I've always been a fan of The Biggest Loser. It's the only reality show I watch because I feel it isn't all about drama (though the last few seasons have had a lot of drama, this season did not). The last episode was the makeover episode. I found myself quite emotional. Here were all these people who had struggles in their lives and to see them change and become self confident was hard. They talked about losing themselves and how they started to see their old selves now that they had lost so much weight. They talked about feeling self confident and happy and felt a great sense of self worth. They talked about their second chance and how much it meant to them. They said they looked in the mirror and liked what they saw. They started to see who they use to be. It was all too much for me to handle. I'm happy for them but I'm also envious. As a baby loss parent no matter what I do in my life, I will never feel the same way. Some may say my second chance came when Phoebe was born and perhaps I see it that way too. But, there is a difference. My second chance doesn't come with self confidence. It doesn't come with the feeling of self worth or such happiness. It doesn't come with the ability to look in the mirror and like what you see. I still avoid the mirror as much as I can because even though I do feel I am in a better place, I still see how much I have aged. I still see the hurt, the pain, the heartache, the sorrow. I still see a woman struggling to become something, anything besides a mother in grief.
My second chance doesn't bring back the innocence , it doesn't bring back the old me. I continue to have to define the new me as the old me will never come back. I have seen the unthinkable, twice. I have been through the unthinkable, twice. I have buried a child, twice. I have gone to places that were dark and some days I still go there. Even though I feel Bee has given me a second chance at life, I'm envious that I still struggle wit self confidence, self worth, pure joy and happiness. I'm envious that I look so aged, I'm envious that when I look in the mirror I can't smile (I hate my smile and hope I can fix it this year, finances provided) I can't look at myself and feel much. I only see when I look into my daughters eyes. Through her I see the me that I currently am. I see the me that I want to become and maybe one day, down the road quite a bit, I will look in the mirror and like what I see. But as a baby loss parent, I will never get back the old me.
It is tough sometimes to see people who go through events in their lives and come out stronger and better than before. In a sense I do feel that way, but those people don't also have to carry the heavy burden of grief. They shed it with the weight lost. I will never shed my grief. I may have a second chance, but I have forever lost my innocence and it overwhelmed me quite a bit to see people so happy and having their lives back. I feel as a baby loss parent, that time will never come for me.
I know this blog has been a long time coming and you are all hanging on by the seat of your pants to hear about it but I don't even know where to begin! For anyone who missed my previous posts, I had posted an "I Am Strong" story on Birth Without Fear's Facebook page, let's just say a lot of people read it. It kind of went viral. Over 725,000 people read it and over 60,000 people commented. Plus, you know, 250,000 people also thought it was worth sharing. I mean how cool is that? Ty and Jacob ROCK! So any who, a few days after it went viral I received an e-mail from a producer at The Doctors TV show (it's a talk show based out of the US). They liked our story so much that they wanted to fly us out to California to appear on the show.
For anyone who missed my previous posts, I don't fly. I don't travel, I don't do well when my schedule is churned about. My PTSD has run my life for a few years now and I was quite comfortable with that. However, I am passionate about infant loss, I want to spread the word and my husband so there was no way we could turn down the trip. All the plans were made and finalized and on October 2nd our California trip began.
Let's start with the air plane. Well first, we barely made our flight. We were delayed in traffic for about 45 minutes which still would have given us 1.15 to get to our plane but US customs had quite the line. We were hustle and bustle and as we were running down to our terminal (I think thats what there called) we heard our names over the speakers, last call for Nelles. Our running was not dramatic like it is in the movies, it was more of a moving quickly. My adrenaline was so out of whack with so many things going on I didn't have time to process anything. Let's just say my stomach did not have the same problem, it was processing very well. We made it to our terminal and checked in in the nick of time, literally. They told us we were the last people to board and takeoff was in 10 minutes, talk about almost missing our flight! But I kind of like that we were so close because I was in such a hurry I didn't have time to process anything. We got Bee set in her car seat in her plane seat and we buckled in and it was time to take off. I mean it was that quick. I nearly fainted on takeoff, I'm sure I tuned all sorts of not so good colours and almost broke Stephens hand.
