Wednesday, May 7, 2014

1 week

A thank you note to my village.  I wrote this to them, but I want to put it here so I have it for me.  A record of this process.

Girls, this is me today.

I should be 23 weeks. But I'm not. I'm 1 week postpartum and it shouldn't be.

I remember how we all rallied around Debi when we lost Sydney. I say "we" because that's what it felt like. Like "we" lost a baby.

I remember thinking, "I can't imagine what that feels like.." And I honestly never thought I would. I didn't even know at that time if I'd be blessed with the opportunity to mother another child. And having never struggled with fertility as I know many others have..the thought of child loss seemed foreign.

But it not anymore. It's real and raw and sucks and makes me so fucking mad and sad and enraged.

But I have something other moms in my shoes don't often have. An amazing astounding virtual village.

And from the love the universe has provided me by way of all of you, by so many of you reaching out, texting, calling, messaging, sending me cards, gifts, reposting our story, reading the comments from your friends who've never even met me, I am being put back together somehow. Like Humpty Dumpty. All the kings horses and all the kings men couldn't help him, but my village both local and virtual can do it. I'll still have the cracks that will show, but I know I'll be whole again eventually.

So please consider this my "thank you note" to all of you. I'm sure Miss Manners would not approve, but...well frankly she can kiss my ass. There is no expression of gratitude large enough to explain how grateful I am for the love and support I've been shown.

Thank you so very much,

And to the "strangers" who read this, and commented, or messaged me, or shared their story, or commented on someone else's page or asked a mutual friend to reach out to me to pass along a message, or a all of those moms and dads who've been through something similar and felt stifled like they didn't have a voice, or couldn't have a voice, or shouldn't have a voice.  To all of them, to Kia who lost Kallie while I was pregnant with Reece, to Kim and Brett who twin angels were also lost too early, to all of them, to everyone close to me or far from me who's shared a personal story or reached out and said, "I know EXACTLY how you feel. I've been there," thank you.  I am not brave, I am not courageous, I just can't be quiet.  I can't be silenced, I don't do quiet very well.  I have to talk. I have to get it out.  Cry it out.  Scream it out.  If not, I'll never be myself again.  And if my talking helps you heal your heart just the tiniest shred, if our story helps a loved one "deal" with a grieving parent, if our heartache helps a NICU nurse or social worker have a sliver more empathy, then THAT validates Reece's existence.

Thank you
Thank you 
Thank you

Infinite thank yous.  

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Monday, May 5, 2014

yesterday i had a son

Deep breath.

I've been absent from my blog for quite some time, and a lot of life has happened in between.  In short, Sadira is now 6, I am now 32, and I have been dating my awesome guy, Christian, who Sadie affectionately calls "Chief."

We are moving into a new home that Christian designed.  We love it.

We have two dogs now, one of which is insane, and one who is the world's most perfect dog.  We forgive the crazy one, but love them both too.

We found out in December that our little family would be growing and we would be welcoming a new baby into the world in late August/early September.  We were ecstatic.

We found out about a month ago that we were having a baby boy.  We were ALL so thrilled, maybe Sadie the most, who apparently has been yearning specifically for a baby BROTHER for ages.  I was thrilled at having a son.  For Christian, who lost his oldest son three years ago, I was hoping that this was one step in helping to fill a tiny piece of his heart that has understandably been broken since his son passed three years ago.

That is where the happy news ends.

On Wednesday April 30th, 2014, at 7:30am, I gave birth to our absolutely beautiful and perfect son, Reece Christian, at 22 weeks and a few days gestation.  Sadira was just waking up in her bedroom, and Christian was out of town for work.  I had zero symptoms, and absolutely no inclination that anything was amiss that morning.  In fact, the symptoms that we had so carefully been monitoring, the symptoms which had scared me half to death and landed me in the hospital twice a month earlier, the symptoms that had confined me to "modified bedrest" for the previous two weeks had been greatly subsiding.  I thought we were doing so well.  I was feeling confident and healthy, and never thought for a single moment that that Wednesday morning would be any different from the Wednesday before.

