Wednesday, September 29, 2010

To be present

"Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness." James Thurber 

Feeling lost, a little lonely.  Choosing to spend a lot of time alone, and it feels right, but I am human and I miss people.  I did go to Aquafit today.  The instructor introduced belts this week (I much prefer these over the standard noodles).  Well, she has used them before, but this is the first week I have been there for the fun.  It was a tough workout.  My abs hurt, as do my legs, and my arms.  It was a good change, though.  No quick soak in the hot tub after as we are thinking about pregnancy again and I don't want to inadvertently boil something, or someone.  I've spent the past few days in quiet contemplation, trying to be thankful, and grateful, for everything I have.  I am doing my best to accept that I am here, living each day in an intense emotional state of grieving, learning, and growth, and that here is where I need to be though I wish I were somewhere, anywhere else.  (If wishes were horses, beggars would ride - right?).

It's warm again today.  I cannot believe it's almost October.  The days are speeding by, even though I thought they would drag without her.  I'm not sleeping much.  I stay awake until I am so exhausted I cannot keep my eyes open, only to fall into bed and lie awake for hours thinking, praying, hoping, wishing.  I stare into the darkness and recite my blessings over and over, hoping that someday soon the blessings will settle in, create a space in my heart, lessen the sorrow.  I am trying to be present in each day, each hour, each moment, instead of always standing on my tip-toes and peering into the distance, trying to find the spot on the horizon where today trips into tomorrow.      

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dreams and nonsense

The dreams came fast and furious last night.  I rarely remember my dreams, but I woke up this morning with two of them stored in a memory pocket in my brain that I wasn't aware existed.

First Dream:

An earthquake is coming.  No one knows how big it is going to be, or when exactly it will hit, but it is coming tomorrow.  I am in a panic, running around, not sure what to do, and the husband is calm.  He is certain the earthquake won't come.  I keep watching the dog, because when she starts to act strangely I am going to follow her cues and find a doorway or dive under a table.  A day goes by, no earthquake.  Then the husband prepares to leave.  I follow him around wherever we are (it's not a house, more like a random building and a lot of barren land in the desert) frantically asking why he is leaving me now when I don't know what to do when the earthquake hits.  There is talk of me being lost and not knowing what to do in a crisis without him.  He leaves.  I stay.  I am scared, and by scared I mean terrified.  The earthquake never comes.

Second Dream:

I am in a place I've never been before.  I've just finished dinner, but now I want dessert.  I am sitting in a chair and there is a huge field in front of me.  My sister appears at my side.  I ask her if she brought the baby.  She says yes and I thank her for watching the baby.  We walk across the long, long field, and as I get closer to an SUV that is parked at the curb at the end of the field I start running.  I fling open the door, reach in, and pull out a baby.  I wrap my arms around her and sob.  She is five, maybe six months old, but this is the first time I recall seeing her.  I cradle her, rock her, cry, and say, "She looks just like her sister," over and over and over.  The baby is beautiful, she is wearing a pink jacket and smiling.

There has been a lot of talk around here lately about trying to conceive.  I am dancing around the idea that my subconscious is telling me we are going to have another baby, a girl, and everything is going to be fine.  I want to believe that.  I want to believe that this is my mind's way of telling me to relax, that I am worrying about an earthquake, a catastrophe, that will never come.

This morning I woke up to a long e-mail reassuring me that I did not fail, that Charlotte's death was not my fault.  The writer went on to say that just because it happened once doesn't mean it will happen again.  That e-mail was like a breath of fresh air.  And it felt so strange to wake from those dreams and read that.

Am I creating something out of nothing here?  Possibly.  I feel calm today, though.  It is hot and muggy here, which I despise, but my soul feels at peace and I feel that today will be a day of quiet contemplation; a day when Charlotte will sit quietly with me, but I won't miss her with the deep, aching, breath stealing pain that symbolizes a bad day.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Questions on a Monday morning

I am in bed, and I know I need to get up, shower, walk out the door, drive 45 minutes, settle in at the desk at the bookstore, and work.  I always feel better when I go, but she sun is shining and all I want to do is pull the covers over my head and disappear.

We went to a friend's house last night to hang out and play games.  I've been avoiding these friends most of the summer.  They are three bachelor boys, and I love two of them dearly, and kind-of know one of them, and they are sweet, and kind, but not what I needed this summer.  The husband needed them.  He spent a lot of time at their house, and he still goes over at least once a week.  One of the bachelors has a girlfriend and he wanted us to meet her.  Or so the husband told me.  That's how he got me out of bed and over to their house.  I threw a fit an hour before we had to leave, because I wanted to stay in bed.  He eventually wrangled me into going by saying, "You made a commitment," and "T wants you there.  This is important to him."  I think T could've cared less, but I still dragged my sorry self over there.  

The evening was okay.  Most of the time I wanted to be back in bed, but the new girlfriend was nice, and I think they will get married so it was good to meet her.  At the end of the night I mentioned Charlotte.  It is nearly impossible for me to be in a room where she is not mentioned or acknowledged.  I feel like I'm suffocating.  Right now her death is the single most important event in my life.  I think there will come a time when other events, or moments will eclipse that.  The day we got married is the only one I can think of, but if there are to be other children there will be more births, and hopefully little lives brought into this world.  But for now her birth, and death, eclipses all, which seems appropriate; had she lived I would be focused on her entirely.  I am parenting here, but in a different way.  For me, parenting looks a lot like grieving.

I didn't mention her name.  I said, "We had a baby in May, but she died shortly after birth," and then left it at that.  I find myself using she when I talk to strangers, and her name when I talk to friends.  Is it a distancing?  An attempt to make others more comfortable?  It is impossible for me to distance myself from her.  I can try, I can use she, I can make it as impersonal as possible, but there is no escaping the fact that we had a baby and she died.  I can't think about it, because I feel shivery, feverish, like I may throw up.  If I focus my thoughts on that day, if I relive the labor, the pushing, her birth, the drive to the hospital, the cold baby in my arms, I feel numb and tears rush to my eyes.  So why do I force it on others?  I can't look my loss full in the face without backing down and cowering, so why ask others to?  Is it unfair?  Is it asking too much of near strangers, and sometimes, complete strangers?  

Once again I find myself hitting my fists against the wall society has built around infant loss.  Why can't we talk about it?  How do we shift from not speaking of it to openly living a life of grief and loss without feeling ashamed?  It is too early in the morning for these questions, but today I feel like I am in a walled garden, and the plants and trees are decaying all around me.  The gates are locked and I am only allowed out if I chain her memory, her soul, the grief, the pain, the sorrow to my arms and legs.  If I drag thousands of pounds out of that garden with my hands, my feet, through sheer determination, I am allowed to go out, but I must walk as if I am weightless.     

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sometimes we have fun around here

This is our new version of hide and seek  Isabel isn't too sure about it, but I like it.  She prefers it when we hide around the house and she has to find us.  I accidentally grabbed the old camera so the quality isn't great.

Hide and Seek from Angela Rodman on Vimeo.

Etc.

I made a mistake on my blog award post!  Transient Zeitgeist is not a private blog.  Go give Laurie some love.

I have been told by many people in my life that they have watched the video of Charlotte multiple times.  To make it a little easier I added a page on the right side of my blog underneath Charlotte's birth story.  Now it is easy to find and can be watched as many times as a person desires.  Thanks for the love; it took me a long time to create that little video.

We have now received four donations for our walk on October 16th.  Thank you to everyone who has donated so far.  We have enough for five memorial boxes for grieving families.  I am sad there will be five families who will require these boxes, but it is good they will have a few sweet memories of their babies.  

Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope now has merchandise!  I just purchased a sweatshirt with Charlotte's name and date of birth on the back.  I love it and can't wait to wear it.  I also purchased a key chain.  I wanted a coffee mug and tote bag too, but I managed to stop myself from buying one of everything.

