Monday, December 29, 2014

I don't believe in healed

I don't view healing the same anymore.

It's a forever, like grieving. It's just something that you're always in the process of. 

You slip and you fall, you open wounds that were faded away. You take strides and leap over mountains, and you take baby steps and one breath at a time. It's all part of the process. You're never the same again after surviving your trauma, you'll never be who you were before the trauma. It changed you, and some of what we survive changes us to our core. You can choose to find the person the change made you, embracing the newness of you with loving arms, or you stay stagnant in it and sink. And it isn't either or, cause sometimes you sink for a while before trying, and that's ok. I don't believe in healed, but I believe in healing. Healing is a forever.

Wishing everyone a peaceful new year, with lots of healing in whatever form you need it.

dedicated to my SSBT friends-you know who you are <3

Monday, December 22, 2014

Struggling to believe

For the last few months I've felt like there's nothing after this. I haven't felt Bram, I haven't gotten any signs. I've been feeling like you die and that's it, and I don't want to believe that. I want the comfort of an after life. I want the comfort, I want hope, I want the ability to make sense of this world and existence. But I haven't been able to have any of that.

Today, just this morning I saw 3 things: the first was balloons, on a baby carrier. The very same fabric was made into a blanket for Buttercup as a piece of Bram, the second was stumbling upon his name and his sister's name together, the third was a friend sharing the geese oddly occupying her street (Bram loved geese). And it hasn't just been today. A few days ago a friend suggested a children's book as she described it to me, I cried. "Mama kisses the palm of her baby's hand and folds it up and tells him, "Whenever you feel sad or miss me, put your hand to your cheek and think 'mama loves you, mama loves you' "" She didn't realize that as Bram laid in his hospital bed, time of death already called, I kept kissing his hand and holding them to my cheeks saying "mommy loves you."

It's been nice, and maybe it's just my mind reaching for comfort. Maybe it's Bram. I'm feeling him, real or imaginary I'll take the comfort. I'll take the hope.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

December 2014

Deep breaths

It hard updating here, though I want to share. I'm still in this weird place. My heart is tender right now, some days I'm ok, and some days I'm really low. Self-loathing reigns, and my humor is dark. I'm not loving this season, this time of year, the holiday. Which is weird cause Christmas is my favorite, like buddy the elf favorite.

But I keep breathing even if it hurts, and I keep putting my feet in front of me.

I don't know what this place of grief is, I feel really detached from Bram. I've turned my back on believing. I've given up a good chunk of hope for an after. I wish this wasn't going to be my life forever. I'm present though, I'm here and I'm in this moment more than I'm in that moment.

I find myself thinking about the killer, the one who mistakenly took his life, and wondering what that life is like, what that weight feels like. I can kind of see why the hesitance to not reach out, but it still hurts that it hasn't happened.

Lots of sleepless nights, and not for buttercup, just for me. Too many nightmares, too many thoughts they keep me up. I've had quite a few nights recently waking up in the middle of an anxiety attack. It's so scary, makes you not want to sleep. But this is my life now.

Mostly I miss Bram, I miss hearing his name every day, I miss saying his name, I miss his voice, I miss what should have been and could have been.

Monday, November 17, 2014

2 years

The truth is, I don't know how to do this. 2 years since he died, 2 years since I heard him say I love you, 2 years since we hugged, 2 years since he hogged the bed, 2 years since he played with his brothers. 2 years and while I'm not screaming out loud, the agony is still here, just as fresh, just as raw. My son was killed because of a driver's negligence, he doesn't need to be dead. And I still see it everywhere, the distracted.

This weekend as I half heartedly prepped for bramiversary I held my boys as they sobbed for their brother. I hear the words no child should say "I wish my brother was never killed." I fought sleep in fear of another prophetic dream. I tried to fill the holes. We hurt, we bickered, we hugged, we struggle. So often it's a struggle.

We've lost 2 years of our lives, and maybe this next year will be better, they there's firsts we will face this year, like him being dead longer than he lived. I'm not ok today. I'm not healed. We're not healed.

My stomach hurts, my heart hurts. I don't know how to carry this. I don't know how to breathe through this. Contrary to Bram's "that's too much" meaning more, this is actually too much. I avoid the grief, I avoid and fill. I have to fill the holes, with food, with obsessions, with sarcasm, with anger and bitterness, with apathy. Plug up those holes, even temporarily and I can numb the hurt. but it doesn't matter how hard I try, the holes, the bleeding oozing Bram shaped crater in my soul stays. I've learned that I have to face this pain. I've realized I need to use love for the holes. Not fillers.

All of us miss Bram, and I don't want to imagine a future without him. I want him there, I want to see him grow up, I want to know who he was meant to be. How do you ever except a future without your child? How do you hold hope for a future without your baby there?



Monday, November 3, 2014

Birth story part 3

Immediately buttercup cried. I lifted my leg over her cord, rolled over to see her. Bright pink baby, I scooped her from daddy's hands and took her onto my belly. She was gloriously covered in vernix, I rubbed it into her. I was amazed. My baby, my baby girl, my buttercup.

My mom dashed, as quickly as she could being less a week post op, up the stairs and snapped a few pictures with my phone. I asked hubs the time: 1:49am. 

I did it!

No one interfered, no one touched me, no one talked or tried to put a hat on her, my cervix was untouched my entire pregnancy and birthing time. No one scrubbed her with rough blankets, or tried to suction her, or forced her to rush her her physiology. Our first moments were only with buttercup'ss family. Two older brothers watching it unfold (one snoozing in the next room, and one hopefully there in spirit), daddy's hands supporting her, and mom trusting her journey. 


We did it!


It wasn't long after I started feeling really uncomfortable. I asked hubs to get in the tub so he could hold buttercup. It's good we tested the pool before labor to makes sure we both fit. But wow, The pain was getting worse, I had never had a placenta hurt so I was worried it was a surprise. My mind said "that better not be another baby!" 


