Why We're Worthy

Losing our son was the single worst experience of my entire life. Losing our daughter was a little easier. Miscarrying our third seemed almost routine. They have all been hard, but with each loss, I’ve also lost more and more of my hope and optimism. My motto of “keep moving forward” is getting harder and harder to follow. It gets harder every day to believe that I may...

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Our little Lucy bean.

I've debated countless times whether I wanted to share the name we gave our little bean. I wrote most of this post clear back in June or July, when I was sharing all the bumpdates, but I couldn't ever decide if I waned to share it. This weekend though, after leaving her little grave marker at the cemetery, I decided that I wanted people to know how much she matters to us. We may have only had her for fifteen weeks, but she has been such a big part of our lives that it would be an injustice to not share her more.

I've mentioned in previous posts how close I felt to our little bean before we even got pregnant with her. After we lost Carter, I could feel him a little, but I could feel her more. I had this little female guardian angel that was always there when I needed comfort. One day in February, I knew I was pregnant. It was like someone had snapped their fingers and all of a sudden, I just knew. That little spirit was gone, and I knew I was pregnant with her.

After we got a positive pregnancy test, I tried really hard to convince myself that it probably wasn't a girl. Because that would be too lucky, and it also would mean that everything I had felt was real, and that I wasn't just crazy. Me being crazy was far too likely. But the day we found out we were going to lose her, we also found out she was a girl, just like I thought. It broke my heart to lose a baby we'd had for so little time, but that I knew so well.

We had planned to use Lucille as her middle name. I didn't want to use the name we had picked out because I have the distinct feeling that her spirit will be coming back to us. For whatever reason, it wasn't the right time, but eventually, it will be. I want to save her name for that time, because that's how I know her. Right after we lost Carter, I felt like I could say her name, and she was right there, waiting to bear some of my grief. Brandon and I mostly call her little bean, or just the baby or "she" or "her", but for the family's sake, we decided to call her Lucy. I knew that giving her more of an identity would help our family with their grief, and would give them a way to identify her when talking about her.

Part of the reason I'm hesitant to share this is because we have some family with a baby named Lucy, and even in my head, that name belongs to their baby. Our baby is not Lucy. Maybe someday we will get to use Lucille as her middle name, but for now, she is our little bean. I just hope that, like everything before, my instincts are correct and that we will get her again.

Feel free to call her Lucy or little bean; we will always know who you are talking about. We just appreciate you talking about her at all.

 
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A grave marker for little bean.

 
 
 
 

This weekend was full of so many emotions! Friday morning, I got a call from my mom saying that my brother and his wife were on the way to the hospital to deliver their baby. I waited for updates all day, but it was a slow process, so I tried to be patient! Our power went out at work that morning, so I spent the bulk of the day writing thank you's for people that have donated and/or purchased a necklace. I was running on adrenaline all day, trying to get all my things done before leaving work. That night, I worked on more thank you's, and Brandon edited a vlog. We had a nice night, just hanging out, still waiting for updates on our little nephew. Finally, at 10:43, he was born, and I officially became an aunt! And guys, he is the cutest!

Saturday morning, we woke up early to drive to Logan. We hadn't been to visit the babies in a month, so it was really nice to get up there and do some maintenance. We cleaned off the headstone, trimmed the grass around it, reorganized the toys, and made a makeshift lanyard to put the babies' pins on. The weather was perfect, and we were able to spend a lot of time with them without freezing or being too hot. It will be winter in Logan before we know it haha. Then we went to go have lunch with Brandon's parents and brother to celebrate his mom and brother's birthdays. After lunch, we ran to Hobby Lobby real quick. We had bought some football stakes to leave at the cemetery, and accidentally forgot them at home, so we just decided to buy some more and leave them that day. When we went back to leave the stakes, we decided that the lights needed to be cleaned, so we took them to Brandon's parent's house and got them looking new(ish) again! We had the birthday people open their presents, and chatted for a while, then left to go back to the cemetery one last time.

About six weeks ago, we finally ordered a grave marker for Little Bean. We spread her ashes at Carter's grave, and we wanted to get something to let people know that she is there too. The marker came just after our last visit to Logan, so for the last three weeks it has just been sitting on our counter. It was nice to finally leave it, but it also made my heart so heavy. Some things just really solidify the idea of everything we've gone through, and this was one of them. It breaks my heart to see not one, but two of our children's names in a cemetery.