We made it safely into the air (spoiler alert, we made it safely on all our plane trips) and the 5 hour flight began. Bee was really good on the way there. There weren't a lot of people on board and we had all three seats for us. I watched the Great Gatsby to pass some time and nursed Bee quite a bit. We snacked, she slept, I took a lot of pictures and looked out the window as much as I could. Our world truly is breathtaking. I may have been terrified of the plane but my eyes were seeing something so pure, something so amazing. I could not stop looking at the amazement as we flew over state after state.
I'm just going to say this too, I HATE turbulence! It would be so much better flying without it. Our landing was a bit rough, we hit quite a few pockets of air, dropped significant feet quickly (to the point of almost tossing my cookies, think roller-coaster drop) and I forgot how nerve wracking hitting the pavement and stopping at high speeds can be. But we landed, safely.
Our driver was not there so we had to wait a little bit. Once we were picked up we headed off to our pre-interview shoot. We got there at one and was told we would be done by three. Well, six oclock rolled around and we had just finished wrapping up. The only part of the trip I did not like was Wednesday afternoon. We waited for lunch to be picked up, ate lunch and then had to get bee settled in another room where she would be quiet. Well if you know my Bee you know her and quiet do not go in the same sentence together so began the 6 hours of brutal taping. She was beside herself unless she could see us but then she was talking and they couldn't have her on tape so we had to keep trying different things. But ultimately, she was exhausted, I don't blame her I was too. It was her bedtime and we hadn't even begun taping really. It was not going well and I just wanted to say, thats it we are done she needs to get to the hotel and go to bed but I couldnt. We had to finish the interview while my poor girl screamed mama and dada and fighted sleep. We were able to get our interview done but it took a long time and many tears (from all of us). We waited for our driver to get us and we were off to the hotel.
Now when we were making plans, we chose the Hilton over The Roosevelt because we wanted to be in a more family friendly area then party central. I thought we were going to the Hilton Garden Inn which was an okay hotel but when we pulled up, we were at the Hilton Universal. Man it was AMAZING! Beautiful. We checked in and headed up to our room. May I add it was the 18th floor...I do not like heights. I refused to go near the window until the second day where I over came my fear and leaned against the window. Our view was truly amazing. It was breathtaking to wake up to each day. We ordered room service, out Bee to bed and headed to bed shortly after our dinner came. I miss room service. I miss being able to pick up the phone, order food and have it be there and the food at the hotel was incredibly delicious!
We woke up Thursday, ordered breakfast and got ready while we waited for it to come. We decided to rent a car that day and head out to Santa Monica. The drive was amazing, the sites were breathtaking and we made it with just a regular old map and my brains! We arrived at the Santa Monica pier and spent a few hours there. We made sure to put our feet in the ocean, as cold as it was just to say we have. We ate the best veggie burger I have had at pierburgers (fast food place on the pier) walked up and down the pier, walked a bit around Santa Monica and just stood on the beach in awe of where we were.
I became quite overwhelmed with emotion as we stood on the beach. I closed my eyes and just let the breeze run through my hair and the sun shine on my skin. I could not believe we were here. Standing in Santa Monica California. I couldnt believe it, I was amazed at what Ty and Jacob were doing and where it is leading us too. I most certainly had some tears and on we went. We didn't have to return the car until 6 so we drove back down Sunset Blvd and Santa Monica Blvd (route 66) and took some detours up the very winding Hollywood hills roads. We decided to head to the Griffith Observatory. Again, long winding drive up and the views were astonishing. We just had to stand and take it all in.
Around 5 we took the car back and they dropped us back off at the hotel. We ordered room service, put Bee to bed and both fell asleep quite quickly again.
