Sunday, December 1, 2013

Angel Tree

Morgan was supposed to have been our Christmas present last year, with a due date of December 10th. This year would have been her first "real" Christmas where she might have some idea of what was going on and be able to play with the pile of toys she surely would have gotten.

Last week,  while discussing our future family, my husband told me, "We have a lot of love to give".  This is true, and while I would love to pour that love on our baby girl, that is not to be.  But, I thought it would be a good idea to pour that love on another little girl Morgan's age by adopting an Angel from the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program.

If you're not familiar with the program, families who are unable to provide holiday gifts to their children can sign up with the Angel Tree program.  The parent lists a couple of needs and a couple of wants. Individual children (or entire families) can be adopted.  The Salvation Army suggests filling the need plus 2-3 toys.

It's funny, I felt really good to have had this idea, and went into the room where C was to tell him about it.  By the time I walked across the house, I could barely get the words out.  They give you the option to select the Angel from the trees at the mall or online.  I chose the online option, as you can filter by age and gender, and I had no intention of going to the mall this weekend.  Doing so was a good option, as that also made me cry.  It hurt my heart to see eight one year old girls were in need and had not yet been selected.  Especially with the donation deadline coming up next week.

Parents of the children don't ask for much.  Our child needed clothes and wanted a push toy and a doll. We got her a couple of outfits and the toys.  Since I'm no longer in school, we had it to give.  I'm pretty sure we would have spent way more on Morgan, just to watch her put the boxes on her head!

I don't know what happens to the kids who aren't chosen.  But if you can, and you're looking for a positive way to deal with missing your baby, this might be an option.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


This time last year, I didn't feel that I had very much to be thankful for.  In fact, I spent a bit of time after Thanksgiving dinner, in my car, in my mother's driveway, crying.

This year, I still miss my Morgan and wish she was here with us.  But this year, I'm thankful for the gift of hope.  One week ago, we flew to Chicago for me to get a transabdominal cerclage (TAC).  Though I  am shuffling around with a sore belly, I now have real hope that I can carry a baby to term.  This is the first time I've felt this way in a year and a half.

While I'm laying in bed, with plenty of time to think, I wonder if I'm not being overly optimistic.  Shortly after we scheduled the surgery, I bought two little onesies, one pink, one blue, online.  And this weekend, I crocheted the sweetest little yellow baby sweater.  A little premature, but that's OK.  I like to think it's no different from the Pinterest board of baby items I started collecting before we even started trying the first time.  My perspective will likely ebb and flow over time, but to even think that I have a snowball's chance of a "normal" pregnancy is more than enough to be thankful for.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


I've never been much of a Halloween person.  But this year, I've though a lot about Halloween and dressing Morgan up in a little costume.  This would have been her second Halloween: the first where she could "kind of" go trick or treating, and probably the last where I could dress her up as something totally adorable.  I figured by next year, at almost two and a half, she might have some ideas of her own.

Last year, the time from Thanksgiving to New Year's was pretty sucky.  Hopefully, this year won't be so bad, or last so long.  It's hard walking the line between the disaster that has defined my life thus far, and being optimistic that there could soon be a next time and things will change for the better.  Bouncing back and forth is tiring, though.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Worry wart

Every day after work for the past week, I immediately turn on my computer and check a specific email account, as well as the insurance company's website.  Why?

In early September, we had a phone consultation to determine whether a trans-abdominal cerclage was an option for us to help me carry a baby to term.  After deciding it was the right thing to do, I scheduled myself for surgery in November.  The surgery is just over three weeks away, and my insurance pre-authroization hasn't been approved.  So, I'm nervous that they won't approve it.  In addition, three weeks is cutting it close when you're traveling out of state.  Many ladies on Abbyloopers, a site dedicated to info on this procedure, have the same insurance, and had no issues.  Worries, worries.

Anxious and worried that it won't be approved.  Anxious and worried that it won't work.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

To Be a Fly on the Wall

Remember several years back when MTV had a show with the tagline, "You think you know, but you have no idea"?  I think it was called "True Story".

Yesterday, I went to spend the morning at a knitting/crochet event.  I opted to sit at a table with a younger woman and her older companion.  Well, the younger woman (Tattoo Chick) was pregnant and talking to her friend (Purple Hair) about the upcoming baby shower.  No big deal, didn't bother me at all.  Tattoo Chick goes on to discuss how a mutual acquaintance of theirs had stopped speaking to them after their pregnancy announcement, but was now speaking to her and her boyfriend again.  Turns out the mutual acquaintance has PCOS and has not been able to conceive a child.  Tattoo Chick and Purple Hair proceed to go on an on about how it's this third woman's own fault she can't get pregnant.  You know why?  "Because all you have to do is go to the doctor."

Infertility has not been my struggle, but I do know it's a little (!) more involved than just going to the doctor.  Overhearing this entire conversation just pissed me off, from start to finish.  No wonder the friend stopped talking to Tattoo Chick.  Tattoo Chick and Purple Hair also went on to say the friend probably wouldn't be a good mother, anyway.  I, of course, don't know these two women or their "friend", but I could just as easily say that a woman with tattoos all over her arms, chest and neck with barbells hanging out of her nose isn't a good mother, either.

