Sunday, December 11, 2016

This time of year

In a perfect world, where nothing breaks and nothing hurts (thanks Pink), tomorrow would be Lydie's second birthday.

But things break and things hurt, and it's not her birthday afterall.

I had a c-section scheduled for 6 am on Friday, December 12, 2014.  I chose the date back in August that year.  I realize most moms don't know the date their children will be born.  But I did, or I thought I did anyway.  Less than a year and a half before, 17ish hours of labor resulted in being pushed to the OR on my hospital bed by a team of sprinting doctors and nurses, where they got my first baby out via c-section just in time.  Dr. B had told me I had a "bit of PTSD" from Benjamin's delivery and thought it would help me to have our second baby's delivery scheduled nice and early. (How ironic this all is now.  We thought that was PTSD?  Hahahaha).

To avoid going into labor on my own, which can cause a uterus rupture after a c-section, we'd deliver at 39 weeks and because Lydie's due date was December 18th, she offered me December 11th or December 12th.  Benjamin was born at 41 weeks and I was glad to move this baby's birthday further from Christmas.  Because these are the kinds of things I worried about.

I chose the 12th.

Because Ben was born on 4/4 and I thought it would pretty cool to have a baby born on 4/4 and a baby born on 12/12.  (Seriously, that was my rationale).  

She warned me she would have to schedule the earliest surgery time - 6 am - because she had appointments after that.  I decided that was okay, that I would be nervous anyway and I wouldn't mind waking up at 4 am to go deliver my baby.  I was contemplating really important things like whether I would wash my hair that morning because it would probably look better for photos and I wouldn't be able to shower for a couple days post-surgery but then again, did I really want to blow dry my hair at 4 in the morning?

Tomorrow, there's nothing marked on my calendar.  Just a regular day.
One where my daughter was supposed to be born, but we held her memorial instead.

And yet, when a group of new mom friends invited me out on the 12th, I said I was busy.  I almost said, "I don't want to sit around and talk about Christmas plans and Stride Rite's going-out-of-business sale when I should be eating birthday cake with my two-year-old but I'm not because not only is it not her birthday but also because she's dead."  So instead I just said I wasn't able to make it.

I haven't been blogging much lately.  I'm torn about it.

I seem to have no new material.  This can be proven by the fact that I wrote a very similar entry about December 12th of last year.  There are only so many words to describe the aching and the longing and the hole in my heart and our family.

But also, it bothers me that I don't know who reads this blog.  I am completely comfortable with close friends and even total strangers reading it.  But in the early days, a coworker took it upon herself to email the link to this blog to our entire division.  It felt like a major violation of my privacy.  When Josephine arrived safely last October, another coworker actually emailed the text from my blog as an announcement.  Needless to say, my coworkers were not the intended audience for that post.  Or really, any of these posts.

So there's that.

I've told myself if they care enough to keep reading after two years, then I shouldn't worry about it.  But it's awkward to talk to people in real life and have no idea what they know about me, my daughter, and my grief.  To have a conversation without knowing whether they've followed our story.

There's been quite a few times where I talk to someone and she stands there nodding, not reacting much.  Then I wonder if I am repeating something I have written about on my blog. Then sometimes I awkwardly ask, "Do you read my blog?"

I've thought about making this blog private but I value that many other baby loss families read it.  I want them to be able to find this blog when they are in their rabbit hole, when they are wondering what the hell just happened, when they are seeking out people like them.  When they are diving into the archives, doing the math like I constantly was: how will I feel in three months?  How will I feel in two years?  If I manage to have another baby, how will it feel then?

Besides, this blog has hundreds of readers and a private blog can only have a few.

So I just find myself keeping my relationship with my middle daughter closer to my chest.  Closer to my heart.  Less out there for the world to see.  I find myself not wanting to put my innermost thoughts on the internet.

