Mommy's heart for Baby Jacob

Friday, November 12, 2010

Out of the mouth of babes

Sammy came to me recently while I was doing dishes and said, "Mommy, I know what it means when someone is blue.  Widget has the 'bluey-blues' and she's blue because she's sad.  And her friends tried to do funny stuff to make her laugh but she was still sad."   Sammy, my 5-year old, loves 'Wow Wow Wubzy', a popular kids show on Nick Jr.

Knowing the episode he was talking about, I said, "Yes, poor Widget was sad.  It's kind of like when Mommy is sad about Baby Jacob.  It doesn't always work to do funny stuff when people are sad, sometimes we just have to take care of them."  Sammy said, "That's right.  That's why we do hearts.  Yup, it's all about love!" 

Sammy is my sweetheart.  He is so tender-hearted, so perceptive.  Our 'hearts' that he was referring to I mentioned in one of my earlier posts.  It's the shape of a heart with our fingers that we do for each other.  It could be at a completely random time, whenever he or I feel like sharing our love.  I was so happy when Benny picked it up too.  I made my last heart for Baby Jacob on October 26, the morning of my D&C.

I've thought a lot about Sammy and Benny over the last few weeks.  Some of you may be wondering how the boys are doing.  I thought I'd let you know.

When we first conceived, we didn't tell the boys right away.  I knew they were preoccupied with being kids and playing and simply enjoying life.  I had read that 9 months is a long time for a child to wait for a baby so thought we'd wait a bit before telling them.  I had just bought a new book about babies to read to them.  Finally, around week 7 or 8, we told them.  Sammy was so excited!  He wanted a baby sister AND a baby brother.  Alex & I had to laugh and say, "Well, we'll see honey." 

Benny was excited too.  He said in his almost 3-year old voice, "Oh boy-a! Oh boy-a!"  and clapped his hands just like you'd imagine him doing.  Both boys talked about it from time to time, especially if I reminded them not to jump or push on mommy's tummy.  Sammy would ask when he could see the baby.  He kept asking if he could see the doctor take the baby out of mommy's tummy. Well, I thought that was going to be interesting.  I had always just said that God puts the baby into a mommy's tummy when a mommy and a daddy love each other so much and want a baby to love.  And I said that a doctor takes the baby out.  I left it at that.  Since I'd had 2 c-sections and more than likely would have a third, I couldn't bring myself to try to explain that procedure to Sammy.  Not yet.

Whenever I felt sick or told Sammy & Benny I was taking a 'boo-boo pill' (actually my prenatal vitamin), Sammy was always concerned about the baby.  "If you have a boo-boo tummy, does that mean the baby has a boo-boo tummy too, Mommy?"  I always reassured him that our baby was fine.

On the day of my 12-week neucco-screen, the advanced ultrasound, Alex had taken the boys to lunch for the first part of my lengthy visit--the genetic counseling.  I was so grateful that they got back just in time for my ultrasound.  The boys were so excited to see the baby.  Benny's attention wasn't held as long as Sammy's but you could see he was happy.  Sammy wanted to know everything that he was seeing and why.  Their chatter was so gay during that time when I got a foreboding sense that something was wrong.

After the doctor confirmed the news, that our precious baby had an 80% chance of not making it to term, I broke down.  I shook.  I couldn't have stopped crying if you would have paid me to. 

I felt that we had to make a decision right then and there.  Benny came up to me and put his hand on my arm.  I was still on the table.  "You crying, Mama?"  Sammy noticed then too.  I decided to tell the boys the truth.  I said, "Mommy's crying because the baby is really sick, honey."

Sammy, ever learning to say the right things, said, "It'll be okay, Mommy.  The baby will be okay."  Again, I made a decision and said, "No, honey.  No, he won't.  The baby is very sick."  I don't remember exactly what I said.  I didn't use the word 'die', I think I just kept saying, "No, he won't get better."  I know I said, "The baby is going home to Heaven to live with God."

The look on Sammy's face as well as the sweetness of his voice when he said, "Oh," was heartbreaking.  I hated having to tell him the truth.  Don't we all sometimes just wish that we could keep our children innocent and safe and happy forever?  That they would never see the pain and hurting in the world?  I just felt that with all of the emotion that would surely be surging out of us, he'd have to know the truth.  I hoped that telling he and Benny might also help us to talk about it and hopefully understand it?  I don't know.