Friday we woke up, ordered breakfast, got ready and waited to be picked up to head to the show. I woke up with a horrible headache, this one was relentless. I was ubber ill and not with it. Our driver came and off we went. We arrived through the back entrance of Paramount so no fancy gates for us. We were escorted to our dressing room, which was just a pretty plain dressing room. They do have nice ones but those are for the people with names and money! Lots of people came in, I was sent for hair and makeup as was Stephen. We got dressed, I nursed Bee while she got a nap in before the taping and at around 9:30 we headed down for our segment.
I lied, there was only other part I did not like nor did I feel comfortable with at all. They were to bring us out first and leave Bee backstage with a welfare worker until we came to get her. They thankfully let us mic up backstage but then we had to leave. My nerves were shot, not about the show I was not nervous about that at all but about leaving Bee. All I could think about was her, what if they tried to kidnap her, what if she got so upset she choked but I just kept going. It all happened so very quickly. They brought us out before the cameras were rolling, we said Hi to everyone and yes Travis is just as handsome in real life as he is on TV and yes he really is that tall. They had us sit , aired a clip from our taking then asked us a few questions, brought Bee out and we were done. It went by so quickly. We went backupstairs, got dressed and were off. I still had a ragging headache so we went back to the hotel and I laid down for a bit. Once I felt a bit better (thanks to my husband) I took off all the makeup ( I don't like makeup and I don't like how heavy it feels on my face) and decided to head to Universal City Walk. It's just a little area of shops and restaurants by Universal Studios. We considered going into Universal Studios but not for the price. We walked around, picked up a few souvenirs for Bee, some candy and ate lunch at a Brazilian all you can eat meat buffet. It was yet again, delicious. All the food we ate was so yummy. We walked around a bit more then headed back the hotel. We put Bee to bed, watched some shows, ordered dinner and headed to bed.
We didn't have any set plans for Saturday but woke up and decided to rent a car again and head down to Long Beach to go to the aquarium. It was a nice drive, not very busy and we were there in no time. We parked and headed into the aquarium. It was a lot of fun, we got to pet sharks and sting ray and see all sorts of fish. They also had penguins and seals a ton of jellyfish, which you could touch but I opted not too. I'm glad we were there early because it got busy quite quickly. We left and headed out for lunch at PF Changs. Stephen has always wanted to go to one so we went. The food was yes again, delicious. We still had a bit of time left so we got ice cream and headed out to the lighthouse. We sat on the hill for a little while just taking everything in. We knew our time was closing in but neither of us wanted to leave. We packed everything up, drove back to the hotel, ordered dinner and put Bee to bed as we laid down to sleep the last night in California.
We woke up, got ready, waited for our driver and we were off to the airport. I was in tears as I really did not want to leave. It was so beautiful out there and having no responsibilities was a nice break. Room service, drivers, all inclusive, it was nice for the short time we had it.
We arrived at the air port with plenty of time. We checked in, grabbed some snacks and had to wait to board the plane this time (and we were in the last group) Our plane took off over the ocean, which at first had me concerned we were on the wrong plane going over seas but thats just the way the planes exit at LAX. We were headed home.
Reality didn't take long to slap us back in the face, 2 hours into our flight Stephen cracked his tooth in half, an unexpected cost and quite a bit of pain for both of us.
It really was an experience of a lifetime and I am so thankful we had this opportunity. Though I do not feel we did much justice for infant loss, we did shatter the silence. I also pushed so many boundaries I have been hiding from. I still hate flying but I know now that I can do it. But we are back home and things are back to the way they were. We are still struggling and continue to. It was a nice break while we had it but reality was even happier to see us come back.
I really hope we can head back out there one day, it was such a beautiful place and we had such an amazing time.
My anxiety has been pretty intense the last three months. It has been in overload gear. So many thoughts running through my mind, so many terrifying thoughts. I've been struggling to keep them at bay but tonight I broke.