So here I am, sitting there with my pregnancy loss awareness ribbon on, stewing in my own juices.  I felt bad for the friend, having to put up with these know-it-alls who are lucky enough to pop out babies like gum balls, telling her how easy it is to get pregnant.

See, they think they know, but have no idea.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Breath of Fresh Air

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we were considering a trans-abdominal cerclage.  Today, we had a phone consultation with Dr. Haney in Chicago, and it really was like a breath of fresh air.  Compared to that awful postpartum appointment this same time last year, today's discussion was like getting fresh air after nearly suffocating.

All day at work, I was excited to speak with him, almost as if he was going to hand us a baby over the phone.  In the minutes before I dialed, my stomach was in knots as if going for a job interview.  Worse, actually.

Dr. Haney was very friendly, and explained everything clearly.  Most importantly, he saw no reason for couples to have to jump through hoops and lose 3 or more babies before "believing" a woman has an incompetent cervix.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The (Anti) Grief Diet

In the three weeks after we lost Morgan, I lost about 15-20 pounds.  I'd been wanting to lose the weight I gained in graduate school (about 30 lbs.), and in  this terrible twist of fate, VOILA!  At the time, I told my husband that at least I wouldn't be a "Biggest Loser" sob story.  Every season, they have a contestant who has suffered an extreme family loss and gained lots of weight after.  There I was with two of the classic weight gain excuses: grad school and death.

Flash forward a year, and not only did I regain those 15 or so pounds, but they brought along a few friends.  Once I started eating again, I really started eating, and an extraordinary amount of those calories came from pure-d-sugar.  I mean, really, I was denied my daughter, was I really going to be denied a brownie (cake, cupcake, doughnut), too?

But on Monday, I officially turned over a new leaf.  Apparently, public accountability motivates me.  My department at work started a "Biggest Loser" type wellness challenge running through November 1.  But it's not their prize I'm after.  I want to be as healthy as possible when we're ready to try conceiving again.  There are going to be many things out of my control, but my weight and physical fitness are entirely in my own control.  I want to fit into the myriad of clothes in my closet, rather than the handful of things that currently fit.  From a vanity perspective, I don't want the doctor to have to heave my belly fat out of the way if/when I have the TAC surgery.  And, tight abs pre-surgery will help the recovery go faster!  I'm tired of feeling sluggish and tired.

So, anyway, here's my public declaration.  The grief and pain of losing Morgan has made it easy to let myself go, physically and emotionally.  But, now, I'm getting my self and sense of self back!  I'm officially on the anti-grief diet.  The girl in this picture is coming back!

Me, fall 2007.  A bit extreme, perhaps, but it's doable!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Only a Husband

I used to have a blog called 'Only a Husband'.  It was for all of those little things C does that are not fuss-worthy, but certainly not the way I would do them.  After only 3 or so posts in a year, I took it down.

Anyway, I had one of those moments today.  After losing Morgan, I immediately started my research to learn more about what incompetent cervix was, and what could be done about it.  I found out about a procedure called a trans-abdominal cerclage, which is when the surgeon places a loop of suture at the junction of the uterus and cervix.  The procedure is similar in many ways to a C-section, without actually cutting the uterus.  As the stitch is meant to be permanent, it requires a C-section delivery.  I told C about this, and we both felt it was pretty extreme, though I could see the allure in such a procedure.  Fast forward to last night, when I decided to send an email to one of the few doctors in the country who does this surgery on a regular basis.  Just to see what he had to say.  At first, C seemed upset that I'd sent the email.  But, oh boy!  This morning, when I forwarded Dr. Haney's response, his tune certainly changed!  Now, after reading the doctor's repeat of the things I'd already said, he's almost 100% on board with us flying to Chicago for this surgery.  Now, I don't have MD behind my name, but  folks do call me Dr.  I understand where he's coming from and that he's worried about me in surgery, but c'mon! Give me a little credit in deciphering the situation!

I know his heart is the right place, and his hesitance comes from concern.  This is just one of those 'Only a Husband' moments.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Morgan's Daddy Speaks

On the anniversary of losing Morgan, her daddy had a few things to say.  Check out the main video, and the addendum, below:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Morgan's Day

Today is the one year anniversary of my Morgan's death.  I don't know how to refer to this day.  "Birthday" isn't really right.  She died before she was born.  And besides, birthday is always preceded by "happy".  "Anniversary" is an option, bit also doesn't sing for me.  Some use the term "angelversary", but that doesn't work for me, either.  I've just been calling it Morgan's day.

Whatever it's called, it's not the day is should be.  I've been thinking for months of how to mark this day, and I'm still empty handed.  I abandoned the idea of releasing one of those Chinese paper lanterns with a candle, but I would hate to set the state of Tennessee on fire honoring our daughter's memory.  And after participating in several balloon releases, it's like letting her go all over again.  Every. Single. Time.  What I've been thinking are the unrealistic things: what kind of cake would she like?  Would she a sweets eater like her parents, and dive in to her cake headfirst? Or be one of those timid babies who just sticks a single finger into the frosting?  Would she have learned to stick up one finger to tell people she was one?  I know exactly what this day is: sad, painful, and full of pretend memories.  I also know what it should be: a bright, happy, sunny day with balloons, cake, and sticky, frosting flavored kisses from the birthday girl.

