Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Quietly Sad

"I believe that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension that we find paralyzing because we no longer hear our surprised feelings living.  Because we are alone with the alien thing that has entered into our self; because everything intimate and accustomed is for an instant taken away; because we stand in the middle of a transition where we cannot remain standing." Rainer Maria Rilke

This is two posts in one, but I don't feel like breaking them up.  Sorry it's a little jumbled today.

1

It's nearly 2 here.  I'm having a calm day, but it is also shadowy and sad.  It's cold here, fall is approaching, and the house is very quiet.  I lit a candle this morning for Charlotte and for vera kate's Noah.  It's his birthday and I want him to know his mama, and her friends, love him very much.  Oh, and now, just had news my friend Dana had a miscarriage.  It's been three months since she lost her sweet Jacob, and now this.  The candle burns for one more today.  Poor mama, please visit and let her know she is not alone.    

2

An hour ago I was sitting on the couch, too sad to move, staring at my laptop, eating peanut butter toast, and drinking hot chocolate, hoping something would happen - maybe a genie would pop out and start cleaning the house I cannot seem to clean - when I noticed something.  Blogger now has stats.  I've always wondered about how many visitors I have, who visits, where they are coming from, etc., but never bothered to download a program that would tell me.  Now I know.  And I'm feeling very shy.  There's a lot more of you than I realized.  I always thought number of followers was a fairly good indication of how many read.  I thought number of comments gave me a good idea of who is out there.  Oh no, there are many more of you than I thought, if page-views are any indication.  Apparently that innocent little stats button is like Pandora's Box: better left alone.






Monday, August 30, 2010

Change

I decided to go back to my natural hair color.  Or as close as I could get using hair dye.  No more insane grow out.  No more cut and color every 12 weeks.  Hoping to be pregnant soon (please can I have my green light, Dr. B?) and do not want to have 9 months of grow out.  I had highlights done once when I was pregnant with Charlotte and I am not willing to risk that again.  My hair smells, but I love how it looks.  

   

That's really all I have to say tonight.  I just wanted to show off my fabulous new look.  Still on cloud nine tonight because I made a video for my girl, it looks good (if I do say so myself) and I was able to share it with so many people.  (Side note: if the video doesn't work, try this link: http://vimeo.com/14536414)  I can't do very much for my baby girl, but through that video I was able to celebrate her short life.  

Loving the world & feeling happy tonight.  Praising God for that.  

   

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Charlotte: A Life

Charlotte,

This video required all of Mama's brain cells, some help from Daddy, and advice from our fabulous midwife (who is good at catching babies and so many other things).  After weeks of head scratching and confusion, here it is, our tribute to you.  When all of this was recorded, when the pictures were snapped, when we spoke to the camera, we were speaking to you, and we had no idea you would not be coming home with us.  We were naive baby, so naive, but happy too.  I don't want you to think we've lost the happy forever, baby girl.  It's hard to find it most days, but when I do smile it's for you.  I don't want you to think I've lost all hope.

I always imagined you watching this on your second birthday.  I would sit you on the couch upstairs with a snack in you chubby hands - maybe a cupcake, we ate a lot of those when you were in my belly - and I would turn on the TV.  A second would go by and then there we would be, Mama and Daddy, two years before, talking to you and anticipating your arrival.

I'm sad that all of the moments when you were alive can be distilled into a twenty minute video.  Conversely, I'm happy to have it all in one place so I can see all of the pictures and video from when you were with us.  I picked the songs that remind me of you.  I selected the best pictures, and all of the video, even the slightly embarrassing moments (cannot believe Daddy has video of me asking if I had anything in my teeth.  7 cm dilated, two hours away from birthing you, and I was worried about food in my teeth).

Pull up a chair baby girl.  Have a snack - but please no popcorn, because you're really not old enough.  Here is your video:

Oh wait, one more thing - I promise I wore other shirts when pregnant with you.  I just really liked that pink one.




Charlotte: A Life from Angela Rodman on Vimeo.

Frustrated

Frustration, frustrated, frooostrated (as a friend once said) is the word of the day around here.

I finished Charlotte's video.  It's pretty amazing, if I do say so myself, but .... it's HUGE.  I cannot get it to upload anywhere so will not be sharing it (at the moment) even though I really want to.  I thought I could load it to YouTube and then put it here.  Only problem is it's 20 minutes long and the length limit for that particular online video sharing wonderland is 15 minutes.  After trying three different ways my brain is fried and I am giving up for a few days.  I like having all of her pictures and the video from my early hours of labor in one place.  I've watched it over and over, and someday hope to share it.

The second frustration revolves around insurance.  The person I contacted about counseling sent an e-mail on my behalf asking if anyone in the area specializes in infant loss and accepts our insurance.  After waiting a week she has had no replies, so it looks like no grief counseling for me right now.  The husband said we can pay for it out of pocket, but we're already paying for Dr. B out of pocket, and that is adding up fast.  I feel like paying for both without insurance would only cause more stress at this point.  If I really need it, we will pay for it, but for now it's just too much.  

All of the frustration has led to a lot of energy.  After spending all day yesterday, and the entire morning, in bed, I dragged myself upstairs and cleaned it for the first time since Charlotte died.  Yes, it was messy, but I rarely go up there so didn't have to think about how messy it is.  Before I had the laptop it was the man cave, plus where the computer is.  Now it's 100% the man cave and I fear venturing up there.  Although if there is something I really want to watch on TV I will haul myself up there and try to ignore the massive amounts of cords, and video game consoles, and the fact that we have two TVs, (very embarrassed by this as I know many people who have zero TVs, or TVs they only use to watch movies) and a GIANT computer monitor which always gave me a headache when I was checking my e-mail.

I've been weepy the past couple of days, and very sick to my stomach.  I'm hoping I can have a thyroid panel done when I see Dr. B for acupuncture this week.  I want to ascertain if my thyroid is slowly moving off course, or if I simply feel awful because I've been spending a lot of time in bed, haven't been eating much, and am generally depressed.  

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

October 15th is Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  We appreciate all of the support we've received from friends and family since the loss of our baby.  Please help us remember her and other babies who left us too soon on October 15th by lighting a candle at 7 pm in your time zone.

On October 16th the husband and I will be participating in the memorial walk in Portland sponsored by A Butterfly's Touch.  This organization provided the memory box we received at the hospital where Charlotte died.

Baby loss mamas in the area please come out and walk.  If you want information about the walk or the memorial slideshow (pictures due by September 30th) please e-mail me, look up A Butterfly's Touch on Facebook or visit http://www.abutterflystouch.org/

The husband and I are accepting donations from those who want to honor our sweet Charlotte's memory and help provide a memory box for another family.  I know many of you donated to our medical fund three short months ago, but if you can donate it is appreciated.  It didn't cross my mind to make sure we had her footprints, or any memories of her, at the time.  Days later, when the initial shock wore off, I was so grateful to have a few memories of Charlotte's brief time here with us.

