Life After Beau

These are just a few things I've written. In this emotionally chaotic time, it helps to organize my thoughts.
Thank you for sharing this life with me.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Stupid Strollers.

My annoyance for strollers keeps growing. Strollers are unavoidable lately; I live in a beautiful, walkable city, we live by a few parks, and it's summer. The perfect equation for the ever-dreaded Stroller Parade. So, I've had to sort of deal with them, and by that I mean: averting my eyes every time I see one.

I went to the farmer's market today, and was once again bombarded by baby strollers. At one point, I found myself cornered by two strollers, and a couple of New Moms. (You know how crowded it gets at the vegetable stand). They didn't hear my initial "Excuse me", because as soon as the words left my mouth, one of the New Moms exclaimed, "I'm pregnant again!!" Underneath my sunglasses, I rolled my eyes. The hug and the squeals created an impenetrable barrier. "Ok," I thought, "don't panic." I took a deep breath, and instead of elbowing my way past the huggers (tempting) I just stood there for a minute. There were two babies, one in each stroller. I didn't pay much attention to the year-old girl; but the infant boy caught my eye. I looked him straight in the face, fully aware that I haven't looked a baby that closely since Beau died. He looked back. I studied him. My immediate thought was, "Now, why do YOU get to be here, and Beau doesn't? What makes YOU so special?" He kicked his chubby feet and blew spit bubbles. My heart literally ached, and suddenly I felt dizzy. That was enough. My next "Excuse me" was louder - they heard me that time. I quickly walked away, tears streaming down my face, until I got in the car, where my tears escaped into a sob.

I don't wish this pain on anybody. I don't want to be spiteful, resentful, bitter - that's not the real me. But this grief is a selfish beast - it sinks its teeth in and doesn't let go until it damn well pleases. I hate the whole process. I hate everything about losing Beau. I hate that I have a physical reaction to babies now. I hate everything that is a reminder of what I lost. And although the rage eventually subsides, it's still intense, and it's still unpredictable. But the sadness, the longing, that's always there.

I have a feeling I will never receive an acceptable answer for "Why". Why Beau specifically, why can't I have him, why did he have to die, why did this have to happen to us, why do we have to endure this, why. At first I was comforted by the thought that he might be an angel in heaven, but now I shake my head....he's just not here. And I can kick and scream and cry all I want, but he's still gone. Which means he's not in a stroller, blowing spit bubbles, going with me to the farmer's market. And it's not fair. I don't want an angel; I want my baby.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Poem and Flowers

Just wanted to share these two things....
First, something that one of the nurses (Kate) sent to me, a few weeks after Beau died. Nurse Kate helped me deliver Beau, took pictures of him, measured/weighed him, etc. She was so compassionate, and really helped us through our darkest hours. I sent her a thank-you card after I received the card & poem, but still don't think that was sufficient to express my feelings of gratitude. Thank you, Nurse Kate.

And my husband bought me flowers today. Yup, that's a red sunflower, folks :)


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Update on Cause of Death

I had a doctor's appointment yesterday with Dr. G, who is absolutely wonderful. I had seen Dr. G for a few years prior to Kaiser. She looked at my records, and the autopsy report herself, and also sent them to her perinatologist that she works with, for review. They both came to the conclusion that it was a probable cord accident - most likely a compression. Since there were no actual knots in the cord, this is the conclusion they reached.

She said several times, "This shouldn't have happened."..........I know....but it did.

She equated it to being struck by lightening - we couldn't have predicted it, and nothing could have been done to prevent it, or save him once it happened. But I still wonder - what was I doing at the actual moment it happened? Where was I? Was I awake, asleep?

On the up side, it's relieving to be back with a good doctor, and an actual human being at that. Not that the previous doctor could have done anything to prevent Beau's death, or did anything medically wrong, but it's just emotional reassurance, ya know?

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I heard this story on NPR this morning....actually I wasn't listening until the last few minutes. Thought it was interesting.

I guess you'll have to copy & paste into the above, then click on "Listen to the Story".....

(The whole story, and the part I found most interesting, is NOT on the printed story, but only on the 6 minute sound clip. Just bear with the story for the first five minutes, because it gets really good).

love, minnow

Conversation with Kaiser Permanente

The most recent.

Today, after reaching an actual person, I said calmly to the unfortunate woman in the records department, "Yes, hello, my name is Sarah Caston, here's my ID number, and I recently discontinued my Kaiser policy. I've been calling, to try and get my medical records sent from Kaiser to my current doctor's office. I first called on June 25th, and my doctor's office hasn't received them yet?"