I was very thankful it was just the placenta. But it was a beautiful placenta. 


Our oldest, T, had fetched our bowl for the placenta. I plopped the placenta in. I was ready to get back into bed with our new baby.



We stayed up for a few hours. Falling in love, watching I Love Lucy, learning to nurse, snuggling skin to skin, noticing all the ways she looks just like Bram.

After we rested and the sun came up we weighed her for fun, a healthy 10lb girl. We kept her cord attached until it naturally fell away. The big boys were in love. Hubs was and is so excited and proud. 

I'm so proud, content, and thankful for the gifts this baby brought us. Thankful for her connection to Bram, and all her brothers. Thankful for a chance to be her mom. 



Birth story part 2

There's this limbo land that exists at the end of pregnancy. The way I experience this doneness is that I'm convinced I will be pregnant forever, where I plead with the person in my belly that they should just come out. Where I seriously offer things like tacos, or a pony, if baby would just come.

Of course, I've never been pregnant forever, rationally I know I wouldn't be. But pregnancy isn't a rational experience. Baby never takes me up on my offers either. They've all been stubborn like that, always picking their own birthdays.

As I laid in bed, minutes past midnight, a full moon in the sky. I was ready for my baby. I finally had contractions that felt big, big enough to bring a baby. I could feel my skin pickling up into goosebumps. Another contraction was big enough to pull myself and my fully bloomed belly out of bed. I didnt get my hubs out of bed, I wanted him to rest. I knew I'd need him once baby was actually coming, I wasn't convinced this would be it.

My birthing pool sat in our living room, pictures of Bram all over the walls. Affirmations from my blessing hung in my bedroom. Pieces of my community filled my home and birthing space; my necklace and bracelet made for me, a dear one sent my pool liner that I wrestled onto my pool, my belly binder, candles that remained unlit, cards, love touching all our spaces. I was safe, I was surrounded by love and comfort.

I decided the birth pool should filled, it would at the very least be a good test to check for leaks. I pulled the hose out, got it connected to our shower, but the next wave stopped me and forced my attention toward my body. I still hadn't admitted it to be real labor, I was still sure that at some point the waves would stop and I'd go to bed to greet another sunrise with a baby tucked beneath my heart. Hubs stepped in and did all the things I needed him to do.

My A, at 2.5 years, was very excited that we would "him" (swim) in the living room. I stripped naked and lifted my aching legs into the pool and let the water fill around me. A joined too so he could "him him." It was quite and beautiful being in the tub. The contractions were coming, I have no idea how often or how long, but regularly. I cried "what if it's too soon to be in the water" but what if it's not. I asked hubs for the time, 12:50am. The tub was full and warm, it felt so good.

I suddenly needed to throw up. I asked for a bowl and hubs quickly found a large one in the kitchen. I threw up and A was so disgusted he started gagging. Through my retches, I asked TJ to get A out of the tub. As soon as he did, A threw up next to the pool. Poor hubs cleaning up everyone's vomit. He brought me an electrolyte drink to help my belly after throwing up.

The next contraction that came was huge and I yelled louder than I had been at this point. I couldn't get comfortable. I very obviously was feeling waves in my sacrum. I was rolling and squirming all over the pool. My legs kicked wildly without much direction from myself trying to open my pelvis more to help baby move her back away from my back. I leaned over the edge and screamed. Every contraction I screamed louder. I screamed how much I hated labor. I screamed how I didn't want to do this any more. I screamed for an epidural. I screamed for sleep. I screamed swear words over and over and over. I screamed help me. I screamed until the screaming didn't help. I cried and said I needed the hospital but I knew I couldn't and wouldn't be getting out of that tub.

Oh the back pain was so intense and consuming. When the screaming stopped helping, biting was the next option. I squeezed hubs hands and chewed on him. But I wanted to bite harder to get through the pain. So he handed me the hose, and I bit down with every wave until I couldn't take another wave. I was done. I held hubs hands and pleaded that he help me, he assured me I was doing it, anything I wanted he would do for me. I cried. I hurt. I needed my baby out. 

I felt my water burst, it felt so good for it to flow. And then I growled a deep gutterly growl. I rolled over floating on my back, legs pressed against the pool walls holding my labia wide and I pushed. I swore my butt was going to explode. I chanted I love pooping I love pooping. Hubs giggled, I can't blame him. After a few pushes I reached down to feel my baby and couldn't tell if it was a head or a butt. With my next push I felt and knew it had to be baby's head. Another wave and I had to move before my body pushed again. I've always thought it miraculous for women to move with baby  half way out. Still I was able to move my body, flipping myself over, all while her head hung from me, the rest of her still inside. Such a phenomenal feeling. I got back to my hands and knees and told hubs to catch his baby just like I had told him for Bram and A. I wanted him to take her out, he held her head and shoulders as I pushed the rest of her plump little body from mine, into his hands. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Birth story part 1

This isn't the first birth story I've written, this is the fifth. My fifth child, my first daughter, our rainbow baby.

"A rainbow baby is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm need happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy, and hope."


The journey to her has been a long one, so her story here is a long one. When we lost Bram on November 17, 2012 our world collapsed. Not just my world, or TJ's world, but our sons' worlds. As those familiar with the story know, it wasn't a gentle passing. Bram was the 3rd boy in our family. His birth changed me in ways I can't explain. It was painless, it was ecstatic, it was my dream birth and you can read it here.

