Overcoming Fear

It was bound to happen.
After you lose your child, you become a completely different person.
I’ve covered that I know.

Pregnancy after losing Graeme though is more than I could’ve ever imagine.
I will be 24 weeks tomorrow and up to this point everything with Kurt has been perfect.
I’ve had no reason to be afraid other than what we went through losing Graeme.
Which as tangible as that is.
It was a completely different situation.
I struggle to remember that.
I also struggle to remember that other peoples losses are not my losses.
A very recent loss in my precious family has shook me to the core, and if I’m really honest with myself.
That’s where the fear has grown.
It’s always there but when people you love go through this devastating loss, everything flows back.
The waves come crashing back in and any control you thought you had disappears completely.
Then the fear just simmers, until eventually it boils over and you lose it completely.
Now I’m trying to pick it back up.
Put all the pieces back together and understand what they mean.
Conversations with my sisters in loss and my husband have really helped me to understand where all this is coming from and how to manage it.

I had to give myself a pep talk last night.
Standing in the mirror, keeping eye contact with myself.
I saw that scared little girl from years past.
The years where everything fell apart. The years that the bottom always dropped out.
I had to remind myself that, that is not my life anymore.
In the years since I’ve been with Andrew my life has been completely different.
Everything has changed for the better.
So the first root of my fear.
The thought that the bottom will drop out.
It’s not real.
It doesn’t always drop out anymore.
I have to let go of that.
I have to put that fear away.

As I stood there and the tears started to flow.
I tried to remind myself that Kurtis is not Graeme.
That our pregnancy with Kurt has been 110% different then our pregnancy with Grae.
With Graeme’s pregnancy trouble started almost immediately and then just continued from there and while I did a lot of things the same.
I’ve done a lot of things differently with Kurt.
And as much as it’s not alike.
One thing that gives me peace and strength is that, Through everything Graeme fought to be with us.
He did not die in me, his heart didn’t stop beating until after I held him in my hands.
If I know anything for sure, it’s that Kurtis is strong like his brother.
The debilitating fear that this precious boy will die in me.
It’s not real.
I know.
I’ve seen him in my dreams.
I’ve told him about his big brother.
I truly believe that he will survive.
I struggle to remember that.

All of which is completely situational, This is all I have.
It is not said to diminish any precious life that flickered out before their birth.
Nothing in the world could diminish their lives.

I just have to hold on to what I have. Because it is all I’ve got.

My mantra must now be
that Kurtis is strong like Graeme.

When I get these “Doom Surges” as another blogger so brilliantly called them.
I have got to remember that I’ve seen this baby boy live and he will.

Everything is going to be okay.

Everything is going to be okay.

Fear is contagious.
It spreads like wildfire.
I’ve got to put it out before it consumes me.

Confront your fears, list them, get to know them, and only then will you be able to put them aside and move ahead.
Jerry Gillies

I believe that Kurtis will make it.
I know he will.
Graeme is watching over us.
He is apart of me and a part of Kurt

We WILL get through this.

I believe.

I know.

I love you more than words little boys.

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I am not who I was before.

That is apparent as everyday passes.
Life is not what it was.
Life will not be the way it was supposed to be.

Learning to live without Graeme is a struggle.
Everyday.
I struggle to understand a point.
I struggle because there is no point.
I struggle to understand why he is gone.
Yes I know the technical why.
But the why I struggle with is the universal why.
Why did the universe give him to me in the first place if it was just going to take him away?
I struggle because no answer to the why will ever be good enough.

Would I be better off with out having him at all?

Absolutely not.

Making him made me better.

Losing him kills me.
But it doesn’t lessen the joy that he brought to me in such a brief time being here.

I also am thoroughly convinced that the only people who understand how I’m thinking and feeling, are the women who have experienced this.
My sisters in loss.

The brutality of this cannot be explained
It can be put into words
But the true meaning of the words cannot be understood.

My husband and I made our son in love and wonder.
I carried him in my womb.
This child was made of me and the man I love.
I felt him grow.
I felt his life.
I saw his future.
I knew the love he would have.
The love he already had.
Then violently and painfully he was ripped away from me.
This child who was physically part of me.
Made of me.
Altered me completely just by being in me.
Then altered me forever by being torn away.
Physically there is no true understanding with out feeling the life of your child leave you.

It is not just sad.
It is not just hard.

It is devastating, horrific, never ending pain.
And It is impossible to “deal” with.

I have been amputated
I have to learn how to live all over again

And because of all of this.
I am not who I was before.

I never will be.

The things that don’t help.

