Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Wow.  December 20.  Last night, I read back through my posts from December last year.  This time last year was most certainly my darkest.  This year, light is beginning to shine through the cracks.

I miss Otis so desperately, and we hit some really rough spots here at home this month.  E had a few really sad nights, sobbing in front of our Christmas tree, crying those tears that come from the deepest part of your belly, missing Otis and asking all the why why why questions all over again.  We hung all our O ornaments on the tree, this year they take on a new specialness with our new O addition, but even just pulling them out of the boxes gave me the body sensations of last December, the hollow, empty, pit at the bottom of my stomach that lasted through all of December...E and I also fought some really nasty fights this month, lots and lots and lots of emotions...I think it's fair to say that December may always be tough.

One of the main sources of our fighting is my anxiety, my difficulty in wrapping my head around and appreciating the joy that is here this year, the beautiful gorgeous miraculous little man that inhabits our home...

We have been hooked up with a program at our local Children's Hospital that specializes for families with fussy babies.  They do home visits and provide a team of support to parents just like us.  And it's all covered by insurance.  It's pretty amazing - all in the hopes of preventing child abuse, neglect, and attachment disorders, among other things.  The team is made up of psychologists, doctors, nurses, social workers.  Each week we get a visit.  Yesterday was our second visit.  They are still getting to know us, but they provide a listening ear as well as advice about specific issues to raising our baby.   I'm pretty sure when they heard about our referral (firstborn died, second born is incredibly challenging), they acted FAST to help us, realizing that an anxious mom and a fussy baby is a dangerous combination for both mama and baby.  We saw the director of the program last week and will see her every other visit, I think. The woman that came yesterday was a psychologist, and we spoke about Otis for a long time, and also about Owen, of course.  Owen, by the way, was a dreamboat while she was here, we all got a good laugh, "WE SWEAR he's a fussy baby, don't kick us out of the program!"  Anyway, she listened, and observed, and provided some suggestions and observations, and it was really helpful. (Geez, I wish I could verbalize it better, but I am still pretty brain zonked these days.)

In good news: Owen celebrated his three month birthday and slept an amazing stint the other night - from 7 pm to 2 am, then again until 6 am.  Last night was a little shorter, but still quite a respite - he slept 7 pm to 11, then 11 to 3, then 3 to 7.  He's been pretty dreamy all day today, smiley and happy.  We've moved him into his crib, from the mini bassinet next to our bed because he has started rotating while he sleeps.  The other night I woke up to him turned completely perpendicular in the bassinet and his head against the rails.  Hence, the move to the crib.  But he's still turning perpendicular in his sleep.   No rolling over, not yet, thank goodness, since he still sleeps swaddled up and I'd freak if he flipped in the night.  (I know the rolling will happen soonish, and we'll have to address the situation, but he's really not ready to sleep unswaddled.  He even naps in his double swaddles still.)

Totally haphazard post, I apologize.

Please know I am reading along with all of your blogs, and I'm thrilled to hear of so many BFPs of late, and also the arrival of some beautiful rainbows, or the very very soon to be arriving rainbows...  Missing all of your babies too,  I know this month is difficult for all of us, with the holidays and the emptiness that is there no matter what.  If you've sent me a card, or a present for Owen, or an ornament for Otis, please know that this means the world to me, and I am finally feeling like I might be able to send a note of gratitude in the next month or so as I emerge from the craziness of these first three months with Owen here.  I said it so many times in my earlier blog posts - I am eternally grateful for all of you who walk this path with me.  I miss connecting more regularly with you all, but please know I think of you and your children often.

Monday, December 12, 2011


I miss him.  So much.  So very very very much.  Something about having our tree up and lit, the weather cold and gray...it brings me back to last December - the coldest and saddest on record.  December was so much harder for me than September, October or November last year, and I think my body remembers that.

As Owen is maturing and able to sleep on his own for a lot longer, I realize there are more times that I am left alone right now, and I realize to an extent what a blessing his neediness has been in the last few months.  Huh?  Because now that I have more time to myself, and I'm less hyper-focused on Owen (though still incredibly hyperfocused, don't get me wrong), I have time to reflect on all that we lost when Otis left this world.

This morning I felt physically ill with my grief.  The sinking hole in the stomach feeling.  The "nothing will ever feel right" feeling.

The other night I was standing in E's office talking to him, holding Owen, when all of a sudden I realized Owen's gaze had fixated on something part way across the room.  I followed his gaze, and tears filled my eyes as I realized he was staring at an enlarged black and white photograph of his big brother.

Last night I cradled Owen and bounced him to sleep listening to the lullaby station on Pandora, in the dark of our bedroom, lit only by the lights of our Christmas tree (yes, our tree is in our bedroom, we use it as a night light these days).  I snuzzled my nose into the nape of his neck, into the fuzz on his head, I breathed in deep and tried to take in his smell as best as I could.  I listened to this song, and it felt like my dad sent it down from heaven, and as tears streamed down my face, I missed my first born and held Owen tight in my arms, and reflected on how much has changed since last December, and then also, how nothing has changed at all.

I wish he were here.

I miss him like crazy.

Otis, mama loves you.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Saint Otis

I don't think there is a "real" Saint Otis.  But the last few days have had me praying to my boy, asking him to please "pull some strings" and watch over us, and take care of his baby brother.

We are sort of back at square one, in terms of Owen's reflux, the oversupply/undersupply, the fussiness, the lack of sleep.  It feels impossible and disheartening and I have moments where I am not sure it will ever be different, and yet I also feel that if it isn't different soon I will lose my mind and end up in an institution.

Last night we were up until 2 with a boy that refused to sleep anywhere but our arms.  I finally fell asleep with him in a chair, only to be awakened at 3:30 to a very hungry little guy; nursed until 4 and then dealt with a screaming burp session (the reflux makes the burps very painful), then a huge blowout (likely/hopefully the reason he was so uncomfortable prior to that), then finally, finally he settled into his bassinet around 4:30.  We all slept until 8, which feels miraculous and like a huge gift and then I wonder when did I start to feel that 3 1/2 hours of sleep is a miracle?

E said to me last night, "This is so much harder than we ever imagined it would be..."

Understatement of all time.

The phrase keeps running through my head, "We have a very sick little baby..."

But see, we don't, really.  Because those were the words that Otis's neurologist told us that fateful day we realized he'd be coming off life support.  And this is nowhere near that.  Owen is a feisty, spirited, healthy baby - except his digestive system is totally immature and he is incredibly sensitive to pretty much everything it seems.  He grunts in his sleep and wakes himself up from about 2 am on, on the nights when he actually has gone to sleep.  He spits up copious amounts of milk every day.  He has days where the spit up causes him to writhe and scream.  But he is not "a very sick baby."  He is not Otis.  And I think I'm wrapping my head around that.  I am really starting to believe he's here to stay...but that doesn't make these days any easier, and I have trouble understanding that.  All I wanted was a healthy, live, baby.  And now I've got that, and I'm still having moments of crawling on the floor sobbing my eyes out and thinking that I can't possibly go another day like this.

I miss Otis.  I miss him more and more every day it seems.  I hold Owen and realize that Owen has now outgrown his big brother, in weight, in age, in breaths taken...I hold Owen and wonder what life with Otis would have been.  My heart hurts to be away from Owen even for an hour, and then I realize I'm spending a lifetime without Otis - and it's almost too much to bear.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

On Joy and Sorrow
 Kahlil Gibran

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. 

Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I go back to work today.  Minimally, only 3 to 6 pm.  I feel ready, actually.  Owen has been a totally new baby these last few days, it's amazing.

We met with a lactation consultant last week, I had been having nipple pain and also wanted advice about pumping for my going back to work, and advice also on bottles - Owen is such a super-sucker that even the slow slow flow bottles can flood him with milk and he sputters and gags.  The LC was so amazingly helpful - turns out I have very high milk supply even though I don't get engorged, and poor babyboy was getting flooded with milk - causing a lot of his coughing/gagging/reflux issues.  We worked out a plan for my nursing him to try to address those issues and in a matter of days he's become so much better.  The bottle issue still remains a bit of a mystery, we'll see how he does with it today.

We also met on Saturday with a woman who used to work in the NICU as a respiratory specialist (and also worked on med flights for babies) to help assuage my fears about Owen's breathing, and my incompetence as a new mom (!)...  She owns a resource center for moms that has classes, moms groups, etc. and we went up there and spent the afternoon with her.  We have now termed her the Baby Whisperer (nothing to do with the book or the method, just that she totally keyed into Owen and us and helped us so phenomenally it's like we brought home a different baby.)  She told us Owen is perfectly healthy and normal and gave us some excellent strategies to help him sleep out of our arms, to soothe him, to calm us.  It has truly been amazing.  Owen has slept in his bassinet the last three nights, and it's been remarkably peaceful and easy.  He naps during the day in his pack n play.  During the day, when he's awake, he's happy and giggly, cooing and chatting away with us.  Then he gets tired, and then he sleeps.  He's nursing calmly and happily, no sputtering or gagging or choking for the last week.  I'm sure the reflux meds are helping, of course, too.  I feel like I might get through this year after all.

