Calling all Angels

On the night before my 35th 10th, I read a passage from the book You Can’t Make This Stuff Up by the Long Island Medium, Theresa Caputo, and it spoke to me.

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Did you just silently judge me? Yes, I said the Long Island Medium. Watching her show in the weeks and months after Luca died kept us afloat, gave us hope, and showed us that we weren’t alone. I take her words to heart, and after reading this passage in her book I’m talking louder….

On the 35th 10th, I woke up the same way I do most of my days, with his little sister next to me. Elia opens her eyes and immediately has a smile on her face.

I think about how lucky we are to have her.

But.

There goes the damn but again.

But. We will always miss him. We will always wish he was here with us, with her, being an almost 3 year old. For the rest of our lives we will always wonder about Luca.

So, we get out of bed, walk to the living room and start our music for the morning. I look up the playlist we created for his birth, and we start the songs. I haven’t listened to it in months, and it feels both heavy, and so comforting to hear his songs.

“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” comes on and I’m gutted for a moment. I think of Gina holding Luca in her arms, he’s already gone or almost gone, and she is singing it to him and kissing his sweet face.

We interpreted that song for months after his death, and it made sense that it was his fight song. Luca had an exit strategy before he was born. He wasn’t meant to stay. But he certainly did kick some ass while he was here.

And even though it’s so hard to accept, I can say it and know that there was nothing that I could have done to save my son. His death was for a bigger reason, one that nearly three years later I’m still working on figuring out; one that I may always be working on figuring out.

“My Sweet Lord” comes on and Elia leaves my side, maneuvers her way off the couch, and begins to dance in front of me.

She carries Luca in her heart and in her soul, too.

Revisiting

For months I have been noticing that I was stuck. Bitter and angry and so mad that where there lives one, there should be two.  I carried this stuckness with me everywhere: to breakfast, to my baby music class, to my stroller exercise class, to coffee, to my local mom group, to the store- you name it, wherever I was, there came along that stuckness.

It was weighing on me so heavily, that it finally became too much to hold. And luckily there were a few people around me that could see I was at my breaking point.

One of them was my therapist.

She kept telling me we had more work to do, and I knew what that meant. She was very aware of what I was doing in our sessions. I was going round and round in a circle that I couldn’t tangent off of to get free of that same heaviness I’ve been carrying.  So, she suggested a new plan of action in the form of Complicated Grief Treatment.

So here I am in week 4 of treatment, and this week’s main focus has been to record my recollection of the precise moment Luca left his body, and listen to it everyday. It has been even harder than I thought. But for a much different reason than I imagined- it’s jogging my memory and bringing the days surrounding Luca’s birth and death back into focus.

And it’s made me remember

His smell.

The feeling of his body weight on my heart and shoulder. 

The sutures on his head from where the brain activity monitor had been placed. 

The lighting of the room as sunset approached.

Seeing his beautiful face for the first time, and recognizing him as my own. 

The internal dialogue I had with myself, where I was certain if I could get his skin to touch mine, that I could fix him. 

It’s heartbreaking all over again. I’m not running away from it though, and I never really have. But I am hoping this treatment offers me a a different response, or a way to be able to bounce back from the sad.

So now I’ve found myself getting angry. Angry that this is my work. Angry that I have to listen to it everyday. It makes my blood boil.

And that’s how I know it’s working. Because in all of this discomfort, I know there is growth happening, soul expanding, and that this is right where I am supposed to be.

Retelling. Learning. Embracing the courage and surrendering to it all. Getting out of the roundabout I was on, and headed, one step in front of the other, to the next part of this journey.

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‘Tis the Season

This month was our 33rd 10th remembering Luca.
On the 10th, I had a clear mind when I woke up, which doesn’t always happen. We had our normal unpredictable toddler morning, and headed out the door.

At some point during our drive in the AM,the skies were a little darker, and I looked back to see Elia. Her hair was completely combed over to the side, which hardly ever happens now since it’s growing  straight down into her eyes. That, coupled with how dark it was in the car, made her blonde-ish hair look so different. 

I stared at her reflection. 

I had a realization right then, that was likely exactly what Luca would have looked like.

And I felt it in my heart. I cried tears of big love because I caught a glimpse, for a second, of who he was. So handsome. So sweet. Everything I imagined him to be, coming through in his baby sister.

