Monthly Archives: July 2012

What do you want to do today?

In the days after our due date, when we were still eagerly awaiting Hudson’s arrival, my hubby would ask me, “What do you want to do today?”

My response was always:

“Have a baby.”

The question still comes up, now in our days of coping rather than our days of anticipation.

The answer is still the same.

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When you miss your baby

When you miss your baby, you play Claire de Lune and think of how much she would have loved to listen to you play piano.

You look at her pictures and you re-memorize her face.

You think of baby names for her baby brothers and sisters.

When you miss your baby, you listen to the song that your brother-in-law wrote for her, and you cry a little bit because as the lyrics say, “I can’t wait til I see you again.”

You open that bag the nurse gave you with her clothes that smell like her bath.

You think about going in her room, but you don’t.

When you have lost your baby, you sometimes can’t believe that this is really your life.

You look at pregnant women with a touch of envy.

You think the baby kicked and then remember that you aren’t pregnant anymore.

When you’ve lost your baby, all you want to think about is being pregnant with the next.

You want your family. Not necessarily the one that you have. The one you built and didn’t get, somehow.

Your heart aches for its biggest and most important part. That part that is missing and that you can’t get back, no matter how soon you can get pregnant again, no matter how many babies you have.

The Legendary Hair

Legendary

that beautiful, Legendary hair…

Nobody can tell you where Hudson’s red hair came from.

Neither The Hubs nor Momma Dub has red hair. We don’t have relatives with red hair.

But Hudson was born with undeniably red hair. Trust me, I tried to deny it.

It’s all a part of the legend that is Baby Dub – Hudson Ruth Walter.

I didn’t believe it at first. When I first saw her, I was fighting off some general anesthesia from my C-Section, so who knows what I saw at that point. I think I saw full, thick hair, curly and matted from being in mommy’s tummy, but it was dark. Too dark to see any real red tinge.

I don’t think anybody who met her could escape comment on her ridiculously thick and amazing hair. “Where’d the red come from?”

When I arrived at the NICU and got to take a closer look at our precious baby girl, I had to grudgingly admit that there was a reddish tinge. Red highlights, maybe? We’ll call it strawberry blond.

My nine-year-old niece commented “She’s going to be one of those red haired, blue eyed girls with freckles!”

Evidently the term “ginger” hasn’t been effectively circulated with the 3rd grade crowd. Thank goodness.

Hudson’s head was a little cone shaped from the suction of the vacuum used during labor, before we had to go in for the emergency c-section. The top of her tiny cone head was matted with curly dark locks, and the front was soft, wispy and somehow windswept looking.

My best friend L commented “It makes it look like she’s been going really fast!”

On Thursday night, Hudson’s nurse washed her hair. No more matted mess at the back of her dome. The whole look was almost Posh Spice-esque when we came down to see her early that morning. A little comb over in the front, spikes in the back.

And so deliciously soft. Which I imagine Posh Spice can’t even compete with.

On Friday night, The Hubs and I were able to give our daughter a bath. I’d run my hands through her hair more times that I can count in those 3 days but there was nothing like taking a soapy washcloth to Hudson’s locks, rubbing her little dome with baby lotion. And when we were finally able to hold our daughter later that night, and I saw her freshly clean hair in the light, I had to admit finally through my tears “She does have red hair.”

When we found out we were having a baby girl, one of the things I really panicked about was the fact that I don’t know how to do a french braid. Our daughter was born with enough hair that a french braid was probably not out of the question. I drooled over those precious baby headbands that have flowers and feathers bigger than the baby’s face on them. As cute as they are, they don’t do our daughter justice. That curly auburn mop needed no embellishment.

But I would give anything to french braid Hudson’s hair.

Being around babies, focusing on joy

I love it and I hate it.

The day of Hudson’s memorial, we had a dinner with our family and somehow I ended up surrounded by little girls of various ages.

As long as I don’t think of how I won’t get to see Hudson playing, as long as I don’t dwell on how I never will be able to do tummy time with Baby Dub, as long as I keep my mind on the hopes for our future children and keep my mind off the dashed dreams of our first born, I am okay.

The summer was supposed to be our best ever. Tons of weddings, the thought of showing off Hudson at all these happy family occasions, the Hubs toting her around in his Baby Bjorn (the Father’s Day gift I gave him)… when I think of these plans and how we won’t get to experience them with Hudson… that’s rough. I have to quickly flip my perspective and think about how this time next year I intend to be hugely pregnant.

That’s something to look forward to.

My sister gets married tomorrow. It’s hard to believe it will be two weeks since Hudson died. It might be hard to see some of the family and friends who weren’t with us for Hudson’s short life. It might be great, too.

I want to be sure to keep the focus on my sister’s joy, not on my grief.

