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Finding Ezra

My journey through grief.

Invisible

My sister recently gave me a necklace with Ezra’s initials in braille on it. It helps me keep him close to my heart and feel him when I need to. But, the braille has meaning too. It means that I cannot see my son. He is no longer here, but I can still feel him. I feel him everywhere I go. I feel him in my heart and I feel him in my memory. But I cannot see him, I cannot hear him and I cannot physically touch him. I am an invisible mother to an invisible child. When I look in the mirror I can see the scars I carry, but no one else can. No one knows that I am a mother. I go out and see other women with their children, their babies and they don’t see me. I am not a mother to them. Sometimes this makes me so angry I could scream. I fill with jealousy at their easy countenance, their obvious happiness and their obliviousness to my pain. I wish I could wear a shirt that says “Please be kind, my baby is dead.” I want to shout to the world, I am a mother! My son existed and he matters!!! But that wouldn’t be acceptable would it? I am meant to stay invisible. And invisible I may be, but I can still feel him and I can still love him. I am still a mother, whether you choose to see me or not.

Still my Son

You’re gone and passed

Out of this world

While I’m still here

Wondering where to go

Without you here

Inside my arms

I held you close

Felt you turning cold

Saw the beauty you bore

Perfectly still

I love you now

Always will

Forever my son

In my heart I’ll carry you on

I am full of emptiness

It fills every part of me

So that I feel I will burst

With the absence of you

Stuck in this place

I feel so alone

No one to talk to

It’s too hard to hear

It’s time to be moving on

But no

I’m stuck

Here

Trying so hard

To hold on to you

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

I know we haven’t spoken in several months and I know that you don’t understand why although I have tried to explain it to you. So, let me try again.

Losing Ezra was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. I didn’t think that someone could make that situation worse, but you managed to do just that. You took something that had nothing to do with you and turned it into the Jan show. You were rude to me on the phone when I called to tell you that Ez had died. I was sitting in a hospital room, pregnant with my dead child wondering how in the hell I was going to get through the next 24 hours and the rest of my life and you were mean to me. I understand you were hurt because I told Kirsten first and she informed you of the news, but for Gods sake you had no right to be mean to me. When we had you come to the hospital to see Ezra and bring food, I hoped that maybe we could make amends, but instead you continued down your own selfish path and made everything worse. When the photographer was taking pictures you made the photo about yourself while holding my dead child, you fixed your hair and arranged a blanket and fixed up the chair and background to your liking. I was horrified. How can you make a picture with your dead grandson about yourself?

When I was back in the hospital for post-partum preeclampsia you made me feel awful. Not only was I struggling with the death of my son, but now I was struggling for my own life. I don’t know if you understand how serious preeclampsia can be. My blood pressure was 178/110. That is dangerously high. The nurses were putting pads on my hospital bed in case I had a seizure. I could have died and you were worried about yourself. My blood pressure skyrocketed when you came into my room and tried to spoon-feed me like I was some sort of invalid. And then you detained my husband in the parking lot and told him all sorts of things about yourself that you shouldn’t have. It was completely inappropriate for so many reasons. I was shocked at just how self-involved you were.

And on top of everything you were rude and selfish at Ezras funeral. You put your hand on my back for what? Some comfort? To prove that you are something you aren’t? And when I shrugged you off you were so angry that you moved seats. In the middle of my sons funeral. How dare you? If you were truly a mother you would know me. Truly know me. You would know that I don’t like physical affection. And for Gods sake that is your fault. You never hugged me as a child, so why would I want you to hug me or touch me now?

I tried to explain all of this and you just made excuses. I know that you are bipolar, but that doesn’t mean that you get to be self-absorbed, mean and reckless. I am your daughter. But, for so long I have acted as your mother. I had to take care of you, be there for you and learn how to take care of myself at a very young age. I didn’t want it to be that way, but it was. So don’t expect me to treat you as my mother, to respect you like a daughter should respect her mother, because I don’t and I never will. Especially after how you acted surrounding Ezra’s death. Our relationship will never be what it once was, and unfortunately that wasn’t even very good. I don’t know how things will be between us in the future and I am sorry for that because I wish that I had a mother, a real mother, someone to lean on, someone to love me with their whole heart and think of me above themselves.

In having and losing Ezra I have learned what it means to be a mother. When I held him in my arms I knew a selfless and unconditional love that I have never known before. I knew that if I had the choice I would give my life for him, so that he could live. I would have done anything for him.

