Rainbow baby

The road to parenthood has not been an easy ride for me.

From the beginning I struggled with fertility issues.

Granted, I was 25 years old when I started trying and I had years ahead of me to be successful in my quest to have children, but the steps there were filled with fertility treatments and unfortunately, pregnancy loss.

I admire women who get pregnant and just assume everything will be okay.

After my first loss – a stillbirth at 22 weeks – I never took my pregnancy for granted again.

I stressed and worried and bothered my OBGYN in ways you can’t even begin to imagine, insisting on extra ultrasounds and additional testing to be sure that everything was okay.

No amount of reassurance could convince me otherwise.

I have been pregnant six times but only have two living children.

My first pregnancy ended in stillbirth when it was discovered that my son Douglas had a large tumor growing off the base of his spine – a sacrococcogeal teratoma.

Google it if you want to see what it looks like, but be forewarned, it’s not pretty.

It’s called a “monster-making” tumor for a reason.

Douglas was born still on September 22, 1998.

He was perfect in every way except for a giant tumor on which his little legs rested.

To add insult to injury, Douglas’ body was thrown out with the hospital laundry by accident so it took a few extra days to recover him, cremate him, and hold a memorial for him.

Not all my family was supportive.

My mother-in-law didn’t even bother to attend the memorial.

After Douglas, I lost three babies between 8 and 12 weeks.

I also lost a little girl named Ruby at 16 weeks.

She was physically perfect and genetically nothing was wrong with her chromosomes.

It’s just one of those things that happens, I was told.

Recently, another loved one’s loss has brought all these feeling bubbling to the surface again and it was with tears in my eyes that I embraced her, knowing that she’s reluctantly joined the same club I joined all those years ago when I lost Douglas.

The club for women who will never be able to sail through a pregnancy like women who haven’t experienced a loss.

Worst club in the world, if you ask me.

But we’re there for each other.

There are meet ups for pregnant women who are pregnant again after a loss.

And they call subsequent babies “rainbow” babies to signify how even after a loss, something beautiful can be created.

My love to you.

You know who you are.

Regrets

I wish I’d gotten through September 22nd in my usual fashion – by celebrating life with the ones I love and having no regrets.

I did get to celebrate my nephew’s 6th birthday, but I had regrets.

It was the first time a birthday party landed on the same day as Douglas’ birthday and I found myself longing for a birthday celebration to celebrate his 21st birthday – what we would be doing had he lived.

It turns out I wasn’t as strong as I thought I was.

I cried.

It’s a milestone birthday and I found myself wondering who my son would be, had he lived.

Would he be rushing through family dinner so he could go out and celebrate with his friends?

Would we have thrown a big 21st birthday party for him?

As a parent, losing a child is the worst experience you can have and one that we all fear.

To make matters worse, I was the only one who remembered.

No one else seemed clued in to my distress and sadness.

I told my sister-in-law and she gave me a huge hug and got teary eyed.

But then, as life tends to be, we moved on from it.

I am reminded that life is for the living and you either get on with your life or you wallow in sadness, holding on to regrets.

In the end, I choose life.

A time for everything under heaven

IMG_4717 21 years ago today, my heart tore in half when my son Douglas died of cancer – a teratoma, not unlike what Gavin had removed about a year ago.

The hospital room was so quiet and it smelled of tears. Tears that fell from my eyes like endless rivers of sorrow.

I thought I’d never stop crying.

I stopped believing in God. Stopped singing.

My ex husband got me a dog, Mac, to get over my grief and having that dog to pour all my love into brought me back to life.

He was a four legged replacement for the son I lost.

Sadly, 11 years ago today (on the 10 year anniversary of Douglas’ death), Mac’s life ended in a freak freeway accident on Highway 80.

So you COULD say that September 22 is my least favorite day of the year.

You could say that but you’d be wrong.

Because instead of spending the day grieving, I spend the day having fun and feeling alive.

This year I’m going to be at a birthday party for my 6-year old nephew, celebrating his birthday.

It’s a great opportunity to HONOR my loved ones and CELEBRATE everything that is wonderful and beautiful in my life – like wonderful friends, close knit families, and LOVE.

And I’ll celebrate the lives of the two sons that I have.

So happy September 22nd to all my friends. I hope it’s a happy one for you too.

A time for everything under heaven

IMG_4717 20 years ago today, my heart tore in half when my son Douglas died of cancer – a teratoma, not unlike what Gavin just had removed.

The hospital room was so quiet and it smelled of tears. Tears that fell from my eyes like endless rivers of sorrow.

I thought I’d never stop crying.

I stopped believing in God. Stopped singing.

My ex husband got me a dog, Mac, to get over my grief and having that dog to pour all my love into brought me back to life.

He was a four legged replacement for the son I lost.

Sadly, 10 years ago today (on the 10 year anniversary of Douglas’ death), Mac’s life ended in a freak freeway accident on Highway 80.

So you COULD say that September 22 is my least favorite day of the year.

You could say that but you’d be wrong.

Because instead of spending the day grieving, I spend the day having fun and feeling alive.

This year I’m going to be at a local birthday party, celebrating my burner friends’ birthdays.

It’s a great opportunity to HONOR my loved ones and CELEBRATE everything that is wonderful and beautiful in my life – like wonderful friends, close knit families, and LOVE.

And I’ll celebrate the lives of the two sons that I have.

So happy September 22nd to all my friends. I hope it’s a happy one for you too.

A time for everything under heaven

IMG_471719 years ago today, my heart tore in half when my son Douglas died of cancer.

