Monday, December 28, 2009

Still Sleeping

Feeling baby kisses, knowing a sweet surprise
Hearing baby laughter, alongside with tearful cries
The sights and sounds of motherhood are surrounding me this year
If only I had some will and hope, instead of anxiety and fear

For unto us a child was born--a child that warms my heart
But now he is gone, and my reserve is weak
My days are long, and my nights are bleak

Strong women around me whose angels are in heaven have the courage to fill this
that occupies my arms, my thoughts, my home, my life, my dreams,
your place

Seeing angel mommies blessed with children again leaves me helpless, leaves me sad,
as I can not pretend that-- the time is right, the time is now--to conceive would feel untrue
Tell me, how can I say hello to another when I haven't yet said farewell to you

Time is but a measure between where we were, where we are
and where we're going to
But time is painful, time is real, time is whats left when we are through
going on with the motions of the pieces of life that mine has now become
A mother missing her baby boy, whom longs for her sleeping son.

Missing you baby boy,

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas From Heaven

Christmas Ornament that I chose in honor of our Son Sterling.

Engraved on the front:
I love you all dearly
Now don't shed a tear
I'm spending my Christmas
With Jesus this year.

Engraved on the reverse:
Our Angel
Sterling Aether Schutte

Update..on our weekly "Sunday morning walk", August and I heard the bells ringing from the neighborhood church again. This time we were out walking an hour earilier, so I was sure that we wouldn't hear them. Yet we did. And what tune was gently ringing in the distance? "What Child is This". As August and I picked up our pace to walk to the church to hear and see the bells, I again felt as if Sterling was calling to us...this time I am sure he was saying "Merry Christmas to you mommy. And to my brother too! I'm playing this special song this day, to bring comfort and love to you!". We love you, Sterling. Thank you for such a wonderful gift.

Friday, December 25, 2009

What Child Is This?

My favorite Christmas Carol. Actualy, this piece of hauntingly beautiful music, also referred to as "Greensleeves" has been my year round favorite since I was a youngster and I envisioned scenes of "Mommy Kissing Santa Claus".  Boy did I have a lot of expectations! As my mind drifts off this early Christmas morn, it is not Santa that lingers in my imagination, but my Sweet Sterling. Completely awake at 1:30am, I find myself researching the history behind the creation of the tune for "What Child is This". Along the way of my inquest for further knowledge I realize that I am really searching for more meaning. Not for baby Jesus' story, but for Sterlings story. Then I came across this:

God’s sign is simplicity. God’s sign is the baby. God’s sign is that he makes himself small for us. He does not come with power and outward splendor. He comes as a baby – defenseless and in need of our help . . . He asks for our love, so he makes himself a child. He wants nothing other from us than our love. . . God made himself small so that we could understand him, welcome him and love him.

What child is this, who, laid to rest

On Mary's lap, is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

Not that I liken myself to the Virgin Mary. But I am a mother. My baby was born sleeping. He was blessed to be carried on the wings of Angels while his shepards, his father and I watched helplessly, as his life, his purpose, was given new meaning. So was mine.

Christopher, my love, my dream, continues to support me as I try and find that which gives me comfort and that which keeps me grounded. This holiday, by default, we ended up making Gingerbread Dinosaur Cookies with our son, August. Christmas cookies have always been a comfort for my tummy and for my heart. Specifically, the recipe given to me by my foster mom. We decided to combine the new recipe for gingerbread with the lovingly familiar frosting from Grandma Helens original sugar cookie recipe. And I realized something. Its the frosting that brings back the memories of years past. Its the lingering sweetness of the powdered sugar with the Almond extract that is the first and last taste and biggest impact. The cookie dough could be a combination of many different ingredients, yet the frosting is what smooths it all out and fullfills my cravings. As I sit here, eating what must be my ___th cookie of the early morning, I create the significance of this in my minds eye. The reality and beauty of something new and exciting, with the comfort and familiarity of the known and loved. This morning, I think of Sterling and how he has given me such a new outlook. His being has made me a better me. The ingredients of my life could be a combination of a million different varities, but the sweet, sweet frosting...will always give me comfort. Will always give me peace. Thank you Sterling. Merry Christmas to my Christmas Angel, my wonderous darling, my forever child.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Take A Break

Words of wisdom from a 3 1/2 year old. "Do I need to Take a Break, mommy? My honest reply "Yes, August. When you get so upset because you can't figure something out, then take a break and try again after". I'm so lucky to have him. Often times I use August as a bouncing board to listen to my own advice. Does that mean I am functioning at the level of an almost 4 year old? Yes. The answer is Yes.

