Thursday, December 29, 2011

Holding him

Marcellus, after I posted last I realized I didn't write you a message. It made me sad that I forgot to do that. I'm sorry. Mommy didn't forget about you, I just had a lot going on in my head. I'm always thinking of you. 

The last few days have been up and down. Monday and Tuesday were spent in what I like to refer to as a "grief hangover". After intense grieving the following days are spent in a fog, exhausted and unable to think straight. Today has also been one of those days because yesterday was rather rough.

Yesterday was the 28th, Marcellus's 2 month birthday. I thought back to what it was like the day he was born, seeing him for the first time. It was intense day of grieving. I hurt for him, I longed for him. It's almost as if the hurt is getting worse, deeper. The days and even weeks following Marcellus's death were consistently bad. I don't think I could have laughed at the funniest joke in the world and I couldn't smile at anything. Now Mike and I do have moments were we can laugh a little with each other. One thing I've always loved about our relationship is how we can joke and be goofy together. We're slowly, very slowly getting that back in our marriage. It can be scary to laugh though. I don't know how else to describe it other than being scary. I don't think I necessarily feel guilty about it, but I'm scared. Maybe it's just I'm scared about life moving on without Marcellus.

Although we are able to have moments together, it seems like the bad days are getting worse. The rough times are rougher and the breakdowns are more intense. I think the last little bit of shock, numbness, and denial is wearing off. The harshness of our reality is sinking in. Our baby really is dead. This really is something we have to get through. We used to look at his pictures and watch his videos every single day. They were comforting to me, a sign that he was really here. I think now for the same reason they are becoming painful to see. They represent what was taken away from us, what we no longer have and what we will never have again (in this lifetime).

Yesterday I sat down to write about Marcellus's Angel Birthday. Might seem odd to write about his death on the two month anniversary of his birth. I've been so afraid of forgetting details about him and our time with him, but haven't been good about writing it down. I wanted to start with his death. Get that memory out of the way. My reason for doing that is because I want to think of the rest of his memories without that one blocking my view. I want to remember all the other times the way they were, without knowing he was going to die. It was hard and intense to do that. I wasn't able to finish and I didn't have the energy today to finish (another grief hangover today). I had to stop and call my mom (Mike was at work). I think the reason I felt the need to call my mom is because of where I was at in Marcellus's story. I had just written about how I called her that morning. I knew Marcellus was really sick and that he could die. I think I even knew he was going to die. But the only time I said it out loud was on the phone to my mom. All I could say is "Mom, is my baby going to die?" She could only answer with "I don't know." That's the only time I said "die" out loud. Mike and I never even said it to each other. We knew though, our looks said enough. And if I did say it out loud I don't remember. That day was a blur and only a few things stand out. That being one of them. I don't even remember that shortly after I said that I tried to explain what was going on. I wasn't really making sense so my mom asked to talk to the doctor. I don't remember handing him the phone or anything he said. My mom later told me he said that "we are all in God's hands now." This was about 6 hours before Marcellus's time of death.

Tonight though I've been thinking about what we were doing 2 months ago today. Two months ago today I got to hold my precious baby boy for the first time. That is such a wonderful memory! I'm starting to realize that I was still pretty drugged up at the time (stupid c-section), but I remember it all. I want to share that day with you. I'll try to shorten it, but this will probably end up long.

Mike and I visited Marcellus around 5am or so. He was still on the ventilator. Mike then went home to take care of the dog, catch a nap (he really struggled with the lack of sleep. Daddies don't get all the fun hormones that mommies get), and go buy a video camera (so glad he did that!). While he was gone I tried to get some rest. I still wasn't able to walk and also had to deal with all the hospital stuff. Later that morning I went back to see Marcellus while Daddy was running his errands. I think I even walked there. No more ventilator! Momma was so proud of her boy. He moved on to the bubble CPAP. I sent a pic to Daddy and he was super excited too. Not only did this show progress in his breathing, but also meant I could finally hold my baby! He could only be out for about an hour at that time, so I opted to wait until Daddy was back. I sat with him and told him how excited I was to get to hold him. Oh I couldn't wait. Back at my room for whatever reason, I had to wait on the nurse for something. I can't remember what it was, but it made me cry. Didn't the realize they were keeping me from seeing my baby? Finally the nurse came and did whatever she needed to do and Daddy was back with the camera. We were going to get to have a video of my first time holding Marcellus. We were both beyond excited. Before I held Marcellus it was time for a diaper change. Daddy changed his first diaper that day! I have never seen anyone more excited to change a diaper. And here's a secret...Daddy changed way more diapers than Mommy did. After the diaper change and Marcellus's assessment we were ready for some kangaroo care. Daddy had grabbed the camera and the charger (in case the batteries weren't charged enough) and we headed to the NICU. Well, silly Daddy didn't even put the batteries in the camera. He had to have it plugged in. Meaning we don't have a good angle for the video. Oh well because I can remember everything from my angle, the best angle. I remember the nurse lifting Marcellus out of his isollete. He squeaked on his way to me and then she placed him on my chest. The best feeling in the world! He instantly just melted into me. He knew he was with his momma. We got cozied in and life was perfect. Daddy went to get a book to read to us. He picked "Guess How Much I Love You". At the time we didn't know how important that book would become to us. It will forever be Marcellus's story.

