The Ugly Truth

Before I start this blog entry I want to warn you that I’m going to be brutally  honest about my miscarriage experience. That means I’m going to be talking about blood, a lot of it. I’m going to be talking about female body parts and a fetus. If this is too much for you, or you feel it’s in bad taste, quit reading here. When I lost Nash and began writing, I had more women write me about their miscarriages than anything else. They usually  said something along the lines of, “I know it’s not what you went through,” or “I know I can’t  understand you, but.” I feel I owe it to these women to tell this story with as much transparency as I can.

Let me just start by saying I’m appalled and embarrassed to be a 37 year old female who knew very little about miscarriages. I think most of my embarrassment is becasue half the women I know have had them and that includes my sisters and best friends. Not until I found out my babies’ heart stopped beating did they tell me their stories. Stories they consider the worst time of their life. So, if this was the worst time of their life and these people are close to me, how am I just hearing these stories now? I’ll tell you why. As a society, we are told miscarriages happen and they happen often. This is a fetus, not a baby; therefore, it shouldn’t be sad. Oh, and if it’s in the first trimester, it doesn’t even count. To a lot of people it’s like the equivalent of a hangnail. We are even told not to share our pregnancy news until we are in our second trimester. Why? Because our chances of losing them are high, so why tell people and go through telling them you lost the “fetus”. I’ll tell you why!! The minute those pink lines appear on a pregnancy stick, you are a mother. The excitement, the planning, and everything that goes into the joy of knowing you will bring a baby into this world is palpable at this time more than any other. A lot of woman who have miscarriages never carry one child to term, but have miscarried on several occasions. I can’t think of a woman more deserving of the title mother than one who has put her health and fear on the back burner just to have the chance to have a baby of their own.

When I thought of a miscarriage, I thought of a cramping and some bleeding. Yep, that’s what I thought. I think like all women, the fear of finding blood in your underwear was an ongoing fear until you reach that pivotal second trimester. I remember looking frequently and breathing a sigh of relief that nothing was there. Yes men, us women do that. If your wife is pregnant, ask her. She will tell you she has checked  her underwear for blood on more than one occasion. So, imagine if one day she finds it….alone. Women do this at home all the time. They go from being excited at the thought of becoming a mother, to blood in their underwear. What’s worse is that they are told not to talk about it. That although it’s sad, they can try again. Or, at least it’s early. Are these things true? Absolutely. Does it make their loss less heartbreaking? No! They have the right to go through the grieving process. We should be embarrassed as a society that we don’t let them have that. That we make them feel like it’s nothing and a weird thing to even grieve.

I had my miscarriage at 15 weeks. That means I was in my second trimester. What this means to me now, is there is no safe zone. I did what most women do and shared my news once I got past that pivotal mark. I held my excitement in for twelve excruciating weeks before I shared. In the end, it didn’t matter anyway.  Did it hurt more to tell people I lost the baby? No, it helped to have support. It helped to know people knew we were experiencing a loss.

For a week, I walked around knowing my baby was gone, but still carrying it. It’s a strange and emotional time. Every time I would take my shirt off, Crue would point to my belly and yell baby. I tried hard to quit rubbing my belly, but couldn’t. I drank caffeine and took medicine I wouldn’t normally, knowing the baby was gone. It was hard to tell my mind something my body hadn’t gone through yet. Emotionally, I was in a good place compared to most I think. I’ve been through the worst tragedy of my life. Once you have lost a child, it’s hard to trump that. If I had an overwhelming emotion, it was anger. To be frank, I was pissed off we were going through this. I grieved the loss of the pregnancy more than the baby, if that makes sense.

The morning I woke to be induced, I was irritable, moody, angry and quiet.  I could barely look at Todd. For some reason that morning, more than any other time, Crue could not quit talking about the baby. Even Todd thought it was strange because we hadn’t talked about it in front of him. When we pulled into my in-laws to drop Crue off, he gave me a hug and I started crying. He calls me baby since I have been pregnant and as I handed him off to his dad, he said, “bye bye baby”. I broke down in tears.

Arriving in the labor and delivery ward was emotional. You can hear newborns crying and most people are walking through the hallways happy, with flowers and balloons. The room we had was like any other delivery room, equipped with a bed for baby. I looked at the erase board in front of me. It had my name, followed by Todd’s under support person. Boy did that have a whole new meaning today. The objective/goal was pain control. My bed was lined with those paper pads and as I put my gown on in the bathroom, they had it fully stocked with pads, washcloths, towels, and those beautiful mesh underwear. To say I was freaked out was the understatement of the century. It was like in those mafia movies where they have the room lined with tarps  right before they shoot someone, you know to make the cleanup easier.

Our nurse’s name was Amy and she was a complete godsend for us that day. I asked her every question I  could think of. Knowledge was power and I wanted to know exactly what to expect. First question, “am I going to bleed a lot?” Second question, “what will you do with the baby?” Third question, “is this going to be like labor?” Fourth question, “when will I know it’s time to push?” This would be my first vaginal  birth. I had contracted with both boys so I knew what labor felt like, but I had never actually pushed a baby out. She said the bleeding would be like a heavy period and would mostly follow the babies arrival. She explained because I was a week out, that my body may have already started taking care of the fetus and she wasn’t sure what to tell me to expect. She said it would feel like labor,but because the baby was small, I would only have to dilate so much. I explained that we didn’t want our baby to go to medical waste. It’s weird because I felt embarrassed, like all those cliches tell you that you should. I felt embarrassed calling it a baby. I felt embarrassed caring where it went. I felt wrong asking if we could see it. The luxury of going through a tragedy like we did with Nash , if there is one, is that I have learned screw what everyone else thinks. We have to do what’s going to help us most. We have to live with our choices. I explained we wanted to see the baby, but if for some reason she felt we may not want to, I would have her describe it before she let us look so I could make a better decision. 

