Showing posts with label missing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label missing. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

on birthday grief

Celebrating birthdays with my living children is one of my biggest triggers.  It's the one time I hide my sadness from them because I don't want them to feel the weight of my sorrow on their special day. I want them to feel the sheer joy and heartfelt relief we experienced when they were born and we heard them cry for the first time.

After a nearly silent birth - or a completely silent birth - hearing a cry as you labor to bring a baby into the world is like birthing with a symphony in the background. That one cry lights up every nerve ending in your body and makes you so glad you held on through the trauma and fear that accompany pregnancy after loss.

It feels a little unfair that I am so overwhelmed and emotional about birthdays. Unfair to the kids that is. I asked a friend to make a tutu for Ainsleigh to wear on her first birthday. I asked for a pink tutu even though I remember the one that hugged Charlotte's cold feet for a photograph. I have to find a way to hold the image of Charlotte's feet next to the image of Ainsleigh in a tutu without falling apart. It's a hard balance. Just looking at the tutu makes tears come to my eyes, but I want to see Ainsleigh walking around looking gorgeous on her birthday, so I'll put aside the sadness for a day. I'll sit on it if I have to, if that's the only way. I'll pretend it doesn't exist just for a day. It's not a betrayal. It's not. It's coping.

When you wait so long for something getting it feels a little unreal. Looking at Bennett and Ainsleigh playing on the living room floor makes me pause sometimes because they are a dream come to life.

The other thing about waiting a long time for something, or someone, is that when you get to the place you've been dreaming about - a first birthday, a live birth, a year of growth and discovery - the achieving is weighty. And in this case it's tinged with sadness too.

There's a lot of, yay, a girl, we had a girl, and we've had her for a year, praise the Lord! and there's a lot of, but I want both my girls, but why couldn't Charlotte live, who would she be, how would we be ...

I don't want my kids to spend their birthdays competing with someone who isn't here, so I smile and sing 'Happy Birthday' with tears in my eyes and the understanding that in a few years they'll see the tears so I'll have to sing the song without the tears. And every time I wrap birthday presents I cry because it makes me realize how gone Charlotte is. How she never had time to be. How I'll never know what she would have loved to receive as a gift.

Ainsleigh is nine days shy of her first birthday. And I am glad - so incredibly glad - that she is here. That she climbs on furniture and falls off chairs and stands up in the shopping cart after escaping her buckle and generally leaves me feeling exhausted and like I can't keep up.

But I wish there were two pink tutus sitting on the back of the striped chair in the living room waiting for party day. I wish there was a four year old here. I wish I had my C, the missing piece to my B and A. I wish I had them all because then life would be purely sweet, and there wouldn't be that bitter tinge of grief that rings every celebration with shadows and guilt and that mean spirited thought: you should be happier.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

on letting it all go

I went out with friends last night for dinner and pedicures. One of us is very pregnant and close to meeting her baby girl - not me, obviously. You would know if I was 37 weeks pregnant. As we relaxed and enjoyed our kid free time I thought about how there's a hidden layer of calmness I can only access around these friends. With these two I can absolutely, completely let go and not worry about saying something wrong or mentioning Charlotte too much.

We've all lost babies.

We lost in different circumstances, at different times and at different stages, but we all carry a lost baby - or two, or three - in our hearts, and there's a great whooshing of released tension when we're together. Because we get it. We understand each other. We carry unique burdens but there is a thread of missing and longing that connects and unifies those burdens.

If you've lost, you need friends like this. If you've lost, you need friends who understand when you hold their babies and cry. If you've lost, you need friends who lament, "Why isn't there a manual?" If you've lost, you need friends who will go out to pedicures and dinner with you because you can't make it through a traditional baby shower. If you've lost, you need a place where you can let it all go. Where you can let your dark humor fly. Where you can vent anger and release fear. Where you can cry and be completely understood, down to your very bones. If you've lost a baby, you need to find your resting place.

