Friday, September 25, 2009

"Oh you had a baby?! How old?"

So far, this dreaded question has only come up twice that I can recall. The first time was when I was at the dentist about a month ago. I had to fill out the health questionnaire before the appointment, and one of the questions was "Have you been under the care of a physician in the past year?" To which I replied, "yes". Then I didn't know if I should put "pregnancy" after that or leave it blank. If I put pregnancy, then I know the questions will come up....but then again if I leave it blank then they'll ask why and then I'll have to say pregnancy and then the questions will come...Of course I could always put "pregnancy-stillbirth". But that is automatically awkward. I ended up leaving it blank.

Sure enough, the nurse comes in and asks me about the form. She asked why I was under the care of a physician. I winced, and said pregnancy. Then my heart started beating out of my chest as she asked, "Oh you had a baby?! "Yes." "Boy or girl?" "Boy." At this point I'm hoping she'll just stop with the questions, but no. "How old?" I didn't say anything for a second, because I wasn't quite sure what to say. So I just said matter-of-factly, "It was a stillbirth." She said absolutely NOTHING! Not even, "Oh I'm so sorry!" Finally she came around from behind me and asked while she was working, "So you had a miscarriage, or what?" I realized that she was from the Philippines, so I thought that maybe she just didn't know what the term stillbirth meant. I told her it was a stillbirth, which was a late-term thing. I tried very hard to keep the tears inside, and I succeeded.

My second experience was a week ago. I was getting my haircut, and the girl cutting my hair was getting freaked out by the massive amounts of hair I was losing. To ease her concerns, I told her it was just postpartum hair loss (which has lasted awhile for me, but is now ending thankfully!). Right when I said that, I regretted it. She asked, "Oh how old is your baby?" Honestly, I didn't want to go through it again because I was already nervous about my drastic haircut. So I lied. I said, "6 months." She asked, "Boy or girl?" And I said, "Boy." It actually felt a bit nice to say that--like how awesome it would be if that were true! But then it also was pretty depressing...because it is so not true.

It's definitely an inner battle for me when these questions arise. I've figured out that if it's someone who I will never see again, then it's not worth going into. But if it's someone who I know well or will be spending lots of time with, it's better to just tell them. I think that eventually I will get to a point where when asked how many children I have, I will tell them, "A 2-year old son, and a baby boy in Heaven."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The 6-Month Angelday

September 12th was Jonas' 6-month "angelday", or "angelversary" as some people say. It was especially difficult for me because I felt a huge sense of loss, even more so than usual. Six months is when most people start feeding their babies solid foods. It's a milestone. It's the first of many, many sad milestones. The one-year is going to SUCK....the 5-year, 13, 16, 18, 21........not to mention every year on his birthday.

I was doing okay, even through sadness, the weekend of his 6th month. Then Zac and I decided to go to church and OF COURSE that's the day they decided to do baby dedications/baptisms. They brought all the parents and their babies and lined them up in the front. The pastor talked about how babies are a gift from God and that the birth of a baby is such a joyous time in parents' lives. I totally lost it. Tears were flowing no matter how hard I tried to stifle them. My throat got all tight--you know the feeling--and I was hoping nobody noticed. If they did, maybe they thought I was just so happy for the parents and their babies, haha....Zac was struggling too, I could tell. I almost got up and left that part, but right when I decided I'd leave, the ceremony was over.

Unfortunately, the birth of a baby is not always a joyous time. In fact, it could be the worst day of your life! It could taint you forever. It might even leave a deep, dark hole in your heart that will never be filled....Yes those are the real facts of life. Not fair at all...

I bought a baby spoon, tied a blue bow on it, and gave it to my mom to leave for Jonas. My mom said that someone also left a little winnie the pooh bear. Just wanted to say thanks to whoever was so thoughtful!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Attempting to Organize my Thoughts

I am in the process of moving our memorial page from myspace to this blogspot, simply because it feels more like a journal-type page and journaling is what I really want to do. I will still leave the myspace page up, but this is where I will do the most writing and sharing. I haven't really felt like I can easily open up about my grief on public forums because sometimes it is just plain dark and depressing stuff that not many people want to read. So I guess what I am getting at is that this blog will not always be the happy healing blog, but rather the dark journey that grief is. I feel that my journey has been a mostly hopeful and healing one, but some days it is not like that at all. Many times I want to share the horrible raw details with the world because sometimes it just needs to be talked about. Since this is a journey, though, there will be so many wonderful things that I will share as well so please bear with me. I hope to really start opening up on here which means writing more often than I have in the past.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for allowing me to truly open up about things...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Day We Found Out

Little Jonas Elliot was born on Thursday, March 12th at 12:05 p.m. However, he had already entered into God’s hands about a week before. The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, which is believed to be the cause.

Zac and I went to my prenatal checkup on my due date-the 11th. They were unable to find his heartbeat, and an ultrasound revealed that he had passed away. I’ve been going to a German hospital, so as you can imagine, it was frightening seeing all these people crowded around me during the ultrasound and not being able to understand them. Then they all got quiet and the doctor said, “Mrs. Phillips, the baby is not alive.” I will never forget that moment or the way he said those words. I covered my face with my hands and broke down hysterically. I kept asking outloud, “Why now? Why not in the first trimester?” (not that that would not be hard) “This can’t be happening!” “Why now? Why now?”…….I just kept shaking my head no…like this wasn’t my life…this only happens to other people. I knew the worst was yet to come. I would have to go through labor—all that pain—only to have to say goodbye to my baby in the worst possible way. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to see him and hold him—it seemed scary.

I was induced that night. The German way of induction is different in that it can take up to 3 days before you actually have the baby. I just wanted to get it over with. Lots of people were praying back in the states, and those prayers were answered. It took just 16 hours of labor before he was born. For those that knew, I had been planning and preparing for a natural birth. I decided that I was enduring enough emotional pain, and would take meds if I needed them. Towards the end, when labor was very difficult, they talked me into an epidural. I was going through the worst of the contractions while they were preparing the epidural, when I felt a horrendous need to push. My water broke just then, and I began pushing naturally. I would just like to say that I have never endured such physical pain in my life. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. Zac said he’s never heard such “primal noises” before! (Zac was so great throughout the entire thing—he helped me get through it all) I can’t really describe how intense it was for me. I will never forget that moment. Jonas came quickly though, and after he did, we broke down and cried. I remember hearing the sobs of the German midwife who ran out of room after he was born. I think it was very difficult for her. Zac cut the cord, and we held our little boy and just cried. He was so perfect and looked just like Josiah when he was born, except he had little curls. He was 7 lbs. 1 oz. and almost 23 inches long! He had Zac’s nose and hair color, just like Joss. We spent a lot of time with him and said our goodbyes. We felt very peaceful about it because we know that he is happy and safe in Heaven, and we know we’ll see him there someday. God really gave us strength that we never knew we had.