I am contemplating writing a real blog post, but don't know if I will find the energy.  I may just watch Friday Night Lights until I fall asleep on the couch.  I love Tim Riggins.  On the show he's 17, but in real life he's 29 so it feels okay to be a little bit in love with him.

Feeling grateful for life and love tonight.  If you read this, I love you.  

Saturday, September 25, 2010

You Deliver Me

I received a bill in the mail yesterday.  Nearly $1,200.00 for a physician in the ER.  The bill was for Critical Care - 1st hour - and CPR.  I think it's wrong to be charged for an hour of critical care when Charlotte died shortly after arriving in the ER, but that's medical bills for you.  A few days ago I put all of Charlotte's medical records and bills away so I wouldn't have to see them sitting on the coffee table every day.  After ranting and raving for a while I went upstairs, hauled out Charlotte's medical bills, and called the company.  I was so mad that I had to go upstairs, take the files out, and revisit everything all over again.  There was a lot of stomping, many sighs, papers were flapped about, and slapped, and I wanted to throw something heavy out the window, shattering glass and scattering fragments of wood, so the whole world (or at least my little neighborhood) would know of my sorrow and anger.

I called the company in a panic because the bill was marked as 60-90 days past due.  Apparently they sent the bill to an old insurance company at an incorrect address.  I provided the correct information, and I don't think we will have to pay anything, but I do believe we are being charged twice.  We already paid the hospital for critical care and CPR - why do we have to pay a doctor too?  And this is an MD, which means he probably called the code and declared the time of death.  Is it really necessary to charge so much for that?

Yesterday was really hard.  I cried a lot.  I went back to the day she died and relived those horrible hours in the ER.  I thought we were finished with the medical bills.  Receiving another one in the mail was like a slap in the face, a reminder of that surreal day when she was born into the hands of my husband and midwife, only to breathe her last an hour and a half later.  

If you take away insurance (and I thank the Lord every day for our insurance coverage) here are the invoices from the day Charlotte died:

Physician's Portion of Emergency Dept. Care: $1,171.00 (this is the bill I received yesterday)
Hospital Bill: $9,081.66
Chest X-Ray: $30.00
Physician's Bill: $347.00 (why did we pay this physician only to be charged for a different one?  And they are two different people - I checked).
Life Flight: $12,143.00
Ambulance: $1,236.50

That's a whopping 24,009.16 for less than two hours of care.  If I had let the nurses in the ER admit me to the hospital we could add another $5,000.00 to that total.  And then there's the money we paid to Bella Vie on top of that.  We owed them more than we ended up paying, but they were good to us and let the remainder slide.  Thank the Lord for insurance, and everyone who donated to our medical fund.

And thank the Lord for the good friend who recommend this song to me (love you like a sister, and thank you for the e-mails, they sustain me).

    




  

Blog Award



Thank you to Alissa at On KK's Butterfly Wings and Elaine at Waves Over Stones for my first blog award.  I'm not sure if it counts as two since it is the same one, but I feel very loved.  This blog award is flying all over the place so if you receive more than one, I apologize.  Here are the rules:

1. Accept the award and post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his/her blog link.
2. Pay it forward to 10 other bloggers that you have recently discovered.
3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they have been chosen.

It was hard to choose, but here's my ten:

1. Emmett & Everett Forever Our Little Buddies (This is a private blog, but Leslie is wonderful and I had to nominate her.
2. Owl and Leaf 
3. Pinkskys and Dragonflys
4. Transient Zeitgeist (This one is private too - sorry).
5. The Story of Ethan James
6. Life After Benjamin
7. daily amos
8. For the Love of Harper
9. Memories for Molly
10. The Peeks (I've been reading Courtney's blog for a while now, but she needs love right now so I am adding her to my list).

Please go visit these wonderful mamas.  I love them dearly.  And thanks for the awards, friends.

 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Crossroads

I am feeling a little better.  The husband came home with chocolate and eggs so we had breakfast for dinner and I spent the evening in bed watching the first season of Friday Night Lights and eating chocolate.  (It is said that the only way out is through, but I think my way out, or at least to a more stable place, because really there is no out, just may involve 15 or more pounds of chocolate).  This is also how I spent my day, but I did get out of bed to make French toast and shower (as I mentioned in my last post - probably wouldn't shower if the husband wasn't around).

I think, no I know, I am having a hard time right now because we are standing at the trying to conceive crossroads and I don't know whether to go left or right.  How do I go forward from here?  How do I make the decision to try and bring another life into this world when I failed so spectacularly the first time around?  I can't wrap my head around it.  I know my decision, I know what I want to do, but actually knowing that it is now okay, medically speaking, I feel as if I am about to dive off a 250,000 foot cliff.  That's a long way to fall.  And that's what it will be.  Nine-ish months of free falling with no knowledge of whether or not there will be a net at the bottom of that cliff.  All I see is air, and space, and stars and I am freaking the heck out here.  So many things in life require a leap of faith, but this feels bigger than that.  If we lose a second baby I will have to rethink my entire life (again) and I'm not sure I have the strength to do that.

I am heart in my hands, stomach in my throat, standing on a precipice over a canyon filled with my darkest fears, terrified.  I'm peering over the edge, rocking back and forth, preparing myself to take a deep breath and jump.  I need to believe Charlotte wasn't my only chance, my one child.  She will always be here, but I have to believe there will be more children, because my heart is empty and shattered and I think having a baby here may help that.  It may only be a small fix, a piece of Scotch tape slapped over a gaping wound, but it will be a start.  I know what I am going to do.  As I labored to bring Charlotte into this world the words running through my head were never again, never again, never again.  Then she died, and three days later I found myself thinking I can do it again, I can do it again, I can do it again.  And I know I can.  I just need to scream into the night for a while in order to alleviate some of the terror and fear.  

I am so tired

It's cold today, but tomorrow it's supposed to warm up again.  I am ready for fall, I think I've made that clear, but it's not ready to settle in yet.  I woke up this morning and thought, The house is too cold.  The baby must be freezing.  We are terrible parents.  And then I remembered there is no baby to worry about.  Charlotte is dead and we never had the chance to be terrible, or good, parents.  She never lived here outside of me so why do I imagine she is here four months after I birthed her and she died?

I'm tired of this - the grieving, the sadness, the guilt; the feeling of never really being happy, but merely existing because I cannot wrap my mind around the other alternative: to not exist.  I am tired of running into people and pulling out my stock answers every time, because I don't know what else to say.  It goes something like this:

It's so good to see you!

Yes, I'm up, I'm out.  I usually throw my arms out at this point.  It's a bit like a ta-da - here I am! - as if I have confused my life with a Broadway play.  I'm always embarrassed by it, but I can't seem to control it.  

How are you? This is followed by a head tilt and concerned squint of the eyes.

I'm okay.  There's good days, and bad days, but most days are good.  This is a lie, an outright bold faced lie, but I continue to say it because it's what people want to hear.

And Jonathan?  How is he doing?

Oh, you know, he's fine.  It's been a hard summer, but he's okay.  Actually I have no idea how he is, but obviously I am supposed to know because everyone asks.  He is in his land of grief and I am in mine and every now and then the paths cross and we nod and mumble to each other and then go our separate ways.  We're fine, we will make it through this, but I hate it when other people ask me to gauge his grief.  What makes it worse is when people ask how we're doing.  I don't know.  We don't spend our time evaluating our marriage.  We don't have the energy for that right now.  We are surviving the best we can right now, and if I didn't have him I would be completely lost, and would probably never shower.

Well, it's wonderful to see you.  So glad you are up and out and doing things.

About the fourth time I had this conversation I wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out.  Now I have had this conversation 400 or so times and I can let my eyes glaze over and respond without thinking.

