Thursday, November 1, 2012

Capture Your Grief 2012 Days 1 - 10

This October, a leader in helping break the taboo of baby loss, Carly Marie, decided to start a photo challenge called Capture Your Grief. It is a photo-a-day challenge during the month of October, which is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I have kept up with this project on Face*book, but I wanted to post it on here as well.

Day 1: Sunrise

Tomball, TX 7:25am

Day 2: Before Loss Self Portrait

This photo of Greg & I was taken at his brother's wedding, 5 days before Chase was born. This is the only photo I have of me while pregnant, and while it's not my favorite picture, it's the only one I have. After waiting 5 years to become pregnant, we were so excited to finally become parents. Here we were happily waiting to have our anatomy scan in 3 days to find out if we were having a boy or girl.

Day 3: After Loss Self Portrait
April 27, 2012
This picture was taken on the day of Chase's funeral. Since I was so drugged and mostly unconscious during the time he was born and afterwards, I only had a very short time to see and hold him. I demanded that we were able to have time before the service started to see him so I could really look at him, take pictures and remember him. Walking away from him and leaving the cemetery that day is probably the hardest thing I have ever done.

Day 4: Treasured Item(s)

Besides the few pictures we have of Chase (which I will re-share later), these are the most treasured items I have of his. The outfit is the first and only outfit we bought for him right after finding out he was a boy! Obviously he never got the chance to wear it, but it will always be his. Then there are the ultrasound pictures from the anatomy scan, 2 days before he was born. Next are his footprints which are probably truly my most treasured item - proof that he was here and he was a baby, not just a "fetus." The little hat was given to us by the hospital and while it was way too big for him and he never wore it, it was also his. I carried that hat around with me everywhere I went for the next two weeks.

Day 5: Memorial

This was a picture I took the first time we saw his headstone. You can see that there is still a lot of dirt there and the grass was just beginning to grow in. It is a very powerful thing to see your child's name etched in stone.

Day 6: What NOT to say

Please don't tell me it was God's plan. I do believe that God has a plan for my life, Greg's and our son's life, but saying this implies I should just be ok with it and not upset that my son died. While I am still "young" compared to others, I could have another 100 babies and NONE of them would make up for or replace Chase. It also took us 5 yrs to conceive him, so there is no guarantee we will ever be able to have more children. God didn't create my son and then have him die in order to create an angel. My son isn't an angel - he's just a baby that died. If God needed another angel, he would just create one. Last, but the most important - please don't say nothing! I know you may not know what to say, but ignoring me and saying nothing hurts and makes me think you don't care.

Day 7: What TO say

I know it is very hard to know what to say after someone goes through something like this. For me, these are the best things to say - I'm not expecting anything profound, I just want to know you acknowledge my loss. Also, please say Chase's name, ask questions about him, ask how I am doing, etc. You will not be bringing up a bad memory - I LOVE to speak about my son and answer questions about him.

Day 8: Jewelry

This is my necklace that I wear every single day. The front has Chase's actual footprints engraved on it (smaller though) and the back has his name and birth info. It has gotten a little scratched up, but I guess it's because I wear it all the time. Whenever I am thinking about him, I will reach up and grab just helps me feel close to him.

Day 9: Special Place

I guess out of all the places there are, the cemetery where Chase is buried at is probably the place where I feel the most at peace and connected to him. The cemetery has never really been a sad place for me to visit - I enjoy going out me it is a very beautiful, peaceful place. However, that being said, I also feel close to him being outside on a beautiful, sunny day nearly as much and I don't need to go to the cemetery to feel close to him. I know that while his body is there, his spirit is not. But I do like that we have a place where his body is laid to rest, where his name is on a stone and we can bring him flowers, etc.

