Loss

Published on November 22nd, 2013 | by Carla Grossini-Concha

16

LUCA: Carla Grossini-Concha On Loss

It’s Sunday morning, November 10th. I always thought weekend mornings were going to be so full of life and noise. This silence is not what I expected.

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I met my wife 6 years ago. I met her and I knew that was it. At the time, I didn’t think I was in a place to receive it, but she came swooping into my life ready to show me what love was. We quickly (insert lesbian u-haul joke here) became a family of 5 when we merged our fur kids together. It was Gina and I and the three dogs, and life was good. Our weekend mornings consisted of coffee, a carload of dogs heading west, and playing at the beach.

We got married. We bought a house. We travelled. We lived. We loved so hard that we wanted more.  Even though we weren’t completely ready to give up our relatively carefree life for the responsibility of a human baby, we felt we had so much love to give.

As lesbians looking to have a family and conceive their own children, we faced the first set of hurdles. We didn’t have any men in our life interested in readily donating their sperm, so we decided to look through various sperm banks, trying to find a donor who’s characteristics and personality traits, on paper, were as close to my wife’s as possible. In the meantime, since I was going to carry, we started going through the initial tests to check on my reproductive health. We were lucky that our insurance covered half of the procedures for inseminating. Each cycle cost $1350 for the doctor’s fees, and another $600 for one vial of sperm. My uterus looked good, all the tests came back indicating we were in a position to conceive, even though at the ripe old age of 36, I was considered to be of advanced maternal age. Sigh.

We finalized our pick for the donor of our child, and got giddy to start the next phase of the journey with transvaginal ultrasounds (yee haw!), ovarian stimulating hormones, more ultrasounds, trigger shots, and ultimately, the insemination.

I remember the excitement that day of the first IUI. This was it! We were going to be starting our family. This could be the day our child was conceived. In this sterile room with fluorescent lighting, my legs in stirrups and Gina at my side, our new life was going to start.

Now for the two-week wait of thinking every twinge is conception happening. Googling every possible symptom I had and finding out it could mean I was pregnant. Turns out, pregnancy symptoms are identical to PMS symptoms. Crap. We bought pregnancy tests, waiting for the two weeks to finally be over and on the 14th day we tested.

One line. We weren’t pregnant.

It’s hard to understand when you want something so bad, and you think you are doing absolutely everything in your power, when you have spent so much time preparing, and it doesn’t happen. Especially pregnancy. When it feels like every woman around you is pregnant, or has a baby in their arms, it’s hard not to take it personally.

We tried another cycle. Negative again. The stress was overwhelming. We had heard from other couples that trying to conceive was such a rollercoaster.  We decided to take a break. We escaped the West Coast and headed to NYC for some fun with friends. We let go of some stress and pumped ourselves for the next cycle: ultrasounds, clomid, ultrasounds, trigger shot, insemination.

And at 2:30 am of a Saturday in July, I peed on a stick and watched as the second pink line appeared. We were pregnant. This was going to happen. We were going to be mothers. Our family was going to grow. We were going to show this little person of ours the world.

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Month after month I grew, and we excitedly announced to our friends on National Coming Out Day that we were going to be welcoming a child into our family. The outpouring of love and support from our community was so beautiful. Our village was so excited that this kid was moving in.

And we were going to have a little boy! We were so happy, just awaiting his arrival. I practiced yoga, ate well, went to breastfeeding meetings, took birthing classes. Our son was coming into this world with two mamas, and we were going to be his.

At 39 weeks and 1 day, our beautiful Luca D’oro was born. And everything turned horribly wrong.

I was rushed into an emergency cesarean, and when they removed him from my womb, he wasn’t breathing. The doctors resuscitated him, put him on machines to help him breathe, and soon found out he had no brain function, and determined he would never be able to breathe on his own.

I was so sick from a complication with the cesarean, that I couldn’t meet Luca until I was well enough myself. And when I was finally stabilized and able to meet him, they removed our son from all the life support, dressed him in the clothes we expected to bring him home from the hospital in, and placed him in Gina and my arms. We held onto him while he passed away. He died amidst my pleas for him to stay. I asked him not to go, but he couldn’t hold on.

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And when he died, all the dreams we had for him, for our own life with him, died too.

At the end of the hospital stay, the nurses rolled me outside with a bouquet of flowers and a teddy bear in my hands. They helped my wife get me into our station wagon, the station wagon we had bought for our growing family. The car seat I had installed weeks before was in the back. As we drove home, I looked at it in agony. We arrived home to all of his things ready for him. I looked at his cloth diapers, clothes, blankets, all of his things that we had been collecting, that our friends had been giving us for his arrival. I screamed these guttural primal screams for my son. I screamed for the child I had carried for nine months who was supposed to be in my arms. I wondered if the neighbors would call the cops on us for the screams that were coming out of our house; sounds I had never made or heard before. But they didn’t.

I lay in bed sobbing for days, for what felt like weeks and maybe months, with this enormous scar on my belly and this huge piece of me missing. For the rest of my life, I will only ever have those moments in my memory of him moving inside me, and of kissing him as he passed away in my arms.

Luca D’oro, our golden light. He has been gone 8 months now, and the pain is as fresh as it was that moment I had to say goodbye to him.

Gina and I are baby-loss mamas, and we learned that both fortunately and unfortunately, we are not alone. We belong to a small statistic of women. Many of us have no idea why our children died. They just did, and we have to live with it for the rest of our lives. So many of us were getting ready to begin the novel of our child’s life, and instead, every page got ripped out of the book before we even sat down to write it.

