Saturday, November 20, 2010

For Jen and Catrina

This is the infamous painting I was talking about.

There is this painting in Room 7 of the hospital. Room 7 is the room that all families who have had, or are having, stillbirth babies are put. This painting is many things. Confusing is the main one. There were many times during my hospital stay that I would talk with whoever was with me and we would try to figure out what the hell the painting meant. I never did figure it out.

So enjoy!In case you can't read the title, it is "Flower of Tulips". What the hell does 'flower of tulips even mean??? That was our main dilemma, I mean the picture itself is okay, in a flea market art kind of way. And really, what kind of picture is appropriate for a room where all your dreams have just shattered? But 'flower of tulips'? Really? Any ideas on this?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Birthday sweet baby boy

Dear Benjamin,

We love you and miss you today, as always, Benjamin. The years may pass but the love we feel for you never lessens.

I try to imagine you as a two year old. You should be running around by now, talking, yelling, being a rambunctious two year old. I wonder what you would look like. When I am able to imagine an image of you it is always the same. You have dark curly hair. You have beautiful full lips. You are a tall solid kid, full of energy. Your voice is soft and sweet. I can almost imagine hearing you call me mommy. But it's hard. I have to really force myself to imagine you at two. When I think of you, all I can picture is a perfect little newborn. With dark curly hair, dark full lips, and a solid weight in my arms. Oh how I wish I could feel you in my arms again. To feel your little body filling my arms, to kiss your forehead, touch your hair.

I miss you in a way I wish I didn't know. I wish I didn't know the pain of having a hole in my heart. The pain I still feel when someone asks me how many children I have. The pain when someone comments on how perfect my family is, what with a boy and a girl. The sadness I feel when I see another two year old and realize they are almost the exact same age as you should be. The sadness I feel when I know Jackson and Lexi will never know you. They will know of you, but it's not the same. You will just be a person from the past to them, the brother they never really had. That hurts. So much. I so desperately want you to grow up with them. To learn things from Jackson, to teach things to Lexi. That is just unfair. Why did it have to be you, little man? Why did you have to die? Why you??

That's all for now. I refuse to let your birthday be one of sadness. Two years ago today you were born. I got to embrace you in my arms. Your daddy, gramma, papa and nana got to hold you. Two years ago you were a real baby, for the whole world to see, not just my own special baby for me to feel and know.

Your short life has changed the world, Benjamin. People all over Canada and the States are doing nice things today in your memory. People are smiling today because of you.

And I am smiling today because of you. I smile every day because of you. Yes, I cry still too, but mostly I smile. I smile because I cannot help smiling, the love just gets the best of me. Even though I truly do wish you were here today with us, I know that even in death you are always with us. So tonight when we are blowing out your candles and eating your birthday cake I would like to believe that you are smiling too.

I love you so much sweet boy. I always will.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Benjamin's Second Birthday

This Thursday, November 11th, should be Benjamin's 2nd birthday. Last year I asked everyone to do a Random Act of Kindness in his memory and then to let me know what you had done. The response I got was incredible.

November 11th is a bittersweet day for our family. We finally got to hold our sweet baby in our arms, but it was also the day that any hope we had that the doctors were wrong was gone. To know that people all over the country (both Canada and the US) were doing nice things in his memory helped to make the day a happier one. We were able to focus more on the influence that Benjamin's short life had, and continues to have, on the world. This year is a little different as Jackson is now old enough to understand who Benjamin was and what he means to us. I have talked to Jackson about Benjamin and that sometimes babies die. It has been rough talking about it, but also very sweet to hear a 3 year olds take on the subject. This year we are baking cookies to hand out to people in the next few days explaining who Benjamin was and asking them to do a Random Act of Kindness too. Jackson will be helping me to ice the cookies and will help me hand them out. I want him to know that even though he never had the chance to meet his brother, he still has a brother, if only in the hearts of all those who love him.

So, I am again asking everyone to do something to make the world a little happier on Benjamin's birthday. It doesn't have to be big. It doesn't have to cost money. As long as you make someone else smile that is all I ask. I can't see my sweet two year old's face light up in smile, so just to know that other people are smiling on his birthday, becasue of him, then I'd like to think that his life made a happy impact on the world. And that has to be enough for me. Please post in the comments section to let me know what you have done. Last year I saved the list of acts that were done. I hope to do this for many many years and one day I will be able to share with Benjamin's siblings how their brother's life changed the world.

Last year some things that were done were (among many more):
- Washed a neighbours windows
- Baked cookies and muffins for a co-worker
- Brought neighours, co-workers, or kids timbits and coffee
- Donated baby items to the food bank
- Made family a priority

Thank you in advance. If you can't do anything then just knowing that he is being thought of that day is still very meaningful.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Infant Loss Remembrance Day

No time for a long post today (or any day for that matter lately!).

Today is Infant Loss Remembrance Day. A day to think about all the babies who were taken too soon. A day to remember them and realize how much they touched our lives in their short time with us. A day to think about those mothers and fathers who have missed out on so much with their little ones. A day for those of us that have lost our sweet babies to spend some time openly loving them and missing them. A day for those of you who know us to grieve with us and let us know that even though our little ones are not with us you still think about them.

