The choice

We have to make a choice every morning. I knew that I didn’t want my daughter’s life to be the reason why I would lose control. I knew that I had to change.

I slowly went back to work. I started going out into the public again. Going to places that I go on a regular basis. I am fortunate that my family/coworkers told a lot of the people that we see on a regular basis that I lost my daughter, so I didn’t have to explain. When I started going to the places we would go to for lunch in the small town. Several women’s eyes would fill with tears when the first saw me, they would hug me and tell me they were sorry for my loss. I started to go grocery shopping by myself. These are fast trips and are still very hard for me to do.

My anxiety was out of control and I was carrying around baby weight without a baby. I decided I needed to start going to the gym again. I would sometimes cry all the way to the gym because I was having a bad day but, I made myself go. I am going 4 or 5 days a week to try to calm my mind and get back into shape.

My relationship with my husband is the most important thing to me also. I am so grateful that he is such an amazing person. I knew he was in extreme pain also but, he still would get up every day go to work and make sure I was ok. We knew we had to communicate our emotions with each other and try to understand each other’s grieving process. He would hold me when I was crying uncontrollably and he wasn’t afraid to cry in front of me either. Seeing my husband cry, made me love him even more. Losing our daughter has made our love even stronger.

We started going to counseling together. We wanted to make sure that we were moving forward in our grieving process. I am reading books, talking to other bereaved mothers in online groups, reading articles and blogs from other mothers. Talking to other mothers that know exactly what it feels likes helps me a lot and so does reading their blogs.

In a world full of people that haven’t experienced this pain there is a club of parents that didn’t chose this life but, are living it. Their words give me strength. They understand the intense emotions, the strange triggers, the healing process and that we will not get over this tragedy. We learn to live with the pain and hope the intensity goes down with time.

We made choice. We make a choice every day. Our daughter’s death will not destroy us. We will live for her. I can feel the change within me already. I am still a very broken person but, I am a stronger person. I am braver and I don’t care what others think about me as much. I hope we continue to grow for the better.

I do not believe in Karma. Everything doesn’t happen for a reason. We just live in a broken world. Full of tragedy, things that don’t make sense and things we cannot control. We just have a choice to make about how we respond to the tragedies in the world. We chose to fight, love, and grow from the pain we are experiencing.

Losing my mind

As the initial shock wore off with time I began to lose my mind. I couldn’t function like I used to, I was so lost, broken, and didn’t know who I was anymore. I didn’t understand how we were supposed to go on living a normal life again. After spending the last year planning for a baby, finding out we were going to be parents, and then falling in love with our daughter. She was gone and it was just us again.

We didn’t want to be around anyone or talk to people. There were only a couple people that we would talk to besides our parents. We were in hiding. Tony took a week off of work and I took five weeks off. I was still showering, cleaning, and cooking. So I considered that a win. The rest of the time I was crying, searching for answers, reading, or coloring in a color book. I couldn’t do anything else.

I had to learning how to exist in a world full of reminders of our reality. There were so many triggers that would send us off the deep end. Watching TV, seeing commercials or babies would send me into an uncontrollable crying spell. I had to go to the stores where I would run into a pregnant women, baby or even worse a new born. I would hear a baby crying and my whole body would tense up, pain in my chest would start and I had to do everything in my power to try not to start crying.

I was losing my mind. I felt like a little child and was so broken. I was so angry at world. I had crazy anxiety. Why would this happen to us? Then I thought. Maybe I deserved this pain. We couldn’t do anything anymore. Even going to see our friends felt so pointless. I didn’t care about anything anymore. All I wanted was my husband and my daughter. I didn’t care about anything else.

I started forming some pretty unhealthy habits. I was so afraid to not be able to sleep and  the nightmare would replay in my mind every night. I was drinking Nyquil every night for the first couple months. I was eating horrible. I didn’t even eat junk food like that when I was pregnant. I started drinking every night. I just wanted a break from the pain. I couldn’t take feeling the intense pain that physically hurt me. I remember driving home sometimes not caring If I made it there. I was in such a dark place. Living in the depths of despair. I couldn’t even imagine the pain before I had experienced it myself.