I'm also sure some of this has to do with him maturing, he is now 10 weeks (though 5 1/2 weeks adjusted?).  We saw the doctor yesterday for his two month appointment.  I left the room for his vaccinations, wisely.  E told me I will never be allowed to be in the room for them!  Owen handled them like a total champ though.  Only a little bit of additional fussiness last night and now he seems fine.  Laughing and smiling in the gymini this morning even!

When we met with the lactation consultant, and we were talking about my milk supply, she mentioned that I'm blessed in that Owen has a great latch and I have plenty of milk for him.  We discussed that I had been afraid, having a c-section, that it could've affected my milk supply.  She mentioned that oversupply is often a problem that second time mothers have to deal with...and then paused, and said, "And you are a second time mother, this is the second time your body has made milk for a baby, Sarah.  Your body knew what to do, because of Otis."

I just started crying and crying.  I thought about my first O, my Otis, looking over us, and helping to make sure I have enough milk for my second O, his little brother.

Yesterday when I walked outside there was a huge, glorious, beautiful dandelion puffball, its seeds ready to blow in the wind.  Next to it, a bright yellow dandelion blooming.  There they are, my two boys.  I feel Otis here with me more than ever these days.

I received a card from a very sweet BLM yesterday, and in it, she wrote, "May Otis live in your heart as Owen grows in your arms..."  I couldn't ask for anything more.

Friday, November 18, 2011


My baby boy is smiling, finally.  Today he and I hung out all morning and he smiled and cooed, "just like a normal baby!" I remarked...and he napped in his bassinet...and I feel like a normal human being again.  Well, maybe not a normal human being, but a normal babyloss mother to an almost 2 month old rainbow baby.  I know this too will pass, but this has been a lovely bit of breathing room that I so desperately needed.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Time flying

Let me preface this by saying that I am totally and utterly ashamed to be publishing this post, for a bunch of reasons.  I feel like a bad, bad, bad mommy to be feeling so utterly hopeless.  And I feel like a whiny bitch to be putting words to a lot of this.  And I feel like a failure to admit how bad it is here. But I want to get it out there, as well, I need to speak my truth (or at least the truth as I'm feeling it today...)

Owen will be 8 weeks tomorrow.

These have been difficult weeks.  Nothing like what I imagined.  And I suspect to the BLMs who have not gone on to have a subsequent child, and perhaps even to those of you who have as well, I sound like an ingrate.   I remember reading of women complaining about lack of sleep and thinking "Oh cry me a fucking river...."

Well, I've cried that river, and then some, in the last 8 weeks.

I need to remember that Owen came 5 weeks early, and his milestones are different than that of full term babies.  It sometimes helps if I think of him as a 3 1/2 week old baby, rather than an eight week baby, because he just doesn't do "what 8 week old babies do" (or at least according to my observations of other families with 8 week olds.)

We started him on reflux meds last week, which I never thought I'd do (kinda like how before Otis I thought I'd never have an elective cesarean...), and they do seem to be making a difference, but he's still young, and in general just seems unhappy to be out of the womb most of the time.   Please don't link me to the npr article about reflux meds being overprescribed - it's been sent to me twelve times over. The meds seem to be helping my son.  That is all I need to know.

Perhaps because of the meds, perhaps because he's just growing up, this is the first week we've even had a glimpse of "baby."  Up until this point, we have pretty much just known crying, screaming, pooping, sleeping, fussing.  No smiles.  Little eye contact.  Barely any awake time.  And he cries or screams unless he's held, for the most part.  We get about 30 minutes, maybe an hour, two if we are SUPER LUCKY, in the morning now where he can hang out in my arms, or be in a swing or his pack n play just cooing and chattering and generally happy to be around - but this is a new development as of the last four days.  Today was the first time I've even been able to attempt "tummy time" with him, because he was awake, alert, not screaming.  He's only had a handful of real baths in his short life because they cause a crapton of distress for both him and for us.  (When I have the stamina, I'll write up the story of the day we tried to give him a bath and the glass bathroom sconce fell off the wall and shattered on the sink right next to him, sending shards of glass all over him but not drawing a drop of blood or cutting him at all (but taking a huge chunk out of my finger... and causing me to have a full blown, serious, breathe-into-a-paper-bag anxiety attack...))

At night, he'll sleep one shift, usually for an hour, in his cradle.  Other than that, he needs to be held to sleep. I've camped out in a big chair in the bedroom and have him there, on my chest, usually from about 3 am to 8 am.  The early shift, Owen is on E's chest, usually in the rocking chair in the living room.  I get a decent few hours of sleep from about 11 pm to 2 am, then I feed O, then he kindasortabutnotreally sleeps in his bassinet next to the bed for an hour, then he wakes himself up all fussy, and we go to the chair and sleep there for the rest of the night.  He fusses, but it's easier to soothe him when he's right there on my chest.

Nursing a reflux baby, especially when you have an overactive let-down and too much milk, is not always easy.  He has his "I forgot to breathe, mama, sorry!" moments.  He chokes and sputters and coughs and gasps.  He freezes up, eyes popped out, staring at me, and I wonder if he'll start to breathe again. (So far, he obviously always has.)  Night nursing especially is challenging, and I find that most nights I have a mini panic attack of sorts prior to nursing.  The stop-breathing moments seem to be lessening now that he's on meds, but they still happen and they still freak me out.  He still does his gaspy, shrieking breathing thing sometimes and it terrifies me.  I sit and tremble as he sounds like he can't breathe.  The moments pass, but not without wearing very thin on my already frayed nerves.  And I don't even know how much of this is real and how much of this I exaggerate in my frayed frantic freaked out mind.

 He hates the moby, almost always.  Sometimes he'll allow himself to be held in it for a half hour while we walk the dogs.  He tolerates the ergo but it doesn't work so well on me, his head burrows into my chest and then I get nervous about smothering him.  (I can sit at the computer with him in the ergo, as I'm doing now, because it kind of leans him back away from me a bit but still cradles him close to my body so he's cozy but his face rests back; but I'm also sitting on a bouncing ball so he gets that gentle motion to keep him sleeping.)

It breaks my heart to see my son so uncomfortable, so much of the time.  We joked that he's got to be kicking himself, my little Made on Maui miracle baby - we say maybe when he "chose" to join us in my uterus, since we were on Maui when I got pregnant, he was erroneous in thinking that he was choosing a family that lived on Maui.    Poor little guy, living in a small home in a big, cold city that is falling apart at the seams with earthquakes and occupiers...this is decidedly NOT Maui.  Would he be happier there?  (Or, better question, would we?  If there were any way to finagle it financially, I'd move.  Though that would mean we'd be away from my mother, who has been a lifesaver these last two months...)

I love him with every cell of my being.  It hurts so incredibly much to hear him crying, screaming, and to be trying every single thing with every single part of me to make it better.

And I can't figure out how much of my emotional stuff is fatigue and how much is hormonal ppd type stuff and how much is the fact that I am just completely fucked from having gone through the year that we went through last year.  But I see other BLMs with their rainbows having a seemingly much easier time, so I know this isn't just residual grief causing panic and anxiety.  Owen is a challenging baby.  And that feels like a really fucking unfair hand to be dealt after having lost Otis.  And I feel like a fucking failure, pretty much about 90% of the time.

And like I said, I also feel like a total ingrate.  I should be cherishing every peep out of his mouth, including the blood curdling shrieks at 4 am.  The shoulds are killing me.  We should be happier.  He should be sleeping better.  I should be able to get out of the house to join that mommy's group.  He should be smiling more. I should be ready to go back to work.  I should be able to figure all this out. We should just count our blessings that he's here, he's alive, and it appears that he might actually get to stay...

And I can't help but wonder - would Otis have been challenging like this?  He was such a big baby, and hung out until 40 1/2 weeks in utero, and was always so chill in the womb, I feel like he would've been different.  And then I think this kind of thinking further kills me.  The comparing.  The wishing Owen was someone different.  It makes me cry even to type those words, because I love him so much, how could I possibly wish he were any different than exactly as he is?  I worry that he doesn't know how loved he is, because so often I'm just so run down by him.

We went last week to the pediatrician and Owen was weighed.  At 7 1/2 weeks, he weighed Otis's birth weight.  This is what Otis's body would've felt like squirming in my arms, I think to myself.  Would Otis have done that thing with his lip the way Owen does? I wonder.  Would I have felt so overwhelmed, so sad, so desperate, with Otis?  I realized as I folded clothes the other day that I no longer associate really any of the outfits as being Otis's outfits - they all belong to Owen now - with the exception of the dandelion onesie that my bff gave Otis, and the monkey butt pants.  I can't wear my Otis necklace because Owen yanks on it while he nurses and I'm afraid of the chain snapping.  E lost his Otis necklace at some point while we were at the hospital.  The symbolism of these two things makes me want to scream and sob.  Otis, you are here, always, right at the forefront of my heart.  The space you occupy is always yours.  Uniquely and unequivocally yours.