It made me realize that you don’t feel the same way about me. I don’t think you ever have. You turned our relationship into a competition, you degraded me and told me I wasn’t good enough and you cared more about yourself that you did about me.

So, now I don’t have a mother; no one to lean on when I am sad, no one to help me through these dark and scary times, and no one to share the joy that I hope to someday have.

Losing Ezra

January is not a good month for me. On January 6th 2014 I lost a child to an early miscarriage. I was 6 weeks pregnant and I was devastated. Later that month we got a puppy. I thought this would help with the emptiness that I felt. Turns out having a 6 week old puppy in an apartment two flights up and across the parking lot from the nearest grass was not such a good idea. We spent three days scrubbing the carpets of dog pee, running up and down the stairs in negative ten degree weather and trying to figure out how we were going to make this work. After catching the little pup chewing on the carpet for the twelfth time that morning, I finally decided that I couldn’t do it. We took the puppy back the next day. As I drove home from the shelter I felt so ashamed and even emptier than I had before. I hoped that the poor dog would find a loving home because we were just not able to give him that right now.

We spent the next few months trying to get pregnant. In doing so I found out that I had multiple ovarian cysts on each ovary and had experienced a rupture. I had awoken to searing pain making its way from one ovary to the other and tearing into my back. I spent the next hour in agony while my husband debated whether he should take me to the hospital. The pain finally wore off and I was able to fall asleep. At the doctor’s office the next day I was told that I needed to schedule surgery to remove the cyst. They told me that sometimes when they do a surgery like this they have to remove the ovary. This was devastating news to me as that would only decrease my chances of having a child. My surgery was scheduled for the end of May and I was so hopeless and confused. For some reason I had felt that I was going to get pregnant in May and if I had this surgery I knew that was not possible.

While at work scheduling my time off for my surgery I got a call from my mother in law. She explained to me that I didn’t need surgery and that there were other alternatives. She recommended finding a Natural Family Planning doctor to speak to about other options. I immediately called my doctor, cancelled the surgery and started searching for a new NFP doctor. My new doctor recommended an injection of Progesterone to help with the cysts. So on Friday, May 30th I went in and had the injection. The doctor sent me home with two more progesterone shots that my husband was to give me over the course of the next three days. However, the injection made me feel so sick that we decided to hold back on the next two shots.

The next week I flew to Boston to see my sister and be there for her during a difficult divorce. The whole time I was there I felt off, just dizzy and tired. I kept saying that I felt like I was on a boat. My sister insisted that I was pregnant and I told her that it was probably just the progesterone injection affecting me the way that pregnancy does. But, after doing some googling I came to realize that the half-life on the amount of progesterone I was given was only 24 hours. It had been seven days since the shot. So I quickly ran to the grocery store and bought a pregnancy test. As I sat on the edge of the tub staring at the test and waiting for it to tell me whether I was to be a mother or not, I prayed to a God I wasn’t sure existed and asked for a pregnancy. I asked to be blessed with a beautiful child. After an excruciating three minutes the test confirmed that I was indeed pregnant. I immediately texted a picture of the test to Louis, whom I knew was at his grandparents for dinner. We were overjoyed! But, with the happiness came unease. I had already had a miscarriage and was terrified of having another. I spent the next twelve weeks holding my breath and praying for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

A healthy pregnancy was what I got, or at least that’s what I thought. We announced the pregnancy to friends and family and I slowly made it through the first trimester. In the second trimester I sometimes had this feeling that I described as having a heavy heart. I felt like my heart was having a hard time pumping all the extra blood through my pregnant body. I never thought much of it and would go for walks to ease the feeling. Looking back I sometimes wonder if this was my first sign, a symptom that I didn’t understand.

In October of 2014 I finally hit 20 weeks and we were able to find out the gender of our baby. I remember feeling so nervous and excited while in the waiting room before the ultrasound. I was sure that it was a girl, but knew that Louis wanted a boy. Almost immediately after the sonographer put the Doppler on my belly she asked, what do you think it is? And we both said a girl. She laughed and said, well, it’s a boy! We were thrilled. Once I knew that I was having a boy I was able to make a much stronger connection with this little being growing in my belly. Until then he had seemed like this little alien rolling around in my uterus. The sonographer told us that he looked healthy and big. He had a large head, just like his dad, and long arms and legs, again just like his dad. Looking back I can remember that day as one of the best days of my life. We were so excited to be having a boy and so thankful that he was healthy and strong.