In the moments that Reece was born it was just me and him, and for the 6 minutes he was alive and with us on this earth before departing for heaven the only thing he knew was my touch.  He grew within me for 5 months, and in the 6 minutes he was alive on the outside I was all he ever knew.  He lived in my body from the moment of conception, and he took his last independent breath while cradled in my hands.  Let that weigh on you for a moment.  It's heavy.  I have.  There was so much beauty and sacredness in those brief 6 minutes.  I watched his whole existence before my very eyes, before the sound of the paramedics running up my stairs broke me from my new birth haze.

I was pregnant with Reece during what was arguably one of the most brutal winters I've ever experienced in my 32 years.  The day he was born it was pouring.  So much so that there was flash flooding all up and down the eastern seaboard, and none worse than in Pensacola where his father was working for a few weeks.

If this were a work of fiction, we would call that ominous foreshadowing.  I wish this were fiction.  But it is not. 

I want to write Reece's birth story properly.  I want to give the details, and describe some of the unexplainable complications that I was experiencing during my pregnancy. I want to do this because I want my family and friends to be able to experience him from my perspective, the only person who ever knew him, and in hopes that my experience could help someone going through something similar.

But this is not the post where I will be doing that.

I can only describe his birth right now by saying that it was stunningly beautiful and profound for me.  So much so, that I don't want the negativeness of my grief right in this moment to ugly up the beauty of what we experienced.  I want his birth story to describe the wonderful moments I got to experience as his mother for 5 short months, and 6 shorter minutes.  I don't think I can do that properly right now.  I have too much sadness at this present moment.

I have thought so many things in the past six days.  I started writing this post on Thursday, the day after Reece's birth, and now it's the following Monday and I'm still writing.  There are so many feelings I've experienced, but I can narrow it down to three specific things surprisingly easily.


First the Sadness.

I am so sad.  So so profoundly sad.  Talk about the understatement of the year, right?  But I am.  It's an overwhelming sadness that comes in waves, sometimes paralyzing me from whatever I'm doing, and sometimes just causing me to space out for a second. 

In the hospital after Reece's birth a social worker came to talk to me.  She was talking and talking and it just kind of sounded like the adults in a Charlie Brown movie, "womp womp womp wompwompwomp..." I tried to listen, really I did, but I was just numb to everything she was saying. Until she said, "is there anything else you think you may need help with?" and I said, "yes.  I don't know how I'm going to explain this to my 6 year old daughter.  Can you please provide me with some guidance?" I think on that day, at that point, when my my own emotions for myself were just SHOT, the only things that could make me FEEL was thinking about Sadira and Christian, and how devastatingly awful this would be for them in two very different ways.  I dreaded that Christian was going down a familiar path, that I had failed at giving him the one thing he needed so badly, and I literally felt sick with worry at how I would tell Sadie that the brother she so desperately wanted had died.  How do you tell a 6 year old her baby brother is dead?  She WANTED HIM SO BADLY, AND SO DID WE, WHY DID THIS HAPPEN TO US?!!?!?!?

Just the night before, a mere 12 hours before Reece was born, Sadira had laid her head in my lap while we were watching TV and felt him kicking.  How could this be?

In the hospital they stock me up with pads and mesh underwear and all the "lovely" treats you get when you're post partum.   But I am a post partum mother with no baby in my arms.  This feels cruel.

When I return home there are signs of the baby that will not be everywhere.  The happy cards that friends had sent when we announced our pregnancy are still displayed in the dining room.

The clothes that we had been given, or Sadira and I had picked out excitedly sit in a giant Tupperware box.  I don't want to look at them.  But I don't want to get rid of them.  I ask my sister to put them in the basement for now.

I remember the stroller that I obsessed over.  That I asked for recommendations because I am admittedly a "stroller snob." I see it.  I remember how when I got it Sadira tried it out and was so impressed with how easily it handled.  "Wow Mommy, I bet my brother is really gonna love did a good job!" she had approved.

The only clothes I have to dress myself are maternity clothes.  Some still with tags on them.  All of my "regular clothes" have been moved to the new house.  I am too small for my maternity clothes, yet don't quite feel comfortable in my "regular clothes."  I don't even know how to dress myself.

The balloon that we gave Sadira just three weeks prior when we told her the baby was a boy still floats at the ceiling.  It's deflated like my belly, but still proudly declaring, "Baby Boy!" I can't look at it.  But I can't get rid of it ether.

