Thanks for stopping in. There isn't really a rhyme or reason to this blog. It's just what comes to my head as I go through each day. If something I say resonates with you (positively or not), please leave a comment. It helps to know that people care. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Capture Your Grief--Days 16-31 (oops)

OK, though I knew I'd never keep up with a picture a day, I thought I'd do better than this!  Oh well... I think I put it off so long because so many of the images have to be found images rather than images I've taken...Again, oh well.

Once again, here are the days:

If you missed it, my photo journey started HERE, and there are links to take you through the other days.

Day 16: Release
I tried to think of when I felt real release after Charlotte's death...I've realized that it was after I finished putting together her memory box.  I felt like I needed to put her photo album and her baby book and her footprints somewhere important...not just in a bag or a shoe box somewhere.  Putting it all neatly in the box and shutting the box felt like a release to me.

Day 17: Birthday
OK, so, obviously her birthday isn't for a while yet...but here's what I'm planning.  I want to write a letter to Charlotte, thanking her for everything good that's happened this year, put it in a balloon, and release it to her.  We want it to be a happy occasion, not a sad one.  She was stillborn, but she was still born (I stole that from another blogger...)

Day 18: Your Family Portrait
I wish I had a picture of Mia with Charlotte...but she wasn't there.  I guess I'm happy about that, too...but I wish I could have a family portrait with both my daughters.  Instead, here we are with Mia at Easter, when Charlotte was still alive...albeit, not a good picture.

Day 19: Project
As weird as it is to post a photo of my blog on my blog, that was my project...particularly my experience journal.  Writing "Time With Charlotte" was the project I needed to come to terms with a lot of my memories and preserve them, in a way that feels really important.

Day 20: Charity/Organization
I posted about this before...LLOST is a charity that really helped us, though we didn't know it at the time.  See my post HERE.

Day 21: Altar/Shrine
I know that I've posted a picture of the curio cabinet before, but Charlotte's shelf really has become a little shrine for her.  Mike and I aren't hugely religious people, but the angels comfort us.  It's how we see our baby, now.

Day 22: Place of Birth
This isn't exactly our room (or maybe it is...I don't know...but it's the exact same setup of room from the same hospital, so close enough.  I thought of just putting in a photo of the hospital, but the sum total of hours that I got to spend with my daughter I spent in a room that looked like it's not so sad a memory, I guess.

Day 23: Charlotte's Photo
This feels hard to post...I don't know why.  I think it's because, though she was tiny, had a birth defect that caused her death, and wasn't fully developed, to me, she was perfect...and I know that other people won't and can't see her that way.  I remember feeling that way myself...before it was my child.  It's hard to share her with people when I know they can't see her the way I do...but she's my daughter, and I'm proud to be her mother, and I need to be proud to show her photo...regardless of what others think.

Day 24: Siblings
Thank God for Mia.  If I didn't have Mia, I don't know if I would have come out on the other side of this.

Day 25: Baby Shower
Charlotte didn't get a baby shower...she probably wouldn't have gotten one even had she lived...being a second child does that.  Instead, here is what I WOULD have gotten for Charlotte as my own personal baby shower, had things been different. (I have both a Gymboree and a monkey obsession.)
 Day 26: Their Age
Charlotte was 21 weeks when she was born...I'm tempted to lie if ever asked.  People don't see that loss as being as valid as a later loss...but maybe more valid than an earlier loss.  I had a loss at 13 weeks...for me, this was so much infinitely harder.

Day 27: Artwork
I bought this shortly after Charlotte's birth...I love this photographer's work, and the words tore at my heart a a good way.  I plan to frame and hang the print sometime soon, but I haven't yet.

Day 28: Memory
How does one photograph memory?  I have no here's one of my most vivid memories.  I found out we were expecting Charlotte on the day The Hunger Games was released in theaters (March 23).  Mike and I were going to go see it the next day, having a babysitter and everything, and I stayed up all night that night so I could see Mike when he got home from work.  I remember talking about our new baby in the car with Mike on the way there...we were so happy.  It's good to look for a good memory, I think.  So much of what I write is about the end...this was the beginning.  I don't regret a second of my time with Charlotte.

