Sharing my grief


I decided to move most of my writing about Rio over to a public blog. Some photos are also included. I hope reading about Rio heals souls as much as writing about him has helped me. This journey is so hard, so emotional, and very relatable. Our tears may not fall in the same place or time but they flow through the same rivers.

If you wish to read from the earliest writing it’s here: Dearest Rio. There’s a black bar at the bottom that will allow you to continue clicking to the next post on the blog.


October is here and it’s the first month that I’m connecting the dots of how much time is left until our rainbow baby is expected in four months, due February first. I am thinking about the birthdays and holidays that we have yet to celebrate before this waiting is over. I’m continually closer to envisioning bringing our baby home healthy, a hope that is simultaneously refreshing and terrifying.

October not only marks baby loss awareness month but the beginnings of noticeable decay outside… the changes toward winter’s dead, blinding white. I’m feeling a strong connection with nature, sensing Rio’s presence in the chilly breezes these past couple of weeks as the days shorten.

At the same time, the sensations of movement in my belly are so strong that they are visible from the outside. This baby is already demanding attention, drawing my focus away from Rio, away from their sister and to his strengthening presence.

Being outdoors allows me to enjoy all three children playing on the wind, the trees and my body. The sunshine is still warm while the shadows quickly cool, and the light dances between trees as the sun moves across the sky.

Precious Time

When Rio died I felt like there was a gift of time for our family to recenter, regroup, become stronger. I also felt like there was a curse in time because I felt like this abundance of it was going to bore me to pieces. Instead, I’ve learned to breathe into it, enjoy the moments.

I still sometimes scroll futility through social media searching for something unknown… some inspiration or connection that is calling out to me… but I have no idea what. Otherwise I’m truly thankful for the ability to sit with things as they are, to accept that some days we’re sick and tired and need rest while other times it’s perfect for us to travel all day in the car with minimal stoppage time. The time to do all these things and regroup has truly made us stronger as a family unit and I am so grateful.

Making Others Cry

A 23 year old nanny today asked in surprise if my daughter is my only child. I replied that I’m also pregnant and I had a baby who died last year so she’s technically one of three. Pretty much made her cry.

A bit later in a different conversation a different mom confessed that she’d heard from a mutual friend but never had expressed her condolences because I always seem so happy and she didn’t want to bring him up. She did cry.

I wish people would see the joy that babies bring, especially with babies that don’t make it there is a lot wonder in the fragility of life. There is so much to appreciate and love.


I’m listening to a fellow bereaved mother’s reflections right now, a year after her son’s life was cut short. Anniversary of death and birthdays are the hardest for so many of the bereaved parents I know. The days leading up to the first year were extremely emotional for me. That pressure to be back to normal now, as if there wasn’t a black hole in the middle of my life forever, no matter how much sunshine gets poured in.

This week has been extremely tough too. A childhood friend of mine gave birth to a baby girl with a condition that “is not compatible with life.” I hate that expression. I hated reading that message from the baby’s aunt even more. The whole family is suffering and they are lucky to be super close yet so unlucky to have to endure this tragedy.

Another childhood acquaintance just celebrated her baby’s deathaversary this week as well, we’ve grown close in the past year and I was thinking about her so much that the post from this other childhood friend sent my mind spinning. I know their families. We grew up in the same community and have lived very different lives and yet come together in this common tragedy.

So many people in the bereaved community are the strongest, loveliest people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. It’s heartbreaking that they’re subjected to the torture of losing a baby.

For me, now, it’s almost been seventeen months. Each day, each hour, something reminds me of the missing piece of my life. I don’t like any of the ethereal terms like angel baby, or starchild. When people ask about Rio or something reminds me of him I talk about him. He’s my son, my baby, a human who existed, lived for a short amount of time but died. “My first son who died last April” is what I tend to say these days as we’re expecting his brother. But it’s so much easier to say what’s on my mind than avoid the topic and later feel guilty for having denied his presence to the rest of the world by failing to mention him.

I live with the guilt of having such an amazing life too, loving the time I’ve enjoyed with my closest family and friends since Rio’s death. I’ve truly enjoyed many aspects of the past year especially, in which I’ve been finally able to write more and express myself. In which I’ve been able to connect with my fellow humans on a level far beyond the depths I could fathom prior to this experience. Rio has definitely left me a better person in the wake of his life and death, like a splash of cold water on my sweaty face after a rough nightmare-filled sleep.


