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This is the year of taking care of myself and I’m focusing on my health.  Along with $800 worth of dental work, I am long overdue for a trip to the Guy-nee…I was proudly telling a co-worker that I was going to a new doctor on Wednesday. 

Me: “I used to go to UNC because that’s where I went with the boys and then Zoey and they just knew me and my story and I didn’t have to tell them anything…oh crap….”

I stopped and looked at her and said quietly, “they are going to ask me about the boys…”  She put her hand on my back and said, “yes but you’ve told their story before, this is just one more time…”

How could I have forgotten?  Tomorrow I will have to navigate the waters of “How many times have you been pregnant?”  (Lots)  and “How many children do you have?” (Three – 1 living and 2 dead) with a complete and total stranger. 

And Oh. My. Dog.  Please don’t let there be the form with the teeny-tiny blanks and boxes that ask you all kinds of questions that people like me can’t answer without writing a dissertation or the answers make absolutely no sense…I once had a new nurse at UNC make me fill out a form (she didn’t know me from previous visits – she may have been a temp actually because I never saw her again).  Where it asked, “how many times have you been pregnant?”  I answered 6-7 times.  Where it asked, “how many children do you have?”  I answered zero.  She looked at me and said, “so what you are saying is that you’ve had several abortions?”  Sigh….

Can’t I just show my lostbabymama membership card and be done with it?  But no, I can’t.  Because even as I typed that, I remind myself I was lucky to be the boys Mommy.  I am lucky to have experienced all I experienced with them, even the bad.  I wouldn’t trade that time in my life – despite it being the worst thing to ever happen to me and Hubby – for anything.  I wish it had been different.  I wish that I had 2 little boys AND a little girl.  I wish my 3 year old sons were down the hall from their 10 month old sister but they aren’t.

But I don’t wish it didn’t happen and that’s the reason I can walk into the doctor’s office tomorrow and tell their story.

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I got my first Halloween with my baby girl.  I remember thinking about this day after the boys died and how much I wanted to see my child dressed up for Halloween.  We didn’t take her out because it was wet and cold but she was dressed up all day for school and she loved seeing the kids dressed up when they came to the door.  She’s 10 months old.  I can’t believe it.  She’s 10 months old. 

It seems like I just had her.  I waited so long for her and the time is just moving so quickly – too quickly.  I want time to stop so I can just look at her.  I try not to look forward or backward but try to live in the moment now.  Previously, when I would look at her, a tiny voice would creep in and ask, “is that what the boys would have looked like at 6, 9, 10 months…”  I try not to get caught up in the day-to-day grind.  It’s so easy to come home and deal with the “have-tos…”  You know what, the schmidt will get done when it gets done.  I just try and live for today.  Oherwise, I get so incredibly sad to think about her brothers who aren’t here.  I’m still struck by how painful the loss pulls at me 3 years later.  In contrast, I’m so happy, grateful, blessed, ecstatic to be Zoey’s Mommy.

Here’s my little giraffe:

The ease with which I speak about the boys now startles me.  I started this job 6 and 1/2 months after Zoey was born.  Except for one person, no one knew that she wasn’t my first child.  I could have easily sweep that part of life under the rug and referenced only her when people asked me about my life, my loves and my losses. 

But I didn’t.

There was a time that I couldn’t even speak their names.  I would choke up and the tears would come and it was just easier not to try.  It took me a good 10 minutes to tell our therapist they were called, “Joshua and Owen.”  There was a time when I wouldn’t write their names even here on my blog where I’ve written a lot about myself and my life, my loves and my losses.

Today I found myself in the hallway, talking easily about how I never could see “parts” on my ultrasounds.  I never did see what made the boys…you know…boys….I could see their arms, legs, beating heartbeats…hell, I could have practically done all of Zoey’s ultrasounds without the aid of the technician but I never did see “parts.”  I recently watched that episode of “Friends” where Rachel and Ross find out they are having a girl and she cries, “I DON’T SEE IT…”  I about died laughing because that was me.

But I spoke about the boys with an ease I would have never thought possible.  I miss them and I still long for them and I love them but it’s getting easier.