And then I sit here, and I glance down at this beautiful little boy strapped onto my chest, and tears fill my eyes, because he is so gorgeous, so amazing, so miraculous. Because I love him so much.  It's so damn confusing.  So damn confusing.   I read back over my words here and I am so sad because I feel like they don't convey the truth in my heart, that I love this little man so much I would gladly lay down in front of a tank or a bus for him, in a heartbeat.  I look at him, recognize how hard these days are, and my heart hurts, I feel like it's somehow blasphemous or contradicts that love to admit how hard a time I'm having.

I miss Otis.

I grieve that we didn't get to do "newborn" with Otis.

I grieve that these first 8 weeks have been so drastically different than what I hoped for, what I imagined for us, what I dreamt of.

I miss me, I miss the pre-Otis me, I miss the post-Otis me.  I miss what semblance of "solid ground" I felt like I was standing on, even in the precariousness of being pregnant with Owen.  I miss taking deep grounding breaths, I miss feeling like I knew what I was doing, I miss feeling competent.  I miss being able to type emails to my friends (yes, especially you, B), I miss being able to answer a phone call, I miss having clothes that I feel comfortable and presentable in.

And I read those words and I am embarrassed and disgusted by myself.  Because I have my baby, my living, screaming, breathing, healthy baby.  He's here.  He's healthy.  He's alive.  He's ours.

And yet it all still feels so fucking hard, in some agonizingly familiar old ways and some brand new and terrifying ways...

But...when it comes down to it, Steven Tyler still captures the song that's been in my head throughout these last 8 weeks...

Friday, October 28, 2011


I don't want to jinx it but we've had a good couple of days.  And I only mean "a couple" in the truest sense of the word: at most, 2 days.  But...I feel like I'm getting to know Owen better and learning what makes him tick and learning his cries, his needs, his sounds and expressions...as well as learning my own ways and how they help and hinder me when he's having a tough time.  I also am amazed at what a little sleep can do - even if it's only in 2 1/2 hour spurts, but if I chain three or four of those spurts together it makes me a whole lot saner.  Owen seems to be settling into a bit of a night time pattern too, (well, do two or three nights make a pattern?) so that's been helpful for me since I'm so neurotic about predictability and patterns and routines.

I cut cow's milk dairy out of my diet and he's been so much less gassy/burpy/farty/agonizing/screaming that I really do think it makes a difference.  I *hope* it makes a difference - it would be really nice to have a concrete idea of "this helps" rather than just trying everything at random.  His rash/acne/eczema has also started to clear since I cut the dairy out as well, so I think he really may be sensitive to it.

Yesterday I went for my 6 week postpartum visit (still a bit early, I'm only 5 1/2 weeks pp) and the doctor gave me a clean bill of health - my incision has healed well, yadda yadda.  When we were leaving the building, there was a truck parked outside the office that said OTIS along the side of it and I swear their logo looked SO MUCH like a dandelion.  It made me smile, big.

In other news, my bff (or one of them) told me yesterday that her husband has a tumor in his jaw.  He had testicular cancer about 8 years ago so we are all really hoping and praying that this is not a recurrence.  He goes for a biopsy next week, please keep your fingers crossed.  It also helps to explain why she's been pretty absent from helping with Owen this month, as they've been caught in CT scans and MRIs and a whole lot of scariness. I'm really ready to have a few months in a row where I stop shaking my fists at the heavens and shouting about how crappy life can be sometimes, by the way.

I have to start making plans to go back to work.  I can't believe it.  I so wish we could swing it otherwise but it's just not in our cards.  It looks like the week before Thanksgiving will be my first week back (very part time) and we'll take it from there (the kids all have the week of Thanksgiving off, so that week I will be home as well).  I don't know how it's going to work but I have to have some faith that it will somehow.

OK, baby is calling.  Thanks for all the love and support.  I really am around and reading your blogs and I apologize for not commenting, it's just hard to type a comment on my phone with one hand.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Briefly 10.22.11

I went to a support group on Tuesday for postpartum anxiety and depression.  The woman sitting next to me was there because she was breastfeeding her daughter two weeks ago and when she stopped nursing, she looked down and her baby was blue.  Her husband did CPR and brought the baby back and she lived, but the mama is having horrible anxiety (obviously.)  They are saying it was a "pre-SIDS event" and that it was a result of "silent reflux" - ummm....not the best fodder for my own anxiety, eh?   I didn't exactly leave the group feeling supported...just more anxious.

Owen is a fussy baby.  Colicky, perhaps, the doctors tell us.  Though what is colic, other than the medical definition of "3 hours of crying 3 days a week for over 3 weeks"?  Sounds just like parameters, not a diagnosis that is treatable.  Yes, we are doing all the 5 S's, yes we are trying to eliminate foods from my diet, yes, yes, and yes - we are trying almost everything that has been suggested.  With limited success.  Some days are great, some are impossibly challenging. And, yeah, silent reflux is a possibility.  Everyone keeps telling me "this baby is here to stay" and I try to believe them but sometimes my anxiety gets the best of me.

In spite of all this, I'm doing okay, believe it or not, still sleeping in two to three hour spurts but it is beginning to be more manageable.  I am not quite as paralyzed or crippled as I was a week ago, but I still feel like I'm *still* climbing a mountain that puts Kilimanjaro stacked on top of Everest look like a molehill.

We've had four earthquakes in the last two days here, and our house is no more than 4 miles from the epicenter.  They've scared the crap out of me.  One of them, in the midst of Owen's 8 hour crying jag on Thursday, caused a bonafide panic attack that made E call in reinforcements (my brother came over, bounced O on the bouncy ball while I spoke to the advice nurse about colic...)  I've been through two really nasty earthquakes in my life (89 SF, 94 LA) and I totally have residual trauma memories from them.  I hate the way they come out of nowhere and make you literally question the ground you stand upon.  Kind of like babyloss.  Totally unpredictable, knocks you on your ass and sends you reeling in a way you never thought was possible.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Monsoon 10.16.11

--A bit scared to hit "publish" on this post, but figured I need to come clean with the nitty gritty and down and dirty of my parenting after loss experience.--

I am totally and completely overwhelmed.

With love for this little peanut that entered our life four weeks ago today.

And with sadness for my little big man who left our world one year and five weeks ago today.

And with fatigue, with confusion, with feeling like a total and complete and utter failure - I was talking with a friend today and agreed with her when she said she feels like every mother deserves a HUGE FUCKING MEDAL for making it through the first weeks (months? years?) with a newborn.  I don't know how so many of you have done it/are doing it - competently even - I am barely keeping my head above water.

(This is not an exaggeration.  The extent of my "successes" for the day were:  calling my therapist and getting an appointment to see her on Wednesday (haven't seen her since two weeks before Owen was born); calling my doctor and getting in to go to a peripartum depression group and a consult appointment for possible meds evaluation; calling our health insurance and trying to deal with adding Owen to our coverage (why is that not automatic, seriously, paperwork with my level of brain fog is excruciating); getting my tortoise to finally eat (he's been on a hunger strike for like a week or two?), feeding myself a burrito at 4:30 pm (my first meal of the day), changing a zillion diapers and nursing a very fussy baby a zillion and two times.  I am still in yesterday's yoga pants, I can't tell you when I last showered (Saturday?), my neighbors can probably smell me at this point.  I haven't slept more than an hour or two in our bed in days (Owen seems to only sleep if he's held, so it's the big easy chair in our bedroom for the two of us every night lately.))

Anyhow, lest any of this be seen as complaining, it's not.  I know how lucky I am to have this little beautiful being here at home and in my arms.  I stare at him and marvel at how amazing he is.  And yet, I can't seem to pull it together to leave the house, to get dressed, to find a way to sleep, to take care of basic self-care right now.  I cry a lot.  A LOT.  I become anxious about doing anything new with the baby - I worry he's going to suffocate in his moby wrap.  I worry he's dressed too warmly, too coldly.  I worry that he's got a fever.  I worry that he's eating too much, or not enough.  Same with sleep.  He's got a bad case of baby acne, but I keep worrying "what if it's not baby acne but actually some rare disease that's going to kill him?"  I see how exasperated everyone is with me and my anxiety - I see how paralyzed I am - but I'm not sure how to break myself of it.  (That's why I enlisted help today, calling the doctors and my therapist, btw.  Pay someone who is makes a profession out of helping women in my shoes to help me.) I know what a treasure I have here with me right now - I just can't quite access the joy that I think I'm supposed to be feeling about all of it.

I feel so overwhelmed, like such a phony, like an impostor who doesn't really deserve to have a living baby here at home with her, and who is failing miserably at this parenting after loss gig.  At it's worst, which it was the other night, I sobbed to E, "I feel like maybe Otis knew what he was doing, deciding to leave us..."

