Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Importance of Grieving and Closure

Edited 2/1/2014

     Looking back to three years ago I sometimes can not even recognize myself. As I stand back in time staring at my reflection I see a woman standing before me. Her brown eyes reddened from years of sadness she held locked inside her. That sadness chipped away at her soul little by little until she too was at the brink of death. I'm standing in front of a mirror, but who is this woman before me? Memories flood back to me as if the damn that was built inside of me to keep the hurt away came crashing down. Three years ago I was filled with anxiety. Debilitating anxiety that something would happen to my family-to my son. Would he stop breathing in his sleep? Would he fall at the babysitters on his head? What if he somehow got out of the school and ran out in the street? What if he is in the car with his grandmother and they get into an accident? Once these thoughts are in my head there is NO TURNING BACK. Eddie’s first day of school I sat in the parking lot the entire time. What If? What If? What If?

     Finally one morning I looked into the mirror and I realized the woman looking back at me was begging me for help. Her eyes were worn from the constant worrying. I began my journey with a few therapists who helped me come to terms with where all the anxiety and fear stemmed from. The death of my first son Dylan Thomas. Three years ago I wouldn't talk about my story the way I do now. People knew of my loss, and I had to give the information during past medical history questionnaires, but that was just facts. That was not MY story.

     I sat down one night and let my story exit the deepest corners of my mind and trickle out onto the keyboard. I felt a release that nothing else in the world has ever given me. It was as if the heavy blackness that was strangling my soul was released and I watched it disintegrate like ash from a flame that was put out. Here is my story.

     2003: I was an 18 year old high school senior pregnant with her first baby. It was not the ideal situation in the least. The pregnancy was not planned, I was frightened, and I had my doubts. I had dreams of going to college and becoming a nurse and publishing a book-becoming a pregnant teen was not on my mind. My support system was pretty much non existent except for a couple amazing teachers who pretty much saved my life. I really don’t even think they know how much they did. Ms. Coates and Mr. Masi were my angels that year. They never passed judgment and they supported me. For an 18 year old girl who felt the world was on her shoulders, I just could never thank you both enough.

      Against my will I made an appointment to go to the abortion clinic. The atmosphere was cold as I looked around the waiting room. My heart was beating so fast as I looked over to my boyfriend with just as much fear in his eyes. I filled out piles of paperwork and met with a woman who broke down the procedure nonchalantly as if I was at the dentist for an annual cleaning. No big deal. Panicked I got up, got dressed, and bolted from the facility. Although the situation was not ideal I chose to keep the baby, despite being pressured by many to have an abortion. We later found out I was carrying a little boy. I chose the name Dylan Thomas because of my obsession with the great Bob Dylan and the writer Dylan Thomas. I saw his heartbeat on the ultrasound monitor, felt his little feet kick me, and just prayed that God would take care of me and this innocent baby. I stayed in school, worked part time, clipped coupons, planned his Cat in the Hat nursery, and would day dream about all the things I would teach him. I loved him and I often wondered if he could feel my love.

     March 20, 2003 , 7 months pregnant I woke up to swollen legs and feeling very dizzy. My boyfriend’s mother dismissed me as being lazy and my boyfriend left me at home and went to work. I made a doctors appointment and called a dear friend of mine to take me. Within moments of checking in they had me lie down. Nurses and doctors were frantically making calls and running around the office. I was just at the doctors a few days ago for a check up and everything was fine. What was going on. I would later find out my blood pressure was 210 over 120 (normally 115/80). I was rushed across the street to the hospital where the rest the story was almost a blur.

     Before I knew it I was lying in a room with an IV of Magnesium sulfate dripping into my veins. The nurses told me they were not allowing my then estranged family into the room with me because they were afraid I would stroke out or have a seizure from any type of stimulation. I sat in the quiet room in a haze of drugs and worry. Next thing I know I was being prepped for a C-Section. All of a sudden I was laying in the cold operating room surrounded by what felt like a thousand people. There was no time for an epidural so I would need to be put under. I begged the nurses to please not put me under until I spoke with the doctor. Please Please Please! I begged as if I was begging for my life. The doctor came in and I knew I needed to ask soon. “Will the baby be ok?” “We are not sure,” she replied. “I know this is selfish-but will I be ok?” I will never forget one kind nurse with tears running down her face as she grabbed my hand and told me that was not a selfish question and she would make sure I was ok. Later I would find out I almost died. I was actually moments from stroking out. Even after the C-Section I was in ICU.

     When I awoke from the anesthesia there was my family, my boyfriend’s family and the doctors. I was told Dylan had Hydrops fetalis and they were doing all they can but we should bring in a priest. Before I knew it I was holding my lifeless son surrounded by people and a priest-but never felt more alone in the world.

     From that day on EVERYONE in my life acted as if it never even happened. As if Dylan had never existed. I was told “It is better this way. God was doing you a favor.” Most of my “friends” NEVER asked me how I was dealing, how I was feeling. Not one time. I remember my boyfriend going to a party at his house days later as I sat in the hospital. Were they celebrating? I remember my “friends” literally acting as if the whole thing was a relief. I was told to get over it. As if this was just a late term abortion to them. I started to feel guilty for feeling sadness. I suppressed my grief deep down into my soul. I was NOT allowed to feel sadness because I was a teen mom and because he was only a newborn. I was NOT allowed to cry. I was NOT allowed to feel pain. Eventually I was made to feel crazy when I had my nervous breakdown months later. I was told I was crazy by my friends and the people I cared about the most.

