Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas with and without.

Well, we all survived Luke's first Christmas, and our third Christmas without Olivia.

Christmas has been hard every year (well, maybe not as much the first year- when we were still mostly numb and avoided it all), but this year was especially challenging, as we tried to balance celebrating our first Christmas with Lucas with missing our daughter.

It's the little things and not so little things that are a punch to the gut: Baby's First Christmas ornament that we only have for one baby, stockings, visiting the cemetary on Christmas morning instead of going to church, friend's toddlers all dressed up in front of their tree.

Most of our time at home with just the three of us, I kept thinking about how different it should be but isn't. This is our third Christmas, and it still really sucks that she isn't here.

I think now that we have Lucas here, we felt forced (by ourselves/mommy guilt)to do the Christmas stuff again that we haven't done or to the same extent the previous years. This was the first year I put our tree up since Olivia died (and I waited until the last minute, the 23rd, before I finally did it, and seriously contemplated not putting a tree up at all since it's not like Luke will know or remember the difference- this year at least.) But he LOVES the tree- more than presents and wrapping paper and boxes. So I'm glad I sucked it up and put it up. Anyway, we put the tree up and stockings, shopped (mostly online, thank god for the internet) and wrapped presents, etc. I made and sent out Christmas cards. All of that normal stuff.

And I mostly felt normal. The night before Christmas Eve, after we put the tree up and Lucas to bed, he woke back up while I was in the middle of wrapping presents. I let him crawl around and "help" (which he did by climbing on presents, pulling ornaments off the tree, etc.) while I tried to finish and avoid a trip to the ER with an injured baby. (Sucessful, though it took till 2 am to finally get done.) Even though Lucas wasn't especially helpful, he was really cute, and I thought about how much better this year is with him here vs. last year when he was just in my belly. He really has filled our lives with so much light and laughter and happiness...better than anything I could ask for for Christmas.

We went and saw extended family- Christmas Eve with my mom's side (then at my parent's house later since my siblings both worked Christmas day), Christmas Day we did our own Christmas, then to the cemetery, then to my dad's family. (Joe's family is all in PA.) Luke did pretty well with the choas and so many people and our schedule and everything totally off. He got plenty of presents, although he was pretty ambivalent about unwrapping them. All in all, it was good. Bittersweet as always, but a lot of sweet to go with our bitter this year. Hopefully next Christmas will be even better.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Effing facebook, or, watching a trainwreck

So in case you didn't know, Facebook is up to their usual tricks, next week they are rolling out their "timeline" thing- so now everyone's page will be in a timeline format and all of your old posts and everything can come back to haunt you. You can preview what yours will look like by clicking on your name.

So, back in 2009, I whined about my job in Hell City and the spawn of satan 6th graders on FB probably at least 3x a week. (I know, I know, it is amazing that everyone hasn't hidden me.) I decided I should probably go back and clean that up, even though I try to keep my settings pretty locked down, I might want a job again someday, etc. etc. (Although cleaning up my FB page definitely confirms that it shouldn't be in teaching, 90% of my posts prior to Olivia and Luke were countdowns to summer or spring break or hoping for snow days, etc. Again, pretty amazing if I'm not hidden to most people. It was annoying even to me, in hindsight.)

Anyway, of course in the process of that, I stumbled on my last few posts teaching in Hell City and before Olivia died (some that I deleted , some that I kept up). God, it's eerie and sickening and I don't know how else to explain it, seeing those posts Before and After. Franchesca/Small Birds studio (who made my blog pretty), posted the other day about seeing a picture of herself before she lost her daughter and how there's just something different in pictures now. I totally agree with that. The innocence and naivety and faith that things usually turn out okay, that I had and felt, is not there anymore. I mean, now I know that sometimes things turn out okay (like with Lucas), and sometimes, they really, really, really don't (like the babyloss mom community.)I still can't believe that even after my OB was talking about delivering Olivia at around 24ish weeks due to her bad growth, while I was worried, I had no sense of the impending doom or urgency that I should have had- like seriously, what the hell was wrong with me? (My now 25 year old brother was a 29 weeker in the 80's and he's perfectly fine and healthy, so I think maybe part of it was that I thought if she did get delivered extremely early, as long as it was 24 weeks or later, they could save her and it would be fine, albeit a long NICU stay...because that world I was in...babies didn't die.)

Also, it's crazy how much I whined about school/teaching, but when I was having that stabbing upper right quadrant/ribcage pain that you know- was my liver on the verge of rupturing for 2ish weeks- nope, not a peep whining about that. That was going on through most of mid-late September and I am sure did not help me be less whiny or stressed in general. But working every day from 6 am till 10 pm and barely stopping to eat (my lunch every day was with 100ish 6th graders who were seriously the spawn of satan and could not behave then either...what the hell kind of school makes teachers eat lunch with middle schoolers? School in Hell City, that's where!)

Anyway, here it is, the last couple months of my pregnancy from facebook:

July 15, 2009
is excited that on Aug. 15 we get to find out if it's a girl baby or boy baby! If only that didn't seem like forever away...

August 15, 2009

August 21,2009
Baby Brooks (7 photos)
First "pictures" of our baby. Expected arrival Jan. 23, 2010!

August 22,2009
is hopefully going crib shopping today...for the 3rd time...

August 31, 2009
knows it's way too soon to be burnt out already....but I'm burnt out already.
(this was the 3rd week of school when it became apparent these kids were the spawn of satan)

September 14, 2009
wishes it was January...or better yet...MAY!
(already knew I wasn't teaching there next year)

September 20, 2009
finally ordered the crib! I guess this means we should probably start cleaning out the baby room. Now, if only my work would fire me so I'd have time for this.
(seriously would have been happy to be fired, at this point I didn't feel like I could quit without losing my teaching license...and obviously someone who orders a baby crib at 21 weeks is living in a world where babies don't die)

September 21, 2009
so it's not looking good for the January baby to be a January baby after all...hopefully she at least hangs in there until November.

friend asks-what's wrong!?!?!?