A resident came in and gave me  medication orally and vaginally. She said you will most likely feel something in the next hour and in three hours we will check your dilation. I was  told if I felt pressure before then,  to ring for the nurse. To me, taking the medication felt like having a forced abortion. I wanted this baby, so willing myself to take medication to get it out of me was emotional and scary. Hours went by and nothing. I was preparing myself that this may take a while. Right before they were to come in and give me more medication, (so about three hours later), I started to cramp. At first it wasn’t bad, nothing I couldn’t handle. It was quickly getting worse and although I could handle it, I remembered what many women who had went through this told me. Take the meds! Don’t make yourself go through anything unnecessary. I looked at Amy and said I wanted something for pain. So glad I asked, because in those ten minutes everything happened so fast. I was having full on contractions and I felt a pop. The doctor checked and informed me my water broke. All I could do was cry. Todd was there holding my hand the whole time and kissing my forehead. The nurse put some pain meds through my IV and this is where I became loopy and found out that pain meds make me completely inappropriate. I felt water come out in a rush. It’s a scary feeling to know your about to give birth to your baby five months too early. I didn’t want this to happen and part of your mind wants you to try and stop it. I was absolutely afraid to push. Without doing anything, I felt more water rush out of me, not knowing at the time it wasn’t water anymore, but a great deal of blood. The room started to spin and I got sweaty and felt like I was going to pass out. I figured it was the pain meds. I needed to focus on something else. I looked at Todd and asked him how he was doing. He looked worried, but answered, ‘fine’ and asked how I was. This is where the drugged me started talking. I said, ” you know, just over here rockin this miscarriage.” It was then I heard a lot of laughing and Amy letting me know I was her favorite patient. When I looked around the room it was then I realized every nurse on that hall appeared to be in my room. I heard them call my doctor over the loud speaker and thought to myself she was coming to deliver the baby. I mean, that’s what the doctor usually comes in for. Meanwhile, Amy was changing out my pad and every time I rolled over for her to put a new one under me, I felt more  “water” pouring out of me. That’s what it felt like, water. There was a ten minute period where they could not keep the pad under me for more than two seconds. Than Dr. Hardas walked in and I saw what I thought was a concerned look. Dr. Hardas is a very sweet, soft spoken, petite woman, who also has this motherly nature about her. She had a way of delivering bad news  where you were almost confused if she actually said  what she said. I remember with Nash, my biggest fear being a c-section. She walked in after 28 hours of labor and with almost a childlike chuckle in her voice, but also a motherly tone. She said, “Shelly it’s time for a c-section.” Almost like, lets quit playing around honey. In my current situation, my biggest fear was surgery. I had never been put  under for anything and I was anxious to say the least. She walked in and said we are taking her for a D&C. She than did an exam and I felt her pull the baby out. The nurses were working frantically and Amy looked at me and said, “Shelly the baby looks like a baby…would you like to see it?” She than put  a blanket over my chest and laid the baby on top. Looking at the baby, so small it could fit in the palm of my hand, I was instantly brought to tears. The baby had arms, legs,a mouth, a nose, eyes, and feet. It was different than my feelings with Nash. With Nash, I was not just devastated for him. I was devastated for my loss. I was completely grief stricken and could barely breathe. I can barely put feelings into words.  With this baby I couldn’t help but feel anything but bad for it. I felt badly I couldn’t carry it to term. I felt bad that my body failed it. I felt bad that it will never take one breath on this earth. They started taking pictures and the nurse asked Todd if he wanted to hold the baby and he quickly answered no. She then went on to explain he would never have this chance again. I stopped her right away. When Nash  died it felt so good to hold him that all I wanted was for Todd to have that feeling. I practically forced him to hold Nash and it’s my one regret. It did not help him. It made it worse. He didn’t want to remember him that way. He didn’t want to hold him after he was gone. I told the nurse he has been through this and knows what he needs. It was then I felt the room start spinning again. I felt Amy strap on the blood pressure cuff and soon after I felt the head of my bed being put down and nurses talking in the background. I then heard Dr. Hardas say, “lets go now! Are they ready for us?!” Previously, working at a hospital is a blessing and a curse. I know the head of your bed being put down means low blood pressure. Although Amie was being very reassuring, I could here the whispering of others in the background. Words like a lot of blood, loss of consciousness.Todd kept switching wash cloths on and off my face and feeding me ice chips. I could no longer keep my eyes open. I heard Amy kneel down beside me. She had promised to be honest and she was. She said, “Shelly, we are concerned about the amount of blood you are losing. I’m going to put some medication in your IV to try and stop it.” She saw me start to panic and told me to take a deep breath in and let it out. She then commended Todd on being an amazing support person for me. I felt the urge to push, but at this point was afraid to. Dr. Hardas said, “if you think you can try.” She was doing an exam during and I saw her glove covered in blood and more “water” rush out of me. She said, “No. We are taking you to surgery.” I’m an anxious person. So, at this point I know they are worried about the bleeding, giving me drugs to stop it, and there seems to be an urgency to getting me to surgery. With my string of bad luck and my anxious mind, I was truly worried this was it. This is how I was going to go.  I looked at Dr. Hardas who I trust whole heartedly and and said, “you look worrried.” She replied, “no”. I than said, “I’m nervous about surgery. Am I going to wake up?” She said, “yes” and I said “ok let’s go.”

I was confused becasue I was told the blood was more of a concern once the baby was out and you deliver the placenta. Dr hardas said that is correct but you have bled so much before that point we can’t risk it. Before I knew it I was being wheeled down the hall and to the surgery center. The anesthesiologist said I’m sorry today is not going as planned. I said, ” with everything that has happened today, you actually scare me the most.” I could tell the nurses and doctors were more calm now that I was almost in surgery. At this point I was feeling pain, the urge to push and fighting to stay awake. I felt todd kiss my forehead and tell me goodbye and I didn’t even have the energy to reply. I felt them move me to the bed and I felt one arm being strapped  down and a nurse putting an oxygen mask on me. The anesthesiologist whispered in my ear, your about to fall aslee….that was that. I woke up three hours later so ecstatic to be alive I started yelling, “margaritas for everybody!” 

As they wheeled me into recovery I kept looking for todd. It’s funny becasue I know he can do nothing medically for me, yet I feel safer with him in the room. I asked the nurse if someone had talked to him, I knew he would be worried. She said, “yes.” Then I heard her say one unit of blood, donor W607. I looked up and saw I was getting blood and all I could think was, ‘thank you W1607’.My temp was quite low, so they kept putting warm blankets on me and after what seemed like forever, they wheeled me in the hall. I was hoping to see Todd, but no. Then I was wheeled in my room where I knew he would be, but he still wasn’t. I found out later Dr. Hardas could not find him in the waiting room. My poor husband sat for three hours with no updates on my condition. Dr. Hardas ended up calling me she felt so bad she didn’t get a chance to speak to either of us. Thankfully, my sister-in-law, Caroline came up to the hospital and sat with Todd. I can only imagine what he was going through.