A few weeks ago, to add Morgan's presence to our home, I got the idea to buy a child size rocking chair.  It turned into a small wooden rocking horse that I'm going to sand down and stain.  I also am making a small quilt to drape over the seat.  In my head, I think of these projects as Morgan's birthday presents, but they won't be finished for today.  As of 7am, there is no plan.  I guess we'll continue to play it by ear.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


No theme, just random grief related thoughts...

A (hair) blogger that I follow shared that she had just had a miscarriage.  I'm sorry that she had to experience that, but I'm glad she chose to share with her mainstream audience.  I was especially glad when she wrapped up her post with "I entirely understand how statistically common it all is. But that doesn't make me feel any better.  Not right now."  I was especially glad because she's a licensed therapist.  It seems everyone's telling you to go to a therapist so you can get over it.  HAving a therapist validate  the pain is interesting.

I was driving to work today, and got stopped at a light behind a mini van.  As usual, per mini van law, they had those stick figure family decals.  They had two baby/child angel decals.  Since I was headed into the downtown government area, I kind of hoped they were going to the same parking lot as me so I could ask where they got them.  Stalkerish, I know.  I usually think these are cheesy! This wasn't it, but something similar.

Image from
Yesterday was my birthday.  Yet another day I'd been dreading because it's just 4 days before Morgan's day.  It seems my own mother "forgot" why I wouldn't be looking forward to it.  Last week she asked if I was excited or looking forward to my birthday.  When I said, "Not really, it's just another marker of non-happy things," all she could say was "Oh, I guess it is."  The icing on the cake was when I got home from work yesterday, there was an envelope from the hospital where Morgan was delivered.  It was a sympathy card inviting us to a memorial service.  The rational me would say, "That's nice of them."  The angry me who got no kind of sympathy from them at all when Morgan died says it's too little, too late.  And isn't it just great that it arrives on my birthday, in time for Morgan's day.  Don't they have good timing.  (The day wasn't a total wash.  We went out for a nice dinner.)

Monday, July 22, 2013

365 days of Unhappy

Today, July 22, marks the one year anniversary of the last day I was happy.  On this day last year, I was completely and deliriously happy; so blind and oblivious to my body's betrayal.  On this day last year, I was looking forward to our 20 week ultrasound the next day. Finding out our baby's gender was to be the best birthday and Christmas present ever, all rolled into one.  I got my gift (It's a girl!) and had it snatched away less than five minutes later (...but she's going to die).

If you asked most people when was the last time they were happy, they would probably tell you some story about how happy they were when the good barista was on duty at the coffee shop. And they'd probably have some little thing that made them happy each and every day.  This past year, I've thrived on "the little things."  If I hadn't been finding joy where or when I could, I'd be beyond certifiably crazy right now.

Perspective is a beast.  This new perspective makes you appreciate those little things so much more, even while realizing they are so absolutely unimportant.  This weekend I went fabric shopping for the first time since March or April, and had a good time chatting with the ladies at the quilt shop and buying fabric.  I bought some fabric for a "birthday" quilt for Morgan, and for work clothes for me.  Most would find fabric shopping lame, but I survived the fall months by sewing.  Today, I was laying out some fabric and realized I got more than I needed, and it was enough for the pants I intended plus a bonus skirt.  A little perk!  An extra bonus that the pants and skirt will total $15!  Those are the little things that make me happy these days.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


I feel like I've been thrown back in time. Ricocheting between today's reality and various points in time over the past year.  One year ago, I was counting down the days until our 20 week anatomy scan, eager to see if our Little Tater Pop was a boy or girl.  Today, I'm thinking of how to mark the first anniversary of her death, not her first birthday.

For whatever reason, it seems like the one year mark is held up as the finish line for surviving the loss of a child.  Survive the first year, and you're good.  Maybe so.  But the weeks leading up to it are crap.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

To Raise a Son?

I tend to keep my political opinions to myself.  But today, I must speak.

Since losing Morgan, I've thought on more than one occasion that Baby #2 should be a boy.  I'm sure Baby #2 will have more than his/her share of issues being raised by paranoid parents who know how easily loss can come.  I also want to prevent any projections of the hopes or dreams we had for Morgan onto another baby girl.  She deserves her own hopes and dreams.  We actually just talked about why Baby #2 should be a boy yesterday afternoon.

But, today, I wonder if that's the best decision.  By now, we've all heard the "not guilty" verdict in the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case.  I was not a witness to the events that night in Florida, so I'm not commenting on the verdict itself.  My comment here is on the society in which we live that allows issues such as these to come to light.

