Sunday, September 14, 2008

Our Story

Part 8, After the Service and the few days following

After the short service, people were invited back to my parent's house for a meal.

One of the things I forgot to mention in my previous entry was the my uncle, from Hawaii, had flown in for the service. I just remembered, once again, being baffled by this. I had to keep reminding myself that my son died. It was a Big Deal. I know he had come to support my dad, his brother. It was something that meant a lot to us.

It was a beautiful, early summer day. People chatted on the back patio, chomping on fruit and sandwiches my mom's friends had made. I remember sitting on the love seat, next to my grandfather, and him hold my hand. It was a sweet gesture. I remember sitting outside with a few friends of mine and talking about another friend's recent trip to Mexico to meet her now in-laws. I remember my mother in law joking about how far away we lived. I remember changing into different clothes later in the day, in my parent's gust room. I remember leaning against Craig, him wrapping his arms around me, and I remember sobbing into his chest.

I don't remember much else.

We came home later that evening to a very quiet house. We had stuff strewn every where. We decided to sit down and open all of the cards we had been given lately. Letters poured out of so many. Heartfelt, heart broken words, people were just aching for us.

I read each one with almost...numbness. It was all kind, it was all sweet, I knew it would mean so much to me at some point. But when I read it at the time I just thought "oh, that is nice." And pushed it aside. In the months, and years, following, I would read their words, find comfort, and sob. But at that point feelings had started to turn off. My brain couldn't handle the overload anymore. It was too much. I think that is why so often people say others forget or they feel abandoned. Because at the time of the loss, the love and support is all immediate. And it is almost too much. As time moves forward and you are able to process thing and truly grieve, others have stopped the outpouring. You often need it more 6 months down the road then you do 3 days into the process.

That night, we were just sitting in the living room. This air of "what do you we do know?" hanging over us. Craig started pacing across the living room floor. "Let's go to a movie. Do you want to go to a movie?"

A movie? Hell no! I wanted to be tending to my screaming baby.

"Yes. Sure."

There was nothing we really wanted to see, but picked out anyway. A comedy. A movie called RV with Robin Williams. It had gotten horrible reviews, but we didn't care. We went, we watched. We tried to lose ourselves in the movie. We didn't, but it felt nice to do a normal, routine activity.

There was a scene in the movie, where a father and son are playing catch.

I burst into tears.

Craig rubbed my hand. Father and son stuff...that still gets to me to this day.

The next following days, things are a blur. We went to a BBQ at my aunt's house while my uncle was still in town. My cousin sat down with me and wanted all the gory details. How we found out. What delivery was like. What I was feeling. Grateful to talk, I poured it all out. Every last thing.

Craig took the next week off, as planned when the baby would come. We didn't leave each other's side on Monday and Tuesday unless it was to shower. On Wednesday, his brothers and dad came over and they went to play 18 holes of golf. It was the first time we were apart and I went out to dinner with my parent's. For my mom's birthday. It was a somber dinner. I was on autopilot so much of this time.

One of the days, I called Curtis' daycare. They were expecting a phone call the beginning of June so they could start preparing to take him on in August. The poor woman on the phone who answered was on the receiving end of my first out loud explanation of what happened. I stated my name, said they were expecting my son to start in August, but he had been stillborn a few days ago. So wouldn't be in their care. It was a stupid thing to say, but it was one of the first times I spoke it out loud to someone who didn't know my story. Since this time, I have gotten very good at explaining it to people. But then, I just stuttered and stumbled my way through it. She stuttered and stumbled her way through saying she was sorry, and she would pass on the message, she hung up on me even before I could thank her.

Craig had the task of calling our insurance company. We had some extra disability pay that we were entitled to when I gave birth. We had the form that had been filled out and needed to call to get some type of ID number. The woman was chattering away on the phone with him.

"Oh! Your wife gave birth! Great. Boy or girl?"

"Boy." He answered. Softly. Matter of factly.

"That is just great! Congrats! When?"

"May 31st."

"I suppose you are having all those sleepless nights. Woohoo. I do not miss those! Not at all."

"Well, he actually ended up stillborn."

The woman rushed through the rest of the case and got him off of the phone quickly. The same thing happened to me when I called to make a follow up call with my doctor.

"Oh! A post delivery check! Congrats. When was he born? Babies are such blessings. Are you getting any sleep?"

Then the "Oh. I am so sorry."

Honestly, couldn't they flag my chart or something?

The upcoming weekend, Craig and I decided to go on a little trip away. Craig would be heading back to work and I would be alone at home. We wanted to spend a little time together and just try to relax. I had come to Craig and said that I wanted to get a tattoo in Curtis' memory. I had a tattoo already and I thought maybe I could add his birth date and name to it. Craig, who is the last person on Earth you would expect to get a tattoo, looked at me and said "I want to get one too."

We decided on our little trip we would find a tattoo shop and pick out tattoos in honor of our little boy. We were so excited. We left on a Friday morning and drove the 2 hours south. We approached the little town of Red Wing, MN and found "Spirit Garden's Tattoo" shop. We walked in and started to look at designs. I was almost giddy at this point. I had so badly wanted this, I wanted something permanent to say "Yes, he is my son. Yes, he was alive. Yes, he matters."