My poor boys.  They really did their best to understand.  When we went home that Saturday to celebrate my mom's birthday, Sammy told my mom about the baby going home to Heaven.  My mom had quietly said, "Yes, he will go live with God."  Every moment hearing that was so difficult for me. 

And then came that Monday, October 25.  Alex had the boys playing with fall leaves in the yard behind our doctor's office.  I was in the ultrasound room alone.  My baby's heart had stopped.  I waited at the car in the parking lot for Alex and the boys.  As I spit out the news to Alex, Sammy heard part of it and through a hazed tear-filled vision, I told him, "The baby went bye-bye night night.  He went home to live in Heaven.  That's why Mommy's sad."

The morning of my D&C, October 26, we didn't tell the boys what was happening.  We just told them they were going to play at a lady's house.  I did ask the boys to pose with me for a picture in our kitchen.  Sammy said they were giving the baby one final hug.  This picture is posted on my blog.  Boy boys held their hands on my stomach.  It was another heart-wrenching moment as I knew this would be the only picture of my three boys together...all of the dreams and hopes were gone.  All of Sammy's talk of the new baby and playing with him were gone.  It was all gone.

Since then, the boys still bring it up from time to time.  I'm glad.  I think they understand.  When we went to my mom's last week while my husband was out of town, Sammy made sure to tell my mom all about Baby Jacob going bye bye night night and living in Heaven now.  He said that within 20 minutes of our arrival.  Benny says occasionally, "Baby Jacob go bye bye." 

One time Sammy and I talked about Baby Jacob in Heaven.  I wrote this before, but in case you missed it, I asked him, "What do you think Baby Jacob is doing?"  Sammy said, "Um, I think he's playing!"  I replied, "Oh, I bet he is!  I bet he's laughing right now!"  Sammy said, "I hear him Mommy!"  I'd like to think that maybe he did hear him.  It was just so sweet of him to say that to me.  It was such a happy moment for both of us. 

And then another time I asked Sammy, "What song do you think the angels are singing to Baby Jacob?"  Sammy said, "The one about Baby Jesus."  I always sing 'Away in the Manger' to the boys and they love it.  I would like to think that Baby Jacob loves listening to it too. 

We were in Wal-mart the other day and browsed the Christmas section.  The boys love Christmas as do my husband and I so we're the ones you see shopping those aisles before Thanksgiving.  I was feeling sad listening to the Christmas music playing and wondering about what next Christmas would have been like with my baby.  I started crying. Sammy saw me and asked why I looked 'a little sad'.  I said, "Mommy is thinking of Baby Jacob.  I miss him.  I want to do a Christmas tree for him."  Sammy seemed to get tears in his eyes too.  He hugged me tightly and said, "I want to do a tree for Baby Jacob." 

It's truly amazed me at how strong and how loving my Sammy is.  He is my firstborn.  I joke that he & I went through so much together that we're connected in a very special way. I had an emergency c-section and both he & I could have died, it was apparently that serious.  Sammy 'turned colicky' at age 10 days.  This lasted for MONTHS!  One day I clocked his crying at 17 hours straight, I kid you not.  Alex wore headphones on some of the really bad days.  I cried.  It was a really rough beginning.  One night after taking Sammy to the hospital thinking something had to be wrong with him, the ER people laughed at us, something about being 'new parents.'  Sammy had difficulty nursing.  I had sore nipples constantly.  Sorry if that was a little too graphic but it was the truth.  I didn't give up on us though.  Nursing won.  We won.  We are a mommy and a son, forever connected by love as am I with Benny and Jacob.

Sammy also asks when there will be a new baby in mommy's tummy.  I tell him hopefully soon.  That we have to pray to God about that.  We prayed just the other day for a new baby.  I hope that one day soon, I'll be able to tell him that God answered our prayer with another baby.  I'll be a nervous wreck throughout the pregnancy but I know my boys will be there for Mommy.  They'll keep me strong, smiling and enjoying every step of my journey.

Enjoy your journey, my friends.  Keep your ears open for a child's wisdom.  Even the simplest of their thoughts can touch you in ways you never thought possible.  Remember what Sammy said, "Yup, it's all about love!"  That pretty much sums it up for me. 


The Funeral Home--just a bad day overall

Saturday morning, November 6, 2010

Mom, the boys & I took Winnie to the funeral home for cremation.  I know that may sound odd to some of you.  That's okay, at first it sounded bizarre to me too. 