To donate please send a check to me made out to A Butterfly's Touch.

We will always be Charlotte's mama and daddy and we want to honor her and share her story.  Thank you in advance for the love and support.                

Friday, August 27, 2010

One More Day

Woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. When I climbed out of bed the top button on my pajama pants flew off. Definitely had too much chocolate decadence last night.

I spent all day in bed watching Friends and wasting time online. It's after 5:00 and I'm still here, with my head propped up just enough so I can see the screen. And I'm still wearing the pajama pants, minus one button.

I'm in a strange place. It's not a horrible place, or a dark one, it's just very quiet and I don't feel like moving much, or doing much. The only thing I want is to bring her back, have her here. No movement, or action, will result in that miracle, so why move at all?

I miss my sweet baby. I know other mamas have shared this song, but it's the one I've been listening to on repeat today (when I haven't been watching Friends). I don't really feel sad, more empty.

Hollow and lonely and missing my baby.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Answer to prayer

Well, that was quick. Thank you, Lord. My dear friend, the one who offers me milk or water each time I arrive at her house, the one I can be absolutely honest with, called me tonight. She wanted to know if the husband and I were going to be at the open house on Thursday. Her husband received an invitation and she didn't want to attend if I wasn't going to be there. So now I have someone to stand next to me and help me through. Afterwards we're going out for dessert so it should be a good night. Actually looking forward to it now.

Also: my sweet cousin featured Charlotte, and by extension me, on her blog. Lovely post, Julianna.

Now it's time for another slice, or ten, of cinnamon bread ...

This bread maker is full of pride

I've been on a bit of a domestic tear lately. Well, let me clarify. I have done more cleaning, organizing, and cooking in the last few days then I have in months. For some what I've been doing lately is what they do every day.

I am so proud of myself. I made cinnamon bread today. I got out of bed, went online, saw a recipe from The Pioneer Woman (love her to pieces) felt inspired, went to the grocery store at 8:30 am, and made a loaf of bread.

My loaf is a little funny looking. My cinnamon swirls not quite as impressive as hers. But for a first attempt it is beautiful. And it tastes good. Afraid I may eat the whole loaf before the husband arrives home from work.

I also learned how to fold a fitted sheet today. Gotta love YouTube. Bread making takes many hours because the dough has to rise, and then you have to mess with it, and then it has to rise again. So I worked on organizing the linen closet as well. The day after Charlotte died my house was filled with family and midwives. I remember soaking in a steaming hot herbal bath while one of my wonderful midwifes sat and talked with me and washed my hair. She asked me if the washcloths were in the same place as the towels and I said yes, but was thinking, "Oh dear me, she's seen my linen closet!" Then remembered my daughter died and decided to worry about my poor linen closet's lack of tidiness another day. 3 1/2 months later I woke up and decided today was that day.

Disordered linen closet - yikes.



Charlotte goes where I go. Today she was giving me support as I tackled this crazy thing called baking.



My husband cannot find the fins or the mask for his scuba gear. He has this piece of the puzzle, but nothing else. It travels from place to place around the house. I haven't done much of anything in the kitchen lately, which is why this has found refuge on the counter for a week, or two, now. I tossed it into the garage because I needed room to create my masterpiece.



It's a little funny looking, but it's all mine.



Yummy!



Look at that beautiful swirl.



And just because I love her and she keeps me company - here is Isabel with her afternoon snack.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bravery Needed

Woke up in the middle of the night last night in a panic and feeling sick to my stomach. What did I write on my blog?? What was I thinking? Ahhh! Much tossing and turning followed, but I think I also came up with an idea for Charlotte's first birthday 9 months before it happens, so it wasn't a complete waste of anxiety. At the end of my last post I was all transparency, honesty blahblahblahdeblah, and then woke up out of a darn good sleep regretting my honesty and transparency. I was feeling rather humble and sheepish this morning, but then went online, and was inundated with encouragement and love so feeling a little less exposed, naked, sheepish, humble (I have no idea where the humble is coming from, but it's there).

Speaking of inundated with encouragement and love ... people are popping up out of nowhere these days to say they read my blog and find much encouragement here. The e-mails and comments are arriving like mad. So quickly, before I go forward, hello to those who are new, thanks for sticking with me to those who have been here for a while, and thank you to each and every one of you that acknowledges my daughter's short life by reading my words.

Actually feeling a little giddy today, but have no reason for this. Maybe I am drinking too much anti-depressive tea ...

Something massive is hanging over my head. The husband has an open house at his work Thursday night. It's a BIG deal. The cardiology practice he works for is new, the doctors need to invite other doctors in to see their practice, do some schmoozing, and the husband needs to convince everyone that he is a fantastic sonographer and therefore "the one" outside doctors should send their patients to for scans. I think. I'm not entirely clear on what is happening, but that is the gist of it, and I have been told many times how important it is.

The husband came home the other night and announced the need for a suit at this event, which means it's a BIG to-do and I should be there, standing at his side, in a dress and heels. This is why I'm glad I did not marry a doctor. This would be required of me often, and as the husband pointed out the other night, this event would've been difficult for me before I was pregnant, before Charlotte died, and I morphed into even more of a neurotic head case. Now it's overwhelming, I'm sick to my stomach, and I don't want to go, but I need to.

I thank the Lord for the husband every day. He is a good man and, believe it or not, I would be even more of a wreck without him. How do you thank your husband when he goes to the funeral home the day after your daughter dies to arrange everything, even though you cannot get out of bed, and refuse to join him? How do you thank your husband when he works hard so you can continue to stay in bed and fall to pieces as needed? How do you thank your husband for carrying you to and from the bathroom after your daughter died because you were too weak to walk? How do you thank your husband for forcing you to eat after your daughter died? How do you thank your husband for being so strong when it's all you can do to shower every day? You stop whining, get up off the couch, shave your legs, put on a dress, find a pair of heels in the back of your closet, and go to his work event. You support him for once instead of him supporting you. But I don't want to.

So, please, if you pray, pray. If you send good thoughts, send them. If you are a visualizer, visualize me standing next to my husband in the old ER at Salem Hospital (it's been converted to his company's offices) on Thursday night with a drink in my hand and a smile on my face. I have not met any of his co-workers. He's only been working there since March. Everyone knows our daughter died in May. The husband actually had to say he didn't want me there if I couldn't handle it. Which means if I can't hold it together, it's fine, but I need to not hold it together at home.

One of the times we were discussing this (I'm too embarrassed to disclose how many discussions have ensued from one, "There's an open house at my work on Thursday next," e-mail)I asked him if I would have to meet him at the hospital. Since he's been married to me for four years now, the husband knows that really means this: Do I have to drive there? I really don't like driving. If I drive that means I will have to find parking. I hate parking at the hospital, because I will have to park in a garage, and they have gates, and I'm always worried I will do something wrong, and the gate won't go up. Then I will have to walk into the hospital and find you. What if I can't find you? What if someone talks to me before I can find you? When it's over it will be dark, and I will have to drive home by myself. You know how much I hate driving at night ... Yes, you have to be good at reading between the lines to be married to me. This morning the husband sent me an e-mail from work letting me know he is not needed for set-up so he can come home and pick me up before the event. This is how much he wants me to go.

