Tuesday, March 24, 2015

 Most days I am strong, most days I can live life being thankful for what I have, most days I am happy. Today has not been one of those days. I feel weak, I feel the pain of loss, I feel sad for a future that will not exist. I don't know that I will ever really feel complete again. As much as I dislike the pain and sadness, I need these days. I need to be reminded of the love I had and will always have for the child I can no longer hold. Even though I've gone through the worst pain imaginable, I would do it all again. Because meeting him, knowing him, and loving him, that was worth it. That is how most days I can stay strong.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Empty Chair

I haven’t written here in a long time. It’s not because I don’t want to talk about Elijah, or that I’ve moved on. In fact, it’s the opposite. The truth is that I’m struggling. I don’t know what to say or how to describe my emotions. But I know I need to try, and I’m hoping that by writing some of this out it will help me.
Nearly four years ago when I lost my first son, I didn’t know how I was going to go on living, and sometimes I still have those same feelings. If it weren’t for my children, I’m not sure that I would be here. After taking my baby to the funeral home and leaving with just his blanket in my arms, that’s when it all really hit me. I remember going home, not wanting to talk to anyone. I went to take a shower and collapsed in a heap of tears, I wanted to scream. I wanted to die. I wanted to be with him. I wanted to comfort him when he was crying. I wanted to experience all of his firsts. His first time smiling, his first time laughing, his first words, his first steps, I wanted to watch him grow into the perfect boy he was in my eyes. It was selfish of me, I know, I just wanted to be with him.
Now four years later, we’ve added two more boys to our family, and I know that his spirit is in them. My children make me happier than I ever could have imagined. I think the reason why I would like a large family is because I want to fill the part of me that feels empty from my loss, to fill it with more joy and more love. But as much as I can try, I don’t think that empty feeling will ever be entirely filled. A couple weeks ago we were sitting at the table enjoying a family meal. My two older kids were telling knock-knock jokes to each other, they made no sense of course, but the pure joy and laughter was contagious. My husband was smiling, my 8 month old was clapping from excitement, and I felt happy for a moment. But I also felt uneasy about something. Then I noticed it. Our table has six chairs. It perfectly fits six people. But there are only five of us here. It was something I never thought about before, but noticing the empty chair at our table made me so overwhelmed with emotion. It’s been a long time since I cried and just let it all out. But that night I went up to my room and cried, really cried. Because our family would never be able to all sit our table, that empty chair would never be sat in my Elijah.
I don’t think I will ever get over these emotions. It’s not something that I can easily explain to others. I get really nervous meeting new people and when I’m having conversations with people who don’t know me very well. I know they will eventually ask me how many children I have, and I hate that question. Do I tell them three? I can’t do that, because it makes me feel terrible, it’s a lie. But it’s also difficult to tell someone you just met and may never see again that you have four children, but one died. But I do have four children, and I wish that others would acknowledge that I have four children. I carried him for almost nine months, I gave birth to him, I heard him cry, I fed him, I kissed him, I comforted him, I loved him. He’s not here anymore, but he’s still my child.
I think that people may be scared to mention him, or talk about him because they don’t want to cause me any pain or make me cry. Yes, it’s hard for me, and yes I might cry. But that’s not a bad thing. I like knowing that he is remembered, that the world hasn’t forgotten about him. And as I talk about him more, it gets easier for me to express how I feel.
This Friday would be his fourth birthday. It’s hard to believe it’s already been four years since we met him, and four years since we lost him. I can still hear him, smell him, and feel his warmth. It gets a little harder with each birthday because I keep thinking about what should be. We should be planning a party, picking up decorations and presents, and should be celebrating another year in his life. Instead we will visit his grave, tell him how much we love and miss him, how much we wish we could be celebrating with him here.
It doesn’t get easier for me, but I know not everyone gets to meet their babies, and I was lucky enough to have those 12 hours with him. I take comfort in the fact that all he will never have to experience pain or heartache, all he knew in his short life was love.  I will never stop loving him.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

So many times I start a blog post, but I still never know what to say. The pain and heartache is just as strong as it was a year ago. I still think about Elijah multiple times a day, I still cry because I miss him, I still hurt because I don't understand why he was taken from us, I still love him with all of my heart. I am beyond thrilled to be expecting another little boy in just about two months, but going through pregnancy after a loss has been a roller coaster of emotions.

