Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Baby Weight

Today, I woke up thinking about "The Sunday I will never forget". Pieces of the hospital stay keep appearing in my mind. I hope I never forget the details. The details are all I have.

My thoughts were more matter of fact then. I knew my baby was dead but I hadn't shed any tears. I watched my husband barely hold it together and I felt bad for him, I felt bad for what he was going through. 

I was unaware (and I still am) about how long Brody was dead before we got to the hospital. But, at 8am when we were on our way to the hospital I didn't realize I would have to hold his body in my womb for almost 11 more hours. Looking back, that realization alone, makes me feel a way that I just can not put into words. A place where I always thought he would be safe and taken care of was now a place of death and it was inside of me. 

I hadn't thought about it much that day or the days following but now I wonder everyday if he suffered. Did he flail around trying to find a way out, did he struggle, did he wonder why his mommy wasn't helping? Those thoughts haunt me. They told me that it was peaceful but I can not find anything peaceful with the fact that my son died inside of me. I have to carry with me, everyday, the exact spot where Brody died. I still have a difficult time touching my belly or looking at it. I'm mad at it like it killed him on purpose, I hold a grudge with my own womb. I give it dirty looks in the mirror and in the bath tub. 

I cried on the second night. It was the first time Adam had fell asleep and there I was...alone. I tried to wake him but he was just so exhausted from all the emotions and from not sleeping the night before. Alone...a feeling I hadn't had for thirty weeks. I was never alone. It was Brody and I against the world. Obviously, where ever I went, he was there too. Every movie with a friend, every dinner with my sister, every where I drove and tried to get him acquainted with Billy Joel early, he was there. We were a team. When it hit me that our team was down by one member, I cried...finally. I cried so hard yet still cautious as to not wake Adam. 

That night I was only crying for the only reason that made sense...Brody was gone. Today, I still cry for that reason but so many more. I even cry for reasons that don't make sense. I cry because I feel so empty, I cry because I'm so proud of Brody, I cry because my family will never be complete even if we have 8 more children, I cry because I just realized I haven't cried all day, I cry because I just cannot put into words how I feel that day, even if I knew and understood every single word that ever existed, I still would not be able to describe how I feel and that feeling makes me cry. 

August 21, 2011 was the worst day of my life but I wish it was like the movie "Groundhog Day". I wish I woke up every morning on August 21, 2011. I know that it may be difficult to comprehend for everyone reading this and I'm sorry that I don't have this explanation of why that will make you think "Oh, ok, now I get it, now I completely understand", because believe me, you don't want to completely understand...ever. I just know that that horrible day that was the worst day of my life was also for some strange reason the best day of my life...It was the day I delivered my baby boy and kissed his forehead. 

Those few days in the hospital almost seem like they didn't happen. They were so strange and so blurry but also filled with a strict reality that barely exists today. I knew what had happened and I knew I couldn't fall apart. Today, there are days I allow myself to fall apart and I know I need those days. I had no idea what was ahead of us, the journey that we were about to take, I just knew we had to get through it and that we would. 

I didn't have to hide then, I didn't have to wish I had a post- it on my forehead that read "My baby died", because everyone knew already. Today, things are different. Some people know and some people don't. When I'm surrounded by people who know, I'm carrying the "baby weight". The "baby weight" is what I call what makes me different now. It makes me go from a full on smile and laughter to turning away from the laughter with guilt. The baby weight makes me talk about Brody in a conversation that has nothing to do with babies at all. Some people allow me to and that makes me feel great, some people look at me like they are thinking "why are you still talking about that baby?", They make me want to pull his picture out and show them he was real, but I don't. The baby weight pulls me down but I don't want to lose it, it's what keeps me close to Brody. When I'm around people who don't know, I feel like an award winning actress, pretending to be someone who isn't grieving. 

