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This is a post that has been swirling around my head for weeks now. Time is a major factor now, choices have to be made when I have a few minutes of free time. Shower? Eat? Clean? Work? Chill? It’s amazing how all those things that seem important just aren’t when choices have to be made over what to do when I have 45 min to myself. But today, writing this post is most important.
The build up to Silas’ birth/death day has been looming since mid August. September has taken on a new meaning for us- the change of seasons just brings anxiety and sadness instead of excitement and relief. It has such a physical and emotional effect, we don’t even need to talk about it. Once it happens, we just give each other that knowing look. Yeah, it’s here again.
I’ve spent most of this month bringing Zephyr over to Silas’ tree. I have some beautiful pix of him sitting there, playing with sticks and leaves. This has been an important ritual for me after Zephyr plays on the swings. It’s been just something I do now. But it’s just so sad. No time passing will ever take away the woulda coulda shoulda’s. They are just as present today as they were Sept 26, 2008. 20 years from now, I will feel this loss as much as I feel it today. This I know.
Zephyr will never have his older brother and it breaks my heart. I am often just astounded that this happened to us. Especially when I look at what an amazing little creature Zephyr is. He is perfect in every way (even when he refuses to nap or wakes 4 times through the night!) and I think about how many of these traits his older brother would have had too. I sometimes think that Zeph has some little brother characteristics in him- like somehow he knew that’s what he was supposed to be. He is often fearless- diving off the bed or climbing on everything he sees. He is adventurous, chatty, funny, observant and super sweet. Don’t get me wrong, there are tantrums – this is a kid that knows what he wants. But he is just a delight and I wouldn’t want to spend my time with anyone else.
Tomorrow we will go plant some bulbs at the tree, because we need to honor our little Silas with some new life. Zephyr will never take the place of our first born. He brings complete and utter joy to our lives, but the hole in our hearts from the loss of our first will never be filled completely.
I’ve been wanting to write for weeks now, but life with a 6 month old doesn’t afford you much free time. I saw that my good friend Angie posted this project again and it just seemed like the perfect excuse to sit down and write. I’ve had a lot of thoughts about Silas and I am ready to get them down. I just re-read my post from last year when I had been newly pregnant. I remember clearly feeling such anxiety after having had a bleeding scare and thinking “holy shit, I could actually lose this pregnancy right now.”
It was a great post, one that felt important for me to write. After losing Silas, I had grieved for a long time and then tried to put it aside to focus on getting pregnant. That took most of my energy for the next almost 2 years. It felt like I was betraying Silas in a way but it was all I had room for. The pregnancy was a tough one though, fraught with worry at every twist and turn. We were completely teetering on the edge, that’s what it felt like every second. I wanted to believe that it couldn’t possibly happen again, but I know way too much in this babylost world. I knew my odds were pretty good to have a live, healthy baby, but then again I was on the wrong side of the odds the first time. So really, anything could happen and I wasn’t quite sure of anything. All I was sure of was that I wanted this baby more then anything in my life.
But here I am, with 6 month old Zephyr Rigel who is the most amazing little guy. He’s perfect in every way, and our lives are forever transformed because of him. I knew I would love being a mom, but it was always a dream. Sometimes it doesn’t feel real, that I get to parent this living, breathing, beautiful human. He’s mine and we created him. It has taken so long to finally get to this point where I have a baby in my arms that I stare at him and kiss his face a zillion times a day to make sure it’s real.
This post though isn’t about Zephyr, it’s about his older brother Silas who I miss terribly. I miss his being the older brother that Zephyr will never know. I will sometimes mention him to Zephyr, knowing that one day that conversation will really have to happen. I miss him when I see my friend’s kids who were born around the same time. That will probably always make me sad, forever. I get a lump in my throat when I’m around those kids- it’s something I can’t seem to shake.
When I was pregnant again, the question “is this your first?” was the hardest. It made me think of Silas every time and how I should answer. I changed it up depending on how I felt at the time. I liked to mention him, so I did often. It felt right. It didn’t happen every time, just when it felt appropriate and I got good at giving my answer. That’s how often it was asked. I believe Silas was with me during the pregnancy, and his presence was felt when I heard his little brother let out his first cry. The cry that Silas never made, came out doubly loud with his brother. He made sure we knew he was alive and well, and it truly was the best sound I have heard in my life. I get the chills just thinking about it.