Response: She's not growing very well. At my last ultrasound, she was 8 days behind, and now she is 2 weeks behind, so they are thinking that I may have pre-eclampsia or something wrong with the placenta. If she continues to fall even more behind, then they want to get her out sooner than later. 24 weeks is considered viable and I'm 22 weeks now, but hopefully she can stay put until at least Nov. because she'd still be very very early even then.

(why the hell I was so calm about all of this, I don't know. And I wasn't exactly "calm" but I kind of want to smack myself in hindsight. Also, the reason they only said I "might" have pre-eclampsia was because my blood pressure was still perfectly normal and I was not spilling protein, but I was very swollen and in a lot of pain.)

September 24, 2009
is DONE. I'm either quitting or going on medical leave, I am so not doing this anymore! And by the way, crying is very effective classroom really freaked the 6th graders from hell out.
(not one of my finer teaching moments. But this was after my principal- who knew everything that was going on with my pregnancy- called me into her office during my plan period and chewed me out for an hour for "not disciplining" one of the biggest spawns of satan...because he was so bad some of the other kids were going to her and complaining about him...when I pointed out that I had written him up multiple times even that week, sent him in the hallway (which we weren't supposed to do), called home, given him detention, exactly wtf else was I supposed to do with the kid...her helpful response was "I've never seen a write up" and then she looked at the computer and there they were...20 minutes later I'm at lunch with same kid, he throws a milk carton across the table, I'm just done and send him directly to the office since we had just had this long talk, she sends him right back to my class as soon as lunch was over- thanks for the help.) Like I have said, I have *at least* as much PTSD from teaching in Hell City as I do from losing Olivia. I do not talk to a single person still from that entire school and I have a couple of school spirit t-shirts from the school that I really want to burn.

September 25,2009
is very happy it's Friday and today is most likely my last way or another..l am DONE. Spirit day indeed.
(it really was my last day there, not for the reasons I had thought.)

September 25, 2009
will hear back from the doctor on Monday. In the meantime, I need to find the meanest sub ever.
(I had called the doctor sobbing during my plan period begging her to put me on medical leave. We had talked about it at my appointment earlier in the week but she had said bedrest isn't proven to help--which is still true even now-- but she also didn't realize the extreme stress I was under at that time. The nurse took my call and all the info and said the doctor was out of the office and would call me back Monday. I did talk to her Monday, but it was at 3 am and then in the hospital.)

September 30, 2009
Olivia Caetlyn Brooks was born at 8:48 pm on Monday, Sept.28 via an emergency c-section. She passed away about an hour later. Angie and Joe are doing as well as can be expected, we thank our wonderful friends and family for your prayers and support.

October 2, 2009
was released from the hospital today and physically feeling almost normal even though I'm supposed to be recovering from a c-section. We are both doing okay. Thanks again to everyone for all of your thoughts and prayers, they have really helped us.

October 22, 2009
turned in my work laptop today, I think I'm pretty much done with that place now--very glad that I'm out of that nightmare, at least.

It still amazes me how it went so very wrong, so quickly. But I guess that's how it usually does go with babyloss, and our drama actually dragged out longer than most since things started going wrong with the bad quad screen at the end of August, then they noticed she was several days behind (8, but a week off is considered normal so they weren't too worried yet but going to watch it..I didn't post about any of that.) Anyway, I probably could have done without that trip down memory lane, so thanks Facebook.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Saving Grace, 2011

Every year, the Pre-Eclampsia Foundation has an event called Saving Grace somewhere in the country (it changes every year, this year I think it was in NY.) It is a night where they raise money, share stories, etc. (Those interested in it can read more about it here: ) I hope someday soon Saving Grace will be close enough that we can go to it. (It was in Chicago in 2009, which would have been close enough, we seriously considered going but everything was still so new and raw only 2 months after we lost Olivia, we didn't really feel up to it.)

They also usually have something they call a Patient Symposium the day before or day after Saving Grace where all of the top experts on pre-eclampsia and HELLP in the country have a talk about what they know, etc. and take questions. They filmed it and sold dvd's of it a couple years ago, I have the dvd but haven't managed to watch it all the way through ever. (Too sciency even for me.)

 Anyway, a few months ago I posted about the "Field of Cradles" project that Susannah Pabot put together in honor of babies lost to pre-eclampsia, and we were lucky enough to have Olivia remembered and honored with a cradle and blanket and poem, which were exhibited several places on the East Coast. Well, Susannah also brought a few of the cradles and all of the blankets to Saving Grace, and was kind enough to send us pictures.
(I *think* that purple blanket right there is the one made in honor of Olivia but can't be for sure.)

Obviously nothing makes up for her not being here right now, but it is such a good feeling to know that other people are learning about her too short life and remembering and honoring her too.

Anyway, the Pre-Eclampsia Foundation put together this video honoring the babies and moms who have died due to pre-eclampsia, and showed it at Saving Grace this year. They took excerpts from some of the poems that Susannah wrote and put with the cradles and blankets for each baby, for parts of the video. It's a very nicely done video but you'll definitely want to be prepared to cry.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Baby wake up calls

Yesterday morning I woke up to Lucas sitting up in his pack n play next to me, putting his hand on my cheek and grinning. God, I love that baby. (And really appreciate that he didn't try to claw my face off, or pull my hair, or stick his hand in my mouth.) He is awesome (even face clawing, hair pulling, and trying to gag me with his hand). First time he's mostly slept through the night in a long time, fingers crossed for more of that. (Did not happen last night, but I can hardly complain about sleeping from 2-5 am with a warm cuddly perfect baby on my chest in the recliner.)

I started volunteering Friday and really liked it. I am really excited about the prospect of maybe someday having a job where I would get to wear scrubs every day. I am in the radiology dept but mainly helping the person who does the CT machines. I help get and move patients, set up the room, run file to the doctors, etc. They are apparently going to let me load the CT machine with contrast dye, too. I am not doing much in ultrasound yet, but the hospital I am volunteering at is really small and so I probably won't see many or any OB patients since they have an u/s machine on the OB floor. The time I'm there goes by pretty fast.

