Friday, 31 December 2010

Goodbye 2010, I Will Be Glad to See You Go.

2010 started off so well. I had just found out I was pregnant after 7 years of trying. I was turning 40 and we were having a huge party to celebrate. I was having a great pregnancy. The CVS showed that our baby would not have Cystic Fibrosis (this was a worry since hubby and I are both carriers) and was genetically perfect. We found out we were having a boy (huge jumps for joy on the part of my husband). We were surrounded by a fabulous group of friends which is greatly appreciated since we live in a different country from our family. We went on some great vacations to places like Madrid, Dubai, and Lisbon.

Life was pretty good, in fact I remember thinking that 2010 would be the best year ever.

Then it all went wrong. I went in for my 36 week scan to find out that our son had no heartbeat. We had to break this news to our family and friends. I gave birth to my son but would never get to hear him cry or see him smile. We grieved. We had to deal with the business of the death of our infant son. I had to go to the registrars office to register his birth. I brought home his death certificate. We grieved. We had him cremated and had to pick up his ashes from the crematorium. We had his ashes blessed, and then we scattered them in a very beautiful place. Some of our family members were supportive, and some were not. We got the post mortem results. We grieved some more. We decided to celebrate Christmas  and we survived.

We are still surrounded by a fabulous group of friends and to them I am eternally grateful. Our family is in the US and without our friends being here to support us I'm not sure we would have made it. 

What started off as possibly the best year ever, turned into the worst year of my life. I've been through some things before, but nothing like this. Nothing ever prepares you for what it is like to lose a child. I feel like I've been on a rollercoaster that I can't get off. It's a rollercoaster of emotions that I hope to never have to experience again. It's exhausting.

Now that 2010 is coming to and end I am relieved. It has been a rough year and looking back I'm not sure how I survived it. I can only hope that things get better in 2011. So goodbye 2010,,, I am glad to see you go.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

An Ugly Pair of Shoes

I was sent this poem by a friend and it really touched me so I thought I would share it.

An Ugly Pair of Shoes

I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes.
Uncomfortable shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.
I get funny looks wearing these shoes.
They are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in the world.
Some women are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so they don't hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think of how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of the shoes I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.
I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.

Author Unknown

Monday, 27 December 2010

We Survived Christmas

I am so happy and relieved that it's the 27th of December today. No more Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or Boxing Day celebrations to get through. The holidays are over for another year. Another year for me to get stronger, heal a bit more, and to hopefully find my 'new normal' before I have to face Christmas again.

I am also happy to report that we survived! Christmas is a pretty big deal around our house, especially since we are expats and live far from our family. Because of my husband's job, flying back to be with the family is not an option so we spend Christmas with just the two of us. I had dreamed of it being just the three of us this time, but that was not to be. So when we made the decision to celebrate Christmas this year I knew we were doing the right thing. I also knew it would not be easy, and I was right.

I think Christmas Eve was the toughest day. Last year on Christmas Eve was when I found out I was pregnant so it was two milestones in one. It hit my husband even harder than it hit me. As we sat together on the couch with tears streaming down our faces I was reminded how much I love this man. A man who is not afraid to show his grief and to share it with me. In a way it was nice to be able to comfort him because most of the time our roles are reversed and it is he who is comforting me.

We had been invited out for some after dinner drinks at a local pub (Ah, pubs,,, one of the things I love about England). We considered not going because of our sad moods, but then decided to go. I have to say, it was the best decision we could have made. It was the perfect end to the day. We had spent time together celebrating Christmas Eve and eating a great dinner (if I do say so myself). Then we spent some time honoring the memory of our son. Then we went out and spent some time with new friends. We talked, and joked, and laughed. It was exactly what we needed.

On Christmas Day, we opened our presents and then hubby made a fabulous breakfast. He slept off his minor hang over from the night before on the couch while I got things ready for our big dinner. Of course there was a huge baby-shaped hole in our day. It would have been so much better if our son had been with us. I imagined the toys and baby clothes that might have been wrapped under the tree. I imagined being stressed out about making dinner while taking care of baby at the same time. I imagined holding him in my arms. I imagined putting him in his cute Christmas outfit and showing him off to my family on Skype. I imagined a lot of things, but none of them would really get to happen. It was just my wonderful husband and me this year and that would have to be enough. We are all each other has left at the moment.