(Note to those of you panicking about me: I know Otis didn't "choose" to leave us.  I also am safe, I am not interested in harming myself or the baby (yes, I was asked this question a few times today by a few different professionals) and I know I will survive this.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Time flies.

Babyboy is growing fast, and the days and nights blur past us.  This is HARD work, much harder than I ever anticipated.  Both the grieving for what we lost with Otis, and the learning curve with raising this little guy...I am so swamped, so much of the time.  Doing my best to keep my head above water, but it's not easy.  We've had help lined up (family and friends) and like 90% of them seem to have gotten sick the day before they were scheduled to help out, so we end up fending without them.  Plus, this baby came a month early.  We had NOTHING, literally, NOTHING, set up for him.  I hadn't let myself even think through the "what if he gets to come home with us?" questions yet.  Needless to say, there's a lot to set up, a lot to learn, and I've got a huge incision across my belly and was in a fair amount of discomfort for at least the first week in my recovery that prevented me from doing much other than nursing and sleeping.

Not to mention (TMI, sorry) we had quite a scare on Sunday night when my bleeding picked up significantly and then I passed a large piece of "retained tissue."  You'd think with a c-section they'd get all that out easily - not so much.  Apparently with preterm babies it can be more common that a chunk of membranes/placenta gets left behind.  Ewww.  Not to mention super scary.  I'm fine now, just a little rattled by the whole thing.

When does this get easier, by the way?

I'm madly in love with this little boy, I stare at his lips and his nose and lose myself for hours...I still can't believe he's here.  I also miss being pregnant.  I feel cheated in many ways of those last few weeks, though I also know I was also probably lucky to not have had to endure the anxiety of the last weeks of a pregnancy.  I'm so thankful he was born healthy even at 35 1/2 weeks, that his jaundice cleared rapidly and he's growing like a champ.  We still have to deal with a few "preterm" concerns and are maybe more cautious than we would be if he were born at term, but for the most part, we're super lucky that he's as healthy as he is.

From my bed, I can see a photograph of Otis.  I lie there, nursing Owen, and my gaze goes between my two sons.  They have so many similar features, there are times when Owen is asleep that I panic because I get a flash of Otis, of our last moments with him.  But Otis was such a big boy, and Owen is so tiny still.  I still can't grasp how my sturdy man, my big strong baby boy with a head full of hair, isn't here with us - I know I never will.  I miss him so much, every day.  Putting Owen's clothes away into Otis's dresser was probably one of the hardest moments so far.  "I was JUST DOING THIS, JUST DOING THIS..." I kept crying and repeating.  It seems like just yesterday, there I was, eagerly awaiting Otis's arrival, tidying and readying for him, picturing him in all the outfits, dreaming dreams for our family...and now I do the same for his brother, and yet with a constant tinge of fear, anxiety, sadness that I wouldn't wish on any new mother.  Oh Otis, I miss you.  I wish you were here with us.

I'm reading along with your blogs still, just unable to write much because I'm usually one or no-handed. Thanks for abiding.  xo

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

9.28.11 aka Over My Head

I love this baby boy so much.

I miss my other baby boy so much.

I stare into Owen's face, look at his lips and his nose, and marvel.  And then I see Otis.  It's so bittersweet, the resemblance of these brothers.  One here with us, one not.

I am encountering a ton of anxiety and a lot of panic these days.  Anything "new" causes me to seize up in fear that it will be the thing that takes Owen from my life.  Every person (and there have only been a few) who has come over to "help" with the new baby has ended up feeling like they're coming down with a cold and can't stay, except my mom, who is a little oblivious in her caregiving and causes me more panic.

The other day I was panicking about his jaundice numbers and that he seemed lethargic and didn't want to feed (all the warning signs they told me to watch for) and I started to cry and my mom was pooh-poohing my worry and said, "You're just panicking because this is your first baby..."

And I stopped.

"No, actually, I'm panicking because this is my SECOND baby."

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Thanks so much for your words of congratulations.

What a whirlwind, eh?  I want to sit back and take the time to write his birth story but "taking the time" seems a long ways off when tonight is the first chance I even had to OPEN my laptop!  Basically, though, I had been having cramps all week, I really thought they were BH or "practice" contractions, E finally made me call the advice nurse on Sunday night, they told me to come in just to be safe and get checked on the monitors, turns out I was dilated to 4 cm, rapidly progressing, having regular strong contractions every two minutes...They gave me the option to try for a vaginal delivery, but everyone agreed for my sanity that a c-section was still the best choice...but I had dinner in my belly that needed to digest...so we waited as long as we could, which was about until 4:40 am when I was checked, at a 6, and my water broke...so they started prepping me for surgery.

Babyboy was born at 6:12 am, and wailed his way into the world - shortly followed by mama and papa sobbing their eyes out...a truly incredible moment - I still can't quite digest it all.

After three and a half days in the hosptial, rooming in with babyboy the entire time, we are home from the hospital. Baby passed the hospital "poop test" (and how!), my milk has come in, he's a hearty eater, I'm still working on the whole, "He'll still be alive if I go to sleep and wake up in a bit," piece of things.  I don't ever want to close my eyes, I don't want to miss a moment with this little guy.  (Cue Aerosmith?) We're battling a little bit of jaundice (super common with a preterm baby) and in the grand scheme of things, I feel so fortunate that at least so far, that's been our biggest medical concern.

I fluctuate wildly between being over the moon ecstatic and so happy, so so so so so happy...and then being overwrought with sadness that Otis isn't here with us, that I didn't get to look into Otis's eyes, that I didn't get even a fraction of this amount of time with him...that this guy will never know his big brother except through our words and stories...Maybe fluctuate isn't even the right word - I feel actually like I am holding both emotions most of the time - this goes down as yet another lesson in the "joy and grief are not opposites, they can coexist at the exact same time in equal strengths" lesson.

Finally - his name - we decided upon Owen Kekoa N___.  Kekoa is hawaiian, it means "the courageous one."  It honors his hawaiian "roots" and our healing time in Maui in January.  (The joke has been "he'd have to be a courageous one to join this family...")  The name Owen came to us as a total surprise.  Our two dogs are both O names, and of course Otis - and the party line throughout this pregnancy was always "We are retiring the O tradition with Otis." I didn't want to be "that family" with names all in the same letter.  Then we met this guy, and I fell even more in love, and all of a sudden it felt horribly WRONG for him not to be one of my Os.  And I've always loved loved loved the name Owen but E was always averse to it when I had suggested it...and then out of the blue on Wednesday, he asked me how I felt about the name Owen.  We're still settling into it, I think it still feels strange to call him a name, to really acknowledge that he's here with us, he came home with us, he's here, he's here, he's here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Testing 123

Quick update

Sorry for choppy language and editing. I'm going on minimal sleep rightnow!!
e are doing pretty well...waiting for Babyboy (names still TBD) to poop - he's feeding well, his stomach isn't distended, but he should've had some meconium pass by now. He'll see the pediatrician in a bit. if he does poop, and passes his preemie car seat screen (to make sure his oxygen levels don't drop if he's in the seat for 60 min plus) then we may be going home tonight. There's a nurses one day walkout here tomorrow so our nurse has warned us It might be a crappy day to be here if we don't have to be. We qualify for home health visits so we'll have a nurse come to our house on probably Friday and Monday to make sure he's still doing well.

I'm so ridiculously in love with him. He's got Otis's lips and nose but is blonder and obviously tinier.

I can't quite figure out how to post a pic but am going to try to do it remotely in a sec.

Monday, September 19, 2011

He's Here!!!!

This feisty fellow decided he was ready to join us last night.

I'm madly in love.

His screams were the most beautiful sounds I've ever heard.

6 lbs 15 oz. 20 in. C-sec without complications after a crazy lightning fast labor while they waited for my dinner to digest pre-surgery. No name yet.

I still can't quite believe it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Those midwesterners have a great sense of humor.  This is the area just past the security checkpoint at either Madison or Milwaukee airport, where you put your shoes, jewelry, belts back on, where you replace your laptop into its case, yadda yadda yadda.  

I feel like I'm in a bit of a recombobulation area myself right now, so pardon the jumbledness of this post.  In the midst of all the anniversari-ness, I also started showing some signs of preterm labor.  For an hour or two there on Sunday night, I was in a complete panic that this new baby boy was planning to arrive on Otis's birthday.  He didn't, thank goodness, and I'm still trudging along at 35 weeks today.  My c-section is scheduled for one month from today.  It remains to be seen if we'll make it that far.  The baby's quite healthy, as far as every NST and perinatologist can tell, it's just that he may be a little eager to join us.  I see my perinatologist tomorrow and may have more answers then.  What's that they say about the best laid plans...

So, yes, the last few days have been intense, and that's an understatement.  I am still recombobulating.  

