Saturday, October 10, 2015

One Year

October 5th marked the one year anniversary of Olivia's still delivery. That evening, our family did a few things to honor her memory. Lily and Ella got to decorate cupcakes at the grocery store, which means they adorned cupcakes with up to 4 trinkets each. They chose things like It's a Girl and Happy Birthday along with items they like best such as gumballs and Reese cups. We enjoyed the cupcakes before dinner then headed out to Olivia's tree.

Outside, Lily read Sleep Baby Safe and Snug, which is the book Troy and I read to Olivia while we held her in the hospital, and Ella sang a rousing rendition of happy birthday.

The next night, we joined many other families who have lost babies in pregnancy or infancy in a garden ceremony. It just so happens that October is pregnancy and infant loss month, so this yearly event coincides almost exactly with Olivia's anniversary. We added 5 tags for our 5 losses to a memory tree. We wrote messages to Olivia. (Ella's: Come to me so I can hold you.) Every family got to speak the name of their baby or babies for all to hear. Lily asked if she could be the one to speak Olivia's name and did a great job in front of the large group. The event culminated with everyone planting a tulip bulb for each of their lost babies. We planted 5. Four bulbs circled around the 5th, which we planted with our messages to Olivia.

These events were all done in joyful memory of our daughter and sister who we grew to love in such a short time last year.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Caught off Guard

It's been months since I've cried about Olivia. That's not to say I don't think about her. With Ella still bringing her up weekly, I can rest assured that her memory is safely being kept. But now it's October. It was at my 16 week appointment on October 2nd that we received the news that Olivia had died.

The fact that October and this anniversary was approaching has been on my mind, but I was completely caught off guard by my emotions at my non stress test for Will yesterday. I showed up doing just fine. Then the receptionist informed me they were doing flu shots that day. Immediately, I was transported back to October 2nd of last year. That fateful appointment had begun with a flu shot to protect me during a pregnancy that had unbeknownst to me already ended.

I somewhat hesitantly agreed to the shot yesterday after confirming that it could help protect Will since he'll be too young to be immunized himself this year. I just had specific directions for the nurse. I told her I would need to already be hooked up to the heart beat monitor so I could listen to Will's heart beating while she gave me the shot.  I also said that she should wait to take my blood pressure because it was surely high as that point. We followed my protocol to a tee, but as soon as the nurse went to leave me alone to continue my NST, I felt the tears coming. Apparently, that shot was enough of a trigger to send me over the edge when combined with the calendar change and being at the doctor's office.

The nurse offered to sit and talk with me, and she ended up staying the whole half hour of the test. I got to talk about Olivia like I haven't done in months. I quickly went from crying to just remembering and sharing. I'm thankful that the nurse dropped everything else that I'm sure was calling for her and just kept me company and asked about my baby girl.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Never Forgotten

In all this focus on Will, Olivia is not forgotten. Ella, especially, continues to remember and honor Olivia as her sister and as a member of our family.

With the end of the school year, both girls brought home portfolios containing their work from the year. I leafed through, interested in what they'd done and once again amazed that these books have become the norm each year.

I came across a family portrait from December in Ella's book. Ella's drawing had Ella, Lily, Mommy, Daddy, and Olivia. My heart melted.

She also enjoys counting how many boys and girls are in our family. Always, Olivia is included.

This week, Ella asked to hold Olivia in her "bottle". We got her down from Troy's dresser and sat with her. Then Ella decided we should read Olivia's book from the hospital to her and we did. Next she wanted to let Olivia spend time with the pink bear from the hospital. This led to looking through all of Olivia'a belongings, and when Ella found the bunting Troy and I had held Olivia in, she placed Olivia'a urn there. Finally, Ella placed Olivia back in the heart shaped case, satisfied that we'd spent our time with her.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Anatomy Scan

On March 14th I wrote this:

For a week I prayed that this ultrasound would be reassuring. Specifically, I prayed that I would see the embryo had implanted in the right spot and that there would be a heart beat. At 5 weeks and 6 days, it would be right on the brink for this ultimate sign of life.

In case I would get what I prayed for but nothing else, I continued my prayer, hoping to cover all my bases. "Please let the baby continue growing until I deliver him or her, healthy in November." But I didn't stop there. "And let us raise him or her so he/she can grow until old age."

Then at the end of April we found out that Will would have Down syndrome. But I prayed for a healthy baby, I thought. Surly my prayers had not been answered. So my fledgling attempts at prayer ended a little more than a month after they began. In the seven weeks since then, there has been a sense of suspense while waiting for the results of the anatomy scan.

On Tuesday, Troy, the girls, and I went for the ultrasound. I had apprehension about bringing the girls. What if we received bad news with them there? But Dr. L had brought up the idea of them coming and I figured if she thought it was ok then we would do it. She also assured me that if she had to give us any negative results, she would do so in a way they wouldn't understand.

During the ultrasound I was on pins and needles. It was such a different experience knowing there was a very real possibility we would find something awry. With other anatomy scans, my primary focus was on finding out if the baby was a boy or girl. The possibility of finding something else really didn't register. This time felt different. I tried to read into the things the tech said or didn't say. I watched the images of Will on the screen but mostly I was focused on the appointment to come after where we would learn any results.

When it was over we got a few pictures to add to our growing collection. Then we went on to the real appointment. Dr. L shared that the only finding of note was a bright spot on Will's heart called an echogenic focus. She explained that it has no impact on function but that it is a soft marker for Down syndrome. She said, "Here's what I would say if we hadn't done the earlier testing: This finding can be an indication of Down syndrome and we can do further testing. But usually all turns out normal." Then she and I commented on how statistics and odds really mean nothing when we're talking about me.

Later that night I got a message from her that after reviewing all the images from the ultrasound, "other than the bright spot on the heart, the baby looks healthy."

I can't help but think back to my prayers for a healthy baby. We are certainly not completely in the clear yet. The next big hurdle is a fetal echocardiogram (a detailed ultrasound of the heart) in mid July. But the preliminary findings are there are no major structural issues. He appears healthy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Final Loss Milestone

It's been eight long weeks since loss milestone four, and I am finally passing my final loss milestone.

It was at my regularly scheduled 16 week appointment last October that I learned the devastating news that my daughter no longer had a heart beat.

The final days leading up to my appointment today were mentally trying. I found myself reliving the image of my lifeless baby on the ultrasound. I heard sound bytes of my doctor telling me the news. I was terrified of receiving this news again and frightened of the resulting medical procedures and psychological anguish.

But, Dr. L came in and immediately went to the ultrasound to show me a baby with a beating heart. Will seemed to be sleeping, but Dr. L knows I worry if I don't see him moving around. We watched for a while and saw him touching his face, crossing his legs, and rolling over.