Boxing Day was easier. I think it's because I didn't grow up celebrating it so there's not as much of a sentimental feeling for me. I didn't do any shopping because I didn't really want to face the hoards of people out looking for bargains. The hubby had to do a bit of work in the morning and when he got back we enjoyed another huge meal.

We survived our first Christmas without our son. I cooked myself silly this holiday season. Our fridge is filled with left-overs. I made mulled wine for the first time (super yummy by the way). We lit our son's candle every day. We both ate and drank too much. We spent time together.  We cried for our baby boy.

We remembered him. We miss him.

Friday, 24 December 2010

What a Difference a Year Makes

A year ago today I found out I was pregnant. I peed on two sticks just to make sure it was really true. We were so excited! It had taken so many years to get pregnant and now it was finally happening. We excitedly told our family members and I happily passed on the wine with dinner that night. Presents were opened with joy and there was love in the air. It was our best Christmas ever.

This Christmas we are without our son. He is in heaven. We miss him terribly. This is our worst Christmas ever, but we're determined to make the best of it.

What a difference a year makes.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

My Story

I've been wanting to post my story on this blog, but until today I haven't felt emotionally ready to do it.

It's up now.

You can view it by clicking on the newly added My Story tab at the top of the page, or you can click here My Story.

I know it's long, but I really needed to get it all out there.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Post Mortem Results- The Outcome

On Saturday we had our meeting to get the final post mortem results. It's a day met with both anticipation and fear. Of course, I wanted to know why my son was taken away from me a few weeks short of his due date; but at the same time I was scared at what the report might say. Would it uncover some horrible mistake I made along the way? Would it conclude that the whole thing was my fault? Would the report indicate something that would prevent me from carrying any child to term. Would the doctor say that we have no hope of ever having a child of our own?

A couple of days before our appointment, my husband asked me if I was prepared for the answer. He was concerned that if the report indicated something that I may interpret as my fault that I would never forgive myself. I lied and assured him that I could handle whatever the report said. Of course I would blame myself if the report indicated I had done something wrong. But there was no way I was not going to find out. So I told him what I think he wanted to hear. I'm not sure he believed me by the way, but I think it was important for him to at least bring up the subject for discussion.

So here it is.... our baby died because his placenta failed to do it's job. Somewhere along the line, the placenta stopped working properly. It didn't grow a large as it should have and due to some inflammation, it was unable to provide enough oxygen and nutrients to my son. According to the report, it was going on for some time and ultimately, my precious son just wasn't able to survive. None of our ultrasounds gave any indication that anything was wrong and apparently it's not something that they can really see on the scan anyway. They can't completely rule out an infection but since there was no sign of it in either the placenta or my son, that's probably not what it was.

I have mixed emotions of course. I now know what happened. I also know that it wasn't my fault. There's nothing I could have done to prevent this from happening. But my son is still dead. It wasn't obvious at any of my scans. All his measurements were perfect so there's no way the doctors could have seen it either. But I didn't get to bring him home from the hospital in his car seat and put him to sleep in his moses basket like I had planned. It's also not something that is likely to happen in future pregnancies (if I am ever so lucky to have another pregnancy). If I am fortunate enough to have another chance, I would be monitored and watched like a hawk. But this information doesn't bring him back and that's all I really want.

I got home that night and allowed myself an evening of red wine and lots of tears. Why did my body fail me? Why did this have to happen to my son? Why, why, why????

My husband was crying as well, but his tears were mostly for me. His heart is breaking to see me so devastated. He's a solution guy and he wants to be able to fix this, to fix me so I can be happy again. I remind him that this isn't something that he can just fix. I also remind him that I am having more happy days and happy moments (I know it may not seem that way based on reading my blog posts but it really is true) and that it's just going to take me some time. I know deep down he understands this, but it's just really hard for him to watch me suffer like this. I think if he could, he would take away all my pain and bear the whole burden himself. I got really lucky when I married him, he's a very special man. And for that I am eternally grateful.

