Thursday, September 22, 2016

Life goes on

I remember reading a lot after I lost Zach and one of the stats that stuck with me was that 80% of couples who lose a child end up splitting up. I never wanted to be on the majority side of that statistic. Seven years out and I'm not sure how I feel about it. In my heart of hearts I don't really think that our loss has anything to do with the way I've been feeling lately. I don't think any one particular event in our lives brought us to where we are now. We are getting older, we have each grown in different ways and most days I don't think we've grown in the same direction. We still get along, we still laugh together, we don't fight all that much, but I feel like something is missing. Despite feeling loved, I can't shake the feeling that I want more. I want freedom, I want independence, I want... to be alone. I don't know how to be alone. I don't know how to take that step. I don't know how to tell someone who loves me more than life itself that I don't feel the same way. I don't know how to leave. So I stay. Another day, another month, another year. I stay.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The forgotten child

My daughter was 5 1/2 when we lost Zach. She had just finished kindergarten and we had just moved out of a duplex and into our brand new house. It was the first time she had a back yard and she relished in the freedom, enjoying being outside and playing with her new friends next door. I watched her from the window... About two months earlier her Kindergarten teacher had phoned me at work. It was May and I was still pregnant and had a lot on my plate. Sadie had gone to kindergarten early, having been derogated to start before her 5th birthday. The school year was coming to a close so the phone call was surprising and I remember feeling frustrated and frazzled. The teacher complained that Sadie was slow. Not intellectually, but physically. Always finishing last, whether it was school work or getting dressed for recess or tidying up after an activity. I asked the teacher if that meant that she wouldn't be moving up to first grade, or whether she was insinuating that there was a bigger issue. She said that she was "just letting me know". I admit I was mad. It was only 5 weeks to the end of the school year and there was a lot going on in our family. A big move, a new baby, the end of the school year! Why was she only calling me at the end of the school year if this was such a huge issue? I decided to call the psychologist who had tested my daughter for derogation and ask her to retest her. I was told that the test could not be administered until at least 2 years after the initial test and that wouldn't be for another 8 months. When Sadie started school she lost her spark. Up until then she had been the happiest child I had ever met. Always smiling! But school changed that, and I can't help but wonder if her struggle had anything to do with it. Then, life happened. Years have gone by and Sadie's slow pace hasn't gotten any faster. She has no sense of urgency, even when you tell her that you're in a hurry. She arrives late for school often, despite living next door. Her teachers describe her work as "perfect, but incomplete", so her grades are slightly below class average. Tasks that should be simple for a 10 year old require hand-holding and repeated explanations, homework is a nightmare... And tomorrow she begins 6th grade. Next year, off to high school. I've recently started volunteering with her Girl Guide group, so I've had the opportunity to observe her and benchmark her against other girls her age. What I've come to realize is that all those years ago when her teacher called me and I was irritated and frustrated by her phone call, I should've listened. I should've been on top of this 5 years ago. But, I suppose it's better late than never. I've made an appointment to have her evaluated by a psychologist. My non-expert "suspicion" is that we are dealing with ADHD inattentive sub-type, which I suspect I also have. It's s tough admission. I'm conflicted. I want to find a solution. I want to make her a better version of herself... but i don't ever want her to think that who she is isn't good enough. I haven't told her yet. I'm not sure how to. I know that she is incredibly smart, but her thoughts are disorganized and scattered and it's hard for her to focus. I want to make her life easier, but I honestly think that she has no idea that how her brain works may not be "normal". I'm afraid that the realization will crush her. Almost 11 is such a critical age for development and self esteem. I don't want this to define her, I want it to empower her... In any case, whether it is ADHD or nothing at all, it doesn't change the fact that we adore her. She is a wonderful, sweet child and a patient and caring big sister and she is perfect just the way she is.