Things are a lot different now than they were three months ago and I'm sure they will keep changing all while remaining the same.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

All I want for Christmas

 I have always loved Christmas time. It's by far, my favorite holiday. I love the warm feeling of this time of year, the Christmas music and the way family and friends come together and share that warmth with each other. I watch Christmas movies and there is a part of me that believes in Santa Clause still. I remember what Christmas time is about and it makes me feel so close to God. I decorate my tree while listening to Christmas music and it makes me feel happy inside.

I still feel this way, I honestly still love Christmas, but part of me aches inside right now. Every Christmas song reminds me of Brody. It doesn't always make me sad, but every happy little jingle about "missing your baby on Christmas" has a new meaning to me. Baby, in the songs, I have always guessed to mean your significant other, your partner, your better half, but now the word "baby" just sticks out like a sore thumb. Then there are songs like silent night and oh holy night that make me compare Brody to baby Jesus. I know how that sounds but I have always just said it like it was on here so I'm not about to start hiding my thoughts and feelings now. I guess in some ways it makes me feel even closer to God, sympathizing with him in a strange way but at the same time wishing Brody was here here instead of with Him. 
These are some lyrics to Mariah Carey's "All I want for Christmas is you".
All the lights are shining
So brightly everywhere
And the sound of childrens
Laughter fills the air
And everyone is singing
I hear those sleigh bells ringing
Santa won't you bring me the one I really need
Won't you please bring my baby to me...

I believe in God, and that little girl inside even still believes in Santa, but I am well aware that neither of them can bring me what I really want for Christmas this year. 

I was making crafts the other night while listening to Christmas music on the television. Bruce Spingsteen's version of "Santa Clause is coming to town" came on and I said to Adam "You know, when I was a little girl, this was my favorite Christmas song". A future moment flashed in my head of me singing it to Brody and....I lost it! It will never happen. The reality is sinking in a little deeper these days and it hurts like a thousand knifes in my heart. The numbness is wearing off, a little more each day. The realization of Brody's body being in the cold ground and his soul being somewhere I cannot go to visit gets a bit clearer everyday. 

When I was pregnant, I realized our Christmas would be completely different this year, I had never imagined it would be this kind of different. I thought it would be less about us and more about our 3 month old little boy, I thought it would be new bibs that said "baby's first Christmas", and our families "patiently" taking turns to hold our new bundle of joy. 

Adam and I ventured out for some black Friday shopping. We have done it for three years. We never really run into huge crowds or anyone who is aggressive or mean. We take our time and shop for our loved ones and listen to the Christmas music playing throughout the mall. We had 4 babies to shop for this year. I hadn't thought twice about walking through the baby section but when I started to realize where I was, looking around at all the things I had registered for, I felt like someone had punched me right in the gut. The baby girl clothes didn't bother me as much but those baby boy Christmas outfits had me breathing extra hard and holding back tears that felt like needles coming out of my eyes. A deep, dark, and unfamiliar voice in my head said "I hate Christmas". It scared me and I didn't like it, I didn't like having a second of hatred for something that has made me ooze joy for 29 years. I pulled myself together while leaving the baby section and headed to checkout. 

I don't have any particular ideas about how I'm gonna get through this season but I do know it's going to involve a lot of support from family and friends and knowing Brody is always close by. By support, I do not mean that puppy dog look of sadness people get right before they ask me "Are you okay" in a voice that sounds condescending or totally forgetting Brody existed. Support meaning laughter, smiling, speaking of Brody like he is my son and not the pink elephant in the room and maybe even an  Will Ferrell "Elf" reference or two. 
Brody's first ornament from my Aunt Debbie and Uncle Dave  

  Merry Christmas Brody! I love you

Friday, November 18, 2011

Going through Stages

I don't know if I buy this "stages of grief" concept. Maybe I'm just abnormal or unique in my grieving process but I've skipped some stages and sometimes I go backwards. I'm looking at the stages right now, I've written them down, trying to find where I fit in. I suppose I went through Shock but then there is denial. Denial? I have never denied that Brody was gone. It has been a painful reality to say the least. 