P.S. Just as I was writing this I got a call from my fertility clinic. They just wanted to follow up to see how my pregnancy had gone and update their records with the outcome. Talk about being kicked when I'm down!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Me vs The Bathtub

Hubby and I decided we needed a lazy Sunday. We slept late, ate a huge fry-up breakfast, and stayed in our pajamas. In the afternoon I fancied a nice long bath with a cup of tea. I made myself a nice cup of Earl Gray tea with Elderflower (one of my favorites) and went upstairs to fill the bath.

*It's not been an easy weekend. We got the final post mortem results yesterday and I'm still processing the outcome. I'm not ready to share all that just yet but I'm sure I will be in a few days.

The water filled the bath, I could smell the fragrant bubble bath I had chosen with care. I dipped my toe in, ahhh it was the perfect temperature. As I was turning off the water, the cold water handle broke off in my hand. Rats!! I screamed loudly (well Rats was not actually the word I used but  you get the picture). Cold water was slowly continuing to run into the bath and I could not get the tap shut.

So there I am, naked with a cup of tea in one hand and the cold water handle in the other. I now make the mad dash downstairs to find some kind of tool to get the tap to turn off completely. My not handy around the house husband looks up from the computer and smilingly asks me why I'm running around the house naked. His not so subtle hopes are quickly dashed by my string of profanities about the water running upstairs and the broken tap.

It takes me about 10 minutes and several different tools to finally get the water to shut off. In the end it was a hammer that did the trick. I guess when all else fails, brute force is the way to go.

I finally got to take my bath, but it's not exactly how I'd imagined it. The water was slightly colder than I like it and so was my cup of tea. I was out of breath and anxious from my foray into indoor plumbing. But there were still bubbles and after I added more hot water (luckily that tap was still working). It was almost as relaxing as I had wanted it to be. In the battle of the bathtub vs me... I came out the winner.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Yes, We Are Having Christmas This Year

Yes, we are living in a different country than our family. Yes, we have to stay here in the UK because of my husband's job. Yes, we are still wrapped in a blanket of grief since losing our baby boy. And YES, we are having Christmas this year!!!

To be honest, we both really need it. It's been a rough road these past four months. A road full of tear-filled pot holes and gut wrenching speed bumps. It is dark and grey in London and the short days make me want to curl up in my bed and never go outside. But early on, I made a promise to myself. I promised that I would not let this tragic event become what defines me. Yes, I have lost my first and perhaps only child; and yes, I am devastated. But I absolutely cannot allow myself to become trapped in time. Christmas is here, and I love Christmas. So we are choosing to celebrate it in the best way we can.

I will be sending out Christmas cards this year. Not the usual, "The expat life is great and here's some photos of all the fabulous places we've been on vacation this year." cards that we often send. Not the, "Look, here we are with our new baby." cards I had hoped to be sending. Instead I chose a very classy black and white card with gold trim and a single black and white photo of us. Color photos just didn't seem appropriate this year. There will be no message other than Seasons Greetings and our names. Things are different this year and our cards will reflect that.

A couple of nights ago we decorated our house and tree. We played Christmas music like we always do. We also lit our son's candle. We bought two special ornaments for our son. One is of a baby boy in a blue stocking, the other is a heart that says, "In our hearts forever." Both have his name written on them. We put his ornaments up on the tree first. Then we took a few moments to express our sadness. We both cried and held each other for a while. Then we kissed and continued to decorate our tree. It looks beautiful. We also decided not to put the angel on the top of the tree because we want to leave room for our angel to come and visit. So I suppose there is an angel on the tree, just not one you can see.

I know based on reading the blogs of other baby loss moms that what we are doing is not what everyone would choose.  I completely respect and understand why for some people, the thought of celebrating a holiday is too unbearable to even comprehend. I had those thoughts as well. but ultimately we decided that the right thing for us was to go ahead. As tempting as it was to not acknowledge Christmas this year, there's something about coming home to the smell of a tree and a house full of Christmas decorations that always makes me smile. And I really need to smile these days.

