Ember Laura-Ellen Waving

Ember Laura-Ellen Waving
Waving to mommy and daddy at 13 weeks

Friday, November 11, 2011

From Friends With Love



















Pictures made for her, often on special days. Balloons and lanterns released. This is just a small selection of some the love that's been shown to my girl. These are all from women I've never met, not even once. Most of whom I've never heard their voice. They've been more like family to me in sixteen months than alot of my own blood relatives. When NO relative mentions Ember on her birthday, or for months at a time, or EVER, they do all the time. No special day is she ever over-looked by them. Will Ember be included in the holidays this winter by anyone who's DNA she shared besides me? I don't know. I hope so. I want to decorate in pink and green, to buy a few ornaments for her, donate memory boxes, send out cards and some other ideas.... I hope my family will join me in this. But even if they don't, I know the friends Ember brought me will be thinking of her along with me.

Online friends can be the most amazing community. If I ever get to do a roadtrip, I'm going to be stopping for coffee in so many towns ;). I'm so grateful for my angel-mommy friends, and for the time we live that let's connect with people all over.

Angel Ornament Swaps

         Last year, Ember's first Christmas, I heard about an ornament swap for angel moms, but not in time to join in. And apparently I missed the Mother's Day one too. Which is sad because my first Mother's day without Ember was horrible, and ignored. But a friend on Facebook shared the page for this year's swap and with a week left to sign up too!

http://rememberingtogetherswap.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2011-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-05%3A00&updated-max=2012-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-05%3A00&max-results=14

I REALLY encourage all angel moms, dads, grandparents and more to go check it out. It's handmade ornaments made with love for your angel by another angel mom (or dad, etc). It's international, so no matter where you are you can join. But you must sign up by Nov. 18th.

Well, it inspired me to organize similar swaps in two private angel mommy groups as well. After the loss of a child, moms often feel more alone than they ever imaged they could. It goes on forever it seems, we're cut apart from "normal" society. Community and other "baby loss mamas" become so important. In the sixteen months since Em died, angel mom friends (almost exclusively met on Facebook) have been my lifeline. They understand how I want to include Em in everything, because they want the same things.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Memory Boxes for Babies Born Still?

 I've been in a weird period of grieving, especially since the arrival of Ember's rainbow little brother two months ago. It feels like Ember is RIGHT THERE, just out of reach, just out of sight whereas before she always seemed way too far away to even imagine being able to hold her again. And I see her when her brother sleeps. God, does he look like her then. Does he look like her when he's awake? I wonder this often, is that how she looked when she smiled? But I don't know. At birth, he was two pounds heavier than her though not even an inch longer. He had two more weeks to grow though. He had longer hair than her, and not quite as dark. The cheeks, the nose, the wrinkly forehead.... the whole face really is so very alike. I think his ears are different, but hers where folded at birth, I never saw them as they would have been. His eyes are still blue, but not bright like their daddy's, a grey-blue instead that's lovely and I hope will stay. One of my deepest pains is never having seen my daughter's eyes. Would Ember's eyes like her brothers? Would she have laughed like him? Every milestone with him, I carry her along. Now she lives on, not just in my heart but in her brother.

  We've moved back to my hometown. My rainbow was born at the hospital I was born at, the third generation of my family to be born there. I've been longing to make and donate memory boxes since not long after Ember died, because hers was and is so important to me. I could NOT imagine going back to the hospital where Ember was born though even to give something for comforting others. I was forced to go back to Ember's birthplace twice after her death- once to receive her autopsy results and the second time for a high-level ultrasound of her brother's heart and another genetics appointment. I choose a different care-giver and hospital for him, but when some complications came up, they wanted "the best around" to check it out. It was agonizing and though they where very nice the last time, I am so relieved to know I never have to go back again. But now, I could give them to Caden's hospital instead. I really, really want to do this but just aren't quite sure how. I want this to be Ember's Christmas present, so I need to figure it quickly.

I know the hospital I wish to give them too (Woman's in Baton Rouge), and I'm going to email them to see what comfort programs they have already. And I know some of things I specifically want to include, like Earth Mama Angel Baby's "no more milk tea", candle and seeds of hope.... We'll do at least one ourselves... but I wonder if other people would want to help? If Ember hadn't died, this would her second Christmas and she would have gotten presents from family. This is a way to celebrate for her now.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ember Laura-Ellen's First Birthday

Happy Birthday Ember

A whole year has passed since you where born. It was a sunny hot summer day just like yesterday and it'd been exactly twenty-four hours since the full-term doctor appointment where your heartbeat couldn't be found. 


How did we spend it without you? Trying to keep busy and thinking constantly of how it should have, could have been like. We thought of "celebrating", of balloon releases or baking a cake for you. Thought of lots of ideas, but had no heart for them. They all paled in comparison to how it would have been with you. Maybe next year, a celebration in memory of you instead of with you will seem less bitter. Or the year after, or the year after that. We have so many years without you, a lifetime of it. So we remember you, and think of how it could have been with you. 

 You where born tangled in your short cord. One leg, one arm and your tiny neck all looped up in it. You where delivered to my stomach, but until they cut the cord I couldn't draw you closer in my arms. Seeing that thick, rope-like slick cord around your neck and still body was when the world finally ended. They unlooped it before setting you down on me, I think they tried to do it without me seeing but I was sitting up enough to. All my desperate hopes that they where somehow wrong crashed down as I pulled you close to me. 

