And somehow it ended with me pushing an empty double stroller down the street….

This weekend has been hard for me, although I feel like I could start every post like that, and probably have.  But I have been crying more again, physically aching for Sidney, my pregnancy with him, and my dreams of what he would have been like.  I still have moments where it seems like this can’t be real, that I can’t really be the mother of a stillborn baby, a death that still makes no sense to me, and probably never will.  I have been trying really hard to schedule activities for the weekends so that Eli can feel like we are still a part of living.  On Saturday, we had friends come up from DC with their 3 year old.  They are expecting their second child in November, and are very considerate about how I am doing, and do their best to not talk about their pregnancy.  But of course, at this point, the pregnancy is very visible, and my heart ached for what I don’t have.  Ached and ached.  And I just felt so tired.  I almost cancelled their visit, and went to hide upstairs and numerous points.

And then today I met another friend and her three year old at the Science Center, which was filled with pregnant women, toddlers and young children.  And again, I just felt so tired.  I didn’t want to be there, and I just wanted to hide.  Three-year olds require so much energy–and then I think, ‘what’s wrong with me that I am so drained and I only have one child? Maybe I didn’t deserve two.’  I don’t really think the world works that way, and I have been told that grief is draining, but thoughts about my incompetence in general are quite frequent these days.

We finished the day going to dinner at another family’s house.  We don’t know this family very well (we don’t know anyone in this city very well, since we haven’t been here that long) but they reached out and we like them.  They have three children, ranging in age from six to 20 months.  It was mostly a nice dinner, almost the type of dinner we would have had before losing Sidney, the children playing, adults talking, a walk to get ice cream nearby.  Really what would have been quite a nice summer night, except that someone was notably missing.  As we walked home, one of their sons ran up ahead, and the father had to chase after him, while the mother carried the 20 month old who refused to ride in his stroller (Eli was riding on my husband’s shoulders).  So as the all ran off, the father turned to me and said, ‘Can you grab the stroller?  You don’t mind, do you?’ So the evening somehow ended with me pushing an empty double stroller down the street.  I couldn’t really say no.  I wasn’t carrying Eli, and I didn’t have the 2.5 month old that I thought I would strapped to my chest.  So yes, I could grab the stroller.  What else did I have to do?  A deranged baby loss mom pushing an empty double stroller down the street.

This weekend, it had also occurred to me to show up to one of those stroller strides classes with an empty stroller.  I would never actually do this, since it would be horrible on so many levels, but after Eli, I would go to the park with a group of mom friends and our babies, and work out.  I am still about 15 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight, and seem to have stopped losing.  For obvious reasons, I am not going to join some type of postpartum exercise class.  But I wonder how people would react if I showed up with my empty stroller….

This was not the first time I have pushed an empty double stroller down the street before.  During the beginning of my pregnancy with Sidney, someone on the neighborhood listserv posted that she was giving away a sit and stand stroller.  I emailed that I would love it, and since she lived nearby, walked over to her house to pick it up. I was wearing sweatpants, hair not brushed, sick to my stomach as I was for much of my pregnancy with Sidney. I remember walking home through the neighborhood with the empty stroller, wondering if I looked crazy, what people might be thinking.  And now, that empty double stroller, folded in our basement, comes back to haunt me, my walk through the neighborhood an eerie prediction of my current situation, the label of delusion baby loss mom feeling not entirely unfitting.

