Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pregnancy Loss: What NOT to Say

I know I havent posted a blog in basically forever, but I have excuses for that. But alas, let's dive right into the subject of this post.

This is a post that has been on my heart for a very long time, and finally I got the chance to sit down and write it out. Please do yourself a favor and read it, and absorb it.

Unfortunately, pregnancy loss is a common occurance. Without looking up actual statistics, I remember reading that at least half of the women who have had pregnancies have experienced pregnancy loss, often very early on but it can even happen when a woman has gone beyond her due date. As I have grown up and reached my child bearing years, I have had many friends experience this tragic loss and regretfully I continue to run into people who have lost their babies to this day--and unfortunately I'm sure there will be more. The fact of the matter is that you, or someone close to you, has or will suffer this type of loss. Instead of avoiding your friends because you don't know what to say to them, let me help you understand where we are coming from a little better. This is not intended to scare anyone, as I know many people are able to have babies without experiencing loss at all and even the riskiest pregnancies can be successful and healthy. Some women may never experience such a loss.

My situation was unique in that I was carrying identical twin boys where we found out rather suddenly, with no inclination anything had been weong, that one of our sons was no longer with us. That day I went into preterm labor because my body knew what was best for Micah (my survivor). I was 30 weeks along, and although I knew there were risks with a twin pregnancy we had assumed we were safe now in the third trimester. Boy was I wrong!  Yet, now that it's been about 2.5 years since our loss of my sweet son and preterm survival of the other, I feel like I want to help my sisters in grief out and give a little insight about what it is like to lose a child through pregnancy loss and what you should and should not do or say to someone who has lost a baby.  I know everyone is different as is every unique situation but I think there are some universal truths on the subject.

What the mother goes through:

Hands down, the mother is the one who suffers the most with her loss. She is afterall the mother, the womb, the nurturer, and NO ONE else has been as close to the baby(ies) as she has been until now. Hormones have begun to alter her body, and it has started to change her. She is the only one who has to go through the pain (both physical and emotional) of the miscarriage or birth of her child. SHE is the one, the only one who can do this. Yes, dads, signigicant others, siblings and grandparents are also affected under the umbrella of pain and loss---but mom always bears the heaviest burden and the greatest sense of loss.

Some people assume that early losses are nothing to be upset about, however making this assumption is a great mistake! While the mother may have been expecting for only a few days to a few weeks, she has already begun to bond and plan for her little one. She has been daydreaming of names, eyeballing crib bedding, cooing a over stranger's babies, craving a bigger baby bump and wondering how it will feel when her baby kicks inside her. She may have already been experiencing morning sickness and other unpleasant symptoms that we moms-to-be bear all in the name of pregnancy & babies.  But now the most feared aspect of early pregnancy has become her reality--a miscarriage/no heartbeat on a monitor, and possible a D&C. Not only will her heart be crushed at the news, but so will her dreams. All those fantasies she dreamt of will not come to be. Now the crib bedding is a punch in the gut, a woman with a pregnant belly her painful envy. She never got that baby shower. Never got to feel those kicks. She may never even know if it was a boy or a girl.

Whether you know it or not, a good portion of these women that have an early miscarriage may not be experiencing their first m/c. Some may have had many before and now every pregnancy is anxiety ridden as they learn to be cautious and guarded, knowing the pain that may soon ensue. With every loss comes defeat, numbness, heartbreak, uncertainty, fear and pain. These women and Many others may have tried to get pregnant for a long time, even years with or without expensive fertility treatments, and probably tried everything they could to get this miracle, only to have it be taken away to soon.  Many of these women fear it was something they did, or worse, that they don't deserve a baby.  I would venture to guess that every mom who loses a baby feels guilty and at fault--when usually there is nothing they could have done to change it. I know I did, and sometimes I still do.

Late term pregnancy losses, too-premature births, and stillbirths definitely come with some added heartache. Not only do they experience the losses as previously mentioned, but by now many have felt like they were "safe" for making it out of the 1st trimester, and some even into the 3rd trimester, and more still even making beyond their expected due date. I know I felt safe, I was 30 weeks! These women have felt their babies move, even if just a little. They have watched their bellies grow and already collected baby items, even set up their nurseries. Many have picked out a name or at least have a few favorites. What was all day dreams and expections in the first trimester have now become a reality. As our bodies change we bond closely with our babies. And now---now we've been struck by a dagger of pain and in seemingly an instant our little one has passed on and we are left empty handed, and empty stomached. (I remember still having habit of watching out for my belly as I bent over a sink or a counter, so as not to hit my babies on it, only to be sharply reminded of my tragic experience in the days and weeks prior as I placed my hand on my flat and empty belly.) I have even known of women who find out their little one no longer has a heart beat and had to wait WEEKS to have a C Section or induced labor. Imagine walking around knowing your baby is gone but still there, and having to deal with all those "when are you due" "boy or girl?" questions by well intentioned passerbys. Talk about salt in the wound!  Now you look around your house and that carseat you bought on sale mocks you. The scrapbook of baby shower ideas brings you to longing sobs of what should have been.

Not surprisingly, pregnancy loss is a trying time in a mother's life. So many thoughts, emotions and physical implications affect a bereaved mother, even though---or I should say--ESPECIALLY because, she never got to hold her baby, feel her baby, see her baby smile or stare into her baby's birght eyes. She never got to try nursing, or swaddling. Will never see her baby roll or toddle Every milestone her baby misses will be coldly remembered by her mom. Time for her and baby was far too short and although she will heal and continue her life, she will NEVER forget her baby that she loved so very much. I believe they refer to these babies as angels because we always feel like they are with us and watching out for us, day in  and day out.

Truth is, if you have never experienced pregnancy loss you will never know what it's really like.

What you should and should not do or say to a mother who has recently lost a baby:

#1 DO NOT avoid her and/or the subject of her loss. I do understand that people don't want to bring it up because they don't want to cause more pain, but here's the truth: She is already thinking about it! Instead, your inclination towards avoidance has created an awkward and often painful rift in your relationship. I can't tell you how many times these women share stories of best friends, sisters, coworkers, brothers, and even mothers who have hurt them because of this. What you SHOULD do is bring it up and VALIDATE her pain. "I heard about your baby, I am so sorry for your loss, I can't imagine what you are going through."  Heck, even saying "I don't know what to say really,  I know you must be hurting but I'm not sure what I should do or say so I don't make it worse." is better than just thinking it to yourself, all the while your friend in her grief feels abandoned and even betrayed. Don't just fall off the map because you don't know what to do.

