Sunday, July 31, 2011

Warning: Bumpy Road Ahead

I've been handling my grief pretty well lately and feel like I've accomplished some major healing milestones in this past year, so I was surprised when my grief snuck up on me and hit me in the head like a ton of bricks last night. I'm not sure exactly what triggered it. Usually something does.

I was putting Lilli to sleep last night and just started thinking about how this time last year when I put her to bed, I had Everett with me. He was alive, and we were anticipating his arrival at any time, due to all the problems I was having in the pregnancy. I started thinking about how it's almost the month of August, and almost to the one year mark of when he died, and then when he was born. I started crying and couldn't stop for a while. It's been a long time since I've really let myself cry, so there was quite a back up of tears. I miss Everett so much right now, it hurts almost as bad as it did when we lost him. That, I wasn't expecting. I know there will always be a void, along with missing, and sadness, but it's like the grief scab got ripped wide open. All I can say is, this really sucks. Big time!

I asked my husband through tears tonight, "why did this have to happen to us"? He pointed out the fact that why does it have to happen to anyone. We aren't exempt, we aren't any different from the other 26,000 woman in the US each year who loose a baby through stillbirth. I guess this whole thing is a continual work in progress and I know will take so much more time to heal. One year is not much time in the grand scheme of things. But still, it really does suck.

~Steph

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Brain Clog

This week is completely flying by, for me, and I feel like I'm running out of time to get everything done that needs to be done. I start work next week and have tried to cram one too many things into my week before I go back.

I feel like my brain is on overload and am having a difficult time formulating simple thoughts at times. That's a little troublesome. I have learned to laugh at myself (A LOT) lately when that starts to happen. It's like I know what I want to say, and mean to say, but it doesn't come out that way.

The very first Run 4 Everett is only three weeks from Saturday and I'm starting to feel the pressure. It's like planning my wedding all over again, except with more people and without the nightmares that I'm wearing the wrong dress! This event is a BIG DEAL! I want things to run as smoothly as possible, I want people to have a good time, and I want families who've experienced a loss feel like they matter. I also know that things like this aren't without flaws and I can't make everyone happy. I've certainly found that out from a few sour folks along the way. A couple of those folks I encountered last week. It really reminds me that no matter what we've been through this past year, some people really are just that unhappy in their own lives and will try to take you down with them. You know the old saying, "Misery loves company".

I think part of the other reason my brain is clogged is that we are quickly approaching Everett's first birthday. He would have been turning one, two weeks from tomorrow. That seems so hard to believe. One year ago today I was halfway through my high risk stay at the hospital, and a year ago tomorrow was when my doctors made the first fateful decision to send me home, when they should have been delivering me instead. I don't know if those doctors ever think about those decisions they made and their consequences of not listening to the testing (Everett), not listening to themselves, and not listening to me. I hope in some ways, not ill intended, that those moments and decisions haunt them in their medical careers, if not for any other purpose but to remind them not make the same mistakes with another baby and family.

I made my last ditch effort to speak on behalf of Everett by filing an official complaint with our State's Attorney Generals Office, against the OBGYN practice and Maternal Fetal Medicine Office that were responsible for Everett's death. It's the last form of recourse we have in having an "official" person review what happened, and possibly file something against the physicians medical licenses. It was found by both attorney's and three other medical specialists that medical standard of care was not met and had it been met, Everett would have (most likely) been here. I'm really hoping something happens with this, but not holding my breath either.

Each day that moves forward is a day further ahead in the healing process. On the flip side, each passing day gets me further away from remembering what my little boy felt like in my arms, what he smelled like, and how soft his hair felt. That has been hard for me as we quickly approach the first anniversary. And could be another reason my brain has been clogged up lately. So many emotions, and feelings to sort through.

Lilli continues to tell me how God and Jesus take care of Everett and all his needs, and how nice they are to him. That gives me comfort to hear from her, even though I already know it in my heart. Someday, I will have to write a blog called the God and Jesus chronicles. Lilli really does have ALL kinds of stories of things that Everett does with them. Apparently they take him shopping in Heaven, and bought him a toy similar to what Dave and I had purchased for him shortly before he died. It's so he wouldn't miss it, and us so much, she said.

I really do count my blessings with my amazing little girl. I'm so proud to be both she and Everett's mommy. Maybe once this upcoming month passes, my brain will start to function at a more normal capacity. One can only hope!

~Steph



Thursday, July 21, 2011

Turning the corner

I have some news. Good news for a change! I got a job! Not just any job. When I was going through this process of seeking employment, I was careful with who and what I chose to apply and submit resumes to. I didn't want to just get any job that would bring income in, it had to mean something to me. It needed to be someplace I would enjoy staying for a long while, and someplace that was supportive in general with their employees.

I think I applied for around 15 different positions at a variety of places that fit that criteria in the last 8 months. Interviews were few and far between. I saw some report on Yahoo this week that actually listed Indianapolis as the top little big city to live for a variety of reasons. One being job growth and low unemployment rates, compared to the rest of the US. Although I know that with me personally and several other people I know, weren't experiencing this when applying for jobs. It seems the applicant pool here is huge and would take knowing someone to get your foot in the door for an interview. That's what happened to me with this new job.

