Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christ.m@s c@rds

Most of us probably chose cards that represent us at that moment. Do we want a traditional image? comical? A photo of the family? Since losing Sara, I am more aware of my recipients. What are they feeling this holiday season?

The first Christmas after losing Sara, I choose a serene angel with a simple quote inside. I don't have any left, but I remember thinking that they were appropriate coming from grieving parents. The following year, I made cards. The cover said "JOY" with Ethan's picture in the "O". Since then, I have used pictures of Ethan for our cards.

I try to send a different card to friends and family members who may be hurting during the holidays. My best friend lost her step-father at the end of September. I wanted to send a Thanksgiving card but couldn't find one with an appropriate sentiment. So I ended up sending a Thinking of You card. Last year I wanted to send a few Christmas cards to families who had a loss during the year. I went to the local H@llm@rk store and looked over the individual cards. Everything was cheerful, not appropriate. Even the blank cards didn't have appropriate images. I found at least 3 cards appropriate for a niece and her significant other, nothing that seemed appropriate to send a loved one who was hurting at Christmas, struggling with being a part of Christmas, but don't want to be overlooked either.

I finally found a small 6 pack of cards with an angel and a lamb. The sentiment wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but close enough. I hope other stores carry appropriate cards, maybe just my location didn't carry a good selection. I'll be ending over to the card shop in a few days, hoping I can find a card that fits the situation.

Monday, November 22, 2010

For the last 4 Christmases, I have decorated a small Christmas tree in Sara's memory. I mailed cards to close family and friends, asking for an ornament that represents Sara's spirit. We received various angels, hearts, butterflies, even a snowflake (because snowflakes last only a moment, but touch your soul forever).

Saturday night, we brought down the tree and ornaments. I let Ethan help me with the less fragile ones. I explained that this was for our angel Sara. I showed him an ornament with her name on it. I showed him how to spell her name S-A-R-A, Sara. He started singing, "Sara, Sara, Sara." I started to cry. DH was very touched hearing Ethan singing her name.

I told him that Sara is his big sister, but he's too young to understand. But I'm glad to be laying the foundation for him to understand as he gets older.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

October Babies Rock!!

About 6 months after losing Sara, (Feb. 2007 I believe) an former co-worker contacted me. Her sister had just lost her son around 24-25 weeks. The family was devastated. I gave her a list of books that had been recommended to me as well as the information for the support groups that I was attending. I've kept in touch with them, checking in with how they were doing. On Oct.11 (Ethan's birthday also), their daughter was born!

Soon after we moved to our current house(April or May 2008), I learned of a couple who lost their daughter, she was stillborn at full-term. My friend B & I didn't know her, but we had contacts, friends of friends. She was living about 2 hours away, but her mother still lived in my area. When she was visiting her family one time, B & I went out to dinner with her. We've stayed in touch with her and she & her husband recently moved back. Their son was born Oct 13!

I am so excited for both of these families. October babies are very special!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bad Day Gone Good

The weather has been beautiful here lately, so I went for a walk at lunch. Afterwards I microwaved a cup of soup and went to the restroom while it was heating up. When I came back, the soup had tipped over and spilled in the microwave. I cleaned it up and decided to go out and grab some fast food. I got in my car and it wouldn't start. (I'm hoping it's just a dead battery.) I walked over to the snack bar on campus to get some food. I left a message for DH to come check out the situation before the end of the work day.

While walking back to my office, I wonder why these bad things happened to me. Was it because I refused to take the Jehovah's Witness's literature at the gas station yesterday? Then I realized, the soup spilling was a minor inconvenience and at least I found out about the car trouble early enough and it's at a safe place.

Soon after I got back to my desk and started eating, a co-worker told me that a student needed my help. I see maybe one student a week. (I usually talk to them on the phone.) She had a question about her transcript. So I asked her to come back to my desk to check it out. Her name? Sarah Elizabeth.

My Sara is looking out for me. She helps me keep things in perspective.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Joy of my Heart

A few weeks ago, I got this charm for my birthday. In October 2006, 'joy' was not a part of my vocabulary. In October 2007, I had joy again, my beautiful son Ethan was born. He brings me joy everyday.