Several years ago, we learned of pet cremation from some wonderful friends of ours when we lived in Oklahoma.  At first I wasn't sure what to make of it.  Who cremates their pets?  Well, it turns out a lot of people do.  Pet crematories and even cemeteries are nationwide. 

As a kid, I have no idea what happened to our beloved pets.  I probably don't want to know.  My mom & step-dad bury their deceased pets as they live on a 2-3 acre 'hobby farm'.  I buried two 17 year old cats that belonged to a friend of mine who passed away years ago.  His cats were his companions and I called him my "Texas Grandpa."  His senior feline friends died two days after he did. 

As my husband & I have been moving around so much in the last few years, we wondered what we would do with our pets upon losing them.  There was no question with Winnie.  My mom offered a spot on her property where we could place her.  I said, no.  She would be cremated. 

We pulled up to the funeral home on that chilly morning.   A pretty dusting of snow sat on all of the trees and lightly on the grass.  I was shocked to realize that we were at a regular old funeral home--one that deals with people.  Why did it have to be a regular funeral home?  It just so happened that they also dealt with pets.  I cannot describe how difficult walking into this place was for me.  How many funeral homes would I be visiting anyway?  Memories of going to Baby's Jacob's funeral home pummeled me.  I looked into the dark rooms while I waited for the owner.  It was so quiet.  The darkened rooms just look like they are waiting for sorrow.  Chairs placed casually around.  Flower stands are lined up near the front.  And of course, the table or whatever it is that holds the casket sits empty.  Boxes of tissue on tables.  Silence.  Silence that at any time could be filled with sobs and hushed whispers as loved ones grieve. 

I was glad that our paperwork was quick, I felt anxious.  The floral and other smells were starting to get to me and I felt as if my tears were unleashed once I told the woman of losing my son a week earlier.  The woman told me where to bring Winnie.  We had to go to a back entrance.  I felt sick.  This was probably where bodies were brought.  I didn't want to go to that room.

My boys wanted to say goodbye to Winnie one more time so we held her bag up to the window so they could wave at her.  Mom carried her in and laid her on a table.  There was a gurney in the room.  The woman locked a big walk-in cooler.  It kind of looked like a big open storage room.

My son had been in a place like this   Jumbled grief and agony started giving me a headache.  Baby Jacob.  Winnie. 

I made my final farewells to Winnie.  I stroked her soft ears for as long as I could before leaving her.  My sweet old girl...I truly hoped there was a 'doggie Heaven' somewhere.  Maybe she'd be kissing and playing with my baby.  Maybe.  I really wanted to hope for that.  I know there's a lot of views about this.  Does anyone believe that God made a place for our pets...those little creatures that He gave us, so full of unconditional love?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

The woman hugged me with tears in her eyes too.  Upon learning of my son and she had called my whole situation, "A pretty big kick in the butt."  A 'kick in the butt'.  Yup, that's a great way of putting it.  I almost laughed.  Winnie died 10 days after I lost my son.  There's just not words to describe the pain that I felt.

Part of me cried for Winnie.  My sweet girl.  Guilt hit me.  Maybe I should have taken her to the vet when I saw her breathing hard the night before.  What if I could have saved her?  You know how we frequently second guess ourselves?  I think that's a natural part of dealing with loss.  We look for ways that we might have done things differently. 

I mentioned losing my 'Texas Grandpa' several years ago.  I met him through the Meals on Wheels Program and I was his 'Care Caller'.  I called him daily as he didn't have any family or friends really to check on him.  We grew to be great friends over the next year and a half.  Several of our calls were an hour long!  He would chat about his past, about his writing, stamp-collecting or about his cats--they were his family.  We even took him to dinner on a regular basis.

When I found him that hot July morning several years ago, I slid into a guilt-ridden period of grief.  What if I could have been there?  Could I have saved him somehow?  It finally took talking to his doctor to realize that even if someone had lived with him and noticed when he went down, he would have only had seconds to be helped.  As the doctor put it, he was more than likely gone before he hit the floor.

As much as we try to listen when others console us with words like this, it's still often an emotional nightmare.  On the 30 minute ride back up to my mom's the boys and mom sang the name song ("Sammy!  Bananarama Bo Bammy, Fee Fi Fo Fammy...Sammy!") and I was grateful for how she distracted them.  Amidst a smile here and there as I listened to my Sammy & Benny's laughter, I thought of my Baby Jacob.  I wondered if he felt any pain when he died?  I thought back to our 12 week neucco screen ultrasound when I saw his mouth opening and closing.  I loved watching his movements.  I wish that ultrasound could have been recorded for me. 

