My Bucket List:

My Bucket List:

Help Me Love You Again

April 8, 2014

Time to do a little talk on faith in a heartbreaking situation.  As a Christian all my life, I could never imagine being in the place I am with my view of God/prayer that losing the twins has brought me to. Shattered.  Don't get me wrong, I've said it before and I'll say it again.  I will NEVER walk away.  Although I have no idea why He allowed this, what He is doing, and to some degree Who He fully is, I will never ever say that He is not good.  With that said, that being my core belief, everything else is so broken. 

Up until going through the most cruel thing I've ever experienced that went down in the most horrific way my life was fairly smooth (minus the IVF sagas)-to refresh your memory, my water broke 1 day after my 30th birthday, a week later I visually saw her cord hanging from my body, I go to the ER and her foot is hanging out but I'm not in labor, I go into labor at night and she falls out in the bathroom the next morning-then miraculously my body stops labor and my cervix closes and there is SO much hope for Jude.  I get a cerclage (cervix sewn shut) and am bedridden in the hospital for 11 days taking IV antibiotics every 4 hours to try to prevent an infection.  While each second I live in the horror of what just happened, each second I fear that Jude will die, as I watch family and friends come and pray for miracles.  I watch my strong brave Dad cry out to God like a helpless child begging for a miracle.  I watch my strong brave husband laying his hand on my stomach begging for the life of Jude to be saved.  I myself cry out with all that I have left for God to have mercy on mye and to heal my body and to save my child.  Then when we finally think there is hope because it's been 3 weeks, an infection takes over, they break my water while I'm conscious (and feeling him move), and I deliver a 100% healthy normal baby that is 3 weeks to young to have a chance at surviving. As I quoted CS Lewis earlier in my blog it felt like we reached out for help to our Savior and we heard the door slam and then many bolts shutting and then silence. 

In my Christian walk this is the first time I've ever experienced something like this.  I have had hard seasons but have always trusted that He was working things out for the good.  I have had unanswered prayers before but never in such a silent, heartbreaking, desperate situation.  It shakes me to the core and although the Bible says "pray without ceasing" at this point I simply cannot.  I'm going through all the emotions that come with grief but I'm also a bit cynical.  I snicker at stupid things (ie someone praying that God will help them find their keys or take away their headache) Although people have every right to ask God for help in anything, these type of prayers make me roll my eyes.  He didn't save my child why would He help you find your keys??  I know better than that, I was raised that He is a personal God and cares about the smallest things in our lives-however at this point PLEASE don't pray to find your keys around me.

Don't get me wrong.  I am not "pouting" or trying to "show Him."  I am just numb/speechless/and quite frankly a little afraid of what can happen to anyone here on earth whether they are a Christian or not.  This whole experience shattered the fun/cute snow globe of happiness I tended to live in and has shown me the suffering and the pain that can happen to anyone.  If I do pray, they have massively changed.  I have also removed the word "Let."  "Let me get pregnant again."  "Let me know what you want me to do."  "Let me not be so afraid."  At this point sometimes the only prayer I can say is "Jesus."  Or "God help me."  Sometimes I can mutter "Let me see redemption win. Make it right." While other times I simply shrug my shoulders and say "Who are you?" or "I know you will do what you are going to do."  I guess this isn't exactly a pep-talk but I think it's important that Christians be real.  I just went through a very very sad/nasty situation where my ever-so-longed-for children literally were killed inside my body because of my body-I was a participate in their death.  We are humans and we to go through  waves of emotions in grief just like anyone-just because we have Christ as the center of lives does not mean we are always happy/protected-we just do our best to constantly remind ourselves that this is not the end, this is temporary and death can never have victory over us since we believe in eternal life.  If you are not a Christian I know I might sound a bit loca but if you are, this means everything. 

Anyway, there is this somewhat old-school 1990's worship song by Michael W. Smith (don't laugh) and for some reason it's been popping my head a lot lately.  The main chorus says "Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy on us."  I decided to youtube it with lyrics and the phrase "Help me love you again" really struck me.  The singer is asking God to help him love God again!!  I could so relate with this.  What a strange prayer "Dear God, help me love you again." I think I'm going to add it to my small list of prayers.

I've posted this song before too, it's called Worn, but its one of the only Christian songs I can listen to. 

Rainbow Baby Chasing and What It's Like Being a Fake Mom

April 5, 2014

When I was a rookie in the infertility world every now and then I would come across the term "rainbow" baby.  To be perfectly honest (and show my non-smartness), I assumed it meant a baby born to a gay/lesbian couple.  Obviously this group seeks some type of fertility assistance so I just figured it was a "rainbow" baby.  I was very very wrong.

The term stems from the loss of a baby before.  Here is the definition:



I've been too deep in grief to really even think about this concept but the reason I bring it up is last weekend on our drive up to the Puget Sound in Seattle I saw 2 rainbows.  Despite my hurt from God's prolonged silence, my heart couldn't help but remember where the rainbow originally came from.  I couldn't stop starting at it.  It was stormy out, but there was this beauty among it.  It again reminded me (as almost everything does) of this unrelenting desire to catch my rainbow. 

The reality is, there are no 100% guarantees.   For those that have been following my story, Jude and Brinly were supposed to be my rainbow babies.  I had an early miscarriage in 2012 and then miscarried one of the triplets at 9 weeks.  

I recently met with a counselor at my clinic and she pointed out that my hope for the future is not a "false hope."  She reminded me that I have been pregnant and that the doctors all think that a biological child is attainable-that I have been on a string of very bad luck.  I am not aimlessly chasing a non-existent rainbow (even though there are no for-sure promises I will catch it) this was a good reminder.  Seeing the rainbow in the sky gave me that wave of hope that I hate/love so much.  However, because of my track history the hope is always mixed with extreme fear that will never fully disappear until I hear and hold a child screaming/crying for the first time. 


In other news, yesterday I watched my nephew, Ryker, aka the cutest human being alive, for an hour after work.  I had to run to the mall to pick up movie tickets so I towed the little 18 month kido with me.  My sister dresses him really cute (backward hat tops the outfit) and he looks like he could be mine.  Heidi and I have been asked several times if we are twins.  Ryky has our nose.  Anyway, I carried him into the mall to get the tickets. 

