Thursday, August 30, 2012

Another year of my life

My birthday is tomorrow, my 27th birthday. I don't want it to come. I want to stay 26 forever. It might sound silly to some, but Marcellus was alive when I was 26.

Tomorrow marks the end to another year of my life and the start of another. I have spent 27 years on this earth, yet my son never even came close to being here for one...12 days. How did he only get 12 days and tomorrow I will be celebrating 27 years? It's not fair and it doesn't make sense.

So much has gone on the last year of my life. A year ago I was about 20 weeks pregnant with Marcellus. It was toward the beginning semester of my 4th year of graduate school. I was working hard to try to get my research done and teaching for the first time. It was an exciting and busy time of my life. Little did I know as a celebrated what I thought to be my last birthday without waking up to slobbery baby kisses that just two months later things would be oh so different. There will be no slobbery kisses tomorrow. There will be no card signed with scribbles from the help of Daddy.  There will be no birthday spent with my son outside of my womb. Last year, my 26th, the only birthday I will ever have with him.

In this last year a lot has happened since that happy day at 20 weeks pregnant, my son was born into this world much too soon, I was in love beyond belief and on top of the world, I became NICU mom, I held my son in my arms as he took his last breaths and his little heart beat for the last time, I planned a funeral and picked out a grave site for my first born son, I buried my sweet baby boy and saw him for the last time on this earth, I came home to an empty house that no longer felt like a home, I ignored the Holidays as the came and went anyway, I went back to graduate school and stumbled through a semester of teaching and attempting research, I picked out and designed the headstone to mark the place of my son's final resting spot. And these last 2-3 months, well there has been a lot more that I've done too, but I will write about that another time.

Another thing about turning 27, it was 10 years ago that I was about 28 weeks pregnant with Angela. Wow, 28 weeks, the gestation Marcellus was born at. And 10 has that been 10 years? Never did I imagine that I still would not be raising a child in 10 years.

And my birthday coming and going means we are just that much closer to October his birthday, to her birthday, to their birthday.

There are not enough candles in the world to make my birthday wish come true this year.

Dear Marcellus, if only birthday wishes were guaranteed to come true. My wish is for you to be here with us. To celebrate my birthday with you my sweet boy. I don't even want to think about how many more birthdays I will spend without you here. All I want for my birthday is you, cuddles and kisses and loving on you. Until that day comes my love, I will miss you every second of my life. I love you right up to the moon and back! xoxox

Saturday, August 25, 2012


When I found out I was in labor on October 28th, 2011 and that our baby would be coming well before he was ready all I thought about was getting to the hospital. Yes, I panicked at first. Yes, I was scared. Yes, I wondered if my baby would be okay. But I had just read the amazing rate of survival for babies at 28-29 weeks due to the technology of the NICU. He just had to wait until we got to the hospital where they had the help he needed.

And he did, he waited. He wasn't born waiting for the ambulance or in the ambulance. Once we arrived in triage I breathed a bit of a sigh of relief. I was still scared. Is still didn't know what was going to happen to my baby. But they could help him. The could make sure he was okay. At that moment I stopped worrying if he would live and started worrying more about how much help he would need. What would he go through.

And he was okay. He came out crying telling me that he was okay. He was more than okay, he was perfect. He was a big boy for his gestation. He was immediately taken to the NICU, but they kept saying how great he looked and how well he was doing. At that moment we became NICU parents. I knew my boy was alive and I knew he was getting the breathing help he needed and that great wonderful experts were taking care of him. I no longer worried for his life. I was on top of the world.

I remember calling my mom and my sister and feeling like I had to reassure them. I had to tell them, "it's okay, he's great!" To tell them not to worry, I honestly was not worried. Why wasn't I worried? I don't know. I don't know what it was, but I really was never that worried about him. I knew how strong he was.

I instantly latched on to my new identity as Marcellus's mommy and NICU mom. I pumped as soon as I could, even before I saw him. I got to the NICU as soon as I was able to get into that wheelchair. I was in awe of him. I wasn't scared of the NICU. I wasn't scared of the vent (that he was only on for 24 hours), the tubes, the wires, the monitors. That was my son there, that's all that mattered.

