Friday, July 30, 2010
I was doing so good the last couple weeks. Then, out of nowhere, last night, the tears just started flowing. The loud, sobby, uncontrollable kind. Dad asked me what was wrong, and all I could choke out was, "I just miss her."
"I just miss my girl," over and over and over again.
This morning I woke up with the worst "crying hangover" ever. Head pounding. Eyes swollen and crusted over. Stomach in knots.
And now, more tears. Foxy's licking each one off my face as they fall. I'm pretty sure she just likes the salty taste, but whatever. I'm gonna go ahead and pretend she's trying to comfort me.
I miss you, baby. So much. I guess that's really all there is to say.
Love you forever,
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Sometimes I feel like I've recently mastered a whole new language. No, not Chinese. No, not Spanish (two years in middle school and four years in high school, and I still can't do more than tell you my name and that "I am wearing a blue shirt"). No. The language I now consider myself fluent in is the language of Baby Loss.
The Secret Land of Baby Loss really is it's own little world. When I first entered this place, it took me awhile to figure out what was going on, what all these "rainbows" and "triggers" and "new normals" were about.
So I figured someone should come up with a little glossary of commonly used terms for this place. A crash-course for new residents and foreigners alike. Rosetta Stone for the language of Baby Loss, if you will.
Here it is.
Rainbow baby: Contrary to what you might assume, a rainbow baby is not a baby whose parents do not care to find out the gender (you know, like they don't care if it's pink or blue...or purple or yellow...). A rainbow baby is not the child of gay or lesbian parents. It's not just a particularily bright and cheery child either. A rainbow baby is a baby born after a loss. A "rainbow" after the horrible storm that is having your child die. A rainbow baby will never "replace" your lost child (a fact that certain friends and family will remind you of on many, many occasions), but it will help patch up the hole in your heart that they left behind.
Noun: "I am really hoping I get my rainbow baby soon!"
Eventually, you're desire for one of these "rainbow babies" will almost certainly turn into an obsession. When (not if) it does, you'll need to become familiar with the following terms:
- TTC: Trying to conceive. You may think how do you really "try" for a baby? I mean besides the obvious. There are more ways than you could ever imagine. Handstands, butt-propping pillows, lube that comes with plastic "applicators" that can only be described as little plastic turkey basters. While "TTC," you may find yourself eating the cores of pineapples, trading your evening wine for a nice big glass of raspberry leaf tea, and talking about your "cervical mucus" as if it were a normal, everyday topic of conversation.
- 2ww: The two week wait. The approximately 14-day time period between Oing (ovulating) and getting AF (the evil Ant Flow, your period) or a BFP (big fat positive). It's called the 2ww, but it always ends up being more like an 8-day wait, because you'll no doubt start taking pregnancy tests everyday, using FMU (first morning urine), of course, starting at about 8DPO (days past ovulation).
Noun: "My triggers include little girls with curly hair and babies with blue eyes."
The New Normal. After the initial 4-6 weeks after losing your baby, you'll most likely to go back to some sort of daily routine. You'll greatly resemble a normal human being, but you'll never be the same again. Your life as you know it will be forever changed. In this new life of yours, it will be "normal" to wake up crying most mornings. It will be "normal" to keep your eyes peeled to the ground when you walk through Target so that you don't accidentally catch a glimpse of a pregnant lady. It was be "normal" to feel a slight ache in your heart from the minute you wake up, to the moment you go to sleep at night. All of these things will become "normal," everyday occurrences, nothing more unusual than brushing your teeth or taking the dogs on a walk. Take a shower. Cry yourself to sleep. It's all just a part of your "new normal."
Noun: "Resisting the urge to bring up my dead daughter in every conversation I have is just a part of my new normal."
Angelversary: The day your child went to heaven and "became an angel." Even if you're not into the whole angel thing, calling that day their "Angelversary" sounds much better than calling it what it is: their "death day." The frequency at which you "celebrate" Angelversaries will vary as time goes on. Right after your baby dies, you will probably think of each day as its own Angelversary ("today is my baby's six-day Angelversary.") Eventually, it might change to remembering your baby's weekly Angelversary. Then, maybe monthly. One thing is certain: you will never, ever forget it.
Noun: "I can't believe Stevie's three-month Angelversary is coming up already."
What other terms should be added, dear readers?
Baby girl, I'm missing you bad tonight. Why couldn't I be mastering the language of "mommyhood" right now? I want to be an expert in Breastfeeding and Baby wearing and Elimination Communication. I want you here with me.
