Taylor

Is there a timeline to grief?  A certain number of days, weeks, months, or years that is an acceptable amount of time to grieve a loss?  Is there a set amount of time that society feels is an appropriate amount of time to mourn someone before it becomes uncomfortable for them to have to witness?

My maternal grandpa passed away in July of 1999 and I still cry about it.  I will walk past someone wearing the cologne he wore and it brings tears to my eyes because in that moment, for just a second, I think he’s there….except he’s not, and I obviously know that, but just for that second…..Or I tell my son, who’s middle name is in honor of my Grandpa, stories about the kind of man he was.  How he bought the first camcorder that was probably ever made and the size of briefcase to record everything his grandchildren ever did because he was so proud of us. How he lovingly called me Chatty Cathy, something that clearly has not changed. How he would walk in the door after a day at work and as he’s taking off his hat, he makes his way to my Gram and says Hi, Madre and gives her a kiss, before doing anything else.  How we would snuggle on the couch watching Matlock or Wheel of Fortune.  Or how he loved to listen to me sing since that was a talent we shared.  He is a man I looked up to and loved and there will not be a day that I won’t miss him or wish he had been around to meet my husband and my son.  But my faith makes me believe that my other children are with him and he will tell them his own stories about me until the day I am with them all again.

After our second loss, my husband and I had a long talk about giving the babies we lost names.  A lot of my friends had encouraged us to do it right after our first loss but for some reason, I just wasn’t ready then.  However after our second loss, it seemed silly to refer to them as Baby J #2 and Baby J #3.  So we went through a list of gender neutral names and Kyle picked the two he liked best.  Baby J #2 is Taylor and Baby J #3 is Morgan.  It was such a freeing feeling to be able to call them by a name and I regret not doing it right away.

Today is two years since Taylor went to heaven and my grief, although different, is not any less.  Two years ago, I cried everyday and wondered what I did to make that happen.  Why my body was not the safe haven it should be for my baby.  What could I have done to prevent it from happening.  And I am left to wonder what Taylor would have been like.  I have memories of my Grandpa that make me smile and I know exactly the kind of person he was, but with Taylor, I have nothing more than a name to hold on too.  So instead when I’m around other children that are the same age Taylor would be I wonder if they would have been friends or if Taylor would have had any of the same mannerisms or personality traits.  I wonder if Taylor was really a girl like my gut thought.  I wonder how Taylor and P would get along and how different it would be for him to not be the only living child.

Grief is not something that fits in a box…it comes in all shapes and sizes and there is no right or wrong way to handle it.  There is no expiration date on moving on or getting over it.  Whether it is 2 years or 20, I will never stop missing someone I love that is gone.

So Happy 2 year Angelversery sweet Taylor.  I will never stop loving you or missing you.

 

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The storm

This summer my husband lost the two grandparents he had left within 3 days of each other.  It was a sad and beautiful story all at the same time because although we were all sad to lose them, how can you not see the beauty in two people that had a love that was so great they simply could not be on this Earth without the other?  The day of their funeral, my Grandma fell and broke her hip, the same injury Kyle’s Grandparents suffered, and for the next two months she was between the hospital and a rehab facility.  I loved my Grandma but I was never particularly close to her, a product of having divorced parents and not seeing that side of my family often.  It is something my brothers and I discuss, usually after a wedding or a funeral, the two events we see all or most of them.  And it’s sad because we always enjoy being around them so much and regret all the missed time getting to know each other and form better relationships.  I had taken my son to visit my Grandma a couple times but life and distance made it not often enough and when she fell I realized how much I regretted not spending more time with her.  So while she was in the hospital, we went to visit her more and I got to hear stories I had never heard before and get to know her in a completely different way.  Those visits are the ones that I will remember forever and even though there is still regret that I didn’t spend more time with her, I am grateful to have those memories.

My Grandma was a feisty lady and she was never one to hold back what she was thinking about anything.  So on one of those visits when she started the “more babies” talk, I wasn’t surprised by anything she said.  She told me in her very matter of fact way, that the worst thing I could do was make my son an only child…..I smiled and told her we were working on it.  Then she said, “as soon as I go, you’ll find out you’re having another one”  and I smiled again and said, I hope it’s long before then Grandma.  That was the last conversation we ever had.

