July: My Most Terrible, Awful, Horrible Month

I dread the month of July.  Two very horrible, awful things happened to me in July.  In July of 2011, I miscarried our second baby.  Salvatore was five years old and we decided that our hearts had room for another baby.  It was a difficult decision for me.  I had horrible postpartum depression after Salvatore’s birth and couldn’t easily convince myself to go back to those dark times.  But I knew I wanted another baby for our sweet family.  We got pregnant easily.

I switched to a new OBGYN and thought my first appointment was going to be a blood test and some basic paperwork.  Because I was 39, the doctor gave me an ultrasound.  My husband, Jack, wasn’t with me because I told him not to miss work for a routine doctor’s appointment.  I was surprised by the ultrasound but was so happy to hear the little heartbeat of our son or daughter.  I was instantly thinking about Salvatore being a big brother and have two kids in the backseat of our awful brown minivan.

I started to think of names—Joseph Domenic for a boy, after my Mom and brother and Valentina for a girl because the due date was in February.  I started to decorate the nursery—I wanted to go with a red theme because it was happy and different.  On Salvatore’s 5th birthday, June 2, 2011, we shared our good news with our families and friends.

Fast forward to mid-July of 2011.  Another routine doctor’s appointment.  This time Jack was coming no matter what just in case there another ultrasound was.  There was and we anxiously waited for the heartbeat as the lights we turned down.  Except there wasn’t a heartbeat.  The doctor thought that maybe he needed to use a different ultrasound machine, so he tried that and still…nothing.  Devastated doesn’t even come close to our feelings.  Only I had heard our sweet baby’s heartbeat.  And then it was gone.  The silence was deafening.  We were told by our doctor that one in three pregnancies end in miscarriages, I could try again in a few months, blah, blah, blah.  All I knew is that there was no longer a heartbeat in someone who just a few weeks earlier had a very strong one.

The next July, things just got worse.  My Mom lost her long battle with Parkinson’s disease.  She suffered greatly and was so so sad that she wasn’t able to take care of Salvatore when he was a baby.  She worked like a dog her whole life and the minute things started to get easy, she was diagnosed with a progressive neurological disease.  I could write a million pages about her journey with Parkinson’s but suffice it to say, it is a cruel disease.

Salvatore was six years old when my Mom died on July 14, 2012.  I hate July.  Although she got to see him and enjoy his big heart, she left him way too early.  She would never see him grow up, graduate from high school, get married.  She left us and has missed all of the “good things” in life.

My Mom was the best Mom.  Period.  She was my biggest cheerleader and supporter.  She believed in me.  She was an anxious person.  Afraid of her own shadow.  We used to joke that she was like the lion in the Wizard of Oz.  But she never put that on me.  She just stayed quietly in the background, cheering me on and telling me “you’re all the things I wish I could be.”

The loss of my Mom was profound.  I can’t even talk about her eight years later without crying.  My entire personality and demeanor have changed.  I am more empathetic and compassionate since her loss.  I am obsessed with living my best life.  Focusing on the good and ignoring the crap.

And on the very hardest days, I take comfort in the idea that my Mom and our second baby are in heaven having a blast.  They are together.  She is cheering our child on, holding its hand, offering a kind word.  She is making our baby her amazing scalloped potatoes and having pancakes with extra butter and syrup.  They are together.  And that is the only way I can get through the very, awful horrible month of July.