#2 DO NOT try to make her feel better by minimizing it. What I mean by this is don't say something like, "Well at least you still have your daughter..." Or "At least it happened early enough that you didn't get too attached." "It just wasn't God's timing." "It wasn't meant to be." "Maybe there was something wrong with the baby and that would have been too hard for you/thebaby."   Or in my case, "At least you still have one baby to take home."  PLEASE, if you feel yourself about to say something along these lines to your friend, go ahead and just insert foot into mouth. Minimizing their loss only makes them feel worse. Trust me, at some point mom will be able to feel better, but saying these things only make it obvious you don't know what it's like and makes her feel alone in her pain. Validation, again, is the best thing you can do.

#3 Along these lines, DO NOT try to comfort your friend by reminding her that she still has her living children (if any)! One life does not replace another, and while she is grateful for her children she already has, they also serve as a reminder to what she has lost. Their smiles, personalities, energy, looks, interactions...all of these things she sees and loves about her living children remind her of what she will miss out on. Trust me, she doesn't need you to reminder she already has children. She knows. She just lost one too.

#4 DO get her something, preferably something memorable. Flowers & cards are great go-tos, but if your relationship is closer than others, reach a little deeper. My friends got me a tree to plant instead of flowers that will die within days. They got me a rememberance necklace. If you are the crafty type, or have crafty friends, something from the heart for a keep sake box is a great idea. This is especially true for moms with late term losses because they will often have foot & handprints, going home outfits, hospital IDs & ultrasound/bereavement photos. Many of us had to make "arrangements" for our baby's remains and having somewhere to put everything in a cute and memorable way is great. My favorite gift to myself was a large Frog stuffed animal, the frog was an inside story with our son, and it gave me something to hug and hold on to when I was at my saddest. Think about "symbols" or inside ideas that relate to situation if you know the family well enough. You don't have to spend a lot of money but there is something about being swarmed by condolence gifts that make a mom feel like people really care, even if she's not up to visitors.

#5 DO NOT just offer to help in any way you can. If you really do want to help, you might have to force it. If the mom is anything like me, I knew I needed help but A) I wasn't about to pick up the phone and call someone for help and B) I didn't really know what I needed help for!  Decision making in times like this is very difficult, even for simple things. Making the family dinner is a common and useful way. Offer to grocery shop for them (I would go to the grocery store and just stare at things. I eventually set up an account with emeals to choose the ingredients and menu for me--it was so helpful that I ordered one for a friend who lost her daughter to SIDS and they loved it!) If she has kids, offer to take the kids to the park or a movie so she can stay home and cry or go out and get her nails done. Take her out shopping. For moms with later term loses, you may consider asking her if any of her baby items upset her to see them, and offer to put them in boxes whenever she is ready. Anything from cleaning her kitchen to taking her out for retail therapy---DO make sure that you help her, if you really mean it!

#6 DO expect her to have her ups and downs. We all have our triggers. Due dates, birthdays,anniversaries of loss, friends having babies (especially a baby due at the same time or with the same name), maybe even just finding an old ultrasound picture or a pregnancy test can set us back. Just be understanding. That's all you have to do. Unless you think your friend is sailing into a deep and dangerous depression, don't expect her to just outgrow it. If you are worried about her wellbeing DO tell someone.

#7 DO remind her that it's ok to cry and to laugh! After the initial shock of our loss wears of we can be devastated, angry, in denial, numb, and more. But we also need to laugh and we often feel guilty if we are "feeling better." Many of us feel as though we are doing a diservice to our babies, or worrying that they might feel forgotten or less loved if we begin to act and feel more normal---especially when we start to have fun again. Just remind her that her baby knows she loves them, and that it is perfectly ok and normal to return to a more 'normal' life.

#8 DO be considerate. This goes out especially to pregnant or new parent friends. Don't take it personal if your friend isn't up to a baby shower or not dying to go meet your new bundle of joy and hear you talk about how amazing it is. She's happy for you but sad for her! Having to face these things face on is painful and requires a lot of strength to get through. They bring reality upfront and very personal for her.  Some women are ok doing these things after their loss, but it is very situational. Do your friend a favor and offer them an easy out of these situations "I would love for you to come to my shower but I understand it might be hard for you, so if you rather not attend I completely understand." And if your friend just lost her baby, and you just found out you are expecting, pick your timing wisely about telling her and if I were you, I would keep the (understandable) gabbing about your pregnancy, baby names, nursery complaints and yes--even your pregnancy complaints to a minimum. If you don't know how much to talk about then ask--in person or an email ( I recommend email as she will feel safer telling you how she feels).

Grief is grief and everyone experiences it in their own way and on their own time. Every relationship is different as is every loss. Just do your best to keep these things in mind, especially #1 & #2! There is no easy fix, and time & faith are the biggest ally to healing.

And lastly, here is a special note to husbands & wives:

Husbands, please, please, PLEASE understand that your wife will grieve differently than you. And that is ok. The best thing you can do is to be supportive of her and to also be vulnerable to yourself and your wife by sharing your feelings and how much your baby is missed. Even if you can't tell her in words, write it down. All too often men find the pain of the loss is unbearable and therefore fight to hide their feelings away. They busy themselves, get angry, or act like nothing has happened so they can survive this pain. Losing a child is incredibly devastating but you will get through it together as long as you are understanding! Telling your wife to "just get over it" because she wants to talk about it or is still very upset when you don't feel like you want to think about it is just cruel, causing unnecessary damage to an already broken heart. Never berate her for feeling the way she feels or doing the things she does. Women need to go through our emotions deeply, and often, before we can come out on the otherside. Just give her lots of hugs, and it's ok to let her see you cry too, ya know.

Wives, do your best to understand how your husband handles his grief. He probably doesn't want to talk about it because it's too hurtful. Many men are not comfortable in their own emotions and don't know what to do, so they opt to find a way to move on. To many women, this looks like "he doesn't care as much as I do,"  "he moved on way too fast," and/or "he's insensitive to my feelings." While he should do his part to be compassionate towards you and not come off mean, you should also understand that he does not function the way we do. Instead of being offended that he wants to go to the baseball game, or needs to spend a few hours in the garage working on his car, let him do it willingly--knowing that you are helping him survive this too. If your husband doesn't want to talk about it, seek out some understanding friends who can lend an ear to your aching heart, whether it be in person or online. As a wife of seven years and having survived our own loss together I have learned that you cannot force your husband to fit into the role of your girlfriends--both are invaluable relationships in their own ways. Think about it, back in the "olden days"---I'm talking when we were living in tents and herded goats--the women lived together and helped each other while the men were out doing when men do. Having a healthy relationship with one or more close girlfriends to rely on actually helps your marriage be stronger. Trust me on this. And of course, for my fellow Believers, prayer and fellowship are irreplaceable.