Day 10: Symbol

The symbol I associate with Chase is a dragonfly. That's not to say I think he died and became a dragonfly and that he flies around me. I just remember right around the time he died, there were dragonflies everywhere - at the cemetery, in our backyard, landing on the car, etc. So I guess that is why I started associating them with him. Whenever I see one, it's just another little reminder of my sweet boy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fertility issues, revisited

So we're about to enter September, where we'll hit the one year anniversary of Chase's due date, or what should have been, his 1st birthday. Instead, we'll be hitting 1 year of trying to conceive again...with no luck. I guess after 5 years of infertility before Chase, it really comes as no surprise that we're having issues again. We really thought we had found our "magic pill" when I got pregnant so quickly while in the medical study, but apparently that was either a fluke or there's some other issues going on now.

However, just because we are still having fertility issues again doesn't mean we're ready to give up the dream to have biological children. In all honesty, I wish I could give up that dream. It would be so much easier. It is so emotionally exhausting having hope and continuously being let down month after month. But for some reason, even though I'm so emotionall exhausted and torn down, I still desperately want this dream for us. My entire life, I have always felt the tug on my heart towards adoption, but after becoming pregnant and then losing Chase, I don't feel like my heart is open to it right now. Seeing Chase and seeing how much he looked like Greg (& some like me), it makes me wonder what his little personality would have been like. I desperately want to have a child who has Greg's smarts, looks, and loving heart, as well as maybe some of my attitude! ;)

I don't think people mean to be insensitive, but when they suggest "why don't you just adopt?" or "have you thought about fostering?", I just want to scream at them! First of all, no - we've never heard of it - please enlighten us! And secondly, why is it ok for everyone else, including you, to be able to have their own children, etc but I am supposed to "settle" for adoption/fostering, etc? And I in no way think it is settling, but to everyone else, it is always option B, like it is second best. I do hope that one day, Greg and I will be open to adoption or even fostering again. But right now, it's not in our hearts, and it wouldn't be fair to accept a child into our home if our hearts weren't fully open to them. I also don't think Greg or I could handle bringing a child into our home through fostering, only to most likely have them taken back after we've fallen head-over-heels in love with that child. I don't think either of our hearts can take that right now.

So, if you know someone who is struggling with fertility, or have had pregnancy losses, or both, please do NOT suggest adoption, fostering, fertility treatments, etc to them unless you have been directly asked for advice or suggestions!! Believe me, I guarantee they know much more about said topic than you do because they are the ones currently experiencing it and they are the only ones who know all the details of what they are facing, even if you have struggled with the same thing in the past! Just offer support, an ear for listening and a shoulder for them to cry on!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Catching up

It's been a while since I've written...I always find myself wanting to write things down on here as a way to express myself and get out some of these emotions, but the task of actually writing them can seem exhausting. So I guess I'll start where I left off. I last wrote at the end of May, a few days after my 29th birthday. For some reason, my birthday was a really hard trigger for me this year. I think it's because it finally kind of hit me that this is my last year in my twenties - I'm getting old(er). And the fact is, I've spent a majority of my twenties trying to get pregnant and have a baby. Yet, here I am, 29 years old and no baby on my hip, but a precious and beautiful baby boy waiting on me in Heaven.

I used to dream about getting married at 23, having my first baby at 25 or so and my second by 28 at the latest, then moving on to my third around 30. I grew up with 4 children in my family - 2 girls, 2 boys and while we all fought just as much as your average siblings do, I always thought it was awesome that we were even, two of each. I decided I would have the same one day! I'm not exactly sure how I planned on getting 2 of each, since it's obviously not up to me, but I guess I just assumed it would happen, much like I assumed I'd be able to get pregnant, just because I wanted to. However, even then, somewhere in the back of my mind, I was always terrified of not being able to get pregnant. For years, I told people that I was scared that was in my future and I used to hear a lot of "don't worry about that now" or "why would you think that" or "don't create a self-fulfilling prophecy", etc.

I don't think I created a self-fulfilled prophecy. I didn't make myself infertile. I just am. Of course, I wonder if part of it is because I've always had strange cycles, so maybe I sensed something wasn't right with myself? Who knows. But, it is interesting that I feared infertility, only for it to come true and I also kept coming across stories of people losing their babies during pregnancy or soon after for a couple years before I myself became pregnant. I remember telling my sister a couple years ago "I think I'm being prepared for something." I'm not sure exactly what she thought about it, but I felt like God was leading me to finding these stories and to see how He was using these precious little lives to reach others and touch many lives.