Later that night Marcellus got his first visitors. They came during shift change (when we weren't allowed in the NICU) so we visited for a little bit. Then we all went down to the NICU. Only two people can be at a baby's bedside at a time, so Daddy took each of our visitors (4 total) in to see Marcellus one at a time. He was such a proud daddy showing off his son. Each time he came out that door with a huge smile on his face ready to show Marcellus off to the next person.

After they left we spent more time together just a family. We liked being there at night. It was so much quieter and calmer than during the day. We just sat next to Marcellus and talked to him, he held our fingers, and we were there for him. He knew he was with his mommy and daddy.

Oh how I would give anything to go back to that day. That was one of the eleven best days of my life.

Marcellus, Mommy treasures these memories with you. They're hard to think about now because I know we won't be making more memories together. I absolutely loved kangaroo caring with you. I will kangaroo care you in my heart forever. Someday when I look back on these memories I will feel the same warmth you gave me at the time. I love you so much my sweet boy. I love you right up to the moon and back!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Baby's first Christmas

Well, we survived. That's about all I can say on how I feel today, I'm just surviving. As you know from my previous post Friday was a really bad day. Saturday (Christmas Eve) turned out to be closer to ok, but yesterday (Christmas) was tough - really really tough. Let me recap my holiday weekend for you.

After the intensity of Friday I was pretty exhausted. We slept in on Saturday (ok, so I rarely do not sleep in) and Mike started our day by making buckwheat pancakes. I had a nice phone call with a friend from back home, a local friend stopped by with lunch, and I received a very heart felt text message from a friend that's out of town. Those were all very appreciated. My mom visited Marcellus and sent me a picture of his grave saying "Merry Christmas Mommy and Daddy". 

We had gotten him the Christmas plant and angel statue before we left MN at the end of November. That was our Christmas shopping for our son, picking out things for his grave. It was pretty hard to find a statue this time of year as they are considered "garden statues". It was important to us that his angel statue have really big wings. Ideally we had wanted to find two matching statues and have one at our house. The only one I liked (and I really like it) was locally made and there was only one left. We are looking for a similar statue to have here, but have yet to find something suitable (Mommy's pretty picky!). We also made the sign (below the plant) before we left and had my mom put it up last week. It says "Merry Christmas Marcellus! You are our greatest gift!" There's a picture of Marcellus on there. I drew a Christmas tree, some Christmas lights and a star. Mike drew a cute little cartoon penguin with a Santa hat. We also ordered an ornament for Marcellus. It's at the top of the plant, a Precious Moments little boy holding a snowman. Of course it says "Baby's First Christmas, 2011" on it. We ordered the same one for ourselves and although we never put a tree up it has been sitting on our mantle. We will be getting an ornament for him every year.

Mike had to work the afternoon/early evening. During that time I briefly talked to my mom. She expressed to me that she was really sad about her Lil Boo. Although I don't want anyone to be sad, it's important for us to know that other people miss and hurt for him too, that he's being remembered by more than his mommy and daddy. She also pointed out this is the first time we wouldn't all be together for Christmas. We have always celebrated on Christmas Eve with my mom. My parents divorced when I was young so we would do Christmas Eve with my mom and Christmas Day with my dad. My mom would even put a special call into Santa and he would come to our house a day early. I am secretly (well I guess it's not a secret anymore) glad that we weren't around family. There was no pressure to be cheerful, no feeling of being a burden by bringing down the Christmas spirit. My family did call and I talked to my mom and siblings. We had sent them silicone bracelets that say "Grandma of an Angel", "Aunt of an Angel", "Uncle of an Angel", and "Cousin of an Angel". We have the ones that say "Mommy of an Angel" and "Daddy of an Angel" (we got them from Remembering Our Babies). They all loved them! My 11 year old brother told me the only time he's taking his off is when it gets worn down and breaks from being worn so long. I didn't really know what else to talk to them about other than their bracelets (since that represented Marcellus for me), so the conversations included a lot of silences and were short lived. I do hope they had a good time together though.

We did decide to go to church. Now I haven't talked much about my faith or relationship with God. That's mostly because right now it's a little shaky. I'm angry at Him and questioning Him. We had only been to church twice since Marcellus died, once in MN and once here in NC. Both times we left feeling angry. Church is also a place families tend to go together, families with babies, families that are pregnant. I did know I wanted to go to church for Christmas even if we weren't celebrating in our own house, we would celebrate in God's house. We decided to go to midnight Mass to avoid families with young children and babies. There was one baby there, an older baby but a baby all the same. I saw the baby out of the corner of my eye when we walked in. I thought it was ok because we sat a ways ahead of them and couldn't hear or see that baby. That is until the baby let out a cry. It was in the middle of the service and all of a sudden there's this cry. It felt like a hundred little daggers just went right through me. Other than that, church was tolerable. We were both hoping to hear a clear message, to really hear God speak to us. But we didn't. We will keep listening though. Even when we are angry we will try to listen.

