When people say you murdered your baby

I know I’ve been absent. But I need to get this out. If anyone is still here, forgive me for only coming here in pain.

I’m struggling. With everything in the news, with everything being posted. I have been unfriended by family. I have had people I considered friends tell me (unknowing that it applies to me) that people who terminate for medical reasons “torture and murder innocent babies.” That doctors are often wrong, and if we didn’t there might be a miracle performed and they would live.

Another loss mom has moved to our town. She had a medically fragile child die. I think she sees a lot of her child in the diagnoses, prognoses and stories of those of us who chose to TFMR. Right or not, she can’t imagine making a different choice, and so views our choice as a threat to her world. It seems black and white for so many. If you CTT, those who TFMR must be wrong, they must want to force their choice on you, they must be judging you for allowing any pain that occurred for your child. And if you TFMR, it’s the opposite – those who CTT must be judging. And, we often are being judged.

I am a facilitator for the local loss grief support group. I know this know this new mom to town knows about it. I don’t think she knows my story. I am unsure if we can coexist together. I’m doubtful. So I’m left with choices – discourage her from coming, deal with her coming either by hiding my story – or sharing knowing that she will probably hate me and never come back, or step back – leave the support circle so that she can have that space. Because it seems like it is likely a safe space for her or me, but not both. So who is more worthy?

And that is when the guilt and the shame comes in. I wish I didn’t have it. I am secure in our choice. It was the right one for us. But then times like these come and I feel battered down. I know how some would look at me differently. I know that telling my truth could effect future jobs, make trouble for any school I taught at. And it can effect my living kids.

The mom that says people like me are murderers? Our kids are the same age. We live in the same neighborhood, belong to the same pool, and have our kids in the same scout troop. I will see her multiple times a week for years to come. If she knew, would she still let her kid play with mine? Let my husband be his den leader? Will her kid call my family murderers on the playground?

And that breaks me. The fear for my living boys. The thought of ostracism in this town we love.

And I know there are those who would have our backs. But right now the world seems cold, and cruel, and unsafe.

A 💔 and a Facebook PSA

I spent a long time with many Facebook friends hidden. If they were due around the same time as me, or of their childshares a birthdate – I just couldn’t do it. Little by little I re-followed/unhid them all.  
But then this month comes. I love my friends and their kids. I am past the ache at every mention or picture. But for those celebrating their child’s 4th birthday this month – it still stings. Their child is here (as they should be,) and mine is not.  

So rather than just hiding individual posts, or hiding them and needing to undo it later – there is a snooze button. For 30 days I can bury my head in the sand and hide the reminders that we should have children the exact same age – but mine died.  

Next month I will “like” the cute pictures. I will laugh at the silly things they do. I will digitally send 🍷🍫 for the hard moments. But for this month, I will hold space for my own 4yr old, and my grief that he isn’t here.  

Noah’s 4th birthday

Today we did acts of kindness for Noah.  And we asked others to join us.  We went for a beautiful hike to the waterfall.  We had dinner, and cake, and tried to explain to Sam who all of this was for.  Owen gets it in a way that I wonder if Sam ever will.  At Sam’s age Owen had already experienced death, loss and heartbreak.  In some ways, even though he was born into a bereaved family, Sam has never had loss.  He is lighter for it.  

Four years ago tonight we were on the most surreal drive of our lives. Having given birth 12 hours before, we drove two hours with our baby in a tiny white coffin to take him to the funeral home, and say goodbye. It is the hardest thing I have ever done.  
Still, I am glad for the time we had with him. And that we have pictures of him. He had high cheekbones like Owen, and Sam, and my side of the family. His lips and his nose were like theirs too.  
I mostly share the pretty black-and-white, softened pictures from NILMDTS.  But you can’t see him as well in them.  You don’t see all the “disturbing” things. His bright red, paper thin skin.  His huge, squishy head swollen with fluid.  But you also don’t see that he has our cheeks, my nose, his dad’s eyes. 

NILMDTS is an amazing organization.  And I am so greatful for beautiful pictures that I can have up in my house.  

But I love the real pictures too.  Even if no one else wants to see them.  

Capture Your Grief Day 6: Bella Luna

The prompt for today involved taking a picture of the rising full moon. Only it isn’t full here. The person who runs CYG is based in Australia. In Australia, the full moon rose on October 6th. Here, it was on October 5th. The challenges of touching people all over the world.  