As my life gets more hectic with a preschooler and toddler I find that I do not have as much free time to devote to this blog, the support boxes, or just thinking about Benjamin. But when I do sit down and think about him it still tears my heart apart. I think about what I don't get to do with him. I think about all the lost memories with him. I think about what he would be like now as his 2nd birthday approaches. I think about how I don't remember him as well as I used to. I think about how active he used to be in my belly, especially when I was sewing for him. I think about how perfect his feet were. I think about how much I love him, even without watching him breathing and living. I think about him as only a mother can.

I love you Benjamin. I miss you.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Terrified of death

I'm assuming it's normal that since I've lost a child I am terrified of losing another one. I know the pain firsthand. But how do you shake that constant nagging fear in the back of your head? How do you not read a story of a baby or child dying and immediately feel that all consuming fear of the exact same thing happening to your child? I realize it's irrational. I realize the chances of Lexi or Jackson dying is minimal. I know more kids live than die. But I've been there. I've been that rare statistic.

A few months ago I got an email about an almost-three year old boy in England that was abducted by two 10 year old boys and then tortured and murdered. The story sickened me and affected me so much that every time I think about it I cry. I just imagine that little boy being Jackson and him being so excited that these older boys want to play with him that he'd go with them. Then to have all of that horror happen to him? Just leaves me with such a heavy feeling around my heart. That poor boy and that poor family. Even though I know that cases like that are incredibly rare it still makes me so fearful that something like that could happen to Jackson. Not to the point of wanting to put him in a bubble or never leave the house, but just fearful enough that my heart skips a beat whenever I hear of children dying.

Then today a friend of mine posted that a friend of hers lost her one year old daughter. She choked on a piece of an apple she found while crawling on the kitchen floor. Something so random and her beautiful daughter is now gone. Just breaks my heart. And of course my mind soon went to the fact that soon Lexi will be crawling and getting all the random stuff on the floor (crumbs, cat food, small toys, coins, etc). I know that we will child proof the house and there won't be stuff that she can choke on just lying around, but with a 3 year old you never know what you will find at any time. I'm sure my friend's friend also child proofed their house. You just can't always be on top of everything. And look what can happen.

How do you deal with this? How do you block out all the fears? How do you read stories of babies and children dying and not immediately internalize it? I know one solution is just not to read the stories, but I cannot do that. A big part of me wants to read them because I feel that the more people that read them then the more people that this too-short life has touched. If I can be a little more cautious with Jackson, or be more mindful of stuff on the floor with Lexi then it makes the other losses a teeny tiny bit less tragic (okay, not really, but you know what I'm saying). But every story makes me bawl and then stirs up all those fears. Is this normal?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Congratulations C&L!!

I know that I've mentioned that I co-founded a support group in town for bereaved parents (specifically stillbirth and infant loss). The turnout for the group has been surprisingly minimal, but there are a core group of about 5 of us that attend the meetings and keep in touch. It's interesting because of the 5 of us we have one mom who lost her baby girl at 19 weeks, another who lost her baby boy very shortly after birth, another who's son died a few weeks after birth, another who lost her baby girl at term, and then me. There have been many meetings where it is just the other full-term loss mom there with me. We've talked a lot about our loss, but also about our hopes for the future and our day to day lives. I feel a real connection and bond to this woman.

So I could not have been happier when she told me that she had started the process to adopt a baby who was to be born in June (this was back a few months ago). It was not something that she told many people because they were, understandably, scared that the adoption wouldn't work out and they'd have to face another loss. We talked a lot about how a new baby changes your life after you have lost a baby. I told her the different emotions I went through when I was pregnant with Lexi, and then when I gave birth to her. I told her the conflicting emotions I felt when I had that first ultrasound that told me that this new little bean I was carrying was a girl, not a boy. The confusion, heartache, and excitement that created. It was as if in that second Benjamin died again, I could no longer pretend that I was carrying him again and he was getting that second chance to live. Now I was carrying a brand new baby. That was exciting but also heartbreaking. When my friend went with the birth mom to the ultrasound and they were told that the baby was a boy my friend later told me that she was better prepared because she remembered what I had told her about my experience. I'm glad I was able to help. You never know how much something can affect you until you live it.

On June 10th I got the email that I had been excitedly waiting for. My friend's new son was born!! You could feel the joy and love just coming off the computer screen through her email. I could not be happier for her and her husband as they welcome this little baby into their lives and hearts. I have only known her since her daughter was born last September and I can't wait to see her happy and holding this new little love of her life. I'm sure her daughter would be proud of the mommy that C gets to be to this baby. She's been a mommy for almost a year now, but now she gets to show the world outright the wonderful mom that she is.

