One Year

I’m sorry I haven’t been around much. I am still not sure what I want this to be. I’m working again, which, among other things, severely curtails the time I have to write. I wish I would though. It helped.

Today I needed to acknowledge that it was one year ago today that we lost our baby girl. That day was probably the worst day of my life (so many to choose from). This is the last of the one-year anniversaries. I’ve been waiting for this day with a strange mix of anticipation and dread. I suppose I’m glad to have these anniversaries behind us. But somehow I keep hoping there will be some magical moment, some turning-point, where I can tell things are getting better. Easier. But I guess it doesn’t work that way.

I just wanted to say we miss you little Lina. My jelly bean.

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October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

Please take a moment to remember Cole and Lina, and all the babies who never got to open their eyes to see the world or to leave the hospital, or to take their first steps, or to grow up and be the people they were supposed to be. Please send a prayer or a positive thought to all their families who miss them so much.

Happy Birthday, Little Ones.

“Happy” Birthday is weird of course. I should be planning a birthday party today. Not “trying to keep busy” so that I can remain functional for Annika. I don’t know what to say here today. I just wanted to acknowledge it.

A friend of mine recently sent me this beautiful quote. So I’ll share it:

We shall find peace.
We shall hear angels.
We shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds.
-Anton Chekov

One year.

Here it goes. The one year “anniversaries” (though that word sounds much too cheerful to me) of the worst days of my life. I don’t know why 365 days (or I guess 366 in this case) should be more significant somehow than anything else – 137 days or 592 days… I’ve even tried not to really think about it in those terms but as the dates have approached, I’ve found myself crying more, feeling more anxious…and dreading it all.

Today marks one year since I got sick. I remember it so clearly. I woke up around 4 am, sick to my stomach. Not just nauseous, but this weird pain right below my diaphragm. I got up and ate a pickle. Yes, I know, probably not the best choice, but somehow it made sense at 4 am. Before long I got up and puked. I killed time until my OB’s office opened and then called to talk to the nurse. I told her I had taken some Tums, but it wasn’t really helping. She told me to try taking more Tums, and if I didn’t feel better by around 4 pm, to call back. I told her I had an appointment with my perinatologist that afternoon, and she said “Oh, well that makes me feel better. Definitely mention it to her.”. There was really no sense of urgency, so I was not all that concerned. The same thing had happened a week before, and I had called and left a message with my OB’s office and nobody even called me back. Even though I mentioned in my message that I was concerned because I was being watched for pre-e. I felt better by around noon, so I never followed up and I figured this would be the same.

I went in the afternoon to see my peri. The appointment was uneventful. My blood pressure was fine. My ankles weren’t swollen. I hadn’t gained any weight. Both babies had grown proportionally, but Lina was still much smaller than Cole. After the ultrasound I mentioned the nausea (it had more or less subsided). She listened, raised an eyebrow, and said she was a little concerned and wanted to have some bloodwork done. She asked for it to be returned STAT, which should have alarmed me more than it did. I don’t know why I refused to believe that anything could REALLY go wrong. I walked out of her office and paused for a few minutes to look at the beautiful newborns in the nursery across the hall. Walked downstairs to give my blood and went home.

When I got home, I called a friend, and told her what happened. I said I gave some blood but assumed everything would be OK. While I was on the phone, I heard another call, but let the machine get it (for some reason, adulthood has made me incapable of such technical tasks as answering call-waiting, something I was quite skilled at in high school and college). As soon as I was off, I got the message that Dr Bond wanted me to come back to the hospital. Still, no panic.

But when I got there…I got what I wish had been the worst news of my life. Sadly, it was only the beginning. I had HELLP Syndrome. A serious and life-threatening form of pre-eclampsia. I would be transferred to Columbia Presbeterian by ambulance as soon as they could confirm that NICU beds would be available. The babies would be delivered in 24 hours. Still. I was convinced that that was the worst of it. That everything was going to be OK. I still.can.not.believe. what followed.

October 2nd still plays in my memory just like a movie.

Everyone told me the first year is the hardest. I can only hope so. I still have a few months before “the first year” is officially over. I’ll just have to take “their” word for it. Because it still feels like hell.

Yes, I am *that* mom.

Yesterday I took Annika to the park. And there was a mom there with her twins. I thought to myself what I always think when I see moms with twins in my town. “You don’t think you know me, but you probably do. I’m that mom whose babies died last year. You probably prayed for Lina when she got so sick and we were still hoping she’d be OK. You may have cried for us when you learned that she died. You surely hugged your babies extra close that night. Maybe you even left a bag of groceries or a meal on our doorstep the next couple of weeks.”