And my body.  What a strange vessel I am right now.  When Sadira was born everyone commented on how quickly my belly went down.  I thought this was so strange for a number of reasons.  One, it's not a compliment I've ever heard before so didn't quite know how to respond.  Two, I've never really had a ton of enviable physical traits.  Don't get me wrong, I'm very confident in my own body and like the way I look, but I've never had someone say, "you're so lucky because of your stomach! I'm so jealous!" Weird.  And three, it really WAS weird.  For nine months I grew this belly that became bigger and rounder with each day...and then BOOM. In one day it was almost back to normal.  The whole thing was just strange to me.   This time it happened again.  By Thursday there was almost no trace of the baby that grew within my belly. It was startling to me.  I wanted it back.  Bring me back my belly and the baby that should be in it still!  How could it go away so quickly?  It makes me feel like it never happened.  Like being pregnant with Reece was just a dream.

My breasts ache as my milk comes in.  Mother Nature is a bitch, and although she made my baby come too soon, she is still sending my body all the signals that it needs to sustain a new life.  My breasts are hot and engorged and ache and leak.  I wrap them up tightly with sports bras and hope they go away, but in the same breath am grateful to have some sign that YES, I did have a baby.  YES, I am a new mother. YES, my body would've taken care of Reece, even though it failed him in his gestation.

At night I wake in the middle of the night.  Wide awake.  My internal clock telling me, "Wake up!  Check the baby!  Feed the baby!" But there is no baby there for me to check or feed.

I have a recurring dream where I can see Reece and he's perfect.  And it's this beautiful moment because I SEE him again, and that's amazing.  But he's behind a thick pane of sound proof glass and I can't reach him.  And he starts to cry.  I can't hear him, but I can see him.  His face red from screaming, his arms shaking and legs kicking, and I cannot get to him.  I CANNOT GET TO HIM.  I can't even hear him. I'm on the other side of the glass screaming for someone to help him, but no one can hear me.  I wake up.  There's that exquisite sadness again.

I calm myself, it's just a dream.  But then I remember, it's really not.


Second, the Anger.

I'm so fucking pissed off.  I'm mad.  I'm angry.  I want to scream and yell and throw things, and break things and curse and scream and yell some more.

But I don't.

Well, I do curse.  It helps.

I walk out of the labor and delivery unit on Wednesday, the day Reece was born.  There are people getting off the elevator going to see the new babies in their family.  Kristy my angel nurse had asked me if I wanted a wheelchair on the way out or if I wanted to walk.  I only want the goddamn wheelchair if I'm wheeling out of the hospital with my baby in my arms! My baby is en route to the fucking morgue and I'm walking out without him.  THIS IS SO FUCKING UNFAIR!

I tell her no, I can walk.  There's no sense in acting like I just delivered a baby, even though I did, when there is no baby to take home.  

I check my email and I see a BabyCenter email, "Your baby at 22 weeks!" Fuck you, Babycenter, my baby at 22 weeks is dead.  I race to the website.  There are two bubbles at the top that say "your child:" one for Sadira, and one for Reece.  I click on Reece's link, which takes me to the page of details of what happens at 22 weeks.  ALL OF THIS ISN'T HAPPENING ANYMORE BABYCENTER!  I click "edit" and see all of the information for my pregnancy with Reece.  Due Date: September 1, 2014. Gender: Boy.  I hover the cursor over the link that says, "Remove from my account."  I click it and instantly feel horrible.  The option says, "Delete all information about this child and remove from Babycenter."

I can't do it.  To delete his information feels like I'm denying it happened.  I can't deny him.  He was my perfect son. I close the browser.

I get a voicemail from a number I don't know.  There are lots of them these days, but as I check this particular one, the voice is bright and cheery.  "Hi Nasrene!  It's Lynn your nurse case manager here at United Health!  Just calling to check in on your pregnancy and see how you are doing.  At your earliest convenience, please call me back at...." Go to hell, Lynn.  My baby is dead, I guess you didn't get the memo.  Don't ever call me again. 

I feel badly.  It's not Lynn's fault.  She's just doing her job.  She means well.  I'll call her back next week.

