Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Surviving the Holidays with a Broken Heart

While Christmas carols and holiday cheer bring joy to many hearts this time of year, the holiday season also stirs up feelings of loss for many people. I never really understood this idea until this year. I made a point to do my best to make this year special for Hunter even though my heart was not in it. Each happy moment just reminded me of what Wyatt would never have and what we would never get to share with him. Normally Christmas is full of magic and wonder for me, but this year I was just surviving.

I feared visiting with relatives and having to put on a happy face. I feared what Christmas morning would feel like without him, but then I decided to not pretend. I decided to just allow myself to enjoy what ever I could and feel what ever I felt. Christmas was different this year, but it wasn't awful. It was an interesting new perspective. I no longer had expectations of my own. I didn't have any big wish list for myself. I didn't care what the house looked like. In a way it was like I was just observing the holiday, and it was really kinda special.
I also made a point to include Wyatt in this day. I made a special ornament with his foot and hand prints. I remembered him and thought about him all day. I decided to start talking about him to Hunter a little too. He is too young now to really understand all of this, but I want him to grow up knowing that he is a big brother. I have a choice to allow this loss to taint everything good, or to allow the loss to inspire me. It will not be easy, but I am choosing to carry on his legacy by finding ways to make this world a better place.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Our Story: The first loss

*This post is very detailed. I put this personal information on here with the hope that it may help other families who have or are currently going through a loss.* 

                                                              The complications Begin: 
  My first pregnancy started off so easily, but it quickly turned around. When the bleeding began, I started to panic. I made an appointment with my OB certain that something was really wrong. I remember laying on the table full of excitement and fear. It was such a strange combination of feelings. It was our first look at our first baby, but I just felt like something was so wrong. Our doctor quickly found a heart beat and assured us that everything looked fine. She said it looked like the bleeding was just implantation bleeding.

Our OB looked further with the ultrasound. She got a strange look on her face and said, "There is something else here. Oh, it has a heartbeat too." I couldn't believe my ears. Not only was our pregnancy just fine, we were having twins! New dreams began. I imagined what it would be like to be a parent of twins! "What a roller-coaster!" I thought. {Nothing like the roller-coaster that was to come.}

Sometimes a Mother just knows:
The bleeding continued, and so did my feeling that something was not right. I eventually began cramping and bleeding heavily. I went to the ER where they told me the heartbeats had stopped. They offered me pain medication which I declined and sent me home. I met with my OB, and she confirmed that we had lost both babies. She encouraged me to allow the process to happen naturally since my body had already begun the process. She prescribed me Vicodin, but I had no idea how much the process would physically hurt.

Helpless and alone:
Of course I wasn't actually alone. I have an amazing support network around me. Brook was by my side through all of it as well. But this was the overwhelming feeling I had. I knew nothing about miscarriage. No one ever talks about it. At least, no one ever talked to me about it. I didn't have a clue how it all would work. I didn't know what to expect. I tried to look things up online, but there was no way to really prepare me for what was coming. I was asked to try to collect the "remains" so they could try to give us some idea of what might have gone wrong.   

So much blood {gets graphic here sorry}:
Hours past and the cramps became worse. I sat in the shower so I could  be sure to collect the babies. The memory of this day still haunts me. I was bleeding so much and that is all I could focus on. The color red filled my mind and my thoughts. I went through so many emotions that I felt like I was going crazy. The pain of the cramps began to get so intense. I decided it was time to take the Vicodin. I waited a little too long though. The medication didn't have time to take effect before the real pain began. {The pain was comparable to actual contractions}

I can't do this anymore: {I only share this to help anyone else who may of had these thoughts}
This was one of the lowest points in my life. Brook and I had both been awake for so many hours. He fell asleep(right next to me on the bathroom floor), and I started to give up on life. I grabbed the bottle of pills and decided to take them all and be done. I really don't know what stopped me. Its not because I somehow could see beyond this horrible experience. I was living a nightmare. I think it is because it finally happened. I passed the babies. It was done, or so I thought. I remember looking at the sac. I felt this desire to inspect and see them. I was traumatized at what I saw. They were so small, but I could see eyes. {I am glad now that I took the time to see them. I wasn't holding "remains" I was holding my babies.}

So glad I told people:
Deciding on when to tell people about a pregnancy is a very personal decision. I am glad I told people early on. I had the most amazing support from my family and friends. I did learn to be a little more careful though. With this pregnancy I told everyone right away. I mean everyone. I remember telling the other people in the waiting room at the lab that I was pregnant and having twins! I was so excited I couldn't hold back. For future pregnancies I decided to only tell close people our news till it was safe. {I have learned since there really isn't a point that it is "safe"}

One miscarriage is common; it shouldn't happen again: 
The doctors couldn't find any reason for the loss. She told me that there was no need for further tests quite yet. She said miscarriage is so much more common than people realize and that sometimes they just happen. She told us to wait for a while till I was physically and emotionally ready to try again.

Maybe trying again will take away this pain:
Although the thought of another pregnancy was extremely terrifying, it was all I could think about. I decided to try and put this behind me and move on.{Worst idea ever. I am just now working on processing all of this.} I think I really believed that if I just got pregnant again, the pain would stop. Thank goodness my doctor encouraged us to wait a while.

                                                                        I wish:
I wish I didn't have feel so alone and unprepared for something that is "so common." That is why I am making a point to really talk and to let people know what this experience was like for me. Every loss is different because we are all different. But after talking to more people about my experiences I have learned that many of us have very similar stories and feelings. It helps to know that someone has a little idea of what we went through, and that we are not crazy; just grieving.

I wish I would have know the importance of going through the grieving process. I wish I would have honored these lives differently instead of trying to put them in my past. {Its never to late to do this. I am honoring them now because I am ready now.}

I wish we knew more about what causes all these losses. I wish there was a way to prevent such pain. So much research is being done, and statistics are changing, but statistics don't mean much when you are part of the 2% club.

I wish people could understand that an early miscarriage is a big deal. I wish I had understood that. I have experienced an early miscarriage, a missed miscarriage, a tubal loss, and delivering a stillborn child. Each experience brought on its own pain, but each experience was a really horrific loss. Wanting to be a parent and not getting to have that, "Just sucks!" as one of my amazing nurses once put it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Broken Heart: Connecticut shooting

Everything seems so backwards today. My heart is breaking, and I am crying. Hunter asks, "What's the matter Mommy?" He hugs me and says, "Don't cry. It will be okay." The tears just keep coming. I remember wishing the world would stop along with me as I grieved for my lost babies. I wished people could understand what this was like. Today I take back that wish because the only way for someone else to understand is for them to feel it. I wish no one had to know what that pain is like. My heart aches for these families and for the world today. 

Hug the ones you love today and everyday! 

Today I feel fear creaping into my heart. I fear loss. I fear uncertainty. I fear The fact that I don't have control. What I have today isn't guaranteed tomorrow. I am choosing to not let that fear overtake me. I am choosing to let this be a reminder to not take anything for granted. I am going to do my part to bring goodness and love into this world. 

I ask that everyone who reads this post do me a favor. Make a point to do something kind everyday. Do something out of the ordinary to make someone smile. I know it won't bring back these precious children and adults that were killed today. I know It won't bring back our babies, but we can't allow this evil to win.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Our Story: Before the first loss; ignorance is bliss

This story begins long before I was ever pregnant. It began the moment I imagined life as a Mommy. Pregnancy loss robs a parent from what could/should have been. It happened to us in 3 pregnancies taking 5 children. We lost twins to a miscarriage. We lost our little girl to a missed miscarriage. We lost Wyatt's tubal twin and then we lost Wyatt at 27 weeks and 2 days.

Life quickly taught me that things never play out the way we imagine, yet we still find joy in trying to picture what is to come. After dating Brook for a while, we discussed having 2 or 3 children. I pictured making memories together. I pictured taking trips, and spending holidays together. I imagined what my children would look like and talk like. Although I knew what I imagined wouldn't be the same as real life, I never expected experiencing such a deep loss, and I didn't expect that I would experience this loss multiple times.

Baby Fever:
I remember being worried that I wouldn't be a good mother because I had never really had that "baby fever" moment. I loved taking care of children, but I didn't have a strong urge to begin a having children of my own. I think working with children for so many years provided me with a more realistic picture of the work involved.

I also remember the moment that all changed. I was rocking a little baby boy, and he fell asleep in my arms at work. I looked at his precious face and thought, "I love you so much." Then I realized, that the little guy was not mine, and that his family could and would eventually take him out of my life. At that moment I began really dreaming of having children of my own.

Ignorance is Bliss:

It is hard to think about, but I remember my thoughts before our first loss. I remember discussing trying to plan out a pregnancy, as if we have any control. I used to have conversations with friends about what time of the year I wanted to have a baby. I talked about how many children I would have and how many years apart they would be. {Now I know how unimportant those conversations are.}

My first pregnancy actually seemed to fit right into that plan. I stopped birth control, and we officially began TTC. The very first month, the pregnancy test read positive! That's how I figured it was supposed to work.  The responsibly of becoming parents was overwhelming, but so exciting! {I had no clue of all the things that could go wrong.}

I remember enjoying the right to complain about the pregnancy woes, and the right to glow with excitement. People warned us to not share the news right away, "just in case." I could not hold back this news. I told everyone. {Now I hate hearing people complain about being pregnant or having a new born, but then again, it makes me happy to know they still get to live in the blissful land of ignorance.}

Some days I wish I had never experienced any of this. I wish I could go back to being naively innocent, but then that would mean I would have never felt the love of all of my precious babies. The wish I have now is one that cannot be filled. I wish I could have them all here with me. I wish I could hold each of them and tell them how much I love each of them.




Sunday, December 9, 2012

Please Be Patient While I Grieve

This is a request I have for everyone around me, but especially for my self. Grief in general is one of those topics not often spoken of. In our society most of us are not taught much about this process. In my Psychology classes, we learned about the stages of grief. There are a couple common misconception about these stages. First off, the stages are meant to apply to a person who is dying, not for the survivors. The process is similar, so it does help give some understanding. Also people do not go through them in some perfect linear way. It is a very different process for each person and each situation. I am learning that there is no way to rush this process, and no one can take away this pain. For me, it's been like a roller coaster ride. Here are a few stages I have encountered so far.

  • Denial: At first I thought I was somehow lucky enough to skip this stage. I thought, "Of course I know this is real. I know he is gone, and that he is not coming back. I must have skipped over this stage because of the months of denial about the pregnancy complications." But then it hit me me like a ton of bricks. I woke up one morning and it all felt so real. The overwhelming feeling takes my breath away. This is a stage I come in and out of on a regular basis. I think I am doing okay, and then something reminds me of Wyatt. Usually it brings me to tears, but sometimes it sends me flying in to another stage.
  • Anger: This is the hardest stage for me. The anger I have felt after loosing Wyatt makes me feel like I don't even know myself. Sometimes it's not even anger, but a general lack of compassion for other people. I have friends who are either pregnant or have newborns. For a long time, I couldn't even be happy for them. I hated myself for that. I also get angry for stupid reasons or no reason at all. I get mad at other people and at myself. I even sometimes feel angry toward Wyatt. That is something that I don't understand at all even though I have been told it's totally "normal."
  • Depression: This is another stage that makes me not really know myself anymore. I used to be such an optimist. I found joy in little things. I always looked forward to the future. Now I have a hard time finding anything that brings a happy feeling. Things seem so pointless compared to this loss. We bought a new car, and I don't even care. I am surrounded by wonderful people, I have an amazing child and husband. There is good all around me, but I still feel so lost. I am on medication to help with this terrible feeling, so I can see some light at the end of the tunnel. I can believe that time will ease some of this pain. 
  • Other overwhelming feelings: I have a feeling of guilt on a daily basis. If I am having a good day, I feel bad for not caring enough. On bad days I feel guilty for not being the wife, mother or friend I should be. I also feel lost and unorganized. I have a hard time making even the simplest decision. Sometimes just getting dressed in the morning feels like an impossible task. I have an unending desire to understand what happened, why it happened and if I can prevent it from ever happening again.
I ask that you be patient while I grieve because I may not be the person you have known me to be. I may not be able to be the support or friend you need. I am working hard to figure myself out again. I do this for all of you, for Wyatt, my family, and myself. There is no timeline for grieving. As much as I would to just say,  "I am done, and I am okay," I can't. All I can do is take care of myself, and allow myself to truly feel these feelings.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Video Story

Here is a slide show I put together for Wyatt. It's the short version of my story, yet it is kinda long. The song is one I wrote and Brook came up with the accompaniment. There are photos included that might be a little hard to see, but part of my goal with this blog is to make pregnancy loss less of a taboo subject. 


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

An introduction....

Me as a child
Like many children, I played, "house" and I imagined what life would look like when "I grew up." I looked up to my parents as role models. To this day, I pray that I will be as good of a mother as my mom is. What defines a good mother anyway I wonder? Is it how nicely dressed a child is? Is it how clean the house is kept? Is a good mother defined by whether the mom chose to stay home or work? This is really not an easy question, and it will be debated for many years to come. But what I admire the most from my mom is her selflessness, her devotion, and her way of always making me feel truly loved.

This is a blog inspired by a loss, but a true loss only comes when one has experienced a great blessing. Let me introduce myself and begin telling the story of how our little fighter Wyatt Grant Stine as well as his brothers and sisters who left us too soon, and his brother Hunter who keeps us smiling.

This is harder than it should be to describe myself, but following such a deep loss I am unsure who I am. At first that was frightening, but now it's a little exciting. I get to really look at who I am at the core. I get to redefine myself. Introductions often start with Hello my name is....., so I will start there.

My name is Crystal, but it is also Mommy, Sis,wife, daughter, teacher, neighbor, and friend etc. We all play so many roles in life. I have always striven for perfection in all these roles, but I have learned that perfection is not the right goal because without mistakes, one cannot grow. Instead I am want to aim to bring an element of love in everything I do. I want to be the person who can both celebrate and grieve along side the ones I love, and I am asking that you all join me in this journey as well.