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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 song Sorrow by Pink Floyd came on my ipod today while I was driving and I thought about how that word just nails how I’ve felt this summer.
Yesterdays -all of a sudden- fall weather threw me for a loop. After all the heat and humidity, to get this burst of fall sent a pit to my stomach that is unmistakable. It is that feeling of dread, that feeling I’ve felt only once before and that was last year this time.
The change of seasons now, of summer to fall, will always signify the impending birth and death of Silas. I remember that feeling all too well of hanging in our yard with our various friends and family members, weeks after Silas died, watching the leaves and acorns cover our yard. This time of year will never be the same again. It just feels too soon for it to happen. It’s still August – I just wasn’t prepared for it.
Both Chris and I felt it yesterday. We didn’t even have to talk about it, but we acknowledged the change in the weather and that deep, dark pit it left in our stomachs. It’s been a tough summer for me. I haven’t worked all that much, and when I have, I’ve felt like I’ve lost my passion a bit. I’m a lost puppy right now. In between 2 lives. One that I’ve lived and one that I want.
It makes it really hard to be satisfied and fulfilled when you are treading in that in between place. I can’t ever have my old life back. The easy-going fun with friends & music & innocence. I don’t have that life I’ve been wanting now for what seems like years. We’ve been living here in New Haven for almost 3 years. This longing for a child has been with me for longer then that. We started trying way back when we returned from our 3 month honeymoon in SE Asia. That seems like a lifetime ago and a really long time to be wanting something.
I am taking a trip out west in a few weeks and I’ll be gone for almost a month. I’ve had that need to get away for a bit, to maybe find those parts of myself that I lost. I have my sister’s bach party in Vegas, a quick stint in LA, our friends wedding in Napa, some SF time and then my sisters wedding in Colorado. Instead of the back and forth, I decided to make it a west coast journey, with time off to recharge, renew and let go. Chris will be coming out for both weddings so as soon as I start missing him, luckily I’ll get to see him. Being without him will be hard, but I know we’ll manage. It’s really the kitties I’m worried about. I miss them when we’re gone overnight!
The strange part of all of it is that we’ll be apart on Sept 25. I am doing a Kids Yoga teacher training that weekend in Berkeley and Chris will be home in New Haven. I know it will be hard for us to be apart on that day. But every single day of my life is hard now, so really, how much harder will that be for us? It’s just how it worked out.
Last week we rented a beach house with friends for a few days. The Phish shows we saw were really fun, but the real highlight was getting to swim in the ocean. Oh, how amazing it feels to dive in and under huge waves, and ride them to shore. I felt like I was able to leave behind some of the sorrow and grumpiness I’ve been holding inside me these last few months. Then yesterday’s winds and cold came and brought it right back.
I tried really hard to not pay attention to my cycle this time around. But since it lasted for 40 excruciating days, it made it almost impossible to ignore. Days 32 & 33 I thought, “hmmm, where are you period?” I know you are coming. Days 34-36 I thought, ok, this has happened before, I don’t feel pregnant, you must be coming any minute. Days 37 – 39, ok, well, now it’s really really late. I must be pregnant. Right? BFN. Ok, so I’m not. Where the hell are you then? And onto day 40, I finally drank some ginger tea and bam, there she was. And so it goes. Story of my life. If I’m not going to be pregnant, then why can’t my periods just come on time? Why do I have to be fucked with? So unfair. Of course I googled “late period after failed IVF” and a shitload of posts from every baby/fertility site came up. I guess I should have done that a week before and spared myself the torture of thinking, am I? Is this normal?
I’ve been doing the acupuncture, chinese herbs, red clover, red raspberry leaf & nettles tea, royal jelly, false unicorn root path and so I just assumed all that would have helped my cycle get regular. Even though I am taking all these herbs and eating the right foods (though I have not given up beer- I have to have a little fun right?) and all that, I also did not pay attention to my cycle at all. I didn’t even know I was late until I went to my acupuncturist who said, oh, today is day 32 of your cycle. What? Oh, how ’bout that. I was proud of myself for not counting all month and not paying attention to any of it.
And look where that got me.
So, as my sorrowful summer comes to a close, I am going to continue to stay thankful for all the little things I do have in my life right now: Chris, the kitties, being back to my pre-baby weight (yay!) and a super fantastic Vegas weekend to kick off a few weeks of much needed travel.
That week was so rough, it pretty much knocked me to the ground. First a negative preg test, then getting my period and then having to start the injections again. The hormones were coursing through me – apparently it is so much worse when taking fertility drugs. I was more depressed then ever. Day after day, I kept thinking I would wake up and feel better. It took me almost a week- the longest recovery yet.