Luke and Joe had a rough night on Friday but he was good last night. Wednesday my mom is watching him for the first time, I'm nervous about it, mainly because he's so attached to me and I don't want him to cry the whole time. Hopefully it will go okay. I am not used to being so busy! It is going to be a crazy 6ish-9 months (school 2x a week and online, volunteering 2x a week) and then be nothing again.

I am horrible at Christmas this year. Our tree is still not up. I don't have stockings for Lucas and Olivia. (And Joe's stocking I made with glitter glue in college- it's pretty lame.) I have bought a few things online for Luke and Joe but that is it. It's just been busy. I think I will take Luke out shopping in a bit, mainly I'm struggling to keep up with everything. I'm pumping a lot in case I get pregnant and have to wean (can't breastfeed on blood thinners), which takes a lot of time and constantly doing dishes and washing pump parts, plus Lucas is really mobile and loves cords and escaping his 'baby jail' (a fort of gates in the middle of our living room- our lame/sucky/lazy babyproofing attempt) so that makes getting things done tough. I did get our Christmas cards *mostly* sent out though, so yay for small progress. (Video of Luke on the previous post, it wouldn't let me type on it.)

Water bottle fun (7.5 months)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

18 years

A couple nights ago my friend Jackie and I met someone who lost her daughter (I think her first child), eighteen years ago.

Her baby lived for 17 hours and then died of Group B strep, that was before they commonly tested for it. She said that a year later, they made it a routine test.

So she beamed at us and said that now she feels so lucky and glad to have an angel. And grinned at us like we were in this secret, really cool club.

And I might have unintentionally gave her my "are you smoking crack?" look because it was so over the top and I was so caught off guard and dumbfounded by it.

I was telling Joe about it yesterday when we were driving to the Angel of Hope statue and he was also flabbergasted.

This isn't to say that there aren't good things that have happened as a result of Olivia's death. I have  new, fantastic, friends, that I wouldn't have if Olivia were here. I'm probably a better person overall. I'm definitely a better mom to Lucas because of Olivia. I will have a new career. Etc. I mean, I'd still trade that all to have her back, but since she isn't coming back, I can at least recognize that some good has come of it.

But I really can't imagine ever being so dang happy about it and acting like I'm glad that I have "an angel" instead of a living daughter. As I was trying to explain it to Joe, I said, "It was like she was saying that she was glad or happy that her daughter died. " I will never be glad or happy that Olivia died, I can't fathom that or what it takes to get to that point. Self- preservation, maybe? I don't know. But I would like to think that 18 (er, 16) years from now, I won't be *happy* about it.

Like Brooke says, all sorts of people lose babies, even tacky and crazy and weird people. (Some people are probably crazy and weird and tacky before they lose babies and some people maybe it's an after effect. I'm sure I've had my share of crazy and weird days, but some of the things you hear are just way way beyond that .) I think maybe we can chalk this up to another person who is just out there, maybe.

Teeth, not ears

I can't remember if I mentioned it, but a couple weeks ago Luke got his first tooth, bottom middle. It was a nonevent. Literally, one day he chomped down on my hand and there was something sharp poking me- his tooth.

Yesterday Luke acted normal most of the day and didn't have a fever, so I figured his ears were probably okay. We took him in anyway, and he's totally healthy (let's hope he stays that way), but his second tooth is ready to pop through any day now.

It ended up being a good thing we went in because yesterday evening he was So Crabby, I've never seen him that bad. I might have panicked and rushed him into the ER or Urgent Care had I not already known that he was fine. Also, it turns out he pulls on his left ear when he's pissed off.

 So basically, all is well there.

After the doctor, we went to the Angel of Hope statue and took turns leaving a flower while the other stayed in the car with Lucas who was sleeping. So it sorta worked out, at least our version of it. It was better than skipping it all together, and the bitter cold made me kinda glad we were skipping it this year- last year I think I wore like 3 layers plus a coat and we were toward the front so we got done early.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mommy guilt

On needs of living child vs. memory of dead child

So tonight is the annual candlelight vigil. It's Dec.6th every year, always cold, crowded, slightly chaotic- but they have a nice little ceremony. The first year I was really nervous about it, last year I was really excited for it, this year, I have been dreading it. Not so much the service but standing in the freezing cold for a couple hours, no parking, leaving Luke with someone for the first time, being in a crowd of like 1000 people with very little space...yeah. The ceremony is very nice though.

Luke was just not acting like his happy self yesterday. He was super irritable (even while I was feeding him- food ALWAYS makes him happy), and slept more than usual. Last night I left him with Joe while we started working on Christmas stuff to send out to all the new loss people at the hospital support group, he was actually mostly ok for Joe but he saw him pulling on his left ear a lot. He was out cold by the time I got home but woke up after an hour or two (which secretly made me happy), I changed him and let him play for an hour (Joe had given him tylenol) then he fell back to sleep for most of the night. Today he has been acting pretty normal again but he has pulled on his left ear a few times. My guess is that it is probably nothing or teething since he doesn't really have a fever, but I'd rather get it checked out to be sure, he's never been to the doctor for anything but well baby visits and shots (in 7.5 months), so even if it's nothing, I'm not too worried about being a crazy mom on this. We have an appointment at the end of today. (Coincidentally, we were at the dr last week for just a shot, I wonder if he picked up something from that, and that does make me more hesitant to bring him in now. Sick kids are on the "well" side all of the time since they aren't separated by anything- there are 2 different doors/sides but it opens to one big room with a supposed well side and sick side.)

Then I talked to my mom, my sister was going to baby-sit for us but she left work sick yesterday. So we've already decided, ear infection/illness or not, we aren't going this year, technically one of my brothers or my mom or dad could maybe watch them, but my sister has been sick for a few days and she's been around all of them, I'd rather not expose Luke to something extra even if he isn't sick . It's too cold to bring him to the memorial. We are planning on stopping by before and leaving a flower while Luke stays in the car with one of us while the other goes. That will have to do for this year.