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

We marked Otis's first birthday, and the one year anniversary of holding him as his heart took its last beats.  We cried, we laughed.  We spoke much of how perfect he was, how gorgeous he was, how much joy he continues to bring to us...and we raged with our fists to the sky at the terrible injustice that he's not here with us anymore.  We relaxed, we floated in a gorgeous pool overlooking the most picturesque rolling hills, we counted our blessings, we wished on stars and held hands and stared googly-eyed at one another over fancy meals.  I awoke to a nightmare - the kind that leaves your hair standing on end and your heart racing - more than once.  

I read your notes, your emails, your calls, your texts.  I saw photos with my boy's name on them.  You made donations in his name.  You talked of him, you talked of us, you held us with love and kindness.  I felt every bit of light you shone in our direction.

We toasted to you, to the pillars of support that have held us up this year.  We toasted to him, our beautiful baby boy, here in every way except the way we most expected and wanted.

And we are surviving.

I want to share these words, written by my dear friend Lucy on Otis's birthday card.  I can't think of any better way to say it.

Dearest Otis,

On your first birthday, I celebrate the love you have brought into the world, the wonderful parents Sarah and Erik have become, and the way you have opened up so many hearts.

Thank you for being part of the good stuff, of the light, of the things that make humanity worth joining in with.  You are deeply loved and deeply missed and that can never change.

love peace and light to you, most beautiful and precious baby boy and to your family too.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Love to all my friends today...

Of course extra love to Leslie, remembering Cullen on the anniversary of his birth.   Leslie was the first mama I connected with after losing Otis, and if it weren't for her, I can honestly say I don't know that I would've survived the year.

We are off to the woods to remember our boy, back on Tuesday.  I may be online, am not sure.

Thank you for all your love and prayers, for saying his name, for lighting candles, for thinking of us, for abiding, and holding us through this year.

Special love to Ceil for sending me this photo this morning.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

mini rant


Monday, September 5, 2011

Surviving. Day. By. Day.

Thank you for all your kind words on my last post, and for the emails and notes I've received as well.

I've been remembering those first few days.  Waking up in the middle of the night, checking my phone, reading an email sent by someone clearly in a different time zone (Sally, Maddie...) who had been awake while I was asleep, and your words giving me the ability to take another breath, to get back to sleep for an hour or two of respite.  Thank you.  A mere mention on twitter from Angie or Jess letting me know I wasn't alone...miraculous.  And then the friendships that developed from there - I feel blessed to know you all.  As time passed and sadly, newly bereaved mothers joined this group, I have made some tremendous friends - lifelong, You Can Call Me in the Middle of the Night and Sob and I Will Always Be There friends.   Friends with whom I am equally comfortable discussing baby loss, fashion trends, celebrity gossip, marriage challenges, craptastic reality television, quirky dog behavior...I don't know what I'd do without you, really.  Thank you.

So here we are, the first of the milestones of the month: Labor Day.  Remarkably uneventful so far.  A neighbor stopped me yesterday to tell me she had been thinking of me and E all weekend, remembering last year, our hopefulness, our anticipation; and that her heart is with us more than ever now.  Very kind.

Last night we went to my mom's for a Labor Day bbq.  We have cousins visiting from Alaska.  My brother's son and Otis share a birthday on September 12.  My mom had mentioned that she wanted to make cupcakes to mark birthdays - her birthday was last month, a dear friend (who was at the bbq) celebrated his birthday last week, my cousin from Alaska's birthday was a few days ago, my nephew's birthday was next Monday.  That was all she said.  I didn't expect her to mention Otis's birthday. I know she knows, but she often falls in that "I shouldn't mention it because I don't want to make you sad..." group.

But last night, she brought out a platter of cupcakes.  Candles in many of them.  We sang happy birthday, she passed them out.  One to Rick.  One to Octavio.  One to Claudio.  One to herself. And then she came to me, and put one down in front of me.  "And this is for Otis.  Though he's not here with us, it's still his birthday next Monday, and we will always remember him."

I didn't cry, I smiled.  My soon-to-be-three-year-old nephew ran over and asked "Tia Sarah, can I help?" and I picked him up on my lap and he blew the candle out.  And I smelled his hair and snuggled him close and gave him a kiss.

So true.  We will always remember you, Otis.  I wish you were here with us.  Mama loves you more than ever.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I was tempted to title this post, "Fuck You, September..." but that doesn't sum up my love/hate relationship with the month very well, just sums up my general state of anger and rage at the world that's been permeating quite a bit of everything I do lately.  Plus, you know how I love my curse words, and The F Word is certainly one of my favorites. But anyway.

It's September 1st.

September is the most beautiful month out here where I live.  So beautiful, in fact, that when E and I decided to get married, we knew it would have to happen in September.  Fall colors just starting to appear on the trees, a crispness in the evenings, signs of Fall all around, except that September is also when we get our hottest days usually.  Beautiful light, hot sun, still wearing tanks and sundresses, but the anticipation of baking bread and football season and cozying up with a bowl of homemade soup is palpable.

It's also Back to School Month, which for me has always been Back to Work Month (well, actually, that's usually August, but September is when it kicks in...) but it's still a lovely month...the workload has yet to get overwhelming or bothersome.  It hardly ever rains in September.  It really is just lovely.  Any time anyone who hasn't been here thinks of visiting, I tell them to skip the summer tourist season and wait for September, or even October.  It's just so beautiful here.

But not anymore.

September is Otis's month.

His due date was September 4/5 - Labor Day Weekend last year.  Oh, how clever, what a great way to remember it: LABOR day.

I spent last year's Labor Day in hopeful anticipation.  Walking.  Walking.  Walking.  And more walking.  It was HOT.  (Warning: very gory, but entirely unrelated to labor, story in 4...3...2...1...)  We ended up in the midst of a CRAZY neighborhood emergency - a neighbor had cut off his thumb with a power saw, and we were walking by his house as we heard it happen.  E couldn't just keep walking, the screams were too bloodcurdling.  He went in.  He stayed with the man (who had cut off not just his thumb but the tips of two other fingers as well) and his wife while the paramedics were on their way.  They searched for the thumb.  Seriously.  E calmed the wife.  I could hear him talking to them both - he was amazing. So calm, rational, grounded. The paramedics arrived, they continued to search for the thumb.  It was surreal.  I stood outside, 9 months pregnant, on my due date, with my dogs, and explained to the other neighbors what was going on.  "No, they're looking for it.  They can't go to the hospital until they find it.  Umm, yeah...Well, today is actually my due date.  I'm doing okay...  Yeah, a boy... Yeah, we're excited...We think Otis, but we'll have to decide for certain when we see him... "

At one point they even tried bringing our little dog in to help sniff out the thumb.  (He was unsuccessful.)  20 minutes later, they found it (it had flown over the roof and into the side yard, they discovered this by being all sorts of CSI and tracking its hypothetical path and following blood drops.)  The poor man and his wife took off in the ambulance, and E and I walked home.  Hot, sweaty, pretty shaken up.  But I was decidedly not in labor.  The whole thing was so surreal.  But afterwards, E was like, "Well, wow, if I could handle that, I can totally handle your labor...I can't imagine it being any more scary than that..." (Oh, if only.)

That night our little dog got sick, (no, he had not eaten the thumb, as many who I told this story to thought was my "punch line," but probably a rotten plum or something while out on our walk, because he seemed kind of drunk).  I debated taking him to the vet.  Just what I needed, a dog at the emergency vet and the way things seemed to work for me, *that* would be when I went into labor.  But I held off on the e-vet, the dog recovered, and I didn't go into labor.

Two or three days later, I did.  Late at night, as E had just gotten home from work, I had my first contractions.

I can't write the story of my labor and delivery.  It's all still too much for me to revisit.

But it was four days in total, from my first contraction at midnight-ish on Wednesday, to my delivery in the wee hours of Sunday morning.  Later Sunday we learned how very sick Otis was.  We took him off life support the following day, Monday, the 13th, around 3pm.

Wednesday, the 15th, was our 3rd wedding anniversary.  Or, if you count the wedding we had while lying in my hospital bed the night of the 12th, it was our 3 day anniversary.

See, when we realized the gravity of the situation we were facing in the hospital, E crawled into bed with me and cried, and cried, and trembled, and screamed, and cried.  I cried too, I trembled too.  We were both terrified.  We were losing Otis.  The only thing I could imagine that could be as painful would be losing E.  I stopped, turned to him, and asked him to marry me.  Again.  Right there.  I told him that I couldn't lose him, that I knew this would forever change us, and that I could only do it if I had him right by my side.

The hospital chaplain came to sit with us later that evening, and we asked her to do a mini-ceremony of sorts, renewing our vows, resealing our marriage contract.  It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life.  In the early days of our grief, when one of us was having a particularly hard time, the other would turn and ask, "Will you marry me?"

It was our way of saying, "I'm not going anywhere.  This is as hard a pitch that life can throw our way.  I will stand by you through every bit of it.  I love you.  We will get through this.  I don't know how, but we will."