I'm just tired today.  Living without Charlotte requires so much energy and some days it is all I can do to lift my head off my pillow.  Today is one of those days.  It's raining outside, I turned on the heat this morning, because it was 63 degrees in the house, and I am going to spend my day crying and wishing this wasn't my life.

I know I've shared this song before, but it's the one on repeat today, along with I Will Carry You by Selah.  Having a full on pity day here and not going to apologize for it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you."

I told myself I wouldn't write here today.  I posted twice yesterday so I thought I would take a break, but I just can't quit daily blogging.  I think a lot, I write a lot, and most days some of those thoughts and words end up here.  This will be a short one though, I promise.

I am not writing as furiously as I was a week or two ago, but I am still writing a lot.  I've combined some of my earlier writing, from those initial days of loss, with my current writing, and I am beginning to wonder if it is something I want to share.  I am circling, circling, circling the idea, but not yet ready to commit to anything.  It feels good to write.  My wrists ache, my shoulders hurt, but the pain stems from creativity, and I am unable to stop writing so I will work through the pain.  When I am sitting immobile on the couch and suddenly get hit upside the head with the urge to write it feels wonderful.  Perhaps the words I write will never leave my living room, but each sentence I finish is a stitch in my broken, split open heart.

* Title quote from Ray Bradbury

      

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mary Poppins & Grief

This is what happens when I can't fall asleep.  I lay in bed tossing and turning, I start thinking about Mary Poppins, or some other random thing, and then I eventually throw off the covers and wander out to the couch to write because I won't be able to fall asleep until I do.

Have decided we need someone to take over our lives for a while, because we are not managing the small things very well.  On Saturday we received a water shut-off notice and I instantly went into crazy hen mode (running about, flapping my arms and screeching - so maybe it’s actually crazy owl mode).  The husband calmly informed me he had missed one payment, but had rectified the situation and the letter was probably sent before the payment was received.  This did not stop the freaking out; once that gets going I am helpless to turn it off.

A couple weeks before the bright yellow water shut-off notice appeared in our mailbox (still recovering from that, it was really bright.  As soon as I saw the color through the window I started freaking out.  The husband was all, “Calm down, you haven’t even opened it yet.  And I was all, “It’s yellow!  That means we have been bad and they are going to shut off the water!) we missed a mortgage payment.  We had the money in the account, but for some reason our bank requires us to transfer it from checking to savings.  We called the bank, and everything was fine since we have never missed a payment before, and called before we were five days late, but I spent a day or two in a panic after receiving that bright pink notice in the mail.  If a month from now I am sitting in my house with no water and no electricity you will know why.  If I still have my house, that is.

The husband and I have had money issues in our marriage before (different story, different day) so when things like this crop up I go from zero to level four meltdown in sixty seconds or less.  To be honest, it’s usually only about three seconds before the screeching reaches a level only the dog can hear.  We are terrible at sticking to a budget.  It feels shameful to admit, both of our parents are very good with money, but we cannot wrap our heads around the budgeting concept.  We used to joke that we were having Charlotte so someone in the house would keep the budget.

This summer we discovered we like to spend money when we are sad.  We burned through paycheck after paycheck, never you mind silly things like savings accounts and putting money in them.  Now that the crazy grief spending has abated a bit we are both picking ourselves up, dusting the money glitter off, and attempting to be more adult about our spending choices.  The husband put money into our savings account this month and when I saw the account balance in our checking account I started screeching only to be shown the new amount in our savings account.  Huh.  I kind-of forgot that amount could increase.

Part of the issue is me.  Of course.  It takes two, right?  I usually gather the bills, tell the husband what to pay, and he executes the payment.  I harass him throughout the month - did you pay this, did you pay that, did this automatic payment go through - and in that way we muddle through the bill paying.  I’ve started to do something rather shameful.  We have a large closet next to the front door and at the front of it, on the left side near the window (a window in a closet? I know, it’s too adorable, one of the main reasons I thought we should buy the house) is the mail slot.  Every day I open the closet door, look to my right, see the stroller, think about moving it to the room where all of the other baby things are, sigh, turn to my left, stumble over piles of shoes, sports gear, and umbrellas, bend over, and sort through the mail.  If there is a letter or card from a baby loss mama or friend, a movie from Netflix, or a catalog that looks interesting, I pluck it from the bin and carry it out of the closet with me.  If it’s anything that looks remotely like a bill, or junk mail or, God forbid, a baby related item, I leave it in the bin for another day.  After a day or two the guilt gets to me and I fetch the bills and junk mail and sort through them.  The baby related items stay in the bin until I have the courage to gather them up and run for the trash can.  I don’t think I am the reason we are late on paying things, but I am not doing my job of opening the bills when they come and telling the husband what to pay.

Therefore, our need for a helper.  Initially I thought we needed a robot.  Someone who would help us remember to pay the bills, or even do it for us, clean the house, do the laundry, cook, help us with the day to day tasks that are so hard to master these days.  Then I realized a robot would be too impersonal.  I need a Mary Poppins in my life, but one who specializes in grief, not children.

Wouldn’t that just be perfect?  The day someone in your life dies a kind woman floats into your life via an umbrella and the wind, and you don’t have to do a thing for a year.  You don’t have to pay her, or thank her, or be nice to her.  She is there to help you through the grief.  She will hand you tissues, make you hot chocolate, dash up the stairs with food for the husband, clean the house, the dishes, the clothes.  Since she is magical she will come with magical things.  An endless supply of Kleenex and candles, an ability to converse with the sweet babe you lost so that you know she is okay, songs and stories to help you through the hard times, hugs, and the ability to know when you need to be left alone (if you remove the magic from the equation, I think I have just described my midwife).

When she appears a house will pop up in your yard, garden, or, if you live in an apartment, just outside your window (Hey, we’re talking magic here people.  Anything is possible).  The house will be small, but when she steps inside it will be large and beautiful with a view of a lake,  and it will be a calm place where she can escape from the craziness and grief for a while.  She will bring with her a Bat-signal of sorts which she will project over your house.  People will walk by, see the tiny house in the yard, or hovering outside a window, look up, and see the signal.  If you have lost a babe there will be a tiny rattle in the signal and then everyone will know the sadness you now carry.  It will be real, tangible, and people will stop and think of you, pray for you, and love you.  There will be no harsh words, no commands to get over it, no missed bills, no threatening water shut-off notices, but love, understanding, and compassion.  For we are living the hardest moments of our lives, and I think we would all cry with relief if a Mary Poppins sort appeared in our yards with tissues and consoling words.



I don't think you ever get over it

This is a whole lot of rambling and wandering, but at the end, the final paragraph, there is something I really want to share.  Feel free to skip down to it, I'm not making much sense tonight.

I worked at the bookstore today.  I want to sit at home and be sad day in and day out, but it is good for me to pull myself together and show up at the store one day a week.  When I walk into the office there is a pile with my name on it.  I love having something I can do that is helpful.  I carry a stack of catalogs, or as I did today a box of catalogs, to the desk that used to be mine and I sit down and begin inputting data.  Some days that is all I do, transfer data from the catalogs to the computer.  Then there are days like today.  I am handed a big box of catalogs and the option to buy what I think is best for the store.  The owner flips back through, and makes the final buy, but initial decisions are mine, and I love being the first to turn the pages of a book catalog and circle titles.

I've been buying books long enough that I know almost instantly if a title is right for the store.  I possess an innate talent wherein I can flip through a catalog and say yes, yes, no, yes, yes, yes, no, no, no with relative ease.  And if you hand me a children's catalog it's even easier for me.  I get hung up on gardening titles and cookbooks, but the owner is strong in those categories so we work well together.  All of this rambling to make this one point: buying books is part of my healing process.  It is a confidence restorer and I so badly need that right now.  I don't understand why so many of who have lost babies suffer from social anxiety, and a loss of confidence as well.  I am not good at many things, and I am not being self-deprecating here, I really am not, but the first time I sat down with a book catalog I knew how to proceed and what to do.  I love buying books, and going in to the bookstore one day a week to do just that has led me to believe that if the worst should happen - if I cannot get pregnant again, if the next baby dies - there is something I can do that I am good at.  I believe I am meant to be a parent, but I worry I am meant to parent babies in heaven only.    

