Monday, August 18, 2014

a house named Grief

Feeling extremely honored to be a guest writer for my favorite child-loss literary website, Glow in the Woods.

It comes from a dark place but it resonates with others in a beautiful way, a way that makes them feel heavy and sad, yet, inexplicably connected. I think that's what gets me through sometimes. Sharing the heavy in a completely non-malicious or selfish way. We are wiser when we understand pain.

I first knew that Glow was going to be an immensely important part to my grief journey when I read these words in the "about us" section.

One of us, only half-joking, said this will be a place where us medusas can take off our hats, none minding the sight of all the snakes. Because not only can we bear the sight of each other—we crave it.

I've been writing a lot of rants and a lot of stories on this blog but this is the first "poem" about what it feels like to lose my son.

You can read it by clicking this link

a house named Grief

Hayden's Mama

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Appreciate everything while you still can

One of my Angel Mama friends came to me with an issue the other day. She said she had been thinking a lot lately about what she would do if she got pregnant again. Would she keep it a secret and try not to get attached or would she openly cherish every minute of it?

I for one have a problem when it comes to amazing life events. I don't realize until long after they are over that I will not get that moment back again.While I am experiencing them I always think I will do it again so its no big deal if I miss out on some stuff the first time around.

 Once I drove across the country and my camera's battery died while visiting friends in the Rockies- about 3 days in to my trip. The charger was packed who-knows-where in one of the bags crammed in the back of the jeep. I went to the drug store and got a disposable and didn't think about it again. I had this awesome Nixon D60 capable of taking all these unbelievable photos of my 3-week experience driving from Vancouver to New Brunswick and I simply didn't worry about it. I didn't go to a camera shop and find a solution, I didn't unpack everything to find the charger, I actually thought that I would do this trip again and I would prepare better next time and make more stops and take it all in next time. Well, needless to say, there was never a next time.

For the most part, I could say the same goes for my experience with being pregnant for Hayden. This was my first time so I certainly was ambitious and excited for all the monumental milestones that would take place in the 40 weeks of my pregnancy but, honestly, after a while I just got tired and I took it for granted. Sure, I took photos on my iPhone of my growing belly, saved the pregnancy test and started a little journal for my son. I talked to him, sang him Patsy Cline and his father read him stories now and then. I planned to get professional photos done during my 3rd trimester and even scoped out Micheal's for materials for a belly cast. There were a lot of things I ended up not doing. I don't even know why. I knew I would never be pregnant with Hayden again, other children yes, but not him. I would never do this for the first time again. So, what exactly stopped me? After going from 130lbs to almost 180lbs in 9 months I guess you could say I felt fat and was concerned about how I would look in pictures. I looked around my apartment and realized there wasn't really any practical place to put a belly cast. I got lazy. I desperately wanted it to be over by 36 weeks. I complained, I bitched, I took it for granted.

Now, here I am with nothing but the little things I DID do as all I have left of this beautiful, intense, most incredible thing I have ever done in my life. I don't have him, the baby, to console my regret. I have bits and pieces and spend all my energy trying to mold them together and make them into a shrine of memory.

So, to get back to the idea of what I would do when I get pregnant again..

I have thought about this long and hard and I have made up my mind on how the next pregnancy is going to play out. Believe me, I am aware that it will be scary, terrifying even. Through another Angel Mama I found an article on pregnancy after loss that explained it quite well. I won't try to regurgitate so here is the quote:

Right. So. Scary? Yes. Impossible? No.

I would cherish every single moment from the time I find out I am pregnant to the time my pregnancy is over. Be it a happy ending with a healthy baby or another tragic loss. The baby is mine, ours. He/She will have the most loving and attentive parents from the embryonic stage all the way through, to as far as we are able to go with it.

I will tell everyone about it right away, in fact, I won't wait. What am I worried about? The possibility that something goes wrong again? Miscarriage? The idea that everyone will forget about Hayden and move on to the newest Lyons' baby?

