Lydia Grace

Lydia Grace
Our first child, Lydia Grace

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Christmas was incredibly difficult. I am glad it is over. Now the year is coming to an end, what a year! So many things happened this year...good and bad, beautiful moments and painful ones (sometimes simultaneously), laughter filled and tear filled, the ending of some friendships, the beginnings of new friendships and being part of another family.

Focusing on the blessings of 2010, I want to share the five things for which I am most thankful this year.

1. God's sustaining grace and provision in trials and sorrow.

2. My faithful, patient, kind husband with whom I look forward to spending the rest of my life.

3. Our precious daughter whom I will see again some day.

4. The family and new friends who have supported us with prayers, kindness, and love.

5. Our son growing and healthy inside me.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas with Family

    My husband and I celebrated Christmas with his family this weekend. He needed to go to H-town for work and I decided to go with him. We had Christmas with my mother-in-law andfamily on Friday evening, then Christmas with my father-in-law, his wife, and family on Saturday evening. How can I describe the Christmas gatherings? 

   Incredibly painful. It almost felt like that first week or two after losing Lydia. The loss was very pronounced, her absence keenly felt, any joy in the holiday completely gone. Being around so many people and children was overwhelming. It was nice to see family and would have likely been easier had it not been to celebrate Christmas. 
   I am thankful for a moment I had with my mother-in-law on Friday evening. Children, noise, activity became too overwhelming. I went to lie down in the guest room. She followed me in and laid on the bed with me, hugging me and trying to offer comfort. I was able to tell her how much I missed Lydia and how much this Christmas hurt without her. We also talked about the loss of her baby and how she felt the first Christmas after her loss 28 years ago. 
   Unless you have lost a child, I don't think you can understand how pervasive the pain is during the holidays. EVERYTHING is painful. Seeing parents with their children is a sharper reminder that you do not have your child with you. I could not watch the children exchanging and opening presents. There is a searing, unending, pain in my broken heart. All the parents are naturally focused on their children, their excitement, taking pictures. I am just as focused on my daughter, but I don't get to help her open presents, take pictures with her, share in her joy and awe. I felt so empty the entire weekend. 

Lydia's lamb in her crib
Then there were pictures of the grandchildren. I really wanted to throw a temper tantrum at that point, scream and break things. Where was my daughter? Is she not a grandchild? Aren't you forgetting her? This picture isn't complete! I couldn't be around for that either. It wasn't until that moment I thought of it, but I wished I had some symbol of Lydia to include in those pictures. Maybe her picture or her stuffed lamb. I just so desperately wanted her to be remembered amidst everyone's joy and focus on their own children. It was awful. I did not take a single picture the entire weekend. I usually take many for my scrapbooks. It felt to meaningless and  I had no interest or motivation to take any. 
   A relative with a newborn came at one point on Saturday evening. Within one minute, my husband and I got up and walked out of the house. IT HURTS SO MUCH! And the younger the child, the more painful (at least for me).  
   Another more soothing point in this emotionally exhausting weekend was when my husband and I opened our Christmas gift from his father and step-mother. It was a Willow Tree "Remember" figure. It made me cry. I don't want family who read this to think we hated seeing them and that the gatherings were terrible, we did enjoy seeing family, but it brought so much sadness and pain, it was a struggle to make it through. 
   I was relieved to arrive home Sunday afternoon. I did not want to get out of bed this morning. I felt listless, sad, brokenhearted. It feels good to be back somewhere safe. The weekend definitely reassured me of my decision not to celebrate Christmas with my family. Grieving parents need their own Christmas. People who haven't been there might think it's better to spend holidays with family for comfort. I found little to no comfort. I don't know what we were thinking attempting it this past weekend. I've never seen my husband that sad in public. Leaving the last Christmas gathering Saturday evening, his whole body slumped over in the seat testified to his emotional exhaustion and sadness he felt. To sum up the Christmas celebration, as my husband bluntly put it: It sucked. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

And we have a baby boy!
(with 95% certainty, I should say) A girl and a boy. Pretty perfect. I knew it was a boy. Just like I knew Lydia was a girl. Good intuition: two out of two.

Today was my perinatologist appointment at 13 weeks. It went very well. A DVD of the entire sonogram was recorded (30 minutes) and we have many pictures from the sono. Everything is developing normally...10 fingers accounted for, good heartbeat and heart formation, brain and spine and limbs look good (hmmmm....I feel like I was saying this just a few months ago about our other child...).  
The perinatologist also recommended the anticoagulant daily injections. We just need to figure out how to pay for it. She said she is more concerned not only because of Lydia's stillbirth, but also because I have two bad copies of MTHFR that coupled with low Protein S has greater potential for blood clotting problems.

I feel guilty for not being more excited. With each doctor's appointment I feel more relief than excitement. When I was pregnant with Lydia, each doctor's appointment, the sonograms, every time we'd hear her heartbeat, I was excited. Now I breathe a sigh of relief. And hold my breath for the next appointment. I am an anxious person. Add experience with that and these positive reports from the doctors are wonderful to hear, but do not alleviate my anxiety and concern. Every single one of Lydia's appointments went well. We had no signs of problems. Two weeks before she was stillborn, everything looked great.