Family and friends are wonderful. Going out of their way to make plans with me. The delicate dance of whether or not to bring up Hudson (don’t worry, I’m thinking about her right now, we can talk about her if you want). Calling, texting, Facebooking their love our way.

I am counting down the next 6 months. I’ve been making lists of productive occupations to fill my time between now and January 2013. Training for a half marathon. Building my Baby Tabernacle. Finishing up a few projects around the house. Learning a new language. Finishing my play script. Writing about Hudson. Writing about other things besides Hudson.

The Hubs and I decided last night to plan an epic vacation to kick off 2013. We’ll have the all-clear to start trying for Hudson’s baby bro or baby sis, and even though I don’t want to spend the next 6 months in Baby Limbo, I have to admit it’s about the only thing I’m genuinely looking forward to. So we’re upping the ante by throwing a vacation on top of it.

When I find out I’m pregnant again, it will be the happiest day of my life so far. There will be no dazed and confused looks, no “Am I ready for this?”, nothing but joy.

And that’s my primary focus.

In the meantime, I think I can handle it if you bring your babies around me.

The last post breaks my heart

I hardly can bear to read the last post before Hudson.

Baby Dub did show, and she blessed us with three incredible days before passing away in our arms.

The 41st week was not my paid penance for an easy pregnancy. It was a special blessing, an extra week to spend with my baby 24/7. Moments with Hudson Ruth were so incredibly precious.

A complication-free, easy pregnancy, but we didn’t get to bring our baby home.

It’s a beautiful day, the sun is shining in Walla Walla, and it’s been over two weeks since our daughter was born. Less than two weeks since she died.

How do we not have a baby right now?

It’s not fair, I can’t reason with it and I can’t justify it and I can’t change it.

Already my memory of the beautiful daughter we made is starting to fade. When I think of her face, it’s a memorization of a picture. Her precious face, that changed so much in the three days we had with her.

Being a mother is such a privilege. I was only blessed with three days with our baby girl, but they were the best. Days. Ever.

I will miss her every day.

As me and the Hubs grieve, I’m touched and saddened by how many people in our lives have also been affected by similar tragedy. The notes and the cards and the Facebook messages and the texts and the calls have all meant so much to us. Such good people have lost so much, and the world just isn’t a fair place.

I cannot bring my daughter back, but I can honor her by being the best mother I can be, by sharing her story, by encouraging others to cherish the gift of parenthood, by being an example of positive coping.

Our hearts are broken, but they are beating.

Two weeks vs. Eternity

Hudson would be two weeks old today.

It feels like it has been an eternity, and then it seems like it hasn’t been that long at all. I hate every day that passes because it is one day further from when we had Hudson, one day further from when we had hope. But I have to treasure each day that passes too, because it is one day closer to Hudson’s baby brother or baby sister, and it is one day closer to seeing Hudson again.

A friend’s mom posted a link on my Facebook the other day…. “Mother and Child are linked at the Cellular Level.”

The article posits that cells from a developing fetus cross the placenta and become a part of the mother into her old age. These fetal cells help treat illness in the mother, contribute stem cells, generate new neurons in the mother’s brain and even heal the mother’s heart.

My heart could use some healing, Hudson. Get to work.

The article also talks about these fetal cells having the imprint of her father as well as the father’s ancestry – so the Hubs is a part of me forever because of Hudson. And best of all, fetal cells from Hudson may end up being passed to her little bro or little sis.  Hudson will always be a part of our family.

I knew this emotionally. I knew this intangibly. I didn’t know this so concretely.

I am honored to carry a piece of Hudson within my body forever. A part of Hudson is alive and well within me, and I will honor my daughter by making my body a veritable “Baby Growing Tabernacle”, by being the best mother I can be, by being the best person I can be, by making the best out of the worst and sharing Hudson’s story and hope with other people who might be going through a loss.

I’ve gotten a little… maybe superstitious is the word… in the past few days. I’ve seen a little green bug hanging out next to a picture of the Hubs and I and the doggies. It’s been hanging out there for like, 3 days. I don’t know why I thought to myself, “a part of Hudson is there, and she wants to be close to us.” Today we planted some flowers in our backyard, and a white butterfly kept fluttering through. I don’t know why I thought to myself, “That’s Hudson, and she can move wherever she wants and she is beautiful.”

I don’t think I believe in this kind of stuff but I can’t pretend that these thoughts don’t bring me comfort.

In a completely contradictory philosophy on the state of the dead, I go to the belief system I was raised with… that “the dead know nothing”, that dying is like flipping a switch and for Hudson, the next thing she’ll see and experience is being passed into our arms by an angel, or by Jesus himself.