Her response: "Hold please".................[four minutes and twenty seven seconds later]..........."Yes, ma'am, I do see that we received your request for your records to be sent. That takes 5 to 10 business days, and then we had the holiday."

My response (not so calmly, and very clearly): "Well, it's been MORE than 5 to 10 business days. I requested they be sent by fax, on June 25th. Since then, I have rescheduled my doctor's appointment THREE TIMES, because my records STILL haven't been sent. The first time I called, I was told they would be sent that day. The second time I called, I was told it would take 5 business days. The third time I called, I was told it would take 10 business days. And now this is the FOURTH time I'm calling, and the excuse is that there was a HOLIDAY. They NEED to be sent TODAY, because my doctor's appointment is TOMORROW, and I don't want to have to reschedule a FOURTH TIME."

Her response: "I understand, ma'am. Are there a lot of records being sent?"

My response: "Yes, there are 'A Lot Of Records'. They are my records from the past year, in which I suffered a stillbirth. And my son's autopsy report - THAT NEEDS TO BE SENT TOO."

Her response: "Oh, ok. Let me check with the clerk. May I put you on hold?"

My response: "No, you may not. Here is my work number, and the best way to reach me today, and also my cell phone number. Call me when they are sent."

I mean, I totally get it that things can take a long time. I work for the State of Colorado, the gub'ment, and therefore I can understand. I have been patient.

But seriously Kaiser, I'm trying to break up with you, but you're just making this harder for the both of us! :-P