I was totally a fake mom.  It was so strange.  In the 7 minutes I was there, I made eye contact with at least 5 other mom's with kids around his age.  In their adoring smile I got the message "your baby is so cute."  In their kind glances, they were connecting with me.  I was in the mom club and had evidence to prove it.  I felt like a fraud.  "I'm his aunt" I almost felt obligated to tell them.  But I didn't.  Instead, I enjoyed the time with my sweet nephew.  I took him to the pet store to look at the puppies and mice (he is more a of a kitty obsessed child fan but unfortunately they were out).  I pointed out a little boy his age and said "look a friend" out loud.  On the car ride home, I looked like a mom too.  He was buckled in the back seat happy as could be.  At stoplights I would play peek a boo with him and his eyes lite up and his giggle filled the car. 

It's normal for strangers to assume he is my child-awhile back the cashier at Target convinced me to get a red-card because I had a "baby."  I love him and he is obviously genetically related to me-but he reminds me that I want my own so so bad.  I am not his mom, I am his aunt.   All this to say it was strange feeling part of a club that I am not of.  Children that died at birth do not get you into the MOPs group at church or the corner coffee sip and play. 

Lastly, on the personal front, we are taking 1 day at a time.  With femera I ovulate, but that doesn't mean much.  There is so much sorrow and stress still in my life from the losses that I do not expect to conceive any time soon but going slow and not jumping hardcore into IVF/FET is good to allow my body/mind to heal up a bit.  The MFM (high risk specialist) wanted me to wait 6 months to a year to heal from the 2 deliveries.  I want my rainbow more than anything in this life and I think about this every single waking second daily but I'm trying to re-learn how to live in the present.  So much of the past brings sorrow and so much of the future brings fear/unknown.  In the meantime I think I'm going to keep taking pictures of rainbows I spot.  If you catch a good shot, send it to me!

About Time

March 24, 2014

This weekend Darren and I rented the film "About Time."  Within 5 minutes we find out the main character has the "power" to travel back in time.  He can't really change anything huge and it mainly only impacts his life.  He is 21 and can really only think about falling in love (I love this as most romantic story lines are about the girl dying to find the one).  Anyway,  I would say it's instantly up there with my other favorite two movies (The Family Man with Nicolas Cage and Stranger Than Fiction with Will Ferral).  It makes you think about life and family at a deeper level.  I'm still an emotional wreck between learning how to be a mother to dead children while dealing with my hormone levels as the doctors try to help me ovulate is a dramatic month-to-month experience to my body.  The movie made me cry, in a good way.  Here are some reasons why

1.  The soundtrack.  One of the main songs is called "Mid Air" and they play it when the main character meets Rachel McAdams for the first time.  The 2nd line of the song says "I want to live forever."  I. Want. To. Live. Forever.  This line hit me really hard.  Of course, I have been so deep in sadness, I have days where I don't care if I die.  I feel like I'm waiting.  Every single day.  I do NOT want to live forever at all.  BUT, this line made me cry.  Why?  Because life, although it has recently shown me a dark/cruel side, in the past, has given me these beautiful moments where in that,  I really did want to live forever-I mean things were wonderful.  Of course, things are and will never be perfect till we leave this life, BUT it made me remember that my life hasn't always been this-this pile of filled tissues, day after day of puffy read eyes, flashbacks of my loss, this burning longing, this unrelenting jealously-No.

I had wanted to get married for so long and the journey to the altar was a little rocky itself.  The day Darren and I got married and for a year after that (till infertility became a member of our family), I could honestly say, I wanted to live this life forever.  The lyrics in the song briefly reminded me of that.  This led to Dar and I discussing, if you could relive a day in your past (and not change anything, just relive it) what would it be?  There is something sweet about those moments/months/even years of our lives.  When we are so happy there is no room for sadness.  I'm putting the song on here, listen to it and if your in a rough place try to think of day or experience that made you so happy you truly believed living forever wouldn't be so bad

 
2.  At one point his dad says "Life is a mixed bag no matter who you are." Although I know this, I need to hear this every single day.  In my own suffering it's hard not to become narrow minded.  Why am I being punished?  What did I do?  Why didn't this happen to ________?  At this point in my grief I almost feel like every family of 5 I see walking around is flipping me off.  Every pregnant person
wondering the earth is sticking their tongue out at me-they are better than me.  Their body is better because it can hold a child to term.  They are better than me because they have the power to get pregnant on their own when they want to.  I find myself angry that I have been dealt these cards.  In the movie someone get's sick.  I hate that I lost J and B at 18/21 weeks AND have to deal with infertility.  But the excited couple who losses their baby full term because of a freak cord accident?  But the mom that has to watch her toddler/young child die of cancer?  The parents who get the late night phone call that their was an accident and their teenage isn't coming home?  Or (I've witnessed this), the sweet mom of 4 beautiful girls after battling cancer for 7 years dies, leaving them all behind?  Life indeed is a mixed bag for everyone.  I have to process this, I have to.  Just as I was celebrating the genders of J and B someone I'm friends with in the blogging world was losing her twins.  While I was in the hospital fighting for Jude's life, another blogger friend texted me she is pregnant with twins.  Highs and lows come to everyone at different points.  Life is a mixed bag.

3.  To live each day without changing anything.

The father and son are very close (the father can time travel too) and as they age, he gives his son some tips with his ability.  To live each day, taking it as it comes whether good or bad, and then to always go back a relive that day again, without changing anything, but looking at it more light-heartedly.  This got to me too.  The movie shows the character just having a bad day-things go wrong at work, it's long, and he comes home exhausted.  He follows his dads advice and returns to that day.  But this time, he laughs a little more, doesn't stress out at much, and comes home and tells his wife "the day wasn't that bad."  I wish I could do this.  Really relish the beauty of each day.  To shake of the little things that sting and to see the good.

Once the movie was over, Darren noticed the tears (he LOVES to catch me crying in movies).  The tears turned to sobs (he doesn't like me sobbing in movies-side note: one time in college I watched Man on Fire with him and cried for like 30 minutes afterwards, he had to set up Nintendo to distract me).  The message of the film was so clear-to appreciate each day and that time does go on.  As mentioned, I feel like I'm living in suspense.  Since we have been trying to get pregnant I feel like I am waiting.  There is such a huge piece of my heart missing.  As a Christian I know that having a baby won't fill that completely but it sure will help take away this throbbing sorrow.

