Saturday, March 23, 2013

Moving on...

Lets stop talking about life after loss as "moving on" which really means "leave behind." Im not leaving Bram behind, I have been deprived the opportunity to see him become an adult, I have been deprived hearing his laugh, feeling his touch, watching the world through his eyes. There is no moving on. Yes, I continue to live, but my life is forever changed by Bram and by the loss of him. Just as those who have survived extended periods of malnutrition or any amount of abuse continue to live, their bodies and mind are forever changed and effected. Their children are effected, and their children's children are effected. You don't move on from loss, you become something else.

I don't know what that is yet. Im still gestating in the stew of mourning and hopelessness. Maybe Ill be better than before. Right now though, Im angry, Im bitter, and so so sad...

I quit Facebook

So many connections through Facebook, a lot of acquaintances, some true friends, some family. But it's so fake. Not all of them, but enough...

It has been a source of triggers since that day. So many people who are so happy, and have such perfect lives, with their perfect diets, and perfect exercises, and perfect jobs, and perfect education, and perfect families, and perfect living children. People healing and growing so perfectly. God loving and blessing them so perfectly. Perfect. perfect. Perfect. What do I have?? The imperfect life. Hell on earth. financial worry. Alone most of the time. Kids who don't listen and fight me every step of the way. A house that is never clean. Anxiety that makes it impossible to leave my house, and sometimes my bed. Flashbacks that jerk me awake in the middle of the night. The inability to reach out and make plans. Stasis.

I am thankful for what I have, motherhood, a wonderful husband, a roof over our heads, a car that works. But losing Bram meant losing optimism, losing hope, losing strength, losing trust, losing sanity, losing what my family and life once was.

My life did end in 2012. This new world, this is post-apocalypse. The only zombie is me, and the only thing I want is my boy.

So I quit Facebook, so the triggers will stop, so people will stop peacocking their perfect lives and rubbing it in how low and pathetic I've become.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Our last hug

I broke down again trying to think of the last time I hugged Bram.

I frantically searched my brain of that day, that wretched day that shouldn't be. The only things that are especially vivid of that day, are the moment I say his body on the ground, and being in the hospital, and the CPR, and tubes, and the look on TJ's face when I told him. So I couldn't find it, and then I went to the bathroom. He always followed me there, he would hug me, and climb on the tub, and swing from the towel rod. And then I remembered...

I was sitting, before getting ready for pictures, and crawls into my lap. Then his legs go into the legholes of my pants (cause you know, I'm going potty here!). Hug him, kiss him, and the tub and towel climb begin. Then he asked for a bath. Of course I'd remember my sweet silly boy in the bathroom, that's so his sense of humor. So perfect.

Hug your kids EVERY DAY, you never know when it'll be the last time.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


The day has been up. Diapers washed, dinner in the slow cooker, meals and necessary shopping trip planned, outside playing with the bigs while A naps before we head off to the store.

Big red truck drives by, moving too fast, driver obviously distracted. Trigger.

Flashback. Pain searing through my guts. Nausea. Dizzy. Feeling faint.

And like that my day is over. Back to bed. People don't seem to get what this means for everyday, what it takes for me to just get up out of bed every day.

I don't have a high functioning autopilot.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Happy BIRTHday Bram, my perfect boy

*Warning, I love birth, so this is detailed*

To know how tremendous this experience was I have to share my varied birthing history. My first was a c-section after a very long labor, it traumatized me, at one point I had to beg for a nurse to remove her hands from my vagina. It took me a while to heal, but I found a way through. My second was a planned homebirth, expecting to be more like a first timer, and thus a long labor the pain and intensity of the contractions scared me into a non-emergent transfer. He was born 17 minutes after our arrival at the hospital. I now lovingly refer to it as the comical train wreck. When we found we were expecting again in July 2009 I had no doubt we'd be having a homebirth.
I was ready to meet Bram and very done being pregnant. It was a beautiful sunny week in March and we spent a lot of time outdoors. On the 13th I had even shared my thoughts of "pregnancy you've won, you own my soul!" A final surrender of sorts. My husband took my T (4 years at the time) and K (2 years at the time) out of the house to give me a day off, be miserable, wallow, cry, whatever felt good and I took full advantage. I enjoyed ice cream, a chick flick, a hot shower and a nap. When he returned it was time to make dinner, we planned a family indoor picnic complete with a movie. Afterwards TJ and I enjoyed a walk just to ourselves while my mom watched the bigs.

