Thursday, June 27, 2013

.am I a mom?

Handling people who don't know Evelyn's story is difficult. A fellow loss mom, Sarah Muthler, put it best, "Telling strangers about my stillborn daughter often leaves me feeling like I’ve punched them. They cry. They try to shuffle away from me. I end up apologizing." I feel the same way about telling my story.

I work a second job at Anthropologie a few nights a week. It's a great little job - a few extra bucks and an incredible discount. I stopped working there a few weeks before Evelyn was born because I couldn't bend over and be on my feet that long. I recently decided to go back and I end up working with a lot of new faces. None of them know about Evelyn. I am not sure they ever will.

When we are closing the store down there is typical girl chatter - guys, traveling, weight loss, other jobs, etc. Sometimes I just want to be able to chime in with a "oh my gosh I know, I just had a baby and I'm trying to lose 15lbs" or  a simple "when I was pregnant..." story. But I know there will be follow-up questions. "How many kids do you have? how old is she? can I see a picture?" It's not easy handling people's reactions to a dying baby.

It is also difficult to share stories with people who aren't my best friends or family, but who do know about Evelyn. I can't talk about my pregnancy without also talking about death so I don't talk about it at all. There are several newly pregnant women in my office along with a few women who are about to pop any day now! When someone is sharing their story about their experiences - I want to chime in. I know how it feels to be 8 months pregnant. I also know how it feels to give birth to a 6lb baby. I wish we could commiserate together on how annoying heartburn is or how weird it is to feel your baby moving around inside of you. I wish I could tell them how I loved being pregnant and how lucky they are. It just doesn't seem appropriate coming from me though.

I can't contribute the same way other moms can without feeling like I would make others uncomfortable. Because of this, I don't always feel like I am a mom. 

I know in my heart I am a mom. It's hard to say it out loud though. And I typically don't. I fear that if I do refer to myself as one, strangers might ask more about it. I also fear that people who do know my story will look at me like I have two heads because they know my baby died inside of me. 

Webster Dictionary defines a parent as the following:
a : one that begets or brings forth offspring

b : a person who brings up and cares for another

I did beget (procreate) but wasn't able to bring her forth.

I certainly cared for Evelyn, more than anything else in the world, but I didn't get a chance to "bring her up".

So by definition, I am...sort of a mom. 
Do other people define me as that as well? 

I had every intention of bringing her up and bringing her forth. I wanted to give her every ounce of my love and I was going to put every last penny towards making sure she was going to be happy and healthy. 
Doesn't that count?

I sure hope so. I may not be your typical parent but I know I am Evelyn's mom.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


I don't need medicine (although I understand if others do...)
I just need a day with these guys!
#auntcheeks #thatsme

Friday, June 21, 2013


Phew...what a rough week. But it's Friday. and it's the first day of Summer! I made it through without biting someone's head off, I didn't run out of work in tears, and I didn't give up on hope. Although that's exactly what I felt like doing.

Thanks to Chris for not giving up on me too. Did I mention I was PMSing on top of everything? Yikes!

We are both off tomorrow which is rare. I am thinking we will wander around the city, maybe go to a neighborhood we haven't been to in awhile. Then on Sunday I get to babysit my niece and nephew which is a guarantee for a good day!

Even just having a relaxing weekend is part of our Operation: Heal our Hearts summer. I have been trying to follow Henrik Edberg's 10 small steps to having a happy summer. Give it a whirl!

10 Small Ways to Make This The Happiest Summer of Your Life

  1. Go slow
  2. Say yes to the new
  3. Say no to the "should" of summer
  4. Just do nothing at all
  5. Be the summer you want to be
  6. Be kind in small ways
  7. Savor the summer moments right here instead of being lost in the future or past
  8. Ask yourself what you can be grateful for so far this year
  9. Just accept how you feel instead of pushing it away
  10. Spend more time doing what you love

Thursday, June 20, 2013

.i promised i wouldn't

I promised I wouldn't get upset by accidental insensitive comments.

I promised I wouldn't get upset by pregnancy announcements.

I promised I would still be able to go to baby showers.

I promised I wouldn't cry every time I talk about her.

I promised I wouldn't be jealous of women expecting.

I promised I would "make lemonade out of lemons". 

I promised I wouldn't dwell on her death and would be grateful for the time we did have.

I broke all those promises.

I promise I'll get better though. 

I promise I will work on it. 

Monday, June 17, 2013


 I'm frustrated that people forget, I'm frustrated it still feels like yesterday, I'm frustrated that I'm frustrated.