About a month ago a big tree branch split off from a tree that I associate with Rio. The tree now has a gigantic scar on the side and the splintered parts of the branch that shattered upon impact with the ground haven’t been cleaned up entirely. The sunlight that filters through to the base of the tree is now brighter and the space is still closed off. I wonder why the branch fell when it did, what caused that to occur.

Tonight I was up late picking through baby clothes, which I’ve done a lot of in the past few days. About a week ago I got this sudden need to have all of this stuff ready before the anatomy scan in 9 days. Like this is it.

Either the baby is still completely healthy or there’s something to be worried about. Regardless there’s no reason to have all of the clothes picked out and ready, and yet I’m making sure we have all of that. I was always a minimalist mom and now there’s way too many clothes. I’ll have my husband whittle down the selection soon. Luckily there’s a strong community here and I’ve gotten lots of hand me downs that I’m able to also pass on to others. So I’m not out shopping, though I did use a gift card to let my daughter pick out an outfit in a store. She picked a monster outfit for the monster in my belly. We’ve been joking about that for a couple of weeks now so it’s fitting. Hopefully this monster is strong and healthy and benevolent.

And it’s almost 2 am again. The night began with me first going to the bathroom, because I did have to do that a lot in the past few days. I think the baby is dancing on my bladder. But I also saw a red bit on the toilet paper and did a double take thinking that it was blood. When I looked closer though it was just a piece of red fuzz from some yarn or something.

Then, just as I opened the first of two gigantic bags of hand me downs, I happened to pull out two onesies that match the sleeping gown that Rio’s memory monkey is made out of. The woman who donated these clothes said it’s a sign that Rio’s watching over us. I felt like he was here with me, maybe next to me. But I don’t know why his presence has been around more in the past week or two. Was the tree branch falling symbolic of something?

Anyway I should sleep. It’s been hot (83 in the bedroom right now) and with my growing belly it’s difficult to get comfortable. I find it hard to sleep again. I hope that’s yet another phase and that it shall soon pass.


I had a nightmare wake me up in the middle of the night. We were on a road trip and I started bleeding a bit, but then it got worse and worse. I realized I was having a miscarriage and that I would need to go to see a doctor. My adrenaline was pumping and there was nothing I could do for the baby. It was hopeless. I was so sad and all anyone would say is that we can try for another baby, that it’ll be okay.

In the light of day I’m still shaken by the thought of a miscarriage/stillbirth. Fear is my reality right now. It’s not okay. It’s never okay. My baby died. I’m scared for this baby. I never want to hear that it’s okay again!!!

What Are the Odds

Not too long ago someone commented in surprise “what are the odds of that” when they learned that we’re expecting another boy. Having two boys in a row is 25.8% likely according to statistics gathered about actual families. I’m not sure what triggered such an unusual reaction but my mind continues to reel as to the possibilities of why someone would ever react in such a way. They obviously thought it was going to be a girl this time but were they disappointed? Scared that the boy will be like Rio? Just plain old surprised? Thing is I was so surprised by the reaction that I’m not really sure who had this reaction to begin with. It’s in such an odd place in my mind because the actual experience is blocked out but my thoughts about it are whirling about. I’m a bit upset but also intrigued. I hope one day to figure out who said it and why. In the meantime it helps to write it down.

About a week ago I noticed that my bump is slightly bigger on the left. With both of my prior pregnancies it was slightly bigger on the right. I’m not sure if that means anything but it is fascinating. It’s one more thing that sets this baby boy apart from his siblings. These past few weeks have been slightly easier because I feel the baby moving regularly now and I’ve got plenty of energy most of the time. A few interrupted nights recently led to a few sluggish days and now I have a cold but it’s been fairly mild.

Yesterday was the eclipse and I had a moment when I was helping my daughter with her glasses where I tried to imagine how different it would have been to also have Rio along. He wouldn’t have even noticed the eclipse and would have probably just been happy playing in the sand alongside of us and watched the surfers with us. It was a sweet thought and super idealized. I hope that we are able to enjoy such beach days in a year or two with this next baby.

Today I found out that my friend’s due date is April 8, 2018. It’s crazy thinking that Rio would have been turning two. I also feel more connected to her baby and really hope it’s healthy. It’s insane trying to imagine life now with two kids and a third pregnancy. Her middle child is 2.5 so that would have meant I wouldn’t be pregnant yet – and our family plan prior to losing Rio wasn’t to be pregnant now. That makes this pregnancy so much more meaningful.

