Friday, October 24, 2008

You know...I just am really missing him all of a sudden tonight. I am working with a young boy who is roughly the same age Curtis would be and it is odd to have a reminder day in and day out "this is how big he would be. This would be the things he would be doing." Because Curtis is forever a newborn to me. He is forever a little baby. So a physical reminder is odd. It isn't horrid or anything, it isn't even is just so many "what if"s and what "should be"s....I think these would have been the holidays he would have really "gotten" it. I think this would have been the Halloween he would have been running to the doors to say "TwickorTweat". There is always this hole in our lives of the way it should be. Quite frankly, sometimes it sucks worse than others.

I struggle with my Faith in all of this, that is a different post for a different day. I know some people feel this is the way my life was suppose to go. That this all happened for a reason...and I don't really believe that. Because while I can point out 101 wonderful things that happened in the wake of his death I never believe that is WHY he died...but, taking me out of the equation: why was HIS life taken? Why was he given such a brief time? Why did he have to suffer and die inside of me as his life source got cut off? What reason is good enough that he didn't get to life his life? What did he have to "learn"? He was a tiny baby who needed his mommy and daddy. The one time he needed me, I couldn't save him. Even though I had the tools to do so. It wasn't on purpose and I know that. That is what gets me through the day....

Yes, I have a lot of unresolved guilt and I know I always will.

Ugh, I don't even know where I am going with this post. Some days I have great perspective on everything we lost and moving through it all and other days or moments, I don't.

Tonight; I am sad for everything he missed. His first ice cream cone. His first baseball game. Pumpkin patch trips. Getting the present you wanted SO BADLY for Christmas. First kisses. First concerts. First dates. Getting a new puppy... all of the things that make life so much fun.

I am sad for him he didn't get any of this. I am sad for us, but right now, I am more sad for him.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Deviation post :)

We are winding down our "happy year". Craig likes to say "2006 was our sad year. 2007 was our anxiety filled year and 2008 is our happy year."

He would say this when anyone would inquire when I was going to get pregnant again, when I was "going to give Claudia a sibling". That comment is beyond rude, by the way. She has a sibling. Not in the traditional sense, of course. But to us: she has a sibling. Yes, she is raised as an "only" right now, but to us, she forever has a sibling. I remember when our day care provider said something to me about Claudia acting like a 'typical first born' that comment was like a knife in my stomach. Twisted. Twice. Just because, for me, she wasn't a first born. I gave birth twice. I know she doesn't realize this....and I don't hold any ill will about it, it is just one of those comments that leaves me shaking. Because...well, because she isn't a first born. And it is sad she acts like a first born.

Ha, okay, Sorry for the tangent.

So, this year is winding down, Halloween is in a few weeks and that is the last big "holiday" that is a first for us. Then in November, it is her birthday. Which, of course, is huge.

I have so many reflections on the first year of her life that I will save after her first birthday. And I do know that our 'happy year' isn't going anywhere. It will continue. It is more...normal now. Each holiday will still be special. Sure, it is not the first we have celebrated with her, but regardless in a child's eyes each year is new, each year is fun.

Last Sunday, we went to a remembrance service at the hospital where I had Curtis. It was a nice service, I got up and read a few of my writings about him and her. I am too lazy to link it up right now, but they have been posted on here. It always catches me off guard how much I still ache. I guess because life has continued, the pain is always there but more constant dull ache as opposed to the sharp, hard to breathe, moments of the past. So standing up in front of everyone, reading something about him, it may as well have been June of 2006 when I couldn't even function.

So, while 2008 really has been a happy year, we have so much to be happy for and nothing can ever erase the joy we have felt. And nothing can erase the pain we have felt. I am seeing, more and more, how those two go hand in hand for us. They always will. You cannot celebrate her without remembering him. The two are forever linked. Our family will never be together as it should be. In celebrating with her, we have to remember and grieve him. That is just the way our family is now.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Our Story Part 14

Taking him home

When we had Curtis' service, his urn was on back order. Figured. They asked us at the service if we wanted to take the "loaner" urn home with us and trade it back in when the teddy bear urn came in. Or they could hold the ashes until the urn came in and give us a call.