Next comes pain and guilt. I've been there . Pain is right where I am on some days, pain is everywhere. Physically, pain is this everyday reminder that my son is gone by this strange tingling/burning feeling I've had in my ribs and back since I left the hospital. It doesn't last all day, but it occurs everyday, it sneaks up on me. Emotionally, pain comes in the form of realizing right now, instead of writing this, I should be putting my son down for a nap, right after an amazing feeding session, holding my son close to me and having him look into my eyes with fulfillment  as if he was saying "thank you mommy". The guilt has been strange. The other night, Adam and I went to Sears to pick out a range hood for our kitchen. On our way out, I spotted a big comfy chair and decided to plop down and test it out. Adam just thought it was hilarious that my feet didn't touch the floor and felt the urge to take a picture.

 We were laughing and having a good time and it felt "normal". Then there it was...guilt. I felt so guilty for laughing, for getting back to something that felt close to normal for us. I couldn't get the picture out of my head of Brody sitting in the chair with me, us pushing him the stroller through the mall. "Snap out of it, Tia", I have to tell myself, "He is gone forever".
Part of me accepts the fact that I did everything right and that I am not to blame but at the same time, I have to keep reminding myself that it was not the occasional can of Pepsi or the 4 hour trip to State College to pick up my new car that killed my baby.

Anger: I think the only thing that makes me angry is that there is nothing to be angry about. Yes, I'm angry that Brody is not here with me. I'm angry my life has flipped upside down and consists of trying to keep myself busy instead of changing diapers. The worst part is there is no one to be angry with, no one to blame. Would it be easier if there was? I don't know. 

Bargaining is the next stage. Well, I  wish I could bargain. My husband said to me last night. "We have so much to be happy for, we have good lives". In my head, the same one that was nodding in agreement, I was thinking "We used to". I said to him " I would give it all up, everything, if Brody could come back to us". I suppose that was me bargaining. I know what Adam meant. He meant we are so blessed to have family to support us, friends who stand behind us, a roof over our heads and food on our table. I get all that and I am very appreciative of it all, but part of me thinks all that stuff is missing something now... It's missing Brody. Our family will never be whole again, our friends and I can't have play dates with their children and Brody, our house is missing future memories, and the table with the food on it is missing a high chair. I know how this sounds. It sounds like I'm a ungrateful human being that can't be happy for what she has. This is not so. I am grateful, I am beyond grateful. When I met Adam and we decided to move in together, we lived in a crappy apartment downtown that was freezing cold all the time. I told his parents "I would live in a cardboard box, as long as it was with Adam". I meant it. I would go back to that crappy apartment with the draft if it meant I could hold my baby. By the way, Adam is the only person who is allowed to tell me to be happy for what I have or to pull it together. Anyone else saying it makes me...Stage 3: Angry!

As for depression and sorrow. Is this really a stage? Why is it the fifth stage? I have felt sorrow from the day we found out Brody didn't have a heartbeat anymore.  I think being depressed is different from depression itself. I know that sounds very confusing. I don't live this new life in depression. I get out of bed, I go places, I sometimes even laugh a real laugh. I have my days where I break down and I feel depressed  but living a life in depression is a choice for me. A choice I will not make.I could do it, it would be sooo easy to do. I could sleep all day, I could drink a fifth of whiskey everyday, or find some way to avoid my reality but that is not the life I want for me, for Adam, for Brody, for our future children. 

I've also been reconstructing since the day we left the hospital. Reconstruction is the sixth stage of grief. I started reconstructing everything in my mind. I reconstructed every aspect of our lives.The life of Friday evenings at home with Brody that we were more than ready for have been reconstructed to look more like they did before I got pregnant. Our lives as Mommy and Daddy have been reconstructed back to Tia and Adam. I don't really see reconstructing as the next to last stage because I feel like we will be reconstructing for a long, long time. 

