Our Girls

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

missing her

I spent part of tonight cleaning out an old "catch-all" drawer. (some might like to call that a junk drawer, but it's not junk to me, as you will see.)  It's in Kathlyn/Glory's room, the top drawer of one of her dressers.  And let's face it, I need the room for all her clothes.  I started putting instruction manuals to the baby equipment, spare parts, spare buttons, warranty information, recall information, cards, letters, a few old picture frames, stuff from my baby shower like an extra paper plate and a napkin, the invitation, the deck of cards from the shower game we played.  I knew all that stuff was in there.  But what I'd forgotten about was this large file envelope of receipts.

I still need the instructions to most of that stuff and the warranty info because Glory is either still using it or we're gonna use it for the next baby, so it's good to have that stuff around.  It's not really as heartwrenching to see those manuals because we have been using the equipment itself for so long.  It's all Glory's now, but it was Kathlyn's first and whether she is here or not, I know she wouldn't mind sharing.

The thing that gets me about the receipts is that they are all dated.  Most of them dated in April 2009.  I was 6 months pregnant, knew it was a girl, and about to have my baby shower so I got a lot of gifts in the mail.  The stroller system from my mom.  Giraffe bouncer from my SIL Jessica.  Baby Monitor and a little bath toy from John's cousins.  Some yellow and white neutral onesies I ordered myself.  I remember getting all of that stuff and being so excited.  I had no idea.  No idea what was ahead.  I was a lovefool and I was DEEPLY in love, and yet DEEPLY fooled.

I threw those receipts away because I have no use for them now.  No reason to return and way past the limit of time to return anyway.  I got my rainbow baby and I got to use all my baby stuff.  The receipts just take up space in a drawer or box now. But it still stings.  It's still hard to throw away something that represents part of her life.  Part of her life where she was ALIVE.

I never got a receipt for Kathlyn.  I want to return that part of my life and get a new one, one where she lives instead of dies.  Apparently I saved every receipt "just in case" something was wrong.  I never thought there'd be something wrong with the baby.  Except there wasn't.. there was NOTHING wrong with her and yet she slipped away from me... slipped through more than my fingers, she slipped away from my whole body, and took the majority of me with her.

I miss her so much.  I never even got to know a fraction of who she was gonna be, but I miss her more than any human has the capacity to do.  My grief is part of my every day life.  I ache for her and her abscense still affects our marriage.  I miss Kathlyn in everything I do with Glory, too.  It's not fair to her either.  They would have been such a sweet pair.  At the park today there was another little girl who liked Glory's little push car.  She told us she just turned 4 years old, which means she was born about the time I was getting all those receipts collected.  She wanted to get in the car, but her grandma told her she was too big (I would have let her). so instead she pushed the car while Glory was in it.  Her grandma said, "you're going to be such a good big sister when you're new baby gets here!" and I was thinking, Glory would have been such a great little sister.  She doesn't know what she's missing yet.  I can miss her enough for the both of us.

I packed away the rest of the contents of the drawer.. the instructions, the cards, the baby shower stuff.  Some day I can look through and read the cards from her shower again.  With messages and sweet cliches about congratulations and how they can't wait to meet her and how I'm gonna be a great mommy and she's gonna be so cute.

She would have.  And I would have.  It would have been wonderful.  I know because it's what I have with Glory.  I know what I missed with Kathlyn, and I know how very blessed I am to have Glory.  I hope she gets to have a sister on this side some day, that she gets to grow up with.  But then I'm sure I will still be upset that they didn't get to be a group of three.  Is having 66% of your children here with you, better than having 50% ?  Or is having 75% of them better?

I want 100% of them.  And I can't ever have that.

It would have been wonderful.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Once upon a time..

Once upon a time I had a daughter.  Even on ultrasound, she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  Her face was already just so cute and precious.  The first time I saw her little thigh and knee-cap and shin and calf so perfectly formed, I just adored every little piece of her.  I couldn't wait to photograph that face myself and bend those little legs into my arms.  All I ever wanted in life was a daughter, and I was about to get one. She was my dream come true.

You all know the story.  The dream come true that never came true.  Losing a child is the worst thing that can happen to anyone.  When you lose your only child, you lose your parenthood too.  For me, it was my entire identity completely flushed down the drain in one foul swoop.  You know the story.  You don't have to read about it again, even though I still live with it every day.

