Saturday, September 2, 2017

The time between

The other day was my birthday. On Aug 31 I turned 32. It was a fun happy day celebrating with people I love. We had family time during the day and I spent that evening with some wonderful friends.

But after my birthday every year the dread starts to creep in. It's like the corner is turned on the countdown to Marcellus's birthday. After all, it is the next birthday to be celebrated in our family.

Less than two months and he would be 6. Less than two months until one of the happiest and scariest days of my life when I gave birth to my first preemie at 28 weeks 5 days. Less than two months until I first heard the words "It's a boy!" Less than two months until I witnessed the transformation in my husband as he became a father. Less than two months to prepare myself for the emotional whirlwind that is remembering my first born son on his birthday and then grieving his death 12 days later.

The temps have cooled a bit. Fall is peaking from around the corner. And it's becoming his time of year. The pumpkins will come out, the mums, the leaves will change, the State Fair, Halloween approaching. Everything that makes me think of him. Even the pumpkin spice lattes. I was pretty strict about no caffeine when pregnant with Marcellus, but one day did splurge on a regular pumpkin spice latte. It kept me up that night.

And I'll try to relish in my favorite season of the year. But my heart will ache with the anticipation of his birthday approaching. A birthday to celebrate. To celebrate that day six years ago and that little 3lb 2oz boy we met and instantly knew we'd give the world to. And we tried, we tried to give him the world. But it wasn't enough to keep him alive. Our love was not enough. Our pleading our desperation was not enough. So in less than two months we will celebrate the little boy that should be turning 6, but is not here.

Dear Marcellus, your birthday is approaching quickly. I'm not sure what we'll do this year, but know we will keep our regular traditions. We will have carrot cake for you. We will pick out a toy and donate it to Toys for Tots. We will share your story, talk about your birth. We will let people know it's hard. It's really hard to have your birthday come every year without you. Another year that separates the time since I have held you. But through it all we will most importantly share our love for you. Share what you have given us and what you have taught us. We will show the world that your life matters. It sucks, baby boy, it sucks so damn much not to have you here. Not to know what cake you would really want for your birthday. What you'd be into and I'd be scrambling to buy at the last minute because I always do things at the last minute. Would you want a big party or something small? We'll never know. Love you my squirmy wormy. I love you with all my heart and miss you with every ounce of my being! xoxox.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The fantasy of what should be

"Let's pretend Marcellus is alive."
As these words came out of my 4 year old's mouth the other night I felt my heart sink and the tears well up. Ethan, Marcellus's little brother, had taken Marcellus's picture off the nightstand and brought it out into the living room. There it sat throughout the evening without mention until after dinner when he wanted to play pretend.

And he did. For probably close to an hour he pretended to play with Marcellus. And it was heartbreaking, it was beautiful, it was heartbreakingly beautiful. I didn't know what to do. I sat in this place between being frozen and wanting to ask Ethan a million questions about what he was imagining Marcellus like.

First there was some song singing. Ethan said Marcellus just sat off to the side. At one point when Ethan was standing and singing/dancing I asked where Marcellus was he said, "Right here. Sitting down next to me."

"Come on Marcellus. Come with me. Come over to Mom with me. Mom, I'm bringing Marcellus to you. He's going to give you a hug." Tears. Trying to hold back the tears, but I failed. How could I have managed to not let a few sneak out? I mean, really. I couldn't believe what Ethan was saying. How I was trying to will myself to see what Ethan could imagine. To see Marcellus coming toward me with outstretched arms ready for a momma hug. And I tried to savor it. To feel a hug from my first born son. To be in the moment with Ethan as he pretended.

After that the play moved into the bedroom. They were jumping on the bed. Weston was playing on the bed too. How rambunctious would it have been to actually have had 3 children jumping on that bed? That's when I started trying to ask Ethan more about Marcellus. I asked him how big he was, "The same size as me." I asked him what his hair was like, "The same color has mine, but it's short. He used to have long hair, but he cut it." So I sat there and listened to Ethan laugh. To hear him repetitively call out to Marcellus. Then Ethan says, "Mom! Marcellus is sitting on your lap." Oh oh oh, I sat and closed my eyes. I imagined a long legged five year old with short hair on my lap, nestling in to me. Maybe a bit overwhelmed by the energy and intensity of his little brother. Because I do believe my Marcellus would be my quieter, more introverted child.

After Ethan was done jumping on the bed he said Marcellus was tired. So he pretended Marcellus went to bed and we had to be a little quiet the rest of the evening. He would shush me and said, "Be quiet. Marcellus is sleeping." When it was time for Ethan to go to bed he announced, "I'm done pretending now." And that was that. He hasn't pretended to play with Marcellus since.

That same evening Ethan had a bath while he was pretending Marcellus was asleep. He called to me and said, "Mom, look! I made a picture of Marcellus."
Ethan's picture of Marcellus.
My heart is so full and so broken all at the same time. So full with the love Marcellus's little brother has for him. A little brother that only knows his big brother through pictures and stories and the love his daddy and I have for him. So broken by the reality that pretend play is the closest these brothers will ever be to playing. Broken that I can't freely imagine Marcellus as his little brother can. Broken because it was only a fantasy of what should be.

Marcellus, your little brother loves you so much. He must have been feeling that love the other night to get out your picture, pretend that you were alive, and make a picture of you. I've really always thought the two of you would be a bit opposite in your personalities. Just from knowing what you were like when born and in the NICU. But I bet you would have loved each other something fierce. In fact, I think you both do love each other something fierce. Brothers, a bond that even death cannot break. I hope Ethan always speaks of you so freely, imagines you so freely. I hope one day Weston is the same. I love you all so very much! xoxox.

