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Casey Shay would have been 15 today

Now that Emily is in high school, I think I have a better idea of what life would be like with Casey. He’d be getting his learner’s permit, and the shrieks heard ’round the world would be me, hands on the dashboard, eyes squeezed shut or open wide, as we careened along side streets. (I always picture him as a dare devil.)

14weeksaltered2.JPGBut I have to admit that as time passes, I feel less connected to the kid Casey might have been. We can imagine babies in all their temperaments — cranky or calm, excitable or chill. But a mostly grown boy can be so many things. Athlete. Gamer geek. Gregarious. Shy. Friendly. Quiet. So many shades between. He is unknowable, forever a collection of white blips on a black background, a shape in the dark.

It’s not often that I think of him with sorrow anymore. Casey is the name of my mission, my life’s work, the purpose handed to me from my first-born. He becomes ever-abstract, a dividing line in my history.

But today is not one of those days. Once again he becomes a baby, and today is the day that we might have celebrated his arrival. And the future I would have had with him is as unknowable as he is to us.

Give aways for Baby Casey, who would have been 14 years old!

Every year we celebrate what would have been Baby Casey’s birthday with new site features, prizes, and give aways!

This year we’re trying this trendy new gadget called the Rafflecopter (see it down below)! You enter the giveaway by doing certain tasks—including telling us your baby’s name, finding us on Facebook, and other activities that get you points toward the give aways.

While we’re celebrating baby Casey, my book Baby Dust is only 99 cents for the ebook or $5 for the paperback now through Sept. 13! This is a GREAT time to gift the book to a friend, to snag it if you haven’t had a chance yet, or to donate a copy to a hospital for another mom who might need it.

Baby Dust 99 cents for Nook

Baby Dust 99 cents for Kindle

Baby Dust $5 for paperback (shipping is $3.97 in the US)

____________________________________

HERE ARE THE PRIZES!

A HeartBeat Bear. Super cute bears are recorded with a heartbeat at the rate of your baby that is activated when you hug the bear. You can tell us based on sonograms or NICU stats what your baby’s last heartrate was, or we can record a heartrate for your baby’s gestational age. Wonderful little bear.

In the Company of Angels Memorial Book. This hardback baby book has pages ready to fill out about your baby, whether you were only a few weeks along, or delivered a full-term stillbirth. No page will go blank in your book, and gentle prompts on gorgeous pages will guide you to remembering every moment of your pregnancy.

Here is the Rafflecopter. I had to sort of puzzle it out the first time I used one—you’ll get it! Each thing you do gets you more entries in the contest! Only do what you feel comfortable with.

  • +1 entry — Tell us your babies’ names or how many unnamed babies you have!
  • +2 more entries — Become a fan of “A Place for Our Angels” where we talk about our babies (if you’re already a fan–just log in and it will know!)
  • +2 more entries — Follow Deanna Roy (that’s me!) on Twitter. Except I talk about random things. Like Crunch Berries. Follow at your own risk! 🙂
  • +3 more entries — Tweet about Baby Dust being 99 cents. Don’t worry about “finding the link.” Just hit Tweet and the text of the tweet will come up.
  • +1 more entry — Go hit the “like” button on Amazon for Baby Dust or for In the Company of Angels. This helps the books be more visible on Amazon!

When Rafflecopter picks a winner, the entries will be verified. Yay! Good luck!!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Baby Casey, 14 years later

Sometimes when women arrive at my Facebook group for those currently going through a miscarriage, they ask, “How long until I get over this?”

All I can say is, “Fourteen years and counting.”

One of the hard things about losing a baby that no one else felt, or saw, or touched is that everyone wants you to get over it quickly. They don’t have the same emotional investment. Pregnancy, with its sleepiness and dream-like quality, encourages the visions of the baby to come, the moments ahead. It’s how you get through the hard stuff—throwing up, bone-tiredness, caution and fear. So we’re wired to already see and experience this baby well beyond the sensations in our belly.

In her book Virgin Blue (which has lots of miscarriage and pregnancy trauma within it), author Tracy Chavalier’s characters, both midwives, talk about how the pregnant mother is always “listening” inside her. She’s distracted, taken out of the outside world, and focused on what is happening within.

It really doesn’t matter when the conversation stops, the day after the positive pregnancy test or during the birth, when some tragedy takes the baby during its final journey to the outside. It’s still a cutting off, a silencing of a relationship that had become the focus of your life.

Fourteen years ago today, I didn’t realize my connection had been cut. I suspected—but then every pregnant mother seems to always have some fear—but until the Doppler was silent, until the doctor was rushed in and the sonogram machine powered up, until he moved and moved and moved the paddle, trying to find an elusive heartbeat for a 20-week baby who should have filled the screen with movement and sound, but didn’t. Until I had proof; I hadn’t known.

April 28 taught me how to listen, how to hear, how to know when the conversation ceased. My next two losses were no surprise. I had learned the difference between the hum that reverberates between a mother and an unborn child and the silence that means the child is gone.