I could see the look on my husband’s face when he looked at me. He was scared. He thought he was never going to see the women he used to love again. My parents told me they were worried too. I was not trying to act this way. I knew it wasn’t healthy. I knew when I drank so much that I was sick twice within two weeks that I was walking a fine line. Addiction runs in both sides of my family so I know it is something I shouldn’t mess with.

I knew I had to pull it together. Losing our daughter was the last thing I could ever imagine happen to us. It destroyed us but we had a choice. To fight for our lives or live in the darkness. We decided to fight.

Going home

imageSunday morning we were allowed to leave the hospital. We had to walk out those same emergency room doors that we came in that early Friday morning. Only this time, we didn’t have our daughter with us. The nurse Rachel walked us to our vehicles. She gave me a huge hug and tears ran down both of our cheeks. Tony insisted that I rode home with his mom and not in my car. We had the car seat set up in my car for a few weeks before we lost her. That drive home was so surreal. I remember just looking out the window and seeing the world moving so fast and everyone was just living another day.

We decided to stay at Tony’s parents house for a couple days. We didn’t want to come home to see her clothes hanging up and her crib, empty. Azure had packed up most of Berkley’s things that were in every room of the house. We asked her to leave the stuff in her room so we could pack that way when we felt ready.

When we got to Tony’s parents house I went downstairs to the guest room. That was the first time I had been alone since I heard that our daughter had died. As soon as I was at the bottom of the stairs I started crying, gasping for air, and my legs gave out as I was trying to walk to the end of the hallway. My whole chest was tight and felt like my heart tore in two. I was still in shock. I could feel the pain of losing her, immense pain, but still a little numb.

The pain would come in waves. It was almost like my body would only let me feel so much physical pain and then my body/mind would just turn on auto pilot. I remember for the first couple weeks feeling like an out of body experience when I wasn’t breaking down. I was just there. We still had things we had to do.

We had to go the funeral home and make arrangements for our daughter. We went there with both of our moms. We decided to have her cremated and keep her close to us. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that our daughter was cremated on her due date. We didn’t have a service for her. We didn’t think we could handle it. Having to be around people while we were so broken would have been torture.

We finally went home after a couple days. Seeing all her stuff waiting for her arrival was heartbreaking. It’s hard to explain but, I also didn’t want it to put away either. We loved her so much. They were her things and It was all that we had left of her.

 

The day we met our Daughter

It was now 4:30 on Friday morning. I knew we needed to call our parents. I was in shock and stayed in that state for several days. This strange feeling allowed me to function still. I picked up the phone and called my dad. He answered the phone right away and I told him that Berkley had passed away. He was confused and upset. He had to call my mom who was working in St. Cloud. He told her to come home and something bad had happened. My dad also called Tony’s parents house to see what was going on. He didn’t talk to me that long on the phone, so he was confused and wanted to talk to Jim to see what was going on. Tony’s mom answered the phone and my dad could tell that they didn’t know yet. He asked for Jim. Once Jim answered the phone my dad told him what happened. I few minutes later Jim called Tony to see what was going on. I am so grateful my dad called Tony’s parents to tell them. Tony couldn’t pick up the phone to tell his parents. He knew it was going to break their hearts.

When all four of our parents arrived at the hospital you could see sadness in their eyes. They were in shock and were trying to be strong for us. The nurses brought us to the farthest end of the maternity ward. I was so grateful that they kept me away from all of the other mothers and their new babies.

They began to induce labor. That day was a blur. I even sent text messages to a few of our best friends to let them know that we lost Berkley. Our parents stayed up there with us most of the day and Azure joined us at the hospital too. We were all so exhausted mentally, emotionally and physically. I wasn’t progressing that fast so the doctor gave us the option to take a break and sleep through the night. We took that option and we are so grateful we did.

That evening was so heartbreaking yet peaceful. My husband sat by me as I took a bath and he even washed my hair for me. Us having that time together was hard but, it gave us strength for what we had to do the next day.

Saturday morning I woke up calm and collected. I felt the need to share on Facebook that we lost Berkley. We had received a few happy text messages asking if the baby was here yet. A lot of people had no idea what had happened or even knew we were at the hospital. After I posted about it I felt I sense of relief. There were also so many people praying and thinking about us at that time. I think that energy gave us additional strength.