I think that is part of why I want to find a purpose in all of this. I believe that God wouldn't have allowed us to suffer with infertility for 5 years, then to finally get pregnant, only to lose our son without there being a purpose behind it. He had a purpose for my sweet Chase's life. I may not ever know what His true purpose was or know all the reasons behind it, but I do know that I have already seen blessings from his short life. At the end of my support group meetings, we all go around the room and tell a blessing that has come from our baby's lives. It is because we believe our babies were blessings from God, that their lives had purpose. It certainly doesn't mean we are happy that our babies died, but it means that we are choosing to believe His hand was in it and that good will come out of a painful situation and that we are trusting Him.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I've been struggling lately. A lot. I've noticed myself becoming closed off emotionally to everything and everyone. I wish I could fix myself, but I'm not sure how. Chase's birthday, Mother's day, my birthday all in the last month in addition to struggling yet again with infertility has taken its toll on me. My birthday was last week and it was hard. Another year gone without being a mom, without even having the hope of being pregnant and knowing I will soon be a mom.

I know I'm a mom to Chase, but he isn't here...I have to wait until I leave this world to parent him and I don't think parenting in Heaven is anything like it is down here. Every month that goes by and I get another negative, I grieve not only for the loss of a future child, but for Chase all over again. Because honestly, I just want him. Yes, I'll be thrilled and over-the-moon excited when I am finally pregnant again, but right now, I only long for him. I have yet to learn how it is a mother's heart grows and expands to love a second child as equally as the first. I hope that someday I get that chance.

This past month I finally broke down and saw an RE (fertility specialist) to get their opinion about trying to get pregnant. I've put off that appointment for over 5 years now. I was always so afraid of going in and being told there was no hope for me, there was nothing they could do. Or even that my only hope was to do IVF and we definitely don't have the funds for that and it would take years to save enough money for it...and then what would happen if we saved for years only for it not to work? Yes, sometimes I have a problem with being a little pessimistic. I like to call it being a realist. So for years, I just hoped and prayed that it would happen naturally, on its own. It didn't.

For 5 years we tried to get pregnant and it didn't happen until I joined the medical study. Then, like magic, it happened on our 3rd cycle. I was so relieved that we had finally found our magic medicine, although technically, we weren't sure which medicine I was on, since it was a double-blind study. But, we knew it was one of two things (Clomid or Femara), and we would figure that out when we were ready to try for baby #2! That would be several years down the road anyways! Or not.

So last September, we started trying again with the medicine I suspected I had taken while in the study. My main problem with fertility (as far as we know anyways) is simply that I don't ovulate on my own due to PCOS (Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome). The Femara I was taking was simply to help me ovulate so that I had a chance of getting pregnant. Well, it worked...for 4 cycles I took it and each and every cycle, I ovulated. But I didn't get pregnant. At the end of the 4th month, my doctor told me she was moving and she suggested it would be a good time for a break anyways. This type of drug typically worked in 3-4 cycles if it was going to work at all. So she suggested I take a break, then to follow up with an RE if I hadn't gotten pregnant on my break, but she suspected I would.

So the beginning of this year, I was on a break. That didn't mean we quit trying. It just meant I wasn't taking any ovulation-inducing drugs. I do believe I ovulated every month though...but still no pregnancy. So I finally made that long-dreaded appointment with the RE in April. Things went very quickly after seeing the RE, hearing his recommendations, and starting the course of treatments. My head was still spinning a little when we started that cycle (since it was the very next day), but I was also excited. We decided to do the Femara again, but to double the dosage I had been taking (hoping for a stronger ovulation and better, more mature egg), taking an HCG "trigger" shot (forces ovulation), and doing an IUI (intra-uterine insemination).