It's easy for women without infertility to judge this.  "enjoy it will happen" "relax, if its meant to be its meant to be" and of course my favorite "you can always adopt."  The majority of us dream about having kids-to not be able to reproduce "on demand" goes against our very biological systems.  It's in our cells this desire to want to carry a child, to experience creating a life.  Heck, God even commands us too.  So here I am having this spiritual, physical, and mental drive to do something 90% of women can do when they feel like it, and it is massively delayed. 

To grieve and wait at the same time is hard.  I feel like I cannot "relish" each day because I'm trying to get through each day just to get to the next.  I don't want to live like this but I accept it's where I am at.  I'm 30.  I can honestly say that in my 3 decades on this earth there have been more good times than bad.  I'm in a dessert, I'm in a valley.  I have to hold on that this isn't forever, I have to try to force myself to not miss out on the days of my life that are passing now, and of course tattoo to my brain that life is a mixed bag no matter who you are, not just Holly Lynn Benson.


4.  Lastly, as so many women going through levels of IF share, the amazing love and support of our husbands.  Some days Darren is the only reason I get out of bed.  Although I feel so alone, I am not.  My best friend, my greatest comfort.  The true therapist who hears me repeat and repeat and repeat what happened.  In the movie a wife whose husband is sick says, "I am completely uninterested in a life without you."  I love this.  I want to frame it. 

A Footprint as Small as Brinly's ♥

March 20, 2014

If you bend your pinky forward notice the length from the edge of your nail to the bend in your finger.  This is about the size of Brinly's footprint, my 18 week-stillborn daughter. 

Last weekend would have been Jude and Brinly's full twin-term due date so we asked family, friends, and followers to participate in a day of random acts of kindness.  Throughout the day my inbox and instagram were filled with awesome, caring, heartfelt acts to honor our sweet babies.  In the big
scheme of things, this little day full of small random acts of kindness is no larger than Brinly's footprint in ratio to the world-but I find a small ounce of solace knowing the my daughter and son were able to leave a tiny footprint of love/kindness because of their short existence. 

So many thoughtful things were done, to name a few:  paying for people's coffee, signing up to donate bone marrow, delivering flowers, bringing a neighbor/friend a treat, sveral different types of donations, handing out homemade burp rags to new moms, volunteering, sponsoring children, paying for people's groceries, large tips, paying for a strangers manicure, giving random gift cards to strangers, handing out free water bottles at swim park, writing appreciation cards to all the teachers at my work (Christian club at the high school I work at did this), giving money, knitting blankets for future mommies that lose their babies and donating them to the labor/delivery, serving people in need, the list goes on and on.  My parents made a point to randomly give to a few different expecting moms.  My mother and father in law made an adorable basket with J and B's name and filled it with goodies and drove it to the hospital I delivered them in and shared with the staff.  A group from the church I grew up in organized a free event for local foster children with over 70 children in attendance.

 I made a collage of images, instagram and text messages




Here is what we did: 

If you have been reading my story for awhile by this point you know the pregnant woman, infants, and twin pregnancies/babies all tug at my heart a bit harder.  I am in constant battle to remind myself "it's not her fault she is pregnant and you are not."  I am constantly fighting feelings of jealously and even anger that other people get to walk this road so easily and joyfully.  Seeing a growing belly or hearing a screaming infant instantly reminds me of what I just lost-flashbacks to how everything went horribly wrong are bound to bounce in my head with so many triggers in a fertile world. It feels so cruel. Boy girl twins are extra painful too because again that selfish inner voice asks "Why me?"  To survive I try to stay away from any trigger as every trigger is a constant bitter taste filling my throat and me having to take every ounce of trying to be a good person to swallow hard and smile.  It's not their fault this happened to me.  It's not their fault they are the lucky 90% that get pregnant within the 3-6 months of trying range and will 100% believe their positive pregnancy test.  It's not their fault they finally got pregnant on IVF and that is that, now they get to carry a healthy baby to term.  It's not their fault their cervix isn't crappy.  Its. not. their. fault. holly.

To fight these negative feelings that have taken a home in my soul, Darren let me take the lead on our random acts of kindness, and I chose to, for the weekend at least, NOT to run in the complete opposite direction when "triggers" popped in my path.

Act #1   We gave 2 different moms of twins a date gift card.  For Jude and Brinly

Act #2  I was at Target and I saw a girl around my age walk in with her mom and her little boy (probably 3 months).  I bought them a "baby" gift card and then walked back through the store trying to find them.  I stopped them and before I knew it I was crying. 

Crying in public?  This really through me for a loop.  I went back to work 2 weeks after holding Jude in my arms and haven't shed a single tear on the job-and I've talked to several co-workers in detail about what went down in the hospital those horrid days and walked away ok.  I have mastered the "I'm-okay-in-public" routine so well I must have even deceived myself because starring at the mom with her baby and the desire to tell them why I was stopping them hit a pocket of sadness I didn't realize would surface.

I quickly told them what happened, today would have been the due date, that I wanted to honor them by giving a gift to a mom.  They were perfect recipients.  They teared up themselves and gave me a hug-it had taken her 2.5 years to have her little son.  I had to get out quick-the tears wouldn't stop and I didn't want to lose it all together.  I cried the whole way home-tears of sadness I'm not holding J and B today.  Tears of injustice.  Tears of love-every ounce of my being filled with love that I wanted to give to my babies.  On the car ride home I was able to spit out one of the few prayers I have had the strength/courage to ask, "God, Make this right"- Even as I prayed I myself couldn't tell if the tone was an angry command or a heartbroken plea.  The gift card-given in love for Jude and Brinly.

Act #3  Latley I've been extra "grr" towards pregnant women.  I saw an "update" on facebook, I saw 349093824 at the store.  "I HATE them" I said to Darren (both of us knowing that I really don't) and he gave me that knock-it-off-snap-out-of-it-look. 

