Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dear Boe,

My husband and I decided that each Christmas we would place a card, letter or drawing in Boe's stocking. As our surviving children grow they will also be allowed to do so. This is what I had to say to my Baby Boy this year:

Dear Boe,

Here we are, another Christmas without you. As I sit here writing to you, trying to decide what I want to say, the house is quiet. It reminds me of how quiet the world was when your daddy and I held you for the first time. The world was so still and peaceful, serene. It was as if only the 3 of us existed in that moment, and I am so very grateful for that time. It was the only time I had to focus on just you. It was the only time I had to take you in, to see that, even in your small, damaged state, you were perfection. It was such a very short time into which I tried to cram a lifetime of loving you and feeling you close, and for that I am also grateful.

As your brothers and sister have grown and as we have welcomed your little brother, Brody, home the house has become louder and much more active. I can't help but wonder what would this house be like with you in it? What would this home be like with 2 "Adlers" running through it? Would you have been like him? Daring, physical, active? Or would you have been docile and calm? Yes, the quiet in the morning or evening is truly the only time I have to really ponder what should have been.

Don't get me wrong, I carry you with me always. You are in my heart, on my mind, and having Adler around gives me such a beautiful picture of the little boy you might have been. When he smiles or laughs it is as if I'm seeing you do the same, and it warms my heart.

I'll finish my gift to you with these words: All is calm, all is bright. It is in the midst of the calm times that I feel your presence the most; your loving energy shines most brightly. It warms me like a blanket and sets my mind at ease to know you are always near.

Merry Christmas, Baby Boy. Sleep in heavenly peace...

Monday, December 19, 2011

How does your garden grow???

In recent days, the Duggar family has taken much flack for not only announcing that they were expecting a 20th child, but that, in the wake of her death, they planned to name her and hold a memorial service. While I may not understand their way of life, or their beliefs, my heart aches for them. I do not wish what they have to go through on anyone,and the fact that they are now taking more heat for choosing to photograph their dead child, Jubilee, evokes even more empathy for them.

Adam and I have pictures of Boe. They were taken just hours after he was born, and I treasure them. I have chosen to share them with precious few people for a few reasons. First, I have not been ready or "able" to share them. Second, there is something macabre and creepy to most people when it comes to thinking or speaking of dead babies.

There is a quote which I have come across many times in the last months. I am not sure of its exact verbiage or who spoke the words, so I shall paraphrase. Basically, it says that a child who has lost a parent is an orphan, a woman who has lost a spouse is a widow, but there is not a word for a parent who has lost a child because the loss is just too awful.

Doesn't this speak volumes about our society's view of death? Think of all the euphemisms we have to define death: passed away, lost, met his maker, went on to a better place.... Does any of this change the reality of what has happened? Does it take away the ugliness and painfulness that an event like the death of a child (or any loved one) leaves behind to paint a prettier picture so that we might sleep better? Pardon my French, but isn't using an expression like this akin to using shit (fertilizer) to make roses grow?

Death is ugly and unpleasant and not something any of us ever wishes to experience. Inevitably, so is the grief that follows. We all move through it differently. Some of us turn inward and deal very privately, while others of us reach out and make our grief very public. Whether we agree with how others handle their feelings, or not, they are THEIR feelings. The bottom line is, if you don't like the fertilizer I or the Duggars, or anyone else might use to help their garden grow, don't stop to smell the flowers.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas without him...

Where are you Christmas

Why can't I find you

Why have you gone away

Where is the laughter

You used to bring me

Why can't I hear music play

My world is changing

I'm rearranging

Does that mean Christmas changes too

Where are you Christmas

Do you remember

The one you used to know

I'm not the same one

See what the time's done

Is that why you have let me go...

Since last year, I cry every time I hear this song. It reminds me that there is a part of Christmas that will always be missing and, for which, I shall always be longing and searching.Yet, inevitably, it is here. Christmas arrives every 365 days, regardless of what we do or how we might try to put it off. As the days close in on another Christmas without one of my boys, I look back over the past year, and I am amazed at how much has changed. We have a new life in our home, and he is warm and sweet and dear. Our little girl will be 3 in March, and she is so aware of of Christmas and all the joy it brings. We have had to "downsize" our tree because Adler and Cameron play like little Neanderthals, and we'd like for it to remain standing until Christmas has passed.

Even in the midst of all these changes, I am still so often drawn to what remains the same. Boe is not here, and he never will be, at least, not physically. His stocking hangs on the mantle only to be filled with unopened and unread cards and sentiments. His booties hang on the tree never to be filled by his sweet little feet, but to remind us of the path he followed as he journeyed through our hearts to Heaven.

I know that I am at a different place with my grief than I was last year. Last year, I really struggled to get excited about the holidays. I kind of forced it for the sake of my surviving children and found myself immensely relieved when it was time to de-deck the halls.

This year, I find myself looking forward to Christmas morning. The anticipation of watching the kids tear into their gifts and seeing how they react to all that awaits them throughout this season puts a smile on my face. The joy that I am feeling does not take away from the fact that we will be without Boe during this season. I will miss him, and I am sure that, in the coming days, I will shed more than one tear for my little boy lost. That being said, I know that even if Boe is not here physically, he IS here. He is the star on our tree, he is in his booties, his stocking, in his brothers' and sister's squeals of delight. He is always with us, surrounding us like a warm blanket. He is letting us know that in moving through our life with joy and gratitude, we honor and love him the best way we possibly can.

Christmas without him will look different from year to year, changing as our children grow and mature. Christmas without him will never be what I had envisioned, but I know if I keep him near it can definitely be more wonderful, magical and joyful than I could ever have hoped.

Joyeux Noel, mon petit ange. Je t'aime.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I prayed

He is here. Brody Kwint Kinowski came into this world screaming on November 3, 2011. I was scheduled for a c-section on the 4th, but it would seem that our newest family member wanted to enter this world on his own terms. He is beautiful, he is perfect, he is loved... all 9 lbs 1 oz of him.

When I woke up early in the morning on November 3rd feeling the pains of labor, it was yet one more reminder to me that none of "this" is in our hands. I was prepared for a new baby on the 4th, and here it was the 3rd. I love that he chose his birthday. It was a beautiful day, sunny and clear.

Hearing his lusty cry for the first time in the OR was such a departure from the last time I'd been there. Adler and Cameron's cries were tiny, wane, weak, and Boe's silence echoed more loudly than either of his brother's cries. This time everyone joked about my boy's pipes. Rather than being whisked off to the NICU for immediate care, Brody was examined by a neonatologist in the OR, Adam was allowed to cut his cord. People in the room were joyful and congratulatory, not somber and sad.

During the first moments that I held Brody, I would be lying if I said that my thoughts did not drift to Boe. Nearly 18 months before, I had been in that recovery room holding 2 lb 13 oz Boe in my arms. He had been warm and sweet, but painfully still and silent. Now, I sat holding a big, pink, squirming baby boy. I held him close, and I prayed.

I prayed that he would grow up knowing that even though he was not planned, he is wanted and dearly loved. I prayed that he will know he is not a replacement or an attempt to recreate "what should have been". He is his own person, cherished unconditionally, as is. I prayed that Boe knows that even though we have this new little life, it will never diminish his place in our hearts. I prayed for the strength to cherish and love all my children both heavenly and of this earth. I opened my heart to God for the first time in a long time, and I prayed...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

And just like that...

As I write this, I am ignoring my children bouncing in their cribs in the other room. They have been extremely naughty today and have refused to nap. I have decided that some "quiet" time is what we all need. Apparently, I am the only one who gets what quiet time means, and I am using mine wisely.

As I near the end of my pregnancy, I seem to be cracking more and more jokes about being "ready" and "done". I know this little guy will come in his own time, or on November 4th at 9 AM, but I really do feel as though I have cracked and will not be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. I am weary, both physically and mentally. I love my children dearly, but their liveliness is exhausting and draining for me at this point. I have become someone that I do not recognize. The ugly mommy who screams and yells because nothing else seems to work.

I know that they are testing me because they know that I am worn down and slow, this only serves to frustrate me more. And then, just when I think it can't get any worse, just when I think I can't take anymore, just like that, something happens that puts all that I am feeling in perspective.

Without divulging too much information, someone I have known nearly all my life was pregnant with twins. Sadly, one passed away at around 23 weeks due to complications which were not compatible with life. She was delivered and the hope was her sister would be able to bake for several more weeks. Yesterday, that sister was born at just over 24 weeks.

I hear stories like this and somehow, my frustration and discomfort seem SO very insignificant, so very small compared to that which others are being asked to endure. I hear things like this and I am forced to pause and reflect upon how grateful I am to have my little ones running around, as crazy and naughty as they may be.