Since we had been up really late I slept in yesterday. When I woke up dread just came over me. I really did not want to get out of bed. The only reason I did was to go to the cemetery for Marcellus. I wanted to make sure we did something for him for Christmas. We took white roses to a couple of our favorite cemeteries. Yes, we have favorite cemeteries (doesn't everybody?). We attached a penguin card (he was buried with a little penguin) so people would know they were in memory of Marcellus. Right before we left I got a phone call from a woman we met at The Compassionate Friends meeting we went to. She lost her 5 year old daughter 20 or 30 years ago. I had missed her call and she left such a beautiful voice mail. Not only did she mention that she was thinking of us, but how she was remembering Marcellus. She even mentioned his eyes (we had shown pictures of him at TCF meeting). I had to call her back and thank her for the message. She had also called me more than a week prior just to check in and I never called back from that. I called and ended up being on the phone as we walked out the door to go to the cemetery. I had everything all planned out and by being distracted when we left it caused a little chaos. First, we forgot the camera we didn't get very far and turned around to get it. Once we got to the cemetery I realized we forgot Marcellus's candle (the one the funeral home made with his picture and scaled down version of his hand and footprints). It was so important to me that everything go perfectly for Marcellus that we came back home to get it. Finally back at the cemetery we had our moment. The first cemetery we like because of the baby section. It's right next to a tree, off any main roads so it's quite, but not hidden back in a corner somewhere.  We were able to sit down next to the tree and talk to Marcellus.

The tears came, but it wasn't uncontrollable like it had been on Friday. We were simply talking to our baby, wishing him a Merry Christmas in Heaven, missing him, and loving him. We were sad and it hurt, but we were there for Marcellus. We went to one other cemetery and laid the roses next to an angel statue. This is something we will do every year. This is the tradition we are starting with Marcellus, not baking cookies, decorating the tree together, or making a ginger bread house. The tradition we have with our son is bringing him white roses to the cemetery.

We then headed for Chinese. Turns out it was more difficult than we thought to find a Chinese restaurant open. We drove around for awhile on our hunt. It was actually kind of nice to drive around the city without all the traffic and usual hustle bustle. We found a restaurant and brought our Marcellus candle in with us. It was early, about 430pm, and we were hoping for a quiet non-Christmas dinner. The restaurant wasn't too busy, but of course there was a family with a rambunctious little boy. Even though Marcellus would only be eight weeks old, whenever I see little boys I can't help but think how we will never know Marcellus as a little boy. We will never know if he would be quiet and shy or outspoken full of energy like the little boy we saw. We had our dinner and went home to watch a movie we had rented.

When we got home I needed to write to Marcellus first. We keep a journal where Mike and I write to Marcellus. I wanted to tell him about all the things we were hoping for this Christmas and everything we would have done for him. I also wanted to tell him about what we did do for him this year. I was pretty focused on writing and didn't get too caught up in any one emotion. After I wrote I decided to talk to God. I can't remember all I said, but it led me to be an uncontrollable sobbing mess. I came downstairs clutching a framed picture of Marcellus and all I could say was "He should be here! He should be here! He should be here!" I started to physically hurt. My arms hurt. They hurt to hold my baby. I longed for him so bad. I have heard other Angel Mommas talk about and have read about 'aching arms'. I hadn't experienced the physical hurt like that yet. My arms just always felt so empty, but it wasn't until last night that I really felt them ache like that. I finally got it together and we decided to watch the movie we rented (The Help) and ate popcorn, m&m's, and sour patch kids. I thought the movie was pretty good.

Before we went to bed I wanted to watch a video of Marcellus. It's a good one, one where he's being moved to kangaroo care with me. He's a week old in the video and we are happy. The nurse places him on my chest and he gets snuggled in. You see him put his one arm above his head like he always does and start to tickle at my neck. I just stared at the video and all of a sudden I start frantically thinking "I had a baby. I had a baby. We had a baby. We really did have him. He was here. I had a baby and now I don't!" The breakdown starts again, the ache starts again. We made it upstairs into bed and I couldn't stop. I couldn't stop crying. I literally felt like I was losing my mind. I don't know what to do. I don't know how to do this. I just don't know how to be the mommy of an angel. I don't know how long it went on for, but eventually I calmed down. We talked and were able to do our nighttime routine for Marcellus. We read his story, sang his song, and prayed. My mind was still racing and I knew I wouldn't be able to fall asleep. I read out of  Roses in December: Comfort for the Grieving Heart to get my mind more focused. Eventually I did fall asleep. I woke up late today and still don't know how I'm feeling. Like I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I am surviving. That's about all I can hope to do right now.