When Zephyr was born, I think he looked like that picture we have of Silas. I think about all the pieces of Silas we’ll never know and hope that his baby brother is carrying on some of those traits. Traits like the infectious laugh when we make silly sounds at him or sing his name, his constantly moving legs, or his insane focus when trying to get that toy exactly right in his mouth. His eyebrows are super expressive. I like to think Silas may have had the same ones. It’s hard to tell though, the live memory of him has faded. We only have a few pictures and I never took enough time to study him like I should have. When I think about him, I think about that picture. I wish I knew his feet as well as I know Zephyr’s. I love his feet, I am always playing with them, knowing they will be way larger then mine one day. Boys feet start off so sweet and innocent but grow to be something so completely not! I am savoring them while they are still small and cute.
I think I may be too tired and too busy to grieve his loss most days. This moment when I think about him it makes me angry mostly and of course really sad. Angry for a loss that never should have happened. Angry that my baby doesn’t get a brother, that we don’t have 2 sons and our parents are missing a grandson. I am sad too. But mostly I feel joy for the baby I have now, for his beautiful and pure life that we get to experience every second of every day. As heartbroken and devastated as we are about Silas, that is how ecstatic and in love I am now about Zephyr.
I’d like to thank my friend Angie from Still Life With Circles for putting this project out there for us to participate in. Angie is an incredible force in this community and her blog was one I read daily way back when. I don’t read many blogs these days. I write on mine every so often, but it feels different then when I first lost Silas. Back then, it was my lifeline. It was what kept me sane. I devoured blogs, commented daily and made a group of friends who also lost babies around the same time. Our lives have progressed differently since then. Some went on to have subsequent babies pretty quickly, others, like me, took a lot longer, while still others have yet to conceive again. Though our paths were different after our losses, our stories & comments kept each other sane and able to move forward through the early months of heartache, pain and devastation. I will always cherish those beginning friendships and the strong connections we made. These women just got me, they knew what I was feeling and were there for me no matter what.
I sometimes go back and read my early posts, from when I guest wrote on my husband Chris’s blog Elm City Dad. I was raw, angry, sad, depressed. You name an emotion and I felt it. I was honest though about how I felt. I knew people in my life were reading, people who knew and loved me. It didn’t change what and how I wrote, I knew that they actually used our blogs as a tool to help them deal with us. We told it like it was- putting it all out there with real, honest emotion.
I think that because of our blogs, we are still super close to all our friends. It was their way of connecting to us in helping to know what we were going through. Our friends found it easier to contact us because of it. Having email, text, fb, gchat and blog comments gives us so many outlets to communicate and I appreciated every single one of them. I didn’t need my friends calling me. I didn’t need people to worry about “how I was doing.” My blog shared that, and if you took the time to comment or email or text, I let you know that I was ok. They knew and understood I couldn’t see their new babies, couldn’t send a gift or call/write to congratulate them. The jealousy, oh the jealousy. This part of me was a huge loss- not being able to see, hear, watch, read about babies. They were everywhere and it was almost impossible to navigate.
Those early days were so incredibly hard. I couldn’t lose the weight, couldn’t get pregnant, didn’t have my son and really couldn’t make sense of this world that came crashing in on me. I am one of those people though that couldn’t hide in my bed all day, every day, even though I thought that was what I wanted. Chris and I went out, saw friends & lots of music. Leaned on our amazing families & friends a lot. I practiced yoga, went to bootcamps & therapy, and continued my work as a children’s yoga teacher. I struggled through it all, but I think that because we continued to live life, through our loss and grief, really brought us to where we are today. We are still devastated by our loss, but we don’t wear our grief on our sleeve. We worked through it, around it, inside and out. I will always miss him, til the day I die – but my heart isn’t aching like it did in that first year. Sometimes I can’t believe I’m still standing, and other times I am proud to be still standing.
I am finally pregnant again, exactly 2 years & 8 months later. It took a really long time for that to happen. I think for me, it made this journey a bit more tumultuous. My time was spent grieving the loss of my sweet little first born son Silas and then it was spent trying to get pregnant again. After awhile, it turned into just trying to get pregnant again. Silas was there in my heart, but his loss wasn’t my focus anymore. I was determined to get pregnant and after a year of trying on our own, it was time to venture into the land of infertility drugs. I couldn’t believe this was our life. First we lost our child at birth, and then we can’t get pregnant? That just seemed truly fucked up. I mean seriously? We tried every fertility treatment out there, and finally, became pregnant after our 3rd IVF attempt. I am currently 13w4d and was feeling great until last night. We had a bit of a bleeding scare, but found out I have placenta previa and it’s pretty common. Now I am just told to take it easy which I’m attempting to do.
