Friday, February 25, 2011

Back Home...

This week I have a week off from school for February break. Hubby and I spent part of the week on a much needed break from reality in the sunny, warm, beautiful Florida Keys . To get a sense of how pleasant this really was and to provide a little perspective this is what it looked like at home (the airport actually) before we flew south...

It was cold and snowing again. We have had a terrible winter this year...lots of snow and cold. We have even had more snow than my parents in upstate NY where this weather is typical. And this storm was nothing compared to what we have had the past few months. Needless to say, you can see why I was so happy to be in a place that looked like this...

That is my darling hubby walking up the dock towards our resort. The sky looked like this everyday and the temps were around 80 degrees. The weather alone bolstered my spirit to a level I haven't felt in ages. I won't was nice. I lived in a happy place of denial for a few days. No snow, no cold, no sadness or grief...well almost any way.

The resort we stayed at was upscale (not as nice as some places we have gone to, but very very nice all the same) and I was not expecting so many families with children to be there. I am not surprised in retrospect, but it wasn't quite the quiet getaway I thought we would be having. The family thing didn't bother too much with one exception. Our first night at the resort we were having dinner and I will admit I was exhausted. I slept poorly the night before (2-3 hours of sleep tops), we left crazy early and I did not sleep on the plane. Controlling my emotions is a lot harder when I am tired or not feeling well. So we are having dinner, I am facing the entrance and I see a couple walk up and say hello to the hostess. They step just past the hostess area and I see that both the man and the woman have small babies in carriers on their chests...twin boys. It took everything in my power to keep myself from sobbing hysterically. Tears escaped. Hubby looked upset, but I don't know if he was mad that I was ruining dinner or sad because that could have been us. That was the moment that I decided to put that part of myself temporarily in a box and leave my grief behind for the duration of my vacation. That is not to say that I did not think of my boys (I did and do every single day) but I put the part of me that hurts the most away. I did not ask Hubby if he was mad or sad, but once I made the decision my outlook/attitude changed we both relaxed into our time together enjoying every minute.

After that moment I was able to be the old me again...without guilt, with out sadness and with out tears. As soon as I got home the box was opened again and the grief came out but with out the same ache that I had before. All of the reminders of what I lost are here at home and easier to be reminded of all that we have been through. But for just a short while I was in a place that had absolutely nothing to do with me, my pregnancy, my boys and their death. I gave my self permission to happily live in the place that they had no connection to and it felt good to just be. I am hoping that this was a good thing and that I can carry some of that feeling back to my daily real life surrounded by my tragedy.

It has been cold, gray and rainy since we got back. It was easier to feel happy in sunshine but I know it is possible. I remember what it feels like again and I can imagine it again. It might be easier as the weather gets warmer. I hope that happens sooner rather than later!!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

What a week...

Overall this has been a decent week. Not that there hasn't been a few hiccups, but the big picture is decent.

I made it through all five days of teaching with out completely loosing it (there were tears, just not enough to render me unfit to teach). I did ok while hubby was gone overnight on his first business trip since we lost our boys. I felt less awkward talking to my grief counselor this week. I survived walking in on a conversation in the teachers lounge that, to me, was trigger-worthy (there was talk about post-pregnancy hormones and buying babies).

At the beginning of the week I found I could not cry...I wanted to, but the tears just didn't flow. I felt all the feelings but no tears. It was a little disturbing but my grief counselor said it is one of those things that can happen. And when I met with her on Thursday the tears had no trouble appearing. Just one of those things I guess.

One piece of family history has been on my mind this week. My grandmother is a fellow baby loss mama. My grandmother and I are not close (she moved far away when I was 12 and have not seen her much since then) but I am curious about what happened. Valentine's Day is my aunt's birthday. Her name is my middle name and this year she would have been 50. I do not know if she was born prematurely but I do know that she lived for a short while. Things have changed with regards to child birth since my aunt was born and died...I wonder what my grandmother experienced. Was she able to see my aunt? Hold her? They did bury her on a family plot (not in the same cemetery as William & Ethan). I wonder if Grandma was able to grieve or if she was told to forget about the baby who did not live and try again. My youngest uncle is my grandmother's rainbow baby so she did try again. I am trying to work up the courage to ask. My Dad was only 10 at the time and doesn't remember many details.