Needless to say, we stopped for Aggie ice cream before driving out of town.

That night we borrowed the neighbor's dog and went for a nice, long walk. It was a little cooler than we had anticipated, but it still felt good to get out after sitting in the car all day! Brandon was up late that night editing a vlog, so we slept in Sunday morning, did laundry, got some groceries, and capped off the weekend with Costa Vida. Yesterday afternoon, before we left the house, we were able to video chat with my brother, his wife, and their new baby! We chatted for about an hour, and talked about how their last few days had been. We are so excited to go see them and meet our cute little nephew! He is the second grandbaby on my side of the family, and I know that he is going to be so spoiled. There are a few similarities between him and Carter (namely their big feet and head of hair) that pull on my heart strings and make me the happiest mama/aunt at the same time. 

All in all, it was a good weekend. Our visits to the cemetery are always tinged with sadness, but we also appreciate being able to be with our babies in whatever capacity we can.

ALSO. You guys are crushing it with Flying for Time!! We are so close to meeting our goal, so let's keep it going! Thank you so much for everything!!!

 

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.

Finding strength in our choices.

Original post on Still Mothers.

So many people have told me “you’re so strong.” Sometimes I want to punch them, but most of the time I just shrug and tell them that I don’t have any other choice. My husband repeatedly tells me that I do, in fact, have a choice. I could choose to stay in bed all day, but I get up and go to work instead. I could choose to cry and be angry all day every day, but I choose to press forward and embrace any emotion I feel, including happiness. I could hate every other woman that announces her pregnancy, but instead I think about how lucky they are that they get to experience a part of life that I loved so much.

When discussing this with someone the other day, they responded, “You do have that choice, you’ll always have that choice, but you are not giving yourself that choice. That is not one of your options.” I had never thought it of it like that before.

There are many reasons I give as to why I don’t have the option to fall apart: I have a job, we have to take care of the cats, I have to put on a face for family…a lot of reasons that involve other people. But there are a few reasons that are just personal, and I’ve realized that I need to really take into stride just how strong I can be. Being angry and sad 100% of the time is exhausting. It’s draining, and (for me) causes more anger and sadness. I’m already tired enough, I don’t want to make it worse. And I’ve dealt with depression before; I remember how it feels. It’s a dark and lonely place that I don’t ever want to go back to. I allow myself to be sad, but I will not fall back into a pit of despair and hopelessness, no matter how much I miss my babies. As much as I want to fall apart some days, I recognize that it is not the best or healthiest way to cope (for me personally).

Of course, all these feelings, the desire to be angry and sad, are completely justified when you lose a child. You’re going to have bad days and you’re going to fall apart and that’s okay. Someone irreplaceable is missing, and there’s no way to bring them back. Crappy days are inevitable. Post-partum depression and depression from a loss are to be expected, and that’s okay too. It’s not easy, but with help, it can get better.

When you are having a bad day, and you wonder how much longer you can do this for, remember that you set your limitations for falling apart. Even on your worst day, you could always fall apart a little bit more. But at some point, we dry the tears, pick ourselves up, and keep on living in the name of our children. Even when we don’t want to, we choose to keep going. We are as strong as we choose to be, but we’re all stronger than we give ourselves credit for. So keep going, mama. Have bad days, have good days, but just keep going.

My children are my identity.

There have been so many times in the last ten months that I have felt lost. I feel confused about who I am, who I will be, and how on earth I will ever be anything other than the person I have been since we lost Carter.

It's an interesting thing, to try and describe yourself. I can tell you very easily that I have brown hair and hazel eyes, that my nose is a little crooked, and that my skin is whiter than a ghost's. I love laughing, writing, eating, singing, watching movies, cats, ice cream, and hanging out with my husband. I can also tell you, with a little more difficulty, that I am kind, silly, deeper than I may seem, and that I care about others more than myself. I have a love/hate relationship with people in general, get bored way too easily, and that the only time I feel 100% confident in myself is when I'm dancing in a crowded room. There are surface level things that you probably know, then there are deeper things that you don't. There might be even things you know about me that I don't know about myself. But I have been so changed by the loss of our children that I don't really know anything anymore.

I don't really remember who I was before we lost Carter, and I don't know if it's because I am still the same as I was then, or if it's because I am completely different. Or maybe it's both. The things I would have told you about myself then are the same things I would tell you about myself now, but they feel different. It's almost as if, before, my traits simply laid on top of my skin, like they could slip off and be replaced at any moment. But now, they are etched deep into my bones. They are permanent, and would be very difficult to change. 