Well, that was my Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2011

That is today

I don't really know what to write today, but I just felt the need to pull up my blog and start typing, maybe because today was a really bad day. Now, everyday that I have had since Marcellus died has been a bad day. There have been "ok" days [side note: there are NOT enough words in the English language to describe what we go through in grief, especially when losing a child. In my life before losing Marcellus I wouldn't describe these days as ok, but everything's relative and relatively speaking we have had ok days since Marcellus died.]. In fact earlier this week I had a couple of ok days in a row. Meaning I only cried once those days and it wasn't uncontrollable sobbing. I was able to think of the good memories of Marcellus and feel some warmth in my heart. Mike and I were able to laugh a little, especially at my poor reciting of Marcellus's story "Guess How Much I Love You".

But then today BAM! a pretty dang bad day. It's probably a combination of things. Christmas is pretty much here. Sometimes those ok days aren't as ok as you think and we are just able to 'set it aside' or 'shut down' a bit (consciously or unconsciously). Most of all it's related to the fact that had Marcellus not gotten sick, we would be bringing him home any day now. He would be 8 weeks old today and 37 weeks gestation on Christmas. Today thoughts of what it would be like to have brought him home have been racing through my head all day. I keep thinking of how big he would be, what would he weigh? Mike is telling me he would probably be around 6 lbs. 6 lbs?! What a big boy he would be! His cheeks would be getting round (both on top and bottom - he literally had no butt), and his wrinkles would be going away as he filled out his skin. What would it be like to breastfeed him? It's something I was really looking forward to. I worked so hard to pump for him, so hard to get my supply up. He didn't need much at the time, but I wanted to be ready for when he was ready. He was going to be such a good eater. I swear he had already been rooting. What would it be like to introduce him to the dog? Perk was going to be such a good doggy big brother. When our nephew was here Perk was so gentle. He would have protected Marcellus and they would have been best of buds. How would it have felt to walk out of that NICU with our baby in tow? We would have been on top of the world. When we got home we would have just holed up, not invited anyone over. Just the 3 of us (and Perk) together for the first time without nurses and monitors constantly beeping.

I have thought about literally every detail there would have been that day. And as long as I can stay in my head they are amazing to think about. But as soon as I'm back in reality and know those things will never happen I'm a wreck. To remember that we had our last walk out of the NICU, but it wasn't with our baby in tow it was leaving him behind dead and cold. We did get our time just the 3 of us, no nurses or monitors. But it wasn't at home cuddled in bed, it was at the funeral home with our son in a casket.

That's what today has been. A mix between fantasy and reality. A day where the uncontrollable, I can't catch my breath sobs take over and my limbs go limp. I know this post is pretty depressing, but I want to be open and honest about what we are going through. And that is today.

Marcellus, Mommy and Daddy really wish you were here. We wanted to bring you home so badly baby boy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Will not forget

As the distance between the number of days my son was alive and the number of days he's been dead grows, I find myself worried about forgetting. We have plenty of pictures and videos so I know I can't forget what his face, his eyes, and his beautiful hair look like. But what about the way he smelled, how is skin felt, all the noises he made, his hiccups, his multitude of sneezes in a row, the way he felt on my chest, the softness of his hair, and all his squirmy wormy-ness; will I forget those? Will I forget the way my husband looked as he rounded the corner to Marcellus's room, pride beaming from every pore of his body? Or what it was like to sit and stare at the two of them together, my boys both fast asleep (and snoring!)? I even worry that I'll forget the sounds of the NICU, the conversations with his nurses and what it was like to scrub in.

For now I can still feel him melt into my chest and scratch at my neck. I can feel his fuzzy hair on my fingertips. I can even still feel what it was like to have him kick and squirm inside of me and how I recognized those movements he made after he was born. I'm holding on to that as tight as I can, but what if it's not enough. What if one day I wake up and those memories are gone?

And what about those memories of us together as a family; Mike and I so happy, proud, and content. Those are harder to recall right now. When I look at my husband instead of seeing him beaming I see his sadness and I feel his hurt. When we are together instead of feeling like a complete family we feel broken. Instead of taking turns holding Marcellus we take turns holding each other while we cry. Instead of feeling intense joy and happiness we feel excruciating pain and sadness.

Someday I hope to get to the point where recalling the memories will bring back those same emotions, where I can think of Marcellus and be more than just sad that he's gone. Someday I will, I'm just not there yet. For now I will just remember. I will never forget. He is etched on my heart forever.

Marcellus, thank you for all the wonderful memories you gave Daddy and I. Please help keep them strong in my mind and heart. Mommy loves you squirmy wormy!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Should be

The last few days I've really been struggling with how things "should be". What we should be doing instead of grieving for our sweet little boy. There are two should be scenarios, and this is NOT one of them. But somehow this is what we got instead.