We also finally decided to let our families know that we were officially trying again since the stress of everything gets to be a lot, so at least this way they might understand why we were tense. I told myself and everyone else not to get too excited - there was only about a 20% chance of it working. But I couldn't help but feeling so hopeful and optimistic - things I don't normally feel. So of course, when I kept getting negative test after negative test, I was crushed. I kept hoping maybe it was too early, but eventually I accepted that it wouldn't be happening that month and grieved the loss of yet another month. So we are now on another break, but this time because the cost of doing this treatment every month is expensive and since we had no time to prepare for our first cycle, we definitely need to save before moving on. I'm not sure when we'll be able to resume treatments, but I hope it won't be too long.

So for the past year, I spent a good portion of it just trying to grieve and learn how to feel like myself again. Then we started trying to get pregnant, and while it started casually, we've been trying long enough now that I am losing hope and feeling doubtful that we will ever be blessed again. Even though we've been trying for a shorter time since Chase, it has been much harder emotionally than all the previous years combined. I think it must be because I know what it feels like to be pregnant, to love that child instantly and for my heart to feel like it's bursting with love upon meeting him, yet at the same time, be broken into a million pieces because he is dead. We were so close to finally being parents and bringing home our sweet, precious child. My heart aches now, more than ever, to experience that again.

For the past year, I have refused to commit to anything long-term, like a job, volunteering, getting involved in a church, etc because I keep hoping that I will get pregnant soon. I fully expect to be on bedrest throughout my next (and all future) pregnancy because of my cervical issues, and honestly, even if my doctor won't force it on me, I know I will self-impose it. I have a lot of guilt from having watched my niece and nephew during my entire pregnancy with Chase - holding them both, carrying them up/down stairs, etc and wondering if doing all of that led to what happened. I know that it probably made no difference whatsoever, but I can't help but feeling partially guilty for not taking it easy while I was pregnant. So for that reason, I've refused to commit to anything in hopes that I would be pregnant soon, then I would have to quit anyways so I could be on bedrest.

Unfortunately, I'm still not pregnant and it doesn't look like it will be happening anytime soon. So now I feel like I've pretty much wasted a year. And I don't want to keep wasting my time away waiting for it to happen. I'm just not sure where to go from here. What do I do? Most days I'd rather just stay at home and sleep an insane amount of hours, then just stay at home by myself. It takes an enormous amount of effort for me to go anywhere, especially on my own. It's easier when Greg tells me to get ready cause we're going somewhere. But on my own, what's the point? I guess I feel like I've also lost a part of myself, a part of my identity in my grief. I am Chase's mommy, but Chase isn't where does that leave me?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mother's Day

It is May 15th. I have officially survived my 2nd Mother's Day. Both with empty arms. I have to say I think Mother's Day this year was almost harder than Chase's birthday. I knew Chase's birthday was coming up and while I was dreading it, I also think I was looking forward to getting past it. I knew it would be hard facing the day without him and remembering everything that had happened a year ago. It was an emotional day and an emotional week or two leading up to it, but overall, I felt a lot of peace the day of. I did hide out in bed for the first part of the day, then after a cry and praying with my husband, we were ready to face the day. The rest of the day I was able to hold myself together and just focus on my sweet boy and dare I say, enjoy it. And I'll admit, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders after we passed his birthday. Whew. That's over...and so is the last of the 'firsts' since his death. We've faced every first holiday, birthday, season, anniversary and day of the year since Chase's death and we survived.

Then Mother's Day started to sneak up on me. I hadn't even really given it a second thought until after Chase's birthday came and went...then that horrible dread took over. I hate Mother's Day. It is a painful day and I always feel like it points out how inadequate I am. For 5 years I faced the day with the desperate longing to be a mother. Of course, you see all the beautiful families with precious children and the moms looking so natural and happy. Then there is me. Me and my husband. Just us. Again. For 5 consecutive Mother's Days. Then finally, 2011 was going to be my year! I could stand up in church and accept carnations because I was finally going to be a mother! Only, it looked a lot differently than I had imagined. My first Mother's Day was 2.5 weeks after Chase went to Heaven. It was not a good day, to say the least, but I think I was still in so much shock, it didn't really hurt any more than any other day did at that point. A slap in the face? Yes. So, while many people told me "Happy Mother's Day" last year by way of cards, texts, and facebook messages, it was appreciated; however, that made me wonder if I would be acknowledged this year. I still got some "Happy Mother's Day" greetings this year, but nearly all were from my family and fellow baby-loss moms. Not that I didn't appreciate them...I very much did, but just as I suspected, society doesn't see me as a mother.