Our family was there for his death, he was hit by a distracted driver while waiting to go get family pictures. His body was broken beyond repair. When he died his youngest sibling at the time was 9 months old and still breastfeeding. My body went into shock. My milk supply was minimal, and my cycles stopped for the next 9 months. I feared that my fertility died with Bram, as it seems many things died or were forever changed with his passing. I hoped beyond hope that I would find out we were having a rainbow baby on the first anniversary of his passing. But it came and went, many of my friends announcing their own pregnancies. Pangs of jealousy rose in me as happy as I was for them, and I got very quite. Christmas came, and the solstice came,  and I got sick following the new year. A horrible tooth infection, a stomach bug, and waiting for another flow showing me that I'd never have another baby. I'd never have a rainbow.

A friend who was very pregnant and no longer needed her ovulation tests offered hers to me. I decided to use a few to see if there was any LH in my urine. To my surprise, they were REALLY positive. And they stayed positive for a few days. I ovulated on the 14th month mark without Bram, Jan 17th 2014. Ten days later we got a positive pregnancy test.

I was so excited. It was the happiest moment I had in a long while. I was pretty queasy the first trimester. I'm understating that. I was exhausted and sick all the time. It was miserable but I took it in stride and tried not to complain. I was just plain thrilled to have the opportunity to be pregnant again. Overall though the 1st and 2nd trimesters were uneventful and healthy. In the 3rd trimester though I began connecting and attaching to the baby inside. She had a name, we had things for her. I was able to get her co-sleeper set up and the corner it sits in decorated.

But pregnancy after loss is different. I was scared, I'm still scared. I was scared of a tainted womb, a toxic pain filled environment for a baby to grow in. I was very detached from my body. It was work to connect. Im really grateful to have close group of friends who believe similarly to what I do about birth, and I leaned on them heavily. They reassured me so often I can just imagine, their loving eyes rolling every time I came up with some new ridiculous thing to obsess over. But they helped me clear out the fear, or at least they gave me strength against those fears. At 33 weeks I got to travel to one of my best friend's homes in another state for a couple days. I was able to rest and be nurtured. I realized how important my self care was and how lacking I had been. I caught up on sleep, I swam, I was massaged and surrounded by love. I felt so safe, I felt a wall come down. I hadn't had a chance to really release while taking care of my family. I used my family as an excuse to not take care of me. I came home refreshed and my family was so happy to have me back.

When I came home I was anxious for the next weeks to get on, yet in no rush to have buttercup here. I felt like there was so much to do and so little time. My to-do list seemed to have more to-do added than I could check off in a day. Plus I was caring for my mom who had recently had a part of her kidney removed due to cancer. (She's cancer free now!) As we got into September, I felt like maybe she'll come early, as every mother thinks, but I thought too that maybe she'll be a week or so later. I kept telling everyone she would be later. Then I had my beautiful blessing. I felt ready, I wasn't going to worry about the to-do list, I wasn't going to stress about stocking the freezer. The house was as clean as it was going to get with all these silly kiddos. We had one more hurdle, one more surgery for my mom and our baby could come after that. She went in the first friday of October.

Through the 3rd trimester I had dealt with a lot of pelvic pain, a lot of sacrum pain, and leg issues. It felt like I was having back labor, but without contractions pretty much all the time. I went to my chiropractor quite a few times, got regular massages, did many magnesium baths. Finally I went to a crainosacral therapist, one who had done some body work after Bram died. I wasn't really open to the therapy then, but I was now and it helped as much as it could, which was a great deal. The feeling of being in constant back labor stopped. But I could tell that buttercup was bigger, and suspected that she was restricting a real improvement.



I had many break downs and sobbing fits while my mom was in the hospital. My due date was a week after my mom went in for repeat surgery and I hoped I wouldn't be in labor when she was ready to come home. My due date also happened to be just after a full moon, a full moon with solar eclipse. So of course I thought the moon would put me in labor. I couldn't sleep the night of the eclipse, so I watched it happen and it was lovely. I talked to my baby I told her to come whenever she was ready, she was safe, she's loved, and we couldn't wait to see her. I realized around 5am that the reason I couldn't sleep was because I was waiting for labor to start.

I decided after not sleeping most of the night I'd go get the guys some breakfast and come home before they got up. While I was out my mom let me know she was ready to come home. So I went and picked her up. I came home, caught a nap and went about my day. During that day I lost my mucus plug. Not a big deal, they can regenerate. Didn't stop me from incessantly checking the toilet paper every time I went to the bathroom.

I was pretty tired that day and my boys were pretty high needs through the day. Very energetic while I was recovering from a very long sleepless night. I was so looking forward to a full nights sleep. After dinner I noticed some light contractions. I texted hubs and let him know that I would be timing them. Only to text him about an hour later to let him know they fizzled out because the kids were requiring too much of my focus.

When he came home I had to send him out for a few things for my mom, because she couldn't go out and I was too grouchy and tired to be in public. He came home about an hour and half after he left and while I still had a random contraction every 20-30 minutes, it was nothing different that what had been happening for the last few weeks. We went to bed, around midnight, I closed my eyes and paid attention to the sensations in my body.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Making the hole obvious

So this has been a very bittersweet time. We are loving miss buttercup, she is so sweet and wonderful. The big kids can't resist her. Even A like his "iter" aka sister.

It's been hard though because she makes the hole in our family so much more obvious. Having only four kids where there should be five. The season, the time of year, and A especially have been particular scab peelers. I feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop, like at any moment something bad will happen to A because he is so much like Bram. It hurts. Every day hurts, it still hurts. I don't want pity, it makes me so uncomfortable, I just can't keep all this in my head. I don't want to feel wrong for feeling what I feel, but I so often do. I so often feel like I'm not allowed to be sad, I'm not allowed to be scared, I'm not allowed to be worried. That perception is reality, but darn it that's so easy. This is not easy, this life is not easy, being a bereaved parent is not something that can be turned into happiness.

Buttercup looks a lot like newborn Bram. Last night I held her, and I cried. I couldn't stop. The pain so close to the surface. I cried to my best friend and I told her how I kissed all the places Bram was broken, all the places he was cut into, all the places where they took pieces of him. Her head, her heart, her eyes, her knees.