Tonight our young waitress was rocking an adorable baby bump.  After she left the table I scowled at Darren, a legit, true, not happy face right at him.  It stung.  Again.  But, just like the cycle I mentioned above, I force myself to tell myself"it's not her fault that you lost your twins, Holly".  I knew that I had to fight my ache for my own children mixed with jealously, with love for her and the precious life inside her.  We left her a large tip with a note-in honor of Jude and Brinly.

Thank you SO MUCH for every text, every email, every picture, every phone call, every post below.  The love and kindness totally helped us get through a very rough day and myself and my family are deeply touched. 

Here are a couple more images from March 15th.  These ones are extra special to me because they include Jude and Brinly's names.  I love that. Stay tuned for the winner of our first "giveaway!"  We are working on mixing up names of all the participates and for our last act of kindness will randomly draw and name and give a $50 gift card to your restaurant/store of choice





This One's For Jude and Brinly

March 12, 2014

This Saturday would have been the latest day the doctor's would have let me carry J and B so I always told people my due date was March 15.   To make the day less sad I remind myself that any day in March could have been a safe/happy/possible due date; but the 15th is the one Darren and I chose to acknowledge.

If you are new to my blog/story here is the shortest recap to bring you up to speed:

Over the last 3 years we have undergone 11 fertility treatments including: 1 IVF that resulted in an early miscarriage, a failed frozen embryo transfer, and our third IVF treatment in July 2013 resulted in our dream come true:  triplets.  3 perfect heartbeats.  We lost one randomly at 9 weeks but went on with a normal/healthy pregnancy.  At 17 weeks my water randomly broke on the bottom twin (Brinly, our daughter); this rare occurrence known as pPROM happens to .4% of the population.  We did all we could to hang on but I went into labor 1 week later and delivered my daughter.  She was 9 inches and 6 ounces.  Jude, our son, stayed put-this gave us unexplainable hope we would be able to keep our son.  The doctor's sewed my cervix shut to try to keep him in and infection out.  I held on for a week but an infection got to his placenta, causing me to go into labor again.  He was born at 21 weeks, 11 inches, 1.3 lbs.  Both babies were 100% healthy/normal-it was my cervix that was not.   We made this video to recap the journey from finding out we were pregnant to saying goodbye way way too soon.

To honor them we have asked that anytime this week/March 15 be a day of random acts of kindness and paying it forward-to step outside our own deep grief and try to brighten someone else's day.  We would like to believe that Jude and Brinly would have been the type of people who loved and served others.

Thank you so much to all who participate.  Darren and I would LOVE to hear what you did or if someone did something for you.  You can post below or email me directly at hollybenson10@yahoo.com.


Thanks to my awesome siblings Heidi and Robby who made me these little images. <3 you!



Look What the Stork Brought In

March 6, 2014

That is what the flier in my mailbox said.  It was a free gift from Shutterfly for birth 10 free birth announcements because, well, it's March.

This must be how my great grandma felt when people would call and ask for Lyle.

I try to avoid triggers.  I dodge the pregnant woman in the aisle.  I veer my eye's when strollers walk past.  I know I won't be this extreme forever but for now, I am in protection mode.  But today it was as innocent as getting the mail to bring up that deep, heavy sting that physically impacts the body.

I sifted through the mail.  Free baby prints!  Another company, another flyer, 2 in 1 day. 

I ripped them up and threw them in the trash with the flyer from yesterday from Motherhood Maternity, making this mail/formula sample  #5 in the last couple weeks that is somehow congratulating me as a new mom.  I.  Am. Not. A. New. Mom.

Trust me, within 24 hours of losing Jude I was canceling the registry, unsubscribing from the amazing "weekly growth updates" that gave me such delight in what new skill he had acquired that week; removing my name from mailing lists, trying to contact ANYONE in my life who I may have told I was pregnant with twins what happened-all for fear of them approaching me this month and asking how the babes are doing. 


Okay, enough gloom for the month, lets move on.  Lets try to focus on the future.  The next steps.

As mentioned, Darren and I decided to take a small break from FET/IVF land.  The specialist originally wanted us to wait to "try" till April but March was the soonest we could legally try (they deemed the 3 monthish mark healthy enough to continue our grand effort to reproduce).

So March is here.  I did officially ovulate ON MY OWN last cycle.  Sure, it wasn't till CD 27 but hey, that is the first time we have detected ovulation without meds.  The plan is to try the super high stressed timed ovulation sex good-fun-old-fashioned way. We have actually never experienced a pregnancy without the assistance of ICSI (this is when the guy at the fertility lab actually inserts sperm into the egg instead of putting the egg with sperm in a petri dish and letting nature take its course).  All this to say, out of our 4 babies that have implanted, none have been from natural fertilization.  HOWEVER,  a long time ago our RE told us he thought we could PROBABLY (notice all caps) conceive on our own if we gave it time...sigh.  It's been 3 years BUT most of that has been clouded with IUIs, IVF, trying to find right level of meds to make me ovulate, being pregnant, or being restricted due to pregnancy loss. 

I don't expect anything miraculous but hey-.  My gut tells me the hope of a biological child lies somewhere in those 8 frozen embryos but for now, we will give the one-two-punch a try (lol did I seriously just call sex a one-two punch?).  The only thing I know for certain:  I want to meet Jude and Brinly's siblings more than anything  I have ever wanted in my life.



Loss of Innocence with Hope

February 25, 2014

* just a reminder that March 15 we are asking that to honor Jude and Brinly, our recently stillborn twins, that you do a random act of kindness in their honor and post it here or email me (more info in the post before this).  I'm posting some images my sister made.

Obviously as the world goes on, my has yet to move forward.  I've been having some thoughts with my current HATE I super dislike you right now feelings toward "Hope" and wrote a poem:




 
Hope. 
How you have deceived me.
Why do you haunt me?
Why won’t you leave me alone?

Over the years  Hope has grown into a Villainess
That taunts me
And makes me think my dreams will come true
And makes me somehow believe that this isn’t the end
and that my wish will come true
That my prayers will be answered
She makes me think that somehow, someday, someway

Then Hope, that sneaky thing, hands me the very thing I was waiting for
On a platter
Wrapped in beautiful shining paper, with the most beautiful bows you have ever seen.
One bow is blue.
The other pink.
And they are alive.