Do I want to raise a son who can be legally followed down the street because his skin is brown?  A son who can't legally follow a suspicious White man down the street? A son who is perceived as a threat because, in winter, he had his hood pulled over his ears?  It's unfortunate that we live in a "post-racial America" where justice is a one way street.  It's scary to think that despite my and my husband's best efforts, our straight A, well mannered, clean cut son will have to observe a different protocol than his White peers when pulled over by the police to avoid getting shot for pulling a gun, which is really just his license and registration.  I'm not even close to being a petite woman, and my husband is a tall, husky guy.  Any son of ours will certainly cast an imposting shadow in the dark.  Are these unwritten protocols the things we want to teach him?  It's our hope that one day, we'll be home owners.  Maybe even in a gated community with a neighborhood watch patrol.  Will our son be able to feel "at home" when at home?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Who Were You the Day Before?

At work today, I watched an archived training on enhancing family-professional partnerships in maternal and child health programs.  The presenter was discussing how parents and families of children with special health care needs should be engaged in health care decisions, as well as advocacy and participation with medical and community providers.  In this context, she advised asking, "WHO WERE YOU THE DAY BEFORE THE DIAGNOSIS?"  She was asking viewers to see those parents as people with skills (beside parents of sick children) that could be used in partnership building. I took the question to heart in a different way.  Who was I before Morgan died?

I was a student, wife, sister, daughter, sewer, crafter, baker, cook.  I was happy, optimistic, looking forward to being a mommy, pinning baby projects on Pinterest.  I could look at other pictures of other people's babies and kids and smile.  I went to school, grocery shopping, and Target.

Today, I am an epidemiologist, wife, sister, daughter, sewer, crafter, baker, cook.  I am not happy, but trying very hard to be optimistic, and looking forward to one day being a mommy to a live baby, and occasionally I do pin baby projects on Pinterest.  I look at other pictures of other people's babies and kids and am numb.  I go to work, grocery shopping, and Target.

The two paragraphs probably aren't all that different.  Daily life, what's visible to others, is essentially the same.  The inside is what's broken and crafted back together.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Small Victories

Tomorrow will be exactly 10 months since we lost Morgan.  In the time since then, I've tried to find joy in the little things, wherever I could.

Before my pregnancy, Target was one of those little things that made my day.  In fact, when we first got married, I would leave my husband at home to tinker, and waste a Sunday afternoon wandering around Target.  At the time, I was blissfully unaware that Target has the world's biggest baby section outside of Babies R Us.  In the time since my pregnancy ended, I've had a love-hate relationship with Target.  It's still my preferred store for little household things, but I hug the outer wall trying to avoid the baby section.

We've been in Nashville for three days, and I've been to Target every day picking up this or that.  Today was the first time that I didn't purposefully avoid the baby section.  In fact, I walked past it and through it several times.  Not only that, I could look at the stuff and not be pissed.  There was some sadness, sure.  But today, I looked at the little onesie with the glittery giraffe and thought it was cute.  Today was more of the longing I felt before I got pregnant with Morgan.  It was the "I want that in my life" versus the "I'm supposed to have that right now" kind of longing.

We'd been hoping that moving to a new city would represent a fresh start, and we've both been in fantastic moods since leaving Atlanta.  Perhaps I'm just hopped up on excitement for things ahead, but I'm claiming today as a victory, none the less.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bittersweet Victory

Ignoring the fact that yesterday was Mother's Day, I should be on top of the world.  On Friday, I defended my dissertation, and aside from some revisions, am Dr. A.  Anyone else would have spent the weekend partying and living it up.  I thought the whole process was rather anti-climactic.

When I started this PhD program five years ago, it was both to better myself and to make a better way for the family we would have.  Last year, I publicly proposed my dissertation, the first official step to making the dissertation happen.  It was May 1, 2012, and I was 8 weeks pregnant.  I had the perfect little plan that I'd get my analysis done by Thanksgiving, have a maternity leave over the holidays, and finish the writing in the spring.  I was also going to walk across the stage today, May 13, 2013, get hooded, get my diploma cover, and smile as chubby little fingers tried to grab my tassel.

Well, that plan did not come to life.  In so many ways, the stress and strain of the past five years was for Morgan.  Well, the struggle is over, but no Morgan.  Since Friday, I've been feeling let down.  Everyone else has been so excited and proud of me for this accomplishment.  I can't bring myself to care that much.  I was kind of excited in the days leading up to Friday, but not so much since then.

It's a bittersweet victory, a booby prize.  Rather than claiming the grand prize, it's like I'll only ever get a series of consolation prizes.  I saw what was behind door number 3, but had to settle for what was behind door number one.

Friday, May 3, 2013

I'm Not Dwelling, I'm Remembering

I read this article today over at Still Standing Magazine.  It's on "dwelling" on your baby's death, and how other people perceive that.  This topic is one which has been on my mind the past week or so, especially in relation to a long-time friend who just had a baby.

On more than one occasion, she has suggested that I get counseling.  The first occasion was just two weeks after Morgan died.  Because I had not talked to HER (pregnant, and happy, and living the life I so desperately wanted back) or returned her ONE phone call, I needed counseling.  To be honest, at that point, I don't think I'd talked to any one other than family, and barely that.