But I'm losing my words lately. Communicating primarily with single words. I'm really sad. I miss my son. I'm grateful for our new baby. I'm mostly just so very sad.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Buttercup is here!

She's here <3





 Born at home on October 9, after 2 hours of active labor. 10lbs of sweet perfection.

And she has Bram's nose *melt*

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Out living Bram

On Sunday, October 5th at 6:30pm A will have out lived his big brother by 1 minute.

I'm kind of beside myself about this. I'm thoroughly terrified of the next few days. I'm terrified I'll have another nightmare. I'm terrified we'll lose A too.

I've recently learned the term sunshine baby, the ones who came before loss. But what does that make A? He came before but he's younger than Bram. Not that labels matter. Buttercup is our rainbow baby, yet in so many pregnancy after loss groups I feel out of place because my loss is so different. They don't want to talk about my toddler. I understand, I can't blame them, if I could avoid this reality I would!

We miss Bram more as the days go on. I've been so grateful to have seen him in my dreams the last couple weeks, mostly with buttercup. We're so excited for our rainbow. I am so eager to hold buttercup in my arms, to see her brother as apart of her, to feel him with us.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sea glass and blessings

So this past weekend I had my blessing for baby buttercup and I. It was a beautiful gathering of women. I have to say it felt transformative. I can't even articulate how much it meant to me, there were tears, and laughter, and love pouring from everyone.




During one piece of the ceremony several friends read things they wrote to honor the journey I've been on. One in particular touched us all.

Sea Glass
By Lisa Ragain

     Seas glass is pieces of broken glass that have been transformed by adversity. Molten slag from refineries is dumped in the ocean - discarded as worthless. Years in the salt water, being tossed around and ground down on the sand, battered by the waves and the relentless passage of time... Sometimes the glass comes from shipwrecks. A tragic event, loss of life, and devastation sends these fragile, shine bottles and cups to the deep. They are cracked, broken, and all but destroyed. Their reflective sheen is worn away by the salt water, the same ph as human tears. The piece is unrecognizable as it's former. But something else happens as well. The sharp edges of the glass are worn down. Bumps and cracks are weathered away. Weakness and vulnerabilities are worn out. That bit of broken bottle, or lump of cast off glass has been transformed. It's surface is frosted over by the salt, so that it no longer reflects back the face of the holder, but rather it shines from within with it's own color and light. It's value is magnified by what it has endured.
     You began your life simply, as someone ordinary. You were cracked, chipped, and dented by the harsh world. You were broken by your shipwreck, and sent to the bottom  where all you knew was tears. Grief is our ocean, and the world is the tide that throws us onto the rocks. But you are not what you were. You've been transformed. You were broken, but now you are strong. You no longer show the world the face they are comfortable seeing - you have only what is inside you, your pure beauty, and that is one million times more beautiful then any make or reflection It is your endurance that shaper you.
     Life devalued you, tragedy broke you, grief battered you -  but your survival showed what you're made of. You are flawless in your imperfection, and your damage revealed your beauty.

My friend Lisa Ragain wrote this beautiful piece, she is a great friend, a wife, a sister, a mother of 2 precious children and so much more. She's a person people are honored to know, a person who brings light to others. I am so grateful to her.

Thank you friends who came in person and in spirit and blessed me, I am moved, I am touched, I am changed. You've given me the strength I needed to know I can do this, I can do this and Bram will be there with his brothers to welcome his baby sister into the world.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pregnancy after loss

This is just my experience.*

This has been quite a journey.  I have learned so much about myself, about what grief does to your body, about what losing a child does to your heart and soul.

I've struggled to connect, not just with buttercup but with my body. It's been in the last few weeks that I've begun to really connect. The fear, the anxiety, the stress, it kicks you in the butt. Even when you think you have it under control, it seems to sit in hiding and finds that weak spot and digs into it. I find myself so much more susceptible to stress, less tolerant of challenging situations. Constantly thinking the worst, absolutely unable to accept or imagine goodness. The detachment coupled with the fear/anxiety/stress combo causes a lot of psychosomatic symptoms, elevated heart rate, swelling, exhaustion. Self care isn't something that can fall my the wayside, it is imperative!

I've found myself obsessively nesting, things need to be just so, and birth supplies need to be just so, and the house must be just so. Poor hubs has worked so hard this pregnancy with me ordering him around to get the things done that I can't; like cleaning up puke. I've run out in the middle of the night because if I didn't get a mattress cover RIGHTNOW well, bad things could happen.

I've been so scared, because I am so acutely aware of how fragile life is. And even if birth is as safe as life gets, it's only as safe as life gets. This healthy, beautiful, glowing pregnancy doesn't mean I'll have a baby to watch grow up. It doesn't mean I'll be here to raise her. The harshness of that truth takes my breath away. So I savor, in joy and in pain, I savor every second I have left with this person. I don't know when it'll be our last one. And it's shaken me to see how aware of life's fragility the boys are, how they seem to be waiting, holding their breath, leaning in for reassurance and hurting fearfully that they'd lose this person too. Fearful that they'll lose mom again.

I've been so touched by my community reaching out, women loving me, loving us, supporting us, building a protective bubble around our hearts as we get ready for this birth and baby. I have trinkets, and supplies, and clothes, and pieces of love that are all ready for use. So many souls who know our grief, who have walked this path too, and they're all here in spirit.

Bram. Oh Bram. This boy has been here the whole way, he has been a part of this always. From conception to due date, I see the ways he's put his mark on this. Having conceived on the 14th month marker, being due just a month before his bramiversary, his little brother becoming a big brother at 2 years and 8 months which is the age Bram died, being due 10/10 when Bram was born in 2010. There's more, there's so much more!