Amy was very doting, helpful and attentive. My night nurse was what I like to call a short cut nurse. Most people don’t appreciate a short cut nurse, but at night time they are a blessing. What I mean by short cut is, they bring you three full glasses of water at once to get you through the night. They turn your IV down so you don’t have to pee every ten seconds. They also unplug your IV and give you a short tutorial on how to get your own ass to the bathroom and back without ringing. I saw her once the entire shift and slept the best I ever have in a hospital.

I can honestly say Todd and I are doing extremely well emotionally. We have had our big loss and everything fails in comparison. I will say this, had I not been through what I have,this would have been the most traumatic experience of my life. To know women do this all the time is heartbreaking. I think people would be surprised how many women they know that have not only been through this, but have done it multiple times. I for one think it’s time to break the silence and stigmas that go with having a miscarriage. If you share this post and want to break the silence regarding your own angels, let us know how many you are a mother to. I am a proud momma of three❤

The unthinkable 

When I got sick with the flu, I felt like death. I had never really had the flu before so I wasn’t sure if I was being the biggest baby in the world, or if what I was feeling was out of the norm. I woke Wednesday morning and could barely stand. When I stood up, I got instantly hot and sweaty and felt I was going to pass out. I had been up all night because of how crappy I was feeling and just figured I may need some sleep,but when you have an almost two year old, that’s not going to happen. I had never taken Any medication with either of my boys, but I didn’t think I could get through this and care for Crue without something. I called the doctor and she got me in right away. As soon as I was in the doctors office, my symptoms went from bad to  worse and I could barely walk without falling. They quickly put a monitor on me to check my oxygen, which was good, but every time I stood or sat up, my heart rate would jump to 160. They kept me there for quite some time. My influenza test came back positive, but they were more concerned about my heartrate and how it was affecting the baby. They called  Dr. Hardas and decided to send me to the hospital. I had to actually call Todd for a ride because they wouldn’t let me drive. We dropped Crue off at my in-laws and away we went.

One of my husband’s best friends,Dave who is a nurse at the hospital, and his wife Rachel, who is a doctor there, made sure to get us back right away. They were actually waiting at the hospital door the day Nash was brought in. They had assembled the best doctors and nurses they could for his arrival, and to this day, I’m so grateful knowing he not only had amazing people working on him, but two people there that loved him and would be with him until we could be there ourselves. To say these two are special to us is an understatement. We are even godparents to their son Cal.

As they got me in a room, I started feeling better. Not good, but better. Rachel started asking me questions and took out the heart monitor to listen to the baby.  It didn’t take long, but she heard a quick heartbeat resembling the baby’s and I felt immediate relief. I think between the chaos and how fast my heartbeat already was, she took out a bedside ultrasound  to check as well. She could not find the heartbeat, but assured me  the machine was not the best and she would send me to an OB where they could do a more thorough one. You would think I would be freaking out at this point, but I wasn’t. The machine did look old and I was confident they found the heartbeat with the monitor. I was actually excited to go to OB and hear the little tyke. They gave me fluids and I was feeling terrible, off and on. My resting heartrate was 100, but if I even sneezed it would go to 140. Rachel was concerned and told me they would be keeping me overnight to monitor my heartrate. I was actually relieved  because I kept feeling like I was going to pass out and it was a scary feeling. By the time ultrasound finally got me back, I was feeling awful. I was having shortness of breath. I was so tired from not sleeping that  I could barely keep my eyes open and to top it off, I felt sweaty, hot, achy, and the feeling of passing out kept coming and going.

When the lady started  the ultrasound, I was  so tired I barely looked. Until she smiled and said, “look the babies hands are crossed in front of its face.” Todd laughed and said, “I don’t know how you can tell, looks like a monkey to me.” I yelled at him and said, “stop it! it’s adorable! Then she pointed out the face, eyes, and such. She didn’t let us hear a heartbeat, which was strange, but told us the baby was just the right size for 15 weeks. I felt reassured.

Todd felt so reassured that he actually left for our tax appointment and said he would hurry back. He knew I was in good hands with Rachel and Dave. As they carted me back to my room, I saw Rachel behind the desk looking at the ultrasound pictures. I can’t explain what it feels like to know someone who loves you is going above and beyond to make sure everything is ok. Once I was back in the ER room, my heartrate started to spike and Rachel popped in to check on me. She asked if ultrasound said anything to me and I explained what they had told us. She asked where Todd was and I had told her that he had just left. She looked concerned. She leaned back against the counter and softly said, “Shelly, they didn’t find a heartbeat.” I stared at her not quite understanding and my monitor started beeping because my heartrate went up again. It continued to beep as she explained further. She said Dr. Hardas and her resident were in the building but would be down to talk to me soon. Tears started coming out of my eyes and Rachel leaned in and grabbed my hand and said, “I’m so sorry Shelly.” At that moment I knew for sure, the baby was gone. I messaged Todd and he was in such shock he headed back my way immediately. While he was gone, a very nice, warm younger  doctor from OB came in. Dr. Hardas was in surgery and she came to talk to me until Dr. Hardas could see me herself. As she started to talk, I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. She said how sorry she was and how this is the hardest part of her job. Between my shortness of breath and sobbing, all I could think about was what if they’re wrong. I asked her,  “is there anyway they can look again?” Of course she said she would and she pulled the bedside ultrasound out and looked. She showed me the belly and pointed to where the heart was and explained the no fluttering. She left it there for a while just to make sure. She then explained that this was not an ideal situation for a number of reasons. My low immune system due to the flu, the chance of infection. She would have to consult with my doctor and see what the next steps were. Todd walked in and hugged me. The doctor explained more and than left us alone. I just looked at Todd crying and said, “never again. I can’t do this ever again.” I saw Dr. Hardas walking our way through a crack in the curtain and she was teary eyed herself. She explained they would give me Tamiflu and once I was no longer infectious, they would give me medication to induce me. She apologized and explained that sometimes they don’t know why these things happen, but that they would be running tests to make sure it’s nothing genetic.

