.  I felt guilty for not being a good mom to them, but I didn't know what else to do at the time.  I needed to grieve Harper; I knew that.  It took a long time to find that balance of grief but still enjoying time with my children.  This is one area that I know I have made tons of progress.  I thought for sure I was going to miss out on their entire childhoods, or that they would somehow be forever scarred by the lack of emotion they received from me, but that phase was short-lived.

I also experienced a lot of joy when I thought about Harper.  I would look at her pictures over and over and just marvel at how beautiful she was.  I knew she was something special and I knew she had a great purpose even if she never took a breath of air.  I wanted everyone to know about her.  The cashier at Wal-Mart, the pharmacist at Shopko...any random stranger that glanced my way.  I wanted them all to know about my beautiful daughter in Heaven.  Most of the time I resisted the urge to tell everyone, but as time wears on I don't hold back as much.  I feel great relief when I talk about Harper.  Even if people don't really want to hear about her I want to talk about her...and so I share.  It makes me so much happier if I can talk about her, as apposed to situations where I don't feel like others really want to know.  Its kinda like the elephant in the room...I'd rather talk about her.

The next phase I experienced was the endless "why" questions.  I replayed my pregnancy over and over, trying to figure out what I missed or where things went wrong.  I thought somehow I had the capabilities to go back and do it all over.  "I should have been more vocal with my concerns."  "I should have demanded a NST (non-stress test)."  "I should have called the minute I realized she wasn't moving."  And on and on and on.  I would research things on-line and get myself even more worked up.  All of the would-a, should-a, could-a's became tormenting.  I had to just let it go.  That was when I did a lot of God-searching.  What did I really believe about God and his sovereignty?  Let it go...I knew he was in control.  I knew that from the beginning of time he knew there was going to be a little girl named Harper who would be born still in 2010.  He knew it all along...before he even created the heavens and the earth...HE KNEW.  And he was in control.  And as much as I wish I could turn back the hands of time...I can't.  As much as I replayed it, the outcome was always the same.  She is gone.  Nothing will bring her back.  I had to accept this and let it go.

This was the point when the denial faded and I was faced with the black-and-white reality.  I had a baby and my baby died.  I would say it over and over again.  Just to remind my self it was real.  I had a baby and my baby died.  That was when I knew I had to embrace the grieving process...I had to let myself feel the pain.  I think I had always relied on some false hope that somehow I could hurry up and grieve and get on with my life.  I now accepted the fact that this was something that was not ever going to go away.  For as long as I live there will always be a little girl named Harper who is missing from my life.  I will be one of those little old ladies on my death bed who says "Now I can go meet my baby."

I would have to say that the latest phase I have been dealing with is the one place I said I would never go.  But somehow it found me anyway.  ANGER/RESENTMENT/BITTERNESS.  I never wanted to deal with this uglier side of loss.  I didn't know I couldn't really control that though.  I feel like the closeness I felt with God in the beginning has started to diminish and then the anger creeps in.  And that scares me.  I don't want to be angry with God.  I don't want to question what he was thinking.  But it has happened anyway.  I'm not giving up on him and I know he's not giving up on me.  I still believe all of his promises are true, even I can't make any sense of them.  I long for that all-consuming presence again.  That feeling of being safe in his arms again.  I have to keep plugging forward in my relationship with him to get to that place again, and then I feel that the bitterness with subside. 

Its amazing when I look back at all I have been through in four and a half months.  The initial fog has lifted.  I'm not consumed by sadness anymore.  I enjoy my kids like I used too.  I'm dealing with my loss instead of denying it.  I am making progress...I have come a long way in a relatively short amount of time.  I'm sorry this is such a long post, but I had to do it for me.  I had to put in perspective where I've come from.  And how much God has carried me through.  I know he loves me.  I know his plans are good.  I trust him that he will continue to carry me through...through this rocky phase I am in...through the next leg of the journey...through the season of grief all the way to the season of dancing! 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

'Tis the season

This roller coaster ride called grieving is really getting old.  Just this morning I'm thinking about how far I've come in the process and then one little thing happens and sets me off again.  Its just tiring and a lot of work.  I've "worked" hard for the last four and a half months and I just can't imagine how much more work I'm going to have to do.

I want the grieving to be over, I want the pain to be gone.  I no longer feel guilty if I have a good day.  I know Harper is perfect and that she loves me.  She doesn't want me to hurt and she doesn't feel hurt if I want to enjoy my life.  I still have a life to live here...I don't want to spend so much time feeling hurt and lonely and broken.

I thought I was going to be okay for the holidays, but now I'm not so sure.  I just wish I could see some sort of light and the end of the tunnel; some small glimmer of hope that this season of grief will not last forever.