I keep looking at where I'm at in my current pregnancy and I can't help but to think about what I was going through last time, and the fear of something happening is still there. This baby has appeared to be nothing but healthy my entire pregnancy, but I still can't fully comprehend that everything will be okay, and that I will be able to hold a healthy baby boy in the end. And then sometimes I feel guilt about both the past and for the possible future. There are times when I feel as if I could have done more to help Elijah, somehow I could have saved him. I know deep down that this is completely irrational, but I think it is just me looking to blame someone or something. I also feel somewhat guilty about having another baby, like since I became pregnant everyone has forgotten about Elijah and that the new baby is somehow a replacement. Once again, I know this is irrational. But I can't help but to think about taking him home from the hospital, sharing our first Christmas together, watching him take his first steps, these are the things that I will never get to share with Elijah and it breaks my heart.

 Despite all of this, I know I need to find a way to push through the pain and heartache, I need to find a way to be happy and to cherish every moment I have with my living children. This new baby is such a blessing and one that I refuse to take for granted. Someday I will tell this little boy about his big brother. How strong he was, how handsome he was, and how very blessed he is to have a big brother watching over him.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Birthday


A year ago today I was lucky enough to meet the most beautiful, strong, and amazing little boy. I wish I could put down in words how much you mean to me, how much I love you, and how much I miss you. I don't go a day without thinking of you or looking at a photo of you, wishing that I could hold you in my arms again. I miss your smell, your soft skin, the little noises you made while sleeping. You were, and still are, perfect. I would give anything to spend today with you. I can picture you running around playing with your big sister, opening presents, and covering yourself from head to toe in cake. Instead I will visit your graveside, read you a book, and release a balloon in your memory. Today I will celebrate your life. The tears I cry are because I love you. You helped me realize what love truly means and I will continue to love you even though we are not physically together. We are lucky to have you as a part of our family. Happy Birthday my sweet Elijah.


Today this song is for you.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Big Brother Elijah

Yep, it's true, we are expecting again! We found out on Dec. 30th, when I took a pregnancy test on a whim. I was hardly even late so I have no idea what prompted me to take it, but I just had a feeling. I cried and cried when I saw the second line, I just couldn't believe it. And yes, we had been trying for a while. In June, after my postpartum check up  we decided to start actively trying to conceive. We were devastated by the loss of Elijah, and it took a lot of late nights talking things out with my husband for us to decide to try again. But we knew we wanted Dylan to have a sibling somewhat close in age to grow up with, and we also wanted to have our children while we are still younger just in case there was the small chance there was an issue with our reproductive systems that had caused something to go wrong last pregnancy. Well, I waited and waited for my PP period to come and it was nowhere in sight come the end of June, so I was prescribed Provera to help out. Finally after getting my first cycle started at the end of June, I started charting and doing OPKs. And yes, I became one of those women who was obsessed with charting, I would try and time everything perfectly and then I would spend many nights staring at my chart expecting something magical to happen, but of course nothing ever did. A few months went by and I hardly had any positive OPKs and when I did it was very late in my cycle. Going from getting pregnant with two children with little to no effort to having to try and be disappointed every month seeing that one lonely line was very stressful. I know many people have struggled for years to get pregnant, and my heart goes out to them, just in the 7 months of trying I became very sad and discouraged. I felt that since I lost Elijah and I wasn't magically getting pregnant right away when trying, that maybe it just wasn't meant to happen, but I know I was just being very impatient and maybe even selfish.  So come November, it had been six months, and I just thought something might be up. Either I wasn't ovulating or I was ovulating too late in my cycle for it to stick. My OB wanted to do some blood tests during my cycle to see when I was ovulating, and both in November and December I had my progesterone checked on day 21 of my cycle (I normally had 28 day cycles).  Both tests showed that I had very low progesterone not consistent with ovulation. I was very sad, I felt like I had been trying for no reason for the last 7 months. After my test results in December we made an appointment for Feb. 14 (valentine's day of all days) to discuss medications to help out my cycles and kick start ovulation. 