After a full day of book buying (about 5 hours) I wandered from the back of the store to select a couple books and a calendar.  One of my former co-workers was standing at the front of the shop browsing.  I haven't seen her since Charlotte died, but when she looked up and saw me I walked over to her and we hugged for a while.  You see, she lost a baby too.  Years ago her first born son, Jeffrey, died shortly after birth.  We talked about Charlotte, about what had happened, what went wrong.  Then I asked about her baby.  I said, "It was a boy, right?"  She said yes.  "What was his name?" I asked, because if years from now someone hears of my loss that is what I would want them to ask.  She paused for a moment and looked away.  I thought I had asked the wrong question, perhaps they hadn't named him, but then she said "Jeffrey Laverne."  We talked a bit more and then she said, "I don't think you ever get over it."  And, well, there you have it.  It's been years since she said good-bye to her baby boy, but he still resides in her heart.  I know she stops here every now and again to see how I am.  So, dear friend, if you happen across these words, know I am thinking of you and sweet Jeffrey tonight.  

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Processing

Today has been a pajama and couch day.  When I woke up this morning I lit a candle for Charlotte and it is still burning all these hours later.



I am going through candles at an alarming rate; perhaps we should purchase stock in a candle company.  I needed a quiet day to recover from the weekend.  We had two birthday parties for three wonderful people we love very much, but that is a lot of social interaction for this sad mama.

I am still recovering from the terrifying moment when I had my first encounter with a baby girl since Charlotte died.  The moment when I jumped off the couch, dashed through my friend's bedroom, into her bathroom, and then into her closet.  I huddled there, listening to the party happening in the living room, sobbing, and trying to find the courage to pull myself together and rejoin the party.  Without thinking I ran as far away as I could without leaving the house.  My run to safety was instinctual and I scared myself with how quickly I moved; without thinking, and seemingly without my knowledge or consent, I jumped up, muttered "I need a minute" and took off.  Fight or flight - I understand the notion now.

When I was sitting on the bed crying the husband came in.  I was nervously running my hands through my bereavement necklaces over and over and they were hopelessly tangled.  "Please, can you fix these?" I asked him.  He knelt before me and said, "Of course, baby, I can fix anything."  I sobbed while he carefully untangled the mess and then said, "If only you could."  He has been so good to me since she died.

In an attempt to leave the bathroom I washed my face over and over in the sink.  I stared at my red, puffy eyes and looked at the husband with despair.  "How can I go back out there?  I'm so embarrassed.  What is wrong with me?"  He reassured me that no one cared, that no one noticed, that we were among friends.  And then for some reason I recalled Dr. K asking me a question about good days and bad days and my response being, "It's only been four months."  She then said "Well, yes, it really hasn't been that long, but hopefully there are more good days than bad days now."  And I quickly responded yes, because I wanted to say the right thing, and thankfully in this case what I perceived to be the right thing was the truthful thing too.  And as I stood in that bathroom splashing cold water on my face I thought to myself: "It's only been four months.  This is normal.  It's okay."

When we left the party I apologized to the friend whose bathroom I appropriated and she said, "Never apologize.  You don't have to worry about that here."  I know that intrinsically, but it is so embarrassing to have a friend stumble on you huddled in her closet door crying and ashamed.  But this is the friend who understands.  Who saw me crouched in the dim light and said, "I'm sorry. Is it the baby?" and then hugged me and told me to curl up on her bed and take as much time as I needed.      

Still, though, on the way home I curled up in the passenger seat and complained about my inability to hold it together.  This sent the husband into an uncharacteristic state of anger and frustration wherein he said many things along the lines of who cares, our baby died, I was not embarrassed to have my wife leave the party so you need to stop worrying about what people think, and so on and so forth.  Then he said he had been thinking about why couples who lose babies get divorced.  He said maybe it's not only blame, but the fact that we are like wounded animals who have been backed into a corner.  We stop caring so much about how others feel, including those most dear to us, and we lash out and say and do things without thinking.  We are wounded, and we are cornered, so we thrash about and wound others, because it is all we can do to survive. Although he did not say anything about my apparent inability to stop thinking about everyone else's feelings, the idea of that hovered between us.

I've said before that Charlotte's death has dredged up every insecurity I possess.  I worry constantly about making sure everyone is okay.  I don't want anyone to be mad at me, or upset with me, or spend too much time with me.  I worry about being a burden and needing a lot of attention and help to make it through the day.  I worry people won't like me.  So when I saw that baby girl and scurried from the room just as fast as I could go all of my insecurities trailed after me.  Did people notice?  Did I ruin the party?  What if the couple who brought the baby don't like me because I was standoffish and aloof?  I worry, worry, worry, and all the while the husband is telling me to turn off the worry because it is probably causing the stomach aches, restless nights, and insane crying jags (or maybe that's just the dead baby; it's so hard to pinpoint) and if I could just calm down and focus on making it through one day at a time life may be a little easier for me.

I have to remind myself that there is strength here too.  It may not seem like it, but I am not a complete mess all of the time.  Friday was a hard day for me.  It's been a while since I had a truly hard day and it's been difficult to remember how to recover from an emotionally upsetting day.  Thursday was hard, Friday was hard, but now it's Sunday and I am feeling okay.  I am wrapped up in blankets on the couch.  A sweet smelling candle is burning on the coffee table.  I cleaned the house a bit today.  I gathered all of the cards and letters that have come in the mail recently (thank you for the support everyone, it is appreciated) and placed them in the memory box that contains cards and gifts.  I sat on the couch, lifted the giant stack of cards out of the box, and remembered how far I've come since that sunny morning in May when my daughter breathed her last and went home to her Heavenly Father.  

(I just have to share a picture of how many cards we have received since May). 

 

And now that I have set these words down I am feeling better.  When I find it hard to cope, I write.  After writing about Friday night I am ready to set the situation down and stop thinking about it.  The first few weeks after Charlotte died I wrote down everything that happened to me.  I couldn't cope with day to day life so as I lived it I wrote about it, but didn't process it.  I have been reading through my personal journals from that time and I am shocked by what I wrote down.  It's strange to go back and read through the details and emotions of the first few weeks.  There is so much there; verbatim conversations with my midwife, who I saw, what I ate, how I felt, but it is necessary for me to begin to process those days now that I feel ready.  Knowing I can read those pages any time I need to remind myself of how strong I am, how well I am doing, how hard life is without her, brings peace.  And in the future when I am able to not only look a baby girl in the eye, but hold her too, I will come back to these words and once again see that I am making it; I am living, and surviving, and doing the best I can, without my sweet Charlotte.    

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Change of Seasons

I am finally sitting down and writing a post for the Monthly Writing Challenge over at Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope.  September's topic: How has the changing of seasons (from summer to fall) impacted you in your grief journey?

When Charlotte died on May 14th I didn't see myself living until the fall.  I couldn't see myself living in a world without her and my initial instinct was to hold very still and hope to join her in heaven.  But then the need for food, love, companionship, a breath of fresh air, seeped into my life and I got out of bed and decided to live for her; as a means to carry her memory forward.  

After living through spring and summer, when the grief was so fresh, fall feels like a calm respite, a coming home of sorts.  Of course the feeling of relief is tinged with bitterness, after losing her all feelings, even the good ones have a hint of bitterness and sadness.  There are also bittersweet memories from last fall.  Charlotte was conceived at the end of August.  We had our first appointment with our midwife in September.  We shared the news with friends and family at the end of September/beginning of October.  Our lives changed one year ago, and then thirty-eight weeks later they shifted once again.  