Once upon a now... I have a daughter.  And oh my goodness gracious, she is my dream come true.  She lives up to her name and more.  You all know the story! I photograph her face every day and I carry her around in my arms.  It is wonderful to carry a baby in your actual arms, and not just your heart.

Once upon a time in between, I had another daughter.  I only got to physically be connected to her for less than two months. I never even got official medical confirmation that she was a daughter... but I don't need that.  She was my daughter too.  I saw her body on the screen and I saw her little heart beating.  Hope.  Motherhood.  My baby.

On April 5, 2010, I turned 30 years old.  It was a beautiful day spent in the mountains with my husband after having a homemade pancake breakfast with my best friend and her little girl.  I was pregnant with that little daughter in between.  We stopped at our favorite overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway and took a picture.  I burned my leg on the side of the motorcycle.  I was pregnant and happy.  Still grieving, but filled with hope and promise of another little dream come true.

The next day, I had an ultrasound and heard the words no one should ever have to hear "I'm sorry, I'm afraid I don't see a heartbeat."  That sentence again.  It was a different ultrasound technician than the first time.  A different room.  A different machine.  A different doctor.  The same heartbreak.  The same devastation.  The same loss of hope.  The same loss of motherhood.

I don't have an uplifting end to this.  Even in my worst of days and rawest and most painful blog entries, I tried to end on some kind of positive note or hope for better times.  But I don't have one here (unless you want me to talk about Glory again).  My husband and I suffered tremendous losses, and nothing can fill them up or make it better.  What happened to us is not ok and never will be.  There are only two things we wouldn't trade to have those babies back.

I'm sorry we didn't get to know you better my 2nd little love.  I'm sorry if you feel like you aren't mentioned or honored as much as your big sister.  But you will always hold a special place in Mommy's heart, just for you.  You were just as wanted and wished for as the others.  Kisses to the sky for you my little cherry.  Sleep tight and wait for me.  You are still my baby.

Monday, January 14, 2013

What to expect..

Spoiler Alert...

Earlier this evening I watched "What to Expect When You're Expecting".. John was half watching with me, but it's not really his kind of movie and he was busy doing other things.  But we had this conversation early in the movie.

Him: This is a movie all about pregnancy?
Me:  Yes, it's  "What to Expect When You're Expecting"..
Him: oh.  did we expect to lose our baby all the way at the end of the pregnancy?
Me:  No, we definitely didn't expect that.

So I was kind of trying to light-heartedly watch this movie without comparing my awful pregnancy loss history to it, like I always do, but there went that idea.  John doesn't often say things like that.  Only every once in awhile.  oh well.  So I guess I'll just have to be disappointed in this movie when everyone has a beautiful perfect pregnancy with no mention of baby loss, like most movies.

I was wrong.  Very sad.  But actually NOT disappointed.

The movie follows about 5 women on their pregnancy journeys.  Some married, some not.  They all have different situations except it's the first pregnancy for all of them.  I was actually impressed with the movie and how it explored lots of different things you can "expect" when pregnant and trying to conceive.  It explored one couple on an adoption journey and touched on difficulty with fertility as well.  I did not see it coming for one of the women to actually lose the baby. It definitely made me cry, but I was glad to see them tell that story, because it IS so common, and it IS something some women might have to expect or go through when they are pregnant.  They don't say how many weeks the loss is, but they kind of imply second trimester.  She was showing, but had an ultrasound before the loss where it wasn't quite time to tell the gender yet, which is usually about 20 weeks.  They also showed how it feels when you're having a difficult pregnancy, or difficulty getting pregnant, or have lost a baby, and have to watch as other women have seemily perfect, happy, and easy pregnancies.

I vaguely remember this movie getting bad reviews.  Not sure why.  It was nothing spectacular, but it was well rounded. I can say that I'm "glad" that baby died because it's not a real baby.  I would never want this to happen to anyone, but it does.  All the time.  It's nice to have someone to relate to, to know I'm not alone, but not have to be sad for them in return because it's not real.  And they could probably make a sequel "What the Expect the First Year" and it could be pretty cute, and give the bereaved their rainbow baby...  which I know is not reality either.  Not everyone gets that.  But that's usually how Hollywood works.. ties everything up in a nice little bow, with happy endings.  The real raw stuff, the real emotions, is left for only us, not often explored enough in the movies.

Unless you want to watch "The Other Woman".. with Natalie Portman or "Rabbit Hole" with Nicole Kidman.  Or even "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"... those movies all do an excellent job or showing true grief.... when you least expect it..