About two weeks ago, we spoke for the first time since her daughter's birth in March.  Afterwards, she emailed to ask if speaking to her had made me feel bad.  Because we've been friends for 10+ years, because we'd been in each others weddings, etc., I thought I could be honest.  I emailed back that yes, I'd been dreading having to talk to her.  As a result, I was definitely on edge during the phone conversation.  I also said that it was like pulling off a band-aid, and that the anticipation of talking to her was worse than actually talking to her.  Her reply was that she could tell I was "still going through it" based on my Facebook posts, and that she hoped I could find peace.  If not, I should consider counseling.

[Note that this psycho-analyzing is being done by an engineer, by phone/email from 700 miles away.]  

This is where I started thinking about "dwelling".  The Facebook posts she's referring to are things that have come across my feed from sites like Still Standing or something similar; things that really hit it on the head what this new life of mine has been like. They're things like "What Not to Say to a Bereaved Mother/Parent".  Certainly not, "Woe is me.  My baby died.  My life is over".  I keep those things here on the blog.  But they've definitely been things that are a heck of a lot more important than the "Scandal" play by play on Thursday nights.  She (and probably other people, as well) has interpreted those posts as "going through it", but in reality, on bad days, I'm certainly not on Facebook.

What this says to me is that if it's not rainbows and ponies, I can't post on FB.  That, my friends, would be dwelling on my baby and the fact that she's not here.  Proof that I'm stuck, living in the past, or not grieving "properly".  But the analogy I keep coming to is this.  As adults of a certain age, we most certainly have older relatives -- grandparents, aunts, uncles, even parents -- that have passed away.  Their pictures are still on the wall and in the photo album.  At holidays or family occasions, we say things like "Remember when Grandma used to..."  My mother still has memories of a chicken and rice dish her father used to make that no one else could duplicate, and he died nearly 45 years ago.  You will always have those memories. Death does not erase or negate them.  Taking Grandma's picture down doesn't mean you didn't have a grandmother.

Pregnancy is an experience, and with experience, comes memories.  To use my mother as an example again, she remembers how my sister would keep up her up all night kicking, and how hot it was when she was pregnant with me.  I guess if your baby lives, you can recount those memories, even 33 years later.  If your baby dies, you have to pack those memories away with the maternity clothes.  Otherwise, you're dwelling and need professional help.  If anything, you remember those few details more finely because those are the only memories you will ever have.  They won't be replaced with new ones.  I will certainly always remember the feel of Morgan's tiny little fists telling me to move after she'd worked herself into a corner of my belly and couldn't get out because of how I was sitting or laying.  It was funny then, and it's funny now.

If remembering is dwelling, or not moving on, then so be it.  My child is not an ex-boyfriend.  Ex-boyfriends?  Oh yeah, you get over those.  Especially if they're alive and well out there, somewhere.  My child?  Not so much.  Because she's not alive and well.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Everything Happens For a Reason, They Say

One of the first CDs I ever bought, way back in eight grade, was by a duo called Zhane', and they had a song called "Everything Happens for a Reason".  I used to love this song.  One because it's just a pretty song, and two, because I did believe everything happens for a reason.

I'm not sure if I've listened to this song since losing Morgan, but it came up this morning in an iTunes playlist while I was working.  The words certainly had a new meaning.  The song is in the link, but some of the words are:

Saying goodbye can be the hardest thing to doWhen you really love someone.You keep holding on hoping that a second would lastLast you forever, but it dont
Letting go can be the hardest thing to doWhen you truly care about someoneYou cant say byeenough times to make your feelings last a life timebut all the memories never go away
...And at the end...
Everything happens for a reasonthey say they saythey keep telling me
Everything happens for a reasonthey say
This is what got me: the repetition of THEY say.  Who is they?  What have they gone through that compares?  And yes, I guess I still do believe (deep down inside) that everything does happen for a reason.  I guess it's just one of those common "feel better" phrases that THEY say, just set to music.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Caught off guard

I was scrolling through Facebook yesterday, and there was a post from Still Standing (I think) via Carly  Marie.  She was writing something about Mother's Day and being a bereaved mom.  How do you feel about it, will you acknowledge it, that kind of thing.

Talk about caught off guard.  I think I thought about Mother's Day back at New Years, when I was thinking of all the things that should have been this year, but aren't.  I thought about it in passing about a week ago, to remind myself to pick up cards for other people.  Yet, I didn't think about Mother's Day for myself, until seeing this post last night.

I didn't have a melt down or anything.  In a way, I didn't really have much of a reaction, other than realizing that it's coming up.  Soon.  Mostly because I can't afford the time or energy it takes to think about it right now.  The dissertation must get done!  But, I checked the calendar to see when Mother's Day is, and it's two days after I defend my dissertation.  So, I guess I better plan something, even if it's just to hide away.  Otherwise, the adrenaline of getting things done and the high of finishing school (forever!) will wear off, and reality will again hit me like a brick.

Odd thing is, I have thought about my husband for Father's Day, and whether to get him a card from Lost for Words, a line of cards especially for us who've lost babies.