I read that babies are practicing breathing for when their lungs fully develop.  Would Jacob have gasped for air in his final moments in my womb?  I knew that I'd have to ask my doctor how he died.  It was something I had to know.  The guilt still pummeled me.  Even though women of any age can have babies withTrisomy 13, it is more common for older women.  Me.  My age could have hurt my poor baby.  No woman wants to think that anything she did or didn't do could have harmed her baby. 

The rest of Saturday was a full of headaches.  I finally broke down, called a pharmacist and asked what kind of sinus medicine I should take since I figured out that my headaches were largely sinus related.  Do you know that it has been over 6 years since I'd taken sinus medication?  Seriously.  Because I was either pregnant or nursing, I suffered through colds, sinus problems, allergies, you name it.  You can't take those types of medications when you're pregnant or nursing.  It was almost comical that night as I kept reading the medication box over and over.  I think it's a good thing that I found humor in laughing at myself.  It helped to chase the day's storm cloud away.

The boys love a Winne the Pooh episode where Tigger insults a cloud and the cloud follows him everywhere.  It finds him when he's sleeping.  It hovers over him soaking him with rain and grey shadows.  That's how I felt all day.  A big grey cloud was following me hour after hour.  I wished I could have solved my problem as easily as Tigger had--all he had to do was to apologize to the cloud!  At least my medication quandary helped to finally lighten my mood around midnight.

So,Saturday, November 6 was one of those 'heavy days'.  Unending tears, hunched shoulders and my head bent low.  I'm happy to say that things haven't been that rough since that day.  I've had up and down days and I'll keep you informed of the clouds and the moments when sunshine peaks through to warm my heart.

Keep a look out for the sunshine, it really is there even if it's just a little ray.  One little ray can sometimes brighten a whole room.

I welcome your comments and am so grateful for all of you who read this.  I've heard from several of you through the last few weeks through Facebook.  I had no idea that my words could touch anyone or even possibly someday help someone, although it's been my hope since I started writing.  I knew that I needed to do this for me, but was truly hoping that I could reach someone else.  Thank you for your wonderful words of encouragement.  They have helped me get through these dark times.

Until next time my friends,

Friday, November 5, 2010

When Life Throws a lot of Loss at You


There were originally lots of other things that I was going to write about today.  Funny how one short moment can change all of that.

The boys and I have been up here visiting my mom and family since Monday.  It's been a pretty good week so far.  Ups and downs, tears and laughter...just an overall good time to be home while my husband's out of town.

We had returned from Polkas today--my Grandma loves listening to Polka music.  Every Friday she and my Mom go to a place which plays polka music from 2-4.  Grandma loves it.  Well, it turns out that my boys love it too.

We all went today, including my step-dad and aunt!  I enjoyed it for the most part, felt a dark cloud pass over me off and on.  It was just 2-3 weeks ago when I had told some of the ladies there that I was expecting.  They were so excited.  I kept imagining what next year would be like with a new polka fan to bring to the club.  My mom told them last week of our loss.  No one said anything about it today. 

From time to time it was difficult listening to the music that just a few weeks ago I listened to with my baby still in my tummy.  Thankfully, watching the boys clap along helped to chase away the blues.

We picked up pizza on the way home.  Dinner was enjoyable with happy chatter spreading across the table.  Afterwards, my mom & Benny went downstairs to get my dog Winnie from her cage in the basement.  She was in the cage while we were gone.  My mom walked into the kitchen and I knew something was wrong.  I guess it doesn't take me long anymore, I feel like I'm so on edge.  I blurted out, "Oh no, Winnie's dead, isn't she!"  Mom said yes, that she must have died in her sleep.  I asked if she was sure.  She said yes and that she just told Benny Winnie was sleeping.

More tears.  I know a dog can't compare to a lost child, but Winnie was my girl.  She would have turned 15 years in February.  She was with me from about 3 mos old on.  I got her 6 mos after I got my first dog when I moved to Texas to go to graduate school back in '95.  They were my family since I had moved to a state where I knew no one.