When I first started the charm bracelet right after Sara died, I said that I would only get charms that reminded me of her. At that point, I had no clue that I would have another child so soon after Sara's death. I was so overwhelmed with emotion, she was all I could think of. But I wouldn't have Ethan if Sara had lived, their stories are intertwined, so the charm bracelet became more about motherhood, my version of motherhood. I honor both of my children with it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Peace of mind for $25

Friday evening DH & Ethan were playing around. DH said, "Look at his neck.". I thought maybe I didn't wash his neck very well and he still had a dirt necklace. No, Dh thought Ethan's neck, specifically his lymph node, looked swollen. Of course, I g00gled it. Cancer was mentioned. My heart sank. It was also suggested to see a doctor if the lymph node was swollen for 2 weeks. Two weeks seemed like a long time. Monday night Ethan didn't sleep very well, he insisted that I sleep with him. I was feeling so anxious on Tuesday, I could feel myself tearing up throughout the morning.

I was able to talk with my 2 direct managers, told them that Sara's day is coming up soon and I get anxious around this time, and I'm worrying about Ethan, and that Sara and I share a birthday. They were very understanding, said I could take time off if I needed it or just take breaks when I need a few minutes alone.

Just telling them made me feel better. Later I made a doctor a ppt. For Ethan.

Wednesday we went in. The doctor said that he wasn't concerned because it was small and only one that was swollen. If it were larger and/or there were multiple swollen lymph node around his body, he'd be concerned. We talked about Ethan's overall health - potty training, adjusting to a new classroom, etc..., he was able to set my mind at ease. At least I know what to look for now, not just incomplete information from an Internet search.

I paid my $25 co-pay and went home to enjoy my beautiful son.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Last week was my co-worker's birthday. Our typical birthday celebration at work is for everyone to bring in snacks and desserts and we graze through the day. Other co-workers from other departments stop by to wish the birthday girl all the best. That's the part that makes me sad. As I sat near Kelly and heard people joke with her (Sweet 16? You don't look a day over 21! And the like...), I didn't think I could just grin while others good-naturally tease me. That day I imagined how I would react and the tears started welling up.

I also work with a woman Shannon. Her son and his girlfriend are pregnant. I've tried to ignore her discussions/family drama surrounding this pregnancy. The couple got married last week, they told Shannon, but didn't invite her to the courthouse ceremony. Shannon has been paying several hundred dollars a month for this couple's apartment and bills. Last night the girlfriend/new wife's water broke. They went to the hospital and Shannon joined them. She was not invited into the private room, although the couples' friends were. She was pissed. Understandably! The baby was delivered around lunchtime today. Shannon didn't leave work early to meet her first grandchild. Thoughout the day, I had to hear about this family drama, other women shared their delivery stories. I kept to myself for the most part. I was polite and asked the baby's name and congratulated her. But I was emotional all day. I couldn't wait to get home and shed a few tears.

I feel myself becoming more anxious, honoring Sara as her day approaches and how will I respond to working the days leading up to her day.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Grief groups

I recently discovered that our local hospice offers a "Loss of a Child" grief group. This past Monday I went for the first time. I was looking forward to it. Twisted,uh? The meeting was held in the evening after regular business hours. When I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed a few older people. I thought "maybe there is another group or meeting tonight too.". When I got inside, I didn't see any young couples, it was just older couples. I asked one of the men if this was the Loss of an Infant group. He said it was the Loss of a Child, for any parents.

Right away I recognized the parents of an high school classmate who died in an accident in March. I said hello to them, the mother said that she was glad I spoke to them, to remember their son T. There was another couple there, I think I recognized her as my 9th English teacher. She transferred to a different high school after my freshman year, so I haven't seen her since the early 1990's. I didn't talk with her directly, I'm not sure if she recognized me either.