I see my grandmother, whom I love with every cell of my being, and she looks broken and fragile.  She just keeps saying, "Nas, I think you need to talk to your doctor, there HAS to be a reason this happened. You need to know why this happened so you're prepared the next time, I mean, there HAS to be a reason." I tell her there is no reason, but she insists.  I want to scream.  There is no fucking reason!! If there was one I'd be the first to know, but there is no reason, stop asking me for one!!! I don't know what to tell you!

And then I feel horrible.  She is grieving too.  She was excited for this baby and happy for us.  Genuinely.  She is still grieving the loss of my grandfather.  We all are.  And then this happened.  It's just too soon.  Too much. Not fair.

I see a young woman with two children in the parking lot of a grocery store.  A little girl who is a little older than Sadie, and a little boy who is probably about two.  She yells at the little boy who's toddling behind, "come the eff on!"  He starts to cry and she snaps at the little girl to go get her brother.  I am outraged that she speaks to her baby child like that, and then I'm outraged that she has these two children.  You god damn piece of TRASH, WHY do you get two healthy children and mine had to die?!  WHY THE FUCK??  Why does this person get to have her kids and I can't??!  

I grab Sadie's hand and walk away. Everyone's life and situation is different. I don't know their struggle, and frankly I don't care.  I can't compare my life and the things that have happened to someone else's blessing.

I get a Facebook notification that the cloth diapers I had ordered just a few days prior should be coming in a couple weeks. Sadira and I had picked the patterns and couldn't believe how small they would be on Reece's tiny hiney.  I don't want the goddamn diapers anymore.  I have no use for them.  Leave me the hell alone.

But it's not true.  I do want the diapers.  I just also want the baby who was supposed to wear them. I don't respond.

I get a few pieces of mail.  It's a bill for one of my last ultrasounds, and a doctor's bill.  I have a $3500 deductible to meet to pay for my obstetrical services, and then a 20% coinsurance after that.  As of last week we were already up to $2100 worth of bills.  My stay at the hospital after he was delivered hasn't even been submitted yet.  Fuck you Advanced Radiology!  Fuck you Physicians Associates!!  I will pay you if you give me my baby back!  Why do I have to pay for obstetrical services when I don't even get the baby at the end? FUCK YOU!

It is what it is.  It's not their fault that Reece died.  I am not the first mother to go through this, and I won't be the last.  There aren't always happy endings.  There aren't always perfect pregnancies.


Third, the Love.

I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to start this part, and asking The Lord for eloquence, because the amount of love that we've been shown since Reece's passing has been unlike anything I've ever experienced in my life, EVER.

The morning that everything was happening, I called my mother first.  She came immediately and I remember her asking on the phone "how's the baby? Did he make it?" and I had to tell her no. Saying that one little word "no" felt impossible.  Like my tongue was made of cement.  Because I knew the ramifications of that realization.  I knew the emotional roller coaster that would begin from saying that one single word.

No mom, he didn't make it.  Please come. I cried.  Oh my God, Nas, oh my God.  She sobbed.  Oh my God, I'll be right there. And she was.

I often make fun of my mother because she has difficulty taking off her nurse hat whenever someone in our family is in the hospital, or having some type of medical procedure.  But that day she was my mother, and a grieving grandmother, not a nurse. It's what I needed.  Someone to walk that path with me.  There is nothing like a mother's love.  I hope Reece felt that on April 30th just like I did from my own mother.

Immediately after Reece was born and the paramedics arrived I called Kerri.  I just said, "Ker, please come.  I delivered the baby, please come," and within minutes which honestly felt like seconds, I saw her running up the stairs.  I needed her to take care of Sadira.  And she did.  She took the day off and kept Sadie with Sean for me while I went to the hospital.  Having a friend like Kerri in my life is like having another sister. I don't have to explain, I don't have to elaborate.  She just knows and she just does.

Over the course of the past five days Kerri has done so much for me, and Sadira, and Christian, that I can't even write it all out in one blog post.  It would take days just to list it all out.  From the daily check ins, to the dinners, to taking Sadie to dance or Sean's baseball game to keep her occupied and keep some sense of normalcy going for her.  I don't know how Kerri is doing it.  All the while, she's still taking care of me. She has been my right arm and my left arm, and my oxygen, and everything else you can possibly think of.  I wouldn't have survived this half as well as I have without having her in my life. I am so so so grateful.  There isn't a word to describe my appreciation.  To me, she represents all of my friends who are rallying around me, praying for me, crying with me.  She personifies all of them.