Acceptance. I don't like this one. Will I ever accept all of this? Is there ever a silver lining to a dead baby? You can change your life for the positive, you can help other grieving mothers, you can start a blog to help your friends and family understand, but will you ever accept that your baby is gone...forever? I just don't know about that. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Brody made me

Each of these outfits has a different and special meaning for me. The red one on the far left speaks for itself. "Daddy's Little Dude". I will never forget Adam's expression when I showed him this shirt. He was in love, in love with idea of being a Daddy. I imagined so many things for the terrible twosome. Most of the fantasies involved a lot of dirt and boo boos but I wouldn't have it any other way. Now that top means something different, now its the piece of clothing Adam can't look at without a tear in his eye. The plaid navy outfit was gonna be used for 6 months photos. It was the only thing I could pull off with Adam since he told me no argyle sweaters and no golf hat :( . I could of probably got away with it with enough sad face. Now that outfit means a future with no six month pictures, no year pictures, no pictures...ever. The Harley outfit was from Adam's Dad and Step mom. It was one of the first outfits Brody had. It included a hat and bib too. Now Brody's name is sketched along with his birth date on Randy's (Adam's Dad) Harley windshield. Last, but certainly not least is the shirt that reads "Mum+Dad=Me". This shirt is probably meant to be funny to most people but to me, it meant Brody was created with love. Adam and I together, created our first child, our first son, our world. 

We made Brody, but in many ways, Brody made us. Brody made us into a Mommy and Daddy. All the things I thought I would be teaching him some day, he is now teaching me. He has taught me to be patient with others. Why rush things? Life is too short, way too short! You will eventually get where you are going and then you're gonna wish you weren't there so just take your time and live in the moment you are in right now.

Brody has taught me to always put myself in the shoes of others before judging them. And even when your in the shoes, don't judge them still. Everyone has their very own story. Everyone has their own heartache, their own challenges, their own obstacles to overcome. I can never say that I have it worse than the next person, that my problems are more important or more significant than the person standing next to me. It feels a lot better to help someone than it does to hurt them. 

I would have never done something like this blog before Brody. I was always way too concerned with what others thought about me. Did I look good enough?, Was I good enough?, Did I do the right things?,Did I say the right things?, What if I said the wrong things?. It was very exhausting. I would be lying if I said that I was all cured of that, because I do still care, but in a different way. Brody has given me a new kind of confidence. He has taught me to hold my head high and say what I feel. It actually started when I was pregnant with him. I was so proud to be pregnant. I liked my belly.  I never felt like the fat, miserable pregnant lady. My pregnancy was perfect minus some annoying "morning sickness" the first trimester that ironically kept me up all night. Some  other "there must be an alien inside of me" feelings you get when you're pregnant. Besides those minor things, I felt pretty good and will admit most of my complaining was done just because I could. Honestly, I felt prettier, I felt better, and I felt more confident than ever. I was doing something that my body was created for, something beautiful...I was carrying a life inside me. My body and I aren't on great terms right now. I still feel like it failed me and failed my son... miserably.

Before I met Adam, I was a totally different person. Some one I am not proud of . Some one I don't even want to explain or describe to you. Adam and I started our journey on a very bumpy road but have gotten somewhere that I am proud of. We started changing each other into the people we were meant to be and Brody has reminded us to keep going, keep improving, keep our love for each other the main focus. I am proud of our relationship, our life together,our marriage, and I'm proud of our Brody for making us...us.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Everyone is different

I've mentioned "What no to say" sayings before in a previous post but I thought I would elaborate a little. I was going to call this post "what not to say" and I have seen it in other blogs before but I chose not to because, honestly what others hate to hear, sometimes helps me and I'm sure some of the sayings I will mention, helps others on their unique journey. Everyone is different.

Here are some things that people have said to me. If you have said these things to me, please don't feel bad. I know no one really knows what to say so they say what they think will make me feel better. I really do appreciate kind words and prayers of any sort but maybe I can give you something to think about.

