angels must have birthdays

Oh, we miss you. ūüė¶

I have no idea where the time has gone. A year since we held you? A year since we held your face close to ours and kissed your tiny nose? It feels like an eternity and yesterday, all at the same time.

We celebrated how much we love you on Saturday. And we thought about how much we miss you.

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We made you a cake.

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And we sent some love notes up to you.

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And we stood in the dark and watched them go up. And we waited until we couldn’t see them any longer.

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Happy Birthday, Dziko. We miss you so, so much. Be good. Stay safe. Remember us. We love you.

Love,
Mom and Dad

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there’s a danger in loving somebody too much

Because love isn’t always enough to keep them here with you.

Inside this folder is the picture the doctor drew for me on August 22, 2012.

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I keep this picture in a folder, in the nightstand next to my bed. I haven’t opened it since the day she drew it. It’s a picture illustrating the complete destruction of hope (which comes in the form of a funneling cervix).

One year ago today, my mom jumped on a plane and only packed her purse (ok, this part is funny. She literally put her purse in a suitcase, drove to Lambert Airport and got on the next plane to Connecticut). I get it now. It’s what moms do.

Two days later, my friend Aimee sent me a box of chocolate covered Oreos. And while gravity and I (laying upside down) were doing our best to keep my son safe, I felt him kick for the first time. My sister came over that night, and with each Oreo bite, he’d kick. She felt him. My mom felt him. I felt him. My husband felt his son move for the first time.

I went into active labor the next morning. I grabbed pillows from the couch to keep me upside down in the car. I shouted directions to the doctor’s office at my mom who had no idea where she was driving or going. I cried into the phone when I told my husband what we thought was happening. And I screamed in horror when my doctor told me that over the past 3 days, I had already dilated 4cm. And as hot tears ran down my face, I reached for my husband’s face and I sobbed, “We’re going to lose him, LB.”

I spent two days upside down in a hospital bed while labor started and stopped. We shared one hopeful evening when another hospital told us they would be willing to risk an emergency surgery to keep him in place. I took one terrified ambulance ride on the way to that hospital. ¬†And I spent 4 solitary minutes in a room before my husband could find me there, once again sobbing. My water broke and our chance at saving our son’s life was gone.

We held hands and LB cried on my shoulder as we listened to his heart beat a few more times. I couldn’t bear to hear him die during my labor and so we stopped the monitoring. I can still hear his heartbeat if I try. LB and I used to listen to his heartbeat every morning before we got out of bed with our doppler. ¬†Worst of all, I couldn’t comfort my own son in the moments before his death.

He was born and died at 8:30 p.m. on August 27, 2012. I checked out of the hospital with no baby and I checked right out of my mind. I remember the sun shining the day we left and how angry I was that the world could even thinking about enjoying summer sunshine.

Leaving my son was considerably harder than losing him. Wondering if people were just shuffling by him. Wondering when they took the warming blankets away from him. Wondering how long he would be cold with no one to hold him or touch his hands or his tiny nose. Wondering how gentle the funeral home would be with his tiny body. Thinking about the moments before he was cremated and how long it would be before he was returned to me. “He has no one telling him that things will be ok. He has no one to hold his hand. What if he’s scared? He has no one to feel safe with.” Those thoughts occupied every single moment of every second until his remains came home to us. Burying your children is a special kind of hell that I wouldn’t wish upon a single soul.

I listen to Garth Brooks’ “The Dance” often. In particular, I listen to it on the days where I need to shake the sadness that’s under the surface to make sure it’s still there.

Looking back on the memory of 
The dance we shared beneath the stars above 
For a moment all the world was right 
How could I have known you’d ever say goodbye¬†
And now I’m glad I didn’t know¬†
The way it all would end the way it all would go 

I spent so many years being sad that I couldn’t get pregnant. I wished so hard for that pregnancy and it never dawned on me that the sadness wouldn’t stop once I achieved that goal. I laid in bed every single day worrying about him. Miscarrying him, losing him, losing our family and our chance to be happy and complete. I never enjoyed my pregnancy, except in the brief moments of ultrasounds where I got to see that he was alive and doing well. I regret not enjoying him, but I know that I worried for him because I loved him so, so much. And that I don’t regret. I think I just started being a mom really, really early.