Still. 
Still born, born still.
Still beautiful. 

Your birth and holding you after is the highest high I could even imagine. Your beautiful, tiny face was memorizing and I never wanted to look away. Whenever I tell your story, I know that without seeing you, no one can really understand my words. The pictures of you, even when I looked at you side-by-side with them, do you no justice. The harsh, bright lights almost erased your features. Looking at them is almost a mockery of what it was like to look at you but they are all I have left. A cold marble urn, these pictures, a couple blurred prints from your so tiny hands and long little feet, a few snips of your hair that was too short for a lock to be taken. All that remains of a life so brief. 

You could be here today, a year and a day old awaiting your first birthday party this weekend. Dark curls, chubby pink cheeks toddling around mischievously. Climbing into my lap around my big belly for cuddles, racing down the hallway to find something to get into, giggling and grinning when your daddy got home... Throwing a big-girl toddler fit, your stubbornness honestly inherited. Crying crocodile tears for your whims. No longer a little baby but a small toddler with ideas of your own. I wonder what your laugh would have sounded like, how tall you'd be by now. I guess I'll never stop wondering. Your first birthday will be followed by so many more that we pass without you. You'll never laugh or open presents, never celebrate the days just for you but they'll always be your days. My eternal baby, my forever newborn, you'll never grow any older than just-born but your birthdays will always belong to you and I'll carry you with me through them. I'll never really let you go, baby girl, you are mine forever. 

Happy Birthday Ember Laura-Ellen. Don't let the tears fool you, you still bring me joy just from loving you. Don't think your new brother will ever eclipse you, my beautiful firstborn. You're the child who made me a mommy, you're the child that became my heart and still is. 


Sunday, July 3, 2011

What July Means To Me

July 4th-
Contractions began again after having stopped for a couple weeks. They're kinda close together, thinking she may be coming soon. Ironically, my own due date.

July 5th-
Contractions continue, not close enough together and not regular enough to go in. Thinking surely she'll come in the next few days. Trying to rest between contractions, but haven't slept since I got up in the morning the day before.

July 6th-
Wake up late, after a long night finally sleeping. We're finally 37weeks, Ember is full-term, walking on a cloud I'm so relieved. Go in for 2:30pm appt. Contractions in the waiting room, in the exam room. Nurse tells me they're too irregular to be doing much. Fill-in nurse-practitioner I've never seen before and a student try to find Ember's heartbeat. They can't. I'm 1cm dilated. And we go to the hospital for our seventh and final ultrasound. Ember died while I slept. Induction is started.

July 7th-
Ember's born, exactly 24hours after her heartbeat can't be found. I hold her, never want to let go.

July 8th-
The autopsy is performed. I see the incisions, the stitches on her chest. She looks like she's been butchered. I lay down next to her in bed, drift off in a prozac and valium haze and pretend she only sleeps. They take her away, I'll never see her again. We go home without her.

July 9th-
We lay on the couch all day and cry, the world is still so hazy, I hope it never clears. I stare at her pictures.

July 10th-
My step-daughter arrives to meet her sister. Their daddy explains Em has died, and goes back to work. I sit and stare at my daughter's sister. They look nothing alike.

July 12th-
We go to the funeral home and sign the cremation papers. I sign where David points, I can't see through tears. I spin in circles looking at the urns, we pick a small decorative pink one with flowers for her to come home in. The driver promises to take care of my baby, the world falls away to darkness. The hospital doesn't release her, they "can't find her".

July 14th-
Ember's finally cremated and comes home. I sit on the floor in her bedroom hugging the tiny blue velvet box the urn is cushioned in. I find ashes split in the box, she's not in a bag within the urn like we asked.

July 22nd-
My birthday. I tell everyone to ignore it and cry when they don't. I thought she'd be my birthday present.

July 24th-
My step-daughter leaves. I have no reason to fake a smile or get out of bed. Ember's real urn, a vault that will keep her safe, arrives. Now her ashes have to be moved, or they may be split and lost.

July 27th-
Ember's due date. If she'd been born alive, she'd be almost three weeks old.

This is July to me. My birthday, forever without her. Her birthday, forever bittersweet and lonely. And all her special dates. If I could skip this month with all it's anniversaries, I would. Crawl under the bed, pretend it really hasn't been a year. That my daughter shouldn't be a toddler now. I can't explain how terribly my heart hurts. There are no words to describe this.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ember's Birthday Is Next Week

It seems ridiculous that a year has passed since my little girl was born and died. Totally crazy to think that she would have taken first steps, said her first words and next week be having her first birthday party. She'll never have that party, or open any presents or eat any cake. Over the last couple months as her birthday has silently but heavily approached, my grief has become quieter and quieter. Not lessened, but it seems words to describe it become stuck in my throat. Like I'm choking on my own longing for her. I've lost the cathartic ability to purge my thoughts with writing, as if my grief has solidified in me. A year ago, I was happily awaiting my daughter's birth. A year ago, labor had not yet even began. A year ago, I wasn't the person I am now.... Bitterer  more anxious, with a heavier heart that will never lighten like it once was. But I'm still Ember's mommy. I carry my first child in my memory instead of my arm's but she's no less my precious little girl for that. An accident in labor didn't change that, a year hasn't, fifty years won't. I am her mommy, and with her younger brother, expected in August or September, I am the mother of TWO not one.