Even though I was exhausted, I couldn’t sleep a wink. When the resident  came in at noon the next day I was alone. Todd had just left to check on our dogs and Crue. He left my side twice during this whole experience and both times turned out to be the worst timing ever. It was the same resident as the day before and I was thankful for that. I was surprised when she said they were recommending to the doctor that  I be sent home. She felt I would be more comfortable there and now that my heart rate was down I was only really being kept there for flu medication. She explaiend becasue of how far along I was and I was showing no signs of infection they were confident they could wait until the flu was gone and bring me back. She was very sweet and explained everything to me. She said they would bring me back in five days and give me medication to dilate me and induce labor. That it wouldn’t be as bad as regular labor, but that I would have severe cramping and such. She also said they would be able to give me pain medication to make the process easier. She explained it could be a lengthy stay and so I was to come back Tuesday morning to ensure I could leave the next day. I asked her questions mainly about what to expect and if we kept the baby. I felt strange asking but I truly wanted to know if they were just going to throw it away. She went on further to explain I was right at the line of wanting the fetus or not, burying it or not. That at 20 weeks, almost all women want the baby. At 15 weeks it just depends on the parents. I couldn t believe this was happening. I started to cry and she placed her hand on my leg and said, “I’m not sure why these things always happen to the nicest people.”

For some reason I thought after Nash I was going to get a pass for the rest of my life – that  no more difficult things would be thrown at me or at least traumatic things. I felt almost in a safe bubble. Boy was I naïve. So now it’s a waiting game. I’m at home taking medication and feeling better. I’m very anxious and nervous about the days ahead and what’s  to come. I find myself confused, angry, sad, and numb to be honest. I want to scream out to the universe, “MERCY!!!!! FOR CHRISTS SAKE MERCY!!! I CAN’T TAKE  ANY MORE!!! I CAN’T HANDLE ANYMORE!!!  Who gets the flu and finds out they are also having a second trimester miscarriage…what the hell did I do wrong in life? When did I become the person bad things happen to?”

It’s coming wether we are ready or not. So,here we are at another difficult “bump” in the road. It’s crazy when I think about the starting of a family, it’s supposed to be the best time of your life. For Todd and I, it has proved to be the opposite. This is a hard time, a difficult one, full of pain and sadness. Who knew wanting a family would bring us down such a dark road. When I got home and looked at Crue I understood why though. That no matter how hard it is to have a family, it means everything. It’s worth everything.

The plague

I’m one of those people, that although I know you can lose a baby after the first trimester, I knew it was rare in comparison. Something about hitting that 14 week mark makes you want to do cartwheels and sing from the roof tops. I think many pregnant women  can tell you they breathe a little easier knowing they are past that mark, and I was no different.

I have a Doppler at home that Todd had given me when I was pregnant with Nash. I have loved it for all my pregnancies up until  this one. It had given me so much peace of mind in the past. It became part of my daily routine  to wake up, shower and listen to the boys. With this baby however, it’s filled me with a lot of anxiety. I could hear the boys around 9 weeks and with this one, nothing. When I went to my 10 week check up, I told on myself.  With shame in my voice  I told dr hardas I had a Doppler at home (I guess they frown on that) she didn’t however, she actually smiled and said , “that’s good.” I told her my concern, that I hadn’t heard the heartbeat yet. She assured me it was still very early. She then  placed the monitor to my belly and within ten seconds there it was. It was amazing. It’s funny how that sound never gets old. I went home with a huge weight off my shoulders and a reminder that I am not a doctor. 

Through the next couple weeks I tried again and still nothing. I tried to remain calm but it made me extremely nervous. I wanted that peace of mind, that reassurance that all was well. I messaged my cousin Christina several times about it and she had googled and found that sometimes due to scar tissue from previous c-sections it could be harder to find. She also encouraged me to call the doctor if I was that worried. I really didn’t want to walk down that road of shame again. To call the office and say that I couldn’t find the baby on the Doppler that my husband probably purchased on amazon, just to hear the doctor find it seconds later. I told myself, I have had no cramping, nothing unusual other than that,  so I’m sure the baby is  fine. Around 14 weeks  I started to feel those occasional flutters which gave me even more reassurance. 

 My 16 week appt was in a couple days and I told myself I would just wait until then.  Of course my family got hit with the flu and the appointment I had been waiting for I had to cancel. I had never been this sick in my life!! I knew it would be bad.  I had already seen Todd and Crue go through it. Todd got so sick I was worried he may even need to see a doctor. Of course being the guy he is he refused. I had heard how hard the flu could  be on someone who is pregnant and I couldn’t imagine being sicker than Todd  was. I tried to disinfect everything in the house on a daily sometimes hourly basis. I wouldn’t even let todd Lay near me….but when your sick baby pushes his little snotty face against your cheek so he can fall sleep or wants a kiss, it’s hard to say no. I knew the flu was coming and it didn’t dissappoint. 

The decision 

Deciding to have Crue was not much of a decision at all. We went by our gut, our emotions. No conversation needed, just a silent understanding and a longing to have the family we once had. It wasn’t until we became pregnant that  we actually thought about what we truly got ourselves into. Yes, we would be a family again, have another child to love, but we were also about to face our greatest fear. The first 8 months of Crue’s life were  the most stressful and hardest days of my life. The constant fear that if I slept he would die when I wasnt watching him. That ten minutes of panic,  three times a night, where I would wake and reach for him to feel his chest rise and then panic until it finally did. It was not only hard on me, but it was hard on our marriage. Any child is an adjustment and can create conflict, but when you are in constant fear of losing them you tend to disregard your spouse completely so that all of your attention can go where it’s needed most, keeping your child alive. Todd and I always wanted at least two kids. When we had Nash, Todd wasn’t so sure anymore. He loved giving all of his attention to one child. I absolutely know we would have had at least one more if he was still here. I couldn’t live with myself if he didn’t have a sibling.