But I feel guilty about it. I know we do/have done other stuff remembering Olivia and for other babyloss families throughout the year, and this is just one day, but blech. I never thought there'd be a year when we wouldn't go unless something really serious was going on, but here we are, not going.  I guess it's because I didn't really want to go anyway, and this excuse came up, so we're not. Oh well, I guess I'll have to get over it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wherever you are

This has quickly become one of my favorite books to read to Lucas, although unfortunately we have a nice hardback/paper copy and he always tries to grab/eat/chew/tear it, so I have to read fast and keep it out of his reach. The illustrations are fantastic and we just got "It's Time to Sleep, My Love" from the same author with equally breathtaking illustrations. (p.s. They sell Nancy Tillman's books at Kohls for $5, as well as the stuffed animal characters illustrated in her books for $5, and all the proceeds go to charity from the book/stuffed animal sales. )
I always feel like I'm reading it to both of our babies, which is pretty obvious why when you read it:

"Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You" by Nancy Tillman

I wanted you more
than you ever will know,
so I sent love to follow
wherever you go. 

It's high as you wish it. It's quick as an elf.
You'll never outgrow stretches itself!

So climb any mountain...
climb  up to the sky!
My love will find you.
My love can fly!

 Make a big splash! Go out on a limb!
My love will find you. My love can swim!

It never gets lost, never fades, never ends...
 if you're working...
 or playing...
or sitting with friends.

You can dance 'til you're dizzy...
paint 'till you're blue...

There's no place, not one,
that my love can't find you.

And if someday you're lonely,
or someday you're sad,
or you strike out at baseball,
or think you've been bad...
just lift up your face, feel the wind in your hair.
That's me, my sweet baby, my love is right there.

In the green of the the smell of
the the clouds floating by...
at the top of a the sound
crickets make at the end of the day...
"You are loved. You are loved. You are loved," they all say.

My love is so high, and so wide and
so deep, it's always right there, even
when you're asleep.

So hold your head high
and don't be afraid
to march to the front
of your own parade.

If you're still my small babe
or you're all the way grown,
my promise to you
is you're never alone.

You are my angel, my darling, 
my star...and my love will find you,
wherever you are.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Oh, how far we have come. I remember Thanksgiving a couple of years ago was just brutal. Olivia died at the end of September, I was released from the hospital in October, then Joe's family was here and we buried her, and suddenly it was November. When Thanksgiving hit, I was just coming out of that self protective numbness blurry fog that is the first six-ish weeks. Why we tortured ourselves trying to go places that first Thanksgiving, I don't know, but it was a big mistake. We wisely stayed home and pretended Christmas didn't exist that year. Last year, we were just freaking terrified about what might happen in the months ahead.

But here we are in 2011 and we have a healthy, happy, wonderful little boy to show for the terrifying pregnancy that was last holiday season, and he has brought us a long way in healing. While we won't ever be exactly the same people we were pre-September 2009, I never thought that I could or would ever be this happy again. Yes, there's a lingering sadness or a scar, behind the happiness, but the happiness is there. But there's also a sense of pride in how far we've come, and a resiliency I didn't know I had.

Anyway, our Thanksgiving was good. Lucas was happy and good and we had a nice day with family.

Could this Thanksgiving have been better? Of course. It will always be "could have been better", but for what it was, it was better than I imagined it ever could be again. It still sucks, but oh, it can and does get better.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanks and giving

Luke has decided that sleeping through the night like he has done for the last 3 months or so is lame. Boo to sleep, I like waking up every 2-3 hours to chat with my mommy! I'm not complaining, the first few weeks of him sleeping through the night, I missed him. But by now, I've gotten spoiled sleeping through the night for weeks and weeks, so this up-every-3ish hours stuff is making me a tad sleep deprived. The real problem is rolling over. Luke rolls over and then wakes himself up and then I guess thinks, "Hey, I'm awake, let's chat and play for awhile!" He's never crabby though he will cry if I don't get him. I know some or a lot of people are fans of cry it out, but I'm adamantly against it and not willing to consider it no matter how tired I get. (Though I'm not opposed to taking a nap on the floor while he plays next to me!)

But anyway, I didn't have kids so I could get a full night's sleep. Secondly, oh, what I would have given to have Olivia wake me up 3 times a night...I really can't complain about Lucas doing it. Lucas slept through the night for a pretty long time before this and is such a good, happy, easy baby overall that it's pretty lame to complain about this, especially since at least when he wakes up at 2 or 3 am, he falls right back to sleep the second I pick him up. He's pretty good about only wanting to get up and play at reasonable wake up times (like 9/10/11/12 ish- when I'm still up usually anyway.) Today we took an awesome nap together from 2 to 5 pm and it was MUCH needed and I feel a lot  better overall. Anyway, sleep or no sleep, we are so lucky to have him and he's such a great baby.

On that note, he is getting so mobile. I just watched him pull himself ACROSS our living room (10+ feet) and then when he got to his desired location (Koda our husky who is none too pleased with this development- he watched Luke warily as he got closer and then when Luke was a few inches away, jumped up and moved several feet farther), he pushed himself up to sitting and started playing with a box of diapers instead. (I'm pretty much over cloth diapering.) That's the first time I've seen him manage to push himself up to sitting all the way from laying. So for now he's army crawling and pushing himself along but he gets up on his hands and knees and is not too far from real crawling. Again, it's so much fun to see him figuring out new things and his personality emerging, but wah, he's getting so so big! I think he's going to have a blast for Christmas with all the wrapping paper this year. We are so incredibly thankful that he's here and happy and healthy.