With this appointment, I ran out of prescheduled appointments. I had been previously unwilling to plan anything past this milestone, but now that it's behind me, we went ahead and scheduled a 17 week appointment and the 18 week anatomy scan.

This anatomy scan will be my next point of anxiety since it is likely to reveal any defects accompanying Will's Down syndrome. Dr. L reminds me that the weekly scans haven't given her any red flags but the 18 week scan will be with a much more powerful machine.

So now I wait again, but hopefully the most difficult wait is behind me.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Grieving What Isn't

There is a beautiful analogy that I found and read the first night we found out about Will's extra chromosome. It's about planning a trip to Italy and unexpectedly ending up in Holland. The message is that even though everyone else you know is still planning trips to and happily returning from Italy, you discover everything that is beautiful, albeit different, about Holland. Since I read it that night, several people have shared it with me as well.

So, I've read and been told that it's perfectly normal to grieve the child you thought you were having when you get a diagnosis such as Down syndrome, and although most of the time I have handled this news with (surprising?) ease, that was not the case the second morning. That morning, I woke up and immediately felt overcome by anger and sadness. Why were we being dealt another blow in our attempt for a baby? Why can't we just breeze through a typical pregnancy for once? (To be fair, Ella's was a typical pregnancy, but come on, only one out of eight?!) Why me? Why us? Why Will? Why do we keep hitting the incredibly low odds? I felt sad about what won't be and sad about challenges that we might face.

I cried hard that morning. First I cried with Troy before I could even get out of bed. Then I went to school and just walking by my assistant principal who said hi set me off again. I rushed into her office and opened up the waterworks. After a good cry there, I got myself together and went toward my room. I still made another stop to cry with a co-worker before my day with students began. That one pity-fest that began at 4:30 am and ended at 8:30 am has been the only time that I have found myself really grieving.

I'm not going to Italy, and that takes some getting used to, but Holland will be nice too.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Not as Expected

Dr. L held a box of tissues in her lap while she told us the test results. But I didn't need them since I didn't cry. Since then, she has mentioned at each of my appointments that my reaction was not what she expected.

Our ease with accepting this news is a bit surprising. If you would have told me a month ago that we would not be devastated if we found out our child had Down syndrome, I probably would have been surprised myself. I also probably wouldn't have believed you.

But here we are and as it turns out, we're ok with this news. If my doctor decides to bring this up again, I might try to explain myself a bit. I'm not sure if this is the true reason, but I FEEL like our reproductive past has a lot to do with my reaction. I've heard a lot worse news from my doctor than this. Will is still a living baby who holds a great deal of potential. Was I surprised? Sort of. Am I scared? A little. Am I devastated? No.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Good

When we lost Olivia, my grief counselor suggested making a list of things I'm grateful for. It seemed so counterintuitive. How could I be grateful in a time like that? But, as it turned out, there were many things to be grateful about.

With Will's diagnosis, I found myself naturally returning to this state of mind. In fact, in the doctor's office that first afternoon, I found the first thing to be thankful for: a year and a half ago, we moved into a school district that is acclaimed for its special education services. This was one of the things I mentioned to my doctor within the first 20 minutes.

Within days, I had another thing to be thankful for: all the support of people around us. We are surrounded by people who expressed their excitement about our boy. We are surrounded by people who aren't scared away by his extra chromosome. We are surrounded by people who said beautiful things about our baby that I still go back and read if I need pick-me-up.

I'm also thankful for a strong support network that we found early. The first night, Troy suggested that maybe we needed to return to our support group. I thought that while a support group sounded like a great idea, we would need a whole new kind of group. In my research I came across DSACO,  the local Down syndrome association. They have a support group for parents with a prenatal diagnosis up to 3 year olds that happened to have its monthly meeting just a week after we found out. You better believe we were there! We met parents who have been where we are and where we will be. We got to see their little ones. We got signed up with the organization and have already received a mailing from them with resources for our pregnancy.

As that meeting, I learned another thing to be thankful for: our move to Dublin not only took us to the right school district, but also the right county. When we said our location, the response went something like this. "Oh, you live in Delaware County and it's Dublin Schools?" Apparently We inadvertently moved to the "perfect" place in the eyes of some parents.

In addition to the local support group, I have found an online group that is active and positive. Yes, the parents share their worries and challenges, but the overwhelming refrain from experienced parents is, "I wish I knew when I got the diagnosis that I shouldn't be scared. Our family is happy. Our child brings us joy."

There have been and I'm confident there will continue to be things to be thankful for as we continue this journey. Most of all, we are on our way to having our third child who we've been attempting to have since 2011 and through 3 previous losses. And it's icing on the cake that he happens to be our first son!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

So Much More

Our family spent some of the first days after learning our baby's diagnosis talking about how we will use purposefully person-first language when we talk about him.

This is natural for me because I have used this same language for years when talking about my uncle. I never say he is schizophrenic. Instead it's that he has schizophrenia. This seemingly small distinction is important! My uncle comes before his condition because he is so much more than that: one of the most generous people I know, a huge sports fan, a Beatles fanatic, a wonderful uncle.

Lily immediately took this language seriously. She has already become a strict enforcer and will point out any transgressions. This means she is mostly correcting Ella who tends to say our baby IS special needs. What we're working on is saying he HAS special needs instead. Similarly, he is not a Downs baby; he is a baby with Down syndrome. Because just like his Great Uncle Tom, our baby will be much more than his condition.

And although we don't know much about him yet, the girls and I realized while sitting in the car in the dance parking lot that he is already more than his diagnosis. He is a boy, my son, and their brother. He is a grandson, nephew, cousin, and great grandson. He is William Oliver. He is Will.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Telling the Girls

We have put off sharing any news with the girls. They were crushed last time and really how could we put them through the risk of another loss? Over the weekend we started to think about when we should spill the beans. I am, after all, starting to look a little round after several previous pregnancies. We figured we'd wait for the next appointment to confirm we were still chugging along and we'd wait long enough to get the Harmony results so we could share whether they could expect a brother or sister.

So when we received the news about our baby boy having Down syndrome, there was a lot of uncertainty about what our future will look like. But one thing that Troy and I held onto was we were ready to share our news with Lily and Ella.

Now the amazing thing is, our daughters have sort of been groomed for their upcoming roles. Both girls attended the special needs preschool at the local elementary school as peer models. While I'm not even sure of what needs their classmates have had, I am sure my girls have played with, learned with, and befriended a variety of kiddos. And this year, particularly, Lily has become friends with a girl in her class who has Down syndrome.

So we started by telling the girls there is a baby in my belly. Troy continued to share that the baby will have special needs. This is a term Ella has been using a bit in the last few weeks, so we thought it might resonate a little with her. He added to Lily that the baby has Down syndrome and she understood that is the same thing her friend has. We finished by letting both girls know that they will be great big sisters.