MFM: Back to the unknown

We had our appointment with MFM on Wednesday, and I did feel like the doctor mostly listened, but I still somehow was not able to ask all my questions, and left feeling confused.  Perhaps I am looking for a reassurance and clarity that will just never be possible in this situation.  But basically, while the OB was not inaccurate that they found infection, the MFM dr was not convinced it had caused Sidney’s death.  He said that there was inflammation in both the placenta and umbilical cord, which was most likely indicative of infection.  However, he said that was fairly common, even in healthy babies, especially in the placenta (umbilical cord infection is more rare).  He said the same can be said for the small clot, that finding a small clot in a placenta of a healthy baby is not that unusual.  And then he said the scariest part to me–that basically, my contractions could have been too much for baby Sidney, and slowly cut off his blood flow.  And finally, he said it also could have been a cord accident, and we just didn’t see any indication of anything going wrong (I wasn’t expecting this one).  The combination of all of these factors may have proved fatal.  He said that it was unlikely that it was genetic/chromosomal, since the autopsy came back normal. He also said it was unlikely that Sidney had gotten a virus and had been sick for a while, or there would have been clearer signs of infection on his perfect body–I inserted the word perfect here.  The MFM did not say that.  And that it was unlikely that there was placental insufficiency, since Sidney was not too small–he was 6 lbs, 1.5 oz, which seems a little small to me, but not in the larger scheme of things I guess.  I know that around 20 weeks, he was measuring in the 49th percentile.  Because of all of these possibilities, he said Sidney’s cause of death is unknown.  So of course, with that information, I have ‘decided’ what I think happened.  Basically, with Eli’s birth, my water broke before contractions, so labor started slowly, and lasted a long time.  After 36 hours, with Eli being stuck at 9 cms for a long time, his heart rate started decelerating, and we did an emergency c-section to get him out.  He came out grunting, the drs thought there could be an infection, so they put him on antibiotics.  Never determined if there was in fact an infection.  And they said this type of thing was fairly common.  The MFM doctor agreed when I asked him, but he seemed not to understand my question about patterns/similarities in Eli and Sidney’s births.  So what I fear may have happened is that when I lost my mucus plug Thursday and then had contractions that stopped and re-started Tuesday, the trauma and length of the birth proved too much for Sidney, and his heart rate started decelerating, but since we weren’t in the hospital and monitoring him, and maybe because he had a little infection, my poor baby just died.  All while I was thinking, look at me, I am laboring at home, and doing so well, and when I get in, I will be nearly completely dilated and the dr’s will be impressed and my birth will be easy bla, bla, bla.  What the F–k is wrong with me, that I was concerned with having a stupid v-bac and didn’t recognize that babies could die, that maybe Eli almost died.  Instead, I was angry at how much the doctors in Seattle intervened in Eli’s birth.  I am so angry at myself, and heartbroken.  I want Sidney here.  I am having a rough morning. Except that maybe all the days are rough.

Okay, so break from guilt/whining and moving on to a practical note.  The MFM said that in a subsequent pregnancy, I would have more frequent growth scans, and then starting at 32 weeks, we would do two non-stress tests a week.  We would consider induction anywhere from 36 to 39 weeks, depending on how I and the baby were doing.  I could go on baby aspirin, but he doesn’t see the need for blood thinners.  I tested negative for some common clotting disorders.  While there are more tests that can be done, he thinks it’s not worth it, since my placenta was not completely clotted.  So we may eventually get a second opinion on all of this regarding another baby, but for other baby loss moms, what was your monitoring like?  And since I now may fall into the category of cord accident (which I don’t really get), do you do anything different in these situations?

A few other random thoughts:

This sucks.

I did hold a 3 month old.  I did okay.  Until his brother showed up and started playing with him, and I saw a picture of the two of them at the hospital together.  Then my heart ached.  It aches now writing this.

I met with the volunteer coordinator to talk about volunteering.  I will most likely help at a few random things this summer, and then they will assign me to a classroom on a weekly basis.  I feel mildly excited about this, although the volunteer form asked me what year in high school or college I was….I wrote professor.

I finally posted about Sidney on facebook.  The support has been positive, and I felt good about it at first.  But now I am angry that I am receiving condolence comments instead of congratulations messages.  I want my living son, not people’s sympathies.

And did I mention this sucks.  And that I don’t know how to do it.  And it sucks.  And I am angry.  And I want to scream and cry and yell but none of that will change anything or bring my baby back who may have died because of one of my fucking contractions.

Scared

I am just so scared, scared of living without Sidney, scared of everything.  In a little while, I will go to meet another mom.  She has a three month old, a baby that is very close to the age Sidney would have been, should have been.  It will be my first time being around a baby that age, possibly holding him, and I am scared, scared of how I will do, scared of what I will feel, and most of all scared that I will leave her house with a more intense raw ache than I have even now, and have to go back to my house that will be still be empty, still not have my little Sidney in it.