On July 7th 2010 at 2:33pm, Ember Laura-Ellen was born and delivered onto my chest. Oh, how beautiful she was. Short dark fuzzy hair, full red lips, a tiny little nose between fat cheeks, folded soft ears like a butterfly's wing, my long and slender girl. Five pounds, eleven ounces... a weight I'll never forget. Thought nothing will ever be even half as sweet as holding her, a wonderful mommy named Bridget gave me a present well in time for Ember's first birthday.

Just about a month before Ember died, Bridget was having her own pregnancy with her own sweet daughter Molly Christine. She was 34weeks along, just three weeks from full-term when Molly died from cord accident. Molly had a true knot in her cord, and this took her from Bridget on May 29th 2010. The next day Molly was born, small but prefect at 4pounds, 9ounces and Bridget had to go home with the aching empty arms I'd soon feel as well. A high school friend gave her a teddy bear for comfort, a special teddy bear that was weighted. Holding a 4lb, 9ou. teddy bear in her arms, Bridget decided to share this comfort with other moms, of other babies like Molly. She began Molly Bears, which is nearing it's first birthday just like Ember, while Molly Christine should be one year and one month old.

Bridget and Molly Bears gave me a very special present in time for Ember's first birthday several weeks ago, a Molly Bear just for Ember. 


To celebrate Ember's first birthday, I'm asking everyone to just think of her on her birthday. Remember her and that she should be here still. If you'd like to do something else for her birthday, I'd love for you to make a small donation to Molly Bears. While my Em will never have her first party or open her presents, maybe in her 
memory other moms of other babies like Ember, gone and so very missed, will receive some comfort too.


http://www.facebook.com/pages/Molly-Bears/115238031859819?sk=info    

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Certificates of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth in Alabama

Beginning in November I was asking, or begging  everyone possible to sign a petition. Now, most people tend to not bother signing petitions because they think it's useless, a waste of time. So it was hard getting signatures, very hard. Even with close family and friends, getting people to sign it was difficult. This petition was to show Alabama legislators how important birth certificates for babies born still really is. And though it was slow going often, weeks and then a couple months passed, and by the opening of the Alabama state senate 2011 session, we'd reached our goal for signatures. We where so very thrilled, I personally couldn't stop smiling. I thanked everyone I knew of who'd signed, sometimes over and over. Especially the people who wouldn't benefit, who'd never lost a child. The people who signed it, and then shared it over and over. Who kept asking others to sign it, for weeks and weeks. And I still can't thank them enough.

 But who do all the families, past, present and future of babies born still in Alabama have to thank for their child receiving a birth certificate? An inspiring woman named Cynthia Tomczak, a stay at home mom of five children. The second youngest of these children is a very special little girl named Faith. It is because of Faith really that now Alabama babies will receive birth certificates, she is the one who inspired her mother and who's memory pushed her.

Now I have good news to share. SB429 has passed with a vote of 101 Yeas and 0 Nays! Effective January 2012 any baby born still in 2007 or later can recieve a birth certificate. A real, legal birth certificate for babies born still in Alabama. This is a victory who's magititude I don't even have words for. Now no other woman in Alabama will have to wonder why her baby, her beloved and wanted child, isn't honored with a birth certificate.

The proper title is Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth, and one day Ember will have one. My beautiful daughter is going to have a birth certificate, and I can't wait to hold this proof of her brief life in my hands. It doesn't bring her back, but it honors her and that is my aim now. I am so very sorry that babies born in 2006 and earlier will not receive theirs at the same time. I do not understand why they will not truly. It was difficult pushing it back as far as 2007, every year back was a victory itself as some states do not go back beyond when the bill was passed, or goes into effective. It has something to do with the records kept for these babies, and I know that isn't consolation to the mothers and fathers of these babies. All I can say is change has come, and though their children didn't receive the birth certificates at birth as they should have, no longer will babies in Alabama be ignored in this way. I know people aren't going to just let this go, and maybe we can go on to win yet more victories by making it possible for earlier babies to receive birth certificates. They deserve them just as much as my daughter born in 2010 does.

One day ALL babies born EVERYWHERE will receive a legal birth certificate. We just have to keep pushing on.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this change come true with their support but most of all Thank you Cynthia, and Faith <3

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Very First Easter







Dear Easter Bunny, 
  
   I just had to write this morning to ask if you can stop by to visit my sweet girl. She's still just a baby and this is her very first Easter. She never got to meet you on Earth, never got to dye eggs with Mommy or hunt them in the yard with Daddy. Never woke up to a goodie  filled basket from you or take pictures with little bunnies. So will you bring her a basket filled with my all love and kisses and whisper to her how much Mommy misses her? 






Ember's first Easter. She'd be nine and a half months old now. Time is just flying by on the calender, but always dragging by the minute. She'd be crawling by now, maybe already taken her first steps. Last Easter I was carrying her, and dreaming of this year when we'd be playing and telling her all about the Easter bunny. Of the her second Easter when she'd be toddling around hunting eggs and squealing when she found them. Of all the springs of her childhood, watching her grow and play. 


How much I miss her every day. Every day, every special moment is one missed with her. All those dreams that spanned the rest of my life, intertwined with hers broken but not forgotten. I can almost see her with bunny ears on her head, crawling around and watching as I dyed the very first pink eggs for her. Getting a fancy white dress and stocking dirty as she plays after taking pictures with Nana.


