Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What others see

A note from an old friend...

"...your bravery and positivity is truly an inspiration.  You should feel so proud!"

Reading that made me cry but perhaps not for the reasons it should.  I feel ugly inside.  Ugly and mad and afraid. 

Bravery?  The first few months after losing Frank, I was afraid of everything.  I hated driving.  So many things could go wrong.  I hated even more the thought of my husband Matt driving.  What if he died?  How would I survive without him?  And even now, almost 10 months after Frank was born, I practically choke on the fear every time I think of another pregnancy. 

Positivity?  When I post about Frank on Facebook, yes, I have a positive spin.  Frank is a wonderful part of my life and I want others to feel comfortable asking me about him.  But I don't feel terribly positive about myself.

Proud?  Of Frank, yes.  I am so proud of that little boy.  Of Matt, yes.  He has been a rock.  Of myself, no.  I can't feel proud of myself while this anger festers inside of me.  That ugliness I don't want anyone to see.

But that ugliness is part of the journey and I would be lying to myself and everyone else if I didn't acknowledge it.  I have to acknowledge it.  I scoured the internet searching for blogs, articles, anything related to stillbirth and it's aftermath.  I searched for celebrity losses hoping that someone spoke out.  I didn't want to be alone.

And so I acknowledge today what is deep inside, what I don't want others to see, because someone else is feeling it too and is wishing for somebody--anybody--to tell them they are not alone.  The ugliness you feel inside does not negate the beautiful life you carried.  You would not feel so strongly if you had not loved so deeply.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


There were some long months after Frank came silently into the world when all I hoped for were good moments.  Moments when I was neither crying nor numb.  Moments where I could muster a smile and maybe even laugh. 

Now I'm back at work becoming as much of my old self as I will ever become.  (I don't really want to be my old self; I want to be better...for Frank.)  Now most days are "good enough" if not downright good.  I smile and laugh and keep moving through the days.

But there are still moments that grief envelops me when I least expect it.  Today I heard a boy yelling across our school playground "Mom!"..."Mom!"  He wanted her to see him race another boy.  The feeling just took my breath away.  Never will I hear my Frank holler for me.  Never will I see him run. 

Tonight was a night for sobbing. 

Frank--I miss you, monkey, and I miss the moments that should have been.  love, Mommy

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Body by Frank

My body betrayed me.  It failed my sweet boy.  As a mom, I am supposed to protect my child and I can't help blaming myself.  It's normal, I know, but that doesn't make it any less painful.  I remind myself that if I had had any control over it, Frank would be here now.  I would have died in his place if that had been an option.  I tell myself this but the guilt remains.

I've struggled with body image my whole life.  Most women can say the same, unfortunately.  But losing Frank made me absolutely hate my body.  Why didn't it do what it was supposed to do?  Then I think about the day Frank was born.  Going through labor and pushing my son out is and always will be my favorite memory with Frank.  That my body got right.

As my body returned to its pre-pregnancy state, I felt like I was losing pieces of him; like physical evidence of Frank's existence kept disappearing.   My breasts that were engorged with milk meant to nourish Frank had felt like another painful reminder that he was gone.  But when the milk dried up, I cried.  Most women would be thrilled to fit into their regular jeans within a few weeks of giving birth.  I cried.  Even the silliest thing, the mark on my hand where they put my IV...when it disappeared, I cried.

Now months after Frank was stillborn I'm still figuring out what size bra to wear.  After lamenting the changes in my chest--the stretched out skin and loss of mass--I finally realize that this is it: physical evidence of Frank that will last my lifetime.  My amazing little boy is helping me once again.  He is helping me learn to love the "flaws" in my appearance.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


We leave for vacation today.  Without Frank.  All I can think about is the day my in-laws first talked about this vacation with us.  It was a day or two after finding out that we would likely lose Frank.  I was still in the hospital with the doctors working hard to get my blood pressure under control.  Matt's mom and dad mentioned vacation and all I could do was cry.