Tomorrow, I will meet with a volunteer coordinator for an art program for low-income kids here.  I don’t know in what capacity I might help.  Even emailing this woman was a big step for me.  I am scared to meet with her, scared to tell her that I have time to help because I don’t have to take care of my son, since he died.  Scared to have to appear functional for a little while.  Scared that I can’t do it.  Scared that I can.

And then most of all, I am dreading my appointment with MFM.  First, I will have to return to the hospital where I went with Sidney inside of me, with strong contractions.  I will have to go through the same entrance where I checked in, excited and nervous that I was about to have my baby.  I will have to wait in the same waiting room where I waited for all my other ultrasound appointments, when I didn’t fully grasp what could happen to babies, and when I was mostly just excited to get to watch my little Sidney kick and squirm around.  I may have to see other pregnant women, hear ultrasounds and strong heartbeats, be reminded of my naive hopeful existence.

And then there is the appointment itself. My fear that the doctor won’t listen to my concerns and questions, won’t care, won’t be kind, won’t be patient, and will make me feel like a burden.  Afraid for what I will find out and what I won’t.  Afraid to imagine Sidney’s last few days, last few minutes.  Afraid that the doctor will tell me it’s my fault, that he will inform us of exactly what will happen, so I will know how it could have been different.  But also afraid he will say he doesn’t know.  I have been rethinking Eli’s birth a lot since we lost Sidney.  Eli was born with an infection, spent a week on antibiotics in the NICU, but the doctors acted like it was normal, because my water had broken before contractions, and labor had lasted 36 hours.  But now that two of my babies have had infections, I want someone to look at my labors together, as a pattern, rather than comparing to the broader population.  They never found out what infection Eli had.  Could it have been the same one that Sidney had?  A bacteria living inside of me?  And maybe my early contractions that stopped exposed Sidney, and then he died.  If that’s what happened, how would/could we try to prevent that for another pregnancy?  And why couldn’t we have prevented it for Sidney’s?

And then I am also afraid of what’s going on in my body now, all the hormonal imbalances, not being sure what my body is doing.  I tested my basal body temperature, which is my resting temperature, for the past three mornings and it is much lower than is considered healthy.  The oh so reliable internet is informing me that it could be a sign of hypothyroidism or adrenal fatigue, and that my body is not operating at full capacity.  So what will I do about that, and how will I get a doctor to care, to listen?

I don’t like being so scared.  I did work on my mosaic project last week for a bit.  I haven’t glued anything yet, but I thought I would share what I have so far.  If you look at the bottom, the roots of the tree connect to little hearts, since Sidney is forever rooted in my heart.  I don’t know when I will get to go back and work on it, since it is in this woman’s house, and she has to invite me, but hopefully sometime in the next few weeks….until then, I will sit with my fears.  And take a walk in this 96 degree weather before going to hold a three month old that isn’t mine.IMG_0990

It’s not fair….

My therapist says that dwelling on how Sidney’s death is not fair is a dead end, that the world is not fair and I shouldn’t ask, “why me?”  Instead, she says, “why not you?” and that we need to abandon expectations of fairness.  Fine.  But right now, I am trapped in the ‘it’s not fairs’ anyway. I just saw that a good friend from Seattle, where we used to live when Eli was born, had her second son.  She is a friend I made through my parent-baby group, a friend who I was so excited to learn was due with another son just a few months after we were due with Sidney.  I had imagined Eli playing with her older son, and Sidney playing with her new son, whenever we returned to Seattle.  And now that won’t happen.  Now, if/when we visit Seattle, all I will feel is Sidney’s absence.  The two boys will never be friends, we won’t get to check in on each other and monitor our babies’ progress and growth, and talk about how Eli and her older son are adjusting to their new brothers.  And it’s not fair.  And I am angry about it.  I am angry.  Angry.  Angry.  Angry at all that I have lost.   And I don’t know how to do this.  How to live in a world where friends go on with their lives, having babies, reaching milestones, and I don’t.  Where I am trapped in the aftermath of my shattered world.  And yes, maybe I am whining and playing the victim, but it’s not fair, and this fucking sucks, and I am not someone who really swears much in real life.

