Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dear Diary: April 26, 2008

From my journal one year ago today:

This morning, I discovered the birthday cake I made to celebrate Baker. Mom had put the two halves in the freezer. I baked it on April 2nd while in labor. He was alive and kicking then. I threw it in the trash and cried.

I miss my baby. I hope that he is happy in heaven. Our minister says that there is no suffering where he is. I hope that Baker knows that he is loved and that we miss him. I hope that his baby spirit will stay with me and help me through this.

He was so active and alive inside me. I wondered for so long what he would look like. When I finally saw him with my eyes, he was dead. So still and lifeless. It was so wrong. My heart is broken. As C. told me yesterday, this is the worst thing that could happen.

I briefly thought about attempting the same chocolate birthday cake for what should have been Baker's first birthday on April 3 of this year. Then I decided to do cupcakes from a box, and even that felt like too much to expect of myself. Maybe some future year, but not this year. So on his birthday, when we stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things before making the trip up to Lazy Cat Farm and I spotted the single blue or pink birthday cupcakes, I knew I had found the perfect solution. Later that night in the dark, Chris and I lit the single candle that came with Baker's blue and white-iced cupcake and whispered a tearful rendition of "Happy Birthday" to our sweet boy. Chris read Baker's favorite book, The Pokey Little Puppy, to our two boys, and we were both mercifully asleep by 11:31 pm, the time that Baker was born without breath.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dear Diary: April 25, 2008

From my journal one year ago today, 3 weeks after Baker died:

April 25, 2008

I miss having Baker in my belly. He would stick out his baby bum on my right side, and we would spank it. I rubbed it when I sat at my desk at work and loved him. I loved him wholly and completely. I fell in love with my son. I miss his baby hiccups toward the end of my pregnancy. He squirmed a lot when he hiccuped. I could tell he didn't like them. Chris wanted to take him out and burp him when they happened. Sometimes they were faint and sometimes they were jarring.

In related news, Baker's little brother is 28 weeks today, solidly in the third trimester. He pokes and hiccups and squirms around often, which I hope are little reminders that he is alive and well and is going to come home with us in July. My fundal height measured 30 cm at my midwife appointment this week. At the end of May, I start twice weekly non-stress tests until delivery. I'll have two growth ultrasounds in June to check fluid levels. It's all for peace of mind, really, since Baker's death was likely a freak cord accident during labor. That's the good news and the bad news for us. It is maddening to know that Baker should be toddling around today, if not for an accident. That knowledge coexists with the knowledge that his little brother should make it out alive and well.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dear Diary: April 22, 2008

Since I didn't start writing on our blog until Baker had been gone for 6 months, I feel the need to share some of my thoughts from the early days of my grief, when the pain was so raw that I gasped and choked for breath. For the next few posts, possibly for the next several months, I'm going to share excerpts of what I wrote one year ago in my journal. I carried the notebook, stuffed with a few select cards that I read and re-read, like a security blanket in my purse to work, along with a small photo album of Baker's pictures. In the days leading up to what should have been his first birthday, I cracked the book for the first time in months and remembered through my tears. It doesn't take long to get back to that place. These were the first words I could manage to get down on paper, exactly one year ago today.

April 22, 2008

I did not ask for this. It is so unfair and totally sucks. I don't want to be a grieving mother. I just want my baby. My beautiful baby boy. I want him more than anything. I'd give anything to change this. This isn't how it was supposed to turn out. I feel lost. I feel empty without my baby. I feel hopeless and aimless. I am afraid of the dark. I am afraid that we'll get hit by a car or that Chris will get hurt and killed. I feel paralyzed and in a daze. I have trouble remembering things. Baker died almost 3 weeks ago. I should have a 3-week old newborn. We should be taking Baker out for walks in the sunshine in his stroller. We should be figuring out nursing and be waken in the nighttime by his baby cries. We should be changing his diapers and rocking him to sleep and watching him breathe. I want to see his eyes look at me. I want to hold him and smell him and comfort him. Instead, we are left with an empty house, a quiet bassinet, a room full of hopes and sadness, and our baby in the ground. It isn't right and it isn't fair.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Today is for remembering

by W.W. Roberts

Today is for remembering
The day begins like any other day,
The busy-ness of people all around me
Going about the tasks of their day,
Will never know the pain
This day marks for me.
I have survived a difficult year.
I have endured more pain and heartache
Than I ever thought possible,
And I have survived.
And I miss you...
It may just be another day
To everyone else,
But today I remember you.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Enjoy it While You Can

Perhaps we're just a little jacked up this week because we are staring Baker's first birthday right in the face, but I don't think so. It's more than that. We've encountered a run of people compelled to tell us, in conjunction with our "new" baby, that we should enjoy this freedom while we can, before the baby comes.

It is a harmless suggestion, most of the time, and we understand the sentiment. Life before you have a baby is carefree and easy! Everything from finances, to marriage, to sleep, and "going out with the guys." All easy!

And then the newborn comes, and you're up all night with feedings and changing diapers and oh boy, you don't know what you are in for, you babes in the woods!

The comments began when Dalene started showing. We knew at the gut level that this wasn't sitting well with us, though we couldn't quite put our fingers on why. It finally hit us yesterday, after a particularly egregious violator ran this line of commentary by Dalene. I was conspicuous by my absence, as we are normally together - I was in Boston having a drink with co-workers to celebrate the end of our fiscal year - a toast to surviving another challenging budget. So when Dalene said that I was out at a bar -she was bombarded with the inevitable, "Hey, enjoy it while you can, right?"

Everything that we have "enjoyed" in the past year has been almost entirely because our son died. Every drink that I have had after work, every dinner with a friend, every morning we have been able to sleep in on a weekend - yep, that's our prize for our dead baby. Yes, I know what you are thinking - we are damn lucky to have all that freedom.

It is hard to come up with a snappy response, but you kind of feel like saying, "enjoy it while you can" right back to them. Enjoy your living children. Enjoy their laughter and their tears. Enjoy being woken up at 2 AM with projectile vomiting. Enjoy a bowl of cheerios dumped on the cat. You know what - fucking enjoy it all, because the alternative is so horrible, so unspeakably empty and cold and hollow, that you wouldn't know the first damn thing to do with yourself.

And then some people, mostly parents, want to start giving advice about traveling with young children, and daycare, and lord knows what else, as though this is our first child, and we have never thought about any of this before. And then, you want to say, "Remember our baby who died? Remember how we finished the nursery, stocked up with diapers and butt paste and onesies and took CPR class and bought life insurance? Remember how we planned out precisely when and where to get Baker's passport, and what we were going to pack on our family trip last year to Antigua? Remember how we have already visited a daycare, already know the staff, know the schedule, have it all worked out? So yes, our sweet baby is dead, but we are parents, and we have seen that movie, and read that book, and damn it, most of the time I feel like more of a parent than you ever will."

But I don't usually say those things. At least I haven't yet.

I guess we just roll with these things - as with everything else, the people with the emotional intelligence to understand our pain are the people that we grow closer to and those that reveal that they lack the human empathy gene, well, they should enjoy that while they can.