I love you.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Last night was our annual Bowling for Backpacks fundraising event at work, which like all of our other special events, I am in charge of organizing. I've been working on this event since March. It was supposed to be the last big thing I had to do before going on maternity leave. I'd always say things like, "I hope the baby is born at like 37 weeks, because she's gonna be huge like her dad," and everyone in the office would say, "just as long as she waits until after Bowling for Backpacks!" As I was planning the event, I'd try and imagine how big I would be by the end of July. I thought about how I needed to be sure we had plenty of big, strong guys volunteering to help set-up, since I wouldn't be able to lift much, being almost nine months pregnant and all.
Well, last night, I was able to do all sorts of heavy lifting. I was able to fit into a size small event T-shirt. I was able to stand on my feet for hours without getting tired. I was able to drink all the Diet Coke I wanted, without worrying about things like caffeine and aspartame.
And, somehow, I was able to make it through the evening without dwelling on those things too much.
It's not that I'm not sad anymore. In fact, I think the "sad moments" come just as often as they always have since you died. I'm just getting better at dealing with them, I guess.
If I'm being completely honest, I don't think I've yet to go more than five minutes without something "triggering" one of those "sad moments." I see my reflection, my flat stomach in a window. Sad moment. I take a bite of Pad Thai, your favorite. Sad moment. Someone mentions something cute their kid did. Sad moment. I see a mom taking pictures of her little girl crawling around in the front yard on my way home from work. Sad moment. I walk past the "first birthday" party decorations while looking for raffle tickets at Party City. Sad moment. I trip over dogs toys, not barbie dolls. Sad moment.
Right after you died, one of these sad moments could last all day, maybe even put me in a funk all week. Something would make me think about you and it would be all I could focus on for a long while. The sad moments would consume me. They basically controlled my mood, my life.
Now, the sad moments are just...there. They're something I expect and have learned to live with. A part of this new life, I suppose. A sad moment comes, I acknowledge it, and I move on. I keep the sad moments contained to one tidy little area of my heart, and very rarely do I allow them to spread out and multiply inside of me. With each sad moment, my heart aches, but my overall mood stays the same. The sad moments used to have free reign over me, and now, they're like a dog confined to its kennel, or something like that.
Maybe this is me "faking it" for most of each day, but I see it more as a survival mechanism. I mean, if I allowed each sad moment to truly soak in, I'd be a blubbering mess all the time. I'd never be able to function.
Sometimes I wonder, will the sad moments ever come less frequently? Or do they just sting less and less as time goes on?
In a strange way, the thought of ever losing my "sad moments" makes me, well...sad. I don't want to imagine a day where you're not present in every thought that goes through my mind, where the sight of a baby girl doesn't secretly take my breath away. In a sad, sick way, my sad moments are what keep me so connected to you. They hurt like hell, but I'd rather feel the pain of the sad moments than to feel like your memory is fading away.
I love you so much, Stevie. Please know that. Please know that even when I'm smiling and laughing and having a good time, you're still on my mind and in my heart. Even though I've gotten pretty good at keeping the sad moments tucked away, deep in my heart, out of sight from the rest of the world, they're still there. I still miss you so, so much. I always will.
A huge thank you for everyone who entered the giveaway. It was so much fun to have so many comments to read. My iPhone is set up to vibrate every time I get a new email/comment and it was buzzing like crazy the last few days! I have to be honest, it kind of made me feel like one of those "important people" whose phones are always going off every two seconds and say things like, "oh, excuse me, I really need to check this," in the middle of a conversation. Made me feel pretty cool. :)
So anyway, there were 76 entries. I asked good old Random.org to generate a number between 1 and 76 and the winning number was...
Lucky number 13...
My dear friend Angela, Charlotte's mama!
Angela said in her comment that she "never wins anything," so I am happy that statement is no longer true for her. :) Angela is a truly wonderful writer and I love reading her blog about her beautiful daughter Charlotte, who died shortly after birth at fullterm. Please go over, check out her blog and say "congrats!" Angela, I will email your $40 gift certificate to Mama Mia Jewelry soon!
Since there were so many entries, I decided to add a second place winner, for a $20 gift certificate. This was just way too much fun to only give away one prize!
The second place winner is...
Amber! Interestingly enough, I have actually met Amber, in "real life," back in college. We had a mutual friend and I think I remember watching this really weird Christmas movie at her apartment with her adorabe pug puppy one night, like 6 years ago? Anyway, we happened to be facebook friends and have since reconnected because we both lost babies around the same time. She's been a wonderful friend and support. Congrats Amber!
Tina with Mama Mia Jewelry has generously offered a 15% discount on all orders placed between now and Saturday, July 31st; just use the code STEVIE when you check out (I really, really love that her name is the special code word!) Tina's custom jewelry is already super affordable, and this makes it even easier to get a special piece for yourself (or for a gift). You can check out her shop here.