Winnie's been with me through every move, through getting married, through having kids.   She's flown across the country on planes and ridden across the states in our van.  She never complained.  She was a stout, red, goofy dog with her tongue hanging out of her mouth half the time.  She growled if another dog came too close to her space but never picked fights.  She was easy-going and happy to lay around wherever she found room.

She was healthy too.  A couple of years ago we spent an insane amount of money on her--she had some sort of cancer so she had the whole kit-and-caboodle taken out. She's never had any other health problems. 

Last night when we gave the boys baths, I noticed Winnie up on my Grandma's couch.  I was shocked.  Winnie is too chunky to get on couches and hasn't done that since she was a pup.  She seemed to be breathing hard, yet wore her same old goofy smile on her face.  I didn't think much of it, just that she was getting old and that it was probably hard on her to jump up like that.

Do you ever wonder why so much seems to get thrown at us all at once?  My baby died a week and a half ago.  My dog died today.  I found out on Tuesday that my brother and his wife lost one of their twins.  They found out during almost the same ultrasound that I had when I learned of my baby's condition.  So much loss in one week.  I know, dogs don't compare to babies, but they are still a loss all the same.  They are still family.

When my brother told me of his loss, I felt my heart breaking all over again.  I had felt apprehensive about their appointment.  I kept praying that all would be well.  Apparently, their baby passed about 4 weeks ago, around week 8 or so.  We are all thankful that since it happened so early, it shouldn't impact the remaining baby which is doing really well.  I know they are still feeling pain though.  I'm keeping them in my prayers.  Three little babies down to two and now down to one.  I remember how excited my step-dad was so excited about next Christmas and having three little babies around.  Wow, how fast things can change.  I remember when my mom gave him my brother's news he said, "What's going on?"  Mom simply said, "Life."

Life.  That's what it is.  For all of the good and the bad within it, it's life. 

And then today losing my sweet old dog.  I have to say goodbye to her in a little bit before my mom takes her outside for the night.  It's going to be hard.  Any loss right now is hitting me really hard.  I told my mom that I'd be leaving on Monday for home with yet another empty space in my life--Winnie's cage will be empty.  It will be hard.  Her cage in our basement will sit empty.  We'll pick our younger Maddie dog up from the kennel on Tuesday.  I know she'll look for Winnie.  They were buddies with Maddie always licking Winnie's eyes and ears.  Mary, my other senior dog, won't have Winnie to snarl at when they go outside.  Mary's always been 'alpha dog' and Winnie knew and respected that.  No more Winnie for Mary to put into place.

A friend and I were discussing my baby's condition soon after I found out.  My friend had a miscarriage 6 weeks or so prior to my news.  I had really felt her pain and was grateful that I could talk with her.  I remember her asking me, "I wonder what we're supposed to learn from this?  I think we're supposed to learn something, I don't know...maybe it's to truly embrace life."  I've thought a lot about her question since our chat.  I know there are just some things that we'll never understand.  Why little children suffer and die, why some people are taken from us way too soon, why bad things happen to good people.  We try to justify things.  We try to pray.  We listen to others' kind words.  We try to make sense of loss in our heads.  While it may make some sense in our heads, I don't think it ever makes full sense in our hearts.

And when multiple losses hit you in one time, that's pretty difficult to make any sense out of.  The similarities between my brother and I were numerous.  Our babies were due almost at the exact same time.  He had told my parents on a Sunday and me on a Monday.  I told my dad that same Monday as well as my brother about our good news.  I received his 'announcement' in the mail on Tuesday.  We all laughed at the number of secrets we had kept from each other!  Then, we both made our happy news public (i.e. on Facebook) that Friday.  Just two short weeks later, I found out about my baby's  condition through our neucco-screen.  For me that was week 12.  My sister-in-law and brother learned of losing one of their twins on the exact same week--week 12.  Very strange coincidences but they have allowed us to not only share the happy but also the sad and confusing.

Winnie.  Well, what do you say about that timing?  I could sit here and whine and say, "God, why me?  How much more can you throw at me??"  I'd like to say that but I can't.  I can admit that it's hard to feel optimistic.  Where is that glass that's half-full?  It's just hard right now.  I feel even more emptiness now without Winnie.  So much change in just two weeks.  Pregnant to not pregnant.  My brother expecting twins to now just one.  Three dogs down to two. 