The bottom line is, there will always be someone somewhere who has it worse than I. There will always be someone who seems to have to endure more hardship and pain than I could ever fathom. There will always be someone who is being asked to enter into the darkest days of their life as I am just beginning to sense the sun again.

The next 8 days will be trying, no doubt. A friend of mine pointed out today that 11/4/11 adds up to 4/22, Adler, Boe and Cameron's birthday. Having that connection and carrying with me the knowledge that not too far away a little baby girl was born far too soon and fights for her life will be the fuel I need to make it 8 more days. And just like that...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Journey's End

I am 37 weeks and 2 days pregnant, the most pregnant I have ever been. We have scheduled a c-section for Friday, November, 4 at 9 AM. I know, now, that in two weeks or less, I'll be meeting my last child and holding him for the first time. I have tried so hard through out this pregnancy to not complain, for I know there are so many women who long to be in the position which I currently find myself.

Yet, here I am, full-term, and I am SO ready for this journey to be over and the next leg to begin. These past 37 weeks have been some of the most trying of my life, both physically and emotionally. Physically, one would think that the burden of carrying 3 children at once would be far harder than carrying one. Such is not the case (at least for me). This pregnancy has been the most physically trying I have endured. Perhaps it is because I now have the little one growing inside of me who depletes my resources and the 3 on the outside who use me as a jungle gym, cuddle spot, warm blankey, etc... all needing me in their own way. My hips are sore, I am tired, I am always thirsty and hungry, I can't breathe, not to mention, I feel totally unlike "ME". I am swollen, slow and see a tired, sad face staring back at me when I happen by a mirror.

Emotionally, these past 37 weeks have been like the world's craziest roller coaster. There have been moments of excitement and joy, there have been moments of fear and anxiety, moments of anger and frustration, and moments of great sadness and worry. I am in a place now where I am excited to meet this little being, whoever he may be.

In the past, my husband and I have always had everything ready well before our babies were expected to arrive. Not this time. There is no crib in the nursery yet, no pack-n-play next to our bed, no sanitized bottles, no car seat in the car, my bag is hardly packed. We figured, why bother? We have always been so prepared, and look where it has gotten us. This time, as hard as it has been for both of us, we've been winging it. Now that the moment is nearly upon us, we are taking a wait and see approach on this little one's arrival. We don't even have his name picked out. We are going to just wait and see what he looks like when he comes out, pink and screaming.

In the final days of my life as a pregnant woman, I try very hard to savor every kick, move, hiccup and contraction I feel. They will be the last I experience. Nothing about my journey to become a mother has been "normal" or "textbook", and I am at peace with the fact that I will never have that as a part of my story.

As this journey comes to a close, I can look back over the last 3 years, and especially 37 weeks, with both great joy and great sorrow. Fortunately, for me, the voyage has had way more joy than sorrow. The sorrow will be something that I carry quietly with me forever; however, I am certain that it will only serve to make me a better mother, wife and person. When our little boy finally enters this world in the next 2 weeks, he will open a new chapter in our life. God willing, it will be a chapter filled with much joy and happiness. A chapter that will give us and those around us hope that even after the darkest of days has been upon us, the sun can shine again. Its light can warm our hearts and minds so that we can openly and unabashedly enjoy the life which God has intended for us all along.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Retracing Steps

I am 35 weeks and 5 days pregnant. This is 3 weeks farther than I made it in to my triplet pregnancy and 3 days less than I made it in to my pregnancy with my daughter, Libby. The good news is that my cervix has not begun to dilate (I was already 1 cm dilated with Libby by this point), my weight gain is very good, and my blood pressure low. The baby's head is down and it is just a matter of time.

The bad news is that my doctor wants me to begin fetal monitoring because I am AMA. Advanced Maternal Age. I know most women would be ecstatic for the opportunity to "look in" on their bun; to see him/her cooking, little heart beating, little limbs moving, etc., most likely inspires joy and the anticipation of meeting their little one. I am not one of those women. Having to return to Fetal Diagnostics at the hospital fills me with dread and sadness. It is the last place and time that I saw Boe alive.

Will I be able to walk in to that office and possibly see one of the same nurses again? Will I be able to look at my baby on the screen and separate him from my memories and recollections of that last time I was there? Will seeing him float around in my belly inspire the excitement and joy that I WANT to feel, or will it only amplify the sadness I still carry over Boe's death?

When my doctor told me at today's appointment that he wanted me to start doing this twice a week for the remainder of my pregnancy, I held it together and made my appointments. It wasn't until I reached the elevator with my husband that the tears started to flow. He knew right away what I was thinking.

I know that Boe is watching us from above and that he and God want us to have this baby since we can't have Boe here with us. I hope and pray that this little Baby, whoever he is, does not think that he will always be a reminder of or a substitute for Boe. He is his own little person and will forge his own way in this world.

I am certain that when he arrives, it will be on his own terms and all the angst and fear that Adam and I have felt over the last several months will melt away. Having this new baby will never undo Boe's death, but I do believe that he will bring some joy and some light to a place that has been dark for far too long. I will probably look at his face when I hold him for the first time and think about how silly I was to be worried over something as silly as revisiting the last place I knew Boe was alive, but until then... what do I do?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Everything I've ever wanted... Just not quite how I had planned.

This is so true. If I think back on what I have always dreamed my life would be, with rare exception, I have what I always envisioned. When I was in high school, I concocted my "plan"; the blueprint that designed my future through college and beyond. It went something like this:

1. Get married at age 20

2. Start a family right away, having 4 children spaced 2 years apart. I figured if I did this, I would be done by age 28 and still young and hot.

3. Live life to its fullest because my plan had played out exactly as I had planned.

I had it all figured out, right? If only. God did hear my plan, and in someways he did listen. I just think my ability to communicate my plan to him became a bit like the game of "Telephone", he heard me, it just got lost in translation. I say this because this is how it happened:

1. Meet future husband at 26, marry him at 28. Shouldn't I have 4 kids by now???

2. Live life to its fullest and enjoy my husband for 4 years before even entertaining that "kid" thing.

3. Try for 2 years to conceive and then give birth to my daughter 1 week after my 35th birthday. Shouldn't I have a 14, 12, 10 and 8 year old by now?

4. When my daughter is 6 months old, conceive spontaneous triplet boys. Give birth to them at 32 weeks and 5 days gestation. 1 sleeping, 2 living. I am 36 years old.

5. When my boys are 9 months old, get pregnant again (not on purpose). Miscarry the pregnancy 1 month later.

6. Before even resuming a normal menstrual cycle, get pregnant again (not on purpose). I am 37 years old when the test comes back positive. Shouldn't I have a 16, 14, 12 and 10 year old by now?

7. Still being written...

So you see, God DID hear me, sorta. He heard 4 children and he heard spaced 2 years apart. What he did not hear was that I wanted them EACH to have 2 years between them, not all be born within 2 years. He also seemed to miss the fact that I, of course, wanted them all alive, here with me.

I am past the point where I "blame" Him. In keeping with the title of my blog, we may have one plan for ourselves, while His is totally different. Not wrong, not bad, just different. I DO have everything I ever wanted. I have a loving and supportive husband, and he was soooo worth the extra 6 years I waited. I have 4 beautiful children, 3 living and 1 in heaven, with 1 more on the way. God heard me there too. I'll have 4 children with me on this Earth, I just get an extra one up above. I have a beautiful, warm home filled with laughter and chaos, I am healthy, and I am loved.

So you see, even though life may not always work out as WE had planned, it does work out as planned. Just not our plan. This is a daily reminder to me that I need to keep my mantra in the front of my thoughts. What happens to me in this life is not up to me. It is not my design. I must remember to want what I have and take what I'm given with grace.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sensitivity 101

So, there's this new "game" circulating on Facebook that is designed to bring awareness to Breast Cancer. This "game" basically has women who choose to participate post how "far along" they are in their pregnancy and what they are craving. For example, I am 14 weeks and craving M & M's.

I am all for raising awareness of causes which are near and dear to our hearts, but to do so by posting a fake pregnancy is beyond repugnant. I am sure there is some other fun and creative way to bring awareness to a cause that does not involve trivializing the sanctity of life. I have asked my self if I am being overly sensitive to be bothered by this "game".

I have decided that, no, I am not being overly sensitive. As a woman who has lost a child, I find creating a fake pregnancy for the sake of raising awareness for a totally unrelated cause to be extremely gauche and flat out insensitive to the scores of women who have lost a child.

Why not post your dream bra size? Or how old you were when you first got a training bra? Better yet, just post "Save the Ta-tas" or "I love Boobies". Short, sweet and to the point. It is so very sad to me that so many people are so quick to post a status that champions something such as cancer, how wonderful your mother is, what a superior sibling you are, but very few people are willing to change their status to something which has to do with the loss of a child.

