Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Walking With You - Impact our loss had on our marriage

Walking With You was created to help support those who have lost a child. Together we share our stories, helpful information, scriptures, encouraging words, prayer requests, and more. Thank you to those of you who have joined us for the past few weeks...for courageously sharing your stories. If you haven't joined us yet, and would like to, you are more than welcome. This week, we are sharing the impact our loss(es) had on our marriage.;

My marriage was tested before our loss even occurred. After finding out about Vayden’s fatal condition Van and I both started grieving our son that was still alive. I spent countless hours online researching and understanding LUTO/ PUV, I was over educated on his condition and Van under educated. We didn’t communicate much during the time of me carrying to term, conversations here and there would be exchanged but for the most part if it wasn’t about Vashon our older son, we weren’t talking. I was so angry with him, but couldn’t tell him because I knew it would start a fight. An argument was the last thing I needed while I was having weekly amnio infusions, so I created a blog and found mothers who suffered loss, and women carrying to term just like me. I leaned on these women for all the support I needed, I cried all my tears to them, I shared all my fears with them, and with them I expressed my anger and disappointment with my husband. I stated a thousand times, that Van was a jerk, he walked around with a nonchalant attitude to the whole thing while my knees where read and sore from praying daily, or at least that is what appeared to me. I knew that he loved me and Vayden, I just didn’t know how someone that loves you could treat you so cold, and as a pregnant woman I thought I was supposed to get extra special treatment.
At 33 weeks I came to the understanding that Van is who he is and that I can’t make him sit and tell me about his feelings, while he listens to mine. I realized that I was not going to regret anything because I educated myself about Vayden’s condition, I contacted the wonderful resources available and I made sure that I wasn’t going to just go into labor and delivery, have a baby, watch it die and then go home. But before I accepted all of that, I prayed for Van and forgave him for his cold personality and asked God to hold him tightly when the time came for Vayden to be born because being so unprepared can be damaging. I set us up for marriage counseling even before Vayden was born, because I was sure we would need it.
Vayden was born only a few hours after Van came home from a 23 day TDY. I didn’t have a chance to just say what I had been holding in for 17 weeks, he didn’t even have a chance to apologize to me. When Vayden was born Van hit the floor, he was overwhelmed with love and sadness, and then it hit him. It was so hard to see my husband that mean cold man, so sad and so hurt watching his son, fight for his life, just to give us time with him, just so that his daddy could finally spend time with him and sing to him and touch him, like I had done my entire pregnancy, things I wanted Van to do while I was carrying. I let Van bathe him, and dress him alive; I knew that he was going to have regrets I wanted him to get as much as he could in while we had the time. Later Van thanked me for carrying to term and admitted that he thought often if I was making the wrong choice by carrying to term. When I created my website I asked Van to please submit a statement for the father’s page. This is what he wrote
" Why? When I was informed that Vayden had LUTO, I asked myself "why" over and over again. I blamed myself sometimes, thinking it was something I did. I thought the RADAR system that I worked on might have been the cause. I secretly blamed Stephanie, my wife, sometimes. I thought that maybe it was something she was eating or drinking. I had these thoughts for the majority of the pregnancy. I never shared my feelings or thoughts with my wife. I thought that I had to hide my feelings and stay strong for the family. I didn't really talk to anyone about our situation. I informed a few people at work, but didn't give too many details. I didn't want people thinking I couldn't do my job because of my family issues. Steph and I agreed to meet with the base chaplain. I still didn't talk much about my feelings or thoughts, but it helped me bring my shield down a little. Talking to the chaplain did help me realize that Vayden's condition wasn't anyone's fault. Not mine and surely not my wife's. God made his decision that he needed another Angel, and he chose Vayden to fill that slot.

My advice to the fathers, who might be faced with a similar situation as our family, is talk. Talk to you friends, family, or chaplain. But surely talk to your wife or girlfriend. Don't be afraid to show your feelings. It's not a sign of weakness. It's a sign that you really care. Losing or knowing that you are going to lose a child is a tremendous amount of stress. Talking to someone and sharing your feelings with someone helps a lot to relive that stress. The only regret that I have for our situation is that I didn't do this for my wife."

*Van S. Stewart Jr. (Father to Vayden, LUTO/PUV angel)

It brought tears to my eyes and a huge weight was lifted off my heart, because I never got the true apology and reason why that I felt I deserved. Now with Vayden gone, we have regular checks on each other and at time misunderstand each other’s grief, but we both understand that we are on different pages of the book of losing a child. I find total comfort in looking at every single one of Vayden’s photos and slide show, where Van stops looking at the photos of him once he’s passed. But Vayden’s loss had all in all brought us together closer as a couple and a family. We take walks 2-3 time a week and we talk more, if I need to talk about Vayden he listens for as long as he can, and I respect him knowing he’s not much of a talker anyway by not looking for his shoulder every time I need to cry. We attend church on a regular basis again as a family, right now we are in a happy place. The support, love and respect that Van showed me after Vayden’s death made me fall right back in love with him, I guess after such a difficult pregnancy I realized the man I married really did have a full heart that loved me.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Because I Trust in God

