Let's Talk About This Stupid Study

A new study has been published recently that essentially says that if a pregnant women falls asleep on her back in the third trimester, the risk of delivering a stillborn baby doubles. The study also says "What we don’t want is for moms to wake up and see their on their back and think, 'I’ve done something terrible to my baby.'" But I don't think the researchers...

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What we lost.

When you lose a baby, you don't just lose the baby. 

You lose dreams and hopes, goals and milestones. Plans you once had for holidays, vacations, life in general, they are all gone. You miss out on baby snuggles, late night changings and feedings, watching them sleep. You miss out on that first smile, first steps, first words. You miss out on the phase when they begin to explore anything and everything around them, when they start to develop their own personality. You miss out on first days of school. You don't get to watch them learn how to drive, go off to college, get married, and have babies of their own.

You don't just lose out on the one moment of delivering a live baby, you lose an entire future.

There is a lot of preparation for bringing a baby home. You buy a crib and a dresser and a stroller and a carseat and a diaper bag and blankets and clothes and diapers and wipes and bottles and pacifiers and sheets and a pack n' play and toys and socks and bibs. We had all those things. We'd had lengthy discussions about how to do Disney with a baby, and how we would learn to travel differently and slow down once we had a little one with us on our trips. We had planned to go to Hawaii around Carter's first birthday. We were so excited to do Thanksgiving and Christmas at home just the three of us. I was excited for Carter's uncles and grandpas to teach him about cars and sports and bikes and music and techy things and bad jokes. I was excited for his grandmas to cover him in kisses, and become the kind of grandmas that always had new pictures and videos of their grandson to share with everyone. I couldn't wait for the cats to meet him and love him. I was excited for Brandon to be his dad, and I was excited to be his mom. 

When we lost Carter, we lost a huge piece of ourselves. We lost our naivete, our innocence, and a little bit of our joy. When we lost little bean, we lost some of our optimism. And when we lost the third pregnancy, we lost some of our hope. Maybe I shouldn't speak for Brandon on this, but those are things I've lost with each baby.

I think this is why losing a baby, or anyone that is gone too soon really, is so hard. Dying of old age is natural, and even though all the time in the world is never enough, there has at least been enough time for memories and milestones and just time together in general. We never got any of that with Carter or little bean. I'd still be pregnant with little bean, technically; we'd be about seven weeks away from meeting her. But instead, we have to try and make a lifetime of memories out of the weeks and months we had with each of them in my belly.

It's fun for us to think about what they would have been like. We don't do it so much with little bean, but we think about Carter's personality a lot. When we were at Disney World, we both agreed that Animal Kingdom would  have been his absolute favorite. I could almost picture him getting so excited at seeing all the animals. It made my heart hurt. We bought a stuffed Safari Mickey to leave in the nursery for him, because I could see him wanting that toy. I like to think that he'd be a bit of a mama's boy, and that as much as he'd want to run around and explore, he'd want me right behind him the whole time. I can see him giving Brandon a run for his money, but also wanting to chill next to dad on the couch every night. And I can see him being gentle and sweet with the cats, and them loving him right back. I don't want to idealize him or make it seem like he would have been the perfect child, but I don't call him our sweet boy for nothing. He would have been the most tender soul.

But we can only imagine those things; we'll never get to know for sure. We lost out on so many things that we were looking forward to, but we also lost out on getting to see our sweet Carter grow into the great man I know he would have been. He would have been just like Brandon, I'm sure of it. Knowing that the world missed out on getting another Brandon is a tragedy in and of itself.

Our life itself is not lost. Brandon and I still have each other, and there are still so many things we can accomplish if we are left to do life just the two of us. But from the moment we found out we were pregnant with Carter, at around 5:15 pm on March 7, 2016, our children became our life. And I don't know that you ever really come back from losing something, someone, so special and instrumental to every day living. There are a lot of things we don't get to do with our little man, and a lot of things we are doing that we'd really rather not, but he is still ours. We will make new goals and hit different milestones. He is our child, and a part of our lives forever.

On sharing Carter's pictures.

I had some nasty comments left on a few of my pictures this morning. They started with the picture of Carter I posted last night, and went all the way back to a picture in December. I always wonder why people waste their time trolling feeds they don't care to look at. If you don't want to see those pictures, go find someone else to stalk. But further than that, why troll the feed of someone who is clearly hurting? What gives them the right to drive that hurt in deeper?

Let's go back to yesterday. I was having a SUPER crappy day. Like, on the brink of tears all day, babies everywhere, wanted to just lay down and cry kind of day. We allowed ourselves some retail therapy, ate lots of food, and watched a lot of parks and rec. Late last night, I started scrolling back through pictures. I got to one I had posted of me with Carter, but honestly, the photo in black and white doesn't do his cute face justice. So I opened the shared file we have with all of Carter's pictures. I don't look at these pictures very often, maybe once every few weeks, and I think I kind of realized why last night. Carter is always always on my mind, one hundred percent of the time. But after almost ten months, a lot of times, he just feels like an idea. Like the time we had with him was all made up, and that the nursery was put together just in case. Looking at his pictures makes it feel real. I look at him, and I see my eyes, Brandon's lips, my nose...I see us. He is our baby. We made him. He's not just an idea. He's real.

The jerk this morning commented "why post a picture of a dead baby?" And while I kind of just laughed it off, because they aren't worth my time, it still upset me. Carter isn't just some dead baby. He's my son. Our son. He is a product of Brandon and myself. He carries our dna, and I carried him. I delivered him, we held him, we loved on him, and then we had to say goodbye. And then we had to bury him. He's not just some baby. He's our baby. I understand that some people may not want to look at a picture of my deceased child. In all honesty, I'd much rather be posting pictures of him with his eyes open, smiling, and crawling around the house. Of course I'd rather not be sharing a picture because I'm feeling sad, I'd rather be sharing a cute picture of something he did that day, and saying how lucky I am to be a mom to such a perfect boy.