I am very much looking forward to having next week off from school and our quick trip to a fun resort in Florida. Warm (maybe even hot) weather will be wonderful!!! I am glad to be at a point where I can enjoy and look forward to a vacation. My heart still aches, but I am not over-whelmed this week. I know this next month will be hard with what would have been my due date coming up in March. Day by day is all I can do and that is enough for now.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


This week my kinders have been working on a Jim Dine inspired Valentine's Day project...we talk about symbols (hearts=love) and they made amazing small drawings on pre-painted paper using shimmery oil pastels. I created my teaching sample while William and Ethan were heavy on my mind (honestly they always are so this is no big shocker). My sample was a heart with two smaller ones inside. This has been my symbol for them since shortly after they were born/died. I draw it frequently in a variety of mediums. I have not yet brought home my sample from school but here are others I have in the snow while I was out shoveling on a snow day a few weeks ago, one of my zen.tangles and one from my art journal.

There is another I posted as my profile picture on that was a pink heart with two sets of foot prints inside tiny hearts. I do not remember where I found it so I won't repost with out due credit but that was the inspiration for my symbol. I plan on drawing it in the sand whenever I go to a beach, creating it in pebbles plus any other times the opportunity presents itself.

My amazing sister sent me a Valentine's Day present that took my breath away. It was small, simple and perfect. She told me she wanted this "to be made permanent." She took my symbol and had it made for me...

Such a simple charm, but it means everything to me. It is a little large for my necklace with the boys' initials and birthstones. I am not sure what I will do with it yet. I would like to put it on my keychain but know that it will get beat up.

I don't think I have ever shared my necklace I assembled in memory of William and Ethan here on my blog. I obsessed over finding just the right necklace the week after we buried them. I scoured Etsy and the internet to find what I was looking for. I knew I wanted stamped letter charms (they are very popular here, a local artist makes them but I could not think of where to buy them) and thought about some sort of birthstone charm to go with it. I found one Etsy seller that would make custom initial charms and get them too me quickly. This was the week before Christmas and few sellers would be able to get anything to me before New Years or later...I needed it asap to put my mind at ease. If I couldn't hold my sons I wanted a necklace I could finger. I stumbled across another necklace on Etsy when I was looking for birthstones and it had a pearl as well as the stones used for March and December birthstones. I had to have it. William and Ethan were born in December, but were due in March. Here is a close up of me necklace and a picture I took of it with my Willow Tree twins figurine me sister gave me (she is so thoughtful!!!)...

I have so many little symbols of my sweet little ones, but not a single one is an adequate substitute for what I truly want...them with me, alive.

Friday, February 11, 2011


I made it to Friday and that feels like nothing short of something huge.

For some reason this week I felt as raw as I did exactly one month ago. I have been quick to crumble into tears, getting out the front door and into school took most of my energy. Two days I actually stayed home because I just couldn't get myself together physically and emotionally. Yesterday and today were actually a bit better but still so hard. I think there is also a direct connection between my ability to cope with my grief and how tired I am. Monday and Tuesday nights I did not sleep real well and got out of bed not feeling very rested. If I do not get a good night of sleep I am pretty much useless physically and emotionally the next day. I am not planning on testing this theory by subjecting myself to sleep deprivation, but I will be more mindful of my need for good sleep in order to function (especially at school).