"You can have other children": I hope I can, I really do, but a million other children are not going to be and will never be Brody. Would you say to a widow "You can have other husbands"?

"It is good that you were not full term": To me, Brody was full term, he was my baby. People have premature babies all the time and they live. If Brody would have lived on August 21, he would have been just another premature healthy baby. My father, for example was premature and only 1 pound. Brody was almost 3 pounds. I don't measure my love for Brody in gestational age or weight.

"Maybe Brody had something wrong with him and didn't want to burden you": I am fairly certain that if Brody had the power not to burden me, he would have chosen to live. Furthermore, I would have loved him NO MATTER WHAT. He was and is my child and nothing, no disease, no deformity, no illness would have changed my love for  him.

"You are still so young": As if my age determines how much my heart aches. I'm not real sure why people say this or where they are going with it. They may mean I am young enough to have more children, in which case, I have explained that doesn't mean I will get Brody back 

"Time heals all wounds": Well, I have explained this in my post "Time heals nothing".

"You will be a mother someday": This may be the worst for me. I am a mother, when I have another child, I will be a mother of two. A "normal" mother's job is the best and most important job. They have to feed, clothes, care for, teach etc etc etc...I could go on and on and if you're a mother, you know exactly what I'm talking about. My job, as a mother is different. For me, my job is to never let the memory of my son die even though he did. My job is to help other grieving mothers who need someone and have no body to run to. I don't know if I can ever make lemonade from these lemons because it seems as if I was given salt instead of sugar but in some way I will make Brody proud of his mother.

"I understand" or "I know how you feel": I realize just about everyone has experienced loss at some point in their lives, but you will never know exactly how someone else feels. Once again, everyone is different. Each loss is different. Losing a child is different than losing anyone else. Being a bereaved parent is like becoming part of a secret society that no one wants to join. If I might add, please never compare the loss of a child to a loss of a pet. If you know me, you know I have two black lab mixes that are spoiled rotten and I love them dearly so I know how much a pet means to a family but it is never really comforting to hear someone say " Oh I know how you feel, my dog died". 

I'm sure some of you might be saying "Well, what can we say"? While I usually don't mind "Everything happens for a reason", I would not recommend it. There is no reason good enough for a grieving mother. I would also not go with "Your son/daughter is in a better place". To a mother, the best place for her child is in her arms. I sure do hope Heaven is better than here but the distance is just too far. We can't drive there, we can't visit,we can no longer touch, hold, kiss, or see our babies. We can only just imagine.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

You're always on my mind

Don't mind the construction going on behind me

The other night I was watching T.V. at my neighbors house. A commercial came on, I think it was a Babies-R-Us commercial. She asked "Does this bother you?" I responded quickly because I had already thought about it. "Well, not really, because everything reminds me of Brody". I thought "It really doesn't bother me any more than eating a salad does, or driving in my car, or wearing a certain pink tank top(see above picture), or seeing a stuffed frog". Everything reminds me of Brody. 

I never ate a salad until I was pregnant. No, I'm not making that up. One day, I just decided I wanted a salad. I was probably about 4 or 5 weeks pregnant. I got my new car the day before Brody died. It was for him. I had imagined him eating those new bite size yogurt things made by Gerber in the backseat. I think of him every time I get in my car. I think of him every time I wear something I wore while I was pregnant. I wore the above shirt a lot, mostly because it went so well with the black comfy shorts I had gotten and I was really hot ALL THE TIME! Nothing ever looks quite as cute on me as it did while I was pregnant. 
Frogs: Oh, how that child would have hated frogs. Hence, Brody's Frog Blog. His bedding was frogs, all of his clothes had frogs on them and my baby shower theme was to be...take a guess...FROGS :)  

 I don't have to remind myself that he is gone, he is always on my mind and in my heart. It's not like "Darn it, if it wasn't for that dang Babies-R-Us commercial, I would have gotten through my entire day without thinking of my dead son". Especially because Babies-R-Us has decided to stalk me. They send me e-mails everyday and free diapers and formula in the mail. Yes, I have contacted them about this and No, they have not stopped! When I check the mail, I usually slam the door of the mailbox shut, stomp my foot and say " Are you ******* serious?" You can laugh at this, I allow, because I usually do afterwards. Once I get the initial cuss words out of the way, sometimes all I can really do is laugh about what I just did and hope none of my neighbors seen the tantrum.