First of all, most people HAVE forgotten about Hayden. I do my best everyday to keep his memory alive but, quite frankly, this is my small family's loss, not the rest of the world's. I write these blogs, I speak his name, I run the course, make demands from doctors, have meetings for Stillbirth support groups, cry, smile, beg God for time travel abilities, look at his pictures and his box of ashes daily...I do these things, my dearest friends and family they look out for me, hope I am OK. They didn't feel his kicks for months, they weren't in the delivery room. Forgetting something you hardly knew is inevitable. Forgetting what happened to their friend, their daughter, their sister, not so much. It Is my parental instinct. I read somewhere that mothers fight to keep their children safe and beavered mothers fight to keep their children's memory alive. No matter how many more children I will have in my life that will never stop. I will never stop fighting for Hayden.

What about miscarriage? Most women try to hold off until the 2nd trimester to tell people of their pregnancy even if they have never experienced the loss of one. There are so many things that can go wrong in those first 12 weeks. Miscarrying is much more common than losing a baby full term. Once women get past that mark they think they're in the clear- I know I did.

But even if my next pregnancy ends in an early miscarriage, why would I want to keep that to myself? Why would I want to grieve alone? I have already been through the most terribly sad experience a woman could possibly go through and it was my sharing of that experience that helped me heal. Why on earth would I ever want to go through this crap by myself? So, for sure I would share it with the world that I am pregnant again and ask for their positive thoughts and prayers to see it through to a happy ending, and if the end is not happy, then I would need the support and affirmations of strength to see me through that.

I would attach to that baby, yes, most definitely. And not because I have no fear that I will lose that baby like I lost Hayden. I would attach myself because I want to give my unborn child as much love and attention as I possibly can for the time I have him/her. I would take the professional pregnancy photos and I would make the belly cast. I would keep a journal from day one and write it in daily. I would tell that baby all about his/her big brother. I would sing every day. Read every day. I would fill up with so much love every day for that next child.

The next thing I was going to say was that while I would allow myself to love that next baby as deeply as I could there were some conditions I would set. I just had a conversation with Nick about this and it has sort of changed my thinking and my plans.

Originally I felt I would not be able to bring myself to set up the nursery before the baby arrived, or even buy a bunch of things in advance. I felt like, while I would give my whole heart to that child, I would not incorporate the tangibles of expectation to my life. My plan was this: If my next baby is healthy and alive after my scheduled induction at 38-39 weeks (no way will I ever let a pregnancy go past its due date again) I would take the baby home to my mother-in-laws for the first week. Nick could then set up the crib, the change table and all the other baby things in our house. The last thing I felt I would ever be able to do again is pack up all my hopes in to rubber maid containers. These would be precautionary measures. I also wouldn't bring the car seat to the hospital expecting that it wont be empty when we leave. These are the things I feel I could not handle. A baby shower? No way! Not until after that child is home safe and sound. With Hayden I had the most beautiful shower. I had more people and gifts than I ever imagined. The thing is, before you truly know the stats on stillbirth, pregnancy is an innocent adventure that has no possible outcome but a beautiful baby. I am wiser now. I know too much now.

As I explained this to Nick he stopped me and told me how he felt. We never really talked about this. We have been trying to make a baby lately and we both knew we wanted to do this but we never really had a conversation about what would happen when we finally do conceive. His thought process was different than mine and it gave me another insight. He said he knew it would be scary but that life was scary anyway. He told me how much he loved those nights setting up the crib and folding the clothes in to baskets. He said that was one of the best parts about my pregnancy, the anticipation and the preparation. He said he didn't want to miss out on that. If for some horrible and strange reason this actually happens to us again then we would deal with it then. I suppose that that is true! One of the best things about expecting is the expecting part.

Who knows? I certainly don't. How can I possibly know how I will feel when I become pregnant again. This thing is fluid and ever changing. I know I want to do this more than anything I have ever wanted. I wanted Hayden so bad but I didn't realize at the time how badly I wanted him until he was ripped away from me.

An update: I am ovulating.