Definitely going in for the IV therapy on Thursday morning. This event is going to require all the fortitude I have. I need to do this. We need all the rah-rah, go team moments we can get, but it's going to take every last ounce of nerve, and every brave bone in my body, to face this.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Apprehensive

I feel all shaky inside, but I am feeling much, much better. However, I scared the pants off myself last week with the sobbing and desperate wailing about how it's never going to get better, and it's always going to hurt too bad to live, and life is hopeless and meaningless. On the other side now, definitely, but there are no guarantees I won't go back to that place.

A few days ago I took a deep breath, gathered up whatever courage I could find in my shattered soul, and asked for help. Unfortunately the person I asked for help does not practice in this area, but she knows people who do so she is going to set me up with someone in the near future. So, yes, it's time for a few rounds of grief counseling.

I feel like I failed my daughter. I was so scared to be a mama, so certain I would be a horrible parent, there are long stretches when I believe God took Charlotte away because I would not be a sufficient parent. I don't want to believe that about myself, or God, and the husband cannot take away the doubts or anger, so I am going to spend some time talking to someone about these terrifying thoughts that lurk in the darkest, most secret, places in my heart and mind.

Although now they are not so secret, because I have put them here. I am tired of carrying them around and being ashamed of them. Really the week of horror cannot be repeated, because I barely survived round one. I need to learn some coping skills, and I have to work through some of this before I throw another baby into the mix, and really stir things up - hormones and emotions wise.

Feeling apprehensive and anxious about grief counseling. Dr. B said I can have up to 5 glasses of anti-depressive tea a day so I've been downing the stuff and getting my maximum dose each day, even though that plus the 60-90 oz of water I am supposed to drink make me feel all floaty and sloshy (don't think that's actually a word ...). Then there is the 21 drops of fig I put in a water bottle to sip throughout the day, which is helping me stay balanced emotionally.

So drinking lots, (but only water & tea) really apprehensive, shaking in my boots scared, but I *think* this is a good step. I'm writing down these things that I really don't want to share, because I need to follow through with this. Also, I promised honesty, and if anyone stumbles across this blog I want them to know I am living this grief journey transparently, because I want to connect with others in the baby lost community, and I want those fortunate enough to be on the outside of our insular community to know what it is like to live without your baby each and every day (that almost sounds like a thesis, which means it's time for bed).

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Jumbled Thoughts & Lots of Parentheses

Spent the entire day in bed. Around 5:30 decided to haul myself out of bed and take the dog for a walk. Drove to the park we like on the north side of town, but there was an evening concert taking place, and I hate the dog park there, so turned around and drove to the park on the south side of town. Halfway there realized I had no wallet and no license. I wanted to turn left and head home, but continued driving and ended up having a decent time at the park. Found a trail that is still in the off leash area that we have not been on before. Isabel loves new trails. This one was narrow with tall grasses and lots of trees lining it, which she loves even more. We played hide and seek for a little while which is one of her favorite games. It's hard to be sad when squat-walking through waist high grass, trying not to giggle and give yourself away. Thankfully a storm appears to be rolling in so no one was around to witness this behavior.

When I wasn't squat-walking, or otherwise engaged with the dog, I was thinking. And I was thinking about two very different things so the rest of this post is going to be a little jumbled and may not make much sense.

Thought 1

Before Charlotte died I was a fairly put together person. I don't wear make-up, never have, but I liked to look showered and I never wore my hair in a ponytail (partly because it was too short, but mostly because it took me 25 years to figure out how to tame this hair and after 25 years of wearing it in a messy, frizzy mass on top of my head, I think I've got 25 years of smooth (ish) hair around the shoulders days ahead of me). Before Charlotte died I would look at the front of my hair, then use a hand mirror to check out the back because I have the strangest hair flip in the back that just makes me crazy, and if it's not laying flat, or close to flat, I will break out the flat iron at the last minute. Taming this hair doesn't take much time, but it does take an alarming amount of heat.

I've always been a casual dresser. I don't wear heels, I live in jeans, and I like fleece way more than any one person should (I blame living in Oregon my entire life for this). However, before Charlotte died, when leaving the house I brushed my hair, I always put my contacts in, and I never, ever wore sweats or yoga pants to the store. I remember sitting in the living room at Bella Vie and being jealous of other mamas who were waiting for their appointments because they were in comfortable looking sweats and yoga pants. Tonight I went to the dog park in jeans, one of the husband's gray undershirts, and a blue zip up sweatshirt. The hair was in a messy bun and winging out on the side as it is wont to do, and I was wearing my glasses. It was probably time for me to get over myself (I now wear yoga pants to the dog park too), but it's still shocking to look in the mirror. My critical self pops out and says, "You're really going out of the house in that?"

Whenever I am out of the house I feel like a walking, snarling, crazy person. If anyone looks at me I feel like snapping, "I put pants on. I know the hair is not at its best, I know the glasses are not the best look for me, but I have pants on and they are not sweats, so there." I feel like a huge, swaggering, snarling Italian guy from the Bronx who will not put up with anyone or anything. Then the one person I run into at the dog park comments on what a nice night it is and I find myself saying, "Oh, yes. Lovely isn't it? It really is wonderful to have a break from the hot weather." What?! Where did the snarly person go? I've ditched the flat ironed hair and the contacts (some of the time) but my polite suburban upbringing is apparently bred in the bone, and cannot be replaced even though I so badly want to snap at anyone and everyone I see for walking around and commenting on how nice an evening it is when I narrowly escaped last week, the week of horror, with my sanity (and I'm actually not yet sure if that is intact).

Yesterday I made enormous progress when my friend asked how I was doing and I managed to reel in the "I'm fine" response and say, "Actually I had a really hard week." I was standing in her hall in yoga pants, so that was clue one to me that all was not copacetic, but I could show up to her house looking like a homeless person and she wouldn't say a word, she would just usher me in and ask if I would like a glass of water or milk (This is all they ever have to drink, which for some reason I find endearing). So, yoga pants at a friends house yesterday, maybe the snarly Italian guy will pop out tomorrow. Although, really, I would be so embarrassed if he did. I want so badly to shake this "I'm fine!" self, but I cannot find the ability, and it is very frustrating. I want to stand in the middle of the street and scream my head off, but in the back of my mind a stern voice says, "What would the neighbors think?" There is a part of me that is proper and believes certain things simply are not done and I am so sick of her, but she refuses to leave even though I am living the hardest experience of my life to date, and this should be the one time in my life when I don't worry about what is, and is not, done.

