Sunday, March 27, 2011

Due Date


The day I have been dreading.

A date that really means very little realistically, but emotionally has a ton of significance.

Today was my estimated due date for William and Ethan.

I know that had they not been born prematurely there is very little chance I would have made it even this far as twins notoriously arrive early. This weekend has been tough but the hubby and I have kept ourselves busy so as to not completely slide in to a funk I won't be able to get out of.

Yesterday we spent the day hanging out in NYC. We had lunch, walked around taking in all the changes that have occurred since we lived there, watched a movie and had an early dinner before catching a train home. I miss living there sometimes, but I do love my neighborhood and my school where I teach...even if they are in NJ. I was born in NY state, lived in NYC for almost 10 years and will cling to my New Yorker roots forever. All in all yesterday was a very good day and I even randomly bumped into a friend from my art ed grad program and passed an old co-worker that I haven't seen in 9 years in the span of 5 minutes.

When we got home there was a red tin sitting on our front stoop. Inside was a note and chocolate chip cookies. It was from neighbors a few doors down who are also parents to two of my students. The note was expressing their sadness at hearing of our loss since they also lost a baby 4 years ago (hers was 26 weeks). It was so kind and thoughtful. I also realized that their 2 daughters are their rainbow babies and the loss was the middle of their 4 children (the oldest 2 boys are my students). It is always surprising to find out how close, yet unknown, those who have experienced the same thing are to us.

Thankfully yesterday was a good enough day that today doesn't feel as bad as I thought it would. I miss my babies. I would give anything to have my William and Ethan with me. But they are not, the sun is still shining, the world is still spinning and I have to move forward.

I have been thinking alot about moving terms of trying again. We still have our 5 frozen embies and a FET cycle seems less complicated than a fresh IVF cycle. There are moments where I think "I need to try now" and moments where I think "never again." My therapist said there really isn't a set way to tell that I am ready. I just have to be ready to take the risk of experiencing the pain of success or failure. I think I am about half way there. It is so hard to tell.

Monday, March 21, 2011

In and Out of Reality...

It has been over a week since I last posted...mainly because I was out of town but also because I wasn't sure what I wanted to say. I have also been a terrible commenter. I am reading blogs, but often quickly and at moments when I do not have time to leave comments. But now I feel I have too much to say, go figure.

I definitely feel like I have been swinging back and forth from my reality to something that is someone else's reality. Sometime this is good, sometimes not. Last week I escaped from my own daily self and flew to Seattle for the National Art Educators Association conference. I went in search of my teaching mojo since it has definitely disappeared since I lost my boys. Just like my vacation to Florida, being in another place that carries no association with William and Ethan made it easier to just be. The heaviness of their memory stayed at home. I definitely thought of them and talked about them with friends at the conference who know what happened, but the pressure of grief was not there.

What was there was me...the amalgamation of the old me and the current me. Just me, as an art teacher and explorer of a new city. I learned new things for my professional self and got some time to be a tourist in a place I had never been. (FYI...I now love Seattle.) I was re-energizing on many levels and gave me some excellent alone time as well as quick visits with other art educator friends.

I was also grateful for the escape from work. Things have been tense lately for a variety of reasons connected to the politics of being a teacher/public employee. Budget approval time is never fun for a school district. Worrying about what will be cut from funding is stressful. Additionally, I have been working with out a contract for several years. The union and school board are at an impasse with pending mediation. This means the union asks teachers (the members) to participate in actions. We can not strike but subtle protests of the lack of contract are being made (which I won't go into details publicly) and this ups the stress because not only must I do my job, do the best I can for the students but also work with in the recommended actions. And to be perfectly frank...I don't need extra stress. I barely function as a human being, little lone a teacher responsible for the art education, safety and well being of my students. Yes...I believe in fair treatment, fair pay and all that my union is fighting for...but the bare minimum is all I have to give and it is all I have. If I give anything more than that I will be either a puddle on the floor, a raving mad woman or worse. Granted no one has called me out on not "doing enough" but the peer pressure is palpable. I am just waiting for the moment for someone to comment about my participation in union activities. I am usually polite and reserved but I am not so sure I will be if pushed.

On a side note, the other teacher who lost her 24 year old son the same weekend I lost William and Ethan is returning to school this week. I can't remember if I have mentioned her here or not, but her son died in a tragic accident while teaching in another country. I think of her often and I found out she made a quick trip in to school today before she starts back on Wednesday. Even though I did not see her today, it brought back memories of my first time walking back into the building, the tears and the discomfort. Our stories are vastly different but grieving our sons is something we have in common. I hope her return goes well. It is so very hard.

Ya know, reality kind of sucks.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Unknowing Validation from a Stranger (Or how I almost had a melt-down in Old Navy)

Yesterday I reached a point where I could not take a single more day in my ill fitting off to the mall I went. I was by myself and just took my time trying things on and making a good attempt at shopping, something I normally hate. I went to several stores, got the bras I desperately needed and decided to pick up another pair of jeans at Old Navy since a pair I bought seemed to fit well. I hate that they are a size or two larger than what I used to wear, but oh well. I can't stand wearing my maternity jeans anymore either.

I was perusing the clearance section when a woman pushing a double stroller joined me in the back of the store with the most adorable twin boys they were around a year old and saying "Hi" enthusiastically to everyone that glanced their way. I would have thought that just seeing them would be a trigger moment, but they were so cute and funny that it wasn't what got to me.

After a few minutes of "hi" one of the boys pointed his chubby little finger at me and said, "Mama." I look nothing like his mother so it was clear he was in the developmental stage of symbol words and all women are mama. It is what his mom said next that was my nearly undoing. She responded to her own sweet son, "yes, she is a mama" and he replied "you mama." She lovingly replied, "yes, I am your mama."