In welcoming my favorite season I do feel some joy.  As I type this the rain is falling and listening to it hit the sidewalks, plants and roofs is my favorite sound.  I hate this transitional time when it is 70 degrees outside and pouring rain.  The past few days we have been living in a muggy wonderland, but I will always take today over a 90 degree day in August.  Now that the rain has started falling I open the blinds around the house and welcome the view.  I kept the blinds closed most of the summer because I could not believe the sun would shine when my heart was so throughly broken.  The sunshine made me think of these lines from 'Funeral Blues' by W. H. Auden

"The stars are not wanted now; put out every one, 
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun, 
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods; 
For nothing now can ever come to any good."

I cannot wait to curl up on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate, a huge fire roaring in our new fireplace.  And yet there will be the space next to me, the empty space where a babe should be snuggled up.  I am glad summer is over, and as fall slowly seeps into my life I welcome it, but as each day passes I am aware that it is one more day since I last held her.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Unexpected

Attended a daddy/daughter Western themed birthday party tonight.  There were cowboy hats, and Western shirts, and fun was had by all.  Then one last family trailed through the door well after everyone else had arrived. They had a baby girl.  Not very young, but not walking yet.  I shuffled off to my friend's bathroom just as fast as I could go.  I cried in the dark until she came in and exclaimed, "Oh!  I didn't know you were in here."  It took me a long time to work up the nerve to rejoin the party.  The husband sat with me for a while and said we could leave if we needed to.  I managed to get myself together enough to sit through the presents, cake eating, and game playing.  Sitting in a darkened bedroom, head in my hands, sobbing, I could hear the guests in the living room singing happy birthday and I couldn't believe that this is my life now.  When I emerged from the bedroom I curled up on the couch next to another dear friend and she helped me limp through the rest of the party.  My first encounter with a baby girl.  It was like being struck by lightning; it was painful, shocking, left me gasping.  

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How does it feel?

I was going to write about the change of seasons for the Faces of Loss monthly writing challenge.  However, I have way too many thoughts floating around in my head to sit down and calmly, or not so calmly, write about the seasons.  So let me rant and rave today and then tomorrow I will write about seasons and how I feel about them.  Or maybe it's a double post kind of day and the seasons post will follow soon after.

I went to Dr. B's office today to talk about the results from my thyroid test last week.  I met with Dr. K this time around instead of Dr. B.  It didn't go very well.  I am used to Dr. B.  She knows when to ask questions, when to leave a topic alone, what to say, what not to say.  This other doctor, Dr. K, does not.  She was trying to be helpful, she was doing her best to help me handle some of the health issues that have cropped up recently (so tired of the nausea and random throwing up) but she failed to consider, or notice, how hard it is for me to talk about Charlotte.

We were talking about grief, about how there are good days and bad days.  Dr. K said she wanted to give me a flower essence to help me through the hard times.  Okay, great, I'm taking about 100 tinctures right now, what's one more?  Dr. K asked how I feel when the grief hits.  Well, it doesn't really hit, it's around all the time.  When I just stared at her she asked me how the bad moments feel, if it's only emotional, or physical too.  I told her it was mainly emotional, but it depended on the day.  I told her I didn't want to talk about it because I would cry.  She said it was fine to cry.  Then she turned to a huge flower essences book on her desk and flipped to a page she had marked with a post it note.  In the middle of the page I saw the word Grief in big bold lettering followed by a list of different essences.  Dr. K looked at me and said, "If I knew how it felt I could help you.  Can you tell me how you feel when the grief hits?"  And then I started crying.  How can I tell someone who has never held a cold, lifeless baby what it feels like?  It is inexplicable.  It is beyond words.

Somewhere in the middle of the conversation, and I cannot honestly remember when, Dr. K said, "I'm a midwife.  I have had patients lose babies.  They have gone on to have beautiful families."  And then I wanted to punch her.  Instead I cried and said, "I still can't tell you.  I don't know how to put it into words."  She then said something else about future children and pregnancies.  I don't know what exactly she said, but it felt out of context and I gave her a puzzled look and responded with, "No, I am not thinking about that when I am sad about Charlotte."  When I am sad about Charlotte, I am sad about her.  Not future babies.  I must not have been following her very well.  That comment made no sense to me.  After a moment with me crying and her alternately staring at me and her book I said, "We lost an entire lifetime with our daughter.  I don't know how to put that into words."

Eventually she dropped the subject and we quickly went over my treatment plan before I left her office.  The entire time we were going over the plan I was sniffling, wiping my eyes, trying to discreetly wipe my nose.  There were no tissues in the office and she never offered one which made me angrier.

Now I feel bad.  I feel bad for writing this and I feel bad for being mad at Dr. K, but I cried most of the way home.  I felt like she was pushing me to say something I couldn't say, or didn't want to say.  In her attempts to help me she stepped over the line and ended up hurting me.  I wanted to scream at her.  I wanted to shout, Dr. B and I have this all worked out.  Who are you to come in here and offer me flower essences and ask me unanswerable questions?  If you really could make it better, if explaining to you how it feels would make it better, I would find the words, but there is no making it better.  You can't fix this.  

All I want is for people to understand my loss, but when Dr. K asked me how the grief feels I nearly lost my manners.  I feel like I failed, because I can't speak of what it is to be without her.  I can write, I can form words with a pen, with this keyboard, but I cannot speak of my sorrow.  But isn't there something wrong with assuming that the grief stays the same, that I can distill all of the pain, sorrow, and emotion into a twenty minute conversation with a doctor?  This brings me back to a core truth that I learned shortly after Charlotte died: our society does not understand grief.  We have lost touch with the rituals of mourning and loss and now we suffer from the lack.

I'm exhausted.  On the bright side of things: my levels are normal.  The thyroid medication is completely out of my system now and I am healthy and doing well with plant extracts only.

Have I mentioned how much I love the new Sara Bareilles album?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wherever you are, my love will find you

I love Nancy Tillman.  Her books always make me cry.  When I flipped through her latest book I thought of Charlotte.  I won't share the entire book with you, that would be crazy, but here are two of my favorite sections.  And one gorgeous illustration.  








In tears.  Missing my baby, but my love will find her, wherever she is.  

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Heavy Heart

Another post.  More to say.  My heart is heavy.  I was up late last night.  I don't see sleep happening anytime soon tonight.  I may be sleeping on the couch again.  I am so restless and I hate to keep the husband up, or wake him up, when he has to work tomorrow.

I am struggling with the idea of unfairness.  Everyone has something they are dealing with, but my loss, my sadness, seems so huge and unwieldy.  I don't understand how I ended up here.  I get so caught up in wondering what I did wrong and why I am the one who has to walk this path.  I wouldn't wish this on anyone else though.  I think of friends, of sweet babies who are here, living and breathing, and I don't want them to disappear.  I just want Charlotte here too.  All I have is missed opportunities and lost dreams and I don't know how to reconcile that with faith, hope, fairness, truth.  She was here, then she was fighting, now she is dead, and I am left behind spinning in circles and desperately seeking a fixed point so I can slow down, focus on something, and find my way out of the grief.

But there is no out.  Someday there may be a lessening, but there is no exit.  No chance for me to tell whomever is in charge, okay, I have had enough.  I don't want to light any more candles, or cry any more tears, or notice the passing of another month without my baby.  I want to go back in time and alter the scene of her passing.  I want to be the artist who sketches the moment when she comes back to me, when she breathes on her own and is restored.

This is pure selfishness.  When I think about that day, and those few moments when I saw her, I think of her as tiny, weak, and frail.  Something was wrong and I wish I knew what it was, but I don't so I convince myself it was me; I didn't eat enough, or love her enough, or any other number of things.  If I could push aside the egotistical thoughts and see the truth I would realize she simply was not healthy enough to survive outside of the shelter of my body.