Our parents, my grandma Lorraine, Azure, my aunt and uncle joined us at the hospital. It was so hard to see everyone so broken and sad for us. I am also grateful that they spent the day with us. The nurses were encouraging us to take pictures and have a charm made of Berkley’s hand or foot print. I didn’t want to do any of that. I was just so broken, I didn’t want to have to see any of those things afterwards, since it was so painful. Azure ended up talking us into doing both. I am so grateful she did because, those are the items I cherish the most.

The time was coming close. I was so scared to meet her and for it to be over. When we first found out we lost her. I told them I wanted to be put under and just wanted them to take her out. I was done. I didn’t think I could go through giving birth to my daughter that was already gone. My doctor told me that I needed to give birth to her and I am so grateful she made me do it.

Berkley was born silent and beautiful. She was born at 4:37pm on October 24, 2015. Just 4 days shy of her due date. She weighed 6.8 pounds and was 19 inches long. She had a lot of beautiful brown hair like her dad, a long skinny torso, long legs, my lips and nose. Tony says, “she had my big toe and would have probably been taller then me.” I think that she looked a lot like Tony. Every time I look at him, I see her.

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You would think we would be hysterically crying. We weren’t. That came later. When we spent those three hours with her, it was beautiful. We were staring at every inch of her and taking her in. We kissed her and told her we loved her. It was so beautiful to see our child that we created together.

My parents were the first to come in to meet their grandchild. My dad is an old school Vietnam vet. You could call him a “tough guy.” As he held her he smiled and cried. It was so hard to see my parents so broken and so sad. My dad said, “Berkley dying was the worst thing that ever happened to him in his life.” and my father has had the farthest thing from an easy life.

Then Tony’s parents came in to spend time with Berkley. Then my grandma, uncle, aunt, Tony’s siblings, Azure and Sahar. They all tried to fight back tears to be strong for us. They all held her and told her they loved her. It was heartbreaking to see everyone that was so excited for our new family member to be so broken.

Tony and I spent the last hour with our daughter taking pictures with the photographer that the hospital lined up. It was so hard that we knew it was time to say goodbye. There wasn’t enough time. She was getting cold and I didn’t want to remember my baby like that. We stared at every inch of her again, so that we could try to remember what she looked like as time goes on. Then we each held her, kissed her and said, “I love you.”

 

 

Living with the plague

Suffering such a heartbreaking tragedy is very isolating. You know that people feel sorry for you and are thinking about you. Life and relationships have changed. Trying to exist in a small community is hard enough. After something so shocking happens to you, it gets even harder.

Some of our closest friends and family do not know what to say. So they stay away. Everyone is afraid to offend us or they don’t know how to interact with us.

Going out in public is very hard too. I was in the grocery store the other day. A girl I  went to high school with came around the corner into the aisle I was in. I could see the look of shock on her face. She was visibly startled to see me and looked like she saw a ghost. I took off as fast as I could because, I could tell she was uncomfortable. Again, people don’t know what to say.

Then on the other side there are people that are not afraid to ask questions. I went into a local bar that is about three miles away from our house to pick up pizza. The bartender asked, “Did you ever find out why it happened?” I stopped in there again on Tony’s birthday and she asked me, “Are you going to try again?” I barely know this person and she is just so blunt and curious. To be honest, I would rather have someone ask me a question. Instead of treating me like I have the plague.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand trying to talk to us might be hard. Even knowing about what happened to us is hard. Especially if you are pregnant. I remember when women would post in the birth groups when they had a loss. I would be so upset and wondered why are they sharing that. Don’t they know that they are scaring me? Now I understand. They are just trying to heal.

One of the hardest things about losing a child is that you are trying to exist in a world full of pregnancy, newborns, babies, and families. They are harsh realities of my life right now. I was pregnant with several of my close friends. I still have a few people close to me that are currently pregnant. I miss our relationships so much. Right now I am just not strong enough to be around them. I don’t mind talking to them but, I just can’t see them right now. I am still very happy for them.

Please just be patient with us. We are still in here, somewhere. If you wouldn’t say anything thing to me before this happened. You don’t need to and please don’t feel like you need to. Just remember we don’t have the plague and we won’t take you down with us.