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Eve

3 years ago on Christmas Eve, 2009, I wrote this...

"it is currently 19 minutes into december 25th, and christmas is officially over for me. what a relief. i made it through the christmas eve service, with minimal tears and a hefty dose of denial. as we were walking out the door, john and i opened the mail and found a gift card to applebees from his cousins. and they were open, so that's where we had dinner after church. christmas dinner at applebees for bereaved parents: perfection. the waitress placed the food on the table, and john put ketchup onto his burger. as i poured sugar into my coffee and picked up my fork, i said, totally as if i was in passing conversation, "thanks for the food, happy birthday, i'm sad, amen," made eye contact with john, and we both laughed. that was that. when we paid the bill, it was completely covered by the gift card, so all that was left was to tip the waitress. john gave her all the cash in his wallet, which turned out to be just short of a 100% tip. he said, because it's christmas eve, and we know how it feels to work on a holiday. he also heard her saying her boyfriend was in iraq, and that she was a student. sometimes, i wonder how john's big heart doesnt just burst out of his chest. he's so very kind. i dont know how i can manage to be so blessed and so lucky, and yet so unlucky at the same time."

Just a few days ago on Christmas Even this year, we went to Applebees again, after church service again, because it was the only place open.  Who would have thought in my misery the last time we were there on Christmas Eve, that we'd sit at a table adjacent to the first one... this time with our little rainbow baby with us.  She was in rare form.. a massive grump, a little toddler grinch who hadn't had a nap that afternoon.  She had a few bites of an appetizer but was so tired and having one mini-tantrum after another that I had to take her to the car to calm down, with the suggestion just to get the rest of the meal to go.  It was frustrating sure, but I will take a grouchy toddler any day over that childless parenting miserable grief.  Our waitress also seem frazzled, not because of our grinch, but because apparently there was another table giving her a hard time. Over jalepenos, as John overheard.  Jalepenos, really?!  that's your issue?!  it's Christmas Eve!  3 years ago we sat here miserable because our baby was dead, not because they were out of jalepenos.  Tell me about a real problem.

When we returned from the car, Glory had calmed down and was eating little pieces of chicken with her bare hands right off the top of my chopped chicken salad with mango corn salsa... go for it my baby girl!  you can have as much of Mommy's salad as you want.  I will go without.  Because all I wanted for Christmas was her, anyway.   The only thing missing was my 3 year old.  Only.  Only that enormous hole in my heart.

The bill was around $30.  And John left $30 for the waitress.  100% tip again.  Just like last time.  For the crying, for the mess, for the jerks wanting jalepenos, for having to work on Christmas.  I still wonder how his heart doesn't burst with all that kindness.  And how mine doesn't burst from the constant overwhelming pull of heartbreak versus pure joy.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Those Mayans got nothin on my bible.

Yesterday here is what happened to us instead of the world ending: my SLR camera fell down a flight of spiral stairs in the Biltmore House while I was trying to carry my stroller up.  Smooth move.  Broke completely in half.  It still works, you just have to kinda hold the lens in place.  And, while we were gone, a tree fell into our backyard and broke the fence, including the gate.  It is a miracle that the dogs were still there when we got home.  Unless they went out for an adventure and we didn't know it.  Thank goodness they weren't hurt from the fall either!

My precious Katie-cakes... Mommy misses you so much, and I am sorry it turns out we didn't get to meet again yesterday.  Sleep tight and keeping waiting for me.  Kisses to the sky for you every day, you are still mine.

Monday, December 17, 2012

just anxiety

It's been a long time. Such a long time. I feel like I need to update the look of this thing.. the music player doesn't work anymore, some of the links and photos are broken. I feel like I need to write tonight but I don't even know which blog I should write on. There was a point where I had so much to say, that I had 3 blogs. I am saddened that I haven't written to Kathlyn since her 2nd birthday. It doesn't matter though, and I know that, because I talk to her every day, multiple times. My heart is still just as broken as it was 3.5 years ago; I feel her absence in everything I do, everywhere I go, with every breath I take, but I just don't use writing as an outlet like I used to.

 Today is Monday. On Friday, a crazy, heartless psychopath broke into an elementary school and killed 26 people, 20 who were children. Although really, the other 6 people, they were someone's children too. Some of those adults were really young. I know the teachers who died were in their 20s, though the administrators may have been in their 40s or 50s. But I wonder if THEIR parents, in the angry stage of their grief, will resent the "this is such a horrible thing, ESPECIALLY because it was children!" Those adults I'm sure had just as many loved ones as the children. Of course it is extra sickening for innocence to be attacked, I'm just saying, the families of those 6 adults will have just as much heartbreak.