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Our Story

I’m a mother who never saw her baby open his eyes. But I’m still a mother. And he was still born. I separate the word because he was born, still. Even if he never lived outside the womb. He is loved with my whole heart and my whole being. And he will always be missed. Here is the story of our son, who was so wanted, and who is still loved, and who was stillborn:
We found out I was pregnant on August 15, 2009. I felt pretty good overall, just tired and semi-nauseous, but only sometimes. Ginger ale and toast helped. And cereal and smoothies and lots of fruit. I was one of those pregnant women who looked like they were about to pop, when I was a mere 5 months along. He moved a lot in the womb. Always moving, and often tickling me.
When I was 20 weeks, we found out he was a boy, he was already named. When I called my parents and my brother (they were all anticipating the ‘which gender’ phone call) I told them all, “It’s a Beau!” I felt like we were on top of the world. Everything was perfect.
We started to take a childbirth class, and we took a breast-feeding class too. (Yes, daddies were encouraged to come, and so yes, Sam did attend Breastfeeding 101. Sorry sweetie). In the first childbirth class, there were about 10 couples, and everyone went around the room introducing themselves. We were supposed to say our names, and how we met. Sam told the group that we met in a previous childbirth class, which made me burst out laughing. We only made it to one class, so I wonder if anyone thought it was true….
Suddenly at 33 weeks, Beau stopped moving in the womb. I thought it was because what the pregnancy books say, that they run out of space so you don’t feel the kicks as much. I started to get worried, told Sam, (wanted him to reassure me), and we decided to call the nurse line, also just for reassurance. I tried everything to get Beau to move. (I still have nightmares about that). The nurse told me to get to the hospital right away. Once we got there, we were put in a dim room, the nurse held the Doppler machine to my tummy, and nothing. No heartbeat. The nurse said she would go get the Ultrasound machine “Maybe we’ll find it on there” she said, and the whole time I was focusing on my shallow breathing. I couldn’t even look at Sam, just shake my head back and forth while I laid on the table. My arms were at my side - I couldn’t bear to look at, or touch my stomach; I was waiting until they told me everything was fine. Then the nurse wheeled the Ultrasound machine in, and I draped an arm over my face so I wouldn’t have to see, still shaking my head, “NO”.….I think it was then, that I knew. After what seemed like FOREVER, the nurse told me “Sweetie, I’m just not finding it. I’ll go get the doctor.” She had tears in her eyes, and left the room. Sam came over to me and said, “This is nature we’re dealing with. You did nothing wrong.” I remember saying, “Noooo!!! Beau!!!!!” We grabbed each other’s hands, and searched each other’s faces for some kind of refuge. The doctor quickly came in, confirmed there was no heartbeat, and she asked me a few questions – was I bleeding? Cramping? Contractions? No, no, no. Nothing. Just stillness and now emptiness. My mind couldn’t even fathom the crushing news that my Beau had died, and so I couldn’t even comprehend what she started saying about inducing me into labor. “My baby died and now I have to do WHAT?!” I thought. They were doctors – couldn’t they do something to make me “skip” that part? I tried to reason with the doctor, saying over and over in a small voice, “But I didn’t do anything wrong! I didn’t do anything wrong!” She said calmly, “I know. Sometimes this happens and we don’t know why. We will run some tests.” I didn’t know how she could be so calm. I didn’t want tests - I wanted my son! I wanted to finish my pregnancy. I wanted to go into labor suddenly the next month, hopefully a bit early, have my water break at an embarrassing time, and laugh about a funny labor story later. I wanted my son to scream and cry and pee on the doctor.
I kept hoping in the back of my mind that “Maybe they’re wrong – maybe he WILL scream and cry and surprise everyone, and we will have to decide whether or not to sue the hospital, because everyone’s being so nice right now. Suing the hospital will be the hardest decision to make”. But we had other decisions to make – did we want an autopsy? (yes) Burial or cremation? (cremation) Did we want a chaplin? (yes, please) Did we want to get our camera? (No!) But the nurses took a few pictures, of which I am eternally grateful. Did it feel morbid, having pictures taken of my dead son? Yes. It felt so wrong. But I’m so glad we did, because I have almost no memory of holding him, of almost anything that happened once they started pumping all the drugs in me. On March 7, 2010, at 6:41 pm, Beau Nicholas Caston entered the world, silently.
He was beautiful. He had a head full of dark, wavy hair, and his daddy’s nose. His hands and feet were perfectly formed. He weighed 3 pounds, 15.5 ounces, and was 18 inches long. He looked like he was sleeping. He was so precious.
We held him – me, his daddy, my parents (Sam’s parents flew in the next day), and Beau’s uncle Drew and uncle Johnny. We all told him how much we loved him and how much we wish he could have stayed.
I left the hospital the next day, still stunned, in a wheelchair, family surrounding me, my arms empty and aching. I didn’t want to leave, because that meant facing the world without my son. I had just given birth, but to death. My physical pain during and after labor was nothing compared to when my breasts swelled with milk shortly thereafter….excruciating for two weeks, and a cruel reminder that I had no baby to feed. I felt so unnatural; everything was wrong.
I didn’t even know that it was possible, for this to happen. It was too horrible to even imagine. I don’t live in a third-world country for Christ’s sake. I live in a world with technology, Ultrasound machines, clean water, prenatal vitamins, doctor appointments, pregnancy books. I was educated. I didn’t drink, smoke, or do drugs, I got plenty of rest, I ate organic food mostly, I put my feet up at work, all my tests were coming back “perfect” at my prenatal appointments. The doctors asked me and Sam if we had history of stillbirth in our families – we said, “Yeah, sure, our grandparents, but that was back in the FORTIES and FIFTIES”. This wasn’t supposed to happen now.
About six weeks later, I got a phone call with the autopsy results, which came back “normal”, the doctor said. I responded, “WELL, CLEARLY SOMETHING WENT HORRIBLY WRONG! WHAT! WENT! WRONG??!!” I felt like I screamed into the phone; I’m pretty sure I did. They had no answers. A few weeks later, I had an appointment with a perinatologist, who said it was his best medical guess that it was an “umbilical cord accident”.
So here we are, Beau’s daddy and me, living and breathing our worst nightmares. It’s four months later, but this pain is far from over. Sam and I hold onto each other tightly, and just hope for better days. Thank you for listening, and thank you for being there for us during this time. Your love and support is helping us weather this terrible storm.
Love, minnow

Where to start?

“A BLOG? Why are you starting a BLOG?” The word itself sounds weird, almost offensive, and seems crazy.

Here are my reasons:

Because it’s easier for me to answer the question “How are you doing?” in a paragraph, with a picture, with venting, with lots of words other than “I’m ok” (because often I’m not)….and because sometimes it’s easier for the asker not to even ask. I do so appreciate the asking, still, and I will continue to be grateful to you, as you walk with me on this horrible journey of grief.

Because when a child dies, no matter how long they were here on earth, it changes everything. The whole world has a different feel, a different color, a new heaviness.

Because I can’t keep everything bottled up. Because sometimes tears aren’t enough. Because I feel things deeper now. Because sometimes I’m so filled with rage, so filled with sadness, and surprising moments of joy, that I want to share that.

And because it’s easier to type than write in a paper journal. I do that too. Pencils have erasers, but the backspace key is so much faster. And pounding on a keyboard, I’ve discovered, is satisfying.

When Beau first died, I ran across lots of blogs from grieving parents. Some call them “web journals” which is all it is, really. Which I found surprising (the number of them), but now I know why…..because IT HELPS.

However, this is not a free ticket for you not to call me – because now you now know the answer to "How are you"? No excuses for not calling - I still want to hear your voice.

Love, minnow.