A guest post by Malou’s daddy

To my baby Malou and your loving mom,

I am writing for the first time in six years to tell a littleof my story. Maybe some think it is too late? Maybe it’s a terrible mistake? I hope not.

I do this because it is first now that I have almost finished reading through what your mom wrote on this blog. I am so sorry that I could not be there for here the way she needed it when we lost you. I tried to in my own way. But i see clearly now that I did not manage to do it the way she was crying out for.

Six years have passed since we lost you. I am not anywhere near over the loss i still feel. Not only did I lose you, I also think today I somehow lost your mom from the day you died. I haven’t finished the whole story yet that your mom put out there to the whole world. I just can’t get through it. Because every time I read parts of it, I start to cry and i cannot stop. It just hurts so much and I also feel so guilty for not being able to read it when it first was posted. Still so many years later, the pain your mom went through was, and is, just too hard for me to read about because I saw it in her every single day for years. And I just couldn’t handle it. Please please forgive me for not doing it the right way.

At that time I felt I did the right thing. I somehow managed to block out my own sadness and pain in losing you. My first child. My only daughter. I did not do it on purpose. I did it because I was so afraid, so scared, to lose someone else that I also loved deeply. Your mom. I did say many times to her that it would get better one day. That time would heal. But it was a terrible mistake at that time. I did get angry because I felt helpless. I did not ask for help. I just got more and more frustrated and bitter to see your mom suffering so much.

I did too! Blame myself for losing you. I still do even today. I know I was the reason we had such a hard time getting pregnant. So I still can’t stop thinking it was part of the reason you did not manage to live in this world.

I cannot believe six years have passed being without you. I miss you. But I am also so grateful for having two wonderful boys, your brothers Liam and Nohi. Thank you, Stephanie.

Why am I writing this? Because it is coming back to me now. The time where I tried to block the pain out. Things also changed in my life that does I have to look at myself in a different way.

Maybe I too need a closure to let go of the past? To not feel guilty anymore. To cry out to the world. To let people know a little about where your dad has been and still is in all this. I am also in a place now where I need forgiveness from you and your mom. I am so so sad. I also hope writing it out there will somehow help me get through this hard time. Just like it helped your mom.

With love,

Daddy

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Published in: on May 28, 2014 at 08:00  Comments (3)  

Hoping paid off…

Tomorrow is
our 4th wedding anniversary
and we have a living child.

That was my biggest hope last year.

I am grateful beyond words
for our little boy…

we are living life,
enjoying life,
and looking forward to the future

but always, too,
looking up…

…and remembering our girl,
a beautiful daughter,
a sweet big sister.

We love you so much, Malou Amelia. Liam loves little kids your age and it makes us realize how much he would have enjoyed playing with you. You are such an important part of our family, Malou, and your daddy and I will always make sure Liam knows what a great big sister he has in heaven.

Published in: on August 18, 2010 at 23:51  Comments (2)  
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Every life counts

Life
took on a new significance
to me after
Malou.

Every little creature
seemed more valuable.

Since
Malou
was so tiny,
and so invisible to so many people,
I started valuing
other tiny lives…

like, for example,
(brace yourselves)

spiders.

Not
one of my favorite creatures.

I’ve always been
irrationally terrified of them.

(Tom wonders
how I ever managed to live
in Central America
and why I want to move back to
South America
with him…
but for some reason,
alligators, snakes and scorpions
don’t scare me nearly as much as
spiders)

Anyways…

in my “before” life,
my typical way of
taking care of spiders
was with the
vacuum cleaner.

My dear husband
thinks all creatures,
and I do mean all,
are cute and sweet
and so he quickly put a stop
to that
and would “rescue” spiders
for me
(or should I say from me?)
and pick them up
and gently place them outside
(where they belong! I might add).

But after
Malou
died
I became much more aware
of the sanctity of all life
and
when I was pregnant with Liam
I became convinced
that it would be bad karma
if I killed any creature.