I interviewed for this new position last week. Of course, when I left I thought of about a million more things I should have, or could have said to sell myself to them. I felt uncertain about how the interview went. Isn't that how it usually goes? I got the call I had been waiting so long to hear, yesterday, that I got the job! I was ecstatic! Finally! This isn't just any job either. It's something that I've been very interested in for a variety of reasons. I will be working at an adoption agency, being a part of a team that helps families make their dreams of completing them a reality. It doesn't get much better than that, at least in my opinion. I will be working part time, which is also, in my opinion, the best of both worlds. Lilli is excited and a little apprehensive about returning to pre-school. She asked me, and told me, she wants to go to work with me. It will be a change from what we've both been used to for this past year, but it's going to be a positive one. I'm so glad she will be returning to such an amazing, and supportive pre-school. She starts Kindergarten in just two short years! That will be here before we know it!

The new job starts during an incredibly hectic month for me, August, but I know I can handle it, and I'm so ready for it! I will also, by chance, be off on Everett's first birthday, which is important to me. We plan on spending the day as a family and will visit Everett at the cemetery with some small birthday goodies and balloons. I have no doubt that a big celebration will be planned in Heaven, with all his friends and family, up there, in attendance. I recently found out that two other angel's (in the Indianapolis area) joined him into Heaven at the same time and share the same birthday. Their special mommies will be walking and running in their memory at Everett's race next month.

It feels good to be rejoining the working world and I'm so excited for this next step and adventure in my life!

~Steph

Monday, July 11, 2011

11 Months!

I can't believe that my baby would have been 11 months old today! That just seems mind boggling to me. Probably because he hasn't been here, except in spirit, to share it with us. The past six months seem to have flown by. I often think about all the things Everett would be doing and enjoying with us today, if he were here.

About a year ago today marks the final four week count down leading up to Everett's death and birth. It was the most terrifying month of my life. I was in and out of the hospital 8 different times due to decreased movement and heart rate issues those last four weeks. Never knowing what to expect next and feeling a sense of doom looming around me all the time. I also felt such a huge amount of helplessness. I was still working while all of this was happening, which added another level of stress to the mix.

The beginning stages of grief were down right miserable. I can't even put to words how miserable I felt during that time period. There was so much hopelessness after Everett was gone, and the constant reliving of everything that took place; if only they had delivered him sooner, if only they had listened to me, if only they had listened to themselves, he would be here with us right now and we wouldn't have had to experience the worst pain of our lives. I kept asking myself over and over again, 'how could this have happened', 'why did this have to happen'?

August 10th of last year (around 6pm when we were told the words no parent ever wants to hear) marked the beginning our our new life and NEVER in a million years would I have guessed that I could have survived the loss of our son. But I went though it, and somehow managed to survive. I feel somewhat stronger since the loss of Everett. Mainly because I've had to be. I've had to keep putting one foot in front of the other and I want to make sure that as many people as possible know our story, to try and prevent another tragedy, like this one, from happening again. It was preventable, and it never should have happened. I want to make sure that pregnant moms out there know how to make their voices heard, with their physicians, and concerns listened to when they feel something isn't right. I want to make sure pregnant moms know how to properly track their baby's movements (click here to learn) and not just brush it off and think 'well, it's late in the pregnancy and they just don't move that much anymore'. I want to make sure that stillbirth is talked about in society and research continues so that ways to prevent it can be found and passed on to medical professionals.

To make it 11 months without our son is a big deal. Next month is going to be even bigger (and harder) and we will celebrate our Everett's first year in a big way with family, friends, and the race. I miss him terribly every day, and while things get easier with time, I never, ever, forget him or what he meant to our family. For the rest of our lives there will always be a missing piece in our home.

Love you Everett. Mommy misses you and holds you close in her heart always.

~Steph

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My Beautiful Grandmother

I have one grandparent left here on earth. My grandmother on my dad's side. She is a beautiful and amazing woman with the most stunning blue eyes you've ever seen. Kind eyes, that make you happy when she smiles through them. My grandmother has had a pretty wonderful life. She has also had a rough go of it for the last 4 1/2 years.

Over the weekend we made the hour trip to an outlet mall for some 4th of July shopping and deals. The outlet mall is pretty close to where my grandmother used to live and made me think back to fond memories I have from when I was a child through my adult years. My grandmother J has always been present in my life. My grandfather was too, but he passed away from ALS in 2000. She and my grandfather lived in a beautiful, yet comfortable home on a lake about an hour from our house. I spent A LOT of my childhood there, especially in the summers, playing with all my cousins, swimming in the lake and going out for boat rides while I watched my aunts, uncles, and older cousins water ski. In the winter, if it got cold enough, we would ice skate until we froze! It was fun. We always looked forward to going down to their house and spending a weekend, or a week. I have memories of going out on canoe rides around the lake, and fishing with my dad and grandfather. We would head to the local bait shop on a Saturday morning. I always made my dad bait my hook. I'd touch the fish, but no way would I touch the worms.

