Saturday, January 30, 2010

On the elasticity of time.

According to my ticker, it's been 3 years, 8 months and 4 weeks since I said goodbye to my Cora.  Thinking back to it, sometimes it seems like an entire lifetime ago.  Sometimes, though, it seems like just yesterday.  Nearly 4 years.  That seems like an eternity...I've felt every second of that separation.  And's gone by so quickly.  Like I blinked and 4 years went by.

4 years ago this month (January 10th) we had our "big" ultrasound.  Cora was sitting with her rump in my pelvis with the cord between her legs (and around her neck already, but they didn't ever mention that), so we couldn't confirm her gender.  We could see her entire spine, and both thigh bones, but not her gender. We got great shots of all the body parts, heart, lungs, brain, face, feet...but not what I wanted to know most.

And no matter what we tried, she would NOT move.

I said to Matt, "Okay, this proves it.  She's a girl, and she's a redhead.  Nothing else would be this stubborn."

4 weeks later my OB snuck me in to the room with the older machine and "took a quick peek."  She had turned head down and was spread-eagled and it was more than obvious that she was a girl.  I was more than thrilled that we would get our Cora.  And that I was right.

I was right about the red hair too.

I decided, a couple months after she died, when I was relating that story to someone, that she had been stubborn because she knew I'd want a story to tell about her.  She was letting me know a little of who she was.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Dear Cora,

I just put your siblings down for a nap and am sitting now in silence and the world whispered your name to me.  You are never far from my thoughts, but only occasionally can I give my memory of you my full focus.  I've been thinking a lot lately of each small moment.  The moments that are so precious to me, primarily because you left so soon.  You taught me that tomorrow isn't guaranteed, and so I savor every today I have.

I wish I had savored the todays I had with you.  I'm sorry that my thoughts were consumed with how soon my pregnancy would be over.  I know that you forgive me that.  That you understand how physically miserable I was.  I feel that forgiveness and empathy and love every day.  I still wish I had appreciated those days more.

I was so excited to have you though.  I was so overjoyed at the chance to be a mother, to be your mother.  I said over and over that the sickness would be worth it in the end, and although I didn't get the end I had hoped, it was still worth it.  It was still worth it to learn those things from you that I did, and that I am still learning.  I know that this temporary separation will be worth it in the end too, and I so look forward to the day I get to hold you in my arms again, living and breathing.

Please help me through those times when I miss you so much that it aches physically. I still have those days, and I think I always will.  I will always wonder what my life would have been like.  Thank you for being close.  I do feel you near.

I love you my dearest darling girl.  I miss you so much it takes my breath away sometimes.  Thank you for watching out for your sister and brother.  They fill me with such joy and I truly hope they grow up knowing who you are.

I'll love you forever and always,

Thursday, January 28, 2010

This Doesn't Have To Be A Secret

This is a very good article that was posted in my stillbirth forum.  It's an amazing read, and I would like to share a few tidbits (but encourage you to read the whole thing).

"When I was a teenager in Boston a man on the subway handed me a card printed with tiny pictures of hands spelling out the alphabet in sign language. I AM DEAF, said the card. You were supposed to give the man some money in exchange.

I have thought of that card ever since, during difficult times, mine or someone else's: Surely when tragedy has struck you dumb, you should be given a stack of cards that explains it for you. My first child was stillborn. I want people to know but I don't want to say it aloud. People don't like to hear it but I think they might not mind reading it on a card."

And this one explains why I love my baby loss mommies so very much:

"She asked me how my pregnancy was going. Then she said, "I was so sorry when I heard about your first child. My first child was stillborn, too."

My heart kicked on like a furnace. Suddenly tears were pouring down my face.

"Oh no!" said the woman. "I didn't mean for that to happen!"

I laughed and grabbed some napkins from the table and tried to explain myself, though even now it's hard to find the words. What came over me was gratitude and an entirely inappropriate love. I didn't know the woman but I loved her.