So no more vacuum-cleaning for me…

All winter
we had a (disgusting) little
nest of spider eggs
(I think that’s what it is, I’m no expert)
sitting outside our kitchen window.

I wanted them GONE
but I just could not do it…

I couldn’t kill a nest of
baby spiders.

But I’ve been dreading
when they would hatch,
afraid they’d scramble
into our nice warm house.

Now that it’s spring,
they are still there…

Tom thinks they died
during our hard winter.

And I’m a little bit sad about that.
If I’m honest,
I will also say
I’m a little bit relieved.

In any case,
although I do believe
every life counts…
and since Liam has been born,
I have personally “rescued”
3 spiders myself
(I want to be a good example,
and not raise Liam to be afraid of spiders)…

I must confess that
the other day I was confronted
with two spiders in our kitchen.

It was too much for me.

I panicked
and out came the vacuum cleaner.

But I first said a little prayer for them.

I hope God forgives me. 😦

Published in: on May 19, 2010 at 07:00  Comments (2)  
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On dying

My biggest fear.

Losing a child.

My child dying.

My child did die.

My daughter died.

Malou Amelia
died.

I believe it.
I know it’s true.
But yet I can’t believe it,
if that makes any sense.

And now that Liam is here,
after months of worrying
that he would not make it to birth,
I find myself
pushing those thoughts,
that awful awful fear,
away.

Because it is too much to bear.

Just the thought
of losing him now
is too much to bear.

It makes me tear up,
it makes my heart skip,
it makes my stomach flip
and I feel like I will vomit.

And that’s just at the
briefest of thoughts.

My mind pushes it away
almost as soon as the thought
enters it.

Now that Liam is
3.5 weeks old,
I am (was) starting to sleep better at night.

Silly me.

I should know not to relax.

Tonight
about 45 minutes after
eating and going to sleep,
Liam
woke us up.

He had spit up
and was choking.

He panicked
(so did we)
and was alternating between
crying hysterically
and being silent,
trying to breathe.

He was arching his head back
and continued
to froth at the mouth
and spit up.

We called 112
(our 911 equivalent)
and they told us
what I already knew.

If he’s crying,
he’s breathing.

I just didn’t like the sound
of his breathing,
it was more like wheezing.

Within 15 minutes,
it was all over
and Liam
was sleeping peacefully
on his daddy’s chest.

He is now sleeping
in his crib
and I am just a few feet away,
holding vigil.

It is almost 1 am here.

I was pretty tired
when we went to bed tonight.

But since Liam’s incident,
I have been wide awake.

I can’t sleep.
I don’t want to.
I am afraid to.

But I know I can’t stay awake forever,
keeping vigil.

I wish I could.

At least for tonight,
I probably will.

I have spent the last few hours
googling things like,
“Can a baby die from inhaling spit up?”
and watching youtube videos
on baby CPR and first aid techniques
(I have taken a short class,
but Tom and I agreed
we need to take another one).

Tom is sleeping now, finally,
but it about broke my heart
when he looked at me,
while he was holding our
precious son,
and said,

“I can’t lose him.”

He didn’t need to add the “too”
because
we were both thinking about
Malou.

***

Liam
just stirred
so I went to check on him.

His little hands are
above his head
in his favorite position,
one hand playing with his hair.

He is breathing.

In and out,
that is my salvation.

If he stops breathing,
I am afraid
Tom and I
will too.

Life, love & loss

A new category added…
“Parenting after loss.”

I was desperate to one day add
“Pregnancy after loss”
but I think a part of me always doubted
I would get to the point
where I’d be able to add
“Parenting after loss.”

I am so eternally grateful
that I just did.

I know there are many,
way way too many,
baby loss mamas out there reading
and I hope I never unknowingly
hurt one of you by writing about
Malou’s
new little brother here,
butI know I cannot avoid writing about him.

He is here, safely, alive,
thank God,
and my life is forever changed.
He is a part of it
just like
Malou
and I can’t,
nor would I want to,
separate the two.