For some reason, I couldn't take home the loaner urn. For one, it was ugly. This huge, brass colored thing with a gigantic cross on it. It was a far cry from the cute teddy bear sitting on alphabet blocks. I just didn't want that thing in my house. It wasn't comforting, it was scary. It didn't make me think fondly of my son, it made me angry.

So, we waited for his ashes.

In the mean time, on a random Thursday, I went out to get the mail and saw an envelope from the hospital. Thinking it was some kind of sympathy card from the nurses, I opened it up and out tumbled a picture of Curtis.

I suddenly remembered being in the hospital that day and them stating the professional organization that does the newborn photos offered to take a free set of pictures. It is the only photo we have with his hat off. They clearly touched up the photo as his head his nice and round and doesn't have the ridge I remember. They sent me a few 5x7s in color and black and white and a few wallet size. I was so damn excited about this "long lost" photo I had forgotten about. I called Craig right away. "We got a new picture! We got a new picture!"

He left work early and raced home to see it.

He realized half way into his drive he should be racing home to see his son, not a picture of him. It was a somber moment as I greeted him at the door with the last new picture we ever had of our baby. He held it in his hands and looked down at this photo. Tears filled both of our eyes.

In the weeks that followed, we anxiously wondered where in the world our son's urn was. We called Colin and he said it would be in soon. We were anxious to bring him home.

Finally, we got the call the urn was in. I wasn't back to work quite yet, and I told Craig I could pick the ashes up. He hesitated and said "I want to go with you." We met at the funeral home one late summer afternoon to finally take Curtis home.

Colin handed us the cute urn and I turned it over in my hands. Finally holding Curtis again. I looked at the urn and it struck me this was it. This was my son. This was his ashes. This was the only thing I had.

We walked out to the cars and looked at each other. We had two cars, but both of us wanted to take him home with us. Craig finally opened the backseat to my car and said "He should ride in the back seat." He carefully put the urn in the car and shut the door. He walked slowly to his car, as tears ran down my face.

I got in the front seat, started the car, and drove us home.

It wasn't the way I had wanted, it wasn't the way I had intended, but Curtis was coming home with us. Craig and I walked in the house together. Craig took the urn out of my hands and carefully placed it on Curtis' shelf in the curio cabinet, next to his photos and next to the small teddy bear he was posed with in the hospital. He carefully shut the door to the curio cabinet and I turned on the light so it was shining down on his urn.

Later that night, as we were heading upstairs to go to bed, Craig shut off the light in the curio cabinet. I asked why, as I liked the light shining on him at all times. Craig looked at me, looked at the urn and said "Well, I just...he can't sleep with the light on."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Our Story Part 13

Our Birthdays

Craig and I 12 days apart, his birthday the end of June, my the beginning of July. Our birthdays were rapidly approaching.

The hospital had a support group every 4th Thursday of the month. Even though that landed on Craig's birthday, we agreed it would be wonderful for us to go. They required reserving the spot, which I did online. I didn't want to call the number. I didn't want to call some random secretary on the phone and say "Yes. I would like to attend one of your support groups. The one for people with dead babies. Thanks."

The day of the support group, I received a call from the social worker saying we were the only people to state they were coming. We were still welcome to, but....she trailed off. I got it. I understood. No point in wasting her day. I said, it was fine. She asked what happened and I briefly stated it. She launched into some social worker type stuff about grief and I cut her off.

"I get it. I have a social work degree too. I know exactly what you are going to say. Have you been through a loss?"

"Well, no. But..."

"No, I know what you are going to say. I have had all that training too. I was just hoping for some help, to meet other couples. I am fine. I have women online I talk to for support. I have support like crazy, I just wanted something for my husband. He doesn't have the support I do. "

And I hung up.

What I stated was 100% correct. I had (have) an amazing group of women online that I met during my wedding planning and pregnancy with Curtis. When we lost him, they all felt it too. A lot of them pregnant around the time I was. I then found a grief board where women with stillbirths came together and posted. I truly felt like I had support. But I knew Craig and I needed something as a couple.

So I was pissed. Here we stuck our necks out, and it felt like our heads got chopped off.