Teddy bears had started to play a significance in our memory of Curtis. His urn was a teddy bear, and he had been posed with a tiny teddy bear at the hospital. Craig picked out a sweet little teddy bear holding a flower design. He asked me my opinion and I loved it. It was done, we would both get this sweet tattoo.

We made an appointment to come back later in the day and get the tattoos. We decided at this point to go see if we could check into our hotel when Craig's phone rang.

I clearly remember him answering and looked in shock. He turned into an empty parking lot and said "what?" I started thinking it was his Gram. She is 90 years old. In good health, but obviously something serious was wrong.

Craig turned, horror in his eyes and said "Diane died."

I was confused. The only Diane I knew was in her 50s. We had just seen her a few days prior at Curtis's funeral. She had never been sick. She was Craig's best friend's moms. She was my mother in law's best friend. She went us to Vegas the previous year. There must be some mistake.

"We need to go back home."

I offered to drive. Craig looked like he was going through hell, for a second time. We switched places.

And started the drive back home towards the second saddest event we had to live through, ten days apart from the first.


Anonymous said...

I've been following your story since I found it a few days ago, and your posts physically make me ache.

I'm so sorry for the loss of your little son. No-one should ever have to go through so much.

I'm so very sorry.


Cara said...

"Autopilot" is exactly the word for post-delivery of a stillborn baby.

I think we should get a sign when we leave the hospital (along with our 'loss bag') that says, "My baby was stillborn. Tell me you care and will do anything to help then come back in three months and do it", because you are so right! So much of that time is erased from our memories that people probably think we aren't grateful for their support.

When our next baby arrived our church asked about delivery meals, my answer? "Yes thank you. Begin in three weeks".

sally said...

I remember uttering the same words reading our sympathy cards and text messages in hospital after we sent out a message explaining our Hope was stillborn. "That's nice", was all I could ever say. Today has been four weeks. The cards have dried up now, even though it feels like now is when I need them most. I need sympathy NOW. I can't believe you went to a movie, I can't even get off my couch. I'm so sorry to hear you suffered another loss so soon after losing Curtis.

Kristi said...

I don't even know what to say. Curtis is a very lucky boy to have such a loving mommy and daddy.

I found the link to your blog from Natalie's. I am just so amazed at your ability to post these. Your little angel must give you superman strength!!

Can I ask a silly question? I notice the names Craig (my hubby is Craig, too!) Curtis, Colin... does his family have a thing with initials? My (now) ex-husband did and we did that with my son. I always said if I (could have) had children with Craig I'd use his initials. Anyway...

Keep writing. Your story is just... well, as sad as it is, its also empowering. I hope that doesn't sound bad.

His Mom said...


In case you come back and check. Actually, we are all Cs :) (Colin was random, he was the funeral home director).

My hubby is a C name, I am a C name, our son and daughter are both C names. What is funny is that the C thing is on BOTH sides of our family.

Both of my parents are C names, as is my brother and on Craig's side: his parents are both C names, and his brothers are all Ks. (They are all the hard "c" sound though.) Are you following this? Ha!!! Plus, 2 of his brothers married women with the C names (and hard C sounds).

So, when we got married, since it was a fun thing our parents did when they had kids, we both kept it going and gave our kids C names.

Sally: I went to the movie because I could tell Craig was struggling. So much of what each of us have done in grief is for the other person. No way did I want to go to a movie the day of my son's funeral, but he needed an escape and I let him, ya know??

Jacquie said...

I have been following your story and have been so moved by it. It truly is something no one should have to go through.

I have to say when I read each post it makes me feel really ignorant to the fact that this can happen. Thank you for sharing your story.

sally said...

Sorry, I hope I did not offend you with that comment. I guess it was more an observation of how strong you must have been at that time. I certainly didn't have it in me. I still have barely been outside. We have been back to her grave three times though. Once on Father's Day which was just a week ago here in Australia. Yes, the father-son/daughter stuff gets me every time too. I feel so horrible my husband Simon had to miss out on all of that. It was the first thing we'd really been looking forward to together as a new family.
Sally xo

Sara said...

I read your posts and I find myself having to remind myself to breathe. I hurt for you and I know I can't even begin to imagine.

It's comforting to know ahead of reading that you and your husband are together with a beautiful little girl, but it doesn't make the story less painful, does it? Thanks for sharing with us.

His Mom said...

Sally, don't worry you didn't offend me at all :) Strong isn't the word I would use. I was just on autopilot. Sometimes, I think I still am. I think you will see in future entries some our escapes out of the house weren't exactly healthy escapes, either.Some people may choose to stay at home and some of us escape home and end up doing more damage in the long run.

Sara, right after we lost Curtis I was DESPERATE to fine other parents who had full term stillbirths--even more so of their first child-- and went on to have living children. That was really really inspiring to me. So, in a way, I am sure it is nice to know we do have a living child now. No, it doesn't erase the hurt, but it is nice to know we are happy. We would move mountains if it meant having Curtis here. We would give up everything to have him here... but that isn't an option. So we take joy in her and do everything we can to remember him.

sally said...

Yeah I sort of think strong is not the right word either. Everyone keeps saying it to me. "You're so strong, you're so brave." I just think I'm doing what I have to do. My daughter died. She had a funeral. I had to go. Nothing strong about it, I had no other choice. About to read part nine now....