The journey isn't over, I'm not sure I will ever be brave enough to do this again. But I'm grateful, and I'm still scared. I don't know what the next weeks will hold, or how this birth will unfold, but I'm here, I'm present for whatever process lays ahead. Moment by moment.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Grief isn't a place to stay



I've heard this quote quite often the past 22 months. Most of it is fine but the part that gets me is "It's a passage not a place to stay" that's unfortunately invalidating. It's not a passage, not at all.

Maybe it's because my loss is still so fresh? Maybe in a decade or 2 I'll feel vastly different than I do today. For me though it's not a passage, it's an emotion. When you lose a child it's an emotion deeply intertwined with unconditional unrelenting love. It's a part of you, like love is part of you. It shapes your heart, it challenges you, it breaks you open, it hurts, it's raw, and it's oozing with love.

Grief is no more a passage than love is. Obviously not all types of grief are the same. But this is child loss. For me this is about Bram. I cannot imagine a time can exist, short of heaven, where the sorrow of being separate from him will stop. When you're a parent, love isn't something that you go through, it's in every breath, it's why you wake up, it guides your future. It never ever stops. It's a messy thing, a good thing, a beautiful thing, a VULNERABLE thing. And it's that vulnerability that makes grief a part of it.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Censorship

For the year I have censored myself here. I'm even censoring myself now, cause goodness knows that the wrong person with some sort of vendetta will twist my words and take steps to hurt us.

We decided to move forward with a lawsuit, since our "justice" system had failed to bring about any justice for Bram. We won, but in many ways we lost. We did win, we did have proof showing that Bram did nothing wrong, that you can do everything right and distracted can and will kill. We had an expert who proved it. The insurance said "oh yeah, he didn't cause his death!" (not in those words but you get it) But after everyone stuck their hands in the tiny pot we got a couple bucks. And for what? A consolation prize instead of Bram. Give me Bram. That's all I wanted. Rationally I know that wasn't an option, but my mama heart hoped inspite of sanity. So many promises of "you'll never have to want for anything again" ha! One of those lies right up there with "time heals all wounds."

We also learned from our "therapist" that we can't trust therapists. Because when they find out you win, they'll charge you 3x what their contract states, unless you agree to more visits. Why would I pay to see someone when they've robbed me and violated my trust? Forget that. Thanks for the lesson quack, thanks for teaching those who need help the most that they don't actually deserve it, that they are just walking dollar signs to you. But I knew that in the sessions where you put words in my mouth and never listened to me. I knew that when you said I did the stretches and breathing exercises wrong and forced my head and pushed so hard that you bruised my neck. I knew that when you said I wanted revenge and I tried to explain that I just wanted my son's life to matter, nothing to do with revenge! I knew when you made every session about HER, about the person who took my son from this world. Why wouldn't you let me talk about my perfect boy?

The PTSD, the ongoing stress, it's messed with my body in so many ways. We're not built to always be on edge, we're not built to always be terrified of the next thing. Yes, we're made to handle it, but we're made to get breaks, we're made to feel that way in rational situations. Like when you're in life or death situations, not going grocery shopping. Not sorting laundry. Not playing with your child. Family pictures should not be a life or death situation! And yet in all these situations my brain has made my body so sick with fear, I lose it.

So I'm struggling, but that's what the rest of this life will be won't it? The struggles change from day to day, and some stay the same. I'm not struggling so much to breathe, but still struggling so often to just be. I'm overwhelmed with life and feel like I have no time to have our buttercup. I'm struggling with an adorable little boy, who watched his brother die and is 2 years and 7 months old now. He does Bram things, and it scares me. Every day scares me, the chance to lose again in all the ways that matter (my precious children) persists, bubbling away under the surface of every second. I don't think I could survive if another piece of my heart died, because losing Bram nearly killed me.



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My day to day is still a struggle

Oh how I want to be optimistic, and I have to say in comparison to a year ago I'm doing better. But what I knew nothing about, or didn't want to acknowledge was that this journey is not a straight path!

And I'm just at the beginning of this journey. So I have days where I think "yeah I'm doing it, I can make it! I won't be sad forever!" And then I have days where I can't catch my breath, where the flashbacks won't stop, when just his name has me collapsing into a useless pile of flesh. And what's  further exhausting is knowing from what I've learned through othe grieving families is that this is going to go on for years. 

I keep seeing these quotes "grief is a passage not a place to stay" and I don't understand. Because I'm still grieving my son. His brothers are still grieving him. His family still grieves for him. 

But like my mantra I can only take this one moment at a time. It's absolutely maddening that PTSD keeps throwing me back in that moment of horror instead of letting me be alive now and capable to remember my son in happiness. (I shouldn't have to remember he should be here) My brain is changed, my life is not mine anymore. I don't know who I am outside of this. I hate not being able to be who I was, who I could have been. I hate that I keep trying and can't get out of torment. I hate that because of this pain I keep losing. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

everything happens for a reason

This summer marks 12 years since I met and fell in love with the hubs, we will celebrate 10 years of marriage later this year. Our lives, the paths we took either by choice or because there were no others available eventually crossed, leading us to each other. And we made a choice to face all future paths together. Even when the ground was ripped from under us and we clung to each other as we plunged into an abyss of agony and ache that has etched itself into our souls.

I believed because of hubs, because of our bond, because of his greatness, that everything happens for a reason. I believed that losing parents in childhood, being raised by strong and selfless single parents, and all the ups and down before our meeting lead us to each other. Sure our paths were brought together, and sometimes good things come out of bad things. But sometimes there's just bad things. Sometimes there is no reason, no sense that can be made. And while looking for the light within those darknesses, light that can't be found in that darkness, you're left feeling no sense of up from down, only helpless and hopeless.

