On anger: a note to angel moms.

Caveat: This post is intended for angel moms or others who have experienced a loss and can understand how it feels to be unbelievably and unrealistically mad at anyone. If you are reading this and do not fall into one of these two groups, please do not be offended. That is not my intention, I just am hoping to help others by being honest.

I like to think of myself and a genuinely kind and sympathetic person. I care about people, and I care about people's feelings, and I like to help people find their strengths through hard times. This is actually what I want to do with the rest of my life, and a master's degree in counseling is in my future, but that's not the point. My point is that, even though this is the kind of person I am and always have been, losing Carter triggered a piece of me that isn't those things.

Like I've said before, I have tried really hard not to have bad feelings about the whole situation. I've tried to not be angry at myself, Brandon, the doctor, my body, or God, and I feel like I've done a pretty good job. But there are times that I get mad at other people, and even though I want to feel bad about the things I'm angry at, sometimes I can't. I get angry at people who complain about (what I feel to be) petty things. Things that I'm not even going to elaborate on, because the things I get mad about are by no means easy situations, but things that I don't feel even compare to what I'm going through. Unfortunately, this is a part of the grieving process that is basically out of my control.

I get angry when people feel like their situation is the worst situation, and  they take every opportunity to feel bad about themselves, when what they are going through is not the same as what I'm going through. I get angry because I feel like they have absolutely no right to complain about anything, especially to me, because I'm still grieving our loss so hard. And sometimes I feel like people don't understand that, while I care about them as a person, I really couldn't care less about their "trials."

But I've also come to recognize that losing Carter might be the hardest thing I've ever dealt with in my life, but mine is not the biggest tragedy to have ever occurred in the world. 

There are some things that Brandon and I told ourselves right after we lost Carter. We kept saying, it could be better, but it could have been worse. We could have gone into labor naturally, then found out at the hospital that we had lost him. We could have lost him during the delivery. Or we could have lost him days or weeks or months later to SIDS or some other unforeseen thing. It could have been worse. 

I've talked to parents who have lost their babies during delivery or some time after taking the baby home, and I always think, oh that is so much worse. And I have been told multiple times "not worse, just different." How....I don't even know. How brave, strong, fearless, empathetic, compassionate, and so many other things is that of those parents to say? I wholeheartedly disagree with them, because I feel like their situation is worse than mine, but the fact that they have so much strength in their heart to tell me that our losses are of the same weight, just different...I admire them so much for that. And I think I'll get to that point someday. Maybe. Right now, it has been twenty weeks and I still find myself angry at people who complain about things that I don't feel need to be complained about so much.

Losing an unborn child is confusing. So freaking confusing. You have hardly any memories, but no fulfilled milestones. No coming home, no first steps, no first words, no baby snuggles. But I also recognize that my loss is nothing compared to a parent who had one, ten, or twenty years with their child. I can't relate to them at all. But I just think to have that presence and memories for so long, then to have them taken away...I can't imagine. Or to see your sibling, friend, spouse or parent struggling to live far before their time should be over. I haven't had to deal with that in my life, and I consider myself lucky. I know parents who have lost teenage children. I know friends who have almost lost their spouse. And I know people who have lost a parent way too soon. I haven't had to deal with that, and I consider myself lucky in that regard.

It is really easy to let myself be angry at people who complain about their lives when they haven't lost a baby. I think to myself, oh it was just this or it's just that. It's way too easy to be mad. This is a weakness that I'm not afraid to share, but it's definitely not one that I'm proud of. However, I think that it is important to keep it in perspective. No, these people have not dealt with exactly what I have dealt with, and while they should consider themselves lucky, so should I. I wouldn't wish this on anyone. If what they are going through is the worst thing to happen in their lives, then good for them. And I mean that in all sincerity. I am thankful that I haven't been handed worse, and I should be thankful that these people haven't been handed what I've been given. This stupid club I'm a part of now is way too big for my liking; we don't need anymore moms added to it.

We are as strong as our biggest trials make us, and you never really know how strong you are until you've been handed your worst. I pray to God that this is the worst thing I will have to deal with in my life, and I know others ask for the same. But we learn who we are in the midst of tragedy. We find strength in the darkest of places that reach to areas you never knew you would need strength for. Being angry at others who complain about their lives is one area I am still working to find strength for.

I don't know if I've done a good job at making my point (or any point, really) in this post. Part of my point though is this: Angel moms, it is totally normal and kind of okay to be angry at other people and their seemingly petty situations in the midst of grief and tragedy. And actually, that statement doesn't just go for angel moms, it goes for anyone else who had experienced a loss or is going through something hard. It's okay to be angry and sad and confused. But just remember that it's not the fault of the person or group of people who ticks you off - it's not their fault your baby isn't here with you. Remember how it once felt to be naive? Remember how what you once thought was the hardest thing of your life now seems so trivial? My depression seems like a freaking day at the park compared to this garbage. You don't have to say it out loud, but I know there is a tiny, tiny part of you that desperately wishes you could be that girl again. And the bigger part of you wishes you could be that girl and have your baby with you too. 

It's okay to be angry. But keep in mind that, luckily, not everyone knows your pain. Remember to keep things in perspective.

A different kind of #momlife.