Delayed "emotional processing" seems to be the theme this week. Sometimes I need to take a break and get OUTSIDE of my head in order to sort out what feels like is trapped inside. My thoughts are a prisoner of my own brain. I do have emotions. I do feel. I do think. Too much at times. Chaos. Disabled. Delayed. Human.

I am only human. I have fear. I have anxiety and I also need to allow myself to "take a break". 4 months ago, I would have never imagined that our life would have led us to where I am today. I am afraid to give myself a break. I don't want a break. I want my baby. I wanted to experience the gift of Sterlings labor. I loved the excitement of timing contractions, and feeling my body prepare for the miracle of birth. I am so angry that what was once a beautiful and pure experience is now tainted with death. A mother should never have that taken from her. A mother should never have to dread giving birth, not for fear of pain or complications, but from the reality of giving birth and not giving life all in the same moment.

I wish I could take my own advice. I wish it was that simple. But it's not. I can't figure it all out. But I can try again. And before I can try again, I need to work through my anger, my fear, my anxiety and I need to find ways to "take a break". Maybe I should ask August. Maybe I should ask God. Just Maybe.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

An Angels Spirit at Christmas

I am tall, magnificent and oh so strong

I will glow for you throughout the night
A comfort that I long to give
As you cry beneath my might

A symbol of love and peace and faith
that Christmas time is near
I fill the emptiness that you feel
with joy though you cannot cheer

I know this time is hard to bear
and with each new moment comes
A new feeling, a breath, and a new thought
about what is missing from

The way this Holiday is supposed to be
I'm the angel who will always be in your heart
I cannot replace, I cannot return
No present will ever start

To give the gift of comfort today
tomorrow, and the month ahead
As a new year dawns, and dreams are had
I'll catch the tears you shed

I am here for you until you say goodbye
and put me gently aside
But always know that in your heart
that I will always reside

young at heart and sweet in soul
and here for every wish
Just close your eyes and think of me
and let your sadness lift
give me your fear as well as your love
for I can sort it through
I'm in a heavenly place always
and forever I will love you

I am your angel, your light, your peace
for eternity
I'm here, I'm there, I'm everywhere
anyplace, anytime you need

Just sing our song, or write a poem
and let your words be free
for I can feel you at all times
for your angel I'll always be

Written by Maria, for her Angel Sterling
at Christmas Time 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Sometimes I wish that I had a stamp on my forhead that says "image may not be what it appears". I could go for days without looking in a mirror. The only reason that I do now is to 1) Make sure that what I am wearing doesn't look like Maternity Clothes,  2) Make sure that I don't have toothpaste on my face, and 3) Make sure that my hair is somewhat presentable--if I'm leaving the house. Thats it. When I look at myself, I don't see a mother who has lost a child. I don't have to look at me to know that. I feel it. Every day.

How do I appear to others? Can they feel my misery? Can they look into my empty gaze and see what I am trying to process? Of course not. That's where communication is so important. Funny that I am a communication specialist, yet lately, I have not been so great at it. I also have an invisible injury that goes beyond physicality. My heart is broken. My spirit is broken. My words are broken too.

My reflection is painted by the actions and reactions to me. Suddelty doesn't work. Innuendo's aren't effective. Sometimes, as strange as it may seem, direct comments are mis-interpreted. Its not that I don't care. It's that my capacity to respond seems restricted. It's like I'm constantly moving through water. Water distorts images. Things seem much smoother, much softer, much calmer when submurged. But how long can I hold my breath? I have to come up for air and face the reality. But the resistance is strong. The levels are deep. I must keep on going. The water keeps me moving. And when I need to...I can just float. Or use a noodle.

Seeing other mothers who look and feel like me is therapuetic. It sounds selfish that I need to be around others who are going through what I am in order to give myself permission to "get out my ugly".  I don't want everyone to know that I STILL am STILL. But I am. I am still greiving. I am still figuring it all out. But most of all, I AM STILL MARIA.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Who Am I?