Today I picked up an angel tree child. For those not familiar, a bunch of places and the Salvation Army gets names of needy families/children, and those more fortunate select a child and buy Christmas gifts (needs and wants) for them. Last year, we were so focused on trying to survive the holidays and also so scared what was going to happen with my pregnancy that we just couldn't do anything but get through them. This year, we are in a much better place and decided we wanted to do it. So we are buying gifts for a 2 year old girl...although it's going to be a little tough because their list was so vague...needs: "stuffed animals" (really?) wants: "toys, blanket" hopefully we do okay. (Other people had specific stuff, clothes sizes, etc. which would have been a little easier maybe but this was the only 2 year old girl option and the listed wanted/needed stuff is kinda sad, I think. (I mean others were asking for things like a Nintendo DS, etc.) But a blanket and stuffed animals and toys, I think we can handle. I'm not sure how ready I am to look at two year old girl stuff, but I will suck it up and do it (maybe online, luckily if I order stuff through JCP- which is where I signed up for my name anyway- they will ship anything I buy for gifts to her/the salvation army for free.)

Anyway, I'm done babbling for awhile, I hope everyone has a nice Thanksgiving. And for my babyloss mom friends who may not be feeling especially thankful this year (oh, have we been there), I will be thinking of you through this upcoming holiday season, I know it's not easy.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Baby Tyler

A huge story in our area right now is Baby Tyler, a 13 month old who was reported missing Tuesday, his body was found about a half mile from his home a few hours later. His mom has confessed to killing him (beat him to death because he wouldn't go back to sleep/stop crying), some reports say that she disposed of his body then went home and slept before waking up and reporting him missing. It's a chilling, disgusting story.  That poor baby.

And don't even get me started about missing baby Lisa (that was 3ish hours away). I just hope that they find her soon, too.

Some things in this world make no sense at all. I will never understand how or why people *like that* can get pregnant easily (even accidentally) and go on to have babies they don't want (and kill/abuse/neglect them), while wonderful people who desperately want babies struggle to get pregnant or lose their babies or both. WTF, universe, WTF. Sometimes there is just no rhyme or reason to it all....horrible things happen to wonderful people and wonderful things happen to horrible people. I hate that.

As awful as it was to lose Olivia, at least all she ever knew was love. I cannot wrap my mind around someone killing their own child, I would have gladly died to save our baby. And the footage I have seen of the mom walking around while talking to the police (when he was still just missing) is downright chilling. At one point she even smiles.

WTF, universe, WTF.

Rest in peace, baby Tyler.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Oh blog.

I'm still in this weird phase where I start writing a post, then quit.

All is pretty well here. We survived Pennsylvania. Luke tolerated the 22 hours of driving like the perfect baby he is- didn't cry once. That's about all I have to say about that here in blogland.

And as for Lucas, oh my. He makes me so happy and oh so sad all at once. I can't believe how fast babyhood is dwindling and toddlerhood emerging. He's mobile, not quite crawling but rolling and pulling himself enough to get wherever he wants. He loves plastic bags and paper and gets ANGRY if they are taken from him. He babbles all the time and Joe swears he intentionally says "ma" or "mom"  when he gets whiny but I'm pretty sure it's just coincidental, though it really does sound like mom. His days of sleeping in our room are numbered, not that he'll even notice the difference anyway, but oh, that part especially makes me so sad. I may end up sleeping on the floor in his room for the next 18 years or so. Okay, maybe not. But I can't say exactly in words how much I love opening my eyes and seeing him sleeping there a foot away from me. I remember telling my friend Jackie at 10 weeks or so how it was such a perfect age. But honestly, every age is the perfect age. (Although he has started doing this weird gaspy laugh that almost gave me a heart attack driving 5 minutes to my mom's house yesterday because hearing your 6 month old gasping over and over from his carseat when you can't see his face and you are already paranoid makes for a nervewrecking drive. I could tell that he was okay because he had some babbles and normal giggles in there between the raspy gasps but I hope he stops doing that soon because he's going to give me an ulcer with that.) Sleeping through the night is inconsistent but I can't say I mind much. The nights he wakes up, we end up cuddling in the recliner together until we both fall asleep which generally takes 10 minutes or less, no big deal.Works for us.

The approaching holidays this year are weird. The past two years, the holidays were so hard and miserable that we mostly just wanted to ignore them. But now we have Lucas. And I think the holidays will still be hard to some extent, but now we have to suck it up and make the best of them for him. I am sure he will have a blast with the wrapping paper and new toys. But it's complicated.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Halloween 2011

Luke's first Halloween was pretty uneventful. I wasn't going to be one of those people who takes their baby trick or treating for candy they obviously can't eat. Instead, we dressed him up and took him over to my parents and raided their candy instead. (I had candy instead of dinner, yum.) I haven't been a fan of halloween for a few years, still not really. I figure this is our last year we can get away with not doing pumpkins (we do have a picture of Luke with a pumpkin), next year we will probably go all out.


 (He doesn't really need the boppy behind him anymore but I was afraid he'd get distracted and fall backwards when I took the picture.)

 I can put my binkie in my mouth by myself, Mr.Independent.

He still doesn't sleep in that lovely crib yet. I put him in there while I ran to the bathroom because he's started rolling to stuff and we aren't babyproofed at all yet, a few days ago I left him playing happily on the middle of the floor and came back to find he'd rolled himself under the coffee table and was enjoying chewing on the bottom of my flip flop...gross...I wore those flip flops in the hospital even. Luckily he seems to have survived. But until we are babyproofed (which will happen as soon as we get back from our trip to PA) I use the crib as a baby cage, he thinks its fun in there.

 So my camera flashes a small orange light before the real flash/picture. Which makes it almost impossible to get a pic of him smiling these days because even if I make him smile, once he sees that light his expression changes to puzzled or sucking his lower lip like t
he first pic.

And at 4 months, Luke would screech all the time just for the hell of it, I never could catch it on video because he'd stop when he saw the camera. Well the past few days the screech has been back, and today he did it on camera...(he also "talks" normally but prefers screeching today.)

I can't believe my baby boy is 6 months old already, sheesh, time flies.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Life sentence

The heartbreak of infant loss

By Laura SchubertDid you know that October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month? I'll bet not. Despite the infant mortality crisis that's been at the forefront of Milwaukee's public health news for months, the only people who have more than a cursory comprehension of what it means to lose a baby are those who've lived it.