Thank you for reading, and please help spread the word. If you have any do's and don'ts ideas you would like to share with me, please comment below and I may add it into the list (to your credit)!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Fresh Start

So much to update, so little time. Last week we experienced the annual International Balloon Fiesta for the third year in a row since we moved back to Albuquerque to years ago (we made it just in time to see it when we got here). What a fun adventure the balloon park is---so many colors and shapes, it's such a blast. The funnest part of the Balloon Fiesta is watching your children marvel in the experience, how simple and amazing life is at that age.

This may in fact have been our last Balloon FIESTA for many many years to come, since (I know some of you may still not know this) we received an assignment for England! We could not be more thrilled to be able to experience living overseas again. This is something I have prayed for my entire life (at least since I was twelve and fully grasped the fact that the world consisted of more than New Mexico, Colorado, the distant lands of California--ahem, Disneyland-- and Nebraska. I have always loved the idea of LIVING, not just visiting, in Europe so this is a true dream and prayer come true. What more could a History major want? Not to mention this new opportunity to live in and Old World gives the blessing of a fresh start.

Try as we might, this place is just haunted by shadows of grief, heavy memories, and what-should-have-beens. We moved into this house just before the twins were born, and our household goods arrived from Japan 4 days after we held our stillborn son in our arms. Needless to say, this past week I started going through boxes and closets that had been filled during those first days that I never got around to unpacking or sorting. Losing a child, having a preemie in the NICU and then at home just doesn't give you a whole lot of opportunity to have any energy to do those things----heck let's face it, I just didn't give rats rear-end about any of that.

So here we are....October. Two years have gone by and I'm approaching an anniversary of loss and a birthday. Two years later and I FINALLY feel like I have a soul again. Strange as it may sound to some, those that have experienced grief, loss and subsequent depression know what I am talking about. It's not willful either, it just is how you are---who you are. Soul-less, lackluster, foggy, in a daze....I didn't feel like I existed as a real person, I was just a shell of a human who did things but didn't know what was going on, had no sense of time, just did what I had to, and tried a little bit to look forward to things (like our cruise) to keep me going, but it still didn't really fix me. I was still broken.  Now I can say I am passed that phase, for about a month now. Suddenly I am able to comprehend the time of year, upcoming events, and get this---get excited about planning for holidays! Last year every holiday came and went like just another day---I didn't even listen to Christmas music and hung about 1/3 of our Christmas decorations. I was blindsided by every holiday, birthday, anniversary, you name it, I just was unaware or able to process anything. This year, year 2012, I have even decorated my front porch with pumpkins, hanging bats, a broom and some pumpkins! I still have two weeks until Halloween---and I don't even like Halloween! I'm so proud of me haha. You bet your butt I will be decorating for Christmas BEFORE Thanksgiving, something I have never done, but I need to make up for two lost Christmases and our last Christmas in our first home. For the first time in 2.5 yrs, I actually feel like this house is my home. Weird right? That's just what grief does to you. Grief hacks you off at your knees, crushes your heart, fogs your brain, and drains your spirit, oh and kicks you in the ribs a couple times and throws dirt in your face. You can't fight it, you can't stop it or fix it before its time...it has a mind of its own and the only thing you can do is prolong it by not allowing yourself to properly grieve. Given my situation I was NOT able to properly grieve---I still had the blessing of a new son, a surviving twin. So all the while I was supposed to be grieving the loss of a child I was carrying for and cooing over our (very premature) newborn blessing. Each sentiment/state of mind hindered by the other---polar opposites. So you can't blame me for living in a legless (funny but that's how it felt), broken-hearted, foggy, and soulless daze. In fact I think I grieved and was more deeply depressed the second year than the first---which was something I was warned about from those who had lost a twin.  Once your survivor is a year old life gets a little easier in that department so grief taps you on the shoulder and says, "My turn."

Well my friends, God answered our prayers for a breath of fresh air and England seems like the perfect answer. I can picture it now, God picked me up of the floor (where I am laying like a limp and lifeless dummy, lying in a puddle of my own drool) holds me up by my shirt, gave me two slaps (as if to say "WAKE UP CHILD!"), pours water on my face, shakes me a little and pats the dust off my shoulders and then points me on my new path. "Off you go now!" That's how I feel, by sending us to the UK He is giving us the wake up call and most of all HOPE for a better change.  Knowing we get to leave and start fresh gives me renewed joy and refreshes my soul and my heart. My brain is considerably less foggy and I think I've been given prosthetics for my legs (lol--).  Yes, there is a good chunk of me that is sad to leave my new friends, old friends and family. We will surely miss every single one and we fully expect to have visitors!

As far as the actual assignment goes, it's not 100% official until we get our orders which doesn't happen until a few months prior to our leaving (which we have a good time left here). The biggest hurdle will be having the doctors at our receiving base in the UK approve him coming there, based on their availability and ability to give him the support he needs. Fortunately he is very healthy, medically. He requires physical therapy most of all, but we have heard they have therapists there that he would need.  We are also in the process of trying to get Micah to have a surgical procedure called SDR which will help him with his muscle spasticity. The best place to get it down is in St Louis Missouri, and in order to get our insurance to approve him going there we have to run him through the local specialist channels first, hopefully we can get this done soon. So pray for the right people to be involved in Micah's care so he can get this procedure done in a timely manner, it will do so much for him!
Micah J


Right now Micah is busy with Physical therapy, Occupational therapy, occasional Cranial Sacral work and infant massage, and yesterday he started his first ride for hippotherapy! More on that in another post, but Micah is doing well and growing to be a big boy. He will be 2 yrs old in two short weeks and my mind can't comprehend that just yet. :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Flashbacks to Flashforward

Life has been on my mind lately, and I am the type of person that can best transfer my thoughts into written word. So alas--here is another (hopefully) therapeutic and cathardic blog post. I figured I should make a point that I often try to be as open and transparent about my feelings as possible. I have two reasons why I feel the need to be so raw, for one, I feel as though it can help someone who may be going through what I am and not feel alone, and the other is so that I can look back on these posts to see how far I have come from where I am today.

