October Photo Project

Posted on: October 1, 2012

For those of you that don’t know, October is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month, with Infant and Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day is October 15th.  As a mother who has lost 2 little ones (Connor at 6 weeks gestation in March of 2008, and Melody at 7 weeks gestation in July of 2008), this usually means a time of quiet reflection and trying to just not think too much.  But as their birthday’s rolled around earlier this year, my husband said something that I thought was, well, genius   Why don’t we celebrate their birthdays, instead of mourn them?  In the very short time they were with us, they brought us so much joy.  So why not celebrate that?  Like I said, genius.  So we’ve started down a whole new road with this grieving process.

Now with October here, its time to keep that up.  My sister-in-law accepted a Facebook invite for a month-long event called “Capture Your Grief” . I went to the site and decided, yep, I’m going to do this.  I’m going to make myself do this.

I’ve kept my feelings about Melody and Connor to myself for far too long.  I need to stand up and speak about the heartbreak that comes with losing a child.  I need to speak about my heartbreak.

So, before I begin, I always feel like I need to defend a couple of things.

One, losses at 6 and 7 weeks means you’ve only just learned you’re pregnant.  I’ve had people tell me that my pain isn’t nearly as bad as someone that knew their baby for longer.  False.  If you’ve never experienced the miracle of a child, then it can be hard to understand.  As soon as you see that positive pregnancy test, your entire world changes.  Your thought processes change.  You change.  You are no longer the only person you have to worry about.  There is an itty-bitty person inside you, counting on you to take care of them, and trusting that you’ll do it.  A baby at 6 weeks is about 1/8″ long and weighs less than a gram.  It looks like a manatee with a pointy tail.  It has a steady heartbeat (hopefully).  All of these thoughts go through your head in an instant.  You are now a mom.

Two, the gender of your child isn’t really set until around 12 weeks (and sometimes, not even then).  So how do I have names for both of the babies I lost, if I didn’t know if they were a boy and a girl?  Good question.  And I may have some doubters, haters, and overall non-believers, but I just know.  I knew my living son was going to be a boy.  I just knew.  When it came to Connor and Melody, God re-affirmed my beliefs.  He showed them to me.  They were playing with him in heaven.  I got to hold them when they were small.  Then I left them in the arms of my grandmother, and came back here.  I don’t care if you don’t believe me.  It’s nice that my beliefs don’t hinge on that.

Three, every child is an absolute miracle.  Creating a fully-functioning person is so much more complicated than most people can imagine.  The slightest issue, a cell not splitting completely can cause a fatal birth defect.  A drop in temperature by only 1 degree can cause improper growth.  50-75% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage.  Most of the time, the mother has no idea she was pregnant in the first place.  Modern medicine has done wonders in helping in so many different issues a baby can have.  And it may be horrible, but sometimes, medicine just doesn’t work.  Sometimes its just not perfect, so it just doesn’t happen.  So when it is perfect, respect it, cherish it, and never take advantage.  Your perfectly healthy baby is ALWAYS a miracle, no matter what you believe.

I found out I was pregnant with Connor only 4 days before I lost him.  I had set up my initial appointment with the OB, told our families, and were planning every step.  I woke up on that 4th day in a lot of pain.  My back, my hips, my stomach.  I went to the bathroom, and saw that I was bleeding, badly.  My husband took me to our family physician, because it was very close.  I went in, took a pregnancy test.  Blood ended up in the cup.  My hands were shaking horribly.  I knew.  I knew he was gone.  I sat in the room, waiting for the doctor to come in.  I have no idea how long it took.  My poor husband was stuck in the waiting room, wondering.  The doctor came in, looking very sad.  I knew.  He asked if there was anything he could do, told me to stay off of my feet for a week.  Try and sleep.  I didn’t really hear much after he said, “I’m so sorry, but you’ve had a miscarriage.”  I walked out and paid the front desk, barely even registering they were there.  I walked out to the waiting room, caught my husband’s eyes, slightly shook my head, then made a beeline for the door.  I was sobbing uncontrollably by the time I got in the car.  I told my husband what the doctor said, not even remembering hearing it in the first place.  The next thing I knew, I was home, in bed, holding my husband’s hands, crying.  I have no idea how long we were like that.  After I gained some control, I made the worst phone calls I ever had to make.  I called my husband’s mom.  Told her, tried to hear what she had said, to hold myself together.  Then I called my mom, who then immediately packed my brother and sister in the car along with my dad and headed down to see me.  (We live 2 1/2 hrs South of my parents).  We cried some more, then I went to lay down on the couch, while my amazing husband went to pick up our apartment.  We had no idea how to be around anyone for a while, and no one knew how to be around us.  Then, 2 weeks later we got a phone call from my husband’s mom.  My sister-in-law just got back from her OB (she was 26 weeks pregnant), and they could no longer find a heartbeat.  Felix was born still later that night.  I remember his funeral so very clearly.  We got there, and walked up to my sister and brother-in-law, and she hugged me and asked how I was doing.  I was so blown away by that.  In the throws of her own grief, she loved me enough to make sure I was okay.  We were now both part of the club no one wants to be a part of.  During the funeral and the wake that followed, I couldn’t stop sobbing.  I couldn’t stop the horrible thoughts I was having, how I wished I could at least bury my boy.  We got some nasty looks from some people there, looking at me like I needed to get it together.  A few people came up to us with kind words, having only just heard about what happened 2 weeks prior.  I’m glad the people who matter were supportive.