Anyway, I certainly don't have time to think about it now.  I'm off to "Dissertation Bootcamp".  Two 8-hour days of writing in the library. Just when the weather starts to get nice.  Yay.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Beginning of Life?

This has been on my mind for a while now.  Maybe if I write it out, I can stop thinking about it?

I'm taking a maternal and child health class this semester.  It's not the first class of this type I've taken, but the first since losing Morgan.  For the most part, I'm OK, but little things that get me do come up every now and again.

Early in the semester (late January, maybe), we were talking about definitions used in the MCH field, and the professor asked about when life "begins".  He presented several definitions that have been proposed in various writings, and opened the floor for discussion.  One student, a pediatrician, actually, stated that a baby is not "life" until viability is reached.  I try not to be "Crazy Bereaved Lady" at school.  And, as such, purposefully did not join in this discussion.  But this life=viability business burned me up.  I just kept thinking that her opinion is part of what's wrong with the medical profession and why so many families get pissed on when their babies die.  Sure, a baby's chances of surviving at less than 24 weeks are essentially zero, and are still pretty slim at 24 weeks.  I also said to myself, "Clearly, she's never been pregnant!"  To think that life doesn't being until over halfway through the pregnancy is assinine.  How do you explain the movements you feel at 18 weeks?

Flash forward to about a month ago.  This classmate of mine was suddenly visibly pregnant.  This means she was more than pregnant when she made her statement.  And every freaking week, I can't help but stare at her growing belly and wonder if she thinks it's "alive" yet.  Would she not be hurt if tragedy struck tomorrow?  Why should be upset if it's not alive?

My feeling is this:  If it's not alive, then how can it die?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Must be nice... naively assume your pregnancy will go as planned.

A friend posted on Facebook that she's pregnant.  I've tried my hardest to not be concerned or pay any attention.  But a thread between my friend and some other people popped up on my feed tonight (I have not "liked" or otherwise commented on this thread!!!), and she stated her due date was in October.  So, that basically means she's only been pregnant long enough to go to the doctor to confirm and have some pregnancy announcement photos made, but she's announced it to the WORLD (via said photos).  She hasn't even cleared the first trimester!!  I guess after a successful first pregnancy, you can be confident enough to do that.  Must be nice.

I went to my women's support group last night, and we somehow got to talking about whether to tell early the next time, in order to have more support if things go wrong vs. not telling until after the danger zone of when the last pregnancy ended.  The husband and I have talked about not telling anyone at all until a) it's beyond obvious or b)when I go into labor, with an "Oh yeah, by the way..."  I think at the very least, 20 weeks.  Maybe 24, when viability is reached? Decisions, decisions.  Decisions that won't be made anytime soon.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Last night, we attended our monthly support group session.  In addition to the usual discussions, there was an activity.  Everyone drew a strip of paper out of a bag, and we were supposed to express how/what we felt about the word on our slip of paper.  Some words were obvious ones for a grief support group: hopelessness, worry, angry.  Others were somewhat unexpected: hopefulness, joy, happy.  My word was also kind of unexpected: comfort.

If I had been at school, I probably would have been one of the first to go, simply because I don't like the dead air between the instructor asking a question and someone volunteering to answer.  But I really couldn't think of anything "good" to say about comfort.  There are few places, people, or things from which I draw comfort these days.  There are some days, despite his best efforts, that even my husband can provide no comfort.  Silly me, some days, I do just want to throw my own pity party.

I did come up with something to say.  I said how difficult it is for me to comfort my husband.  He does his best for me, but I often don't know what to say or do for him.  Over the past several months, we've cried out our grief, together and alone.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he's hurting just as much as I am, but I finally realized this weekend how hard it is to watch the one you love be in pain.

I was in a funk Saturday morning, and felt compelled to draw the sketch in my last post.  Usually, getting those emotions out in some way helps (i.e. blogging), but not this time.  Long story short, I had a meltdown Saturday evening, and there was nothing he could say to me that could provide comfort.  Bless his heart, because he certainly tried.  In his own grief and frustration, he punched the armoire and left the room.  After calming myself down a bit, I went to check on him.  I found him laid out on the floor, sobbing and asking God what we did to deserve this.  The only thing I could do was get down on the floor and cry with him.  Seeing him at his breaking point, I realized how much my own pain affects him, above and beyond his own pain.  I knew, but I didn't know, not really.  I'm not sure I know what to do about it, though.  I mean, I encourage him to talk about whatever he's feeling.  I hold him when he's crying but I'm not.  And it never seems like I'm doing enough.

I guess it's because I'm carrying the guilt that his pain is my fault.  If I'd been able to carry Morgan to term, neither of us would have to experience the pain of losing her.  If I wasn't upset that Morgan was gone, he wouldn't be upset that I was upset.  Vicious cycle, huh?  (I know, logically, that what happened isn't my fault.)