So here we go.

Into September.

My once-favorite month.

The month I got married.  The month I finally held my Otis, the month I triumphantly pushed and pushed and birthed that beautiful glorious 11 pound baby.  The month I saw his gorgeous head of hair, and that perfect nose, and his lips...his lips...The month I learned what it feels like to have your heart stretched and stretched and stretched some more to accommodate the incredible amount of love that a child brings with him as he bursts into the world.

The month I remarried E.  The month I learned Otis was not going to stay with us.  The month I watched as we unhooked tubes and said our goodbyes.  The month I cradled him in my arms, kissed his head, and baptized him with my tears.  The month I watched as E sobbed and howled and held that baby with all the love a papa could ever muster.  The month my world shattered. The month I fell more in love with E than I ever dreamed possible.  The month I learned what true love is.

So here we are, September 1st. I didn't think it would mean as much to me as it does today.  It's just a date, an arbitrary naming of a day, I told myself.  But somehow, even just seeing the word "September" is sending shivers in my spine and reawakening a deep and dark dark dark sadness that lives in me.

Today, just on schedule, the weather is nice and warm.  The light shines in that way that it only does in the month of September.  But there's a breeze in the air...it's cool, reminding me that fall is indeed on its way.  September will turn to October, just as it does every year.   We have our hopes about what that may mean this year, but last year's September shattered me too deeply to even think about hoping too much right now.

So I'm grabbing E's hand, yet again, asking him to marry me, yet again, and attempting to breathe my way through this.  And putting it out there that I couldn't have made it through this year without the support of the baby loss community either, and letting you know I might need a little extra TLC these next few weeks.

To all my readers, thank you for walking this path with me.  To those of you who also lost your babies in September, know that you and your children are never far from my heart, especially so this month.

Friday, August 26, 2011

On Karma and Psycho Beasts, part two

The ever-amazing and truly gifted Angie at still life with circles is answering questions this week.   Given my recent experience with the crazy lady (see below post) who dared to insinuate that Otis's death was somehow my husband's karma "biting him in the ass," I turned to Angie, who I knew had some pretty extensive knowledge on the subject, to help me out.  Her response is truly amazing.  Thank you, Angie.

And for those of you who rallied with me in the rage and helped me to feel not so alone, thank you.

The addendum to the story is that the woman tried to get in touch with E yet again last week, and tried to EXPLAIN herself, with a seemingly rational sounding voice mail, to the effect of, "I think you're misunderstanding me....I'm not trying to offend you.  I'm just saying that I've taken stock of my own life, and I realize where my karma has come back to bite me, and I wondered if you had ever considered asking yourself the same questions....I'm just saying that our consequences catch up to us, and maybe that's what finally happened with you."  (By the way, she has kind of a high pitched, yet slow with her words, saccharine voice, the kind of voice that a really, really, really annoying 22 year old yoga teacher who took a weekend workshop and now considers herself a guru of sorts might tend to use.)  (And I get to say stuff like that because, well, I taught yoga at a gym and probably even at times was accused of being a little too fluffy, though my students have all reassured me that what they liked was that I didn't have that saccharine edge to my teaching or my voice...but I digress.)  She also sent like 10 text messages trying to "explain" her makesnomotherfuckingsensenomatterhowyousliceit nonsense.

Needless to say, we have now blocked her number so she cannot text or call.  I do feel like I've moved past it, but damn, she really fucked with my head there for a few days.  After her second bout of "trying to explain" how Otis's death was our karma, I sat in the kitchen and HOWLED and SCREAMED and stared down the knives and pictured all the horrible things I wanted to do to this woman and then yelled about it, too.  Not exactly enlightened, not exactly compassionate, certainly not on the eightfold path, but at least I didn't actually ACT on any of those thoughts, right?

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Whole Lotta Rage

So last night, E told me he had gotten a text from an ex-girlfriend (no, this story is not going in that direction, thank God.)  This is a woman he dated over 12 years ago.  She's pretty nuts, and has exhibited unstable behavior a few times in the last few years, but E is a good man, and has felt like she sometimes has no one else to turn to, no voices of stability in her life, so he's been a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on for her from time to time.  I don't feel threatened by her, never have, so that's not the issue.

E was at his computer, on facebook, trying to figure out how to defriend her, and asked me if I knew how to defriend, so of course I asked details.  He tried to not tell me, saying it would hurt my feelings, and he didn't need me to know, it was nothing, she was worthless...but his secrecy of course then got me anxious, so then he told me.

Her text to him, out of nowhere (meaning he hasn't spoken with her in at least a month, other than a random FB comment thread about frozen yogurt), was "So I've been thinking.  All that horrible shit you've done, I guess karma really bit you in the ass, huh."

I never really understood the phrase "seeing red" until last night when he told me those words.  I wanted to hurt her.  Just like I wanted to smash dishes a few weeks back, this time I wanted to smash all her bones.  How DARE she insinuate that (a) Otis's death was "karma" and (b) that E ever did anything horrible to her (or anyone)...Part of what upset E the most was that he has no recollection of ever doing anything even slightly crappy to her, other than breaking up with her, but even that was amicable, or so he thought.  And he's been there for her through 3 am sobbing phone calls and other psychopath behavior...with nothing but a gentle heart...oh, man, I was angry.  May she NEVER, EVER, EVER cross my path.  I will hurt her.  I will cut her.  I will.  Hell hath no fury like a woman who has been told her child's death was "karma."

I tried to vent to E about all this, about how angry and mad and rageful I was...and, bless his heart, his response: "I'm trying to be compassionate..."  He went out to the garden and hammered some rebar stakes that needed to be set in the ground.  He took lots of deep breaths.  He reminded himself (and me) that this woman is in horrible pain, and not that that excuses her behavior, but rather that we don't need to let her pain and misery taint our experience.  That her words came from a place of pain, and that he feels sorry for someone so devoid of love and compassion herself that she would ever even think those thoughts, let alone share them with anyone, let alone share them with US.  He took her off his FB account, deleted the text, and is carrying on.

While we are both very raw and fragile today, it was yet another moment that made me love him all the more and made me realize the power of my Mama Bear Protective Instinct towards him, and towards my babies - don't cross my path.  I will hurt you. 

Special thanks to those of you to whom I sent out an SOS last night and you rallied with equal ire and let me vent....incredibly good to know you've got my back in situations like this.  May there never be another situation like it again.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rainbows Tonight, Around the World

Tonight I sit here flooded with tears, overjoyed at the arrivals this week of Sally's beautiful Juliet and L's (who glow moms know as Lola's) beautiful M (name redacted for L's privacy) and Brianna's beautiful Clio...  To see photos of them holding these healthy, gorgeous, amazing children...I'm without words, simply just loads of tears.

I guess maybe these three are my first real stories of successful pregnancy after loss, women that I connected with early in the days after Otis died, women who have been tremendous friends to me through the last 11 months, women who conceived, carried, and now delivered babies in the time that Otis has been gone.

It gives me hope, brings me joy. A bittersweet joy, of course, but I'm beginning to realize that all joys from now on will be bittersweet.  I know Elizabeth McCracken has a perfect quote about it, which many of you know: "It's a happy life but someone is missing.  It's a happy life, and someone is missing."

Much love and light to all of you mamas.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Eleven months since you came into this world, my baby boy....

I was remembering last night the first time I saw you, when they wheeled me down to the NICU, to see your beautiful face, and how my heart just burst at the sight of you.  You were absolutely perfect.  Your lips, your nose, your head full of hair...your long fingers, chubby little legs, and oh - your skin - so soft, so perfect.  I didn't know it was possible to feel how I felt just then - but I actually felt my heart stretching at that very moment.  You took my breath away.  You changed my life.  You gorgeous boy.

My god, how I miss you.

Your papa and I have been talking about what to do next month for your birthday.  Today we made plans to spend that night at secluded resort not far from home.  I'm still not sure what we will to do to honor the day for you, but know that September 12 and 13 will be all about our love for you, our memories of you, and the legacy you have left for us as we live in this world.  It's a broken world without you here.  A beautiful, broken world, full of contradictions and confusion, full of love and life, full of you, and yet so empty all the same....

Forever your mama, forever loving you, forever missing you. xo

Friday, July 29, 2011

And Out of Nowhere

It creeps up, taps me on the shoulder, and fells me in one quick and easy little touch.

I miss him so much.  I just started sobbing, the kind of geyser-like sobs that emerge seemingly out of nowhere.   It crept up and bowled me over.  I want him here.  Otis.  I want that head full of hair to nuzzle my nose into, I want to feel his soft baby skin, I want to hear him cry and look into his eyes.  I want to know my son as a ten month old child, not as a ten month old memory.


My stepsister is an aspiring writer.  She's had several novel excerpts and short stories published in some journals and magazines, and has "won" contests or become a finalist, or whatever it is that aspiring writers enter themselves in.

Today she posted a link, on her FB page, to a short story she has written and is in an online magazine.