A few months went by, and some days it felt like it was better.  Some days it felt worse.  My husband and I just stopped talking about it (stupid plan, btw).  I started feeling funky just after the 4th of July.  Everything I felt was the same as it was with Connor.  So I took a pregnancy test, and it came back negative.  Decided to wait a week to see if I would feel better.  I didn’t, and I started bleeding.  Went to the family doctor, took their pregnancy test.  Negative.  Told the doctor how I was feeling, so she felt my uterus.  Had me take a blood test, they would call me when the results are back.  Got a call 2 days later, we were out to dinner with family at Cracker Barrel.  The nurse asked me when I wanted to come back in, but I told her to just tell me what they said.  I didn’t want to wait.  She said I was pregnant.  But that the hormones stopped within a day of the blood test.  She told me that I was just a day shy of 7 weeks.  She told me that there was a prediction of the fetus being a girl.  She told me that there was no indication based on my blood work for a reason why.  She asked if I wanted to still come in. I told her no, and thank you for telling me.  I just sat outside for a little while.  All that I kept wondering was, why? How could this have happened again?   Could this happen again?  Will I ever be able to have children that I can hold?

Well, my son answered that last question.  I got a positive pregnancy test on October 6th, 2010.  I was excited, but was scared to death.  My first appointment was October 20th.  On October 19th, my sister-in-law, that lost her last baby, delivered a beautiful baby boy, Gabriel, with a terminal birth defect called Limb-Body Wall complex.  He lived for 32 minutes in the delivery room, then he left Earth and went to live with his brother and cousins.  Probably the oddest part about that whole experience was holding a cold baby.  It was the number one thing I never, ever, want to do again.  I went to my first OB appointment the next day.  And everything was perfect.  We scheduled an ultrasound for the next week, just to make sure.  Then afterwards, we went to visit Gabe one more time.  Went to the funeral, wasn’t as hysterical this time, just really sick.  (The only day that I had morning sickness.)  My husband read something for them, because, well he has an awesome voice, and he’d be able to keep it together.  He also helped carry the casket.  There shouldn’t be caskets that small.  We went to my ultrasound.  He was still perfect.  The ultrasound tech said he was strong, very strong.  He grew and grew and grew.  Every appointment, same news again and again.  He’s perfect.  (We didn’t know he was a boy until he was born.)  My parents came to the next ultrasound.  My mother-in-law and nephew went to the one after that.  Perfect, perfect, perfect.  At 39 weeks, my back starting hurting really bad.  I went into the OB, and got to do a stress test.  Saw the OB, she said head on over to the hospital, he’s coming out today.  I was in labor for only 5 hours.  They broke my water and he was born 20 minutes later.  My doctor didn’t have time to get to the room.  My bed didn’t even get broken down.  He peed on the Resident that delivered him, and on the nurse that had him on the warming table.  When they handed him to me, I sighed a huge sigh of relief.  My boy is here, he’s perfect, and he’s mine.  People were amazed that I let everyone else hold him so much, but I was that okay with everything.  I knew he was mine and he wasn’t going anywhere.

He is now 2 1/2, stubborn and hard-headed.  Just like his daddy.  He is sweet and silly, just like me.  He always wants to be around us, and always looks out for those that are smaller than him.  I can’t wait to have another.  I want a little, blonde-hair, blue-eyed girl.  It’s taking longer than I would like to happen.  I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s out of my hands.   God has shown us that he has a very distinct plan for our family.  That’s a tough pill for me to follow.  I want to control everything.  So I’m trying to be good, suck it up, and wait for God to do what he does.  We shall see.

So for this project, I am to take pictures, based on different themes, every day in October.  I’ve already missed today, which is supposed to be a sunrise (or a morning picture).  So I’m going to post one for day 2, and get the sunrise/morning picture tomorrow.

Day 2. Before Loss Self Portrait Share a photo of you before your loss. You could share a drawing/sketch or painting you have done if you would prefer that!

This is a picture of me and my husband on our wedding day.  I love this because we’re both so happy and we’re so focused on each other.  I chose this photo because this is how I want to be all the time when I’m with him, which unfortunately, isn’t true (yet).  We’re so young, and inexperienced.  So lost in each other.  I also think that is the most beautiful I’ve ever looked.  🙂

Tomorrow will be a sunrise/morning.


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