Although, I can tell a fun snippet:
A month or two ago, I was holding a fussy Josie in one arm and raking leaves with the other arm, with Ben and his plastic rake next to me, when a new neighbor with similar aged kids stopped to chat.  "I think we've met before," she said, and I quickly apologized, told her I have met lots of new neighbors.

No, she tells me, we met at a professional conference a few years ago.  A mutual friend introduced us.  We work at neighboring institutions.

Oh, I say.  She doesn't look familiar and quite frankly, I'm surprised she remembers me.

I emailed her that weekend with a question about child care, continuing the conversation from my front yard.  After a few exchanges, she eventually wrote that to be transparent, she had to tell me: she did meet me at a conference several years ago, but that's not why she remembers me.  She remembers me because she has read my blog.  She continued: she's not a stalker, she seriously did not know that I was moving into the neighborhood.  She thinks about Lydie often and especially on her second birthday.

I laughed out loud.  It was delightful.  To not have to tell a new friend that you have another child, who can't be seen, but is very much a part of your family, because she has already read your deepest, most intimate thoughts.  And wants to be friends with you anyway!

We seem to have struck up a close friendship quickly, and it helps that I don't have to explain everything to her.  When she invited me out with this group of women and I replied that I'd like to go but have some social anxiety, she asked what she could do to make me more comfortable.  Last night, her family hosted mine, and at the end of the night, she gave us this incredible gift:

And again, it's like I have written here before, I am realizing: it's not that I can only be friends with women who have also lost children.  It's that I can only be friends with women who give me the space to mother all of my children, who aren't uncomfortable with what that looks like for me.  And the ones that mention Lydia on their own?  They are such a balm to my hurting soul.  Thank goodness for these women.

Last week was the end of open enrollment.  I had to turn in my paperwork for my benefits.  I had to write each of our names and social security numbers down, check the right boxes.  I had to write only four names on that fucking form.   It brought me back how two years ago, I was so confident in my daughter and so in love with her name, that I filled out this form extra early.   Even wrote - in ink - 12/12/2014.  

Eight weeks later, when she had been dead for eight weeks, one of the first things I saw when I walked into my office was the fucking form with her name written.  With not one shard of doubt.


A friend recently asked me what is next for me with Star Legacy and I so appreciated that question.  Because she knows I'm not done, that I'm not taking too much of a rest after the culmination of Lydie's Loop.  So to answer that question, I just turned in my application for an Ohio Chapter of the Star Legacy Foundation.

The idea is to have a local presence here in Ohio, to keep the money that we fundraised with Lydie's Loop here, to give back to this community.  Our next event will be a retreat in the spring for L&D staff.  


It's somehow the holiday season again.  This time of year takes me right back to my fresh grief.  I think about how hard it was to breathe, to get up in the morning, to eat, to be a good mom to Ben.  I remember cup after cup of tea while staring out the kitchen window.  I remember being more still than I've ever been. I remember my sensitivity to noise.  I remember feeling unable to leave my Fortress of Solitude, and I remember, when I did, feeling what I now realize were the beginnings of panic attacks.  Lights swirling, voices through tunnels, feeling faint.  I remember being amazed that people were doing daily things like grocery shopping, going to work, eating dinner.   I remember wanting the world to stop spinning for them, the way it had for me.

We all seem to want to tell people that it doesn't get easier.  But it does.  

It's gotten easier.

But I don't miss Lydie any less.  I don't love her any less.  And it certainly doesn't suck any less to live without one of my children.

We don't want to tell people it's easier because we don't want them to think we've "moved on."  Oh how I hate that expression.  If they think I'm doing better, they might think that I don't love and miss Lydie.

It's gotten easier but it hasn't gotten any better.

The reality is: I am used to this aching in my chest, I've learned the times it's okay to correct someone who refers to Josephine as my second child and the times when it's most appropriate to bite my tongue, I can fake a smile at a pregnant woman.  I can breathe again, even surrounded by the Christmas hype.