Yesterday, I went over to a woman’s house who has a mosaic studio.  A friend suggested I go when I said I was interested in learning to mosaic.  She is about the age of my parents, I think, and opened up her studio and her house to  me, letting me smash a plate and use the materials that she has been collecting over the past few years.  I like the idea of taking broken pieces of glass, plates, tiles, materials, and trying to create something out of them.  She was kind, and she listened.  She also told me that I spoke with “a flat affect” and asked if I was considering anti-depressants.  I am considering anti-depressants, but the question, coming from someone who I think I like, no less, seems so symbolic of how people just seem to expect us to get over the loss of babies.  My department chair seeming surprised that I wasn’t just moving forward, the OB asking me if I have periodic bouts of weepiness, other people having mentioned that so and so has had a miscarriage (Sidney’s death is not a miscarriage!) and now look how well they are doing/how they have more kids.  But I can’t just move forward, get over the fact that Sidney died, and is not here in my arms.  I can’t, and I suppose on some level, I also don’t want to, at least not yet.  As much as my grief is so painful, and I keep asking when it will get easier, when I will reach some new wave in grief where I can feel hopeful, and don’t awake with a big pit of despair in my stomach, I also don’t think this should be easy.  It should be painful when one’s son dies.  How could it not?  But then, where does that leave me?  Right now, in a kind of numb stupor, not hopeful about anything, not sure what I can find to look forward too.  We have started the practice at dinner of trying to say two nice things that happened, or two things that we feel joy/appreciation/happiness for.  And it has been hard these last few days, because I am drained and tired and not ‘feeling’ joy about anything. I don’t want the things I say to just be things that I know I should appreciate, but I really want to actually feel joy and appreciation about them. My two things last night were the taste of juicy peaches and getting to cuddle with Eli in the morning.  But those two joys aren’t enough to have me jump excitedly out of bed.  I want to say that Sidney’s death has helped me appreciate what I do have, made me love and value every moment I get to spend with Eli, but instead, I just want to hide in my bed, and not face the world that keeps on turning, the people with their new babies, the preschoolers who got to become older siblings to living babies.  But then, if something else bad happens, I will think, if only I had appreciated what I had, enjoyed every moment–the thoughts that I am now having about my pregnancy with Sidney, missing every time I threw up, every time I struggled with insomnia, tiredness, or back ache.  How I long for those days back.  So how do I learn to appreciate and value every moment, when every moment is still painful?  How? I imagine at some point, it is related to accepting that Sidney is really dead but my heart still can’t accept it.  I can’t.  And for now, I will continue to say that it is unfair.

Mikveh-total immersion

On Friday, I went to the mikveh, which is basically a one-person bath house used for ritual immersion.  Women will go to the mikveh to mark various transitions, before marriage, in times of trauma and illness, for conversion purposes, and some orthodox women will go at the end of each menstrual cycle before resuming relationships with their husbands.  I had never been to a mikveh, but someone suggested that it may feel healing in some small way, so I decided to give it a try.  There is something powerful to me about rituals, about knowing that I am participating in something that thousands upon thousands of other women have done before me, that this same mikveh has held the tears and hopes of women as they go to face some type of renewal or even rebirth, fervently praying for healing, for babies, for strength in marriage.  It allows me to feel connected to something larger than myself, to something where birth and death, where pain and joy, where grief and happiness, all can co-exist in a way that is not as easy for me to see in our everyday world.  It is also a forced slowing down, a forced taking time to reflect.  So I tried.  I wasn’t sure entirely what transition it was marking, as I by no means have moved forward it any observable way with my grief but it still allowed me to think about grief as something that is always moving, always changing, even if right now the movements are barely perceptible, and only indicate slight changes from one horrible state to another.

To enter the mikveh, you start out by taking a regular shower, because the mikveh is not intended for actual bathing, in the modern sense of the word.You then descend down tiled steps into a small pool, about four feet deep.  Regardless of the reason for your visit to the mikveh, you engage in three immersions, which must be witnessed by someone to ensure that you fully go under water.  You also are supposed to lift your feet off the ground for at least a few seconds, so that you have the experience of being completely surrounded by water.