I was so angry. More angry then I have been in a very very long time. I was angry at my midwives for failing to deliver a healthy baby, at my body for not cooperating and making me go through all this month after month, the fact that I have to work with other people’s children day after day without having my own, and that we are endlessly struggling to pay our bills. All of it. Angry that my 18 month old baby is not here with me. That I should be trying for live baby #2 right now and yet I’m still working on live baby #1.
I didn’t even want to do anything to help myself feel better either. Didn’t want to meditate, or do something fun. I wanted to be angry and wallow in my pain. I knew that it would lift at some point, so I decided to just stay there.
And then one morning I just woke up and felt ok. Just like that. The angry mood lifted and I was me again. I was able to go into the world feeling like I can smile and not feel like I wanted to hide away and never come out again. It’s amazing what hormones can do.
But I’m fine now. I guess as fine as I can be. To get through yet another tough month, we decided to take the plunge. We finally adopted another kitty! His name is Beans and he is super cute and super lovable. Still a bit of a scaredy cat and Chumby isn’t making him feel too welcome just yet. But all in good time. It’s fun having a new life to take care of and focus on.
The changing seasons have been freaking me out a bit. Wait, it’s spring again? How did that happen? When you’ve been through a trauma, especially one like ours, you see time so differently. I can’t believe that it was 2 years ago in the spring that I was newly pregnant. That last spring I was still freshly mourning the loss of Silas, but still hopeful I’d be pregnant again soon. And now, a year later, I’m still here. Still trying to get pregnant. Watching everyone around me have their babies. I know, I moan and groan about this fact constantly. But it’s wearing on me.
My job, though I absolutely love it, can wear on me too. I see these beautiful kids, day in and day out, and I long for one of my own. My work has saved me, I do know that. It keeps me going, it keeps me busy and it feels good to be part of what is actually helping our country. I am making a difference and that is important. But I have given so much to so many. I want to be selfish and give some of it to my own kids. It’s time already.
I watched 60 minutes yesterday and there was a special on Haiti and how many orphaned kids are out there now, kids whose parents can’t find them. It was heartbreaking. I cried my eyes out watching it- wanting to go there and do something about it. Sometimes seeing the big picture, seeing the tragedy affecting the millions of people all over the world helps me to see how lucky I really am.
I know I am lucky. I know that I have it good over here- people who love me, a roof over my head, and I’m healthy. And while I take the time to realize that, I also allow myself to feel sad for what I don’t have. I can recognize that balance, and that is healthy.
So while the lucky socks did not work last month, I was torn about wearing them again. I couldn’t decide if now they were deemed “unlucky” since they didn’t work for me the first time I wore them. Suffice it to say, I did not wear them this time around. We’re in the dreaded 2ww. Luckily we are heading to Florida this weekend to visit my parents and soak up the warm Florida sun. Should be a fun distraction.
This past weekend of sun was good for our souls. Though it was fleeting, it was a taste of what’s to come and really, it’s hard to be pissed off at the world when it is a beautiful sunny spring day and flowers are blooming all around you.
I’m hoping that this will be another spring where I’ll have a blossoming belly- because it really is time.
I am finding that I cannot relate to most of the blogs out there like I used to. We were all in the same place at one time, having just lost our babies and working hard together to find some solace in that darkness. But now? Most have gone on to have their subsequent children and some are pregnant about to have their 2nd or even 3rd (for those who already had a child before their loss).
I lost my son at full term, 10 hours after he was born due to loss of oxygen. I don’t have a living child at home, and I’m not pregnant. We’ve been trying for over a year now, which would naturally connect me to the others struggling with IF. But not too many have also carried a baby to term, only to lose this child after it had been born. So while I am part of the loss crowd, I’ve now entered the IF crowd and I don’t really fit into either so nicely anymore.
It’s a terrible feeling and I’m not sure what to do with it. I miss my friends, I miss what they have to say. But it’s painful to read about the pregnancy woes, the sleepless nights, all the things I would give anything to have right about now. So I don’t go there. I know everyone’s shit is relative to their own life. I know when I finally get pregnant, it will be hard. But right this second, I want that shit. I want the sleepless nights, I want everything that comes with having a new baby. I’ve waited long enough.
I’m so done with this phase, this in between place of not having my baby and no possibility that I can see. I believe it will happen, and maybe even soon. But this moment, I don’t have a due date, I don’t have a glimmer of hope or a light at the end of this dark, dark tunnel.
I know that this next pregnancy will be different. I know that the question “Is this your first?” will get tiresome. I know that I will be more worried then I was the first time. But I also know that I would do pretty much anything at this point to be there, that I’ll take all of it. I’ll take all the questions, all the discomfort, all the worries, the tiredness and not wanting to cook. Seriously, is all of this too much to ask for?
So anyway, thanks for listening. The positivity and hopefulness is still there most of the time, It’s who I am. But sometimes a good vent is what I need to get through my day.