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


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.