I would say that I had read probably less than 5 blogs before I started my own. The first blog I even recall reading was during the month prior to Liam's fetal surgery when Dereck and I were searching the internet for everything and anything related to Spina Bifida and the fetal surgery. That is when we came across one with a mom writing about her sons journey from the diagnosis, to the MOMS study, UCSF, the fetal surgery, and how her son was doing just 6 months after having it done. I found a lot of hope in this blog. Also through her blog I was able to connect to other Spina Bifida/fetal surgery blogs and read some of there stories. I even thought at the time how maybe I would start a blog about my journey there and could connect more with some of these other moms.
On Wednesday February, 9, 2011, just one year ago, this blog was created, of course it wasn't the type of blog I had intended on starting. It had been exactly 5 weeks and 6 days from the moment my life was completely flipped upside down. This blog was started for many reasons; 1. to have a record of Liam's story, 2. to have a place I can write down my thoughts and feelings, 3. hopes of connecting with other mothers who have experienced the loss of a baby, and 4. hopes that my story can help others through there loss as well.
I have met so many amazing blm's(baby loss moms) here that have helped me in so many ways. I have read blogs in which our babies deaths are within weeks to a few months of mine, others that were more than a year out, and others that were already pregnant again.. Many of these blogs I still read today. At first I thought I was so alone but their stories and daily/weekly posts helped me realize that they were experiencing the same heartache as I was and that it was okay for me to feel the way I felt whether I was weeks out, months out, and even now being over a year out. I have always felt that I have had a hard time really expressing my feelings and it was so nice to read another blm's blog and just be like "yes, that is exactly what I have been trying to say and feel that same way but just couldn't seem to be able to put it into words." And as many of you know that have followed my blog that I am pregnant again and many of these same blm's are pregnant right along with me. Like our losses, some of us are due within days to weeks of one another, some have just had there rainbows, and others are just in the first weeks of there pregnancy after baby loss journey.
Here is a little bit about my life after loss in the past year since losing my son and starting this blog:
I am still working through my grief and probably will for a long time. I know that the pain will never completely go away though, and I am okay with that. I will always love and miss my son and will always wonder why he had to die. Compared to a year ago though, I have came along way. At first I blamed myself, the world, even God, and thought I was being punished for something I did. I still have a few anger issues (that you will read about below) that I need to work on and am still having a hard time accepting that he died and that I have no answer as to why, but I no longer play the blame game.
At first I remember never wanting to sleep. For sleeping meant I had to walk up and face another day without my son. Then it changed and all I wanted to do is sleep and not get out of bed. I think that started about 2 weeks or so after Liam passed. I think I was still in so much shock at first. When it started wearing off and I was completely grief stricken my days were mostly consisting of crying and sleeping. When I started my blog and realized how many others out there were going through baby loss also my days started consisting more and more of blogging. I couldn't get enough of reading blogs. The more blogs I read the more I cried and the more exhausted I felt from so much heartache. You would think being surrounded by so much sadness would make things worse but honestly I needed it and glad I found this place.
When Liam died it was like my world had stopped, obviously the rest of the world didn't seem to get the memo though. There lives all carried on while mine just seemed to sit there. I tried to carry on the best I could. I started going to a grief group, which I still attend now and also started seeing a counselor, which I started seeing again a 3-4 months ago.
Going back to work at 6 weeks was exhausting and I was only working 3 days a week. Grief wears the crap out of you. Work kept me busy, but the grief went with me. Within the first month or two back I had many moments where I had to run into the bathroom for a quick cry before I could resume working. I was also very unsociable. I would x-ray the patients that needed x-rays and speaking only when I needed to and then would go back to my desk and keep to myself. I rarely even spoke to my coworkers. As time went on I started coming around more and more at work though and getting back to my old talkative self, but it wasn't for at least a good 6-8 months I would say before I really felt like my old self at work again. I even remember the first time a coworker pointed it out to me that I looked happier than I had looked in a long time and I could feel it too. I was actually already pregnant with my baby girl then, that definitely helped bring some light back into my life.
I tried to get out with friends but it didn't seem to matter what I did, I always thought about what should/n't be. I shouldn't be at this party because I should be at home with my newborn or I should be spending my summer out pushing Liam in his stroller. I had lots of thoughts where I'd be like "I remember when I was happy and naive about pregnancy loss like that." The thoughts went on and on. I go out a lot more now and any random baby related thoughts I have now tend to be on the more optimistic side, not that the paranoia is gone, but its nice that it doesn't come up as often as it once did.
The fear of firsts was also always there; the first Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Liam's first birthday/first anniversary of his passing. I have now made it through those firsts and feel that the 2nds, 3rds, 4ths, and so on will be easier. Liam will always be thought of though. You see when your child dies it isn't just the holidays and birthdays that you as a parent miss out on with them, its so much more. From the little things to your hopes and dreams for them as a person are gone also. Things like hearing them say momma or dadda for the first time, to see them crawl and then walk, to saying goodbye as they head off for their first day of school and one day graduation, to meeting there first girlfriend/boyfriend and be at there wedding, and so on. I might be lucky enough to have all that with this baby girl and hopefully one ot two more kids after that, but I will never get that with Liam. Even while being pregnant with him I thought of all of that and more. Most of all I wanted to see the type of man he would grow up and be.