I broke to the point I don't know how to fix it. I can't pinpoint exactly what is wrong or why I feel this way (one of my reoccurring problems) perhaps it's because I feel completely unsupported in the way I am choosing to raise MY daughter. Perhaps it's the judgement from others in regards to the way I am doing things for MY daughter. My ideas, values and morals I want MY daughter to have are criticized because people don't raise THEIR children that way. No matter what way I choose to raise MY daughter, it's in her best interest. It's in her very best interest. Just because other parents don't raise THEIR children like I raise Bee does not mean their way is wrong and my way is right. It just simply means, it's different. We all do what is best for our children and sometimes that may be different. I just get so tired of the judgement and backlash when I decide to post an opinion on a subject related to raising Bee. I feel I am scrutinized and unsupported in how I want Bee to grow up. Just because people don't raise their kids that way, or because they don't understand, it doesn't give them the right to harass me about my decision. Let me raise Bee how I want to. I have her very best interest in mind constantly and make my decisions based off of my daughter and her needs and what I believe.
Perhaps its because I am tired of not getting the treatment I need due to politics or finances. I want to get better, that always has been my goal for the last 3 years. It's hard when you get passed around to different people and never get anywhere. You start out, get comfortable then you have to change and start all over. I'm really hoping the EMDR programs I am trying to get into will go well. I'm hoping it will finally be what I need. I have no idea how long it will take to get in and I am unable to bring Bee so I have to work on finding childcare for her which is a HUGE stressor. But, I have to do it.
Perhaps it's because I am tired of being tired. Bee still gets up every two hours at night. I have tried a bunch of different solutions but I just think she's not a good sleeper. I refuse to do CIO as I do not want her under that kind of emotional stress. It's just not for our family. She gets very upset during the day if I am away from her and not attending to her and she doesn't stop crying (just ask my parents who watched her for an hour and she cried the entire time) so I don't want this option to happen at night and be up all night with an emotionally distressed child. I'm not saying that happens to every child, it just does for Bee. I am trying new things all the time and we'll see how things go. But, at this point, I'm just accepting the fact that she is not a decent sleeper and that's fine by me, as long as I can get some sleep somehow.
Perhaps it's the constant reminders of the boys being dead. I don't know why it is hitting me so hard lately but there have been a lot of tears. I have felt so sad, so angry, so irritable, so hopeless. I cant listen to music without crying, I can't see brothers and sisters without crying, I don't want to leave the house due to my fears of catching the bugs going around nor do I really care to go out because I am a homebody and would prefer to stay in the comfort of my own home. I know it's not ideal and Bee needs to get out and explore the world, which is why I am taking a HUGE step an signing us up for a mom and child class. I see the way she interacts with other kids and she needs it. I can't let me inhibitions limit her life experiences. I think it's also a good step forward for us. I'm not ready to leave her but at least we are getting out of the house together and exploring the world.
Perhaps it's because this year we have a ton of traveling to do and I'm already exhausted thinking about it. We have our trip to Mexico (which I REALLY do not want to go on, so many fears, worries, stress, anxiety, vaccines, no vaccines, tummy bugs, safety, you name it, I've thought it) Stephens cousin is getting married, my cousin is getting married, my dad turns 60, friends want us to visit their cottage.....and all I care to do is sleep! It makes me dizzy and nauseous thinking about all of our travel. Oh and finding good travel bags is posing to be hard. Well, I should say, travel bags we can afford that fit what we need. When we flew out to LA, going through the airport lugging everything around was a bit cumbersome. I learned my lesson, I saw how others did it and now we need to invest in new equipment; so if anyone knows where to get a steal of a deal on luggage, let me know! We're looking for an upright with 4 wheels that we can push, not pull. Two large bags and two carry-ons.
Perhaps it's because I have so much to do for Baby's Nest that it is getting a bit overwhelming. I have a list of 200 companies I want to contact about going reviews and giveaway but I cant contact them all at once, I have to do them in batches and I have to formulate a really great email so companies will take me up on my offer.