Friday, February 14, 2014

As years go by

Four and a half years have passed since we said goodbye... I often wonder if anyone thinks of you. I know I do. Every single day I think of you and what you would be like today. Last night I was looking at your little brother, who doesn't seem so little anymore. He was smiling and talking to your Daddy and just being goofy and I wondered about you. Would you have looked like he does, so handsome and mischievous? Would you fight bedtime as much as he does? Would you love cars and "'struction machines"? I would have registered you for Kindergarten this week. Most of the time when I think of you I don't feel sadness, more of a sense of wonder... You will always be a part of me, a part of my story, a part of how I got to be the person, the woman, the mother that I am today. You give me strength, but sometimes your part of my story makes me weak. It makes me sad that I had to learn that bad things happen to good people the hard way. It frustrates me that even if you do "everything right" sometimes things can go so wrong. Today I feel sad. I feel upset. I feel hurt. When I lost you my only hope was that my loss your help to prevent other people from experiencing the same fate. I hoped that people would learn that it's not just crackheads and risk-takers who lose their babies. Even people who eat well and don't smoke and live in nice neighbourhoods lose babies. When I hear of people close to me taking risks with their pregnancies it hurts me. It hurts my soul. I take it personally. It makes me feel like they didn't learn from you. I can't understand how anyone would take the risk if they knew how hard it was to lose you. I can't understand how people don't get that you can't take it back once those risks have been taken and that living with regrets is far worse than missing out on a little fun... My heart is aching for you today. I am wishing that I could go back in time and save you. I know that nothing that I did or didn't do caused your cord accident, but if I had known our fate I would have spent more time enjoying you while I had you, and paying attention to the little details of your short life. Those are my regrets. And once you were here I would've taken off your hat to see and stroke and kiss your hair, and I would've cut off a lock to treasure forever. I would've dressed you in your Winnie the Pooh pyjamas that I bought to bring you home in. They still sit in the closet unworn. I would've taken pictures of your hands and your sweet little feet, which were miniature versions of your sister's feet and your father's. I would've let your family love on you. You deserved that. They deserved that. I promised myself on that day that I would never go there. No what-if's. No should'ves. I knew that I couldn't go there, but 4 years out I am in a place where I can accept those regrets and move on. I will always miss you. I will always think of you. I will always wish that we had had more time. Happy Valentine's Day my little man. Mommy loves you.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The new me

When I think back to the day that I lost my son, one thing that I remember thinking was "I will not let this change who I am. I will not let this define me." I could tell you that I have kept my word but I would be lying. Losing my son was the most terrible thing that I have ever had to go through. It was a nightmare that I would not wish on my worst enemy. It did change me and maybe it does define me to some people, but I am thankful that it happened to me. I am thankful because I survived. I survived and it taught me that I can survive ANYTHING. I can do anything that I put my mind to because I put one foot in front of the other in the days after my son died and I lived. I breathed... I persevered. Here I am almost 3 years out. I still think of my son every single day. I still miss him. I still wonder what he would've been like, what colour eyes he would've had and what his personality would have been like. When we took our kids to Disney World last month I wondered how he would've reacted to everything we saw and did. I cannot sit here and tell you that I was sad while thinking those thoughts. Every one was bittersweet because I was there enjoying it all with my other two kids. My beautiful daughter and my sweet rainbow, who might not be here with us if Zach had lived. I miss my first son but I appreciate that this is the path that I was meant to take and that every event was a necessary part of my journey to where I am today. I love my life today and I am grateful for the lessons that I have learned along the way. I am grateful for my son who I will never get to raise.
Losing my son taught me that I am stronger than anyone could ever give me credit for. I am a warrior. All of this brings me to a new topic. I need to give myself a little pat on the back here. This weekend I ran my very first 5K race. For the first kilometer I followed a girl who was wearing a t-shirt that said "The biggest battle is with our own mind" and while I ran I thought about it. I thought about that vow to myself and how far it has taken me. I refused to let my son's death define me but it has. My son's death has shaped the person that I am today because every time I come up against something that I don't think I can accomplish I say to myself "Look at what you have survived! You can do anything that you put your mind to." So far I've done some amazing things. In the last 17 months I have lost over 80 pounds! Most of that was done without a gym membership while working full time and raising two kids. This weekend I ran my first 5K. I remember in high school struggling to get a passing grade on the 12 minute run and now I can run 5K in 32:05 minutes. I refuse to let my son's death be an excuse. He is my motivator in everything I do. He propels me to reach my goals, and often sends me soaring past them.
When I picture a mother who has lost her child I often think of Thomas J.'s mother in the movie My Girl. A sad shell of a woman wandering aimlessly with red puffy eyes, not knowing what to do with herself now that the reason for her existence has been ripped away. I knew on that day that if I allowed myself, I could become that woman. I also knew that I couldn't allow that to happen. When people think of me, they may think "Poor her, she lost a baby." but I would rather they think "Look at her, she's amazing... and can you imagine, she lost a baby?" I think that is who my son would want me to be. My son gives me strength.