I'm sure very few people even know that more children are lost to stillbirth every year than die of SIDS. Yet, how much information are we bombarded with in relation to a tragic happening such as SIDS???

Don't get me wrong, causes such as cancer awareness, the prevention of abuse, drunk driving, smoking, etc... are all quite noble and I personally support all of them; however, I think we all, as human beings sharing this life, need to be a little bit more sensitive to what we say and how we say it. Not that we need to be "politically correct", that ship has sailed way TOO FAR in my opinion. We simply need to be a bit more AWARE for lack of a better term.

So, I challenge those of you who read this to find out if and when there is an "Awareness" month or day to bring attention to child loss. Post something pertinent and sensitive as your Facebook status on this day. In the meantime, I'll play along at your little "game".

I am 30 weeks pregnant with my Rainbow baby, whose name is Brody. I am craving the feel of my little boy Boe in my arms.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dear "Unknown",

This is the FIRST and ONLY time I shall ever write a post such as this. When I started this blog, it was designed to be my "safe place" to vent any and all feelings that I was experiencing as I navigated through Boe's loss, NO MATTER HOW UGLY, etc. This blog serves as a sounding board for me. It helps me to organize my thoughts and sort through them, sometimes BEFORE I speak to my husband or others about them. I guess, in a way, this blog helps me to blow off steam and take the angry edge off of my feelings so that when I do speak to the individuals (who I am always very careful not to name) in question, I can be clear, focused and kind when I impart my feelings.

Well, yesterday, my sanctuary was violated. Someone, titling themselves simple as "Unknown", posted a comment to my post that was very distressing, hurtful and disappointing to me. I am not going to give this person's comment too much energy because I think the fact that they refuse to identify who they are speaks volumes about their character (or lack thereof, should I say?).

Apparently, "Unknown" feels that Adam and I have not returned any of their efforts to correspond with us in the months since Boe's passing. Adam and I both find this very odd, as we try very hard to return all calls, texts, etc... even if it takes a few days for us to do so. "Unknown" also alludes to the fact that people do not bring up Boe or his passing because they don't want to go "there" and upset me. Perhaps "Unknown" needs to reread a few paragraphs of my entry, but I specifically say that IT WILL ALWAYS BE SAD. The mention of Boe's name will always strike a chord with me, IT |DOES NOT MEAN THAT I DO NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT HIM. I go on to say that not mentioning him hurts worse than talking about him.

"Unknown" purports to love me and my family and says they just want "to love on" my family. If that was the case "Unknown" would have let their name be known so that Adam and I might have the opportunity to take them up on offers of help and support if they are being put out there. "Unknown" 's parting words are "Keep your head held high".

I DO keep my head held high. I try to live everyday of my life being a kind and compassionate mother, wife and friend. I know there are times when I fall short in any or all of these categories, those are opportunities to grow and learn. I am a person who believes very strongly in justice and fairness and I try to love my life in this way as well.

What is not just or fair is that "Unknown" felt that is was OK to take my place of refuge and sanctuary and turn it in to a platform for their hurt feelings and grievances toward me and Adam. This is MY place, MY feelings, MY journey for BOE. I will not allow people who do not have the strength to address me personally to taint my place for Boe.

So, Unknown, whoever you may be. If you have an issue with me or my husband, clearly you know how to get in contact with us since you claim to have tried on numerous occasions in the last 16 months. Please, contact us personally, and we WILL get back to you. My blog about my son is not your place to tell me how pissed off you are at me because you feel that I have failed you during my grief.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I apologize in advance...

When I first found out, at 15 weeks, that I was pregnant with triplets, I got all kinds of advice. One of the things I was told, by more than 1 woman, was to find a good Moms of Multiples Club and join. So I did. I was looking forward to meeting moms who had "been there, done that". I knew they would be a wealth of information and tips on how to make life with triplets a little easier to navigate.

As much as I wanted to go to a few meetings before I delivered the boys, it never happened. The meetings always seemed to be on a night when we had something else going on, or I was too far along to drive myself anywhere anymore, and so on. Then Boe died.

A few members of the club have reached out to me over the last year, but I let my club membership expire. I no longer feel like I have a palce with them. Sure, all 3 of my boys' names are listed in my directory profile, but they would only ever meet 2 of them. Although I intensely dislike assumptions, I just assumed that no one else in that club could possibly understand what I was going through, and I severed all ties before really ever even getting involved.

I mention this solely because I have noticed how very isolating this kind of grief is. I, as Boe's mother, want people to feel that they can ask about him or me, uncomfortable though it may be. Check in on us, I guess. People feel as though they can't or shouldn't ask because it will be sad; almost as if the sadness I feel will be contagious and spread to them like an awful disease. Guess what? IT WILL ALWAYS BE SAD. Yes, hearing Boe's name spoken inevitably brings tears to my eyes, but not hearing it is exponentially more painful.

As I look back over the last 16 months, I see how many people have chosen to distance themselves from Adam and me. That's fine, we have made many wonderful new friends on this journey; friends who "get it" because they, too , have suffered a loss. This doesn't really bother me so much as the people who appear to be "involved" in my (our) life, yet only when the mood strikes them.

I openly and unabashedly admit that I feel (recently, anyway) as though I relate better to those who have lost a child. Maybe it's just where I'm at in my grief, and it will pass. BUT, I can't help but feel so isolated from the rest of the world.

I am with my kids all day, everyday. Yes, my husband is very good about giving me breaks, and we have family who will watch the kids when we want to go out to dinner or a movie, but, by and large, my life is no longer my own to do as I choose. Don't get me wrong, I love my children, but this can be very isolating in and of itself, couple that with grief and the stigma of being a woman who has lost a child, and I may as well be in solitary confinement.

I feel like I am still making pretty much the same efforts I always have to reach out to friends, a few of whom are out of state. Ironically enough, I feel like the out of state friends keep in better touch with me than the some of the in state ones.

I get the sense that I am beginning to ramble, so I'll just make my point. This lonliness SUCKS. Feeling like I have no one except Barney or Elmo to confide in SUCKS. Feeling like I am always the one calling, texting, emailing SUCKS (are your fingers broken??). Yes, we all have day to day stuff that needs to get done in our lives, but I really don't like feeling like I am the one doing all the work to check in and see how your life is going only to have you not even acknowledge my effort for days or respond to me with some random comment that has nothing to do with how you are.

I need to know that I am surrounded by people who get who I was, who I currently am, and who I hope to be as I make my way through this. If you don't have the fortitude to see me or our friendship through that - PEACE OUT. No hard feelings, just goodbye will do.

I don't need anyone to hold my hand, I just need to know I am not the only one who gives a shit. I need to know that in the midst of your crazy life, you sometimes think of me too. I apologize if this was an unorganized post, I have a feeling it really got off track, but the more I wrote, the more I realized how very irritated and pissed off I am right now. That's all, I do hope I have not frightened you off.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


They say that hindsight is always 20/20, right? These days, I'm not so sure. I look back over what has happened in the last 2 years and I am not convinced that I see things anymore clearly.

The day that we were told Boe had passed away set off a crazy chain of events in our life. In an instant, our worries multiplied from "will we all be OK?", "how long will we spend in the NICU" and "what will happen when we are ALL home?" to "do you want an autopsy?", "do you want to hold him?", "what kind of funeral arrangements do you want?", all the while still trying to care for our little girl at home and our 2 surviving boys in the NICU.

Recently, I find myself pondering many of the above questions and wondering, if I could go back, would I do anything differently? Now that the dust has settled, a routine is in place and my husband and I finally feel that we are beginning to emerge from "the haze", the answer is YES.

As far as conducting an autopsy goes, I do not believe that I would have one performed if I could go back. The result would be no different, Boe would still be gone. The fact that the results may even have come back as inconclusive offers NO solace whatsoever. Also, the thought of what happens to a human body during autopsy was just too much for me to bear. I shall forever ask "WHY?", so the thought of my Boe with a "y" shaped incision on his chest to POSSIBLY get an answer was just not territory to which I wished to travel.

I remember the nurse asking me, as I was being prepped for my C-section, if I had thought about holding Boe. Of course I had, but after he was born and nestled in his isolette in the NICU. I am so grateful that I made the choice to hold him; feeling his weight, his warmth, his LIFE in my arms ignited in me a desire to make sure that his brothers and sister will ALWAYS know who he was, what he did for our family, and that life is precious, not to be squandered. In hindsight, I do have a few regrets about the time we spent with Boe.