We didn't tell them whether the baby is a boy or girl. We're saving that for a celebration! At least for now, votes seem to be that they want a brother.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Tears Came

After the initial hours of strength (and let's be honest, shock), the tears came. But they came and continue to come from a very specific trigger:

In the middle of that first night, the floodgates initially opened when I seeked out a blog post I first read five years ago when a mother wrote about learning her daughter has DS.  She expressed the initial raw emotions and also the love and wonder she felt.
Her Post

It occurred when I happened upon a video of children explaining all the things they CAN do with Down syndrome.
View the video at the bottom of this page.

The crying, sobbing in a parking lot, happened when I watched a video of happy, active children who have Down syndrome participating in the Special Olympics. My brother sent me the clip of this event, which he happened to attend the day of our diagnosis.

And the crying came when I read my brother's blog post written the day after learning the test results. Perfection.
View the video and read his blog post here.

What these all have in common is they're all positive. They all give me hope about our future with OUR SON.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Results Are In

Today we had our appointment. With less and less morning sickness in the last week, I had struggled mentally for the last several days. So, I was very glad to go in for some reassurance.

I was nervous, but the nurse decided to take my blood pressure at the beginning any way. Surprisingly, it wasn't too bad...for me. The doctor said she would get straight to the doppler then we could talk. I told her I didn't have any questions because all I needed was reassurance for another week. She tried the doppler first and thought she found the heart beat but said my heart rate was too high again to be sure. I was surprised to hear this because I actually thought my heart rate felt normal. She wheeled in the machine and I got another look at the baby. Today showed a very active mover and shaker, which felt like a relief since last week there was hardly any movement.

Afterward, Dr. L shared that the harmony genetic test results were in. The next part, was life-changing.

The results were abnormal. My first reaction was to demand to know why she had just bothered to show me the baby. She explained that the baby has trisomy 21, Down syndrome, and that it's not fatal. She wanted me to see that everything was still ok. I expressed that this outcome seemed crazy after everything else we've endured. Her reaction was something to the effect of, "I know. What the fu*k."

I asked the few questions I could come up with off the top of my head.  I asked to know whether the baby is a girl our boy. I asked for literature to feed what I'm sure will be an insatiable quest for knowledge.

What I didn't do was cry. I still have a living baby. Certainly, our previous experiences have given us a healthy dose of perspective to know that things could be much worse.

And on some level, I wasn't surprised. For the first time with any pregnancy I was nervous for the results of the test. Also, I read last week on Harmony's site that the results take 7 days. Monday night at dinner (the 7 day mark) I said to Troy, "What if she got the results but didn't call because something is wrong?" Rather than saying that was silly, Troy seemed to agree that that was a possibility. As it turns out, Dr. L received the results in the same hour as this conversation. She decided to wait until our appointment the next day so she could share the news in person.

I said last week that soon we would know more about who was growing inside of me. And now we know there is a little boy and there's a 99+% chance that he has Down syndrome.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

10.5 Weeks

Yesterday was my latest doctor appointment. I could tell I was getting anxious in the waiting room despite having a calm week anxiety wise. When the nurse went to take my blood pressure I asked her to wait until I had reassurance before she took it because I knew the reading wouldn't be accurate. She agreed.

Then came the doctor. She had decided to try the doppler rather than ultrasound (a cost savings for me of about $120 out of pocket. At this point I'd racked up 4!). She thought she found the heart beat right away but because my heart was racing over 100 bpm, she couldn't say for sure whose heart she was hearing. After trying for a while and not being certain, she decided to just do the ultrasound. I'm glad because I'm not sure I would have been convinced who we were hearing even if she was.

She immediately pointed out the beating heart of a baby who looked so different from last week: bigger, more developed, more baby like. I was a bit concerned by the lack of moving since the week before we saw a bunch of wiggling. But I've learned that rather than just sitting and stewing about it, I should just ask. Dr. L wasn't concerned but said we could watch for a while. A minute or so later, an arm went drifting up to the head. Measurements are still right on track too.

We ended the appointment with getting the blood drawn for the Harmony test. They draw two vials of blood from my arm and can separate out fetal DNA to look for some genetic disorders and the sex of the baby. Dr. L warned us she'll call as soon as she gets the results even if it's 10pm. Within the next two weeks, we will know more about who's in there!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

In the Right Hands

A while ago I wrote about questioning whether I should keep seeing Dr. L or switch to a new doctor.

What I can now say is she has been so supportive of me and is working overtime to help alleviate my anxiety. Dr. L now uses an online portal that allows patients to send written messages. This is a major contributor to my peace of mind because I have direct access to my doctor rather than having to go through a nurse first. With previous pregnancies, I expressed to Dr. L that the nurses felt like gatekeepers keeping me from her. This time I shared that the portal and the direct access it provides to her is a Godsend. She revealed that messages automatically still go to nurses but when she sees one from me she grabs it and responds herself. What is even more amazing is she has responded at 10 on a Saturday night and while on vacation.

In addition to quickly responding to my concerns, Dr. L has basically let me set my own appointment schedule. I requested an appointment last Monday to coincide with my eye appointment. At first a nurse said there were no appointments available until April 9th. The next thing I knew, Dr. L sent me a message that she would add me to her full schedule on March 30th as I requested. At that appointment I said I felt weekly appointments would be best for my peace of mind and she agreed to not only see me weekly but to add me to the end of her day every Tuesday so that I wouldn't have to miss work.

Today was the most recent in my string of weekly appointments. We got to see a wiggly baby to get me through the next few days. Next week, at our request, we'll draw blood for the genetics test that reveals whether the baby is a boy or girl. I definitely feel that I'm in the right hands.

Friday, April 3, 2015

A Sixth Sense?

After having five losses including a late loss with Olivia, we're well aware that for us pregnancy doesn't equal a take home baby. That repeated disappointment is not only hard for us but for others who care about us. 

Apparently my grandma told my mom she didn't want to know the next time I was pregnant until much later in the pregnancy because it was hard for her to deal with the losses. The day I found out about my current pregnancy, I called my mom to tell her but she didn't answer. 
When my mom called back, I told her my news and she couldn't believe it. She had missed my earlier call because she was on the phone with my grandma who called my mom to say she had changed her mind and actually does want to know about my next pregnancy and that she was pretty sure she already knew. My mom assured her I wasn't and then returned my call only to find out that I am.
Grandma's not the only one, though. Earlier this week, Ella commented twice on the same day that there might be a baby in my belly. We certainly haven't told our children yet because we're trying to protect them from the disappointment they felt last time. I don't know where Ella is getting her prediction, but she's onto me.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Milestone 4

Monday was my latest appointment. It had only been 6 days, so I was doing pretty well anxiety -wise. Most of my questions today revolved around the impact of my detached retina situation on my pregnancy. It felt a little presumptuous (could I really look ahead all those months to November) to ask about potential implications for delivery, but ask I did. Happily, the nurse who (without me asking) told me I would have to have a c-section was wrong.