There were 5 couples, me and the group leader. (My husband stayed at home with Ethan.). We went around the room, everyone sharing a brief history of their child. They all lost adult children, 20 - 35 year olds. I felt alone as the only one with a stillbirth. They all shared stories of their children, I don't have any to share. When it was my turn to share my loss, I cried. I've been feeling OK lately, so I was surprised to be crying like that. Maybe it was because I haven't shared my story with many strangers lately, maybe it was just being back at a grief group after a 2 year break.

We watched a video based on the book "Tear Soup". It was about grieving in general, not just the loss of a child. I think it made us feel better about the grieving process, that we will each do it differently, different lengths of time.

I'm not sure if I want to go back next month. These people are old enough to be my parents, or at least my aunt & uncle. They have experienced a loss of a child, so we can relate there, but they all watched their children grow up - first dates, high school graduation, college, careers, for some - weddings and grandchildren. I've considered sending a note to T's mother, explaining why I wasn't comfortable with this group, but that she & I could get together to chat if she'd like.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Just a few things that have been rolling around in my mind....

In June, my nephew turned 4 years old. Littlest J is 3.5 months older than Sara would be. Littlest J & Ethan attend the same day school, although they are in different classes. On this particular Friday, I was dropping off Ethan while my sister was dropping off Littlest J. He was carrying a carrier full of cupcakes for his class. He was so excited about his birthday. I gave him a birthday hug and said that he was getting so big. When I got back to my car, I started crying. Littlest J is my gauge, what milestones would Sara be hitting? How tall would she be?

I work in the admissions office at our local community college. I see a lot of documents. I come across quite a few "Sara(h) Elizabeth"'s. It makes me sad, knowing my Sara will never attend college, never grow up.

When Sara died, we asked if we could donate her organs. We were told it was too late. Since Ethan was born, I try to donate blood when I can. It's my way to make a difference, to save a life when I couldn't before.

Monday our local hospice is having an infant loss support group. I plan to attend. I haven't been to a support group for 2 years, I miss it.

I haven't written much about Ethan lately. I feel like he is such a blessing. He was kind and considerate and funny. Of course he's two, so tantrums are standard. But I feel like I have more patience with him after losing Sara.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

More losses

I didn't see a reference to this recent loss..

Within few months, a local couple lost their daughter to SIDS. I didn't know them, but they have a shoe repair shop - I've taken a couple of pairs of shoes there since we moved here. I sent the couple a card, telling them how our support group helped us & that the local hospice offers an infant loss group (which I should go to) and the basically that we were here for them, including our phone number.

Over the weekend, I broke the heel on a pair of shoes. I knew I would take it in to be repaired, but I didn't know if I would say anything to her.

I stopped by Tuesday on my lunch break. The wife was alone. She asked me to write my name and number on the tag. I wrote my first name and the first 3 letters of my last, she said, "You sent me the card!" I was surprised the she put it together so quickly. I asked how she was doing, she started to tear up. I squeezed her hand, "It's still so fresh, it's hard." She said that it was hard when she was alone with her thoughts at work. I told her to call me whenever she wanted to talk. Another customer came in & I had to get back to work. ( We work a 4 day/36 hour week during the summer; 30 minute lunches.)

My shoes should be ready tomorrow. I hope to talk with her more or at least make plans to talk at a later time.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

sharing stories

A little background information...My husband is in a band. Recently the singer in the band mentioned that he had a brother who died & that he would visit the grave before going to rodeos. That was all Dh knew- not how old the brother was, when this happened, nothing. The singer had written a song inspired by his brother.

On Tuesday of this week, I was having lunch at work. A co-worker came in the break room. We usually don't eat at the same time, she was just hungy early that day. We were chatting and I mentioned my husband's band, namely the lead singer. She knew his family (gotta love small towns.). She said that his parents lost a baby in the same manner that they did - Anencephaly where babies are born without brains. it was an amazing coincidence - such a rare condition to happen in a small community twice. My coworker never found out why it happened to her baby. I shared our story about Sara.

That night I told DH what I had learned at lunch. He thinks that there was an brother who died when he was older, based on the song lyrics. He doesn't know how to bring it up to the singer tactfully.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day

It's been a busy week around here - my class is finally over.