I regret not holding him LONGER. I hold Adler and Cameron everyday, but the feel of Boe in my arms is lost to me forever. I regret not dressing him in the "coming home" outfit I had for him. It was a little gown with ABC all over it; he and his brothers each had one. Adler and Cameron both wore theirs home. Just because Boe did not come home with us does not mean he is not HOME; he should have been bundled in his cute outfit for his arrival there. I also wish that I had a picture off all 3 boys together. I do not know if this is something that even would have been possible, as Adler and Cameron were in the NICU and had tubes and leads galore attached to their little bodies, but I long for it nonethless.

Boe's service was beautiful. I may have preferred some secular music, but I loved every word that was spoken and shared. Looking back, would I make the same choices again? We opted to have Boe cremated. I can't speak for Adam, but I know for me the thought of having to choose a casket that SMALL was so heartbreaking and so outside my realm of comprehension at that point, cremation seemed like the only option. Boe is currently "sharing" a niche with my Opa (grandfather); my Oma (grandmother) offered the space until we decide what we want to do. It was so kind of her to do this, and took the responsibility of having to decide NOW off of our shoulders, and for that I am grateful; however, I can't help but be sad when we go to visit Boe at the cemetary and there is no sign that he is there. The placard says "Albert W. Muller" and the years of his life. There is no acknowledgement that my little boy is in there resting with his Opa. I find myself resentful as we walk down the corridor to his niche, reading all of the other placards; these people all lived such long lives. My Boe would have 1 date on his stone, April 22, 2010.

In a way, I envy some of the other BLM's I have had the privilege of meeting. They have a place to go to visit their children where the world can see who is there. Their babies are with other babies and children, playing in 1 kickass playground with the best recess monitor I can imagine. Is my little Boe allowed to play with them? Or, do they not recognize or acknowledge that he is one of "them"? More and more I want a place for Boe, a place that tells his story so all who pass by will know what a sweet little angel is watching over them. I know, in time, we'll decide what to do. For now, all I have is hindsight, and as I said, it's not necessarily any more clear.

I think, sometimes, it's worse. I can't go back and change my mind about certain things, what's done is done. I know that none of this matters to Boe, he loves me and his dad and his family no matter what. I just wanted so damn much for him.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Anytime, anyplace

It has been almost 15 months to the day since we lost Boe, and IT just happened. I openly sobbed in public over the absence of my Baby Boe. Not just silent subtle tears that most would not even notice; no, shoulders heaving, voice raised 3 octaves higher than usual crying.

It started off quietly, just crocodile tears rolling silently down my cheeks. I thought I might actually be able to stop it before it got out of hand and no one would be the wiser. WRONG!

I was standing in line at a little shop in Disneyland waiting to buy Mickey ears. Problem is, they were ears for Boe. His sister and brothers all have ears, and I decided Boe needed his own. I knew just what I wanted, Baby Blue ears with his name embroidered on the back.

I picked them off the shelf and found my place in line. As I thought about seeing his name on his ears, the tears started. I was reminded that he would never place them on his head and pull at the elastic, he would never outgrow them and need a new pair, there would never be the picture of my "3 Mouseketeers" in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle. These ears would remain empty, pristine, suspended in time.

I tried my best to put these feeling aside as I stepped up to the counter, and as I said, I almost managed to do it. But then, the cashier asked for the name I wanted on the hat and how it was spelled. My throat closed up, but somehow I managed to choke out B O E and then pay for the ears.

As I stepped away from the counter looking down at my wallet as I tried to jam my change back inside, I had no more fight in me. The tears took over and the sobbing began. As luck would have it, at that moment, my best friend who was with us, walked in to the store and asked me what was wrong. All I could do was hang my head further as I tried to find the words to tell her what was wrong.

I finally managed to explain that Boe deserved to wear his ears, he SHOULD BE THERE to wear the damn ears. She understood immediately and helped me calm down. Of course, people in the store were staring, but I soooooo did not care. I felt like Biff in the movie "Back to the Future"; I seriously considered looking right at those who were staring at me and shouting, "What are you lookin' at, Butthead?"

I fought this urge, wiped my tears, composed myself and walked to the counter to pick up Boe's hat. The cashier must have had a sense of what had transpired because she looked at me very sympathetically, place the ears very gently in a bag and told me she hoped I'd be able to enjoy the rest of my day.

I am sure that this will happen to me again on numerous occasions over the course of time that I have left in this life. Will I be more prepared? Will I be able to take control of my emotions more quickly? Probably not. That's the funny thing about grief, it does not wait for a "more appropriate" time or place. It rears its ugly head when it wants, where it wants, it does not hold back.

It is like the tide lapping at the shore or a beach goer's ankles. Sometimes it is peaceful, there, something simply to be tolerated but not bothersome. Then, in the blink of an eye, it surrounds you, engulfs you, pulls you under and leaves you gasping for air as you struggle to the surface.

No, there is no way to prepare for it, there is no way to escape it; it is only to be endured and hopefully, God willing, bring strength to those who must fight it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


OK, so here it is. I am pregnant again, like 20 weeks pregnant. Some of you knew that already, but most of you did not. When Adam and I found out, on Libby's 2nd birthday, that I was pregnant again we were shocked. I had just suffered a miscarriage in January, and we had been using protection. After confirming the news, I was immediately flooded with all kinds of emotions and questions.

I was scared. What if I made it almost to the end of my pregnancy, only to lose my little baby again? Could Adam and I handle one more little mouth to feed and bottom to diaper in the midst of the chaos that we call life and grieivng for our Little Boy Lost?

I was confused. What was God trying to tell me? Why had he taken Boe away only to send me this little bean? What was my lesson to learn? Have I not been working diligently to learn it as best I can for the last year now?

I was ambivalent. I actually convinced myself that there would be no heartbeat for the first ultrasound or doctor exam. I figured if I went if "knowing" that, it wouldn't hurt so badly when they confirmed what I already "knew" to be true.

Now, at just past 20 weeks, I am hopeful. Hopeful that this little boy's birth will be a step towards something wonderful, good and full. We shall never be able to put back perfectly the pieces of our hearts that were strewn about when Boe passed, but I do believe that our little Rafe will help us to see that even in the darkest of places there will always be light.It is up to us to find the light and run toward it, embrace it and allow it to soothe what pains us.

Margaret Mitchell's iconic Rhett Butler said it best: "...I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and place them together and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new. What is broken is broken - and I'd rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I lived."

The pain of losing Boe will always be with me, but I think I need to leave it as it is. If I carry that pain, he'll always be close. I know my arms and my heart are big enough to not only carry that pain, but to also make room for the light and joy. To make way for the sunshine that inevitably follows the rain.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011


The anger of which I spoke in my last post is still very much alive, just not so prevalent (although I have a feeling that the poor Best Buy delivery guy that I gave a hard time for refusing to come in my back patio until I confined my dog may argue differently). It has subsided somewhat from the forefront of my thoughts and has made way for a new emotion...fear.

I'm not afraid of my everyday life or routine tasks. I am afraid for my children and my family. The other day, I was feeding my boys their lunch. We were having our usual fun when all of a sudden I was overcome with this morbid fear that Adler was not Adler. Thoughts of, "Oh my God, what if the hospital made a mistake? What if this is really Boe and it was Adler who died?" began running through my mind. It was paralyzing to think that we may have been mourning the "wrong" child for the last year. I know in my heart and my mind that this is not the case, that Adler is here and Boe is gone, but in that moment, the fear was so raw and so real. I just looked at my boys and cried, trying to feed them through my tears.

During my pregnancy with my boys I had a false sense of security. I had fooled myself into believing that God loved me too much to bless me with 3 babies and then have something bad happen. I had myself fooled into believing that all would be well. Now, unfortunately, I know all too well that this is not the case. I know that bad things happen to good people and that, in an instant, our lives can change before our very eyes. I looked at my daughter, Libby, the other day and marveled in her preciousness. She is funny, sweet and dear. She has beautiful blue eyes and golden curls. If I could gobble her up, I would. As I admired her, I was suddenly stricken with an awful thought. What if she were no longer here? What if she were part of my life one second and gone the next?

The old me would have said that God loves me too much to put me throught the loss of a child again. But the new me knows that this is not true. I don't get a "pass" just because I have been through it before. I am just as likely to have another awful loss or event happen in my life as the next guy, and it scares the living crap out of me. It is so hard to not let this fear just stop me in my tracks. Every fiber of my being wants to be the "helicopter mom" who hovers around her children to prevent anything awful from happening.