Thanks again to everyone who entered, and to everyone who follows our story. You guys mean the world to me.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Yesterday was one of those perfect, beautiful summer Saturdays. The sun was shining, the clouds were white and puffy, the sky, the brightest shade of blue. Not too hot and humid, just right for shorts and a tank top. Kids were running through sprinklers and slip and slides up and down the block, neighbors were grilling hot dogs and cheeseburgers for lunch, you could hear the familiar sounds of lawn mowers and weed wackers off in the distance. It was just one of those days where you could literally feel summer in the air.
It put me in a good mood. And it made me miss you terribly.
You were supposed to be a summer baby, just like me (my birthday is also in August). Way back in December and January, when I was freshly pregnant, and it was like negative 40 degrees outside, and there was snow that came up to my knees in our backyard, I would imagine how magical this summer was going to be. I'd spend the first couple months having outdoor baby showers and wearing sundresses and flip flops, and spend the last month of summer outside on the deck, getting to know you, my new baby girl.
We all know my summer didn't exactly turn out as planned.
Yesterday, we spent the afternoon hanging out in Grandma and Grandpa's big backyard. I wanted nothing more than to be playing with you out there, but I had to settle on playing with the dogs instead:
Yesterday was the perfect summer day, only it wasn't. Because you weren't there.
I miss you so much and love you even more.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
So I never win anything. Like, ever. I used to always joke about it. Now, since Stevie's died I've been at events where they do raffles and I'll say things like, "you know, there's no way I am going to win. I mean yeah, when the odds are 1 in 10,000 (or whatever they actually were) of winning the prize of having your baby die from a blood clot, I'm that lucky 1, but I'll never be the 1 in 200 (or however many raffle tickets are in that box) who wins the prize you actually want to win." A bit over-dramatic, but you know what I mean.
So imagine my surprise last night when I saw that I had won Jill's awesome giveaway, in honor of her 100th blog post! I couldn't believe it when I saw my name. I was and am so excited. Maybe my luck is changing! I won a gift certificate to Lisa Leonard Designs, and I picked out this adorable necklace:
So to thank you all, I am going to be giving away a $40 gift certificate to Mama Mia Custom Hand-Stamped Jewelry. Tina is a babyloss mom herself, having lost her twins, Sophie and Ellie, in April of 2009; she blogs about her journey here. Her jewelry is incredibly beautiful, and it's even more special, knowing it's created by a fellow "angel mommy."
To enter this giveaway:
- Become a follower of my blog (if you're not already!)
- Leave a comment on this post
- Tweet or Facebook about this giveaway for additional entries (leave a separate comment for each)
- If you don't have a blog of your own, but still "follow" my blog (Mom, that's you!), you can leave an "anonymous" comment with your name and email address to enter
- You do not have to be a babyloss mom to enter this giveaway! Enter to win a piece for your angel babies, living children, or even to give to your own mother :)
- Winner will be chosen (using random.org) and announced on Wednesday, July 28th.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
My friend Julie had the excellent idea of devoting an entire post to all about who we are...other than just mothers to lost babies. I often feel like I am becoming defined by my "status." Yes, I will always be a babyloss mom, and yes, I will always, always have a hole in my heart that belongs to you, but I fear I am going to be forever known simply as "that girl whose baby died." And there's so much more to me than that.
So who am I?
I am the daughter of two amazing parents, who fell in love when they were 16 and got married at 18 years old:
After over 10 years of marriage, and one lost baby girl, I, their "rainbow baby" was born.
The three of us lived in Billings, Montana, where my dad was a youth pastor and my mom taught preschool and stayed at home with me. I was totally spoiled (in a good way!) and always the center of attention. Until, that is, we moved to Richmond, Virginia and my little brother, Brandon was born.
When I was four, we moved to Seattle, one of my favorite places in the entire world. I had a wonderful childhood, full of all the fun things any childhood should have. I was a goofy, out going kid, with lots of spunk and very, very stubborn.
We moved to the Twin Cities when I was 11.
I went through my awkward, middle school phase (I'm fairly certain the shirt pictured below was actually one of those leotard-y things that snapped at the crotch):
Met this really tall, super uncoordinated and awkward guy named Andy at summer camp in 7th grade:
Survived high school, with the help of my best friend, Jersa (who is going to totally love that I put up the following pictures):
And went off to college, where I met and lived with these girls, who I am still incredibly close with (one of them is even now my sister-in-law, your auntie!):
While at college, I re-met that boy named Andy, who was just as tall, but slightly less awkward and much more attractive. Our first date was a "haunted hayride" the week before Halloween. We became completely inseparable after that.
I always said I would never be one of "those girls" that got married really young, right out of college. But that's just what I became. Dad proposed December of our senior year and I, of course, said yes.