I begin to embrace Hope as my best friend
She has finally allowed the horse to reach the carrot
She has finally allowed Leprechaun to reach the pot of gold.
She curls up by the fire with me and we relax for once together.
 
 
 For the first time in my life, I believe Hope.  I 100% trust her
instead of half trust her that this is real.

Before I know it the lights flash and my world has been shattered.
 
I search around blindly in the dark screaming for Her
Tears rush down my face faster than the fastest river and I call to Her
Despite the diagnosis I believe this can be turned around.
I try to grasp to Her as tightly as I can

But at the doctor looks into my eyes and says in the saddest tone I have ever heard
“Can I break your sac of water?”
Hope for the first time leaves me completely alone. 

As the waters pour out of my body, leading to the imminent death of my
Ever-so-longed-for-ever-so-prayed-for-ever-so-deeply-insanely-loved son,
His water’s puff out the last tiny glimmer Hope had left in that god-forsaken room.

In those horrific hours I was relieved that I had lost Her.  Finally I could move on.
 
 In the morning, the nurses brought my dead child, still warm from the strong heartbeat that had
Been beating through his veins but stopped to short by the impact of labor.

I stared at him speechless. 

My husband beside me.

The entire earth quiet as we looked down at what we had been allowed to create together.

And there She was. 
We did NOT invite Her in.
She came back without permission.
My tearstained husband said to me:
“He is so cute.  He would have been so cute.”

I always imagined Hope to be soft and gentle and sweet and subtle.

But that’s only when She is playing Nice.

In times like these She is violent.  She is loud.  She is aggressive and She grips with a strength that takes away your breath. 

Without warning, She grabbed my husband.  She dug Her fingernails deep into his skin. She sprang into his soul and possessed his mouth.  He said

“This makes me want it more.  We are so close.”

8 failied IUIS.  3 IVFs.  4 Dead babies and we are holding one that is just 21 days away from a place he could survive.  But we are holding him.

Before I could get in the defensive position and  block my own logical senses, before I could stop Her, Hope possessed my own soul as well.

Without warning that small flicker of a candle reappeared. 

In what cruel world does Hope enter the room as we hold our dead child?

In what cruel planet does something keep teasing you, and following you, and attacking you to keep on going when so many things have gone wrong?

She is heartless and stops at nothing.

They say Hope does not disappoint us but I have never experienced disappoint at the level I did that day.

That cold day that I was in the labor and delivery suite laboring and delivering my stillborn son just 3 weeks after doing the same with my daughter.

I am so bitter towards HOPE because she has brought me so high and without warning dropped me on cement.  She stood back and let the birds eat at me as I lost my heart. Twice.

I am so scared of Hope because when you finally become friends with Her there are still no promises.

I am so frustrated with Hope because I can’t shake her.  Even after these insane losses with insane fertility treatment I’ve taken 2 pregnancy tests (negatives)because I myself have slowing become insane and Hope tricks me into thinking maybe.

Although I’m speechlessly angry at Her, she is winning this battle because we haven’t fully chosen to give up on Her.

If Hope is alcohol, We are an alcoholics.

If She is a drug, we are addicts.

If She is song, we are signing.

If She is a poem, we are reading. 

But the innocence of a heart that has never been broken is long gone.
We don’t look at her with naïve,  longing eyes anymore.
We stare at her with a cold expression.  A guarded, cold, sterile look.

But we are strong.

We remain eye contact with Her.

We look Her in the face even after what She has done to us.
And though we may be fools, as we move forward with this fight,

We whisper “maybe. We hope.”


 



How YOU can help. Plus My First GIVEAWAY!

February 14, 2014

With the official due date of Jude and Brinly approaching at lightning speed, I often think how I will feel.  The original due date when I got pregnant was March 31.  BUT with twins they never let you go past 38 weeks so the due date I told people was March 15...just 4 weeks from now.

So many mourning families handle these things differently-maybe a birthday cake for their child's "angleversary" each year on the date of their actual birth.  Since both were born before they could have been viable, I personally don't really like the idea of doing something on their birthdate although I'm sure I will when the fall comes.

All this to say, many people have asked "how can I help?" or "what can I do??"  I have been helped in SO many different ways.   Strangers and friends alike giving so kindly and freely to help us.  Amazing. 

But this cry for help is not for money or for things.

It's a cry for YOU to do a RANDOM act of kindness on March 15 in honor of Jude and Brinly.


Anything.  Buy someone a coffee in the Starbucks line.  Leave flowers on a porch.  Send an encouraging note.  Treat your spouse to dinner or give a struggling family/couple a date night out.  Volunteer somewhere.  Pick up garbage in your neighborhood.  Anything kind and warm and loving for someone else- to turn this sad sad day for my family and I into a day where I can fight back against the cruel sadness that will try to sneak in and keep me down.  Perhaps knowing that Jude and Brinly's short little lives IMPACT people across the country on their due date in the form of random acts of kindness will be our attempt to experience some form of "beauty from ashes"and honor our children through encouraging and celebrating love instead of curled up in a ball of defeat.

It's a month away but if you are willing, to participate in ANY SHAPE or form, please share it here on my blog in March.  I will do a reminder post in a couple weeks.  Whether 1 person participates or 100 I want this to be a day of kindness and WOULD LOVE to hear what you did to participate and know that something awesome is being done, inspired by J and B. 

For everyone that participates and shares what they did by posting on my blog a small description or image or emailing me @ holly.benson@yahoo we will do a random drawing as one of our random acts of kindness to give a gift certificate prize to the winner (more details in March)  :)  So for now, I invite you to simply think about it. 

I wish I could say that I am amazing and awesome and a "wonderful Christian" for thinking of this, but I'm totally stealing this idea from a face book post I saw from a stranger awhile back.  I love it though and think its the best way to honor J and B. 





Amazing Grace-Amazing Gifts

January 31, 2014

In situations like what Darren and I have just gone through, there truly are "no words" as many people have written.  NOTHING can bring J and B back.  NOTHING can explain WHY?  However, certain responses have brought comfort-women that have been through similar losses and promise the pain gets easier.  Nurses who cried while I cried at the hospital.  There is a principal at my school who simply just gives me a little hug every time she sees me-she doesn't "bring up the topic" but she is showing that she knows I'm still hurting.  So kind.