So I am sure that future posts
will mention
Liam.

That’s my warning.
I hope I don’t alienate anyone
and I hope that every person
out there
who wants to parent,
whether after loss or not,
gets to.

One of the first things
I realized
since Liam has been born
is that I love both my children
equally.

Everyone always says this,
but I didn’t know how losing a child
I never really got to know (fully)
would affect this.

After all,
everyone who told me this
had living children.

When
Malou
died,
I didn’t want any other children;
I only wanted her.

I loved her so much
that I worried I would never be able to
love anyone
as much, ever.

Then I think a part of me
worried that when/if
Liam was born alive
I might love him more
because I would have him
in my life physically every day
to cherish.

But neither is the case.

My love is the same.

Intense, overpowering, tender, protective, wonderful.

I love the feeling of being a mother,
of loving my children.

Loving
Malou
has always been tinged with sadness
over losing
her.

Loving
Liam
has always been tinged with fear
over possibly losing
him.

I guess I can’t escape
what loss does to me.

One unexpected “benefit” of loss
is that I love my children
more, better,
than I think I otherwise would.

Knowing, not just imagining,
but knowing
what it feels like to lose
the one you love most
makes you appreciate
what you have so much more.

Every day,
I am so grateful
to feel Liam’s
soft, warm cheeks,
his sweet breath,
his squirming body,
to gaze into his beautiful eyes,
to see his funny faces,
to hear his grunts and cries,
to change his dirty diapers…

it’s all so much better
than I ever imagined.

And it makes me so sad,
again,
to only ever have felt
Malou’s
soft, cold cheeks,
and held the weight of her in my arms.
Nothing else.

I didn’t know her,
but I do.

And I love her.

Tom holds
our son
and talks to him about his
big sister.

He thinks he understands,
and believes
Liam knows
Malou.

I also think
babies in the womb
have a special connection
to the “other side”
and I like to think
Liam
and
Malou
were in contact
for the last nine months
and that
she’s still out there
looking out for us,
and knows how much
we miss her.

We are a family of four.
Not everyone can see it,
but Tom and I know,
Malou
knows,
and we will make sure
Liam always knows too.

*Fear and Sadness*

I didn’t expect my anxiety to increase
SO much during these last few weeks of pregnancy with
Malou’s
little brother.

Tomorrow I will be 36 weeks along,
and since – for my peace of mind –
they are inducing me at 38 weeks,
I don’t have long to go.

But sometimes it seems like the finish line
is just too far to reach.

If I don’t know, sometimes, how I am going to make it,
how do I know that Baby Boy will make it?

And that is the worst.

Knowing that lightning can – and does –
strike twice. And even more.

I can’t read many babyloss mama blogs right now,
because it reminds me that
this horrible, terrible thing happens
way too often.

We are all set for Baby Boy’s arrival,
and the same crib and the same pram
is all ready to go…
in the same place.

He is not a substitute,
not even in the slightest.

But seeing his things
in her space
reminds me
that maybe, please God forbid,
he won’t be coming home either.

I try not to dwell on these thoughts,
but it is hard to avoid.

Every time he sleeps in my womb,
I think,
“He could be already gone.”

So I gently push on my belly,
or drink a glass of cold water,
or as a last resort,
get out my doppler
(that almost always wakes him up…
I don’t think he particularly likes it,
so I try not to use it).

And then I am calmed,
until the next time.

But even hearing his heartbeat
or feeling his kicks
aren’t always enough.

I had to go to the hospital
on Sunday
because I was convinced he
was weak and wasn’t thriving inside me.

His kicks felt softer.

So they hooked me up to the monitors again,
and 40 minutes later,
assured me that he was okay.

Generally, I feel really good while pregnant.
I mean, except for the morning sickness
that lasted 22 weeks,
I only have mild aches and pains.

I just wish I could enjoy being pregnant more.