We graduated, me with a degree in English Literature and Writing, Dad with his degree in Physical Education (they say opposites attract, right?):
On August 24th, 2007, we got married:
I started my first "real job" working in Development for a large nonprofit (www.voamn.org) that same summer. I still have it, planning events, like our big Adopt a Family event every winter:
The next summer, we got our first puppy!
When Foxy was five months old, we got Jackie (our little Craigslist bargain!):
We spent the next year and a half doing normal "young married couple things." Lots of movie nights, 4am runs to Taco Bell, happy hours, and going out with friends. Life was good.
Then, you came into our lives, and changed everything. And that was good too.
You made us happy and excited:
Then you broke our hearts:
But somehow...we survived. And emerged stronger than ever before.
Together, your dad and I are taking it step by step, day by day. I never thought my story would include a dead daughter, but I am excited to see what the rest of my story, my life, has is store for me. For us.
That's me, I guess. Daughter, wife, friend. Mother.
Oh how I wish I could watch you grow up and create your own story here, Baby. I miss you so much.
All my love,
Monday, July 19, 2010
I think I am making some real progress moving forward with my life. I've come to this conclusion based on a major event I took part in this weekend, one that made me realize that maybe, just maybe I am on my way healing. To recapturing some of my old spark. To feeling almost "normal" again. What was this major event that has brought me this new sense of hope and peace in my soul?
Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale, of course.
I am not kidding here. At least not completely. Before you roll your eyes and laugh, let me try to explain.
After you died, I pretty much stopped caring about my appearance whatsoever. I mean, I have never been too "into" my looks (like I've never been one to really wear any makeup, mainly because whenever I've tried, I just look like a scary raccoon, even after watching multiple "how to create smoky eyes" tutorials on Youtube), but after your death, it got bad. Really bad. I would maybe shower every couple of days. I wore the same pair of yoga pants everyday for like four weeks straight, even out in public, to the point where the butt and knees were all stretched out and baggy and there were visible chip grease stains on the thighs.
Even after those first few weeks, once I had regained the strength to trade my yoga pants for jeans (on special occasions, anyway), I still had no desire whatsoever to attempt to look cute or put together. Friends would ask me to go shopping and I would refuse. The thought of shopping for new clothes just seemed so...unappealing. So pointless. I was happy to live the rest of my life in my wife beater tank tops and pink sports bra, thank you very much.
I don't know if it's that Nordstrom's annual Anniversary Sale is just that good, or if it holds a special place in my heart because I worked there for so long (in college), or what, but I decided I wanted to go last weekend. I wasn't thinking I'd really find anything I wanted or needed, but I figured it be fun to look around and see all the good deals. So on Saturday afternoon, after a morning of laying out in the sun, Marissa and I drove to the Mall of America, found a pretty decent parking spot (despite all the crazy traffic), and walked in those doors.
-Cue the sound of angels singing here-
It was amazing. All of a sudden, racks of cardigans and tunics and fall jackets and button-down flannels, all at 30-40% off, called my name. "Kristin," they beckoned, "take us home with you." My desire to shop came back, and it came back with a vengeance.
I found a lovely long cardigan sweater. A tan and grey plaid shirt that fits me like a glove. The most comfortable long-sleeve dress/shirt thing (I still haven't figured out which on it's supposed to be). A pair of jeans that make my butt look amazing, if I do say so myself.
And then, I saw them, the most beautiful pair of boots I have ever seen in my life. I knew when one of the sales people up in the clothing department asked us, "are you going to go down and check out shoes before you leave?" it was a bad idea. I knew I would find something I couldn't live without. And I did.
The moment Marissa and I laid eyes on them, we knew they were the ones. It was love at first sight, for both of us. The soft, slightly distressed brown leather, the adorable buckles, the perfect sized heal. Plus, they were Borns, so I knew they would be incredibly comfortable. The salesman, a younger guy, probably working his way through college just like I did, noticed us checking them out and said, "Do you guys want to try them on?" "I don't know..." Marissa and I said at the same time, "we probably shouldn't..." "We're almost sold out in the brown, but I can check for you just in case if you want," he said. "Well, hypothetically, if we were to try them on, I would be an eight and a half," Marissa said. The salesguy looked at me, "hypothetically, I'd be an eight," I said. "I doubt if we have those sizes, but I'll check," he said.
While he was in the back checking, Marissa and I decided that if he had our sizes, it would be fate. It would be meant to be. Those boots and us, we would be soul mates.
He came out with our sizes.
After some major rationalizing, including returning clothing items I had purchased earlier that day, the boots were mine. Here they are, in all their glory:
Later that night, before going out to dinner with my girlfriends, I put them on with a pair of skinny jeans and one of my new tops, did a cute little braid in my hair, even put on mascara, and felt pretty darn cute, for the first time in a long time. It felt wonderful. I felt almost like a normal human being again.