Everytime I sit down to write a new entry, I have to stop myself from starting out with writing a "why" question. The "why" changes nothing, alleviates nada, and sends me into a cycle of questioning that blurs my vision and hurts my heart. "Who" is what this blog is all about. Most of you reading this know "who" I am. Some of you know me even better than I do. Some of you are just learning about me, and the one thing that I know you all have in common is that You Care Who I Am.

The process of self discovery is not an easy one. I have to care enough about me in order to fully care for others. As a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a grand-daughter, a collegue, a friend, a boss (I hate that label), a giver, a lover. We are who we are, but we are always changing. Are we really? Or is it our circumstances that change that require a direct action  or new role/responsibility from us that may be, well dare I say, unexpected?  This then results in us doing, saying, thinking differently, but our "being" is what it is. Until your world is turned upside down. Then the search starts all over again and it's more important then ever that You Care Who I Am, so that I can use you to find my way back to me.

I am my own worst judge. In everything. That is consistent, that never changes. Since the loss of Sterling, that has become the #1 factor affecting my ability to make decisions, communicate, plan, live. Now I am realizing that I need to balance out this part of my energy tree. My tree is growing crooked away from the sunlight, and I am trying to bring it back into alignment. Have you ever tried to straighten out a crooked tree?

My story of who I am changed when I met my husband. He allowed me to "get all my crazies out" and stood by my side the whole time. I knew that I had to take care of me to be available for him. That took a while, and once I did it, we were ready to take our relationship to the next level. Business, Marriage, House, Business Expansion, Child, Bigger House, Another Child. In that order. All was going according to plan until we got to the Bigger House part. Again, circumstances dictating actions. So we changed the plan. We decided to bring another child into our hearts and our home. Our current one, not the Bigger One. It wouldn't be perfect, but we certaintly could make it work. There was nothing holding us back. We were excited. Giving of our lives to create life. Life. Lives.

I seem to be blessed with the whole conception thing. First month trying for both of our children...mission accomplished. Yes, I will give my husband credit too. He is part of the process. When pregnant with Sterling I wish I could say that it was easy and wonderful and that I was the glowing mommy-to-be. I wasn't. I was tired all the time, drained from all energy, not motivated, and filled with unfounded fear. Kind of.

We thought we were going to lose him. I was 6 weeks pregnant and I woke up in the morning barely able to move my legs out of the fetal position. My whole mid-section had cramped up and I was so scared. We went to the ER. We were told that I was probably miscarrying and that the ultrasound showed that the results should have been "farther developed" than what the ER Dr. saw. They told us to just wait. I spent a lot of time waiting rather than doing throughout the pregnancy. Waiting for our baby to be born. He was born. Born Sleeping.

But not for another 30 weeks. I didn't miscarry. I had a gastro-intenstinal issue that resolved itself with a few medical interventions and I was discharged from the hospital the next day. Our baby was developing. We were fine. But now the fear wasn't unfounded. Now it was real. Eventhough I was OK, I wasn't. I never felt comfortable, never felt at ease, never wanted to admit that. My judge coming out in full force. I already was being a bad mom, feeling guilty and depressed. Why? Whoops..remember...I'm not supposed to ask that.

At 16 weeks I got got rear-ended on the freeway going about 10 mph. By a mini-cooper. Don't totaled my family size sedan! The fear swelled up immediately and like a tornado sweeping through a valley, I was convinced again that something terrible had happened to our baby. Off to the Dr's we went. Everythings fine. We heard the heartbeat. We saw him moving around just like nothing happened. We found out that "he" was a "he". The womb is a very safe home...the only home on earth our baby will ever know.

The next 16 weeks went on relatively unremarkably. Until the day that my story ended and Sterlings Story took over. But the judge really has come out now. It's so hard to keep in check. I don't even know how. I am trying. Writing this blog, regardless of what others think, is one way that I am defeating that judge. It doesn't matter who reads it or what they think, its mine. Its what I need to do. For me. For Sterling. No. For me.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Never to Be Forgotten

"Never to be Forgotten" seems to be a common theme across some of my posts so far on this blog. This is a very real fear that is rarely spoken of when experiencing stillbirth. As a mother to a stillborn child, I intensely feel the fear of everyone else "forgetting" about the existance of my baby. Sterling did exist, we were connected, and I gave birth even though we lost his life before he was delivered. "I" will never forget the first time we saw his jazz hand waving at us, but will anyone else ever even know about it? Not unless I share his story. Not mine, but his story.

