Today was London's second Santa Clause parade. I live in a city where there are two and I am thankful there are two because the first one is at 7pm, way past Bee's bedtime! This one was at 10am, perfect for our little family. I've been looking forward to it for a few weeks. It's been a while since we've attended one, 4 years to be exact. The parade was happening within waking distance from our house. I bundled Bee up, thinking it may be a disaster since she was approaching nap time. Stephen and I bundled up, I wrapped Bee in her ring sling and we were off.
As we started to walk, I could feel the emotions starting to rise. Here we were yet again, doing something we didn't get to with Ty or Jacob. Here was something we looked forward to while pregnant with Ty that we've avoided the last few years. I bit my tongue (literally) to try and hold it together. But as we approached the spot we chose to stand, I felt weak. I felt myself starting to lose it. I did everything I possibly could think of it keep my shit together but it was too much. The joy of hundreds, the innocence of children, seeing brothers and sisters, hearing people so excited, candy canes, floats, it was too much. The tears started to flow and I prayed no one would see. If I just kept focused on the parade, no one would notice right? I didn't want many pictures taken because I didn't want evidence of my tears to show. I managed to smile through a few for Bee's sake but every time I looked at her, my heart was so torn. I as so happy that we were FINALLY able to do this, to go to a parade with a living child but so sad that it took so many years. So sad that I wasn't chasing around two little boys. All I wanted to do was run home into my solitude.
Thankfully the parade was not very long and we were able to retreat a short while later but the mood struck me all day. We attended our church's "waiting tree" event for kids and families but only stayed a short while due to bee needing a "nap". Or so that's the excuse I used, she was really tired but she was still in a pretty good mood. I just couldn't handle much more. We came home and have been hiding ever since. I feel like hiding the next few weeks, so many things coming up this season. So many emotions starting to surface, I've had a cold that wont go away. I can't go a day without taking a nap in the afternoon now. I feel like my body is physically shutting down yet on I go. Don't get me wrong, there are some things coming up that I am actually looking forward too. I'm so thankful we get to navigate this grief holiday with our grief family with a few events. They get it, they'll understand if I start crying and I'm sure they'll join in because I'm positive they have also donned the infamous fake smile lately. It's exhausting to hide behind all our feelings and thoughts and it's nice to be together when we all just get it.
I have managed to get all our Christmas shopping done so the stress of that has been alleviated. I even bought Bee some Christmas pj's so she can wear them to bed on Christmas Eve and all day Christmas. I have my reindeer socks and pj's and my husband has red ones. Christmas day will be a day spent in pj's, cooking some yummy breakfast and a mid afternoon ham. It will only be us three on Christmas but only because that's the way I want it. We will of course make a visit to see the boys as we always do and I know that will be emotional but we'll all be together. We will sing songs, open presents, watch some Christmas classics and for Stephen and I, we will sit and watch our amazing little daredevil child delight in her first Christmas.
Oh and have I mentioned, with all this talk about Christmas that means one other thing....Bee's 1st birthday. Yah, how did that happen? How did my tiny miracle grow up so quickly into an amazing, adventurous, inquisitive little lady? Don't even get me started on the whole 1st birthday! Whew...some tough weeks coming up filled with joy, some excitement, lots of tears and the best gift anyone could ever ask for.
My heart, my soul, my life, my beauty. She loves playing with the ornaments. The green butterfly represents Jacob (we have other ornaments that represent Ty)
We've caught the dreaded cold over here. In fact, it's round number 2 in the last 1 1/2 weeks! The first one lasted two days, this one is not going away. Thankfully, Bee seems to have passed over the brunt of this one, it's just me. I survived my first sickness with her, it was easier than I thought it would be. I felt bad and did everything I could to make her comfortable. I have to admit though, the one day of snuggles from her was nice! Glad she's back to herself now.