The other day I had an appointment at Pres Hospital...the first time I had been there since Micah's Neurology appointment, and the very first time I had been in that specific office since my post partum appointment after the boys were born nearly two years ago (wow). It's absolutely impossible to erase those memories. Everything down to the smell of the elevator or the humming of the parking garage creeps into your brain and opens the drawers of a painful (and still recent) past. I'm pretty sure my skin started cracking just remembering the scent of antibacterial soap, scrubbing and hand santizer. The beeping of monitors in the NICU. The anticipation and anxiety of walking in and the emptiness and uncertaintity of leaving---everyday, day in and day out.

I look at where we are today. Where I am today. Where Micah is today. All of the things we have endured and overcome as a family and all the things we continue to endure, and all of the things we have yet to come.

First, I'll look at me. Bobbling in and out of depression like a booey in a wavy ocean...everytime I feel like I shake it off and back to my normal self I start getting lethargic, quiet, reclusive, fatigued, lackluster, impartial and unenthused. I took on the rescue effort last spring and that has been my saving grace. It gives me something to focus my mind on and give me a since of purpose in an area where I have passion. I did not anticipate however the obstacles and hurdles of dealings with human counterparts, of all things, in the dog rescue world. That part by far has been the most stressful, second (or maybe still first) only to doggie illnesses. But the rewards far outreach the stressors, and I love what we are able to do. I love that my passion is my purpose. I refuse to quit because things get tough and I refuse to let what people say or do stop me from my goal.  Of course, there needs to be a balance and I am learning how to better manage my time with family and my time running a baby rescue. 

The only problem I find is that no matter how engulfed in rescue my thought life becomes it still never takes away the pain, frustration, and sorrow that still plagues my heart. It is IMPOSSIBLE to not think of Jeremiah every day---and I never want to stop it. Which this leads me to Micah. My boy is such a joy. His personality is apparent, and he is intense in every way. He is either intensely happy or intensely mad and trust me on this, you will know when he is either. I look at him and my mind runs through so many thoughts and emotions. First I see how adorable he is. How proud he is to do what he can do. My heart swells with pride to see him reach his milestones, and slow and gradual as they can be. His days are littered with therapy and exercises, stretching and constant challenge. I try so hard to be his best ally, to make the best choices for HIM and to help him while still allowing him to have the most normal experiences as possible--where he is both pushed to improve and also allowed to just be and explore the world without always have to work for everything. In many instances, that means I literally sacrifice my back and my body to help him feel like he is part of the action. He does afterall have to keep up with his manian three-year-old gymnast-football-wrestling-monkey-spaz of a brother. I try so hard to make him feel like he is "in" it as much as Isaac is.

As a mother though, to truly observe what my son has to go through to just get around breaks my heart into a million pieces. I watched him the other day, "walking" in the backyard in his therapy walker. He was so ecstatic when I pushed him out into the middle of the unlandscaped yard so he could explore--but as his wheels got caught on rocks or turned into holes his exploration was jolty, rugged and short lived as he struggles to push his walker onward and navigate the terrain. How my soul aches that my beautiful son has to work so tirelessly to accomplish what most children can do at 1 yr of age with ease. Micah should be running and tripping, scraping his knees and rolling in the sand. But he can't do those things, not yet. His physical progress has been slow albeit steady in the direction of independence. How I took these things for granted when Isaac was a toddler---as if these milestones were a given--a right. The right to sit up on your own, crawl, pull up to stand, stand on your own, walk and toddel on your own--then run, explore, reach up high, hang on things, scoot around, climb up the stairs...you name it...he can hardly do it if at all, and if he can it is not without immense effort on his part and often with the assistance of myself or his dad.  Micah can walk well with the support of his walker that holds him up right so he doesn't have to worry about balance...and his latest breakthrough is army crawling around the house which has given him outstanding freedom. For that I credit his Cranial Sacral therapy---because of that therapy he is also starting to say more words!

I know that this is the life he is going to have. One day he will walk on his own, maybe with braces, maybe without. One day he will. And one day he will sit, and climb into his own chair. Those days are distant still, as he just recently started with a new walker where he has no trunk support and has to depend solely on holding on to the handles (something he does not care to do). But this is the next step to indepence and walking on his own. I pray he continues to progress in this department. It's about as equally hard as it is a blessing to watch him work at it getting around. I know he will get there one day and fortunately you can see through his smile that he wants to. He is as bright as the brightest of them--and boy does that kid LOVE music. He is my future musician---that I am sure. And I will say this, for a 10 week preemie that kid has some SERIOUS lungs. He knows what he wants when he wants it and if it doesn't happen there is ZERO reasoning with him he will let you know. Strong will I guess---he always was a fighter from the very start of his 2.5lb life. I guess I should of seen this coming. Doesn't mean that at the end of the day between a chattery and challenging three year old (maniac child--I swear Isaac has more energy in one day than I think I've had in my entire life), and a very particular, motivated little 20 month old who is frustrated in his own body, therapies, husbands with maxed out patience, lots and lots of dogs, and various other people demanding my time---that I don't just want to go rip my hair out, get a massage, cry, binge eat a cake, or totally zone out like a comatose zombie. Oh to have one day where NO ONE needed me....but that day would probably be boring as hell. lol.

I'm not really sure what to say....I guess I'm still grieving, and maybe I always will grieve our loss. I still grieve in part for my loss as a mother...but more than anything, and from the very first day our world changes my heart grieved most for Micah's. It's Micah's identical twin brother who is gone. The one he was supposed to have an amazing bond with for the rest of his life. The one who understands his feelings and thoughts without having to say a word. The one who is supposed to be with him and share their lives together. Micah can't tell me that he misses him, but I know that he does. It KILLS me that I can't fix that for him. When I see him struggle it's the worst. He doesn't deserve this life. He doesn't deserve a life of struggle and hardship and undoubtedly mean spirited children and adults who will judge him for his challenges instead of taking the time to see his amazing spirit. He doesn't deserve to not have his brother. It's not fair. And this is the part I have the hardest time letting go. Just like any parent would do anything and everything for their child---it is so hard to watch my little boy have so many challenges in life---and not just the physical ones but the emotional ones as well. I know he is strong and full of joy--and such a sensitive heart. He will rise above and grow up to be an amazing man, I just know it. But it doesn't mean I don't feel for my baby.