First, I should still be pregnant. I should be 36 weeks pregnant today bursting with anticipation for my baby to be born. Both Mike and I would have just wrapped up our semesters a few days ago and this is when we would be getting everything perfect for the baby's arrival. In fact, Mike had written "super baby week" on the calendar. We still wouldn't know if we were having a boy or a girl. We'd organize all the baby's things and get the house in tip top shape for our homebirth. It would be our first Christmas away from our families since I would be too far along to travel. We would have decorations galore, done massive amounts of baking, gotten the biggest tree we could, and be thinking about what new traditions we'd want to start for our growing family.

Well since Marcellus was born early that should be disappeared pretty quickly. That was ok though because we had a new one. What we even thought was a better one. Instead of being discouraged Marcellus was in the NICU we thought of it as extra time we get with our baby. We would still get to start our life at home around the same time if I had stayed pregnant. We should be preparing for Marcellus to come home. The goal was Christmas or at least by the end of the year. We would still get his things ready. The only difference is we would know we were preparing the house for our boy. We would still be spending our first Christmas away from family. We probably wouldn't have gone all out on decorating or baking since we'd be spending most of our time in the NICU. We'd still be thinking about what new traditions we were going to start as a family. Maybe Marcellus would have been home by Christmas, maybe we would be spending it in the NICU. It wouldn't have mattered to us because we would have been with our family, with our little squirmy wormy. And he would be so big by now, being over 7 weeks old.

But there's a reason those are "should be" realities. We instead got this nightmare. Instead of being 36 weeks pregnant or having a 7 week old newborn, I have a dead baby that's been gone for 5 1/2 weeks. There's been no preparing around the house. In fact, it's a mess. We struggle to keep the laundry and dishes done and ourselves fed. We are still spending our first Christmas away from our families. We say it's because we can't afford to or we're just getting used to being settled back in after being gone for 3 weeks. While those things are true, really we wouldn't have gone back anyway. The thought of dealing with traveling alone is enough. Then there's the fact that we would probably ruin everyone's Christmas by being around or that people would just act like nothing ever happened. To top it off I can't even begin to imagine being around our nephew as everyone celebrates his first Christmas. I love my nephew to death, don't get me wrong I wish I was emotionally able to celebrate for him too. But I'm not and it would kill me to be there for his first Christmas when it should be my son's first Christmas as well. We have no decorations, no tree, and there's no baking. We did get a "baby's first Christmas" ornament for Marcellus, it sits on our mantel. As of right now our plans are to go out for Chinese and go to a movie, that is if I can get myself out of bed.

Well Marcellus, your first Christmas is coming up. I know you're spending it with Jesus, but that doesn't make it any easier for Mommy and Daddy. We wish you were here to be spoiled with gifts and more importantly for us to love on you.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Managing two worlds

Today I want to be shut out from the world. Ok, so most days I want to be shut out from the world. Today I have succeeded in doing so. I have kept myself holed up in the house and honestly have not spent much time out of bed that hasn't been on the couch. I guess at least I have my dog to cuddle with. I think he's getting sick of me though.

Last night we went to a support group meeting for parents that have lost children from conception through one year of age. A fellow grieving mother that lost her 2 day old son 6 months ago made the comment that she feels like she is above the world, just watching everything continue to go on. She was worried she wasn't making any sense, but I know exactly what she meant. I do not feel apart of the ordinary world any more. I feel like we (parents that have lost a baby) are in a separate world. It is very difficult to enter the ordinary world and try to be a part of it. Time moves differently in our grieving world. It feels as if it almost doesn't exist. When we do enter the ordinary world we just want to yell "Stop! How are you continuing to live your normal lives? Don't you know my baby is dead?!" While we do not wish people from the ordinary world to enter ours sometimes we just want the world to stop and hurt with us. 

Whenever I do venture into the ordinary world I feel like I have a sign hanging over my head, that I am just "the one with a dead baby." Especially around people I know, but even out in public where people don't even know I was ever pregnant. I just feel so out of place that when people look at me that's all they think of. I do want people to think of Marcellus when they see me. I want to be a reminder of his life. The fear I am referring to here is that people will look at me and only think about how he's dead. They won't think about his life, just that I have a dead baby.

I wish I (or anybody else for that matter) had no need for the meeting we went to last night. But since I do, I am thankful it exists. There are just some things that can only be understood in the grieving world. And that's how I felt last night, understood. We were able to hear other people's stories and share Marcellus's. I found myself feeling so connected to people who were complete strangers to me. They are not strangers anymore. We unfortunately have one of the strongest bonds there is, we know what it's like to grieve for our babies.

Marcellus, please tell the angel babies of the parents we met last night (and those we've met prior, either in person or just online) that they have wonderful mommies and daddies. Sounds like you are surrounded by some very loved babies up there. I still like to think you are the most loved! Mommy and Daddy love you so very very much! xoxox

Thursday, December 15, 2011

His stuff

The last couple of days have been really really rough. There are so many things I feel like I could write about right now. I will try to focus my thoughts though and create a coherent post.