“If I had lost a leg, I would tell them, instead of a boy, no one would ever ask me if I was ‘over’ it. They would ask me how I was doing learning to walk without my leg. I was learning to walk and to breath and to live without Wade. And what I was learning is that it was never going to be the life I had before.” -Elizabeth Edwards

I’ve reached the anger stage. I’m not sure what step that is in this. But I’m there and I’m mad at everything and every one.
There are things that don’t help and these things are immeasurable.
A few of my least favorites include:
“It wasn’t meant to be”
“God has a plan for you”
“Everything happens for a reason”

These statements are just the beginning of the ridiculous things that people will say to you.

These things infuriate me.
As if its not hard enough to go through all of this I have to hear “Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be”… Oh really then why was I pregnant in the first place. If it wasn’t meant to be I would have never gotten pregnant and he definitely wouldn’t have made it to fifteen weeks.

“God has a plan for you”. First off I lost my faith in god a long time ago and any faith I had left was gone the moment I lost my son. But someone please tell me how “gods plan” works. He gave me this miracle. This other life to care for. Just to rip him away before he even got a chance to really live. If that’s “gods plan” then count me out. I don’t want a part in it.

“Everything happens for a reason”. Please tell me what the reason is. My son was ripped from my body for what reason.
There is no reason.
It is senseless.
It is cruel.

My best friend and I went to the zoo today. That was a huge challenge. While I was grateful for the chance to get out of the house and enjoy the weather. I think it was more then what I was ready for. Surrounded by children and pregnant women. Screaming and laughing and crying. I wen’t off on a woman at the concession stand because she argued with me over a straw. I can’t handle anything. I am in total sensory overload. By the time we got home I was snapping on my husband and bursting into tears.

I’m not sure if I’m okay with this stage. Just being sad was enough to make me crazy. Now I’m sad and pissed off. Not really a great mix. I know that I’m never going to “get over” this.
I just want to know when it is going to get easier.

One Week

Its 73 degrees and sunny right now. I’m grateful for that.
The wind however is howling it seems to me that the weather is mimicking the way I feel.
The past few days have been miserable.
It was in the 30’s two days ago, gotta love Western NY.

I’m sitting here on my front porch, drinking my sweet tea, and thinking on the past week.
What it has done to me.
How it has changed me.
Physically, and of course mentally.

When you get pregnant, no one really prepares you for all of the changes you go through.

When you lose your child, you are even less prepared.
Of course nothing in the world could have prepared me for any of it.
No amount of stories or recollections could have warned me about what I was going to go through.

The first, most devastating change of them all, is of course the emptiness. My son isn’t in me anymore and I can feel that. Just over a week ago I was full to the brim with my two hearts, and though I wasn’t feeling full on movements yet, I could still feel Grae in there. The small little flutters, subtle reminders that I was not alone. When he was ripped out of me, that was the very first thing to go.
Aside from the realization that he’s never coming back.
The emptiness is the worst part.

The second change. Almost equally as devastating… My milk came in. I was in NO way prepared for this, there was no warning. Not from the nurses or the doctors. I don’t blame them though, at 15 weeks I just assumed that my breasts would just go back to their original size, that they would lose their fullness, and the soreness would subside. But two days after we lost him, In my emptiness and my grief, the sudden pain in my breast was beyond unwelcome and when the milk came out, I felt even more betrayed by my body. It wasn’t enough that I bleed for almost two weeks before we lost him, it wasn’t enough that I went into labor, it wasn’t enough that he was ripped out of me. My body failed me and then it gave me the one thing that would have sustained him, if he had lived.
Over a week later, my breasts are still leaking but they mean something else to me.
All signs that I was pregnant are gone. I weigh less now than I did before I got pregnant, my little bloated bump has completely disappeared, but my milk is still there, the one thing to keep it real.
To remind me that it wasn’t just a horrible nightmare.
I need all of this to be real.
I need it to heal.

The third. The blood. I bleed for almost two weeks before we lost him. I know I just said that but it is so shocking to me. This my doctor did warn me about, “You could bleed for up to a month”… What?! How do I even have any blood left. In the hospital they told me that I had only lost about a third of a liter of blood, out of eight and a half liters. Only a third. It was enough to keep from sustaining my son. It felt like enough to kill me. So now I get to feel that slow trickling reminder that my son is dead, for a month. Shock doesn’t quite begin to cover it.
Over a week later though, the blood is slowing. It’s turned from red to brown.
A steady reminder that time is passing and there is nothing I can do to stop it. Every second he is gone is a second too long.