No rocks  were found this 10th. In fact we haven’t had rock sightings yet this year. I hope for it every time we go to the beach, and when we don’t find them, my heart aches a bit. 

What does it all mean? How can I get such ridiculous signs one moment, and then when I feel like I need it the most and want it the most, it doesn’t happen?

 As we get closer to his third birthday, we will plan to get a new bunch of rocks ready to skip into the ocean. 

And as me approach our third holiday season and new year both with and without him, we are forced to parent him by reflecting on how he’s affected our lives, and spend time in the thoughts of who he would be today. It’s like a short visit with him, going forward in our time together, and imagining what he would be like. Such is the life of a loss parent. Always wondering, always hoping. Always wanting to remember their baby. 

And even with the great fortune of having our rainbow, I still want to be Luca’s mama everyday. And I want the world to know, he’s my son.

This holiday season, and any day you feel the need or have it in your heart to connect with someone that may be missing a loved one,  get all up in that seemingly uncomfortable space and do it. I guarantee it won’t be uncomfortable for long. Tell them that you are thinking of them as they maneuver through the highs and lows of this festive time of the year.  Reach out, and tell them you are holding space for them. 

That you are thinking about them,

and thinking of their loved one.
And maybe you even do something in their loved ones honor if it’s in your heart to.

Do it.

Talk about their loved one. 

That could be the greatest gift that you could give them, and a most thoughtful way to spread love this holiday season.

  
 

Stopping By.

Today, I put a brand new in-the-box and still sealed, breast pump for sale.

It was the breast pump I had ordered for Luca’s arrival.

The other day, I watched a beautiful video of a baby being born at home, into the water. I cried. I cried so hard I shook at how wonderful it was and how I would never have that birth like I had dreamed of.

It feels so far away, but the pain is still so guttural. Deafening.

A breast pump I never used, for milk that never came in, for a baby that I never got to feed.

A birthing pool that was full of water, waiting to be used. I stepped into it once, and never returned. While I was in the hospital and Luca died, Luca’s other mama came home to drain the pool, roll it up, and throw it away. Never to be used again.

I don’t live in this grief every minute of every day. But when we visit, I am in awe of the intensity of the emotion.

And I keep moving.

30 Months

I wake up in the middle of the night, the early morning of the 11th, to silence, nearly every month.

There is a pause in my body and quiet all around me, save for the gentle strokes of my fingertips against the keys of the computer, and on this hot night, the melodic hum of the ceiling fan above me.

Instinctively, I think back to where I was 30 months ago. Where Luca was 30 months ago.

He laid in the NICU bed. Still. With just the slightest rise of his chest, propelled by the machines he was attached to.

I lay in my own ICU bed, trying to recover from complications, and waiting to stabilize in order to meet my son face to face.

After I came out of the general anesthesia from the emergency cesarean, the doctors began to clue me in on the gravity of his situation. Any time they would mention what was happening with him, my blood pressure would rise dangerously and the medical staff would have to stop talking, go away, or take Gina outside to tell her.

I panicked each time they spoke. There was no peace in hearing my son was so sick. There was a fight response, but there was nothing I could do. My body responded forcefully by attempting to explode internally.

So there he lay. And there I lay. Some several hundred feet from each other. After 9 months together, him safe and loved in my belly.

There was silence in both of our rooms, except for the sound of nurses scurrying around the both of us, and the beeping sounds of both of our monitors and machines.

In the middle of the night, 30 months ago, there was no waking up for night feedings or changing his diapers. There was no gazing deeply into his wondering eyes. There was no deep inhales of the new baby smell. There was no running of my fingers along the length of his arm, or leg. There was no nuzzling of my lips against his ear. There was no deep realization and gratitude for the mother that I had become, no grateful pause for the birth experience I had just journeyed through.

I still ache for it. And I don’t foresee a day where there won’t be a physical pain or discomfort in my body where I yearn for this right that I thought I would have.

I am forever changed, still searching and understanding this new person I am. Forever grateful to have held Luca just briefly in my body, and holding him eternally in my heart. Forever thankful for what he brings to my life everyday, be it in the lesson, or the vast love.

Forever. Luca.

28 Months

852 days.

I find myself typing my thoughts, and immediately going back to delete them.