I wanted this for so long,
and I am so grateful…
but now I think of it as
an means to an end.

What I really want
is a living child, of course,
so I need to let go of having
a really happy, joyful pregnancy.

You wouldn’t really know it,
I don’t think,
by looking at me.

(Here I am last week, at 35 weeks, as we were setting up BB’s crib…you can see we have little animal decals for him around the crib, and then the dragonflies going up the wall…these are Malou’s and they’ve been there since we set up her crib. You can also see a little windchime plaque on the wall behind the crib…it says “Angels gather here” and my mom got it for me to either keep at home or bring to Malou’s grave. For now, it’s here. Although I don’t think of Malou as a “little angel”, I do like to think she is protected by them and that she still will hang out in our home whenever she likes).

Because I am joyful
a lot of the time.

But the fear and sadness sneak in,
more than I’d like.

I’m worried they will remain even after the birth.

Well, of course the sadness will.
But the fear is what I’d like to be rid of.

When I pray, I often ask God
to allow BB to live a long, happy and healthy life,
and to outlive me and Tom.

Is that weird? It’s not enough
to pray for BB to live a LONG, happy and healthy life.

Because even if I lived to 131 years old,
and BB passed away peacefully in his sleep at 100,
I would be devastated.

My heart just breaks for the parents
who’ve experienced not just one,
but multiple, losses.

I know they’re out there.
I read their blogs.
It’s just too much to imagine, though, isn’t it?
The brain can’t comprehend,
because it just is not right.
It’s not fair.

***

Since I’m on maternity leave right now,
I am trying to put together photo albums
from each year
Tom and I have been together
(we met each other 5 years ago this month,
so I’m hoping for an early arrival for BB
to arrive on that date).

2008 was obviously a difficult year
and looking at all the digital pictures,
deciding which ones to print,
brought up a lot of memories
and sadness.

This one, where Trine the priest is blessing
Malou
in the middle of the night,
shortly after she is born,
about rips me to shreds,
just seeing my face and Tom’s.

So then I look at this one,
where I can feel the love and contentment
I had,
for just a moment,
to finally hold my daughter
for the first time.

I am thankful…

…to my daughter,
for showing me a mother’s love.

…to my husband,
for giving me the most beautiful gift ever
and sticking with me even when I have nothing
left to give.

…to my son,
for restoring my hope for the future.

…to my mom,
for shouldering the pain with me,
every step of the way.

…to my dad,
for being such a proud grandpa
and keeping Malou’s memory alive.

…to my brothers and sister-in-law,
for their sensitivity, love, devotion, support and patience.

…to my cousin Becky,
for her amazing ability to empathize.

…to the women relatives in my family,
who, through words, deeds and prayers,
reassure me I am not alone.

…to my girlfriends,
who flew to my rescue (literally).

…to my work colleagues,
especially Nina,
who are never afraid to say Malou’s name.

…to my fellow babyloss mamas,
whose words are my lifeline
and who prove life can go on. 
We are all normal and we are surviving.

…to all those I am not mentioning,
my parents’ friends and colleagues,
commenters on my blog or video link,
doctors, nurses, midwives,
my favorite authors and musicians,
to all of you,
I can feel your presence in my heart,
and I bet Malou can too.

Thank you.

***

As you know,
I am going to be slowing down
my postings here.

It has been 14 months
since I started writing,
and 19 months since
Malou Amelia
died and was born.

Expressing my thoughts here
has helped me more than
you can ever imagine.

Your support
in real life
and in comments
has made otherwise unbearable days
bearable.

Although I am not “healed”
and doubt I ever will be,
I do feel as if I am mending.

My heart is not perfect or whole,
and I envisioned it last night
just before falling asleep
as having a big ugly scar on it
from breaking
on May 26, 2008.

And that’s okay with me.
I don’t need a pretty, intact heart.
I just need a heart that is not afraid to love and live.

I was afraid for quite awhile.
But now I am much more hopeful than fearful.