On August 14 my husband left for a 4 day business trip and I woke up and took a pregnancy test.  After almost a year of trying and being constantly disappointed, I wasn’t expecting much but the test came back positive.  I sat there shocked, almost unable to process that it was actually positive.  Then I broke down, full of so many different emotions…..pure joy…..excitement…..disbelief…..and of course, more than a little fear.  I couldn’t wait to tell Kyle…..except he had just left and there’s no way I was telling him this news over the phone.  People were surprised when I was pregnant the first time and I waited till the end of the day to give Kyle the news (doesn’t say much for what people perceive my secret keeping abilities to be) so imagine what it was like to wait 4 days to tell him this news.  After waiting a year to be able to even give him this news…not easy.  But I held out and he came home to a giant banner announcing the impending arrival of our rainbow baby…..April 23, 2018.  We immediately made plans to drive to Madison that weekend and give my Grandma the news, that evening I got the call that she passed away.

For those of you that have never heard the term, “rainbow baby” it is any baby born after loss and is described as,

It is understood that the beauty of a rainbow

does not negate the ravages of any storm

When a rainbow appears,

it does not mean that the storm never happened

or that we are not still dealing with its aftermath

It means that something beautiful and full of light

has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds.

Storm clouds may still hover, but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of

color, energy and hope.

On November 21, 2015, I woke up in a surgical recovery room with a nurse asking me how I was feeling.  My response, empty.  For anyone that has ever carried a child, I’m sure you understand exactly what I meant by that.  Sure, I was way to early to feel movement or kicking, but I felt different.  I felt like my body was no longer my own.  I felt the connection we already had.  So when I woke up and all of that had been ripped away from me, the only way to describe the feeling is empty.  For the days, weeks, months following that day, I turned into a version of myself I didn’t recognize, a version of myself that made me not a great wife or mom, not a good friend, sister, daughter, etc.  I didn’t want to be around people, and I doubt many of them wanted to be around me either.  I hated seeing people and getting the looks of pity or having to listen to them say all the wrong things.  And that’s not anyone’s fault, there’s no perfect thing to say to someone that has experienced any kind of loss.  But having to hear things like, at least you have one.  Yes, and I thank God for him everyday but no child can take the place of another and nor should that pressure be put on any child.  Or the, you can always try again.  Yes, we can but again, one child does not replace another and there’s never a guarantee we can get pregnant again.  Little did I know then of the fertility struggles we would end up having.  Some people said to me (shocking but true) you were only 10 weeks, think of the people that lose their babies almost to term or give birth to a baby that is stillborn.  I cannot imagine either of those things because yes, that pain would be unbearable but the thing we all have in common in any loss situation is a lifetime of birthdays we will never be able to celebrate.  A wedding we will never see happen.  Grandchildren that will never be born.  A lifetime of moments we never get to celebrate because instead of living on this Earth, our babies live in our hearts and in heaven.

This storm is called that for a reason, it takes you to a dark place and makes it so hard to ever see the light.  A rainbow does not clear the storm but it offers a peak of light through the darkness.  A promise that even the darkest of days will eventually start to clear.  The path of the storm has left behind damage that can never fully go back to what it was before but pieces can start to be placed back together in a new version of normal.  I was so excited that my storm clouds were starting to ease up and our rainbow was growing.  We told our families immediately for a few reasons, first, after so long and so many people praying for us, we could not wait to have them share in our excitement and also because we needed all of them praying that this baby would be born healthy.

On September 22, 2017 our glimpse of a rainbow turned into another storm.  I woke up in another post-op room with a nurse asking me how I was feeling and the pain and emptiness consumed me all over again.  Now my promise of a rainbow had joined our other child in heaven and we’re here, trying to ride out the storm.

Hello again

I’m calling this post ‘Hello again’ because it has been so long since I’ve posted anything.  I could list out all the excuses as to why that is but they would be just that, excuses, and the real reason is I don’t like talking about what’s going on in my life right now.  I have multiple posts that I have written and not published yet because they are about superficial things and I don’t feel like it’s fair to only share the superficial aspects of my life without sharing the tough things too.  I thought when I posted the side by side pictures of my weight loss journey, that would be the hardest thing to put out into the cyber universe, but it turns out I was wrong.  I could just talk about the superficial things and keep the deeper parts of my journey to myself but that’s not being true to the people reading this and it’s not being true to myself.  Because really, as much as I hope that someone one day will read a post I write and find comfort in knowing they aren’t alone in an experience or feelings, I also write to get my emotions out and find a way to process them.

So here is my past year in a nutshell…..we have been trying to conceive.  It seems like such an insignificant sentence for something that has literally taken over my life, so let me expand further on that.  For those of you that have not read my previous posts, in November of 2015, I had a miscarriage.  It was and still is, something that is very difficult to think about.  Even a year and a half later, it brings tears to my eyes and a heaviness to my heart, something I think no matter how much time passes, will always happen.  After a few months of letting my body recover, we were ready to start trying again and my doctor found a tumor on my thyroid.  Trying to conceive plans were put on hold.  Fall comes and my doctors are on board with us starting to try again, only to have some female issues start and once again our plans are put on hold.  And at this point, I feel like we have had so many problems, I might never be cleared to start trying again.