Baby Sterling's Story:

Sterling was a Christmas Baby. Conceived in late December 2008, and he became a real part of our lives on New Years Eve when the Clear Blue Digital flashed "PREGNANT". He was our special new years gift to each other, and we had so many expectations for the following year. 2009 was off to an amazing start and we were thrilled to be spending the next 9 months preparing our home, our family, and our hearts for this special angel. I will never forget that NYE. No Champagne toasts for me :)

Sterling decided to share with us very early that he was a boy. At our 16 week ultrasound, he made his "presence" known. We are very blessed to know so early that we had another son. For such a short time that we would have with him, we were able to talk to our son, August, about becoming a big brother and that he would have a little brother to play with. Two sons, two joys, two special angels. One one earth, and one in heaven. August never met his baby brother, Sterling. He would sing to him in my tummy almost every night. He would give him kisses in my tummy every night. It breaks our hearts that he will never be able to share that love and know how wonderful his love for his brother was. Is. Will always be.

Sterling still receives our love, our kisses, and our songs. We talk of him when we need to. We sing to him some evenings. August knows he's in heaven and is always there to listen. We blow kisses and catch them back and keep them in our hearts forever. For the rest of our lives our Baby Sterling will be a part of our family.

The hospital have us a gift of rememberance. A beautiful box with a ribbon the color of his birthstone. Peridot. His memory box holds a part of my heart that I gave to him the moment he was conceived. It will always be with him. We have a recognition certificate from the Chaplain at the hospital. We have a death certificate. We have the first and only blankets and beanies that he would ever wear. A locket of his chocolate brown hair, a tiny gold ring and a teddy bear that the nurses gave him. The only tangible pictures that we will ever have are from before birth and after death. His life was part of my life and only through my life. Those moments will never be exposed, but will remain imprinted on my heart and in my soul. Forever.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Sound of Silence

So..I'm a hypnobirther. I was with August and I was with Sterling. Now I can appreciate what hypnobirthing did for me with August, but never imagined what effect it would have in the active stage of labor with Sterling. I started out by making my "Hypnobirthing Mix" with music that was meaningful to me and that helped me go to that relaxed place while in labor. I used it night after night and would fall asleep to the sound of our special songs and the feel of his kicking feet inside me. The calming visualizations really did help me get to sleep on those nights when my palms were sweating with anticipation. I was very specific with choosing pieces with just the right prosody and lyrics and drones. Just for me. Just for Sterling.

Of course I forgot the music when we left for the hospital that night I went into labor. Little did I know that the sound of silence would be so encompassing and any noise at all would send me into sensory overload. I wanted to shut my eyes and my ears from the world. I wanted to black it all out. And I did. Hypnobirthing 101...go to that special place. Boy was my place special and honestly, I hope I never go back. I had to wait for about 10 hours between the first moment of silence and when our baby would be born without ever hearing the cadence of his cry. During that time, I closed my eyes and pictured a field of flowers. I don't know what kind, but they were yellow wildflowers. And then the flowers would freeze over and the field became a giant snow covered slope. As crisp and white as the hospital sheets surrounding me. I was so cold. I was so alone...yet I wasn't.

Now, my voice is his. I am speaking for him. I am writing for him. I want to be a stronger me because of him. Here are some of the lyrics from one of the songs on my hypnobirthing mix. Its also one of the songs playing in the background as you read this blog. All of these songs were part of that mix that I shared with my son. Now..I share it with you. Be sure to read between the lines. Although the words are not mine, the feelings are:

The sweetest perfection to call my own

The slightest correction couldn't finely hone

The sweetest infection of body and mind

The sweetest injection of any kind

The thing you expect to be

having affect on me

pass undetectedly

But everyone knows what has got me

takes me completely

touches so sweetly
reaches so deeply

I know that nothing can stop me

Monday, November 2, 2009

Goodnight Sweet Sterling

"Goodbye". It's something that we say numerous times a day so casually as we pass from one moment to the next, one person to another. Another one of those "life occurances" that we take for granted and that helps make up one's sense of normalcy. I have a ritual with my son August. Everytime I fasten him in his carseat, I kiss him and tell him I love him. It doesn't matter if we are driving 6 hours for a family vacation, or a 10 minute drive to his school, or 2 minutes to 7-11. I don't know why I do this, and when I did it today, I realized the significance of a simple "goodbye". It made me think yet again, of his brother.