I have set a new goal for actually work of full week. Since returning to school on January 6th I have not been in school for a full week...granted my first week back I started on a Thursday, then there were the snow days, a holiday and a few days I called out. Here's the breakdown:
In the week of:
1/3... started on Thursday (partial week)
1/10...snow day on Tuesday
1/17...MLK Holiday on Monday & no school, left school early on Tuesday (mini-meltdown)
1/24...snow day on Thursday
1/31... took of Friday (mental health day...honoring the two month mark)

2/7...left early on Tuesday and stayed home Wednesday (mental health days)

I am very fortunate to work at a school with a supportive principal and coworkers. They are willing to give me what ever time I need to deal with my grief. Not that all this time I take off will not come with out consequence (if I go over my allotment some of it will be unpaid I am sure) but I do have concern that this being my tenure year I should be careful. Knowing how supportive my principal and the district level arts supervisor are about my situation I know that as long as I don't completely let my teaching practice go in the toilet getting tenure shouldn't be a problem.

I am hoping to make it through all of next week. The week after that is February break and I am off to warmer weather where I intend on getting a massage, basking in the sun and generally being pampered.

On a related and different note, I met with a grief counselor yesterday. It was an interesting and emotionally draining experience. I got on well with the least it was not challenging to talk to her. I felt like I babbled in a train of thought sort of way with her. She asked many  "getting to know you," background information gathering questions before she had me tell her my story. She started asking a few probing questions to gauge my mental state right before my time was up. I cried a lot and she even looked like she teared up a few times. I am going back again next week so we'll see how it goes. I can't say that I felt better after seeing her but I didn't feel worse, so that is good. It is my first time in therapy so I had no idea what to expect. I was afraid of being nervous and not knowing what to say but that was easier than I expected.

Here's to a full week of school, another visit with my therapist and hopefully a haircut next week.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Ebb and Flow of Grief's Tides

I have read over and over that grief can be related to the rise and fall of the tides...and it feels like a fairly accurate analogy. Some days my grief is shallow and I can easily move through it and live what feels like a relatively normal life. Other days it washes over me, knocks me down and I feel is though I am drowning.

The last two days have been that drowning kind of grief. I had to leave school yesterday morning before students even arrived because I couldn't contain my tears. Today I have been feeling the physical aspects of my grief...head aches, stomach aches and the tears that just won't stop so I stayed home again. I know a good deal of this relates to passing the two month mark last Friday. But there are other feelings that are starting to creep back in that are magnifying my feelings of grief. These are the same feelings I was experiencing last year when we were referred to an RE after trying to get pregnant for just over a year with no success.

This time last year I was is a pit of despair because everyone I was closest to (friends and family) was a parent and I was (and still am) not. Going to gatherings of friends with their friends from other circles was more than I could handle because nearly everyone had kids or was about to have one. If they didn't they were way younger and not in the same head space so couldn't understand my I started to avoid those kinds of situations. When two of my closest became pregnant with their second child they were both afraid to tell me for fear of how it would hurt I was the last to know both times. It sucked. It sucked more when I found out one of those friends found out she had miscarried at her 12 week ultrasound. 

For anyone who has experienced some form of infertility what this feels like is easy to understand. It is a sense of no control over what should be a natural and easy process, a feeling of not fitting in with friends and family who are parents of young children and all sorts of heart ache when month after month (or year after year) you are unable to conceive a child and desperately want to. It is heart-wrenching, depressing and I felt like a failure. Not to mention insanely jealous of every woman who has a living child. These feelings went away when I got pregnant because I was one of them...I was part of that club finally. Then we lost our boys and I joined a new club of dead baby moms but I am still on the outside of the Mommy club.

Of course I know that in some sense I am lucky...we struggled for just over a year before getting referred to an RE. My doctor was proactive in making the referral because of my age (I was 35 and now 36). We discovered I had some issues relating to PCOS (but still ovulate) and hubby has slight sperm motility issues. Combine those together and the recommendation was IVF. It worked and I got pregnant with my William and Ethan. We were lucky. We didn't have to try for years and years (although that one felt like an eternity), we can get pregnant with assistance and we haven't had multiple losses, just one really big one that took both of my babies.