It's a sort of kinship, is all I can say, as though there is a family tree of grief. On this branch the lost children, on this the suicided parents, here the beloved mentally ill siblings. When something terrible happens you discover all of a sudden that you have a new set of relatives, people with whom you can speak in the shorthand of cousins."

And finally:
"And now I'm thinking of that Florida lady again, the one who wanted a book about the lighter side of a child's death, and I know: All she wanted was permission to remember her child with pleasure, instead of grief. To remember that he was dead but to remember him without pain. He's dead but of course she still loves him and that love isn't morbid or bloodstained or unsightly, it doesn't need to be shoved away.

It isn't so much to ask. "

Monday, January 25, 2010

The difference between men and women

The other day I was telling Matt how guilty I still felt, that I had the opportunity to go to the hospital while she was still alive but didn't take it, how her death could have been prevented.  How that guilt eats at me, though I can ignore it most times.  Truth is, her death could have been prevented and I was too ignorant at the time to do what I needed to.

His response was "I don't think about it all that often.  What good would it do, we can't change it."

Sometimes I wish I could think like a man.  I wish I had that ability to "turn off" what I can't fix.  I know he was devastated too.  I know that he loves her and misses her.  He can just turn it off.

For me it's like white noise in the background, this grief.  Most of the time it only catches my attention when the rest of the world quiets down enough.  Sometimes my ear catches it and I can't stop listening to it.  It's always there though.  I can close my eyes and see her here, with her siblings, playing and laughing.  Bossing them around.  Bringing me a comb to do up her beautiful red curls.  These images skirt my peripheral vision, and I can't ever catch them in focus.  Sometimes my mind catches a window into that alternate reality though.  What life should have been.  And I have to hold in the grief, the anger, the self-loathing, until I'm alone and let it spill out in my tears.

"First, please know that grief is the natural by-product of love. One cannot selflessly love another person and not grieve at his suffering or eventual death. The only way to avoid the grief would be to not experience the love; and it is love that gives life its richness and meaning. Hence, what a grieving parent can expect to receive from the Lord in response to earnest supplication may not necessarily be an elimination of grief so much as a sweet reassurance that, whatever his or her circumstances, one’s child is in the tender care of a loving Heavenly Father."
~Lance B. Wickman

Friday, January 22, 2010

No wonder doctors don't want to tell women about it!

Pregnant women get mean when you tell them their baby could die.

For the record, I was never that kind.  I would have definitely appreciated knowing that stillbirths still happened, and that kick counts (while obviously not foolproof) could be used to prevent it.  I fully believe that if I had been kick counting I would have known there was something wrong with enough surety to act on it.

I mean, I knew something was wrong, but I decided I was just "freaking out" and so decided to wait until the next morning and the next morning she was dead.

Try to give that information to a group of pregnant women and teeth and claws come out.  Which is probably why the nurses I have talked to have said that they "don't want to freak out the expectant mothers." 

I'm really proud of my sister for trying to raise awareness for something that not only affected me, but that affected her too.  I didn't just lose a daughter that day, she lost a niece (one that she already had a profound connection with), and has done several things to try to raise awareness.  She didn't deserve being attacked, and I just want to publicly thank her for being so awesome!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


It gets increasingly harder for me to talk to women who haven't ever experienced a loss.  I hate that "If I take care of myself everything will obviously be okay," attitude.  First off because it makes me feel that they think that I didn't take care of myself, and therefore Cora's death was my fault.  But secondly because that expectation that everything will just be okay is something I've never experienced.  Like I said in my last post, I always expected to lose my first pregnancy.  I was always very surprised that there was a baby there, and that she was healthy.  At my first ultrasound I expected them to tell me that there wasn't a baby there, that while my body thought I was pregnant, there wasn't anything there (later I'd learn this was called a blighted ovum).  At my big diagnostic ultrasound I expected them to tell me she didn't have any kidneys.  Or that there was something wrong with her heart.