My Anniversary Sale experience was not so good for my bank account, but boy was it good for my soul.
I love you, Baby. The sadness is getting less and less intense, but my love for you stays the same.
Your (hot) mama :)
Saturday, July 17, 2010
If you haven't noticed, getting Stevie's story out there and doing what I can to feel like I'm "making a difference" in her name is the one thing that I have found to be the most helpful in my healing. I'm not sure when I decided to try and become some "crusader" for pregnancy/infant loss awareness, but I'm running with it, I guess. :)
I started a new project that I am really excited about, but I need a lot of help.
I started a new blog/site called Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope. You can find it here. It will basically be a collection of collection of pregnancy/infant loss stories along with pictures of us, the women telling our stories.
I am basically going to copy and paste what I wrote in "about" tab on the new site to explain it:
Of all the feelings I experienced after my daughter died, loneliness was by far the hardest. I felt completely and utterly alone. I felt like some sort of freak of nature. This sort of thing doesn't happen to healthy, normal people like me, I thought.
But I was wrong. After spending hours and hours scouring the internet for other stories like mine, I realized pregnancy/infant loss is more common than I ever thought, and that it does not discriminate. It affects women of all ages, of all races, of all walks of life. It's not just something that happens to "other people," it can happen to anyone. I realized there were so many other nice, normal people like me who had gone through the death of a child. And they were surviving. That realization gave me hope. If they could do it, maybe, just maybe I could survive this too.
There are hundreds of women bravely and openly sharing their stories of miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss on personal blogs, all over the world. Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope is a place for us to come together and share our stories and our faces with others who may be looking for reassurance that they are not alone. My hope is that Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope becomes a place for new members of this "babyloss club" to come and read hundreds of other stories, and see hundreds of other faces like theirs, all in one place.
It is also my hope that Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope brings awareness to the issue of pregnancy/infant loss. I hope that by telling the world we are not afraid to show our faces and tell our stories, barriers will be broken down. Taboos will be broken, and lines of communication will be opened.
I really hope that you you guys will join the movement by following the new blog, and submitting your story and photo. And please, spread the word! I have big dreams of this growing and providing many hurting souls with hope and reassurance. I have big dreams that by putting our faces out there, we can really make some progress in bringing pregnancy/infant loss out of the shadows.
The submission instructions are listed on the new site. Everyone who submits their story/photo by Friday, July 23rd, will be entered into a giveaway. Thanks everyone!
Ps. If you are interested in helping run this new site, or have ideas for where to take it, please, please let me know. It's definitely a work in progress at this point. Thanks again!
Pps. As soon as I get some pictures in, I will be changing the title/header thing so it's not all pictures of me :)
Thursday, July 15, 2010
There’s a red plastic water bottle sitting on my desk. The bottom two inches are filled with old, almost cloudy water. It’s the same water from 10 Thursdays ago, my last day at work, the day before I found out you were gone. That Thursday, like every other day since finding out I was pregnant with you, I forced myself to drink 64 oz of water during my work day—two full water bottles full. I guess I didn’t quite finish before leaving my office that Thursday. Why does that make me feel slightly guilty?
10 Thursdays ago started out like any old Thursday. My alarm went off, I hit snooze like four times, and finally dragged myself out of bed with about 15 minutes to get ready for work. I took a shower, brushed my teeth, threw on a stretchy skirt, my favorite maternity tank top, and a white cardigan, kissed my dogs goodbye, and ran out the door with my hair still soaking wet.
I drove to work, sat down at my desk, chugged a bunch of water. Checked some emails. Thought, “did I feel Stevie moving around at all this morning?” I wasn’t worried, just started to pay attention. Chugged some more water. Checked some more emails. Waited.
I sat in on a webinar called something like, “Finding the Stories That Will Raise Money for Your Nonprofit” (why I remember this, I have no idea). Stared at the screen. Rubbed my belly. Chugged some more water. Took some notes. Rubbed my belly some more. Said, “oh, she’s good,” when one of my coworkers asked, “How’s the baby?”
I went to Subway for lunch. Asked for extra jalepenos. Thought, “that’ll wake you up, baby.” Nothing. Chugged some more water. Nothing.
I sent an email to Dad: “Hey Bear, I can’t remember the last time I felt Stevie move. I’m kind of worried. Should I call the doctor? What are we doing for dinner tonight?” Went to the bathroom. Poked at my belly. Chugged some more water. Poked at my belly again. Sat on the toilet and whispered, “Come on, Baby, wake up for Mommy.”
I drove home. Tried to sing along to that happy Michael Buble song (“I Just Haven’t Met You Yet”) on the radio. Texted Dad, “Hey, where are you? Call me.”