Infant loss is nature's cruelest practical joke. It's investing all of the required time and effort into pregnancy, only to be robbed of the result. It's cradling a body that grew within your own and trying to reconcile the cold, lifeless form in your arms with your memory of the baby who turned double flips in your womb.

It's worrying that you'll forget what your child looked like and snapping an album's worth of photos that no one will ever ask to see. It's sobbing so hard you can't breathe and wondering if it's possible to cry yourself to death.

Infant loss is handing off a Moses basket to the nurse who's drawn the unfortunate duty of delivering your pride and joy to the morgue and walking out of a hospital with empty arms.

It's boxing up brand new baby clothes and buying a 24-inch casket. It's sifting through sympathy cards, willing your foolish body to stop lactating, clutching your baby's blanket to your chest in hopes of soothing the piercing ache in your heart.

It's resisting the urge to smack the clueless individuals who compare your situation to the death of their dog or who tell you you'll have another baby, as if children are somehow replaceable.

Infant loss is explaining to your 7-year-old that sometimes babies die and being stumped into silence when she asks you why. It's watching other families live out your happy ending and fighting a fresh round of grief with every milestone you miss.

It's being shut out of play groups for perpetuity. It's skipping social events with expectant and newly minted mothers because, as a walking worst-case scenario, you don't want to put a damper on the party.

It's listening to other women gripe about motherhood and realizing that you no longer relate to their petty parental complaints because, frankly, when you've buried a baby, a sleepless night with a vomiting toddler sounds something like a gift.

Infant loss is pruning from your life the friends and relatives who ignore or minimize your loss. It's recognizing that, while they may not mean to be hurtful, the fact that they don't know any better doesn't make their utter lack of empathy one whit easier to bear.

My baby girl would have been 5 years old this month. I don't know what she'd look like, what her favorite food would be. I've never had the privilege of tucking her into bed, taking her to the zoo or kissing her boo-boos. I will never watch her graduate or walk down the aisle.

Infant loss is more than an empty cradle. It's a life sentence.

I know lots of people have posted this on blogger and facebook, but its too well written not to repost.

I'll add a few more...

Infant loss is...

-hesitating every time someone asks how many kids you have, or "is he your first", because there never is a good way to answer, and sometimes answering with the truth just leads to really crappy comments.

-never looking at anything quite the same way as you did before

-figuring out how to do family pictures when one family member is always missing

- living with random flashbacks of the worst moments of your life

-struggling with your spouse being sad when you aren't, or not being sad when you are, or just grieving differently

-Books for children like "We Were Supposed to Have a Baby But Got an Angel Instead" and "Someone Came Before You" and wondering when you will be able to read it without crying, and when is it appropriate to start reading anyway. And wishing you could burn that damn book and get your baby back instead.

Feel free to add yours, fellow babyloss mom's

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

So much stuff.

I keep writing stuff, getting distracted or too rambly, and quitting. Maybe we'll just try bulletpoints.

-Lucas is officially 6 months old tomorrow. His personality is coming out more and more every day. He wants to grab and eat everything. He cries if I leave the room. He thinks our dogs are hysterical, they look at him and he laughs. (They still try to keep their distance from his grabby hands which usually just amuses him more when he gets thisclose to touching them and then move.) He really wants to crawl and it makes him mad that he can't yet, it will happen soon I think. He is perfect and we are so lucky. Although I get sad as we get closer to little boyhood and farther from babyhood, I love every second of him.

-I am registered for the classes I need. Plan A worked out after a bit of drama. (Thanks to Joe being helpful and supportive and Brooke for being encouraging when I nearly said forget this.)

-Joe bought me a new vehicle. (2012 Dodge Journey with third row, my 2003 Galant was on its last leg and I was getting increasingly uncomfortable driving Lucas in it.) Ironically, the new car is so much safer that even though it is brand new and much more expensive to replace than my car was worth, our insurance actually went down. I was not expecting that at all. I hate that it isn't a minivan and that there is no way to fit a car seat in the middle of the 2nd row (the safest spot to put a car seat) and also be able to access the 3rd row short of climbing over the 2nd row or climbing over through the trunk. And I'm also not a fan of push start button technology vs. a traditional key and ignition because the first time I am stranded somewhere because my electronic key has broken and now the car won't start, I'm going to be LIVID. (We couldn't find an SUV in our price range with a 3rd row that had a normal ignition, turns out they don't really make them with normal ignitions anymore. Because that was pretty close to a deal breaker for me.) I do love the convenience of it, until it backfires and I get stranded somewhere and then we get to pay the dealership a small fortune to fix or replace the stupid electronic key. (That is probably their plan all along.) Anyway, overall I really like it. Especially for the increased safety.

-I'm thinking it's time for a blog makeover soon. I'm going to wait till all our 6 month pictures are back.

-I have volunteer orientation next Friday. Joe is awesome and decided to push our trip to PA to see his family back a week so I could get it done with. I have to get a flu shot, which I am pretty much against flu shots, but my OB and high risk ob will be thrilled. My ob tried to give me a flu shot last week.

-We are going to start trying again soon. My OB gave me the okay, but reiterated that my risks are the same...high. 75% chance of pre-e, 12% chance of HELLP. More lovenox injections in my stomach, lots of ultrasounds and time with the high risk dr, again a high risk of being put on bedrest and even hospital is daunting. We want our kids close in age though, and the limited stuff we know about pre-eclampsia is that the more closely spaced the pregnancies, the better it tends to go. Since my fertility is always an issue, we need to start thinking about it sooner than later. It still mostly stresses me out to think about it.

Alright, that is all for now.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This is happening.

I met with some people at our nearby hospital for a volunteering interview. I brought Lucas (after asking if it was ok), and he stole the show of course. I am "hired" and will be getting a volunteering orientation invitation. It was supposed to be Nov.4th but that is when we are supposed to be in PA seeing Joe's family so not sure when that will happen so I can actually start. They are hoping to put me in the radiology dept.