Thought 2

Had a head smacking realization. Well, it started yesterday, but came into its full glory tonight while I was on my walk. My midwife and I were talking over lunch and she asked me why it's hard for me, and others in the baby lost world, to hear about new pregnancies. (Really glad she asked instead of wondering. Always happy to talk about these things, because it helps me process what I am feeling, but most people don't ask). I had to think about it a moment, but eventually came up with the response that for me it's so hard because it feels very unfair. And from that jumping off point, I feel jealous, angry, and sad. Then I feel guilty because I don't want anything to happen to anyone else's baby. While walking I realized my reasoning was only half thought out. What really makes it so hard is feeling all of those emotions on top of all of the other ones I'm already feeling. I am swollen with emotions right now; completely full of sorrow, pain, anger, grief etc. etc. etc. for Charlotte. To add more emotions on top of that feels so overwhelming I want to curl up and cry (and usually I do). So that is why when someone announces a new pregnancy, or a new baby, my heart stops, I gasp for air, fall to the ground, and worry I may need a defibrillator to regain any semblance of balance.

All of that from one walk. And really all I wanted to say when I started writing this was the following: I went for a walk. I laughed. Yay me!

I am incapable of keeping things simple.

Friday, August 20, 2010

So close

Tonight I realized I have everything I ever wanted ... except her. Jonathan is backpacking with his friends, who just happen to be brothers, so the wives and I convened for conversation and banana splits. (We were going to watch a movie, but could not figure out how to hook the Xbox up to the receiver. We achieved sound, but no picture. Guess we need our men back already).

I was curled up on my friend's couch, we were talking about so many different things, and the babies were sleeping in various places around the house while the oldest boy played downstairs. It was quiet, peaceful, and so good to connect with people after my week of horror. As I drove home through the ghost town that Salem becomes after 10 pm I realized how close I was to having the perfect life. If Charlotte had been there, curled up in the nursery next to the baby that was born three weeks before her, at the same birthing center, with the same midwife, my life would be so whole and so perfect. I'm so close to having everything I ever wanted, but so worried I will never complete the picture. I want her so badly, but if I can't have her I want my rainbow, my second chance, and I want that one to breathe, and live, and be. I want a sleeping baby in the next room. Please.

I am thankful, though, for everything that has gone right in my life. My midwife and I went out to lunch today (love her so much) and we were talking about how life is hard for everyone, but there are different kinds of hard. There are so many good things in my life. I think it's time for me to focus on the positive, even if it's just for a moment.

Good things:

- The husband.
- Having two fabulous friends who live in the same town.
- Being able to be honest when those friends ask me how I am doing.
- Isabel, sweet dog of mine.
- The husband's job.
- Having enough money that I don't have to work.
- My midwife and our lunches.
- Dr. B and her IV therapy and tinctures and healing compassion.
- All of the people in my life who have been there for me since Charlotte died. They speak her name, they acknowledge her impact on our lives, they love her even though she is gone.
- Jesus. Always Him. Even though I'm a little confused about His role in all of this and the exact status of our relationship right now.
- BLM - friends from all over the world.
- Books, and the characters within, help me get through the hard days.
- Being alive.

That's it, that's all I can come up with right now. Wednesday night and Thursday morning I was sobbing and declaring life hopeless. Tonight I'm feeling a little bit better. I miss her, but I've said that so often it's starting to lose its meaning. How do I convey the heartbreak that follows the loss of a baby?

So glad for my friends who let me talk about her and bring her little spirit into the room. I can't have her with me and breathing, but I still bring her everywhere I go. She lives in my heart now, and tonight I'm not so desperately sad I want to reach in, pull her out, and attempt to resurrect her.

Morning Walk

Morning on the Willamette



This is one of our favorite places to walk. I'm not supposed to let her off leash, but if we run into anyone, which is rare, it's other dogs and their misbehaving owners.



Wait for me ...



Isabel went in the river without permission. I gave up and let her get as dirty as she wanted.



We played fetch with a stick for a while.



Then she ate the stick so that game was over.



Then it was time to eat some grass. Maybe we need to change her diet?



Charlotte is always with me.



I think this shot is a pretty accurate portrayal of how I feel. I'm 1/2 present, trying to smile, but so fragile.



We headed home for breakfast.



And a nap.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Other Side

This past week has been so hard. I thought the immediate aftermath of Charlotte's death was as bad as it was going to get. I thought after that heart wrenching moment when she was taken from my arms and welcomed into heaven it all had to be uphill. Then this week rolled around and I thought I may not survive it. Not because I was going to end everything, I have not yet reached that point, but because I hurt so bad, and the loss of her was so overwhelming, I thought I might not wake up one morning. I thought I would go to sleep and that would be it for me. It was too hard, I couldn't live without her, so I would simply stop breathing.

The first month after she died I was torn apart and bleeding all over everything and everyone around me. Then I transitioned into more of a normal grieving pattern - if there is such a thing. There were good days and bad days, ups and downs, but I was coping. This last week has been pure numbness, and a sort of paralysis, which has been the most terrifying state I've experienced so far. I've never been so paralyzed I couldn't get out of bed. I've never been so numb I've cried through dinner, huge, fat tears rolling down my face while I mechanically ate bite after bite, until the food turned to mush in my mouth and all I could taste was wet, and salt, and tears.

I feel like I was thrashing around in a vast sea, and everywhere I looked was more sea, and there were no lifeboats to be found, and it was all I could do to keep treading water.

I fully intended to go to sleep an hour ago, but I was laying in bed, on my back, staring at the ceiling, and I thought, "I'm on the other side. I've washed ashore. I'm on the beach. I'm okay. I'm still intact." And I needed to see it written out so I could fully embrace it. I'm far from happy, and I'm not sure what tomorrow will bring, but I think I'm on the other side.

Restoration?

Had a spectacular breakdown last night. Fell to pieces in Dr. B's office this morning. She walked in, said, "I hear you're having a rough time right now," and I cried from that moment forward. (This is why I'm glad my midwife and naturopath know each other. Sometimes I pretend I'm doing fine when I'm not and if my midwife has already made it known I am not fine I can't very well pretend I am). I cried and declared everything hopeless. I sobbed and said nothing was ever going to get better. And Dr. B put her hand on my knee and promised we would get through this, that it would be okay, it's just hormones (I'm on day 8 of my period so, well, obviously), and it's normal and it would be more worrisome if I wasn't sad.

To get me a little more balanced Dr. B prepared an IV with magnesium and B vitamins and gave it to me right then and there. She left to prepare it and I sobbed. She gave me the IV and I cried. I drove home sobbing and wailing, which is really rather dangerous, and I wondered if pushing the vitamins through me forced the tears that haven't been falling to flow.

I don't know if it was the crying, or finally admitting to someone other than my husband that I don't see anything but darkness up ahead, or the IV, but I do feel better. I feel calmer, more centered, not so scared that this darkness is what it's going to be like forever.