I think I'll spend the next few weeks really thinking about this, and making an effort to be more comforting.  He says that I do indeed provide comfort, but sometimes I'm not so sure.  Our 6th anniversary is coming up next month, and we are more than certain our bond will stand the test of time. I didn't make any New Year's resolutions, but maybe I'll make a New Wife resolution, and this will be an area where I make a definite effort.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

If a picture is worth a thousand words, than this sketch says a lot.  My husband is the artist in the family, but yesterday morning I decided to doodle.  This is what came out.  I would like to refine it and color it, but it will be some time before I get to that.  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Rays of Sunshine

In the time since Morgan's death, many things have changed.  On one hand, I have no patience for other people's crap.  My husband has a friend from college whose biggest issue is apparently deciding whether to attend a wedding or a comic book convention on the same weekend.  Must be nice if that's the toughest thing you have to deal with.

On the other hand, I now take time to see things that I completely missed out on before.  Every day, the sun rises and sets, without fail.  Our bedroom has a huge eastward facing window, so I can't miss it. But since losing Morgan, I now notice the brilliance of the sunrise.  Just before the sun reaches its full glow, this beautiful deep pink stripe fills the sky.  I like to think of it as a sign from Morgan.

A few nights ago, I cried myself to sleep, missing out on all of the things we should be experiencing with our little girl.  Usually, when I have a bad night, I also wake up in a bad mood.  This day, I woke up one minute before the alarm, and rolled over to a very intense, focused ray of sunlight shining directly on me.  And I was in a good mood!  Several days later, on a wet, soggy morning, I was laying in bed telling myself that I needed to get up.  Out of nowhere, that focused beam of sunlight broke through the clouds, then went away.

Some babyloss mamas talk about butterflies suddenly landing nearby; I've got my personal ray of sunshine.  As I write this, I realize it's pretty fitting.  I call my husband Sunshine, and I use to joke with him that our kids would be little rays of Sunshine.  I guess that part of the story actually came true.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

When Do We Get OUR Little Girl?

I had a happier post planned for today, on the little "signs" from Morgan that make my day.  But, after another announcement of, "It's a girl!", that post is on pause.  Maybe tomorrow.

It's hard enough when every other pregnancy around me results in a happy, healthy take-home baby.  It's worse when, almost every single baby has been a girl.  Where's my little girl? Why did MY baby girl have to be the one to die?

It's hard to be happy for others without being sorry for myself.  Just when I think things are going OK...WHAM!!! Something comes along to knock me down.  For the most part, things are OK, I guess.      I've adjusted pretty well to the constant sadness that Morgan's not here.  But then, simple things like watching "Biggest Loser" bring up the huge, heaving sobs of inconsolable grief.  Or, maybe it's because we're coming into the point where, this time last year, we found I was pregnant.  I thought that after her due date and the holidays, that emotions would even out until my birthday and Morgan's birthday/death.  I guess I'll be up and down through April, then again in July.  When does it stop?

Wondering why 'Biggest Loser" made me cry?  This season there was a contestant with an infant at home.  When he got kicked off the show, they showed him at home with his son, about 6 months old.  Simply put, the baby laughed.  It was probably the first baby laugh I'd heard in a long time.  That laugh represented EVERY. SINGLE. THING. we will never do with Morgan.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

You Don't Know How I Feel

You Don’t Know How I Feel

Author Unknown

You don't know how I feel--please don't tell me that you do.
There's just one way to know--have you lost a child too?
"You'll have another child"--must I hear this each day?
Can I get another mother, too, if mine should pass away?
Don't say it was "God's will"--that's not the God I know.
Would God on purpose break my heart, then watch as my tears flow?
"You have an angel in heaven--a precious child above."
But, tell me, to whom here on earth shall I give this love?
"Aren't you better yet?" Is that what I heard you say?
No! A part of my heart aches--I'll always feel some pain.
You think that silence is kind, but it hurts me even more.
I want to talk about my child who has gone through death's door.
Don't say these things to me, although you do mean well.
They do not take my pain away; must go through the hell.
I will get better slow but sure--and it helps to have you near,
But a simple "I'm sorry you lost your child" is all I need to hear.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Are You There God? It's me, Angela.

This post isn't directly related to my grieving for Morgan, but it's one that has come to a head since her death.  It has to do with faith, religion, spirituality, Christianity, and all of the other nuanced variations getting at the same topic.

As any one reading this blog or who has experienced any type of tragedy knows,  the religious platitudes flow like the river as people try to comfort you.  Ones you hear a lot: "It's God's will", and "Trust in God".  So, to be clear, you're telling me that God wanted my baby to die?  And, you're also telling me to trust in a God I trusted would let her live?  For people who've not lost a child or a loved one, they probably don't understand the true pain those words can cause.  There's no comfort in them.

Before I go there, I'll share a bit about me and my religious background.  As a kid, I went to a private Christian school where we had Bible class daily, and went to church on Sundays.  I think it's fair to say I got more church in the average week than most people I knew.  According to my mom, I even wanted to be a missionary at one point.  I believed in God and considered myself to be a Christian, but was somewhat lukewarm on some of the "accessories".  By accessories, I mean those actions that designate the Holy Rollers from regular folks.  I also felt that what I learned at school (watered down, as it was, for the elementary aged set) and what I learned at church didn't always mesh.  Anyway, I continued to go to church throughout college and for a while afterwards.  But one day, I realized I really didn't like the church I was going to, and simply stopped going without looking for another.  That was nearly ten years ago.