My grandmother would cook big meals for all of us to eat, at times there were 20 of us down there on a weekend, while my grandfather would grill the burgers and dogs after a long day of being out on the boat and swimming. They always had ice cream in their freezer for all of us kids to eat (11 grandchildren), homemade chocolate chip cookies, and would make a big batch of popcorn in the evenings for us to munch on while we watched TV. It didn't get much better than that.

In the years after my grandfather died, my husband and I spent a lot of time going "down to the lake", as we call it in our family, to visit with my grandmother. She was never a typical "old lady". In fact, she seemed so young, vibrant, and full of life you would have never guessed how old she was. She always kept up her appearance, was up to date on the latest fashion trends, and her makeup always looked perfect. We would sit in her living room and give each other pedicures. She loved to shop and we certainly did a whole bunch of that together. She shared my shoe addiction, and we'd ooh and ahh over different kinds of shoes. We also shared a love for gardening. She grew and tended to a traditional English Garden in the front of her house. It was beautiful, complete with boxwood's and roses. Whenever my husband and I would go down she and I would head off to an out of the way nursery because they had the best and most beautiful plants there. I loved spending my time with her. She always had interesting stories to tell and was full of family history knowledge.

In 2006 her beautiful home on the lake burned almost to the ground. This was devastating to our entire family, as this home held so many memories and good times. My husband, an architect, redesigned it to suit her needs and thinking about her aging built the master suite on the first floor, complete with a balcony for her to sit in the mornings and look out at the lake. We spent so much time there that year, working with the builder, picking out finishing touches, new furniture, paint colors, etc. The house was complete and she got to enjoy it for just two months before she suffered a massive stroke.

Did I mention how physically strong my grandmother is? She survived the stroke, but it left it's impact on her body, mind and speech. She fought damn hard at regaining her strength back, and worked on her speech. She was never able to go back to the house to live though. I think that's when I first started grieving my loss of her. After her stroke, she was never the same person. She was still sweet, and funny and beautiful, but very different too. I missed the grandmother I knew.

She was doing better for a little while and even able to live an assisted living apartment. But the last couple of weeks have not been so good. She was diagnosed with vascular dementia after the stroke. A type of dementia that occurs after a traumatic brain bleed. Lilli and I went to see her today. I prepared myself for her not knowing who we were and what she might be like during our visit. Nothing could prepare me though for what I would find. I went up to her and said hi. She smiled at me through those beautiful blue eyes of hers. I asked her if she knew who I was. She asked, "who"? I told her Steph. She looked off in the distance, like she was in a far away place. I spoke to her about how she was doing, and she kept repeating, Steph... Steph... She mumbled something to me I couldn't understand. Then she looked up at me and said, "Stephanie"! She then told me she loved me very much, and went back to mumbling. Tears started streaming down my face. I hugged her and kissed her and asked if I could rub her head. She seemed tired. I ran my fingers through her hair and told her how much I loved her and missed her and how she is such a special grandmother to me. She looked at me off and on. Still peering out in the distance. She cried. She appears to be in a state where she gets moments of lucidity back but knows something is terribly wrong. That must be terrifying.

We were able to get Lilli on the unit to visit with her and she lit up! We told her Lilli was her great granddaughter and she was very happy to hear that (she knew Lilli well before this stage progressed). It warmed my heart to see my daughter smile and play with my grandmother, just as she always has. My grandmother has always been so special to me, and I hold her close in my heart. It was time to go. Lilli and I told her we would be back to visit. She watched us get on the elevator and Lilli blew a kiss to her. I love my grandmother so much. This process is going to be so much harder that I thought it would. It really is painful to see someone you love suffer through something. Any prayers for her would be much appreciated.

~Steph

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Year Ago Today

One year ago tonight I was sitting in a lawn chair watching a beautiful display of fireworks ignite in front of me. One year ago tonight, I watched my daughter look with excitement to the lit up sky and cover her ears at the loud noises, but smile at all the pretty colors. One year ago tonight my little boy was safe, and sound, and alive in my belly.

Everett had great hearing at that time in my pregnancy and could hear quite well all the loud noises going off around him. He didn't like it. I giggled as he would move like crazy every time another loud firework would pop in the sky. It got too loud for Lilli so she went to sit in the car and watch with Daddy. But Everett and I sat out, under the night sky and enjoyed the fireworks display together. I rubbed my belly each time a noise startled him and let him know it would be O.K. That this time next year he could see what all this noise was about. Next year is here but our little boy isn't.

We will head off to watch the fireworks again, shortly. I will miss having my little guy safely close to me as we celebrate the Independence of our country. I will, however, cherish the memory I have of spending the 4th with him last year, and having those moments to ourselves.

Mommy loves you Everett, and not a day goes by that I don't think about you, talk to you, and wish that things had been so different. You will always be a special, amazing child in our life. Love you always.

Mommy