The Worst Day of our lives

image.jpegIt was a beautiful October day. The whole week had been very busy. Monday we had a doctor appointment to check on Berkley and everything was great. After work Wednesday I had a board meeting for the Rescue I volunteer with. I was having contractions during the whole meeting. Everyone was teasing me that they didn’t want my water to break at the meeting. Thursday morning I woke up in a horrible mood and didn’t feel good. Berkley was moving positions a lot but the contractions were gone.

Later that night when I was getting ready for bed I started to get nervous because I couldn’t remember the last time she had kicked. She was still moving positions but just not kicking. I know the doctor had reassured me that she was running out of room and she wouldn’t be moving like she was weeks before. Since she was moving positions I was hoping she was ok.

I called labor and delivery to tell them I was nervous. She sounded like she had heard this many times before. She said, “Just drink some water and wait an hour. Then call back if you need to.” In that hour I slammed water, chocolate milk, ginger ale and ice water. As we laid in bed terrified. Tony was spooning me, holding my tummy hoping for her to kick. We both could feel her move but no kicking. We called her back and she said to come in.

As we left the house it was now dark, cold and raining. My body began to shake uncontrollably. I was so scared something was wrong but, I also was telling myself that I am just a scared first time mom. Hoping everything was fine.

We arrived at the hospital and had to go through the emergency room to go up to labor and delivery. My nerves took over and I got sick on the way up. The nurses up there reassured us that they could feel her moving. They even asked me if I could because, they were so sure of it. They had a hard time finding her heartbeat but said they kept getting it every once in a while. They told us they thought that she was in a strange position and maybe had too much fluid in there with her.

We came back up from having an ultrasound. The tech wouldn’t tell us anything. The nurse came walking in and asked, “What did they say?” I then got extremely nervous and could see the look on her face change when I told her the tech wouldn’t say anything. My doctor came walking in. I knew it was something bad because it was now 4am in morning and my doctor is here. I could see it on her face and then she said the words that will haunt me the rest of my life, “She is gone.”

I looked over at Tony and he was staring thousands of miles away. My body began to shake again and I ran to the bathroom to throw up. I couldn’t believe it was real, it was happening to us, and she was gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beauty of Berkley

The beginning of the pregnancy was a blur of emotions. We were so happy and scared at the same time. I was so scared to have a miscarriage early on in the pregnancy. I knew so many women had experienced them and my heart broke for them. Every night I would repeat a saying in my head, “Happy, Healthy baby” over and over until I fell asleep.I found this calculator that would show you the risk of a miscarriage calculated based on my due date. I found comfort in a statistic of how low the odds were after I got out of that 12 week window. But I am that 1 in 160 pregnancies that end in stillbirth.

Once the morning sickness was gone it was getting close to the time to find out the gender. We went down to a place in the cities when she was 16 weeks along to find out what gender our child was. We were sitting in the waiting room. There was a wild little boy screaming and jumping off everything. Tony said that in that moment he started hoping for a girl. I thought early in my pregnancy it was a boy. Then about two weeks before we went to find out I felt like it was a girl.

As we entered the room to see our child for the first time we were so nervous. I didn’t have a bump yet but, there she was swimming all over the screen. The minute we saw her we were in love. She was moving her arms and legs so fast. We sat there so quietly waiting for him to tell us what the gender was. Finally he said, “It’s a girl.”

We couldn’t agree on a name for a few weeks. I thought of the name Berkley when I was watching parenthood a few years back and added it to a list I had of “future baby names.” It’s also is a brand of fishing stuff. I always thought our children would have traditional names but we just loved the name Berkley. We finally agreed we would name her Berkley Lorraine Bistodeau. She is also named after her Great Grandmother Lorraine Harris. She is my grandma and one of my favorite people in this world. She is 80 years old, has bright blonde hair, loves to shop, always there to talk when I need her, feisty, and funny as hell!

The nine months Berkley spent with us was the happiest I have ever been in my whole life. I never knew that I could love someone so much and I hadn’t even met her yet. I was always talking to her, rubbing her back/butt and dreaming about our future together. For the months leading up to her due date we spent them preparing to become parents. Finding everything she needed, going to hospital appointments, baby showers, installing the car seat and setting the crib up for her arrival. Those are the months that I will cherish for the rest of my life. They were full of excitement and love.IMG_6102.PNG