Thank you Ker.  You've done absolutely everything I needed before I even knew I needed it.  I am so blessed to have you in my life.

I text my sister to please call, it's an emergency.  She is in her clinicals for nursing school, but calls.  I tell her the unthinkable news, and hear her begin to weep on the other end.  My heart breaks.  She has been wanting a nephew since the moment Sadira was born, and she loved him so intensely before he was born.  I knew this was breaking her heart.  She leaves her clinicals and is there in an hour.

My sister is stoic in the face of an emergency.  I know she is grieving, but the whole time her concern is me and my well being.  She is going to be the best nurse one day.  She gets what I need, does whatever I need, and anticipates my unspoken needs in a way only a sister can.

I ask her to call my father and our younger sister.  I don't have the heart to tell them.  I know how hard that phone call is to make, and I appreciate that she was able to do that for me.

I have several amazing groups of friends in my life, but one of them is a group of moms that I've been friends with since Sadira was born.  I know I need to communicate what happened to them, not only because I know they need to know, but because I know that I need the love and support that they will provide.  I decide to text Lindsey for a number of reasons.  She's one of the gals I've known the longest in the group.  Literally since we were pregnant with our '07 babies.  And while we are very different, we are also very the same.  She's also a doula and has been off and on studying to become a midwife, and along this process of being pregnant I've confided quite a bit in her about my symptoms and things I was experiencing.  I feel like she has been a big part of Reece's life so it feels natural to reach out.

I text her. Linds, awful news.  The baby was born very suddenly this morning.  He didn't make it.  I'm at the hospital, Christian is flying home.  We are all heartbroken.

She texts back immediately.   Nasrene. Oh no. No no no. I'm so sorry! I'm devastated for you. There are no words.  Please tell me if there is anything I can do. Seriously I can be on a plane.

I answer.  I feel like this isn't real.  i delivered him.  He was so tiny.  I don't even know how to explain this emotion.

She answers. I'm so glad you were the one to hold him first.  He was beautiful I bet. And listen to me: there is nothing you did wrong.  You did everything right.  You fought for him.  This is not your fault.

 I didn't want to talk to anyone.  I couldn't bear to bring myself to even call my father.  But the next thing I knew, I had typed the words, "Can I call?"

And she said yes.

And in that conversation she wept, and I wept, and she said lots of things that I needed to hear, and lots of things that I will hold in my heart.  But one of the things she said that will forever resonate with me was, "don't forget that today is Reece's birthday."  It's no secret that I am a lover of all things birthday.  And that tiny reminder that this day should be a day of celebration was such a necessary thing to hear.  It reminded me to find some joy in the day, some beauty.  And for the rest of the day I sought to find beautiful things.  From the kind way I was treated by everyone who cared for me, to the beauty in Reece's tiny hands and feet, with little tiny fingernails and toenails so perfectly formed, to genuine love I felt from everyone who knew me, to the sincere way the ambulance driver came in to talk to me when we got to the hospital to tell me, with tears in his eyes, that he and his wife had experienced something similar and that he would pray for me, to the gentle way my paramedic dressed me as we left for the hospital, like I was his child (even though he was probably younger than me) saying, "here we go mama, one foot in at a time," while he held my pants for me to step into, to the absolute beautiful moment when I first laid eyes on my son.  There WAS so much beauty in Reece's birthday, and I didn't want to forget that.  And I probably would've had Lindsey not reminded me.

I asked her to tell the rest of the ladies what had happened.  I knew she'd find the right words.  We hung up and a few minutes later the Facebook notification came through on my phone that she had posted.  Immediately all of the ladies, my friends, started sending their love.  They were so concerned, so worried, so devastated.  Crying with me from all over the country as I cried from my hospital bed.  I could feel their concern and their devastation.  I could feel that I wasn't alone and they were wrapping me in their arms from coast to coast.  All of our babies are community babies, and they wept this loss as if Reece was a member of their own families, because in a way....he was.

I get a call from the nurse's station.  "Your cousin is here, can she come in?"  I say yes, but have no idea who I'm saying yes to.  I can't think of a cousin who is local who would know, and I know instantly it's a friend feigning a familial relationship just in case.

In walks my friend Lauren. 