     Then just 4 weeks after my emergency C-Section I got a call from the school. I needed to start my school work or I would not graduate. NO sympathy. I was NOT allowed. A few days later I received a call from the gym teacher. I would need to play Tennis or fail gym. Pick a day and meet him. I JUST HAD A C-SECTION and LOST MY SON!!!! No one cared. I should not care…..I was not allowed to care.

     After graduating in June 2003 I self medicated.We will skip the graphic details of this time of my life for now. I was numb. I was dead. I wanted to die.

     By September 2003 I moved back home and got clean, and have been ever since. But even though we dealt with a few things-I never worked out Dylan’s death. I just repressed it and learned to deal. I learned to trust, to love, and to live. But I never grieved and I never had closure and so it all started coming back out when I gave birth to my son Edward. The fears of losing this little boy CONSUMED me. I felt like I had to do whatever it took to prevent the unknown.

2012 I finally met a therapist who made me write about Dylan. He made me talk about Dylan. He helped me release the darkness, and I will forever be grateful to him. I went back to school to follow my dreams of being a nurse and graduated valedictorian of my class. Here I am, pregnant in high school with many people assuming my life to be over and I am succeeding. It is amazing what you can accomplish when you release the darkness that strangles your light. I will be finally having a burial for my son this year, as I realized that is the last piece of releasing the sadness. Right now his ashes are at my parents house. He deserves a proper send off.    

My hopes with this blog entry is to 
1.) Finally tell my story as if it was my story 

2.) Help reach out to others who have had a loss. It doesn't matter if you are 16 or 50. It doesn't matter if you were 5 weeks pregnant or 9 months pregnant. It doesn't matter if your child was 1 or 20. The loss of a baby, of a child is a loss. It is OK to grieve. It is OK to cry. It is OK to mourn. You are ALLOWED. I now volunteer my time at Grieve Out Loud, a pen pal community for those who have gone through infant and child loss.

I looked back at the woman in the mirror one last time and watched as the fear and sadness in her eyes turned to relief and calmness. A small smile begins to form at the corner of her mouth and she nods as if to thank me for giving her life back.

 This is a poem I wrote for my son that I will read and send off with him at the ceremony:

 I never got to see your eyes
Or feel your fingers wrap around mine
You were needed much more by the Lord above
Something I would learn in time

Did you hear my voice talk to you
At night when I couldn’t sleep
Did you know that when you left
My heart broke and I would weep

I often see the stars up above
Twinkling fast and free
And I hope and pray that you knew
How much you meant to me

We didn't have much time, you and I
Before the Lord called you to the home above
You were much too special for this earth
But please know that you were loved

               -CMZ 09/10/2012


  1. You are the strongest woman I know. I am honored to stand by my best friend and hold her hand while we say "goodbye for now" to Dylan. The bible clearly says there are no tears in heaven. When you and Dylan are together again, there will be no tears, or heartache for what could have been on earth-- just immense happiness and satisfaction. Your family will be complete.
    Love you

    1. I love you so much. Thank you for always listening and offering the most amazing words to help me through life!

  2. Thank you for sharing are a beautiful person on the inside and out and deserve all of the happiness in the word. I had three m/c and always wonder what if....

  3. You are an amazing and strong woman, I feel horrible because we were good friends and I really don't seem to remember this. I know I was out most of our senior year from surgery myself but I can't believe you went through all of that alone. Brings tears to my eyes reading this. I'm so glad you are able to talk to someone and now have the percent family with deans Eddie. You deserve so much andwe all can clearly see how great of a mother you truly are. Any mother would be lucky to have the relationship your in and have built with your child and family. Always know that Dylan Thomas is your family's guardian angel and may very well be what's keeping you so strong this whole time. I'm not big on religious beliefs but I believe that. I praise you fir being so strong and pulling yourself through the darkest times to end up in an amazing situation where you get to look in your child's face everyday and know that he loves you more than anyone in the world ever will or has.its the best feeling. Keep being your strong self and being a role model for all of us first time moms. Love always <3

  4. Ryan,

    Your were one of the only ones that agreed with me keeping the baby and came to visit me in the hospital. I won't ever forget that. I think you and I were both home schooled the end of the year a lost touch. I forget.

    Thank you for your kind words! Xoxo

  5. This brought me to tears - you are an incredible woman! Beautiful, and so very strong. I'm keeping you and Dylan (and the rest of your family) in my thoughts and prayers. I agree 100% with the comments above.

    Sending you so many hugs and kisses xoxox

  6. Christina, I had no idea. I know we don't talk much and I hope you don't feel like I'm barging in on your life here... I'm so sorry to hear that this happened to you! I just think about my senior year of high school and how carefree it was....besides hating Mrs. Brangan, it was a pretty normal year! It pains me so much to know that someone who I was so close to as a small child went through something so awful! I am so happy for you to know that you can finally allow yourself to move past this and that you now have a beautiful boy and a beautiful family to support you through this. Congrats to you for following your dream and making things happen for yourself. My niece, who is the product of a teen pregnancy, is going in to counseling and women's studies and wants to work in a planned parenthood type job. It's so cool that people like you and her can take pretty negative things in life and turn them positive and use them to inspire them. My hubby fought to keep his kid at 18 when others wanted to get rid of her. I am so glad someone like you will be out there to help other teen parents!

    1. btw...this is Tara...didn't know it would say unknown!

  7. Tara,

    Thank you so much for your kind words and taking the time to write to me. It truly means a lot. I look forward to helping others. I really believe we are only given what we can handle and with that we are meant to do something with what we have learned. Xoxoxo