This pregnancy is fraught with the feeling of it being our last hope to have a child. It finally happened and I wont let anything take it from me. Last night, right after the toilet was filled with blood, I sobbed with the thought of having to start this process over again. It can’t possibly be happening. But the bleeding stopped, the ultrasound showed a heartbeat and a healthy baby, and I’m now required to chill out. At this point, I will do what I’m told. Chris wants to wrap me in bubble wrap and put me in a closet and not let me out til I’m ready to birth this baby.
Now that I’m finally here though, I am finding a new relationship with Silas and his loss. I still get choked up when I see my friends kids who were born around when he was. I sometimes can’t believe I could be parenting a 2 1/2 year old. That always breaks my heart. I am constantly now required to answer the question “is this your first?” This brings up all kinds of feelings and emotions about whether to share and break someone’s heart? or pretend Silas didn’t exist? It’s a very challenging question to answer, no matter how I choose to answer it. I always hesitate and I still haven’t figured it out it in the moment.
Silas taught me so many lessons. He taught me that everything in life doesn’t always work out & things don’t happen for a reason (sometimes shitty things just happen). He taught me patience. He allowed me to fall even more in love with my husband (which I didn’t think was possible). I gained a better appreciation for what I have & more empathy for those who are suffering. Over time I’ve learned that when shitty things happen to me, I don’t have to blame myself for it. Blame and guilt, 2 huge emotions that come with loss. I worked through those emotions, and while I’m not completely healed of them, I don’t beat myself up anymore. Silas Orion will always be a light in my life, will always hold a space in my heart and will always be the big brother to the next little Gallagher to come our way.
The last few days have been filled with crazy, crazy news. They found some regrowth in the same tumor spot on little Carly. That enough would make you just want to throw things. Then I got some news about a fellow babylost mom who was pregnant and lost her baby midway through the pregnancy. Really? like, seriously? And then I got some more pregnancy news and then some babies being born news and all these people in my life having their second already since we lost Silas. It’s all just very hard to take, all piled on top of a few days. Somehow I’m still standing.
We are starting IVF again. It’s our 2nd fresh cycle but 3rd altogether since we did that frozen one way back when. We’ve determined this isn’t the be all end all of me getting pregnant. We could not possibly add any more pressure then we already feel going in to this round. If it doesn’t work, we’ll cross that bridge. I’m happy to be in this mind space for this cycle. I know what to expect, I’m not scared, I’m ready.
2 1/2 years out and still trying. How do we stay hopeful? Any suggestions? It’s so hard. I expect not to be pregnant now. It makes the letdown month after month so much easier. I don’t cry much anymore when I get my period. I just expect it. A few weeks back I decided to stop trying so hard. No more acupuncture, herbs, teas, vitamins. I just don’t want to keep putting in effort, time, money, etc when it hasn’t worked. So this month we just said fuck it and whatever happens happens. I’m starting IVF anyway if and when I get my period. We decided to try a new clinic- and this one isn’t having me do a rest down before the cycle. So I just start right with my period. Time to shake things up a little, when things aren’t working, change it up.
I am still having bad days mixed with good days. There are moments where I stop dead in my tracks and think- wait, did my baby really die? I still can’t fathom it sometimes. I also cannot believe I can’t seem to get pregnant. I know everyone in this IF world thinks that- but after our loss, it just seems so unfair. I got pregnant easily the first time, no issues. I wasn’t so young either. How many times can I say this? but its 3 years since Silas was conceived. We’re in that phase of his pregnancy where it was so new and so exciting, but 3 friggin years ago! So long ago. I want to feel that again so badly it hurts.
I am going to do restorative yoga, just like the NY times article said to do. (yeah yeah I’m a yogi, I should know this but I generally don’t do restorative). I’m going to stay calm and not stress. Even when I’m poking myself with needles day in and day out & driving almost an hour to the clinic at 6:30am on these really cold winter mornings. I’m going to breathe, and relax and take care of myself. (At least this is my plan).