I no longer wake up every morning wishing I was dead.

So there's that.

But man, is the holiday season tough when you have a dead baby.

I can mostly avoid the triggers but that doesn't mean that they don't ever catch me off guard.  Like the other evening when I found myself sobbing while reading to Josie.  It was a hard enough book to get through anyway, all about the things that your baby will someday do: "Then, you were my baby, and now you are my child... Someday you will run so far and so fast that your heart will feel like it's on fire... Someday you will swing high - so high, higher than you ever dared to swing."  I was already crying, before I turned the page to this:

So yeah, the triggers aren't always predictable.  And there always seem to be more of them in the holiday season.

I so appreciated the coworker, who on our return from Thanksgiving, said to me, "Get through Thanksgiving okay?"  It was directly after a different coworker just asked if I "had a good holiday" and I just nodded yes.  I didn't tell her how I got in a screaming match with my sister which was partially my fault and partially her fault but mostly stemmed from how damn fragile I felt and how hard it is to be missing your child so fiercely when at a whole family gathering where everyone is supposed to be present.   I didn't mention how my sister was so thoughtful to set a place for everyone at the table, including Lydia, but how absolutely shitty it is for your daughter's place to be a candle instead of a chair.  

So I really appreciated the coworker who asked if I got through it okay.  I don't know if my breakdown qualifies me for "okay," but I did get through it.

And Thanksgiving is just the beginning of the freaking holidays.  Don't even get me started about Christmas cards.


The other day, stopped at a red light, I scrolled through Facebook.  An image popped up from an artist who uses photos to sketch portraits of babies who have died.  This particular beautiful baby was stillborn due to a placental abruption.  As I pulled through the green light, tears filled my eyes.  Which honestly surprised me.  I am so used to this life.  Most of my Facebook feed shows proud bereaved mothers and as perverse as this sounds,  I am more comfortable seeing these pictures of dead babies than living ones.  So as I drove on, I wondered why this one got to me.  And it hit me: it's so fucked up that this is so commonplace for me.  It sucks that I'm more comfortable admiring a portrait of a stillborn baby than I am viewing a pregnancy or birth announcement.

Fucked up.


Speaking of that artist, I have contemplated getting a sketch of Lydie done.  It's a large cost, which is holding me back, but it's more than that.  Here's what I'm figuring out: it's not only a financial-risk, but an emotional one.  An emotional risk.  We have very few photos of Lydie's face.  Most were taken from a distance and look like Justin and I are holding a yellow blanket, not a little girl wrapped in a yellow blanket. And she was bruised, with ruby red lips from the pools of blood, and peeling skin.  What if I put down the money, share the few photos I have of my daughter,  and then when the sketch arrives,  I don't recognize her?  What if I don't recognize her?  What if she is not the girl I picture?  

Emotional risk.

This morning, at a birthday party, another mom said to me, "Your kids look so much alike!" and I responded, "They do?"  I don't see it.  I don't see it when I look at Ben and Josie and I've spent hours staring at photos of Lydie, trying to find similarities with her big brother and little sister.  

Ben is insistent on getting a ponytail whenever Josie gets one.
I wonder if a portrait would help me see those similarities more clearly?    

One more snippet.

Ben's been "spirited" again lately.  After a record hour and a half of straight screaming on the morning Santa was visiting school, Ben finally came downstairs dressed.  The beautiful combination of a "work shirt" and blue striped sweatpants.  And underneath?  His Lydie's Loop shirt.  "So Lydie can sit on Santa's lap with me and Josie," he tells me.  At school, when Josephine screamed on Santa's lap, he grabbed her hand and she calmed down.

Such a little shit sometimes, and such a good big brother to both his sisters.

And last night, after celebrating "Dutch Christmas" with our new neighbor friends, Ben climbed the stairs with me to Lydie's memory chest and grabbed shoes I had bought for her, to put one out for her on the fireplace.  Five shoes in a row, waiting for St. Nick.