Once again we did an ultrasound to check on the little one, and everything checked out. New this week, we could see arms and some wiggling. With this positive news, loss milestone 4 is behind us. Now it is a long 8 week wait until the stage of Olivia's loss.

8 weeks

The next appointment will be Tuesday. For the foreseeable future, we'll be maintaining a weekly schedule to hopefully minimize my anxiety and stress.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Loss Milestones 2, 3, 3.5

I've been wanting to write since a week ago that I had passed my second loss milestone. At 6.5 weeks, we learned definitively that my 6th pregnancy was ectopic. I wanted to write that I'd passed that milestone but I couldn't due to fear. What proof did I have that this baby was still alive at 6.5 weeks? None. And so my writing ceased for a week while I was frozen in fear.

I couldn't write yesterday that I'd passed the third loss milestone either. At 7 weeks +2 days, I lost my 3rd pregnancy. But again, I had no proof that it hadn't happened again.

So, I'm here today able to officially say  that these two milestones are behind me. The ultrasound showed a baby measuring exactly on time at 7 weeks +3 days and a heart beat at 153. I'm even going to take a leap and call it .5 of the way past the next loss which was discovered at 8 weeks but showed that baby (pregnancy 5) only measured 5 weeks.

***Thanks to those who have sent Olivia's name in the sand!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Yesterday was Olivia's due date. It's pretty much the reason we decided to go away for spring break. We figured it would be easier if we were busy and a bit removed from those thoughts of what should have/would have been.

We kept ourselves busy going in the shops in Gatlinburg, playing Hillbilly Golf down a mountain, and going swimming.

We also took time to remember Olivia. We bought pink gum cigars for the girls and me and Troy bought a real one. He was wearing his Coffman sweatshirt that said Shamrocks, so the old man in the store asked if the cigar was to celebrate St. Patrick's day. Troy went with that because it was a lot easier than explaining that we were commemorating the due date for our dead daughter.

While we played putt putt, there were pretty purple flowers growing wild on the hillside. I'm no plant expert, but they looked close enough to violets that I felt comfort in coming across them.

Photo Credit (as demanded by the photographer): Troy Dramble 3/16/15

Overall, the day was a good one. We remembered but we didn't dwell.

***If you are currently on Spring break in a sandy spot, I would still really appreciate pictures of Olivia' name in the sand.***

Monday, March 16, 2015


Today we should have a 2 and a half year old.
Today we should have a 13 month old.
Today we should have a newborn.

Today I am 6 weeks pregnant.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


Dr. L responded to my message last night at 10:17. She says not to worry because it is so early that sometimes an embryo isn't even visible at this point. In her words, my "baby is very photogenic." She also agreed to another ultrasound on the 24th.

Despite her reassurance, I still didn't sleep well last night. But this time it had nothing to do with me and my anxiety. Ella was throwing up all night long. I hope it ends with her but I won't hold my breath. Luckily she bounces back really quickly and is already back to her regular self.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

I Prayed

I prayed. For a week I prayed that this ultrasound would be reassuring. Specifically, I prayed that I would see the embryo had implanted in the right spot and that there would be a heart beat. At 5 weeks and 6 days, it would be right on the brink for this ultimate sign of life.

In case I would get what I prayed for but nothing else, I continued my prayer, hoping to cover all my bases. "Please let the baby continue growing until I deliver him or her, healthy in November." But I didn't stop there. "And let us raise him or her so he/she can grow until old age."

When I went to the appointment, the pregnancy was in my uterus! And there was a newly beating heart! I should have felt relief. And I guess I did for a few minutes. But I found something to worry about. In fact, I would almost call it to fixate on. The embryo measured 2 mm, which seemed small for the age. The ultra sound tech didn't express concern but I left worrying. I worried last night and did some Google searching (never wise). I worried during the night and struggled to sleep. I woke up worried today and hoped I'd have a reassuring message from my doctor after she analysed the images. I waited until noon and then I decided I'd better contact my doctor myself to get her take before I let the worry eat away at me any more.

So, if you're praying, please focus on a continued strong heartbeat and some growing!

Thursday, March 12, 2015


March 11, 2015

I can't help but notice the timing of this pregnancy. I found out I was pregnant at the very end of February, just days before the calendar changed to March. And I'll be honest, March seemed like a daunting reality since with it came the month Olivia was due. Now, I have renewed hope as I approach the 16th. The day will still have thoughts of what would have been, but now I will also think about what might be.

I worry though. What if something goes wrong right around the same time as Olivia's due date? What if I go to my first ultrasound on Friday and we don't see a heartbeat? (Which, speaking of timing, why on earth did I agree to an appointment on Friday the thirteenth?) Then I'll have to face two losses at the same time.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

First Loss Milestone

March 11, 2015

Today I am 5 weeks and 4 days and therefore I have made it to my first loss milestone. The next one is at 6.5 weeks when my ectopic ruptured. We will know this Friday at 5 weeks 6 days if this baby is in my uterus. From what I've read we should also be able to see a heartbeat. I'm worried we won't see one and I'll be left to worry all spring break (and Olivia's due date) about what is going on.

There are times when I feel optimistic and then there are times when I don't. A week and a half ago, just days after finding out I was pregnant, I lost control of my emotions and took several pregnancy tests so I could compare their darkness to my earlier tests. When they weren't as dark as I'd hoped, I started spiraling into more and more worry.

Last Sunday, I had a moment when I realized I felt calm and pretty confident. I had shared about the pregnancy on my blog and knew many people had us in their thoughts and prayers. I wondered if that support was helping me get through.

Today I wore a pad all day because I woke up convinced that I would start bleeding.

The pendulum swings erratically and to extremes. Hopefully there will be reassuring news on Friday so it will swing back to the positive for a while.

When Support Becomes too Scary

March 2, 2015

In my newly and precariously pregnant state, I can’t go to tonight’s support group. I am not in a safe spot in my head, for one. I swing from sort of in control of my thoughts and positive thinking to ruled by emotions and convinced that this pregnancy is ectopic in a matter of minutes. Two, a group of pregnancy loss people can be a scary place. It’s there that you learn first-hand experiences of all sorts of unimaginable ways to lose a baby. It is there that you meet people who have lost babies way past your personal loss benchmarks, making it all the more clear to you that you and your baby are just never “safe.” So, I can’t go to my support group tonight which is sort of sad, because I need a lot of support. It’s not easy being in my head right now.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Prayer of Desperation

March 2, 2015

Please let this be a healthy baby.
But if it isn't going to work out, please let it end quickly.
Please, God, don't let this be ectopic.
But even that would be better than getting so far along that I'm actually fooled into thinking everything will be ok and then have it ripped away.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Scared Stupid

March 2

Yesterday I went to the doctor for the first time this pregnancy. I think it's safe to say I was literally scared stupid while I was there. It started with the rising feeling of panic in the waiting room where I strategically chose the seat facing away from the other waiting patients. I was called back very quickly. Then the stupids set in full force. The lab tech gave me directions that I didn't process and had to ask her to repeat. As it turns out, I was supposed to put my things one chair chair and sit in another. She asked a few identifying questions. I did ok with the one about my birthday, but I stumbled over the challenging one about my middle initial. "Um, Jennifer Lynn, so L."  Then the draw happened and I raced out of there.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Looking for Signs

February 27, 2015

I am trying to find positive signs to keep hope. Today when I was trying to swipe the word blogger on my phone, it thought I typed violet. Also, the violet plant I have been nurturing since October just started flowering again a few weeks ago...right around the the time of conception. These signs brought hope.

