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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Little Bit of Everything

** Living children mentioned at various points through this post.  Use discretion when reading. **

Strings of good days...many good days in long strings...marred by randomly placed bad days.  Perhaps the bad days are exacerbated by postpartum hormones.  Perhaps they are fueled by frustration about my broken and largely unusable house and the lack of insurance settlement.  Perhaps my own anger, bitterness and selfishness about other situations over which I have no control.  Perhaps it's guilt.  Perhaps they are bad days that really have no explanation. 
Today.  Today was a bad day.  I stopped by the cemetery for 5 minutes, and found that the grass and sod in a large portion of the cemetery had been kicked up by someone or something.  Have to say, despite the fact that our family plot was untouched, I was pretty bothered by what I saw.  I'm bitter and frustrated about some things at work.  After a long work day I sat down and scrolled through my FB news feed, only to find that the cat I got as a kitten (who has lived with my dad since I went to college, but she was still my cat) in 1993 got hit by a car and died this morning.  I accepted the fact that she had just turned 19 and had become pretty feeble and probably couldn't move fast enough to save herself, and that maybe it was time (and the fact that my step-mom decided to post it on FB before telling me that she had died)....and I kept scrolling.  That continued scrolling brought me to a very innocent picture of my best friend's three-year-old all dressed for her first day of preschool.  Today was the first day of school for many preschools and schools on the east coast, and FB was saturated with 'first day' photos, but this was the only one that bothered me.  My friend and I were pregnant together and our first born girls were separated by only 3.5 months, which means that my Gracie should be starting preschool, too.  All I could do was sit at my desk and cry....and then come home and cry some more as I nursed my 5 week old.  And cry again as I sat down to type here tonight. 

When I was driving between schools today, I found myself mindlessly singing along with the radio...
 "...These are the moments I know all I need is this, I have all I've waited for, and I could not ask for more..." 
Some days these words perfectly describe how I feel about life.  Other days, these words couldn't be further from the truth.  I don't have all I've waited for, and there is certainly something more I could ask for.  I want my daughter back.  I don't think that's too much to ask.  I feel so fulfilled by the relationship that I have with my husband, and by the two beautiful girls that we have added to our family since losing Gracie, but the whole in the middle of that fulfillment just can't be ignored sometimes. 

As I shed my tears, work through my thoughts and type these words, I know that it's all normal and that I'm perfectly entitled to every single feeling that I have.  Yet, I can't help but feel overwhelming guilt at the same time.  Guilt because I could not bring myself to do anything special or meaningful on Gracie's birthday at the beginning of the month.  After all, she is my first born; everything about her birthday should be special...every year.  Guilt because it's so hard to watch my best friend's daughter grow up and hit every milestone at the same general time my daughter should be hitting them.  Guilt because she has every right to show her daughter off to the world, yet sometimes those pictures are the last thing I want to see.  Guilt every time I post photos of my brand new daughter on FB for the world to see, hoping that a new BLM acquaintance won't see them; her son's due date was three days after my daughter was born, and I feel like everything I post is like dumping salt in her wounds.  Guilt because each tear I shed for what I have lost is a moment taken away from quality time with my two living girls.  Guilt for not feeling more grateful for all that I have with every single breath that I take. 

Some day, perhaps, I will be able to perfectly balance the grief with everything else in my life. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

March for Babies 2012

This year's walk was at the beginning of May.  Our previous walk location was combined with another regional walk, and once we arrived, we understood why.  Our previous location drew only about 150 walkers.  The new combined walk drew somewhere around 800 walkers.  Pretty impressive for this area. 

Team Graciebelle had 4 walkers and a ride along.  Our parents all bailed on walking this year; maybe next year will be different.  With the help of our team, our family and our friends, we raised a grand total of $3855.65 this year.  Our team goal was $5500; even though we fell a little short, $3800 isn't too shabby.  Thank you to all who donated to our efforts!! 

Team Graciebelle 2012

 Jenna standing next to her Ambassador poster from last year's walk. 

Baby Loss Awareness Pins

Updated 2/12/2015

We still have pins available if anyone is interested in purchasing. 

If anyone is interested in purchasing remembrance/awareness pins, please let me know.  We ordered a bunch of these a couple years ago to donate to the memory boxes that our hospital gives to families.  Sadly, we went through them quickly.  When it was time to order more, I could not find them for less than $8 each, which was way too costly for us in terms of total spent for the number ordered.  I looked around, and with the help of my friend, Dawn, was able to find them direct from the manufacturer.  We had to order a minimum of 500 pins (which was still way cheaper than ordering the 200 we wanted at $8 each), so now we have a ton of them.  I am sure that we will use them eventually, but I figured that I would offer them up for sale if anyone wants them for family or donations, etc.