Congratulations C&L. Both little K's could not have better parents.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

19 months

Benjamin should be 19 months in two days. He would now be older than Jackson was when Benjamin was born. I remember how old Jackson seemed to me at that time. Barely a toddler anymore, more a boy. An older brother. How can it be that my sweet baby Benjamin should not be a baby anymore? He should be able to talk, run, jump, throw temper tantrums. He should be able to chase Jackson around and have matches to see who can yell the loudest. He should be here to help Jackson look after their baby sister. He should be Lexi's other proud older brother who is so excited for her to be able to play with him. The three of them should be our terrible trio; the three wonders who make us so happy to be parents and naively believe that parents do not outlive their children.

I love all my children. Some days I honestly believe that Lexi has, in a way, replaced Benjamin. Whenever I think that it makes me sad. I don't post on here very often because it makes me wonder if I am a decent mom to Benjamin. Do I mourn him to the extent that I should? Have I now had my 'rainbow baby' and thus pushed him to the back of my mind? Was he just a brief period in my life? One that is now overshadowed by the yummy baby in my arms?

I talked to a friend yesterday who has a friend that lost a baby at 3 days old. His birth and anniversary of his death are next week. Every year this friend sends a card to the family, to let them know that she still thinks about their son every year. While I talked with her I surprised myself because I found myself thinking that this woman who has lost her 3 day old baby has more of a rite to mourn her son than I do. He was born alive and then died. Why am I always stuck on this? Why do I think that just because Benjamin was not born alive then I don't have the rite to mourn him? I know that his death was the saddest day of my life. I know that I have a rite to mourn. I do, I know all of this. But I suppose since I never saw him alive then I have, in some way, convinced myself that he was never mine to start with. Does that make sense? Not really. I 'knew' him while he was safely tucked away inside me. I knew him as only a mother can. And yet, I don't feel I am 'allowed' to mourn him as I would a baby who was born alive. In the back of my mind I question whether I really feel that I lost a baby, and not 'just' lost a pregnancy. And trust me when I say that that belief pisses me off when other people have it! I know he was a baby, he was a big baby, he was perfect in every way (other than that pesky living part, yes I use dark humour to cope). I think a lot of it is societal. People don't talk about stillbirths. No one wants to acknowledge the horror that they are. And so we parents are left to wonder where our grief falls. Is it a 'true' loss, or is it mostly just the loss of what should have been?

I don't know.

But I do know that I am truely missing what should have been; my second born son who DID exist and should look similar to this right now...

(Jackson at 19 months)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What to say...

I'm at a loss as to what to write about on this blog lately. I think that may be obvious by the lack of updates on here. Life is busy around our house and I barely have time to respond to emails, let alone come up with an entire blog post. Plus I know that if I routinely take time to post on here then I risk opening up old wounds.

And I know that's stupid. I know those 'wounds' have never healed and will never heal. But it's nice to have some days of sweet ignorance. Ignorance that I am not the mommy I was before Benjamin. Because as much as I love being his mom and having had him in my life, some days it feels easier to pretend that I am the mommy of two living children. And that's it. Yes, when I think about it (and especially when I actually write it down) it seems horrible. Horrible to say that I want to pretend my sweet baby boy never existed. But really, that's not what I am saying. Or is it? I don't know any more.

It's been 18 months since Benjamin was born. He would now be the same age as Jackson was when we had Benjamin, actually about a month older. When I realized that it sort of took my breath away. I feel like it was just a few months ago that my life changed so drastically. But it was a year and a half. A whole year and a half. That is just insane. And I remember thinking that Jackson was such a big kid then. Not a little toddler anymore, but a full out boy. I look back at photos from then and he still had the chubby little features of a toddler, but in my mind he was my oldest son, so he was a boy already. Now to think that Benjamin should be that age too just makes me sad. So I shut it out. Move on to something else.

But what is that doing? Am I not dealing with my grief? Have I dealt with my grief enough by now that I don't need to think about these things? Is Benjamin in his special place in my heart and my mind where I can think fleeting thoughts about him and not feel a pang of sadness or guilt. Are thoughts of him safe there? Every once in a while I have a moment where I get sad thinking about him, but for the most part he is just a reality to me. He is my 'stillborn son'. So clinical, so unfeeling. At least to those that don't know. A lot of people hear the word 'stillborn' and think along the same lines as 'miscarriage'. It was a sad loss, but not something that should really affect your life that drastically. It's not like your child died in your arms or something. Nothing to be saddened about for years following. Oh how misguided those people are. Benjamin did not die in my arms. I did not watch him die. To have watched him die would mean that I also watched him live. Sadly I did not get that joy. The closest I got to watching him live was the grainy distorted ultrasound image, or the way he'd make my belly contort and lurch. I didn't get to see his chest rise and fall in sweet baby slumber. I didn't get to see his chubby little baby fists jerking into the air as he startled over a tiny noise. I didn't get to see his eyelids flutter as he dreamed. I didn't get to see his toes wiggling as he belted out a baby goat cry. I suppose it's a good thing that I didn't have to watch him die. But to have watched him die would have meant that I got to watch him live. And some days I so wish I could have had both. To have known the moment that he died. To have been able to know that he was dying and give him a proper goodbye. To have kissed his warm forehead.