But as soon as I found those glimpses of hope, I opened a drawer that I apparently haven't opened in years because staring back at me I saw a book about miscarriage that the doctor's office gave me with my second loss. In 2009. That I had completely forgotten about and certainly didn't expect to see while putting away laundry.  Not the kind of sign I was looking for!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

I've Been Made

First things first. My post called Cringe was not a pregnancy announcement. I was simply venting about a practice that bugged me when I was pregnant with Olivia and the pregnancy before her because my track record indicates that merely being pregnant is not really a strong indication of anything good to come.

But it has come to my attention that quite a few people interpreted Cringe as a current complaint and therefore thought I was sharing news of a new pregnancy. You all know we are trying to conceive, so it makes sense. So here's the truth: Cringe was not a pregnancy announcement because I wasn't pregnant when I wrote it on February 19th. But in the two weeks between writing and posting Cringe, I found out I am pregnant. I've inadvertently been made.

We are ever so cautiously expecting a baby in the beginning of November.

Please save your congratulations for a MUCH later date (may I suggest when I'm holding a living newborn in my arms in November). Instead, please pray for a healthy baby. Please send me support as I traverse the very scary reality of pregnancy after multiple losses. Please cross your fingers that this time will be different.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Was That You, Olivia?

The grief counselor suggested keeping a list of things I'm grateful for. This is my list:

10/2 Daddy came to the 16 week appointment after all

10/3 The Swarovski crystal Olivia Collection Charm

10/5 The violet adorned keepsake box at the hospital

10/5 "Sleep Baby Safe and Snug" was the book Dr. L found at the hospital

10/25 The shooting star

10/30 The frame I chose for your pictures ended up being only 1/4 inch shorter than you. I like being able to look at it and know how big you were.

10/30 Daddy’s co-worker who has had a similar loss suggested we get together on 
November 6, my first day back to work, without knowing the significance of the day for me--great support that day!

11/23 The weather was wonderful for your memorial ceremony.

11/23 The balloons came with three stars as anchors--one for each of my girls to keep.

12/2 I had the courage to approach another mom at my support group who has a very similar story to mine.  It's unbelievable how much we have in common and can relate!

12/12 My Heart to Hold pillow arrived today. It is two shades of purple without them knowing about the violet being your symbol.

12/21 I learned today from my grief counselor that her research about your symbol, the violet, makes her think that it was no accident that we chose that flower. So much meaning!

2/15 after nearly two months of no flowers, The violet is budding

Thursday, March 5, 2015


February 19, 2015

When I call the doctor's office to tell them I'm pregnant, the receptionist congratulates me and I cringe. I know far too well getting pregnant doesn't guarantee a baby and therefore congratulations seem premature. So many things can go wrong between that positive pregnancy test and delivering a healthy, living baby nine months later.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Link

February 20, 2015

A few weeks ago, I was browsing the internet, and I came across a link that said something about why you shouldn't name your baby Olivia. If I'd seen this just a month ago, it would probably have sent me into a fit of tears. Instead, it piqued my interest and I clicked the link. What I saw was sort of funny and then the ending really made me go hmm...

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

My Proposal

Over the last eight years, I’ve had seven pregnancies. Two ended in the births of my wonderful daughters, Lily (7) and Ella (4). Five have ended in losses between 5 and 16 weeks. Chemical pregnancy, miscarriage, missed miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, and late miscarriage are all part of my history. With the most recent loss of Olivia Claire at 16 weeks on October 5, 2014, I’ve turned to writing and art as a way to work through the grief.

I am writing to propose displaying a collection of my writing and artwork on your exhibit wall as a way to raise awareness about pregnancy loss.  In addition, I wish to work in conjunction with Sara to hold a workshop about art and writing as ways to work through the grief of pregnancy and infant loss. I believe this would be an integral part of my healing process as it would give me a chance to help others who find themselves in their darkest, neediest days just as I was a few short months ago. I truly believe that the active grieving I’ve done, primarily through these mediums, is the reason why I am able to be in a position of offering support so soon after the devastation of losing my daughter. Sarah has suggested October 2015 as a target month for this display and workshop since it will coincide with Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. This timing would be of special significance to me since it would be an opportunity for me to honor my daughter on the first anniversary of her death.

Thank you for your consideration. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Proposal

February 13, 2015

When I first went to see my grief counselor in October, there was a display of art and memorabilia provided by families who had experienced pregnancy or infant loss. The exhibits change monthly, and since it was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, this fitting exhibit was waiting for me when I came stumbling in on that first day.

Over the last few months, my counselor has mentioned several times in passing that I have amassed such a collection of art and writing that perhaps I could create entire exhibit on my own sometime. I expressed interest a few times and finally at my last session, I told her I really was interested and wanted to talk about how to make it happen.

What she proposed was a bit more than I had in mind. In addition to hanging my art and writings for people to stop and look at while passing by, she suggested we create a workshop for others who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss. We would allow time for observing and reflecting on my art. I would speak about each piece and the process and meaning it entailed. Attendees would have an opportunity share their stories and write about which of my pieces resonated with them most. Then there would be an art session in which everyone could create art of their own. It could be modeled after mine or not.

Her plan is to schedule this all for October when Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month rolls around again. How meaningful that would be for me to commemorate Olivia one year later. It’s crazy to think that just a few months after being at my darkest, neediest point I am now talking about how I can support others through the darkest, neediest days of their lives.

The first step in making this happen is she and I each need to write proposals. Hers will detail the event much like I’ve done above. My proposal needs to explain why I wish to hold such a workshop.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

What They Don't Know

February 13, 2015
Tonight Ella overheard me telling my mother in law about another mom who has lost three babies in the last year.

“I’m glad we’ve only lost one baby,” Ella reflected. “But I wish she was still here.”
“I do too,” I wistfully agreed.
“But she’ll always be with us,” she continued.