I imagine that Hudson wants to be held by us, to acknowledge us, just as much as we longed for that in her lifetime and as much as we long for that now. I couldn’t help but think, looking down at Hudson while she slipped away in my arms, that she looked… disappointed. Disappointed that she wasn’t going to grow up with us in this lifetime.

I can’t wait to share an eternity with her in the next.

Two weeks would have been amazing. Three days were. A lifetime, an eternity, I cannot even fathom.

I miss you, Baby Girl. Can’t wait to see you again.

Telling People

Yesterday, the Hubs and I both had our first awkward “telling somebody who didn’t know Hudson had died” experiences.

The Hubs was mowing the front yard, and our wonderfully sweet neighbor man came over and asked,

“Are you a daddy yet?”

I was going through the drive-thru at our local Starbucks. I haven’t had the heart to take Hudson’s carseat out yet. The girl at the window asked, “How’s that baby doing back there?”, straining to get a peek.

“She didn’t get to come home,” was what I managed to squeak out through an incoming tearchoke.

I felt bad. I’m sure she felt worse. Then she flipped up her sleeve and said, “I know what you’re going through.”

Her upper arm was tattooed with two sweet baby feet and a name.

“Oh! We are thinking of doing that too. I’m so sorry.” There was some babbling I’m sure.

I cannot believe how many people I encounter who have experienced such a tragic loss. It’s a nightmare. This world is not my home.

I know that this is likely not the first time I’ll have to break the bad news to somebody. I imagine it will get a little less difficult, that I’ll have better words to share the story, but there’s no avoiding the fact that it is painful, it is uncomfortable. And eventually it will not come up. People who recognize me, remember me when I was pregnant, will either know the story, or they’ll have figured it out, or they’ll have forgotten that I was pregnant, and they’ll think, “Wasn’t she pregnant a while ago?” or they won’t think of it at all.

I can’t imagine a day I won’t think about it at all. But I know that time heals.

And I’m getting better at speaking through the tearchoke.

The joy of parenthood

Mommies and Daddies, hug your babies. Hug them tight. There is nothing more important in your entire life than this. You, your partner and your baby.

Nothing is more important.

I would give anything in this world for a few more moments with Hudson. To hold our beautiful baby girl in my arms just one more time. No amount of time could ever have been enough.

The three days of Hudson’s life were the most stressful and horrific yet somehow wonderful and proud and fulfilling days of my life. I cannot even begin to fathom the joy I would have felt to hear Hudson’s first cries. To change that first disgusting diaper. To look in my baby’s eyes, know she depends on us, employ the Five S’s and have them all fail.

Cherish every second with your baby. Don’t take this gift for granted. I am experiencing varying levels of anger and sadness, and my anger tends to be aimed at parents who do not understand the tremendous honor and privilege it is to be a parent. Don’t be one of those parents. I will hate you.

When Hudson’s baby brother or baby sister comes along, I will try to retain this perspective. When I’m awakened every 2 hours by a screaming infant, I will smile through my sleep-deprived haze as I roll out of bed to feed my baby. I will grin and bear the pain of chaffed nipples. I will love my C-Section scar. I will clean up the first diaper blow-out with glee.

You will never have a more important job than being parent. Be the best at it.

Hudson’s song

My brother-in-law Jayson Rettig-Smith had to work on the day of Hudson’s memorial. So he stayed up until 5 in the morning writing and recording a song for her.

It’s the best song ever written. The lyrics are below. At some point I’ll get this up on the blog so you can listen, too.

We live in a changing world
And you were born babe
Our beautiful girl
So perfect, so amazing
When I held your hand
I can’t wait till I see you again

You will always be here
No matter what
And I’m not gonna lie
That there’s days when it’s tough
But I’ll always remember what you gave to us
You brought us together
And we learned about love

When I see a rainbow
Or a star in the sky
I know you’re watching
And it will make me smile
There will be times when I hear a voice
And I know your speaking to me
I’ll always love you my sweet baby

You will always be here
No matter what
And I’m not gonna lie
That there’s days when it’s tough
But I’ll always remember what you gave to us
You brought us together
And we learned about love

We live in a changing world
And you were born babe…

Our beautiful girl

The first tearless day

When you lose your baby, it is hard to believe a day will come that you don’t cry for her. But it comes sooner than you think.

It’s a little like a baseball pitcher in the middle of a no-hitter. Don’t mention it to him, don’t let him realize he has a no-hitter going, or he’ll blow it.

When I realized I hadn’t cried yet yesterday, I started to try to cry. Let me dig through my memories and find a particularly good one and dwell on it until tears form.

But tears, like laughter, have to come from a genuine place. They’re best, most therapeutic, when they sneak up on you.

Then came the guilt. How can I think of my baby and not cry? What’s wrong with me? Isn’t this too soon?

There is no right or wrong way to feel in a situation like this.

There is just the way you feel.