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Category: Mt. Olivet

Miscarriage Series – The Due Date

Last night we couldn’t sleep. Hubby and I stayed up most of the night watching episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. We needed something restful and something to pass the time. Sleep was just not finding us. We both felt that we couldn’t sleep because we were “laboring.” Our due date was tomorrow. The due date our entire family was looking forward to. A due date, that would come and go with no reward. There would be no crying baby.

I had been cranky most of the day. The week leading up to today was filled with an emotional roller coaster. I learned of many friends who had become pregnant which furthered my grief. Learning about some pregnancies, felt like a stab into my heart. Then there were the ill wishes for some of these announcements. It was such an icky feeling and I know I shouldn’t feel that way, but I did.

Teaching students over the last few months has also been hard. So many of them were due on the same day and I had to stand there, seeing them with their glorious bellies filled with living babies they would birth. They were carrying life and all I could carry was death. My womb being silent since May. I was relieved that with my last classes they were all due in January or February. I no longer had to be reminded of what I had lost.

When we finally decided to lay in bed, I cried. I was on the verge of a breakdown when hubby finally nestled in bed next to me. I was wearing an old shirt. A shirt that he gave me and I have worn for the past 18 years. A shirt that is nearly falling apart but I love it because wore that shirt during all four of my pregnancies. I remember hubby took a picture of me in that shirt just a few days before I gave birth to my first child. The shirt is so large, it could accommodate my full-term belly.

Pregnant

I asked hubby to rub my back to help me fall asleep. As he did, he said, “I need to buy you a new shirt.” Then I wept. Through my tears I said, “But I love this shirt.” He was unprepared for my cries. He rubbed my back harder and said, “It’s okay. Why are you crying?”

I couldn’t form the words.

I knew that if I had continued, he would most likely figure it out. So I was silent, except for my cries. All I could think about was how I would not be bringing home a baby tomorrow. I imagined the co-sleeping being attached to my bed and lovingly watching my sleeping baby. It was too painful knowing I would likely never experience that again.

 It took hours for me to finally find sleep only to be awakened early. We were going to visit Gus’s grave for the first time today. The entire family managed to make it in the car in time to get Joey to school. After dropping Joey off, I asked to stop by the store. I wanted to pick up a few things we could leave at Gus’s grave. My stomach was also very upset. It was gurgling and I was having intestinal cramps. I assumed it was my body, being in “labor.”

At the store, I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I was hoping to find a few blue carnations and a small plastic truck. I settled on a small balloon that said, “It’s a Boy!” and found a metal police tow truck. I knew Timmy would want it but I also knew that when I explained that this was Gus’s truck, he would be fine with leaving it.

When we arrived at Mt. Olivet, we found the grave site easily. I had been there many times before but never to visit my own child. I was comforted to see that there were other names on the grave marker.

Augustus Jude Petrucelli

Timmy played with Gus’s truck and balloon. I snapped a few pictures. We even grabbed tissue paper and a crayon to capture his marker.

Augustus Jude Petrucelli

Hubby cried. I was surprised I didn’t. Maybe it was because I had been there so many times? Maybe it was because I cried so hard last night? Or maybe, I was just apathetic to the situation? I just held him. It was all I could do.

Timmy was a good distraction. He ran around the graves checking out the toys and balloons around all the other graves. The other graves looked so beautiful as well. We looked at some of the other names on the markers and noticed a few that we remembered at the candlelight vigil this year. I took comfort in that as well.

It’s hard to believe his due date is here. It’s even harder to believe that he is not here with us. This would be his first Christmas. I would wear him. I promised him that I would wear him more than I wore Timmy. I promised him that he would be within arm’s reach every night, that I wouldn’t let him cry-it-out, that I would respond to him quickly, nourish him with my breasts, and adore having him as my final child.

Now I am left with an empty womb. A womb that will likely never carry another child; breasts that will likely never nourish another child, and a home that will likely never be filled with the happy squeals from my tiny infant. Silence returns. Of course, the house is not silent. It is filled with the laughter of a toddler and conversation with his older brother but in a sense, it is devoid of the presence we were expecting.

We love you Augustus. We gave you a strong name. We know we will see you again. I pray for it. I pray to see you in my dreams. I beg you to show me your face in my dreams.