Ella’s musings about Olivia brought joy to my heart and I leaned over to kiss her on the forehead. It also resulted in a knowing look between my mother in law and me since I’ve actually lost five babies. Lily and Ella don’t know about our other losses though. One was before Lily, so it makes sense that they don’t know about that baby. I actually had Lily announce our third pregnancy to Troy, but when it ended a few weeks later, we just stopped talking about it and since she was only two, it just faded out of her memory. The next two we kept from them out of fear from the previous losses. They too ended early so we never had the chance to be “in the clear” and tell them. This is the only loss they know about, and for now, what they don’t know won’t hurt them.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Not in the Plans

February 13, 2015

I’m an organizer. I’m a planner. I can’t help it. So even though I am scared about the outcome of my pregnancies, I can’t help looking ahead.

With Olivia, I already knew how far along I would have been at Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. That made those days even harder as I passed them but wasn’t 20, 24, or 28 weeks pregnant.

I already had calculated how many more months I would have to suffer through the anxiety of only one doctor appointment a month before I would finally get to have the more frequent reassurance of bi-weekly, then weekly appointments. That made the new year even harder as I passed it but wasn’t going to the doctor at all.

I had already figured out that I wouldn’t do much participating at dance during parent participation week in February since I’d be a month from my due date by that point. That made this week a sad reminder of what should have been but isn’t. I was able to fully participate because I’m not hugely pregnant. It was bittersweet because I also had fun with my kids doing something I wouldn’t have done if things had worked out as planned. Ella’s sheer joy at having me in the room dancing along with her was priceless, and I’m happy to report I earned two stamps (one for good dancing and one for good listening) from her in both of her classes.  Lily’s growing confidence as a dancer was a point of pride as I watched her perform a dance segment she had choreographed herself in hip hop. That was all great. It just wasn’t the plan.

I had already determined that Olivia would be four months old when we go to the beach with my family this summer. I figured it would be a great age. Old enough to be past the newborn stage but not old enough to be mobile. We would bring our little tent to the beach and she’d be content to hang out in its shade while we spent our days in the sun. And think of all the loving arms that would contend to hold her! It was a nice thought…

I’d even had the audacity to look into the future as far as her first Christmas when she’d be nine months old. What a great age, I’d thought. Ha.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Giving Back

January 24, 2015

Today our family of four participated in an event to give back to the baby loss community. We gathered with members of our support group and decorated candles with decoupage and tissue paper. There is an organization researching pregnancy and infant loss in Franklin County, and they asked us to decorate these candles so they can give them to parents new to this horrific experience. As we were leaving, Lily said, “That was fun. I liked making them and I wanted to do a good job.” It feels good to help parents who will be in need of compassion just like the many people who provided the items we received at the hospital helped us in our darkest moment.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

What Wouldn’t Be

January 24, 2015

I’ve written several times about what would have been. But what about what wouldn’t be?  Today, Lily and Ella, and I went to Graeters to play with my new friend Valerie and her girls. This was the first time our kids met, and they seemed to hit it off as quickly as Valerie and I had. As we were talking and watching the kids play, I couldn’t help but notice All.The.Pregnant.Bellies that were surrounding us. I thought about how I would have looked like them if I were still pregnant with Olivia. After all, I would have been less than two months from my due date. But then I realized I wouldn’t have even been at Graeters to see these pregnant bellies if I were still pregnant with Olivia. You see, I met Valerie at my support group.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sand (and a request)

January 24, 2015

Confession: I like to be in control. Part of what makes pregnancy loss so difficult is that it is just so damn out of my control. Ironically, I controllingly suggested to my grief counselor that I needed her to do something to work on my control issues.  Her idea was to have me playbuildwork with sand as a way to remind me that I can do everything I want to try to shape the sand but that I will only be able to control it so much. I set to work and soon I’d created a very uniform and structurally sound pyramid out of my sand. I think it went against the point she was trying to make, but my perfectionistic and controlling tendencies sort of won out on this one. She was able to point out a very few random grains that slid down the sides as I purposely placed shells in even intervals around the pyramid’s walls.

But that wasn’t the only time sand has come into play since Olivia’s death. When my mom and I went to Lake Erie for a short getaway in the early weeks, we went to a beach I’d visited as a child. There, I wrote Olivia’s name in the sand. This is a common thing for baby loss parents, but I’m not sure exactly why. Is it because it looks pretty? Is it because it’s comforting to see your baby’s name as proof that they really existed? Or is it because it’s so fragile? It’s like our babies we’re remembering: there only for a short while before the tide comes in and washes it away. Maybe it’s all three of these. Maybe it’s even more.

And now for the request: The next time your travel plans take you to some sand, I would be very grateful if you could take a picture of Olivia’s name and send it to me.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Middle Name with Meaning

January 24, 2015

As soon as we found out Olivia was a girl, we started to talk seriously about what we would name her. I wanted to choose a middle name that would match Lily and Ella’s (both have the ‘K’ sound: Caroline and Kathryn). Troy said that this time he would prefer a middle name with meaning instead of just one I thought sounded pretty. We struggled to think of what that might be, but eventually I thought maybe we could choose one that used Ohio State as its inspiration since we met there. I thought maybe Scarlett or Carmen (Ohio) would work even though I wasn’t in love with either. But then when we were naming our daughter after death, I decided I needed her to share the naming scheme with her sisters since there would be little else they would share. Claire it was.

Now, we’ve decided to use Olivia’s name as a portion of a future baby’s name. Oliver as a middle name for a boy or Claire as a middle name for a girl. Troy wanted a middle name that means something, and now we’ll have it.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Not the Only One (Irrational 4)

January 24, 2015

I’m not the only irrational one. My mom has revealed to me that she will never go to a certain frozen yogurt shop again and will even give away the gift card she still has. (If you know my mom, that’s serious commitment!) We announced our pregnancy that ended up being ectopic at that yogurt shop. Then, we ate there about a week before losing Olivia. She’s done with it. Luckily there are frozen yogurt stores on just about every corner!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Florida (Irrational 3)

January 24, 2015

Florida is also associated poorly with my pregnancies. I had my ruptured ectopic there in 2013. When we found out I was pregnant again weeks before returning to Florida this summer, I had to force back feelings of tempting fate. I wrote a three paragraph argument essay (thank you Common Core!) to my doctor requesting an ultrasound at five weeks to show me the pregnancy was not ectopic before I would leave the state. The first stop on our vacation was the doctor’s office. This time we went to and from Florida with me pregnant, but I still ended up losing Olivia two months later. So the new irrational me will not be heading to Florida any time soon. As we were planning our spring break trip so that we could go away during the week of Olivia’s due date, it was tempting to choose a condo in Florida. I love the beach and the thought of warm weather, and Florida is pretty much the only place to find that within driving distance  in mid-March, but we’ll enjoy the Smoky Mountains instead, thankyouverymuch!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Candles (Irrational 2)