Exactly a week after scheduling that appointment, on a very weird whim, I used my last pregnancy test I had. Totally irrational, and I knew I was probably just setting myself up for disappointment. For about 30 seconds I stared at the test I knew would just end up making me cry.  And to my amazement TWO lines appeared. I was in disbelief, just 7 days ago I had scheduled an appointment to discuss fertility treatment options, yet there staring back at me was a positive pregnancy test! I cried, then I sobbed, I couldn't believe it. I sent a photo of the test to my husband and he couldn't believe it either. But after buying a few more tests, they were all positive. I had no clue how it happened, and I didn't even really care, I was just so happy. I had blood work done to check my hcg and progesterone levels the following week and they were looking perfect, my progesterone was even back up to a normal level. We had only told our parents at this point, because we really wanted to be cautious this time around, I wanted to know that this was a real and healthy pregnancy before telling everyone. On Jan. 26th I had a dating ultrasound to see how far along I was, and this is what we saw.

One healthy little bean measuring 7wks 1day with a strong heart rate of 157. We were so relieved to see that heart beat and for it to be in a normal range, our first ultrasound with Elijah showed a heart rate of over 200. My next appointment wasn't scheduled until Feb. 23 at 11weeks, and let me just say that was the longest wait ever. 

Yesterday was my first OB appointment and I also had the first trimester screening. I was a nervous wreck. I was sick to my stomach thinking about what might happen. With Elijah we found out around 11 weeks that there were complications, so I was terrified of reliving that experience. My OB appointment went great, it was just a basic exam, but it was so nice being able to talk to her again and express our excitement and fears. After that I met with our same genetic councilor who went over what the ultrasound was going to look for. Next was the ultrasound. I was so scared. Thankfully my mom and husband were able to be there with me. Immediately, we see a precious little baby giving us a big thumbs up. That's when I starting crying. Then the tech said it was in a perfect position to do the measurements. The nuchal fold is what they measure behind the neck and when there is a high measurement of fluid, that usually is an indicator that something is not right. They consider a normal measurement to be under 3, Elijah's measured 4.5. Right away I could tell that things looked better with this baby, and the tech said with much joy that it was measuring 1.4, which is normal. My mom, my husband, and I all let out a huge sigh of relief, and lot of tears. Everything else measured perfectly. We got to see some 3D and 4D images, and have a cute little video of the baby dancing around. We just feel so relieved and so blessed to be able to have another chance at having a healthy baby. 

I've never known what I wanted to do with my life, but one thing I've always been sure of is that I was meant to be a mother, and I'm so thankful to have that opportunity again. Also, I want to thank all of you for your support throughout the last year or so, I wouldn't have been able to get through all of this without such kind words of support and comfort. I know now more than ever how fragile life can be, and it makes me appreciate everything I have so much more. I know I'm still going to struggle with grieving the loss of elijah, and it will probably make this pregnancy a little more stressful, but I will continue to update you with my thoughts, fears, and joys. 

And for fun, some photos from the last 11 weeks:

Our new little guy or gal:

And our announcement:

The due date is September 13, 2011.

I still want to keep this blog about Elijah and coping with loss, so I will be updating my other blog Midwest Chaos with this current pregnancy and continue to write here about Elijah. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I've been wanting to write a post for a long time now, but I just don't know what to say. It's so hard to express in words how I've felt over the last seven months. I'm sure this will probably be the first of many new posts because I have so much I want to say now that I'm mustering up the strength to talk about how I am doing.