I don't know if I'll be able to make sense out of this any time soon. My pain over losing Baby Jacob is very raw and intense still right now.  If anything, I'm very open to thinking about loss.  To thinking about the many things we should try to learn from it--be it a sweet little baby or a sweet old dog.  We all know we should celebrate life.  No one would question that.   Enjoy every moment with our loved ones.  How true this is and it's ringing loud and clear to me right now, so loud that it's almost blaring. 

As the temps start to fall and we look for blankets to keep us warm while watching a movie on the couch or reading a book, ask your loved one to sit and snuggle with you for a bit.  Hold your baby, your child...put your arm around your mate.  And of course, don't forget to cuddle with your furry friend--I've always believed that they were also gifts from God.  They always seem to understand our feelings and don't ask for much in return.  Such a great example of unconditional love. 

With loving thoughts of all that I've lost in the last week--my precious Baby Jacob, my sweet little niece/nephew and my loyal Winnie.

Stay warm and loved my friends.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Finally holding my son

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wow.  Another really tough day.  It's been one week since our sweet baby has left us.  I can't believe it was just a few short days before that when we found out the horrible news.  I'll never be able to say time stood still, it went so fast.  Too fast.  Way too fast.

I felt short-tempered this morning.  Cranky.  Edgy.  I was trying to finish packing and it was going slow as usual.  Alex was going out of town for the week and asked if we'd like to go to my mom's.  I thought it was a good idea.  I didn't like him leaving, but knew he had to so was grateful that we had the opportunity to go to my mom's.  I'm still not supposed to lift Benny so I knew Mom would be able to help with that, when needed. I also knew that the boys would love being there with her, my step dad and my grandma.  They love it there.  And of course, I knew Mom & I could talk and cry whenever we needed to.

I pushed through the drudgery of packing.  Finding the boys' socks.  Chucking them in the suitcase, I decided I'd match them later.  Their Pillow pets--can't forget those.  Their 'cuddly guys' --for Benny that meant Bob the Builder and Elmo.  For Sammy that meant his sockadiles, snake, bear-bears, oh the list went on and on.  Sippy cups.  Cars.  More cars.  My baby stuff to show mom.  Coats. 

I wonder if life sometimes has a way of lining things up.  I was already in a teary state today and found more things to keep bringing on the emotion.  I got the mail and found 4 beautiful sympathy cards sent from family and friends.  Each one made me cry.  I was so touched by how much people care about us in this time of need.  The In the Company of Angels book we had just ordered last Wednesday was here too.  Every page was so beautiful.  I can't wait to fill it out, despite knowing how sad it will be to do so.

And then, the time came.  I had gotten out of the shower and barely gotten dressed when I heard Alex get home.  I slowly walked to the dining room where he was greeting the boys, taking off his coat and petting tail-wagging dogs at his feet.  I stood in the doorway.  He and I didn't even have to say anything.  He reached into his green bag and pulled out a small item and brought it over to me.

It was our son.  Alex handed me our son.  The remains of our precious Baby Jacob were in a small cream ceramic box with the letters, "B", "A", "B" and "Y" on each side in pastel colors.  When we thought we were picking him up on Friday at the funeral home and found out we weren't, we changed our urn request.  They had offered the baby blue square before knowing of Jacob's small size.  I picked this little box from the few they had to offer.  I knew it would be just the right size to hold my precious treasure.

We had both been nervous anticipating dealing with the funeral home today.  They communicated terribly.  They never expressed condolences.  It was all business and poor business at that.  We feared they wouldn't have our baby ready today but there he was.  Alex said the man he dealt today with was very sympathetic and even asked how I was doing. 

I sobbed so hard while I held my Jacob.  This wasn't how it was supposed to be.  I was supposed to be holding a sweet little newborn baby in the spring, not the tiny remains of my son's short life in the fall.  I sobbed again as I asked Alex, "Is he in there?  He really is?"  We both cried as I held my son so tightly.  Alex's eyes looked a bit swollen.  I shook the box and heard faint little 'clinks'.  At least that's the closest sound I can describe it as.  My son.

As awful as a time as this was, it was also a brought a bit of peace to me.  Even though these were just my son's earthly remains, they were him nonetheless.

For those of you who may find the following offensive or too 'graphic', I apologize.  I feel as though I have to describe the rest of what Alex handed me.  I looked over a small certificate which stated that the crematory had cremated the remains of our son.  His name was typed clearly in caps on the envelope.  I looked over the form.  One line said, "Remains identified by:"  and then the word, "Ankle", was checked. 