Day 29: Music
The Olympics started the Friday after Charlotte's birth.  Do you remember the song that they played (and played, and played, and played) for the US Women's Gymnastics Team?  "Home" by Phillip Phillips (really?  Phillip Phillips?)  That's just one of those songs that you can't help but remember...and I heard it so, so many times in the weeks following Charlotte's birth. I know it's a song that, when I hear it years from now, will bring me right back to those the best way possible, if that makes any sense.

Day 30: My Grief
I remember taking this picture...I remember thinking, "This is the only time you will get to hold your daughter...try to look a little happy, damn it."  It was hard.  This is how it came out.

Day 31: Sunset
It started at the beach on day should end there, too.  It's hard to take a picture of the sunset at the Outer Banks.  It's on the East Coast, and the sun sets behind us.  This is of Mia at can see the fading colors and light.  The time at the beach after Charlotte's death was relatively was this photo journey.  I think this is a good way to finish that journey.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Read a memoir today...

I was supposed to be grading papers during my planning period at school today.  Instead I read a book.  An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken.  I read it, cover to cover, in about three hours.


I read a memoir about stillbirth called Life Touches Life and I absolutely hated it.  It was one of the books I was given by LLOST at the hospital. It was all about the author's withdrawal from the world, her decision to not try to have more children, and then, at the end, a very Buddhist metaphor about buckets of water and sunlight that just made me want to scream.  I am not exaggerating when I say I hated it.

This book was different.

The author wrote the book immediately after the birth of her second child, her first living child.  It's about the absurdity of stillbirth, the complete darkness and irrationality speckled with the small spots of brightness.  So many of its pages echoed thoughts that I've had and that I continue to have.

One section in particular cut straight to the root of the root for me.  She was comparing herself to the crazed woman in a gothic novel wearing a bloodied nightgown and rocking her dead baby to sleep while singing lullabies, something out of an Edgar Allan Poe short story.  Here is my favorite piece:

     I remember one lunch with people who loved us in London early on, two of the most excruciating hours of my life.  Nothing but that endless juggling: Other people's jobs and boyfriends.  What kind of wine to order.  This was two weeks after Pudding died.  I might have been something like that gothic character one step short of total ruin: I wanted to rock and sing lullabies and hold out my torn, bloody nightgown and run my hands through my wild hair, and yet I knew you weren't supposed to do such things in polite society.  My hair was uncombed, and my face was puffy from lack of sleep and crying and too much wine, and my clothes were what I'd salvaged from the middle of my pregnancy, because of course even through people might pretend nothing was out f the ordinary I had the body of a woman two weeks postpartum, soft and wide around the middle, and if I'd been one step worse off I might have lifted my shirt up to display my still livid stretch marks.
    But I didn't.  I could feel how uncomfortable my mere presence made people feel, and I couldn't bear it.  So I sat in this Indian restaurant and listened.  Sometimes a piece of palaver came loose and shot straight toward me, and somehow I caught it and tossed it back.
     All the while, all I could think was: Dead baby dead baby dead baby.
     And I know everyone around that table was thinking the same thing, every single person.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Down the Rabbit Hole

Mike and I finally have the green light to try again.  Some people won't understand why we feel compelled to try again as soon as possible, but it makes sense based on the belief system I adopted.  So off we go.

I've already fallen down the rabbit hole.  If one were to go back and read any of the posts I wrote before we conceived Mia, back when we thought we'd never be able to have a baby and when we were still a little lost in the grief of our miscarriage, you'd see how much of a nut I became about the whole process.  I'm already seeing pieces of that now.  I really expected to get through at LEAST the first month before I became a crazy nut...

Today I took three, yes three, HPTs.  As though my levels will increase in an hour.  Not only that, but one of them was a REAL test...the kind that costs $5, not $.75.  I even did the photograph inversion thing.  Never heard of it?  It's when you take a picture of a HPT and invert the colors to negative because it makes second lines a little easier to see when they are shadows of shadows of shadows.  I'm in deep.

I'm a little concerned about the appropriateness of what I clearly recognize as a coping mechanism.  I'm pouring a significant amount of my excess emotion into this process, because I'm telling myself that this is what is supposed to happen.  I'm finding signs everywhere.  When you look for signs, you'd be surprised at how many you find.  I'm painting lines with my imagination.  Just like with signs, when you look for extra lines on HPTs, you'd be surprised what your eyes try to convince you are there.