Augustus Jude Petrucelli

Miscarriage Series – The Burial

My brother is here this morning. He arrived unexpectedly two days before but it was a very welcome visit. He even stayed an extra day which made things so wonderful. We talked a lot and the best part was we just took up where we left off as if we had seen each other yesterday.

It’s a Friday, but since my brother was here, I made my Saturday morning muffins. I had hoped he would eat them, but he didn’t. Some people just don’t eat breakfast. 🙂 We talked again this morning and nearly got off to a late start. I didn’t have much thought about how today would go. I needed to remember to bring the camera but that was about it.

Since I had been to communal burials before, I knew what to expect. Last night I felt I just wanted to know what angel bed (casket) our baby was in. There are always two angel beds and this was the only issue I dwelled on as I drifted off to sleep.

We said our goodbye’s to my brother and headed to the cemetery. Hubby and I talked about what to expect. I mentioned that he might be asked to carry one of the angel beds. I really hoped he would. I thought it would bring him comfort. I always seem to want to carry them. I want to touch them.

We talked about how much better I feel knowing what happened with the baby. I have truly felt so peaceful since we learned the baby had triploidy. As I write this post, I am realizing how hard it is not to talk about the baby using the name we chose. That post has already been written but not shared yet so I am still trying hard not to mention any details that might be revealed in another post.

It was a nice and quiet car ride. I wasn’t nervous. I don’t know if Hubby was or not. I actually wondered if I would cry at all considering how good I was feeling.

When comparing this loss with Ruby’s loss, I feel like I have come to peace significantly faster. I wonder if that’s okay. I talk with Hubby about how others I know are still struggling tremendously with their losses. They are still so engulfed with their losses that it affects their every day life. I told him that I wondered if there was something wrong with me because I seem to be “normal” with my losses now.

He didn’t seem to think so and was sad that others I know are still struggling so hard. I stopped talking about it but wondered if that meant I didn’t love my children as much or that I wasn’t as invested in it as my friends were. I am still sad, don’t get me wrong, but I am not crying every day. I also think that much of the last few weeks was postpartum baby blues. It is so hard for me after I have a baby and I don’t think the loss was any different. My body still had pregnancy hormones that needed to be cleared out of my system and I have been sweating a lot during sleep the last few days which is another sign of those hormones clearing.

As we enter the cemetery, I am excited and I hope that it is a small, quiet ceremony. I park the car backwards so I can get out easily and follow the limo to the gravesite. The kids get out of the car and we head into the building. I noticed that the parking lot was pretty full but assumed there was another funeral taking place.

I was stunned to see that the inside room was full of families. They were all there to bury their babies. Some were smiling, laughing with their kids, conversing with others, and there were a few that were crying, sobbing, and sad. I told Hubby that I was so glad our baby was being buried with so many other babies. It was comforting to know our baby wasn’t alone in the angel bed.

Hubby found an empty round table and we sat as we waited for the service to begin. We were told to follow the car to the gravesite and file out of the room. All the mothers needed to raise their hands so the funeral director could count how many mothers there were. I knew they were counting how many crosses they needed to bring. I was nearly giddy for the plain, white cross we would receive that was made from the left over wood that our baby’s angel bed was made from.

This was that “tangible piece.” The closest piece we would get to our baby. I wanted to hold it, rub it, smell it, as if it was my baby. I wouldn’t get it for a bit but I wanted that cross. I wasn’t leaving without one.

We got back in our car and I saw Melissa, my friend who is a bereavement doula. She waved at me as all the cars got in line to follow the limo carrying our little ones to their final resting place. Hubby and I talked about how beautiful and comforting the cemetery was. We also talked about purchasing the headstone for the marker. One headstone is placed there and we can pay to have our baby’s name on the marker. I told Hubby we wouldn’t leave until paying for it. It was expensive but we needed this.

We make it to the gravesite and park along the rows of headstones. A therapy dog hops out of the car in front of us. Joey is obsessed with the dog but oddly enough, never gets a chance to pet him. I see Melissa with all the bears she will give each mother and we make our way through the large crowd. There seemed to be 50 or so people there.

I noticed that no one was helping the funeral director take the angel beds out of the limo and I probe Hubby to jump in. He hesitates. He tells me if no other dad volunteers he will. I was disappointed. I really wanted him to grab the beds. I had no idea how hard that might be for him, I just wanted him to participate.