I said hello and goodbye to Sterling in the same breath. Actually, I never said it. The words were unspeakable; the pain was too strong. I felt it though, deep into my soul. As I write this, I remember that the last thought I would have every night when I was pregnant was, "Goodnight Sweet Sterling". I had forgot about that. I am now so thankful for that memory. I know that even before he was born, I had created the same sort of ritual with Sterling that I have with August. I was his mother before he was born, and that is never to be forgotten.

It seemed so easy for me to say "Goodbye" to our sweet angel when Christopher and I finally agreed that it was time for him to leave our hospital room that day. I knew that I would never see him again, and in that moment, it was easier to think that it would be the last time I would have to say "goodbye" and that was safer for me. I was so very wrong. I haven't said Goodbye and I'm not sure when or how or if I will ever need to. For now, I need to honor his life within me, my memories, and his spirit. It's all that I will ever have. Maybe one day, when the pain is less and my faith is more, I will be able to find a way. Together with his daddy, I know we will find the strength and make the choice that is right for our family. To say what ever needs to be said. But for tonight, all I can simply say is:

Goodnight Sweet Sterling. Goodnight.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

"Birth" Day.

It isn't until you lose a life before birth that you realize what a miracle the creation of life truly is. When there are questions that cannot be answered and reasons that cannot be justified, you start to understand that "birth" is more than just a day, more than just an experience, more than just an expected outcome to pregnancy.

This is my recollection of what our Baby Sterling's "Birth Day" was and forever will be for me. It is the only birthday he will ever have, the day that he was born still; and we were, not to be forgotten, still parents.

The Morning of August 20th:
Surges starting to become more consistent and stronger and longer. Our last day of our beach vacation..I wanted to make it last. We had been so relaxed this past week. I loved watching my husband Christopher play with our 3 1/2 year old son, August, in the waves. The sand felt warm and soft on my feet, but my feet felt huge and heavy--as did the rest of me. I spent most of the day resting and imagining what new adventures we would have. I kept picturing the next time we came to our "beach spot" and how excited we were to welcome a new life into our little family.

The Afternoon of August 20th:
It was time to start timing the surges. I felt active labor coming on, but wasn't convinced that we would be giving birth today. I had a doctors appointment the next day and figured that we would be able to hold out until atleast then and see how far I had "progressed". My body had other plans for me though. It was time to pack up and say goodbye to our vacation home, and then, very possibly, head to the hospital.

The Late Afternoon of August 20th--6pm:
I decided on that drive home that I wasn't sure that I could make it to Friday mornings doctor appointment, and decided to call my doctor to let him know my status. I was told to head to the hospital if the surges kept going and to have my bag by the door. I guess I needed that little shove, because less than 1 hour later, I told Christopher that once we got home and made arrangements for August, we would need to go to the hospital and have this baby. Now the anticipation and excitement became really real, and I kept praying that we would make it to the hospital before this baby made his grand entrance.

The Early Evening of August 20th--8pmish:
Help was on its way. Thank goodness for good friends. August was safe and taken care of, and we were on our way to the hospital to welcome Baby Sterling. It didn't take long to get there and at this point I couldn't wait to know exactly what was happening...neither could Christopher. He was preparing for another sleepless night, as it was with August. Everything seemed so similar to our birth experience with August. We even were assigned to the same birthroom where they initially took us with August. It was all very familiar. It was all very perfect. Until it wasn't.

From this point forward time is a blur..I don't remember the order of things or the timing of things. Everything got turned upside down. Not our baby though, he was still breech. And not moving. With no heartbeat. For a moment we thought we heard the sound of his heart, but no, it was mine. My heart beating, My heart braking. His beating heart--gone.

The Morning of August 21, 2009:

Sterling Aether was born still at 7:55am. 5 pounds. 8 ounces. 19 inches long.