I pulled in the garage. Let the dogs out. Drank half a carton of cold chocolate milk. Ate a few handfuls of baked cheddar and sour cream potato chips. Laid down in bed. Poked my belly. Waited. Flipped over onto my side. Waited. Flipped to the other side. Waited. Got out my Doppler. Moved it around and around on my belly. Pressed down harder. Turned the volume up, then down, and back up again. Pressed down even harder. Static. Opened my laptop and logged onto my online pregnancy support group. “I can’t remember the last time I felt my baby move, and I’m having a hard time finding her heartbeat with my Doppler,” I wrote. I heard “Oh I’m sure she’s just hiding under your pelvic bone,” and “just call your doctor for some peace of mind.”
I called my doctor’s office. Five minutes too late. Heard the standard, “if this is a medical emergency, please hang up and dial 9-1-1. To speak to the on-call nurse, press 1…” Decided to do neither. “I’ll just call in the morning,” I thought.
When Dad got home I told him I was getting really worried. “Well, should we go to the ER?” he asked. “I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t really want to pay the $150 co-pay for an ER visit if I can just go and get everything checked out by my doctor tomorrow morning.” “It’s up to you,” he said. “I’ll just go in the morning,” I decided.
Maybe, deep down, I knew something wasn’t right. Maybe I was scared. Maybe I just wanted one more night with you.
So 10 Thursday nights ago, I put on my maternity yoga pants, rubbed cocoa butter lotion on my belly, watched Dad kiss my tummy, and said, “goodnight, Stevie, I love you”…all for the last time.
It's hard not to feel guilty when I think back on all that happened 10 Thursdays ago. What if I would have gone in earlier? What if Dad would have insisted on a trip to the ER that night? What if I would have finished those last 8 ounces of water like I was supposed to? I know it's silly. I know it's pointless. I know that once I noticed you weren't moving, you were probably already gone. But still, what if?
I miss you more than I can even explain, Stevie. 10 Thursdays ago I woke up happy, truly happy, for the last time. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever wake up happy again.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
After you died, all of a sudden there were all these places I could never go again. Like restaurants. Not just a couple specific restaurants in particular. All of them. Restaurants were for celebrations, and after you died, I was clearly not in the mood for celebrating. When I was pregnant with you, we went out to eat to celebrate all sorts of little occasions. To celebrate telling your grandparents we were expecting. To celebrate the beginning of the second trimester (and my first full day without puking in about five weeks!) To celebrate hearing your heartbeat at the doctor's office for the first time. To celebrate finding out you were a girl. To celebrate the fact that we had officially reached the point of "viability" at 25 weeks. To celebrate...just because. So seriously, for at least two weeks after you died, I refused to step foot in any sort of eating establishment. Take-out, I could do. But the inside of restaurants were totally off-limits.
Grocery stores were another one. Dad or my mom or my friends would have to bring me my breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday for the first few weeks. The first time I tried to be brave and do some quick grocery shopping with Dad, I just about had a mental breakdown. Dad would say, "do you want some cottage cheese?" and my eyes would well up and I'd say, "I can't eat that! I ate cottage cheese for Stevie!" He'd try again and say, "do you want to get some ice cream?" and I'd freak out and say, "I can't eat that! Stevie loved ice cream!" After this went on for about half the items in the entire store, Dad finally said, "okay, what can you eat now??" "alcohol and raw fish and lots of caffeine," was my short answer.
I couldn't even go the mall, one of my favorite places in the world, for weeks after you died. I couldn't buy new jeans, because that meant I no longer needed my maternity ones. I couldn't buy new tank tops and t-shirts because they would easily fit over my flat belly. I couldn't buy a purse because I wanted to be buying a diaper bag. I think you can see where this is going...
Now, over nine weeks out from your death, and I've tackled most of the places I thought I'd never be able to go again. I've gotten over my fear of (most) restaurants. I can go grocery shopping without going crazy, and I can even purchase and consume (most) of the foods I ate while I was pregnant with you. I enjoy spending way too much money on clothes and purses again.
But there are still a few places I haven't been able to face quite yet. Of course there's the obvious (Babies R Us and every other baby store in the world, whether I ever shopped there or not). Then there's Subway. The fear of Subway is really limiting my workweek lunch choices these days, but I just can't stomach going in there. I ate at Subway like four days a week throughout my pregnancy with you. I am just not ready to go in and not have to say "oh, and can you please double-heat my meat...I'm pregnant," while rubbing my belly and ordering my turkey and ham on wheat.
Or Ikea. I don't know that I'll ever be able to go in that store again (which Dad will probably appreciate!) There's just no way I could effectively shop there for an economically priced dresser or table or couch right now; I'd be too busy remembering three days before you died, picking out all your nursery things. I'd be too busy crying my eyes out.