So, yes there are particular things that bother me but really there is nothing that is safe for a grieving mother. He was a part of me so every time I look down and see my semi-flat tummy, I remember him, every time I step foot into my house that is missing baby toys and clothes and future memories, I remember him. He is everywhere now, in more ways than one and will remain so forever. I love you Brody Michael <3

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It looks a little like joy...I think

Hello Everyone. I have gotten so much feedback about Brody's frog blog and I really appreciate it all. From my mother telling me I need a proof reader to the woman I barely know telling me how much my openness has helped her deal with her losses. 

I have never claimed to be a professional writer, I am just gathering my thoughts and typing them out. I never even actually think about what I am going to write about, I just sit down and do it. I've never been a "rough draft" type of person. So, yes, I miss spell words and use incorrect punctuation from time to time but I'm not perfect and have come to find out a little secret...No one is! 

Sometimes my blogs are so disorganized but to tell you the truth...So are my thoughts. Sometimes I don't know if I am coming or going. There are moments I want to be alone but I want company. There have been times I want to talk about Brody and shout his name from the roof tops of good ole Ford City and yet in the same second I want to keep him a secret in my heart. What I mean is, when you are reading this, you are really getting my honest feelings, as jumbled up and messy as they are...they are the real deal.

Brody has changed my life. He has made me appreciate everything just a little bit more. I hope he has done the same for everyone who reads this blog. Through me, I hope Brody inspires you and motivates you to be the best version of YOU...that is what he has done for me. 

I started this blog to spread the word about still birth, miscarriage, and infant loss. I want to be able to talk about Brody without making people feel uncomfortable. Us grieving mothers deserve that. We don't get to talk about milestones and show off pictures. I cannot go to the chiropractor and rummage through my purse and say " Oh, here is my picture of my dead baby, isn't he beautiful?" "His name is Brody, he was almost 3 pounds and 15 inches long, he had his Dad's ugly feet and my lips, I don't know the color of his eyes because he was born sleeping...forever". I don't get to do that. I started the blog to make a difference, even if it's a small difference but I'm not done! This is just the beginning for me and Brody. We have big plans and ideas ahead of us and nothing is going to stop us.

With all of that rambling out of the way, here is what I really wanted to say tonight. If you're not already subscribed to the blog, please do so and if you haven't shared it with anyone, do that too. If I can help one other person, just one, It will make me feel like I am doing something. My days are filled with grieving and mourning my son, so believe me when I say that I have a sense of what joy used to feel like when I get an e-mail saying someone has commented on the Frog Blog, when I see one more member, or I hear someone say how much they love reading it. 

Also, if there is anything you would like me to talk about or discuss, please feel free to ask. No, I am not running out of ideas, that will never happen. I know people have questions and I am not afraid to answer them. If there is something you wanna know more about or that you don't understand, please suggest it to me and I will blog about it. Thank you all again for reading. I've been asked many times "how can help?" "What can do to make you feel better?" Well, unless you can bring my baby back to me, which I know is humanly impossible, there is not a whole lot anyone can do. There are things that resemble joy to me though and actually do put a real smile on my face: My wonderful family and friends who never judge, they just offer to help in any way they can ( I love you all more than you will ever know), my husband who if I do say so myself is THE BEST husband in the world!, and this blog!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tiny Footprints