We left a little after 6pm, TJ lost the bet of when I'd go into labor which we joked about during our long walk. During our walk I had started to waddle because Bram got LOW. Then I had a contraction, not abnormal at this point in pregnancy, but this was a little different because I had to hold on to my husband and sway my hips. We had some distance to go to get home so we continued to enjoy our conversation and the warm air. A few blocks later another contraction that I had to stop and hold onto my husband again through. I was not getting my hopes up  for anything other than some work out of the way before my actual birthing time. We were about 4 blocks from home when my mom called us, K (2 years) wanted to know where we were. As soon as he saw me he jumped into my arms, I let go of the thought of labor and the contractions seemed to stop. My sweet "baby" was a welcomed distraction.
The thing about 2 year olds is once they know where you are they will happily run off to do something else, and so he did. I decided to sit down at the computer and check on my other expecting March mamas. After a while I noticed I was having these beautiful sensations, they felt so good I was afraid to move and make them stop. I could feel my uterus pull up on the cervix pulling toward the middle, when it would come to a peak the upper part of my uterus would press down, peak, then both sensations faded together. It was such a glorious sensual sensation. Rhythmic, ecstatic. I thought, *maybe* these are contractions because I had never felt anything like it! For fun I searched for a contraction timer and began to time the sensation. They we coming every 2-5 minutes lasting 10seconds to 1 minute. I watched this for almost an hour before the energy of the sensations required my attention. I expanded the screen to show my husband but he didn't quite get it. "Contractions" I said, he now knew we needed to get to work. I decided we should blow up the tub and prep the bed, just in case it was labor. I told my husband if I was still contracting after we finished getting our room prepped I would call the midwife and let her know something was happening, or possibly nothing. At 8:30, after an hour and half of contractions (and folding a lot of laundry), we were done with the room and I made the call. We both agreed a shower would be good for getting rest but I couldn't stop moving and felt like I had to do a million things, so I didn't really do anything other than tidy my room more, get T to bed, and cuddle with K who could sense the excitement and refused sleep. We finally laid down around 10pm to unwind. We watched some TV and cuddled with K who was still co-sleeping at the time, at 10:30 we turned the lights out. From 10 to 10:30 I had no sensations so I really relaxed and was ready to drift off the sleep and greet the next morning still pregnant.

Within minutes of drifting off I sat up and said "nope I can't lay down" and tried to get in the shower, as my midwife had suggested earlier but I also told my husband to call the midwife. A wave of nausea hit, follow by trembling that I couldn't control. I got in the shower but it felt all wrong, I needed to be submerged. As I went to step out I released some pink fluid, my water broke(or so I thought). My husband handed me the phone, the midwife was letting me know she was in her car and on her way. I couldn't focus so I gave the phone back to my husband. I needed the tub filled so I called my mom down to do that for me. In a blur I got my robe on, my birthing necklace on (beads sent from my fellow March mamas), got candles put up, had my husband light them, got my birth ball, and got to work. The work of enjoying every wave made to greet my baby into the world. Every few minutes, or seconds it felt like, I had to get on my hands and knees and rock against the ball. The sensations were so much bigger than me I had to let them out. Tears of joy would pour from me, I couldn't stop smiling with every wave and I couldn't stop myself from saying "Yes baby!" "I love you baby!" "Oooopen." The bigger the sensations got the louder my mantra got, the bigger my smile got. I felt so right, so good. The room was suddenly empty but I couldn't resist the pool any longer and I got in. I felt so beautiful, so full of love and life. 

Finally my husband came back, I asked him get the camera so he could take pictures, he made me smile for a picture. Out of the corner of my I saw that our clock was 15 minutes fast and asked my husband to change it to the right time since we'd need it to know when baby was born. It was 11pm. My hair was still mostly wet from the shower and sticking in my face. I requested a hair tie but as soon as I got my hair put up I tried to sit down and another contraction, a different kind of contraction forced me out of the reclining position I was in back onto hands and knees leaning on the birth tub's edge and oh my goodness I had to poop! I immediately told my husband "I need to poop, call the midwife." He asked if I needed permission to poop, I smiled to myself at his silly question but just said "yes" because I knew it wasn't a bowel movement, it was the urge to push. 