Or maybe everything feels different because there is sadness that lies behind it all.

It's almost as if, the day we lost Carter, I ran into a brick wall and everything fell apart. My composition stayed the same, but those traits were slammed into my bones and then I shattered. Now instead of being whole, I'm in little pieces. I still feel the same things, and I feel like I'm still the same person, but I'm having a hard time putting it all together. I don't know that I could really tell you anything about myself anymore. 

The only thing I can tell you for sure is that everything I do is done for our children. Every thought I have, every action I do, every word I say, they are all for our babies. I go to work to make money to save for the next baby. I stay home in bed because I'm too sad to get up. I speak kindly to people because I don't want to add to any hardship they are experiencing. I play with the cats because I can't play with my babies. I eat out because I'm too tired to make food. I spend money because my life feels empty and even though material things don't help, they feel good in the moment. I cherish my time at home with Brandon, because he and the babies are my world, and home with him is the safest place to be.

A lot of women talk about how they lost their identity once they had kids, and I can understand that. Going from lots of me-time to little or no me-time is a big adjustment, and I'm sure it's hard without that time to rest and recharge. It almost sounds silly to say this, but it's also really hard to recharge when you have too much time for yourself. I'm so sad and so lonely and so empty all the time, and it feels like the weight just gets heavier and heavier. 

I don't know who I am, and I don't know how to feel normal emotions anymore. I don't know how to maintain one stable mood for longer than thirty minutes at a time. I don't know how to be happy without being sad. But I do know that I am a mother to two perfect children, and wife to the best husband a girl could ask for. Even though I am a broken, our family is whole, and that is enough motivation for me to keep picking up pieces of myself, even if I drop a few along the way.

Missing the babies.

If I had a dollar for every time I've said that losing a baby is confusing, I would probably have enough money to adopt every child in the world. Confusing isn't the only word I would use to describe it (though it's one of the more appropriate ones), but besides being sad and angry, confusion is what I feel the most.

I started thinking about this on Monday. It was 11:04, and I got up to go to the bathroom at work. As soon as I walked in the door, I thought, seven days and ten minutes ago, I walked into the exact same stall and found that I was bleeding. Seven days and ten minutes ago, I was pregnant, and now I'm not. In my last letter to little bean, I wrote about how it was weird to not have any active participation in her delivery. With this miscarriage, I just stayed home. I was kind of an active participant, kind of not. Either way, one day the baby had a heartbeat, the next, it didn't. One day there was a baby in me, a few days later there wasn't. One week I got to stay home and mourn our loss and deal with the physical pain, the next I had to come back to work and pretend like everything was back to normal. Whatever that means anymore.

It has been nine and a half months since we lost Carter, and with each subsequent loss I find it harder and harder to understand our new normal. In the span of forty weeks, one normal woman's pregnancy, we have lost three babies. Three little angels that have somehow broken and completed us all at the same time.

There are so many things I've written separate posts about that I could continue to write about for years and years: sadness, anger, confusion, emptiness, fulfillment, joy, grief, fear, dread. The fact that our house is so empty. The idea that when I go out in public, no one would ever guess that I am a mother. How unfair it is that we are unable to bring a child home when there are parents locking their kids in cellars or the trunks of their cars. That I'm terrified people will forget Carter and little bean when there are so many other babies in the world. How crazy it is that time still passes, and that it seems to go so slowly, yet so fast. I think a lot about the day my counselor had me choose emotion cards out of a deck. I think I chose like fifteen different emotions. Maybe even twenty. That's a lot of emotions for someone to feel. And it would be one thing to feel each of them on different days, but I feel all of them simultaneously every single day.

How is it possible to feel so empty and full at the same time, all the time? To be so thankful for what I have, but so angry at what I don't?

When you lose someone you love, it's kind of like a giant boulder getting dropped into the middle of a small puddle. It crushes a lot of who you are, and the ripples aren't so much ripples as they are just chaos. Water spills outside the puddle, breaking the serenity and the wholeness of it all. The boulder is too heavy to lift all at once, so to get it out of the puddle, you have to slowly chip away at it, piece by piece, and it takes a long time. But even once every chunk of the boulder is removed from the puddle, there's still a dent where it fell, and that dent will never go away. There will always be tiny pieces of the boulder that are left behind.

