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 many resources for a part of life that we shouldn't be experiencing. Please pass them along.


15 weeks.

I know I've said it before, but it is so strange to be counting up, when I was counting down for so long. I remember when we had 15 weeks left until our due date. We had just gotten home from our vacation to DC and New York, and were in the thick of setting up the nursery and preparing for our little guy to arrive. I don't even remember what it was like to be 15 weeks pregnant. I didn't feel pregnant yet, but I know we were so excited. And now, we're fifteen weeks out, and it's just so weird.

When people ask how I'm doing, my usual answer is "fine. some days are harder than others." And I realized about two minutes ago that that's a total lie. Not that I'm not fine, because I am. Not good, not bad, just fine. I worked with someone once who told me that "fine" is the worst F word you can say, because it's vague and always a lie. And though me saying I'm fine is sometimes a lie, the real lie I tell is that some days are harder than others. Because really, some minutes are harder than others. One second you can be mopping the floor, and then you remember that the last time you prepared for your family to stay with you, you were also prepping to go to the hospital to deliver your son. You can be plugging away at work, getting shiz done, and remember how it felt to have him placed on your chest. It's the strangest thing. When I think about it from a metaphorical standpoint, I just picture myself getting hit in the face with a fish. It comes out of nowhere, it's messy and unwanted. I'd rather go fishing and bring on the grief by myself.

Grief is just weird in general. When Brandon went back to work, if he was even five minutes late getting home I freaked out, worrying that he was in a car accident or something. Even today, my family is driving down to see us, in three different cars, and I know I will be full of anxiety until they all get there. Fear isn't going to stop me from doing things and living my life, but I don't want to deal with more than one loss in my whole life. Every person I know has to outlive me, got it? That means you!

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine that lost a baby over the summer. We were talking about how, for me, it is hard to have all of Carter's things, because I feel like I just prepped for a baby in case we ever got pregnant. But at the same time, it's so nice to have all those things, because I can just go into the nursery, sit in the chair, and just kind of be with him. She had a dream that her son was still at the hospital, and that no one told her she could go visit him, and I wanted to say, well luckily that's not real, and you have his ashes at home with you. How stupid is that? Luckily. Saying luckily in any situation right now is just plain ridiculous. But she said "there's no right or wrong way to lose a baby" and basically nailed it on the head. There's no right or wrong way to navigate through the muddy waters of loss and grief and anger and sadness. You can use your hands or a boat or snowshoes or whatever, but it's still going to be hard and you're still going to feel stuck sometimes. But as long as you're trying, you're moving forward.

There are new pieces of brightness in my life that I never would have thought I'd have to deal with. Get to deal with? I don't know. No right or wrong answer with this one. But it's strange to get excited about something and share it with someone, only to have their look of sadness as a response. I know it's sad, trust me, but it's also okay for people to be excited about the things I'm excited about! I found the coolest thing on Etsy yesterday! There are companies that make necklaces with engravings of a sound wave. So you can send a voice recording to them, and the sound waves for that recording onto the necklace. Go one step further...they can engrave sound waves for a heartbeat. I'm trying to get a better picture of Carter's heartbeat sound waves (thank goodness for the fetal echo that we did? I guess?), but I'm going to get that necklace soon! I shared that with a lady I work with, and I felt bad because she was sad, but also happy? I feel like life is a giant question mark at the end of every sentence haha.

These are some strange things to be excited about, but if we can't have our boy at home, then we should find some sunshine in the little things we get. All the necklaces I have that are pieces of him, the headstone we were able to purchase with the help of friends and family that has Brandon's drawing on it, the drawing from a sweet stranger, pictures, molds, and support from the kind lady who was there to share in our grief, airplanes galore, and the knowledge that there are so many people who love him even though they never got the chance to meet him. I don't know if you would call these silver linings, I don't know that there are ever silver linings with loss, but there are beautiful coincidences and tender mercies that make the hard times just a little bit easier. 

**cover photo is me at 15 weeks pregnant.

Collateral beauty.

Last night we went to see Collateral Beauty. I wanted to go last night, rather than on a cheap Tuesday, because I knew it was going to make me cry, and I would rather cry in front of fifteen strangers instead of ninety. I did cry, but not entirely out of sadness. In the movie, Will Smith's character loses his six year old daughter. We lost Carter, but losing an unborn child is different than losing one you have spent years with; I couldn't fully relate to his loss, I only know my own.

But I cried because the message of the movie is something I've been striving for since the afternoon of October 26th. In the movie, a character says "just make sure you notice the collateral beauty," which is far easier said than done. But I've been trying. 

There have been a few situations in the past weeks that could have been perceived as super, super crappy, or actually kind of neat, and I've realized that it is up to me how I perceive them. When I was buying a Christmas tree at Hobby Lobby for the rest of Carter's ornaments and the cashier announced overhead "we need Christmas tree BB as in baby boy to the registers," the collateral beauty was not being angry that they use baby boy as the identifier, but noticing that the universe somehow knew what I was using the tree for. Collateral beauty is hearing the lady in the Sizzler bathroom tell someone she is going to name her baby Carter, and me not getting mad, but telling her that we named our son that, that we lost him at 39 weeks, and having her tell me that she lost her first. Collateral beauty is wanting to be upset about the dry skin between and under my eyebrows, but suddenly appreciating it when I remember that Carter had the same dry skin in the same spots. Collateral beauty is having a package of ours delivered to the wrong house, getting a random text from the lady that received it, and having her tell me that she has been in our shoes twice, and getting the biggest hug from a stranger that I've ever been given.

Sometimes I think about certain things that have happened, and wonder if I'm just making up the beauty and the special meaning of it all. I wonder how on earth I can try and tell people how situations like these make my heart feel lighter and heavier at the same time without them thinking I'm a crazy person. But then I remember that it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if I think I'm crazy or if other people think I'm crazy-unless I'm having conversations out loud with no one, then someone get me some help. What matters is how I perceive things, and how I choose to grieve. And most of the time, not every second of every day, but most of the time, I choose to perceive things in light and in beauty. Life is too short to not appreciate every minute, even the bad ones.