I have an appointment with Dr. B next week for another IV if I need it. If I'm feeling okay I can cancel it. Two weeks from now I have an appointment with her for acupuncture. And she added fig and a hormone balancing tincture to my routine which will hopefully help me stay calm. There are so many people who are doing their best to hold me together and I'm hoping something will stick. I thought the third week after she died was the worst, but this one is fiercely competing for first place.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Forward

Made it to Aquafit today. I have very little of me left right now, but my swim friend let me know she could make it this week so I hauled myself out of bed and went. After we went to lunch at The Wild Pear (yum!) and I was reminded that there is a world, and it is still spinning even though I have been frozen by grief the last few days.

I came home from lunch and took the dog out for a walk in the woods. There was a bit of swimming, and a lot of running, for her and she was so happy I promised her I would do my best to stick to our daily exercise schedule in the future

When I woke up this morning it was 55 degrees. It was such a relief to see a grey sky. Now if only it would rain.

I expected to feel better than I do, but I don't. I'm going to spend the rest of the day on the couch curled up in my comforter. We finally got the house down to 68 degrees so I can do this without sweating half my body weight off.

The loss of her is so heavy, but I wouldn't want it to be any lighter. I'm so sad and I miss her so much it's all I can do to put one foot in front of the other. I feel like I climb up from rock bottom only to be thrown back when I am halfway up. I am in a continuous fight to the top and I'm not sure I will ever reach the summit. Maybe after her there is no summit, but there are plateaus where I can rest, and where things aren't so bad I fear I may not be able to take a deep breath again. Lately I haven't been able to get to a plateau, or even to the point where I can see one in the distance. This is probably because I refuse to get off the ground. I'm not going to get up yet, but I lifted my head today and looked around.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Still down

Made it to the couch today. I don't do well with hot weather under the best of circumstances - and this is not the best of circumstances. I knew August and September were going to be tough months, but this misery is way worse than I braced for. The strange thing is the lack of tears. I didn't know it was possible to be this sad without crying. It's been a long time since I had a good day. Beginning to wonder if another one will come around.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Down

It's 4:45 and I'm still in bed. Yes, it's been one of those days. Honestly, I've been having one of those days since Saturday. The three month mark knocked me over and I haven't bothered to get back up. I'm still flat on my back, staring at the ceiling, trying to distract myself with books.

I didn't exercise at all last week. I probably won't this week either. I'm not even sure if I will get out of bed this week. Well, I have to on Thursday morning because I have an appointment with Dr. B. I was doing so well, making changes in my life, being positive, and keeping my head up. I'm done with all of that for now. It's hot, I'm miserable, and my eating habits are wonky once more. (Today I ate leftover mac&cheese, Annie's bunny crackers, and chocolate chip cookies - I wish that counted as a balanced diet).

I'm trying to sort out if it's this awful extended visit from AF that has set my semi-steady grief world to rocking, or if it's simply the fact that Charlotte died and I am so sad and mad I can't see straight.

I should probably get up, do a bit of exercise, wash my face, comb my hair, face the outside world. But I don't want to do what I should anymore. I'm tired of being brave. I don't want to be upright anymore. I want to stay in bed and feel lonely, and sorry for myself.

The husband's mantra since Charlotte died has been: You need to let go. Stop worrying so much, stop stressing so much. I can only nod when he says these things because I know he's right. Last week when we visited Dr. K I was such a wreck he jumped out of his chair and started doing spins in the middle of the 'sorry your baby died, not an exam room, but not really a conference room either' room. He twirled and spun and when I asked what he was doing through my laughter he told me he was helping me to relax and then asked me to spin with him. I stayed in my chair, but some of the tenseness was released from my shoulders.

Maybe if he was always around to command me to spin, and shed some of the worry I would be able to do so. But I don't really think that would help. I worried before Charlotte died and now that she's dead, now that up is down, and left is right, I can't help but be a massively tense ball of anxiety. Perhaps this too is contributing to my inertia.

I'm not sure if this is the dreaded depression I've been trying to ward off or if it's merely a hitch in my stride. One week from now if I'm still down help will be sought because I am aware I can't stay in bed forever. For now I'm going to stay here, where I'm comfortable, where the AC is, and stare at my new best friend, the ceiling.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Safe house

I'm a little less flat today. Some good things happened and I inflated a bit. I guess you could even say the good things started last night. The husband brought home French fries, macaroni and cheese, and a club sandwich from Adam's Rib Smokehouse. Yes, all for me. Then he took me out for ice cream. Food always soothes my soul.

Today vera kate made me smile with her wonderful and uplifting blog post. Thanks friend.

This afternoon we went out with friends we don't get to see very often because they live in Washington. Their baby is nearly five months old and this was my first time meeting him. I was okay with the meeting because he is a boy. Had it been a girl I probably would've ended up immobilized on my hallway floor. I am petrified of girl babies. I'm afraid if I touch one she will go limp and die like Charlotte died. Yes, that is crazy talk, but I am a grieving mama and 3/4 of what I say is crazy. Living in my head is one carnival ride after another. (If someone had pulled my twenty-two or twenty-three year old self aside, and warned me that my first born would die and it would bring up every insecurity, fear, and irrational thought I've ever had I probably would've asked God to call me home when I was 25. I suppose this is why we can't see into the future).

I'm losing focus here ... that is not what I sat down to write about.

While at lunch this afternoon my blog came up, which happens way more often than I expect, and I realized more people read my words than I thought. I know some bloggers block people from their real lives from reading, because they censor themselves, but I don't because I started this blog long before Charlotte flitted in and out of my life. And I did not have the sense, brains, or wherewithal to start a new one after she died. So people who know me read it and I am fine with that - most of the time.

When people tell me they read my blog I get flustered inside, but I manage to keep a calm facade. In my mind I am blushing and shuffling my feet and stammering, but what is coming out of my mouth is, Oh mm, really. Yes, I tend to put everything out there. Then I cross my fingers and my toes and hope no one mentions how it makes them feel, because that makes me want to hide under a rock. And yet every time I sit down and compose a blog post all I see in front of me is a white wall. I don't see the friends, or family members, or fellow BLM who read. I see a blank screen and I say what I need to say regardless of who is reading.

I am not very good at saying how I feel out loud. I love my family to pieces, but when they toss out a casual "love you" at the end of phone conversations I am flummoxed. I can write out "I love you" 101 million times, but please don't ask me to say it. I can write and write and write about my grief, but when someone asks me how I am feeling I get all squirmy and don't know how to respond.

I have hidden behind words for as long as I can remember. Junior high was hard. High school was harder. I didn't think I would survive my freshman year of college. I journaled my way through those years and now I am doing the same thing with Charlotte's death. I'm just doing it out loud this time. And let me tell you, that is a frightening prospect if I dwell on it.