I am happy she is there.  I hug her and she hugs me back and I sob on her shoulder.  She is there when Father Gregory, the Catholic chaplain at the hospital shows up and offers a blessing and prayers for Reece. It was beautiful and deserving of it's own post, which I will do in the future.  But I am so glad she was there for that.  To be present as we welcomed Reece into heaven, with my mother and my sister.

She offers help.  To help with the dogs, to help with groceries, to help with anything. I love her for that.  I love all of my friends for their love and offers of help.  I need the help.  I am sustaining on your love and your help.  It's what's getting me through.

As I was discharged my sister drove me home. I was struggling with how to inform everyone of what had happened.  So many friends of mine were excited for this pregnancy.  Sadira is loved communally by so many of our friends, I've always felt like I've shared my children with this larger village.  And Reece was not exempt from that.

I told my sister, "I feel like I need to post something to Facebook..." but I'm struggling because should this be a private thing?  How can it be?  What happens when I show to to work or school or anywhere and there's no bump and no baby?  Do I just stop posting about being pregnant? I can't not say something.  Had Reece survived I'd be shouting it from the rooftops.

Why should this be any different?

I asked my sister for a few minutes of stillness in the car.  And as the rain poured outside I wrote an update.

Today has been both beautiful and devastating. This morning at home at 7:30am, I delivered into my own hands our perfect baby boy, Reece Christian. And just as peacefully and swiftly as he came into this world, he left us. Born perfect, but too tiny, just too soon. We do not know why The Lord allowed this to happen, but in the brief moments he was here, he was peaceful and perfect. I am comforted knowing that he is being well taken care of in heaven by Poppop. If you pray, please pray for guidance and healing, as our minds are reeling and our hearts are broken.

I hit post.  I looked at my sister and said, "get ready."  I knew my village would rally, I just didn't know in how great a way.

Almost immediately the love and prayers started pouring in.  Over 300 comments on that status alone of love and support.  Messages.  Texts.  Posts on my wall.

"My heart breaks for you Nasrene for my little bff Sadie and for the Chief. The Mirjohnston family is with you as you grieve the loss of sweet baby Reece, though his time here was but a moment, he will live forever in our hearts."

"I have absolutely, positively no words at all. My heart is literally crushed for you. I pray peace and comfort for you, Christian, & Sadira. If you need me for anything, PLEASE don't hesitate to say so. God bless you all."

"Still struggling with this news, and knowing that I should have something comforting to say, but I don't. My heart is crushed for you.

I realize, that sweet angel, is cherished beyond his time here. In that brief miracle, he was surrounded by so much unending love. You have loved him with all your heart and soul from the moment you knew you were pregnant, through all the wiggles and kicks, and worries. He felt all of that love. And the hidden blessing is, he knew his mamma was holding him, and loving him, every moment of his beautiful life. You are an amazing mother to both your babies.

"Can't sleep...thinking about you, Christian, Sades and sweet Angel Baby Reece. I'm shocked and heartbroken and pissed and sad and I just want to scream, yell and cry. It's not fair. You shouldn't be living this nightmare. I am just so sorry, Nas. I hate that you're going through this and I wish there was more I could do. Praying for you all, especially your beautiful baby boy."

"Hindus have a belief that you are born on this earth merely to pay for your Karma, as long as you have negativity you can not attain nirvana, you will be reborn and suffer the cycle of birth and death. Your perfect little boy had so little negativity that he was here but for minute and now he is one with the cosmos. You gave birth to an almost perfect soul and now he is a can shine on you, Sadira and Christian with all his perfection. I know these words may not offer any comfort but you my friend are strong and brave and you may never get over this but you will use it to change the world, because from the years I have known you, that is what you do."

This is just a sampling, and let me tell you.  I read EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.  Multiple times.  I read EVERY. SINGLE. MESSAGE.  And I read EVERY. SINGLE. TEXT.

At night when I cannot sleep because I'm a new mother again and new moms don't sleep I read them all.  Over and over again.  When I awake from my nightmare and my heart is racing because I can't comfort my baby, I let everyone's words comfort me.  It's brings me peace, and allows me to rest.

