Doubleplusgood Day 2014

I am so touched by the many acts of service, big and small, that you did in honor of Christian’s birthday. Here are the good deeds I heard about (if I missed yours, please leave a comment or email me so I can add it to the list):

  • Took a loaf of homemade banana bread to a friend in need. -HS
  • Put together a bouquet for a sick neighbor. -TH
  • Planted flowers for a neighbor. -KH & family
  • Cleaned the house in preparation for wife’s social event. -GH
  • Took an extra shift so a coworker could go on vacation. -JL
  • Made small, cheery flannel blankets to keep other Tiny Babies warm. -CH
  • Patiently extricated son from a creek. -JO
  • Helped pick up brother’s toys without being asked. -CC (age 5)
  • Wore a smile for as much of the day as possible. -CB
  • Took extra time to help a coworker deal with a frustrating situation. -JR
  • Gave a meal to a homeless man. -DS
  • Made a set of 3 bracelets: one for a tiny baby to be buried with, one for the keepsake box, and one for Mom to wear. -KB
  • Delivered supplies to local shelter. -RW
  • Babysat a neighbor’s kids so neighbor could go see her sister’s family be sealed.
  • Visited a friend in need. -KA
  • Volunteered at school for a few hours. -JC
  • Baked cookies for a new neighbor. -LZ

Yesterday was a strange mixture of sadness and gratitude – sort of like last year. I went to bed overwhelmed, exhausted, and ready for a new day – sort of like last year. But I will say that today has been so much better than a year ago. I have hope for the future. I know I can have a happy life despite my loss, and, most importantly, Christian isn’t gone forever.

Thank you for making our first Doubleplusgood Day so full of love and service!

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Year 1

In preparing for Christian’s birthday, I’ve tried hard to make it a positive experience. I want his birthday to be something that makes the world a better place, even if only briefly – because a year ago today, my world was destroyed. Something good should come out of that.

Last night I went to bed around 6pm. Yes, I was tired, but also I wanted to avoid thinking about today. In a lot of ways I still want to avoid it. While I planned Doubleplusgood Day I was excited – it’s a great way to commemorate Christian and to help me focus outward instead of just pitying myself. But today . . . today I want to curl up in a hole and be left alone. I want to shout that there’s nothing to celebrate because my son died, he’s gone, I haven’t gotten to see him learn to crawl or to wash him down after feeding him pureed carrots or to even hold him more than that one time. These are things I hoped Doubleplusgood Day would overcome, and I would feel so compassionate and charitable toward others that today didn’t hurt.

Taking a step back from my immediate emotions, though, I can see how much my grief has changed over the past year. I feel so much more normal than I could have dared hope! To a large extent, Christian’s death is a part of my life I’ve become accustomed to, and I go about my days in the regular sort of happy-frustrated-lonely-overwhelmed mix of a stay-at-home mom. I no longer experience the agonizing despair of postpartum + grief, my moments of sadness are fewer and further between, and those moments don’t last long. So I cross my fingers that although today might be filled with sad moments or loss and painful memories of last year, there will also be some service, some kind words from friends and family, some happiness. And cookies.

Baby Christian-99


Remembering the past year

Will you do me a favor?

Let me know what you remember about how you’ve experienced Christian’s short life and his death. How has it affected you? What did you think or feel when you first read about the diagnosis or when you heard about his birthday?

I really want to feel like this is bigger than me.


Coming soon: Doubleplusgood Day

Christian’s birthday is a week from today.

I thought for a long time about how to make it a special day, something that would reach a lot of people and be meaningful. I got a lot of suggestions and decided on initiating Doubleplusgood Day.

doubleplusgood

Here’s how it works: you do a good deed on April 24. It can be big or small, for a friend or stranger, part of your daily routine or out of the ordinary. Then you tell me about it by commenting on a post (there will be another on April 24 for you to comment on), emailing me, sending a text or Facebook message, or visiting me in person. If you come to my house, you’ll get a doubleplusgood cookie and a temporary shark tattoo (like Jarom and I wore to the hospital when Christian was born) as a reward.

And I’ll write all of the good deeds down in a Doubleplusgood Day book, to which I can add every year.

If you want to do something else to celebrate Christian’s short life, or if you want to count this as your good deed, please consider donating to Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. I’ve mentioned them before – it’s an organization that provides free professional photography to families who lose a baby to stillbirth or neonatal death. Our photographer, Heather Ellis, took some beautiful pictures of Christian. She and the other photographers volunteer their time, so your donation helps run the organization and provide training to the volunteers.