I guess I thought I would write this post to give people ideas of how to reach out to people in tragic situations.  Of course we are all different, but here are some ideas of how to show you care in a personalized way if someone close to you faces similar circumstances.  In regards to losing a child/children our greatest fears are that the babies will be forgotten.  The majority of us WANT to talk about our babies instead of brush it under the rug like nothing happened.  Here is a list of amazing/creative gifts given to Darren and I in love that are outside the box and so kind, again, the idea is to help you maybe reach out to a sister suffering a miscarriage or a friend going through a bad 20 week ultrasound, etc.:

1.  The necklace I wear every single day.  It's from Etsy but appeared on my door step with the letters of each child's name that I lost.  Who ever gave it to me didn't put their name on it which made it feel that much more powerful and loving.  J, B, J, I.  This was so amazing as it showed this person really values all my losses.

2.  A charm for a necklace I also got in the mail.  It has Jude and Brinley's name on the front and "too beautiful for earth" on the inside.  It is beautiful.  Also a random act of kindness from a stranger.

3.  My mom bought me a ring that says "too beautiful for earth JB" for Christmas.  I love this as I can wear it everyday. My favorite part of this is mom got herself a ring too that says "I carry your hearts in my heart" My mom also got special Christmas ornaments to put on the tree each year to remember the twins.  She gets it.

4.  Stephanie @ http://wannabe-mama.blogspot.com is a co-worker (due in just a couple weeks) and for Christmas she got me this awesome present from a company called "A Heart to Hold."  It's incredibly intimate, and can be found at http://ahearttohold.com/. This company makes a stuffed heart that weighs the exact amount of the baby at birth.  Stephanie got me 2 hearts.  1 for brinly at 13 oz and 1 for Jude at 1 pound 3 ounces.  It was so amazing to hold those (and emotional).  I put them in the memory box to hopefully tell my rainbow babies someday about their older siblings.  Beautiful.

5.  Stephanie and follower blogger Meg @ http://www.skinnymeg.com  set up a 2 week fundraiser to help with hospital bills.  They shared the link and raised over $2000 towards our $3000 bill.  It was so humbling and touching.  Paying a huge hospital bill to leave the labor and delivery ward empty handed and broken hearted is one of life's cruelest things. 

6.  Fellow Blogger Lost Stork @ http://whereisthatbird.blogspot.com recently purchased me a massage.  So thoughtful.  She also made a very kind image and put it on her blog in memory of J and B.  We have never met in person.  She became pregnant with twins while I was losing Jude and has been so understanding, sensitive, and supportive. 

7.  My mother/father in law took care of the funeral costs/cremation and picked up Jude's ashes for me and are storing them till I am ready to move forward with spreading them.  I love this too because it's not like we don't have $200 to pay for this, BUT, this is one of the saddest things to EVER swipe your own debit card for.  If you have someone who has lost, helping with the funeral is so thoughtful to take off that burden.  It is the most nauseating action to ever have to complete seeing your child's name on a death certificate in an ugly funeral home and signing off permission forms.
 
8.  This Picture.  A woman who lost her own child at 39 weeks makes these for mommy's who lost their babies too soon.  She doesn't even know us but sent it to a mutual friend who sent us the pictures.  I LOVE them.  I just developed a couple for me and my family.



These are just the beginning of kind things.  Willow tree angels (I have 1 for each loss), journals, cards, meals, books, etc are all virtual hugs.  I got tons of cards from blog followers that would say something as simple as "this is from a random person from a random place who prays for you daily." One of my old students hand-made me a baby blanket for the future she is so eagerly looking forward to.  The comments on this blog and the many prayers have also been so touching and a reminder that we are not alone.   Thank you.

Darren and I are moving forward and trying to grasp the hope that is left that we will someday bring home a live baby from the labor and delivery ward.  I love the Bible verse that says "We are pressed down but not destroyed."  That sums up where we are at.  I have never been so "pressed down" in my life, but I am alive, therefore not destroyed. 

*I have to add something so sad it's actually funny.  Yesterday at my massage the woman asked about my thyroid meds.  I told her my thyroid was normal but since we are trying to conceive I have to make sure its just a bit lower.  She looked at me with a huge smile and said "So you are actively trying to get pregnant??" (in a super happy tone).  I smiled and say yes.  "Fun!!!!!"She replied in an even happier tone.  Oh man.  I had to laugh about it afterwards.  I spared her the details and said "yep!" ha ha.

What I Mean When I Say "Stillborn" (applies to miscarriages too)

January 24, 2014

This article/essay was written by a mom who experienced a stillborn; it is by Beth Morey and you can read it here http://stillstandingmag.com/2013/04/what-i-mean-when-i-say-my-daughter-was-stillborn/. (I also copied/pasted it below) It is the most clear and powerful thing I have read that explains this type of death physically involves the mommy.  I've mentioned this before but Jude's death (his perfect little feet on left) was especially hard because he was alive inside while I was in labor but I knew that the impact of labor would kill him on the way out-a true true death trap.  This essay  is hauntingly beautiful, crystal clear, and 100% truth.

What I mean When I Say "My Daughter Was a Stillborn"
by Beth Morey
"I don’t think that most people understand me when I say that my daughter was stillborn.
That phrasing makes it sound passive, like it was something that just happened to me, externally.

But that’s not what a stillbirth is, and I imagine that’s not what a miscarriage is either.
A stillbirth isn’t something that happened to me, or my daughter, or my family.

It’s something that happened inside me. That I was forced to participate in.

I keep trying to think of an analogy to explain how devastatingly non-passive enduring a stillbirth or miscarriage is, but nothing seems adequate. Perhaps it comes close to say that it’s like having cancer or another horrible, soul-draining, body-emaciating disease . . . only that the cancer that is within you is slowly killing someone else. Someone precious to you. And you are forced to come along for the ride, to participate in the killing.

But then, I’ve never had cancer or watched a loved one go through cancer, so maybe that’s way off, too.

The simple fact is – there is nothing like stillbirth. There is nothing like going to the hospital to check on your baby, only to have the incredibly sweet joy of pregnancy replaced in an instant with the dull, moaning emptiness of knowing that you are still going to have to endure labor and birth and filling breasts and the weeks of bleeding.