Or the gas station by my office, where I went for my daily instant mashed potatoes and Sprite fix during weeks seven through 10, when you were making me super sick and nauseous. I hated feeling so sick, but as I'd tell everyone, "at least it assures me that obviously something is still going on in there!"
I guess I am proud of myself for coming this far, even if I still have some fears left to conquer. Who would have thought--I'm not afraid of needles or getting tattooed or being on TV, telling my sad story in front of thousands of people.
But I'm too chicken to walk into Subway and order myself a sandwich.
Oh, Baby, I sure miss you today.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Lately, I've been desperate for change. It's way beyond what a new haircut or dye job could possibly fix. And even if they could, I kind of like my long hair (it weighs down my out of control waves and frizz), and I am far too lazy for the regular up-keep a dye job requires (I generally wait like eight months between hair appointments, which would make for some pretty appalling roots I would think.) This desire for change I have is also much bigger than a new outfit or pair of shoes could remedy (although I might just use it as an excuse to shop Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale next weekend anyway).
Maybe this need for change has a little something to do with the fact that I had been experiencing and anticipating some pretty big-time changes (you know, like growing my first baby and becoming a parent!) and now they are no longer happening. I was ready for my life to change in an instant. I was even looking forward to it. But then, it just didn't happen, at least not in the way I thought it would.
I'm back to normal. Same old long, un-dyed, frizzy hair. Same old outfits. Same old shoes. Same old life. Same old me.
I decided last night that getting my nose pierced would help the situation. Why not, a facial piercing is a pretty big change, right? I told Dad I wanted to go get it done, like NOW, so we hopped in the car and drove to the same place I got my tattoo for you done a couple months ago. The piercer, who had metal sticking out of at least 14 different places on his face, as well as a diamond stud in his forearm (I'm not even sure how that one is physically possible), asked me, "so, have you been thinking about getting your nose done for a while?" "Yeah, for about a whole 45 minutes," I answered.
Here it is, my big change:
It did help, a little bit anyway. But I'm still craving more (don't worry, I'm not going to go tattooing my forehead or anything like that). I just feel so "blah," so stuck in a rut, and I think I need to feel that same sense of impending change I felt when I was pregnant with you to get me out of it.
The ironic thing about all of this is that I have changed, a lot, in the last couple months since you died. I'm the "same old me," except I'm not. Maybe, subconsciously, I am trying to get my outside to match my inside. I am not the same girl I was nine weeks ago, so maybe I don't want to look just like her anymore. Maybe I see myself as a totally different person, and I want the rest of the world to see that I'm different too. Maybe.
All I know is I want change and I want it bad.
I guess tonight I'll go pierce my lip or something. (Totally kidding, Mom!)
Love you, Stevie. You've changed my life, even if it's been in ways I never planned or imagined you would. Miss you everyday.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Lately I've been going into your nursery when I need to feel close to you. I sit on the floor and go through all your things, over and over again, running my fingers over your clothes and blankets and books and stuffed animals, memorizing every detail. If someone were to walk into your room right now, all they'd see is a big, messy pile of random baby stuff. To me, though, it's so much more than that. It's a pile of beautiful, wonderful memories. Each little outfit, each little stuffed animal has a story.
Like these finger puppets, the very first things that were ever bought for you:
When we found out I was pregnant on December 9th, we were both shocked, but Dad, especially was really freaked-out. He walked around looking totally shell-shocked and didn't even want to talk about it for the first couple of days. In all honesty, I was a little bit sad that he wasn't more excited right away. That is, until, a few days later, when I came home from work and he told me to look in my Christmas stocking that was hanging up in the living room. I peeked in to find these adorable little finger puppets. Dad said, "I was picking up milk at Whole Foods and saw these. I just had to get them for the baby." It made me so happy that he really was excited and was already picking things out for you.
And these funny little rattle socks from your Auntie Jersa:
My best friend since middle school, Jersa, and I always go out for special Christmas dinner together. Before last year's dinner, I sent her a message saying, "I have some...interesting news to tell you when I see you." Of course, she guessed my surprise right away. :) At dinner a few days later, she gave me these rattle socks for you. We laughed and talked about how you were probably going to end up with huge feet like your Dad (we were right!) and stick them in your mouth to chew on these as soon as I put them on you.
And your very first outfit, from Grandma and Grandpa and Auntie Katie:
I was only 6 weeks along when they gave me these cute PJs and matching "Auntie Loves Me" bib to open on Christmas. I felt so, so weird receiving baby clothes; it was all still so surreal at that point. I remember Grandma (Dad's mom) saying, "it's so hard to find gender-neutral clothing. I really hope you guys end up having a girl because girl clothes are the cutest!"