Other than that, we are just trudging on through the brutal hustle and bustle of Christmas. We got the Christmas tree down today. This afternoon as the snow was falling softly outside, I cranked the Christmas music and started decorating the tree, letting the tears fall with each ornament I put on the tree. Every time I look at our mantle, my heart hurts. 5 stockings hung, only 3 will be filled. I then glance over at my smiley, cheerful daughter and my heart melts. No one said this would be easy and they were right.
I thought this year it would be different. I thought the pain would lessen with Bee here but I was wrong. It will never be the same. I will never be thrilled or excited about Christmas, sure I may look forward to it for Bee's sake but it will never be right. I know this isn't what you want to read, about how hard it still is even with my rainbow but it's the truth.
Let's face it, the truth sucks sometimes. When I started this blog (mainly as a way to keep everyone up to date on Jacob) I promised myself I would tell it how it is. I would not sugar coat anything. I put on my fake smile every day, I say I'm fine but I'm not always fine. This is my out, this is where I tell it how it is. I do it so others out there know they aren't alone in their feelings and thoughts. So many of us hide behind our fake smiles and don't talk about how we truly feel. This is why I write the truth. This is why my blogs are a tough read. I don't know what brought you to read my blog, I don't even know who reads this but I'm not going to sugar coat something to pretend all is well when it isn't because for the other women suffering out there, I want you to know you are not alone. I want you to know I share your pain.
So yes, Christmas still sucks. Even though Bee is here, no I'm not excited or thrilled. It just plain sucks and it always will. I am happy for her, I know I am blessed to have her and she makes my heart melt everyday with her cheeky smile and her wild shenanigans. I do look forward to starting Christmas traditions with her and all the fun to come from it but there will always be an empty hole in my heart.
On we trudge through the life of being a bereaved parent. I do suspect this Christmas is so hard because it's the first we celebrated in 3 years and because it's a first for us celebrating with a living child. But I won't know until next year.
It also is not an easy time because I am not able to return to work at the moment due to my PTSD and that has caused a large amount of stress to know come the new year we only have one income. Not only that, but getting in to a specialized program for trauma care is taking forever. I just want to find ways to help me cope. We cant afford to keep up with the treatment that works so back to free menial help I go. I can only pray that I find something that works as well as what I was doing.
On a happy note, the last of the rainbow babies from our infant loss group arrived safely today. So many wonderful miracles born in the last 1 1/2 years. So thankful for that!
The fragility of my emotional state has been pretty weak as of late. I am very vulnerable at the moment and it doesn't take much for me to lose it. Going into this holiday season I thought surely it would be a better year, I mean after all Bee is with us and she just rocks. But I was wrong and to be completely honest, this holiday season is harder than the last three. Given, we haven't celebrated the last three so it was pretty easy to let them pass by but there were constant reminders of the holidays being thrown at us everywhere we went. Grocery stores playing Christmas music, lights going up on the neighbours house, work potlucks, secret Santas etc. It's not like we weren't aware that holidays were happening, we just chose to ignore them and for the most part it worked. Don't get me wrong, I still balled, I balled a lot! I was so hurt and so sad the first Christmas after Ty died. I was a disaster the Christmas after Jacob died and last year, pregnant with Bee, we were so close to meeting her it's all I could think about.
That brings us to this year. It's been a nightmare. I tried to get excited, it's Bee's first Christmas so I'm going all out. I started decorating early, bought her a ton of presents, planned some special meals, rocked the Christmas music and danced around the room with her. All such special moments, all such gut wrenching, beautiful yet painful moments. If I've learned one thing this year it's that I now know what I missed with the boys and it hurts. It's like I'm being stabbed in the heart over and over again. I cried more today than I have in the last year. Everything I do to prepare for Bee's first Christmas makes me sad. I'm trying to be happy, she deserves that but these firsts with her, as beautiful as they are, are also incredibly painful for me. She has shown me exactly what I missed. She has shown me the beauty, the innocence, the fun, the silliness and the laughter that I have missed and as I prepare for her first Christmas, excited that we've finally reached this point, my heart hurts so much.