I just read this comment on the bottom of an article on yahoo - "The breaking news portion of this event is over, now begins the media's seemingly ghoulish delight in rehashing a horrific event from every possible angle. Leave the people to mourn their dead in peace." It's so true. and after you see what I've been through this weekend, you may possibly scold me for reading an article at all.

On Saturday, I started feeling sick and weak, and I had this horrible episode which almost brought me to the emergency room. I was terribly short of breath, lightheaded, with a tight chest and racing heart. It was terrifying. when you have a 1 year old though, it's not that easy to coordinate a trip to the ER. do I drive myself, while John stays with her? does he drive me, and we bring her? that's the worst idea. ask someone to watch her? that would have been the best idea, but I wasn't sure I really needed to go or not. so I went to sleep. I slept for hours, basically the rest of the day and all through the night and all morning and afternoon into Sunday. I still felt weak, but no more chest tightness. all day I still felt so shaky and weak though, with short bouts of shortness of breath. I felt like I couldn't get out a sentence. bending down to pick up a toy exhausted me. we managed a trip to get some groceries, but I was feeling so bad while we were there, that we drove past 2 urgent care centers on the way home; they were both closed. so I slept another 3 hours after we got home, and decided (with the help of 2 good nurse friends who turned out to have the exact same opinion) just to call my regular doctor in the morning. at the doctor, my exam, numbers, and chest xray were all normal, except my blood pressure was 144/92. the other day i actually had it checked and it was 100/62. big difference! so it's anxiety. "just anxiety." fantastic. I used to feel this way all the time after Kathlyn died... quick heart rate, lightheaded, tight chest, short of breath.. definite panic attacks and i do NOT want to feel that way all the time anymore.. it was awful.... except now i also have this weakness which im not sure where that's coming from. the doctor said maybe with this "dose of reassurance" that there's nothing wrong with my heart and lungs, maybe i can feel better.

I know EVERYONE is shaken by the shooting but the reality is, children die every day everywhere. crime occurs every day everywhere. I have had that reality spit in my face that we cannot protect our children no matter how much we love them or how much we try. there have been lots of platitudes about how now there are 20 children who will never graduate, never get married, never have children of their own, but that is the same for all the rest of the children who died on Friday in this country and around the world and every day since then. i am NOT NOT NOT taking away the grief of those families or the severity and horror of this event. they have a lifetime of sadness and struggle ahead of them, i can tell you that from personal experience. but as that other commenter stated, maybe we should let these people mourn in peace and not bombard them with media. it has caused my PTSD to surface and show it's ugly face. ironically, the appointment to see my medical doctor caused me to cancel my weekly appointment with my therapist, which is probably what i really needed.  my heart beats fast for those families, children, and staff of that school. PTSD will rule their hearts and minds forever now too.

 Death Barged In
 by Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno

Death barged in
In his Russian greatcoat
slamming open the door 
with an unpardonable bang,
and he has been here ever since.

He changes everything,
rearranges the furniture,
his hand hovers 
by the phone;
he will answer now, he says;
he will be the answer.

Tonight he sits down to dinner
at the head of the table
as we eat, mute;
later, he climbs into bed
between us.
Even as I sit here,
he stands behind me
clamping two 
colossal hands on my shoulders
and bends down 
and whispers to my neck,
From now on, 
you write about me.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

air above water

I don't know if I ever posted this on the blog... it was from 9/28/10. I was pregnant with Glory, and thinking of Kathlyn, as always.


underwater she breathes,

she blooms,

without light,

with sound, with love.

in transparent silhouettes

she is photographed,

bloming perfection, love

hopes, dreams.

light of heaven becomes her

not the light of earth as expected

gentle, comforting sounds and touches

love even more eternal than a mother's.

above water

i can't breathe.

with sunlight

i no longer bloom.

all i hear is the cries of

brokenhearted mothers

struggling to breathe

to walk

to understand

to be understood.

we failed

and we were failed.

succeeding only at loving our babies.

leaves turn

snow falls

cherries blossom

birds take flight.

i breathe,

a different air than before,

air above water,

air she never felt.


she breathed,

occupied the space

under my heart

with love.