Now here I am a year later and I am having those feelings all over again plus feelings of grief. It is too much.
I hate that I feel jealous and a social pariah...not just for being childless but because I am the sad/scary story you whisper when I am out of the room or the recipient of sad looks and tearful hugs. Through my tears today I called a grief counselor and made an appointment to see her tomorrow. I do very well on most days and in general feel like I am dealing with my grief in healthy ways. I just want to talk to someone about the bad days, when the tide of grief is high. I have my family and friends who are willing to listen, but someone on the outside might be what I need. 

Friday, February 4, 2011


Today marks two months since William and Ethan made their early entrance. Two months sounds like so little time, especially when it feels like a lifetime has passed since they were born and died.

I decided yesterday to take today off from school. I could barely keep it together yesterday so I was exhausted and emotionally spent by the end of the day from trying not to cry all day long. I knew it would be harder today and planned a day by myself to grieve, cry, and take care of a few little things I have been meaning to do since I lost the boys. So far a great deal of the crying has taken place and I am sure I am not done yet. The grieving is an all day every day affair so I am just rolling with whatever emotions pop up. The two of the things I wanted to make sure I did today are done. I have ordered a copy of our medical records from the hospital where I gave birth and took care of some unraveling.

I am a knitter. As soon as I found out I was having twins I ordered some soft yellow and green yarn to make hats for my babies. This was very early on and way before I knew they were boys. I made fraternal hats since I was 99% sure my babies were fraternal twins (we transferred 2 embies during my IVF). I also started a sweater and intended on making two that would match the hats, one green and one yellow.

Since these were items I knit with love for my boys I couldn't bare the thought of them being worn by any other baby. I also couldn't quite bring my self to frogging (the knitting term for pulling the project apart) since it would mean another goodbye to the dreams I had for William and Ethan. Some how today felt like the day I could do it. I pulled up my favorite playlist on my iPod and set down with the sweater and two hats. I started with the sweater first since it was a work in progress and needed no knots undone. As soon as I started unraveling the stitches the tears started to trickle down my cheeks. I rolled the unraveling yarn into a ball and started to sob. I could barely see what I was doing as I pulled out the last stitches of the sweater. I calmed a little as I started on the first hat and just kept unraveling row after row of lovingly knit stitches. By the time I finished frogging the second at I was no longer crying. I can't say I felt better but unraveling these three things I knit for my boys was cathartic. I am not sure what I will do with these balls of yarn. My mom has knit a few preemie caps to give to the hospitals where the boys were born and where Ethan was in NICU. Perhaps I will give them to her or maybe I will save them and knit something new if we get pregnant again some day. I guess I will wait and see what feels right.

I also went back and re-read the letter I wrote to William and Ethan a month ago. I thought I might write another set of letters for today, but I wouldn't say anything different so just reading them again felt good and incredibly sad at the same time. I also sat down and looked at all the things in their memory boxes. I have all of the photos of them now and I can see a close resemblance between the boys despite their bruising and tubing. I read somewhere about a place that will retouch photos to remove bruising...I'll have to see if I can find them again and see what they might be able to do with the photos I have.

The poem i carry your heart by E.E. Cummings has popped up in a number of places lately (twice today) and it is hard not to find it relevant to how I feel. It also pairs nicely with a symbol that I have been carrying in my head (and heart) for what represents me and my sons...the two pieces of my heart. I drew this heart in the snow last Thursday when I was out shoveling snow. Since I carry the boys in my heart always I plan on creating this symbol where ever and when ever I can. Here is the poem if you have never read it before.

i carry your heart with me
(i carry it in my heart)
i am never without it
(anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear no fate
(for you are my fate, my sweet)
i want no world
(for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart 
(i carry it in my heart)

It says so much that I can not.