Only your baby will be dead. Your labor pains will produce nothing but a shell of this most precious person. Your arms will be empty, and there will be no way to soothe your aching breasts.

And that doesn’t even factor in the grief, or the guilt, or the wondering of who or what in this wide world you are now that death has crept into your life, into your body, in such an insidious way.
I think it’s the not-understanding that enables people to tell me, not even a year and a half after my daughter’s stillbirth as I write this, to get over it. To move on.

But my question to those people is – how long did it take you to “get over” the death of a loved one, if you’ve ever had to endure such a thing? How long did it take you to “move on” (whatever that means)?

Now ask yourself: what if you had to participate in the death of your loved one, to help bring their ending of breath into being? Then how long would it take you to heal?
Stillbirth didn’t just happen to me. It doesn’t just happen to anyone. Your baby dies, and then you give birth . . . to your dead child.

It’s not passive. You participate, even though you don’t want to. Even though it makes you want to scream and scream and scream in horror.

You participate, and it keeps you up at night for weeks and months and years.

It’s been one year and four months since I birthed my daughter’s dead body, and that is still what blooms large in my mind every night as I wait for sleep to descend. I don’t ask for the memories to come – they are just there. I can’t escape. I birth her again and again in my mind, hold her again and again for the first and last time, feel the lingering ache of afterbirth that prevents me forgetting even for a moment the nauseating reality of what just took place.

Stillbirth does not just happen. It’s not clean and surgical. Instead, it is messy and active, and it opens a wound whose pain throbs on long past you wish it would. And it changes you.

So when I say, “My daughter was stillborn,” please know that I am not describing something that happened to me. I am describing a traumatic and pivotal event in which I was an active, unwilling participant, an event that I participate in the echoes of still."

-Beth Morey

The.Anger.Stage.

January 21, 2014

After everything went down, I was shocked that I wasn't angry.  The floods of sadness kept pouring in so strongly, unrelentlessly, that I truly believed that there was no more room for anything but stomach-killing sorrow.  Of course we have all heard it, the stages of grieving.  I never really went through denial-
maybe for a few hours when Brinly's water broke in October.  I didn't even realize pPROM was a condition and knew it wasn't great on the way to the ER but never ever did I imagine what the next 30 days would bring.

I pretty much skipped denial after I heard the diagnosis.  When you physically deliver a child and then do it all over again 20 days later, and then look that child straight in the face, there is absolutely not once inch of room for any type of denial.  Death is hard to deny.  The only shock I dealt with was going into labor with Jude.  I had somehow convinced myself he would make it even though my aching worrying heart told me otherwise.

A huge explosion occurred in our life on October 30 and then November 17th.  All I could do was hold on for dear life, cling to those around me, focus on breathing and surviving the overwhelmly heavy-wet blanket that feel onto me and glued itself to my very soul.  I thought that was it.  I prepared for months and months of sadness.

But now, 9 weeks later, the dust has settled, the smoke has risen, and now I can see it.  Destruction.  I can see the mess.  I'm fully conscience now and I am fully capable of taking in everything that just happened. And I. Am. Angry.

Darren and I have entered into a new stage where I am constantly trying to avoid triggers in this fragile state and where he is constantly trying to prevent me from running into triggers.  I don't have facebook.  My heart cannot bear to read pregnancy news, updates, and even attempts.  Ridiculous things like waiting in line to see Santa Claus in New York threw me to my bed crying for hours. I change the channel on baby commercials.  I was watching a behind the scenes "Bachelor" special and some past-winners "special" news left me rolling my eyes-this is not me.  This is not who I am.  But I'm harder now.

Today I made the mistake of reading some blogs with newer pregnancies.  I knew better.  It's just not a good mental choice for me right now.  But I did it thinking I was strong.  Words like "God is so faithful" and "I never thought I would be writing my own bump update" stirred up the anger I've been fighting.  Although I believe in my heart God truly is faithful, I don't feel it now, I don't see it.  I felt that way too the day I found out I was finally having a son AND daughter.  I felt so loved by God, so remembered.  So blessed.  So naïve about the "safe zone."  I too couldn't believe my blog had turned from entry after entry of trying and trying and finally I, Holly Lynn Benson, could post pictures of a growing stomach, of a gender reveal, of my plans.  Obviously beating infertility SHOULD be celebrated and I think it's wonderful to do updates and share great news-that is all our end goal in the infertility world-but in my broken state its a cruel reminder of something that was mine was physically torn from my body.

Sadness is so sad.  It makes your eyes get wrinkles and your hair turn gray.  It ages you.  I look more worn than I once did.  But anger?  That is a whole nother beast.  If not dealt with it rots your bones.  I accept anger is a stage and I plan to embrace it gracefully.  To give people the benefit of the doubt.  To attempt to rejoice with those who are rejoicing.  To NOT become bitter and cynical forever but to accept that anger is part of this.

Today I had to have an HSG done again (they fill the cervix with dye to make sure there was no damage).  It was horrible because my 'cervix' kept disappearing as the tech said.  They literally had 5 different things up my &$#%&$% and a 5 minute procedure took 45 minutes.  After 2 very bumpy attempt they had to call in a specialist.  It made me incredibly sore and incredibly sad-this is the first time I've seen an ultrasound with an empty womb since I last saw Jude kicking away when he was alive.  I held in the tears till the staff left the room.  In the car, it was one of the first times I prayed, but it was a crying, "why? how could you? what did I do? when will this end?  Where is the mercy and grace we sing about?

Here comes the vomit on blog.  I have to get it out.

1.  I'm mad because we have paid $24k+ in infertility treatments.  This is like paying for air.

2.  I'm mad because I will NEVER get to enjoy pregnancy if I ever carry again.  I will be horrified, paranoid, and doubtful.

3.  I'm mad because at church at a baby dedication the pastor read a verse about how "blessed" parents are to have kids.  Am I not blessed? 

4.  I'm mad because if I want to look at my child I have to go to a memory box that has pictures of his face instead of tiptoeing into his nursery to kiss him goodnight.,

5.  I'm mad because people have to tiptoe around me.  I cannot be normal and jump to host the next shower or talk diaper cream.  The only way I can relate to pregnant friends or new mommies is by talking about what I've experienced and that makes people feel awkward and possibly scared.