That’s how I wish sometimes life were. I know many of us have felt that way at one point in time.

I want to call a do-over.

Let me use what I know now to go back and change the last month we had together, him safe inside my womb.

I remember the last time I felt him make a really strong movement.

I was at work. I was wearing a black scoop neck, 3/4 length maternity top with the rushing on the side, maternity jeans, and Gina’s slip on shoes, because I couldn’t bend over to tie my shoelaces anymore. I was standing next to my swivel chair, near my desk, talking to a coworker. Luca made such a huge movement, that if felt like an entire body roll. It was such an intense movement that I grabbed my belly and I grabbed the chair. His movement was so big; it pushed the air right out of my lungs. I knew I had big eyes when I looked at my coworker, and she asked if I was okay.

I often wonder if that was his attempt to tell me things weren’t okay. Maybe he was trying so hard to give me a sign that things didn’t feel good for him. Was he? And what if he was? I didn’t listen. I didn’t have that maternal intuition people talk about. I didn’t ask questions, I kept on going that day, getting my work done. It was just a few days before I sent out an email to my coworkers telling them I wouldn’t be in, because I was going to be having my baby soon.

And then I had to send out an email 5 days later telling that same group of people that he had died.

There are so many traumas associated with losing a child. Completely unexpected loss is traumatic. Losing a baby, a full term one which you expected to bring home and love for the rest of your life, is painful. Having to face people who have no idea you have lost your child, and ask you how the delivery went and where your baby is. Coming home from the hospital to be faced with another set of hopes and dreams that have manifested into toys and clothes and books for this child that will never get to use them- that will knock the wind right out of you. It’s incredible pain and loss and trauma. I can’t explain the pain most days. I sit here, tears in my eyes, once again, wondering how to explain it still, 28 months later.

And silently, while I type away, she sleeps next to me.

This paradox of wanting to be ever present with this sweet child in front of me, while wishing there was some way to delete some of my own story and make it so that they could both be here.

I am exhausted from having one foot here and one foot there.

In the sleep deprivation that comes in raising a living, breathing, 10 month old, I still find myself thinking sometimes that it’s so crazy that I haven’t woken up from this dream yet. Is this life right now real? Or was my pregnancy with Luca made up? These are some of the thoughts I weave in and out of. I look through his pictures less frequently, and when I do see them, I no longer have that feeling of really being able to identify him. When I see him, I see her. Who was he? Who would he have been?

I had many of these same thoughts even when I wasn’t sleep deprived, and especially when I didn’t have this baby in my arms. I feel like a hamster in a wheel, running past the same scenery every day.

If I had a chance to hold him and take are of him and know him outside of my womb, if only for a week, or a month, or anything, would I have a better idea of who he was? Or who he was going to be?

I am struggling with these thoughts so much lately.

I struggle too because I knew that smack dab in the midst of our grief, we added this healer of our daughter to the mix. And oh man, how she heals us.

Still, she will always be her own person, and never a replacement for Luca.

She is an addition. She is my bonus.

And I picture myself as this silhouette of a mother, with much of her body empty, her arms full.

I miss him.

The first and only time I got to hold my son in my arms.

The first and only time I got to hold my son in my arms.

Time passes, and he’s remembered less and less, and not just by the world, but also by me. I think about him everyday, so it’s not that I don’t remember him. But as time passes, the physical memory, of his pregnancy, of how he felt on me in the few hours we had together, fade farther and farther away. There’s so much guilt attached to that statement. But 28 months later, you start to forget. It’s what happens. The thought of him is always there, but the emotions that go along with what you associated with your lost child, aren’t as frequent. They come up on anniversaries, or when you are near a child his age or with the same name, or when you see an outfit or toy that you had picked out for them.

I remember very little from his pregnancy now. What I do remember are the parts that make me the saddest. Pieces that I have to now go back and work through- that are so connected with the trauma. I had experienced two full term pregnancies. His was so full of love and expectation. Bliss. Naïveté. Arrogance. I thought it was going to be so easy to just birth a baby into the world, healthy, alive. Why wouldn’t I? Babies are born everyday so easily right?

28 months later, I am a mother of two: one who I carry with all of me, and one I will only ever get to carry in my heart.

28 months. And my work is just beginning.