Perhaps it's because we have a book that needs to be written so publishers can see a rough draft late spring early fall. I have no motivation to write most days. But, when I do find the motivation I can usually get 4 pages out in a day.
Perhaps it's because we have a lot to do around the house. Our Kijiji ad pile is adding up. It's taken over Bee's room and I have yet to get more pictures and post it online. Plus, I dislike Kijiji but it's worth a try to sell things on there first to get a bit more money. We also have all our decorations that need to go back up in the attic, which requires Stephen borrowing the ladder from work which is harder than it sounds. I need to get up in the attic one day too, go through everything and get rid of a lot of stuff.
Perhaps it's because some days I feel I don't belong to any group. I've never really cared to belong to a group but lately I've felt isolated. Sometimes I feel I don't even fit in with our bereaved group. Having gone through not one but two losses has completely destroyed me and for years I have been trying to build my self back up but have yet to succeed. I have a lot to work on this year, mainly for me. I need to become me. I need to know what I like and what I want and go for it. I need to get healthy and find ways to get more energy. I need motivation to get things done. I need to rediscover who I am and build upon that. I need to look at the woman in the mirror and for once, just for once, see life and not death. I have yet to see it, I hate mirrors. All I see is a sad, old woman who has little life left. I don't want to live like that anymore.
Perhaps its because, as much as I love our apartment, it's not our home. I want our forever home. I want to know that my hydro wont be turned off because my landlord forgot to pay the bill (3 months in a row). I want to be able to call a chimney specialist and have him come close the chimney completely so we're not all freezing in the living room. I want to be able to paint a mural on Bee's wall for her to grow up seeing. I want a place I can garden so I know where my veggies are coming from.
Perhaps its because I am terrified to raise a girl. How can I raise a strong, confident, independent young lady when I have such self hate. How can I show my daughter she is beautiful when I stand on the scale every day and say I am fat. I can't let my daughter see me like this. She deserves to only know beauty and love.
It has just all been so overwhelming and continues to be. I know we need to work on things, but it's hard right now. The biggest things is not having someone I trust to watch Bee. It limits a lot of what I can do and I don't have an out because I have yet to let go of the past and can't because I'm not getting the help I need. I've lost all faith, I don't care to attend church anymore because I don't feel it fits in my life at this point. I have lost hope, things continue to be a struggle for us and I just want a break.
I am just so incredibly humbled and thankful that Bee is in my life. That girl can make me smile even on the worst days. her curiosity, kindness, caring, kisses, hugs, eye pokes, farts in the face, spaghetti down your shirt etc are the happy moments of my life. She keeps me going and she gives me motivation to work on all the other shit.
On that note, it is bedtime. Here's to hoping we don't have a repeat of last night (up from 11-2 crying inconsolably)....
As I sit here and write this, it was one year ago today at this exact time that I began pushing. We were within minutes of meeting our miracle baby but I was still afraid she would die. Obviously we know she didn't, but I can't help taking a minute to reflect on where we were.
As we prepared for Bee's 1st birthday I was a bit nervous. A lot of other baby loss mamas mentioned how hard their rainbows first birthdays were. I could totally understand why that may be the case, I mean it's another first our angels didn't get. Its another milestone we never experienced before and we all know how hard those can be.
If I've learned anything it's that the first year of an infants life is hard as is. Parenting is exhausting, it's emotional, its frustrating. It has its trials and tribulations, but on top of all of that, I grieved. I grieved immensely everytime we hit another milestone. Every time a holiday passed and we finally celebrated. I thought when we prepare to celebrate for her birthday, it would be the same. But truth be told, it wasn't. I felt the need to really celebrate the fact that Bee was a whole year old. We survived the first year. Yes, we didn't get a first birthday with Ty or Jacob and yes, every other first we had with Bee we didn't get with the boys was very emotional. But her birthday was different. Perhaps it's because the firsts are officially over. Given, I know there will be more "firsts" but holidays and other big things have passed. Perhaps now it will be easier, perhaps this year my grief will lighten a bit.