Yesterday and today I've really been struggling on what to do with Marcellus's stuff. We aren't making any big decisions about it now, but even just trying to decide where and how to store it is hard. I really hadn't spent much time in his room until yesterday. We were planning on having Marcellus sleep in our bedroom for quite awhile, especially after he was in the NICU. His room was going to double as the office. The weekend before he was born we even bought a smaller less bulky desk and new office chair. Even though it wasn't solely going to be his room it has always been where his stuff would be. We need to get the room working as an office for me to do my work. When I'm in there I just look around at all his things. Some are hand me downs from his cousin, some are from consignment sales, and some we picked out brand new just for him. Regardless of where it came from it is his stuff. Both yesterday and today I broke down. All I could do was cry and say, "He'll never use his stuff. He never even saw it. It's his stuff and he'll never use it!"

I'm so conflicted about it. Neither Mike nor I can handle it being out. To see everything he should be enjoying, we should be putting him in, is like having "He's not here! He'll never use this stuff!" shouted at us. On the other hand, I can't bear the thought of just boxing it all up and putting it in storage like he was never here. It feels like we'd be boxing up part of his memory. Most of the stuff we got while I was still pregnant, while Marcellus was with us. All the hand me down stuff my sister brought with her when she visited. I remember one morning before heading to the NICU I went through and organized all the clothes she brought. I was so excited to start getting things organized for Marcellus. Instead he will never wear them and I should have been spending those precious minutes with him in the NICU. We are in such a lose-lose situation. Whether we leave it out or put it away, Marcellus is dead and never will use any of it.

Yesterday we met with the neonatologist that worked on Marcellus the day he died. We had many questions about what happened, how he got sick, and if there was anything else that could have been done. We did get many of our questions answered, but  now we also have new ones to ask. Marcellus had a blood clot behind his intestines. It compromised the blood supply to his digestive track and is what allowed the NEC to develop. There is no way we could have known about the clot. The doctor also said we will probably never find out why he developed it. He said something triggered it to happen and there's no way of knowing what. He told us that when they see clotting issues in babies it's because one of the parents has a clotting disorder. That is not the case for us. This is where the new questions come in. How did my little baby get a blood clot?! Where there more? We did not have an autopsy done, so that is unanswerable. The doctor suspects there may have been clots in other places as well. Is this something we need to worry about for our future children? Did he have something wrong that in conjunction caused him to be born early? Why did he have this death sentence hanging over him?

All these questions and no answers. My mom had a good point though. When I told her about the appointment yesterday I was asking the "why's". Why did he get a clot, why did he die. She simply said, "would it make you feel any better if you knew?" The answer to that question is easy, no. Regardless of the answer, Marcellus is dead. There is no answer good enough to make me say, "oh, that's why...then ok I'm fine with my baby dying."

Marcellus, Mommy's so sorry about everything you had to go through. I wish it could have been me instead of you. You were so brave and strong and will always be our little warrior!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The appointment from hell

To say this morning was rough is an understatement. I had my six week postpartum check up. Yes, I expected it to be difficult, but not as bad as it was. You see, we were planning a homebirth and working with a wonderful midwife. Although we didn't get our homebirth, our midwife played a large role on Marcellus's birthday. Long story short (I will post his birth story soon), we ended up with an emergency c-section since he was breech. I'd say the care I received in the hospital was fine, no real complaints there. They scheduled my follow up appointment for me. Well, with my baby in the NICU I didn't take the time to look into the appointment. And then since he's been gone I haven't had the energy to. Turns out since I wasn't with an OB practice they just made my appointment through the health department at human services. We went this morning and the experience was a nightmare. We get there at 8am right when they open and when I was told my appointment would be. I had to fill out information for Medicaid (while I did qualify for it while pregnant we didn't even apply until after Marcellus was in the NICU when we knew the bills would really be piling up) before going back for the appointment. Of course there are ladies coming in and out with their babies/children the whole time and the TV was on some OB/GYN show. I absolutely lost it when there was a segment on breastfeeding. I had to step outside and everything. By the time I got called back for my appointment it was almost 9am. We sit down and the nurse starts asking the basic questions. She asked if we (Mike was with me, thank God!) had a boy or girl and then proceeds to tell us a big congratulations! Don't get me wrong I do still like to be congratulated on him and there is still very much a reason for congratulations. However, after already spending an hour in a very high anxiety state all I could do is look at her and say "He died." At that point Mike and I both started crying. Poor lady was just trying to do her job and she was doing it well. She did keep her composure and offered us her condolences. About all I could ask for in a situation like that. As part of their routine process she did ask me if I was experiencing anxiety or depression...huh hello I just told you my baby died! The icing on the cake was then she provided me with a questionnaire to screen for postpartum depression. I'm sure they are required by the state to do so, but really?! There was a question on there that said "I am having difficulty sleeping, even when the baby sleeps." Ouch...that one hurt really bad. I again lost it and sat on the table my paper jacket just sobbing. If it wasn't for Mike there I would have just gotten up and left without finishing the appointment. In reality there was no reason for me to go to that appointment. They didn't do anything my midwife couldn't have done or that I couldn't have gotten done at student health services. Since Marcellus was born prematurely without an explanation there was a pathology done on my placenta. Those results still aren't in. I'm having a heck of a time figuring out who to make that appointment with. I also want the details of my surgical report. I figured there was no use in asking too much at this appointment since I will be making an appointment regarding the placenta.