Ethan's March for Babies page  -- visit Ethan's March for Babies page to help him show his brotherly love for Marcellus.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The days that take your breath away

Today was one of them. One of those days that just took my breath away. Where the weight of this grief knocked me over. Where the tears came and I couldn't stop them. They came and they came and they came. The ache in my chest was pounding. As if my hurt was trying to escape my heart. And it hurt. It hurt so bad.

As I sat there at the kitchen table unable to catch my breath from crying I thought to myself "How does it still hurt this bad?!? How are there days where it still hurts just as bad as it did 5 years ago?" But then I also thought to myself how it will always hurt this bad. There will always be days that take my breath away. There will always be days of uncontrollable tears. Because my son is not here. Because my son died.

This is grief. This is my grief. It will be my grief for the rest of my life. Because I will love him and miss him and ache for him for the rest of my life.

Five years and four months later I may go longer in between these days, I may recover quicker from these days, but it can still hurt just as bad. It can still hurt so damn much.

So today grief knocked me down. It took my breath away. But now I get back up and continue on just like I always do. Now I incorporate my grief back to the daily management of it...until the next day that comes around and takes my breath away.

Dear Marcellus, wow today was hard. One of the hardest I've had in quite awhile. I just needed to cry for you baby boy. To let that hurt out. To express how much my heart aches for you. It hurts so bad to not have you here. It hurts so damn bad. It can hurt just as bad as it did in those early days. Those foggy, intensely grief filled early days. But baby, I was able to get back up and proceed with daily living. To find joy. To snuggle your brothers and tell them how much I love and am lucky to have each and every one of you. That each of you are a special part of our family. Ethan and I talked about how it's okay to cry because we miss you. I think he's starting to have a harder time understanding why and how you died. He said you were born too early, but that so was he and he didn't die. How he has gotten sick and is still alive. How do I explain it to him? Trying to fully figure that one out as he understand more, but yet not enough. I love you my squirmy wormy. I love you so very much. xoxox.

It's March for Babies season. If you'd like to donate please visit my Marcellus's Marchers March for Babies team page here. March for Babies is the charity walk put on by the March of Dimes.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The guilt of grief

The guilt. So much guilt. So many different layers of guilt. The biggest is the guilt that I couldn't save him. That I couldn't do enough. That my body failed him by not being able to carry him to term. That I should have known I was in labor sooner so they could have stalled it. That I should have known right away that he was getting sick, that something was wrong, very wrong. Oh and the guilt of all the things I should have done in those last moments with him. We should have gotten professional pictures in the NICU, we shouldn't have had him buried so far away in MN, we should have stayed with him longer, we should have bathed him, we should have had more people see him before the funeral, had them hold him, we should have..., we should have..., we should have...

The guilt of grief evolves. It starts to include the guilt of feeling joy. Feeling guilty for finding happiness without your child on this earth. Especially when that first smile comes across your face or that first laugh emerges from your mouth. The first time you wake up without feeling like the world is coming to an then feel the weight of guilt.

Each of those types of guilt could have their own blog posts, multiple blog posts. And they probably do at some point or another on this blog. But I came to write about the current guilt I am feeling. The guilt that comes with my everyday grief.

I let some dates slide by without as much thought or effort behind them this year. And the guilt is tearing me up. I've been meaning to write this blog post about the guilt for a couple of weeks now. And the guilt of putting it off is there.

January 13th was the 2nd anniversary of the day I miscarried Lark. It went by like any other day. It wasn't until January 15th that I realized I missed it. I didn't post about it. I didn't write about it. I didn't change my Facebook profile picture to a lark. I did nothing. It went by and I didn't think about her (sidenote: decided to refer to Lark as "her" ever since a close friend told me she felt like Lark was a girl. I don't get feelings on the sex of my own babies, but I trust the instincts of my friends.)

Why did it dawn on me on January 15th....well, because that's the anniversary of Marcellus's due date. He was due January 15th, 2012. It's also the birthday and anniversary of the death of my friends' twin boys. So on the 15th the grief was there and it dawned on me I missed Lark's anniversary. Cue incredible amounts of grief. How did I forget about this baby of mine?!??! Even if I only knew of her in my womb for a couple of short weeks. She was still a very much loved and longed for baby. And I forgot about her. Pile on the guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt.

Oh and I mentioned that the 15th was the anniversary of Marcellus's due date, right? Yeah, so I didn't write or post about that either. I don't know why. I just didn't. But hey, let's add some guilt about that.

And then a big dosage of guilt over the fact that I am not doing enough for Marcellus. I should be involved in the various organizations more. I should be better about getting our March for Babies team set up and starting fundraising. I should do more intensive fundraising for our team than I have in the recent years. I should go to my infant loss support group more. I should volunteer, I should speak, I should write about him more, I should..., I should..., I should...

So at this stage of my grief I guess I'm feeling more guilt than anything. 

Dear Marcellus, I want to do more. I want to be better as your mommy. Being your mom is such a crucial part of who I am and I haven't been honoring it or you lately. Or at least I feel like I haven't been. The guilt tells me that. The guilt tells me I've failed you and Lark. I've let things go by without even a mention of either of you. I want to do more, but it is a constant battle to find balance. To balance parenting you...well, your memory, your legacy...and parenting your living brothers. To balance the grief of losing you and Lark to the joy of having your brothers. And when I feel like I'm not succeeding at that I feel guilty. Because mom guilt is something that is even more intense with the death of a child. Because as your mom I should have been able to protect you. I'm so sorry I couldn't. I'm so sorry my sweet boy. So sorry. I love and miss you so much! Even when I'm quiet. xoxox.