 The first few months I think I was just in shock, I couldn't believe everything that had happened, I felt as if I was in some terrible dream and all I wanted was to wake up from it. But eventually the cards stopped coming in the mail, there weren't anymore "how are you doing" phone calls, and it just seemed as if everyone had gone back to the way things were. This is when it all hit me. I remember thinking to myself, how can I go back to my normal routine? I felt like if I did that then I wouldn't be acknowledging that it even happened. The truth is nothing is ever the same anymore. Even today I will break into tears in public if I see a boy that is around the same age as Elijah would be. I panic whenever someone asks me how many children I have, I always answer two, and just hope they don't ask what ages they are so I don't have to fight back my sadness. I still have nights when I cry myself to sleep and wonder how I can possibly go on with my life without him. But somehow I'm pushing through the darkness, and though I'm not seeing the light yet, I know I'm making some progress. I keep a large photo of Eli on display in my living room, and in a way it makes it seem like he is always a part of things and it allows me to see him everyday. The Truth is I don't want to "move on," because I feel as if that means I'm leaving something behind. I don't want to forget about Eli, he will always be a part of me, and I want to be a mother to him even though he is not physically with me. I don't want him to see me hurting, instead, I want to make him proud.

Friday, June 18, 2010

* I want to warn you now that some of these photos may be difficult to look at.

I have been meaning to write a birth story for weeks now, but I just never felt ready to relive everything that happened, I don't know that I ever will be able to talk about it without crying, but I think it's time to share the story with all of you. I've included some photos because I think that they truly tell the story.

The night before I was scheduled to be induced I could not sleep at all. I kept running different scenarios through my head. I pictured him passing away during labor, and didn't know how I would have the strength to give birth to him. I pictured him being born, strong, and living for several weeks surprising everyone and defeating the odds. I wasn't sure what was going to happen, and I think that was the scariest part of all of it.

I managed to get a few hours of sleep and woke up around 6am. I showered, gathered the remaining things to pack, and woke Jon and Dylan up to get ready. We dropped Dylan off with Jon's parents so she could get some more sleep before they met us at the hospital. Jon and I arrived to the ER, where we had to check in at 8:45. My mom was already there, I think she was just as nervous as I was, if not more, but she smiled at me and her hug made me feel safe for a moment.

I was wheeled up to the 3rd floor and taken to my room. The rooms had recently been remodeled and they made you feel as if you were in a nice hotel. I had two nurses throughout my labor and delivery, both of them were absolutely amazing. For the next hour they did the usual admission questions and procedures and prepped me for the pitocin. It was around a 9:45 when they started me on a very low dose of pitocin. We weren't sure how Eli would react, so we wanted to take things slow.

Me waiting to get things going.

Me and Jon.

After being started on pitocin, I decided to walk around L&D to help calm myself and help the labor progress. A couple hours passed and my dosage of pitocin was increased, but I still had no regular contractions yet. I had a lot of family at the hospital (11 total, including Dylan and my nephews). It was amazing to have everyone there.

When walking, my nephew insisted on helping me push my IV around. My sister is on the right, it was so wonderful to have her there with me.

Around 12pm I started to feel the contractions. I continued to walk, having to stop with every contraction, I had forgotten how painful they can be. After deciding I was done with trying to walk through them, I went back to my room to try the exercise ball. It provided some relief and I even managed to play some dice games with my sister-in-law, brother, and Jon. 

By 1pm the contractions starting getting more intense, and were about three minutes apart. My doctor (who has been amazing and a blessing) checked me at 2:45pm and I was still at 1cm, but his head was in the right position. Compared to when I was induced with Dylan, when the contractions started up this time, they got really intense really fast. I knew enough from last time that I needed to ask for an epidural before the pain got too unbearable, so I told the nurse, "I'm pretty sure in an hour I will be crying for an epidural, so why don't you call the doctor up." 