So please, spread the word! I’d love for this to reach as many people as possible. Let’s make Christian’s birthday a great day that brings a little more kindness and happiness to the world.

xo Mika


Not what you were looking for

Dear 100 Hour Board readers,

I didn’t even know the 100 Hour Board was still running. Cool!

I doubt that my blog was what the reader was looking for (more likely it was baby Amelia’s story), but my husband and I did have a baby last year who died at birth. He lived for an hour and a half. You can read from the beginning of our experience here or read about his birth here.

As a side note, the pictures of Christian were taken when he was alive, with the exception of the final image where he is not being held.

Happy reading!

Mika


Some thoughts and feeling-type things

Hi, friends.

We’re now 3 weeks out from the anniversary of Christian’s birth/death. Most of the time, I feel as close to normal as I think is possible given that my son died almost a year ago. Overall I enjoy life, I have wonderful friends and family, I live in a beautiful (albeit messy) house with a stinky dog who needs a haircut (Ender has bad gas right now, ew), and compared to the majority of the people in the world, I have a life of comfort, stability, and happiness.

But every now and then – more frequently now than it has been – I get into a very unpleasant state of mind. I mentally composed the following late one night last week (and yes, the late-at-night undoubtedly contributed to the drama):

Last night the agonizing, heartbreaking grief of Christian’s death returned. It’s a feeling I didn’t miss, that I both hoped and feared would never come back.

As it gets closer and closer to the one-year mark, I feel . . . inadequate. I wish I had some Deep Insights or Useful Life Lessons I’ve gained over the past year. Otherwise, what’s the point? If I haven’t learned something profound I can share with others, or changed in meaningful ways, or discovered myself, then the whole experience is just stupid.

Saying this might make me a genuinely bad person: I wish someone else’s baby had died instead of mine. Or, ideally, that no one’s baby had died. But especially not mine. When I think about finding out I was pregnant, or being excited to go have an ultrasound, I hate myself for having been happy. I was an idiot for assuming everything would be fine.

Ok, so. I don’t usually feel that way. At all. But I am somewhat at a loss as I approach Christian’s birthday/deathday. (Morbid? Can I make “deathday” a real word though?) Should I have some remarkable insights? Should I have all the answers? Should I feel better or worse than I do? Someone please give me a guidebook with nice little checkboxes so I can do this thing right!

The irony is, of course, I feel guilty when I feel great (because I obviously “should” feel worse about my son’s death), and I feel guilty when I feel awful (because I obviously “should” feel better about my overall-great life). I’m tired of feeling guilty! Grief is really not rational. Dislike.

Anyway, there’s a very rambling, incoherent post about some thoughts and feeling-type things.

 


The first hint of bad news

A year ago today, Jarom and I excitedly went in for my 20-week ultrasound.

I remember that morning, around 6:30, Evan woke up because he had to poop. Badly. So I spent half an hour being his poop coach (a job I have gladly left in the past). I wondered, am I really ready to add to this chaos?

I remember trying not to feel disappointed when the sonographer kept saying it was hard to get a look at things, because it probably meant I wouldn’t find out if Tiny Baby was a boy or a girl.

I remember the feeling of utter panic when the sonographer stood up to go see if the OB was available to meet with me later that day.

I remember paying attention to the fluid level number – 3.8. I thought it would be something we’d need to keep track of, to measure repeatedly.

I remember sending Jarom to pick up the kids from the babysitter because I couldn’t handle explaining the sort-of-not-quite bad news in person.

I remember feeling much less apprehensive than maybe I should have when I met with the OB. He told me the possible causes of low amniotic fluid – kidney problems, placenta problems, ruptured membranes. I hoped that I had somehow not noticed fluid leaking, that I’d be put on bedrest at 24 weeks, that the amazing neonatal care available now would ensure everything turned out okay.

I remember calling Jarom after I came out of the meeting. I said, “Pretty much every scenario the doctor told me about ends with the baby dying.” But I didn’t really feel that weight.

I remember calling my parents, wanting comfort and assurance that things would be alright.

I remember what I was wearing that day, even the earrings I had on. It was a beautiful spring day and I wore sandals.

I remember sitting in the swing outside our house talking to a friend who had just made an offer on a house. The flowers were blooming in our yard and it was hard to reconcile that new beginning with the possibility of death in our family.

I remember our friend coming over to help Jarom give me a blessing. It promised comfort and I knew, I knew, my baby was going to die.

I remember our friend showing up with dinner, and I felt grateful that my arms were full once she handed it to me – I was afraid of breaking down if she tried to give me a hug.

I remember the uncertainty, the fear of what would happen, the hope for a miracle and the overwhelming burden of being sure that Tiny Baby would not live.

It was not a good day.