Positive.

Having a blog centered around grief is not the easiest thing to keep up with. I can write down what I’ve learned about grief, sadness, depression, desperation- in hopes that it may help someone along the way. But I can’t give you answers, I can’t say that by doing some one thing will make all of your heartache just disappear… In one day. Grief and healing takes time. Some take a little less and some take a little more. But I took a step back, took time for myself, and can now give you an update of my journey..

It’s been about 7 months since my last post. Crazy, right? My last entry was written just before a family Christmas dinner and I can’t explain how empty both me and my husband truly were that day. One family get together a few days later we didn’t even show up for. I don’t remember where I actually was or what I even did for Christmas, which probably goes to say I didn’t do much.

But I just reread over that post and what I’m seeing now is definitely not what I was feeling then: Strength.

That post shows so much light pouring through the cracks of my broken heart. I didn’t realize it then but I was so brave. Brave to take on another day, eager to begin living, accepting the loss of my son and so undeniably full of love for him and my life. You’re never able to exactly pinpoint where things change; where it all went wrong, where things started to go right. But those Holidays… That heartache… It changed me. What’s that one saying about hitting rock bottom?

Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life. – J.K. Rowling

So, here’s a lengthy summarization on the past 7 months of my life. This definitely won’t be my last post, as I have much to fill you in on..

  1. I cut out toxic people. – I had to. There were people in my life that were consistently insensitive to my feelings and had completely disregarded my sons death. If there is someone in your life in any way holding you back from happiness, you need to get away from that person IMMEDIATELY. It’s not just happiness they’re going to steal from you; it’s opportunity, growth, energy.. So much of what we do is influenced by those we surround ourselves with. Life is too short to be surrounded by people who completely drain you (and trust me, they thrive off of it). I have been so fortunate to find people after the loss of my son that have given me so much to live for. They encourage me, inspire me, value, and love me. This whole toxicity portion is a whole separate post itself. It’s going to have to be. Because I really have just too much to say on it. So stay tuned for that, I guess.
  2. I loved my husband. – David and I have been together for 10 years now. The death of our son had taken a toll on our marriage more than any other life event we’ve now been through together. Let me say this first and foremost: I don’t know if I ever loved my husband more than when I saw him hold our son for the first time. He held Kai and he kissed him and I fell so madly in love with David all over again. I knew right then that all I wanted to do was continue growing my family with him. All I wanted to do was take all of his pain away and give him everything he deserves. But the months after that? My grieving? Yeah, it held me back. My depression held me back. I wasn’t a pleasant person to live with, there’s no way I was. But for better or for worse, he was there. Endless nights I spent crying, days I spent yelling out of anger and sadness. He loved me unconditonally when I wasn’t a very lovable person. And I am just so thankful that I was given this person to love and care for me. I needed him. When I had nothing left and all of my joy stolen from me, I needed him, and he was there. So we grieved together, we grew together, and we have been able to love each other more now I think because of this experience.
  3. I worked on my physical health. – When I was admitted into the hospital right after finding out Kai had passed away my health deteriorated quickly. There was a point laying in that hospital bed I thought I was dying. And I felt so betrayed by my body. I felt as though it had failed me. And then the aftermath of my delivery; finding out that this was just a very unexpected tragedy- no diagnosis, no reason, nothing. I put a lot of blame on myself. I put a lot of blame on my body. I thought that I was relatively healthy human being so why couldn’t my body support a pregnancy? Anyways, I set out to do better for myself. I started to eat better and use food to energize my body. Made goals to drink more water. Like soooo much water. (If Tom Segura reads this, I am actually the real water champ.) I added in regular exercise of both cardio and strength training, occasionally doing some laps in the pool but nearly drowned each time. I also tried yoga but it’s just really not my thing. I really want to be a twisted pretzel but my body is rejecting any and all efforts for that. And it’s kind of boring. Can I say that? I’m really impatient. So anyways, after a couple of months I felt so much more enthusiastic about my health. I was back at a weight I hadn’t been at since high school, I was able to run miles and take the stairs at work with ease. I finally felt like I was back to better health and I was just praying that it would be enough.
  4. I started talking to God. – I’m not religious. You won’t find me in Church every Sunday morning.. Or ever, really. I have a Bible somewhere in my house, but it may still be in a box in the attic, honestly. But I believe in God. I believe there is definitely more to life than this and when I look around at all the beauty in the world I know that someone somewhere is responsible. But after I lost my son I was so hurt and enraged that I completely gave up on what little faith I probably had. I turned my back on God, for sure. How could he do this to me? Why was I being punished? But like I said, my grief has changed me and so now every night before I go to bed I pray. I don’t know if he’s hearing me but the changes and the blessings that seem to continue to come my way is enough reason for me to think that he hasn’t given up on me.
  5. I had an unexpected and very needed surprise. – At the beginning of the New Year a seed of positivity engrained itself into my thoughts and began to change how I started living. I began to search for light and healing and stopped forcing myself to succumb to misery. I began to think more hopefully, like maybe this will be my year, maybe I will be able to continue on living and growing and laughing. It began to feel like the world was now returning to the beautiful place I once knew it to be. And so, one early and cold January morning I woke up to get ready for work and my husband urged me one more time to take another test. It had been probably three weeks or so since my missed period and each test I took came back negative. I even had blood work done at the office a week prior and it came back negative. So I wasn’t eager to pee on another test at all. If you’ve ever been a woman trying to get pregnant you’ll know just how devastating each negative test continues to be.. But to my surprise I was greeted that morning to two vibrant, pink, and POSITIVE lines.