I clicked through.  I don't always, I often mean to, but then forget.

This story was about a couple who lose their baby 20 weeks into the pregnancy, due to an incompetent cervix.

And it angered me that she had written it.

She's had two first trimester losses, so she is not immune to the grief, I know.  But I read through her story searching for flaws, thinking "How dare she..."

I know this isn't "right," for me to feel this way.  Of course she has every right to write about whatever she wants.  And there are plenty of authors out there who write about things they haven't personally experienced.  And Otis didn't die due to my having an incompetent cervix, and he didn't die at 20 weeks.  And my husband's name isn't Mitch, like the husband in the story.  And our experience is not the one she wrote about.

And yet I still feel sort of betrayed.  Because she and I don't talk about Otis often, she doesn't ask, we haven't ever been super close and the last year has been no different in that regard...it just feels odd.  But who knows, maybe she based her character on a friend who suffered a loss like the one she wrote about. Maybe she didn't even think of me or of Otis at all while writing that story.


And maybe that was what triggered the sudden eruption of grief.  Maybe.  Who knows.  It doesn't even matter.  I just miss him.  So fucking much.  I want to go smash something right now. I haven't had this urge to smash since maybe January.  I've got a basement full of old dishes for this explicit purpose, but I worry that I'd hurt myself or I'd start and be unable to stop, and then neighbors would start coming home from work and I'd be "that woman" in her garage, smashing dishes and screaming and crying and nobody would know what to do with me.  And I don't think that violently smashing dishes is allowed on my "limited activity" restriction either.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Sorry for the hiatus, friends.  I've been out of town and away from all things communicational, and also just a little bit quiet, as seems to be the norm as of late.

We marked 10 months without Otis on the 13th.  Sometimes the 13ths sneak up on me and knock me down unexpectedly, sometimes I prepare for them so the knock down doesn't feel quite so hard, and sometimes (like this month), they just come and go.

I saw my therapist close to around that time (she and I have tapered down our visits due to financial constraints) and it helped.  I had been feeling extraordinarily detached from myself, from my husband, my friends, from any sort of enthusiasm towards life or anything productive...but I didn't feel like it was directly related to needing to talk/cry about Otis.  Yet, spending that hour in there, and crying about Otis, and crying about the loss of the woman I used to be - both the woman I was before Otis was born and died, as well as feeling detached from the raw, fragile, open, "love is everything" woman I was right after he died - somehow brought my balance back towards a comfortable place, and things have felt nicer these last few weeks.  No insight or even glimmers of insight from that appointment, other than it was a good release to go, and cry, and talk about him and how much I miss him, still, every day, and about how wrong it is that he's not here with us.  

We just spent close to a week in the mountains, visiting a family camp that my family camped at throughout my youth.  Then I worked there during my summers in college.  It holds a very special place in my heart, yet I hadn't been back in a long time.  I'd always been waiting to take my own family up there, I guess.  So again, this was a bit of a "Otis should be here with us" sort of trip.  At the same time, one of my dearest friends, who I met while camping there at the wee age of 5,  and who was a devoted pen pal of mine throughout our childhood and teenage years, who also went on to work at the camp, was visiting with her family.  Her husband is in the foreign service so they have been stationed in Moscow for the last three years, so I so rarely get to see her (our last visit was a brief one, three days before I went into labor with Otis, while she had a layover in my city.  She was one of the last of my friends to lay her hands on my belly and feel him kick.)  Her family is now in the country in between her husband's posts (they go to Iceland next) so we decided to surprise them up there.  

I was hesitant and reluctant, going to a family camp where children would be running all around me, but, in the end, my desire to see her won.  And I'm so glad it did.  What a treat, a recharge for my soul's batteries, to get to spend that time with her.  I hadn't told her I was pregnant, wanting to keep it as an in person surprise (plus we have been pretty private with this pregnancy, I'd say maybe only 50% of my "real life" people actually know...)   It was so great to see her face when she realized I was there, and then when she realized I was pregnant...I wouldn't have traded it for anything.  And we got to talk, face to face, about Otis, about this sweet big boy who I miss so much, and I got to see her tears in person, and  I got to talk to her daughter about this baby in my belly ("No, it's not my first baby...") and hear my friend say to her five year old, "Remember, you know Sarah's first baby, Otis.  We have a picture of him in our house.  We talk about him a lot, he's no longer here with us but he's so loved.  So loved."  And watch as her five year old muddles that information in her brain, blinks back a few tears, swallows, and then lays her hands on my belly, leans in real close, and says, "I love you baby."

The last night in our cabin, we had bats.  Lots of them.  We shooed two out of the cabin and found one more in the morning so I'm pretty confident there were at least three in there, though perhaps it was one very persistent bat who kept coming back.  I am an animal lover.  I love the bat exhibit at the zoo, I really do.  I have a bat decoration that every Halloween I am so excited to hang on our porch.  In fact, it was one thing that brought me joy even last year, in the darkest October of my life.  But real life bats, flying through your hair when you get out of bed to pee at night (which, at 27 weeks pregnant, you do about every hour, especially when you're pounding water to keep from getting altitude sickness or dehydration)...not so much.  Freaked me out, to no end.  And no google to consult with in the middle of the night, since we didn't even have a phone line.  I desperately worried that I was going to get bitten by a bat and become "that woman that lost her second child due to a freak bat accident."  Seriously.  I didn't sleep at all.  Every time I heard that bat flutter around I would whimper and cry and beg to be pardoned from the wrath of the bat.  No joke.  I realized that this is another after-effect of losing your child - horribly random and scary occurrences no longer seem out of the realm of possibility.  Of course I could be attacked by a bat.  My perfectly healthy son died at birth.  The world is senseless.  Bats attack.  Babies die.

But I didn't get attacked by a bat, and as far as I know, no bats hitched onto our luggage for a ride back home, so I think we're in the clear, at least for now.

So I'm 27 weeks pregnant.  I can't believe it.  And I can't believe that I'm saying this, but I am really, really, really loving being pregnant.  I think, at least right now, at *this moment,* I kind of understand what living in the moment feels like.  We rarely, rarely, rarely talk about "when the baby comes."  We have not set up anything baby related in the house.  We don't have a name picked out.  And yet yesterday at the doctor, we got to see him on the u/s screen yet again, and there was his adorable little profile, that sweet button nose and what appear to be some really luscious lips (oh please oh please oh please let them be like Otis's perfect nose and lips) and E broke down into sobs as we walked out of the office, "I love him SO much.  SO MUCH," he kept repeating through some really good crying...."Can you talk to me more about your tears, babe?" I asked him...I just wasn't sure if they were Otis tears, or tears for this baby, or - duh - both - since really no tears are ever without Otis anymore...and E sniffled, looked up at me, looked back at the u/s pics, and said, "I think these are happy tears.  I really do."

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Sending so much love and light to Missy this weekend, who is marking her son Chai's first birthday this weekend...Missy was one of the first blogging mamas I "met" here in this horrific (and yet so beautifully supportive) blog world of baby loss, and she's been an amazing friend to me in these months.  Drop on by and send her some love as we mark Chai's first birthday....


(warning: discussion of subsequent pregnancy)

So we just got back from 8 days in Honolulu, there for a family wedding.  We all went - my brother, his wife, their two kids, my mom, E and me...plus there were a ton of family friends there as well.  The trip had been planned for over a year, so originally in the planning this was supposed to be our first big trip with Otis.  First time on an airplane.  First time on the beach.  "Perfect time to travel with him," our friends with kids told us.  We would be traveling with grandma - free babysitting!  Mama and Papa could go on a DATE!  Yadda yadda yadda.

My heart broke a bunch of times over during the trip, I missed Otis so badly. Our hotel pool was full of babies swimming with their parents....Everybody saw my pregnant belly and made the usual "Is this your first?" or "Enjoy it now...you'll be busier than you know it soon," line of commentary.  I usually just nodded, then ignored most of them and put on headphones; but E would often get to talking.

This one particular family started in with the usual "You're expecting" chatter and I put on my headphones; and I realized soon enough that E was actually sharing the details of Otis's birth and death with them.  Turns out, their son, who was happily swimming in the pool with his mama, had shoulder dystocia in delivery as well.  But there he was, alive and well, jumping and splashing and laughing....

Why did he get to stay?  Why not Otis?

Later in the trip, the father came back up to us, to say goodbye, they were heading back home from their vacation.  "I wish nothing but the best for you guys in the next few months.  I'm so sorry about your son.  Just so you know, we all prayed for you today in church," he told us, tears in his eyes....It was such a kind gesture.  I silently apologized for my anger/envy at their good fortune and our crap luck.

Like most of the members of my family (I must be from a different gene pool), my brother likes to make small talk.  "How old is your baby?" he'd often ask some of the parents in the pool with us.   And inevitably, for every age they answered, I thought of my friends here in the babyloss world and your babies who should be here, who should be that age.  And every time someone said, "Ten months," I flashed to Otis, of course. So that's what he'd be like right now.  Wow. I often found myself looking away, wiping tears from behind my sunglasses, and then swimming as fast as I could to the deep end.