I truly did not feel sad today. I felt nothing but happiness and love. I spent the day with my little girl, like I do every day, but today was her day! We got out of the house (we've had some horrible cabin fever) did some shopping (bought her some new nursing bras) and I took her to lunch. She got to pick, she chose East Side Marios since she loves pasta and sitting there with her, I couldn't help but smile. This first, this birthday of hers is truly reason to celebrate and I don't in the slightest sense feel saddened that the boys aren't here or that we missed this with them.
It surprised me a bit to have this reaction, knowing how tough things have been recently I thought surely I'd be a mess. But I wasn't. Even though everyone was trying to destroy my day and crappy things kept happening, my little girl kept me going. I hope she enjoyed her day, I'm sure those teeth coming in and the chili from last night didn't help (she had 6 poops today, sorry bit I had to tell them) so she was a bit off, but the thing about Bee is that she is incredibly resilient. Watching her shows me the innocence I lost. I'm obsessed with my daughter, she is the perfect, tiny little human being. She is so kind, loving, friendly, sociable, beautiful and my god is she ever smart.
So here is to our last year. We made it. We survived and perhaps this year won't be as emotional. Today I celebrated, today I not only celebrated my dearest Bee but I celebrated that fact that for the first time in maybe ever, I didn't feel sad for the boys. Today wasn't about them, it was about Bee and I'm thankful I was able to handle that pretty well. Maybe I'll even say it's a step forward..........
Stephen and I were talking on New Years about our goals for 2014. We don't really set "resolutions" because as most know, those never stick. Instead, we plan out goals for that year. Truthfully, we haven't really made plans the last three years but this year, for 2014 we decided our goals would be about us. Not only as a couple but as individuals as well. 2010 was all about Ty. We found out shortly into 2010 that we were going to be parents so our goals focused around Ty and our pregnancy. But then Ty died and we were left lost and struggling.
2011 came, again, we found out shortly into 2011 that we were yet again pregnant so that year became all about Jacob. When we found out about Jacob's diagnosis, everything seemed irrelevant and all we cared about was doing whatever we could for him. But then Jacob died and I hit rock bottom with no clear way out.
2012 came and we decided to try and get back on our feet. Having had the boys die only 11 months apart, it was a lot for us and we knew we needed some time to get our heads straight and our feet back on the ground. All we planned on was surviving. Our goal was to survive life. Mid way through the year, we found out we were expecting again and everything became about that pregnancy. Nothing else mattered, nothing else was important. For the third time, we put everything else on hold. 2012 became about Bee.
2013 then showed up and we were blessed with our miracle. Of course 2013 was all about Bee. It was about us becoming a family, us learning how to parent, us dealing with the trials and tribulations of parenthood and grief combined in one. Nothing mattered but Bee so again, anything else was put on the back burner.
That brings us to 2014. Bee is here, alive and doing well. We are finally starting to get some clear head space, so what do we want? We want time for us as a couple. We've never really had us time. We've never really established an us because we were pregnant 7 months after meeting. Then Ty and Jacob died and we dealt with that. Now Bee is here and we had to figure all of that our. So we want to become an us. We want to do things for us. Not only as a couple though because the last few years have changed us as people and we need to figure out who we are and what we believe in. We need to figure out where we want to go in life and how to help support each other as individuals. We need to establish an identity and we have to figure out what we may want that to be. We decided on our birthdays this year we'd treat ourselves. We would get a few things we want, pick where we want to eat, pick what dessert we want, it will be about us. My birthday is coming up and I already have plans for me.
A lot of people may think it sounds selfish for us to be thinking about us but we never have and I think it's just as important in a family relationship to have an identity. You have to take care of you to add your part to the family. You have to know who you are and what you believe in to help build your family identity but after all we have been through, we are lost. So this year it is about us. We will define ourselves as individuals and as a couple. We have a lot of work a head of us but it's time we start working on it. So here is to getting to know who we are, inside and out.