“To Take the first step. To sing a new song. Is to close one’s eyes and dive. Into unknown waters. For a moment, knowing nothing.Risking everything. But then to discover. The water holds and supports you. The ground you return to is firm. And a new song, may soon rise again.”

To have faith that I can survive this, figure out a way to live without Sidney, to eventually put my feet back on solid ground.  I haven’t figured out how to do that, and I only have a flicker of faith.  In fact, this weekend has been quite challenging, hard to get out of bed, hard to get through each day.  But I need to hold onto the idea that the water will hold and support me.

I said the following upon entering the mikveh: I have come here this morning to acknowledge this difficult and devastating time in my life. May this immersion help me in my healing. May it mark a transition from the immediate shock and grief so that I can open up to the next phase and begin to open myself to what is yet to come. When I emerge from this mayim chaim – these living waters – may I be filled with renewal and energy and a sense of demarcation in order to begin to see the direction for the next steps in my life’s journey. May these waters fill me with strength, courage and peace.

I am also including what the woman who bore witness to my mikveh said, so that I can continue to process, reflect, and think about how to move through life, to live with the loss of my beautiful Sidney.

Before immersion no. 1:
The first immersion is a time to confront the pain, anger, resentment and heartbreak that Sidney did not live and the unfairness that you, his mother, carried him, and nurtured him in the womb but he was not able to live in this world. As your body becomes fully emerged in the water, focus on what you are able to free yourself of at this moment – the anger you have towards your body, towards the unfair truth that you carried him but did not end up with the new gift of life you deserve. Release what you are able and leave that in this water. And, that which you must continue to hold onto and to carry with you, find a place to tuck it and protect and nurture it. So that it has its place and is a part of you, but, if possible, envision a place inside you where it lives so that you can honor it while beginning to let other parts within you heal and imagine the possibility of starting to move forward and to continue to heal after release.

So after hearing the words from immersion number one, and now re-reading them, I am not sure what I am able to let go of at this time, but it is something that I will continue to think about.

Before immersion no. 2:
Hineni – here you are. in your rawness and vulnerability, in this oh so fragile state and with all of your imperfections. It is not your purpose to try to separate out joy from pain. It is a total package and for immersion number two, I want you to focus on letting go of the parts of your pain that you can begin to release. Not so that you will forget it, but so that you might be able to begin to clear out new space with which to begin to encounter the possibilities of what still may be to come. This immersion should be about the totality of life’s experience, and how your pregnancy, your labor and Baby Sidney will forever be wrapped up in your experience and a part of you. These things have been impressed upon your heart and soul and will be marks on your life you continue to take with you as you travel onward. In this immersion, focus on finding a place for the disappointment and utter devastation for the loss of the hopes and dreams you had for Sidney joining your family and for all the ways you imagined he would add to your life. May you embrace that the loss will remain with you and Sidney will live on as a memory of what your family might have been despite having to let go of the hopes and dreams you had for what that would look like and who he would be. May you breathe out enough acceptance to begin the process of imagining the blessings and happiness that you, and your family, deserve and open your heart to the blessings still yet to come. As your life continues to change, may you emerge from the mikveh open to glimmers of potential joy that might come in the future.

Again, not at the acceptance point yet, but I am trying to accept that pain and joy can co-exist, that I can still grieve, love and honor Sidney while also finding ways to enjoy life…but again, this is in the future.

Before immersion no. 3:
The third immersion is for forgiveness of your body. With this immersion, try to focus on letting go of the anger, resentment and guilt you feel for responsibility as the one who carried Sidney. I want you to allow yourself to be kind and gentle, as you deserve to know that you did everything you could to provide for him and it is not your fault despite what you may learn about what went wrong or why he did not make it. You deserve to forgive your body and this immersion is an opportunity to release some of that which you are holding on to as punishment of yourself for losing Sidney. With this immersion, I want you to focus on releasing the negative feelings directed at your own body so that it may also begin to heal and that you might emerge from mikveh feeling you leave behind the uncleanliness and dirty feelings you currently feel towards your physical vessel.