There are of course the normal things, the ones you know will hurt.
Walking by the baby aisle.
Hearing a child cry.
Seeing pregnant women.
Seeing pregnant woman that don’t care about the miracle that they are bringing into the world.
Seeing your friends talk about their healthy pregnancies, and the milestones that they reach.
Worse still, seeing your friends announce the birth of their beautiful healthy baby. You want to be happy for them, but inside your screaming with jealousy and pain.

There is nothing that is not cruel about this situation we have been put in.

And as if none of this is enough there are the little things. The quiet moments.
My worse… 11:11, the time on the clock begging you to make a wish, it used to bring me joy and happiness, now it just brings me pain. The reminder that my wish will never come true, I will never get him back. I will never get to hold him again, or kiss his little face. I will never get to watch him grow up, or heal his wounds. I will never get to see the man he would have become. The list goes on and on.
The moments you look forward to.
The firsts that they will never have.
Your life that has changed forever.

Its all just too much.

I love you Graeme. Forever.

My heart, and his.

My son is dead.

I wake up every morning to that thought. It is my mantra.
I know that, that is not the way I should think of him, but for me, right now, it is all I can think of.

March 1st, the happiest day of my life.
I was a week and a half late, and after almost 8 months of trying, I was cautiously optimistic.
I pee’d on that stick, anxiously, excitedly, hopefully.
It was positive, immediately.
I have never been happier, everything in my life had led up to that moment.
I yelled out to A that I was pregnant, tears of joy flowing down my face.
We were so happy.

I had all of the pregnancy symptoms, I pee’d every 5 minutes, my boobs hurt, I was nauseous all the time. I even knew in my gut that it was a boy. I always knew. We told our family and a few close friends, we never really made it public. I think in my heart, I was always scared that something could happen but up until about 8 weeks everything was perfect.

On March 22, I started bleeding not a lot but enough to be scared, it started out brown and turned red, so off we went to the urgent care ER. Everything the Doctor could see said that I was still pregnant, my cervix was closed, my hormones and blood levels were high, but the sonographer wasn’t there and my insurance hadn’t kicked in yet. So began the wait to see the doctor. I thought that would be the scariest wait of my life. I was wrong.

I spotted brown for 10 days after that. when it stopped I was so relieved. I had hope and felt positive.

At my 10 week appointment we were so nervous, my husband kept us positive he has been so strong in all of this.
my wonderful doctor was amazing she told me that everything looked great and seemed to be going right along with where we were supposed to be. She even got us in for an early sonogram.
When I laid down on that table I was terrified.
She squirted the goo and as soon as she placed the wand on my belly, there he was, our tiny baby, dancing around on the screen, doing flips, moving all over the place . The relief I felt was unexplainable. It couldn’t get better, and then she pointed out the heartbeat. It was perfect. I realized then that I had two hearts in me. My own and my child’s, if there had ever been a reason to live, this was it.

Leaving the office that day, we were so happy and so relieved. Everything really was perfect.

We started planning everything, picking out names and nursery colors.
The normal things you do.
For a few short weeks there was no fear.

Monday, April 22nd at 13 weeks, my best friend and I went to an appointment that I called in for, I wasn’t to concerned, I thought I might have some kind of infection, nothing serious, I just wanted to get it checked out. you can never be to safe.
The first thing the doctor did was take out the Doppler, We were going to get to hear my second heart beat, and it was miraculous.
So strong, and fast but perfect to me in every way, we recorded it and I played it over and over again. I was so excited to play it for A. who was of course over the moon.

Everything really seemed to be going exactly as planned.

Little did I know that that was the beginning of the end.

The next day I started spotting brown. “Normal” I thought, the doctor told me that there could be some spotting after having an exam. So I did my best to not worry, and to stay positive. I stayed off of my feet. I tried to relax, but it didn’t get better.

On Friday, I spotted bright red. Terrified again and in tears, I called my doctor, she wanted me to go in for an emergency ultrasound, I called A and told him what I was doing, I got in my car drove to the building, all the time not knowing what was going to happen, what I was going to see. I wasn’t thinking the worst at that point… I just figured something was wrong but we would figure it out and everything would be okay. As I laid down on that table again, I held my breath and prayed, and there he was again, perfect. moving around waving, he had grown so much. My second heart beating so strong. The relief washed over me again. I asked in vain if she could see what he was, but it was too soon, even though I knew what he was, I was still so excited to see. She continue with the sonogram, checking everything looking for any problem that she could see, but there was nothing, His placenta was perfect, my cervix was closed, there was no physical sign that anything was wrong. Relieved and happy but still I had this nagging worry.

