Before and after. Everything changed. We weren’t carefree before. Not with infertility, and prematurity, and HG under our belts. But we had this last little innocence. And then it was gone. There is no more looking at heartbreaking, terrifying stories and thinking “it won’t happen to us.” It can. It did. It could again.
I think I have an easier time discussing the big topics with Owen. Talking about death on a daily basis with a toddler will do that. I worry less about whether a topic is “age appropriate.” You cross the bridge in front of you. You have the conversation in words they can understand and go from there.
I think before I would have been scared to talk to him about death. But now it’s something that he understands and can integrate in so many ways. He was pretending to be a robot earlier today. He told me “We are a family of five robots. But one is out of power.” Blending Noah into his story seamlessly.
I’m not sure where we are all going and who we are becoming. But I am both more anxious now, and more sure. Each child changes you forever, no matter how long the life.
October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. Capture Your Grief. And the month Noah was born. From beginning to end there are memories. October 1st, the first ultrasound to show a problem. To October 23rd when we picked his ashes up from the funeral home. Halloween, with the first times I left the house and saw people.
October is quintessential fall. The leaves start turning, nights get cold, pumpkins start to appear and I’m taken back there.
You think you won’t. Your child is dead, how could you ever smile? Ever be happy? Ever find something funny? But you do. Life keeps going. It seems cruel, but it does. And you feel guilty. You smile, you laugh, you breathe easier for a few minutes. And then it hits you. You aren’t supposed to be happy. You feel like you are betraying them. How can you enjoy things that they will ever get to enjoy?
But you go on. And you keep smiling. And eventually it doesn’t feel as bad to feel happy. You go on. Not with out them, but for them. You will smile again. And that’s ok.
Loss can be hard for a lot of people. I had several people unfriend me on social media either shortly after Noah was born, or around the time that they were pregnant themselves. For them I’m the proof that it can happen to anyone. And they don’t want to know that.
And then there are the people who you become closer to. The people who were truely there in the thick of it. Or those you connect to because they get it in a way that only someone who has been through it can.
And then there is family. Owen and Sam. We talk about death in ways that I would have never imagined talking to kids under 5. But we talk about death, a lot.
Death is hard. Grief is hard. Everyone grieves differently, so two people who experienced they same thing don’t grieve in the same way. Grief changes you. Your relationships have to change with it.
I can’t be grateful for Noah dying. But there are things related to his death that I can be grateful for.
I am grateful that in this day and age the topic of pregnancy and infant loss is less taboo. I know people who lost babies 30 or 60 years ago, and they weren’t allowed to talk about their babies. They weren’t even allowed to see them.
I’m grateful for the technology that allowed us to know what was coming. To talk to other families that had been there. To call NILMDTS for pictures. To buy some items for him. To think about the memories we wanted to make in the short time we were able to hold him.
I’m grateful for the internet to let me connect with communities and other families who have been through this loss, so that we can support each other.
And I’m grateful for friends and family that remember Noah with us. Reading all of the #kindnessfornoah posts really helps us to feel less alone on his birthday. I’m so grateful for everyone who reaches out and remembers with us.
The thing about gratitude is it doesn’t take away pain. I am grateful for all of these things. And so much more in my life. But joy and gratefulness don’t cancel out pain or grief. They sit next to it. They can bring in more love. But they don’t cancel the grief, pain, or love that is already there.
#captureyourgrief #captureyourgrief2016 #whathealsyou
Just when you think you have the hang of grief, it surprises you. In the past October has been a big struggle for me from the 1st through Noah’s birthday on the 19th. And then it gets easier. I held it together pretty well in early October this year. I thought I was in the clear. “Look how well I’m handling things!” And then. This year it was the after that really rocked me. The milestones and the memories don’t stop after his birthday.
Yesterday was 3 years from the day we drove to the funeral home to pick up his ashes. I went to fabric store and bought the rainbow fabric for the rainbow baby blanket giveaways I did for #kindness for Noah. And some of the train fabric that was used for the teeny tears diaper we got at the hospital. I’m planning on using it to make some diaper and blanket sets to donate back. And maybe some keepsakes for myself as well.
Part of my struggle was the damn debate on his birthday. While I appreciate Hillary’s response, all of the back and forth articles have been triggering. And I’ve had many people tag me in supportive comments on Facebook – which would be great if I was completely out with our story. But I’m not. That is the one little detail I have kept off my personal social media. So between that and seeing anti-choice bumper stickers on the vehicles of two local folks I know… it has just been a rough week.
Today is Noah’s 3rd birthday. The last two years we have done the same things for his birthday, things that we will probably continue for some time. They feel right.
The first thing we have done is an Act of Kindness drive. We take breavement supplies to the hospitals, and do other acts of kindness through out the day. And we ask others to do acts of kindness in Noah’s memory and share them with us under the hashtag #kindnessforNoah.
We also go and get flowers and drive up to the local waterfall. It’s a short hike that we can we can do together. We throw flowers and/or petals into the stream ahead of the falls and watch them go down.
We also light his candle, which we do every month on the 19th, and on any day that is particularly hard. It’s a way to take a moment. To say that we are thinking about him and feel close. 💗
Crocheting started for me as a way to give back. Then I quickly realized that it helped my anxiety in social situations where I wasn’t comfortable in my new role as a grieving mother. Whether something was triggering, or I could sense that my grief made someone else uncomfortable, crocheting gave me something else to focus on. It helped to wean me off of the anti-anxiety medications I took when I had to be around people. I have since found that crocheting for a little while helps calm anxiety of any kind.
My other healing therapy is being able to talk about Noah, our experiences, my grief. Or more often writing about it. I write for capture your grief during October, but I write the rest of the year in spaces where I can connect with other parents dealing with loss and infertility. This blog, message boards. Places I can share our story.
I am reminded of a line from RENT – “The opposite of war isn’t peace – it’s creation.” Grief and loss can feel like a war. But being able to create in the face of loss can be incredibly healing.
#captureyourgrief #captureyourgrief2016 #whathealsyou
When we went to the hospital to drop of blankets on Saturday, we were told we couldn’t put them in the room where they are stored, because was using it. The breavement room. In use means that while we were standing there, at the desk, just a few hundred feet away someone’s world was falling apart.
Room 13. When we checked in (three years ago today) everyone said “they are in room 13” like it meant something. And it clearly did. There was a look. A look they would give us. A look I now give.
The room is in use. Where the nurses painstakingly made these molds of his hands and feet. Where I sat and rocked and sang to Noah the lullabies I sing to Owen and Sam for the first and only time – there was another family. Making their first and only memories.
So I come home. And I sit, and I hug his bear. And I touch the molds of his hands and feet, the blanket embroidered with his name, and the box with his ashes.
And I think about all the grief and love that room holds. And I think of the family, by now home without their baby.
Room 13. They give it to us, because we’ve already had the worst luck in the world.
Today is 5 years from the day we brought Owen home from the NICU, and 3 years from our last day home with Noah.
#captureyourgrief #captureyourgrief #whathealsyou