It’s weird to think that if someone told me, “You will get pregnant, but you will watch your son slip away from you and this world and it will crush every part of you.” that I would agree to do this, and go through all of this, again–just to experience the brief moments I had with him.

Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain 
But I’d of had to miss the dance¬†
Holding you I held everything 
For a moment wasn’t I the king¬†
But if I’d only known how the king would fall¬†
Hey who’s to say you know I might have changed it all¬†
And now I’m glad I didn’t know¬†
The way it all would end the way it all would go 
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain 
But I’d of had to miss the dance¬†

Dziko is helping me remember that life is all too brief. He is forcing me to experience life in ways I would not have if he were here– He helped me find Sprout, a wonderfully tiny nugget who does nothing but love me when I need it. The opportunity to go through nearly 1,000 photos to choose ones for our adoption profile and, in the process, remember how many fantastic pieces of my life I have been able to share with the greatest people on this round spinning thing.

He also is helping me remember that I can not retreat into myself in the moments I am alone. And that my husband needs me and he needs me to love him more than I ever told him before. This has been the most difficult year of our 12 together– and this experience helps me remember on a daily basis that we don’t always get forever to tell people how much we love them and how much they mean to us. I love him an incredible lot.

Until we meet again, sweet baby. – Love, Mom & Dad

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Perspective of soul

I have a love/hate relationship with empty Saturdays. Nothing to do but relax. Nothing to do but sit inside my thoughts and sadness, particularly as we’re drawing closer to his birthday. Yesterday was a hard day. This week begins the worst string of anniversaries that could belong to a person, and so I imagine everyday will be hard for awhile.

But today, I came home from the market to two emails. The first from a sweet, sweet friend, who wanted to let us know that she didn’t have to be reminded of what was coming.

And the second was from my sister. I have never seen or heard advice spoken so carefully, delivered so lovingly, and full of so much silent, heavy-hearted connection.

This is a transcript from a conversation held on Oprah Winfrey’s show in 2000, between Gary Zukav and a couple who had a set of twin boys, born early, and one tiny baby stayed with them only for a few days.

I always knew it would be, and I find it already is, difficult to watch my friends children, who had celebrate birthdays close to Dziko’s and are the age he “should be”, accomplish milestones. I imagine this mother’s struggle with trying to live for one child while not dying of a broken heart for the other to be a horrible impasse- she’s rather stuck. What strength she has to seek to free herself.

Mother‚Äôs question:¬† ‚ÄúHow do I not let this loss and tragedy in my life take it over?‚ÄĚ ¬†

Gary’s response: “This is a matter of perspective.  Perspective of the personality or perspective of the soul. If you look at Ryan (the baby that died) as a personality who lived for a few days and then encountered tragic circumstances and died then you are looking from the point of view of personality. 
If you look at Ryan as a soul, like yourself, your husband, those around us, that left this earth when it chose then you will have a different perspective.Then you will be able to see the gifts this soul offered to you during its short stay on the earth.¬† You will reach a place in your life where you are grateful that this soul chose to be with you for however short a time.¬† If you do not you will live your life in anguish thinking that a tragedy has occurred whenever you see your other son growing up, you will say Ryan should be here, when you see your other son graduating you will say Ryan should have graduated, when he finds his wife you will say, Ryan should be getting married too and through all of this time you will be imposing on your other son a burden to carry because no matter what he does or how successful he is he will be causing his mother pain.If you look at Ryan as a soul, a great soul like yourself who voluntarily entered the earth school and voluntarily left it in order to be with you and to offer gifts then you will begin the process of fathoming and appreciating and becoming grateful for the power of the interaction that you had with that soul and you will be able to receive the gifts that that soul came to this earth to give you, to give to your husband, and to your siblings and if you do not, you will continually be turning away from those gifts, you will be denying the very wealth of wisdom and compassion that was offered to you by this soul.”

