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Happy Chinese New Year/Due Date

It’s Chinese New Year today. It’s also the same day Steven was supposed to be born. One of the names on our list was Everett because today marks the day of the pig, and Everett means “brave boar.”

I had a really crazy morning. At 3am, I woke up with a really sharp pain in my stomach. I tried drinking water, walking around, going to the bathroom, but the pain wouldn’t go away. Eventually, Will woke up to my moaning and groaning. We decided to head to the ER where there was a 4 hour wait. After 2 hours, the sharp pains subsided, although my stomach still felt sore. I was exhausted, though, and just wanted to go home and back to bed. So we left.

I don’t get pains or sickness that easily, so it was scary to have experienced that. It took me a while to think of a time I’ve felt pain similar to this morning, and then it hit me, I have: the day I gave birth to Steven. I had to be induced and I asked the nurses how I’ll know when it’s time to deliver. They told me that it would feel like menstrual cramps, but that wasn’t informative because I don’t get those. Another nurse told me it would feel like I had to poop myself. Lo and behold, I ended up waking up in the middle of the night with weird stomach pains and feeling like I had to poop myself.

Anyway, it just feels really weird that, of all days, all that happened today. It seems far fetched, but part of me wonders if that means I would have given birth to Steven at 3am today if his heart continued beating and made it to term. I told my therapist about it; her background is in biopsych, and she thinks that it’s highly possible I’m having phantom contractions. I’m not sure if I really believe that but it’s wild to think about.

Today is a sad day, but Will and I are going to celebrate it. We got a little cake and some candles. My grandma usually makes 12 dishes to celebrate the lunar new year, but I don’t think I can do such a dinner justice. Also, there is absolutely no reason to make 12 dishes for just two people. Instead, I’m just making homemade dumplings and will pray for a year that is prosperous in joy and peace.


Getting Through the Holidays

What a month of celebrations November has been: I had my 28th birthday, one of my best friends got married, and Thanksgiving. Oh, and Black Friday. We bought a new fridge and stove/range during the sale, which will be delivered tomorrow. Yay, we’re finally going to have a kitchen! That’s definitely worth celebrating.

It always feels crazy how so many major holidays are packed into the months of November to January. Everything is one right after the other. In about two weeks, Will and I are traveling back to Philadelphia for Christmas and New Year’s.

I’ve never liked the holiday season that much. I know it’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year but I don’t like the shopping frenzy, the pressure to get gifts for people I don’t know that well, and the music. Ugh, the music! I really don’t like Christmas music. And this year, it feels even more of a drag. It’s not that I don’t want to be thankful, but there’s this excessive message telling me to feel grateful right now. More specifically, it feels like people are telling me to not think of my shitty situation, and to be grateful despite it. In other words, “This is a time to be happy. Ignore the bad stuff for now.”

But I’m not ignoring “the bad stuff” because “the bad stuff” is just part of my life. And I don’t know how to bridge the gap between celebrating with the rest of the world and not faking my way through the holidays. Obviously, I don’t want to be a downer. Really, I just want to crawl into bed and hibernate until Spring.

I am thankful, though, for a lot of things. I got two new clients recently, and I had a new idea for my freelancing that I’m currently testing. I’m thankful that my dog is (slowly) learning how to pee and poo outside. I started therapy, which has been pretty good. Will and I got to spend time with my family during Thanksgiving, and Will is about to finish his semester. Our house is coming together. We also found a small group that we like. So yeah, there’s a lot to be thankful for.


A Trip to the Doctor

Will and I went in for our post-natal appointment on Thursday. We were hoping to find out what could have happened to baby Steven…I guess for some closure. I don’t really know. But everything came up normal and it will forever be a mystery. We asked about the umbilical cord, the placenta, the food I was eating, the exercise I did, and possible environmental reasons, but there was just no answer. They don’t know. We don’t know. Maybe God wants me to trust in this moment, but I think he’s being mean.

The doctor said the good news is that we should be able to continue having children. She said at least she didn’t have to tell me that we would never have children again. I guess that is good news. But Steven is always going to be my firstborn.