We now have a few trips planned- Florida to see my parents, and this is immediately after we find out if this cycle worked. Then we are going to Costa Rica for my 40th and for Chris’ bday and so I can do a teacher training. We also have a trip to Lake Tahoe planned for the summer for a wedding. So all of these trips are something to look forward to, regardless of whether I’m pregnant or not. I have chosen not to add that to the equation anymore. It did me no good when planning for my sister’s wedding. It made it complicated and depressing.
I choose to let these little things make me happy these days. It’s all I can do to stay sane.
At just past 18 months, it really feels like Silas is slipping away from me. All focus is on this TTC business. But yesterday, 2 kids asked me about him. One of my 5 yr olds, who knew me back when I was pregnant, said,
“Lani, why did your baby die?”
Right in the middle of our yoga class. It really caught me off guard. I told him we can talk about it after the class was done. I just went right on with what I was doing as if nothing was said. It was like a punch to the gut, but I couldn’t let it affect me as I was teaching.
After class, while the kids were putting on their shoes, I just told him that my baby was really sick and that was why he died. I told him that most babies don’t die, and even if you are sick, it doesn’t mean you will die either.
He said “just like my baby sister? She didn’t die.”
I said “yes, just like your baby sister.”
It was a sad conversation, but obviously this little boy is still struggling with the death of my baby. I find it incredibly interesting, but I know this little boy really loves me so maybe he just really doesn’t get why something like this could happen.
The second incident happened with my older kids. I started a new class of 2nd-4th graders. A 9 yr old girl, who doesn’t know me, was looking at the charms on my necklace. She looked at one and asked me what it said.
I said “It says Silas, which is the name of my baby that died.”
she kind of looked at me curiously.
I said “it’s really sad.” pretty matter of factly.
Both she and another student said “yeah, that is really sad.”
Then the conversation was over. We continued with our class. That’s how it is with kids. They ask, get an answer and then move on to the next thing without missing a beat. It just was strange that after all this time, 2 kids would bring it up- one knowingly and the other not.
The other day I went to the park to see Silas’ tree. We never go to the tree, it’s just too hard. But I was in the park for my bootcamp so I figured I’d go see if the bulbs we planted last fall were blooming. There were no buds on the tree and none of the flowers had popped through the earth. I found it so sad and so strange, since all over the place there were flowers blooming like crazy. I was pretty devastated.
Then yesterday I was there again, and what do you know? the tree was full of buds and some daffodils popped through and were blooming beautifully! I really need to go take some pictures. In 3 days, all this change? I don’t get it. Did I somehow look at the wrong tree? I can’t imagine that is possible. I am so perplexed by this – but I don’t really need to question it. I just know that Silas’ tree is starting to bloom and maybe those flowers signify that I will have some new life growing inside me soon as well.
The 2nd round of meds didn’t work so now we have officially begun the IVF process. It takes longer then doing a regular cycle of fertility meds, so the wait is a bit more excruciating. My body is in the resting phase right now, and with it, comes higher doses of hormones that really make me dizzy and nauseous. But it’s not terrible- I can handle it.
My box of very expensive meds will show up on my doorstep soon. With the co-pays being as high as they are- you can just imagine how much these meds really cost. Again, we are super lucky to have this treatment covered by insurance. I feel blessed to be in CT which has a mandate that will cover 2 IVF’s until I’m 40. Good thing we’re doing it this year b/c I’m turning 39 at the end of the month.
So with my not so good news, there has been a lot of really great news for my fellow babylost- congrats angie, monica & aliza! All 3 gave birth to beautiful little boys. And with the news of babies being born, also comes the new pregnancy news. One friend who had a baby the same time as me is now pregnant again. You can just imagine how that must feel. But of course I’m thrilled for my friends and of course slightly jealous. How can I not be?
We seemed to have gotten through the letdown better this time. Not sure why, but I just have to be thankful I guess. Last month was rough and I fully expected it to happen again. I have so many hormones coursing through my body, it’s amazing I can even function sometimes. But I do, because I am on a mission and I need to stay focused. It has almost become my second job. I spend more time at the clinic then I do anywhere else. I have a perpetual bruise on my arm from so many blood tests.
While waiting for our results of round 2, we took a trip to Florida to see my parents. It was super relaxing and really fun. My parents are so wonderful and supportive and just made sure we were happy the whole time. It was a great little getaway. It’s amazing how normal our lives seem on the outside. You see pictures of us and we really look happy. And on occasion, we are really happy.