I didn't expect it to be this hard. I thought it would be easy but as I'm filling 3 of the 5 stockings (of which two will remain empty), I am left reminded of how it should be. As I'm happily buying her presents I can't help but wander down the more "boy themed" toys (I don't gender stereotype, I mean Bee is getting cars for Christmas, but you kind of know what I mean) and feel that I should be placing some more rough, tough toys in my cart. We should be bursting at the seams of financial ruin because we want to spoil our kids, instead of bursting at the seams of financial ruin because we had to bury our first two children, because we had to take time away from work to grieve.
I dance around the kitchen with Bee rocking out to rocking around the Christmas tree as we giggle and laugh and through it, there are tears. Tears because I am staring at the most marvelous miracle, the best Christmas present I could have ever asked for. But also tears because I have waited so long for a moment like this. Tears because Bee should be dancing around the kitchen with her brothers, getting in my way while I try to bake or cook or clean. My floors should be dirtier, I should have more laundry, this is not how it is suppose to be.
It should be easy with all three here. It should be easy now that Bee is here and she makes my heart so happy. How can it be that my heart is filled with a love like no other, my heart is so happy at the same time that a huge part of it is missing and always will be? At the same time that my emotional fragility is so vulnerable that everything makes me cry. Everything makes me sad and mad at the world. All I want to do is get cozy, cuddle up and stay inside for the winter. It's what I am use to. I'm use to the receding into my home but this year I can't. I can't because Bee deserves an amazing first Christmas/first winter experiences even if she doesn't remember them, I will.
I didn't expect it to be this hard. I guess the first time you do anything after loss is hard, even if you have all the reason in the world to celebrate and be thankful for your blessings, it's not how it should be and that will always make it gut wrenching. The tears will always fall for those who aren't here.
Since Ty and Jacob died I have found it very difficult to set goals. I've found it difficult to think about my hopes, dreams and future. I know nothing in life is guaranteed, its a sad lesson I learned from the boys deaths. It's hard for me to think about the future, to think about what I want in the future and set goals to get there because at any given moment, they could be dashed from under us again. I don't feel I can put my heart on the line. I don't feel I can start to get excited about things that may happen and instead I have learned to live for today. Living for today is not a bad thing, in fact I think it is amazing but a part of my knows that I should still have hopes and dreams for the future. A part of me knows I need to set goals and work hard to achieve them.
Don't get me wrong, I do think about the future and what it may hold and we still have our hopes and dreams set on one very big thing we have yet to accomplish. That would be getting a home of our own. Its the goal Stephen and I set when we first met. It was the goal we were so close to achieving while pregnant with Ty. We were set, we had good jobs, we had a direction in life we were happy with and love for each other and this new little one that was set to arrive. But then Ty died and with him died a huge part of our life. With him died a huge part of our finances and our future. We grieved not only for Ty but for the loss of our future, our hopes and our dreams.
But we were determined and when we found out we were pregnant with Jacob we started at ground zero and knew we would work our way back up. We both returned to work and knew it would take longer to achieve our goal but we were set. This time it was going to be right. This time things would work out because surely after you have one baby die, surely it could not happen again right?
We were wrong, Jacob did die. With him everything we had left died. We were both inconsolable. We were beyond devastated. We couldn't fathom ever thinking about the future as it had been shattered twice for us. We gave up on our hopes and dreams and focused on just surviving.
We didn't care at that point about what would happen in our future. We lost all motivation to do anything, set any goals or have any hopes or dreams. Then we got pregnant with Bee. She is obviously, alive, healthy and here with us but we have yet to get back on our feet. We are still at ground zero. Every time we take a step forward, we fall 3 steps back. We never catch a break, we never get ahead of ourselves. We are always falling back. We refuse to give up the fight, Bee gives us reason to continue our fight and as exhausting as it is, on we go.
We still don't set goals. We still have very vague hopes and dreams (most of them are for Bee) but I have learned to allow myself time to think about what we want in life. I call these my "one days". A lot of them are things people have that they take for granted and I know we are blessed and we'd be even more blessed if we one day get our one days.