Once Crue was born, Todd was absolutely positive he was done.  Like I said, the beginning of his life was stressful. When you start actually living again, taking breaths, being able to leave him with someone else, it’s hard to want to start over. To go through that panic for another year of your life. We went from severe and absolute grief, to panic and anxiety that it would happen again. We are finally in a better place, a happier one. Why would we put ourselves through another year of that? I thought a lot about the future. I think about Crue playing alone and the guilt I would feel knowing he has a brother, but is now an only child. I thought about him saying one day that he wished he had someone, and how those words would tear my heart apart. I’m 37, so my clock is not only ticking, it feels like it’s attached to a nuclear missle with ten seconds left. I knew I wanted another and I wanted one sooner than later. Todd on the other hand, took some persuading. Eventually, he came around and I thank God that he did. For me, it was one of the hardest struggles of our marriage. I knew I would resent him if we didn’t have another. I was already preparing myself for his decision, and it may not be the one I wanted. When we decided to try again, Todd’s heart changed completely. He was the most excited I had ever seen him. Not long after trying, we found out we were pregnant again!!! This baby is different. We are excited, happy, positive…I’m not as  anxious like I was with the other two. Maybe because it’s my third. Once you’ve done it a couple times you become more relaxed. Sometimes I even forget I’m pregnant. Crue doesn’t quite know what’s going on. Although I have shared there is a baby in my belly he believes everyone, including himself ,has a baby in their belly. He does kiss my belly on occasion, telling it “night, night” or informing me that the baby is sleeping. It’s been a fun and exciting time. Something about having a healthy child beside you and watching your belly grow makes you feel proud knowing that your family will soon be complete. We will be done after this baby and I find myself sad knowing this is my last pregnancy. I’m trying to take it all in and soak up everything and enjoy every second. We have worked hard and been through so much to get here and no day is taken for granted. Soon there will be four of us and knowing Crue will be a brother to someone, like he was always meant to be, makes my heart swell. I’m finding your heart, no matter how broken, can expand to make more room for what’s to come. So here is to welcoming baby number three!!  Can’t wait to meet you❤

Growing pains

Every parent can vouch for the fact that their baby grows up too fast. I feel that with Crue, I see it, and I fight myself internally trying to grasp at any way to keep him little forever. This past 18 months has been for me emotionally what a heart transplant would be for someone who is about to die without it. It’s a different love, with all its complexities, than what I had for Nash. Nash, being my first child, made me feel shock and awe that I created a life, that I was a momma. It was the first time I felt completely unselfish and loved deeper than I could have ever imagined. Deeper than my love for Todd, deeper than my love for my parents, my siblings, my friends. Nash showed me that as much as I thought I knew love, I didn’t.

I knew the moment I set eyes on him that I would gladly walk in front of a speeding car to save him. When I lost him…all of that love had nowhere to go. I felt stuck, numb, and alone. To go from such a miracle in my life, to my biggest despair, is something I still wrestle with today. When Crue came along, my love for him started out guarded and fearful. I was so afraid of losing him that I found myself torn between doing everything in my power to keep him safe, and trying not to connect to avoid one day being heartbroken again. I am no longer torn. I love this little boy more than life itself. He is like oxygen to me.

My healing Crue is my ultimate life support. He not only gives me something to pour all of that love into, but also he shows me on a daily basis that I only got a glimpse of just how much a child can love their momma and a momma can love their child. Don’t get me wrong I love Nash equally, but I’m experiencing so many firsts with Crue and am just now realizing it’s the tip of the iceberg of what lies ahead of me. It makes me unbelievably sad that I will never know what that incredible love I had for Nash would blossom into, who he would become and what kind of relationship we would have had. I can only imagine with the amount of love I had and still have for him would have become.

With Crue, I’m watching my love and admiration grow for him and with him. He is at that age where he can actually reciprocate the love I have for him.  When I pick him up from his babysitter’s house, he runs to me with arms open wide, screaming, “momma, momma.” When he throws his arms around my neck and kisses me so many times we both start laughing, when he cries every time I’m not in his view…well, it’s an amazing feeling. Being his momma continues to shower its blessings down on me like rain. I truly believe the only thing that can mend a broken heart is an amazing love. Crue has not just put a band-aid over my very fractured heart, but mended it with all his natural goodness. There are days when I am so unbelievably happy I have a hard time holding it in. To have that feeling again, it’s nothing short of a miracle, and I thank Crue everyday.

I feel guilty because every month he somehow becomes sweeter and more adorable and I find myself wishing him to stay small. Then I think of Nash, and that abrupt stop in time. I have to remind myself that I do want him to get bigger, that as much as it hurts to watch him grow, it’s been a gift to have. I know more than most just how precious life is. That your perfectly healthy child can be here one minute and gone the next. The panic that can instill in you is indescribable. I know with each day my love for Crue will continue to grow…I’m learning to be thankful for that and trust in God that everything will be okay.

Just yesterday, Crue pointed to a picture of himself when he was about eight-months-old and said, “Baby”. I got teary eyed and said, “You.” He giggled, stomped his foot and said, “Momma, baby.” It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that he is no longer a baby. That he is growing into a little boy. I want to hold on to him and slow down the process, savor every minute and take it all in. I’m also eager for him to grow older and be able to watch him grow into the young man I know I will be proud to call my son. Because of everything I’ve been through every kiss is savored, every age is a blessing, every day is a gift. My little light, my healing Crue, my second chance, my miracle. As much as I cry for his brother I smile for him. As much as It makes me sad to watch him grow, I’m overwhelmingly happy to know he will. 

Social media

All of the political views posted lately have me reflecting on my love/hate relationship with social media.  I remember not being able to go on Facebook for days when Nash first died . I knew there would be apology after apology, and I didn’t want what happened to be real. I didn’t want to face that I was now that person, that mother, that family that tragedy struck…I didn’t want to see the posts we’ve all seen a thousand times, but this time on my page. On the other hand, I wanted to see them. I wanted to know my friends and family knew…I wanted the reassurance that I was loved and that Nash was loved.

I remember the first day I got on and saw 99+ notifications and over 100 friend requests, not to mention countless private messages. I spent an entire day going through them. I cried, but I also found solace in the fact that so many people cared…that they were going through some of the emotions with us, the disbelief, the anger, the sadness. It was like having 1000 best friends on hand at all times. It became my sounding board. The place I went to to vent, not for attention, but to know I could express my feelings without judgement. That’s where the ugly side of social media can rear its ugly face. With the good, there is always bad. When you put yourself out there, a few sour apples will always try to ruin the pie.

It never bothered me before Nash. If you don’t like me, block me, it’s that simple, but some people can’t just leave well enough alone. I first started receiving bad messages the day I posted the picture of Nash and I at the hospital. A girl sent me a message saying she didn’t think it was in good taste to share pictures of your dead baby on Facebook. How it’s attention seeking and disgusting, that she would report me or other mothers for sharing such disgusting pictures and to let my baby just Rest In Peace. Another private message explained safe sleep and how to protect my next baby (mind you, this was before anyone even knew how or where he died). It went on to say that most baby deaths are preventable if I abide by the recommended guidelines.