After ten minutes, two dads volunteered and carried the angel beds to the gravesite. They are set down and the service begins. People are crying around me. There are Magpies that are chirping but their noises sound more like wailing. I take note and wonder, have they overheard so many women crying that they are mimicking their sounds? It was eerie and comforting all at the same time.

Miscarriage BurialThe crosses are placed on the angel beds and my heart sinks a little. It looks like someone started painting on the crosses. I had hoped for a plain one but I didn’t see one. There were flowers painted on them in different colors. Some blue, some pink, some green, and some with sunflowers. I didn’t want a sunflower, that was for sure.

I didn’t feel like crying. I was taking pictures and trying to be in the moment. I wanted to remember burying our baby but I was in between being a loss mother and being a bereavement doula. It was such a weird place to be. I wanted to support those around me when in reality, I was the one that needed support.

Melissa came and took the camera from me and took some pictures of me with Joey as well as the angel beds. When it was time for me to get a cross, I jumped in line quickly. I didn’t want to miss out on getting one.  Melissa passed out her bears. I waited to get one after everyone else did. She gave me and the boys one privately.

As the priest “commended” our children to God, I broke down. The tears started flowing. I could hear Hubby crying behind me and I reached out to him. I look up at the sky and think about God holding my child. I want my child. I need my child now.

I want to touch the angel bed. I want to know which bed my child is in. I turn around and grab my husband. I pull him tight as I mutter the words, “I want to know which one he is in.” The angel beds are placed into the ground.

Siblings of the other babies gather around the hole and toss in flowers, notes, drawings, cards, balloons, and other items to be buried with their babies. I know Joey wanted to do something similar but I forgot flowers and he didn’t make a note. He wanted to give the baby a stuffed animal but he also forgot it. I told him to bring it tomorrow to the commendation ceremony.

We had a few pictures taken as a family next to the hole and then we left to go pay for the marker. The burial and service were free but the marker cost. As we filled out the paperwork, the baby’s name was written down…for the very first time. I stared at it. In awe. I want my baby here, not in the ground.

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

Miscarriage and Stillbirth Funeral

Several months after I lost Ruby in 2010, I assisted with a mortuary escort at one of the local hospitals I was working security for. I remember being called to meet the mortuary representative at the main entrance to the hospital. My heart sank because inside, I knew they were picking up a baby. Adults and children were always released at the dock because that’s where the morgue is but babies don’t leave the labor and delivery unit unless they are sent to pathology.

When I arrived, the man introduced himself as coming from the Arch Diocese. I am Catholic so I was familiar with the Arch Diocese and asked him who he was here to pick up. He explained he was here for a baby. He walked with me to pathology where the baby’s body was located.

As we walked, I asked him questions about this baby and what he was here to do. The baby, was only 12 weeks, and would be going to Mt. Olivet for a communal burial. He went on to explain that not all babies are large enough to be buried in their own plot and cannot be cremated (due to the water content) so families can have their babies buried for free at Mt. Olivet.

Oh how I wished I knew this was an option for me. I had no idea that this even existed. I would have preferred to have Ruby buried than tossed out with hospital waste. I didn’t think much more about this until recently after I became a bereavement doula. I want all of my clients to know they have this option.

I attended the communal burial service at Mt. Olivet in May. It was a beautiful service. 26 babies were laid to rest that morning. One family came to say goodbye. Families can have their baby’s name written on the stone for the plot where there baby is buried. Not all do this but it’s an option and it can be very comforting. Full term stillbirths receive their own plot and service.

Mt. Olivet, Denver, CO

The service was short and lovely. I could tell that everyone present was there to support the loss family.

Bear from Lily's Gift

Mother holding bear from Lily’s Gift

The mother was given a bear from Lily’s Gift which is a local organization founded by another bereavement doula in training.

Angel Beds at Mt. Olivet

 

Mt Olivet7
Angel Beds - Mt. Olivet

The angel beds are hand made by Pat Padia with St. Frances of Cabrini in Denver, Colorado. I met Pat for the first time during this burial service. She has such a large heart. She also brought knitted outfits that the babies were dressed in. Smaller babies, like Ruby, would have been placed in a jar and the jar would be placed inside a knitted pouch. Pat shared a pouch with me so that I may share with others. These pouches and all the other knitted outfits were adorable. My heart was filled with Joy.

Mt Olivet2 copy Mt Olivet5 copy

Mt. Olivet is beautiful and is a sacred place.

– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage

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