And I don’t need to
get “hope” out through words
like I do with “fear”…
I can live with hope.
I have a much harder time
living with fear. 

So that’s why I’m slowing down…
I do have things to say
(as you can see by
the fact that I’m posting two more
today)
so check in every once in a while
– on a Wednesday of course
since I’m weird like that 🙂 –
and know
that I’m thinking of you.

Published in: on December 30, 2009 at 20:56  Comments (4)  
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*Anxiety*

…8 weeks to go
before
Malou Amelia’s
brother is to be born,
and the anxiety is definitely increasing.

Now I am seen at least once a week,
alternating between the midwife
and the head ob-gyn at the hospital,
and I get ultrasounds every two weeks.

I am always seen on a Wednesday
(how appropriate)
and that manages to keep my
anxiety at bay until about Monday
(maybe also appropriate,
considering that was the day
Malou
died).

I go to sleep at night
thinking of
Malou
and trying to banish the thoughts
of losing her brother.

I am up several times a night
and can’t fall asleep again
until I feel this baby move.

I analyze his movements –
too little? too much?
What is just right?
How will I know?
I didn’t know
Malou
had died…
How do I trust myself?

I worry about the food I eat
(did I just give myself listeria?),
the cold and flu I may catch,
the slow jog I make to catch the train,
the lotion I use,
lying down too much,
standing up too much,
oh my goodness, I could go on and on.

And I am sure,
once he is born,
I will have a million different worries.

But somehow, I know they will be better.

I won’t feel this heavy weight
of responsibility
for my every action,
and its unknown effect on my precious son.

When he’s here,
I can see with my own eyes
that he is okay.

I can’t wait.

And then I worry I am jinxing myself.

I’m not sure what I will do if “it” happens again.
I’m not sure I can survive.
(Tom hates when I say that.)
But yet, people do,
because there isn’t much choice.

I’ve at least made it past
“three weeks before going on maternity leave” –
even though I am going on leave
earlier this time
than I was planning with
Malou…
I was still worried,
in my ridiculously superstitious way,
that I wouldn’t make it past
“3 weeks before” my leave this time either.

But now I am just about one week away –
I made it this far,
just a bit longer.

I can do it.
I have to.

This baby is different.
The doctor reminds me he is healthy.

The doctor tells me that
Malou
had a fundamental problem,
and that she never would have
developed into a normal little girl.

I don’t care.
I still want her.
I still love her.

And I am still sad
that they could never see anything
before she was born,
and that the autopsy never showed anything
specifically wrong with her.

This is just their conclusion.

She was sick.

Tom and I prefer to think she was strong. She was a little soul that perhaps was never meant to make it past the 1st trimester, but somehow she hung on and gave us the best 7 months ever.
Our sweet little daughter.

*Contrasts*

Happiness

What a difference a year can make.

Last year at this time,
despite having been back to work
for two months
and about on my way
to a 6-week vacation,
I was sad.

I remember so well
…the
hopelessness
anger, no, make that rage
disbelief
low energy
lack of concentration
sadness
intense grief
lethargy
jealousy…

all of these things
and more
that made up
what my life became after losing
Malou.

Thing have been getting better,
not always progressively,
but I can see now
there has been a pattern.

Malou’s
brother has been helping
me through my darkest moments.

I only wish all babyloss mamas
could get pregnant
and have as many
healthy babies as they wanted
after a loss.

Not to replace a child,
but to mend a heart.

***

It occurred to be in Danish class
last night,
that I am actually enjoying
work and my “extracurricular” activities.

I feel like I can accomplish things,
and still have a social life.

I feel like
I am living,
instead of just breathing.

I am starting to feel
“normal” again.

At least,
a new normal.

I never expected that.

Honestly,
if you had asked me a year ago,
I would have been sure
I would never feel good again.

That I would never
experience true joy again.

And now I realize that,
while it’s different,
I am happy.

I appreciate things in a different way.
I empathize more.
I love more.