I almost felt sick at reading this.  Had they really managed to salvage one of my tiny baby's feet during the surgery?  Had they really kept it whole and then labeled it with our name?  As sick as I was to read this, it made me cry with tears of joy.  My son existed.  He wasn't just some 'tissue in a jar' as our doctor had said in haste at one point.  He was a human being.  A tiny little baby with tiny little feet and hands--those very feet and hands I had seen moving just a week and a half ago. 

I thought back to my decision to not wait out the full miscarriage--if that's what you call it at this point.  I just wished I could have seen my baby and held him.  I could have tried to wait for things to happen on their own.  Who knows if my body would have recognized Jacob's passing.  I know things could have gotten more dangerous for me since I was so far along.  Having two prior c-sections would mean that I couldn't necessarily try for a VBAC without risks associated with that.  But, maybe I could have seen him.  Maybe things would have been okay, I don't know.  All I have to remember him by are fuzzy ultrasound photos.  It's hard to say goodbye to those images of him even though the pain of having him naturally if it would have happened that way would have been unbearable too. 

My son is home.  His earthly remains are home with his mommy and daddy.  What's more important though is that he is Home with our Heavenly Father.  I try to remind myself of this daily.  I try to imagine him cooing as the angels sing to him.  I imagine him grabbing my grandpa's white beard while my grandpa laughs and holds him close.

It's brought a bit of closure to me, I guess, having this part of the journey come to it's end.  I know there's lots more to go yet.  I hope to have Alex & I have a small memorial for him--just the two of us sometime in the next few weeks.  I think it will do both he and I a lot of good.

My son is home.  May that bring you the same peace it's brought me--especially if you've lost a child.  I bet our precious babies are playing together in Heaven's nursery.  I smile at that and I hope you can too.


Laughter and "Normalcy"

Saturday, October 30 was Trick-or-Treating.  Part of me was grateful for the distraction and the 'busyness' of getting ready for that evening.  The other part of me felt weighted down by the sadness of missing my baby.  It hadn't even been a week since our baby had passed.  Because Sammy & Benny love Halloween so much, as does their daddy, I had to do my best to make the evening fun for all. 

I was treated to an unexpected surprise, complete with tears--this time happy tears.  I put my Princess costume on in the bathroom.  It was a floor-length purple dress with gold trim and lacing down the front.  It was a Medieval costume and a little too big for me, but the extra room gave my stomach the space it needed to still show. 

I remember I had asked Nancy, our nurse, on Tuesday about my stomach, "Will my stomach be back to a normal size after the surgery?"  She said, "Oh no, it will take a while to go back to it's normal shape."  I can't believe I had asked such a stupid question.  I knew better.  I replied, "Oh, that's right.  It takes awhile for your stomach to go back down--just like when you have a normal baby, right?"  A 'normal baby'.  More tears. 

So with my stomach still showing a bit, I smoothed out my Princess dress in front of the mirror.  I even curled my hair like the model on the packaging.  I placed the crown-like silky fabric on my head.  When I walked into the kitchen, both of my sons instantly came to hug me and gush all over me.  How could you not feel like a princess when two little boys look up at you and say, "You look so pretty Mommy!  You look like a Princess!" (from Sammy, age 5) and, "You pretty Mama, soft...you Princess Mama!," (from Benny, age almost 3) and the best, "I love you Mommy!" (back to Sammy) 

My little sweethearts.  At that point, I knew I had definitely made the right decision to get dressed up and to go make the rounds, despite my physical aches and my emotional state.  I seriously considered staying behind to pass out candy but Alex had pushed me to go.  He didn't want me to miss out.  We walked around the neighborhood for about an hour and a half.  Alex pulled the wagon carrying the boys and I pushed the stroller carrying cameras, coats and Sammy's Ironman.

About halfway through the trek, I was starting to feel the effect of the walk.  When the wagon lost a wheel pin and I had to put Benny in the stroller, the pain worsened.  We were about 20 minutes from home and going up a hill, I stopped and yelled for Alex to come back to push Benny.  I knew that I just couldn't attempt that last hill or I'd be in for a much more painful night.  My doctor had cleared me to go Trick-or-Treating as long as I didn't overdo it.  I felt like I was quickly getting to that level.

I watched for heavy bleeding the rest of the night but found none.  I was grateful that I didn't aggravate things.  It hurt to bend down and pick things up but that was it.  I figured that a good night of rest would allow everything to settle back down.