And then there's this ongoing problem. The hardest thing about losing a child is that you never really know when to talk about it or not. When someone asks you how many kids you have, do you tell them the truth? Is it worth being a "debbie downer"? Every time I say "two" I feel like I'm nullifying his very existence. Everytime I say three or that "I had twins but.." I cant help but feel guilty for the person that probably didnt necessarily need to know. And do I really want to tell any bit of that story? And do you really want to hear what people try to say in response to make you feel better? Half of the time they try to minimize like it will make you feel better...and all you can say is "yeah....". When people ask whats on my arm I tell them it's Hebrew for Jeremiah, my son, and usually leave it at that. I wonder if they see my deep sigh and shift in energy when I do. Oh well...I guess I am meandoring here....just getting it off my chest.

Basically...it's hard to move on. There are constant reminders every day and as seasons round the bend to my favorite season (fall)--with it comes the memories of my life nearly 2 years ago. I'll never forget it, obviously.

thanks for reading my ramblings.... :)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I did it.

Let's see, Micah is 15 months and 3 days old. That means that it has been 15 months and 3 days since we found out Jeremiah had gone to heaven to be with the Lord. 15 months is a long time, still I can't believe it's already been that long. In some ways it seems like it was just yesterday and in others it seems like it was forever ago...in an old dream---a very, very bad dream.

BUT--- today I did it--I thought about Jeremiah--specifically Jeremiah and Micah together, and how cute it would be with them together as twins, and I didn't feel total sadness.  I felt warmth and love. We were at the park and Isaac and Micah were swinging next to each other in the infant swings. Micah, as small as he is, fit perfectly in one half of the swing (with probably the most serious wedgy he's had to date).  I couldn't help it but it was fricken adorable. And like many times, if not every time I admire and swoon at his adorable cuteness, I thought of his identical twin brother---and how excrutiatingly cute they would be together.  Well, this was just another one of those moments I frequently have.  I thought to myself how stinkin adorable would it be if Jeremiah were here to be back to back with Micah in the swing. And then I said it out loud to Micah. "If your twin brother was here we could put him in the swing and it would make the cutest little double headed boy swing!"  And I talked to him about it a little. How cute he and his brother would be together. How they would have the same adorable soul-piercing blue eyes. Same cute-as-a-button noses. Same ridiculously infectious smiley faces. The same abounding joy. I sure wish we were able to experience that x2. All those twin things--that are unique to twins and unique especially to identical twins---because hey, it's not everyday that two people look exactly alike. (Too adorable people at that)

I did it though. I did it without feeling sad. I did it without feeling remorse, or pain. Sure, the hole in my heart probably began to glow (I guess like E.T?) but it didn't hurt as bad as it usually does. In fact, it was kind of nice to think about it. To acknowledge what could have been. What should of been. And I didn't shed a tear. I didn't even feel them well up. It just was what it is. My reality. My story. His story. OUR story. OUR life. And it's ok. It's not great or fantastic...if I got to go back and choose a different story I totally would pick the one with the fairytale ending (in Blu-ray). But no one has a perfect life. We all have our pain, our loss, our disappointment. This one is ours and I am learning that I need to embrace it.

Of course, just because I made it in that moment without crying doesn't mean I never will again. In fact I shed a few tears just writing about it. I guess the point is that I have finally gotten to the place where I can start to think of him and his brother together and be at peace. I miss my little man with all my heart.  It's like I told a friend, there comes a time in this process when you can think about your little angel and you smile instead of cry.

The truth is, Jeremiah was with Micah that day on the swing.  He's with him all the time.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Input Shminput

So it's been a while since I last posted any sort of blog entry. In the time that I have been MIA we have had our twin's 1st Birthday, some holidays, a few bouts of illness, a cruise & trip to Disney, more holidays, more illness, a New Year, and a due date anniversary. I am sure I could have written 50 blog posts or more on those things, and I am sure when I get the chance I will.

Tonight's blog post however has to do with most things Micah. And when I say Micah I mean Micah J, the twinless twin-preemie kiddo who probably has the anti-sleeping supervirus. There probably is a medical term, or combination thereof of what is really going on with him, but anti-sleeping super virus is completely appropriate.

Looking back, in Micah's short and yet so very long little life, he has never been a very good sleeper. He was, for a long time, one of those babies you had to continue to hold when they feel asleep in your arms, because of heaven forbit you set him down anywhere, he will wake up in a second. And then he has always been a light sleeper...and not to mention he has probably slept through the night maybe 5 times in his entire life. I am probably being generous. For the most part, his average night consists of at least two wakings if not one or two more (or even three...or four....).  Whoever refers to sleeping like a baby meaning you actually sleep hard, soundly, and long---obviously never had a real baby--or if they did it was the most aewsome-est sleeping baby ever. 

So long rambling story short, this kid throws MASSIVE tantrums when we try to put him to bed whether it be for the night or for a nap. He goes to sleep the easiest in the carseat in a moving vehicle, but outside of that he screams his cute little head off. SCREAMS. Not cries. Not whimper. SCREAM. He used to be able to nurse to sleep but now he is so worried about me putting him to bed he won't even let himself fall to sleep that way either. And trust me, anyone who thinks they have some good advice for the average not-so-good sleeper probably doesn't have any advice to offer that we havent already tried. We've tried aroma therapy, massage (which kind of helps), bath time, story time, lights on, lights off, music, white noise, quiet white noise, louder white noise, soft light, patting, side lying, tummy to sleep (with angelcare monitor), swaddle, no swaddle, footies, no footies, rocking (never works) singing, praying, talking, TV or Movies (works second best to the car ride), and yes...even the dreaded CIO---and various altered forms of such. He cries the same if you sit there in the room with him, hold him, in the room hidden from him, or out of the room. It's all the same. This. kid. hates. falling. asleep.

Since then I have talked to his Massage Therapist, Maria Mathias. She is world renowned and let me tell you, every time she seems him I am amazed at how well she understands the slightest of signs and symptoms. She is the one who opened a whole can of worms of understanding for me in this department. It's almost like realizing there is an entirely different universe out there, right in front of my face that I never even paid attention to. This universe I speak of is that of sensory integration and self regulation. Yeah, if you have never heard of it then this will all be new to you too. Basically, as normal functioning people we are able to process the difference sensory stimuli in our daily lives without needing much help to make it through, cope or "integrate". However, there are many others whose brains actually have a very difficult time with this task. It can manifest in a lot of ways, and there are varying extremes. In Micah's it almost seems as though outside increased stimuli actually sedate him rather than ramp him up. For example, at Disney, he just sat in the stroller taking in all the sights with his big blue eyes. He loves it, and fell asleep easily as long as we were moving. Before today, I never heard anything about "sensory input" and how that is needed. Things like chewing, and having a weighted blanket are examples of sensory input. I can relate in some ways, as I do not sleep well if I do not have a heavier blanket covering me. I just never thought of it as an actual "thing"..it just was what it was. Not sensory input. Welcome to the world of terms for things I already knew existed without realizing they existed.