It wasn't until the last few days Cora was alive that I started to believe I might actually get a baby out of the whole process.  That Sunday, the last day she was alive, I woke up and she had obviously dropped.  I could fit my hand flat between my breasts and my belly.  I could breathe.  Matt commented.  Everyone at church commented.  But I wasn't having any contractions to speak of.  I had to work that evening, and decided that maybe several hours on my feet would help things along.

The last real movement I remember feeling was nearly 11:00pm.  We would be closing in an hour, we were already preparing.  I was vacuuming the floor, and she stretched.  It was so hard that I felt like my skin was splitting.  It hurt.  I said "Baby girl, please don't hurt mommy like that!"

After the fact, I can't help but wonder, is that when she died?

When I think about it logically, I don't necessarily think so.  Cord constriction wouldn't be a violent end, like drowning or strangling.  It'd just be a slow drop in blood falling asleep.  I hope.

Anyway, that night I truly expected to go into labor.  I truly expected to have contractions wake me up at 4 am.  But I slept like a rock until 11am.  I guess not having a baby waking me up by kicking my ribs would do that.  And then all my expectations ended.  For several hours I hoped I was freaking out.  But each moment that passed without movement, that hope waned.  And then that fateful ultrasound that obliterated all hope at all.

I spent one day really expecting everything to be okay.  Although, not really, because even then I was expecting to need an emergency csection.  I don't know why, but I always expected disaster.  But never in the form it actually took.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


From the time I was a teenager I expected to miscarry at least once.  Actually, my first pregnancy.  I was quite surprised when that didn't happen.

There have been a lot of miscarriages in my family, even if you just count my mother and my 4 aunts.  And statistically speaking, any woman who has more than 3 pregnancies can expect to miscarry at least once.

And I've never miscarried.  I know full well that Cora's death was pure freakish accident and so doesn't count in such things.  I've had three full term pregnancies.  And Cora's death doesn't somehow make me "immune" either.

Lately I've been contemplating my next pregnancy, since I want at least 2 more children.  I'm not baby hungry, like I was when Erin was the age Patrick is now.  I'm not excited at the prospect of being pregnant again.

No, actually when I think about being pregnant again I get incredibly anxious.  I pinpointed it tonight.  I think the next time I get pregnant I will miscarry.

I'm obviously not going to keep me from having those two more kids I want....later.  I'm just not ready right at this moment to face the possiblity of a miscarriage.  While I would honestly at this point rather lose a baby earlier rather than later if I had to choose (simply because it means less throwing up, among other things), I'd rather NOT lose another baby at all.  I'm not ready to face the anxiety of the possibility of another loss right now.  I hope that this feeling doesn't just get worse as time goes by.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

When it happens to a friend.

When I was trying to conceive (TTC) Erin, I met a really sweet lady on the Trying To Conceive After Loss section of the forum I'm on.  She was so very sweet to me, and I hope I helped her.  Her rainbow baby after her miscarriage just turned one.

She was pregnant and due at the beginning of February of this year with a little boy.  Yesterday she was rushed to the ER after she stood up, felt a sharp pain and collapsed.  They did an emergency csection but little Charlie did not survive, and she nearly died herself.

I'm gutted.  It's one thing when I meet women after their losses.  That hurts enough.

But when it's a friend?  This hurts.  It seems so much closer to home.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Disturbing statistics

In the United States, there is approximately one stillborn baby for every 115 live births, which is roughly 26,000 stillbirths each year. Though, actual numbers are unknown due to lack of standardization in recording stillbirths, more are lost to stillbirth then all other forms of infant death combined.



So somebody tell me WHY we're not doing more research into this???

Friday, January 8, 2010

Beautiful Blogger Award

I don't think I can describe how touched I am that I was nominated for the Beautiful Blogger Award by Brandy.  When I comment on other angel mommy blogs, it's usually because it helps me feel not quite so alone to know that others are feeling the same things.  I've been an angel mommy longer than many of my new friends, and hope to give a little bit of hope that time does temper the grief.

Anyway, the rules are to state 7 facts about you and then to nominate 7 others. 