This morning, he was thrilled to hold up Lydie's shoe with a star ornament inside.

When I'm listening to my three-year-old scream for hours on end, I often wonder what I'm doing wrong.  These are the moments I think I must be doing something right.


To so many of you who have also lost children, I wish you peace this holiday season.  I hope you feel your children close to you and feel surrounded by love.  I hope the holidays are gentle on your hurting heart.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Dear Lydie, on your second birthday.

Dear Lydie,
Somehow, you're two.

Two years in, and I still haven't found the words to tell you how much I love and miss you.

On the day of your birth, it's hard not to relive every single moment over again.  Sometimes I want to relive those moments and sometimes I want to think about anything but.

I remember when I was in labor with you, I snapped at anyone who referred to you being "born."  It didn't seem right to be using that word when you were already dead, so I kept saying, "not born.  Not born.  Delivered."

I'm sorry for that.

I'm sorry I was trying to cheat you out of your birth.

Because you were born, my girl.  You were born like every other two-year-old boy or girl.  And I'll never forget that moment, and I'm so sorry it was tainted by some awful doctor's unsympathetic statements and by my own weeping.

The day was overcast and gray.  I watched the rain fall from my hospital bed, and I thought the weather was mourning with us.

And you were born.  Still and beautiful.

Two years later, I've actually been trying to teach myself to use that word more often.  Instead of saying, "after Lydie died..." I say, "after Lydie was born..."  It helps me focus on the love rather than the grief.  It helps the people I'm speaking to remember that you're a person, and honestly, it keeps them more comfortable too.

In fact, just a couple weeks ago, I ordered a birth announcement for you.  Ignoring the options reading "Introducing..." or "Welcome....," I choose one that read "LOVE."  When it arrived, I framed it and placed it on the mantle next to your big brother's and your little sister's.  Your rightful place.

I like having all three of my babies framed in a row, just as it should be.

I think about how I kissed you one final time and left the hospital without you.  I would do anything to see your face again.  I would do anything to sharpen my hazy memory, fuzzy from drugs and shock and grief.  Next week, I'm meeting Beth and Amanda to talk through details of your birth.  I want to hear what they remember, I want to fill in the hazy spots.  I want to learn new things about you.

I warned them that I'm going to be a mess, but it will be really good for me.

I'm learning more of your story.

I don't watch the video of your memorial too often.  It's hard to go back to such a raw place.  Last time I watched it, I grimaced listening to myself talk about you in the past tense.

I want to shake the Heather of December 2014 and tell her, "Your relationship with your daughter is not over."

I'm still learning; you're still teaching me.  You continue to teach me how a person can feel the duality of emotions, how the moments I feel the most joy are also the moments when my heart hurts the most.  You teach me me how a person may leave this world, but the love for them does not.  And you you teach me how our relationship, of mother and child, continues even when physically separated.

What I want to tell myself, when leaving the hospital without you, the most heartbreaking walk and car ride of my life, is it's not over.

All those plans I had for you, for us?  They don't get to happen, not in this lifetime.

And I know I will grieve that for the rest of my life.

But your story is far from over.

When I say I miss you, I miss you in the physical sense.  I miss those big flipper feet and the perfect fingernails and that dark head of hair and the cutest little nose.  I feel cheated that I don't know if your hair would stay that dark or turn lighter.  I watch Ben and Josephine play and giggle together and I imagine you right there with them.

I miss you.

But I feel you with me in so many ways.

From our new house, we drive by the Reservoir every morning.  This time of year, we watch the sunrise over the water.  That beauty, it makes me think of you, and I often say good morning to you out loud.  Benji has learned to say good morning to you there as well. The other day, Dad took Ben and Jos to school.  An out-of-the-ordinary morning for us.  As I was buckling Ben into his carseat,  I told him it looked like a good Lydie sky.  Ben replied, "I'll tell Lydie 'good morning' for you."  A few minutes later, Dad sent me a photo text of that sky.  Ben asked him to send it to me, telling Dad he knows how much I miss you.