So, no, it wasn't all sun and surf and bliss, our Hawaiian getaway.  E and I are fighting more than usual these days.  It was stressful traveling with family.  It was hard being around so many babies.  And so many strangers and their innocent (yet incessant) questioning about this pregnancy.  And their all-knowing "advice" they offer to (seemingly) first-time parents.  Many days I escaped into our air conditioned room and cried.  Or just got incredibly bitchy with whichever family member happened to cross my path first.  One day, I threw a full on fit at the beach of the "exclusive" beach club we were visiting as guests of a member...Yelling and crying and everything, right there in the middle of it all.  I stormed out as my mother tried to make apologies for me, "Pregnancy hormones..." she whispered.  "Dead baby," I snapped, as I ran out.

The wedding itself was simply beautiful.  They rented a home on the beach, and had a small ceremony with only their closest friends and family.  The wind was blowing like crazy that day.  Just that morning, I had read something about how there is a belief in Hawaiian culture about the wind, how it carries the spirits of our ancestors and those who have left the earth before us.  Remembering this, the strong wind became strangely comforting, like Otis was there at the wedding with us after all.  After the ceremony, E and I stole back down to the beach and wrote Otis's name in the sand.  We used the lei I had been given to make the O, and watched as the waves began to lap at the edges of his name.

Hawaii is a special place - our trip to Maui in January was so incredibly healing and nurturing, on so many levels, plus, we came home with one new member in our ohana - this little baby boy that is currently kicking and wiggling away in my ever growing belly.  He loved the trip - and there were moments of connecting with him there that were truly magical.  Every time I got out of the pool and laid down on my lounge chair, he would kick and punch to the point that strangers sitting a few chairs away would comment on his strength and determination in his movements.  He seemed to appreciate the sweetness of the fruit and fruity tropical drinks there, dancing away like mad after a few bites of Duke's Hula Pie or my virgin pina coladas.  When we were stopping on Maui for our layover on the way home, he started kicking like crazy - it was almost as if he was trying to tell us he wanted to stay there.  And I got weepy flying into Maui - such an incredibly special place for us all - looking over the land there and remembering our time in January, our dip into the healing waters at the Iao Valley, our work with the traditional healer there, and her words to me, "Your next baby is ready to join you, Sarah, you just have to invite him in..." (Four days later I found out I was pregnant.)

Our friends that live on Maui came and met us at the airport during our layover.  They brought us a gift for the new babe - two onesies that proudly proclaim "MauiBuilt" across the front.  They are the first gifts for this little guy that I've allowed myself to look at and really imagine him in.  And they came home, and got folded and put into the dresser drawer.  Tears flooded my eyes as I pulled open the drawer, and I found myself apologizing in my head to Otis as I placed this baby's onesies into a drawer that was once filled with all of Otis's belongings.

Otis should be here.  And yet, if he were, this little dude wouldn't be wriggling around in my belly.  And I love them both so incredibly much. I can't imagine life without either of them...although I have to live life without Otis physically here, there is no denying his constant presence nevertheless. And this new little guy (we are soliciting name suggestions, by the way), he's every bit as loved and wanted and wished for as Otis...and even with him in utero I am beginning to see how my love for my two sons is differentiated, separate, one not greater than the other, just...different. This little guy is really beginning to exist as his own entity, to hold his own in our family and as much as that fact fills me with fear, it also brings me such undeniable comfort and joy.  I'm doing my best to keep the horse in front of the cart, and simply enjoy the moments I have with him right here, right now, and love them for every little bit of heart-stretching-expansion that they bring me.

(And then insert prayers/wishes/disclaimers/pleadings to every deity and power that this guy is healthy, safe, and gets to come home, alive, with us in October.)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

E has spent the day feeling so raw, so vulnerable.  I feel so helpless.  

Watching him father Otis, through my pregnancy, and, more importantly, through the 36 short hours of Otis's life, and then through the aftermath of grief that consumed us, taught me, in no uncertain terms, that I am beyond blessed to be his wife.  There is no one I would rather choose to father my children.  He is a beautiful, tender soul, a proud papa.  

Otis, I wish you were here today, I wish your papa could still hold you and you could know how much he loves you.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Indignant. Livid. Full of Rage.

There are too many losses in our community.  Too many losses in my life.

I woke up this morning and it was one of those days I just wanted to shake my fists at the sky and scream profanities.

From the big reasons

like dear friends in this community who are losing their second, third, fourth babies...feeling this pain for a repeat time - so fucking unfair.  so. fucking. unfair.

or my friend Adam who died unexpectedly at a "healthy" 46 years old on Friday.

to the small reasons

like people who can't fucking park their cars in a parking lot properly
or replacement orthodontic devices that cost $275 when you know the production cost is only like $50 at MOST
or dogs that think chewing on toothpaste tubes is a good idea
or bad drivers
or when I try to pull the trash bag out of the can and the whole thing tears and the nastiest smells emerge
or when five seconds later the compost bag tears and OMG the nasty rotten-something-juice that spilled onto the counter...

it's just been one of those days.

And I miss Otis so much.  So much.

Some days just EVERYTHING in the world feels wrong, because he's not here with me.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Data Recovery

So yesterday was apparently the day that everything was supposed to crash, technologically speaking, at least.

My phone crashed in the afternoon, and in order to get it to work again, I had to restore it from a backup, and the last backup I did was in February.  Thankfully, right after we returned from Maui, so at least those pics were all saved, but no pics beyond the ones of the hpt I took on the day after we got back.  I had some momentary panic, as I always do when threatened with losing digital information, it's almost like I will lose some part of me, never to be recovered.

About 8 years ago, I lost all the digital photos from the first two years of my relationship with E.  My computer had crashed and I couldn't recover the photos.  All gone.  I have to rely on my memory to recreate those first two years, as there are no visual aids anymore.  Our first camping trip, our first trip to the snow, our foray into becoming pet-parents and adopting Oliver the wonderdog...all the photographic evidence gone.   And most of the time, I'm pretty good at remembering, at least I have been, but I still panic.  It's like in losing the photographs, I lose so much of the memories as well.   I've gotten better about backing up media, but I'm still not great.  And I still panic at the thought of losing even a few months of mundane photos.  Really, the last three months of photos?  Not much on there but my dogs snuggling and perhaps a few that document a slight growth of my belly; but I was still in a panic.  But I got over it, and was pretty much recovered in an hour or so.

They're just photos.  And a few downloaded songs.  Just a silly loss.

Nothing will bring Otis back, Sarah.  Nothing can change history.

Then E got home from work, and he was in his office when he started swearing.

His computer and external hard drive were having "issues."

I let them be - I've learned not to interfere in their domestic quarrels.

But after an hour or so, I peeked my head in and asked if I could be of assistance.  E was almost hyperventilating.  "I think I lost all my photos.  All my music.  I don't care so much about the music, but my photos..."

E is the photographer of the two of us.  He takes all the pictures while I complain about him taking them; and then am thankful in retrospect that he's documented all of our experiences and adventures.  

He took about 100 photos while I was in labor (mind you, remember, I was in labor for three days) and many in the days preceding my labor, while I was hugely hugely pregnant.

I too started to get very scared, thinking that perhaps they were all gone, and they are one of our only remaining connections to Otis (thankfully my BFF, who is also a professional photographer, took many of Otis in the hospital and she has all of those as well...)  But my whole entire pregnancy...poof...no record of it...just like that.

I started to get worried too.  And angry.  And sad.

But then we found the photo library.  It was there, hiding on the hard drive.  Crisis averted.  Or so I thought.

See, there are a bunch of photos that E had taken that I had never seen before.  And last night, they caught my eye, and while I knew I didn't have it in me to go through them, there were still a bunch that I couldn't help but to see before I got up and out of his office.  There I was, though, sitting on the birth ball, 40 weeks pregnant, begging Otis to drop, to get the party started...Getting out of the car at the hospital...Getting settled into my hospital room.  In every picture, I have this glowing, exhausted, blissfully innocent and expectant smile on my face.  I am HUGE.  That's as close as we got to you, Otis, while you were still alive.

He was still alive then, I kept thinking.  He was there, we were ready, he was there.  Kicking.  Heart beating.  With us.  

It's almost as if he's more apparent in those pictures than in the ones we have of us holding his actual body, after his heart stopped beating, in the hospital room with us.  Because in these photos, he was alive.  Our hopes were still alive.  Our expectations.  Our dreams.  Our firstborn. Our baby boy.

So loved, so missed.

I sobbed myself to sleep last night, I haven't cried like that in months.  I barely recognize the woman in the photographs...she looked so...young, so hopeful, so innocent, so expectant, so excited, so joyful, so loving...so...happy.  And Otis, he was right there.  So close.  So fucking close.