I gather strength, healing and understanding online, but my real life community sustains me in a different way. The support group meetings and the friends who ask how I'm feeling as three years approaches ease the pain ever so slightly. As do the friends who understand every single thing I'm thinking and feeling because they've been there. Because they are there. I wish they didn't know. I wish they didn't understand. But since they do I am glad we have each other.

Have you found your resting place? It is only in that place of truly letting go that we begin to heal. You'll feel raw, bitter and split open until you find someone who has walked where you're walking. Let go a little today. Miss your baby, mourn your baby, but breathe deep too. It doesn't make sense, but somehow, eventually, losing a part of your heart eases from intense unbearable pain and lightens so you can carry the missing with you as you go on. Your grief isn't going to leave. It will change and lighten and shape you, but you have to find the people who can make carrying it comfortable and bearable. It's easy to lose yourself in the why me, what's wrong with me, everyone else has healthy babies tornado, but I want you to remember you are not alone. You have never been alone in this.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

what it's like

You say yes, you'll go, because there's no twitch in your heart telling you otherwise. You do okay. You smile. You participate in the games. You bring an appropriate gift. You manage. You leave when it's polite to do so. You drive to the grocery store to pick up a few things on the way home, tears streaming down your face. Because you're angry. Because you wish it didn't hurt so much nearly three years out. Because you wonder, as you often do, why your baby wasn't safely delivered. You wipe your face. Buy your groceries. The clerk asks if you've done anything fun with your day. You say no. She is chatty and you don't want to start a conversation about babies. The person in front of you narrowly escaped. You drive home, unload the groceries, change into pajamas. You eat frozen mac n' cheese because you're sad and it will make you feel (temporarily) better.  You squeeze your seventeen month old tight. You inhale his very presence. You count your blessings. You exhale anger and missing and hurt and sadness. You decide to be sick for the next baby shower that comes along.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

for charlotte

I was shopping at Target on Saturday when I spotted a mug on the clearance shelf. It was a sweet little mug with a bird on each side. I bought it because it reminded me of Charlotte. I don't often find things that remind me of Charlotte, but I fell in love with that mug.

When I arrived home I had a message from a friend who makes beautiful jewelry. She wanted to know if it would be okay to make a necklace in honor of Charlotte and sell it in her Etsy shop, The Jovi Lyne Collection. $10 from each necklace would go to a baby loss charity of my choice (Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep) AND I would be gifted a necklace.

It was one of those strange moments when I swear Charlotte is near. When I can sense her darting past me, a shadow with breath. If I could just make the world slow down for a second I would see her. The mug, the necklace, little items that coalesced into one big Charlotte day.

Honestly, truly, I don't think of her as often as I used to. We're approaching three years and while she is always a part of me her memory is not as heavy as it used to be. I no longer feel like I'm dragging her with me everywhere I go. My grief is a little more comfortable these days. It's become part of my walk, my story, my heart. I don't have to shout about it because those who need to know do. It's very different than how it used to be, back in the beginning, when I wandered around shouting grief and pain at anyone who dared cross my path.

Losing my daughter is quiet and integrated (but not accepted, no never accepted, I don't believe in that stage of grief) and so much a part of me I'm no longer trying to wrestle the idea to the ground and choke it until it somehow spits out my Charlotte whole and breathing. And then a day like Saturday comes along and it's like Charlotte comes roaring forth from the comfortable spot to reside in a more prominent part of my memory for a while. It throws me off, unsettles me a little, but in the murky waters of my unsettled soul is a whole lot of gratitude for those who wish, and strive, to remember her.

If you want to buy this necklace in memory of my girl and to support Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep GO HERE. If you would like a necklace made that reminds you of your lost babe contact Joellen via her Etsy shop for pricing and details. Just go check out her shop. I love her piec

I was setting up a shot when B asked to be picked up. He pointed at the necklace, asking what it was. I leaned in to talk to him and lifted the necklace to explain. Not the shot I was going for, but beautiful in its depiction of my life with one child here and one gone.


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