Tonight we were listening to the Wilco show streaming through the computer. The windows were all open because it’s a super warm night- just like we love. We heard the opening notes of California Stars, our wedding song, and just had to dance and hug each other tight.
Through all this shit, and what it is is total and utter shit, we have each other and that is the most important thing of all.
These days I go 2 steps forward and 10 steps back. It’s become the story of my life. Oh how I cannot wait until 2009 is but a distant memory. What a year it’s been- and it just hasn’t let up.
I’ll start with a few steps forward and the awesome weekend on my dead baby mama retreat. I have been wanting to write about this for days, but some news when I returned sent me those 10 steps back.
I was so fortunate to be able to meet and hang with these 9 beautiful women. Angie, Tash, Tracy, Sarah, Niobe, Julia, Molly, m, Laura & I traveled near and far to spend the weekend in a rented house in Ocean City, NJ. Being the Jersey girl that I am, I was shocked to never have spent any time in this little slice of heaven.
There was knitting, chatting, sharing, cooking, boardwalk strolling, baking, arts & crafts making, laughing, game playing, drinking and relaxing going on at all times. It was a much needed time away from home, time to be with the girls- the ones who get it. Such a rarity to be able to share a few days with other women who really know exactly how you feel. It is quite unfortunate we met this way, but also completely necessary.
The next day, I got the worst good news ever. Another pregnancy. So instead of being able to feed off of my wonderful weekend for a bit, I was sent into a tailspin and even to this day, have not fully recovered.
I expect pregnancy news all the time. It is what happens when all of your friends are married and ready to procreate. But every time, it just stings. This one though, I wasn’t prepared or ready for so it threw me for a complete loop. But this is how my life has been going lately.
The timing of this particular news was hard. We had to go and celebrate Thanksgiving somehow and pretend we were ok and that things in our life are not such a miserable mess.
And then someone said “Isn’t good news better then bad news?”
But Chris and I just want no news. And then the torment of my own mind when I think “we should be happy for them.”
I am. Of course I am. These are people I love with all my heart. But I’m sadder for us and that trumps any happiness I may feel. These feelings may pass in time, but this is how I feel right now and in order to get through them and get rid of them, I need to experience them. That much I know (thank you therapy).
It turned out that everyone was pretty amazing all weekend long- both the Thursday Gallagher Thanksgiving and the Friday Rosen Thanksgiving’s were really nice. Somehow we even managed to laugh and have a good time.
My beautiful 24lb heritage turkey that I made for the Gallagher’s turned out delicious and that helped. But we are still needing to be protected, coddled and treated like the fragile beings we are. I hate being fragile and that I may crack at any given moment. And yet that is how I feel. You could have swept the pieces of me off the floor of the theater on Sat night.
We decided to take a risk and drive up to Albany on Saturday to see Phish. We were ticketless but we heard they were giving away tickets the night before- there were many extras around. We got lucky and friends found us tickets really cheap. The night started well, but then I began to spiral into the abyss. It happened and I couldn’t seem to stop it.
It happened in an environment where I can usually let it all go and just have fun. I couldn’t do it. Chris couldn’t pull me out of it and I just delved into this deep funk and that was it. I was a lost cause. I hate the waste of what could have been a super fun night. Apparently it was some of the best music they’ve played since they started playing again but I couldn’t tell you that.
As I sit here writing, I’m still feeling so melancholy. I feel like I just need this month to sail on by so I can say goodbye to this year and this decade once and for all. I just need a fresh start.
I am Jewish so there has been no Christmas traditions in my own life- though I’ve become part of the Gallagher Christmas every year. Here in our own home, we don’t do a tree or celebrate in any way. For a few years in SF and our first year here in NH, we threw a Festivus party the day after Christmas. Now that was the way to celebrate the holidays! We didn’t do one last year, and for sure it won’t be happening this year. But that is a Gallagosen tradition I want to bring back at some point.
I don’t feel hopeful anymore, at least not this minute. There is more music for us on the horizon, but then it’s getting through the holiday barrage which I am not looking forward to in the least.
I will keep walking forward though, it’s all I can do.
I have been thinking a lot about some of my babylost mama friends these last few days. Monique, Sally, Aliza and Sarah have all gone through a horrific year and are remembering their beautiful babies birthdays this month. Please send them as much love as you can.
I could never have gotten through these last 11 months without you beautiful women.