And that is all for today.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I'm going to be in the news

LOL, It's just our local free paper. But it is going to be an article about Benjamin Boxes and our support group. It also has a lot of information about my 'story'. I'm kind of excited about it. I'm interested to see how many people it brings to the Benjamin Boxes site and if it brings in any donations.

I am mostly excited just to get more awareness out there about stillbirth. It just blows my mind that it is such a silent topic. Everyone knows that it happens; everyone knows someone that has lost a baby. But NO ONE talks about it. No one wants to be depressing and morbid and talk about dead babies. But what does that ultimately do? It causes people to feel alone. Let's be blunt here. That's just fucked up. At a time when a person needs all the support they can get. All the caring, compassion and understanding. And yet people do not bring it up. Don't talk about her baby. You might upset her. She seems to be doing so well. Look at her smiling. She must have gotten over her loss. I mean, it's not like she lost a child or anything. The baby never even lived outside her. So shhhh, don't talk about it. She might cry again. Then what would we do? We'd have to listen to her talk about her dead fetus again.

I'm not saying anyone has said any of this to me. But I have heard from other people that similar things have been said to them. It just disgusts me. Absolutley disgusts me. Plus in all honesty, when I bring up Benjamin to some people I can see their eyes glaze over and I'm sure they are thinking similar thoughts.

So I say tell anyone you want about your baby. Who the hell cares if they don't want to hear about it. Who the hell cares if you make them uncomfortable. God forbid they have to hear about the pain and heartache that losing a baby causes. At least they don't have to live it. They can just walk away from the conversation and think of you as the crazy woman who won't just 'get over their dead baby'. But at least you get to talk about your baby. And sometimes that can make you feel so much better.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

It's been a while

Other than the quick photo I posted for Easter it has been FOREVER since I updated this blog. It seems as though I have no time anymore for anything. I know I've taken on a lot of 'projects' and stuff in the last few months, but honestly it's more that I am just getting run down.

First off, I am by NO means complaining about my life. Apart from the obvious, I love the way my life is turning out. I have a wonderful husband who loves and respects me (and vise versa). I have a fun loving almost-three-year-old who makes me smile numerous times a day. And now I have a sweet little bundle of goodness who is discovering more about the world everyday, and reminding me of how 'right' things can be.

BUT I would just like a little more sleep. When Benjamin was born I remember getting so angry at people who had newborns who would complain about their lack of sleep because the baby was up all night. I remember thinking I would give anything to have sleepless nights holding my nursing baby. I remember thinking that I would gladly be up in the wee hours of the morning trying to calm a screaming baby. And so I have a lot of guilt.

I feel guilty when Lexi is up numerous times a night and I am annoyed with her. I just want her to sleep! But then I think about all the other moms out there who wanted nothing more than to hold their living, breathing, screaming babies, myself included, and I feel a little pang of guilt and disgust with myself. I should be cherishing every moment with her; good and bad. She is all I hoped for in the months following Benjamin's birth. So shouldn't I just be happy?

It's hard to come to terms with everything. Some days it hits me that I don't think about Benjamin as much; don't ache for him like I used to. I know it's normal, I know it's the passage of time. But I feel like I am moving on. Away from him. I don't want him to be a distant memory. Something that happened a long time ago. Someone who was here and then he wasn't. I want him to still be a strong presence in my life. If not physically, then at least emotionally. In a way I miss those days that I would think about him and be reduced to a sobbing mess. At least then I knew how much I missed and loved him. Now when I think about him it barely affects me. It's like I have put him in this little compartment in my mind and my heart and he is safe there. Safe in the memory of what he was and what he should have been. Safe but never forgotten. But is that healthy? Has having Lexi done the unthinkable? Has she replaced him in my mind and my heart? Deep down I know that's not possible and not true. But some days I wonder if I did both of them an injustice by having her so close to him.

I have a friend who I've been hanging out with a lot lately. She has a son close to Jackson's age and they are best friends. She also has another son. A son who was born about 2 weeks before Benjamin was born. We didn't know each other back then so her son has never really reminded me of how old Benjamin should be. This weekend they came over to my house for an Easter party and I mentioned to Brian beforehand that her son is the same age as Benjamin would be. During the party I saw Brian really watching him and I asked him if he was thinking about Benjamin. He said he was and that it was hard for him. It only started affecting me the last few times we've been over to her house. Her son is getting more vocal now and being a typical 17 month old. Jackson is becoming more comfortable with him and starting to treat him more like a little brother. That is hard to see. It's hard to see this little bundle of energy and not think about who is missing in our life. How our life is different than it should be. What Jackson is missing out on. I find I can't get close to my friend's son. I want to because he really is a sweet little boy, but some times it's just hard. I've never talked to her about it, I'm not even sure she's put it together that Benjamin would be the same age. I don't want it to be awkward. I'll just continue trying to ignore that elephant in the room.