Honestly, I think Craig was glad. We spent his 31st birthday at a restaurant, drinking beer, and watching baseball. The way he would have originally liked.

It would be a long time before I involved us in a support group. And it was worth the wait. It was the group and the organization that helped get my daughter here alive and well.

With my birthday looming, so was my return to work. I became extremely nervous. I had become accustomed to my nice little cocoon of sitting in my house, cuddling with my dog, and chatting online. I preferred it. I enjoyed it. The only person I had to please was myself. Money wasn't an issue. Some wonderful, generous, person at my work donated me all of their sick time. I actually returned to work with a week of time off left. Who can take 5 weeks off and have that happen? I never was able to find out who did that, but I am forever grateful.

Craig's grandmother's birthday is the day after mine. She was turning 90 that year and plans had been in the works for 6 months of a huge 90th birthday bash. Relatives were coming in from out of state. A huge catered lunch had been planned. It was suppose to be a fun filled weekend of Craig's cousins and extended family.

This side of the family wasn't around when I was pregnant. They lived out of state. We didn't hear from them after our loss. Curtis was merely a blip on their radar before they came out. That made a few things that happened that weekend so difficult.

Like one of Craig's cousins sitting down next to me and talking with my sister in law. (My sister in law has young daughters and the cousin had older children). The cousin starts going on about kids and how each stage is fun, how as they grow up and become their own people she falls more and more in love with her children. Each stage she loves because each stage shows her how she made the right choice becoming a mom.

Another one of Craig's cousins saying they went through something similar. A miscarriage early in a pregnancy. Not that miscarriages aren't hard (as you will see in a future post) but it is different than a 40 week stillbirth. Trust me.

Then that same night they were putting together poster board of pictures, one of which was all the great grand kid pictures. One cousin's wife gets exasperated and says "Dang it! We need more great grand kids. We don't have enough pictures."

I have to walk out of the house that time.

Another time during the weekend, my sister in law was talking to me about special needs children and said "I think that would be the worst thing that could ever happen to a parent."

Yeah? Really? Try having your kid die.

I work with special needs kids. Do I think for a second the parents have it easy? No. I see the grief and heartache these parents go through. I do not know what it is like to live with it. But I do see the parent's eyes light up when their child says I love you. I see their eyes light up when their non vocal child laughs for the first time. I think those moments count a lot.

So, as I am standing outside, Craig comes out. He wraps his arms around me and we just stand there.

We should have a 4 week old. We shouldn't even be at this house, this time of night. It would be too hard with a tiny baby. We start talking how awesome it would have been to have an "excuse" like that to get out of family functions.

I tell him what our sister in law said about kids with special needs. Craig cocks his head, looks at me and says "Heck, I would take a kid with three eyes! I mean, I would take him to the doctor a lot...."

Craig. He can always make me laugh even at one of my worst moments. Even when I don't want to laugh. Even when it annoys me.

So, on my 31st birthday, I spent the day at a Mass and at a party for Craig's grandma. It was hard. Not that it was my birthday, but that I should have a baby boy in my arms. I should have dressed him in the plaid overalls and white button up shirt I had already picked out for the party. I should be exhausted for very different reasons.

Later that night, one of Craig's cousins, a few sheets to the wind, started asking about Curtis. Grateful to talk, the story tumbled out of us. He was 6lbs, 10oz. Looked like a sleeping baby. 100% normal. Nothing was wrong with him. Craig's nose. Totally. She held our hands, sobbed, and said over and over how sorry she was. How she didn't realize before. She talked to our father in law, and stated the same thing to him. To this day, she remains one of my favorites. For taking the time to learn about Curtis, to asking about him during the weekend. For letting us share him.

We drove home late that night. As we pulled into our driveway, there was Happy Birthday sign outside our little yard. My parents. Flowers on the counter. It was very sweet. They were trying to go to extra lengths to make the day something to remember.

We came in, and Craig gave me my birthday present. Emerald stone butterfly necklace and earrings. Emeralds being Curtis' birthstone. I ran my finger over the pretty stones with a sad smile. They were beautiful. Exactly what I would have picked out for myself.