"These are my footprints,
so perfect and so small.
These tiny footprints
never touched the ground at all.
Not one tiny footprint,
for now I have wings.
These tiny footprints were meant
for other things.
You will hear my tiny footprints,
in the patter of the rain.
Gentle drops like angel's tears,
of joy and not from pain.
You will see my tiny footprints,
in each butterflies' lazy dance.
I'll let you know I'm with you,
if you just give me the chance.
You will see my tiny footprints,
in the rustle of the leaves.
I will whisper names into the wind,
and call each one that grieves.
Most of all, these tiny footprints,
are found on Mommy and Daddy's hearts.
'Cause even though I'm gone now,
We'll never truly part."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The day we buried Brody

Brody M. Lukehart

Ford City

Brody Michael Lukehart, infant, died Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011, at Magee-Womens Hospital, Oakland. Survivors include parents, Adam Michael Lukehart and Tawnya Nicole Giardino Lukehart; maternal grandparents, Robert and Connie Giardino and John Leinweber; great-grandparents, Pam and William Smail, Vivian Giardino and Kathy Leinweber; paternal grandparents, Randy and Jacque Lukehart; great-grandparents, Bob and Sue Stitt and Merle and Peg Lukehart; also survived by a number of uncles, aunts and other relatives. He was preceded in death by grandmother, Mary Sue Stitt Lukehart. Private funeral service will be held. Interment in South Bend Cemetery. Arrangements by MANTINI FUNERAL HOME INC., Ford City.

This was Brody's obituary. I dreaded writing it, I feared it was going to be the worst thing I had ever done aside from actually burying him. I was very surprised about how simple it was. I didn't cry. I didn't cry too horribly much that week. I was still in shock. I can actually recall every tear I shed that week. 
The days leading up to the burial are a blur. It was like one long day. I actually slept quite well, it was a safe place for me to be...Asleep, where ironically, I could get away from the nightmare that I was living.
I called my mom because I had the idea that I wanted everyone to hold a flower during the ceremony and then place it on his casket. I had never seen a casket that small before, they shouldn't have to make them that small. I wanted the perfect flower. My mom suggested a rose. "But what color?", I asked. She suggested red but thought the meaning of a red rose was love but a passionate love. "No, I don't want a red one", I said. "What does white mean?" When she read me what it meant, I knew it would be perfect. 
 Purity, Innocence, Silence, Secrecy, Reverence,Humility, Youthfulness, "I am worthy of you", Heavenly. Brody was so pure and so innocent. He never sinned and he never had to live in a world full of sin. He was heavenly for sure. 
The morning of the burial, I took a warm bath. I was still recovering physically so Adam helped. If there was a fly on the wall that day, he would have been in tears. I was helpless. I felt like an infant myself.  I watched as drops of milk hit the water and sobbed thinking about how much I wanted to breast feed. I had just given birth so everything felt different and yet I had no baby. The pain just reminded me that he wasn't there.
I have no memory of the drive to the cemetary. I actually don't even remember arriving. 
The pastor started talking and everyone was sobbing. Adam held me close as I gripped the white rose. I remember looking around at everyone with tears streaming down their faces and feeling like I wanted to make them feel better. I wanted to hug them and tell them it was okay. I wondered why I wasn't crying with them. My son was being put into the ground and I had no tears. It was so hot that day, the sun was shining bright. It must be why sunny days are the worst for me now. I never seem to cry when it rains.
I cried twice while we were there. Once when my sister walked up to the casket, put her rose on top and kneel down doing the sign of the cross and another when I seen Adam and his brother kneel beside their mother's grave together. Those two images will remain etched in my mind forever.

 When all was said and done,the pastor handed me this cross and from that instant I knew my relationship with God would be very different than it had ever been before.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Balloons to Heaven

In my post "Remembering Brody", I talked about ways that I have honored him. It's important for me to remember that even though Brody is my first child and will never be forgotten, He is not the only angel baby in Heaven. He unfortunately wont be the last either. One in four women will experience a loss either with miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss. The statistics are frightening.

