Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sounds of life, sounds of death

As I sit here on my computer, browsing through pages and pages of baby loss blogs (these mothers and fathers help me through this journey, in ways I cannot even come close to describing), I hear my 3 1/2 year-old son crying from his bed upstairs (it is 11pm). I throw off the blanket and set aside the laptop, and rush upstairs. I know it is probably a bad dream, or he is too hit, or can't find his paci (he does this around this time of night, about 50% of the time).

I enter his bedroom quietly, but making a shushing sound so he knows it is me. He almost instantly stops crying but is still upset. I remove some of his blanket layers, because he does feel hot, and I grope around for his paci in the dark and hand it back to him, where he sleepily inserts it back into his mouth, all without opening his eyes.

On a normal night, I would now quietly exit the bedroom, because we have always been firm believers in teaching our children to soothe themselves back to sleep. But on this night, I pause. I kneel down beside his bed, take his hand in mine, lean my head on the edge of his bed, and watch him....listen to him.

He cries at night, which is sometimes tiring, because he is a little old to be doing this as much as he does. But I am more tolerant of it these past 8 months, because I will never hear her cry. I never once heard her cry.

He breathes, deeply, in and out. His lungs are working perfectly. Hers were barely formed, never working on their own, and at the end they were punctured and damaged from the wonderful doctors and nurses trying to save her life.

His heart beats, steadily, in his chest. Hers was so erratic when we heard it on the monitors in the hour or so before she was born by C-section. Her baseline was 190 and then when I would have a contraction, it would drop into the 50's. That sound, more than any I have ever heard, haunts me to this day and I can hear it, as clearly as if it was yesterday. It was the sound of doom, the sound of terror, the sound of a mother's worst nightmare coming. She was coming, and it was far too soon. We tried everything to stop it, but my labor was too far gone, my body that likes to pop babies out fast, was already progressed too far and she was under too much distress.

Our son has a major medical condition, not one that would be obvious to anyone around him, but a serious condition nonetheless. I have not lived in fear about this, for the most part. But tonight, as I knelt by his bed, watching him for many minutes, I prayed, in the very depths of my mama's soul, "Please, dear Lord, keep him safe and healthy. Please do not take another child from me. I am begging you. Please do not take another child from me."

I do not know where my breaking point would be, but I am hoping and praying I am never tested by the loss of another child.

Every moment, with every child, is absolutely precious.

Friday, July 26, 2013


This week has been hard. Abbie was born eight months ago today. We got some disappointing news recently and are navigating life ahead and how that will change as a result of the news. I feel like I have been fighting back tears nearly constantly this week, like I am in some sort of setback in my grieving process. But I know that is probably not the case, as the grieving process ebbs and flows and will likely continue to do so for many years to come. This is what I am being told by baby loss mothers who are further past their loss and share their wisdom born of tragedy.

Differences in my life are becoming so noticeable now, as I move ahead and attempt to find my "new normal." whatever that might be after the gut-wrenching and heart-altering experience of losing an infant.

We had a garage sale earlier this summer, and all the baby/kid clothes from Newborn on up, that our kids have outgrown, were included in the sale. So much of it was purchased that I have nearly empty bins remaining of the few items we are keeping in hopes for a rainbow baby. Oh, how I wish that the baby girl clothes had been kept out of the sale, waiting for Abbie to grow into them.

We are redecorating Josiah's room, taking down much of the "babyish" Noah's Ark décor and replacing it with "big boy" sports décor. Oh, how I wish Josiah and Isabel were bunking up in the bigger bedroom while Abbie sleeps peacefully in the Noah's Ark nursery that has seen each of our children through their first years.

I took Isabel shopping today for back-to-school, and was tickled to see how she prances and flounces around the Mall of America, delighted at so many of the sights, smells, and sounds. She helped me carry the shopping bags, such a big girl! Trips to the mall are so much easier with children who can walk on their own. Oh, how I wish we had a child with us who needs to be carried.

Luke and I are running in a baby loss 5K in the beginning of September. Abbie will have a memorial photo collage there, and she is my motivation to run. Oh, how I wish I were an exhausted mother of a fairly new infant, too tired and busy to even think about putting on running shoes.

Life is different. I wouldn't call it better. But my attitude and perspective have changed. I cherish the moments with my children more than I used to. Fear has crept in a bit, when it had been at bay for so long. Thoughts are scattered and sometimes feel random. I don't know what the future holds, and feel out of control. I know I have never really been in control, and I am thankful I know the One who is in control. Knowing Him does not make me perfect, but it allows me the fortitude to be able to get through each day, one day at a time.

I miss my daughter.