And this year, at 42, I am getting married again and, next month, taking that journey one more time. I don’t even know if the conversation will start. I may not be able to get pregnant at all. The chromosomes in my eggs may be too sticky to divide properly and get the baby on its journey. But I will listen, and I will hear. And whatever conversation I might get, however many days or weeks or months I may get to feel that hum, I will take them.

One thing I’ve learned in 14 years—I am not afraid. I hope, for all of you, who may be reading this after searching the internet about pregnancy loss, that you find that courage too.

 

Baby Casey would have been 13 today!

My first baby Casey would have been thirteen years old today, and we’re celebrating his would-have-been birthday with give aways of some great books on loss.

Since we can’t give Casey the things he would have liked, instead we’re giving things to YOU!

Head on over to the site of Baby Dust, my novel on pregnancy loss that will be released Oct. 1, and comment on any of the titles that you might find helpful. We’ll give away the books on October 1 to kick off Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Month.

We’re also taking this special day to celebrate the completion of the Baby Dust Book Trailer. Women from Ireland, London, Australia, Mexico, and the US talk about their babies, and the women of Illuminate, a photography class for grieving mothers, took the images that are used.

10th Anniversary of Baby Casey

Ten years ago today, at this very moment, I sat in a waiting room at my obstetrician’s office, flipping through baby magazines and occasionally glancing at the pregnant women around me, trying to decide who was the farthest along, and if I was above or below the curve in getting too fat, too fast.

I was 20 weeks pregnant. I’d just taken a half day off at the high school where I taught. As I walked away, my newspaper staff was making a big chart on the board, and all my students were placing bets on whether I was having a boy or a girl. I was instructed to call the room after my sonogram, and they’d be there to answer and announce the winners. Many a Dr. Pepper was riding on the outcome.

My husband John came out of the coffee shop with bottled water just as they called us back. I commented as I stepped on the scale that lately I had felt skinnier, which I thought odd. I had been so concerned about it that a few days ago I’d gone to the nurse’s office at my school to be weighed.

“Nope, you’re growing plenty!” the nurse said, jotting down the number. I felt relieved and sat on the exam table. She pulled out a Doppler to get the baby’s heart rate and I automatically tensed. She had struggled with this at both my previous visits, so when she kept moving it around and around and found nothing, I didn’t worry as much as I might have.

“No worries,” she said. “We’ll see it during the sonogram.”

But when my doctor arrived seconds later, rather than after what was normally a lengthy wait, I knew something was wrong.

And when his first words were, “Try not to worry,” this set my pulse flying.

He immediately flipped on the machine beside us and laid the sonogram paddle to my exposed belly. He grimaced as he worked, and John held my hand tightly. I was already crying, but not really noticing as the moment was so intense, so long, so agonizingly slow.

Finally the doctor said, “There’s no heartbeat.”

The rest of the words sort of slurred in my mind. The baby was measuring out at 16 weeks, so had died shortly after the last visit. I remembered that sonogram so well, his heartbeat and the shifting of his shoulders making us realize he was alive, so alive, and going to be with us soon.

The rest of my story is well documented on the site. You can read it here.

So much has happened since then. My life has gone in many new directions. I quit teaching. I had surgery to fix my uterus. I had two lovely girls among complicated pregnancies where I lost other babies. 

But today is about little Casey, the reason my Facts about Miscarriage web site exists. It has been a long labor of love, at times causing me great anguish, but mostly being a source of strength and pride and comfort for both myself and the wonderful mothers who come here–this site takes 25,000 hits every day. 

I am doing a number of special things to commemorate this day.

Early this morning, I created a Facts about Miscarriage Facebook Group that women may join so that we can create a community of women united in our losses, to tell our stories, leave our pictures, and find each other. If you belong to Facebook, join the group and invite others. If you don’t belong to Facebook, take a look at it. It’s sort of a “myspace” for grownups, with fewer glitter graphics and pounding music, but all the utilities for sharing as much, or as little, of your life as you like. Feel free to friend me there.

I will also add to my Miscarriage Sympathy Card series. The first one was a baby sliding down into clouds. This new one will include Casey’s sonogram. A third one, later this summer, will include Elizabeth and her angel twin Emma. To check on those, you can always follow this link.

Hug your kids today. Some of us never get that chance.

What’s in a date…

caseyshay16weeksToday my first boy would have been 17.  I can’t even fathom what sort of life I’d be leading if the fork in my road hadn’t gone the way it did, if Casey had been ours to keep. No Emily, for sure, as she couldn’t have come along in time. And probably not where we are now, about to bring more children into our home.

No matter how my life changes, no matter how many years pass, I do not forget. You could make a case for, “It was meant to be” and “Count your blessings,” but sometimes those platitudes just don’t apply. And all that’s left are the “What should have been.”

He should have been…here.

On loss: The disappointing day that never was

caseyshay16weeksIf things had gone as planned with my pregnancy sixteen years ago, I would have one ticked off teenager right now.

