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    6 years ago

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

5 Weeks

It's been over 5 weeks since Thomas died.  The time seems like it's taken forever and at the same time, it's been the fastest 5 weeks of my life.

I looked at the calendar and realized the other day, I have no recollection of what I did during the entire month of June.  I'm in this weird time warp where I feel like time keeps passing and I'm standing still.

I will say that the past 5 weeks I have noticed changes in how 'raw' my grief is.  For those first few days and weeks everyone who I met who went through this same loss kept reminding me that, it almost felt like an insult.  How could it not be raw?

But now I know.  Now I know that time does go on, and the rawness subsides.

Here I am at a fundraising event for a local organization that helps parents who have lost a child through support groups, peer mentoring and expenses associated with losing a child (medical bills, burial costs).  One thing that Hope After Loss has done for me is helped me realize while I feel alone, I'm not truly alone.

This photo may not seem like much, but to me it says a lot.  I see my post partum body still shining through at the 1 month birthday of my son.  I am also reminded of my first 'big' outing - I attended a local charity event where I knew I would be engulfed by countless old coworkers.  I used to work at Travelers, and the Travelers Championship is filled with Travelers employees in attendance and volunteering.  

I anticipated this to be hard, but I went anyway.  

I went for this guy, who needs his mommy.   He needs to see me cry, but also see me smile. 

In the last 5 weeks, this guy has been my rock for getting up each and every morning.   He has joined me for countless workouts.  He has reminded me not to use heavy weight (even offering to use them 'for' me). 

My workouts are different than they had even been when I was pregnant.   I had anticipated being sleep deprived and post partum, but I didn't anticipate grieving the loss of my son.

I still don't see my 'light' but I'm working hard each day to remind myself of the things that give it a spark. 

I can't take away the pain, I can't bring my son back.  But I can work to find ways to continue to move forward and make sense of it and allow it to change my life and those around me in a positive way.

I can also continue to find things to be grateful for.  Here's my little guy making zucchini fritters with Daddy.  He has hard days too, but he reminds me on a daily basis the value of resilience. 

I am making strides each day between nutrition and fitness to take care of my body so that I have the energy I need to take care of my mind. 

This has also included a lot of time outside.  I am grateful for the sunshine, and the warmth. I am grateful that every year as we celebrate Thomas's birth and mourn his death, we will have the Summer months to pull us out.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Day By Day

Each day I notice I feel differently, some days I miss our son more than others and the reality that I carried him for 9 months without getting to meet him alive sets in.  Small triggers 'get' me.    I am struggling emotionally and as a result truly focused on my physical health.

In the past it was about weight, body image, strength and just being physically healthy overall,  but now it's so much more.  My physical health is directly correlated to my emotional health.

Each day I press play, I do it even when I don't to, even when it's hard. I do it because I need to do the same in my life.  I may not want to get up, it may be hard. I may not think I can go on. But I need to, and I will.

This photo is of me doing a workout this week (heavily modified as I'm still only 4 weeks post c-section), and the trainer said 'When you fall - because you will fall - find your base of support.'

This stuck with me. My fitness is my base of support, my community of people I coach and those that coach me are my support. My focus on nutrition gives my mind the clarity to process the emotions that wave through me on a daily basis, but the fitness is my 'beam' of support and a parallel to my grieving process.

I am 4 weeks postpartum. I am struggling emotionally having lost my son at 38 weeks, but I am not giving up. 

After my first son was born, I 'gave up' on me.  I was emotionally drained for different reasons.  Going back to work full time, being sleep deprived, hormonal changes (that part is still relevant) all threw me into a tailspin.  Not this time. I can't afford to let my physical health slip despite all my barriers.

So here are my 4 week progress photos of the 'new' me since the prior me is a thing of the past.   Here are four weeks of focus on nutrition, focus on moving even if it's just shuffling.  Focus on my physical health to help support my emotional healing.

I compare here, to my 10 month postpartum 'before' photo after having my first son.  This photo seems like a lifetime away. This photo represents 10 months of giving up on myself. I refuse to do that again.  My family needs me, I need me.

I still struggle emotionally on a daily basis, but having a goal and a clear mind helps me get up, get moving and process the emotions as they hit me. 

I start each morning with a workout, no matter what it looks like, I move.   Then with a solid breakfast to fuel my mind for the day ahead.

The days are often hard, so I wear sunglasses 99% of the time.  They hide the tears when they come out of the blue.  They hide them from strangers and from my son.  My son sees me cry each day, but I don't want him to worry about me all day, so I wear sunglasses so that I can build a safe zone between my tears and the world as I work to find my new normal.