And the first book Dad and I bought for you:
We were on vacation in Whistler, BC, when we found this book, "Big Bear Bug," at a little shop. I was only about 7 weeks pregnant and we went back on forth on whether or not it was "too soon" to start buying things for you. In the end, the book was too perfect to resist and we forked over the ridiculous $19.50 they were asking for it. As we walked back to our hotel room, in our winter boots and stocking hats, through the fresh falling snow, we talked all about how we were going to read to you every night after you were born. I remember tightly gripping the shopping bag containing your first book and silently thinking, "I just bought my baby a book." I was just glowing.
And this, the first piece of clothing I ever bought for you:
I saw this and just had to buy it. I was 18 weeks pregnant and about a week and a half away from finding out if you were a boy or girl. Everyone I showed would say, "that's cute, but it's totally a boy's onesie," and I would argue, "no way! Add some pink leggings and you have the perfect girl's outfit. But it doesn't matter anyway. I'm 99% sure I'm having a boy." After finding out my instincts were way off and you were actually a little girl, my mom asked me if I was going to return it, to which I replied, "Mom, it has polka dots, how much more girly can you get?!" I still think you would have been adorable in it, Stevie. You would have been adorable in anything.
And this, your first truly "girly" outfit, from Grandma (my mom):
This is one of my favorite outfits of yours because it has a "ruffle butt." I've always been obsessed with ruffle butts on little girls. :)
And all these "Baby Legs" leg warmers:
Okay, so I went a little crazy with the Baby Legs. They were on sale on babysteals.com and I ordered a five-pack. Then that same day babylegs.com was having a promotion where select styles were on clearance for only $2! Free shipping! So of course I had to buy like eight more pairs. For some reason, they all came separately in the mail. So everyday for like a week and a half, there would be packs of Baby Legs in the mailbox. One day Dad came home from work, stomped up the stairs to the bedroom where I was taking a nap, threw another couple pairs on the bed, and said, "seriously, Kristin, how many of these things did you order??" His face was priceless.
And this dress I picked out for you to wear home from the hospital:
I was still on the lookout for the perfect little white cardigan sweater to go with this, but I never got a chance to buy one.
And this hand-knit romper, the only article of clothing I ever saw Dad get excited about:
Dad was never into the whole clothes thing with you. Most of the time when I'd show him something I picked out for you and ask him if he liked it, his response was something like, "Yeah, sure." or "that's really pink..." But when he found this simple knit romper, he fell in love. "We have to get this for Stevie," he said. And we did. Less than a week before you died. I'm so sad your daddy will never get to see you in the sweet little outfit he picked out for you, Baby.
These, and each and every one of your "things" are physical reminders of special moments we shared with you. Each time I hold one of your things in my hands, I am actually, literally holding onto a memory. It's wonderful and heartbreaking, all at the same time.
Missing you lots and lots today.
All my love,
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Losing a child can put quite a strain on a marriage. The unfortunate reality is that the odds of "making it" are not on our side. The statistics are ugly, although not all that shocking once you've been through it and know how hard it is. Some articles I've read put the divorce rate for couples who lose a child at around 90%. Dad and I are determined not to become a part of that 90%, but we know it will take a lot of work and conscious effort from both of us to make that happen.
The first couple weeks after you died, we clung to each other and were both handling your death in pretty much the same way: crying all the time and being sad together. Since then, though, we've been in very different places in our grief most of the time. It's easy to feel disconnected and disjointed.
That's why nights like last night's "date night" are so important. It's so nice to go out and talk, face-to-face, without the distractions of the computer or the internet or the TV. To get back on the same page for a bit. To get out of the house and have, dare I say, some fun together.
"Fun" is not a word I use a lot these days, but I can honestly say I had a fun time last night. I can even say it without feeling too guilty, which is pretty huge.
First, we sat outside and ate dinner at one of Dad's favorite places, a fun tiki bar/restaurant in Northeast Minneapolis called Psycho Suzi's:
We had a great time, until it took over an hour for our food to come out. Dad's famous "I'm hungry and crabby" face made an appearance while we were waiting:
But we were all smiles again after devouring our delicious meals:
Then it was off for some after-dinner drinks at the Zombie bar:
We talked over candle light:
Watched the zombie movies playing on the TV mounted above our table:
Took part in the "design your own drink" challenge, and came up with the yummiest cupcake-inspired cocktail ever, which I called "the schlupcake" (had to keep with the zombie theme, you know):
And ended the night with a quiet drive home through the rain:
Of course you were the topic of conversation for most of the night last night, but it was a lot more of the reminiscing about the good times we had with you talks, and a lot less of the being sad and depressed about you dying talks. I liked that, a lot.
The only thing that could have made the night any better would have been coming home to find your babysitter watching TV and you, sound asleep in your crib.
I love you so much, baby girl.
Mom (and Daddy too)