I'm a little afraid that, when my period comes back, and reality crashes in on my illogical optimism, I'm going to crash.  This is a really stupid coping mechanism...

Monday, October 22, 2012

3 months

Tonight makes 3 months since Charlotte's birth.  Wow.  I am woefully behind on the photo journey project, but I just don't have it in me to find them and think on it tonight.  Maybe tomorrow.  For tonight, I'm just tired.

Getting through my birthday yesterday was a little tough.  I had such a different image of what I would be feeling yesterday when I was thinking about it over the summer, and somehow those feelings stuck.  That really surprises me, to be honest, because it was just a passing fancy of what it would be like to celebrate my birthday with a big belly, almost 8 months pregnant, enjoying the final weeks of Mia being an only child. 

It's strange the way things stick with you...even the silly, seemingly insignificant things.

Regardless, today is what today is.  It would have been my grandmother's 101st birthday today, if she were still alive.  She died when I was 17.  I felt kind of close to her today.  Maybe she's celebrating her birthday with Charlotte somewhere...

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Baby Story...

I was thinking about the TLC TV show A Baby Story today.  I was thinking, in all of the episodes they've filmed, there must have been at least a couple of babies that were stillborn, or born prematurely and in the NICU, or a baby who died of SIDS...something.  All you see on that show is 1) backstory 2) labor and delivery 3)happy family with new baby two months later.

What's that about.  I just looked it up, and there have been over 600 episodes of A Baby Story.  The stillbirth rate is somewhere between 1 in 160 and 1 in 170.  This means that, at the very least, there should have been (statistically) three stillbirths that were followed through this process.

I know that this show is about beautiful family stories and happiness and sunshine and bunny rabbits...but what about a real story for the rest of us?  For some of us there are no bunny rabbits.  Why doesn't that experience warrant equal (or, in my opinion, more) airtime and consideration on the network? 

Now, granted, it would require the family to consent to have their story followed through the darkest hours of their family's history...but I have to think at least one of the statistical three would want to do that.  I would have.  A part of me wanted to privately curl up around my pain and muffle it from the world...but another part feels compelled to put my story out let people know that things like this happen to normal people like me.  People who have had healthy babies, and people who don't do drugs or smoke or drink or eat food with nitrates.  People for whom doing everything right isn't right enough...

In over 600 births...shouldn't there have been one story kind of like mine?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I do like stuff, though...

Since  Charlotte died, there has been a marked increase in the amount of stuff a few members of my family have bought me.  They sucked (and continue to suck) at providing actual support.  They think it's just not them, and they aren't willing to try.  Instead, they're buying me stuff.

Now, as today isn't too bad of a day, I don't feel too much resentment towards them for not being there for me.  On the bad days, everyone gets lost in the black fog of anger...but today isn't a day like that.  Today is a day when I shrug my shoulders and accept that it is what it is and they are what they are. 

That being said, they've missed the point.  It seems like they're trying to buy, literally buy, my happiness back.  As though that new sweater or scarf or book or pair of shoes or door (yes, a bedroom door...I'm not kidding) is going to make me stop hurting and grieving for Charlotte.  Intellectually, I can see as they're just trying to make me happy in any way that they can, but it's so totally and completely not the point.

I needed someone to talk to.  I needed someone who loved me to sit down and share my daughter with me.  I needed someone who would listen to me cry and know that it's what I needed to do.  I needed someone to just be there.  They weren't.  Some people were (hint: if you know me in real life and I gave you the link to this blog, I count you among those people).  They weren't.

Still, I have to acknowledge that they're trying, right?  Maybe they're trying in ways that don't make sense to me.  Maybe they're trying in ways that are contradictory with what I asked them, straightforwardly, to do.  Maybe it feels like they're cheapening my grief and my daughter's memory by trying to fix it through retail therapy.  But they're trying. 

I'm a little torn.  On the one hand I want to tell them that they're being silly.  I don't need stuff.  I don't need them to spend money on me.  I needed an ear, a shoulder, and a heart (to be cliche for a moment).  I don't need a sweater.  On the other hand....I do like stuff. 