But who am I to stop what is meant to be? No one. So many people have told me to just "hand it over to God" to let him do the work. How can I hand over what was never truly mine to begin with? When we lost Boe, I realized that NOTHING is in our hands. All I can do is hope for the best in each day. I must live my life to its fullest to honor Boe and the life he will never have and to honor my husband and living children. They all deserve a woman who is willing to risk immense pain and loss in exchange for great love and beauty. Yes, this makes me afraid, VERY afraid; but I will not let it define me. Rather, overtime, I shall learn to let it strengthen me and make me a better version of the woman I am right now.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Dear God,

Lately, anger has been a prevalent issue at group. I know it is one of the steps in the grieving process, and I have been thinking about it alot. At first I thought there was something wrong with me because as I looked back over the last year, I really couldn't pinpoint a time at which I felt truly angry that Boe was gone. As I recall the last year's events, there really is no one I can blame for what happened, so how can I possibly be angry?

Yet, the more I think about it, the more the anger builds. The more it builds, the more horrified and disgusted I am with myself. I am angry at YOU. When Adam and I found out we were expecting triplets, our world turned upside down. How were we gong to do it? I would have to stay home and we are both teachers. How would I care for 3 babies and a toddler all by myself? What if my children were not OK since a multiple birth presents with such a plethora of risks, how would we handle it? The answer, to me, was simple. We just would.

God, I believed in you. I believed that you would not give me more than you felt I could handle. I believed that you must think me pretty special to entrust me with not 1, but 3, new babies. Every night as I put Libby to bed, she and I would pray. Our last prayer was always for the health and safety of her unborn brothers and mommy. Until April 22, 2010 our prayers were being answered.

Perhaps I had myself fooled. Throughout my pregnancy I had myself convinced that God loved me too much to bless me with 3 precious boys only to have something bad happen. God, something worse than bad happened, something unspeakable happened. In the days immediately following Boe's death, I clung to you. I was sure that if I held fast to my faith, I would be OK. It comforted me to know that Boe was safe in Heaven with you.

Now 1 year later, knowing that he is safe with you is not a comfort, but a source of anger and pain. Wasn't I good enough to be his mommy? Was there something wrong with me? With Adam? Don't we deserve him? Adam and I are good people, we live our lives trying to be of service to others. We live our lives trying to do the right thing, and look where it got us.

God, I know this may sound sacrilegious or blasphemous. I think that is why it has taken me so long to identify and speak about the source of my anger. I am ashamed that I am angry with you. I no longer wish to go to church on Sundays; to do so is actually a painful reminder of my loss, as it is the last place Boe was actually close enough to touch. I no longer say prayers for health and safety before I go to bed each night, what is the point?

Sayings like, "God does not give you more than you can handle" or, "God has a plan" or, "God doesn't make mistakes" no longer comfort me or give me the strength to keep going. Rather they anger me and make me shake my head because I cannot handle that Boe is gone, I do not understand how you keeping my baby is a good plan, could it be that you did, in fact, make a mistake?

God, I used to turn to you in my deepest, darkest hours of need. I would pray, bargain and plead for you to help me sort out what was wrong in my life, and you always seemed to deliver. But now, you are the one who has caused my deepest darkest hour of need. How am I to free myself this time? To whom can I turn now?

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Bucket

Let me preface this by saying, it may be one of my more confusing or unorganized posts. It's really just my chance to ramble about something that pisses me off, a year after the fact. I have purposely left out names, etc... because, at this point, calling the individuals in question to task would be pointless. I'm just sayin...

I remember when my dear friend, Sonja, was getting married. I planned her Bachelorette party in Las Vegas and was set to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. We were both SO excited. 2 weeks before her Bachelorette, I had to call her and tell her I could not attend her party OR be in her wedding. I had just learned that I was pregnant with Libby and my doctor said NO travel for the 1st trimester since I had so much difficulty conceiving.

I recall crying on the phone as I broke the news to her because I was so disappointed and felt so guilty for "messing up" her plans. I bring this up only because I SO badly wanted to be there for her and could not. Circumstances beyond my control were preventing me from being there for one of my best friends on the biggest day of her life. I was heartbroken. Sometimes, we face extenuating circumstances which prevent us from being at a certain place at a certain time.

Our car breaks down en route and we are unexpectedly delayed. Our flight is cancelled due to mechanical failure or weather and we are at the mercy of the airline to get us where we need to be. A family emergency or sudden illness causes us to change our plans suddenly and without notice. All of these are totally reasonable excuses for not being somewhere important. Lately, I have been having a really hard time with those who just don't bother to make certain things a priority, like, I don't know, the death of a child and the subsequent events surrounding his loss.

It amazes me that some people have their heads so far up their asses they can't see what really matters. I am not saying that I think everything needs to be dropped and a National Day of Mourning declared because my son died, but it really saddens me to see how little effort some people made to be supportive when Adam and I needed help the most. Most people were amazing. What can I do? When can I be there? How can I help? Honestly, were it not for Adam's cousins, Boe may not even have had a service. That's how lost we were. We were pleasantly surprised and so touched by who wanted to help us and to what lengths they were willing to go.

A dear friend of ours volunteered to keep Libby entertained during the service so we could focus on Boe, another friend bought the flowers for display on the altar. People with whom we had not touched base for quite some time were at the service to pay their respects, and it all meant so much. One of my favorite sayings is "I don't care how flat you make a pancake, it still has two sides." - Dr. Phil

Unfortunately, there were some people who were not as supportive as we would have hoped during this ordeal. I am happy to say that, OVERWHELMINGLY, we were able to count on almost anyone for anything in the days right after Boe's passing. But, the flip side of the pancake is the very few people who left us in our time of need. Almost a year later, I find myself so angry with these people; but I also feel sad for them. Sad, that they are so caught up in their own lives that they could not see clearly enough how shaken and broken Adam and I were. What happened on April 22 rocked us to the core and has, no doubt, forever changed who we are.

I am even more sad that Adam and I never had the nerve, for lack of a better term, to share with these individuals how disappointed we were by their inability to "show up" when we really needed them, even if only on the sidelines waiting for us to reach out. I feel as though I let Boe down by not speaking up on his behalf to let these people know that their absence (and very conscious choice to be absent) really sucked. As I mentioned before, it has been a year. Saying anything now will not change what is... they were not there. They must live with their decision and Adam and I (more I) need to find it in our hearts to move on.

My father said something to me during this time that has really stuck with me. It reminds me that what we have going on is often not as important or as necessary as we like to think it is. Sometimes, we need to drop what we are doing to be there for those who need us most. He said "Stick your arm in a bucket of water. If there is a hole there when you pull your arm out, you're needed in that bucket." I guess some folks just had their arm in the wrong bucket when Boe died.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dear Boe,

As I hit "publish post" it has been 1 year since you left us. That seems so hard to imagine. Your brothers, Adler and Cameron, are proof that time marches on, but doesn't it stand still too? Sometimes, it is almost as if I feel you and your brothers in my belly, squished and trying to find space. Often, I feel as though if I just close my eyes, you are there.

I find myself thinking of you often. I feel such guilt for not knowing that you were in trouble. I think back to my actions during the timeframe the doctor gave us for your passing and I realize I sensed NOTHING. How could I not know? How could I not tell you were struggling, in need, in distress? I am your mother, the one person who is supposed to protect and shield you from all harm; I let you down.

A year later, I thought I was "heeled". I could talk about you without crying, I could look at Adler without thinking, Boe would look just like that. I know now that I am wrong. I am not heeled. I miss you madly. I look at Adler and wish I had 2 of him in front of me. I cry more often than I think I ever have. The more time that passes, the more I realize that loved ones are like limbs, extensions of oursleves. Sure, if we lose one, we can learn to live without it, but the essence of it is always there. Just as an amputee can always "feel" the lost limb as though it's really there, I feel you too. Just like an amputee's "heeled" limb may tingle, a painful and cruel reminder of what was once there, my heart aches, reminding me that you are not here any longer.

I know when Libby looks in the corner of the room and says"birdy, brother", she is referring to you. Your identical brother, Adler, has a small birthmark on his chest, right over his heart. We call it his "Boe spot" so you will always be near. I know that you are a strong and heroic little boy. Had it not been for your death, we may not have Adler or Cameron here either, and we thank you for that precious gift.

Tomorrow, we celebrate the day of your birth. Having to say Hello and Goodbye at the same time was so hard and so unfair, but I know you are in heaven playing with friends. I want you to know that even though we will be celebrating Adler and Cameron tomorrow, we celebrate you too. You will be in our thoughts all day long and even beyond. I love you so much Baby Boe. Please know that even though my arms are empty, you fill my heart and soul everyday. Happy Birthday to you.



Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Rosie Pope, my hero

I admit, I set my DVR to record the new Bravo series "Pregnant in Heels". It is the story of a New York based pregnancy concierge (whatever the hell that is) and her high maintenance, uppity society clients. I was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ready to hate this show. I was ready to be disgusted by everything about it. I planned to watch it and then light up the Bravo message boards and blogs with contempt and disgust over these spoiled NY socialites who treat their pregnancies like a fashion statement and their children like accessories.

I so badly wanted to HATE this show, but I just can't. I think part of what helped was Rosie Pope herself. She spoke very openly about the fact that her son should not have been conceived or carried to term, as she discovered immediately after his birth that she has a heartshaped uterus. She has been undergoing IVF treatments and admitted that it is very difficult to throw herself "into the lion's den" on a daily basis. Also in her favor is the fact that she recognizes and candidly points out to the parents and audience that there is, quite often, such absurdity and self-involvement in their thinking. Somehow, by the end of the show both couples with whom she worked seemed to truly appreciate the blessing they had received.

The first episode was only a taste. It featured a couple who could not imagine having their modern, chic Tribeca loft lifestyle upended by a monstrosity like a baby. There was also the couple who felt highly enough of themselves to refer to the image people have of their family as a "brand". They needed Rosie's help to choose a name for their third child. Rosie never faltered and did not fail to put them in their place as needed. Somehow she did it in a way that made it seem like their change of heart was their idea, which I love. I am sure if I continue to watch, the mommas-to-be will only become more Divaesque; we shall see. For now, I'll rest easy knowing that Rosie Pope is bringing a little more gratitude and awareness to the blessed gift a baby truly is, one snobby, uppity, self-involved couple at a time.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Slap in the Face

"Therein lay the problem. Life had altered in the wildest possible way, but it was imperative that they act as if nothing at all had happened. Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it 24 hours a day" From The Book Thief, a novel by Markus Zusak This quote, which I came across in a book that I read recently, really resonates with me. I find myself constantly trying to "self-correct" and adapt myself to the "real" world so that I will seem "normal", like the old Kirsten. Isn't that the problem? Why should I have to do that? Something did happen, and it was awful and unimaginable, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Should I pretend like I have "moved on" and that I am "over it" to make everybody else feel better? I have always been a little bothered by people's nosiness. I know they mean well, but is it really necessary to know everybody else's shiz all the time? Since Boe's death, I am even more bothered by it. Don't get me wrong, strangers out in public usually don't bother me. They don't know me and they don't know any better, but sometimes they make really dumb remarks, or ask really probing questions. What really gets in my craw are family, friends, colleagues, who do know better. They always ask things like, "How are the boys?" How is everyone doing?" "Is everything OK?, and my personal favorite, "How are the TWINS?" WTF? If memory serves, I carried and delivered 3 babies on April 22, 2010. The fact that one is not here does NOT discount his existence. There is a part of me that always wants to save these idiots from themselves and say nothing; I should just smile politely and give the response expected. "The boys are fine" "We are fine" "Everything is OK" "The TWINS are just fine". I find myself willing to actually do this far less frequently than I once was. Perhaps it is because I am at a point in my journey through grief where the shock of what happened is wearing off, and I am becoming more aware of reality. Boe is dead, he existed, and now he doesn't. Perhaps it is because I want everyone to realize that babies do die. It sucks, but it happens and to try to deny it is to deny their little existences, no matter how fleeting. Perhaps it is because I am uncomfortable with what my life has become. In an instant my future, my hopes, dreams and aspirations, was ripped out from under me like a tablecloth being yanked from a table at a cheap magic show. I have to live with Boe's death, and the pain it has caused those I love the most, everyday. It has become a part of me. Some days I am much more aware that it exists than others. Some days I am hardly even aware that it is there. It is something that I will carry with me until the day I die. So, when you ask me if I have twins and I explain that they are surviving triplets, if you ask how many children I have and I say 4 even though I clearly only have 3 present, when you make a stupid remark referencing the fact that my loss would be so much more horrible if it had been my only child and I say until you've lost a child you'll never understand the depth of this pain, when you know my story and you brazenly refer to my boys as TWINS and I correct you in front of others and remind you that they are, in fact, triplets, I am not doing it to be rude. I am doing it to have someone else shoulder my burden, even if only for a second. If what I say or how I respond makes you uncomfortable for a little while, put yourself in my shoes. Remember that I have to live and breathe this until I leave this Earth. The bottom line is, don't ask a question to which you do not want the full, honest-to-God truth. For I have been slapped in the face, and now I must smile 24 hours a day.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Remember when you were in high school and you would make your significant other a "mix tape" ( or CD) for special occasions? You could spend hours on end finding just the right songs and place them in just the right order. I did that for Boe. He has his very own playlist on my IPOD. It is a work in progress, but the songs I have so far are:

Mad World by Michael Andrews

Beautiful Boy by John Lennon

Lullabye by Billy Joel

Let it Be by the Beatles

I Grieve by Peter Gabriel

To Make you Feel My Love by Adele

So Small by Carrie Underwood

Jesus, Take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood

Smile by Lyle Lovett

For Good by the Cast of Wicked

Brand New Wings by Peter Brandon

I listen to these songs when I want to feel close to Boe. Usually at night when I am working on the computer or the rare occasions when I am alone in the car. One or all of these songs make me cry EVERY time I listen. Why do I torture myself in this way you may ask?

Sometimes, it does feel like torture; the wound of Boe's passing being ripped open and salt being poured in the gaping hole his absence has left behind. But sometimes, it feels hopeful. Sometimes, I can listen to these songs and smile as I remember carrying and nurturing Boe for 229 days. Sometimes I can listen and know that even if he is not physically present he is always here and by remembering him, he always lives.

Sometimes. Today was a torturous, wound-ripping day. Today was a day that I listened to the lyrics and cried because he is gone, he is not coming back, and he feels so far away.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Dinner For Schmucks

So my husband and I had some friends over for dinner on Friday. They are people with whom we enjoy spending some time when we can all get together. We have been to their weddings, we exchange Christmas cards, but it's not like we hang out every weekend, we are not "besties". We had dinner on Friday, SO WHAT, right? Normally, I would agree, except for 2 GIANT elephants who were in the room that night. Both women are pregnant. One due in April and one in June.

I would be lying if I said I was not VERY hesitant about this soiree we had planned. The woman who is closer to her due date has, apparently, not been the most gracious pregnant woman. Everything has been an inconvenience to her. I was very unsure of how I would feel being around 2 very pregnant women. How would I handle the complaints, the excitement, the questions, should they come my way?

To add insult to injury, I wished to hell I was in their position, anxiously awaiting the arrival of a little one. You're probably wondering, WHAT? Why would I with 3 children under the age of 2 at home even contemplate the prospect of another child. The bottom line is, I feel like I should have 4 HERE. A few weeks ago, I actually felt like maybe that was what was meant to be. I found out on MLK day that I was pregnant again, against ALL odds, as we had been using protection.

The second I found out, I felt as though Boe were talking to me. Mommy, if you can't have me, then I'll send you an earthly angel to love until I see you in heaven. As shocked and surprised as I was by this pregnancy, I was excited, hopeful. I found out 1 week later that my baby was not viable, and I had a miscarriage. So you see, that night, I should have been at the tail end of my 1st trimester. Instead, I was laughing it up, drinking my wine and reassuring the nervous mommys to be that hemorrhoids DO go away ( I would not know, I never got them).

I had warned my husband ahead of time that I did not know how I would be able to handle the evening. I told him I was definitely worried about complainer mommy, and that I may need to excuse myself to avoid making a rude or snide comment if she got out of hand. Currently, I have very little patience for those who do not recognize how lucky, blessed, fortunate they are to be preparing for parenthood. You see, I DID recognize all those things, and I still had the rug pulled out from under me.

As it turns out, complainer mommy started the evening by saying she promised not to complain because she knew I had been pregnant with not one, but 3 babies at once and she had no idea how I had done that. I smiled graciously, but thought she still doesn't get it. Parenthood, in its entirety, is a precious gift. The wonder of the journey begins from the second you find out there is life within you, and it is a voyage that does not end until the day you close your eyes and do not open them ever again. Pregnancy is not an ends to justify the means. Pregnancy is part of the "work", the "job" of parenthood, meant to prepare one gradually for the lifetime of hard "labor" (pun intended) ahead.

This mommy admitted to me that she is amazed that any of us get here because she HATES being pregnant. Don't get me wrong, there were times I was VERY uncomfortable, but I LOVED every single cotton pickin' second of my pregnancies. To love being pregnant is to love the life inside you from the very first moment you are possibly aware of its existence. Perhaps, she will change her tune when she holds her daughter in her arms for the first time. My guess is she won't.