My husbands face lit up seeing that test and the smile on his face was the light I’ve been so desperately searching for.

That was back in January. I am currently 30 weeks pregnant and healthy and happy. I would like to have another post written before the baby arrives to fill some in on what a subsequent pregnancy has been like after a loss. I know some out there want to take that next step and try again and may be looking for some kind of hope. Some kind of encouragement. A pregnancy after a loss is terrifying and filled with a lot of emotions, a lot of anxiety.. But also a lot of excitement. So I will do my best to get started on that but in the meantime, continue to take care of yourself, Sunshine. Fill each morning with positivity and turn your bad mourning into a good mourning.

 

 

Oh, and before I forget. It’s a Boy.

 

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This Christmas

Halloween was hard. Thanksgiving was even harder.

This first Christmas with Kai gone will be without a doubt the hardest.

With each new day I begin to miss him a little more. I would do anything to have him here. I would do anything to bring him back. It would be easy to lock myself away and hide through the holidays. And to be honest, I’ve thought about doing just that a couple of dozen times. I keep seeing the “My First Christmas” onesies and, damn, that’s hard.

But with time I’ve made some progress in my grieving and even though I’m hurting I can’t help but think about how happy I am to have had my son in my life; even though our time together was too short. Seeing my son for the first time is one of the most fondest memories I have. And holding my son opened my heart to a love I never knew I was even capable of feeling.

If I found out at the beginning that this is how my life would turn out, losing Kai and all.. I promise you, I wouldn’t change a thing. Having my son has changed my life in so many beautiful ways. I’d rather keep him in my heart for the rest of my life than to have not had the chance to know him at all. He has made me a better person, he’s made my life worth living, and I am so proud to be his momma.

So this Christmas I’ll be missing you, Kai. I’ll be thinking of you and I’ll be loving you, wholeheartedly, forever and always.

 

 

My Long-Term Relationship With Grief

There are stages of grief. You’re aware of them, I’m sure. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Those ones, remember? What you may have not considered is how long grief actually sticks around for. What are you expecting, months? Maybe a few years?
Sorry to tell you this, dear, but grief is here to stay.. Long-term.
If your heart is currently heavy from a loss, I’ll tell you what I have found after losing my son, Kai.
And meh, you may feel a little better by the end of it.

Today you woke up and Holy Hell, you’re mad. You’re angry at God, you’re angry at the Universe, and I swear if someone tells me one more time how much the Browns suck, I AM THIS CLOSE TO LOSING MY SHIT. jk.
You’re going to look for reasons and people to blame. You’re going to have a lot of resentment and you’re going to run into the wrong person at the wrong time. That’s just how the world spins around, I guess. You’ll most likely say a lot of really hurtful things. If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably blame yourself every now and then. But here’s where I have to stop you, it’s where I stopped myself. YOU did not do this. It really is the truth, I’m not just saying that. I’ve heard it multiple times over the last 8 weeks and it has been especially hard for me to accept that. Sometimes, this just happens. And that really effing sucks. A majority of the time they don’t find any answers for you. They never found a reason for why my Kai passed away. He was a healthy, perfect baby boy, and well.. yeah. So, break a glass if you want to. Punch the wall or scream into your pillow, but from what I have found is it just doesn’t really fix anything.