Thinking of all the mothers - no matter if your babies are in your arms or in your heart and memories. Take care of yourselves.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Spring brings new change and our lives are changing - it's good stuff. I got a full-time job. I've been teaching part-time at the local community college. But I haven't been very happy with it. My new job is in the admissions office of the college. I'll finish teaching (it's just one afternoon a week)this semester, but that's it.

So far, I'm enjoying the job, just learning all of the systems. My co-workers are nice. There are perks - 4 day work weeks during the summer, school holidays plus vacations.

On my first day, I met with my 2 direct supervisors. We talked about my responsibilities, upcoming projects & events, etc...They mentioned that they like to keep it light & fun in the office. They said for birthdays they'll have small parties - cake, snacks. They asked when was my birthday. Uh oh. I've only worked part-time since Sara died and have been able to avoid working on our birthday. I told them "October 2" but I got choked up. I told them that I didn't like to celebrate my birthday. I'm sure they thought that was odd. I was able to say "My daughter died on my birthday." They didn't ask any questions. I was OK with that.

So far I haven't said anything to my other co-workers about Sara. This year my birthday falls on a Saturday. So I'll have the actual day off. Maybe I'll tell them about her at our Monday morning meeting the week before. I'll just see how I'm feeling at that time.

Ethan has started going to day care full-time now & adjusted well. We've been happy with the current school, but we really liked another church day school in town. They didn't offer a part-time plan so it wasn't available before. Now that we need full-time care, we looked into switching. Thankfully they had an opening for Ethan's age group. It's a newer building, bigger playground, lots of activities. Ethan's cousin attends this day school, they'll see each on the playground. They also served a hot lunch. I've been packing lunch for Ethan. When I was working part-time it wasn't such a big deal. But now since I'm full-time, I'd prefer to spend time with Ethan & DH rather than finding to a decent meal to pack.

One of the local attraction is an antique carousel. It's only open for special events or if it's rented for private parties. It was open during spring Break. Ethan & I had a picnic at the park with my sister & her 2 sons and then the boys rode the carousel.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Back in September, I wrote about an old school friend who died unexpectedly. Since then three more high school classmates have died. I wasn't very close with any of them, but we lived in a small town, each grade level had approximately 100 students, everyone knew everyone. These were guys I saw in the halls, at lunch, around town for years.

J, who died in September, was two grades ahead of me. He died of a heart defect that had not been discovered before. He exposed me to N@ils at a party back in the 90's.

M died in December of a virus. He was in ICU before passing away. I had known him the longest. We lived a few miles apart, attended the same elementary school. He was a grade level below me. I remember he memorized a Shel S1lverstein poem for a competition in elementary. I ran into him a few years ago at a music festival in Austin. It was nice to see him.

C had special needs and probably had numerous medical issues. He died of pnuemonia in early March. He took special ed. classes so I didn't see C. often. He was a big fan of our high school sports, always cheering. He always had a smile on his face and loved to hug. Someone created a webpage in his memory, there have been so many posts about his positive outlook on life.

T. just died this past Tuesday from a construction accident. I remember him being a shy, sweet guy. He left a 2 y.o. daughter & his wife, that breaks my heart. I've been sad since I heard the news.

Like I said, I wasn't very close to any of these guys, but I guess I'm just shocked to know these young men who died too soon. We aren't too surprised to hear when the eldery die, but when they still have so much living to do, when they are cheated of growing old with their spouses, watching their children grow up, it's heartbreaking. Each of these young men died unexpectedly, leaving their families to grieve. Tell your family and friends that you love them.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Want more?

This weekend my sister & I had a garage sale. One of the first customers told me that I looked familiar. We figured out that our sons go to the same day care, although in different classes.

We were selling lots of baby gear and clothes that Ethan(the youngest boy, my sister has 2 sons.)had outgrown. The woman asked, "You don't want more?" I get this often. I don't mind when good friends or relatives ask, but I find it rude when strangers ask.