So after all that we had a counseling appointment scheduled. We were a little late because it took so long at the health department. You'd think that it would be a good think we were seeing a counselor right afterward, right? Well, Mike and I met this lady for the first time last week. We weren't so sure about here then, but figured we'd give her another try. We are now definitely sure we do NOT want to go back. Last week she gave us some worksheets to fill out to screen for anxiety and depression. I understand that we could still be experiencing these things to a greater degree than just caused by grief and assumed she would adjust the results accordingly. She did not adjust anything and told us both we have severe depression. Most of the appointment was her talking about how she strongly suggests we see a doctor for getting medication and about various medications. We both indicated that we would rather not use medication, but she kept persisting. I'm not saying using medication is bad. I think it is very beneficial when used appropriately. I personally would prefer to use holistic techniques with regular counseling before trying medication. She didn't even really ask us how we felt about it or say we could see how things go for the next couple of appointments. It seems like she just went straight for the medication route. Since we already weren't feeling a good vibe from here the week before, we are not going back. Guess we'll be back on the therapy market.

Even though it was a couple days ago I do want to mention The Compassionate Friends Candle Lighting Service we went to on Sunday. Candles were lit for all children lost at any age and from any cause. There were roughly 75 people at the service with about 30 or so candles lit. Marcellus was the youngest to die and had the most recent Angel Birthday (there was a grandma there that lit a candle for her toddler grandson that shares the same Angel Birthday with Marcellus). It was tough to be there, but we made it and we did it for our baby boy. Part of what was difficult for me is that many of the candles that were lit were for adult children. Now I think no parent should ever have to go through the pain of losing there child, regardless of age. But I couldn't help but thinking "why'd the get their child for so long?! Mine was taken after only 12 days!" That is something I know I need to work on. Anyway, out of the 30 or so candles lit, there were only 2 other candles in memory of children lost as newborns. We ended up sitting right behind a couple and their teenage daughter that lit one of those 2 other candles. It was for their son, Zachary, that died very unexpectedly at about a month old almost 20 years ago. Like us, they also did not have any family in the area and Zachary is their first born son. Now out of all the places we could have sat, I think God made sure we sat behind Zachary's parents. We talked a bit and they gave us their contact information. I really hope we have the courage to contact them. They have such a beautiful family. Zachary has two younger siblings, a brother and a sister. His sister was there and it was amazing to see how much he has touched her life even though she never met him.

Marcellus, we know you touched many lives in you short time here on earth. You continue to and will always touch people's lives from your Heavenly home. Mommy and Daddy are so proud of you!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Made it through the weekend

Today I feel sick. I just feel sick to my stomach. What makes me sick? The fact that this is my reality. My baby is dead and he's never coming back. I have to tell myself this every day, multiple times a day. I just can't fully comprehend what has happened, even a month later. Some moments I feel like I am in a horrible nightmare and just wait for myself to wake up. There is no waking up though. This is life, Marcellus is gone. Other moments I think maybe I dreamed the whole thing, the pregnancy, his birth, and his death. Maybe none of it ever happened. But then I see my c-section incision scar, proof that my baby was here and that he is real.

Today I just want to disappear. I don't know how I am still living. How have a made it a month without my little mister? How will I continue to do so? It often hurts just to breath. People say "I don't know how you to it," and honestly neither do I. I just don't have a choice. This is my life and I have to do it. Most days the only thing that gets me through is that each day that goes by is another day closer to being with Marcellus again. I try to remind myself that this lifetime is just seconds compared to eternity. One day I will be with Marcellus again in Heaven. It doesn't make this life any easier to live though, just gives a reason to get through it.

Now that I've gotten out how I feel, let me share what went on this weekend. Friday evening we held an Angel Birthday Party for Marcellus. Right after he died we flew to MN (where are families are) and had his funeral there. We were gone for 3 weeks. We decided we wanted to have a casual memorial service for Marcellus here in NC. Many of our friends never got to meet him and as proud parents we wanted to show him off! We told his story and shared pictures. I was amazed at how many people came. It really speaks to how many lives Marcellus was able to touch in his short time. When people left they all said the same thing, "thank for doing this." I didn't expect that as we weren't doing it for them. We were doing it for Marcellus, for our family. I appreciate everyone that came and wanted to get to know our son. I will always welcome questions about Marcellus, including his birth and his death. There are so many other memories we have to share that we just didn't have time for that night. I hope no one ever hesitates to talk about him.