1. A house to call our own (rented or owned, either way)
2. A yard for Bee to play in. A yard for us to garden in. A yard for us to build bonfires and bond as a family over smores. A yard to hang a hammock and lay out in the sun on lazy summer days just enjoying life and our family. A yard Bee can play hide and seek in. A yard to hold family BBQ's. A BBQ so that Stephen can do one thing he loves, BBQ.
3. A place where I can do laundry and don't have to throw my shoulder out moving the wash machine from our room into the bathroom (don't get me wrong, this is MUCH better than our last place which had no laundry, I do NOT miss Tommy Suds)
4. A room just for Bee. Right now she shares it with our storage items
5. A place to properly store our holiday decorations, camping gear and all the boys items
6. A place to respectfully hang the boys pictures and some of their things
7. A space to eat dinner around a table (our kitchen is currently my office as well as sewing area)
8. A place for Bee to play inside on all the rainy days
9. A place to hide the cat litter box, put it somewhere other than a main living area
10. An office for Stephen so he can get organized and work even better
11. An office for me so I can sit and write and not be distracted. An office for me that has room for my sewing table so it doesn't take up our dinning table
12. A place to sit outside at night after Bee goes to bed, sipping some stiff drinks and talking to my husband
13. A space I can fill walls and walls with photos (if you know me you know I don't leave walls naked, I fill them with photos) I struggle with taking pictures down and replacing them with newer ones
14. A proper guest room and space for my parents to stay when they come visit
15. Another room or two to expand our family
16. A gas fireplace, sitting in front of fires always calms me so much, it's one thing I wish we had after the boys died
17. A space to properly entertain our friends and family
18. Financial freedom
19. The ability to get the treatment I need and not have to worry about going into financial ruin from it
I have a few more one days but as you can see, right now they are largely based on us moving. It has been our goal and I guess it still is our goal to get into a place of our own. But that's all that matters to us right now. There isn't much else in life that as important to us, other than health. We have wonderful family and friends, a great church community, our health (even though I struggle mentally, physically we're all pretty well) material objects don't matter so all we really need is a place to call our own. One day.....
P.S. This also happened....only two more months and I have a birthday to plan!
One of my biggest fears in regards to us appearing on the Doctors was that I would not do infant loss justice. I keep watching our videos over and over, partly because I still can't believe it happened but because I'm not sure I'm entirely happy with it. Given, the reason I am not happy with it is because I don't think it was long enough and there is so much more to our story, there is so much more to infant loss that I feel we didn't do it justice.
I sit and watch the videos and see how our journey was crammed into a few short minutes. I watch our video through the eyes of someone who has not experienced loss and see that, how everything was put together makes it look like we're fine now. Sure, we cried during our pre-interview but when we were out on stage we were smiling and laughing, having a great time. I can see how someone who has not experienced loss could see that as a cue that we may be over the death of our boys and that things are back to normal. But that is totally far from reality.
Just because us grieving parents smile, laugh or enjoy things in life does not mean we are "over" the death of our children. It does not mean we are back to "normal" because sadly that will never happen. There will never come a day when I can smile and still not feel a twinge of sadness. There will never come a day when things are back to normal because we're still trying to figure out our new normal and it will forever be changing with each milestone we pass in life.
The reality is, they did not show the struggles we continue to live with. I have been diagnosed with PTSD and GAD stemming from Ty and Jacob dying. I fight it on a daily basis and some days it wins. Our relationship has taken a huge hit and we have to work hard to keep it together. My body (mentally, physically and emotionally) has taken a hit and I have to fight daily to keep it going.
I feel like through the eyes of the inexperienced, we are back to normal. We are good, we are happy we are doing well. I know though, to those who have been in our shoes, you can all relate. You know that things will never be back to normal. You know that even through our smiles and happiness we still have aching holes in our heart that will never be filled. You know that no matter how happy we may appear we are still saddened by the death of Ty and Jacob. I know you all get it but I feel for those who don't understand, we didn't do infant loss justice. I guess that's where this blog comes in.