We were still living in an apartment and had been saving to buy a house for several months. We started the process and got a realtor and spent hours scouring the internet for houses and looking at dud after dud. We were anxious about finding a house in time. It was November and our son was due in February. We wanted desperately to be in a house before he was born. Finally, one evening I came across a house online and thought immediately that this was the one! I emailed our realtor and set up a showing for the next morning. There was quite a blizzard that day so we bundled up and went out into the cold to see the house. It was amazing! This was it, we made an offer that day and after much back and forth got the house and signed a contract. We were so happy and so glad that we got to move in at the beginning of January.

I was 34 weeks pregnant when we moved into our new home. Obviously, I couldn’t do much to help with the move, but I did the best I could and was definitely running around and more active than I had been the whole pregnancy. But, I wasn’t worried because he was as active as ever. We had our last birth prep class where my doula told me that I had nothing to worry about, everything was going to be perfect and nothing bad would happen. She said that if I were to get preeclampsia or have any other issues that we would know by now.

I went to see my midwife at 36 weeks and everything looked great! He was moving like he had never moved before and was switching from side to side inside my belly. I thought this strange, since he had never done that before, but the midwife assured me that it was totally normal and having an active baby was an excellent sign. So, as I the next few days came and he did not move as much I was a little worried. Some days he was active like normal and then others I hardly felt him move. That Friday I finally lay down and did a kick count. I counted 11 kicks in forty minutes which was considered normal and healthy, but for my son it seemed way too low. I called the midwives that afternoon and got a message telling me that they were closed. I debated for a few minutes whether I should call the on-call or not. I decided that since my next appointment was on Monday I would just wait. Now, looking back I have kicked myself over and over again for not calling. I think, maybe if I had just called they would have told me to come in and they would have seen something and he would be here. But, alas time travel is not possible.

The next day he seemed back to his normal self. Louis and I went swimming and I commented on how hard it was to swim laps while there is a dancing baby in your belly. He was as active as ever and I was so relieved. That night I made cookies and watched a movie. I remember commenting on how swollen my hands looked and saying that I had a headache. I didn’t think much of and it just thought that was part of being 37 weeks pregnant.

On Sunday morning Louis took a picture of me to mark 37 weeks and we went to breakfast. I noted that the baby wasn’t moving much and I thought that maybe once I ate he would starting moving more. After waiting over an hour for a table we finally got seating and I felt much better. But, as we were leaving I started feeling awful. I was so tired and just felt sick. My back hurt and my head was pounding. When we got home I slept on the couch for over an hour, which was rare since I had had a hard time sleeping the whole pregnancy was never able to nap. But, when I woke up I felt much better.

That night I didn’t sleep a wink. The baby wasn’t moving and I was feeling strange. When I got up for my appointment I took a shower and felt dizzy and saw stars. I didn’t think anything was wrong. Though I did have this odd voice in the back of my mind say he’s dead. I brushed it off and thought that that could never happen to me.

As I sat and chatted with my midwife, I told her that he wasn’t moving as much lately and it seemed odd. She told me that was normal at the end of pregnancy because they get so cramped in there. So, I wasn’t nervous until she put the Doppler on my belly and there was silence. Every time we had done the Doppler before his heartbeat was strong and loud. She moved it around several times and we heard nothing. All the while in my mind I am thinking, yep he’s dead. I started to panic and she told me that we needed to go to the hospital for an ultrasound. I called Louis and told him in a shaky voice that they couldn’t find the heart beat and we were going for an ultrasound. He said he would leave immediately and meet me there. Before we left the birth center I went to the bathroom and weighed myself. I noticed that I had gained 7 lbs. in one week. Strange, I thought.

The ride to the hospital was silent and terrifying. Once we got inside the hospital I sat in the waiting room and prayed that my baby was ok. I prayed that he was safe and healthy and alive. I got called back to the ultra-sonographers office and lay down to have them perform the ultra sound. The woman said nothing and left the room. I looked at my midwife and she told me that it wasn’t looking good. The doctor came in and confirmed my worst fear. My child was dead. At that moment, Louis walked in the door and I burst out crying and told him that the baby was gone. We hugged and cried for several minutes.