For this post I removed the white wall. I'm peering out from my safe house made of words to say hello. I appreciate all of you who read. I want the world to know my daughter died and I'm sad. I hope my words encourage you, or make you laugh, or even make you cry. I want everyone to know that babies die, and it is very hard, but it is survivable with the love of friends, family, strangers, and Jesus.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

3 Months

I've been flattened by the three month mark, this awful heat, and AF, which came a little later than expected, but with a vengeance. I am so grumpy, emotional, generally wrecked.

Today I find myself in that uncomfortable place where I miss Charlotte so much it hurts to breathe. I am okay with the day to day grief. I've learned how to work with it, how to navigate my life with it attached to my side. But on days like this when it's hot and I don't feel good, and I feel like I will be stuck on the three month anniversary of her death forever, I wind up feeling shattered.

The husband decamped to the river with dogs and friends, but I could not bring myself to move. In my head I was thinking, You really want me to get up off this couch and play in the river when today marks the three month anniversary of Charlotte's death? What I said was, Today is just hard for me, you know? And he asked why and I explained and he said it was hard for him to keep track of the dates. He said at the year mark it may be different, but he doesn't think about how it's been three months.

This is how we differ in our grief. He can go out with friends on the three month anniversary of her death while I spend the day on my back on the couch staring at the ceiling, listless, trying to read and take my mind off things. Sometimes I wish I was more like him. I wish I could say Oh, has it been three months? I didn't notice. I can't do that. I can't make the calendar in my brain disappear so I end up like this: flattened and shattered and all over miserable.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Home

All of the comments on my last post were wonderful. I love each and every one of you. I was particularly struck by vera kate's comment, about how my belly was Charlotte's home.

At 37 weeks my midwife painted my belly:



I walked around the house after that appointment talking to my baby. The husband and I shot a video of my belly and told Charlotte about how that was her and we couldn't wait to meet her. But she never came home with us. My belly was her home for her entire life.

Tomorrow is three months. I miss her. And I never thought I would say this, but I miss being pregnant.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Love & Sorrow

I am a strange combination of peaceful and sad tonight. I can't quite settle down to sleep and I'm not sure why. I feel like the dust has finally started to settle; it's like the initial chaos that surrounded Charlotte's birth and death has subsided. It's been three months and I think I am settling down into this life without her. Don't get me wrong, I am still a mess, and a rather complicated one at that, but as each day goes by I feel a little stronger.

It's been such a short time, but I can look back at who I was those first days and weeks after Charlotte died and see how far I've come. I look behind me and see a broken mess of a girl, lying flat on the ground, on a lonely dirt road, sobbing and screaming and beating her fists against the packed dirt until dust rises up around her. I want to go back in time, gather that girl into my arms, and tell her she will feel better. And it won't take nearly as long as she thought it would.

I do believe I have gained some perspective recently. And I don't know if it was the visit with Dr. K or some other thing that was the catalyst, but I feel at peace. Perhaps God knew it was time for me to take the next step, to move from the early days of grief, and into the next stage of life without my daughter.

Charlotte's death has caused me to question my faith, my relationships, the person I always thought I was, and so many other things. This life is hard, and I don't understand why so many horrible things happen. I've still got my faith, but I can't help but shake my head in confusion and ask God why certain things have happened in mine, and others, lives.

I read others stories of loss and I get chills. I think, Oh, poor mama. Those dear parents who had to bury their child, God bless them. Then I remember my child died and her ashes rest in an urn above my fireplace and when people read about, or hear about, my story they think the same thing. I am the horror story, the 'there but for the grace of God go I' story and it is not a comfortable burden to carry.

Tonight I have so many things on my mind, but most of them I can't talk about right now, mainly because they are not my stories to tell. Mainly I am sorry for my loss, and for other parents' losses, and for the losses that will come in the future. I am sorry for everyone who has ever had to say goodbye to their baby, their hopes, their dreams, their idea of what the future would look like.

I am full up of love and sorrow tonight, and I'm not sure what to do with it, so I am setting it down here and hoping I can sleep now.

So it goes

The appointment this morning went as expected. There was very little new information. Dr. K said the only thing he saw as a possible problem was how small Charlotte was. He said there may have been a problem with the placenta that caused intrauterine growth restriction. The placenta was sent to pathology, but he said it is possible they missed something. Dr. K said it was definitely not placental abruption or infection. So it could be that something was missed on the placenta ... or not. It could just be an unexplained neonatal death.

If the problem was with the placenta there is a higher chance of recurrence. In regards to a second pregnancy Dr. K recommended frequent ultrasounds in the third trimester to check the baby's growth. If the baby starts to show signs of being small, or lack of growth, he would recommend intervention (as in, get the baby out, asap). He acknowledged that it would be difficult for us to go from zero intervention to full intervention, but he said we didn't need to think about that right now. And if the baby is growing well he doesn't see anything wrong with an out of hospital birth. Dr. K reassured me that my thyroid problems did not cause Charlotte's death. He also told us there was nothing wrong with my labor.

I suppose I am feeling a small amount of closure. We have gone over everything we can. We've talked to every doctor and midwife we can about Charlotte's birth. No one missed anything, there is no way we can know if birthing her in a hospital would've made a difference, there are no concrete answers. She died, and there's no bringing her back.

I am going to do my best to move forward. I asked all of the questions I can ask. Now it's time to pack away the questions, and the guilt, (easier said than done) and look to the future. Charlotte is here with me, snuggled up in a corner of my heart, and I am tentatively moving forward with a little bit of hope and a whole lot of fear.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tomorrow

Our appointment with the perinatologist is tomorrow. We are having a pre-conception counsel, and he will tell us if we need to consider further testing before trying to conceive. I would like an answer, of course I would, but I know there won't be one. I'm nervous, anxious, and a bit terrified that we will get an answer. I want an answer, but I don't want bad news. As in - this will probably happen again. So add uncertain to the list of feelings. And toss in sad as well, because I will have to talk about Charlotte and that always makes me sad.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Comfort

Our weekend away was good, but it was hard being away from home. I was at the outer edge of my 'safe' radius and I had a few moments of panic. For some reason I can venture three to four hours away from home, but no further.

This weekend I chose to leave Charlotte's picture at home. Three weeks after she died I started leaving the house and I always had to make sure I had my comfort items with me before going anywhere. Her pictures from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep came in a sleeve and I carried that packet with me for a long time. Then I started taking one picture. Now I can spend a weekend away with no pictures, but I have to spend time with her before I leave.

The day before we left for Sunriver I woke up and spent some time with my girl. I gathered a baby blanket, her urn, her picture, a stack of books, and a candle. I curled up on the couch, wrapped my hand around the urn nestled in the baby blanket in my lap, and read to Charlotte. It's what I do when I really miss her, or when I am going to be away from her for a couple days. It seems crazy, and I wouldn't know what to say if someone walked in on me, but it's one of the ways I connect with her.