This is the hardest one, to release the anger at myself, the disgust at my body for failing Sidney at the end. But again, something to strive for.

Despite not being where I would like to be after these immersions, I found the time in the mikveh to be calming, a way of ritualizing the road of grief that I will be forever on.  So Friday was a little better than the slump I have been in this weekend.  Perhaps some of you will find something from the words that I have shared here, the words that I am still reflecting on. And until then, here is a photo of bubbles, mostly because I don’t have anything visual in my blog, but also because they give a small bit of beauty to what to me feels like a very bleak world.

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Infection

Infection.  Sidney died of an infection.  I do not know what type of infection, or how it killed him but it did.  And they also found a small placental clot, but they seem to think that is secondary.  It took me making phone calls all day to even learn this much, and finally around 4:30 pm, the OB called me back and told me as much over the phone, suggesting I make an appointment with MFM to go over the report in more detail.  Infections.  Who even dies of infections in this country any more?  Did I eat something that made him sick?  Did I do something that made him sick?  Or was it just some virus or bacteria who happened to land on me and then hurt my precious baby?  And more importantly, how could I not have known?  Why didn’t I act in time and help him? I let my baby get sick, and now he is gone, and I have to live with that. I imagine that infections are slow, but I don’t know, and I don’t know how the clot is related.  If I ever am able to sit down and talk with someone in more detail, I will ask these questions.

I am ashamed.  Infection seems to call out that I did something wrong.  I am embarrassed to share that information.  If I say Sidney died of unknown causes, it seems more like an act of God or nature that we just can’t understand, but infection seems like something preventable. My beautiful baby. I just want you back.

I feel very alone.  The OB was not responsive. He did not call to tell me the results were in, so I finally called the office.  You have to call the main desk and then have them leave him a message.  I did that, and I missed his call back.  He said the results were in, he was out of the office but to call another OB.  So I called the main desk back and got transferred to a nurse’s answering machine.  Left another message.  Got a call back that the other OB was in labor and delivery so why did’t I just make an appointment to go over the results with MFM.  Unless it was urgent.  I said, well, kind of.  My baby is already dead, but I want to know the results.  So she said she’d call the doctor and call me back.  The doctor finally calls.  Says he only has a few minutes but that they found an infection in the umbilical cord and placenta.  What infection, I ask?  He doesn’t know.  It doesn’t say.  Just an infection.  And then there was a small placental clot.  The baby (Sidney’s) body looked fine so the infection had not been there for too long.  He had died within 24 hours of his birth.  That’s all he knows.  Then he hung up.  Then I told my husband.  My husband stormed out of the room, angry that I had not made an appointment to learn the results in person.  In person? If only I had been able to do that.  This morning, I finally got through to MFM.  They didn’t have an appointment available until Aug. 10th. Okay, I said.  To have to fight so hard just so someone can talk to me about my son’s death.  So that I can return to the same place I went when in labor (I am already scared about that). Then coincidentally a woman from the OB’s office called to tell me she had faxed my papers over to my PCP.  She was nice, so I told her what had happened.  She called MFM and got us an appointment for July 20th.  But she was kind, and she listened, and she cared, and she helped.  She said call if I need anything.   Why is it so hard for someone to do that?  She didn’t actually change anything.  She didn’t bring Sidney back.  But she was kind. She heard me.  I don’t think that is too much to ask from an OB’s office.

Eli said he wants to be a heart doctor when he grows up.  Then he will go and fix baby Sidney, so he can get to come.  I said, well, it’s probably too late to help Sidney but maybe you can help other babies, help other parents so they are not sad.  He said, yes, I want to join a doctor team that does that.  When I’m a grownup I will help the next baby you have get to come.  His timing might be a little off, but I like the sentiments.  If only someone could have helped Sidney.  If only someone can help a next baby that we try to have come, in the words of Eli.  I would like to replace despair with hope but I am not there yet.  For now, I have to learn to come to terms with ‘infection’ and what that means, and how my beautiful boy is not here.

And in the mean time, there was another birth announcement greeting me at the door of Eli’s school.  Birth announcements really hit home.  More than pregnant women, and maybe even more than babies.