I saw a pink pillowpet bunny and oh, I ache for it. I ache to feel how soft it is as I place in a big basket and surround it with toys and little loveys. I ache to see her grin as she found it first thing in the morning. I ache to spoil her and give her kisses whenever I could catch her in between all the busy moments of little babies too swiftly becoming little toddlers, getting into everything. To watch all her firsts and only shed tears because of how fast my baby is growing up. 


Happy First Easter Ember, Mommy misses you so much

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Missing My Sweet Baby Girl

Missing my sweet baby girl so much. Nothing new, but every day, the pain is amazing.

It's been eight months and ten days since Ember was born.

Really???? Totally impossible.

It's getting so very sickeningly close to the Ember's ninth month "birth day". Ember died at nine months and one week. Getting so close to her being gone longer than she lived at all, and that is beyond horrifying. And then within a blink of my eye, she will have been dead longer than she lived. We've already passed the date where she'd be gone longer than we knew we where having a baby, that was like being stoned and beaten.

And then her first birthday, less than four months away. No party, no cake, no dark haired toddler growing up. Time just keeps going on, "long after the thrill of living is gone".

Eight months old means crawling, sitting up, trying to pull themselves up.... but not for my Ember. For her, eight months means eight months of tears and longing to be with her again. Eight months since we thought we where leaving for the last time as two, and would be coming back as three, since we held her, since we lost her.

Some many times, I want to scream, I want to cry, I want to pour my brokenness onto a page, but the words have already been said. Not a day passes where missing her doesn't threaten to swallow me, not a night without yearning to hold her just once more, forever, so deeply that I feel there is nothing else of me. Everything comes back to Ember. Every conversation reminds me of her in some way, though I mostly keep these thoughts to myself. Never do I see a picture of a baby, or little toddler girl without comparing them to my own girl. Still can't make myself look at pictures of my nephew (in-law)'s baby girl, who was born a few months before Em, or pictures of my sweetest big cousin's baby girl born seven months after Em, and stranger's babies? Forget it.

I've submitted Ember's picture, of her sweet little feet, to a group making 2012 calenders to sell to earn money for March of Dimes. And a piece of blankie bought for Ember by her nana (my mom) to an Irish group making a patchwork quilt in memory of angel babies. They hope it will be finished by October. The quilt, and a book to go with it will tour Britain for lectures and other awareness projects. And copies of the book will be made available to buy, with the proceeds going to a few different groups. Little ways her memory will live on outside of my heart.  

Giving her footie pictures to the calender is the first time I've really shared any of her pictures. And I can't wait till the calenders come out, I'll be buying a few to save. I've decided to share one of them on here as well, though I never have because it's a public blog. I'm nervous, but I want to show it off. My baby girl was beautiful from head to toe, and her toes where quite adorable, her feet so long.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Little Bit of Self-Realization

When I was almost eight months pregnant, my mother and I went on a shopping spree for Ember. One of the many things we bought was her baby book. It took awhile to pick one, there where bright ones, animal covered ones, retro ones.... But we decided on the most perfect one. It's pale pink and looked classic to me. I'd started keeping little notes for her book months earlier, and kept doing it so that after she was born, I could fill in a good chunk of it at once. 


It was only a few days after her birth and death that I went through this book to take out the pages for birthdays, newborn check-ups, all the pages Ember would never fill. Thank god we'd chosen a binder style book that let me do this without ripping them out because at the time I probably would have shredded it. Then I started trying to fill in those pages we'd had her with us long enough to make the memories for. Pregnancy, labor, birth... The beginning of the book. 


Fast forward seven months. Not even half of the pages left are completely filled in, and only a couple of the pictures I want to put in are there. I've sat down with it and the notes, the journal I kept for her, the pictures, over a dozen times. Just couldn't ever make myself complete it. It gave me so much guilt and kept me up many nights wondering why I couldn't do it. 


The reason I've been procrastinating seems obvious now that it's smacked me in the face. 


Once I complete Ember’s baby book… it will be finished. Once I write the final line about her birth, it’s over. Closing the book on my child’s life.


Somehow understanding this is more painful than the wondering and the guilt. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day Ember

Happy Valentine's Day Baby Girl

        
One year ago today, Daddy and I got married in the Botanical Gardens in south Florida. It was breezy and cool, so beautiful. We walked through the gardens for hours holding hands, so happy. You where almost 17 weeks along, already wiggling around and kicking.

This year, you should be seven months and one week old. You would have been dressed in pink and red and been spoiled rotten with stuffed animals. So many pictures I'd have taken. I'd still like flowers, and I bet there would have been some for us both. Pink for Baby Girl and red for Mommy. Instead, when the sun goes down,  I'll be lighting the pink and red candle Daddy brought. He's missing his little girl too, don't ever doubt that.

Last night, even though we don't really celebrate "special days" since you've been gone, Daddy came home with a giant plush red doxie puppy. Mommy loves doxies alot after all, but that's not all of why I just love this stuffed pup. It's big enough I can picture you sitting on it and laughing. Whenever I look at it, I can almost see you, seven months old with tiny dark curls and fat cheeks.

Missing you today
Missing you for always

Monday, February 7, 2011

Pictures Of Love

It's that date again, the seventh. Now Ember would be seven months old. Not even a little baby anymore. Time flies even when you aren't having fun. I look at her "coming home" dress hanging on our bedroom wall, and realize it wouldn't even fit her now. It used to hang in her room, but a few months ago I moved most of her stuff into our room after a mishap with my rabbit chewing her foot print. The desk we'd planned to use as a changing table become the "altar" for her urn, other mementos and of course a small teddy bear.