Anyways, I am rambling again, but it is coming to my attention that for many reasons including those directly related to his prematurity, Micah actually has some sort of sleep disturbance issue. We dont know exactly what it is yet, but this kid has THE hardest time falling to sleep when left to his own devices. We are now brainstorming ways to help him with these issues. So far on the to do list I have get a weighted blanket for sleep and and going to order something called a chew stick---something the MT mentioned today when she saw Micah chewing on his sippy, saying that it looks like he needs to chew on something for sensory input. A fellow preemie mom passed on the chew stick idea and I am so excited.

On the bright side, it is very helpful to understand that there is a legitimate reason as to why M is having such a hard time with sleep. Lot's of people want to offer up advice on sleep training, which probably works for kiddos without these issues...but trust me they haven't and they may never work. It's nice to know that it's not something we did or didn't do, but rather an issue that we have to face and find a solution to.  I am glad that I can understand my son a little better now, and I do find myself feeling less frustration with our lack of success in the sleep department.
I am sure many of you have no idea about the last stuff I have been talking about, but yeah, welcome to my world! I just hope it's a step in the right direction. I feel bad for Micah that sleep has to be such a horrible experience for him. And honestly Cameron and I are going bonkers trying to figure out what in the world will help this kid go to sleep peacefully!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bringing It Back - The Birth Story

As I started this blog after the boys were born, I wanted to add this story, as it was most fresh when I wrote this (about a week after they were born).

Warning: It's a bit of a Novel. (And I haven't bothered to go over and edit anything)

November 6th, 2010

This is the story of Micah J's EARLY arrival, and the loss of our precious Jeremiah.

To catch everyone up, I was pregnant with identical twin boys. They were considered Mo-Di twins where they shared a placenta, had seperate sacs (and therefore had their own amniotic fluid) but were incased in the same outer layer, which is called a Chorion if I remember correctly. Up to the day before I left Okinawa on 3 Sep 2010 the boys were doing fantastically as revealed in my 22wk ultrasound. There were no issues to be reported, nothing of concern. I came to the states and had to dick with my *wonderful* Tricare insurance system working to get a referral to the dang OBGYN which took FOREVER. I wasn't able to get an appt until I had been here for 6 wks, and my specialist ultrasound wasn't scheduled until November 1st! All along however, no one ever felt any major concern, no feeling of impending doom. Prepare to be blindsided.

Cameron got here from Okinawa on October 16th, and we went to my first OB appt here in the states on the 18th. All seemed well. Doc used a doppler to get the heart beats of each boy, and they were pretty much the same on each side, as they had been in earlier ultrasounds. I told him about how I was feeling, AKA miserable. I couldn't hardly breathe...my back hurt, my pelvis hurt, I couldnt stand for short periods of time. etc etc etc...I was miserable but that was to be expected being small and expecting twins. I was 29 weeks that day and my uterus was measuring 33.

Two days later I noticed I was having a lot of braxton hicks contractions. I wasn't worried but I was having way more than 4 an hour despite drinking water. We went to L&D and they hooked me up to monitors, sure enough I was contracting. Had a hard time keeping both babies on monitors, they could only get just one at a time and then it would move and pick up my pulse and it was just a lot of chasing babies. That was expected for twins and my gestation, small babies can move around a ton. They did a swab to detect some protein or something that predicts whether or not I would go into labor in the next 7 days. After 2 more hrs it came back negative. I wasn't dilated at all. They made me chug more fluids and sent me home and just told me to watch it.

Meanwhile, I have gotten more and more miserable. I was in so much ligament pain it was excrutiating at times. I couldnt lay down AT ALL. My stomach seemed to have doubled in size in under two weeks. My skin hurt, my muscles hurt. My right ribs HURT so bad. I couldnt sleep between the ribs ligament and back pain. The only relief I could find was when my mom turned down her hot tub and I could be weightless. I noticed some decrease in movement, I wasnt getting as many kicks as before but I chalked it up to have two squished babies. I still felt plenty of movement. Everything said with twins expect them to move less as time went on and so I was not concerned as it said it right there "in the books". 2-3hr night sleeps (1hr at a time if I was lucky) was taking it's toll. I was miserable and I felt DONE. I was by far larger than I was with my son at 41 weeks.

Wednesday, October 27th rolls around, exactly one week since I had gone into L&D previously. Out of desperation I went to the chiropractor. It was such a relief. I even felt little Micah drop down into my pelvis. I no longer had a waddle. 3 hrs later I noticed I had contractions that were becoming more frequent. All along I had been chuggin water to keep them away. Water was not working. Around 3pm I noticed they were pretty frequent. Between 6-8 minutes. A little later they were getting closer to 5 but still irregular. My mom and I headed over to my house and on the drive I was watching the clock and they would literally hit every 5 minutes. They were feeling crampy too, lower down in my pelvis. I knew they felt like real ones...and I wasn't going to be able to sleep at all that night. I called my doctor's office and they paged him, but I didnt hear anything back for 1.5hrs so I called again, and they tried 3 more times, where the nurse called me back often to see if my doctor had contacted me. He hadn't so she tried another way to get ahold of him. 5th time was a charm and he wanted me in L&D right away to get checked.

At this point it's almost 11pm and we get to the hospital. My doctor was on call so it was nice to have him there. He checked me pretty much as soon as I got there. And wouldn't you know it, I was dilated 1-2cm and 50% effaced. They told me then I had to stay there 24 hrs, I needed a steriod shot for their lungs, most likely would be put on magnesium...and most likely end up being on hospital bed rest until I delivered. I started to cry, as I didn't want to be trapped there. I didn't want to miss out on Isaac, and I was Oh so very uncomfortable in the hospital bed. Especially when I had to lay down. All the while my husband is at home with Isaac, both asleep, but my mom was with me and we decided not to wake him up to tell him.