Two months

July 4, 2016

My dearest Sidney,

Today you would have been two months, and I would have been marking the day by sharing photos of you, and information about the joys of your first two months.  Towards the end of my pregnancy with you, I decided it was important that you had something new.  We were planning on using almost all of your brother’s old stuff, old clothes, old beds, even old diaper covers, and I wanted you to have something that would be just for you.  We had marked each month of your brother’s life, charting his growth until he was two years old by posing him between two monkey stuffed animals.  We decided to get you two elephant stuffed animals, and I was excited when I found one Jellycat elephant and an elephant stuffed with scented lavender, made by the same companies that made the monkeys we used in your brother’s photos.  Eli wanted to play with them, but we said they were for you.  Now, we don’t get to take those photos (and the camera on my phone broke when we were in the hospital with you, perhaps a symbolic protest that no photos without you were worth taking.  I still have not gotten it replaced).  The elephants are put away somewhere in a closet, hidden before I even got home from the hospital.  I will not share your picture on facebook, writing about the milestones you’d achieved at two months.  The only milestone I can write about is how I have survived two months without you . Two horrible wretched months.  This weekend, it was thinking about sleep that triggered tears for me–not knowing whether you would already have been sleeping through the night, whether you would enjoy the car, and be lulled to sleep by the driving, whether you would be a good napper, would fall asleep nursing, would need to be held.  I won’t ever know these things about you.  I think you would have been easy-going, my beautiful second child.  My second son.  Daddy and I are both second children.

We had what should have been a good weekend, visiting friends in Philadelphia.  And this morning, we went to a fourth of July parade.  But the weekend was marked by your absence, how you were not in a carrier on my chest, I did not have to worry about you getting too much sun, or needing to nurse and not having somewhere to nurse you.  If you were here, we probably wouldn’t have gone to Philadelphia in the first place.  We would have stayed at home, going to the local fourth of July celebration, and proudly showing you off, eagerly looking forward to running into all of the acquaintances who I am now trying to avoid. I would do anything to have you here still.

On our way back from Philadelphia, we stopped at the cemetery.  It was raining, and your brother had fallen asleep in the car.  I got out and went to your grave, and stood over it, my tears mixing with the rain.  It seemed only fitting that the sky would be grey, mourning your absence on the independence day of our country.  Then your daddy got out and went to visit your grave.  He misses you too.  We are broken without you.

Your brother has been making up stories about babies who don’t get to come.  He misses you too.  The other day he told me that he is the first son, that he has a brother called baby Sidney who didn’t get to come.  But that he is still a big brother.  When we got home from the hospital, we gave your brother a Curious George stuffed animal with a shirt that says ‘Go bananas.  I’m a big brother.’  We had gotten it to give to Eli from you.  The mailman dropped it at our house when we were in the hospital having you.  We decided to still give it to Eli. He is still your big brother. He will always be your big brother.  He has been pretending his Curious George stuffed animal is a super hero.  Many of his adventures involve saving babies. Tonight, Eli fell asleep holding Curious George  He misses you a lot, and I don’t think he even understands the extent of his loss.

We still don’t know what happened to you, my love.  The doctors have not given us the pathology report.  I don’t know why you are not here. I will never understand it.  It still sometimes seems like it can’t be real.  I am so sorry, my baby.  I am so sorry.  You have to know that I would do anything I could to change it.  The past few days, I keep thinking I feel you kick.  But you are gone, not kicking and moving inside of me.

I have not been singing to Eli as much at bedtime.  It makes me sad, remembering how when I would sing to Eli, you would kick. I had imagined that the lullabies I sang to him would be soothing and comforting to you when I sang them to you, already familiar from your time in my womb.

I haven’t figured out yet how to make my life meaningful, how to adjust to my new reality without you. I am trying to appreciate every moment but I am not able to do that yet.  It is much too painful for me without you here.

I want you to know that I love you, that I will always love you, that you are my second son, my beautiful baby boy.  You are forever in my heart, in your daddy’s heart, and in your brother’s heart.

I love you.

Love,

Mama