It was quite the adjustment though. But I was proud to be a NICU mom. I even started to feel lucky. Yes, lucky (seems a bit crazy now, huh). I was getting two more months with my baby boy than other parents do. I was getting to see him develop in a way that other parents didn't. Of course, I would have much rather had him come at full-term, but I felt so incredibly blessed to be in that NICU. I also thought about how I was getting to display a set of parenting skills that most don't. No, I couldn't breastfeed him, no I couldn't just pick him whenever, no I didn't get up to him in the night. But I did so many other things for him. I sat in the NICU all day touching him, talking to him, loving on him. I pumped diligently for him and everyone was in awe at how well I was doing. I held him as much as I could, oh the pure joy of kangaroo care. I showed him off to whomever I could. I asked all the questions I needed to (although I must admit Daddy was a little bit better at asking questions). I was proud of him and really I was proud of myself too. I felt like Super NICU Mom.

It was definitely difficult, but yet I enjoyed every single minute of it. I joined an online "Preemie Parenting" group and there were so many moms saying how horrible it was to be in the NICU and how they hated being there. Again, of course I didn't "want" him there, but that was our situation and if that's what I had to do to be his mommy then I would. And I would do the best damn job I could at it and enjoy it as much as possible.

I often say that if Marcellus had to die, then I'm glad I didn't know he was going to. It gave us the opportunity to have 11 absolutely perfect days with him. We enjoyed him. Yes, there was stress and some worry and anxiety. But those days were pure bliss.

Then he got sick and our perfect NICU world got turned upside down. But he was in the hospital, with great nurses and doctors, surely he'd be okay in the end. Surely this was just one of the downs they talked about in the "ups and downs of the NICU." Surely he wouldn't die. But my sweet boy got sicker and sicker and sicker in those last 24 hours of his life. And he did die in that NICU. And I am no longer a NICU mom, but now a baby loss mom.

But I am more than thankful for those 11 perfect days we had with our squirmy wormy in the NICU. I'm even thankful for those last 24 hours. Thankful that I was able to be there for him, hopefully comforting him in some way. To be with him as he took his last breath. To do one last thing for him as his mother while he was here on this earth.

But I wanted to be a NICU mom for another month, two months, however long it would have taken to bring Marcellus home. I want to be a preemie parent, not a baby loss parent. 

Marcellus, I am so thankful for every second we got with you in that NICU. So thankful for all the doctors, nurses, respiratory people, and everyone else that took care of you. Mommy loved being there with you. It wasn't scary, it was our home. It was were we got to be together. That NICU, in bed 2, that's where you lived my sweet boy. You lived. That's where I said hello to you the day you were born and that's where I said goodbye to you 12 days later. I just wish that NICU could have saved you little mister. That you left there to come home to us instead of home to Heaven. Missing you always my love. I love you with all my heart! xoxox

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Cooper Michael

Today is a very special little boy's first birthday. Cooper Michael celebrates his first birthday in Heaven.

I first read Cooper's story about 2 1/2 weeks after Marcellus died. It was a time I was scouring the internet for any and every loss story out there. I was trying to not feel so alone. I didn't want this to happen to anyone else, but at the same time I had to know I wasn't the only one. I found my way to Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope. From there you can use a drop down menu to search by category. There's a category for NEC. The first story I saw when I clicked on that was written by Kendra, Cooper's Momma. I read it and wow, so many similarities.

I immediately had to email Kendra. I didn't remember what I wrote (I don't remember a lot from that time), but I just went back in my email and read that first message I sent her. It was on 11/27/11, Cooper had been gone one day shy of 3 months, Marcellus should have been turning 1 month old the next day and had been gone for almost 3 weeks.

I just wrote his story. To a complete stranger I started at the beginning and wrote Marcellus's entire story. I didn't know if she'd read it, I didn't know what she'd think. I knew she lost her sweet boy too and that NEC was the reason. That was enough for me to open my soul and pour out my heart. I shared everything about Marcellus with Kendra that day. Not something that could be done with any stranger.