What is the point, I thought, if Frank won't be there?  What does it matter, these plans, when everything is ruined?  I know they were trying to give us something to look forward to but we were far too devastated to think of vacation.

And now it's here and I don't know what to feel.  I stopped by Frank's grave earlier to let him know where we're going.  I wish I didn't have to do that.  Instead we should be trying to figure out how to fit all the baby stuff into our car.  We should be worrying about his first "big" trip.  We should be exhausted and flustered and happy.  We should be together.  Period.  I know we'll have moments of joy on this vacation but, damn, I wish things were different.  I miss Frank.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

To Daddy with love

As I watch my husband sleep, seeing him hug the pillow we had made with Frank's initial, my throat tightens and I ache for him.  He went back to work the Monday after we buried our little boy.  I didn't.  I still haven't.  And, though I'm returning for a couple days next week, as a school secretary, I have the summer off.  I have even more time to grieve and cry and go to therapy appointments in the middle of the day.  When does my husband have time to grieve?  He says he's fine but when I see him clutch that pillow, I wonder.

Today is Father's Day.  My husband's first Father's Day.  Frank should be here now.  I imagined my husband on Father's day, a proud papa carrying his little buddy around for others to admire.  I'm trying to make this weekend as great as possible for my husband but Frank isn't here and I can't do anything about the emptiness. 

To my wonderful daddy,

I'm sorry I can't be with you today.  I know how much you love and miss me.  I hope you can feel some joy this Father's Day knowing that I will always be your son and you will always be my daddy.



Saturday, June 9, 2012

Frank's first bath

When we found out his heart had stopped, the one thing I wanted to do for Frank was give him a bath.  I don't know why it was important to me, but it was.  Because he was so early, his skin was extra delicate.  We could only give him a sponge bath and it was actually done by our nurse using little cotton balls and baby shampoo.  I held him on my belly as she bathed his tiny body. 

Frank's grave marker is in now.  I've cleaned it a few times with a damp cloth and each time I think of bathing my baby.  It's a sad but beautiful thought.  I wish things were different; I wish I was learning to parent an infant.  Instead I'm mothering and loving my baby in whatever way I can. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Frank Bear

The day we delivered our son, Frank, was the hardest day of our lives.  We knew that his heart had stopped before going in to the hospital and were as prepared as possible.  He was beautiful.  At 26 weeks 2 days, we held our little boy's body and told him goodbye.  We were fortunate to have a professional photographer (through Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep) there to capture the moments we shared with Frank that day.  

A couple weeks after we said hello and goodbye to our son, my husband returned home from work and said "I can never wear this shirt again."  It was the shirt he wore in our photos with Frank.  I understood.  The shirt I wore in the photos was my favorite pregnancy shirt and I couldn't imagine wearing it during a future pregnancy either.  That was Frank's shirt. 

We didn't want to get rid of the shirts but knew we wouldn't be able to wear them again either.  We had a local seamstress make a pillow and 4 teddy bear t-shirts from the shirts.  We gave the Frank Bears to various family members keeping one for ourselves.  We told our family to take photos with Frank Bear when they went somewhere fun.  
We've only had the Frank Bears for a couple months but he's already traveled to Italy with a friend!  He's also had adventures at the Kansas City Zoo and was part of a drum circle in Appalachia.  He just received invitations to travel to Disney World, France, and Switzerland this year and Guyana next.  We never dreamed he would go so far!  

We found this quote on the Mikayla's Grace website:
"There may have been a limited time to make memories with our children, but there are endless opportunities to make memories in honor of them."

Photos of Frank Bear on adventures bring us joy.  Having ways to honor and share our son's short life helps us.  This blog along with The Adventures of Frank Bear are but 2 ways we have found to honor him.
Please support the charities mentioned in this article--their services help families make precious memories with their angel babies: