How am I here? One year since my little, blonde baby died. With her Daddy's nose. I used to ask that question of myself almost daily. How did my daughter die? Will I die too? Thankfully not actually but in that soul crushing way that there is no return. We've spent a year clawing our way out of the pain and why there is always cause for it to resurface, none like the anniversary of her death.
What do you call it? It's not a birthday because she wasn't born. What day do you choose to mourn, the day she died or the day I was fortunate enough to hold my perfect, yet still child and give her a proper good bye. I still can't answer, I felt the shock wave coming for weeks. She passed on Monday, July 11, 2016 and was delivered Thursday, July 13, 2016. Piper's Day.
I felt this scary regression unfolding in our lives. I began to pull away, to hide and fear social contact. Others noticed our odd stand-offish behaviors, mimicking those first months when I couldn't hold a conversation. Where my daily goals included getting out of bed and eating at least one meal. When Beau coaxed me from the house with 11 p.m. drives and promises of coffee. Days when my mom would come over at 4 a.m. so that Beau could get some sleep away from my sobs.
We were asked about our plans to celebrate our daughter's short life, I'd answer, I have no plan as I couldn't even handle the pressure of the plan. I'd like to say I handled the first anniversary of her death with polish and strength but I didn't. I wandered around my house in my pajamas, unkempt. I opened and closed her memory box, holding her tiny knit hat, howling and cursing the universe. Ate very little and showered even less. Became manic, cleaned the bathroom and nursery. Put together the half finished swing. Cried again. Read every condolence card, note or letter addressed to us or Piper. Often irritable and snapping at my sweet, Beau, while he struggled to keep his own head above water.
The pain engulfed me and I didn't fight against it. I lived every second preceding the anniversary of her death and entrance in to the world in fear, as our lives aligned with the dates. The holidays and birthdays ticked by until it was staring me in the face, daring me to fall off the ledge. I didn't fall, I jumped. I'm thankful I did because taking the time to come undone left me once again standing on the other side with my family, my tribe and a bouncing Squeak in my belly.
I kept my promise to our daughter. We have continued to live our life, full of love and happiness, with a newfound gratitude. I don't mearly exist, which was my deep seaded fear. I have learned to artfully carry my grief, to coexist with it and my life. I am proud of that.
They say time heals all wounds. I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone. -Rose Kennedy.
Reat easy my darling Piper, until we meet again.
This was not an easy one. My generic pregnancy app says this was supposed to be the honeymoon third of your pregnancy. If you are the author to this piece then congratulations, I'm now the driver of the struggle bus. The driver who eats entirely too many donuts and has all but abandoned the gym. Typically as a pregnancy progresses, there is a feeling of safety in the anticipation of your baby, mixed in with general fear about labor. In this pregnancy, I'll admit I've been very focused on the actual pregnancy that I sometimes forget the possibility of bringing home a tiny creature to whom I will be their life force.
There has been an increasing amount of anxiety this past few weeks, as I am now in the final trimester. It's sometimes triggered by the tug of war to nest and fear to get too far ahead of myself. This desire to keep her in there and the selfishness of wanting her in my arms, at the safest and earliest moment. I've made big moves in purchasing a few small items for Squeak but I'm careful to arrange them on Piper's nursery floor. I've talked with my tribe how the nursery is a particularly paralyzing step for me.
Squeak is a mini ninja and graces me with fierce little jabs, mostly aimed at my left ovary. With the kicking came a round of anxiety I was prepared to encounter. The only way I knew something was amiss with my first miss was a lack of fetal movement. If she gets quieter then I'd like I chug juice, lift my shirt up and put my hands on my bare belly until I wake her. I have an odd habit or tic to keep a post it note on my desk and make note of her movements throughout the day. I get busy treating patients and panic, I refer to the post it. It's an illusion of control. The anxiety about her movements has greatly impacted my sleep patterns. Hands up for insomnia. I'm typically awake between 1-3 am watching bad TV. I am convinced Pipes passed away when I was asleep so I wake at night I have to feel Squeak move before I can return to sleep. There are some days when I have a strong desire to lay around and watch my belly roll. Not for nostalgia but out of fear.
There continues to be times when my grief still rocks my world. It can still be mean and manifest out of nowhere. Recently a time hop photo of me a year ago on the day of my baby shower, beaming, 34 weeks along, arms linked with my best girls ignited a day long crash and burn. I try to embrace the grief and cry when I feel moved but I'm fearful of the pain her birthday will bring and have already started to prepare my heart for the tidal wave.
All you high risk moms to be out there, I applaud you. Not only for being a brave woman but for surviving each doctor visit. With Pipes I remember the eager anticipation of doctors visits to hear or see my baby. Now I have anxiety attacks, pace lobbies and cry to receptionists, who apologize to me when they are running behind schedule. A doctor told me Piper had died so by no fault of theirs, I'm always on edge, waiting for someone to say something scary to me. I earned my first NST (non-stress test), where Squeaks heart and movements are monitored for an extended time. I lost what little cool I had when they wheeled in that machine, as it was being hooked up to one in the hospital is when they told me my Piper girl had no heartbeat. Three cheers to my nurse and OBGYN holding my hand while I had a nervous breakdown. Squeak passed with flying colors, kicking the doppler all along the way.
As much anxiety as I've shared, I wanted to balance that out with a statement about how perfectly "normal" I can feel. It continues to pleasantly surprise me when all of a sudden I'll stop and think "Hey I'm not having a panic attack" or "I just grocery shopped without having a meltdown". Beau and I talk names, speak to Squeak through my belly and buy tiny baby rompers. Beau is even threatening a mini van.
I make a conscious effort to participate in positive self talk about both mine and Squeaks health. A trick I've discovered is having my Mom or Beau recite back to me what the doctor has said. Hearing it aloud rather than in my own head lifts any negative fog. I try not to go to too many doctors visits without my people. My smart husband pointed out today that I ask so many questions at appointments that I end up hearing the worst case scenario. Our MFM gave us great news today, after I forced myself to be an active listener rather than coerce them in to scaring me. Make sense? Lady squeak, although small, grew a ton and is looking healthy!
Physically, I had a lovely break from sicking around 20ish weeks. It still gets me sometimes. I'm obsessed with my growing, round belly but the weight gain is hard. I keep having Beau hoist me in to the air to prove he could move me in case of emergency. Mostly it makes me giggle. Cravings include all cheese based foods, Glazed chocolate cake donuts and beer. I smell everyones beer and dream of kicking back a cheap, cold one. Salads make me sick, actually sick. What is it people say, I'm just a girl standing in front of a salad asking it to be a donut? Nope I just eat the donut.
We started our twice weekly visits this week. I guess what I'm trying to say I'm all this is I'm doing my best. That's all I got. Keep those good vibes coming.
Rest easy Piper Kai.