Through our emailing back and forth we learned more and more similarities about our boys. They were both breech. They were both doing great before they got sick, Cooper was supposed to go home soon and Marcellus was supposed to move out of the most intensive room. They read Cooper "Guess How Much I Love You" too. Kendra and I were both so dedicated to getting our boys breastmilk and they were both only on breastmilk. Babies that only get breastmilk have a lower chance of getting NEC. And just the way she talked about Cooper, his personality, made me think of characteristics in my Marcellus.

Kendra and I quickly became close friends and I just know Marcellus and Cooper are Heavenly BFFs.

I just can't get over that today is his first birthday. Cooper would be one! I remember when I first emailed Kendra and thought, "3 months...she's already done this for 3 months. How can it even be possible to live that long without your baby?" And so now, Kendra being one of the first loss moms I really connected with, I'm finding it hard for me that it is Cooper's first birthday. I can't imagine how it must be for her. But I won't have to imagine for long. In just over 3 months I'll be doing the same thing when it is Marcellus's birthday.

So today I celebrate the short life of Cooper Michael and the impact he has left on this world. I may have never met him, but I love and miss him all the same.

I wish you were here Cooper, I wish your momma and I didn't have this reason to know each other. You are loved and missed by so many. Happy first birthday!

Marcellus Bear with the cupcakes we  got to celebrate Cooper's birthday.
Marcellus, I know you and Cooper and all the other babies in Heaven are celebrating Coop's birthday today. Make sure to give him a great big birthday hug from everyone that misses him on earth, especially his mommy and daddy. I'm sure he probably already knows, but make sure to tell Cooper what amazing parents he has. I'm thankful that the two of you brought Cooper's momma and I together. I love and miss you lots my sweet boy! xoxox

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Today I am angry

Today I am angry that Marcellus is gone. I want him here more than anything and the fact that he's not just makes me so so angry sometimes.

I am angry that I'm super busy and don't have the time I want to cry for my boy, to curse at the world and get it out.

I am angry that Marcellus's heavenly BFF's first birthday is tomorrow and neither of them are here.

I am angry that fall is approaching, the season in which my boy lived and died.

I am angry that Halloween stuff is out already. Halloween, the only holiday Marcellus was alive for. The one his birthday is so close to. The reason he got to have a pumpkin hat in the NICU, because he was born before Halloween.

I am angry that we more than likely won't be able to go to MN for Marcellus's first birthday. We won't even get to be at his spot.

Who am I angry at? At myself, for not being able to keep him from being born early. At the doctors and nurses for not being able to save him (although I do know they did everything they absolutely could). At Marcellus for leaving us. At God, still very angry at God some days. At anybody who doesn't mention him or acknowledge his life. At the world, just angry at the world. Angry that this is the hand I've been dealt. Angry that I must live the rest of my life without my first born son here.

Marcellus, I know being angry is not a good quality, but today I can't help it. I just want you here and I'm so angry that you're not! I'm sorry I get angry at you sometimes baby. I know you wanted to stay with us. I saw you fight and try your best to stay. I just don't know why you had to leave. I love you my sweet boy. I love you so much. That's why it's so hard to be without you. Oh I am really missing you today squirmy wormy! xoxox

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Dear 9th,

You suck and I hate you. You mark the day that my son died. Whenever you come around I am more acutely aware of how long he's been gone...9 months today. 9 months without my sweet boy to love on and hold and kiss. Today I struggled to get out of bed to face you. And now that I am up I need to treat you like any other day and be productive. How do I continue to do this 9th after 9th? And now there are only two more of you, until that 9th rolls around. So with that, I wish you would go away. But in my heart I know even if I could skip over you each month, it wouldn't change anything. He'd still be gone.

Marcellus, the anniversary date of your death is often very hard for Mommy. I miss you baby boy and this date marks when you left this earth. Loving you right up to the moon and back my little squirmy wormy! xoxox

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Last night was a tough night. Almost out of nowhere too. I mean I spent yesterday morning writing an encouraging article to the newly bereaved. An article that is hopeful. And yes, I can be hopeful these days. But that doesn't take away the hurt in my heart.