While waiting for the epidural I decided to give the whirlpool in the bathroom a try. Man oh man, did that good, I wish I could have one of those at home. The jets really helped relax my muscles. But after a while I had to get out to get prepped for the epidural. After getting out of the whirlpool the hard labor hit me square in the uterus. I'm glad I asked for the epidural when I did, because the anesthesiologist was running about a half hour behind. Poor Jon is lucky to still have his hand, my entire body was quivering trying to get through each contraction every other minute. At about 4:30 the anesthesiologist arrived in all his glory, and when it was all said and done, I told him how much I loved him. After the epidural kicked in I was able to relax with all of my family in the room with me. At about 6:45pm my doctor checked me and I was at 2cm and 75% effaced. They also broke my water at this time. 

Around 7:30 Eli's heart rate started to take big dips, and I had to be put on oxygen. I was absolutely terrified that the moment had come, I thought I was going to loose my son. They turned the pitocin off to see if that would help calm him. He started to improve a little after 8pm and by 9:30pm I was started back on a low dose of pitocin, by that point I had reached 3cm and 90% effaced. I was so relieved that his heart rate was doing better. 

Around 10:30pm most of my family, except for my mom and Jon's mom, went home to get some sleep, we were sure it was going to be quite some time until anything happened because I was still only at 3cm. We all got a couple hours of "rest" in the delivery room. 

At 1:30am the next morning, my doctor came in to check me. I was at 4cm, almost to 5. The epidural didn't seem to be helping me very much at this point because the pain was starting to get almost as bad as it was before I got it. The anesthesiologist came back at 2am to help give me more relief through my IV, and it really helped. That came in good timing because shortly after he left the room I started to feel some slight pressure. I was only at 4cm when they had checked me twenty minutes ago, so I didn't think much of it. Another five minutes or so went by and I was really starting to feel more pressure and said that maybe I should get checked. The nurse said she would call my doctor to come in to check me again, but I probably wasn't much more dilated. While she was on the phone I knew it was time, I squealed, "I can feel him moving!" Jon's mom was insisting that she take a look to see what was happening before my doctor came. The second she looked down there, she started putting on her rubber gloves and said, "Looks like I might have to deliver a baby!" His head was already starting to come out. 

It just so happened that my doctor's other patient was delivering at the same time as me, so while she was on her way they moved me into a delivery bed. I couldn't believe that i had gone from 4cm to ready to push in a matter of twenty minutes. I was terrified, I kept saying that I didn't know what to do, I had never done this before (Dylan was born via C-Section). The nurse insisted that everything was going to be ok, and I would know what to do. 

Nothing could have prepared me for the following moments. When the doctor came in they immediately had me start pushing, it only took a few pushes in less than ten minutes. Elijah Alexander was born at 2:50 am Sunday, April 25, 2010, weighing 4lbs 15oz. I was so overjoyed to have given birth to him, he was immediately placed on my chest. 

But the same moment of joy was also met with silence. The first thing you expect to hear and listen for after birth is the sweet sound of your baby's cry, Elijah did not cry. When I was holding him I had no idea if he was alive or had passed away, he didn't even move. Nonetheless I embraced the child I had cared for and loved for 37 weeks, I finally got to meet my son I had always dreamed of, and he was perfect. I mustered up the courage to let the doctors weigh, measure, and assess his health. "He is one strong little boy," is what the neonatologist said. His heart rate was doing great, in the 140's. There were a few other surprises too. We though he had 6 toes on each foot, but it turned out that he had ten perfect little toes. Another thing we did not know is that some of his intestines were on the outside of his body, but nothing too severe. At this point I had high hopes for his survival. 

My family had rushed to the hospital when they found out I was pushing, and shortly after Eli's birth they came in to greet the newest member of our family. Elijah was absolutely gorgeous, and he had a full head of golden hair. Within twenty minutes after delivering him, I was up walking around and showing off my little man to everyone. He even let out his first few cries and grunts, the most amazing sounds to hear. We passed him around so everyone could have a chance to hold him. Jon and I were beaming, so proud of our son for being so strong. 