For one thing, this would be just about the worst sixteenth birthday in the history of sixteenth birthdays. It’s supposed to be Independence Day #1, because in Texas, this is when he could have tested to receive his driver’s license.

But it’s a Saturday. The DMV isn’t even open.

To add to the insult, it’s raining nonstop.

I imagine a cranky boy joking and getting shoved by his friends as they shovel in cake. Looking out the window at the rain, wishing it weren’t a Saturday. The ONE TIME he finally gets a weekend birthday, and it’s the one he doesn’t want to be a weekend!

But these scenes are only in my mind. They aren’t happening. They will never happen.

He won’t drive a car. He didn’t even live to know cars existed. The only way he probably even knew his mother existed was a steady beat of sound that mirrored his own, a slow heavy thud that underscored the warbling muted voices through the walls that held him suspended in the only world he would ever know.

Happy Sweet Sixteen, Casey Shay, wherever your spirit resides these days.

[ More about Casey Shay ]

Why it’s hard to have a “happy” Mother’s Day

Mothers-Day-Butterfly

I generally don’t wake up on Mother’s Day to breakfast in bed or hand-colored cards.

I have five children, but they are not with me as this day begins. Here are all the reasons why:

  • My first-born, Casey Shay, died five months into my pregnancy.
  • My second and fourth, Emily and Elizabeth, are with their dad this morning, since we are divorced.
  • My third and fifth died early in the pregnancies.

I am lucky that I still have my mom. I know many of you no longer do.

And there are a lot of empty nesters who will make do with a phone call.

Some moms will visit their children’s graves today.

So I’m thinking of all of you whose Mother’s Day is not, never was, or no longer is that perfectly imagined day with little ones bringing you burnt toast and jumping on your pillows.

We still have something to celebrate. The moms and grandmothers who once held us tight.

The babies we carried, if only for a little while. Or the children we loved and raised as long as could.

It’s still an important day.

And I’m holding out my hand to you with love and understanding.

On those days that change your life for good

The first notable April 28 came in 1998, the day I learned my first baby had died.

I was teaching high school and the students were terribly excited to find out if I was having a boy or a girl. I was firmly instructed to call them on the journalism room phone the moment I knew. I only had a few more weeks to be with them, as I had resigned from my position to be a mom. School was almost out, and I wasn’t sure I would get back to teaching again (I never did.)

I didn’t call them. The sonogram showed a still baby, floating in his fluid. Lost to us.

We also had no answers. We just had to find the courage to do it again.

By April 28 of the next year, we had a baby girl, whose entrance to the world was stressful and constantly in question. But she arrived all the same, and just turned 15 a week ago. Her presence has made all the Aprils easier to bear.

By a strange collision of scheduling and timing, the next April 28 I was scheduled for surgery to correct my insides so that we could try to have a normal pregnancy in the future, without the risk of these late term losses, undersized babies, and such hardship. I remember distinctly the moment the nurses forced me to take off baby Casey’s memory bracelet, which I had worn daily for two years, and even during his sister’s birth by c-section. I cried all the way until the anesthesia knocked me out.

In April 2002, I was crazy pregnant with another girl. This pregnancy had not gone any more smoothly, a set of twins with one miscarrying at ten weeks. The other, Elizabeth, seemed fine. We would not learn until she was six that she would face challenges based on her time in the womb. They tried to schedule her c-section for April 28 and got a little miffed when I refused to agree. They sent the doctor in to convince me, but when he realized the date, he said, “Let’s neither of us show up.” He opted to work a different day, for me. So Elizabeth was born May 1.

Sometimes I think that after all these years, April 28 will have no power over me. That I can look back and think — it’s just a date.

But it’s not. It never will be. And for those of you who have traveled this road, you know what I mean. Some moments on our life’s calendar are never forgotten, can never be simplified or erased or overwritten by other events. And we wouldn’t want them that way.

14weeksaltered2.JPG

Forever Innocent is launched! And rocketing!

I am shocked and pleased and pinching myself hourly.

web-Forever-Innocent-3DSo, a funny thing happened on my way to releasing my book on October 1. The ebook versions had to go live a few days early so that all the amazing blogs posting reviews this week would have buy links.

But a couple very influential people (I’m looking at you, Mimi Strong!) noticed it was up and the Tweeting began! Before I knew it, my phone battery was dead from notifications and the book was selling like crazy.

So, yes, the book has been a top 500 book on Amazon for three days now. It’s hit the bestseller lists in Romance, New Adult, and Coming of Age. Who could ask for a better launch day! I get a message from a reader about every ten to twenty minutes, which is making work hard, but I’m loving every minute of it.

If you missed the book trailer, it’s in the sidebar on the left. What an amazing thing to get to put the names of almost 200 babies on hand-cut paper butterflies and shoot such an emotional scene from the book! I feel very very lucky to do what I love and to continue the journey that I began in 1998 when my first sweet baby Casey was lost to us.

Thank you!

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