I just want to let all the earthly angels waiting up above to grace us with their presence here, for every "mommy" who wishes they could just "get" a baby without going through all the life affirming changes that happen to one's body and heart over the 40 weeks it takes, there are SOOOOOOO many "mommys" who get it from the start and who are happy to do whatever it takes to have you here. Remember US.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Today it has been 10 months since we lost Boe, but it has also been 10 months since we welcomed Adler and Cameron. I have been crying a lot lately. I feel so isolated. I am with my children all day, which I love, but I miss being around adults. Adults, even though they may not get what I have gone through, get sadness, anger, resentment, all of which I feel.

It has often been so hard for me to not breakdown sobbing in front of my children. I find myself smiling through tears or silently crying into their hair because I don't want to frighten them. I don't want them to see me weak, vulnerable, and utterly helpless. After that feeling passes, I pause, and ask myself is THAT healthy? Can't I honor Boe best by being honest about the fact that I miss him like hell? Can't I parent them better by showing them that feelings, good or bad, are OK?

What happened to us 10 months ago sucks. There is no rhyme or reason to it, it is not natural, it is not what anyone expects or aspires to in life and it is NOT fair. But you know what else sucks? Trying to hide how I truly feel because I am afraid that it will scare my children or make somebody else uncomfortable. I am taking a stand here and now - FUCK THAT SHIT.

What is not natural, and what is not fair, is for me to force myself to pretend that everything is OK; it is not. My baby is dead. Acting like all is fine is the worst disrespect that I could pay to my children (both alive and dead), my family, my friends and myself. Acting like everything is OK is like pretending that Boe never existed. He did, I held him, I saw him with my own 2 eyes. Boe's death is something that has forever changed me; never again will I be the Kirsten I was before I went to the doctor on 4/22/2010.

I want to honor Boe by becoming a woman who is as close a version to the pre 4/22 version of me as possible. I want to keep him alive by crying for him, laughing with him or just plain thinking about him when the urge strikes regardless of how it may "look". I want my children and husband to see that I can be weak, vulnerable and helpless, and still be OK. That this is healthy, I am not some robot who goes through life, stoic and without emotion.

Perhaps the best way for me to grow is to realize that in being weak, in allowing myself to feel pain and show it, I am, in fact, stronger. I can be a better wife, a better mother, a better me. I would be fooling myself to believe that this experience is something that I will "get over", but maybe, just maybe if I open myself up I can get through it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Yes, Jesus loves me (????)

The days that followed Boe's passing and the boys' birth were so busy. Everyone kept saying I should rest, I had just had major surgery. Rest?? How was I supposed to do that with 2 newborns, whom I was dying to hold, in the NICU and a service to plan for Boe?

A service. That is something you plan for your parents when they die peacefully in their sleep, not the baby you bore who never opened his eyes, took a breath, squeezed your finger. When Adam and I were first told we would need to plan a service, and therefor make some decisions about Boe's remains, I was very disturbed.

Everyone at the hospital was very helpful and compassionate. They provided us with so many resources for planning Boe's service and navigating through our grief. Family and friends stepped up in so many ways to help ease our burden so that we could get to know Adler and Cameron and grieve Boe properly.

The first decision I really struggled with was whether or not to perform an autopsy. My initial thought was HELL NO! The thought of having my little boy spread on that cold stainless steel table with a Y incision in his tiny chest was just too much to bear. I really did not even want to discuss it with my husband. To me, it was not an option, Boe could not be subjected to that. In hindsight, I should have been more open to the discussion and heard my husband's thoughts. I knew having an autopsy would not change the outcome, Boe would still be gone. Having a why to put with his death might have been healing; now we'll never know.

The next decision was what were we to do with his remains? The thought of a teensy weensy casket and a headstone with 1 single date on it was so heartbreakingly tragic. The thought of cremation brought to light another set of images, also so difficult to picture. In the end, we decided to cremate him and put him in the mausoleum niche with my "Opa" (Dutch for Grandfather). One day, when our other children are old enough to understand what transpired that day, we'll decide, as a family, where Boe should be permanently.

The final task at hand was Boe's service. Adam's cousins are very involved in our local church, and they made sure to set up appointments with the right people, make phone calls and gather paperwork on our behalf, etc. Were it not for them, I do not know how Adam and I could have made it through those first few days after Boe's death and Adler and Cameron's birth. They are our earthly angels, and I know there is a special place in heaven just for them.

In any case, the business of choosing friends and family to do readings, quotes for the program, how we wanted the program arranged, music for the service, began. The one piece that really got to me in all of this was that we needed to choose 4 pallbearers.

Why? I had purposely wanted to avoid a little casket. How could it possibly take 4 adults to carry the remains of a 2lb 13 oz baby into a church? We asked both of our fathers, Adam's Great Uncle, and my dear friend, Desiree. Seeing them carry the tiny little "arc", for lack of a better word, from the vestibule to the altar was one of the saddest, most empty moments of my life. I knew what was in that box, and I knew that, without question, once that box left the church I would never see my Baby Boe again.

The service itself was beautiful; Boe was baptized before it officially began. I was amazed at how many people turned up to grieve with us. Some, whom we barely knew or had never even met were there, and Adam and I were both so touched by the support and love that surrounded us on that day. The priest shared some wonderful words with us, some of which we still ponder when it really hurts to be without Boe.

There were some things that occurred during the service which truly stand out to me. First off, my father was a pallbearer and so he sat in the pew ahead of us. At one point during the service, as I was looking forward, I saw my father's shoulders heaving up and down as he silently cried. I have never told him that I noticed this because I know he would be embarrassed. To me, it was a very bittersweet moment. Bitter because, daddies don't cry. I needed my daddy to be the strongest most steadfast man for me and my husband, and he was crumbling. It was sweet because I knew that this most raw and vulnerable moment was an outpouring of how loved my little boy was and how dearly he would be missed here on Earth. He was loved by not only his parents, but scores of others too. Somehow, I found odd comfort in that.

Another moment which sticks with me is the point during the service where Adam and I had to bring the gifts to the altar for consecration. Gifts, that seemed so ironic and cruel to me. Wasn't the gift supposed to be Boe squirming in our arms, waiting to be baptized?? The gifts were not wine and host being presented at Boe's funeral mass, yet here we were bringing them to the priest like the dutiful little Catholics we are. As we headed back up the aisle a medley of "Yes, Jesus Loves Me" and "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" began to play. To this day, that fucking song reduces me to a heap of tears, and I must excuse myself from mass. Jesus loves me... Really? If he loves me so much, then why did he bless me with 3 little boys only to yank one away? If he loves me so damn much, then why was it so difficult for me to conceive in the first place only to have this triple curve ball thrown my way?

The final moment that is frequently at the forefront of my mind is the very end of Boe's service. He was brought back in to the vestibule and his little urn removed from the "arc". We asked his Godfather/Grandpa, Adam's father, to carry him out to the vehicle that would return him to the funeral home for transport to the cemetery. As the little blue urn was placed in his hands, I saw his shoulders cinch up to his ears. I could tell he was trying not to break down as he carried Boe out of the church. That was an incredibly difficult moment, Adam's father is a retired Air Force General. How could a man who has served our country in Qatar, been stationed in Antarctica for months at a time and flown over Ground Zero just hours after the Twin Towers fell on 9/11 be reduced to tears over a baby boy he never saw, never held, would never truly know? In that moment, I realized how many lives my little angel had touched, in how many hearts he would be tucked away, and that although his physical presence may no longer be felt, he would always live on through our love and celebration of him.

I am sure that as my Father-in-Law carried Boe out, that little box must have felt as though made of lead. The sound of the car door shutting was deafening. Louder and more final than any gunshot, explosion or similar sound I could ever imagine. It meant my little boy was gone for good. This was really happening, we had really lost him. I guess I'm supposed to be OK with that, because Jesus loves me, right?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Day the Earth Stood Still, Part II

When my doctor arrived he checked the boy's heart rates right away. He immediately turned to me and Adam and said we were going to get to see what our boys looked like on the outside. Apparently, Adler's heart rate was decelerating and the doctor felt it best to deliver them that day. The next 40 minutes flew by. Family and friends who had gathered were ushered to the waiting room, and I really don't remember seeing too much of Adam. I had form after form shoved in front of me to sign for consent to operate, to this, to that, to God only knows what.

The nurses unhooked me from the IVs and monitors and led me to the bathroom. Here, they proceeded to give me the WORST bikini wax in the history of mankind. Helen Keller could probably have done a nicer job than they, but I guess a sightly bikini line was not really their goal, was it?

I was led down the hallway to the OR where my C-Section would be done. It was all abuzz with nurses prepping, the doctor running to and fro. I was surprised by how ordinary the room looked. Nowhere near as glamorous as the rooms you see on TV or envision in your mind. The fact that 80's music (one of my favs) was playing through the speakers was a bit disarming, but it gave me something to divert my attention.