Is it wrong to just let them?  I know inside that I harbor some resentment that they wouldn't be what I asked and needed them to be.  I know inside that there are some wounds from this that will always mar our relationships.  It'll eventually fade to a rough scar, but it will always be there.  How much of a horrible, selfish, greedy person does it make me if I just let them do this? 

It makes them feel better, I think.  I can justify it.  And I do like stuff....

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Am I seriously sympathizing with this character?

I'm currently teaching The Crucible for the "I've lost count because I've done it too much"th time.  I can recite entire sections of the darn thing.

So, as we're working our way through Act I, in walks Ann Putnam.  If you're not on as intimate terms with this play as I am, allow me to explain.  Ann Putnam is a manipulative, hateful woman who gets other women killed in the name of witchcraft.  Not the kind of woman you'd want to be friends with, lest she send you to the gallows...literally.

Suddenly I find myself sympathizing with this woman.  The motive behind all of her hate is the death of seven of her eight children.  They all died on the day they were born.  I actually almost cried when discussing it with my class today.  The women buried seven babies and was looking for a she turned to witchery.

Seriously?  I'm mentally defending this woman?  I don't want to feel sympathy for the crazy Puritan woman who sent her only living daughter off to a seance to communicate with her dead siblings!

My experience isn't limited to this instance...I find myself increasingly sympathizing with women like this in fiction.  It's bizarre.  We aren't meant to sympathize with Ann Putnam...we're meant to recognize that she was motivated by a legitimate reason, then condemn her for being so destructive.  But, yeah, no, I kind of see her point.

Not going to lie...witchcraft makes more sense sometimes than, "it just happens". 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Capture your grief--Days 14-15

I considered giving the 15th it's own post, but I don't think that's is my continued photo journey.  If you missed it, here are the days, yet again:

If you've not seen this before, my photo journey started here and continued here and then here.

Day 14: Community
I wondered for a while what to put here.  I just today shared publicly the fact that I had a daughter and that she's gone.  To this point, there has been very little community around me.  That's partially my fault, as I feared sharing Charlotte for fear of having her memories hurt, or tarnished, or...I don't even know.  You always see those photos circulating on facebook that have been shared thousands of times...which seem like no-brainers for support...but that have the most hurtful and insensitive comments from all the stupid people who just don't care.  I couldn't handle that, so I kept her close to me and hidden for a long time...except for my message board.  I finally realized that the community I turned to in my darkest hours was that of women who understood, who'd been there, who I'll never meet.

Day 15: The Wave of Light
I wondered for a while which candle to use for this purpose.  It seemed like a candle lit for remembrance on my daughter couldn't just be a half-burned out Yankee candle I pulled off a shelf.  Then I remembered my wedding.  At our wedding, we lit a candle as part of our ceremony, trying to symbolize the presence of those who couldn't be with us...namely all of our grandparents.  I realized that this candle might just be special enough for my baby Charlotte.  It hadn't been lit since our wedding in 2007.  On taking the picture, I got a really strange glare off of the box which holds Charlotte's remains.  It's strange, because I had turned off all of the lights except for this candle, and the light from the candle couldn't possibly reflect off of the side of the box in that way.  I wonder now if it's a little sign that Charlotte knows I'm thinking about her today.  It's a purple light...I always think of Charlotte when I see purple.

My photo journey CONCLUDES HERE

Things that scare me...

 I did it.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Too much

I've been hit by another roadblock/setback/wave.  I know this is completely normal...

...I want to briefly birdwalk to say that I love the irony of calling anything that we go through in this hellishly unnatural grieving process as "completely normal"...

...I know this is completely normal, but I really hate feeling like I'm getting better and handling things better only to have Fate say, "Haha, yeah, I was just screwing with you..."

So here's the vague list of things going on the last few days which dragged me back out into the tide of messy emotions:

  1. Tomorrow is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  Ironically, no one is aware of this.  Most people don't have a lot to remember on this day of remembrance.  I debated for weeks about what to do for this day to remember for myself.  I've decided that, if ever there was a time to publicly acknowledge Charlotte and affirm my pride in being her mother, this would be it. 