Think about it. Think about it before you judge someone. It could be someone you know very well, it could be your co worker who just "can't make it to your baby shower", it could be your friend who doesn't seem as excited as you would of expected her to be when you tell her your pregnant. It could be anyone. It could be the woman who you think hates children but really has struggled with loss and infertility for years.

On Brody's due date, I decided to not only honor Brody but honor other angel babies as well. When Brody died I started thinking about all of my friends who have experienced loss. Most of them were miscarriages, which means the loss occurred before twenty weeks gestation. If you have ever been pregnant, you know you start to love that child from the minute you find out, you start having plans of your future life together and the mother you want to be. A loss is a loss and it doesn't matter if you were 13 weeks or if you delivered your stillborn baby at 30 weeks,or you delivered your baby full term and only had enough time to say "goodbye", it still is very painful. Each loss is very different at the same time.

I posted on Facebook that I would be sending up balloons to honor any angel. I didn't care if it was my best friend or someone I had never met. It wasn't about differences in our lives or if we talked everyday or hadn't had contact in 10 years, it was about our babies...our angels. 
I honored and remembered 21 angels that day. Each of them with their own story of heartbreak and strength. Each one of them very special to their parents and special to me. The night before, I had sat in bed with tears flowing down my face asking God for a sign. Begging for him to find a way to let me know that Brody is okay and in Heaven beside him. I also asked God for a beautiful day for the balloon release. That morning I woke to at least 3 inches of snow on the ground on October 29th. I suppose it's not unheard of but it was my sign and it was my beautiful day that I had asked for.

 In my heart and in my mind, Brody's balloon led them up to heaven together. As the balloons floated up, they remained together like they knew where they were going. 

The last time I had so many emotions at once was when I delivered Brody.  I felt honored that everyone had wanted to share their stories with me, I felt sad that I was sending 21 balloons up. 21 angels. Some never given a name, some only in the arms of their mothers for hours, and Brody, my little angel. 
It was only me, Adam, and a very dear friend who offered to take professional photos of the release.  It was quiet, it was beautiful and it was the saddest and most amazing thing I have ever seen all at once.

When the balloons were unable to be seen anymore, I embraced Adam and in that moment I knew how very proud Brody was.

Photos by Nikkala Anne Photography

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Unwanted Strength

If I had a dime for every time I have heard "You are so strong", I would be rich. Believe me I am glad I have friends and family who are telling me so,but it may not be the kind of strength they are familiar with. Maybe these people thought I was weak before, and that is okay with me or maybe they were just used to my "wanted strength". Wanted strength is the kind of strength we have to get through little obstacles in our life like road rage or your steak not being perfectly medium rare. You might think of these things as "the small stuff" and not sweating it.Sometimes Wanted Strength gives you the motivation to make changes in your life when your unhappy or unsatisfied, for example, going back to school or changing careers.

Then there is the dreaded "Unwanted Strength". This is the kind I have. Unwanted Strength is the kind that forces you to get out of bed and face the day, a day your son will never see. Unwanted strength is the kind that forces you to put a smile on your face that you can hardly even look at in the mirror because you see your angel's lips and jaw line. Unwanted strength is the kind that forces you to listen to people talk but you can't really hear a word they are saying. Unwanted strength forces you to look away from the pregnant lady at the grocery store before you tell her "It could all be gone in one instant and to cherish every kick and every hiccup".The Unwanted strength makes a person who one hundred percent believes that God does not punish, wonder which sin made her lose her first born child.The Unwanted Strength makes you resist the urge to use profanity and maybe even physically harm the mother who neglects and abuses her child. The Unwanted Strength makes a woman take pride in and have passion for a blog she wishes she NEVER had to write.

“Do not judge the bereaved mother.
She comes in many forms.
She is breathing, but she is dying.
She may look young, but inside she has become ancient.
She smiles, but her heart sobs.
She walks, she talks, she cooks, she cleans, she works, she IS,
but she IS NOT, all at once.
She is here, but part of her is elsewhere for eternity.”