But even in the bad, even in the dark, light will touch the edges. At first, and maybe even for a long time after, that light hurts. Like a searing fire trying to prevent your life from fraying. It comes from love, it comes from other people who's own winding and often pain filled paths cross yours and offer you up all they can, that is love. It comes from those who understand, not your exact story, but understand pain, sorrow, grief and the depths at which it can exist. These lights cast out love as far and wide as they can throw it, they often don't even know they're doing it, but they do it anyway. Just because. Not everything happens for a reason, not all good will bring more good, not all bad will have good things come of it. But I keep looking for those lights of love, and I see them. They won't bring me or us out of this darkness any faster, or maybe ever, but I'm grateful that it's there. I'm grateful that my hubs is one of those sources of  light and love.

Love doesn't invalidate the pain, the trauma, the shock or devastation. Love is simply present. Love doesn't lie to you and tell you "your agony has purpose." Maybe your agony will be channeled into a purpose but, this agony, my agony has no purpose. Love acknowledges that.

Not everything happens for a reason. Sometimes crappy things happen for nothing, and the devastation that follows takes a toll on your mind, your body, your beliefs, and your soul.

But love keeps on. Love exists beyond the limitations of life and death. It exists in spite of this tremendous truth and tremendous pain. Love keeps on, and not everything happens for a reason.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

25 weeks

I'm 25 weeks pregnant tomorrow.

What an interesting ride it's been. I have felt so much guilt and struggle knowing this precious baby is growing in a body that feels so much pain on a day to day basis. I'm constantly checking in with buttercup and apologizing for the great big things that a baby shouldn't know about.

There are times when I can feel Bram is right here with this new baby, where I can tell he is telling baby all about him so that buttercup will know. There are times that I can't feel Bram at all and those times are so painful. I feel so much fear, not about Buttercup or buttercup's birth. I feel fear because I have so much to lose in addition to Bram. They say having is a child is to have a piece of your heart going walking outside your body. My heart has 5 pieces now and one of them was stolen. I don't know if I can handle another piece after this. I don't know if I can handle the risk it is to love so much.

In spite of the fear of losing so much again I'm already in love with this person, I'm savoring it. I know what position baby is in most of the time, I know the waking and sleeping times, I know how much this baby appreciates a good meal. I love every kick and roll. I love dreaming and hoping for a bright future.

I want to say however long I get to have this person on earth I'm grateful, but I'm selfish. I want for all of my children to have long happy lives, filled with memories that bring joy and feelings of love and calm and wholeness. Not just a few weeks, or a few month, or a few years, I want them to have a long well lived life.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

I have PTSD

I have PTSD, severe PTSD. Not because my son died, but because of how he died.

I suspect that being a support person to someone with PTSD is one of the most challenging things. Speaking from my experience, I'm moody, and can't make decisions even the smallest ones overwhelm me. Flashbacks often consume, and make it imposdible to be a good friend because I'm too stuck fighting for my next breath. I detach in a bad way, and because of that I seem rude and mean. I struggle every day. I often default to being numb, which leaves me feeling cold to those who seek my care(though I work my butt off to make sure my kids don't deal with that piece). Without intention I push people away. I isolate because I don't want to hurt those who matter so much to me. So instead of asking so much of them, instead of asking for help, for patience, for compassion, for endless amounts of forgiveness, Instead of all of that I stop talking. So yeah I imagine being a support person for someone with PTSD is pretty miserable.

I hate this.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's day

So it's mother's day.

I've spent much of the day wishing so many wonderful moms a peaceful mothers day. I can't bring my self to call any "holiday" happy, but I can wish for peace, and love, and joy. I hope every mom has felt those things today.




This video touched me so much last year, and still does. For any mother who needs it today, please watch.

I found the follow up, and it's just as touching and beautiful. I really needed it after I struggled through this day.


For my babies T, K, Bram, A, and babygirl buttercup <3 I'm so grateful I get to be your mother, thank you for being my babies.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Self esteem

I've been doing work on me. It painful. Always at the forefront of my mind is Bram and trying to do things for him. Trying to not waste this life, since his was stolen from him. I need to live to the fullest to honor him.

It so hard. It's become very clear that my self-esteem is non-existant. I can't say I've ever been the biggest fan of me, but I was fine with who I was. I liked me. I had hope. I thought I had some great qualities. I thought I deserved good things. I knew my flaws, the ones that I didn't like were things I actively worked on. I can't say that now. Were approaching a year and a half without Bram and I hate me. I hate me so much I have come to believe I deserve the worst. I have come to believe I don't deserve love. I can see where I've been sabotaging myself, where I've pushed people as far away as possible so I can withhold love from myself. If I was good enough Bram would be alive. Those words play on a loop in my head.

I haven't figured out how to love me, or at the very least not hate me, but I'm working on it. A little at a time.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Losing the life preserver

I've been clinging to anger like a life preserver. It hasn't been healthy, it hasn't done much more than get me this far and I guess for that I'm grateful. In a lot of ways I can see how it's hurt me, driven wedges in relationships, led me to unhealthy habits. But since I've been pregnant I've felt the walls of anger crumbling and it's been so scary. It one less layer to protect the raw fragility of my broken heart.

I don't want to let the walls down, I don't want to be more hurt. I still feel stuck. Under that layer of anger is the feeling of stuck, which is hard because it doesn't feel like anything and it feels like everything. I don't want to be stuck. I don't want to feel like tires spinning in the mud, because I don't know if I'm the tires or the mud.

In this time of forcing myself to learn to sink or swim I've pulled away from everyone, I've taken down facebook, I've stopped texting people, more often then not my phone is out of battery. I've tried to reach out but it's been to people who can't give me what I need. I need to learn how to stand on my own 2 feet, I need to learn how to be comfortable with my own pain, I need to figure out how to love me and forgive me. I will always feel like I could have changed things, because I'm his mom, I was entrusted with his body and soul and I failed. I feel so much guilt, guilt that I didn't love him enough to die with him, guilt that I couldn't be superhuman and rewind time and fix everything, guilt that God won't listen and give him back, guilt that I'm alive and he isn't, guilt for all the pain his brothers and dad endures.