I was on another blog a few days ago and the author was talking about how they almost seek out opportunities to talk about their son who has died. I totally get that. In some ways it's like a wound that you just feel this urge to constantly pick at and in other ways it's more of a desire to scream to the world that babies do die and everyone needs to stop being so bloody blind to that fact. I find that I am constantly wanting to tell people about Benjamin. I know a big part of it is just that by talking about him I get to be his mom, I get to get his memory out there. But there are less and less opportunities to talk about him. Less times when it casually comes up. I don't want to be that crazy lady who talks about her dead son everytime someone says hello. If I could do that some days I would.

Two years ago I had just found out I was pregnant with Benjamin. Two years ago I was blissfully naive. It never occurred to me that in just 8 months my life would take such a turn. Two years ago his short life had just begun.

So I just hit 'publish post' and had gone on about my day, reading some other blogs. And then the tears started. Shit. I guess this is how it is. You think you are fine, you've put things in their neat compartments, you wonder if you aren't feeling enough. And then some random comment on another blog, by another person, sends you for a tailspin. It was this post ( Specifically the part about how she wishes that she had touched and kissed every single part of her daughter.

That is the one thing that haunts me. The one thing that I can't bear to think about without getting that lump in my throat and the burn in the eyes. When Benjamin was born they laid him down in front of me (to this day I have no idea where he was laid. Was it on my lap? Between my legs? On my belly? On the bed? On a table? I have no idea). We were able to see his entire body, naked. I was trying to see him through the freely flowing tears but all I could focus on was his beautiful face and curly dark hair. After a few minutes they took him to the side of the room to weigh, measure and clean him up a bit. Then they wrapped him up and brought him back to us. That was the only time I saw him naked. After that he was always wrapped in blankets. Except when Heather came to take photos and she unwrapped him. Then I got to see his perfect little feet. But I never got to see the rest of him. It breaks my heart that I don't know what his legs looked like, his belly, his baby butt, his bits. I don't know if he had any birthmarks. I don't know if he had long legs or knobby knees. I don't know what he looked like. A mother should know those things. All I remember of his body is that he was bruised and skin was peeling. I don't want that to be all I know of his body. A mother should not know that.

So I guess this is the moment I was just writing about. I guess I got what I wished for since now I am a sobbing mess thinking about him. And as horrible as it feels, it does also feel a little good. If you've been here, you understand.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

Is there a book in here?

I went to a Woman's Wellness Show a few weeks ago. There were a bunch of tables and booths set up with various types of businesses. Mostly they were massage therapists, jewelery vendors, and different home party consultants. But way back in a corner was a publishing company. It was odd because she didn't really fit in with the rest of the businesses. I stopped and chatted with her for a few minutes. I asked her what is involved in having a book published and she went over the basics of it. She asked me if I had a book in mind and I told her that I did, and I even had most of it already written out. She gave me her card and suggested I come in to meet with her. She'll see what I have done already and guide me where to go from here.

I haven't done that yet. I am still unsure of whether to try to publish my memoir or not. I want to publish because I know there are not enough books on stillbirth; especially ones that tell the whole story rather than just snippets. The majority of books on stillbirth and infant loss either deal with the clinical side of it or are very religious. I just want to tell my story. I don't want to delve into the statistics and the medical backgrounds of stillbirth. I just want people to know about Benjamin and how his life (and death) changed my world. I want to have a book out there that might help other people know that they are not alone; to let people know how one mother coped with the devastation.

But the process seems so daunting. So much work. Let's face it, I have a lot on my plate right now. To focus on publishing my story just seems like one more thing that I'll only be able to partially focus on. If I'm going to actually go through the process of publishing Benjamin's story I want it done right.

So maybe I'll meet with this publishing lady. Maybe I'll see what is involved. Or maybe I'll just keep dreaming about the 'some day'. Some day when I have more time. Some day when I am not exhausted. Some day when I don't have eight million other things on the go. Some day I'll publish this story.

Monday, February 22, 2010

What's with the weird comments

So I posted about the 'abortion thing' a few days ago. Then on Thursday there was the following conversation at the doctors office. Here's the background: I was at the doctor's office with Lexi. She has some sort of reflux/gut/sleeping/screeching issues and we are trying to get it sorted out. I was called up to the receptionist to check in (let me add that I love this receptionist, she is fantastic at her job and very down to earth when you call in with questions or concerns; gives her opinion as a mother and then as a doctor's office employee).

Receptionist: Hi Rachel, are you here for you or for baby?
Me: For baby.
Receptionist: (looking at my file) And that's for Baby Ben?
Me: (shocked) Ummm... Nooooo....
Receptionist: No? Not for Baby Ben? (clearly confused)
Me: Noooo..... (waiting for her to realize her immense error)
Receptionist: (just looks at me confused)
Me: Benjamin was my baby that was stillborn last year.
Receptionist: Oh God! Oh, I'm so sorry (hand on her heart)!!
Me: Don't worry about it, it's okay. This appointment is for Lexi.
Receptionist: (clearly still very upset about her error) Oh, why do they still have that on the file?!
Me: Really, it's okay.