I have one last thing to do today and that is email my nurse at the RE clinic. I mainly just want to let her now what happened since she was so good to me during our IVF cycle. Plus I want to see what steps we will need to take when we are actually ready. My period did come this was a bit of a surprise since I was sure it was coming anytime soon...and I said I would contact them after it came.

For those of you who commented on my last post, thank you for your kind words...I have a feeling a lot of the anxiety/upset I felt was rooted in PMS and magnified by grief. I have not ruled out going to the group and there is plenty of time to decide since they meet the first Wednesday of the month. This Wednesday we had horrible weather so even if I had gotten the letter I probably wouldn't have gone or it was canceled. There is another group that meets at a different hospital I might look into as well and possibly one at the hospital where I was supposed to deliver.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Forgotten, Overlooked, Ignored?

This morning started out pretty good. We are getting a pretty nasty ice storm and my school has a two hour delay. I can never fall back asleep after the 5am phone call announcing the delay or cancellation so I figured I would take the time to scan and share the tangle I mentioned in my previous post.

As I was finishing that post, my ipod chimed a calendar is an infant loss group meeting at a local hospital. That is fine, but what is upsetting me is that 2 weeks ago when I called to find out more I spoke to a woman (presumably runs the group) who asked me all sorts of questions about my loss, told me I would be receiving a letter with more information and I should call after receiving it to let her know if I would be joining the group. I had planned on going to see if I "liked" the group (no one likes being part of this group so I use that word loosely) because there are a few in my area. we are on group day, I completely forgot (thus the reminder) but the primary reason I forgot is because I never received a letter! It is a ridiculous thing to cry over but here I sit in tears because once again I have been forgotten/overlooked/ignored.

I have generally been a shy person throughout my life. Being a quiet, in the back of the crowd kind of person means you are often forgotten/overlooked/ignored. It sucks, but it happens. But throughout my life family, friends and strangers have forgotten/overlooked/ignored me for one reason or another. It doesn't always bother me, but there are times when it most definitely does and I remember those moments vividly...from the junior high party that every single one of my friends was invited to except me, my parents forgetting to tell me my kitty died while I was in my freshman year of college, and my birthday my husband forgot one year. Even Raymour & Flannigan neglected to reschedule a furniture delivery after a phone call with explicit instructions and a conversation on why I would be home on a certain day. There are more of course and I have certainly forgotten things too (my own wedding anniversary during grad school finals).

Please explain to me how I could be forgotten this someone who speaks and possibly organizes a bereavement group for parents who lost babies. I know that loosing a child is not completely uncommon but just once I would like to not have push to be recognized or acknowledged. For f*cks twin baby boys died almost two months ago.

Yeah..I am angry, upset, crying and will probably NOT go to this group now. I'll take it as a sign and cut my losses and try a group at another hospital. Today is probably going to suck now. Great.

Art Journal - Tangled

Last week I stumbled on a meditative doodling practice which is very popular (yet some how I missed this one until now) called Zen.tangle. This is a deceptively easy process that is very similar to my own doodles that fill the margins of notebooks and papers going back to high school. It is also called Zen.doodling, tangling and the finished products can be quite striking. Basically you create a guide structure (usually a 3.5" x 3.5" square) filled with "strings" or dividing guidelines that are filled with patterns. It is relaxing, keeps your hands busy, and provides a repetition akin to meditating.

Above is a doodle I started in my small (7" x 7") sketch book when I was waiting somewhere...either waiting to pick up my hubby at the train station or in a doctors waiting area. Either way I was pregnant.

All I had completed at that time was the pod like shapes with the interconnected tubing. When I was flipping back through my sketch book I realized I had a good start on a tangle before I even knew what that meant. So I filled the spaces in between with patterns and this is the finished project. This one took about 2-3 hours to finish but the smaller ones I have finished in under an hour. Since Friday I have created probably 8 tangles...I am hooked.

Art therapy is a powerful thing...and I definitely feel more calm and relaxed after creating a tangle.