Monday, April 25, 2011

For my friend

I recently received news that a friend of mine lost her baby, a little girl, at 39 weeks. I don't have the details but I can only imagine the pain that she's feeling. I haven't stopped thinking about her since receiving the news and I just keep replaying the thoughts that I had when I lost Zach. I thought I would write some of those thoughts out and maybe try and work through those thoughts in writing so that maybe someday these musing might help someone whose heart is bleeding, as hers is now.

I remember wondering how life could go on, how the sun could shine, how people could go about their day when my baby was dead. At the time I thought I was the only one feeling that pain, living it, barely breathing because the pain was too much to bear. Now I realize that whether or not I knew it at the time, someone was thinking of me, and my son, just as I am thinking of my friend now.

I asked a lot of questions, what if's, why's and especially why me? I felt alone and I felt like I had gotten the shaft in the lottery of life. Why did my baby have to die while everyone else I knew got to leave the hospital with a healthy baby? I have learned that although I may not know the reason why my son died, I just have to accept it. I have to go on living. My son would not want his Mommy to be sad so I have to move forward for him. I don't know why it happened to me, I don't know why it had to happen to you, or to anyone else for that matter. To be honest I have often thought to myself "chances are this will never happen to anyone else who I know personally"... but I was wrong...

You will never look at statistics the same waya again. You will begin to see a 1 in 100 chance as a HUGE risk. You have been on the wrong side of those statistics and you'll be terrified to have it happen again. You will hold on to your loved ones tighter... or you might pull away. I think I did a little bit of both. I was so afraid to love someone because it hurt so much to lose them.

The day that Zach was born I made a decision. I made the decision to go on living. I knew that it was going to be hard but I knew that I had to get out of bed each day, I had to move forward no matter how much it hurt to breathe. SOme days I couldn't do it and I let myself have those days. I remember feeling angry. I was angry at everyone else who had a baby that summer, especially those who had boys, I even hated those people. Sometimes I still do.

It's been about 21 1/2 months since I held and kissed and loved my little boy... and some days it still hurts that he's not here with me. Sometimes I relive that day, I relive the moment the doctor told me that he was gone, I hear her say "You'll have to go to the hospital to confirm it but the outcome won't be any different". I remember the ultrasound when she was looking for his heart beat. I remember the image of him on the screen, floating, lifeless... These images and memories pop into my head sometimes, mostly when I'm driving. They haunt me when I try to fall asleep at night. But they don't hurt nearly as much as they used to.

I celebrate my son, I love my son, I include my son. I celebrate his brithday, we have cake and send him messages in Heaven. We talk about him and tell our children about him. We wonder what he would've been like, we love him. We compare our other children to him... Noah looks like him sometimes when he sleeps... He had the same feet as our other two children and their father. He was beautiful.

People are ignorant and forgetful at times. People will say stupid things, they will forget your child and it will hurt. To this day I still have bad days. They have become few and far between but certain things will trigger the heartache. Usually seeing a little boy (or hearing about a little boy) who would've been the same age as Zach. People that should remember your child will act completely oblivious at times and others will surprise you with their kindness. People cannot possibly complrehend the pain that you are feeling or the love that you have for your baby unless they themselves have experienced such a loss.

I remember that early on I realized that I was not really mourning the loss of a person, but rather the loss of a dream. The dreams I had for my son, the memories I had planned to make with him the relationships I had envisioned for him with his sister and grand-parents and father... When he died I didn't know if I would ever get to have a son. I mourned the loss of an idea... but it was so much more than that.

Some days the pain will knowck the wind right out of you. Some days it will come out of nowhere and some days you might feel almost normal.

I'm sure there are so many more thoughts and feelings that I have had along the way and I'm sure that as I walk through this journey with her (if she'll let me walk with her) I will come across so many others along the way... I hope I can help her to feel less alone, less isolated. I hope that she will know that someone is thinking of her, even in her darkest hour and wishing her pain away.

