I started work this week, Hackett was away at Grandma's, and I spent all my free time in the evenings prepping for the first week of school. I am staying busy. So busy that on August 29th, Koen's due date, I didn't even have a chunk of time to think or reflect until I was lying in bed. Is that a good thing? I am not sure. I am thankful that I am not feeling the pain from morning to night, but in some ways I want to and need to feel it.
Kevin and my wedding anniversary is on September 4th. Yesterday I was running all sorts of errands, marking off my many to do's. I stopped at Hallmark, walking in feeling good and happy. Then I pulled the first card, while reading it I began to cry. It seems to hit when I don't expect it. I had a rush of emotions. This past spring when I thought about our 9th anniversary approaching I thought how special it would be to celebrate with our completed family of four. I envisioned us all snuggling together, enjoying the love and special family we had created. I already had Koen planned into so many family memories and he is so missed. Kevin, how do I pick out a card or even come up with the words to mark this year of our lives together? We have been together for 16 years. We have walked through so much together. Our journey began in high school and we have been blessed to have so much joy in our lives. I don't know if anyone laughs more than we do. We have also faced trials - the divorce of both our parents, moving across country, and then moving across country again. The loss of Koen is the hardest trial of our lives. When facing hard times we cling together. Our motto is always "we can laugh or cry" and we try to choose laugh. So much harder to choose the laugh option these past few months. We are still laughing, but life just feels altered now. It is harder to be the carefree couple that we always have been. We hurt different, we grieve different, and we cope different. We still love, still support, and are still so thankful for one another. I cannot imagine facing this heartache without Kevin by my side. I found card yesterday, but what I really want it to say is:
"I love you. Even when my heart is bleeding and I can't show it, I love you. When you find a way to make me laugh, I love you. When you held my hand in the delivery room, I love you. When you play with Hackett even when you are sad and tired, I love you. When you carried our Koen's casket to his gravesite, I love you. When you support me staying home or going to work, I love you. When you remain by my side and don't retreat, I love you. I have loved you with my whole heart for 16 years, will love you this entire lifetime, and will love you all eternity when we are dancing with Koen in heaven."
Today was a quiet day. Hackett is still feeling under the weather and was content to watch TV and play Legos. I took advantage of my time and worked on lesson plans and decorations for my classroom.
In all the quietness my thoughts were spinning. The realness of everything is setting in. My baby is not here. Getting pregnant may result in another loss. Or we may be blessed to have a healthy baby in our arms at the end. The reward seems worth the risk, but what a huge risk we will be taking. Enduring this loss one time is crushing. I don't know how I would recover from it a second time, it is unfathomable. Time is ticking by, the years between siblings is growing larger with each day, and I am approaching 35 where other risks also go up. We don't need to add any more risk, we already have more than we can handle. How do we make the decision that we are ready to try again? How do you say sure I am ready to sign up for this again?
About a month ago I wanted to pick out baby names. We had never chosen names before I have actually gotten pregnant before, but I needed to cling to hope. I needed that hope to have a name. I needed to pray for the baby that is only a dream. I wasn't sure if I would share the names, but I feel like I want to. I am asking you to join me in praying for our hope by name. We had a girl's name chosen for Koen, and even though he did not need that name, it feels like that name belongs to him and that pregnancy. During our name selection we wanted to choose names that were promises. If we have a boy his name will be Tobin Victor. Tobin means "God is good", and even in this valley I have clung to that. Victor is my grandfather's name and it means "champion". We need a victorious fighter. If we have a girl her name will be Adora Esther. Adora is "a gift, beloved, adored". We are praying for a gift from God that we can love on. Esther is Kevin's grandmother's name and it means "star". Our little gift from the heavens above.
I thought that passing Koen's arrival date and due date may bring some closure. But the truth is our journey is still in the beginning stages. Please pray as we continue to walk down this challenging path ...
August 22, 2013. This is a day I was once looking forward to with great anticipation. Koen's due date was August 29th, and my planned cesarean was scheduled months in advance for August 22. This may not have been Koen's birthday, but by this day we should have held our healthy son in our arms.
Since Koen's death this day turned into one that I dreaded and feared. This makes it real. He should be here today and he is not. Koen won't be here tomorrow, next week, or next month. I will see him again, but not during this lifetime. I will walk through the rest of my time on earth with a piece of my heart missing. I cannot explain how you can feel love so deep for someone who I was only face to face with after their heart stopped beating, but that fierce mama love that I have for Hackett was already in existence for Koen. To not be able to physically pour that love on him makes my heart ache in a way it has never hurt before.
This day was far different than what I thought it would have held for me. It started early this morning when Hackett climbed into bed with us, after being awoken from a storm. A few months ago I made a "Koen Bear", an idea I had gotten from a friend who sent me this link: http://www.mollybears.com/. Molly Bears is an organization that exists to give comfort for those who have endured infant loss of any kind. You have this desire and longing to hold your baby again, but sadly cannot. The waiting list is long for Molly Bears, so I made my own. My Koen Bear is almost the exact length of Koen, who was 14 3/4 inches, and I filled him with weighted beans and fishing sinkers to make him Koen's exact weight, 2lbs 13 oz. Our Koen Bear has given us comfort. I sleep with him at night, so when Hackett snuggled up to me in the middle of the night in my sleepy daze I thought I am hugging both my boys. How heartbreaking that only one of them is breathing. I laid there listening to the rain, loving on my Hackett, and thinking about the storm that I have been residing in the last few months.
When Hackett woke up he was grumpy and tired. My patience was thin. Not the greatest start to the day, but we made it to the city police post so that I could be fingerprinted. Something that had to occur today to continue to complete all the necessary paperwork for me to begin teaching. Yesterday was my first day at work. An orientation for new teachers. The Superintendent drove us to all the buildings in the district, part of that route drove us right by the cemetery where Koen is laid to rest. I just stared out the window, in shock of the surrealness that was occurring. During some chatting with the other newly hired teachers, each was telling their story about how they got their job. I remained silent. How do I explain to people I am meeting for the first time what has transpired in the past few months. "Oh, I was going to interview, but decided not to because I wanted to spend every possible second with my baby. Then my baby died and I wasn't strong enough to move forward with the process, so they hired someone else. She quit, they called me, and I stepped out in faith 3 weeks ago." I don't think that would go over that great. I feel blind at times while I navigate my way through this journey of loss and grief.
By chance on this day I also needed to go to my OB/GYN for a follow up. That involved him taking cultures and sending me to the lab for yet another urine sample. They just keep testing, testing, testing my body. I am thankful, but it is taking its toll on me. My doctor discussed with me the realities in a very real manner today. The truth is that they, the doctors, only know so much. They don't know how E. coli found its way into my uterus, which is designed to be a protected sterile environment, and then penetrated my placenta and made its way to Koen. He was gently preparing me for the fact that we could face this same outcome again, even with them taking every precautionary measure. News that is necessary, but hard to hear. So hard to hear on this day.
Hackett has had a cough for a few days. I didn't like the sound of it so we headed into his doctor this afternoon. He has the beginnings of walking pneumonia ... of course he does today.
Tonight Kevin is at a work function, Hackett is getting a breathing treatment while watching TV, and I am writing this with tears streaming down my cheeks. Not what I had planned for this day ...
I am a mix of emotions. The grief process is not for the faint of heart. Or maybe it is, you just stretch, grow, and discover that you can endure more than you ever thought possible, because you simply don't have a choice.
I am Jackie.