Babies die.  Parents die.  Siblings die.  Friends die.  The dead are fine.  It is us, the grieving masses, the shattered souls left behind, who suffer, who mourn, who bargain with God, who are lost.

4 Months

Charlotte,

I miss you.  I can't believe I have lived four months without you.  I am worried about you fading, baby girl.  I remember holding your sweet foot in my hand and pleading with you to fight, to stay with us, but your face, your sweet baby face, flickers in my mind, fading in and out of focus, and I worry I will wake up one day to blackness, no picture, no ghost of an image, only a blank world full of sorrow and loss.  

I am sad for so many reasons tonight, baby girl.  I miss you intensely, but the sadness isn't only for me tonight.  I stayed up late last night reading through stories on Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope.  It takes me so long to edit one story.  I start reading, get completely lost in the story, wander to the mama's blog, read there for a while, and then realize an hour has passed.  I am sad for all the parents who are missing their babies tonight.  Whether it's been four months, four days, or four years this loss hurts.  That is a universal truth.  Every time I read another mama's story I add another name to my mind, another baby to the corner of my heart where angel babies live.  My heart is full, Charlotte.

There are good things happening.  The fabulous mamas behind Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope launched a new campaign today.  I love it.  They are working tirelessly to help parents who have lost children, and fighting so hard to make the world aware of baby loss.  2,000 women a day suffer from pregnancy and infant loss.  There are a lot of people missing babies tonight.

So many people love you and speak your name.  You have a special spot in so many hearts, but I wish you were here.  I will wish for that until the day I join you in heaven.  All I want is you, here, healthy, smiling and kicking.  I don't know what it's like to have a four month old.  I only know what it is to miss you with every breath I take.      

Mama misses and loves you, baby girl.  Our favorite midwife visited today.  She misses you too.  And your Daddy, he misses you and the life he was excited to live with you.  His heart is broken, and so is mine, but we are surviving baby, and we can't wait to see you again.    

     

Monday, September 13, 2010

Crazy, irrational rage

Here I go again.  Stepping out and being honest even though it's embarrassing and shameful.

This evening I had an incredible rage fit.  And I do mean incredible.  It was like an out of body experience.  I have had a few of these moments since Charlotte died.  I don't know where the rage comes from.  I think it may come from the dark place where the feelings of unfairness and unhappiness moved in the day she died.  This rage has to stem from something, and it's only been around since she died, so I'm pretty sure my feelings of hurt and anger about her death are the root cause.

There was one night, maybe two months after she died, when I lost my temper and kicked our bedroom door in.  Wood splinters flew everywhere, there is a small, but not very noticeable crack in our bedroom door, and every time I see it I remember that moment of incredible rage.  It was not my finest moment.  And tonight wasn't either.

I screamed at my husband on our front porch, never mind the neighbors who were sitting on their front porches.  What I was screaming about was irrational and unfair and had no validity whatsoever.  I don't know where my rational self disappears to when the rage takes over.  I imagine she is crouched in a corner somewhere with her hands over her ears waiting for the storm to pass.

The husband and I made up.  I groveled.  I stood below the ladder and handed tool after tool to him while he worked on the shed he is building.  We are okay.  But I do not like the rage girl who has taken up residence in my life since Charlotte died.

I have a lot going on in my head right now, but that doesn't make it okay for me to act the way I did this evening.  I woke up feeling fine this morning, no sick to my stomach feeling in sight, which is making me question myself and my sanity.  Apparently I have set up camp in crazy and irrational land for now.  At least the view is different from here.  I was getting tired of too sad to move and too depressed to get out of bed land.        

I am going to spend the rest of my evening sitting on the couch thinking about my bad behavior.  It's like a self imposed time out, but a kind one, as there are chocolate chip cookies involved.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Inspired

I don't know what's happening to me.  I sat down last night and began writing.  Three hours later I was at fifteen pages.  Today I'm at thirty-three.  Words are pouring out of me and I have no idea where they are coming from. I feel Charlotte sitting next to me on the couch.  I have pushed most of the cushions to the far end and so there is plenty of room for her little soul to curl up next to me.  The husband can fit next to me on this gigantic couch when I sit like this, so I am sure she is snuggled in no problem.  Charlotte is cheering me on, clapping her chubby little hands and saying, "Go Mama!"  The words I am writing may never live anywhere but on my computer.  It feels good to write them anyway.

Last night I wandered upstairs to tell the husband (yes, I know most readers know his name is Jonathan, but I call him husband around the house and that tends to carry over to this space) about my sudden burst of creativity.  I was sitting on the old green futon, which actually is just a mattress, no frame (we need to get rid of it someday.  I wonder why we still have it) blathering about what I had written and how good it felt.  He looked down at me from his computer chair and said, " I don't know what will come of this, but I haven't seen you smile this much in a long, long time.  And that is a good thing."  

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering her even when I find it hard to speak

I woke up feeling fine this morning.  I thought the nausea was linked to anxiety and nerves, like I originally thought, and then felt stupid for having my hCG levels checked.  (I hope my midwife and Dr. B know they are not dealing with a rational person and don't mind obliging my crazy moments).  The past hour the nausea has slowly been creeping back in and now I am feeling very ill again.  I'm eating small amounts, making sure to take my tinctures at regularly scheduled times, and hoping for answers on Thursday.  I don't think my thyroid levels are off, because I don't feel like I have in the past when my levels have been off.  I'm usually pretty good at pinpointing thyroid symptoms as soon as they crop up.

Now that I know I'm not pregnant I feel I can admit I didn't want to be.  Having another little one due in May would've been too hard for me to handle.  I hope to be pregnant in the near future, but I need the next one to run on a different timeline.  It's hard to find a balance between wanting a baby and simply wanting Charlotte back.  The few days I thought I may be pregnant I worried constantly about intentions, thoughts, and feelings.  Am I planning to get pregnant again for the right reasons?  I don't know.  Maybe no one who loses a baby ever really knows.  I feel like when Charlotte died I chose the have more babies path, and now that's the one I'm walking on.  I cannot fathom the other paths - never having more biological children, never having living children in my life - which makes me think I am doing what is right for me.  Life after your baby dies is very confusing.

I am trying my best to hold myself together so others don't have to anymore.  I've been failing miserably on that front.  I know it's okay to be needy, but it's been four months and I think I should stop relying on certain people so much.  It's not their responsibility to make sure I am fine.  I need to have more control over my life and emotions.  Or maybe I am putting too much pressure on myself.  Again.  Always.  Finding balance has been nearly impossible since Charlotte died.

When we were up in Seattle we visited three different people.  All three had Charlotte's picture somewhere in their living space.  On the mantle, on the refrigerator, on the window sill in a frame.  I'm grateful for that.  Seeing her in a different context causes my breath to catch in my throat.  She is nestled so deeply in my heart sometimes I forget she exists elsewhere, in other hearts and minds.  I cannot speak of her.  It's too painful most of the time, but I am glad she is loved and remembered.  I desperately want people to remember her, but worry she will be forgotten since I cannot form words, only tears, when I think of her.  I can write.  I've been writing since the day after she died.  But I find speaking difficult and uncomfortable.  I worry about how my words will make others feel.  And I worry about others talking about how her death affected them.  I hate when I see sadness in others eyes.  It brings the guilt crashing down.  Had I saved my daughter so many people would feel less pain and sadness.  I know there was no saving, nothing I could've done, but if only I could've breathed for her until she could do so on her own.  I am struggling right now with family events and spending time with family members.  I know I'm not alone in this.  It's hard to reenter life without the child you thought you would have.  There are young children in my life.  I want them to know it is okay to speak of baby loss, but how can I convince them of this when I cannot speak of it, much less see them?