Although, I did flip the bird to a guy while driving once. I got lost in my thoughts and sat at a green light all the way until it turned red again. The man behind me was liiiiiivid. So, I threw up the finger. And it felt damn good too.

So time passes, the pain eases for a moment. And wait, what? Is that a smile? Good for you. You deserve to be happy and you should smile. But here’s where my other readers (I’m looking at you, non-grievers) need to tune in and fully comprehend what I’m about to say (type): a smile DOES NOT mean healed. In an instant, someone who may seem accepting of their tragedy can sink right back into a spiraling, deep depression.

Because peaks and valleys, people.

There are days.. God, are there days, where I wake up and I just don’t feel right. A little hint of blue in his nursery peeks through the crack of his bedroom door and wow, does it take me right back. It happens. It may have just been a few days since my last breakdown or it may be months. There is no real timeline for this whole grieving thing. It comes and goes and I need you to be OK with that. I need you to understand that despite the good days I will continue to have.. For weeks, for months, for years later, I will be forever and always missing, loving, and grieving the loss of my baby boy. Because it’s not as simple as saying “I lost my son”. I’m losing his first birthday, and second, and tenth, and sixteenth. I’m losing Christmas mornings, and baby teeth, and first days of school. I’ll never see him go to prom or marry a beautiful girl.

I will never be whole again. 

So do your thing, baby, and live your life. But know that sadness and depression can creep back into your life at any point for no reason at all, and that is ok. Grief isn’t something you have to overcome and conquer. Grief can be your friend, if you allow it.

Kai, I’ll be missing you every second of forever.   

Confronting Pain

It’s early June, I’m sitting on the porch watching as my husband mows the lawn and I had just learned through one of my pregnancy apps that the baby is now developed enough to hear my voice. So instead of just talking to Kai, like “Hey buddy, it’s me, your mom!” I decided to sing to him. I made up my own lullaby and now that I think about it, I really wish I would have wrote it down. I was singing and humming and swaying. I was so full of love and I was so peacefully happy in that moment, I think my heart could of burst from being at max capacity.

Was.

I have thought to myself that, sure, one day I will be happy again. Of course I will. But will I be that kind of happy?
See, moving on terrifies me. I’m at peace knowing that Kai never suffered; that he never knew hunger, or pain, and he was loved unconditionally from the second we knew of his existence. That thought always takes some of the ache away. But the more I let myself numb the pain with busyness the further away from him I start to feel.

So, I’ve been quiet because I’ve been letting myself dwell in my depression. It’s easy to put on a smile and leave the house when I need to. Tell people I’m doing better when I really feel like I couldn’t be worse. What I found to be nearly impossible is allowing myself to just feel it. Feel the pain of this tragedy.

I came across this post on pinterest, “You’re allowed to scream. You’re allowed to cry. But do not give up.”

Well, here I am now. I’ve covered myself up under the covers and I’ve cried every drip of my aching heart out. I went through his clothes and nursery set and put them away to the corner of his room. I finally opened up the file the hospital gave me of his Bella Baby pictures and my God, he was perfect. And I started to make a shadow box, took over a week to get through it, but finally finished it.

As much as these things use to hurt me, they are now healing me. My husband bought me a beautiful gold necklace that I put Kai’s baby ring on, so I can have a little piece of him with me at all times. My friends have showered me with precious little gifts that memorialize him. I got a tattoo, a small sailboat from his nursery with his name written in the waves.

I was terrified of losing Kai, again. But I’ve realized now, after sharing my story and allowing people to know it, is I can never lose Kai. His memory will live on when I talk about him, and when strangers are asking me of him, and when I dream of him. He will forever be remembered.

These precious little toes already stained with ink are the little toes my baby inherited from me. Short and stubby 🙂
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My advice to those suffering a loss is to allow yourself to feel that pain. Be rational and honest with yourself. Don’t let this destroy relationships with people you love, don’t let it destroy your friendships and your livelihood. I ask you, please, do not let this destroy you. I promise you, there are people out there that love you endlessly and would do anything to take the pain away for you, so allow them to try. I promise it helps. And if it’s still too painful to talk about, send me a message so I can help you. You are still living. Through this tragedy you are still here and you are aching. But you are too strong to give up and I believe in you.