    I have a ribbon pin that I will be wearing tomorrow, and I'll be posting about it on facebook.  It's so strange.  I don't want sympathy from people, but there is a big piece of me that feels like I need to acknowledge Charlotte and her importance in our lives, publicly, without shame or vagueness.  I would have told the world about her within a week of her death if things had been different...why shouldn't they know now?

    It scares the shit out of me.

  2. I know that Charlotte isn't exactly an uncommon name.  I know this.  Still, it's a bit of a sharp pain when I hear of another little girl named Charlotte.  This is particularly true when she is an infant born about a month from when my daughter should have been born.  It's not the parents' fault, and they didn't even know, but it's still a little hard to know that there is a family I know who gets to love and hold their little Charlotte when mine is in a pretty silver box in my curio cabinet.

  3. My message board isn't helping me right now.  It's always been that, when all else fails, I know the women on my message board will understand.  I've been avoiding it for the last few weeks.  Someone posting something about the differences between a stillbirth and an early miscarriage.  The world blew up.

    My personal thought is that, well, duh, of course it's different.  It's a completely different experience all around.  I won't call any better or worse than any other, but it's not the same experience.  I've done both, with a late miscarriage thrown in for good measure.  It's different.  So what? 

    The problem is that women in grief, women with screwed up hormones, women who are on the cusp of motherhood are not always logical.  Emotions and tensions are high, and, rather than seeing opposing viewpoints as the venting of women hurting the same as we are, many are taking it as personal offense and are going on the attack.

    That's not what my board is about.

    Yeah...I just noticed that I've been calling it my board.  I think that's part of the issue.  I see it as my board.  My board.  It's something that belongs to me, is part of my life, is central to my healing.  And it's being messed with.  My haven of support and kind words now has these little pockets of snarkiness and cursing that I just can't handle.  It's not my haven any more.  I don't have it in my to find a new one. 

  4. I had one of those days today.  Those days when I can't think of what happened with Charlotte in terms of vague remembrances and feelings of what happened once.  I usually remember Charlotte in the same way one hears things through snow.  It's muffled, and quiet.  Days like today are the days when I'm overwhelmed by what should be, what could be, and what glaringly, painfully is.

    For no apparent reason, I had an urge to go and just SIT in front of my curio cabinet and just be near Charlotte.  I had an urge to look through her photos, read through her baby book, smell her tiny gown, touch her footprints.

    Nothing conscious caused this.  I don't know why, today, I feel a renewed sense of loss. I don't know why, today, I feel a renewed sense of anger.  I don't know why, today, I feel a desire to dwell in the memories of what could have been.  But I do know that, today, I am grieving harder than I have been in a while.

    Sundays are rough like that.  It's been 12 weeks today...tonight. 
  5. As much as I tell myself that I write this blog for myself...I get comfort from people reading it.  I won't lie, I look at the stat tracker of how many people have been reading which posts.  I look to see where they are coming from...America, UK, Australia...I love the idea that people, even faceless, vague internet people, care.

    I look at a lot of other blogs.  I've bookmarked some of my favorites.  There are many talented women out there sharing their experiences of love and loss and motherhood, so very many.  In a way, it's a wonderful thing.

    Here's my selfish, narcissistic problem with this: I'm not as good at this as all of the other angel-mommy bloggers I read.  My writing is juvenile and elementary.  My thoughts are repetitive and either self-aggrandizing or self-pitying.  When I post photos, though I fancy myself an amateur photographer, they're just not that good.

    Every other blog that I read is better than mine.  They have 25+ followers.  They have a series of comments from people who responded to what they said.  They even have a better layout and color palette than mine.

    I realize that this is a really, very, incredibly stupid thing to be on my radar as something to be bothered or upset by.  Still, I've taken comfort in the faceless, nameless women (I assume women) reading my words.  When I have these moments of clarity about how much I'm just not special, it cuts fairly deep.
I realize that this entire post can come off as a weak attempt to fish for complements...I don't mean it to be that way.  I find that, when I am drowning in the swamp of my negative emotions, the only way to keep my head above water is to rid myself of all of the junk that is weighing me down.