He got the midwife on the phone. One of the fears we had discussed was pushing and waiting until I had to push. After the first sensation with the urge, the next sensation I said "no,no,no" to and immediately I was in pain. I realized that I wouldn't be able to not push, this was the first and last time the whole labor when anything hurt. With the next sensation I didn't fight and the pain was gone. TJ was still on the phone and I was so in labor land I didn't pay any attention to him. I couldn't help myself I had to bear down. It was a bit of a test push, because if it hurt I wasn't going to push! I'd rather stay pregnant forever. To my surprise and delight it didn't hurt. My husband tried to give me the phone but I was busy, I was birthing. I reached down to feel and the bag of water was coming down. My water hadn't broken after all! I could feel baby's hairy head inside the bag of water. I bared down again, my hands eager and ready to touch my baby. I kept feeling, I could feel where the outer bag had broken but the inner bag was intact(the amniotic sac has 2 layers). I bared down again expecting the infamous ring of fire but once again the sensation surprised me with good feelings instead. His head was born still in the bag of water. Without thought I stuck my fingers in the bag right below his chin and gently tore it away from his head. I could feel a head full of hair. The last contraction to birth my boy came, still without pain, and I asked someone to catch the baby, but no one knew how fast things had happened or that I had been pushing at all. I grunted and bared down for the 4th time and he was out. The first person to know he was in this world. I lifted my leg over him and sat to grab my baby. He was gorgeous and COVERED in vernix, it was creamy and soft, and he was so warm and wet. I was in love, I could not believe that I had just birthed my baby with only his family present. He arrived 8 minutes after my husband changed the time on the clock, with only 4 pushes through a labor I had smile through. He opened his big eyes to look at me then started to breathe.

He turned a beautiful shade of pink. The tub wasn't full enough for my liking and was fast becoming chilled. So I wrapped baby in a towel. A little wobbly I got out and walked the 2 feet or so to my bed where my husband had laid a chux pad on the bed. I sat down and mentally told myself "it's time to let go[of the placenta]" I felt a contraction again and felt the placenta slide down, so I gave a little push and the placenta came out half way. I picked it up and plopped it in a bowl, it was huge and gorgeous as I imagined it to be. Shortly after I birthed the placenta the assisting midwife arrived. She hugged us and told us how fantastic we all were, everything was just so perfect and calm she jumped into the clean up. Our midwife arrived not too long after. Everyone was busy while baby and I cuddled, which I appreciated. I was given drinks and food to refuel though I wasn't hungry. After a while we were ready to cut the cord, for the first time my husband got to cut the cord. This felt like the right time to allow daddy his first moments with his new son. So I got ready to be tucked into bed with my new baby.  My sweet midwives made me a placenta smoothie and sang us a beautiful birthing day song and said goodbye 3 hours after the birth.

Bram and I spent the next 3 weeks mostly in bed, it was a blissful and blessed babymoon. My perfect boy, my perfect birth. Happy birthday Bram. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Bram Moments part 1

Some reposted from facebook.

Calling this part one because he is so much more than one post. No idea how many parts their will be.

We cloth diaper, and the smelliest diaper of the day always was the first one, the night time one. In the morning Bram would without fail, protest the morning change. He finally got tired of me bugging him. Me: Bram let's change your booty, you stink
B: "Noooo............. I no tink...,,,"
Me: yes stinky bottom, lets change you
B: no..., I no tink...... YOU tink!
And off he ran, smelly and perfect

We have a picture of the 3 bigs hanging up. Bram knows everyone's name but when we'd ask him who was in the picture his response was interesting.
Point to T, who's that?
B: Tayum
Point to Bram, who's that?
B: Me!
Point to K, who's that?
Now we randomly call K, Bobby.

There was a time he had a screaming meltdown forcing me to stop the car, turn around and drive back the way I came. Why randomly begin screaming hysterically? Well because we drove a car with a autobot symbol and he didn’t get to look at it long enough. Once we drove by it slowly he was perfectly calm. That phase lasted 2 more cars.

Then there was a time K made him SO mad he hit K in the head with the sharp end of a hot wheel car, K bled. Later K bopped Bram in the face and gave him a bloody nose. Oh brothers!

Whenever I want to think of his voice the first thing that pops into my head is him sticking his tongue out, head cocked to the side, eyes the opposite way while yelling "blat!!!"

I loved how he repeated everything back to us. Like explaining before A was born that the baby was going to come out of my vagina. He would repeat back quizzically "baby tum out gina?" And I would say yeah he would respond shaking his head yes, like I should know this "baby tum out gina, yeaahh....."

He couldn’t say orange, even though it was his favorite. It was “orunch”

When listening to his stories, and really it was quite in coherent, a lot about transformers, I would say “oh yeah” to acknowledge he was listening. It turned in to him saying “OH YEAH?!.....OH nooooo…..”