Me, Hubby and Z baby were on vacation in San Diego for a week (talk about needing a Sherpa!!!).  It was lovely.  We got to visit some old friends, see the Zoo and Wild Animal Park and in general relax (well, I did, Hubby was there for a work conference).  I managed to keep Zoey from getting too sunburned and she seemed to enjoy all of the extra attention she got from her Aunties and Uncles…Zoey was an amazing traveler.  Despite being sick with a cold, she was quiet and calm on the plane, sat on my lap and looked out the window, nursed and relaxed and mainly slept all the way there and all the way back.  She’s an amazing child and I am thankful for her every day.

I was reminded again though that the grief of losing children doesn’t stop because you had another one.  On our plane from San Diego home, there were twin boys about a year old.  The mother was struggling to get on the plane with her boys and all of their gear and she made a comment about how lucky we were to have only one to deal with…Hubby looked so sad that for the first time, I realized that he still misses them as much as I do.  I smiled at her and said, “always remember you are lucky to have two…” 

I’m saddened by the loss of one of my favorite blogs Still Life With Circles.  I understand why Angie is leaving us but I’ve often, over the last 8 months relied on her to guide me through this phase of my life.  It’s hard to explain to those of you who have yet to have your next child but the grief is still there.  It doesn’t end because you’ve had another living child.  It lessens.  The joy of my little girl outweighs the sadness I feel about my little boys but that loss, it’s still there.  The realization that this is a loss that I will not ever get over is unsettling as well.  I don’t know what I thought I would feel after Zoey was born but this feeling of grief at what could have been with the boys has been unexpected.  Angie guided me through a lot.  I will miss her writing and honesty and reflection and humor.

You know when you read something and you think, “exactly, that’s it, right there.”  The post over at Glow In the Woods is like that for me.  The author writes about feeling mute as she goes into the birth of her third child after losing her first at 41 weeks. 

In some ways, I feel like I don’t have a right to write about being happy.  I feel like my blog still needs to be able the boys and that if I don’t write about them, I’m so how dishonoring them.  It’s hard because I have a gorgeous, perfect little girl and I still miss my boys.  My boys would have have been 3 on August 8th.  Three years old.  More often than not, I think, what the hell happened that I DON’T have 3 year old twins.  I think that before Zoey, I didn’t really know what I was missing, only that I was missing something.  Now, when she smiles and giggles and laughs, sometimes, I think, “God, that’s what I missed with Joshua and Owen.”  I thought that having her would make all the pain go away.  It didn’t.  It only makes the joy that much more intense.

It’s like a dish at a Chinese restaurant…sweet and sour joy and sadness.

 

My boys would have been 3 years old today.

What would today have been like if they hadn’t died?

I love you little boys.  Thanks for giving me your sister.

Love,

Mommy

I was incredibly close to my college roommate.  We didn’t know each other before we elected to room together our Sophomore year of college.  She grew up with a girl I met through my Freshman year roommate, we needed a fourth girl for our apartment and she needed a place to live.  We ended up pledging the same sorority that year and that was it.  After that it was “Martha and Carisa, Carisa and Martha.”  I was not only close with her but her parents as well and my mother and father love her dearly.  We lived together for 5 years until she left for medical school in Nashville and I moved in with my boyfriend for law school.  Still, we stayed in touch.  She visited me in San Diego, I went to Nashville, and she came to North Carolina to be my maid of honor when I got married 5 years ago.  We would still chat on the phone and she was the third person I called when I got pregnant with the boys 3 years ago.

And that’s where it all breaks down and becomes an incredibly sad tale of woe and grief.

Her father died a week before Owen (Baby A).  I feel like I never got to grieve for him and with her because 4 weeks later, Joshua (Baby B) died.  As you all know (really KNOW), you lose a child(ren) you are not in your right mind.  You cease to function.  You cease to be socially responsible or able to observe social pleasantries.

That does not mean that my eyes don’t well up when I think about her father.  My heart hurts at the loss of such a fun, smart, witty man who adored his daughter.  He adored her.  You could see it when they were together how much he loved her.  That’s the kind of relationship fathers and daughters should have.  She and I were lucky to be loved that way.

That might be somewhat excusable.  She was grieving, I was grieving and we would eventually come out of our cocoons and reunite.  But then Carisa got pregnant.  She didn’t tell me until she was 7 months along.  I knew when she left me a message that she had something important to tell me.  I just knew.  That was a mere 18 months after the boys died and after scores of miscarriages. 