It feels almost normal. In fact, it feels a lot like a new normal.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Four Months Today

It's been 4 months since we lost our son. At times it feels like it just happened yesterday and at other times it feels like it happened years ago. 4 months since we went in for our routine 36 weeks growth scan and heard the words no parents want to hear.

"There's no heartbeat."

It's still surreal to me in many ways. Unlike many women in similar situations, I had no idea anything was wrong. I thought I was feeling him moving. Even after they told us, I still thought I could feel him moving. I suppose what I was feeling was his body floating around responding to my movements. But it was such a shock when we saw his lifeless body on the ultrasound machine because I really had no idea he was already gone. How is it possible that I didn't know? What kind of mother does that make me?

Today in the shower I had a flashback. It was of the day I was released from the hospital. I was still sore and hunched over from the C-Section. My husband helped me slowly get into the taxi with my suitcase. I was wearing one of my bright orange maternity tops. I had two of them. I don't usually wear orange but being pregnant made me feel so happy and sunny that orange seemed like the perfect color match to my mood. But the day I left the hospital was a different story.

I cried all the way home in my sunny orange top. I was not bringing home a baby, he was being taken away to have a post mortem conducted. My husband and I were sitting in the taxi alone. Instead of holding our son, we were holding each other. This was not the ride home I was supposed to be taking. My body and spirit were broken, what on earth was I going to do now?

Now, 4 months on I am still asking myself that same question. What am I going to do now?

Friday, 10 December 2010

A Fab Lunch- Part 2- What Happened Next

A couple of days ago I went to this great holiday lunch and had a very uncomfortable encounter. I wrote about it here and had promised to tell what happened next. Little did I know at the time, but there would be even more to tell as the week went on.

After the woman (I'll call her Friend B) who had asked me how my little one was had finished listening to the explanation of where in fact my little one was by my other friend (I'll call her Friend A), she made some awkward excuses and quickly shuffled off back to her table. I saw her whispering to the woman sitting next to her and them both shaking their heads while at the same time trying to look like they weren't talking about me. You've all seen that not-so-subtle lean and whisper thing that people do which in actual fact draws more attention than just talking normally.

Had anyone else noticed this exchange? As I fearfully glanced around my table it was clear that no one had. Relief! I did my best to fight back the tears that were slowly finding their way into my eyes. Friend A, being the absolute star that she is, helped a lot in this endeavor. I surprised myself with my ability to recover quickly and soon I was chatting, drinking, and enjoying myself again. In a way I felt bad for Friend B more than I felt bad for myself.

I suppose I need to get used to dealing with situations like this don't I?

I had been thinking about sending an email to Friend B after our lunch on Wednesday. I wasn't sure what to say, but I just wanted to make sure things wouldn't be weird between us going forward. I decided to wait a few days to give me time to come up with just the right words.

But the email would not be necessary because of course I run into Friend B the very next day in town. Amazing coincidence or maybe the universe pushing us together??? Who knows! But this person who I haven't seen since June I have now seen two days in a row. We are both in the same tiny shop which is beginning to feel even smaller.

I instantly feel my face flush and that anxious feeling bubbling in my stomach. "Just breathe and smile," I tell myself. She's with her daughter and a few other friends also with their children as it's school run time. We exchange greetings and then she is distracted by her daughter. We're all in this shop for a bit, each doing our own thing in that weird -I'm not looking at you, but really I'm looking at you- way.

As I'm making my way out, she comes over to me and gives me a big hug. The kind of hug that makes you feel all happy and warm inside. All the anxiety I'm feeling melts away. She is so sorry about our awkward exchange from the other day. She is even more sad that I have lost my son. We chat a bit about how it happened and how I am doing now. The air in the shop becomes lighter and both us are able to breathe easier. The awkwardness is gone.

I am so glad I was able to see her and talk in person. Talking in person is so much better than talking over email.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

PM Results

I just got a call from my doctor. They have the final post mortem results back for my son and I need to make an appointment to come see her.

Yikes, I'm a bit nervous.

Now I've just got to coordinate dates with my super busy husband to set the appointment. So far they have not been able to find anything so it's possible that this will also come back as no known cause. But what if they do find something? What if it's something I did, or ate, or drank? Will I be ok with that?? Is it better to know a reason or not?? 