Jon and I laid in bed with him, holding him close and admiring him, then things took a turn for the worse. At about 6:45am I noticed that his face was turning a pale purple and I could hardly feel him breathing at all. I asked everyone to leave Jon and us and go get a nurse, I was pretty sure the time had come to say goodbye, and wanted to spend the last few moments alone with just Jon and I. We were sobbing, hugging him, telling him to stay strong for us. The nurse came in and checked his heart rate, it had dropped into the 60's and he stopped breathing. For about five minutes we thought we had lost our son. Then suddenly he let out a gasp and started slowly breathing again and regaining color, we couldn't believe it. The neonatologist said that this could happen, and it would likely happen again. He gave him some pain reliever to see if that could help relax his breathing. 

I knew now that we could loose Elijah at any moment, so we decided to start doing all the normal things you would do with a newborn. We cleaned him up and picked out an outfit for him to wear, we even helped change a poopy diaper. Who would have ever thought that I would be thrilled to change a diaper! 

At 11:30 we had another scare, everything happened exactly like it did before. I can't even begin to explain how hard it is to think you have lost your son over and over again. But just like the last time he pulled through, our little warrior. After noon, a photographer from Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep came in to take some photos of Elijah and our family, it was so nice to have this done, and I can't wait to see the photos when they done. Toward the end of taking photos I could tell that something was just not quite right, so I thanked the photographer and asked everyone to let us have some time alone with him. I told Jon that I had a feeling that this was really it, I can't explain it, I just knew. 

I laid Elijah on my bare chest, and I told my mom as she was leaving to get the nurse. Jon held be close as the nurse checked his heart rate, it had dropped down to the 20's. The nurse asked us if she could say a quick prayer, and she laid her hand on his head and said the most beautiful prayer, I wish I could remember it. She checked his heart rate again afterward and it had gone up a little. We decided to wait a couple minutes. When she checked it again I could tell by the look on her face that it wasn't there, she said it was very faint, the other nurse came in to check it as well, and by then there was no heartbeat.

Elijah was an angel now.

This is exactly where we were sitting when he passed away, this photo was probably taken about ten minutes before it happened.

Elijah's time of death was 2:30pm April 25, 2010. Almost exactly 12 hours after he was born he passed away. I've never cried so hard in my life, I could barely breathe, I did not want to let go of him, because if I did, it meant he was really gone. My husband does not cry, and at that moment he was crying just as hard as I was. We had the nurse bring our Moms in, we told them he was gone. I've never seen the kind of pain and heartache that I saw at that moment. None of us could believe it.

Jon holding him after he passed away.

The rest of our family came in to see him too, and everyone got to hold him one last time. We decided that we wanted to have him spend the night with us, I know this is probably hard for most people to understand, but it was just something that we needed to do. We gave him a bath later that night, we even changed him into his pajamas. I spent the night with my two favorite guys by my side. Just when you think the hardest part is done, there becomes a new hardest part. In the morning we dressed him into his outfit he would be buried in. 

Now here comes the hard part. We wanted to be present at the funeral home when he was handed over, so we packed up our things and I was discharged. Going into the funeral with a baby and walking out with just a blanket was the hardest thing I have ever done, I still feel physically ill when I think about it.

The viewing was held Tuesday night, and the funeral was held Wednesday morning. I couldn't believe how many people came to the funeral, over a hundred people showed up and the chairs spilled out of the chapel because there was not enough seating. The funeral was so beautiful, and the chapel was filled with flowers that people had sent us. It was so heartwarming to know that so many people loved and cared about our Son. Jon and I want to thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts for your love and support. This experience has changed us forever, and I know that I will always be a better person and love more because of my son.

Goodnight My Angel.

Elijah Alexander
April 25, 2010