While in Seattle my aunt said something that is my mantra for now: Right now is just one hard day, in one hard week, in one hard year.  This sadness, this pain, this inability to make decisions will pass.  It's nearly been four months now and when I peer behind me to where I was in May I know the pain is already easing a little bit.  I miss her, but I am learning how to live and breathe through the sadness.  

On a completely unrelated note: I bought the new Sara Bareilles album and I love it.  It's not all whining and sad times around here.  I do have good moments every now and again.    

    

Friday, September 10, 2010

I'm Confused

Well, AF showed up this morning so I am now trying to ascertain what my issue is.  My body and I have been in a protracted fight since Charlotte died.  Random spotting, 28 day cycles, 32 day cycles, lots of cramping, and not much sense.  Woke the husband up at 1 am because I was crying.  I couldn't sleep because my stomach hurt, but I was exhausted and desperate to fall asleep.  I don't feel anxious, and anxiety sick is different than this kind of sick.  Have decided this is my body's way of making me even more miserable and angry with it.  Still in bed.  Haven't showered or brushed my teeth.  Had a protein bar, some raisins, don't really feel like eating much.  I don't feel depressed, but perhaps this is a failure to cope.  I keep asking my husband if crazy people know they're crazy.  I feel very calm, but is my perspective trustworthy?  

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I think I may be losing my mind

I went away for a little while.  I went to Seattle to see family and try to clear my head.  No head clearing happened, I just don't think that's possible for me anymore, but it was good (and necessary) to see family.  Went up on Wednesday, returned this evening.  It's not as easy as it used to be, but my sister did all of the driving so my only job was to stay awake and talk to her.

That thing I couldn't talk about has been resolved.  I knew it would be, but waiting for it to happen was stressful.  Someone filed claims about Charlotte's birth with the Oregon Health Licensing Board.  My midwife and the birth center were investigated, we had to provide Charlotte's autopsy report (which was difficult for me) and I nearly lost my mind.  I'm not going to say too much here about what was said.  It's over, I don't want to think about it anymore.  But I will say this: to claim that someone in the health care field didn't do everything in their power to save a patient is a bold statement and one that requires a lot of nerve and bravery.  If the claim is true then the person in question should be investigated.  However, to make the claim with no knowledge of the situation, or the wonderful, caring midwife involved, is untruthful and unkind.  I have no idea who filed the claims, but I think someone was trying to use my daughter's birth, and death, to make a political statement.  The political climate for birth workers in Oregon is particularly nasty right now.  I've been in seclusion.  I am surrounded by kind people who love me (most of the time).  To have someone crash into my grief bubble and make accusations about my midwife - who loves Charlotte, and is sad for us, and who is taking care of me even when she doesn't have to - nearly broke what was left of my cracked spirit.

I said I wasn't going to say much about it, but I've never been one for keeping it simple.  I'm done now.  

The other reason I needed a bit of head clearing was my apparent ability to play mind games with myself.  I thought I was pregnant.  I've been very sick to my stomach for ten or so days now.  When I saw Dr. B on Tuesday I asked her to check my hCG levels.  The test came back negative.  I have every single symptom I had with Charlotte, but I guess it is all in my head.  AF is not yet late, so Dr. B said to wait on that piece of the puzzle before trying to figure out what is wrong.  And something is definitely wrong.  I am very, very nauseated.  The thought of being pregnant threw me into a tailspin, because it would be nearly a year to the day I got pregnant with Charlotte.  I am feeling very crazy, and am worried about my sanity.  Once again I cannot handle what is happening so I am going to hide for a few days.  Me + bed + Netflix + books until AF comes or the husband commits me to an institution for the lost (is there such a thing?).

I feel like I am running from crisis to crisis and I am beginning to wonder if I am doing this to myself.  Although the investigation was definitely out of my hands.  The husband and I have always stood behind our midwife and the birth center.  I am worried about my health, but won't have any answers about that for a little while.  On Thursday I have an appointment to go over my thyroid panel results with another doctor in Dr. B's practice.  Maybe I am just having one heck of a hormonal imbalance.

It was nice to go to Seattle, but I do not do well being away from home and the husband.  When I received the call from Dr. B about the test being negative all I could think about was how much I missed my bed, and the safe corner on the couch.  Maybe my midwife is right when she says I should travel with one of my couch cushions.  It would be a very large security blanket.

My nearly four-year-old nephew came to Seattle with us.  We were driving to lunch today and he said, "Charlotte went away.  But you stayed here with me."  Yes, yes I did.  Some days I wish I was with her.

It is time to go to ground.  Need some time to recover and contemplate my sanity.      


  

Monday, September 6, 2010

Wide awake and missing my baby

Charlotte,

I should be curled up next to your daddy right now, sleeping the night away, dreaming of your sweet face.  I feel like I am on the precipice of something huge, baby girl, and I cannot find perspective right now.  There has been lots of worry, much tossing and turning, many tears.  The reassurances that everything is going to be okay, that all will unfold as planned, bounce off me and shatter on the ground.  I am continually reminded that people can be cruel, and heartless, and that formulating any sort of plan, setting down any ground rules, is futile.  I feel you slipping away, baby girl.  In a week the 14th will be here again and I will have one more month without you etched into my heart.

Peace is elusive.  Right now I would give anything for a small bit of relief.  I don't need the adrenaline rush of peace, of feeling like all is right with the world, but a small measure of calm would be welcome.  I think tonight is a couch night, baby girl.  I'm too restless to sleep so I will curl up on the couch in the dark; your urn, your photos, your special things, watching over me from the niche above the fireplace.  Maybe I just need to be near you tonight.  I'm feeling very overwhelmed sweet girl.  I miss you, and as each day passes your features, and the slippery feel of you in my hands moments after you entered this world fade a little more.  

        

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Control

I believe one of the reasons I am struggling so much right now is because things are happening that are out of my control.  That's life though, right?  What we can control is so little, and really, when we think we are in control, the Lord doesn't fret about reminding us that we're not.  At all.  Those reminders are at times gentle, and at times so very harsh.

Today I heeded my midwife's clarion call to get my sad little self out of bed; even though putting my feet on the floor required anger and a bit of attitude.  I grumbled to myself all the while, but I threw back the covers, got up, and began making bread.  There is so much going on right now.  I'm worried I may be playing mind games with myself.  Instead of sitting around, staring at the ceiling, and thinking, I have decided to try and do something with myself each day.  There are a lot of unknowns in my life right now.  By the end of the week I hope there will be resolution on one or two fronts.

I'm trying to take small simple steps.  I'm hoping this will ease the worry and hurt a little bit.  There is still a lot of hand sitting happening over here so I don't inadvertently put my foot in my mouth.  I am so good at doing that.  Really wish I possessed more admirable traits.  I spent most of today writing, deleting, checking on my bread, circling back to the computer, writing, deleting.  Bread making is soothing.  I like rolling out the warm dough, feeling it slide through my fingers as a cool nearly fall breeze blows through my kitchen.  I'm trying so hard not to think right now I believe there will be a lot of bread in my near future.  Fair warning: if you know me in real life you may end up with a loaf (and right now I am sticking with cinnamon bread because I feel confident making it, so I hope you like cinnamon too).            

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Still Standing

Three days ago I was standing strong, not going to let anything bother me, being brave, blah blah blah.  The next day I rolled over, curled up in a ball on the ground, and started whimpering about life being unfair and too hard.  Yesterday I spent the entire day in bed watching Project Runway.  I was so overwhelmed I decided to bury my head in the sand and check out for a while.  I'm really not very tough at all, but it sure sounded good on paper.