It's probably pretty silly for me to call myself a Christian, so for now, I'm just a lapsed Baptist, I guess.  The past couple of years, I was feeling the urge to go back to church.  My husband (his upbringing was eerily similar to mine) and I had both been in a neutral region where religion was concerned.  Since Morgan's death, he has made a direct, and sharp left away from God.  In the first few weeks, I also felt abandoned by God.  It was as if we'd gone through one of those team building trust exercises, and the partner who was supposed to catch us, dropped us.  For a while, I was stuck in the same neutral holding pattern, and am now again feeling a gentle pull to the right.

You're probably wondering what the problem is.  Just go to church.  It does sound simple, and I want to go.  In fact, I need to go.  I need to hold on to ...something.  I need to know that I'll see my baby girl again, in heaven.  I need to know that we'll have a house full of living children some day.  To get there, I've started reading the Bible daily.  For whatever reason, I chose to start with the New Testament, and am up to Luke.  It's actually been comforting to know that the "accessories" I mentioned above are actually frowned upon by Christ himself.  Several examples are given in Matthew, regarding prayer, and fasting.  So many people act as if the louder and longer you pray, the "better" your prayers are, the easier it is for your prayers to be heard.  We all know people who, when Lent rolls around, let everyone know what they're giving up, and complain for each of those 40 days about how hard it is to go without.  I've been to churches where you're not a "real" Christian if you don'y jump up, shout, and wave your hands in the air.  Folks, I'm not a hand waver on a good day.  I'd rather let the light shine from within; more quiet, spirit filled actions than loud, neon colored words.

As I realize this could be a VERY long post, I want to ask the parents who've lost a child, yet remained strong in faith: where does your faith come from?  How did you grow it such that it could hold you on the worst days of your life?  I don't want to become the "If you keep this plane from crashing, I'll go to church on Sunday" kind of person.  I feel that maybe I'm returning to God because it's what I know, and because I don't have anything else.  If this is the case, does it matter how you get there?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Born in Silence Video

I just wanted to share this wonderful video segment, "Born in Silence", produced by the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS).

Every 21 minutes in the US, a baby is stillborn.  Yet, no one talks about it.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The "Professionals"

I guess I'm back on the theme of walking in others' shoes, and the fact that you never know a person until you walk in their shoes.  In general, I think that we find that our friends and family don't know what to say to us.  I'm now starting to think that the "professionals" also don't know what to say.

Recently, the Ricki Lake show featured a segment with a couple grieving the loss of their newborn son.  I saw this clip when it started making its round through the babyloss community.  Per the usual, there was a counselor/therapist to provide some guidance to the couple.  This particular segment featured Mike Dow.  Have you heard of him?  He's the current reality show therapist du jour - "Freaky Eaters" on TLC, VH-1's "Couples Therapy", or "Diet Rehab".  Well, this guy comes to talk to this couple, and tells them they're "stuck" in the grieving process (Kubler-Ross's Stages of Grief) and "need to move on".  I'm not saying that "Dr. Mike" isn't a highly trained professional; his website lists a whole slew of degrees and specializations, primarily in the area of couples and family therapy.  He is not a grief counselor.  He has not experienced the loss of a child.

In my own life, for about the last year or so, I've been working with a psychiatrist on a research project.  At our last meeting, a question was raised by my advisor regarding a separate project.  She wanted to know about measuring depression and other psychiatric illness in women who've experienced stillbirth, and when it goes from grief to something more serious.  The psychiatrist didn't know about any research into that specific question, but shared what he knew about PTSD after stillbirth.  He ticked off a number of behaviors that could possible represent PTSD. Well, ya'll, I guess I have PTSD, then.  And, it would be my guess, that every other woman whose lost a pregnancy or living child does, too.  One example he mentioned was changing OBs so that you don't have to back to the office where you found your baby had died or not having to deliver at the same hospital. He listed a few other items that I know are very common.

I bring this all up to say that, really and truly (from my point of view at least) that even the professionals don't know what it's like.  They know what those very thick, expensive medical texts tell them, and they know what "normal" is.  I guarantee that no textbook has told them what the "new normal" is.  Thought: would it be fair to limit the position of grief counselor to those who have grieved?

Sunday, January 20, 2013


I've been feeling pretty good lately.  Little things here and there get me down for a minute, but overall pretty good.  But sometimes, some things just piss me off.  Truly.  My husband checked the mail today, and lucky me, the only piece of mail was mine.  It was from the Department of Psychology at my school.  Hmmm,...what could this be?  It turned out to be a letter inviting me and my "new baby" to participate in a research study.  Where did they get my name?  If I find it was from the hospital/clinic (also affiliated with the school), heads are going to roll.

To be honest, I was already a bit weepy this weekend, thinking about how things were supposed to be. Just last night, I realized how many times last year we thought, "This time next year...".  Instead, we'll be thinking about "this time last year".  Maybe this time next year will be better. For real.