***

At work
we did an exercise
where we had to share
what we felt was our
most valuable personal strength.

I said,
“keeping things in perspective.”

My fellow colleagues
wholeheartedly agreed with me
(I didn’t know they noticed).

Malou
has put my life in perspective.

My children are the most important
thing in the world to me.

Followed by family
and friends.

Followed by doing my part
to make the world better
(tall order – still trying to figure that out).

Followed by work.

That doesn’t mean I don’t
value work
or do my best.
It just means
that I refuse to get stressed
about a so-called problem
that in the large scheme of things
does.not.matter.

Family.
Love.
Friendship.
Connections.

These things matter much more.

These are the things that make me happy.
Give my life meaning.
Make it worth it to go on
after losing
Malou.

Sadness

Yet it doesn’t disappear.

The sadness.

Tom wrote me a text message yesterday
while I was at work.

Translated,
“Hi honey. I just took a walk to visit Malou. They already decorated for Christmas. :)”

(The cemetery covers the ground around the gravestones with lovely pine branches for winter)

I wrote back,
“That’s fantastic, honey. 🙂 I’m so glad to hear that. Now I can get started on my own decorations for her.”

(I want to buy some poinsettias and buy or make a few Christmas decorations for her too)

Despite the smiley-faces,
as I was writing back,
I became sad.

Is this all there is?
Is this all I can do for my daughter?
Ever?
How do I live knowing that
all I can do to show her my love
is make her grave pretty?

I want to dress her up
in a beautiful Christmas dress
and watch her toddle around
the Christmas tree.

I want to buy her toys
that I know she’d love,
because I’d know her.
I’d know what she loves.

I don’t want to go to her grave,
bring her flowers
and light her candles,
knowing that it’s more for me,
than for her.

Published in: on November 18, 2009 at 09:05  Comments (2)  
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*Guilty Pleasure*

I feel hesitant
to write here about my
current pregnancy,
my beautiful little boy.

And that’s because I know
babyloss mamas are reading this.

Now that my belly is growing,
and I affectionately rub it,
I think about how I may be
accidentally
hurting other women
who see me.

I feel like I should wear a shirt
that says,
“My first baby died.”

or

“This bun in the oven
has a sister in heaven.”
(I just came up with that)

or, for my fellow fertility-challenged mamas

“IVF works!”

Just so they know they aren’t alone.

I know hearing about a pregnancy,
let alone being confronted with a pregnant belly,
could easily send me to tears
before I got pregnant.

And, actually, I still get a pang
of jealousy
when I hear of other women
who are pregnant.

I am jealous of their
excitement, belief, joy
innocence
that everything will work out
as it should.

I want that back.
And the only way I can get that back
is by getting
Malou
back,
which of course
is the real reason
I am feeling this way.

I miss her.
I miss her so much.

I feel her brother
kick and turn and wiggle
and I am reminded
that I never felt
Malou
like this.

She always kicked me
in the same spots –
under my right ribcage
and by my left pelvic bone
(I still want to get her little footprint
tattooed on one of those spots,
but I’m a chicken,
so instead I’m trying to get Tom
to have her name tattooed
on his back when and if he gets
this cross tatttoo he wants).

I hardly remember any other kicks.
I also don’t remember her kicking
this much.

This boy,
well, he kicks and tumbles
all over.

The hard part about
a pregnancy after stillbirth
is the unknown.

Did
Malou’s
kicks feel different, softer,
because she was sick?

Does that mean
that her brother is healthy,
that he is going to live?

I don’t know.

I wish there were answers
that could comfort me
when I lie awake at night,
feeling my precious boy
doing sommersaults,
trying to memorize
his movements
in case that is all I ever have.

And then I try,
I try so hard,
to let it go
and enjoy my baby
and trust that he is growing
how he is supposed to.

Knowing that my trust
can be shattered,
but rembering that…

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows
but only empties today of its strength.

Published in: on October 14, 2009 at 11:09  Comments (9)  
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