This moon looks full. You can’t easily tell at a glance that a piece is missing. Just like you can’t tell looking at our family. There is a shadow. Small, but present. You look at our family and we look like a happy family of four. But if you look close, if you listen, you can tell. Owen will tell you. The pictures on our wall show him. The handprint necklace I wear. Small, but present, these signs that Noah was here. Our family looks full, but we only wish it were so.  
#CaptureYourGrief #CaptureYourGrief2017

Capture Your Grief Day 5: Soul Therapy

Crocheting is soothing. I didn’t pick it up until I had this desperate need to learn so I could create something after Noah died. When I am anxious, and jumpy and need call, crochet helps. It’s repetitive, rhythmic, and soothing. I prefer projects with small goals. So that I can see what I am creating taking shape.  

I have always loved the line from RENT “The opposite of War isn’t Peace – it’s Creation!” Grief can feel like a war. With the world, with “why”s, with your emotions, with yourself. You are geared up for battle, but you can’t fight death. So we get angry and lash out at those who try to comfort us. Or, at those who are silent. Creating can channel all of that tension elsewhere.  

#CaptureYourGrief #CaptureYourGrief2017

CaptureYourGrief Day 4: Belonging

Apparently there isn’t a good picture of all three of us, so this will have to do. We had only met 4 months before I was on bedrest. They took care of me, took care of my family, and supported us in every way. They were some of the first to know when everything went downhill fast. I spent more time crying on their couches than I can count. I knew I was always welcome, and there was nothing but understanding.  
They are my tribe, my family. We celebrate together, vent together, and mourn together. From the mundane to the big things, we’ve been there for it all. They say you see people’s true colors when a tragedy happens. These two were here at the hardest time of our lives. They walked in when it would have been so easy to walk out.  

#CaptureYourGrief #CaptureYourGrief2017

Capture Your Grief Day 3: Meaningful Mantra

“Love Is Enough”

I am feeling unprepared this year. I have so much I try to do in October. To honor Noah’s memory. To show how much he means, that he is part of our family, so we can share him and he will never be forgotten.  

I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure. To do as much if not more than the previous three years. To show that we are not forgetting. But I know we are not. We don’t need a big show to honor him. To love him. Love is enough. This month I am going to try to relax. To focus on love, and not the stress of “doing enough.” Love is enough.  

#CaptureYourGrief #CaptureYourGrief2017

Capture Your Grief Day 2: Rise + Shine Mourning Ritual

Today’s instruction was to take a few moments of silence first thing in the morning and to hold space for yourself.  Mornings are hectic here.  Usually I hit the ground running, often waking up with one or more children in my bed.  But there is also this.  Noah’s Molly Bear – weighing the same amount he weighed. I spent a few moments just sitting and holding Noah’s bear.   Even in our hectic mornings, he is there.  
#CaptureYourGrief #CaptureYourGrief2017

Capture Your Grief Day One – Sunrise

I am not a morning person.  Anyone who knows me knows that is an understatement.  But once a year I set my alarm, earlier than I need to, to capture the sunrise. I do it for Noah.  Once a year, October arrives, and with it, memories of a little boy whose stay was far too short.   

This sunrise was grey.  It has been raining for days and clouds hover.  I am feeling grey – run down, worn out.  As fall has started with Kindergarten and preschool, 2 sets of teachers, needs, adjustments, and friends – I wonder.  How would I do this with three?  What would life look like if he were alive?  I can barely keep my head above water with two needs pulling at me.  I watch a family with three living boys and think “that should be me” and “could I have done that?” 

I’d like to think in another world I am.  In another world they all exist.  I know there would be enough love to go around.  

#captureyourgrief #captureyourgrief2017

Joy and grief

One person’s day of joy, is another’s day of grief. Today is Owen’s 6th birthday.  For one friend, it is also the 7th anniversary of the sudden death of her brother.  For another it is her daughter’s 2nd stillbirthday.  

Joy and grief are not comfortable bedfellows.   Noah’s birthday is the same day as a friend of Owen’s.  I try to hold space for both, and to allow them to coexist in the same day.  But I feel for everyone whose day of grief is another’s day of joy.