Monday I met with a counselor who looked at my transcripts and said, "Wow, your grades are very good. Are you sure you don't want to teach?" Yes, I am sure. I told her the classes I want to take and she signed the paper and that was that. I can't register online because they have none of my classes/transcripts in the computer. And the classes I need will fill up fast because they are only offering one evening section for the A&P lab and A&P (with 36 seats). So she told me to get there Monday as soon as they open, if not before. What the heck is this, community college black friday? Sheesh. So I get to drag Lucas up there by 8 am and hope they will actually let me register and hope that there will still be openings. I have my doubts because next week is registration for "returning and current students" and I've never taken a class from this school, so I believe that would make me a "new" student, and new students don't get to register until the following week. However, I specifically asked her about that and she said, "No, register next week on the 24th." I have had more than one advisor in my 200ish credit hours who didn't know what they were talking about, so I am not sure that they will even let me register. But we'll give it a try. My plan is to leave the house around 7:45 so I'll be getting there at pretty close to 8 when it opens. I am not standing outside in the cold with a 6 month old just to get in a community college class.

I have Plan B and Plan C in my mind. Plan B is to register for the classes I need at another community college that has 4 different campuses and a variety of evening/weekend/hybrid classes to chose from. One of them even would let me take A&P I for the first 8 weeks and A&P II the last 8 weeks for a total of 8 credit hours. If I didn't have a baby, if the professor had better reviews on ratemyprofessor, and/or if I didn't really really like getting A's, I might be extremely tempted to put myself through 16 weeks of torture and just do that (especially since the majority of it is online with just 4 hours of lab on Fridays.) But I do have a baby and I'm not sure how study time is going to work out and I really like getting A's, I'm kinda OCD about it actually. (The crazy thing is my parents never pressured me about it at all, but I'd come home from school crying if I got less than a B on a test even though I never did get a B for a semester grade - except for I think pre-calc maybe, but it was a college credit/weighted grade so it counted as an A still.) So anyway, that class would totally stress me out and bother me I think, but it is nice to know that there are a lot of options, including classes with the majority of work online. The only reason why I'm not just going to register there in the first place is because it's slightly more expensive since we don't live in that "district" and drives to campus will be 30-40 minutes one way. Plan C is trying to find an online class at my alma mater, but those classes are much more expensive, but maybe I could find something online. Either way, I'm taking A&P I with a lab starting in Jan and hopefully medical terminology online. I've already taken a year of college credit A&P in high school, I definitely need my memory refreshed, but hopefully it won't be too hard. (A couple of my high school teachers are teaching it there at the community college anyway.)

So, here goes nothing.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

6 month pictures sneak peek

So he turned 24 weeks old a week after these were taken (last weekend), but he's technically not 6 months till Oct.27th so we are pretty impressed with his sitting. (He did wobble but Joe was behind him with hand out to catch him every few minutes.)

Have I told the story of the lamb? Things went crazy so quickly the day Olivia was born...I called my parents from the hospital that morning just to let them know I was there but "everything is fine" because we still insanely naively thought it was. Then it wasn't fine and I was in an ambulance to level III NICU hospital and my parents were on the way. When it became clear we were delivering, when they prepped me for c-section my mom ran down to the gift shop and bought a little lamb. She gave it to us right before we went in to the OR. Joe put it in his pocket, and when they gave her to us, got the lamb out and held it next to her. We bought 2 more lambs, 1 is buried with her, 1 we gave to my mom, and the original lamb from the delivery room is in our memory box. So when I was pregnant over a year later, a month or so before Lucas was due, it occurred to me to try the gift shop to get a lamb for him. The gift shop inventory changes a lot- we walk by it every month to get to the support group and they ALWAYS have different stuff in the windows, so I wasn't very optimistic about finding another lamb, but sure enough, almost 2 years later, they were still there. So Lucas has one and we include it in some of our pictures as a symbol for Olivia.

Anyway, here are the pictures that we have back as our sneak peek, we are very excited to see the rest!

To anyone in our area, we can't recommend our photographer highly enough. She is the sister of another baby loss mama and also volunteers with NILMDTS (Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep- an organization that sends professional photographers out to take pictures for families for free in the hospital with their child.) So I liked her a lot just knowing that (which she does not mention but her sister told me).

Anyway, we are in love with all of the pictures we have so far and I think we did a good job of remembering Olivia with the main focus being on Lucas since it was *his* photo shoot after all.

SHARE walk for remembrance, 2011, Part 1

Lucas and my mom and balloons
Joe and Lucas
Lucas and me, wearing our Olivia butterflies and the butterfly we made for Brooke's Eliza
since Brooke wasn't able to make it, Lucas was determined to get that glittery foam goodness into
his mouth so we had to ditch his butterfly
Little brothers ARE awesome indeed.
Jackie and me, moms to an angel and a rainbow
This does not even come close to capturing the crowd, people in green are bereaved parents.

Again, only part of the crowd.
There are a few more pictures I have to share that other people took, so I'll make that as a Part 2 post when I get them.

The weather was PERFECT. The crowd was huge. It was a nice day to remember all of our babies who left too soon. Seeing so many people I knew there made me realize just how many people I have met in this journey. I am grateful for all of them.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

October 15

October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Today we honor the babies we carried but never met, those we held but could not take home, and the ones who came home but couldn't stay.

To my friends, you and your angels are in my thoughts and prayers today, and everyday. I will be forever thankful to have walked this journey with you all by my side. ♥
(Stolen from a friend's facebook status, but I know I can't say it any better than she just did.)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Best picture ever

Last weekend we had Lucas's photo shoot, I will put the "normal" pictures up when they are all done. Our photographer was/is AMAZING, I cannot recommend her highly enough and her rates are crazy low.

Anyway, she got this picture for us (while Lucas was having a big breakdown but luckily you can't tell), which might be my personal favorite "family" picture ever.