One Month

It has been one month since I gave birth to my son.
I am not usually a fan of 1, 3, or even 6-month “anniversaries.” Because, you know, an anniversary is an annual event. But I would have definitely celebrated every one of Steven’s milestones. His first week. His third month. His half year. All of it.
There are still some friends who ask me how I’m doing. I’m grateful, for sure, but I also don’t know how to answer that anymore. I’m always sad, but at least I’m not crying every single day anymore, so I guess I am doing okay. Some days are better than others, but I’m still heartbroken. I think I’m going to be heartbroken forever. There are days when I’m doing my thing when I suddenly realize, “I’m supposed to be taking care of a baby.” which then turns to, “Wait, no, I’m actually supposed to still be pregnant.” Then I cry a little bit, or I cry a lot. And then I stop crying because I have to move on with my day. I still have writing deadlines to make, house chores to do, and now a dog to take care of. I am always tired, but I have to keeping moving.
Whenever someone asks if I’m okay, I don’t know what to say because I don’t want to burden them with my forever-sadness. And that’s exactly what it is: forever-sadness. I’m going to be sad forever. I’m going to miss my son forever. I’m going to feel his absence forever. I’m going to think about him forever.
This past month has passed by so fast, yet it also felt like an eternity. Life is just moving on and dragging me along.

A Letter to Our Friends

Back in May, Will and I were elated to find out that we were expecting our first child, and four weeks ago, we found out we were going to have a baby boy. On Tuesday, we went in for our 22-week ultrasound, and the doctor gave us bad news: our baby’s heart was no longer beating and he had passed on. At around 2:30am on Wednesday, I gave birth to our son, Steven Eddy, named in honor of Will’s close childhood friend.

To say that this is a difficult time is an understatement. At five months pregnant, this was the last thing we expected to happen. We don’t know why or how, and we may never know the answers to these questions. They said there was nothing we could have done to prevent this; I know they said this to stress it wasn’t my fault. Knowing that this wasn’t in my control makes me feel angry and confused. It feels like this baby never had a chance for any other outcome.

I feel sad because my body is recovering from giving birth but my son is not with me. I feel sad that I’ll never get to hear him cry or laugh. I won’t experience feeding him or staying up all night trying to get him to sleep. I won’t be able to watch him grow up or be able to look into his eyes to tell him that I love him.

To be honest, my faith doesn’t feel that strong, but maybe the universe was trying to prepare me somehow. The past two messages I heard at church were about suffering and the redemption of dark experiences. So, in the midst of my grief, I also want to share things I am thankful for.

First and foremost I am thankful for Will – my perfect partner and Steven’s loving father. I could not get through any of this without him by my side. When it was time to give birth, I was so afraid and didn’t feel emotionally or physically ready, but Will was there and held my hand through the whole thing. As hard as this experience is, I am grateful that we have each other. We both lost our child but together we will get through this.

I am thankful that Will and I got to hold little baby Steven and spend time with him. Although he was born four months early and wasn’t fully formed, he looked so perfect in our eyes. He had my nose and Will’s forehead. His arms and legs were long and looked muscular – I think he would’ve been a great athlete like his uncles Aaron and Brian.

I am thankful that my parents and brother came to visit, despite everything happening so quickly. I feel thankful that my mom, Judy, got to hold her grandson. One of the roots of my sadness is that my son will never know the presence and touch from people whom I know would’ve showered him with love. My mom was so excited to be a grandmother and I am so glad she was there to see Steven and experience those moments with Will and me.

I am thankful that my son shares a birthday with his other grandmother, Will’s mom Martina. Any connection my son can have to his family brings me comfort.

I am thankful for the nurses and doctors at the hospital that talked Will and me through the delivery process, before and after. I am thankful for Nora, the nurse that dressed our son up with an adorable tiny knitted hat – it let us see him in a different light. Seeing my baby in that hat caught me off guard but it was something I didn’t know we needed, and I am so grateful that a stranger treated my baby with such love and care.

I am thankful for our families who offered support during this terrible time, and I am thankful for my closest friends – Susan, Aerin, Angelica, Jenn, and Jess – who were there to both support me and mourn with me through this loss.

To my beautiful and precious baby Steven – I loved you when you were in my womb, I love you today, and I will love you forever. Even though you’re no longer here with us, Will and I are always going to be your parents. I wish we could have had more time with you, and that things didn’t turn out this way. Nonetheless, you brought joy into our life, and I can only be thankful for the few moments we were able to spend together. You will always be part of this family and you will forever be in my heart. Love, Mom.