Every single day I'm reminded of the chaos this boulder of child loss has caused in my life. Depression, anxiety, fear, guilt, loneliness, social anxiety...the list could go on and on. Losing Carter and little bean have hindered my ability to function like a normal human (or at least as normal as I was before, anyway). Brandon's work provided tickets to a baseball game last night, and I wanted to go, but we got about ten minutes away from home and I just couldn't do it. I couldn't handle people asking how I was doing, or giving me hugs, or telling me how tough I am. And on the flip side, I couldn't have handled everyone avoiding me or avoiding the subject of our losses. So instead we just went home and I was sad all night. It's not fair that we're changed in this way. Of course, I would rather be this person without my kids than never had them at all, but ideally, I'd like to still be normal and have them here with me.

It has been a pretty crappy week, in all honesty. I hate going to work not knowing when I'll get to be a stay-at-home mom. I hate staying home because it's too quiet. But I hate going out in public because, you know, people. Thank you to everyone who sends me notes and special things and remind me that our children are remembered. They always seem to come at the right time, and this week has been no different. And to all you loss parents, or anyone that is going through a hard time. just hold on. The ripples get smaller, and each day you wake up is another chip off the boulder. We can do this.

"You're so strong."

I read an article a while ago that sparked this post. I shared the article on Facebook, so some of you may have read it. In it, the mother writes "People comment on how “strong” my husband and I are. I don’t want to be strong, I want to be normal. There is nothing strong about living without your child. We don’t have any other choice but to go on without her; to go on living some semblance of a life while constantly missing her. There is no other option."

I've thought about this a lot since we lost Carter, and even more so since we lost our little girl, and now, after our miscarriage. People are always telling us how strong we are. We, like the mom that wrote the article, don't want to be strong. Trust me, I would love to have both my babies here and have people tell me I'm weak all day long. I would far take that over losing our babies and having to be strong. It takes so much work to be "strong." It is so hard to wake up every single day, get out of bed, eat, go to work, put a smile on my face, and help people with things when all I really want to do is scream and go home to sit in the empty nursery. At the end of the day, I barely have energy to sit on the couch with my eyes open. Some days I just want to drag myself outside, crawl into the backseat of my car and stay in the parking lot at work, because going home means I have to get up and do it all again the next day.

I don't want to be strong because I feel like the more I put on a show, the less people will remember our children and what we are going through. I don't want to be strong because I feel like the harder I try to be okay, the less I remember my own grief, and in turn, the less I remember our kids.

You think I'm strong because you don't see what happens when you aren't around. I put on a face for you because I don't want you to cry for me. I don't want to ruin your day the way all my days are ruined. I don't want you to feel even an ounce of the hurt I'm feeling, because no one deserves that. So you think I'm strong, because I'm spending my energy being strong for you.

But you don't see what happens when I'm by myself. When a song comes on the radio that reminds of Carter dancing in my belly. When I get home and can't make it up the steps because I'm physically tired from all the emotional pain. When I'm crying so hard that I can't breathe. When the skin around my mouth dries out because I drool a little when I cry. When anxiety sets in and I'm hovered over the toilet trying to simultaneously quell my crying and not throw up. When I get so angry that I throw the nearest non-breakable items until my arms are tired. When Brandon's shirt is soaked through with my tears. When we sit on the floor holding each other until the pain lessens. When every sentence about our children is a little stilted because we can't help but get choked up every time we talk about them. When we sit at the cemetery wondering how this is our life.

It's nice that people think we're doing well, and that we are being tough and putting on our game faces, but it's a lot of work. It's hard to not just call in to work every day. It's hard to not just lay my head down on my desk and will away the world. It's hard to come home to an empty house, or leave with an empty backseat. It's hard to live with an empty heart.

You can tell me I'm strong, but just know that you're lying. Maybe lying isn't the best word. Just know that you're wrong. I do things the way I do because I don't have a choice. Falling apart is not a choice because we have to keep going. Putting our lives on hold for grief is not a choice because time moves on and we have to learn to incorporate grief into our everyday routine. Giving up on myself is not a choice because at the very end of the day, I am all I have; I am the only one that controls my thoughts and emotions. Forgetting to live is not a choice, because my heart still beats for myself and our children, and there is so much potential for our little family. We have to live for that potential.

So you may think we're strong, but to us, breathing and living without our children is just a hard thing we have to do every day. It's routine but not, all at the same time. We're not just strong, we're loss parents, and this is our life.