Every day, I chose to look at the world in new ways, searching for positivity in my days.  Not to erase the birth of my son, Thomas.  Not to have made it happen for a 'reason' but to let something good come of something terrible, something no mother should ever have to experience.

I look at photos like this one, and I remember the joy and happiness we had not that long ago. I  want hope and happiness back in my life with a new lens.  As a result I'm working to appreciate things in a different way then I ever had before.  

I will never get to see Thomas smile for the first time, crawl for the first time, giggle, walk or run.  But I CAN see Benjamin as he grows up. I CAN be the best mom possible for him.  Truly engage with him and be available to him in ways I never was 'before'

Sharing some food updates from this week, while I'm not 'perfect' with my food I am doing everything I can to fuel my body so my mind can be clear.  Here are a few 'easy' tips for nutritious choices.  I haven't had energy to think about food so they are all easy!

Infused water with strawberries and mint from the garden.

Veggie frittata - eggs, a little cheddar and parmesean cheese and any veggies I got my hands on from our CSA (spinach, onion, garlic scapes, sundried tomatoes).  Baked at 350 for a half hour and an easy breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack!

I am also back to my apple cider vinegar tea.  I had avoided this while pregnant with Thomas because the ACV I use is not pasteurized and while the risk is small, I made sure to avoid anything that could cause harm to my baby.  Anything that was within my control.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


As the world keeps moving on, I often feel like I'm 'stuck' - my world stopped the day Thomas was born.   It's been 3 weeks since we came home, he would have turned 3 weeks this week, and 'life' is starting to move forward for others and for me a big part of it continues to stand still.

I was worried about this, not that I want to be 'sad' all the time or have people constantly reminding me of Thomas, but it's also hard to see that other people are able to truly have fun and enjoy life and a part of me still struggles.

I have been doing a LOT of journaling which is helping me.   I also have been keeping track of a lot of posts and comments that have come my way from friends and family.

Recently a friend delivered me food and in it was this banana.

My favorite quote from my weight loss and health journey has been "She Believed She Could, So She Did". I have had shirts made up for many people, including myself with this quote.

This quote now has an entirely new meaning to me.  It's about how I will walk through my days, my hours, my minutes.  It's about how I will chose to live my life with the memory of Thomas never far behind.

Before losing Thomas one of my biggest 'hards' was the year that followed the birth of our son Ben.  I opted to show these photos because it shows a visual of where I was when Ben was 8 months old.

I was consumed by so many stresses of being a new mom, that I totally forgot about myself.  As I slowly pulled myself out of it, I realized that taking care of 'me' helped alleviate the stress.

When I left the hospital after delivering Thomas, I knew I had to take care of 'me' first - to eat well, to workout (although this looks extremely different while recovering from a c-section, the 'act' of routine is what really matters right now for me).  I needed to do this to really be able to process my emotions as they come up, and to be the best mom for Ben that I can be.  He needs me to be healthy as much as I need me to be.

The last few weeks have been hard, but each day I see more and more 'glimmers' of the old me.   I notice myself getting stronger, smiling more.

My 'workouts' look less like shuffling and more like moving.

I am allowing the glimmers in as I continue to work on navigating the hard parts of my day.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Day By Day

Day by day seems to be the best title for this blog post, because that's literally how I've been working through the loss of our son, Thomas.

I am working each day at a new routine, that involves parts of my 'old' routine, but to be honest a part of me is different and won't ever be the same again.   

One new addition to my routine is GRATITUDE.  I make a point each morning to find at least one thing to be grateful for - usually it includes something to do with this little guy!

He literally lights up my days and reminds me of all the good things that I have, and how fortunate I am to have him.

He also has been what's gotten me out of bed each morning.   I miss my 5:30 wake up calls, but when I wake up these days, I realize "wow, this happened, I gave birth to my son, but he wasn't breathing"

That's a hard thing to swallow and it makes me want to go back to bed and to sleep where I don't feel sad.    But I KNOW that the only way to work through my emotions (not past them, not over it, but to manage them), is to get up each day.

Ben has been amazing for this "Wake up mommy! It's time to workout!" - he has watched me have this routine for years now, he know s it makes me happy.

My son also never ceases to amaze me.   We gave him this gift that we had gotten for him 'from' his baby brother for the hospital.   I saw it packed with my hospital bags and got really upset, then realized, he should still have it and it should still be from Thomas.

Ben was so excited as he opened it, and then started to 'thank' my tummy - he had talked to my tummy for 9 months, that's where his baby lived!   I explained Thomas wasn't there anymore, his response:

"But his heart is, Mommy.   He left his heart, and now you have TWO hearts."

So fitting, and so true.

Later that day, I received this necklace in the mail, a reminder of Thomas's heart embedded in mine.