Really, I need to know but I'm just scared at what the report will say and what that means for us going forward. Watch this space.

A Fab Lunch and an Awkward Moment

The restaurant was buzzing with well dressed ladies and businessmen, the starters had been served, and I was happily sipping a glass of prosecco. A friend who I had not seen in quite some time wandered over from one of the other tables. Greeting were exchanges, I was happy to see her. Then came the question, "So how's the little one?" I sat there frozen, millions of thoughts racing through my head. She didn't know, how could she not know, what to say, how to say it, and how to say anything without crying in front of everyone?

I will back up a bit and explain. I belong to an expat club here in London. I have met an amazing group of women from all over the world who all find themselves living in the UK. Most of us are trailing spouses (although we do have quite a few English members as well). Giving up jobs and friends at home to support our dear husbands career pursuits in a foreign land. It is a very close knit sorority of women who have become my family away from home.

It was our annual Christmas Lunch which was held at the uber posh Fifth Floor Restaurant at Harvey Nichols in London. Now I know what you're thinking, "All expat ladies do is coffee mornings and posh lunches." I'm not here to promote or discourage any stereotypes about trailing spouses, we do a lot more than champagne lunches.... but today was a champagne lunch.

I've had a super rough time emotionally since returning back from the US. It's like things are hitting me all over again. I think the shock of losing our son has really worn off now and I'm starting to face the reality of life without him. I even missed a Holiday Party over the weekend because I just couldn't bear it (which by the way is highly unusual for me because I love parties). So I was really looking forward to this lunch.

I got dressed up in a super cute tunic, leggings, and knee high boots combo and spent a good amount of time doing my hair and makeup.  I am a girly girl and love a chance to get all glammed up. I had promised myself no tears today because who wants to ruin perfectly applied eye makeup??

There were 36 of us at this lunch so we took up several tables at the restaurant. I did a quick scan of the other tables and saw several women who I hadn't seen in quite some time and  a small number of new faces. But I wasn't worried because this is a group of women who all talk to each other and so I was confident that there wasn't anyone in the room who didn't know what had happened to me. Well, anyone except for some of the newer members who didn't know me at all so wouldn't know that I was pregnant and had lost a baby in August,,, 3 weeks before his due date.

So when this particular women walked over to the table to chat I was happy. I had planned on going over to say hi. I really like her and was going to suggest we get together for coffee (again, I'm not here to support or deny any stereotypes about expat wives) and catch up.

Hugs and greetings were exchanged and then came the question, "So how's the little one?" As I sat there in my frozen state with a shocked look on my face I could see the horror creeping up in here eyes. My lack of ability to answer with the expected, "He's great," was starting to sink in to her. Luckily for me, my dear friend who was sitting right next to me stepped in to save the day. My friend softly whispered something into her ear. I only heard the word "stillborn" but nothing else. The woman looked shocked and tearful and quickly apologized. I assured her that it was OK and that I knew she didn't know (obviously or she wouldn't have asked). She then made her excuses and shuffled off back to her table. My dear friend then turned to me and said in that dry witty way that only the English can pull off, "Well that was awkward."

There is a bit more to tell, but I've got a bunch of stuff to do today so I must get off the computer. More to come later on.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Managing Expectations When Visiting Home- An Expat's Struggle

Do I set my expectations of my family too high? This is something I've been pondering for the last few weeks. As an expat living in London I only get home to see the family back in the US once a year. My parents visit every summer and we have had one off visits from various family members over the years. But basically, besides my parents who we see twice a year, we only see the family once a year.

Cue the whirlwind visit home. It's an action packed drive-a-palooza where the husband and I try to see and stay with everyone in a short two week period. A bit like pool balls on a billiards table, we obediently drive all over the state of California. The goal is to try and make sure we get in "quality time" with our various family members who don't even have the decency to all live in the same place.

After the driving (7 hours between southern and northern California) comes the visits. Now normally when you see your extended family it's in short bursts. A dinner for a birthday, or a Sunday lunch, or a meal for a holiday. But rarely (unless you're still living with them) do you go from not seeing someone at all to being on top of them 24/7 sleeping in their guest rooms and sitting our their couches "visiting." I find that within an hour or so of each of these visits I'm ready for a break. I've missed these people all year and couldn't wait to see them, but now I'm starting to remember the things about them that drive me crazy.