People ask me about her pictures alot. Do we have any, did we have NILMDTS come to do them, do we show them to others, do we display them in our home and actually many more. Twenty years ago, pictures of babies born still and those who died soon after birth where not commonly done. At best, the hospital would snap a quick one. Thankfully, times have changed and now most families who want pictures are able to have them.

We have a dozen pictures of Ember. This includes four of her hands and feet, all black and white, two of me holding her, five of her alone and just one of us all together. Most of them are ok, but the only picture of Daddy, Ember and me together was botched. Ember's face was barely visible because of a glare, and the rest wasn't much better. With the help of a wonderful friend, Wendy, who is a photographer herself, it was retouched and now the quality of it is beautiful. We do not know why there aren't pictures of when Daddy was holding Ember and more of us all together. There where supposed to be. We did not know about Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep at the time, though now I am a big fan of them and their work. We wish we would have had. There's no second chances when birth is also good-bye. An UAB staff member convinced us to allow her to do the pictures after she bathed Ember. She was sweet enough, but far from professional. We treasure Ember's only "newborn" photos despite the but their quality makes it harder to remember what she actually looked like. One of my greatest fears is one day I won't be able to see her as she was and will only have what these pictures show.

We are very private with her pictures. Though we are proud of her beauty, we did not have enough time with her to feel like sharing our only images of her with the world. Less than a dozen friends and relatives have seen them, and these have really only been by request. Both Daddy and I where sensitive about showing them anyway, but it was worsened a few weeks later when an in-law grabbed her album and flipped through it without asking. Then there where two groups of people on Facebook who with their cruelty made it very important to protect Ember's pictures. One group was stealing pictures of angel babies, captioning them very crudely and passing them around. I believe "I like dead babies" was the name of one of the groups doing this. Another group was trying to convince the website moderators to remove and ban images of very sick or babies who had already passed away. These are the only photos many families have.

 I shyly showed Wendy, whom I've known for over three years and consider a very good friend, after asking if maybe she could try to touch up our family photo. Her very sweetness about it has made it easier to consider showing other friends. As for displaying them in our home, we do. The best of the pictures of her alone is framed on the desk in our bedroom, as we are not comfortable with having them for anyone who comes in our home to see. Our favorite ultrasound photo of her is framed and displayed with the other family pictures in the living room. It's the one from our first, and emergency, ultrasound. She was only thirteen weeks along then. The midwife had been unable to find her heartbeat, and rushed us into a backroom to use the ancient, rarely used machine. And there she was, waving to us. Her photo album I often keep open on the coffee table.

I'm thinking about her pictures (newborn, not ultrasound) even more right now as my step-daughters will be coming for a visit very soon. They are five and almost nine. Every time they've been here since Ember died, we've put the photos away. My baby cousins, who are even younger, have seen them while my aunt looked through them because she chose to allow them. Because of reactions of "others" I had not expected her to, but she saw no issue with it. It was one of those moments when grateful, pleased and touched just doesn't describe all the emotions it gave me. It's not just OUR decision, as if my own feelings weren't complicated enough, but something we would have to deal with their mother about.

So for now, I'm looking at her picture and just knowing I don't want to put it away for a week.


 
 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

No Name For Us, Though We Are Many

Orphan. Widow. Widower. Yet no word for us. Because there is no way to describe the devastation of a pain like no other. Whether a child dies during birth or at three or seventeen, the pain is unlike any other. Don't presume to understand unless you carry this devastation in your own heart. Don't compare someone's child dying to anything else, it's belittling the parent's grief and the child's life and memory.

There is no word in the English language for a parent who loses a child. There is no word in any language for us that I know of. This is known and felt by every one of us when we face the world changed forever, and so as a community, we have nicknames for ourselves. We are Angel Mommies and Daddies, and baby loss mamas and dads. Proud of such titles in a way that can't be fully understood by others. Yes, the reason for the nicknames is the hardest pain we will ever feel but we continue to love and honor our children. Still feel pride in their beauty, their very preciousness. Some try to push foreign words, and blended words into common use but none have caught on so far. They just do not resonate with enough of us. There may never be a word for us. If after thousands of years, a word has not been found to experience the ultimate loss who's to believe one will ever be found.

Maybe a word cannot be formed for something so against the natural order of life.
 
Every child who grows up will eventually lose their parents, and they become orphans, whether at three or thirty or sixty. A lasting marriage means either husband or wife will lose the other, and become a widow or widower after a year or fifty years of matrimony. The pain is crushing, but it must come as we all grow older. Some times it comes much too soon. Even when it comes after a long and blessed life, letting go is so hard. As life goes on, we prepare for it and know one day it will come.

But to bury your child.... who prepares for that? Who holds their newborn child and thinks maybe I'll soon have to pick out a tiny white casket and lay my child down forever? No one does, ever. Even when a small child battles a disease or serious defect, the parents cannot give up hope. Hope gives them strength to keep going through their life, caring for their child and holding everything together.