I like knowing that Ben feels you too.  That you're not only a part of me, and of Dad, but of your brother and your sister too.  He has been making a birthday card for you, and he just told me that we had to send it to you with balloons.  But we have to wait until it's dark, until the stars are out.

Your siblings?  Their understanding of you is going to continue to change, but I promise you that we'll hold your space sacred always.  But I also know that your space will grow and change, just as you would have.  So those times that Dad doesn't reach into his pocket to hold up his Lydie stone, or I don't flip my wrist around in teasing but in truth, or Ben's not clutching Lydie Bear, or we're not standing in front of your garden?  You are still in that photo as much as any other one.

I'm still wrestling with how other people see us.  The cutting innocent comments.  But I know the truth.  And I sure as hell hope you do too.

On ordinary mornings, after I drop off Ben and Josephine at school in the morning and get into the van without them to continue on my way, I sometimes breathe a sigh of relief.  Then during the day, I'll glance at the clock and wonder how they're doing.  I know when they'll be getting their lunch, when they'll be settling in for quiet time.  But I also know they are in good hands and I may go for a while without wondering how they are doing.  Still, every single day, I look forward to our reunion at 5 pm.   I curse the colleagues or the traffic if they make me even three minutes late.  I can't wait for the moment when your younger sister's face lights up when she sees me and knee-walks over to me and when your big brother races around his classroom like a madman, showing off.  I can't wait to get those kids in my arms again.

I don't get that sweet reunion with you at the end of a workday, because I never leave you behind. When I drop off your brother and sister, you come with me in a way they don't.  I may go several hours without wondering how they are doing, but I don't go five minutes without thinking about you.
It's hard to explain what that feels like to other people, how you've always been a part of me.  How you feel engrained in the deepest part of my soul.

Two years later, and I'm still learning.  I'm still learning how to carry you.

I am starting to feel more confident.

I told you once that I heard this can make me bitter, or make me better.

At the time, the idea of becoming better seemed ludicrous.  Laughable.  Absurd.  I had no idea how to take this devastation, this crippling grief, and turn myself into a better person.

Two years later, and I feel like I might be starting to figure it out.

It's not the grief that's going to make me better.
It's you.

You are turning me into a better person.  You are.

You are not grief.

You are my daughter, my second child, my much-anticipated, much-loved, much wanted beautiful girl.

I will always grieve because I don't get to watch you grow up.  I don't get to mother you in the way I want.

I wish I knew what two looked like for you.  I wish I knew your favorite breakfast and the shirt you always choose and the way you like to snuggle and what toy you steal of your sister's and the way you copycat your cousins.  I wish I knew your reaction when you saw me at the end of every school day.

But as I watch that sunrise every morning, I can feel you making me stronger, more compassionate, more patient.  Better.

I still get to mother you.  You are still mine.

And though I hate the cards that life has dealt us, and I would do anything to turn back time and bring you back, I also wouldn't trade you for anything.

I am yours and you are mine.

Happy second birthday, little girl.  Stay with me.

I love you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Catching up.

I've been absent from the blogging world for a while now.  It's not for lack of emotion or substance. Maybe the opposite.  Too many emotions, too much substance, and never enough time.  Or words. Never enough words.

So let me just give a rundown, because if I don't blog now, I feel like I'll never, ever catch up.

Bowie turns one tomorrow!  Tomorrow!  I'm filled with all kinds of emotions just thinking about it.   I can't believe a year ago, I was still pregnant and on the flip side, I also can't believe my baby girl is not such a baby anymore.   I still feel the anxiety of her pregnancy and the relief at hearing her first screams, and mostly, I feel so grateful she is here.