These are the ovulation predictor test I have taken in the past few days. I am still taking my temperature every morning and it hasn't spiked yet which means I am fertile but no egg yet. I am guessing today is my egg's big debut and tomorrow I will find out if it really was. If this is our lucky month our next baby would be due in April. Just a few weeks after Hayden. I feel hopeful this month. I am praying Hayden will look out for our next little one, his little sibling, and keep him/her safe. I am holding on to the hope that I will not lose my strength if I find out that I am. That I will allow myself to give as much love as I am capable of, knowing that anything can happen. Sometimes I don't know how I will be able to love another baby as much as I love Hayden. it is going on 20 weeks without him now and I can't believe I have come this far. At first I felt like the healing would never ever occur and I would be in the darkness for the rest of my days here. I still cry all the time, I still get angry and sad and confused and forlorn. but, more importantly, I get OK sometimes. I feel good about life sometimes. I feel hopeful. Hayden brings me joy instead of sorrow now. I can fill up with pride when I look at his newborn photos and not just emptiness. It's a strange thing, this journey, and you never do know where it will take you. As much as I never thought possible, life after Hayden is getting better.

I have taken for granted the big epic things of my life in the past.When I was 19 with a head full of dreams I thought I would cross the country so many times I could tire of it. When I was pregnant with my beautiful son I thought that it wasn't important to cherish every moment I had with him because I would have the rest of my life for that. I have been taught, time and time again, by the universe that everything in life is worth appreciating and taking full advantage of every minute you have it. I fully plan to do that from here on it.


Hayden's Mama

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Heartbreaking Item FOR SALE

GRACO playpen for sale.

Never used. 

It's very compact and fits in to its own nylon bag. The bag is grey and I can't remember what the color scheme is for the play pen itself but it was purchased for a baby boy if that helps. My memory is a bit foggy but I remember it was really nice and that we were very happy with it.

It was assembled once and sat in the living room for about a week before it was taken down again in a sad, alcohol-induced baby-thing packing frenzy. All the pieces are still there. I cannot promise the cat didn't jump in it while we were sleeping or at the hospital overnight experiencing the worst moments of our lives. I can, however, promise that it has never been touched with spit-up, a poppy diaper or little magic cranky baby tears. 

I'm not sure what the original price was as it was a gift at the baby shower. Every other item but the play pen was trucked over to the in-laws to lay in storage but this playpen was left here. We have no use for it and would like it to no longer be the first thing we see when open the laundry room door. 

I struggled months with the idea of selling any of these things that were his. And, the idea of selling a gift that was given with love and good wishes seems like something only a horribly ungrateful person would do. I am not horribly ungrateful but since these things are mine to do with as I please now I see no harm in trading it off for a much needed night out to dinner and a movie with my equally distraught husband.

Since this was my first time doing this kind of thing (Motherhood) I have no idea what the retail value is for this item so just make a reasonable offer and count your many blessings that you have a living and breathing reason to be looking at this ad.


This ad is not real so please don't contact me with offers. The play pen is real, and the idea is real but no matter how much I contemplate it sometimes I am not getting rid of his things.

The play pen by the washer is a reminder that he was real. He wasn't just an idea or a hope he was a baby made of flesh and bone and sinew. Ten fingers and ten toes. 

It is heartbreaking, everything is. The sunny weather, the empty car seat, the walking trail, the stretchmarks, the statutory holiday, the overgrown garden, the bins in the basement packed with onsies, the market on Saturday mornings, and yes, the play pen in the laundry room. 

I was once pretty good and burying heartbreak and starting fresh. One sad ending only meant a new sweet beginning. I could hold down a lot of the gunk from my life enough to move on. This is not possible now.

This is the thing that never goes away (fully), that you never start over from, that you never ever forget. This is a child. Yours. 

I will never know where this grief thing is going to take me next. I do know that hiding the evidence will accomplish nothing. The evidence is inside me, on my skin, and in my heart. 

You never forget. 

(funny, the filter used to edit this photo was called 'hope')


Hayden's Mama