Hope is an amazing thing, it's very hard to crush but when it's taken away, the result is pain beyond measure. On Sunday July 4th afternoon, I started having contractions. They stayed very erratic and far apart, but did not abate. Monday they continued in the same way. Tuesday afternoon, at 2:30pm, I had my weekly check-up. I was exactly 37 weeks and full-term. But they couldn't find her heartbeat. We where sent for an ultrasound, praying it would reveal the precious flash of Ember's beating heart. It did not. It was still another day before she was born, at 2:33pm. Twenty-four hours of desperate hope, with everyone knowing she was gone. But I couldn't give up hope. When she was born, I prayed to hear her cry. When she was handed to me, slick and still, my hope stayed, weak but there. But when I looked down at her, though, my hope died as she stayed still and silent.

That's when my grief really began. And as any Angel mom or dad can tell you, the grief never ends.

There's no word for us, but we are still here. All around you are parents with broken hearts. There's no word for us, but please don't ignore us.

Child Abuse and Neglect Awareness

While bruises and broken bones may heal, the damage done to a child's heart and mind by both physical and emotional abuse will never go away. A little girl who's abused as a child by fathers, step-fathers etc is MUCH more likely to be in an abusive relationship as a teen and adult. A little boy who is abused is MUCH more likely to grow up to be an abuser himself. Abuse doesn't have to be aimed at a child for it to hurt them FOR LIFE. Watching their mother, or sibling be physically or emotionally abused damages the child as well. A boy who sees his mother abused is MUCH more likely to abuse his own wife or girlfriend and children. A girl who sees her mother abused is MUCH more likely to be abused by her husband or boyfriends.

Children are small, weaker, easy to maniplate by abusive or neglectful adults. They are eager to please, and protective of those they love. They don't want to be seen as "bad", they don't want to cause fights or "start trouble". They want to be loved, and when they are hurt, they believe they must have done something to deserve it. They are silent victims. Chances are a child you know, even a child you might love has been abused or neglected.

Neglecting a child IS ABUSE. Allowing a child to be scared or hurt by your husband, boyfriend or anyone is NEGLECT and ABUSE.

There are months and weeks that are declared "Child Abuse and Neglect Awareness" times, but we shouldn't limit spreading awareness to just then. Every day thousands of children, so many right in your town or city are being hit, terrorfied, watching their mother or siblings abused.
If you love children, yours or any, protect them.

Spread awareness, and SPEAK UP. By the time a child finally, if ever, speaks of it, it's too late, damage is done and they will never completely heal from it.

-Katherine Eagerton



P.S.-

I do not write to offend, for offense brings nothing of the change we need to see.

I write to make people think.

As a whole, I believe our society's largest and most wide-spread social problem is both ignorance and simply lacking the habit to think about our actions and others.

We do not want to see the pain and the problems, out of laziness, indifference, guilt or a fear that we can do nothing to help or change. So we put them out of mind and ignore them, pretending they are not there.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

When Things Couldn't Get Worse

 Yesterday it was six months since Ember was cremated and finally came home. Yes, it took a nearly week thanks to UAB not using her name OR my married name so they "lost" her for a day or two. I'll never get over all the "mistakes" they made and that's part of why I want, no NEED so badly to change the way people think and treat babies born still and their families. If Ember had a birth certificate, and thus truly had a name in their eyes, there wouldn't have been the agony of the funeral home director telling us they'd tried to pick up our baby but UAB couldn't find her. If I'd had a certificate of stillbirth in my hands, maybe I wouldn't have been yelled at for not bringing Ember in for her two and six week check-ups.
Even after Ember’s birth, things just kept getting worse at a time when I would have sworn under oath they just couldn’t. I’m brought up to the post-partum floor in a wheel chair surrounded on all sides by Hubby and several LDR nurses. Dropped off there, a nurse briefly pops her head in and it nearly spins around 360 degrees when she sees blood all over the bed and floor. She bursts in the bathroom after me, nearly yanking my IV from inside my hand when the door knocks the IV pole across the room. After she leaves, I continue pacing the room dragging the pole behind me. Despite it’s fluid is nearly completely drained by the time I’m brought upstairs, it’s neither removed nor exchanged for a couple hours. With shift change, a new nurse pops in and unhooks me from it then leaves without checking on anything else. Hubby and I are left to our own devices, dazed and captive in a room alone with our broken hearts. I wonder where the morgue is and if I could find my way to it. The only person I see without my mom or David hunting them down is every three or four hours an aid who checks my vitals.
 In the late hours of the day Ember is born, my mom makes it to the hospital. She goes through the pictures of Ember, her first grandchild, over and over. One of the first questions she asks is what they’ve given me and how much, because I’m so calm with a very flat manner. I have no idea about either, after a certain point you stop caring about needles and pills and just accept it. When sleep finally comes, it’s dream filled despite the sleeping pills. We’re woken up at shift change in the morning. After an hour or so of being ignored by the staff, a nurse is finally hunted down and told repeatedly we want to see our daughter again. With no response given for over an hour, finally one stalks in to tell me I can’t see her again because the autopsy that wasn’t to be performed till after my discharge is currently being done. It breaks through the haze of shock to make me sob again. She snaps "calm down" and tells us we can see her when the autopsy is done, then turns on a heel and is gone again. While we wait, another aid comes for my vitals and comforts me. On the whole post-partum floor and staff, she is the only one who is anything but cold and ignoring. Finally Ember is brought up, swaddled with a cap on her head and inside a whicker basket with a hood that makes seeing her face, the only part of her showing, hard to see. We’re told not to touch anything but her face, not to pick her up or move any of the blanket and especially not the cap. As soon as the nurse is gone, my mom hands her to me and I lay down beside her. As I lay next to her, memorizing her features, rubbing her tiny, soft and cold ears that are folded up and pressed to her head, I move the blanket and shirt aside to see her chest and the “knots” closing it. My vitals are taken again, with me still on my side next to her and I’m told she’s beautiful. I already know it, but it’s soothing to hear that someone else can see past her red face and torn skin and soft skull. The same nurse from before returns trying to take her, disapproving that I still have her but I turn her away several times. My mom takes a turn holding her and washes her face gently with a baby wipe.
When the IV hook-up is removed from my hand and the nurse mentions I’ll soon be discharged, I finally reliquinsh her unwilling to shower. The nurse takes her and in the far corner pulls off the booties Ember’s wearing to hand them to me. Discharge papers are brought around 2pm, and the ICU nurse in my mother flares up angrily. No one has checked my bleeding since the night before despite the fact that I hemorrhaged after delivery, and the fundal height hasn’t been checked at all either, despite the placenta going to pieces and being hard to remove. I’ve been given Prozac and an iron pill, and otherwise left alone. She raises hell, and it only gets worse when it’s revealed there is no doctor on the floor or coming anytime soon. After a few hours and several arguments between the nurse and my mother over standards of care (that nurse REALLY didn’t know what she’d gotten herself into), a doctor or intern I knew only by her first name Lindsey who can’t be 30 yet and looks closer to my age, which we’re gotten used to as UAB is a research and teaching hospital, is yanked off Labor and Delivery to be sacrificed by the post-partum nurses to my mother. I’d seen her the night I came into the hospital, and she was sweet though a little clueless. Lindsey is apologetic and admits things have been done incorrectly when told of everything that’s gone undone. She checks my stomach gently and tells me a survey sheet will be mailed to me and to please fill it out and send it back. It never is though. I doubt they want our opinions, or our story.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Don't Tell Me Not To Worry