I write not only to the bereaved to let them know they aren't alone but I write for those who have not had a child die to show you how hard it is. To show you that even though we may appear a certain way we will always be sad that our children died. There will never come a day where we aren't sad about our children dying. A lot of us learn to cope, a lot of us learn where to place our grief and most of us become damn fine actors, pretending everything is okay. We don the infamous fake "everything is kosher" smile but it's not the case.
There are many tears still shed. The holiday season is coming up and for many will be torturous. Having to go get the essentials at the grocery store and being bombarded with happy people, Christmas music, festive activities, it can all be too much.
This year we are choosing to partake in Christmas since we've avoided it like the plague the last 3 years but that does not mean it isn't painful. That doesn't mean I've over Ty and Jacob. That doesn't mean I won't cry. That doesn't mean just because I am smiling or seeming to enjoy myself that my heart is healed. It never will be. But this year we have a reason to celebrate. We want Bee to grow up with every amazing experience that she can. even if it's painful for us. She deserves the world and I intend on giving it to her. Her first Christmas will be special because she is special. We will start to make our own family traditions that include the boys.
I stumbled across this article earlier today : http://stillstandingmag.com/2013/11/world-understood-baby-loss/
I couldn't agree more with it. Though our bereaved family may be sparse, I am so thankful I have them. I know when we get together that even if I smile and laugh they know it doesn't mean I am over Ty and Jacob dying. I just wish I could have expressed this on TV. Hopefully our book does infant loss a bit more justice.
Welcome to all my new followers. I know since my post went viral and our episode aired on The Doctors, there are quite a few new faces to our blog. I just wanted to take a minute and say welcome. Whether you are here because you too are navigating the loss of a child or you are supporting someone who is or even just because, welcome. I've been writing my blog for about two years now. All my blogs related to the boys are under the "Before Bee" tab and everything since having Bee is under "Blog". As well, each of my children's stories, pictures and videos are to the left <-----.
I will admit, my blogs can sometimes be hard to read but I don't sugar coat things. Grief is messy, emotional, wreck-less, exhausting, hard and so many other things. I don't want to pretend like everything is okay because if you've come to this website and are sharing the same journey, I want you to know you are not alone. I want you to know the thoughts and feelings you have are shared by others. I want you to know we are here to help you through. You may contact me using the "Contact Me" tab and I am working on a page of resources.
If there is anything you'd like to ask me, feel free to. Or, if there is anything you'd like me to blog about, a certain topic perhaps, let me know! I'm always open for suggestions.
I think it's also important to mention that no two people grieve a like so we may not share the same opinions. Grief also does not have a time line. In fact, I will grieve the death of Ty and Jacob for the rest of my life. But that doesn't mean I will wallow in it, though some days I do allow myself to do that. Some days you just have to give in and feel what you want to feel. Don't try to always hide it. It can be scary but so rejuvenating.
Lastly, on the home page and on our blog page we have a donate button (it's green and says donate). We are trying to raise funds to help pay for my medical expenses as they are not covered by insurance. I suffer PTSD and GAD and have chosen to take a naturopathic way to my healing. I go to talk therapy and use acupuncture as my main sources of healing. I am also unable to return to work at this point and we will be reduced to one small income in the next few months. Don't feel you have to donate but we've had people in the past wanting to so it's there if you feel inclined to do so.
My Earthly family (no we don't normally dress up and match everyday, this was at our Doctors taping)
After viewing our episode of The Doctors TV Show (you can watch it here: http://www.thedoctorstv.com/main/show_synopsis/1443?section=synopsis) I wanted to talk about something I haven't really mentioned before. I've always been careful to avoid the subject as it is not an easy one and it's very personal. But, after talking with other fellow baby loss mamas, I realize I am not alone and that most of us deal with this issue so here it goes.