6.  I'm mad because I truly believed "this was it."  2 kids, done with infertility treatments forever.  Doing the stupid HSG today is exactly what I was doing this time one year ago. 

7.  I'm mad because no matter where I go, what I do, I am always aware of missing a part of myself.  I'm mad because at night the memories and flashbacks suddenly start playing the saddest movie I've ever seen in my head.

8.  I'm mad that 2 days ago I got excited because I got a package in the mail all to find out it was a box of formula and a "congrats new mom" package for babies that are buried.

9.  I'm mad that I happen to be 1 of 10 people that struggle with infertility.  I'm mad that we have both female and male factor infertility against us.  I'm mad I'm one of the 3% that has to pursue IVF.  I'm mad that after years of trying, we finally beat the dumb statistics all to fall into the .04% whose waters break at a deadly stage and my cervix is possibly incompetent.  SERIOUSLY?

10.  I'm mad that when the phone rings from a married friend that I immediately feel with dread that "maybe they are pregnant" and panic.  (Please note I get this is not right, I'm just being incredibly honest.  I get over it really quick).

11.  I'm mad that I struggle praying.  I don't want to be a whiny "Christian" that gets hard-hearted and bitter towards God because He does something I cannot understand; however, after years of unanswered prayers I'm at a place where I accept that He is going to do what He is going to do.  My faith is more raw and I'm more "scared" of the huge amount of pain and sorrow that this world is capable of offering to Christians and non-Christians alike.  As we move forward with future efforts to build our family, I more of the mentally of "buckling up my seatbelt" and seeing what His plans are. 

Alright.  That's off my chest.

I know anger is natural and as mentioned, I was warned it would come.  The crappy thing about grief is I've heard it comes in cycles.  I know time helps heal and I KNOW that moving forward in the fight for Jude and Brinly's siblings is the best I can do to cope and allow myself to hope again.

Through all the pain, sadness, anger, and destruction there have been a few beautiful people placed in our lives that have reached out and helped us realize we are not alone and have given us that glimmer to keep on hoping.  I have to cling to that, accept the fact that life is unfair and I'm one of her victims.  To rejoice in the beautiful life I've been given outside this stupid fertility category.  But for today, I'm mad.

A Grief Observed

January 9, 2014

My sister in law gave me A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis.  In the past I've never connected much with is writing (he is too smart) but I read this entire book in one sitting.  He wrote it after losing his wife to cancer.  I could relate to so many things. 

1.  "No one ever told me grief is like fear; Perhaps more strictly, like suspense.  Or like waiting; just hanging about waiting for something to happen."

I love this.  Grief, at this level, is very, very similar to fear.  I'm waiting for peace.  I'm waiting for healing.  I'm waiting for baby.

2.  "There is sort of an invisible blanket between the world and me."
When I'm out in public, I often feel this way.  The world sees me, but they have no clue that I kissed my dead son on the forehead 7 weeks ago.

3. "Meanwhile, where is God?  This is one of the most disquieting symptoms.  When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with graitutde and praise, you will be-or so it feels-welcomed with open arms.  But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is in vain, and what do you find?  A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside.  Then after that, silence."

I'm a Christian, I have been, and always will be.  But that doesn't mean that I can't question my faith.  The ugly parts that don't make sense here.  After our cries for help, our begging for a miracle, the thousands of friends, family, bloggers praying-when they broke Jude's water all I could hear was the nasty sound of  a door slamming and bolting and double bolting on the inside and then awful awful silence.

4.  "I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief."
This is true too.  I realize, tomorrow and the next day and the next day, grief will be near.  Sadness.  His face. The kicks.  The loose skin on my stomach.  The look in my husband's eyes when I cry again about the same thing.

5.  "What chokes every prayer and every hope is the memory of all the prayers H. and I offered and  all the false hopes we had.  Not hopes merely raised merely by our own wishful thinking, hopes encouraged, even forced upon us, by false diagnoses, by Xray photographs, by strange remissions, by one temporary recovery that may have ranked as a miracle.  Step by step we were 'led up the garden path.' Time after time, when He seemed most gracious He was really preparing the next torture."

Even CS Lewis admits later that this was a "yell" at God.  I really appreciate the honestly of his emotions because it means he is human.  I couldn't relate more with this statement and I am human too.  It is so hard for me to "pray"-it truly does get choked up.  From the initial early water breaking and me not going into labor till a week later (big false hope), to my body stopping in labor once I delivered Brinly, to the doctors saying things are looking good, to the cerclage, to when Dad cried out for a miracle and the Dr. came back in saying there was no infection in Jude's water, to hoping/praying the left over placenta was infected.  In all honestly, I truly thought Jude would make it-I thought God would be gracious-I believed it. While I don't truly believe "he was planning the next torture" it really really felt that way.  The truth that the false hopes were not hopes still feels like salt on a wound.

6.  "What grounds has it given me in doubting all that I believe?  I knew already that these things, and worse, happened daily. I would have said that I had taken them into account.  I had been warned--I had warned myself-not to reckon on worldly happiness.  We were even promised sufferings.  The were part of the programme.  We were told 'Blessed are they that mourn,' and I accepted it.  Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not in imagination."  "the faith which 'took these things into account' was not faith but imagination.  The taking them into account was not real sympathy.  If I had really cared, as I thought I did, about the sorrows of the world, I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came."

Wow.  If I would have read this book (I would have been bored) when life was "good" I wouldn't have really gotten it either.  It's true.  We live in a world where we know of suffering and feel bad for it and have "sympathy" until it happens to YOU and like he says, its real and not imagined, it's surreal.  We hear horrible news all the time on tv, about people in other countries, war, famine, natural disaster, but then BAM, it's you?  You are the victim?  The sorrow floods in.

7.  "But suppose who you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good...The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting.  If he yield to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless.  But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us?  Well, take your choice.  The tortures occur.  If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one.  If there is a good one, the these tortures are necessary." 

Although I have way more questions than answers, at this point much more sorrow than joy and deeper fear than hope, I chose the later option-there is a good one-a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good.