So this is not a situation of “things happen for a reason” and “there are lessons to be learned from sorrow”, but instead to appreciate that my son gave me beautiful things in the five months he lived inside me, in the moments we were able to hold him, and in every fiber of my being he is woven into.

For him, I am thankful. ‚ô•

surviving

Newtown, CT.

Moore, OK.

These stories are more than obviously sad. They’re nearly obsessively sad. I can’t turn away from the news. I can’t stop imagining those parents screaming for their children in the instant they lose them. Or the solid feeling in your chest the moment you realize your heart is gone.

To lose your child is…awful. To realize you are unable to provide the comfort, love and calming a child needs in their last moments is…more than awful. There aren’t adequate words to describe that circumstance. But the feeling is very real. And very, very sad.

I turned on NPR to listen to Oklahoma updates on my way home his evening. To my surprise, I heard some very familiar words.

My own words.

Faith Middleton replayed her show on dealing with the loss of a child, in hopes of reaching out again to parents who have lost and those who are left to help them carry on.

I want to leave those words here.

I hope they help.

common ground & peter pan

Four years ago today, my aunt lost her son.

It was unexpected.

I flew home immediately. I remember picking out his flowers. I remember placing a Peter Pan book in his casket, his sister falling apart as she walked into the funeral home, and choking through tears reading this poem at his funeral:

Longing For One More Day

“When we lose someone we love it seems that time stands still. What moves through us is a silence… a quiet sadness… A longing for one more day… one more word… one more touch… We may not understand why you left this earth so soon, or why you left before we were ready to say good-bye, but little by little, we begin to remember not just that you died, but that you lived. And that your life gave us memories too beautiful to forget. We will see you again some day, in a heavenly place where there is no parting. A place where there are no words that mean good-bye.¬†”

The only thing I can do for my aunt is tell her that I remember his beautiful life. I only held my son for minutes. She held him for 26 years. I cannot imagine the amplitude of her pain. She finds grace in dark places that only grief and sadness know.

I hate to share this common ground with her– we’re undeserving. But in her I see that life beyond this grief is different, but possible– and for that I am thankful she is my teacher.

Second star to the right and straight ahead till morning, Johnny. I love you. I miss you. I remember you.

we’re not broken, just bent

Every single time this song comes on, I can feel it reaching into my bones.

Every single day I am reminded that my husband and I are struggling with something that is so profoundly life changing and out of our grasp that the only thing we can do is hang on until things fall in place.

Hanging on to one another during this process is so … abstract. We don’t know how. We have been married for 5 years. We have struggled with infertility for 4 years. Infertility is our normal. Disappointment is our normal. Roller coasters of hope are our normal. Grief, dreamless and indecision are our normal.

But we know that we can find a new normal.

We’re not destroyed, we’re just a little damaged. Just a little bent. And we can be fixed.

We have come to the fork in the road of decision and we have chosen a path. We are going to carry every. single. thing that brought us to this path with us. Our friends, my community of infertility support, our family and our son. It sounds like a lot of luggage, right? But we need it all. Because when we get to the end of our road and we are finally a family of four, we need all of those things to make our family feel at home. Each one of these people helped carry us a step along this path and our family belongs to them.

National Infertility Week Awareness is an opportunity to share our story with others so that they might get a glimpse into our journey. So that perhaps one more person realizes that being vocal about this isn’t as scary as it seems. Or even that the person who remains silent on their journey feels comforted by the words here because they echo the thoughts they live with each day.

But even more than that, National Infertility Awareness week is an opportunity for me to be thankful for the friends we have surrounded ourselves with. People we’ve never met, ¬†people I went to high school with and haven’t seen in 10 years, people we see once a year, people we see a handful of times a year and people we see everyday– we love you. You belong to our family. You have helped us grieve. You have helped us live. You have helped us find love. We are forever grateful to you and your support. ¬†Because of you, we can learn to love again. You’ve made it possible and you’ve given us a reason.

Thank You.