Friends and Family
A year of learning who my real friends are and learning the true meaning of family. The ones who knew little to know nothing of what I was feeling but tried to reach out to me at the worst time in my life. The ones who just listened and never made me feel like I should be over "it" and just be happy. The ones who still remember I have a son and that this baby girl I am carrying has a much loved and missed older brother. The ones who talk/ed about wanting to meet him when I was pregnant with him and the ones who still talk about him and how they love and miss him too. The ones who know I am pregnant now and don't criticize me or walk away when I have share my paranoid thoughts no matter how crazy they may sound. And the ones who understand that saying stuff to me like "don't worry things will be fine this time" really isn't helping.
To all of you that have been there for me this past year, you are all my family and I am so blessed to have you all in my life.
Then there are the ones that have hurt me more than they will ever know, and most likely they have no idea who they are. The ones who ignored me and my loss when I felt like I was dying inside. For some of you this has been going on since day one and I will never forget how horrible you made me feel. I still don't know if you really just didn't care, or if you just didn't know what to say, or maybe you just hate dealing with sadness so its easier to just try and pretend it didn't happen and feel its easier to just change the subject to a happier topic. The ones who act like this pregnancy replaces the last and need I say it again, want me to move on, be happy, and be over it already. But you know what, it did happen, and I am no longer the person I once was.
I have heard the commments from "it was God's will" to "everything happens for a reason" and so on. Most of those comments made me furious at first but for the most part I can ignore them now and let people think whatever it is they want to think. Being pregnant again I have now been hearing some of these stupid comments again. One that really pisses me off these days is when someone tells me that my son was sick. Like you think me hearing you tell me that you think it should be easier for me to deal with or more acceptable that my son died because he was sick. Say that and you will move higher on my shit list than the people that just plain out ignored me and my feelings. If you think saying something like that to me will be helpful or thoughtful, keep it to yourself, because as far as I am concerned that is the absolute worst thing you could say to me right now. For anyone who thinks that "oh he was just sick" I want to share with you a facebook post that I read a few weeks back from a fellow spina bifida fetal surgery mom who's daughter is doing remarkable after having fetal surgery. This mother wrote, "Seven years ago today my daughter had fetal surgery to correct her spina bifida, today I signed her up for soccer, take that spina bifida." Many of these kids are doing remarkable, it just didn't work out that way for us.
Pregnancy after loss
Is so hard. Sure I want to be happy and as sane as possible for this baby girl, but when you know first hand that pregnancy doesn't always equal a living healthy baby, that sucks. After Liam died all I wanted was to be pregnant again because I thought that was the only thing that would make me happy again. I never thought that my 6 month wait to try again would ever come. I was so excited for the first time in so long when it did and actually felt happier than I had in a long time. When I didn't get pregnant right away though, I was back to feeling like a failure and that the world really was against me. I was really not happy then.
Then when I did get pregnant I instantly went from lost in grief to paranoid crazy lady. I was so scared of this baby dying again or having another birth defect. I was on a major folic acid craze, taking my 4g of folic acid a day plus consuming as much fortified food as possible. This baby was not going to have a NTD on my watch! I feared lotions, cleaners, certain foods, etc. If I had heard even the slightest thing about something possibly causing a birth defect, proof or no proof, I didn't want to be near it. Google became my best friend and my worst enemy all at the same time. This went on for months, it didn't matter how irrational something sounded, I could convince myself it was harming my baby. I have came along way in this pregnancy since then, but I would be lying if I said I didn't have moments where I still wonder if I'll ever be lucky enough to bring home a living baby.
Yes, I still get nervous about getting asked if "this is my first" or getting told "you must be so excited" or even being near other pregnant women. I am excited to meet and raise my baby girl but also am still very much defensive over my little boy. I have been looking at baby items for my registry a lot lately and for awhile was having a hard time picking out any strictly girl items. I am not a fan of pink and would prefer neutral colors anyway but when I look at stuff I tend to think about what would look good on my little boy also. I guess I am still holding onto this hope that one day I will get the chance to raise a little boy. That's yet just another thing I still need to work on. I know its not fair to her.
This blog has definitely changed a lot in the past. I have grown so much but so has the blog. This blog is first and foremost about Liam's life and how my life has changed because of his passing but if I didn't include this pregnancy with his baby sister and other things that I have done in my life since his passing I feel there would be many holes in the story. It is because of his life and the impact it has left on me that changes the way I view almost every other aspect of my life, including this pregnancy. It is getting easier as time goes by but its all about baby steps.
So there it is, a sum up of this blog and my life living with grief and pregnancy after loss for the past year, but let's face it, I still have a long way to go.