I'm not saying I am not thankful each time. I am very thankful nothing is wrong with the baby; that the only problem identified is a problem with me, not him. I am grateful he is growing healthy and we are not having any serious complications. Thank You, Lord.

Wow, a boy! 
And how I miss my baby girl! 

Saturday, December 11, 2010


We are in the midst of the holiday season...

   This was to be our first Christmas with our daughter. Now it's the first of...15? 40? 60? without us together. I have little interest in any usual holiday traditions and activities. My husband and I did put up a small Christmas tree. I am hanging a stocking for Lydia. I plan to put some items in it. I also ordered a family Christmas card with a collage of pictures. I signed it with the names of those in our family (my husband and I, Lydia, Baby Curtis, and our two dogs).
   We attended M.E.ND. 's Candlelight Service on Tuesday. It was a smaller gathering with music, a message, and the opportunity for each family to walk to the front of the chapel, say the name of the child/children they had lost, and light a candle in their memory. I choked up and it broke my heart when I said our baby's name, but it means so much for her to be remembered. It was also nice to have a Christmas event with other parents who have lost babies, who understand.
   I have not decided what family events I am ready to attend this year. I do not want to see other people laughing and being happy and sharing Christmas with their family and children. That sounds very is not that I wish others to be unhappy, it is just painful for me to see their joy while being in such pain. Is that too selfish? Perhaps it is. I want to yell that I lost my baby four months ago and I am not happy this Christmas, that this is not the most wonderful time of the year, and I do not want to have to put a smile on to be social. I do not want this Christmas to continue as if nothing has happened when our lives will never be the same. Participating in the usual activities feels like Lydia's death is being dismissed, not honored, forgotten...I am not sure how to express it. I stated that incorrectly: I feel like Lydia, her life, her memory is being dismissed, not honored and forgotten. As her mother it feels like a betrayal.
   So I think my husband and I are going to stay at home this Christmas. I have always been a traditionalist about everything Christmas. None of that seems to matter now. I plan to attend our church Christmas Eve service and cook a nice dinner for my husband and I. Christmas day I do not know what to do. I have not shared my plans with my family (who will likely expect us for the holiday).

I'm filled with questions this Christmas...

What do you do the first Christmas after burying your child? 

How do you acknowledge the celebration of Christ's birth, but do not participate in any of the usual celebrations? 

How do you watch other families with their children when you can't hold your child? 

How do you watch gifts exchanged with none for the baby you expected but lost?

How can you sing carols when tears are about the only words you have sung for months? 

How do you talk with people who feel the joy of the holiday season when you have feel dead inside? 

When you should have a baby in your arms at Christmas dinner and they are empty?

When a stocking is hung in memory of your child rather than for your child's pleasure? 

When the plans you had months ago will never happen?

When your heart is broken but the world keeps moving on?

Friday, December 3, 2010


   Yesterday I needed to go up to the hospital, to the women's center. I was not thinking about the implications of where I was going until I saw the front of the building. I began to sob. I parked my car, sat in it, and cried. I had not been there since the day of Lydia's birth. 
   I had such a strong, unexpected emotional reaction. It was like reliving those memories. Walking into the building and down the hall was challenging. Once I arrived in the labor & delivery area, everything seemed unfamiliar. The locked double doors leading into the area were something I do not recall seeing. The hallways were hallways I'd never seen before. I did not recognize the nurse's station. It was a strange experience. Walking out the front doors after the visit brought up painful memories of the day I left without Lydia. Rough morning. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tear Soup

Let's start with good news: yesterday my husband and I heard our baby's strong heartbeat at 170 beats per minute! Praise the Lord!

Also at yesterday's OB appointment, results from the blood work I had done 3 weeks prior had arrived. I have two mutated copies of MTHFR. As a result I am on a different prenatal vitamin with a specific type of folic acid not found in your standard prescription prenatals to help with the folic acid problem MTHFR causes. I also have a protein S deficiency, treatment for that isn't as painless as a pill. I'll be giving myself daily injections for the duration of the pregnancy. We also discussed some other problems and issues. More testing and further decisions about treatment will be made soon after my perinatologist appointment. It is a pressure and a little anxiety provoking, yet I feel a sense of relief to have something to do that may prevent another loss.

My longsuffering, ever thoughtful husband gave me an early Christmas gift yesterday evening when we got home from the doctor. A book: Tear Soup. It is the best book I have read in a long time. It's an illustrated children's book with a deep meaning I could definitely identify. I love reading things that express how I feel when I don't have the words. The full title is Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing after Loss. I highly recommend it to everyone. If you can find it in a library or next time you are in a bookstore, check to see if it's there. It's short and can be read in the store. You should read it.

Time to keep making my Tear Soup.