.my superman

Chris & I played hooky on Friday and spent the day out of the city. Definitely part of our Operation: Heal our Hearts summer! We started off with our favorite breakfast sandwiches and iced coffees then hopped into our car and headed to the King of Prussia mall. It was pay day so we knew we were going to treat ourselves! We deserved it. 

After a little shopping spree, we went to see Superman in IMAX and 3D. It was great! Have you seen the 3D glasses these days? So goofy! (see below)

It was your typical Superman story of Clark Kent saving Lois Lane along the rest of the world. Although, this version of Lois Lane was a tad different - she was much less annoying. In the past, all she did was snoop and make a mess wherever she went digging.

Maybe this is my new found outlook on life kicking in or maybe it is because I am no longer 12 years old watching Superman but I realized that Lois helped Superman a lot too. She turned out to be very trustworthy, selfless, and courageous especially in the time of an attack - she even helped save the world! I love that. There are days I feel strong and days I feel weak.  We take turns being the hero in our relationship.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sunday, June 9, 2013

.operation: heal our hearts

This summer is officially Operation: Heal our Broken Hearts. Our goal is to have the most fun and to continue living our lives. This is in no way to try to forget our loss, it is more to remind ourselves of who we are and why we fell in love. We are different now, there's no doubt about that. My priorities have certainly changed but life needs to go on. It's so easy to get stuck in the sadness and forget about the greatness that surrounds us - the great people, the great places. 

A quick, simple, and relatively cheap way to guarantee fun is to buy concert tickets! Last night we saw Of Monsters and Men; the first of many concerts this summer. It was at one of my favorite venues in the city, Festival Pier at Penns Landing, which is right on the water! Only a cab ride away but felt like we left the city for a few hours.

Music plays a huge role in our relationship. Chris and I used to spend hours talking about our favorite songs and playing them for each other. 

Music has also helped get me through many different situations whether it was a broken heart, falling in love, or feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. I am not very articulate so sometimes when people ask "what's wrong?" or "how are you doing?" I just want to hand them a playlist and I think they would understand that better than I could ever explain.

There is also something very comforting about hearing someone else sing their heart out about a similar situation you are going through. You suddenly don't feel alone. So if I get the opportunity to see that person live, I am there! I don't want to call it an escape, but it is definitely a 3 hour mini vacation from reality. At the end of Of Monsters and Men they dumped confetti out on all of us - it was awesome! Who doesn't like when it snows confetti on a summer night!?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

.breaking the silence...finally!

While searching the internet for other women's stories about their loss, I came across a film that has yet to debut but will soon premiere at indie film festivals. It's called Return to Zero.  The caption alone caught my eye, "Three minus one equals zero". TRUTH BOMB! 

The director explains this movie as the journey of a successful couple that finds out their son has died in the mother's womb a few weeks before their due date.  I watched a handful of trailers for it because I was so pumped about it and learned that it's actually a reflection of the director's life.

The couple, who is played by Minnie Driver and Paul Adelstein, attempt to go on with their lives but cannot avoid their postpartum grief and the vicious cycles of denial, escape, and alcohol. In a last attempt to save their marriage, they take a trip to Vegas and end up pregnant again. Their journey continues as they comfort one another during a terrifying second pregnancy

No one tells you that this can happen. No one. Unless someone around you has gone through this - there is no warning, no heads up, no "Oh hey, by the way - ONE IN FOUR pregnancies end in a loss so watch out!" This movie is breaking the silence. 

It's not meant to scare pregnant women. I think it is meant to bring the sad brother and sisterhood of grieving parents together and to help us not feel so alone. I love that it also touches on the fear of another pregnancy and how scary it will be for all of us to wonder if our child will survive this time around. Will we deliver a living, breathing child?


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

.taking back control

When you have no control of a situation, you start to wonder "what the heck is the point?!" At least I did. Sometimes I still feel that way. I planned for so long for Evelyn's arrival. Then, something came along and said, "Nope, not right now." Honestly, that pissed me off! But we have three choices in life: give up, give in, or give it all you got.

Ha! Easier said than done though. Especially when crying on the couch, drinking red wine, watching Real Housewives, asking yourself "whyyyyy?" is all you want to do. So I decided to set goals. 

My first goal is to deal with my weight. I only gained about 15 pounds from pregnancy but that is just enough to make clothes feel uncomfortable, to hate taking pictures, and to avoid bathing suits this summer. A lot of women have the luxury of using the baby weight excuse until they finally have the energy to get up & start being active again. I guess I could use that excuse too but it would be a tad awkward if there were follow-up questions during that conversation. Yikes! It's time to get back to my pre-preggo weight. It's time to take control back. 