Six months today since you died quietly and slipped away. The beautiful body you left behind wasn’t you, it was broken from missing you just as we are. Why did you go baby girl? We still don’t know everything, and unfortunately, we never will. We know a few facts- you’re cord was judged slightly shorter than average by a doctor not much older than me and it’s not in the records. It was wrapped around your neck, one arm and one leg. But it left no marks, or indentations of any kind on any part of your body, this is in the records. There was a membrane infection missed and untreated. The placenta’s reaction would have been to release chemical meditators which are known to decrease blood flow and cardiac activity in a baby.  But that doesn’t tell us the real whys, or how long it took, how you felt. It leaves us with so many questions, and a hard time accepting the conclusions we are left to come to alone. There is one fact that can’t be questioned or picked apart- we love you as much today as we did then, and always will.

Six months.
Yea, it doesn’t seem that long to me. Every day is long and hard to get through, but once gone, it just adds to the blur of time elapsed since I kissed my daughter for the last time. Did I come home from the hospital a couple nights ago, or a couple years ago?
My birthday, fifteen days from Ember’s. I wanted everyone to ignore it, but that didn’t happen. Especially not once my SD realized my birthday was coming. There’s no explaining to an eight year old why presents wouldn’t cheer someone up when they’re sad.  Two months after her birth I went back home for the first time without her. This trip had been planned with her in mind months before, but now the party for everyone to meet my girl didn’t exist. David’s birthday, two months after mine just wondering how time kept on moving. Even worse because last year, his daughters moved away with their mother only a few days before his birthday and we’d made a big deal that this year he’d be holding one of his daughters at least as a sweetest present. The glaring absence was overwhelming. Halloween, would she have been a bunny, or a little fairy? Being too little to go trick or treating wouldn’t have kept us from celebrating her first holiday and taking adorable pictures of her by the dozens. Thanksgiving, watching all the “babies” run around, my sister and cousins, not much more than babies but not the baby who should have stolen the show as the first in a few years. Christmas, sick with dread of it for weeks and then it came. The pure white snow crushed me even deeper, there was no escaping Christmas. New Year’s, how can it be 2011 when Ember lived and died in 2010?  These dates, and the seventh of every month marking another month gone, another month older, have kept my heart aware of the passing time, breaking it as it dragged me further and further through time. But all the days in between? They just pile on top of each other, going no further into the calendar, one just replacing the next.
These last few weeks have been harder than I really expected. As Christmas suddenly loomed in my face, the calmness I’d found in the weeks before became a deeper struggle to maintain. New Year’s took me out again, and now I’ve realized half a year has passed since saying good-bye to Ember. The triple effect of these days so close together has me licking my wounds. A friend’s told me the six month mark is often around the time the reality really hits, and you can’t hide from it anymore. Something about the HALF OF A YEAR part is kicking me when I’m already down and surrendered.
Ember was born at 37 weeks, 1day. That’s one week into the ninth month. Thirteen months exactly since finding out she was coming. Six months of missing her since she left. In just a few months, she’ll have been dead longer than she lived. My mind just screams at this, it’s not possible, or right. Only seven months together. That’s not a lifetime, and it’s not enough time to love someone. It’s crushing to know someone IS the other half of your heart and they’re gone before they come into your arms. It’s meeting your soul mate just in time for them to die in your arms. It’s being forever denied.
She’ll never be two with dark curls squealing no at everything. No first tooth, or steps. She’ll never be four, breaking my heart by starting preschool and growing up too fast. Never shiver with excitement petting a bunny or riding a horse. She’ll never be eight, the same age her big sister is now. I’ll never take her shopping for her first dance dress, or embarrass her by chaperoning. Never be sixteen to terrify us with driving. Or eighteen and leaving for college with us left behind, proud and worried every day. She’ll never be eighteen, my age when I carried her. Or nineteen, the birthday without her. She’ll never be thirty with her own house and husband and kids.