I also saw happy posts from friends who had posted earlier about how sad they were for me. Minutes later, they were posting how they were at the best concert of their life. Reality struck that although they are sad for me, it’s fleeting. They are not living my pain, and I can’t expect them to.  I remember deactivating my account immediately. Those few messages wrecked me. How powerful some people are when behind a keyboard. How knowledgeable someone is when they see something online. How cruel some people can be to a grieving mother they have never even met. I didn’t care if I ever got on Facebook again!!!

It was in that time that I realized I wanted to write my story. I wanted no speculation or misinterpreting anything when it came to Nash. I also wanted to share my story to all who had been so compassionate to my family. Who wished their condolences and never once asked what happened, no matter how much they wanted to know. I wanted those people to know, not to wonder, not to hear rumors. I wanted them to know straight from me how I was doing and what had happened to my family. When I activated my account again, it was to share my blog posts. I didn’t plan on reading anything, just sharing. I couldn’t help it though, I read the comments, and the encouragement I got was overwhelming.

Soon after that, Nash day exploded as well, and I saw the positivism social media can spread in the matter of minutes. Over 10,000 people reading what I wrote . Thousands of acts of kindness being spread…it was amazing. Social media has been good to me, to say the least!  Do I still get bad messages? Unfortunately, yes. Just recently, a friend told me that I’m avoiding dealing with Nash’s death by writing, changing my profile picture to Nash every ninth, and still throwing him a birthday party. She said it was out of love that she was telling me this, that I needed to move on and these things weren’t letting me.

If there is a any positive that has come out of Nash’s passing, when it comes to me personally and how I deal with things, it’s that I have developed tough skin. I no longer care if I’m sharing to much, if my friends may think I’m attention seeking or dwelling. When you lose a child, things like that become trivial in the grand scheme of things. It’s not on my radar of importance. I don’t ask people to like me or what I share. I don’t ask them to  like what I have to say.  As easy as it is to belittle or judge me, it’s even easier for me to hit the delete or block button.

After the election, social media has become a war zone of its own, and I find myself holding back from many posts and caving on others. I’ve seen both sides of the spectrum. I’ve seen hate fill my feed in seconds, and I have seen kindness do the same. There truly cannot be one without the other. The same friends who are posting some of the most negative comments I have ever seen have also posted some of the most positive, on days when I needed them most. Sometimes I have to take a deep breath, remind myself that these are in fact my friends, and hold back the judgement that they have so graciously held back from me. Just like the world, social media can be a dark place and a good place to be, it just depends in how you choose to see it. Is your glass half full or half empty? Are these your friends or the enemies? Do you choose hate or choose kindness? I know what I choose, do you 😉

Halloween for the grieving mother

My son won’t be trick or treating  

Or dressing up tonight

No bag filled with candy

No mommas hand held tight

No pumpkins he will carve

No sidewalks he will walk

No friends he will play with 

Under the moon or after dark

Although I miss him every second

Nights like tonight are the worst

To celebrate a holiday with one son

But not my first.

When you see me out tonight

You’ll see a mother of one

My baby I’ll have with me

But I really have two sons

One with me here tonight

One in the clouds above

One trick or treating

One watching down with love 

There’s no crying in baseball

I grew up in a family that loved baseball. To be a Detroit Tigers fan was a way of life. For a long time growing up, I thought the only channel my parents’ TV got was ESPN. I still remember my first Tigers game with my dad. He wanted to take us to the old Tiger Stadium before they started playing at Comerica Park. He wanted us to experience the history of that stadium, to see the park he grew up knowing. I remember walking in thinking it was the most absolutely disgusting thing I had ever seen. It literally looked like it was falling down! It was dirty, smelled funny and was somewhat dark and gloomy from what I could see behind the bleachers. I was about  10-years-old or so, I think,  and I remember my dad looking down and laughing at my scrunched up nose and look of disgust. He knelt down to my level, and with a smirk and twinkle in his eye he said. “Just wait until you see the green.” It was then that we rounded the corner and got our first look at the field. It was like it didn’t belong. That bright, green grass under those big lights! We saw the players so close up and heard the ball and bat connect and the screams that would follow. The vendors were screaming, “Hot dog, get your hot dog!” I was mesmerized! I still remember my dad looking at me and my siblings smiling.

That was the only game I went to with my dad, but the impression it made on me was forever stamped on my heart. When I was young, I couldn’t appreciate baseball on TV…it was long and boring. After going to the park, I realized that it is a game to watch live. One of the hardest things about losing my dad when I was young is that he didn’t see the Tigers fan I grew to be. He would have enjoyed my love for the game, and I know we would have shared many games together.

When my dad’s Uncle Howard asked us to attend a Tigers game with the family and bring Crue, I was so excited. A little side note about my uncle Howard: if he asks you to go to a game, he means to watch from a suite! Perfect for Crue, because he would be able to run around. There is no way at his age we could have gotten regular tickets and expected him to sit still. As I dressed Crue in his Tigers gear the day of the game, I started to feel overwhelmingly sad. I’m not sure if it was the nostalgia of going with my dad, the pain of never having this memory with Nash, or the excitement to share something like this with Crue, but I felt extremely emotional.

During the whole drive there, I kept telling Todd that I was feeling emotional for some reason. I wanted to warn him of any upcoming breakdowns. I think a lot of it had to do with waiting for this day for so long. I knew I would take my children to the ballpark one day. I couldn’t wait…after three years of trying to have Nash, then losing him, getting pregnant again and finally being in a position where I can take my own child to a game….. it’s a check off my parent bucket list. I remember going to the park when we were trying to get pregnant and being so envious of all the families there. I wanted so bad to be one of them.

We parked the truck and headed towards the park. I put Crue on my shoulders, and we made our way through downtown. I took it all in. One of those moments you want to remember and cherish always. The familiar drums playing on the street, the hundreds of Tigers fans making their way to the park. I gave  Crue his ticket to hand to the ticket collector.  The man smiled as Crue gave him a very serious look as he reluctantly handed over his ticket to be scanned. I watched him as he looked at the huge park, the wonder in his eyes…I could smell the hot dogs and hear the vendors screaming, “Ice cold beer!” The chant of “Let’s go Tigers” sounded in the background, and the lump in my throat was getting harder to ignore. I can’t explain how much I felt my dad in that moment. Looking at Crue, I know I felt how my dad must have felt. There is nothing like experiencing something you love through the eyes of your child.