Today I worked at the bookstore for a few hours. I went to the natural grocery store down the block for lunch and saw someone I know. She gave me the head tilt along with the look of pity and I waved and scurried down an aisle so I wouldn't have to talk to her. I wanted to stay in bed all day so it was good to have something to do.

I came home to these wonderful items that I won in giveaways (thank you Kristin and Franchesca).





I feel like I am putting one foot in front of the other right now. Not really living, but functioning. I feel fragile, like I am liable to shatter at any moment. In May, when Charlotte died, I remember being worried I wouldn't make it through the summer. Now it's mid-August and I can see the next season in the distance. It's cool here, the temperature starts out in the 60s most mornings. I cannot wait for fall. It is my favorite time of year and I am ready for rain and hot chocolate and fires.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Weekend away

Our friends let us use their timeshare in Sunriver this weekend. I love Sunriver. Every time I visit I think about how fun it would be to live there. It is hard to describe Sunriver. Simply put, it is a very nice resort with lots of bike paths (33 miles or so) and a cute little village. The place we were staying at (I guess you would call it a resort within the resort) provided two bicycles with each room so we biked everywhere. Most of the trails are flat, but on Sunday after breakfast we found a few hills. Ever tried to make it up a hill on a one speed bike? I failed.

It was a good weekend. I think I needed to get away. It was hard too though. There were a lot of families at the resort so there were many babies and pregnant women. I thought we would do nothing all weekend, but we didn't pay for our lodging so we spent money on food and activities.

We went on a short hike to a waterfall.



We visited the Lava Cast Forest, 10 miles off the main road. We were the only ones out there and it was very strange. From now on when I hear the word Apocalypse I am going to think of that place full of lava rock and strange twisty trees. I kind-of felt like I was in a Tim Burton movie.





Bend has a fabulous Ride the River program during the summer so we drove up there for a bit of fun. We rented tubes and floated down the river from park to park. At the last park there is a city bus with a trailer attached waiting to take you and your tubes back to the first park. It was $10.00 for each tube and $1.00 for a bus ride, or $3.00 for an all day bus pass. We only went once because I got cold and lost my sunglasses. The first bit was fun, but I was pouting like a five-year-old by the time we reached the end. Still though, it is an excellent idea, and if we lived in Bend I would be floating on the river most days. You don't even need a fancy tube. There were lots of people on air mattresses.



And then there was the biking:







After dinner on Saturday night we biked 3+ miles from our room. And then Jonathan's chain broke and we had to walk/coast the whole way home.





It was a good weekend away, but I did cry on Saturday night. I think I exhausted myself. I ate a ton of food, exercised a lot, and absolutely wore myself out.

On the way home we stopped at the dog park on the south end of town to pick Isabel up. Her wonderful minders took her to the park yesterday and today. She was one tired, dirty, happy doggy. So nice to come home to that sweet face.



And now my favorite picture from the trip:



I am breathing the mountain air and smiling a genuine smile. In the close up shots of me from this weekend you can see (or at least I can) the sadness in my eyes. In this shot I look rather put together.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A surprise

I didn't expect this to come today.



That last post was a whine-fest. I just reread it and my word ... sorry, everyone. I took a nap and I am feeling much better, if a little warm.

I will take more pictures when I have this placed in Charlotte's corner of the garden. Thank you to Michael of Let's Rock for spending so much time on this. Thank you for finding the perfect rock, making it into more of a heart shape, and sending me mock-up after mock-up until I was happy with the final product.

Some worry

I'm beginning to think I shouldn't interact with the world at all. I snapped at a poor kid who offered me free lemonade outside the library this morning. I have no reason for the snapping. I didn't want to talk to anyone, I wanted to go in, find a few books, and go home. The kid had the audacity to ask if I would like a free sample so I snapped at him.

Yesterday was hard. I have no idea why my birthday knocked me sideways, but it did. I've cried more in the past three days than I have in weeks. I'm sensitive, I'm emotional, I'm easily hurt, and yet I'm not very honest about my emotions. I am honest here, but out in the world, not so much. I'm not very good at telling people this bothers me, or that is a trigger so can we do something else, please? Instead I make myself do uncomfortable things and then I go home and fall apart. I think people expect me to be put together so I act as if I am, but it's only been twelve weeks (almost) so just how put together can I be?

I received so many cards and gifts on my birthday, more than I have in years, and I'm thankful for everyone who acknowledged that this birthday was something to get through as opposed to a celebration. I read others blogs and I know there are worries about babies being forgotten. I'm blessed to be surrounded by people who let me speak her name, who bring her up, who ask me how I am. But I wonder how much longer things will continue in this vein. If I keep pretending I'm fine, will people assume I am, and stop asking about her? Is there a balance? Is there a way to carry her everywhere without alienating people?

I guess this is my backwards way of saying thank you to everyone who has put up with me the past twelve weeks. I know I'm not good company, I will work on being more honest in the future, but if I am honest will you still be there for me? And if it gets to be too much, if the whining and sadness become overwhelming, will you tell me? I'm flailing around in the deep end here, but my head is above water most days. (Speaking of flailing around in the deep end, week three of Aquafit was yesterday. Just when I was feeling confident about my water aerobics ability the instructor switched things up and I spent most of the class looking the fool).

I'm doing my best here, but really I'm as lost as you are.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Ring of Endless Light

I'm having a hard week. The tears are close to the surface and I cry often, usually with no provocation or warning. This week I read A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle and cried through most of it. It is a beautiful book about a fifteen-year-old girl, Vicky, who learns about death, in all its forms, in one short summer. There are so many passages I want to share. I can't remember the last time I sat hunched over a book, pencil in hand, and tears streaming down my face. High school probably; tears were close to the surface then too.

I don't know how to lead into this passage. The words speak for themselves. I will say when the subject of a pregnant dolphin was introduced I rolled my eyes, and I may have even snorted. A Ring of Endless Light is all about death so now we have to have a birth right smack in the middle to affirm life. Great. But then I read a little further and ... the dolphin baby dies from congenital heart failure.

"Ynid was swimming in slow circles, carrying a tiny motionless dolphin on her back. The two midwives swam beside her, pressing close against her as the two dolphins had swum with Adam.
I did not need to be told that Ynid's baby was dead. Or that Ynid, swimming with the perfect little dead body on her back, was hoping against hope that the stilled heart would start to beat again.
And then she must have had a stab of hopelessness, the realization that her baby was dead, because suddenly she streaked ahead of the two midwives and began beating her body wildly against the side of the tank.
'No, Ynid!' It was Jeb who, with a great cry, plunged into the water and swam to the distraught dolphin, trying to put his arms about her without dislodging the dead baby, trying to keep her from beating herself against the side of the pen, in complete disregard of his own safety, putting himself between Ynid and the side of the pen. He was calling out to her and tears were streaming down his face.
And Ynid, perhaps because she would not hurt Jeb, stopped her wild beating. It seemed that Jeb was shedding for her the tears that she could not shed, a wild sobbing such as I had never heard from a grown man."