The hospital room was so quiet and it smelled of tears. Tears that fell from my eyes like endless rivers of sorrow.

I thought I’d never stop crying.

I stopped believing in God. Stopped singing.

My ex husband got me a dog, Mac, to get over my grief and having that dog to pour all my love into brought me back to life.

He was a four legged replacement for the son I lost.

Sadly, 9 years ago today (on the 10 year anniversary of Douglas’ death), Mac’s life ended in a freak freeway accident on Highway 80.

So you COULD say that September 22 is my least favorite day of the year.

You could say that but you’d be wrong.

Because instead of spending the day grieving, I spend the day having fun and feeling alive.

This year I’m going to be at the wedding of two good friends as they exchange their vows in Yosemite.

It’s a great opportunity to HONOR my loved ones and CELEBRATE everything that is wonderful and beautiful in my life – like wonderful friends, close knit families, and LOVE.

And I’ll celebrate the lives of the two sons that I have.

So happy September 22nd, to all my friends. I hope it’s a happy one for you too.

Mac and Wendy

My son Douglas died of cancer in 1998.  He was a newborn who developed sacrococcogeal teratoma in utero and his little heart couldn’t keep up with the blood supply demands of the tumor and he passed away September 22nd.

Concerned about my deep, profound grief, my ex-husband adopted a little white german shepherd puppy for me and we named him Mac.

Mac brought me back to life.  He was my dog, thoroughly bonded and I could let him off leash and he would follow me around like we were tethered together.

On the 10 year anniversary of Douglas’ death, Mac fell out of my truck window on Highway 80, was hit by a car, and killed.

People thought I should be comforted that this all happened on September 22nd.

I found no solace in the thought that this was all part of God’s design.

In my grief, I adopted a new white german shepherd – named Wendy.

Wendy was three years old and a total disaster.

I adopted her for $25 – no questions asked.  I spent $5000+ training her.

We called her our Wild and Wicked Wendy!

Wendy is now 11 years old.

Her back legs don’t work so well.

In fact, they barely work at all.

She doesn’t seem to be in pain.  She just can’t move around very well.

I know what’s coming up and it’s going to be SO HARD FOR ME TO LET WENDY GO.

She is also an extension of my son and so long as I have her, I still have a little piece of him left with me.

So spare a thought for Wendy, if you can.  She could use some good thoughts sent her way.

So could I.

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Lost Dreams

MichelleTruth be told, September 22nd this year was harder than recent years.

Maybe because Douglas would have been 18 years old and that’s a BIG milestone.

I’ve always thought of him the way I last saw him – as a tiny, premature baby resting on blankets in a wicker basket.

But this time, I allowed myself to think of him as a grown up – 18 years old, tall, handsome, and strong.

Would he look at all like his brothers?

The legacy of living with a child who died of cancer is that you always feel like someone is missing from your family.

I blame the experience of losing Douglas for my continuing wish to have more children, even as I face the impending freedom of having both my boys reach adulthood.

When I got divorced 10+ years ago, I was sure I’d meet someone else and that we’d have more kids.

Sadly, that was not to be, although I did have a miscarriage at 38 when I got pregnant by Luke.  All in all, I’ve been pregnant 6 times.

I’ve finally given up the idea of more children, as evidenced by my signing up to have a BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic testing done.

Both my grandmothers died from complications due to ovarian cancer at very young ages.

I have been putting off getting tested because I’ve been reluctant to agree to a hysterectomy/ bilateral mastectomy.

But no longer.

I’m giving up the ghost of more children.

Forgive me.

A time for everything under heaven

IMG_471718 years ago today, my heart tore in half when my son Douglas died of cancer.

The hospital room was so quiet and it smelled of tears. Tears that fell from my eyes like endless rivers of sorrow.

I thought I’d never stop crying.

I stopped believing in God. Stopped singing.

My ex husband got me a dog, Mac, to get over my grief and having that dog to pour all my love into brought me back to life.

He was a four legged replacement for the son I lost.

Sadly, 8 years ago today (on the 10 year anniversary of Douglas’ death), Mac’s life ended in a freak freeway accident on Highway 80.

So you COULD say that September 22 is my least favorite day of the year.

You could say that but you’d be wrong.

Because instead of spending the day grieving, I spend the day with my sons and my family, having fun and feeling alive, instead of mourning.

It gives me an opportunity to HONOR my loved ones but also gives me the chance to CELEBRATE everything that is wonderful and beautiful in my life.

Especially the two sons that I have.

So happy September 22nd, to all my friends. I hope it’s a happy one for you too.

A time for everything under heaven

IMG_471717 years ago today, my heart tore in half when my son Douglas died of cancer.

The hospital room was so quiet and it smelled of tears. Tears that fell from my eyes like endless rivers of sorrow.

I thought I’d never stop crying.

I stopped believing in God. Stopped singing.

My ex husband got me a dog, Mac, to get over my grief and having that dog to pour all my love into brought me back to life.

He was a four legged replacement for the son I lost.

Sadly, 7 years ago today, Mac’s life ended in a freak freeway accident on Highway 80.

So you could say that September 22 is my least favorite day of the year.

You could say that but you’d be wrong.

Because instead of spending the day grieving, I spend the day with my sons and my family, having fun and feeling alive, instead of mourning.

It gives me an opportunity to honor my loved ones but also give me the chance to celebrate everything that is wonderful and beautiful in my life.

Especially the two sons that I have.

So happy September 22nd, to all my friends. I hope it’s a happy one for you too.