Ben also had recently ready a book about how when it rains, it's heaven saying hello.  He knows his little brother 'died' and now lives in 'heaven.   In the 2 weeks following Thomas's death (ending on his due date), it has pretty much rained non stop.   

Ben's response "Mommy, it's my baby brother saying hi!" 

I'm a Summer person, a warm weather, and sunshine person.  But this rain has felt comforting.   I've soaked it up as thousands of tiny kisses from our Thomas.

I am also grateful for the time we spent with him, the 9 months of feeling him flutter around in my stomach, and the hours and days we had with him in the hospital after I delivered him.   

While I never got to see his eyes, I am grateful I was able to hold his hands, kiss his face, tell him I love him.

Another thing I'm grateful for beyond my fitness routine (which right now doesn't look to be much more than shuffling), is my nutrition routine.   In the past it's been about weight, or even just 'physical' accomplishments like being able to run again or waterski again.  But right now my priority is around mental clarity.

Each food choice is a choice to let myself grieve with the clearest head possible.  

I am grateful for the plethora of friends who have and continue to send me food the last few weeks, I am grateful they 'know' me and have sent amazing meals with veggies and vegetarian proteins that help me with my goal to combat anxiety and work through sadness by fueling my body with the best foods to make that possible.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Day the World Stood Still

It's been almost 2 weeks since we lost Thomas.    Every day is challenging in it's own way. I wake up most mornings feeling 'normal' but then within minutes it hits me.  

You were pregnant, and now your'e not.

You were supposed to have a baby this week, and now you're not.

You delivered your son at 38 weeks, perfectly healthy but he wasn't breathing.

Each day that passes I am more and more grateful for Ben, because he reminds me of everything in life I still have.  I have been making a practice of getting up each morning and finding at least one thing I'm grateful for.  One huge thing has been Ben, he is so used to my routine so he literally wakes me up at 6am "Mommy, it's time to get up!" On my first day back home, he insisted I get up and workout.  

So I got downstairs, I pressed play and I shuffled.

I am recovering from a c-section so my ability to move is limited as well as my medical restrictions, but I shuffled my feet.  I continue to shuffle each morning.  Sometimes I cry, sometimes I don't, I don't always want to but it helps me.  Having my routine is helping me.

Over the course of my days I have an array of emotions. I will feel sad, uncontrollable sadness and emptiness.   But then I'll feel numb.  As the day goes on I block out what happened, letting myself think it was a dream.  Some parts of the day I still feel Thomas kick, other parts I feel like maybe I was never pregnant.

I am sad to know Thomas was perfectly healthy, that the cord took his life, but also grateful that was healthy because it's proof my body has created two health baby boys.

The first few days my body reminded me constantly, between my milk coming in, my round stomach, the pain from the c-section.  There was no doubt, I had delivered a baby.  But as the pain starts to go down, my stomach is flattening and my hormones re-regulate I question myself.   Is this real?

But then I scroll through photos, I see us in the hospital, I see photos like this from the cemetery.  

It is real.  

It DID happen.

But when I look closer at this photo, I also see Ben, hands full of snacks.   I smile a little inside remembering how during the 20 minute service Ben kept asking me for snacks.   Ben still needs me, and as much as he needs me, I need him too.

Each day that passes, he still talks about his brother. I WANT him to talk about his brother, but his comments both amaze me and make me cry.  For a 3 year old he can be pretty profound.

We had originally gotten him this gift 'from' his brother for the hospital.  I was torn on if I should give it to him still, it would remind me that Thomas was gone.  But then I decided he should still have it and it should still be from Thomas.

After opening it (and excitedly playing!) he said he wanted to thank his Baby Brother.   But how?

He immediately started talking to my stomach.  I told him the baby wasn't there anymore.

Without blinking he replied:

'But his heart his mommy, you have two hearts now.'

The tears came fast, but he was right.  I will forever carry Thomas's heart in mine.

He's also been keeping me on my routine.   In the mornings he asks for banana pancakes after waking me up and reminding me to workout.    I am so grateful for our routine, and that Ben is in tune with it because when I wake up I feel lost, and having that routine grounds me and helps me do something.

One thing I have been most grateful for is my nutrition.    Not to lose weight, but to be able to eat foods that allow me to properly process my emotions.   

The overwhelming out pour of love and support from friends and family has been amazing.   Every other day a new meal appears on our doorstep.    Focusing on eating clean foods has made it so I can give my brain the best chance it has to think through how I feel without muddying it with what I call 'fuzzy' brain.

For the first time in my life my food choices are 100% related to my ability to cope emotionally.  And I think it's working.  Not to keep me from crying, not to make me 'get over it' but to keep me from thinking negatively, from staying in bed, from wanting to give up.