I read the above passage over and over, all the while thinking, that poor dolphin mama, that poor, poor mama.

And then a few pages later Adam reveals to Vicky that Jeb's wife and baby died in a car accident.

"In the end I think Ynid comforted Jeb as much as the other way round, and maybe that was the best thing he could give Ynid, his own pain."

More tears followed that passage. And then Adam and Vicky get into a discussion about unexpected death, and how hard it is, and I realized I was only halfway through the book and may not make it to the end because it was bringing up all of the thoughts and feelings I've had since Charlotte died. I've been searching for a book that would echo my feelings, but I never thought a young adult novel written in 1980 would be the one.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I want you to know

Charlotte,

I made it through another day. Your grandmother, Sasa, took me shopping for my birthday. I bought a sweater that I won't need for a few months, and a water bottle. I love water bottles. I really didn't need another one, but it was glass with a red covering so it won't break and I loved it. Holding it in my hands I recalled something I always wanted to tell you: It's okay to buy something impractical on your birthday.

I was really looking forward to giving you advice. You probably would've hated it. There would've been eye rolling, and annoyed sighs from you, but I would still have provided advice, because that's what a parent does. But don't worry, I would've made time to listen too. I wanted to know your secrets, your dreams, your hopes, and wishes. I wanted you to love and be loved. I wanted you to find happiness, dance, paint, sing, write, learn, travel, fall in love, have your heart broken (this one hurts, but is necessary), and laugh on your wedding day. I wanted to cry with you when you were sad and dance with you when you were happy.

As soon as I found out you were a girl I started a list, in my mind, of things I wanted to share with you. Here are the pieces of advice I can recall tonight.

- Love Jesus.
- Love yourself.
- Do what makes you happy, even if it means hurting someone else. Better to be happy than live in misery, because you are afraid of making someone else unhappy. If you are unhappy, they will be too.
- Wear sunscreen every day - even in the winter
- Start applying moisturizer when you are 15. You'll thank me when you're 50.
- Don't rub your hair dry, it causes frizz. And since you are my daughter, your hair will be frizzy.
- It's okay to tell your hairdresser you think you may be pregnant before you've taken the test or told your husband. That's what hairdressers are there for. Well, that and an excellent dye job.
- Do not dye your hair at home. Ever.
- If a guy tells you "Some girls look better with their clothes on - I think you would look better with them off," walk away. No, run away, as fast as you can.
- Marry the man who sees you at your best, and your worst, and loves you anyway.
- Don't worry about your weight. If you can get your pants on, you're okay. If your pants are a little tight, go for a jog or a long walk.
- Don't buy a scale, it will cause worry and fretting, and much pondering about which size is 'right.'
- Your size is the perfect size.
- Respect yourself.
- If your clothes don't cover your breasts, or your hind end, they are not clothes.
- Wear the pants and shirts that fit, regardless of size.
- Enjoy food.
- College may not be right for you.
- But you have to finish high school.
- True friends will be there for you whenever you need them.
- Sometime in your life you will be lied to, betrayed, stabbed in the back, let down by someone you love, and your heart will be broken at least once. You will get through all of these moments and each one will lead to growth.
- Be comfortable with yourself.
- Ask questions.
- Read.
- Learn.
- Do something that scares you.
- You can always use me as an excuse if you want to get out of doing something.
- Don't let anyone tell you you are not good enough, or worthy of their love.
- Listen to your heart and your convictions.
- Shopping is therapy, but don't abuse it.
- Do not use credit cards. Always buy with cash.
- If something seems too good to be true, it is.
- Do not make rash decisions; those are the ones I regret.
- It's okay to have regrets.
- It's important to learn how to say, I'm sorry, I was wrong.
- If you love someone, tell them. Life is precious and sometimes too short.
- The first time you learn about death and realize it can happen to you will be life changing and terrifying. It's okay to be scared of death, but don't be afraid to live.
- You have to work to have a good marriage. It's okay to seek counsel if you and your husband get lost.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help.
- Be humble, or else life will humble you.
- It's okay to be scared of change, but sometimes it can be a good thing.
- Learn this country's history.
- Grow your own food.
- This last one is so lame but ... find your bliss.

You can forget all of the above advice, Charlotte, but you must remember this: I will love you when you disappoint me, I will love you when you make me proud, and I will love you each and every day from the moment I conceived you until the moment I die.

And I think, sweet girl, you have been sending advice my way as well. From you I have learned that someone you love with your whole heart can leave you long before you are ready to say good-bye. You've been telling me it is okay to fall to pieces when that happens, but it is not okay to stop living. It is so backwards, but I want to make you proud, Charlotte. I want you to look down from above and tell all your friends, My mama is still living. She is waking up every day with a heart full of sadness, but she is surviving. And then your sweet friends will nod their heads, point to their mamas, and say, Yes, look, they are all surviving. And we are, dear mamas, we are.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Soup making, integration, and birthdays

Last night we spent time with friends. We ate dinner and played games, which is how we spend many a night. We've been friends with this family for a long time, but we've never been to their house. We had a good time, stayed up late talking about life, getting older, how forty doesn't seem that far off now. Today the husband went to a friend's house to help him build a fence. I tagged along and made soup with the friend's wife. It was very domestic and homesteady. The men building, the women cooking. Honestly, I like life that way. Last night the women chatted and the men cooked. I really like life that way.

Nearly three months out I think I am beginning to understand what people mean when they say you never get over the loss, but you integrate it into your life. With every heart beat my soul cries I miss her, I miss her, I miss her, but I can now stand in a kitchen and cut potatoes for soup without hearing the words. The refrain is so constant, always present, it has become background music. The first six weeks I was paralyzed by the refrain, but I am learning how to walk again.

When Charlotte first died I grappled with what I would do in the future. How would I fill my days? This week I find myself standing guard over Thursday, because it is my only day I do not have something planned and I need that time. I need one day to sit on the couch, stay in yoga pants all day, and be alone. I need a day to watch episode after episode of Friends and turn off my brain.

Side note: I have never watched Friends before. It's unbelievable, but true. I've decided to watch all ten seasons and reevaluate my life when I am finished. In my world, that is a life goal.

Today is August 1st. The beginning of a new month. On the 4th I will be 27 years old and I cannot bring myself to care. It's just one more birthday without a baby in my arms. One year ago I threw away my birth control packet and thought, On my next birthday I will have a baby. And I do, but I don't.

I miss the 26 year old who requested cupcakes for her birthday and deemed the summer of 2009 "the last summer of freedom." I remember where I was on my 26th birthday and I have come so far, been through so much. What is a year, what is one more birthday, when you make the soul transforming journey from anticipatory joy to utter sorrow in one day?

Baby Loss Mamas

This is going to be a short one. Check out Nicole's idea over at The Avery Diaries - it's brilliant.

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