When I was eight months pregnant, I waddled around Babies R Us with my mom and sister to update my registry. While digging through all the different models of room to room moniters trying to decide which I liked best, I noticed one single box that was different, pushed behind all the others, not out of place just unnoticed or wanted. I wanted it though, very much. It was an at home fetal heartbeat monitor. I’d never heard of any baby saved by using one, or any baby who could have been. Everything I’d read and been told said that eight months into a pregnancy with a healthy baby an at-home monitor was a silly indulgence that wouldn’t even get much use before she was born, and unreliable at that, they caused undue stress for the parents and unnecessary trips to the OB and hospital. So after mooning over it for a while, I moved on. And forgot about it soon enough. Professional quality ones are much more expensive, but you can rent them by the week or month. Could it have saved my daughter’s life? Maybe. But we’ll never know now. Pregnant mothers’ are a world wide joke. Every comedian has a couple lines about the irrational worrying and behavior of them. First time mothers’ bear the brunt of this, even from the medical community who will chuckle over a woman’s desperate, heartfelt worries. And teen mothers’ are no ones ideal of motherhood. Of age, married, well-spoken and well-read, I escaped a good part of this by simply not being your average idea of a teen mom, and by having an older husband who couldn’t be cowed as I could.  I impressed most of my care-givers with my knowledge of the in’s and out’s that often thought they’d have to explain, but the bar is set so very low. I went out of my way to be clear and direct with concerns to avoid as much as of the patronizing as I could.  At best, they pet you and patronize you when they don’t care about what you’re saying.
How many times was I told it was normal for a baby to stop large movements as you went farther into the 3rd trimester? At my last ultrasound, they couldn’t make her move her shoulder, neck or head at all, or admittedly see them well. It’d been a week or so before that that I really noticed her movements slow down. She was just too big too, I was repeatedly told. My daughter was five pounds, eleven ounces at birth. Too big?
Pregnancy means loving, protecting and caring for a delicate, needing child while blind and deaf with hands tied. You can’t look them over, or put your finger under their nose to check breathing, or run a thermometer across their temple. You can’t hear their whimpers or stand over their bed at night just to check in.
So why are the jokes about pregnancy worries so amusing to so many people, often moms and dads themselves? It’s part of The Myth. The Myth that preterm labor can’t steal your child’s chance at life, that late fetal death doesn’t happen to those that are good, and kind and smart. That stillbirth happens in third world countries and women who use drugs. That your labor can’t go from painful, scary and thrilling to hell on earth. That your child can’t die from water on their brain, or mal-formed lungs within minutes of their birth.

The myth's a lie of course. Every day, it happens.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Even Laundry Can Make Me Cry

Yes, even laundry can make me cry six months later.
Tonight, I noticed a sock had gotten pushed under the washer. When I dragged it out, I felt something else under there. I had to get a clothes hanger to snag whatever else was under there (expecting another sock) and pulled out instead this-

I guess it was dropped on the floor during the week of insane nesting between us moving in and Ember’s birth, and has been waiting under there for six months to ambush me with memories.
It’s actually not the first time the laundry room’s ambushed me. Maybe a week after Ember’s birth, I was half-heartedly washing clothes (only because of my S-daughter who I refused to have running around naked even in the total fog I was very much in, though she might have if I let her). When I picked up one shirt, I uncovered another, and it was dark pink striped and kinda fuzzy. It looked so much like the sleeper I’d laid out for Ember to wear when we came home from the hospital I almost lost it. It wasn’t (at the time the sleeper was probably still waiting on the dresser) instead it was actually another of SD’s shirts, and after looking at it closer, the stripes weren’t the same but it was still a punch to my heart.
It’s all around. Things that sometimes gently stir up memories of carrying her, and sometimes slap me in the face. Usually it’s mostly good, I try and make sure to hold all the memories close but sometimes the pure shock of something is just insane. I mean, Ember never came home. She only ever wore two outfits, one of which came home with us. By the time she was born I’d washed and put all her clothes into her dresser, besides the ones ready for her to come home and now it’s been six months Really, who would be expecting to find her clothes around the house?
In the next couple months we’ll be moving. Since we moved in, we planned to only be here six months or so, till something else opened up where we wanted to live. I’m having trouble accepting leaving this house now. We picked it for one reason only- it was the only place we could find we could move into by July 1st. Nine months pregnant and very much sure that we wouldn’t be making 40 weeks, we decided not to wait. It was the right decision, because three days later early labor began. When we left home on July 6th, we thought we’d be coming home with Ember in a couple days.
We didn’t though, and this house has been both the center of my grief and my refuge from the world. It makes me detest it for the very fact that only days after moving in our world crashed but at the same time…. Ember’s room is here. How on earth can we leave it? It was here we arranged the quilt rack and rocking chair and planned where to put all her baby accessories. This was supposed to be her home, and though she didn’t come back here with us, it still feels that way to me. We can’t live here forever, and don’t want to but still leaving feels so very wrong.
I can’t imagine there are any more surprises hiding around the house. I’ve turned it upside down too many times looking for other things, but the next house will be post Ember. No chance of onesies under the washer. No memories of Ember tucked into it at all.