So much pressure is put on these visits as well. Trying to squeeze in a year's worth of experiences into a couple of days is exhausting. Any suggestion of doing things not with the whole group is instantly taken as rejection. "I don't want to go to the park," is taken to mean, "I don't want to spend time with you." When really I just don't want to go to the park and watch people happily playing with their babies when I've just lost mine. Wanting to spend some quiet time reading a book is seen as, "you don't want to spend time with me," when really it's just that I need a few moments of quiet in my day. It's an exhausting balancing act where we try and make everyone happy and end the time feeling like we didn't get a vacation at all.

Then add onto it that this particular visit was the first one after losing our son. I don't know what I was expecting from my family, but quite a few of them let me down. Somehow I was expecting more sympathy and questions about how we are coping. But instead I got the same old conversations about the same old things. A few family members even opted to take our time to talk all about themselves.

I left the US very disappointed. But now that I've had time to reflect, maybe I was just expecting too much. After all, they only get to see us once a year and I'm sure they just didn't know what to say. It's not like there's a manual on how to help a family member who's lost a child. Perhaps they didn't want to upset me with questions? Perhaps they wanted our memories of the visit to be happy? Perhaps they were waiting for me to bring it up?

Perhaps I need to give them a break??

Friday, 3 December 2010

Speaking your mind feels great!

I should speak up more often! It feels great and if you don't let people know they are upsetting you then how can you expect them to change their behaviour? Actually, it is yet to be seen if any future behaviour will change, but a girl can dream right??

A few days I posted this about an exchange with my sister that really upset me. After our conversation I think she sensed something was wrong and sent me an email asking if I was mad at her.

Now normally I would respond that everything was fine because I don't like confrontation. But this time I was so upset that I felt she needed to know about it. With nervous anticipation I sent her a reply telling her how selfish I thought she had been. As is typical, she overreacted and got very dramatic. After a few very wordy email exchanges I think she finally gets my point. Not that she has accepted acting selfishly (that would be a miracle) but she acknowledges that what she did hurt me and she has apologized for that.

As someone who normally runs away from any type of conflict this was a big step for me. Maybe peace at any cost really isn't the best motto. Maybe I need to grow some balls and speak up more often, it sure felt great!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Friends and wine are like magic

What a difference a few hours can make. After the terrible day I've had I almost didn't go to the wine tasting event I had scheduled with some friends. I'm so glad I forced myself to get off my couch and go. I had the best time tonight. I really do have some fabulous friends (who by the way had no idea that I've spent the entire day crying). I think the lesson here is to keep busier and not have so much down time. Or maybe it's all about the wine! : )

Sad today

I woke up today feeling so very sad. Just when I start to think I'm coping well, I have a day like today. My heart hurts so much. I miss my son, I just want to be able to hold him again, see him again,,,, something,,, anything. But I can't and it's breaking my heart in two. I've spent all morning crying.

When am I going to feel better? When will it stop hurting so much? What am I going to do?

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

When people you love let you down- part two

Maybe I need to trade my family in for a new one. Or maybe I just need to accept the fact that some members of my family are amazingly self centered. Two weeks ago I posted this story about how someone dear to me had let me down. A couple of days later I retold the story to my sister and explained to her about how upset this incident had made me. She was very supportive and had some very kind words to offer. So what happened last week was doubly surprising because I thought she would have known better.

To start with, I should explain that my sister has always been self centered. Not in a conceited, "I'm better than everyone" way, but more in a "the whole world revolves around me" way. No matter what the situation is or who it should be about, she finds a way to make it about her. So really, this conversation isn't out of character for her, but it upset me nonetheless.

Anyway, after Thanksgiving dinner I went upstairs where my sister was getting her things ready for bed. We had not had any alone time this visit so this was our first time to chat and catch up. Since we were finally away from all the holiday craziness I was expecting (and hoping for) her to ask how I was doing. But instead she decided to take this opportunity to complain to me about unhappy she is and how bad her life is. She was telling me all about her financial troubles and how her husband doesn't help out enough at home. She cried about how she wishes she had more friends and a better job. She spent almost an hour crying about herself and not once did she even think to see how I was doing. I just sat there thinking, "Are you serious?? You think your life is bad?? My baby just died and you're crying because you can't afford to have people for dinner parties??" Of course I sat there and said nothing because that's what I do.