The 23rd marked another heavenly month that Vayden has been gone. To think 8 weeks have already come and gone is unreal. I often think about him, but forget small details, like if I held him on the right or the left side, so I return to his photo album and smile while I click from frame to frame. He truly was a beautiful baby. Just a few weeks ago I was able to hold a beautiful 5 week baby boy, while I watched my mother in law holding him 1st I wondered if it would be strange to ask to hold him, but my hands were tingling to hold that baby so I went to his mother and asked if she’d mind if I held him next. I cuddle that baby until Vashon (my older) became jealous and was coming towards me with his arms up begging me to pick him up. Since I didn’t know the mother of the baby boy she obviously started the small talk questions but instead of asking how many children I had, she asked if we planned on having any more other than Vashon. The door was open to say just “yes” or give a little more detail, and of course I gave a little more detail as I replied “we have an angel in heaven, who is Vashon’s younger brother, but yes we plan to have another one, God willing” I believe she may have thought that I suffered an early miscarriage, but when I mentioned that Vayden lived for 3 hrs and 45 min she asked if I could tell her what happen. When I told her our story in brief her heart sank as tears began to pour from her eyes. I begged her to please stop crying, there was nothing to cry about as I showed her a huge smile on my face, I then said “he was perfect do you want to see a photo of him?” she replied yes and when she saw the pics of him she began to smile again, she could see how much we love him. I made a new friend that day, I taught someone something new about fatal fetal conditions and carrying to term.

I have many people tell me how strong I am and how well I’m coping with the loss of Vayden, however I’ve had a numbered amount of people consider me to be in a stage of denial or unrealistic mind set. I am 150% clear minded at this point, my baby is in Heaven and has been since 5/23/09, I do not think I’m still pregnant (ask the beer I drank last night, lol) I do not think, believe or hope that one day I will wake up and be back in Jan 2009, and find out I’m having a healthy baby boy that doesn’t suffer from LUTO. I was for a minute starting to wonder if something was wrong with me, so I contacted my dear friend Holly to find out if something was wrong with me, and she feels the same way I do. We both find happiness in the memory’s of our angels and to be angry, depressed, or bitter will do us and our families no good. We both trust in God and lean on his word. Holly is an amazing mama, and her blog is a must read so take some time and check it out.

I do still cry, just not often, I look at Vayden’s photos every day and wear special jewelry daily that has his name on it. I know he is my angel and I’m still as proud of him as I was the day he was born and died. The only thing I wish is that when we went to view his body that last time at the funeral home, I would have put him in my purse and took him home to place in my own cooler, which I know is totally not allowed. I knew then that he was gone, but to be honest he was so beautiful I could have kept him just like that. We picked up Vayden’s ashes about 2 weeks ago and it was not as hard as I anticipated it to be, I took the brave move of opening the box they were in to look at them and I was surprised to find that the remains were not more than a handful in amount. Now I’m having second thoughts about spreading them, neither Van or I have an issue with them being in the house, so the plan is when we’re ready we’ll do it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Just Missing My Baby

Vayden is almost 2 heavenly months old and for about 4 days last week I hit the bottom of the mountain. Those 4 days I lost my joy, my will to fight, and my strength. In those 4 days I became so worn out, so tired, and so disconnected I felt that I lost all my energy when I lost Vayden. Could it have been the deaths of so many famous and regular people in the world? It seemed like in one week alone, 5 or 6 people spontaneously died. I found myself praying 3-4 times a day for God to please get me through this and just as his word says, I was lead to the light and began to climb back up the mountain. This was the first time I experienced grief as it's said to come, in waves. I trusted in the Lord and continued to pray and I was navigated out of that dark place, I hurt for those who have not found comfort in God and live in that dark room for longer than a week, it was a horrible and scary feeling that I assume will come back as Satan will try so hard to use me for his own negative reasons. I will not fall into his temptation, because God's love is always on my side if I continue to accept it.

Kelly Gerken from Sufficient Grace Women's Ministries sent me the Dreams Of You Memory Basket included in that care package was the comfort bear. I was so blessed to receive this package the same day I went into labor, and used the comfort bear to sleep with the 2ND night at the hospital after having Vayden. I needed to make sure that I would be able to get some type of sleep at night without holding onto my baby. I rubbed the comfort bear down with Vayden's special lotion and went to sleep. That bear stays either in or near my bed every night, late last night Van couldn't sleep so he went downstairs to watch TV, the surround sound woke Vashon up and I was in no mood to explain to him why he couldn't have juice or watch boos coos (blue's clues) so I just brought him into bed with me and my comfort bear. I woke up at 10:30am and remembered that I needed to go feed a friends dog, so I got up and ran the quick errand around the corner. Van stayed down stairs making pancakes for breakfast, when I got back I went upstairs to attend church via television, since we woke up so late, and there I found Vashon sleeping like this with his what we called "his cuddle brother".

Despite what you think I really did not place him or the bear like that and when I left the house Vashon was sleep on his tummy. I thought it was so cute and it made me really sit and think of Vayden. I miss him so much, on a brighter side it's been 25 years and I've never met Michael Jackson, but my son Vayden James Stewart is up there moon crawling with the King Of Pop. OK maybe he's not crawling yet but you never know, Vayden was a very special baby boy.