Sooo... What to say about this exchange... Firstly it was a shot to the heart. Made me sad and sick at the same time as happy and tricky feeling. That's hard to explain. It's like when my friend lost her baby and I accidentally used her baby's name in place of her toddler's name in an email asking how her toddler was (days after her baby had died). When she pointed out my error I felt horrible but she replied with "It's okay, it was kind of nice because no one will ever ask me how she is". I get that. By the receptionist asking me if the appointment was for Benjamin I got to, just for a minute, feel like I was his mom; doing something so mundane for him as taking him to the doctor's office. I will never get to do that, but for just a split second it was like that is what I was doing. I also felt tricky because I could feel her confusion but didn't want to right away explain it away. Don't get me wrong, I really do like this woman and it bothers me how much I know she has stewed about it ever since, but I deal with the confusion, the despair, the somethings-not-right-in-the-world every day since losing Benjamin. So for once it wasn't me feeling that way over him. And of course I felt sad and sick because the truth was that it was not an appointment for Benjamin. He will never have a mundane doctor's appointment. He'll never have the entire waiting room smiling at his cute little baby coos and squeals. He will never make a teenage boy uncomfortable by staring at him and making silly noises and faces trying to get his attention. He will never attack the doctor's hand with his slobbery mouth when he is trying to do his assessment. He will never feel the cold paper of the exam table and the utter giddiness as another person tickles his belly and remarks on his chubby little legs. He won't get any of that. And that makes me sad.

But just for that split second I was able to imagine that he was my living baby. Bringing him to a doctor's appointment, concerned about his health and wanting to make him better. Just for that split second that was an option; that making him better. Just for a split second. And since that's all I get, I'll take it when I can.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

You have to read this

I was looking for relevant quotes for stillbirth and infant loss today. In my search I came across this blog and started reading it a bit. It's written by a woman, Lauren, who gave birth to her son, Jonathan, 4 months ago. Her son was born with T13 and lived for 40 minutes. In this post ( she talks about a build-a-bear teddy that was given to her by a nurse. For Christmas her husband added a recording of Jonathan's heart beat into the bears chest and a recording of their daughter saying "I love you Jonathan! I miss you!" into the bear's hand. There are no words to describe how special this bear must be to Lauren. Part of me is so jealous that she has this. So envious. It pains me that I don't have anything like this of Benjamin. Sure I have his photos and things that he physically touched. But to have a reminder of him alive would be such a treasure. When I was pregnant with Lexi I recorded her heartbeat so that I could share it with family and friends. Part of me knew that I was also doing it 'just in case'. I also wanted so desperately to go to one of those 3D ultrasound places so that I could get a video of her ultrasound. But it was expensive and I felt like that would be putting too much belief in her not being born alive. Like that would be jinxing things. Silly.

But to have that bear with Benjamin's heart beat...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Odd, disturbing conversation

Last week I was in Wendy's for lunch with the kids. The cashier was fawning over Lexi. Then she mentions to me that she is pregnant. Here's the conversation:

Me: Congratulations, when are you due?
Her: June.
Me: Is this your first baby?
Her: (laughing) Yes, I'm only 18.
Me: Oh (thinking, so?)
Her: Yeah, I just couldn't do the whole abortion thing.
Me: Um... Good for you.

What the hell else do you say to that???? What a stupid thing to say. "The whole abortion thing". Like it's some cool trend that all the other kids are doing, but she just wasn't in to it. So instead she's just going to go through with it and have the baby. I wanted so badly to ask her if she was going to put the baby out for adoption or ruin her life by keeping it (I only say 'ruin her life' because that's the impression she gave). I really hope she looked into adoption since I believe any person that makes the statement "I just couldn't do the whole abortion thing" should have really researched her options before deciding she is the best mother for that baby.

I am not anti-abortion, anti-teenmom, or bitter (okay, maybe a bit bitter). It just pissed me off that she would say that. She doesn't know me. I'd never seen her before in my life and yet she felt it was acceptable to make such a stupid statement to me. Like she felt she deserved some sort of pat on the back for continuing the pregnancy. And you just know she'll end up having a healthy baby, born at term with no issues at all. And then she'll raise this baby, making sure everyone knows that this is NOT the way she wants her life to be. I just hope at some point in the next 4 months she figures out how lucky she is to be having a baby and when that little girl is born she will instantly fall in love with her and realize how lucky she is to be a mom. And then she'll think back to when she told that stranger in Wendy's that she just couldn't 'do that whole abortion thing' and be embarrassed by her immature statement.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Makes it all worth it.

I received an email last week from a woman that received a Benjamin Box. It was the first contact I'd had with someone that actually was given a box. I know there have been many boxes given to families, but this was the first time someone has contacted me. She shared a bit about her son and told me how much she appreciated the box. I cannot begin to tell you how that made me feel. It made all the work I've put into this project totally worth it. It made it real. These boxes really are making a difference. Benjamin's short life has helped to make someone else's pain just a tiny bit more bearable.

The website continues to get a lot of hits every day. Donations are slowly starting to come in. Many people that have donated have done so in memory of their baby or in memory of a loved one's baby. I want people to know about these babies. To know that people that loved these babies have reached out to help other people during their devastating times. But it is not my place to do so. I cannot put on the website that a donation was made in xxx's name. I want to; I so desperately want to. But it is not my place. So if you are thinking of making a donation, please use the tribute page to tell readers about your son or daughter. Tell them that because you loved and lost your baby some other mother will have some comfort in memory of your baby.

It's hard to get the word out about these boxes. I don't feel right asking for donations. And really that's mainly what the site is about. Sure, it's also to increase awareness, but for the most part it's basically asking for money. How do you ask people for money? Even when it's a cause that is so important to you it keeps you up at night; it takes over your thoughts for a good portion of the day? How do you ask for donations for a cause that people don't want to talk about? People don't want to think about stillbirth and infant loss. If they think about it then it becomes a reality. If it's a reality then it can happen to them. And that is a scary thought.

On the site I can see where people have been referred to my site from. Today I saw that some people came from Twitter. People I don't even know are 'tweeting' about me. That blows my mind. This little project that I dreamed up while grieving my son is being talked about by people I have never met; not even on a forum online. I don't know how they first saw the site, but they are tweeting about it nonetheless. And donating money. Blows my mind.

I feel optimistic. Good things are going to happen in memory of my sweet Benjamin. That makes me so happy that it makes me burst into tears.

I love you, my sweet baby boy. I hope you are proud of your mommy.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Benjamin Box Website!


Please go check it out and let me know what you think! I'm hoping for good things to come from this.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Remebrance Jewelry

I recently had a necklace custom made for me by a wonderful company ( This company makes necklaces that are also little urns, but the beauty of them is that no one would know that is what they are. They just look like stunning pendants. A friend of mine had one made and it is just beautiful. So I contacted them about having a daisy made. I debated if I wanted a daisy or not. We called Benjamin 'Daisy' when I was pregnant with him. And daisies still make me think about him. But at the same time calling him Daisy made things a little more confusing because I was so sure my baby Daisy was going to be a girl. So when my baby Benjamin was born I felt like my baby girl (Daisy) and my baby boy (Benjamin) both died. I felt like I lost the girl I was pg with and the boy I gave birth to. Weird. But in the end a friend of mine put it in a great light. She said that by getting the necklace of a daisy I was honoring both my memories. It wasn't confusing things any more than they already were. I was honoring my baby Daisy but also Benjamin because it was his ashes in it. Confused yet?

The process of having the necklace made should have been simple. They sent me a picture of a flower they had in mind for the daisy and I okayed it and they made it happen. When I received the necklace I was so disappointed. It looked nothing like I had in mind. I didn't want to put Benjamin's ashes into it. This was supposed to be something that I would want to wear every day, but I didn't even want to look at it. I could objectively look at it and see that it was a beautiful piece of jewelery, but it just wasn't what I imagined my necklace to look like. I knew that it was my fault; it did look just like the picture that I had okayed.

I decided to call the company and tell them that I just wasn't happy with it. I didn't know what they could do about it; if anything. I actually was that woman. The one that calls a company and actually starts crying. It was a tad humiliating, lol! Anyways, the man that I ended up talking to was actually part of the design team for it. I don't think he took offense when I told him that I wasn't happy with it. I think he understood. We discussed what about it I didn't like and what I would want changed. I told him I had found some images online of daisies that were more in line with what I was thinking about. He told me to send the necklace back to him and to email him the images that I liked. Then they would make me a new one. OMG! They would make me A BRAND NEW ONE!!! For no additional charge!!! They were also going to add a Citrine stone in the middle (November birth stone). FOR NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE!

I received my new necklace a few days before we went home for Christmas. I filled it the next day and have not taken it off since. I absolutely love it. And I love that part of my sweet baby boy is with me at all times. Day and night.

So if anyone is in the market for a piece of remembrance jewelery I cannot recommend this company more highly. The customer service they have is beyond fantastic. And their work (on both necklaces) is absolutely beautiful.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Benjamin Boxes

When I originally decided to make Benjamin Boxes for our local hospital I tried to find out approximately how many we would need in a year. I spoke to the grief counsellor that all the bereaved mothers get referred to. I spoke to the social workers at the hospital. And I looked at stats on line. All of this led me to believe it would be about 12 a year. These are just cases of stillbirth, as this is who will receive a Benjamin Box.

So I went shopping. I bought Notepads, pens, tissues, stationary, small zip-close bags, hand/foot print kits, and scrapbooking paper to make small frames for hand or foot prints. I also went to a local maternity/baby boutique ( and told the owner about the boxes. She donated baby gowns to add to the boxes. Then I researched online sources of support and information and made up a long list to include in the boxes. I wrote up my story and included that. I also bought 12 sympathy cards and had the women in my support group sign them (often including their contact information).

I dropped off the first three boxes on November 10th. The social worker at the hospital emailed me a few weeks ago asking me to drop off another 3 boxes since they had run out of them. So I made up 3 more and dropped them off 2 weeks ago. Sadly, I just got an email today telling me they are in need of more boxes. That means that in 2 months there have been 6 families whose dreams have shattered. Six babies who were gone too soon. If these boxes have provided any comfort then I will gladly make as many as needed.

I have had people suggest setting up a paypal account so that I'm not having to make these boxes using my own money. That way I could include more things in them. I've looked into paypal, and even have a Paypal account. But I'm a tad technologically slow and don't really understand much more than how to set up the account, lol! If anyone wants to do that for me, let me know! If there are as many boxes needed as it seems then I might have to put more of an effort into fundraising. I have had a couple generous friends and relatives donate money to the cause (thank you so much!!). But I really hate asking for money. Even if it is a worthwhile cause. And I promise not to turn this blog into constant posts asking for donations! I was just surprised today when I got the email telling me they are already running short on them again. If this trend continues it could mean that I will have to donate 36 boxes this year, instead of the 12 originally planned for! Yikes!

My long-term hope is that these boxes could be offered in more hospitals than just my local one. But I'd like to get through one year here and see how it goes first. It just makes me sad to hear stories of women that have gone through this and not received any sort of support. Talk about feeling alone at a time when you need all the compassion you can get!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Signing Christmas Cards

How do you sign Christmas cards? Generally, in my experience anyways, it is the woman in the relationship that signs cards. So I sign them from Rachel and Brian. Even though, more often than not, Brian has nothing to do with the card. He did think about how we needed to send a card, he did not buy the card, he did not think of anything to write in it, but yet it seems appropriate to sign his name. The thought that matters and all that. Since having Jackson I also sign his name on it too. Which sometimes amuses me since he has even less to do with the card. And now there is Lexi. Her name got thrown on all the Christmas cards too. Did she care if everyone had a good Christmas? Probably not since she doesn't understand the concept of Christmas. Heck, she doesn't even understand the concept of 'good'. And yet it is the thing to do to sign the card from everyone in the family.

Which brings me to today's topic. It did not seem right to me to sign the card from everyone in our family and not include Benjamin at all. When you really think about it Lexi wanted everyone to have a good Christmas just as much as Benjamin did. But how do you casually include your stillborn son on a Christmas card? A while ago I started signing things that were from all of us and included a '+1'. Quite often it is just small near the bottom corner of a card so that people might not really notice it, but it's there for me. He's still included. It seems silly that I feel he needs to be included on something so trivial as a Christmas card. But it's just another way to keep him included in our family and to keep the memory of him alive in everyone's mind.

It seems, as time goes on, that people tend to 'forget' about Benjamin. I know no one has actually forgotten about him, but he is barely mentioned anymore. On Christmas day I opened a card from one of Brian's aunts and she addressed it to Brian, Rachel, Jackson and Lexi. But then on the side she wrote a star and said 'and never forgetting our special boy'. What did I do? Burst into tears. That was the only mention of him that day. I know my family and Brian's family were thinking about him, but no one actually spoke of him. I don't know what I would have preferred. If everyone had talked about him then it might have been more outwardly sad. We all knew that someone was missing from the celebrations and that it was just unfair, but at the same time he was there in everyone's minds.

And at what point do I move forward and stop looking back so much? A friend asked me if I was getting an ornament this year for Benjamin. I told her that I wasn't because I felt that if I got one this year then next year I'd feel I had to again, and when would that end? I don't want the tree to be filled with ornaments for Benjamin to the point that there are less ornaments for my living children. I don't want them to feel in the shadows of their brother. I know, I know, they are just small little ornaments. But I would want them to be front and center on the tree. So no. I am not going to get him an ornament every year. I got him a beautiful one last year and I will put it on the tree every year, in a place of prominence. But I will not specifically go out and buy him a new one each year.

He would have been 13 1/2 months this Christmas. He would have just had practice opening presents at his birthday and would have been a pro at ripping into the Christmas presents. Jackson and him would have been little terrors, feeding off each other, and having a blast. It would have been hectic and crazy. And I would have loved every second of it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Happy New Year!!

Okay, okay... It's been a new year for 2 weeks now. But Happy New Year nonetheless.

My only new year resolutions are not to be pregnant or have a baby in 2010. I got pregnant with Jackson in September of 2006, gave birth to him in May of 2007. Then I got pregnant with Benjamin in February of 2008 and gave birth to him in December of 2008. Then I got pregnant with Lexi in January of 2009 and gave birth to her in September of 2009. So I've been pregnant for some part of every year since 2006 and have had a baby in 2007, 8 and 9. My body (and my sanity) need a bit of a break!

I hope everyone had a good holiday. I'll post more about it once we are settled. We were in Ontario for 3 weeks and got back last week but are still settling back into our 'routine'. Whatever that is.

On a side note, I had to drop off three more Benjamin boxes at the hospital last week. They have already given three of them to bereaved families. One of which was my neighbour... Their identical twin boys were born around 30 weeks and did not survive. I haven't made it over to their house yet. Something is stopping me. I think it's the fact that I will bawl and then be awkward in my neighbourhood. Stupid, I know. I did have Brian drop off a card while I was away. Seems trivial though...