Those thoughts started to consume me.  The chaos swarming around in my head would drive the sanest person, crazy and it only got worse when they finally did clear me to start trying again.  Because I was going to be turning 36 soon and felt like my window was rapidly closing, yes I know women can have children much later than that but a woman trying to conceive is anything but rational.  I started reading everything I could about the subject, using multiple apps to track everything I could, and treating it like it was my job….doesn’t that sound like optimal conditions for making a baby?!

A few more months go by and when we still are not pregnant, my husband and I are sent for fertility testing.  I went into this specialist thinking there was nothing wrong.  I honestly thought she was going to tell me that because I was a little older now, it was just taking a little longer but everything was great and we would have no problems….that is in fact, not at all what she said.  I was completely blindsided when I got my results and when my husband called to tell me his, I had to have him repeat at least 5 times because my brain could not process what he was saying.  Once again, the naïve bubble I lived in had been popped and real life was poking it’s ugly head in.

I have done 3 rounds of fertility medication now and let me tell you, it is no joke.  My emotions spiral out of control at an even more rapid pace now (sorry babe) and the weird aches and pains that you want to believe are pregnancy symptoms, but are, of course, not.  I am going to an acupuncturist for fertility treatments and also anxiety treatments, which is definitely a whole new experience for me but one that I am really enjoying….and will like even more if it works!  I’m only using one app now and try not to look at it a thousand times a day.  And most importantly, I’m trying to remember that my journey is in the hands of God and if it is meant to be, it will be.

Trying to conceive is hard….trying to conceive after a loss is even harder.  I wish that it wasn’t, I wish that everyone that wanted a baby could have one and never have to live with an underlying sense of fear.  I wish that nothing bad ever happened to our children.  But that’s not life, and instead of wishing, I pray, and that gives me comfort.

I do hope that after reading this, you think twice before asking someone why they don’t have any children or when they’re going to have another because you never know someone else’s struggle.

Living with the guilt

I told my husband I was pregnant on October 14, 2015.  I remember it very clearly, not only because of how happy I was that we were going to have another baby but also because it was his birthday.  I had taken the first pregnancy test exactly a week before and it was negative but after waiting a week and still not starting my cycle, I decided to take another one and it was positive.  I was elated!  I thought it could not have been more perfect!  To be able to tell my husband on his birthday that we were being blessed with another baby…you could not get more perfect!  And I already knew exactly how I was going to tell him, I had bought Dada by Jimmy Fallon (FYI, I LOVE Jimmy Fallon) and I wrote on the inside cover,

Since Preston’s first word wasn’t Dada

Maybe you’ll have better luck with the next one.

Baby Jacobs #2 is on the way!

Due June 2016

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The best part was, since it was his birthday, he didn’t think it was odd that I was taking pictures and captured his reaction the moment he found out about the baby.  Now, instead of the picture filling me with joy, I am haunted and full of regret. Did I ruin his birthday for the rest of his life?  Every year will he remember this particular birthday and the gift he got that was then just ripped away from us?  What if I had waited, even just one more day to take the test?  Then we would not associate this pain with a day that should be all about him. And then that is when all the other, what if’s start.

It’s very easy to look back at every decision I made and question if I could have changed the outcome.  Or what if I had gone to a doctor earlier and they found the tumor on my thyroid before it got so big, I could be in the final weeks of a healthy pregnancy instead of having to wait 6 months before we can even think about starting to try again.  It is very easy to think about everything I would have done differently now that I see what came of those decisions and to live in the could’ve, should’ve, and would’ve.

I talk to my son all the time about making the good choice (something I totally stole from my sister-in-law who is an awesome Mom).  When he is about to do something we both know is wrong, I will ask him, “What is the good choice?” And every time, he knows what the good choice is, he just doesn’t always make it.  Well, if I expect him to make the good choice, I think I should be making the good choice too.  I need to realize that no matter what I did, I could not have changed what happened and as much as that hurts, it’s ok.  The good choice is, to focus on our future and not live buried under heaps of regret.

Social media, also known as virtual cutting

It seems like whenever I am going through something, the opposite is going on in everyone else’s life.  For example, when I had the miscarriage, it seemed like all of the sudden everyone else I knew was pregnant. So what I should have done was deactivate all social media I have so I wasn’t torturing myself with the millions of posts and pictures with their baby bumps or newborns, but is that what I did? Of course not!  Since I wasn’t doing that, I should have ‘unfollowed’ friends that were either pregnant or had just had a baby. But again, is that what I did? No again.  Instead, I ‘like’ the pictures because what if I don’t and the person notices that I am the only person not liking any of their pictures?!  I can’t have that!  In reality, does anyone actually care whether I like their pictures…probably not.