DH & I always wanted one child. After losing Sara, we knew we would try again. We feel complete with Ethan. He's almost 2.5 years old and we haven't discussed trying again.

I, too, would ask close friends if they wanted more children. But I'm not comfortable asking strangers. It's just none of my business. When I am asked, I feel like the person asking is expecting a complete explanation of why we're not having more. I usually don't want to go into losing Sara and how emotionally difficult my second pregnancy was. I usually just shrug my shoulders and say "We just don't." I'm not going to judge people if they decided that they don't want any children or if they want their own baseball team. As long as they love and care for their children, that's all that matters.

Why do strangers ask though? So many times, I've been tempted to say, in a whisper, "Because my therapist says I shouldn't." But living in a small town, that would be a bad idea to say.

Off topic, but I wonder why people do this: Say it's your birthday and a co-worker or other person finds out and then they say,"Oh my father-in-law's birthday is coming up next week." I don't get it. Am I suppose to send a card to him? People are born everyday, people share birthdays, strangers share birthday. I'm sure I've done this, it's just quirky to me.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Baby Loss on Reality TV

Last night I was flipping through the channels. I saw that Run'$ H0u$e was on. I have never watched this show, but I knew about it. I remembered hearing a few years ago that the wife lost a baby while they were filming the show. I didn't have a frame of reference except that I knew I had to have hear it before losing Sara, otherwise, I know I would have searched for it before. I wasn't sure when I had heard it though - either before being pregnant or in the early months of being pregnant with Sara.

I clicked on the info button, the description said that the family was awaiting the arrival of a new member. It aired in 2007. Sara died in Oct 2006, so I figured it was a subsequent child. I watched. The mother was 9 month pregnant, the family was in good spirits. Run & his wife joked about where to go to eat. She only wanted H00ter's wings, he felt that it was inappropriate for him, as a reverend, to go there. The screen went black, I thought they were going to commercial. I glanced down at the magazine in my lap. The TV was quiet, so I looked up. On the screen were the words (paraphrased)"Her water broke that night and they went to the hospital. The baby died at birth."

It was THE episode! I started bawling immediately. Like my own loss, it was so unexpected. They were just joking about going to H00ter's and now the baby was gone.

I believe the rest of the episode was rehearsed and edited because it was such a personal and tragic event. The young children come into the hospital asking if it was a girl or a boy. The mother tells them that it was a girl, that she was sick and didn't make it. The boys seemed shocked, but they didn't cry.

Overall I thought they handled the episode well, they maintained privacy but yet gave the audience small glimpses of their sadness.

The episode was dedicated to Baby Victoria - September 26, 2006. She died six days before my Sara! I must have been so caught up in my own excitement of my daughter being born soon that I didn't completely register what happened. I had heard the news through a gossipy message board - probably from people who actually followed the show, although the episode didn't air until months later.

If you're interested in reading the full summary of this episode or watching it, go here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Welcome Baby S.

Yesterday Baby S. was born!! His parents go to my church. Last year they lost their first son Gabe at 5 months due to pneumonia. Baby S. was born exactly one year later.

I can only imagine the emotions the parents are going through. I know how hard it is for me to share a birthday with Sara. Perhaps this brought closure for the parents.

Looking forward to meeting you Baby S!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

More Butterflies...

Back in November, Ethan & I went to visit one of my dearest friends in San Antonio. The three of us went to the zoo. The San Antonio Zoo has a butterfly house - an enclosed greenhouse with several varieties of butterflies as well as plants. As soon as we walked in, a butterfly landed on my shoulder and stayed there for several minutes. It was a very peaceful place. Outside of the butterfly house are butterfly cutouts for photo opportunities. This is Ethan in two of them.

Last March I posted about a couple from my church who lost their 5 month old son. They are pregnant again, expecting their second son approximately the same time the first son, Baby Gabe, died -late February/early March. The mother has been having contractions already. She had a dr. appt on Friday, may have to be put on bedrest, I haven't heard an update yet. They have already talked about inducing early - like at 36.5 weeks. Please keep this family in your prayers.