1:  My favorite color is purple.  More specifically lavender (but not the pinky lavender.  Lavender that is an even blend of baby pink and baby blue.  I guess I could call it pale purple. lol) More recently though I am coming to really enjoy that color of orangey pink (coral?) that you only really see in sunsets or sunrises.

2. Until we moved to the Denver area, I never really considered Denver on my "places to live" list.  But I think it's my perfect place. lol

3.  From the time I was young, I wanted 5 children.  I wanted at least 2 of each, and disliked even numbers.  there are 7 in my family grown up and that seemed like TOO MANY, so 5 seemed perfect.  Only now, we have to figure out if Cora "counts" or not.  I think we've decided that she does, so we're planning on 2 more, which would leave me with 4 living children...and icky even number. =Þ

4.  If it were left totally up to me, only Cora would have the same name.   I'm not nearly as fond of Erin's and Patrick's names...but I got to bring them home, so I'm okay with that.

5.  I'm fairly crafty, but I consider myself mediocre.  I scrapbook, paint ceramics, sew, crochet and have recently taken up cross stitching again.  But I'm ALWAYS surprised when my projects actually turn out okay.

6.  I teach the 13-year-old Sunday School class at my church and LOVE it.  (I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints [Mormon])

7. I love taking naps in the afternoon, and massive mugs of hot chocolate in the morning.

As for my nominations here goes
3. Nat
4. Jenny
5. Amy

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Triggers on TV and movies

They surprise me sometimes.  And usually it's from something that isn't specifically about stillbirth.

For instance, there is an episode of House, where Cuddy is expecting the whole time to be able to adopt a baby.  At the last minute, the birth mother changes her mind.  At the end of the episode, it shows Cuddy in the nursery she has prepared for this baby...without a baby.  She's sitting on the floor, staring at the wall.  That shot took me back.

It took me back to my empty nursery.

The movie "Up" did that same thing to me.  Now, I had a friend tell me about it, so I didn't really expect it to be as hard for me as it was.  In the beginning of the movie it shows a montage of Mr. Fredrickson's life with is wife Ellie.  There's a shot of them imagining babies in the clouds, and then decorating a nursery...and then her crying in the OB's office.  And then sitting on a chair in the front yard staring at nothing.  The feeling is that she can't conceive rather than having a lost a baby (not saying that infertility is somehow "less" just not my situation), but I wasn't prepared for that place it took me to.

Crying at the OB's office.  I remember that day so vividly.

I spent a lot of time outside in the sun staring at nothing too, just trying not to hurt.

This picture was taken by my sister, the day after Cora was born.  My oldest brother, his wife and daughter, and my sister all drove up from Utah to spend the day with us.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


It's amazing how sometimes this still sneaks up on me, even though I have since had two living and very healthy babies.

I failed.

I failed to protect my daughter like a mother is supposed to.

Now, I know it's not my fault, I do.  I have accepted the fact that there was nothing I could do.

But I still failed.

I think it's interesting to think that, in this day and age of women's rights and equality it still is so hard.  I've talked to many women who were very in to that side of things (I'm more of a traditionalist when it comes to female roles), still feel like it's their fault for losses. 

In the end, no matter how "equal" women become, there is still something that sets us apart.  It is a very fundamental role of a woman to protect her child.  It's one of the characteristics that make women women.  Now, men protect their children too, don't get me wrong, but it's different for us.

The womb is supposed to be the safest place in the world.

The woman is supposed to protect, nurture and sustain her child until it is strong enough to enter the world and live on its own.

And I failed.

I lost something so fundamental to my worth as a woman at that instant.  And I won't ever get that back.  And that still hurts.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Another year goes by

Sometimes I wish I could stop the slow march of time.  It pulls me inexorably further and further away from those moments I spent with my sweet baby girl.  Sometimes I'd like to just close my eyes and stop everything for a few moments.

But that's impossible.  I'm caught in the current and it's dragging me along.

I'm so glad to know that while I'm stuck here for a while, each moment is also a moment closer to seeing her again.  I rejoice in that.