I guess I can't blame them...what do I have to show that I am a mother? The only sleepless nights I have come from a day of doing too little and spending too much time sleeping the night before, so I am not tired easily. I don't have big birthday parties for my son at the bounce houses, we have them at the cemetery. We are on time to holidays at family's houses because there are no children to get ready, unless of course, I'm too busy crying in the bathroom to get ready on time. We have plenty of money because we don't have to buy formula or diapers, unless of course, the hospital bills from my delivery count...then there's also the money we're paying to the RE for fertility treatments. We have no child because Chase wasn't real - he never existed, he was just a miscarriage - so I guess the kicks I felt just an hour before he was born don't count then...neither does his fingernails, his sweet face that looks so much like his Daddy's or the nose he inherited from me. We don't know the love that a parent feels for their child...funny, because if I didn't feel that love I don't think my entire life would have changed because of him and I wouldn't have a huge hole in my heart now. But no, I guess they're right, I'm not a mother.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

One Year in Heaven

Happy 1st Birthday, Chase!

Chase Austin Miller
April 21, 2011

We miss you with all of our hearts and we can't wait until we get to be together again. Until then, enjoy praising Jesus and playing with all of your friends in Heaven!

We love you!
Mommy & Daddy

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April's officially April, which means Chase's 1st birthday is looming. It also means that my anxiety has set in. It's so hard to believe it has been a year since Chase was born (& died). In fact, when I think about what month it is, my mind still automatically goes right back to April...of 2011. So, I guess it's that much harder to realize it's now a year later. My heart is still broken and the pain is still there. Has it gotten easier? Yes. Will I ever be "better" or "over it?" No! There hasn't been a day that's passed that I haven't thought about and longed for my sweet Chase. Actually, it's many times a day that I think about him and how much I miss him. So many things remind me of him - things I did/ate/places I went/what I watched when I was pregnant with him, then there's any mention of a pregnancy or baby - and believe me, those reminders are everywhere!

I think by now, everyone probably thinks that we're all better and have moved on. I guess if it were me before all of this happened, so would I. I was very upset when my grandma and grandpa passed away in a span of 7 months during my college years. However, a year later, I was doing much better. I no longer cried when I thought about it and I had come to accept it. But this is so different. After all, grandparents (sadly) are supposed to die. Babies are not. I feel like I am still new to grieving for my sweet baby boy. My pain is still so raw and it still feels like a part of me is gone....because it is. I am beginning to realize that I will feel this pain and emptiness for the rest of my Earthly life. Until I am made new and whole again in Heaven, my heart will ache for my son. And I'm ok with that. The pain and hurt I feel makes me remember him and know that he was real.

Not that I will ever forget him, but sometimes I feel like January - April of 2011 were just a big dream that I dreamt and that none of it was real. Was I really ever pregnant? Did I really feel those sweet first kicks just days before Chase was born? Did I have an emergency surgery, then give birth the next day? Did I hold my dead son and touch his cold, lifeless body? Did we have a funeral and bury my sweet baby? Did I really survive all of this?


In regards to Chase's 1st birthday, I think we are just going to go to the cemetery, maybe light a candle on a cupcake and sing Happy Birthday to him, then release sky lanterns after we leave. Who knows - maybe we'll even include dinner before. I loved the idea of the sky lanterns after seeing the movie Tangled and for some reason, it has always struck me how grief-stricken Rapunzel's parents are 18 years after having their daughter kidnapped. It's not the same as having their baby die, but their baby was still taken from them and they didn't know if she was still alive or not. I know that in another 17 years, I will still miss my Chase just as much then as I do today. In fact, perhaps even more.

I am trying to focus on each and every day so I don't let my emotions get the best of me, but I've already had a few mini-meltdowns over Chase's birthday. I hope I am able to feel him near me that day and I hope I am able to feel some peace. I love you, sweet boy and I miss you with all of my heart.