Then came the fun stuff. They strapped me up to be monitored. They could only get the one baby's heartbeat picking up on both monitors (again). So they brought a little ultrasound and would find the heart and mark a spot on my stomach where the heart was and put the monitor over it, but still would only get the one or my heart rate/pulse. They tried for hours to get them on track, and just when they think they did one would disappear or both would our they would be the same. They just gave up and decided to keep tracking with the ultrasound for a while and try again later. Then came the steroid shot for the lungs. By far the worst poke of the 800 stickings I had the whole time. A shot right in my butt and it STUNG so bad. Then they hooked me up to an IV, which took 4 different people and 5 different tries. They put my on fluids and then magnesium to stop contractions. I had been freezing and shaking this whole time, only to have the mag make me feel like my face was melting off. My ears were burning, my face was hot, I felt like I was in an oven for waaay to long. I held ice in my hands just to make it cool. Not to mention the whole time I couldn't eat a thing. The mag gave me major dry mouth and I just wanted to drink something soooo bad. I was hungry and thirsty. No fun. The goal for me at that point was to stop contractions.

28 OCT - Morning rolled around, I think I slept one hour. Cameron got the update that I was stuck there, contracting etc. The docs wanted me to get another steroid shot at 24hrs after the first, so around 1am again later that night (thursday). Magnesium had slowed my contractions a little, but they did not go away like they should. The same swab test I had had the week before came back positive this time. The nurses were still having a rough time keeping the boys on the monitors.

Cameron arrived and my mom and him swapped Isaac and now he was with me. The perinatologist office came up to get a biophysical profile of the boys, to see how they were doing overall. It was just a tech and she had a hard time figuring out where baby b - Jeremiah - was. She went and talked to the actual doctor and he brought up his bigger machine to check it out. He started taking measurements of baby A, Micah. I saw some measurements that read around 31 weeks (I was 30 weeks 3 days). At this point everyone, my husband, the peri tech, my nurse, and the doctor were all around my bed. The tech said something about how she couldn't figure out how baby b was positioned. The doc said "because he's stuck". I didn't know what that meant but I wanted to say how could he be stuck if he's always moving from the monitors? He then had me roll to my left side so he could get more on my side. I asked Cameron how his measurements looked. He said he didn't see them. (He did, he just didn't want to tell me what they were).

So a few minutes pass and the doc turns off his machine and started with "I wish I had better news for you." My heart sank, but I didn't know what it meant. I didn't know what he was going to say. I expected bad news, obviously, but more of the, one twin isn't doing as well as the other type of news. Not what I was about to hear. He continued, "Baby A is alive and well." I held my breath. "Baby B is not, there is no heartbeat." I then argued with him a little. How could that be? How come I feel him move. We kept seeing him move on the ultrasounds just hours before. How does he not have a heart beat now? The doctor then explained to me that what actually had happened is that our precious Jeremiah had passed on WEEKS ago, 2-4 he said. Micah was then getting twice the amount of blood flow and fluids from the placenta, which had diverted from giving Jeremiah his share, called Twin to Twin transfusion. Micah therefore was swimming in a giant pool of amniotic fluid. The babies we thought they were seeing on the ultrasound was just always him. Jeremiah had been pushed up into my ribs (hence my discomfort), without hardly any fluid around him, and so all we were seeing was Micah. So all along they thought they were having a hard time keeping both on the monitors, they were only tracking one, and he could move so easy he would move away. Even the doppler at my last doctor's appointment had really just picked up Micah's heartrate.

(UPDATE: turns out the more likely passing of Jeremiah occured about 10-21 days prior, as an estimate and he may have still been alive for my doctors appointment on the 18th. However, I did notice the decrease in movement around the time Cameron came home---as this was when I started to get miserable and my ribs began to hurt like they were---so I think I would put the timing of his passing around the time i felt him in my ribs. We will never truly know)

I didn't know what to do. I was in shock. I cried...but I was in shock...my brain and heart did not believe it. Just yesterday I was expecting two bouncing baby boys. It all changed in an instant. I thought I was dreaming. I wished I was dreaming. It turns out my L&D nurse had the same experience I was having. She was pregnant with twin girls, one passed away at 26 weeks (and they knew pretty much right away because she was being monitored due to complications) and ended up giving birth at 31 weeks. Her babies were fraternal and therefore did not share a placenta so not a twin to twin transfusion, but still, she knew pretty much EXACTLY what I was going through and what I would go through. Her daughter is now 16 months old. It's a gift that God had her there for me, someone who REALLY knows what it's like to lose a twin AND have a baby so early preterm.

The past 2 weeks I had gotten HUGE (and miserable, remember?). Well this was because of the increased blood flow and resulting amniotic fluid. I had what was called polyhydramnios--too much fluid. And it happened FAST. The magnesium had failed to stop my labor. I was contracting and they had checked me sometime that morning and I was at 3-4 cm. I knew this was it. My body was going to have these babies whether the docs tried to or not. Fortunately, now that we knew what was really going on and how much stress the extra blood flow and fluid was putting on poor Micah's body having him soon was actually a GOOD thing. He was better off outside than inside, because his heart and organs were at max capacity. (Turns out now we know that this extra work caused his lower heart chambers to be thicker than normal--but still fully functioning). Now all they really wanted was to give him that second dose of steroids. I knew I wouldnt make it the full 24 hrs. My labor with Isaac was so fast (4.5hrs) and the only difference was my water hadn't yet broke. It would have gone much faster then. The gave me a catheter hoping to ease pressure off my cervix but instead it did the opposite. My contractions were getting stronger by 2pm and I said I needed my epidural. I was not in that much pain yet, but it was getting worse and I did not want to wait around. I hoped it would slow my labor. And more than anything I did not want to have to be in any physical pain during labor, facing the hugely emotional and tragic ordeal coming my way---and already there. This day was far too painful already. The anesthesiologist was in a C-Section so it took about an hr. At which point I was 6cm and I was getting very irritated hoping I wouldnt have to go through this with pain. Fortunately my labor had slowed a little, and he came on time. I got the epidural and I felt much more content. They came to give me the steroid shot and lo and behold I didn't feel a dang thing.

I had many visitors coming to offer support in this hard time. I was trying hard to not let myself "go there" knowing what I was about to face. I was about to not only deliver my babies 10 weeks early, 7 weeks pre-term, but I was having to deliver my stillborn son. Not something you want do or ever think you would have to. Birth is supposed to be amazing and exciting, full of life and joy. In my case....I was facing both. I was exciting to meet Micah but scared for his wellbeing...and devastated for how I would not get the same for my little boy Jeremiah. I had to stay strong. I needed to be strong and deal with my emotions later.

Then came a point where they thought it was just time to get him out. He started showing slight signs of distress during my contractions and they figured it need to happen soon. They considered starting me on pitocin to get things rolling. Or trying to break my water. I had the nurse check me again and it turned out was was practically fully dilated and that having a 30wk baby I didnt really need to be completely at 10cm, so they decided to tell the doctor it was ready. I had to deliver in the OR, which is normal for twins but in my case that didn't matter quite as much as the fact that the OR shared a door with the NICU so they could wisk him away as soon as he was born.