I don't want to feel that guilt, I don't want to keep blaming myself for things entirely beyond my control. I want to spend more time remembering my perfect boy, than his horrific death. But every time I blink it's right there behind  my eyelids etched into every cell. I hate it. I want to close my eyes and see him, beautiful, shining, smiling.

I don't know how to stop being controlled/overwhelmed/consumed by all the things wrong in our lives now. I feel like I have to keep pointing it out, and talking about it, to prove the pain caused by him dying. To prove that my pain is still valid and real. I so badly just want my friends and family to hold me and say your pain is valid, your pain is real, and to tell me I am not crazy and that it's ok that I am broken. They can't give me the only thing I need, but they could give me that.

One foot in front of the other, for Bram. For love.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

16 months

We reached that mark yesterday.

And his 4th birthday was last week.

It's been crushing. To have had as many birthdays without as we had with him. It's not fair.

I've used anger the past year to keep me afloat, and it's been fading. Without that life preserver the sadness is growing, more and more overwhelming. I'm so disappointed that at the 15 months mark was when people stopped remembering our months. I'm so disappointed that the people I expected to wish Bram a happy birthday didn't. I'm so sad, that there are people in my life who want to forget him, who want us to forget him. I'm just so sad.

16 months without his hugs, without his kisses, without his laugh, without his voice.

In his death we lost so much. The bigs fight constantly because Bram is no longer here as their buffer. They're relationship is so different. As much as they fight they cling to each other. Before they used to be outgoing and loved playing with new people. Now... they have no interest.

We didn't just lose Bram. We lost our family dynamic. We lost our way.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Yours could die too -pregnancy related

Not sure this will make sense. I'm dealing with triggers, and just witnessing a lot of foot-in-mouth stuff.

I'm in a due month group for buttercup, and I've read things like "I've never had a loss! knock on wood" and "I won't tell until my second trimester so that I don't have to untell people, that would be awkward" and just general insensitivity. Wouldn't it suck when people like grocery store clerks, teachers, family, friends stop and ask you about the new baby and you have to go "it's dead!" Yeah, it's hell. It's disturbing. It's life ending. It's earth shattering but there is it. You can't avoid death, it will get you, it will get the people you love. You want to avoid it? Don't love.

You're not lucky that you've never had a loss, it just hasn't found you yet. If you live a life time without ever knowing the death of a loved one, you're a freaking hermit. And yeah, telling people your kid is dead is super awkward and uncomfortable, as it is when a spouse dies, or anyone really. No one is excited "oh yay! grandpa died of a heart attack! PARTY!" it doesn't work that way.

Getting out of the first (or second) trimester doesn't mean your baby is going to make it. Having a live birth doesn't mean your baby is going to make it. Your child reaching adult hood doesn't mean they'll live to see another birthday. All that you have is right now. You only have this is exact moment to love people you love.

Monday, February 24, 2014

I hate hunger games

I hate it.

I saw it not long before Bram died, and I hated it so much. For some reason the subject has come up multiple times in the last couple days. And it makes me so angry that people find it ok as entertainment. It hurts my heart.

I fully admit that I didn't read the books. I have no interest in reading the books. But people were very "happy" with the movies, so I can assume that it's pretty close to the book for the fans to be "happy." I can't handle the idea of anyone being happy with such ideas, I want people to learn of the ideas and rage and seethe and fight until nothing like a reality show of child death could even be an idea. Yet children are being sacrificed DAILY in this world, sold into sex trafficking, treated like disposable pieces of trash, their deaths going unnoticed, uncared for, devoid of justice, children starving in a gluttonous world. The problem with people killing kids, and people finding entertainment in it is that: IT EXISTS RIGHT NOW(I know the news sure does love child death for ratings). I will dare say there are even people being conditioned to enjoy the murder of children or anyone. People talk about this hunger games situation as some possibility in the future, that this is about a post apocalyptic world, but it's not. The only difference is we're not televising the murders of children, though I'm sure you can find videos on the internet. And lets talk about sacrificing children because the government said so. Every elimination of parental rights, every time the state gets to decide what's best for YOUR child (like what doctors to see, when to go to school, how much school is appropriate, vaccinations, surgeries, registration for our sons in case of draft, hospitals petitioning courts for control over pregnant women's births) is a step closer to a hunger games like world.

My kids watched their brother die. The looks on their face are etched into my soul, the pure terror, the crashing destruction of innocence ripping through their body, watching them as their worlds and lives spun in the absolute chaos. When child death makes it's way into your life, when it becomes your reality, when your child's blood covering you and his face ripped from his body because of NOTHING and having it become a SHOW and entertainment, and having people take joy in tearing you apart because your kid is dead, and having the justice system FAIL to protect your flesh and blood.... well then... people taking joy in even a fictional child's death becomes at the very least insulting and disturbing.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

I am jealous

If I'm perfectly honest, I'm dealing with a lot of jealousy. Jealous of everyone, having the things I'll never have, never burdened with the worries I worry, not haunted by flashback. When he was alive I never felt this way, and now it's a giant throbbing poison filled thorn in my side.

I hate it! I hate it so much it makes me hate me. It makes me withdraw and hide, and stop talking to people.

I actually sobbed about it praying to God to lift this burden from my heart because I don't want to be jealous. I want to rejoice with my friend! I want to celebrate their lives, their joys, their journeys!

I'm hoping that putting it out there, not carrying this silent resentment will free me. I acknowledge these negative feelings, I acknowledge the burden, and the contamination of it. I release it.