I behaved badly.  I tried to fake excitement but I was jealous.  So jealous.  So incredibly jealous of someone who I love so much and want every happiness for but I was just not capable of behaving well.  And what would have been better is if I had said to her, “I’m so happy for you but sad for me.”  I didn’t though.  I faked enthusiasm and then cut all contact.  I’ve only seen one picture of her little girl.  I have not spoken to her since Zoey was born.  Her daughter is almost exactly a year older than Z baby.  A good friend suggested that I write her a letter explaining all of this.  I guess that’s what I will do.

I have a hole in my heart and I miss her.

PS Some of you may know us in real life.  Please be respectful of our relationship as we try and get it back on track.

When you, random stranger, ask me, “is this your first?” and I answer “sort of…”  I”m not being “cheeky,”  I’m sparing us both the story by not answering what I really want to say.  What would your reaction be if I said, “no, I should be buying 2 little tiger costumes for 2 year old twin boys but they died.”  If you continue to push me into telling you about my boys by saying, “what’s that supposed to mean?”  or flippantly say, “oh okay, well, whatever!”  I will tell you about my boys.  I will tell you about how I’ve never been this pregnant before, how I grieve for them even though they were so little when they left us or how every second that Baby Girl doesn’t kick, my heart stops, just for a minute.  How I’m so grateful to Baby Girl when she kicks me so hard I can see it on my belly.  Or how I bargain with the anxiety and ration the pills so I don’t take more than I should because let’s face it, I could take a 1/2 of one daily until delivery.  But I’m trying.  I’m trying and so instead of unloading on this person when they ask, “is this your first?”, I say, “well, sort of – we’ve been waiting for Baby Girl for a long time…”

But push me and you should consider yourself warned.

a lot.  If she goes more than a couple of minutes without kicking, I massage my belly and she kicks in response.  I need her to kick.  I’m panicked if she doesn’t.  That’s how I knew Baby B was gone.  He stopped kicking. 

That’s right.  I’m pregnant again.  I’m nearly 27 weeks.  I’ve held out talking about this on my blog for two reasons.  First, I know it’s painful for a lot of you to hear about someone being pregnant.  Second, I didn’t want to jinx it.  I know many of you understand that fear. 

I don’t know her BT status.  We tried to do an amnio and the sac wasn’t totally fused so it didn’t work.  We went back for an 18 week scan and the doctor said this was clearly not a Trisomy 13 baby so we elected not to do it.  What difference would it have made at that point?  I was already in love with her just like I was with the boys.

She’s been alive longer than either of the Baby Boys.  I still panic despite the meds that I’ve been prescribed – Zoloft and Clonopin.  I was resistant to the meds but had a full blown freak out meltdown at 12 weeks – seriously, it was bad.  Think Sally Field in “Steel Magnolias” – you know the scene after the funeral.  Screaming, crying, hair pulling.  All because of a small smear of blood.  A kind and caring doctor and nurse came in and said, “we need to get you calmed down.  You need something.”  At that point, I thought, “hell, admit me to the psych ward for the next 6 months and keep me doped up.  Just let this baby live to see the light of day.”   They didn’t admit me.  They referred me to an ante-natal loss counselor – a nurse practitioner who can prescribe meds and counseling.  She’ s been wonderful.  I’d have loved to have her around 2 years ago….

But she kicks.  A lot.  I’ve seen the third trimester – somewhere I didn’t get to go before.  According to Dr. H, my high-risk Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor, I’m his least high risk patient.  I’m easy, they just didn’t know where to put me so they stuck me with him.  I’m happy about that…he seems like nothing much phases him but I guess when your other job is an Army Trauma Surgeon with 2 tours in Iraq, you are pretty unflappable.

The nursery is in shambles because we can’t bring ourselves to do a ton with it yet.  We are using my mother in law’s visit in November as an excuse.  I will be almost 30 weeks then.  But I’ve also forced myself to enjoy her.  I’ve bought her clothes – my favorite are little pink high top sneakers that hang with the doggy slippers I bought Hubby when I told him I was pregnant with the boys.  Three pairs of shoes.  I’m a mother of 3.  That’s a weird feeling.

But she kicks a lot and that’s good.

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