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss remembrance, so this picture is perfect timing. Tomorrow (technically today since it is 1 am- I can't sleep- too many thoughts going on in my head) we will be at a Remembrance Walk for our daughter and all of the other babies that left much too soon. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Freaking dots

A blogger that I follow just posted this quote addressing something that I used to believe in, but its harder/iffy now:

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life." ~ Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

We had our lives so nicely planned out. Joe did the military thing while I worked on my degree and we waited to have kids until he was out. (Being a child bride, figured we had plenty of time for that. And I was adamantly against having/raising military brats- I admire the women who can do it but I was pretty much the Worst Military Wife Ever and knew adding kids to the mix at that time would have been a horrible idea.) He finally got out and I finished my degree and found a job, then a different "better" job that turned out to be Hell City. I got pregnant and nearly died and before we could even set up the baby crib, we picked out a casket for our daughter instead. I might not be Mother Teresa, but karma can suck it, because nothing I've done was That Bad for us to deserve losing our daughter, and there are some pretty crappy people who manage to have kids (Casey Anthony?). And I know some really really great people who lost babies too. So where is the karma in that?

But as bad as it was and is, it could have been a lot worse. Suppose, for instance, that I hadn't been adamantly anti-military-brats for us. (Joe actually wanted to start having kids almost immediately.) If I had gotten pregnant when we were overseas, and that pregnancy had turned out like it went with Olivia, I would have died too, there's no doubt in my mind about that. The military doctors where we were stationed were not very good (they are a big reason Joe's knee is considered permanently damaged turns out that Motrin can not fix Everything.) There was not an American OB on the island. The off base hospital had very few English speakers, could not do c-sections or epidurals, probably did not have magnesium sulfate which prevented me from seizing, and if they had bothered to take me seriously at all and done bloodwork, it likely would have come back a week or two later. What happened to us was awful, but it could have been worse. I guess.

If we hadn't lost Olivia, I'd still be teaching and missing out on a lot of their babyhood with my hours and hours of grading and planning every night. I may have kept a friend or two who deserted me when I needed them most, but I wouldn't have met some of the great people who I have met who are and will be fantastic friends for many years to come. Would I trade my new friends and teaching to have her back? Absolutely. (Sorry.) But the what if game is not much fun and there are no trades, only what is.

What is, is that Olivia has brought so many great people and friends into our lives. What is, is that we have a beautiful little boy, losing Olivia has made it easier in some ways to parent him. So he woke up 10 times last night (true story), I snuggled with him on my chest in our recliner and marveled at how much of my body space he is taking up these days and am just so thankful that he is here and healthy. The little things like that, it is a little easier to appreciate and deal with some of the harder stuff, because nothing is harder than watching your baby die. What is, is that I have a new path that isn't teaching and I think I will be pretty good at it and I think that I will love it and I think that it will fit very well into our lives, allowing my to still have time at home with Lucas and also not having to drag work home.

So I don't really believe so much in karma anymore- crappy things happen to great people and horrible people get away with murder. But maybe the dots do connect after all, maybe not in the way we thought we should or would have liked them to, but maybe I am starting to trust that maybe one of the worst things to say to a bereaved parents, "things happen for a reason" has some hint of truth. Not that there is ever, will ever, be a reason good enough for Olivia to have died. BUT, if she had to die, at least I am at a place now where I can appreciate that her death, as horrible as it is and was, has brought some good changes and maybe pointed me to a better path than the one I was on.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Olivia's birthday

It's hard to find the words for yesterday. I started a few different blog posts and erased them, so maybe we'll try pictures instead.

It was a beautiful day. Just like last year. I bought the same happy birthday butterfly balloon and the same heart balloon as last year (but this year decided to write on it), and this year added a pink flower balloon. One for each of us.

 And Lucas was dressed for the occasion but totally uncooperative for pictures, he was fascinated by grass.

Actually, Lucas is a mellow happy baby most of the time overall but yesterday he was especially cooperative (with the exception of pictures and then at bedtime he'd fall asleep for 5 minutes, wake up when I put him in bed, and then was wide awake chattering away like it was the middle of the day. Finally I put him on the floor to play and let him wear himself out.) I was concerned about trying not to cry in front of him much since he's not quite as oblivious now, that was a failure, but luckily he didn't seem concerned about it.

 We left flowers, and broke the rules again this year and left a little doll and winnie the pooh figurine (last year they let the stuff we left stay for almost a year- technically since its a national cemetery "stuff" is against the rules but they tend to let it slide if it is subtle and plus Olivia's grave faces away from the street).

Then we released the balloons (Lucas participated)
I had my eye out for butterflies, but there weren't any. No animals or insects of any kind, but strangely enough, right after the balloons were out of sight, a big orange butterfly flew quickly across the street, past us, and was gone...too quick for me to get a picture and even Joe nearly missed it because it came and went so quickly. If I hadn't been looking around, I would have missed it too.

Then we stopped by the angel/park on the way home (this is where we will be back next week for Lucas's early 6 month pictures- fingers crossed the weather cooperates)

 The angel always accumulates lots of stuff.

We added a baby doll and teddy bear and another winnie the pooh figure to the collection.

And a flower to Olivia's brick,

More uncooperative baby pictures (but at least he's smiling).

I had to go to the bathroom and when I walked back up to Joe and Lucas, this butterfly practically flew into me. (It looks a lot like the same butterfly at the cemetery but I'm sure it isn't since they are 20ish miles apart.)
Then we came home and ate cupcakes. They had sprinkles and tinkerbell on them.  Joe and I went through her memory box and cried a lot more while Lucas played and laughed at us.

It was a nice day, for what it was. We received so many nice messages and texts and emails, and even an incredibly nice and unexpected card. That definitely made the hard day a little easier. But it was definitely still sad and hard and draining. It also definitely helped to have Lucas to squeeze a little extra tightly, poor kid. Although I think being pregnant with him for Olivia's first birthday forced me to keep it together a bit more and this year I tried but really couldn't.

Happy birthday, baby girl.