The weirdest things are a punch to the gut after losing a child. Hearing a baby cry, watching the little boy in the pool with his floaties on, the emails and mailers that continue to come because the companies don't know better... Not everything hurts the exact same every single time. Within weeks of losing Carter, it seemed like everyone and their dog was having a baby. Seriously, there are probably about five people I would consider friends that had a baby within days of us delivering Carter. Sometimes I'm able to think about it in a positive way, like how nice it will be to have all these children to watch grow up, and be able to mark milestones for Carter based on what they are doing. But generally, it hurts. Watching babies smile at their moms, or seeing them discover their feet, or hearing them coo. My baby should be here doing that too.

I've noticed that when I am scrolling through pictures on Instagram, I tend to pause a lot on the pictures of babies that are around Carter's age. It's for the same reason I feel like I've developed a problem with staring at babies in public. I'm so jealous that these moms are living the life I'm not, and so so sad that my baby isn't with me. I study these babies, wondering what characteristics they and Carter would share. I wonder what it would be like, to watch Carter's eyes flitting all over the room, or to watch his mouth move, or to try and keep his wiggly little body tight in my arms. All these moms are living the dream with a four month old baby. They might complain about the late nights and the sporadic feedings, but compared to our lack of these things, I promise you, the sacrifices are a dream. 

Besides the pictures, the hashtags, weirdly, have also become a punch to the gut. I don't know why, I've never really paid attention to hashtags before, but I've started to, and they sting. I have been using them to connect with other angel moms, and to grow my circle of mom friends that are in the club we didn't want to be a part of. But while my hashtags read grief, love, loss, recovery, and angelbaby, other moms get to use hashtags like momlife, boymom, momlifeisthebestlife, mamabear, and so many others. Honestly, I don't feel like I'm privileged enough to use those hastags. Like, I am a mother, and I have a son, so those hashtags are definitely applicable, but is it really okay for me to use them when my son isn't alive? Is it the same? Most people would probably say yes, but in my heart, I know it's different.

The standard definition of mom life is a long day after a short night of sleep, stained clothes (yours and the kids), running around like a crazy person taking care of your kids, and endless baby snuggles. Social media mom life tells us that "life is hard and I don't have it all together, but I have my baby so life is perfect." Social media moms are all about sharing their flaws and telling us how they're not perfect women and they aren't perfect moms, but their babies sure are perfect so nothing else matters.

This doesn't get to be the mom life for some of us. Our mom life consists of suffering through our milk coming in with no baby to feed, packing away the baby things and trying to decide whether to leave the nursery door open or closed, hearing babies cry and trying to keep it together, going back to work and taking cry breaks in the bathroom once a day. Our mom life is visiting our baby's grave and going home to a far too empty house. 

Our mom life is different than most, but that doesn't make us any less of a mother. We carried our babies, delivered them knowing they either were not alive or would not live very long, and spend every single day grieving the loss and wondering what we did wrong. Our struggles are different; we don't stay up late feeding our babies, we don't not have time to clean the house, and we don't have to change diapers, but I can tell you that any mother in my position would give literally anything to do all the things new moms complain about. And I know complaining isn't the right word; moms know how lucky they are to be doing the things they are doing. But to an angel mom, hearing a new mom talk about how their baby's sleep schedule is off....they have no idea how much we would sacrifice to get no sleep for the rest of our lives, if only it meant being able to have our babies back.

I can't speak for other angel moms, but without my baby here, I feel like less of a woman, and definitely like less of a mom. I don't put in all the same work regular moms do, but I can tell you that grieving the loss of a child you barely knew is hard work. Really hard work. Sometimes I feel like a fraud, telling people that I am a mom. I don't even think I really ever say it out loud; when I talk about it, I always just talk about Carter being my son. But I don't ever say that I'm a mom. It doesn't feel real.

I wrote this post to challenge myself to feel like a mom, and to remind all the other angel moms that even though our babies aren't here with us, we are still mothers, and that is a part of our lives that matters greatly. I am no less of a mother than any other mom out there. I carried him, I delivered him, and I will continue to love him and care for him, his memory, his spirit, and his tender little grave for as long as I live. I am a mom, and this is my #momlife. Not less than anyone else's, just different.

Just mouth things.

I have another emotional post written up and ready to go, but I thought I'd spare you and save it for next week. You're very welcome!

A couple things are on my mind as we round off this week. First, I've had a huge influx of followers on Instagram this week. If any of you newcomers are reading this post, thank you for being here! Thank you for reading our story and getting to know our boy, and thank you for all your kind comments. I'm happy our story is reaching people, and am especially happy (I guess?) to connect with other angel moms in the world. What a sucky club to be a part of, but I'm thankful we have each other to lean on and talk to.

Secondly, Brandon has been a saint this week. While I was in Vegas, he cleaned the house, got the oil changed in the cars, washed and vacuumed both cars, and even worked on a little DIY project that technically was supposed to be mine to do (but I'm honestly so grateful I didn't have to do it haha). On top of all that, I was sick on Tuesday, and he stayed home with me all day. He's just so wonderful. Everyone should have a Brandon of sorts.

Third and finally, I have to have a small procedure done on my gums today. Seriously, so small; like ten minutes at the most. I'm trying so hard not to stress, but stress is basically my middle name, so that's how that's going. I just plan to have ice cream for dinner and sleep from the time I get home until tomorrow morning. So most likely I'll be up at three haha. Also! I pre-ordered Moana through the Disney Movie Club and have been waiting somewhat patiently for it all week, so I'm hoping it's waiting for us when we get home!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!