When Mike is working, and Mia goes to bed, and I am left alone with my thoughts, some days get really hard.  So I come here.  I come here to whine.  I come here to moan.  I come here to philosophize (yup, that's a word).  I come here to pretend that what I'm saying has meaning.  I come here to pretend that I'm special.  I come here to take comfort in the time spent on my life by anonymous strangers.

Thank you, anonymous strangers.  I needed that.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Capture your grief--Days 8-13

I've dropped the ball a bit in the last few days.  Mike has an odd schedule since he's a police officer, and he's been off M-F this week.  When that happens, I spend as much time with him as I can.  Normally I blog and lurk on the message board after Meemers goes to bed, but not as much when he's not working.  He went back today, so here are days 8-15.  If you've forgotten, here's the assignment, again:

If you've not seen this before, my photo journey started here and continued here.

Day 8: Jewelry
I got a charm bracelet from my family for my 30th birthday, just last October.  It cost way more than I'm comfortable with, being 14K gold, and so it only had four charms on it.  After Charlotte died, I got my fifth charm: a pair of angel wings.  I debated where to put it.  Mia has a little shoe with her birth stone in it (on the left), and my intention was to get the same shoe with a different birth stone for my second child and put it on the same link.  I still plan to do that.  But that didn't make sense for Charlotte.  Instead, I put her exactly between the shoe, representing Mia, and the starfish, which represents our wedding.  That way, symbolically, baby Charlotte, our angel, is always in the center of our lives and watching over us. 

Day 9: Special Place
I debated on this one for a while.  Whenever I'm asked for a special place, regardless of the context, I usually come back to the beach, specifically the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  I picked this photo.  We went to the beach two weeks after Charlotte's death.  The trip had been planned for months, and we decided not to cancel it.  We took it as a healing place.  I remember one night, after Mia went to bed, I walked out the back door onto the steps leading to the beach (the same steps from which this picture was taken), walked down into the sand and just sat.  I cried.  I talked to Charlotte.  I asked for peace and hope.  I asked that Charlotte not forget us.  I asked for a sign that it meant something.  I looked up at the sky, and I saw a shooting star.

Day 10: Symbol
As I've written before, I see butterflies as a symbol of Charlotte's continued presence in our lives.  I took this photo in July of 2010, after our miscarriage and right before Mia was conceived.  We were in a very dark place in our lives.  We wondered if we would ever have a child.  We were sad and depressed and losing hope.  Mia was conceived, literally, two weeks later.  Butterflies have always been good luck for us.  I wonder now if Charlotte has always been a guiding force in our lives, even before we knew her.  I think I might like the idea of that.

Day 11: Supportive Friends/Family
OK, this one was hard.  If you are a reader of this blog, you know that I have felt consistently let down in terms of support by many of the people to whom I felt closest.  So, this is a picture of Mia's baby shower.  All of the women pictured have been relatively supportive (note the big white box...not even remotely supported by that person).  To show the LEVELs of support, because some are CLEARLY head and shoulders above the rest, I've played with the color saturation.  The three that really have been there for me, cared about me, and actually let me talk are in full color.  The others have been supportive, too...just in lesser ways, for various reasons.  There are a few other people I would characterize as supportive, but these are my biggest.

Day 12: Scents
This was the gown that Charlotte wore when we first met her.  Early in the morning the day after she was born, they took her briefly to weigh and measure her, and they changed her gown so that we could take this one home.  I put it in a plastic bag to preserve the scent.  It's a very antiseptic hospital scent, but it's a scent that has a strong scent-memory for me, and one that I therefore want to preserve.  I also, irrationally, don't want other people to touch this.  Only Mike, me, our daughter, and our nurse ever touched this gown.

Day 13: Signs
I never used to really believe in signs.  Now I have butterflies and wind charms and this bottle cap.  Again, if you have ever read this blog, you know that my belief process involving reasons for Charlotte's death includes another child. I believe that we will have a healthy, happy child soon who will be protected by his or her big sister, and that Charlotte wants this to happen and will help us.  I believe that a small piece of Charlotte will come back to us with this new baby.  This belief is central to my personal grieving and coping process.  As my body finally got back to normal in the last weeks, and as we were finally able to start trying again, we got this bottle cap from a bottle of Jones' Soda.  I used to get Jones' Soda all the time, and I loved the fortunes under the cap.  I hadn't had one of these sodas in years.  When we went out to dinner last week, Mike suggested we get one. This is very unusual for him, as he almost always insists we split a fountain soda to save the $1.82 (or some other paltry sum) of getting our own drinks.  For whatever reason, he wanted this soda.  This was the fortune.  If you don't know, a baby born after a loss is called a rainbow baby.  