He danced with his whole body shaking his heads, and feet, and arms all at once. Or by squatting. His favorite thing to dance to: mini cooper commercial. He would stop everything he was doing and just start squatting to the music.

“That’s too much” meant MORE! So when he kept emphatically telling me “that’s too much” to cereal I left him the cereal and the milk and let him figure it out. He dumped the entire box, into the biggest bowl he could find. Then he ate 5 bites. Worth it!

We watched a friend’s kiddo. After lunch and he took the food when she didn’t finish it. I said “Oh Bram you’re a pig!” and he said “PIEG?! No…… I no pieg”

He loved pigs, so much that once he found a plastic pig in a park sandbox and wouldn’t leave until I promised him a trip to target to buy him his own pig.

He could lay for hours letting me do “this little piggy” to his toes. We'd come up with different places and food for his piggies to go to and eat.

He hated being away from me, there was a time at church that when he realized I wasn’t in the room playing he screamed so loud that we heard him in the service. I left in a hurry and spent the rest of the service with him. worth it

He slept like a starfish, sprawled out, taking up a 1/3 of the bed. The center third.

His favorite food: meatloaf and mac & cheese. And “tany” aka candy. And saysins (raisins). And green beans. And beans. And meat. And pasta. And apples but only the first bite. And oranges. And if it was edible, it was his favorite. He was a garbage disposal of food.

He loved babies and quickly became possessive of the babies he got to hold. If you tried to take baby away he would pull baby closer.

To be continued...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

You're my sweetheart

I can't hear this without breaking down, without seeing his bright beautiful smile beaming at me. I'd sing it at the top of my lungs to him in the car, to all the boys.

"I belong with you, you belong with me, you're my sweetheart"

Missing him more and more. Tomorrow is my dad's death anniversary, 24 years. 11 days from now it'll be 4 months without Bram. Too long. Too soon. Too painful. Too much. He belongs with me....

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The things you say...

I have the best friends, seriously. I know the bravest, kindest, strongest, most loving women in the whole world.

I saw one of those memes in my newsfeed. Only this time it read: "Of course I'm a good parent, they're still alive aren't they?" Immediately (and still) my heart began to pound, my breathing quickened, my skin was covered with goosebumps. I tried to scroll by but I had to see if it was a "share" or a "comment." If one of my friends had shared I was going to comment with my blog post and unfriend them. Thankfully a friend commented, and I knew right away she was speaking up for me and Bram. Of course I read it. So beautiful and kind what she shared, with mostly kind responses. (A few more friends jumped in too) Except the following: 

"If you can't find humor at the smallest funny. Turn off your computer and go hold your friend. One persons hurt shouldn't ruin everyone's life. I lost someone too."

"God decision not yours. You are a great mom and didn't fail your son. God just wanted him back. Try to smile and know your son is smiling and laughing in gods arms. I know you miss him but he isn't sad. He would want you to be happy and know he will see you later. Gods plan. Not ours"

"I'm not telling a grieving mom not to grieve. I still did. I just don't see the point in making a funny such a big deal. We All hurt. But I don't expect anyone to Hurt because I do. That is just selfish. It is just a funny. Turn off face book"

If she met me in person, I know without question, she wouldn't say most of that to my face. But here is the thing, if you say something about someone on facebook, it's going to make it back to them. The things you say about me, find their way to me. It's your choice whether the things you say show ugliness or kindness.

Finding humor: I found humor. I have a good sense of humor, and even in the aftermath I laugh, I laugh probably as much as I cry. I find lots of things funny. I can't get enough of the shaved bear for example.

The whole expectation of people hurting with you, and that being selfish. That's not selfish, that's empathy. Hurting with those who are hurting is part of the human experience, it how we tell those who are aching that they are NOT alone.

Also, "God's plan" uh, I disagree with those beliefs. God gave us free-will. The negligence of the driver's freewill took my son, not God. Read this piece on how to help the grieveing. The God statements are on the do NOT list.

In reading and re-reading her words, I wonder if she was not loved and supported as she deserved in her loss, child-loss or not. That makes me sad.

The memes, they make me feel like crap, they're really way off the mark in how to judge good parenting. It's not about being politically correct, it's not about not having a sense of humor. They're just rude, they're hurtful. They aren't funny now that I've been affected by child death. So yes I'm biased, but come on, have a heart! We should all be affected by child death because children should not die. But they do every day, and one day it was my son.