I'm back home now and she has just sent me an email asking me if I'm mad at her. I guess at some point she figured out that I wasn't myself after our very one sided conversation. I don't usually tell her when she upsets me because then she overreacts and somehow finds a way to twist around what I say in a way that makes her the victim. So usually it's easier for me to just ignore it. But something in her email struck me. Two things she said make me think I should reply. One is that she asked me to please reply. The other thing is that she feels like we're drifting apart,, which in a way we are because I am pulling away from her because it can be so exhausting trying to deal with her sometimes.

So I think I will let her know how I feel. Yikes, I may be stepping into a hurricane without a raincoat. Wish me luck.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Back Home

Well we made it back to London. Now I'm trying to overcome jet lag and unwind from the trip. Three weeks is a long time to be away from home. I still have lots to blog about but need another day or so to get my life sorted and gather my thoughts. Until then I'm trying to de-stress by remembering how beautiful it was when we were in Lake Tahoe. Here's a picture I took while I was there.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Here, there, and everywhere.

What a whirlwind of a week it's been. We have been from Southern California all the way to Lake Tahoe, then back to Northern California and now we're back in Southern California again. I'm tired just thinking about all that driving. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and then we leave Saturday to go back to London. Lots to think about and post but not much private time to do it at the moment. Will post more when I can.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Ashes to Ashes

Yesterday at sunset, my husband and I scattered the ashes of our son. It was one of the most painful and beautiful things I've ever had to do. We chose Lake Tahoe as the place to to it because it's one of the most beautiful places in the world and also because I've been coming to Tahoe since I was a kid and have many happy memories here.

It was a simple and beautiful event. We went out to the end of a small pier on the beach where we are staying. We brought out a candle that we bought especially for this day and also a bottle of champagne. We popped the cork and toasted our son. Then we sat while the sun went down and cried and hugged each other. We didn't say much, I think it was better that way. Once the sun went down we scattered his ashes over the water and watched as they drifted away.

Today I am feeling lighter. I am so happy that we chose this place and this time to honor the memory of our angel baby.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Pedicures are like magic.

So today I looked down at my toes and realized that I just had to do something about them! We are on vacation so it's not like I can just pop down to my local day spa and get them done. But luckily for me, the resort town we are in has a fantastic place. I had a very relaxing pedicure which lasted for an hour. I could have sat there all day. Plus my toes look human again. Sometimes it's the little things that make the biggest difference.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

When people you love let you down.

I've had a few really good days so I should have been expecting a crash. What I didn't expect was who would trigger it. I stayed a few days with my grandmother who struggled with infertility and multiple miscarriages when she was young. She was also there to support my mother when she gave birth to my brother who was stillborn. So one would think that she would be the perfect person to turn to when dealing with the loss of a child. Wrong!

We had a big family dinner to start with which was nice because it's hard to try and get to see everyone in the short time we are in town. Once everyone left I was expecting (and really hoping for) some time to chat just her and I.

To say I was upset at our conversation is a huge understatement. It was bad enough that she didn't ever ask how I was doing. It was even worse that she spent the entire night talking to me about how upset she is about her relationship with her son (my uncle). **A bit of background,,, basically they have had a falling out and are not speaking. He is married and has a 1 and a half year old daughter. As a result of the estrangement she has only seen her grandchild once.  It is a very sad situation and I am hopeful that one day they will work things out. But there is nothing I can do to fix things**

During our conversation, she cried about how much she wants to be able to spend time with him and his baby girl. She then went on to cry on and on about how special babies are and how terrible it is that she can't see this baby. On and on and on and on!!! She spent the entire evening talking about herself and how sad she is. Are you kidding me??? Does she not realize that I am sitting here dying inside because I have lost my baby. Does it not occur to her that perhaps she shouldn't be going on and on about how special babies are when she knows that I would like nothing more than to be able to be with my baby?? Does she not understand that I am grieving and really need my grandmother to be there for me??