Self esteem, how does a woman view her self worth after the loss of an infant? I can't speak for all women, but from the ones I have spoken with they share a lot of what I feel. I am hugely critical of myself these days. When I was watching our episode all I could think about was how bad my chin fat looked. They say the camera adds 10lbs, it look like it added 10lbs to just my chin! I didn't like the way I looked but that could be because I'm not a huge fan of makeup. I am very critical about the way I look. This was never an issue before the boys died but now, now I don't like the way I look and yes I can be proactive and change somethings (losing more weight, getting my teeth whitened etc) but I think even with masking those issues, deep down inside I will always struggle. I will always feel some sense of self hate.
What many people fail to realize, especially people who haven't gone through a loss, is that us mothers carry a tremendous amount of guilt. I mentioned this to my psychiatrist a few weeks ago and she told me to just let it go, I had nothing to feel guilty about. I didn't cause what happened to the boys and in one way, I know that but unless you have carried a child and had them die inside you, or you've had to tell the doctors to pull life support, you don't know how it feels and can't say it as easy as just letting go of the guilt. I will always live with survivors guilt. I will forever question my self worth in this world, feeling like I haven't accomplished much. I will forever doubt my abilities and decisions.
Ty and Jacob dying took a huge part of me away. I am trying to piece myself back together a little at a time but it is exhausting and some days I feel so lost. I don't know who I am anymore and I don't know who I want to become. But the time has come where I need to stop letting the boys death define me. I know longer want to just be the mom who had two babies died because as true as that is, I refuse to believe that that's all I am. I'm not, I am a mother to Phoebe now and she deserves to have a good role model.
Everything in my life is so conflicting. I know I will always struggle with self esteem, it's all new to me. It only started 3 years ago after Ty died. I wish I could have that esteem back but it died when Ty died. There are many days I look in the mirror and have no idea who I am looking at. In fact, there are many days I avoid looking in the mirror so I don't even have to go there.
I criticize everything about myself. I doubt my abilities, I don't like looking at myself, not even in pictures. I see the fake smile. I see the darkness of my soul in my eyes. It's there. It's always there and I believe in a sense, it will always be there.
Having Bee has surely lightened the load. I am starting to find bits and pieces of the new me. I am starting to recognize that I am capable of achieving some things, even if only small at these moments. She is helping me learn, she is helping me grow and she's pretty darn cute at doing it too!
But some days I still feel like running away. I need a change of scenery and perhaps thats why our trip to California was so amazing despite all the anxiety I had about it. Somedays I wish they boys were cremated instead of buried because at this point in our life, a move would be welcomed but I simply cannot leave the boys. I can't leave their graves unattended and I can't leave our bereaved family that we have become so close too. Then there are days I am so thankful the boys are buried because the cemetery is the only place I feel peaceful these days. On days I really dont want to walk I usually head down there because being there just feels so cathartic. If I could build a house and live amongst the dead I would. It is such a peaceful place and I'm glad I have that to go to. But at the same time, the feeling of needing to get away is also strong. Maybe in a few years my feelings will change, who knows.
What I do know is, I hold a tremendous amount of guilt and unless you have been there you don't know and can't say its as easy as letting go because you did nothing wrong. As a mother who carried a child and had it die inside her, trust me, you feel guilt. As a mother who has had to tell the doctors to pull life support, trust me, you feel guilt. You always feel guilt no matter how many doctors tell you that you did nothing wrong. You are a mother and as a mother you are suppose to protect your children, when they die that upsets the balance of life. Parents are not suppose to bury their children.
I will never get back the piece of me that died with Ty and Jacob. I will never have a full sense of self worth. I can and I will strive to find some self worth somewhere, in being Bee's mom or writing a book, whatever it may be but it will never be full. I will always criticize, doubt and negative self talk. I will avoid looking in the mirror and when I do glance, I will try not to notice the darkness seeping through my eyes. I do hope one day there will be light. There has to be, my daughter is amazing, she is my beacon of light, I just hope it shines through me one day.
Speaking of Bee, we celebrated our first Halloween.
Me and my lil bat