Oh Boy, A Time Warp

A couple of days ago I found out that this baby is a boy. I had a feeling… but it was easy to shake off with no evidence. Now I keep worrying because, logically, there hasn’t been a healthy boy in his direct lineage for three generations apart from his father. My son and my brother passed away as babies and my dad has small lungs. Both of my parents have sisters so to find a healthy boy you have to go another generation up. Even with my grandparents though, both of my grandfathers and their siblings passed away already, and each of my grandmothers have a brother that has passed away while their sisters are all alive. One of my grandmothers has a living, healthy brother who is more than ten years younger than she is. All the children from my grandmother’s generation down that have died have been boys. It’s a scary thought.

At the same time I’ve always thought that I’d have boys. And I’m looking forward to having a son. I love him. I might be more apprehensive than I would be otherwise, but I’m full of joy and relieved that he looks healthy so far. His umbilical cord is normal (Rio had a single umbilical artery) and his growth has tracked normal so my due date isn’t jumping around like it did during my previous pregnancy.

Also, it’s reassuring that most days I do get to feel the baby moving already when I’m super still after a meal. He wiggles around and it’s an amazing feeling. There’s life there and I hope it lasts.

I’m trying so hard to stay optimistic and taking everything one day at a time. Literally. It’s been 99 days. 182 more days to go!

Rio is constantly in my thoughts. My daughter is sprouting super fast still. Life is moving forward with a fast pace despite the slowed-down feeling I have in relation to this pregnancy. It’s a surreal warp I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced before.


So apparently PMS is super similar to pregnancy and false negatives happen. I’m pregnant! I just did an at home test today and made an appointment to see the OB next week. In the meantime I have so much party prep to do and I’m exhausted.

My stomach is tight, literally and mentally. I am happy, so happy… but it’s a very fragile happiness I cannot trust. I can take care of myself and I can hope and wait, but there is not much more to do for the baby at the moment.

The baby’s spinal column and nervous system are already forming, as are vital organs. The basic structure that was messed up in Rio’s body already exists for this baby, which I just discovered exists within me. It’s the size of a poppy seed. I can’t wait to meet our baby, hopefully in early February!

“When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person as when you walked in. That’s what the storm is all about.” -Haruki Murakami

I love this quote because it doesn’t talk about the rainbow after the storm. What emerges isn’t necessarily more beautiful and it’s definitely more messy and a rainbow is temporary anyway.

I’m definitely a different person than I was before I became a mom, or before I lost my job, or the morning that Rio was born. I’m going to be a different person after this baby is born. There are so many struggles in the past several years. They have torn at my beliefs, altered my lifestyle and forced me to confront my past.

Ask Me His Name

I went on a walk this evening. Smiling. People smiled back. It was so nice. Then I ran into a person who said all the wrong things.

Hi, how are you? Why are you walking alone? Without your children? Where is your husband?
Yes my husband is at home doing bedtime with my child.
But you’re walking alone, why aren’t you out walking with your children as a family?
Because it’s her bedtime. I just needed to walk. My husband is home with my daughter.
But you have two children?
Yes but our son passed away.
Oh I’m so sorry to hear that, well at least you still have one. That makes it easier.
I don’t know that it does make things easier but things are okay right now.
Why did he die?
His lungs were too small because of rib and back skeletal deformities.
[Insert lots of questions about genetics as I begin to fidget.]
And you’re sure it wasn’t because you hit your belly on something while you were pregnant?
Yes I’m sure. I didn’t realize I hadn’t seen you in so long, sorry I should keep walking.
Oh yeah it’s been a long time. You were ready to deliver him last time I saw you, you were huge!
Yes well I don’t really remember the last year/year and a half, it’s been a blur.
I’m sure, enjoy your walk!!

I just wanted to preserve this conversation somewhere for posterity. It helps me set it down and move on. It helps me realize that our society has a major problem. People are unaware of the things they say. Even people who have lived for 60+ years like this lady haven’t learned the basics of grief support. She never even asked Rio’s name.

On my walk tonight I kept smiling in spite of this lady’s insensitive remarks. I’m so grateful for the friends and family who have supported us since Rio’s birth.