They wheeled me away, Cameron helping all dressed in his OR outfit. They brought me in and rolled me onto the other bed. Set up some stuff, put on stirrups that looked like hockey pads. I fortunately had the PERFECT epidural. I could not feel pain, but I had completely control of my legs and I could even lift myself up. Thank you Lord for that. They got all prepped...NICU people, anesthesiologist, nurses, doc, husband. I starred up at the giant light surrounded by mirrors. I cracking jokes along the way...trying to stay positive. The doc did a quicky ultrasound to make sure Micah was head down, and sure enough there was a head. So they told me to do one push. The nurse and the doctor were all impressed by how "awesome of a pusher" I was. She then said she was going to break the water, expecting it to be Micah's. Instead she said there was green in it, suggesting Meconium in the fluid which wasn't fantastic news. One more push later and it turned out that somehow Jeremiah made his way out first, despite being initially tucked up in my ribs. At 8:03 pm he came right out and they held him up to cut the cord. His umbilical cord was all swirled up tight near his belly, which could of been one reason why he had lost flow from the placenta. I was not prepared to see what I saw...and at first I just shut down, but now looking back at it, it's still precious... I'm glad I got to see him, regardless of how he looked. He's still my son and I still gave birth to him. I was still glad that I didn't know it was him who I was pushing...I think it made it less emotional for me to have ignorance in that.

Once they took him away the doc again did another ultrasound to check where Micah's head was. It was a concern that since he was A) in so much fluid he could do summersaults easy and be breech in seconds and B) Jeremiah coming first may have pushed Micah to turn breech. But thankfully he was also head down. The doctor then got buckets to prep to break my water. [There is a thing they call AFI, Amniotic Fluid Index, where they measure 4 pockets of amniotic fluid on ultrasound and add them up to see what your AFI is. Normal is usually 10-20, 8 being pretty low for normal, 22 being about as high as they really want to see. When I had them done with Isaac his AFI was normally about 14 or so. The doctor however estimated that Micah's AFI, fluid for just him alone, was a 50! yeah.] So she got the hook and said here we go, and out game a river of fluid. It sounded like someone pouring a 5 gallon bucket of water. It seriously was like a waterfall. The doctor jumped back at first and my water kept coming at force for over a minute. Just when you thought it was done it would keep on coming. The doctor and nurses and my husband were all in awe. I said "Thank God, I had to pee so bad!" Seriously, I felt the pressure release and it felt amazing to have my lungs back again. The whole time the doc was also trying to keep Micah's cord from coming out first and had the nurse push behind him to keep him from turning.

Once the water stopped gushing she asked if I was ready to push.I pushed once and he went into the birth canal. I felt pressure and had to push again, so she let me do my own pushes (no one counting I just did what I needed to). I pushed one more time and at that point I was crowning, my body was pushing him down on its own (contractions were one on top of the other). She had me wait so the NICU people could get ready, so breathed hard trying so hard not to push, be he still kept coming. She said "ready or not he's coming!" So they said they were ready and she told me to push once more and out he came. At 8:09 pm She held him up to cut his cord. He looked so long, longer than I expected. His eyes were closed and mouth wide open but no crying or attempts to. I expected that. He was dark but not blue. They took him away right to the NICU where they got him breathing and put on a ventillator. They also go him all hooked up and gave him suffactant, which is produced naturally later in term, to prepare his longs and soften them so he could use them to breathe.

I then delivered the placenta and she showed me how the vessels look and where the umbilical cords were attached. I did well for my delivery, no complications, no tears, no nothing. They got me back on my other bed to take me back to my room after cleaning me up. Cameron stayed with the nurse who had Jeremiah. I came back and then felt more emotional. So much had just transpired. I was not pregnant...but empty handed. I finally let myself feel some emotions.

Shortly after I got to my room and all situated Cameron came back and they brought Jeremiah in all wrapped up in blankets. But I will share that story some other time...this one is long enough as it is. But just know that I did get to hold my precious boy. I got to feel the weight of his body in my arms. And I got to cry.

Once my epidural wore off enough and I went to the bathroom like they wanted I was able to be wheeled in a chair to see Micah. That was the moment where my devastation turned to joy. Two completely polar opposite emotions that I have to deal with hand in hand, every hour of every day.

Jeremiah Colton Settle, born sleeping (but alive with the Lord) at 8:03 pm on October 28th weighing 2lbs .7oz and 15in long

Micah J Carson Settle, born at 8:09pm on October 28th weighing 3lbs 6oz and 15.4 in long

They were born at 30 weeks and 3 days gestation.

One of my last pictures of me pregnant - October 17th, 2010 

About to Roll into the OR for Delivery - Putting on my Game Face

Holding My Sweet "Sleeping" Jeremiah

Micah J - October 28, 2010
(Holding Daddy's Finger)

The Boys Together - Eternity Cannot Come Soon Enough

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dear October

Hi October, I see you around the bend. It appears as though you are on your way here and time just wont slow down. I know I normally welcome you with wide open arms, practically rushing you in the door--for I love your colorful leaves and your crisp clean air. The problem is, October, you now carry with you a heavy burden, at least in my life. I cannot truly enjoy your colorful leaves without remembering those same leaves that painted the trees and dusted the sidewalks in the parking lot of the hospital where my sons were born.  I cannot feel the cool crispness of your air without re-living that night that we walked into the hospital heading to L&D, bundled in sweaters and scarves.

More than anything, October, you remind me of what I have lost and what I have been through. You remind me that this time last year, my son was still alive in my womb. You remind me that in a month from then, he was not. You remind me that my arms are still empty and my heart is not completely healed. You remind me that I am missing my son.  October, you remind me that it was real, IS real--that this is my life from now on. As long as I am on this earth, October, you will remind me of my Jeremiah Colton and our great loss. 

Although I have healed, it is not complete. Although it is no longer raw, it still hurts. Although much time has passed, I feel the pain that I thought had left me. Although I know my son is in heaven with the Lord, he is still not with me. Although it has been nearly a year, I cannot forget what it was like to deliver and see my son---lifeless and without smiles and warmth.  Although it has been nearly a year I will never forget how it felt to hold him in my arms.

October, I know one day it wont hurt as bad and you will comfort me once again. But for now, please forgive me as I do my best just to survive the next few weeks to come---at the moment it nearly seems unbearable.