I stood frozen to the spot I was standing until the turned away and the tears welled in my eyes. I grabbed my cell phone from my pocket and called my sister to have her distract me enough so I wouldn't end up in a heap under a clothing rack. While my sister wasn't home, leaving a message on her answering machine was enough to distract me long enough to get through checkout so I could run to my car and let go.

The conversation between that woman and her little boy is playing out over and over in my head. I know I am putting too much of my personal story in to what it means, but I can't help that it was a little bit of validation that I have wanted/needed. If it had been a singleton boy or girl it might not have carried the same potency (it still would have rocked me pretty hard) but the fact that it came from a twin boy and the mother of twins boys feels like a sign from the universe.

I am somebody's mama.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What Should Be...

This morning I received a painful reminder of what should be...a friend I worked with ages ago was pregnant at the same time as I was. Our due dates were a week or so apart and we were both anxiously awaiting our boys (2 for me, 1 for her). I logged into this morning and there it was...she had her baby last night/early this morning. I knew it was coming but I was not prepared for my reaction at all.

There were lots of tears of course, but I think I may have also had an anxiety attack to go with it. I was sobbing and shaking. Not the kind of shake or shiver you have when you are cold, more like a seizure but even that is not quite right. I was terrified and called my sister and the shaking stopped. She was amazing at calming me down. I really wish she lived closer, but even though we are far apart we are still close in our hearts.

I have been having pretty good days lately and today was the hardest I have had in awhile. It was even worse than dealing with the death certificate crap last week. It is one of those days you are at the mercy of your grief and it wins. I spent the day on the couch watching old episodes of Buffy (the Vampire Slayer) since they will all be off Net.flix soon. I never watched it while it was on the air and wish I had. Hopefully I can get through all of the seasons before they are pulled. The teen angst and 90's fashion are a great distraction.

All day I thought about what should boys should be here. I should be beyond tired from not sleeping well because they would arrive at any moment or because they had arrived. I should be anxious about being a new mom, not crying tears for my sons who are gone forever.

I have one more anticipated March birth to get through. One of my best friend's brother is expecting the arrival of his little girl soon. His wife's due date was the day after mine (William and Ethan were due 3/27). So another surprise announcement is eminent.

Cannot wait for March to be over

Saturday, March 5, 2011

This feels good!

Since last night my team has grown and we have already raised $310!!! I think I need to up my goal a little. I thought $1,000 might be more than reasonable but I am shocked and thrilled by the generosity that has come my way already.

I have already spent some coming up with our team logo and contemplating more creative outlets to raise funds. This feels good. It feels right. I feel loved. This might be just what I needed!!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

And We're Walking...

What a week!

I forgot to mention in my last post that while I was away on vacation I received the invitation/reminder letter to the bereavement group at one of the local hospital I mentioned in this post. Hubby and I went, but I am not sure what to think about it yet. The group dynamics were a little awkward but it could be helpful over time. I am glad that I wasn't completely forgotten as I feared. There are other groups in the area I still may check out to see if it is less awkward or just a better fit. I can see the possible benefit, but find my weekly one-on-one sessions provide the bigger impact.

All week I have been trying to find out why I have yet to receive a death certificate for Ethan, with no clear answers at the moment. Yesterday during lunch I made a few phone calls one of which, while not productive, was with a very kind woman who said that she was sorry that I needed to do this and she wishes she could have done more for me. This was a stark contrast to the nasty lady I talked to next. She was so short with me...or to be more accurate rude... and was no help at all. I ended up in tears and hanging up on her to give you the short version of the story. My sister is going to make some calls for me since I am a wreck about it now. Ugh! That horrible conversation on my lunch break sent me on a downward spiral for the afternoon and thankfully the teacher across the hall from me, who is my guardian angel now, cheered me up so I could teach my last two classes.

Today marks three months since my William and Ethan's birth. I managed to pull myself together enough to go to school and my angel of a friend (the same teacher mentioned earlier) checked in on me first thing, told me to come to her room during my prep so I wouldn't be alone and we were going for a walk during lunch. This made all of the difference in my day. I actually feel good now...maybe not happy...but definitely ok. Such a huge difference from yesterday and compared to this day last month. How can it possibly be three months that have passed?!?

In memory of my little boys I have decided, on what should be their 3 month birthday, to walk in the March of Dimes "March for Babies" on May 1st. I am going to get my family and friends to walk with me and honor my sweet peas. I am just getting my family team page together, but have added a badge to my side bar. I am still learning all that is entailed, but to raise awareness and money to support premature babies and their families is the best thing I can think of right now to honor their memories.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


The lightness I felt on vacation has dissipated quickly. I am back to feeling the heaviness of my grief again. I was hoping the light feeling would last a little longer than it did. I feel heaviness in several ways...the emotional heaviness of our loss, the physical heaviness of my post-pregnancy body and the heaviness of the dreary days of winter rains.

The emotional heaviness will always be there, but since Saturday it has felt physically exhausting. That may be in part due to the physical weight I am still carrying around but I felt so much better this time last week. Or maybe it is PMS...that is if everything is back on a normal schedule in that department. I do not have the energy to tell the difference these days.

The physical weight I have yet to loose is bothering me more and more. I am making a concerted effort to take better care of me. I keeping a food log and using the elliptical which is a start. Doing something is better than nothing. I can't rush my grieving process and I can't change the weather so all I can control is what I eat and how much exercise I get.

Adding to the heaviness is the phone call I have to make following up on ordering a marker for our boys' grave and the yet to be received death certificate for Ethan. William didn't live long enough to get a social security number or a death certificate. I hate that. I hate that Ethan "counted" and William did not.

Yeah...feeling heavy, but carrying on.