Cost is $2.00 per pin, plus shipping (dependent upon how many you order).  Email me at
sand0113 gmail dot com if you are interested in purchasing.  

Saturday, May 5, 2012


When Gracie died, our parents had no idea what to do for us.  None of them had ever been through miscarriage, let along late term stillbirth and they were all just as lost as we were.  Since then, they have tried to support us as they feel appropriate, but we have not asked much of them.  We have asked them all to join us once a year for the October 15th remembrance walk, and we have asked them to participate in the March for Babies with us each year.  We have asked them to participate in our annual Christmas Eve balloon release (which requires nothing other than walking outside and letting a balloon go into the air), and my MIL babysits for us once a month when we go to our support group meeting.

My MIL asked us a while ago (I'm not really sure when - maybe 6-12 months ago) how long we were planning to attend 'this thing' (our support group meeting) every month.  Our parents have all donated toward our March for Babies team every year, but none of them have helped at all with our fundraising...not one penny.  My father did not walk in our first March for Babies because of knee pain.  Jeff's mother will not be walking this year because of medical issues.  I will not fault either of them for this.  Jeff's dad will not be walking with us this year for unknown reasons.

Since last year's walk, my father has had his own medical issues that have left him with moderate neuropathy in his feet that tends to get worse with lots of activity or walking.  He informed me yesterday that he wouldn't be able to walk because of his neuropathy.  I told him that I kind of anticipated that, and told him that the walk coordinator was still looking for more folks to man the refreshment break areas along the walk.  I suggested that he consider this instead of just sitting around waiting for us, he consider helping at one of these break areas and he said that he would think about it.  He followed that up with 'but I'll have to be done by 12:00 or 12:30; I have a 2:00 tee time with one of the guys from my Wednesday night league group."  He mumbled something about this man not being able to make one of the league nights and using this round of golf to make up that time...  My step-mom emailed me today to say that my father would not be attending the walk, so she will be coming by herself tomorrow.  Somehow, I was not overly surprised.  But, man, am I pissed and disappointed.  Golf.  He can play 18 holes of golf tomorrow (granted, he does ride instead of walk) but he can't walk with us or even be bothered to help at a refreshment station.  He can't miss his tee time...even though he's known about the walk for several months.  I got really upset when he missed on of my high school musicals without a reasonable explanation other than 'I forgot that it was this weekend", but that doesn't even compare to what I'm feeling today. 

We don't ask for much, and when they bail on the things that we do ask them to do, it just frustrates and disappoints to levels that can't be described.  Gracie is our daughter...she is their granddaughter....just as much now as the day she died and was born.  Yet, it's moments like this that the 'get over it' mindset seems to be stronger than any other thought or feeling that they have...  It's moments like this when I feel like enough time has passed that it still matters and is still important to just two people...

Sunday, April 22, 2012


To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.

You never understand until it happens to you.

These statements are fitting to describe the new normal for those who have lost a baby or young child.  I walk through each day reminding myself that the world does not revolve around baby loss...and that 99.9% of the people I come into contact with on a daily basis have suffered loss of a loved one.  But there are certain situations where the impact of baby loss simply cannot be denied, a primary example being subsequent pregnancies and children for those who have experienced loss. While some will never go through pregnancy again, many will endure at least one or more pregnancies after their loss. 

I am in my third pregnancy – the second pregnancy following the death of my first born.  Pregnancy after loss does not even begin to compare with pre-loss pregnancy.  And because of many variables, this entire pregnancy has been a much different experience than our second pregnancy.  This was a topic of discussion during one of our recent support group meetings, and I finally threw out the suggestion of extending an invitation for our providers to join us for one of our meetings to talk with us specifically about life, and pregnancy, after loss.  I made the suggestion fully knowing that our practitioners are very busy folks, and with the understanding that there could certainly be no expectation of all of them attending one of our meetings.  But, I’ll be honest, I held hope that maybe one or two (out of 7) of them might make 30 minutes to speak with us, based simply on the understanding that interactions during prenatal visits tend to be structured and limited (in terms of regularly branching out from conversation about new baby to conversation about dead baby).  I really felt like it could have provided them with some beneficial perspective, not just in terms of their interaction with us, but in terms of their interaction with any and all parents experiencing loss in the future...