Todd was way ahead of me with my nephews as we were finding our way to the suite. Out of nowhere, Craig Monroe (an former player for the Tigers who now is an announcer) walked by me, and I could think of nothing  to say but an excited, “Hey!” He looked a little startled and said hey back and shook my hand and smiled. I began grabbing for my diaper bag that had Nash bear inside, but more people came up and started talking to him. I decided to not take him out of the bag. I smiled at Craig, and he smiled back as I walked off. I caught up with Todd and told him that he would never believe what just happened. It had already been such a strange morning, and it seemed to be getting stranger by the minute.

As we entered the suite, we were greeted by about 20 family members. Crue was doing great until he saw a tub of popcorn on the counter, then it became quite the event trying to distract him from it. I have always been afraid of him choking on popcorn, so I wasn’t about to let him have any. In the end though, I found out he does okay eating popcorn. It was the only way to keep him happy. I can’t explain it, but I felt my dad and Nash from the minute I walked into the park.  I knew they were there with us. I watched Crue as he sat on his dads lap looking out over the field. The wonder in his eyes and the joy on Todd’s face made me smile, and I admired the view for quite sometime.

At one point, Crue was out on the balcony with us. He became restless on our laps, so I sat him down on the steps next to us. Music started playing and he grinned, laughed and started dancing. He then started pointing to the steps behind him and I looked down to see a small rainbow. I gasped! As he started dancing and laughing, four more small rainbows danced across his skin, and at times would form an x on the steps behind him. Todd and I just smiled at each other and got out our phones to record a video. As I went to share it on Facebook, a friend had posted,”Make sure you take him to get his certificate for his first game.” I didn’t know that was something the park did, and I was excited at the thought of having a certificate marking his first game. It also gave me a chance to get him away from the popcorn! They gave us a folded up poster and a certificate and we walked away.

Crue was such a handful that I didn’t get a chance to even look at the poster. All in all, the game was amazing. We spent it with family and that was worth the crippling loss that made the Tigers one step closer to not making the playoffs. We said our goodbyes, packed up Crue and my nephews, and headed out of the park. As I got in the truck, I smiled, I just felt….good. The boys had a great time, we had a great time. I looked at the back seat at all of them smiling and laughing and  felt a slight tug at my heart and lump in my throat because Nash wasn’t there. I opened the poster and looked at the player, #9. Just in case I needed yet another sign that Nash was there, he made sure I got it. It makes sense that he would give me so many signs at a place I have always considered  my little piece of heaven on earth.

Remember, the 9th is my dad’s birthday too. They share a birthday and apparently a love for Tigers baseball as well. There are so many days where I minimize the signs Nash gives me. I try to reason and make sense of them. To wash them away as coincidence. Is it a coincidence that the rainbows appeared through the glass of the balcony and cast their glow over Crue and no one else?  Is it a coincidence that the poster he got at his first game was that of #9? Is it a coincidence that that Monroe’s number was 27 and when you add those numbers together it equals nine? Maybe that one is a stretch. I’d like to believe there are no coincidences. That these are signs my baby gives me to let me know he is never far.

What I have learned with my experience is that if you are open to the signs you will see them, and if you’re not, you won’t.  I choose to be open to them, and because of this I see pieces of Nash everywhere. In the sky I see rainbows, on the 9th I see kindness. On the radio I hear the cowboy song and at the park I see the number nine…nine players and  nine innings. When these moments hit me, I let myself go where they take me. Whether it’s a smile, a laugh or even a good cry…I let myself have that moment.But on this day, no matter how big the lump in my throat got, I didn’t shed one tear…why? Because there is no crying in baseball. 

The guilt behind smiling

It’s been two and a half years since Nash passed. I remember being at the beginning of this long journey and wondering how I would feel more than two years later. I’ve heard it said that grief comes in waves, and I find this to be true at this point in my journey. I have extremely good days and depressingly low days. My low days are few in comparison to the good, but when I have my bad days, they are the worst they have ever been. Todd asked me just a couple of months ago, “Doesn’t it seem worse now that time has passed?” I have to agree. Although I have fewer bad days, when I do have them, they are physically and emotionally debilitating. Almost as if my brain is now able to wrap itself around what happened. I can process it better, which is not a good thing.

In the beginning, I was sad every second of every day, but it almost felt like a haze. I couldn’t process what happened, there was almost a confusion and chaos to it…I didn’t feel the slam from being on a high to dropping to an extreme low, everyday was low. That is  with the exception of the day Nash died. That day I was happy, working and talking about my baby, and minutes later I was driving to a hospital in a panic…and then holding Nash, trying to process that he was gone, when hours earlier he was smiling as I held him. That’s a high high to an extreme low.

That it also how it is today. It literally hits me like a truck. I will be at work and get a flash of Nash in my head, and once that ball is rolling there is no stopping it. I can’t breathe, I feel sick, my eyes swell with tears, and then I finally succumb to my depression. I no longer ask myself, “Did this really happen? Did I really lose my son?” Now, I know, I feel that absence. I see time moving on without him. I’ve celebrated holidays, birthdays, weddings, births, and he wasn’t here for any of these things. I know he is gone. It’s confirmed every single day in a multitude of ways. Now that time has passed, I’m also expected to be better, so there is a large amount of hiding or putting on a facade. I don’t have the luxury of people understanding the way they did in the beginning. I can’t expect to leave work every other day and keep my job. I can’t expect to not go to family functions and have my family understand. This is exhausting.

The one thing that has stayed the absolute same since the beginning is the guilt. Guilt for breathing, eating, smiling. When I have a bad Nash day, my first thoughts are about how I have kept living…how dare me for moving on in any way. A close family member who lost a child said something to me on the anniversary of her daughter’s death that really hit me. She said, “I feel guilty for not feeling guilty enough.” Wow! No truer words have been spoken. As time passes, I do better, I cope better, I smile more…I’m not just living, I am actually enjoying life.