My mom and sister introduced me to a cool little gadget called UP by Jawbone. UP by Jawbone is a bracelet that counts your steps, monitors your sleep, and allows you to track your meals to help count your calorie intake. You plug it into your iPhone and in less than 10 seconds your information is uploaded and ready for an analysis. Their motto is "Know yourself. Live better". I will, Jawbone. I will! Hehe.

I needed a date to do this by so I won't fall off track. Cheesesteaks and hoagies scream your name as you wander this city! There's a wedding that Chris and I are going to on July 17th in Cancun, Mexico. I bought a dress that I originally was going to wear to my best friend's rehearsal dinner but it wouldn't zip up. Instead of returning it, it is now my part of my goal. Hopefully on July 17th I can post a pic wearing this dress...

Monday, June 3, 2013

.life before the death

My life before March 11, 2013 was very simple and "normal"; I never once forgot how lucky I had it. 26 years old living in Rittenhouse Square in the city of brotherly love. Working for Big Brothers Big Sisters among an amazing group of people that I continually learn so much from. I have the best mom and dad in the entire world. Now I know everyone says that but really...mine are THE best. My brother and my sister are freaking awesome. I could write pages on my boyfriend, Chris, and some day I probably will on here. He is everything a girl could ask for - selfless, caring, funny, affectionate, confident, honest, handsome, and smart. I am going to marry him one day. Lastly, I have a group of friends that I consider my family. I can honestly say I am not sure where I would be without all these people when our baby girl's heart stopped beating. It's been 85 days since Evelyn Anne Netzel was born sleeping at 34 weeks and 4 days. Our lives changed forever that day. 

I wish someone could tell me what to do and show us how to fix our broken hearts. Is there a road map for life now so I don't get lost along the way? Because it seems very easy to do. There are days I don't want to wake up when I see her in my dreams. I never heard her cry but waking up in silence is not what I expected. Thankfully, I am not alone. One in four pregnancies end in a loss whether it be before, during, or after birth. One in four. Reading other women's stories has helped me so much and I hope mine can do the same for others.

She was a surprise to us. We were not planning on kids until after marriage but we were excited! Scared to death, but thrilled. We had some people around us who were uncertain about our decision to continue with the pregnancy but we both knew we wanted her and that was all that mattered. We were going to figure it out and it was going to be the happiest time of our life. Scratch was the happiest time of my life.

Our little baby girl was all we talked about - what we would do with her, what we would call her, what we were going to teach her. Her dad would be in charge of teaching her math, science, and everything Philadelphia. I would be responsible for playing as much Led Zeppelin and Janis Joplin as possible before she got roped into the pop music on the radio. She was going to be the baby in Broad Street Bullies gear and a toddler in tie-dye. She was going to be our everything.

I had the most perfect pregnancy a woman could ask for. Not an ounce of morning sickness and every doctor appointment was easy and concern free. I felt Evie kick me all day doctor would always say, "Strong heartbeat and she's still having a party in there!". The very last time I heard those words was 4 days before she died. Ugh, only 4 days before she died she was perfectly healthy and then her kicks stopped. I waited a few hours to call the doctor, I thought she was just sleeping. I drank cold water, I drank orange juice, I tried everything to wake her up. Her dad insisted on me calling my doctor and I finally caved; they told me to come in right away. I was trying not to worry, I thought I would go in, get monitored, and leave. I wake up every single day wishing that was the case.

We live in the city so he dropped me off and he quickly parked the car. I headed up to labor & delivery thinking we would be in and out. He's a nurse and was on-call so I didn't want it to take too long just in case his hospital called him in. The nurse quickly strapped a heart monitor on me and that's when I knew something was wrong. She was searching for a heartbeat. Searching....and searching...and searching...and finally they picked one up. It was mine. So she called in a doctor and asked her for an ultrasound. There was my Evelyn. She was beautiful and so big! There was only one thing missing when I saw Evelyn that last ultrasound, her little heart wasn't beating. I knew that this meant she was dead but no one was telling me. In a room full of doctors and nurses, there was silence. Finally, someone spoke up and looked at me with sad, sympathetic eyes and said, "We are so sorry."  After realizing this was not just one of my very vivid pregnancy nightmares I had occasionally, I immediately thought, "If only I had come in earlier. Even if she had to be delivered tonight, she would've been fine!" I know this because my niece was born this early and she's almost 3 years old now and she's perfect.

It had all happened so quickly that her dad hadn't even come to the room yet. He came in from parking the car and they had already confirmed her death. I had to break the news to him that our daughter died inside of me and that there was nothing we could do. I witnessed the breaking of my future husband's heart and it replays over and over again. We asked what the next steps were and they explained I need deliver her. C-sections were too risky for infection so I was going to have a baby. A baby that lived but was never going to breathe. The next 48 hours were a roller coaster of emotions...