The nurses guided me to the table and helped me up. I was suddenly aware of how very narrow this table was. All I could think was, "Please don't roll off, please don't roll off". I was given my spinal block and laid down on the table. I could feel nurses moving my legs and positioning them to be strapped to the table, but as the sensation left my legs, it became a very odd thing to go through.

After I was all settled on the table, a very sweet and shy nurse approached me. She asked in a very subdued voice if I wanted to see and hold Boe after the procedure was complete. Tears instantly sprang to my eyes. For just one second, I had fooled myself into believing that this was only a happy day. I'd be meeting my boys, Adler and Cameron. That question forced me back to reality so quickly and with such brutal honesty, I had to ask her to repeat herself.

That's right. I was here, really, because Boe had died. I was not here beacuase Adler and Cameron were meant to be born today, I was here because Boe was gone and to save his brothers they had to be born today. I mustered up what voice I had left and told the nurse in broken sobs that I was not sure, I had not really thought about holding Boe.

Truth be told, I had not thought about it, not one bit. This was not supposed to be happening. I had not made it this far in this pregnancy to have one of my babies not make it, why would I even contamplate such a horrific and tragic outcome?

The next hour or so is on of the most surreal of my life. I remember Adam finally coming in and sitting on a stool right next to me. The doctors began to operate and I heard 2 thready little cries at once. Adler and Cameron had been born at exactly the same moment. Those cries were the most joyous little sounds I had ever heard in my life, but they were not enough. I wanted more, I wanted Boe. The neonatologist held both boys over the draping for me to see; they were perfect. Small little boys, but pink and perfect. Before I knew it, Adam had both of them in his arms, and I thought if only I had one to hold too. Just as soon as it began, Adler and Cameron were whisked away to the NICU.

The doctors began the buiness of delivering Boe and putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. I remember thinking how odd it was that their conversation seemed so light, so normal, given the circumstances. They were discussing Coen Brothers films and the fact that "The Big Lebowski" was one of their favorites. I informed them that "Fargo" is, by far, my favorite.

My doctor ushered Adam over to an area of the OR that I could not see. He showed Adam the placentas and pointed out that Boe had barely been holding on throughout the pregnancy. It was his best guess that Boe had simply not received enough nutrients to survive, but he had held on as long as possible for his brothers' sake.

I was wheeled in to recovery and family was allowed in to say "hi". I remember being so surprised and touched to see my younger sister there. She had just given birth to her her 3rd child 5 weeks earlier and I knew it was hard for her to get childcare.

The same nurse who had asked me about Boe in the OR came in and asked if we wanted to see Boe. My husband and I lowered our heads to hide our tears and nodded, "Yes". Our friends and family got the hint and left us to meet our baby boy; only my mother stayed.

The nurse returned with a tiny little bundle wrapped in a soft blanket. She handed him to me, and I wept silently as I held him. He was perfect; he looked just like his brother Adler. His little mouth hung open as if he was in the most comfortable slumber ever, and I was gratfeul to see how peaceful he looked. I had not known what to expect when I saw him, I had never seen a dead baby before. This may sound silly, and probably only those who have lost a child will relate, but I expected him to be hideous. I expected him to be not fully formed, but there he was, pink, beautiful and still. I unwrapped his swaddle to see all of him, I had such precious little time.

He was all there, teeny little toes, perfect belly button, all accounted for. The nurse had brought some Holy water, so my husband and I said a simple prayer and blessed him. My husband held him, and then my mother; I remember seeing her chin quiver with grief as she held her little grandson lost. That was one of the most difficult moments of my life, because in that moment, I felt such complete failure.

I felt I had let my mother, my husband and my baby down. I had somehow failed 3 of the most important beings in my life. After a few moments, my mother left Adam and I with Boe. The NILMDTS photographer arrived and took some photos of Boe. I treasure them just as dearly as I treasure the feel of Boe in my arms. He smelled so sweet, and even though he only weighed 2 pounds 13 oz at birth, he was heavy in my arms and filled them completely.

After the anesthesia wore off, I was finally able to see Adler and Cameron in the NICU. My boys had been here for 5 hours, and I had yet to even touch them. As I was being taken to my room, we stoppped by the NICU so I could see them. I was only able to touch them through openings in their isolettes, holding would have to wait until tomorrow. The nurses assured me that, all things considered, they were doing great. Cameron, the bigger of the boys, was on oxygen, but they expected he'd be off it soon.

By this time, it was about 9:30 PM, and I was exhausted. I was still coming off the anesthesia and had yet to be put in a room. Once I was finally settled in a room, my husband and I had the difficult task of saying goodbye, as he had to get home to our daughter. Neither of us had seen her since 8:30 that morning when we had left for the doctor's office.

So, Adam headed home, and there I was alone in the hospital room. I got as comfortable as I could, and I cried until I could cry no more. I was convinced that if I could just fall asleep, I'd awake safe at home, in my own bed, Boe still safe and alive in my belly. The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Day the Earth Stood Still, Part 1

Where should I start? As I write this, 9 and 1/2 months later, the events of April 22, 2010 are so clear yet so fuzzy. Certain things stand out in my head with crystal clear clarity and others I must fight to piece together; perhaps this is my way of protecting myself from the pain.

It was a Thursday morning, and I had an appointment with my doctor followed by a biophysical profile at the hospital. My husband had taken the day off from work so that he could accompany me. He had not "seen" the boys since I had been hospitalized, so he was anxious to check in. The morning was rather uneventful. We got up, got dressed, fed our beautiful daughter, Libby, and waited for my friend Desiree to arrive so that we could leave.

As we headed out the door, something told me to grab the bag that I had taken with me to Long Beach. I had never unpacked because I knew it would not be too long before I needed my bag again. To this day, I still don't know what told me to grab that bag. What was nagging at me deep inside, telling me that today was a day I would never forget?

At the doctor's office the staff was pleasantly surprised to see that I was still pregnant. They were all very excited and supportive. We were ushered back to an ultrasound room and I was given a minute to get comfortable. The ultrasound tech began moving the probe over my enormous belly trying to get a lay of the land. She told us as she found Baby A's heartbeat and Baby C's heartbeat. They were very easy to find since they were right on top. Boe had always been a little bit more tricky as he was underneath his brothers. She kept moving the probe trying to orient herself and then her face changed. At that moment, I knew in the pit of my stomach that something was not right.

Nothing could have prepared me for the words that came out of her mouth.

"I am so sorry, but Baby B's heart has stopped beating."

My husband and I choked out a collective, "WHAT?" and the tears began to flow as we clung to each other in that tiny little room. The tech gave us a minute while she went to fetch the doctor. Although I kept crying, there was a part of me that thought maybe she was wrong. Maybe Boe was just hiding and the doctor would come in and say all was well.

The doctor did come in and took a look himself. He threw his glove down on the keyboard in anger and frustration. The tech's findings were correct. At some point in the last 12 hours, our little Boe had left. How had I not known? How had I not sensed he was in trouble? How could this be happening?

The doctor told us what some of his concerns were regarding Adler and Cameron's health. He was the most worried about Adler since he and Boe had been sharing a placenta. I was sent right over to the hospital for observation. The hope was that Adler would remain stable enough that I could carry the boys for another week so they could grow a bit more. Worst case scenario, they'd be delivered that day.

The thought of carrying a dead baby inside me for another week was heartbreaking. I wanted him out, I wanted him to be warm and peaceful, not wedged between his brothers receiving the brunt of their every move. Boe was not a punching bag, he was my precious little boy, and he was gone. I knew in my heart of hearts that if it was best for Adler and Cameron, I would do whatever it took, but I still struggled with the thought.

The nurses who checked me in were wonderful. They offered hugs, support, anything we wanted, except for food and drink for me. The doctor did not want me to have anything in my system in the even he needed to deliver the boys that day. So I sat there, thirsty, hungry and heartbroken wondering what came next?

The nurses hooked me up to fetal heart monitors, gave me steroid injections for the boys and magnesium sulfate to help with blood flow to their brains. Apparently, preemie babies have a higher risk of brain bleeds and this would help combat that. Now came the business of calling family and some friends. I know when I called my mom, I could not even respond when she answered. I just choked out the words, "Boe died." in the meekest smallest voice I have ever heard myself utter. She was there before I knew what had hit me.

Most people we informed had so many questions, and we had no answers so lots of messages, calls and texts from that day were ignored. Sorry people, it is what it is. We were surrounded by those who meant the most to us as we waited to fond out what was to happen next. The doctor came over to check on me at just after 3 PM.