I can’t tell you how awful that feels when you have lost a child. How terrible it is when you have a bad day and reflect on all the smiling you have done. I think it’s the worst part about a parent’s grief in my opinion. That even when you are doing well, you punish yourself for it. Like, it’s not fair to your child that you are happy and living life as if they were not here. Sometimes I wish I would have taken the alcoholic route, just to feel like I’m punishing myself the right amount, if that makes sense. I should be drunk and homeless, digging food out of the trash can. Instead, I’m enjoying life with his brother.

This is the only thing I no longer feel guilty for…loving Crue. I can’t afford for Crue to feel anything less than loved! I feel as if I have already let one child down. I have already failed in the worst way possible on my first trip around the parenting block, and I will not do that with Crue! I pour every ounce of love I can into him, and he makes my heart ooze with happiness. It is the best choice I have ever made, not just to have him but to love him guilt free. As much as I grieve still, I see a small light at the end of the tunnel, and if that’s all I ever get, it’s better than where I once was. It’s amazing to feel that way and the worst feeling all at the same time.

I remember the day after Nash died, searching the internet for the answers I have today but couldn’t find…I have found that the answers aren’t always what you want to hear, but I feel a responsibility to share them. So, to the mother at the beginning of this journey…does it get better? Yes. Will you feel guilty for it? Yes. Will you always cry? Yes. Will you survive? Yes. Will you be happy again. Yes!  And with a little luck, the light at the end of your tunnel may even be a rainbow.

Nana

Anyone who  has lost a child has issues surrounding his or her death. It may be things they said or didn’t say. It could be the timing of things, if they had only visited, if they had not let them drive, if they would have called. These things change you; sometimes they change you more than the actual death of your child. They can eat you up and spit you out until you are barely recognizable. The guilt, regret, and frustration with the “what ifs” are toxic in every way. I try not to let myself dwell there; if I did I would most definitely go crazy. No matter how hard I try though, it’s changed me.

It has changed the way I raise Crue and the way I feel about others, but mostly it has changed the level of trust I have when it comes to who watches him. My trust issues are insane. I wouldn’t even refer to them as issues as much as my trust is non-existent. Todd and I basically do nothing together. We do things separate so one of us can stay home with Crue. Although this is very hard on our marriage, to us, it’s the only way. We can count on one hand the people who we trust with Crue. Even then we need texts, phone calls, and pictures the whole time we are gone. In some ways it’s good: it’s made me more cautious and more assertive with the things I expect when he is in someone’s care. On the other hand, it’s completely out of my character. I’m an extremely trusting person. I feel I have a good judge of character and can make decisions based mainly on my gut. That was before Nash died. Nash’s death taught me that my gut isn’t enough; that I cannot assume anything, even the small seemingly insignificant things.
My family had promised Todd and I they would do whatever it took to watch Crue until he was one. Until he was officially past the scary times and was ready to be in a day care situation. What I heard, however, was that I had one year to figure out how to stay home with him. To Todd and me, there is no day or time when he will be past the so-called scary age. Our fears with others and their ability to keep Crue safe are legitimate struggles for both of us. I knew I couldn’t financially stay home unless my life drastically changed so as Crue got closer to one, I started asking around. I wanted him to be the only child in someone’s care or at the most one of three. Ideally it would be nice if someone came to our home but we couldn’t afford the price of an in-home nanny. Making those calls reminded me of the frantic calls I made to daycares trying to find someone for Nash. The whole process was making me nauseous. One lady was all on board but once she found out about Nash’s passing she felt uncomfortable watching Crue. Another daycare told me they don’t take children under the age of two because of the baby that died in Fenton a couple of years ago….that one was hard to swallow. I cried most nights leading up to his birthday. On one hand I was happy he was to that so-called “safe” age; on the other, I was about to face my biggest fear and didn’t know if I could.
Our prayers were answered with one word: Savanna. When my sister-in-law told me her 20-year-old niece was hinting that she needed a summer job and wanted to watch Crue, I was skeptical. I have known Savanna for years and I know she is a great girl….but my fear outweighed my gut. A 20-year-old girl watching Crue? Would she understand how serious this is, how scary this is for us? Could we make this giant leap and trust someone out of our comfort zone? It came down to an in-home nanny we couldn’t afford, staying home, or Savanna. We decided to at least talk to savanna and we quickly knew  that this was also scary for her. Savanna is practically family. She met Nash, she saw what Todd and I went through when we lost him, she sports a team Nash sticker on her car and a have a Nash day bracelet on her wrist. I knew she got it….Although she was nervous about watching him she was more nervous about someone else watching him. When she said those words my eyes filled with tears and I knew instantly  she was perfect. To think grown adults wouldn’t do it out of fear and Savanna was willing to try says a lot about her character.
To say Crue was spoiled these last three months is the understatement of the century! Savanna holds him nonstop, doesn’t allow him to cry ever, cuts his food so small a bird couldn’t choke on it and, most importantly, never lets him sleep alone. We also get hourly texts and picture updates. I have grown so comfortable with Savanna watching him that I trust her more than almost anyone else. To have someone who you not only trust wholeheartedly  but also loves your child is a feeling I can’t put into words and I think some take for granted.  Crue excitedly runs to her as she opens the door and has the saddest face as he waves goodbye when she drives away. He sweetly calls her “Nana” and when I announce she is at our home the smile it puts on his face warms my heart. Nana was one of his first words even, and he says it now even more than Momma. If people would have told me not only  would I find someone to watch Crue but that I would love and trust her wholeheartedly….I would not have believed them. Savanna has done so much more than take care of Crue, kept him safe, and loved him; she has broken down some of the walls Todd and I have built. She has shown us that there are trustworthy people in this world and that we can enjoy our life knowing he is in good hands. That someone who is not related to your child can love them as if they are. As our time with Savanna is coming to an end as she heads back to college, I find myself unbelievably thankful….thankful for the peace of mind she has given me and this three months of normalcy I haven’t had in my life in a long time. I was able to go to work and leave my child in the care of someone else. Not only did he stay safe but he fell in love and so did we. To us, Savanna will always be family! we are forever indebted to her and she will always have a special place in our hearts and also in Crue’s. Savanna, Thank you for being you and for taking on a challenge grown adults were intimidated by. You did an amazing job taking care of him and at the same time restored so much of our faith in other people. I know it must have been a scary decision for you but you never backed down. I’m glad we can all look back and say WE MADE IT!!!!!! We love you Nana❤️