The Truth About Loss

I’m going to warn you now this post is about pregnancy loss, and more particularly: miscarrying. It’s not meant to make anyone angry but more to show insight to the problems I find in society and bring light to the pain behind our words. I’ll try to write this down as delicately as I can, as I know this is going to be hard for some of you to hear (in this case, read):

So firstly, if you have a living child(ren), look at their precious, sweet little face and imagine that all of a sudden.. they died.

Nauseating, isn’t it?

Now, go kiss them.

You see, it doesn’t matter if you miscarry at 4 weeks or make it all the way to 39, there is immense pain and suffering after losing a baby. I really don’t think many of you will understand that or even agree with me unless you’ve been that grieving mommy.

But don’t click away just yet.

This is my honest, raw, and open truth. I know that it’s hard to fathom this kind of pain. It’s devastating. But I’ll get you through it.

So, just go with me on this, ok?

I feel like a loss of any kind, at any time through pregnancy is a significant loss and should be recognized. What we have done through social media is we’ve created an environment where the norm is to post only about happy and successful pregnancies. That’s why we wait for the “safe zone” to even announce it! We don’t want to burden those or be burdened with this kind of truth.

“According to the March of Dimes, as many as 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage — most often before a woman misses a menstrual period or even knows she is pregnant. About 15% of recognized pregnancies will end in a miscarriage. More than 80% of miscarriages occur within the first three months of pregnancy.”

For something as common as this, why are we not talking about it more? My God people, it’s not contagious.

What I feel we have also done is we have taken away support for women grieving a loss. They’re hiding away, laying awake at night blaming themselves. Hurting. Crying.

And then we’ve become as insensitive enough to say “well she was only 7 weeks along”. ARE YOU HEARING YOURSELF? Just think about that for a second. A woman lost a BABY and you think because she didn’t get to kiss their little nose or hold their tiny hand that she’s not hurting?

I’ve held my dead baby in my arms. I’ve kissed his little nose. But I still believe that every single woman, regardless of time, has her right to grieve. So let the poor woman grieve.

We’re not quite done here. I’ll explain this even more simply:

For a moment in time your body started creating life. Those pink lines vibrantly displayed on the pregnancy test (or digitally read “PREGNANT”) and I’m sure your whole life and a life with a baby flashed before your eyes. It’s after that flash I’m sure you felt an overwhelming amount of love for the little one and that’s a love no one can take away. And sadly, for whatever reason, this life ended way too soon.

We create these scenarios in our heads. Who the baby will look like, what kind of person they’ll become, the life they’re going to live. We’re already creating memories with them while they’re still taking it easy growing fingers, and toes, and precious little earlobes.. We need to start recognizing these lives. Because they were here. For a short time, they were here. And they mattered.

When these innocent souls are no longer with us in the physical world we are overcome with a grief so heavy it physically hurts. When I lost Kai I had no energy to make it up the stairs. My eyes were heavy from crying uncontrollably for hours, days even. I lost close to 20 lbs in less than 14 days. Every agonizing morning I would be reminded that I would no longer feel his kicks and every time I look in the mirror I see the small pouch of skin leftover from the enormous baby bump I became so accustomed to carrying around.

The truth about loss is that it’s 2 in the morning and I’m still wide awake; mind racing, heart aching, head pounding. Yesterday was officially four weeks since losing Kai. Has it gotten easier to smile and laugh? Yes. Will I get stronger and, maybe, the pain weaker? Yes. But.. My son’s still gone. I’ll rewrite that real quick:

My son. Is STILL. Gone.

Do you maybe get it now?

Kai, you had my whole heart from the very start.
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The Delivery

So, our baby had passed away in my womb. The next portion of this story would be the detail of the delivery but it’s honestly too long and it doesn’t hold many surprises. When I was admitted into the hospital after the ultrasound we found I was already 2 cm dilated (my body had already began the labor process). I was given medicine around 3 pm to speed up the delivery but it took nearly 12 hours  until I was ready to start pushing.

On July 20th, at 2:33 am I gave birth to my beautiful, precious, perfect sleeping baby boy, Kai. He was a little over 2 lbs, 14 1/2 inches long and every ounce of adorable. He had short, blonde locks of hair and he had my husbands hard features, including that little dimple he hides under his auburn beard. The same dimple I have always loved.

We held Kai and we kissed him. We told him how much we loved and adored him. God, if love could keep you alive, my baby, you’d live forever.