My immediate thought was, get this baby out of me! I don’t care how, just do a C-section and get it over with. The doctor explained that a natural vaginal birth was the best for me and sent me upstairs to be induced. I sat on the couch in the hospital room and wondered how in the hell I was going to get through the next day. How was I supposed to give birth to my dead son? As I made a few phone calls to family to tell them that he was gone I got a terrible and mean reaction from my mother. I wondered how she could be selfish at a time like this. When I am sitting in a hospital room with my dead child inside my belly wondering how I was going to make it through this.

Louis had his brother bring us some things and I was induced with Pitocin. I spent the night half sleeping and hoping that this was all a terrible nightmare. My contractions were weak and far apart. So at one in the morning the doctor broke my water and labor began. I spent time on a stool and had Louis pushing on my back. At one point the machine that was strapped to me to detect my contractions started beeping. I immediately thought that was the baby’s heartbeat. I thought somehow there was a miracle and he was ok. The nurse came in and replaced the battery and the beeping stopped. I felt foolish and miserable. As the contractions got stronger I moved to the bath tub where I was so tired that I would fall asleep between contractions. I was doing my best to not think about the fact that my baby was dead. When I had a contraction I would think of a beach in Greece where Louis and I had spent our honeymoon. But, as time went on it got harder and harder to deal with the contractions and I started the panic about the fact that he was dead and I was in labor.

At 6 am I had an epidural put in and an hour later I started pushing. I pushed for over two hours and felt like I was going to die from the pain, both emotionally and physically. The epidural had pooled on one side of my body so I could still feel everything on the other side. As I lay screaming and asking how many more pushes my midwife came in and was able to help me calm down. At one point when he was crowning they all said that he had hair, dark hair. Hearing this made me almost break down and quit. I screamed for them to shut up. I couldn’t hear that right now, I couldn’t think about the fact that he was dead. All I could do was push. I had to get him out and pushing was the only way to do that. So I bore down and pushed with all my might. My poor sweet baby came bursting out with dirty waters and blood. When I looked down I saw that he was grey and that he was not crying. So, there was no miracle. He was dead. Louis cut the cord and the doctor placed our son, Ezra Thomas, on my chest. I held him there and was amazed at how much he looked like me. I still had some fleeting hope that maybe if I held him long enough he would come back to life. But after an hour I felt his head turn cold and I knew that he was gone.

He had huge hands just like his dad.
He had huge hands just like his dad.

I had three significant tears that took several hours to repair. As I lay getting sewn up I held my poor sweet child in my arms and drowned in sorrow and fatigue. I finally let Louis hold him and we both looked and looked at him. I tried so hard to memorize his face. At one point Louis decided that he wanted to know what color Ezra’s eyes were. I said they’re blue. I know they’re blue. When he opened his little eye it was the deepest darkest blue we had ever seen. It was like looking into the deep ocean. I cried so hard when I saw his eyes. It made him seem more real to me, because somehow I could pretend that he was sleeping with his eyes closed. He was just a calm and quiet sleeping baby, but when I saw those eyes I realized that I would never see him with his eyes open. I would never hear him cry, never hear his laugh, or see him grow. To hold his cold quiet body was all that I was ever going to get with him. The photographer came and took pictures and it was awful. My stupid mother made it all so much worse. Looking back I wish that I had taken pictures of Ezra. I don’t like the pictures that the photographer took. Luckily, Louis took three photos and they are my favorite. I wish I could have done so many things differently. I wish that we could have dressed him in his own clothes, I wish we had stayed with him longer. I wish that he hadn’t died. I wish that I had called the midwife and told them something was wrong. I wish I had seen the preeclampsia for what it was. I wish that people hadn’t told me that nothing bad would happen, that everything would be fine. I wish. I wish for a million things. But most of all, I wish that my sweet Ezra was here today, healthy and living so that I could love him and see him grow.

Finding Ezra

Eight months ago I lost my son Ezra. I was 37 weeks pregnant. He was born on January 27, 2015.

I have avoided starting a blog and kept most of my writing to myself, but after many months of feeling completely alone and isolated in my grief I have decided to reach out. In doing so, I hope to find Ezra in my daily life. I hope to find him in the sunset, the cool breeze tickling my cheek or the eyes of my husband. And I hope to connect with other mothers out there who know my grief, maybe to help them or help myself, I’m not sure.  

My beautiful son.
My beautiful son.

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