It wasn't a peaceful passing, it was violent, it was bloody, and I have his flesh and blood on the clothes they cut from his body to prove it. Part of me says take pictures, share the pictures of his dead body of his bloody clothes, make a meme of it "I'm a great mom." but that's evil, that's cruel, that's not the mark I want to make on this world.

At this point I strive to not say anything I wouldn't say to someone's face, to not live with such hurtfulness in my heart. I dare you to do the same. Loving fearlessly starts from within. Bram knew how, I'm always trying to be more like Bram.

And thank you friends for loving me, for being brave and speaking up, you're my life preserver today. <3

Monday, March 4, 2013

Ups and downs

So I went to church yesterday (since it's tomorrow already) and the church service was about ups and downs.

I get that. Before Bram I was very optimistic, I found light even in our lows. Even in the first weeks after. But now I'm not finding light. I'm supposed to but truthfully I don't have a lot of hopes these days.

My friends and family have been life preservers in this pitch black sea of grief. They have blessed us and loved us. Strangers have blessed us and loved us. I feel immense guilt for being SO low when I have people who want me to not be. People that have gone out of their way to help us. It's not that I don't appreciate it, because I do, I don't know where I'd be without you. I'm a horrible person though... in spite of all the love, I hurt.

I've always thought life was a roller coaster, I've always had ups and down, and more often than not the heights of the highs and the depths of the lows balanced each other. Losing Bram has brought me lower than any of the lows I've ever known. All the highs in my life are going to be not as high because, they'll be forever dragged down.

I screamed today, I raged, I sobbed, I begged God, as I often do, to stop this to just give me my baby back because I'm done with this stupid lesson. I'm done being the mother of a dead child. I don't WANT this. I WANT BRAM. I always wanted Bram, even when the world seemed to be disappointed that he was going to be at all, that he was a he as opposed to a she. I wanted HIM.

I sobbed at TJ a culmination of triggers from church and a birthday party. I went into a stupor. He was never mentioned. I never HEAR his name. I never say his name. He doesn't exist, he never did, he was never mine. And I feel crazy. In church we talked to someone we didn't know someone that "knew" us because of Bram. And again, no mention of my boy. Every encounter is more proof he was never here. I can't tell strangers "oh here are my kids and theres a dead one too" because I hate that I don't want it to be true.

This is so scattered and confusing but there I am, up and down, and down a lot further, and the stuff under that, that still higher than I know right now. When will it stop hurting all the time. When will I get my baby back. I would do almost anything to hold him again, in his glory, in his magnificent ability to make a mess and push my buttons, and be 2, and be a boy, I want him. I would give my own heart to have him drive me crazy again.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Death stories

I'm a birth and baby advocate, a family birth supporter, a forever student of physiological hands off birthing. Many people know this of me. Being in the birthy world, we share our stories. Our birth stories are carried close to our hearts, for many they are great memories, and for some they aren't. But it is a tie that binds, something we all do, we're all born. It could be our own birth story, or our children's birth stories, but it's apart of our lives. They are beautiful, they are raw, they are the beginning.

For many of women in the birth communities, telling birth stories, was the first step of taking their birth back. Once shared, it couldn't be stop, growth, change, shaping of motherhood, shaping of future births, shaping of self-image. I have been moved to laughter, to tears, to heart-wrenching pain with the stories I've read. It made birth less mystical to be let into this little piece of the world, to be allowed into someone's most intimate moment of becoming mother, to feel/to see/to smell/to hear what they were.

But stories of death, they are not shared like birth stories. And exception being stillbirth, being life and death all at once, they are intense and powerful, they are so tender and to be told a stillbirth story is an honor. By and large though our death stories are tucked away. They make others so very uncomfortable. We don't want to hear, we don't want to know, we want to offer comfort, we want to make it better so we can go on with life and not think about how finite our lives are.

Death stories are important. Violent, tragic, drawn out, sudden, too soon, too painful, gentle, surrounded with love, alone, and on and on. Sharing the stories of those you've been there to bear witness to is important. They are worth telling, worth hearing, and worth sharing. Please share your death stories, take death back, take away the taboo. Because no one should carry their death stories alone, they should be honored for what they are, held in our heart to make us a little softer, a little more patient, and a lot more thoughtful in our actions and intentions.

If you desire to share the death story that you carry, beyond me and my blog, please email my beloved friend Emily Reeves at share your death stories. And even still I would love to bear witness to the stories you know, to let you be less alone in that which you have witnessed. Take death back. Loving you, loving us, fearlessly.