After that, I really don’t know. I struggled with dangerously high blood pressure throughout the whole labor and delivery, so I know I was being kept under supervision for at least 24 more hours but a lot of that is now a blur. Some of our close friends stopped by so we wouldn’t be alone. Our family of course was there for every little need.

I wanted sleep.

That’s all I still want, nearly four weeks later. This kind of grieving, you know, really takes a toll. Most nights I don’t sleep. Mornings are the worst. I’m yearning to feel his kicks again, every 5 am morning.

The first two weeks I didn’t manage to do much at all. In the mornings I’d find myself a spot on the couch to rest, intermittently switching to the porch and hours would pass before I’d notice I hadn’t done anything. Or talked to anyone.

In the afternoons I would force myself to do homework. Time doesn’t really stop for anyone, does it? I had put so much of my time and energy to finishing out this semester strong and then the week that I have little to offer to the world, it just so happens to be finals week. Needless to say, I did my homework. I did the two different projects required of me, and the three different 10+ page papers. I did it. And I finished this summer semester with a 4.0 GPA.

I’m proud of myself for not giving up on school. More importantly, I’m proud of myself for not giving up entirely.

What I found in those quiet and lonely hours I would lose myself in is how strong I am. And how strong I will be. It is not easy losing someone, and it is especially not easy losing a child. Though Kai was only here for a short time, he had a purpose. He left such an incredible impact on my life that I feel like I have finally found a little of my own purpose, too. And that is why I’m here writing this blog.

I’m not saying that I was meant to write a blog, that sounds a bit ridiculous, you think? But that I’m meant to help people. I know for a fact there are women out there, alone and grieving, going through the same thing I have just gone through. And they’re scared to ask for help, scared to keep living each day aching, scared to go on. What I have a hard time admitting to myself is that I’m just not quite ready to get myself out there. As invincible as I’d like to think I am, there are days I am still defeated by misery.

But I will become stronger. And I will find you, you restless souls, and together we will get through this.

Where this all started

I guess a good place to start is to explain why I started on this little blogging expedition. You see, close to four weeks ago I lost my son, Kai. I was 28 weeks and some odd days along in my pregnancy and really things never seemed better. I had a relatively easy time being pregnant, nothing compared to what some women go  through.. I had morning sickness and heartburn.. You get it.

I didn’t start feeling Kai kick until I was 24 weeks along, and even then those kicks I felt were few and far between, the doctors were never worried. But around the end of the 27th week I really started to get into a routine of when I would feel those kicks. He usually woke me up every morning around 5 am, just before I needed to be up for work. And in the evenings when I would settle down for the night he would give me a little nudge to let me know he had a long day, too. Wow, do I miss those kicks.

So, Saturday, the 18th of July was a pretty normal day. My husband and I went grocery shopping. We watched some movies, gathered paint chips for the nursery, you know, married things. The grocery was weird though. I kept feeling this pressure, and my thoughts were that Kai was just hanging out on mommy’s bladder, having a grand old time of making me run for the bathroom every hour. I found out in the hospital though that the pressure I felt was the start to me going into labor and I had no idea.

Sunday. Wake up. Send out e-invites to RSVP for the baby shower. Have lunch.

… and then it hit me.

I couldn’t feel Kai.

I would press on my belly to get a nudge out of him and I never felt a response. I spoke to the on call doctor and told him I was pretty worried about not feeling any kicks and he gave me a few things to do: lay down and relax, meditate, drink an orange juice to give him a sugar kick (but we all know how this ends). I still wasn’t feeling anything. So, I went downstairs to get my husband and just as he was coming inside the house I watched as his heart sunk to the floor; the color draining completely from his cheeks. I think he saw it on my face. Or maybe he read my mind, I feel like he can do that every now and then. We quickly grabbed our things and headed over to labor and delivery. We didn’t even say anything the whole way there. I kept telling myself I was overreacting. And I kept praying. “Please, pleasseeee, watch over my family and keep my baby safe. Please let me know he is safe.”

When I got to the hospital we didn’t waste any time. I was laying down on the examination table in minutes and two nurses were on each side. So, here’s the agonizing part: they put the doppler stethoscope to my belly… And heard nothing. I kept telling the nurse he was gone but God love her, she kept trying. She would look at me and would say “we don’t know that yet.”  Yes, we did. We knew. The doctor then came in with a little portable ultrasound machine and just like I knew he would he looked over at me and said “the baby has passed on.”

Right then and there my heart broke into a million catrillion pieces and I lost myself forever.