The red bleeding stopped and went back to brown until Saturday night. We were over my best friend’s for dinner everything was okay just doing the same, I felt a little crampy but I figured it was just growing pains, I was staying off of my feet and trying to be positive, I went back over to our house for something we had forgotten and when I got there I went to the bath room. Another gush of red blood, scared again but I tried to keep my cool, I showed my best friend who was equally as shocked and concerned as I was, we called her mom who was a labor and delivery nurse, she put my mind at ease some, but I still wanted to talk to the doctor, so I called again. “Keep an eye on it” they said, if it gets any worse go to the hospital. It seemed like it was lightening up a little so I tried to relax and just enjoy the rest of our night. When we got home though, it continued, it got worse. So off to the ER we went, another night of waiting and hoping, but again they tested my blood levels and they did another sonogram, and everything was perfect. She told me that unless I was passing large clots or bleeding through pads, that I didn’t need to be concerned, her explanation was that some women just bleed, and that the majority of pregnancies that had bleeding went on to be healthy. I was discharged with instructions to be on bed rest and to call my doctor on Monday.

Sunday happened with out much event, I was still bleeding but not to badly. I stayed in bed and tried to relax.

I woke up in the middle of the night that night to go to the bathroom as I had been doing , and there it was again more blood, it was more that time then it had been through all of this but still not enough to warrant another trip to the hospital, I laid awake all night after that, scared but resolute that I would call the doctor in the morning and that he had been fine up until this point and that he would be fine still. I called the doctor that morning and told them what had been going on, we scheduled an appointment for Tuesday.

As I sat there in the waiting room on Tuesday morning, I was so tired, scared, nervous. At this point I had faith in the strength of my son, he had already gone through so much. I had to believe that he would be okay. I went back and she looked again, there he was, my second heart, moving and dancing as strong as ever. She looked and looked, my placenta still looked perfect, he still looked perfect. She did see some haziness in his sac that she was mildly concerned about so she asked me to go see a specialist. She did tell me the same thing though, that sometimes women just bleed, and that unfortunately there was nothing we could do to stop it, but that in most cases, the bleeding resolves itself and you continue on to have a healthy pregnancy.

Still no answers.

I saw a perinatal specialist the next day I was 14 weeks and at that point the bleeding had started to subside and I was starting to feel hopeful again. I laid down on the table again and the goo was squirted and there he was, perfect, we got to see every little part of him, all four chambers of my second heart, every toe, and every finger, even his little brain. There was no sign of the haziness my doctor had seen the day before, they found nothing, no tears, no clots, no problems anywhere. The perinatal specialist diagnosed it as a “Threatened Miscarriage” . She told us that there was a 70% chance that the baby would survive and that the issue would resolve itself.

At this point now it was a watch and wait.

I began to pray, I prayed to god, and gods that I don’t even believe in. I prayed that the bleeding would stop, that he would be okay.
With every prayer, I was inching closer to the end.

The rest of Wednesday and Thursday were actually good, the bleeding seemed to slow, and even stopped for a bit.

Late Thursday night was a different story, I started bleeding again. but this time it was accompanied by cramps, they came in waves, it started out as nothing but as the night progressed they just got more painful, and I kept feeling pressure… so much pressure. When I finally woke up A it was around 3:30 in the morning, I knew he had to work in a few hours but I couldn’t endure it alone, he sat with me for the next 2 hours trying to keep me comfortable until he had to get ready for work. He got up and started his day. As I laid there I felt the need to use the bathroom, so I got up to go. When I sat down I immediately felt something come out of me, I let out a cry and A jumped out of the shower, when I looked in the toilet I expected the worst, It wasn’t what I thought it would be, it was a blood clot the size of my fist. This was the first time I truly felt like it was the end, I cried all the way to the hospital. I just knew that this was it, they were going to look inside and see that our baby was dying or dead. We were both scared and in tears, when they rolled me into the sonogram room, I knew my biggest fear was going to be confirmed. The sonogram tech told me that the baby was still there, and when I asked about the heart beat all she said was that she hadn’t gotten that far yet. She didn’t say anything else during the rest of the ultrasound, I just knew it was over. When she called A in, I knew that it was it, everything in me told me it was done, but when she turned the screen to us, there he was again, my second heart still beating strong. Defying all odds our son was still alive, we both broke into tears. Bewildered and amazed at the strength of our son. But again there was no answer, no source of the bleeding, and again the doctors told us there was nothing we could do so we were discharged again.