At one point when she was talking about how badly she wants to be able to hold her baby grand-daughter I almost snapped. I was so tempted to tell her that if she really wanted to hold a baby, I had my son's ashes in an urn in the other room and she could hold him if she wanted. I just couldn't believe she could be so insensitive to my feelings. Not to mention the fact that I feel like I'm being manipulated. I know full well that she is hoping that I will share this conversation with my uncle to make him feel bad for not talking to her.

I am so angry that what should have been a wonderful few days spent with her have ended with me feeling hurt and angry. My husband thinks I should say something to her about it, but I know that I probably won't.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Wine and rings

I am going to be getting a new ring with our son's name engraved inside. It's sort of a push present, plus ring upgrade, plus memorial all in one. I normally love jewelery shopping but this time it's different. We only have a few days on our own this trip and I couldn't find exactly what I wanted so at this point I still have no new ring. I think I have decided what I want but am starting to stress a bit that we won't have time to get back to the shop to get it. I know it sounds a bit superficial to be stressing about buying jewelery, but it's so much more than just a bigger diamond. It really is a new ring to reflect the love and commitment I have with my husband and our son. So it has to be perfect and I think that's why I'm having so much trouble making a final decision.

After our day of jewelery shopping it was time to move on to the next part of our trip. My sister lives in Central California and there are a bunch of great vineyards nearby her house. We drove up to visit her and stayed at a beautiful hotel on a cliff overlooking the ocean. The view was absolutely fantastic. There is something so calming about being able to hear the ocean. Here was the view I got to see each morning.

My parents came up as well and we all went wine tasting. It was so much fun. The wine country here is absolutely stunning. It's like driving through a postcard. There's something about visiting small vineyards and tasting wine that just make me happy. I bought too much wine to take back with me to London so I will have to drink a few bottles while I'm here!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Blessings and white teeth.

Yesterday contained an interesting combination of events. I suppose in a way it quite fits in with my idea of having a new normal. In the morning I had an appointment to get my teeth whitened. This is something I do every couple of years when I'm visiting home. I know they have dentists in London who whiten teeth, but no one lightens them up quite like an American dentist. Since I'm obsessed with white teeth, this is a must for me!

Then in the afternoon we had an appointment with a priest to have our son's ashes blessed. As a pretty much non-practicing catholic, church is not a place I usually visit outside of Christmas and Easter (OK, being honest I don't always make it even then.). So driving up to the church I went to as a child and also where we got married felt a bit odd. I have to say, there was something so familiar and wonderful about the experience. Of course it was sad, but I also had this overwhelming feeling that we were doing the right thing. The church is on a cliff overlooking the ocean so the priest had us sit outside on a bench and watch the sun set while we were having our talk. It was both beautiful and sad and I'm really glad we did it.

So that was my strange day, a combination of ceremony and vanity. Oh, and in case you were wondering,,, my teeth look great!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

We have landed.

It's nice to be back at my parent's house, the house I grew up in. I always feel safe here.

The flight went much better than I had anticipated. I was quite worried about bringing our son's ashes through security. My husband volunteered to be the one to let them know what we were bringing along as I still struggle with verbalizing things like, "my son's ashes are in this bag." I have to say that the people working at the airport could not have been more wonderful. The security person quietly whispered to the x-ray person about what we were carrying and it was all handled smoothly. I also was pleased that I held it together during the trip. There was only one time when thoughts of what the trip was meant to be crept into my thoughts, but I was able to hold it together and didn't even cry all the way. This is a huge accomplishment in my book.

Friday, 5 November 2010

I should be packing right now.

I really should be packing. We are flying home to see the family for the first time since losing our son in August. This was going to be the first visit home for him to meet his grandparents and extended family. But instead of bringing home a happy baby, we are bringing home his ashes in a tiny plastic urn. Instead of being held by his loving parents, his ashes will be scattered in a beautiful place that we both love. It is not fair and I do not want to have to be doing any of this. So this is why I am not packing yet. Because once I start packing I have to face the reality that I am only packing for 2 and not for 3.