My photo journey continues HERE.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Starting over...

I am having a very hard time believing that we're actually trying again.  I'm already tired, and we haven't even begun.  The finish line is so far away that I can't even see it right now...

Dear Charlotte:
   I miss you.  I didn't intend to write that, but it's true.  I think it every time I think of you, which is all the time.  I miss you all the time.
   I believe that you left us to protect us.  I believe that you knew you were sick and that you left us peacefully and painlessly so that you could be a part of our family in this way, since you can't be with us here, the way we want you to be.
   I believe you want a little brother or sister for yourself and for Mia.  I believe you're going to do everything you can to help make that happen so that your family can be whole.
   I believe you are so strong, and so brave, and so beautiful.
   I don't want to put too much pressure on you, angel baby Charlotte, but I really need your help.  I really need you to let us know that you love us and that you know that we love you.  I really need you to let us know that you're OK with us moving on.  I really need you to let us know that you're looking out for us, that your little brother or sister, who doesn't even exist yet, is going to be ok.
   I know I'm asking a lot, baby Charlotte.  I'm sorry for that.  I just need to believe that you left us for a reason....and this is it.  This is the only reason that makes sense.
   I love you baby Charlotte.  I miss you so very much.  I will never stop missing you or loving you.  You will always be remembered and loved and missed by your Daddy and me, no matter what else happens. 

Capture Your Grief--Days 5-7

To repeat, october is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month.  I'm continuing the photo challenge.  Again, the facebook page for it is here...but I am choosing to post here.  Here again is the list of days:


See the first four days of my photo journey HERE

Day 5 (10/5): Memorial
I bought this wind chime online the day after we got home from the hospital, July 24th.  I wanted to get something that I could display without being tacky, something that wouldn't cause raised eyebrows from the people who just don't get it, and something that might remind me of Charlotte at random times.  This is it.  Occasionally I'll hear the chimes from strange places in the house, places from which I shouldn't be able to hear them.  I choose to take these times as signs that Charlotte's looking out for us.  Sometimes, on bad days, I'll stand outside and try to just breathe and wait until the wind blows and I hear the chimes.  It's a very happy coincidence that it has a butterfly on it.  I either didn't notice it or didn't process it at the time when I picked it out.  I remember being surprised when I opened the box.  The other side of this tag has that little book of life poem..."too beautiful for Earth".  I like that.

Day 6 (10/6): What not to say
So, I got this as part of an email response from a member of my family.  It seems fairly innocuous, and I know that there are many women out there who wouldn't be upset by this at all.  I got my fair share of, "You should take it easier next time," and, "At least it didn't happen later," and, "You're young; you can have more kids," and, my personal favorite, "You have to be strong for your daughter.  She shouldn't see you upset."  That being said, this was, to me, one of the worst responses.  I spent the two weeks after Charlotte's death practically begging my family to talk to me about it.  I asked.  I called.  I emailed.  This is the email response that I got which made me stop asking. As I've said before, you go through your whole life believing that your family will be there for you if you really and truly need it...

Day 7 (10/7): What to Say
I had two friends, in particular, who were really helpful and supportive.  One brought me food the night we got home from the hospital....and, though she lives an hour away, she respected my request to have a few days alone to learn to cope by just dropping it on my front door step and texting me once she'd already driven away. That was more helpful than I could say.  The other sends me texts every now and again for no particular reason...just to let me know that she's thinking of us and that we still matter to her.  She still does it now, though most people have forgotten that we're still grieving. These two also have been almost the only people to actually sit down with me and ask questions...let me cry...ask to see pictures...validate that my daughter matters to more people than just me...Narrowing that concept of support down to one picture was hard.  I chose a random text that I got from one of these ladies.  The fact that she cares enough to KNOW about the butterflies means a lot to begin with.