I was due June 16, I have a cousin that is due June 20….every time she posts her pregnancy tracker it is like a dagger to my heart.  I should be posting my own pregnancy tracker and instead I’m filled with worry and anxiety over my upcoming surgery and whether or not I will ever be able to have another child. Let me be clear, I am not angry she is pregnant and I am not, I do not see her posts and get upset because she is having what seems like a normal pregnancy.  It just brings up all the raw emotion I had right after the loss.  And it brings back the feelings of guilt, that my body could not provide a safe place for my baby. So I continue to ‘like’ the posts and ‘like’ the pictures and torture myself.  Like I said….virtual cutting.

I wish I could put out a public service announcement to everyone I know or will meet in the future that had a baby in the year 2016.  A warning of sorts, so they know I have to keep my distance from their children.  Something like:

To whom it may concern,

While I can be happy for you and your growing family, please for the sake of my mental well-being, understand I will not be able to interact/hold/play with your child.  This does not mean I am not happy for you, it does not mean I am angry with you, it simply means I don’t want to have a complete breakdown in front of you or your child.  Thank you for your understanding.

Unfortunately, life is not like that and instead I will end up making people angry because they think I hate them or their child, or I will lose friends that don’t understand why it’s ok for me to be around other children but not ones born the same year as my child was supposed to be born.  People are not going to understand that every milestone their child makes, I will be thinking of mine that should have been hitting those same milestones.  Or thinking of how maybe our children would have been best friends but we will never know now because my child is in heaven.  And well, all of those thoughts make me want to cry, so instead I will just keep my distance and hope people get that I am happy for them…just from a distance.


The start of my story

I am someone who believes everything happens for a reason.  I believe there is a plan for me, one that I might not always be able to see, but a plan nonetheless.  On November 20, 2015 I temporarily stopped believing in that plan.  I was 10 weeks pregnant and had just been told my baby did not have a heartbeat and there was nothing that could be done.  Thanksgiving was 6 days away and it was when we planned on telling our families about the baby, now we were calling family members and telling them in the same conversation that we were pregnant but the baby didn’t make it.  We had to tell our 2 1/2 year old that the baby was no longer in Mommy’s tummy but in heaven.  Some people may question why we told him, but with him kissing my belly everyday and talking about his little brother/sister, we didn’t see another option.

The days and weeks after our loss were filled with a lot of tears and even more questions.  Why did this happen?  How could my body fail my child?  Why would this be a part of my plan?  And then a couple really great things happened.  First, my husband and I started attending a support group for people that have gone through similar situations.  It is not an exaggeration when I say, the first time I felt like I could breathe again after our loss, was when I walked out of that first meeting.  It is a club no one wants to be a part of but once you are, it becomes like your second family.

Second, I rediscovered Mama Laughlin.  She is someone I follow on Facebook who has a blog about her weight loss journey.  Right after the holidays I saw a post she had on a dietbet she was hosting with a link to her AdvoCare site.  I had participated in one of her dietbets before, and had won, and who wouldn’t want to get paid for losing weight?!  So I talked to my husband and told him not only did I want to do the dietbet again but what if I got into AdvoCare too?  Because this is what I realized, there was a plan for me and since I wasn’t privy to what that plan was, I needed (for my own sanity) to come up with my own plan.  And that started with me getting healthy.  I wanted to be healthy for my son, my husband, any future children we may be blessed with but mostly for me.  So I signed up to do the AdvoCare 24 day challenge and guess what, I lost 15lbs and 11inches….in 24 days!!!  Am I saying it is a miracle pill that you take and weight will just fall off, no of course not or everyone would be doing it.  But I was determined to be successful, so I followed their food guidelines and I started jogging again, something I had not done since before the miscarriage.  In a later post, I will go more into my journey with AdvoCare but my purpose for this post is to explain why I started this blog in the first place.

So even though I was on this journey to becoming healthier, I still needed more.  I needed something else to come out of this tragedy and that’s when Mama Laughlin inspired me again.  Her blog helped me kick start my weight loss journey, what if I started a blog to help someone else in their journey?  One thing that helped when I went to my first meeting with the support group was knowing I was not alone.  Obviously I knew other people had experienced the loss of a child but actually talking to someone that had been there and made it out the other side….not having to explain to people what you were feeling because they had felt the same things….venting about the things people would say that they thought helped but really just made it worse….priceless.

And that is what I hope this blog will be.  A way to share my experiences, my journey, and maybe help someone along the way….