January 24, 2015

Another irrational connection I’ve made deals with jar candles I receive as gifts. When we found out we lost Olivia, I decided we would participate in a candle lighting ceremony on October 15th, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Troy and I went to the store and picked a candle out for her. But we also wanted to remember our other 4 babies that night, so we used the four jar candles I’ve received as gifts from students over the years. This year, I was relieved to not get another candle for Christmas. I don’t want a candle waiting for me to use it for another loss. But when I returned from break, there it was wrapped in cellophane with a sparkly ribbon tied around the top: a jar candle in my mailbox. A late gift from a student. I wrote a thank you note as I usually do, but I couldn’t bring myself to unwrap it. Or take it home. After it sat on my desk for a few days, I decided I should just give it away. I asked a friend at school to take the candle for me after explaining my irrational desire to never bring another jar candle into my house until our family is complete.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Irrational 1

January 24, 2015

After experiencing multiple losses, there are some things I’ve become a bit irrational about. I know they’re irrational, however at this point, I just don’t care. I’m willing to be a bit irrational if it means I feel like I have some control in this infuriatingly-out-of-my-control situation. If it makes me feel like I’m doing something different.

So in honor of being irrational, I will not attend another Leadership Academy until I am done having children. I don’t go to this annual professional development opportunity every year, but I’ve signed up for it in the spring and gone on to lose two babies (who weren't even conceived until the summer) during leadership academy or in the same week as it in August. I went this summer when I was 8 weeks pregnant (again, conceived after registering). It made me a bit nervous being there, but I told myself it was silly to think the losses had anything to do with attending. It was just coincidence. But then I lost Olivia 8 weeks later. Irrational connection? Yes. Do I care? Nope. I can go again when there is no chance I'll be pregnant.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Not the Goal

January 7, 2015

One of the things people say when they are trying to be comforting is, “At least you know you can get pregnant.” Yes, that’s true. I can get pregnant. That part has come quite easily, actually, and to date I have been pregnant seven times. But last time I checked, the goal is not to get pregnant. The goal is to have a baby. Call me crazy, but I don’t find comfort in knowing that I can get pregnant pretty easily when I’m faced with the reality that 5 of those 7 pregnancies have not resulted in the end goal.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Same Page (finally)

January 7, 2015

The day I delivered Ella I knew that couldn’t be the last time I had a baby. Troy wasn’t as sure of that, but he agreed that we could have a third as long as Ella and the baby were about two years apart. So, in 2011 when Ella was barely a year old, we tried to get pregnant again. Honestly, it seemed way too soon for me, but that was what Troy wanted, and I was willing to concede in order to have another baby. A few months later, I was pregnant and due a month before Ella turned two.  When we found out at the 8 week appointment that we had lost the baby, it was devastating to find ourselves in this position AGAIN, and I declared myself done forever. I donated my maternity clothes, and sold the baby clothes and gear. Troy kept quiet at the time and didn’t reveal to me until probably a year later that he had not felt done in the wake of the loss.

Then, I got pregnant in 2013. Although we had not been trying to get pregnant, I was immediately excited. Troy, on the other hand, had moved on from his desire for a third child. When we lost the baby due to an ectopic pregnancy which is inherently not viable and was also life-threatening for me, Troy and I once again found ourselves on different pages. I had a rekindled longing for a baby and mourned the loss of the one I’d just lost. Troy had focused on the medical emergency that it was for me, and was not keen on any future pregnancy.

But he knew how much I wanted it, and he agreed to try again for my sake. We tried for several months in the fall of 2013 and then I got discouraged by my bleak circumstances. It would now be harder than before for me to get pregnant since I’d lost a tube. And there were still no guarantees that once I did get pregnant we wouldn’t suffer another loss. In fact, after trying unsuccessfully for three months, we had already surpassed our previous longest length of trying without getting pregnant. I felt defeated and we called it quits.

But this desire for another child keeps sneaking back in. This summer, I once again had that longing. I just don’t feel our family is complete at two kids. Troy went along for the ride again because that was what I wanted. And then Olivia survived much longer than any previous loss. We told the girls about her and saw how excited they were to have a baby in our family. We knew her as our daughter and had totally fallen in love with her and the idea of a baby.

In the wake of losing Olivia, I can finally say we are both on the same page. Troy and I both want a baby and we now know our kids do too. At least we have that.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

No Free Passes

January 7, 2014

It seems like once you’ve lost a baby you should get a free pass in any future pregnancy. I’ve been thinking about that as I consider how I will make it through another pregnancy. It will be terrible to start back at the very beginning. Waiting to see where the baby implants again. Waiting to see a heartbeat again. Waiting to see if morning sickness begins and then waiting for it to subside again. Waiting to pass the first trimester again. Now, waiting and holding my breath for every day after the first trimester until I hold a living baby in my arms. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could start back where I left off at 16 weeks? Wouldn’t it be even nicer if I had a guarantee that it won’t happen again even though I have to start back at the beginning? So, I’ve been thinking this and irresponsibly banking on the idea that surely nothing else should or even could be thrown at us in this arena.

Then I went to my support group last night and the leader happily/surprisingly shared that there were no new people there this time. But as we started sharing our stories, two people revealed that they had lost pregnancies in the last month. So there were no new people, but there were new losses. And that pulled me back to earth about the reality of this crappy situation. There are no free passes.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Entering the Nursery

January 4, 2015

The toy room was going to become the nursery. As soon as we found out Olivia was a girl, Lily was ready to start getting the nursery ready for her. It seemed too early (I was still having trouble believing that everything was working out this time) and I told Lily we would wait until after Christmas. I did however start pinning some ideas for an all-girl nursery. With Lily, I wanted to be practical, so everything was gender neutral. With Olivia, our last child, I could girlify things to my heart's delight.

I hadn't spent time in that room since Olivia's death. But over Christmas break we systematically cleaned each room. That meant the toy room, which in my absence could no longer even be entered due to toys everywhere, had to be faced. I cleaned it for quite a while before it dawned on me how different this was than we had planned. We should have been clearing it out to make the nursery after Christmas. Instead we were just putting toys away.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Other Me

January 4, 2015

The Other Me would be 7 months pregnant and in the third trimester. The Other Me would be clearing out the toy room to convert it to a nursery.The Other Me would be really happy that the calendar has changed to 2015, making me that much closer to delivering Olivia and bringing her home. The Other Me would have gotten all kinds of baby gear for Christmas since I got rid of it all when I said enough is enough three losses ago. The Other Me wouldn't cry when people announce pregnancies or cringe when characters in movies and shows are pregnant.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Sick Joke?