I will never be able to fully articulate how much everyone's messages of concern and love have helped me.  I've been on the other side when friends have lost babies too soon. Friends like Debi, and Karen, and Kia who lost their babies TOO FUCKING SOON, and I didn't know WHAT to say, because words just seem like empty filler when you KNOW someone's heart is so very empty, but being on this side now I see things so very differently.  It helps TREMENDOUSLY.  I will never again NOT say something when I know someone is suffering.  Because it's in the silence that you think people have forgotten.

I have friends who check on me daily.  Tassie, and Amanda, and Kerri, and Lindsey, and Bridget, and Erin, and Alix, and so on and so on...and they preface it by saying, "I hope I'm not bothering or being overbearing, but I'm just so concerned..." and my response is, "you are never being overbearing. You are uplifting me and keeping me afloat.  It's the only way to get past it.  The only way to know that yes, this really happened, and it's AWFUL, but it's okay. I have people that will pull us through this.  And for that I am eternally grateful."

I've had so many people reach out to me in confidence and share their similar stories, from miscarriages to stillbirths.  People who have lost babies recently, and people who lost babies 37 years ago.  They never forget.  They assure me that I will never forget.  They thank me for being vocal about this and not keeping it private.  They say so many people hide away when this happens, and that somehow me being public about this journey is helping them.  I don't quite understand that yet, but I'll take it.  I am so sorry, so goddamn sorry that so many people I know have gone through similar situations.  I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.

I've had friends, Karen and Heidi, who quickly mobilized to organize a fundraiser for the March of Dimes in Reece's honor.  And several more who walked for him. Brenda, and Shannon, who joined teams, or added Reece to the team they were walking for.  All over the country this past weekend so many people walking for premature babies, and Reece was included in those walks.  It's amazing how much of an impact his brief life has made already.

I've had friends that have just stopped by.  From my baby sister Tessa, who just showed up on Thursday and loved on me, and Sadira and Christian, and made us smile in a way that only she can, to my friend Emanuelle who is in town from HAWAII visiting family and friends, and just showed up as a surprise with a bottle of wine and shared laughs and tears with Christian and I, to my friend Melissa who came over yesterday, bringing more love, and prayer requests, and saying just the things she knows I needed to hear.

To my friend Shannon who sent the most beautiful keepsakes for me, and Sadie and Christian, to the flowers from Brandon and Ashleigh, and memorial plants from Courtney, Carla and Yolanda and Lisa and Erika, to the trash magazines, and chocolate and wine from Lindsey and Dawn and groceries from Steph, and dinner from Sherri, the flowers from Liss, Brandi, and Tracey, to the star that has been registered in his honor, and the bereavement books for me and for Sadira that arrived (and I don't even know who sent us these amazing gifts) and to my friends Amanda and Shantel who invited me out for dinner, and for Amanda to find peace because I know she hurts so badly for me, just as Melissa does, and Shannon does and Kerri does. It's hard for them because they love me so much and I know they are among my friends who feel this loss more personally. As if it was their own.  While I hate that they are suffering so much for something that happened in my life, I am overwhelmed by the fact that I have these types of friendships in my life.  It's like when they say that twins can feel each other's pain, I just know that I have a select few friends in my life some that I've mentioned and some that I've regretfully missed because my head is reeling, who feel what I feel more innately.  And that's just incredible.

And then there is Christian who I can't even bring myself to write about right now because I feel like what we went through this week was just too personal and sacred, but I feel like I love him more than I thought was actually possible.  It actually scares me to realize how much I love him, and I don't want to go all co-dependent on him and freak him out, but I just realize that he was put in my life for a reason.  And while I hate that he has to go through this, I am grateful to have him beside me and Sadie through the process. I look at him and I can see little similarities to what I saw in Reece.  And I look at him and love him the way I do Sadie, unconditionally and pure.  Even if he's being a shit head.  I don't care.  I've never really felt that I needed a guy in my life, but at this stage I cannot imagine Christian not in mine.

I don't know how long I will be on this path, though I know this is something I will never forget, but Christian told me that he knows that one day we'll be happy again, and I believe he's right.  This has been a test of faith, of love, of friendship, of strength...of so many things, but I feel like there is something amazing to take from it. I'm still working on figuring out what that is.

I'll never forget how beautiful my son was the moment that he was born.  And I am forever grateful that God chose me to be his mother, even if for only a very brief and sacred time.

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