Also - remember how freaking painful that amnio was, how it caused me to have contractions and Bowie's heartrate to drop?   And how my MFM decided to move ahead with the c-section even though the results came back freaking inconclusive?  And how both Justin and I were terrified that she could die as we were driving between the hospital which my MFM works at and the hospital at which I was delivering?  

Yeah, me too. 

I also remember the sweet, sweet relief when I made it safely to the second hospital and hooked up to monitors where I could hear Bowie's heart beating, and I knew I could be rushed down to that OR at any moment.   

Bowie turns one tomorrow which means Lydie would be turning two soon.


Today, Facebook reminded me that one year ago today, an article about Cuddle Cots was published in the Columbus Dispatch and in it, I share about our time with Lydia. I am quoted sharing about the loving nurse who rocked and sang to Lydie as we left the hospital without her. When I bent down to give Lydie one final kiss and tell her I love her one more time, that nurse kissed me on the forehead, and said, "she knows." In my fog of drugs and shock and grief, I didn't even remember that nurse's name though I could never forget her face.

A very long 11 months and 6 days later, and one day after this newspaper article was published, I returned to that hospital to give birth to Lydie's little sister. I hadn't spoken to our nurses since November 6, 2014, and it was a reunion for all of us. While I was laying in the hospital bed, listening to Bowie's heart beat and awaiting my c-section, in walked that nurse. The nurse who was holding my daughter when I said goodbye. I can't explain how this reunion felt to me, or how it felt the next day, when that same nurse came to visit us and hold Josephine Hope. The mix of emotions. The gratitude for what is and sorrow for what should be.
The Columbus Dispatch had some remarkable timing.

We're all moved into our new house, and the move was as physically tough as I thought it would be.  Turns out we have a lot of shit, and we're still trying to find it all.

I love our new location, which is a three minute walk from the largest body of water in central Ohio (a reservoir!)  We are talking about buying kayaks but for now, I am enjoying seeing the marina every morning as we leave our house and playing at a playground overlooking the water with my kids.  I also enjoy that we're teaching Ben to find his sister in nature, and that in these moments, such as seeing the sun rise over the water as we drive by,  he often says, without any prompting, "Good morning Lydia!"

Emotionally, it hasn't been as tough as I expected.  Ben has transitioned better that I thought he would.  The day we moved, I told him that he'd leave the old house to go to school, and at the end of the day, he'd go home to the new house.  "Mom..." he started, and I expected some push back.  "After school, can we paint the new house blue?" he finished.

We moved Lydie's plants for her old garden into her new garden just a few days after we moved.  I felt relief when her new garden was planted, to look out the kitchen window and see my girl's name etched in rock.  It doesn't look great now, but I know spring time will bring blooms.

I was scared I'd lose a piece of Lydie when we moved from her only home.  But a friend of mine told me: "this kind of love knows no boundaries" and it turns out she's right.  I don't feel Lydie any less in our new home.  In fact, there are some things I don't miss, like the area of carpet where Justin and I collapsed when we got home from the doctor's office and stared at the wall together for hours as we tried to comprehend what we were just told.


The other day, Ben asked if his friend A has Lydie in his heart.  No, I told him, I don't think so.  But she died!  He told me.  So A should keep here there.  Well, buddy, I explained.  She's your sister, not A's.  So he doesn't love her like you do.  Nah, he said, I think he does. Hard to argue with that.

A couple weeks ago, a baby loss friend who is pregnant with her rainbow baby posted a screenshot of her 35 week email from BabyCenter. It told her - and likely millions of other women- that babies slow down at the end of pregnancy because they run out of room. 

Now, many of us know this fallacy contributes to stillbirth. I took my own screenshot and forwarded it to the executive director of Star Legacy. We had several emails back and forth about how to best educate BabyCenter and how to ask them to change their incorrect information.

The day before Lydie's Loop, I took the day off to run all sorts of errands . My emotional state felt fragile as I ran through thunderstorms to pick up 200 donated bananas at Trader Joe's and 30 bucks worth of granola bars at Costco. I was on my 6th hour of errands, I was exhausted and starving when I finally sat down for something to eat and I pulled up this email forwarded by Lindsey.