Monday, March 21, 2011


I abandoned this blog during my pregnancy because I think I just wanted to be happy... It was a tough 9 months. Not because there were any complications or anything, just because I had a hard time convinvcing myself that at the end of it all I would have a living breathing baby. Thankfully that Little Bug moved a lot right up until delivery. I could feel that little one kicking up a storm while moving down the birth canal during my induction.
At 4:13pm on July 14th, 2010 Noah Ashton made his way into the world. At first he didn't make a sound, he seemed like he was just shocked but then he started to wail and I took a deep breath for the first time since finding out I was expecting him. he weighed 7lbs 9oz and was 19 3/4 inches long (same length as DD), despite being 3 weeks early.
The next few weeks were a bit of a whirlwind. Noah was released on time 2 days later but the following day we noticed that he had a yellowish tinge to his skin. We took him back to the hospital to be tested for jaundice. It came back positive so he spent 24 hours in luminotherapy so I could only hold him to feed him. That was tough! Then we got to take him home but had to take him back the following day for a control test. His levels were rising again so he had to stay 24 hours again. This happened three times when finally a nurse noticed that his breathing seemed laboured and his skin was turning greyish. The pedicatrician ordered a whole bunch of tests and it was found that his heart was enlarged and he had very low oxygen saturation.
That day, at 12 days old, Noah was transferred to the ICU of a local children's hospital. He was diagnosed with Coarctation of the Aorta, basically a narrowing of the aorta. You see, babies have a little flap in their hearts which is called a truncus, which helps blood flow while in the womb. It closes shortly after birth.When Noah's flap closed it caused pressure to build up in his little heart because with the narrowing in his aorta, there was nowhere for the blood to go. is heart was working overtime so it became enlarged (since the heart is a muscle). They gave him some medication to reopen the truncus in order to relieve some of the pressure and he stabilized within a couple of hours. The following day we met with a pediatric cardiac surgeon and discussed what would happen with Noah. We were told that he needed surgery to repair the coarctation... The scariest news I could possibly imagine. I've never prayed so hard in all my life.
When Noah was 14 days old he underwent surgery to repair his coarctation. He came out of it in just under 4 hours (the LONGEST 4 hours of my life) and was released from the hospital 4 days later. Here is a picture of him 2 days post-op. Already feeling better :)

He goes in to see his cardiologist every 6 weeks or so and in October he was sleeping a little more than usual but I didn't really think anything of it since he was about to hit 3 months and I figured he was just going through a little growth spurt. So I took him in for a regular check-up with the cardiologist and sure enough the coarctation had returned (recoarctation). This time, though, he would have a catheter dilatation, which is a fairly straightforward procedure in which they put a catheter in his groin which threads up to his aorta and they inflate a balloon to reopen the narrowed passage. That was a Thursday, he had the procedure done the following Monday and got to go home on Tuesday.
Since then he's been doing great. He's a happy, energetic 8 month old and you would never know that he had been through so much in his little life.

Friday, March 5, 2010


How does anyone get through this? How does anyone go for nine months not knowing with each passing day whether their baby is going to be born alive???
I don't know how much more anxiety I can take. I can't sleep, I have no appetite, I can't concentrate. I just worry 24/7... and then I feel a kick and am reassured for that moment... but it never lasts.
I haven't seen my baby in 7 weeks. The last time I saw my baby it was essentially a blob with arms... For 3 weeks I felt my baby move all the time, day after day I was reassured by punches and kicks and nudges and then nothing 3 days... then reasssurance but never as strong as it had been... now nothing again... we had some flutters yesterday but was it the baby or gas... how can I really be sure?
I just sit here and cry my eyes out... I just want to KNOW that everything is going to be okay. I want to KNOW that my baby is not going to die. I want to know that my daughter is not going to have to cry herself to sleep for months again because she misses her baby brother or sister...
I want to know that my body is not going to fail me again.
I want to have faith that everything is going to be just fine and that all of this is worth it because at the end of it all I'll be bringing home a beautiful healthy baby.
One more week until my next appointment.
One more week until I know for sure whether my baby is alive.
11 more days until the anatomy scan.
11 more days until I know whether my baby is healthy.
11 more days until I can see my baby on that screen.
If we make it that far.
I never had these fears with my son. I had confidence. I had never lost something that meant so much to me. Now all I have is fear. Fear of losing a baby all over again. Fear of that shelf in the corner having two tiny little urns on it...
I try to be calm, I try to hold it together and some days I succeed. Others, like today, I fail miserably... and while I should be getting ready for work I sit here with tears streaming down my face trying to will my baby to give me a sign that he or she is still alive in there.
I always have a hard time around the 8th of the month... mostly leading up to it. Being pregnant has only intensified those emotions in me. I'm a wreck usually from the 5th until the 7th and generally the 8th comes and goes without incident. It's not like it's different that any other day... I mean, aside from the fact that my son was born sleeping 8 months ago on the 8th of July... It's not like I think of him more or miss him more I cry for him more... How could I? I do those things every day of my life.
The 8th of this month is a little different. The 8th of this month marks the halfway point in this pregnancy. On the 8th I will be starting the second half of this pregnancy. I will be 18 weeks and 5 days of a 37 week pregnancy. It will be the second leg of this LONG journey and hopefully it will all be worth it in the end.