I called the doctor again and by 1 we had another appointment to meet with her. When she walked in the room she looked so defeated, I could see that she was frustrated and so concerned. She checked me again, and looked at him again. Still we could find nothing no source no problem. We were given a 50/50 chance of survival this time. I was put on strict bed rest and we were left to watch and wait.

By this time I thought he could withstand anything. He had gone through so much already and against all of the odds he was surviving.

I stayed in bed all day Saturday, I was still bleeding and the cramps started again, but I just tried to keep my mind occupied, it helped that it was Kentucky Derby Day. Watching the horses run kept my brain busy. Then I felt it again that pressure and then a gush, by the time I got to the bathroom, there was at least a cup of blood in the toilet, More blood than I had ever seen. Frustrated and scared, we went back to the hospital again, my worry now was not just his life but mine. They gave me fluids and meds again and took me back for the sonogram, and once again he was there, heart beating and dancing, and still no answers. This time my response was different, I was bleeding and passing clots consistently, terrified by the possibility of hemorrhaging, I fought to stay longer. When the doctor finally came in and explained my loss of blood and the risk of infection I had from staying in the hospital, I felt a little more comfortable in leaving. Even though we were still scared, confused and without answers, we left the hospital.

The bleeding slowed again, I was still passing small clots, and still scared but I did my best to stay calm.

Sunday morning passed. I stayed in bed, but around noon I started to feel cramps again, but this time they were different. They still came in waves but they made my stomach feel hard, they started out just a little painful but by 7: 30 they were extremely painful, and by 11 I was in the worst pain of my life, screaming on the bathroom floor, there was nothing left to do. I checked my cervix, knowing what I would find because The pressure was unmeasurable and the pain was unbearable. My cervix was dilating. I was in labor. We called the doctor again, and all they could tell us there was nothing to do, that the only thing the ER could do was make me comfortable. At that point I couldn’t handle it anymore, between the pain and the realization that I was losing our baby. I lost it. I could hardly make it to the car, I screamed and cried the whole way there.

When we got to the ER the waiting room was full still screaming and doubled over in pain they took me to triage immediately, but there were no rooms for me, so back to the waiting room we went. As I sat there I felt the pain start to subside, but the pressure was still so bad. I asked A to take me to the bathroom, and when I sat down on the toilet, there was a gush, and instant relief. I knew then that I had passed the baby. I jumped off of the toilet and dove my hand into the water, not caring about what I was touching, and just as I grabbed him, the toilet flushed. Instant fear, to go through all of this just to lose him this way, but we didn’t. I sat there on the bathroom floor clutching our baby, completely enclosed in his sac. My water never broke. My placenta completely detached from my uterus and there was nothing I could do. A ran for the nurses while I sat there with him in my hand. It felt like an eternity. I could feel him through the sac, I knew it was over. I cried and cried. When they finally got there they took him away, I wailed as they rolled me into the room.

They checked me to make sure I was okay, which physically I was. Since I passed the baby naturally, I didn’t have to have a D&C. I guess that was the only part of all of this that I could be thankful for. After they checked me they took me up to labor and delivery. They kept me there and tried to keep me comfortable, they gave me meds to dull the physical and emotional pain.

The midwife came in around 3 am and told us that the baby was a boy, I had been right all along.
She asked if we wanted to see him, which of course we did.
She brought him in wrapped in a knit blanket. He was so tiny, his little hand rested on his head, it looked like he was just sleeping.
As hard as it was, I’m glad we got to hold him.
We named him Graeme Lee.
When it was too much she took him away for a little bit.
We cried and we rested.
They brought him back to us one more time, we told him how much we loved him and we said our goodbyes.

At 15 weeks on May 6, 2013 my father’s birthday around 1 am we lost our son.

My heart was breaking and my second heart was gone.

I lost all of my faith that day.

In all of this the only peace I have is that he fought to the very end, I don’t feel like he died in me. Though I don’t know for sure and I don’t really want to know, I am choosing to believe that he lived until the very end.
Its all I have.

His strength is my strength.

My husbands strength is my strength.
He has been my constant, my rock through all of this.
As fucked up as this all has been, I wouldn’t have wanted to go through it with anyone but him.
Our love is stronger now than it ever has been.

Our story isn’t over, this is only the middle. As we wait the results of the tests and we hope for the answers that we haven’t gotten. I will continue to write and I will continue to fight.

Its been one week and one day since Graeme left us, and even though the tears are slowing, the pain is still there. I don’t think it will ever really go away. I will miss our son every day. I love him more than I ever thought possible.

This is cruel and devastating, but at least I can say that he was part of me even if only for a little while.

My second heart.