Last night I had a level four meltdown.  I'm not sure how high the numbers go, but level four is up there.  I'm not going to put a cap on my meltdown numbers, because if I have learned anything in the past three months it's that life (or meltdowns) can always get worse.  The husband tried to reason with me, and tell me to stop taking things so personally, but I was beyond the point of logical reasoning.  Honestly I'm past that point most days, so to try and force the issue when a level four meltdown is happening was not going to get him anywhere.  I cried myself to sleep and woke up with intense pain in my left hip.  Apparently when I stay in bed too long my body gets mad at me, and causes me pain so I will be forced to get up and move.

This morning I was ready for more Project Runway and pouting, but dragged myself out of bed to get ready for lunch with my midwife and a friend who had her baby at Bella Vie with the same midwife.  We had lunch, it was delicious, and we had a good conversation.  After lunch my midwife and I stood outside for a while and talked about everything that is going on right now (as in that thing I can't talk about, but it's happening, and oh my I can't handle it).  She gave me a nice long pep talk, and told me I need to pull myself together, that everything would be fine, and yes what is happening is unfair, but I need to be strong, and stay calm.  (It's like that ubiquitous WWII propaganda poster: Keep calm and carry on).  Well, she was much more eloquent and nice about it, but that's the gist of what she said.  I kept waiting for someone to blow a whistle, or yell break while we were standing there talking.  It was very coach like, but what I needed to hear.  (Although I wish it would've made the sick to my stomach feeling go away).  And no, it did not work when the husband tried it last night, but coming from my midwife it did.  Different time, different place I guess.  So I received a 'get back in the game!' lecture and I am feeling much better.  Oh, and, she brought me flowers from a farm near her house.  Midwives: so wonderful.

I came home and looked longingly at my bed, but remembered that now is not the time to give up, and crashed into my safe spot on the couch instead (and my hip hurts so bad I don't think I can get back in bed at this point anyway).  Life is looking a little bit brighter from here.  I can see the sunshine outside, and a beautiful flower bouquet is sitting on the coffee table.  The dog is snoring, the house is quiet, I have the new Vanity Fair sitting next to me.  No decelerations of being strong are coming from me for a while, because I so spectacularly failed on that front, but I have a renewed belief that I can get through this particular crisis.  As my midwife said, it's been three months and I'm still standing.  

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Anxiety, Acupuncture, A Moment of Rest

I had a fine day, maybe even a good one.  I am a walking bundle of nerves, and the anxiety is at an all time high, but I saw Dr. B for acupuncture today and that has helped me stay in a manageable place.  Although, before Charlotte died, this so called manageable place would've been viewed as a crisis state.

Now it's 7:30, I'm eating dinner, and I am so close to crying I know tears are inevitable sometime tonight.  What is happening to me right now is overwhelming, and so far out of my control there is nothing I can do to resolve it.  I know this is cryptic.  I wish I could say what is happening, but I'm scared of consequences and repercussions, so I am being very vague.

I know I am so upset right now because I was busy all day and now I'm sitting here, going over things in my head.  (I may have to stop writing and sit on my hands soon so I don't inadvertently say something, or begin spewing rhetoric about how unfair and cruel people can be).  I am also upset because I have to face something I'm not sure I'm ready to tomorrow.  I feel like I will be giving up a part of my daughter tomorrow, and I know, absolutely, that that is not the case, but I am in a position where I have very little control and my only other choice may make things worse.

I know, I know, I'm not making much sense, but I needed to come here, to a place where I feel safe, (although that feeling has lessened over the past twenty-four hours) and rest my head for a moment.  I'm hurt, and I'm scared, and I wish I could say everything that is on my mind.    

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hurt

Tonight I find myself in a very sad place.  I can't say what  I really want to say, for various reasons, but soon  I will be able to talk about it.  I am in a very vulnerable place right now.  I feel exposed and not very safe.  At a time in my life when I am exhausted, when grieving has worn me down, I don't think it is fair that I have to rush around frantically building fences around myself, my daughter, and the people I care about.  I received some news today, (and really, right now, I cannot share what that is) and my first reaction to it was anger.  Now though, after a good walk with a BLM who lives nearby (thank you, I needed that) I am sitting in my darkened living room, thinking about what was said, and I'm hurt.  My heart hurts for my baby girl and the short life I find myself fiercely standing guard over.  I just can't go to sleep with this sitting on my heart.  I don't think the person who is trying to break me down (unintentionally, I hope) reads this, but if you do I want you to know I was ranting and raving earlier, but now I am calm and I'm not going to let this flatten me.  I want to give up, I do, but I am determined to stand tall and let this unfold.   I will defend myself, my daughter, my choices, and the people I care about until what you have dredged up is put back in a drawer and left alone.

September

Before Charlotte died this would've been my ideal life.  I don't work.  I have very few responsibilities.  I spend a lot of time in bed, or on the couch, watching movies or reading.  Before, when life was normal, when I expected to have a baby at this time of year, I thought lazing around like this was something I would never get to do.  Now that I'm in a place where I can do this I have to admit it's not as fun as it looks.  This is what it is to be too sad to move.  Without her getting out of bed is useless.  Three months out I'm still struggling to figure out what I am living for, what my purpose is, if any.

I have been blessed to have so many appear next to me and say, "I will walk with you for a while.  I will sit with you for a few minutes.  Tell me about your daughter."  Friends, both old and new, are all around me, but I want them to disappear so I can have her.  Without the loss of her, I would not have them, and if I had to choose I would choose her.  It is always her.  She will always be the missing piece.  I haven't figured out how to be grateful for the compassion without feeling like I am letting her slip through my fingers.  I love all the people in my life who are pulling me through this, but I would leave them behind in a heartbeat if I could hold her in my arms one more time.  To be my friend right now requires a lot of selflessness and no expectations.  I probably won't remember a friend's birthday, but I know how long it's been since I was wheeled out of that hospital room leaving her, and so many dreams, behind.

I'm busy.  I have many things scheduled, and I am grateful for that.  I want to stay in bed all the time, but it's better if I can't.  The time to begin trying for a rainbow is on the horizon.  I am hoping for September, but October is more likely.  If Dr. B pushes the timeline back to November a meltdown is likely.  I hope for a better outcome next time, but I know now what can happen, I've seen the seemingly infinite ways a baby can die, so I am cautious in my hope.  I hear of others who are pregnant.  There are many rainbows growing right now, and some have just been born.  For every parent who has lost a child and then welcomed one who lives, my heart rejoices.  For those who have never faced this kind of loss, I feel less joy.  They know not what it is to leave a dead baby in a hospital room, and be wheeled out into the sunshine and an unexpected life.  I am doing my best to embrace the unexpected life, but I cannot help the feelings of unfairness and jealousy.  

Already, months before I need to, I am worried about what to do if the next one dies.  That is what we call the baby we have yet to create, the baby we hope for, the next one.  I don't know how to go forward if the next one doesn't live here with us, but joins his or her sister in heaven.  I am trying to decide if the fear is worth it, but really it's never been a question.  Even though I vowed never to have another child while I was in labor, three days after I held my daughter's lifeless body I knew I would try again.  But if the next one dies I don't know if I will continue breathing.  I think I may burn the nursery furniture where it sits, which will burn the house down, which will force a new start.

I know I am thinking of these things because I've been feeling so off lately.  I'm sick to my stomach, I'm hungry all the time, I fall asleep in the middle of the afternoon on the couch.  Have nearly convinced myself I am pregnant, but I know it's impossible.  Well, not impossible, but very unlikely.  I'm just all sorts of confused because it's been a year since we began this journey and being here, at the end of one month and the beginning of the next, staring down September without the baby I thought I would have has placed me in the thick of the memories; this is making time fluid, strange, hard to understand. 

I've been spending way too much time in my head lately.  The days ahead are busy, which I need, but I would rather stay here, beneath the comforter, watching movies, reading books, and dreaming about a baby that breathes - but then that feels like a betrayal of her memory.

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