I suppose that it was presumptuous to think that anyone outside of our group would see the benefit and/or need for this kind of discussion.  (And, perhaps, it was presumptuous to believe that none of our practitioners has first hand experience with loss.)  As it turns out, it didn’t really matter.  The invitation was extended to one of the docs, who more or less shot the idea down, and it never went any further than that.  I never expected that any of the docs would show up in the first place, but I was holding out a little bit of hope that a midwife or two might have a little interest….

So onward we trudge through the remainder of this pregnancy and related appointments.  Onward we trudge through the repeated assumptions that life has been all sunshine and roses prior to this pregnancy.  Onward we trudge through the ‘how many pregnancies?’ questions every time someone new can’t be bothered to read a chart.  Onward we trudge feeling like we have returned the status of being a number instead of being someone with noteworthy history.  Onward we trudge carrying the disappointment that even the people who should understand more than any other practitioner out there, the ones who told us that our daughter’s heart had stopped beating, don’t really get it…

Monday, March 26, 2012

Looking for My Person

"She's my person. If I murdered someone, she's the person I'd call to help me drag the corpse across the living room floor. She's my person." --Sandra Oh as Dr. Cristina Yang, Grey's Anatomy

Perhaps this is an indication that I watch too much Grey's, but it's so fitting for my mood tonight.  The value of this person in one's life is immeasurable.  I've been fortunate enough to have 3 people throughout my life who have stepped into this role at one point or another; a friend in high school, a roommate in college and my sister.  But what do you do when you find yourself personless for an extended period of time???

Technically, I guess I'm not personless.  Two of the three are still in my life, but not really in the sense of calling them to 'help drag the corpse across the living room floor' anymore....and definitely not in the sense of this damned grieving process.  My college roommate and I have been separated by about 3.5 hours for the last 12 years; we see each other a few times a year and we talk frequently, but it's just not the same as the 5 years that we spent living together.  For some reason there is something that prevents me from calling her and saying 'I miss my daughter' and processing what I need to process with her.  I'm pretty sure she wants to ask about it, but there's something that prevents her from doing so.  We talk about everything in the world except how I really am, and I don't know how to change it.  Deep down, I think most of it is due to the fact that her first baby was born just 3.5 months before Gracie.  There is so much connection when you're pregnant at the same time as a close friend...where that connection goes when one of the babies dies is something only those reading this blog can know and understand.  The emotions of watching the other child grow and develop are something only those reading this blog can know and understand.  The ridiculous barriers that it can create are, again, something only those reading this blog can know and understand. 

My sister left American soil exactly two weeks after Gracie's funeral; she spent the next 27 months serving with the Peace Corps in Africa (with the exception of a 3 week visit home about half way through her service that I wrote about quite a while ago).  Despite the fact that she lived 2-3 hours away for years before she went into the Peace Corps, we talked daily.  There isn't much that I couldn't and didn't say to my sister.  Obviously, her departure with the Peace Corps had nothing to do with me, but it couldn't have come at a worse point in my life.  Good God, how selfish does that sound????  She heads to Africa to spread assistance, peace and good cheer and I'm saying that it was inconvenient for me.  But in all reality, her departure was a definite turning point in our relationship.  Had she stayed stateside, our daily communication would have certainly continued, at least after the first few weeks following Gracie's death.  The way things played out, communication was minimal for months after she left, simply because of her logistics and environment.  Once we were able to resume regular communication, it was usually via 'instant message', which leaves much to be desired when you're working through grief.  Once regular phone communication was established, the window had more or less closed; she was so wrapped up in the daily hardships of what she was doing that she never really asked, and I never found a good way to inject 'I miss my daughter' into our conversations.  Between the halfway point of her service in Africa and the time she came home, other things happened to just 'kick the horse while it was down'.  She's been home for 5 months, and in that time, I've seen and talked to her a fair amount, but it's different that it's ever been in the past.  There's an element missing...or perhaps some kind of barrier that we've never had; there are things that I just don't/can't say at this point that I would have said 3 years ago, I know that she's not openly communicating things with me that she would have shared 3 years ago.  She moved from the east coast to Colorado a month ago, and my gut tells me that that will be another very damaging blow, as will substantially limit how much we see her and how much she gets to interact with the rest of my kids. 

So, essentially, I'm personless.  I have lots of acquaintances, but I run really short in the good, true friend department.  I'm picky about who I let into my life, and I'm just not that good at making friends (and there are just not that many opportunities for me to meet lots of new people face-to-face these days...).  As a result, the void created when my daughter died is perched right next to the void(s) where 'my people' should be, due in large part to this unending grieving process.  Gotta love the domino effect...