Maybe I can fake it til I make it. Or maybe it'll come back with every flashback. That's something else I've been dealing with a lot. I keep wanting to ask my bereaved mama friends, when will they stop. When will the pain stop. When will the void without him stop being so huge and present. But that's silly. 15 months... 15 months and it hurts as much, I only know how to handle it better now. I know how to function in spite of it, most of the time.

His birthday is in a few weeks. And I keep wondering what would he want for his birthday, how big would he be now. Would he still be sharing clothes with K who's in a size 5/6, or would he have slowed down his hulk baby-mans growth pattern. How beautifully would he be speaking. What would he love to do all day. What books would he love right now. How awesome he would be as A's big brother teaching him how to get in trouble.

I miss my Brammies. I miss all that he's missing. I miss that he's not here to be with us as we welcome buttercup. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

News


We're pretty excited.

I'm carrying so much nervousness, but really feeling like Bram is connected to our buttercup(the new little one's nick name). I'm excited to share about what this pregnancy and birth is like after losing Bram in such a traumatic way for other moms who are pregnant after loss. Bram would be so excited, he loved babies so much! A is missing a great teacher as he become a big brother for the first time. </3

 Wishing everyone had a valentines where they got to love fearlessly.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I laugh because I'm coping

I think people might have the wrong impression.

I laugh a lot, because I'm in agony. That sounds ridiculous but I can't stand crying in front of people. I don't want to make people uncomfortable. So I joke, I tease (lovingly), I laugh. While inside I'm writhing in agony.

It sucks. It sucks that I have to hold it all in because if people knew how much it hurts every day, they wouldn't want to be around me. It would be devastating for them to know the pain, on a scale of 1-10, it's infinity.

-

I had to dig out a pair of boots for A, Bram's boots, cause little dude wanted to go in the snow. And I picked up Bram's jacket, the one he wore the day before and I tried to breathe him in and I couldn't find his smell. It's gone! And I'm gasping for air, because I can't catch my breathe, because I've lost more of him.

Why can't I talk my way out of this, why can't I have him back. Why did my baby have to die.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Signs


I've mentioned a few times that on Bram's last full day we went to the zoo. At the zoo the boys, especially Bram were most excited over 1 animal.... the canadian goose.


I laid in my bed in the afternoon following reaching 14 months of living and breathing without him. I stared out my window watching geese fly south dozens passed over head, all the while wishing for a sign. When the geese stopped I said "Bram if you're still there send me another [goose]"

I waited, tears falling down my face.

30 seconds pass, and a goose appears, flying north instead of south.

And another...

Another..

Another....

And just when I thought he was done.... one more.

I asked for 1, a small little sign, one goose.

And Bram sent FIVE.

<3

Bereaved, if you think its a sign. It is.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Words.

Be impeccable with your word.

I can't say I have been impeccable with my word but it's something I will strive for. I want my word to be gold. Words have power. No, not just if you give them power. They have power. They are important. The words you choose effect people, even if you don't intend it.

This isn't about being "politically correct" I don't care about political correctness. I care about kindness, shouldn't we all aim for kindness, for LOVE. I know I always want to be more like Bram, I want to love fearlessly and that cannot be done without first being kind.

Personally there are expressions that have pained me. Phrases that we've been desensitized to. Phrases that I have used and regret using because they are careless and thoughtless and this life is too tender and too short to waste it on living without care, thoughts, or intention. 

How many times have you said:

"He's dead asleep." Or "I slept like the dead"

Have you ever been embarrassed and said "I about died!"

Heard a joke and responded with "You're killing me!" or "I just about died laughing!"

Or met with a difficult situation responded with "Shoot me" "That nearly killed me" "Just about keeled over" "It's going to be the death of me" "Almost killed myself.."

Been upset and said "I'm going to kill him/her"

Been successful and said "killed it" or "murdered it"

o.O

I have to say. It HURTS to read or hear those words. This is not ok. (as a side note I loathe the phrase "I feel like I was hit by a truck" no you don't.)

And it's not just those words, but words like "gay" and "retarded" and "God" and "hate" are thrown around. So few people are thinking about what is being said and just let the words fall out.

I'm sure some people will read this and think "oh lighten up!" No. I won't lighten up. "If you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor" -Desmond Tutu. Choosing words that hurt, is choosing to be a hurtful person, it is choosing apathy, it is choosing cruelty, it is choosing to make a world without peace and love.

I choose love. Bram chose love, always, he loved. Bram got it right.

Understanding pain

Over the last week I've been in pain for different reasons, an infected tooth, and now norovirus.

As miserable as it's been, I've been comforted by the fact that this isn't the worst pain I've known. The tooth was one of the worst physical pains I've ever known and I've got a pretty high pain tolerance.

But none of it comes close to the pain of grief, the pain of watching my son die, the pain of knowing that his death was brutal and violent and abrupt, the pain of being a mother without her child. I had no idea that this kind of pain existed. And some how I live with it every day. Some how I keep breathing, and living, and being. I think that's pretty remarkable.

It impresses upon me the resiliency of humans, of our bodies and souls and the capability to live in the worst of circumstance. Its humbling to think of the number of people who live every day with broken hearts and scarred souls and make me so thankful for these beautiful people in my life.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Do not worry for I am grieving

Do not worry, for I am grieving
My heart has broken, shattered into pieces I have to pick up
Do not worry, with these pieces I will rebuild

Do not worry when I confess that every breath is too much
I still breathe, for him, because of him, I still breathe
Do not worry when he is mentioned every time we speak
Speak his name to me, remind me, love me
Do not worry, for grieving is the healthy thing to do

Do not worry, I've not grieved too long
For there is no time limit on this
Do not worry, I've found the strength to smile
Being his mother, is my strength
Do not worry, I won't let go

Do not worry! Because my love reaches beyond the moon and the stars
Do not worry! Because my love doesn't accept the boundaries of life and death

Do not worry, for I am grieving.
Do not worry, for grieving is loving
Do not worry
For I will never stop loving