Emotionally, the night had it's ups and downs.  When the first few parents we saw on the road wished us a "Happy Halloween!", I had to quickly wipe the tears from my eyes.  When I saw a beautiful sunset touch a hill behind our house, I cried.  I found myself thinking back to my doctor appointment that Monday.  After discussing everything in great detail yet before discovering that our sweet baby had passed, my doctor shared a story with me about a woman who found out her baby also had a fatal diagnosis like mine.  She had decided to take her baby Trick-or-Treating and painted her belly for the night.  Because things had moved so fast for us, I didn't even have time for something like that.  My belly was empty.

It was an up and down night.  Tears mixed in with laughter. I laughed whenever Benny said, "Look me!  I Thomas!"  He said this to oh, probably every person he saw out that night.  He was so proud to be Thomas the Train.

Later that night, not knowing what to do with myself yet again and knowing I shouldn't do anything more physical for the night, I sat down to watch TV and found Pirates of the Caribbean 2 just starting.  Alex & I hadn't seen it and rarely watch movies together, so decided to see if it was any good.  I could not believe how much I laughed through that movie.  You know those movies or shows that are full of corny physical comedy?  Slapstick kind of stuff?  No matter how cheesy, it might be, we laugh anyway.  Must just be something about people--we'd like to say we don't find that stuff funny but I bet more of us chuckle at those behaviors than we'd like to admit. 

So Alex & I both laughed at Jack Sparrow's antics.  Sword-fighting on a spinning water wheel.  Trying to outrun creepy pirates.  I found myself laughing and laughing.  It almost felt good.  That was the first time I'd laughed in awhile.

I guess it did feel good but I was mad at myself.  As much as I enjoyed laughing and know that it's good for you, I can admit that I don't want to laugh.  Not yet.  To me, laughter is a sign of returning to normal.  But what is normal??  Normal should be putting maternity clothes on.  Normal should be counting the weeks--I'd be 14 weeks by now.  Normal would be still griping about feeling sick every day.  Normal would be crying at every little thing like pregnant women do--loving that I had the excuse that the pregnancy hormone gives you to cry at sappy animal commercials and Cinderella movie previews. 

Normal would be anxiously awaiting my baby's movements.  I couldn't wait to feel him kick!  I had been feeling little flutter type of things in my stomach at night when laying down.  I knew they were probably just gas but I liked to dream that perhaps it really was my baby that I felt.  I knew that in just a few more weeks I'd be feeling the real thing--kicks, punches, rolls.  I couldn't wait.  Normal.  That's how things were supposed to be. The 'normal' that I knew for 13 weeks.

But instead laughing means that I will soon be returning to normal--that is, the normal that was before my pregnancy.  It will mean returning to how my life was before--taking care of my family, unpacking boxes, getting ready for the holidays.  It's almost as if I never was pregnant.  It's difficult to explain how I feel about this and I hate that I even write something like that.  I know I was pregnant, my baby was alive.  He was alive for 13 beautiful weeks.  He even showed me his energy when he kicked to protest the ultrasound technician's prodding.  I loved watching him--every second of that ultrasound I had my eyes glued to the screen.

But the farther from Jacob's passing that I go, I feel like it's too easy to forget. I don't want to forget.  I don't ever want to forget.  The more that life sucks me back in, the farther from my baby I feel.  I have responsibilities--I'm a mom, a wife, a home-maker.  I know that.  I pay bills.  I unpack and figure out where to put everything.  It's again just so hard to know how to navigate the tug of war you feel -- you are pulled towards your loss and grieving and remembering your lost baby and then you're pulled back to 'reality'--dishes, dogs, diapers and more.  Where do you go? 

I'd like to think that maybe it's just a constant blend of where you are in the healing process. I think I need to research and read more about healing after a loss such as this.  Expecting a woman to simply 'suck it up' and bounce back is completely unfair.  For me, I guess I'll just laugh when I have to and cry when I want to.  I hope the laughter strengthens me for those really hard days when the tears just won't stop.  I hope the crying keeps me close to my lost son, my precious Baby Jacob.  That's all I can do at this point.  That, and of course, to keep praying that God will lead me through this darkness.  That maybe He's the one sprinkling my life with just enough 'laughable moments' to show me that it's okay to laugh between the tears. 

Thanks for staying with me on this journey, my friends.  It's still a difficult road and I think it will continue to be for quite some time.