See the continuation of my photo journey HERE

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Considering Posting on Oct 15

I'm considering posting this on October 15th, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance day:

I bought this postcard online HERE when I started to consider sharing this.  

To be honest, I'm scared to share this.  I'm not ashamed of Charlotte.  I'm so very proud to be her mother.  She is not a secret.  She has a place of honor in my home that anyone close enough to me to enter my house would see.

And yet...

I never announced to the world that I was pregnant.  I don't know why.  I was scared.  So it becomes very difficult to go back now and say that not only was I pregnant, I gave birth to a little girl who died.

I don't want people to think that I am doing this for attention.  That isn't what I want.  I know that seems a little hard to believe, considering my varied blog rants about no one caring about me, but it's the truth.  I don't want or need the people I'm "friends" with to do or be anything.

So why would I post it?  Mike wouldn't like it.  So why would I post it?  I have nothing to gain.  So why would I post it? I don't have interest in the placating remarks of the people I know only tangentially on facebook.  So why would I post it?

It's infant and pregnancy loss awareness day.  Shouldn't I be brave enough to make people aware?  Aren't I brave enough to say to the world that my baby girl existed?  Isn't that the day, if I ever would, that I should be brave enough to say, "this happened to my family"?

There's a part of me who is bursting to say something...all the time.  Some times the voice in my head is screaming, "ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR DAUGHTER."  I haven't listened.  I haven't told anyone new about Charlotte since the week after she died, when I told a few "friends" (see this post to see how well that went).

I don't know if I will or not.  What do you think, silent people who may or may not read my blog? 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lacking Energy

Where do people get the surplus energy they seem to have to CARE about things so much. 

The election, the debate, the size of a candidate's flag pin, the latest star voted off Dancing with the Stars, a new policy at work, the temperature outside. 

How are all of these people around me able to muster the energy to want to discuss these things?  And not even to discuss them, but to discuss them loudly and vehemently and with great passion?  To be offended and indignant and self-righteous? 

Where did they get this energy? 

I've apparently been frittering all of my energy away on silly things like my family and my grief and my job.  Silly me.

Capture Your Grief--Days 1-4

October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month.  Breast cancer gets all they hype, but this is my month, too.  So, one of the blogs I follow has a 31 day photo challenge in observance of this month.  She has a fabulous facebook page for it here...but I never announced on facebook and I'm too chicken to place my photos there.  So I'll post here.  I won't manage to do it every day, but hopefully by posting a few days at a time I'll manage to get them all...Here is the list of days:

Day 1 (10/1): Sunrise
I took this at the Outer Banks in 2010.  I was still mourning the loss of my first child and waiting for the start of my second, Mia.  I was in a dark place, and photography was the outlet I used to keep myself going and focused.  It was a helpful coping mechanism.I didn't fully grasp the symbolism at the time, but I have literally dozens of photos of sunrises from these months.  I think I was waiting for my new start.

Day 2 (10/2): Self-Portrait Before Loss
This was taken of Mike and me on the day we found out we were having a baby for the first time.  It was at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World, of all places.  That was when I still had the mindset that a positive pregnancy test would lead to a baby in 9 months.  Done deal.  I look and feel so different from that person now.  Whenever I look at this picture, I can't help but think, "I was pregnant then..."  It makes me kind of sad, and I don't look at these Disney pictures often for that reason.

Day 3 (10/3): Self-Portrait After Loss
This was taken about three weeks after Charlotte's birth and death.  I think it's important to note that I still smile.  It's hard.  Sometimes it feels forced.  Sometimes it feels wrong.  Sometimes I feel guilty.  Then there's Mia.  I have to smile for Mia.  If I've learned nothing else, I have to cherish my children for as long as I have them. I have to enjoy them every day.  I hope I will be enjoying them for every day of the rest of my life...but if not, I don't want to regret the happiness we didn't get to share.

 Day 4 (10/4): Treasured Items
I know I already shared this photo.  But I do treasure it.  It feels good to have a place where Charlotte can "live", so to speak.  I feel a sense of peace now that the special things that need a place have a place.  Her remains, her prints, her picture, and her angels...they have a protected place of importance now in my house.

My photo journey continues HERE