I joined my local Mothers of Multiples (MOMs) club when I was on bedrest, a week, maybe two, before Cole & Lina were born. i even signed up for a playgroup for Annika, so I could meet local MOMs and get their good advice. After they were born, I didn’t reach out to the group…out of a kind of paralysis, I guess. But a sweet friend, another mom of twins from far away, reached out to them for me. I think it was after Cole had died actually, and they put me in touch with another beautiful mom who had lost one of her sweet baby girls. We met for coffee and talked about how hard it was to mourn for one baby and still maintain hope and strength (and joy) for the other. She was inspiring.

Then when Lina got sick, she organized meals for us. She posted on our MOMs bulletin board, and I received so many words of support. I know Lina and Cole deeply touched peoples’ hearts. And I know many would remember me.

And every time I see a mom with twins, I want to tell her “I have twins too”. I want to compare stories. But of course, my story is so horrible…it would only make the other mom sad. So I just smile. And I don’t say anything. My MOMs club membership is expiring any day now. I won’t renew it. Although I am and always be a mom of twins, I don’t feel like I belong in “the club”. I don’t want to read the messages about the best stroller for two. It’s too hard to get the reminders about the tag sales. I would love to bring Annika to the Halloween parties, the picnics…but those are for the twins. Of course, nobody would turn me away…but seeing all the twins. That would be hard. And maybe people would secretly wonder what I was doing there.

Giving up that dream has been hard. Hard.

The dinosaurs died in Duluth

Another conversation that has been repeated ad infinitum recently is the following. It started when Annika said she wished she could have a pet dinosaur. I told her it would be nice, but it’s not really possible because the dinosaurs are extinct, which means they all died a long, long time ago.

Annika: Tell me the dinosaur story.
Me: OK, the dinosaurs lived millions and millions of years ago. There were brontosauruses, and stegasauruses, and triceratops and tyrannasaurus rexes and pterodactyls…
Annika: …and red ones, and green ones, and yellow ones…
Me: Yep, all different colors.
Annika: And they had long necks.
Me: Yep.
Annika: And there were little girls…
Me: No, there were no little girls when the dinosaurs lived.
Annika: Well, they wish they had little girls.
Me: Yes, I bet they did. Anyhow, the dinosaurs were all living on the earth, and one day a big, giant rock came from space and crashed into the earth. And it started fires, and made big storms.
Annika: What color were the storms?
Me: I don’t know.
Annika: I think they were white (mixing in the Rudolf story here, I think).
Me: Maybe. In any case, all of the things that the dinosaurs ate – the trees, grass, flowers…they all died. And then the dinosaurs didn’t have anything to eat, and they died too. And now all we have left are their bones.
Annika: Oh. Tell me again, mommy.

Well, the other day, at the end of the story when I said the dinosaurs all died, she paused, thought about it and said “Yeah. They died in Duluth”.

Oh my word. I have wondered all along, and still do, how Annika has processed all the events of the last year plus. We have not hid anything from her, explaining everything as simply as possible, and letting her take the lead with questions.

She talks about her brother and sister, and her grandma (and grandpa), generally following up a statement with a serious “But they died”. But I don’t know what she understands about the meaning of “died”. It appears, though, that she thinks that dying is something that happens in Duluth. Or that people go to Duluth to die. Or who knows. I mean, for a long time, she has known that her Grandpa died, and has recognized his “stone”. Then, she was there when her Grandma died. Then Cole died and we took him to Duluth. Then Lina.

It was just a bit of a shock to realize that at least on some level, her 3-year-old mind associates Duluth with death.

Christmas in September?

This is the conversation that’s been repeated in our house about 200 times since the weekend:

Annika: Mommy, tell me the Bambi story.
Me: You mean the Rudolf story?
Annika: Yeah. The Rudolf story.
Me: (singing) Well, you know Dasher and …
Annika: Are they girls?
Me: Who?
Annika: The reindeers
Me: You know? I’m not really sure. But I think all Santa’s reindeer were boys.
Annika: Oh. Sing it.
Me: Well, you know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen…
Annika: I think they’re girls.
Me: OK, maybe. They might be girls.
Annika: Sing it.
Me: and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donder and Blitzen. But do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?
Annika: Why mommy?
Me: Why what?
Annika: Why he’s the most famous reindeer?
Me: Because he helped save Christmas with his nose. Let’s listen to the song to find out.
Annika: Yeah. Sing it.
Me: Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer had a very shiny nose
Annika: Why mommy?
Me: Why what?
Annika: Why his nose was shiny?
Me: He was born that way.
Annika: I think he touched something.
Me: What do you mean?
Annika: I think he touched something in the snow. That’s why it’s red and shiny.
Me: Touched something? Like what?
Annika: Maybe he touched some berries. Or some red rocks. That’s why it’s red.
Me: Well, maybe. But really, he was just born that way. With a special nose.
Annika: No mommy.
Me: OK then.
Annika: Sing it.
Me: …had a very shiny nose. And if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows.
Annika: Why mommy?
Me: Why what?
Annika: Why it glows?
Me: Because he was born that way. And it helped Santa guide his sleigh.
Annika: Oh. Sing it.
Me: ..say it glows. All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names.
Annika: Why mommy?
Me: Why what?
Annika: Why all the other reindeer laugh at him?
Me: Because his nose was different. But it’s not nice to tease people because they’re different.
Annika: Why his nose was different?
Me: Because he was born that way. He couldn’t help it. But it was a special nose.
Annika: I think he touched something in the snow.
Me: OK.
Annika: Sing it mommy.
Me: …all of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names.
Annika: Like what?
Me: What do you mean?
Annika: What kind of names?
Me: Ummmm…(note to self, google the annotated version of the song to remember what those names were)…I don’t know. They called him some not nice names.
Annika: Why?
Me: Because they were teasing him because of his nose. But it’s not nice to tease people because of how they look.
Annika: Yeah. Sing it.
Me: …used to laugh and call him names. they never let poor Rudolf join in any reindeer games.
Annika: What kind of games?
Me: Oh, like Monopoly…and football…
Annika: What’s Monopoly?
Me: It’s a game some people play.
Annika: Oh. Why they didn’t play games with him?
Me: Because they were being mean to him because he was different. But they’re going to find out how special his nose is pretty soon.
Annika: Oh.
Me: Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say. Rudolf with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight. Then all the reindeer loved him (whew, that’s quite a stretch!)
Annika: Why mommy? Why they love him?
Me: Because he saved Christmas. His nose is going to help Santa see in the storm so that he can bring presents to all the good boys and girls. See how special Rudolf’s nose is?
Annika: Yeah. He helps Santa see in the BIG WHITE STORM. Sing it.
Me: Then all the reindeer loved him, and they shouted out with glee
Annika: What’s glee?
Me: Glee means happy. They were so happy.
Annika: Why they were so happy?
Me: Because Rudolf saved Christmas with his bright nose. He helped Santa see in the storm.
Annika: Oh. Sing it.
Me: …and they shouted out with glee. Rudolf the red nosed reindeer, you’ll go down in history.
Annika: (pause) Sing it mommy.
Annika: That’s the end.
Me: Oh. Again mommy.

And repeat, almost verbatim again…and again…and again… It’s going to be a LONG time to Christmas if we’re starting in September (we’re not the only ones starting though…Target already has 2 aisles of Christmas stuff).

So you’re probably all wondering where I’ve been. I can’t believe I didn’t write all summer long. Annika and I spent the summer in Turkey (Esref joined us for 3 weeks). I actually thought I’d write a lot over the summer. That was my intention. Writing last fall and spring really helped me…process. It felt good. But inertia is a powerful thing, and it’s hard to get going again. Plus, I was with Annika 24/7 and that doesn’t leave much time for reflection, let alone writing about it. Not that I’m complaining. It was a good time for us. Mostly.

So anyhow, I’m not sure exactly what this blog will become. I want to keep writing. But I’m not sure I can make it be just all about my grief. Like I’ve said before, how many different ways can I say “I’m still so sad”. So we’ll just have to see. I still cry almost every day. I’m still angry about the path my life has taken. The next few months will probably be agonizing, as we pass the first anniversaries of the most horrible events of my life. In fact, it was right around now last year that I was taken out of work with the first signs of pre-eclampsia. But things got better, so I was optimistic.

Anyhow, if you’re still with me, thanks for being there. We’ll play it by ear.


About Me

I'm a grieving mom. I have one beautiful daughter, Annika, who's 3 years old now (born 12/28/04). I also had twins, Lina and Cole, on 10/04/07, born at just 26 weeks. We lost Cole after just 23 days due to complications related to his prematurity. Fiesty little Lina overcame so much and just when she was getting ready to come home with us, suddenly had a complication unrelated to her prematurity and passed away on January 11, 2008. This blog is about getting through it. More...

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