January 1, 2015

What do you do in the days between learning your baby has died and delivering her? Troy and I tried to give ourselves a break from our new surreal reality by going to a movie. We couldn't decide what to see, and honestly it didn't really matter as long as it gave us a distraction for a bit. We debated Gone Girl or Where I Leave You. One is a drama and action film, the other a dramedy. We weren't sure about something comedy based. What could be funny to us in our situation? But when we arrived at the ticket counter on that Friday afternoon, the decision was not ours; Gone Girl was sold out. So we went with Where I Leave You. The basic plot is about grown children returning home after their father dies. That seemed safe enough for our aching hearts. And with Tina Fay and Jason Bateman it should be pretty good, right?

As it turns out, a subplot develops when Bateman's character catches his wife cheating at the beginning. He calls it quits and heads home for the funeral. Then out of the blue, his wife shows up to reveal to him that she's pregnant after a long battle with pregnancy loss and infertility. Strike one. Next, she calls to say she is bleeding and goes to the hospital expecting to be miscarrying again. But this is a movie, so of course her ultrasound shows that everything is actually fine. Strike two. Cut to a scene after the hospital where she pulls out her ultrasound image and announces it's a girl. It was at this point that I leaned over to Troy to ask if this was some kind of sick joke. How is this even a subplot for a movie about holding Shiva after a father's funeral?!

Later in October, I was trying to force myself out of the house a bit and made a movie date with my dad to see St.Vincent. This movie is about a grumpy older man and the bond he forms with a neighbor boy. Safe enough. But no. This grumpy old man is a patron at a strip club, and his female interest there discovers she's pregnant. On accident. Oh, and it's a girl. And this woman's pregnancy becomes a secondary plot, so I get to watch her belly grow until the movie culminates with the delivery. Seriously, universe?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Three Month Angelversary

January 5, 2015
Dear Olivia,

We have come to your three month angelversary. This means you have been gone as long as we knew about you, and from now on, you will have been gone longer than we knew you were with us.  

Ella still talks about you often. Out of the blue she will ask where you are. Where heaven is. Whether you wear clothes in heaven. Who you are with. She asks to kiss you in my necklace. You have made such an impact on her. I can also count on Ella to remind me that I have three daughters and she has two sisters. She now also talks about another baby someday but it's clear she'll never forget about you.

This month also brought the end of 2014. New Year’s was harder than I expected it to be. It marked the end of your year. The year you were conceived. The year we watched you grow. The year we happily announced your upcoming arrival. The year we found out and shared that you would be our third daughter. The year we lost you. The year we held you.

What hasn’t ended with your year is our love for you. That will live on for the rest of our lives.


Thursday, February 12, 2015


January 1, 2015

This month, I spent a lot of time reading memoirs. I started with Heaven is for Real and ended with Off Balance by Dominique Moceanu. In the middle I read two by mothers who have also experienced the loss of a child. One (Rare Bird) lost her 12 year-old son in a flash flood while he was playing in the late summer rain. Another (Not What We Were Expecting) had more similar experiences to ours. She has had multiple pregnancy losses including the trauma of late loss. What is amazing is that even though our experiences are all unique, the feelings during grief are shockingly similar. There are so many things the mother who lost her 12 year-old son said that I had written in my own words. I also related to the words of the mother who has had pregnancy loss.

Some people I’ve talked to can’t believe I’m choosing to read these books. “How can you surround yourself with so much pain?” they ask. But the truth is I find comfort in knowing there are people who get it. There are people who can speak about what I’m thinking and feeling. There are people who survive the pain and can carry on--changed forever, but not broken.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Don’t Let the Door Hit You

January 1, 2015 1:30 am

Buh bye 2014. No offense, but you sucked! Instead of happily ushering in the new year and knowing that this is the year I would have my baby, I am back at ground zero. Not pregnant, and certainly not 2.5 months from delivering my baby. Good riddance to the year that gave me what I can only hope will be my biggest hurdle.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Symbolism of the Violet

December 29, 2014

At my last grief counselor appointment, my counselor mentioned that she had done some research on the symbolism behind violet--the flower and the color. She explained that she found quite a bit of meaning that has led her to believe it was no accident that we chose this symbol for Olivia. (You may recall that we decided on this symbol during the first few days after we learned Olivia had died. I suggested to Troy that we should use the flower as her symbol since I did not want to use it as her name as he had suggested.) So tonight, I am looked for myself. These are the copied and pasted tidbits that stood out and are meaningful to me.

-Folklore says the violet connotes a love that is delicate. (What could be more delicate than my tiny baby?)

-In mythology, Diana changed a nymph into a violet to protect her. (Olivia is now safe from any harm.)

-The violet does have a more sobering side, though, in that the flower is associated with death--and resurrection. (We had no idea the flower had anything to do with death)

-a meaning for violet of death too soon (whoah!)

-Few flowers have symbolized the renewal of spring, and the triumphs and tribulations of love, as much as the violet. (Here's the idea of rebirth again.)

-Both Greeks and Romans associated violets with funerals and death. Violets were routinely scattered around tombs, and, as symbols of innocence and modesty, children’s graves were routinely so blanketed with violets that the grave was completely covered. (Wow, specifically associated with children's deaths?!)

-One ancient tale states that violets were in fact white until Mary was filled with anguish from watching her son, Christ, suffer upon the Cross. At this moment all the white violets turned purple to echo her mourning. Perhaps this is a reason why purple remains a color associated with mourning. (I can relate to how Mary must have felt.)

-From the 16th Century, the violet's use as a pain reliever was extensive, since it is among the few plants to contain salicylic acid, the chief ingredient in aspirin. (Crazy! I have been taking a low dose of aspirin for the last month since it seems to have some empirical benefit for recurrent loss)

-White violets - depict...the desire to "take a chance on happiness" (Well, that's what we're choosing to do by trying again.)

-Violets are the perfect sentiment that says to someone "you are unique, special, and part of a perfect whole." (I'm not sure about heaven,but if Olivia is there,she is whole now.)

-Longfellow: “purple violets lurk among all the lovely children of the shade” (I interpret this as shade being death.)

-The poet Shelly uses the flower to commemorate the grief of a lost love in the poem "On a Faded Violet."

The odour from the flower is gone
Which like thy kisses breathed on me;
The colour from the flower is flown
Which glowed of thee and only thee.
A shrivelled, lifeless, vacant form,
It lies on my abandoned breast,

And mocks the heart which yet is warm,
I weep--my tears revive it not!
I sigh--it breathes no more on me;
Its mute and uncomplaining lot
Is such as mine should be.
(What more can I say?)

Added February 10, 2015:
This violet was a gift from my coworkers that thrived for weeks with beautiful blooms. It was pretty much at its height of beauty for Olivia's memorial on November 23rd. Then the blooms stopped coming but the plant continued to grow many new leaves so I knew it was still doing well. I transferred the plant to a violet pot given to us by one of Troy's coworkers a while back. Just this week it has started growing buds again!