Ecclesiastes 3:1,4 ~ There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven.  A time to cry and a time to laugh.  A time to grieve and a time to dance.
I'm trying to be patient with myself...I know this takes time.  I'm trying to trust God and believe his word that this is only a season.  I want so badly to feel his hope, peace, love, and joy. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

I'm moving forward

I'm feeling good today.  I'm actually excited about Christmas.  The kids are really getting into it this year.  I can't wait to see their excited faces Christmas morning as they tear open their gifts.  I'm glad I've gotten to this place, because a month ago I don't think I would have been able to feel this excitement.  I know its going to hurt to not have Harper here.  I still think about her constantly.  I've done so much to include her in our celebration this year and I hope these become lasting traditions so she will always be a part of our Christmas.  We took a small tree out to the cemetery and decorated it with pink balls and a big pink bow.  She has ornaments on our tree.  We have an angel that lights up so we can have the light on all day Christmas day to remember her.  I know that having these reminders of her will help me get through the day with more joy and peace.

I couldn't imagine what it would be like to have gone through this loss fifty years ago when women weren't allowed to see or hold their babies.  They were told to forget about it and have another baby.  We've come a long way since then.  Feeling like Harper's memory is alive and having ways to include her and remember her is so important for me to move forward in my life.  I would give anything to have her here this Christmas (and everyday) but I know that isn't possible.  I know it will hurt to celebrate the day without her, and thinking about "what could have been."  But really, its not any different than any other day.  I wish she was here everyday.  I hurt every day for her.  And I remember her everyday and include her in my life as much as possible.  I will carry Harper with me everyday for the rest of my life.

Christmas in Heaven
I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below
with tiny lights like Heaven's stars reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so spectacular please wipe away that tear
for I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear
but the sound of music can't compare with the Christmas choir up here.
I have no words to tell you of the joy their voices bring
for it is beyond description to hear the angels sing.
I know how much you miss me, I see the pain inside your heart
for I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I can't tell you of the splendor or the peace here in this place
Can you just imagine Christmas with our Savior face to face
I'll ask him to lift your spirit as I tell him of your love
so then pray for one another as you lift your eyes above.
Please let your hearts be joyful and let your spirit sing
for I am spending Christmas in Heaven and I’m walking with the King.
~ by Wanda White
© Copyright 1999

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

You're Gonna Miss This

It seems that every time I get on facebook someone is counting down the days until their baby is due. It always strikes a nerve with me...why are these people counting down the days until their baby dies? As if everyone who is pregnant is going to lose their child...

I guess the bigger issue is the fact that I did this myself. I impatiently counted down the weeks until Harper was due. I willed so much of my pregnancy with her away. The first 16 weeks I was so exhausted and nauseous. I couldn't wait for that to be over. Then around 5 months my hips and back started aching so bad. I couldn't sleep and then summer hit and I swelled up so bad. I was miserable for most of the nine months I was pregnant.

Each day that last week felt like an eternity. I cried because I was so tired of being pregnant; I just wanted it to be over. But now I realize what a gift that pregnancy was. Those were the only moments of Harper's life that she was alive and well...and I wished them away. I should have spent each moment enjoying each kick or hiccup, because that meant she was moving and growing. When I see my friends post their countdowns, it really just triggers guilt in myself, because those nine months were all I had with her. I wish I would have savored it...because now I certainly miss it.

*You'll have to pause the media player at the bottom if you want to hear this video*

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December 5th, 2009

One year ago today the test came back positive, and I fell in love.  I knew my life was about to change but I could have never imagined how much, or in this way.  If I knew how things were going to turn out I would have still gone through everything because I love her so much.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


One summer when I was about 10 and my sister was 5 we were at Magic Waters Water park.  We were in the big wave pool without our tubes because the waves were on break.  The water was still and we were splashing and enjoying the summer fun.  Then the whistle blows its warning and the waves start back up again.  We are out to far and Kim can't reach when the waves sweep over us.  I hold on to her, but I can't carry her and keep myself above the waves.  I can't let go of her, but I can't move forward either.  Each wave comes crashing over us and we struggle to make our way out of it.  Finally a lifeguard spots us and blows his whistle to stop the waves.  He jumps in to rescue us out of the pool.

I feel like that today, actually for the past few days.  Things were nice and calm.  I was having fun again, enjoying things again...and then the waves began to swallow me up, without the warning of a whistle blowing.  I'm struggling, trying to stay afloat, holding on to something so precious to me that I can't let it go.  I know if I let it go I will have better chances of getting out of the water, but how can I possibly let go?

And so I wait.  I wait for the waves to stop.  I wait for strong arms to come swoop me up out of the dangerous waters.  Where are you God?  Why are you letting me drown?  Why I am I so afraid?  Where is my hope?  Where is my faith?