I burst into tears in the middle of Chipotle. Instead of feeling happy that I had made a difference in giving correct information to expecting moms, I felt pissed off. I was mad that BabyCenter acts like stillbirth doesn't happen all the freaking time. I was mad that they have been giving expecting moms incorrect information for God knows how long. I was mad that a site that is supposed to educate is instead, likely contributing to the deaths of children. I was mad that I was spending my day getting ready for a 5k to honor my dead daughter instead of planning her birthday party. I was mad that all it took was some emails and BabyCenter will be changing their information and it felt like I was the only one working to make these changes. And I cried over my burrito.
But here's what I'm realizing:  it's often not as difficult to make a difference as we might think.  
And just for the record, babies' movement may change as they get bigger but it does NOT slow down. 

On Sunday, we attended an infant and pregnancy loss ceremony at the hospital.  Our nurses have been pushing to be able to have such a ceremony and it was the first time they have offered it.  We've also developed a relationship with hospital administration after we donated the Cuddle Cot and they sponsored Lydie's Loop, so I felt it was important for us to attend.

But it turned out it was really hard to be there.

When you're almost two years out, it's really difficult to be around fresh grief.  You remember just what that feels like, but you're not there anymore and you don't want to be. There's a band-aid over a wound.

And I found myself wanting to bolt.

So while other people were sobbing over the microphone while trying to choke out their child's name, Justin, Ben, Josephine, and I calmly went to the front of the room and stated we were there for our daughter and sister Lydia Joanne.  I spent most of the rest of the ceremony wishing it would be over so I wouldn't so desperately have to try to keep my kids quiet with snacks (for the record, it was an hour and ten minutes which was about 45 minutes too long).

At one point, I took Ben and Jos to the back of the room so they would at least be disruptive to other families.  A woman who was clearly the grandma walked up to me, put her arm around me and pulled me in for a hug, and said, "I'm sorry for your loss."

"Uh, thanks," I stammered.  I should be used to that by now but I still haven't figured out the best response to that, much less when I am being hugged by a stranger and clearly NOT upset, just trying to corral my children.

"I see you had another one," she said, motioning to Josephine.

Yes, I respond.  Yes, our girls are Irish twins and we're grateful she is here.

"They're having a healthy one this time," she responds, pointing to her daughter and her bump.

"I'm sorry?"  I ask.

"This baby, it's healthy, thank God," she continues.  "I'm glad you had a healthy one too."

I turn and stare at her.  "My daughter was healthy," I say.  "She died of a cord accident.  When I was 34 weeks pregnant."

Her mouth drops and her eyes widen and I want to throat-punch her.  Instead I nod as she stammers another apology and I walk away... right into a woman who came to Lydie's Loop.  My mom had told me about her, that she sat near the bathroom much of the time crying, that her son had just died a month ago, and she didn't understand why we all seemed so damn happy.

"You were at Lydie's Loop, right?" I say to her.

She bursts into tears.

Then she tells me that I seem so happy.

I find myself defending myself, my daughter, my grief.  I tell her Lydie would be almost two and I've come a long way.  I tell her I couldn't eat.  I tell her I had a hard time leaving the house.  I tell her I couldn't talk to old friends.  I tell her I miss Lydie every single moment of everyday but that I'm used to that feeling.

But then I realize that I don't want to be defending myself, my daughter, my grief, and I awkwardly excuse myself, grab Ben's hand and hightail it out there.

I feel like we try to create these moments so that we feel Lydie close.  And it works often, like when we sent a sky lantern to our girl over Lake Huron.

But other times, we just have these moments, when I feel Lydie close even when I'm not working to make that happen.  Like when we went apple-picking, which we did with Lydie in October 2014 and again in October 2015, and apparently, again in 2016.

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