Here's the thing though: I'm still lucky to be his mother. I'm still incredibly proud to have carried someone so perfect, to have made the literal cutest child (biased but oh well), and to have felt his little personality as much as I've been able to. While a lot of things are and always will be just dreams, we still get to fantasize about what life would have been like with him, the things he would have liked, and how full our home would have been with him here. We don't necessarily get to parent him, but he is still, in every way, our child. 

Like I said, I know that seeing pictures of an angel baby may not be something everyone is comfortable with. And that's okay. It's sad, and it's hard. Trust me, it makes me sad too. In the past ten months since we lost Carter, I've had a total of three negative people leave comments on my pictures. Compared to the amount of support we've received, three is nothing. So I'd like to take a moment here and say thank you to everyone that leaves such kind comments. I can't even begin to tell you how much they are appreciated. I'd also like to say thank you to those of you of may be uncomfortable with the pictures, but are decent enough to simply keep scrolling. You recognize pain, and you are kind enough to not make it worse.

The troll also commented "why smile at the grave of your deceased child?" Again, I'd really rather not be doing that. But there is something to be said for appreciating what you have, even if you don't have it quite to the extent you'd like to. Our family has grown by two in the past year. And even though our children are not at home with us, I am still so grateful to have them, and to know that they are a part of our family forever. So forgive me, hater, for smiling at the grave where two of our children are laid to rest. But I am blessed to be their mother, and knowing that Brandon and I have made a couple of perfect children is definitely something to smile about.

Another friend for Carter

This weekend was super nice, and very much needed after the busy month we've had so far. An hour after we got home from Boise last weekend, Brandon had to turn around and leave for Vegas for work. He got home Wednesday night and for the rest of the week/weekend we had really big plans to do absolutely nothing. Thursday afternoon we laid in bed and finished Big Little Lies (well, I finished it, Brandon napped). Friday was somehow relaxing and productive all at the same time. We got our Utah drivers licenses (which you're supposed to do before 60 days of living here but I feigned ignorance and held onto my Idaho license as long as I could!) and saw Spiderman that night. On the drive home from the movie, we saw a little rainbow in between the mountains on the east side of the valley. We ran home to grab our new camera, but by the time we got back outside, the rainbow had kind of started to spread and disappear, but we snapped a few pictures anyway. Then we drove back down the street to take some pictures of this lone sunflower on the side of the road. I know all this is kind of unnecessary to tell you, but having that time with Brandon to appreciate the little things made for a really nice evening!

It had been three weeks since the last time we were able to go see the babies, so we were pretty excited to get up to Logan on Saturday. We took them some Mickey-shaped crazy straws, a Disney keychain, and a little Hogwarts Express train. Brandon also bought them each a poker chip while he was in Vegas, so we left those too. When it comes to Disney, I almost feel like we spend more money on them than we would if they were there with us, and I love it. We bought them each a stuffed animal from Disney World too, but those are at home in the nursery. It was nice to spend some time at the cemetery, rearranging their toys, cleaning off the headstone, and giving them their new little trinkets. We took home the souvenirs from Amsterdam, and the Disney things will stay until our next trip (which, let's be honest, will probably be Disney again).

Brandon always makes an extra effort to pick up anything that has fallen over on any of the other headstones, and in doing so, we realized that there has been another little baby buried near Carter. When the first few babies after Carter was buried in front of him, we left each family a journal, and a note with our story and contact info on it. I leave the contact info, because I remember how alone we felt in the hospital, and I want to make sure these families have some sort of support, even if it's just a random stranger who knows some of what they are going through. There was one family I didn't leave a journal for, but we ended up meeting them at the cemetery on the day we spread Little Bean's ashes, and even though I am so grateful for the timing of it, have always felt bad that I didn't leave one for them. Brandon asked me on Saturday if I wanted to leave one for this new family, and at first I kind of declined. It had been a rough week, and I wasn't sure if I was up to writing our story down again, but in the end, I decided to do it, and am so glad I did.

The mom texted me last night, and my heart has been aching for her all day. Everyone's loss story is different, but it's hard not to feel at least some of what the parents are going through. I reach out to these women because I don't want them to think they are the only ones who have experienced a loss. I am so grateful to be in the company of strong parents that honor their children, and am so thankful for the support they have given Brandon and me, but most of the time I really wish we were the only ones. It breaks my heart to see and hear these other women suffering and feeling similar to how I felt. I know only a little of the pain, anger, and devastation they feel, and I wish I could take it from them. Losing a baby, especially so close to a due date, is not something I would wish on my very worst enemy. It is the only tremendous loss I know, but if losing Carter and now Little Bean could save everyone else from having to experience it, then I would gladly shoulder that burden.

It gives me a sense of peace to think about Carter and Little Bean, wherever they are, doing great things with other angel babies. I appreciate the parents who have unwillingly made this sacrifice since we lost Carter in October, but if the forces in the world care at all, I think Carter has enough friends for now.

I wrote a post a while back about how to help a grieving parent, and I would like to add to it here. If you know of someone who has experienced a loss, please let them know they aren't alone. I've had a few people tell me my blog has helped them, or that they planned to pass it along to someone they know. My blog is just one of so so many resources available to parents who have lost a child. There are blogs, support groups, counselors, websites, Facebook groups...so many resources for a part of life that we shouldn't be experiencing. Please pass them along.