And last night the weight of that hurt and missing my sweet boy came crashing down out of nowhere. It took me over as I ached and longed and cried for my baby boy. We were all cuddling in bed, Mike, the dog, and I and I just couldn't help but think about how we should have our 9 month old cuddling with us too. I could just picture Marcellus there with us and what it would be like. He'd probably be his squirmy wormy little self and wiggle around between us.

And then the tears. The only words that would come, "I miss him" and "It hurts."

Grief is like that. Even 9 months later. Things can shift in a moment and I still never quite know when that's going to be. It might not be as often as before, but it still happens. And it still hurts just as bad as it did in the beginning. I still miss him just as much, sometimes I think even more. I love love love him more than I can tell you, more than I can tell him and to not be able to love on him hurts my mother heart so much.

And now today I am having what I call a grief hangover. I am so tired and worn out. I don't know what to do with myself for the day. At least it's a Sunday.

Marcellus, Mommy still hurts for you so bad. I would give anything to get a chance to cuddle with you in bed with Daddy as a family. We never got to all cuddle together. I long for that so much. I miss you my squirmy wormy. Missing you every single day and sending lots of love and cuddles up to Heaven! xoxox

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Surviving River and contributing

Surviving River is a new pregnancy, infant, and child loss support site started by a lovely reader of mine in honor of here sweet baby girl, River. The site not only contains articles, but forums and groups for parents (and aunts/uncles, brothers/sisters) surviving the loss of a child to join. There's list of resources and a place for quotes. Surviving River has a facebook page and twitter. While River's mommy, Erin, is in Canada (and some content may be specifically geared for Canadian families) the site is for anybody worldwide that is surviving pregnancy, infant or child loss.

Today is the official launch day! See the new button I added over the right? So if you are looking for more online support while surviving the loss of your sweet baby, head on over to Surviving River and create an account. There's already a good number of articles up and some forum topics and groups set up.

And one of those articles is written by me! Erin emailed me to say she's been reading my blog and asked if I would like to contribute to Surviving River. My first thought was "Me?! Contribute? Write something for other parents going through loss?" She was mainly looking for an article of encouragement/support for those in the early stages of loss. That really made me think, "What do I have to say that could be of any benefit? I am still very much grieving my son and struggling with him not being here. How do I encourage someone else?"

But I started thinking....9 months. Last Saturday Marcellus turned 9 months old and this upcoming Thursday will mark 9 months since his death. While 9 months isn't that long (although at times it has felt like eternity), I have survived 9 months. In those early moments I didn't even think I would make it 9 minutes, 9 hours, 9 days, 9 weeks, let alone 9 months. But here I am. Almost 9 months without my son and somehow I am still living, I am surviving. So I wrote a letter to the newly bereaved. That letter isn't just for those in the very early stages. I have to admit that I need to listen to what I wrote as well. I need a reminder of how far I've come and what I thought was impossible.

You can read my article here. I just set up my account today, so right now I'm labeled as "contributor." I hope to make writing for Surviving River somewhat of a regular occurrence, and will always link here when I am writing over there.

I feel very honored to have been asked to contribute. That someone thinks I have something of value to share with other loss parents. That my words may encourage and support those going through the darkest moments of their lives.

It was also more difficult than I thought to get started. When I write here, I write more on impulse. I pour my heart out and send it off into cyberspace. I have no one in mind other than Marcellus and I just write. It was different to sit down and write about a specific topic with a specific audience in mind. Here I don't worry too much about how well the post is written or if people are going to like it. But that specific audience, parents going through the loss of their child, is very very important to me. I didn't want to let them down. To put out an article that wouldn't be helpful. That they would think "why did I even read that?" I guess part of my feelings there are a bit of a confidence issue thing. I'm just worried what I write isn't "good enough."

So, if you do take the time to read my article, can you let me know what you think?

Marcellus, Momma is helping out another mommy by writing for a new website. I hope I did a good job and made you proud. I know you and River have met and are probably even playing together. She must be so proud of her momma getting all this started! Whenever I do write for Surviving River, can you help me find the right words? The words to say that will be the most beneficial to other mommies and daddies missing their sweet babies. I miss you my love. I miss you so very much! I miss and love you more than my words can ever express. xoxox