Yesterday we were completely exhausted. It took me awhile to get out of bed. The main difficulty about getting up is that I just don't know what to do with myself once I am up. I should have a baby to take care of, but since he's not here I am so lost as to what to do. Mike and I were able to spend some quality time at the cemetery. Yes, I said quality time at the cemetery. Being away from Marcellus's grave has been hard for us. So we go to cemeteries here (we've been to two different ones) and find the baby section. It is a way for us to feel connected to Marcellus and to also remember we are not alone in this difficult journey. We then decided to try to go out for supper. We decided we didn't want to cook (and by we, I mean Mike...I haven't even come close to attempting to cook yet). Well we made it through, but it was hard. It was busy and loud. At least it seemed loud to us, but sometimes I think we are just super sensitive to everything. There was a crying baby across the restaurant that made my heart ache. As we were waiting for our check there was a couple that walked by. She was pregnant. I looked at Mike and said, "I should have a pregnant belly right now," and he said "Yeah, a BIG pregnant belly." I just sat there and envisioned what my BIG pregnant belly would be like. This is about the time we'd seriously start getting everything ready for Marcellus, he was due Jan 15.

Last night we didn't sleep well. Our dog, Perkie, woke us up in the middle of the night with some pretty violent sneezing. We turned on the light and checked on him. We continued to check on him with every little noise he made. Neither of us were bothered by this or complained about being awake. I think part of it is that we should have our baby to get up with in the night. With Marcellus gone, we are focusing our parenting energy to Perk. That has continued into today. While Mike's been at work I've been texting him updates on how the dog is doing. I can't help but think about all the updates I would have sent him when I was home with Marcellus. I can just think of them now "Another poopy diaper!", "He's eating AGAIN", "Naptime!" and of course there would be endless pictures sent as well. I'm not just missing my son, I'm missing all these little things that come with having a child, I'm missing my motherhood.

Even after all of that we have survived the weekend. We are still here and we are still trying. With Mike by my side we will do this.

Marcellus, Mommy's hanging on today. Even though you are no longer here on earth, you are still my strength. Love and missing you!

Friday, December 9, 2011

One month ago

One month ago today we said goodbye to our beautiful baby boy. Since Marcellus died, I have thought about starting a blog. I have been reading a couple of blogs written by other Angel Mommies and it seems to help them find an outlet for and sort out what they're going through. It only seemed fitting that if I'm going to start a blog, it should be on such a significant day for my family.

Marcellus died at the age of 12 days old from necrotizing enterocoliotis (NEC). At some point I will probably talk more about what happened when he got sick and give more information on NEC. Right now though I am stuck reliving the events surrounding his death. It started last night when my husband and I went to lay down right around the time we had left the NICU the night before Marcellus died. It continued this morning when I woke up for the first time right at the time we were having Marcellus baptized a month ago while he barely hung onto life. I couldn't bear to get out of bed so I went back to sleep. I woke up the second time right around the time Marcellus was getting read for surgery. My husband, Mike, read him his story (Guess How Much I Love You) for the last time. We talked to him before going into surgery. I leaned over to kiss my precious baby boy and I told him "Marcellus, if you need to go, then go. The surgery is more for Mommy and Daddy and if you need to go I want you to go before the surgery. Mommy doesn't want you to be in pain. Mommy and Daddy are so proud of you and you can go if you need to." We told him we loved him so much and just as Mike came around to join me on the side of the isolette I was standing on, Marcellus opened his eyes! Looking back, we know that's when he said goodbye. He did leave before the surgery and he wanted us to know by telling us goodbye.

Now as I write this a month ago today is when I was holding my son for the last time. He was dying in my arms. Time seemed to stand still as I clutched my son so tightly. Not wanting it to be true. How could this be happening?! The doctor kneeling beside me checking for heart tones. I wanted him to go away. I wanted everyone to go away and just let me be with my son and my husband - my family. I handed Marcellus to Mike, it was at that time he was declared dead - 12:43pm November 9th, 2011.

The above paragraphs were written earlier this afternoon, it is now almost 10pm. While I was writing earlier Mike was lying in bed with me. He had been running errands earlier, but I hadn't gotten out of bed for the day. The clock struck 12:43pm and my husband and I relived that moment our son died. We lost it in each others arms. I just don't know how I've gone on living a month without my son. I will continue to try and survive each day though. Each day I make it through is a day closer to being with Marcellus.

I don't know what I hope to accomplish with this blog. I don't know if I'm doing this just for me, for Marcellus, for others that may come across this blog. I don't know exactly what I will talk about. I just don't know. What I do know is that I will tell Marcellus's story; I will share his life with others.

Marcellus, Mommy loves and misses you more than anything! Happy one month Angel Birthday!