Still, we are mothers. I held Luca in my womb for 9 months. We held him in our arms as he took his last breaths. He was. Ours.

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As we wonder what the future has in store for us, and we figure out how to maneuver this world without our son, we remember him every day. We do what we can to honor him and keep his presence known in our lives, and in our community. Baby loss is not a comfortable topic for anyone. Babies aren’t supposed to die, and thankfully, most people don’t ever have to endure the pain of losing a child.

But we exist out here in the world. And our stories must be told. Because even in the midst of this deep and painful grief, there is still joy in what we looked forward to, what we had, and what this beautiful little boy has meant in our lives.

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About the Author

Carla Grossini-Concha

Carla Grossini-Concha is a New Yorker, born and raised, transplanted to the West Coast over 10 years ago and embracing her inner hippy ever since. She is a dog-lover, yogi, and most importantly, fierce warrior mama to Luca D’oro, her first-born who transitioned a day after he was born, and Elia D’oro, her rainbow babe. Her hope is to share her journey as mother to both her children, and help to break the silence surrounding infant loss.



16 Responses to LUCA: Carla Grossini-Concha On Loss

  1. Maria says:

    A beautifully written brave piece. Thank you for sharing your story about your son Luca D’oro. Much love and light to him, to you and your partner.

  2. Amy says:

    Thank you for sharing. What a beautiful boy. I am so sorry.

  3. Shauna says:

    I’m so sorry for what you’ve both endured. Your writing is (as Maria said above) so brave. Thank you for sharing. I hope you’re both able to find a warm place to keep his memory and to heal in due time.

  4. Rachel says:

    My husband and I became parents to a beautiful son, Caleb a month ago. Our story is tragically similar to yours. Perfect pregnancy, normal delivery, baby boy came out and did not breathe to the shock of everyone involved. We had him for two days before we took him off of life support. These emotions are so difficult to navigate, but hearing others’ stories is definitely helpful. I’m sorry we’re both members of this same club, but through sharing our stories, we keep our babies with us. Congratulations on your beautiful son, Luca.

    • Carla Carla says:

      Rachel, I’m so sorry to hear about Caleb. It’s certainly this secret club that no one wants to be a part of, but that bonds us quite deeply. I hope you and your husband as much light and healing as possible. Remember to be easy on yourself and take it one day at a time. If at one month from Luca’s death, any of my blm friends would have told me I would be alive at 8 months out, I’m not sure I would have believed them. But we are still standing.

  5. Monica Leibson says:

    Thank you so much for your honesty and strength. It is people like you, willing to speak up and share their intimate stories, who bring more love and compassion into this world. It is stories like yours that can end wars and stop hatred. Thank you thank you thank you for going through hell and coming out of it alive and willing to learn from it. Your willingness to “allow the love behind the pain” is so powerful. It is what truly can transform all people and our world. Your commitment to peace, beauty, and love will bring you so many gifts.

    • Carla Carla says:

      Thank you Monica. I’ve read and re-read your comment again and again. What you wrote, is part of the legacy that my son has left the world with. I appreciate your words.

  6. Meg says:

    My mother lost three healthy full term live babies hours after birth and they never figured out why. Although I always knew the story, the pain of the situation never really registered until I myself became pregnant. Thank you for sharing your story although it broke my heart to read it. My thoughts are with you. I also wondered if you could talk a bit about the kind of support you needed and how people can acknowledge your loss and provide support because it is difficult to know what to do/say especially if its not a close friend or family member. I am so sorry for the pain you and Gina are experiencing.

    • Carla Carla says:

      I’m sorry to hear of your family’s losses. I was thinking about following up this piece with one addressing exactly what you asked, so thank you for asking. May I ask how it was to grow up knowing you had those siblings that had passed? Did your parents speak about them? As my wife and I look to the future, Luca will continue to be a part of our lives, and also in the lives of his siblings, whenever they join us.

  7. mamimami says:

    I am so sad for you. I can’t imagine. My condolences on your gorgeous, perfect boy. I pray you will have a baby to take home when the time is right. You are definitely mothers and I think all the hope and heartache of being a mother was packed into just a few moments for you.

  8. Kathleen says:

    I came across your story from the Healing Hearts Baby Loss Comfort page on Facebook. Thank you so much for sharing your family’s story. I’m so glad you have some beautiful pictures of your short time with Luca. Thank you for your openness and bravery.

  9. marinet says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. Telling your story is so important because so many go untold. You are a brave and courageous mother.

  10. Monica says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and Luca’s story, at least the beginning of it as we have the rest of our lives to keep writing and telling our story and their story. Sounds like we lost our sons about the same time. My son, Harvey, was born on April 27th 2013 and died the next day. We know the reasons, for which I am grateful, but it remains a harrowing experience. There is no pain like this pain. I’m sorry for you both. I am grateful that you are writing and sharing. I’m sure you have found so many mother’s suffering silently. We can speak for them and help them feel less alone, which as you know, is sometimes all we can hope for. I will light a candle for Luca and I will say his name. I look forward to reading more. I attach my blog about my experience since losing my son. Thank you.

  11. Lori Smith says:

    This is beautiful Carla. It made me laugh and cry. You’re a strong woman and a great Mom! I hope that it’s not too long before Luca’s syblings join your family and you can tell them about their big brother. 🙂 Thank you for sharing.

  12. Kelly says:

    I am in tears at my desk, thank you so much for sharing you and Luca’s story. I cannot imagine your pain and grief. Thanks for the reminder that everything I have in my life is a blessing. I hope your pain heals and your future is brighter. xx

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