Sunday, July 4, 2010

Dismantling

Dismantled the nursery today. It was time. I was tired of looking at the pictures on the walls. Sweet little bird pictures, of course. I was tired of being afraid to approach the dresser full of baby clothes. I tend to worry around situations. In regards to Charlotte I didn't worry about her birth (how naive of me) but I worried constantly about having enough clothes for her. Every time I look in those drawers I think hey, I did okay. I had lots of clothes, she would've been fine, not too hot, not too cold. I could've done this parenting thing. I could've, I promise. Can I please have her back now? And since I can't I need to shove that dresser into the other room and not look at those things for a while.

I couldn't keep the door closed any longer. I couldn't walk past that closed, silent, imposing door knowing what was behind it. It was too painful, too shattering, too hopeful, too naive. Seeing everything put together, but unused was too much. Every time I opened the door I felt the anticipation hanging in the air and this weekend it all became too much and down it came.

Our house is small, built in 1940. We have two bedrooms on the main floor and our one small bathroom. The bedrooms are the same size, but for some reason when we bought the house we moved into the one by the stairs. Yesterday we went to IKEA and bought a new bedroom set. Today we put together most of the pieces and where the nursery was our room now is.

This room, the one I am sitting in now, was always going to be a nursery. It started off as the guest room, but in my mind it was always the nursery. Then it became Charlotte's room. Now it is ours.

I think I am trying to confuse my own self and I am not sure if that is possible, or wise. Now instead of having a perfectly set up nursery we have a second bedroom with a whole lot of furniture in it. Yes, some of it is baby related, but there is also an entire bedroom set in there and a few other odds and ends. This is our room. That is storage. There is no nursery. And that soothes my soul a little bit.

Of course I hope a baby lives in that second room someday. But I will not set up a nursery until there is a baby here, breathing and in my arms. It's just too hard to create a room, a safe place for your baby, and then only be able to fill it with dreams.

I dismantled the coffee table shrine as well. There is a niche above the fireplace and a few things live there, but I don’t feel the need to have Charlotte’s things spread out in front of me anymore.

To be honest I don't even like having her urn in the house. It unsettles me, it has always unsettled me that the baby I carried for 38 weeks could be compressed into a space so small. When it gets very late, when I am very tired and sad, I think about how nice it would be to go back in time and have things work out differently. Then I remember the urn and I feel awful for having Charlotte cremated. I start to think that if we did not cremate her we could go back, we could rewind time and it would be the 14th of May again and the outcome would be different.

Grief is a strange, multi-headed beast. I am upset we had her cremated. But we had to have her cremated because we wanted the autopsy. And I cannot convince myself that we should’ve buried her. For when I think of that alternative, I know it is not the right answer either. What it comes down to, of course, is that I want her here. Not as ashes, but as a real live kicking smiling baby. I know this is not an option now, but sometimes her phantom spirit sits with me, gives me a little kick when I am trying to sleep at night, convinces me she is napping in the other room and will need to be cuddled soon. When that little spirit shows up I start to think I can go back to that day and bring her forward into the future with me. Around and around and around I go. Trying to find a loophole, a way to turn those ashes back into a baby. Where is the magic, the gift of life, of rebirth, when you need it?

Giant steps have been taken this week. The dismantling of the coffee table shrine, the dismantling of the nursery. It was time. I knew it was time. But it makes me wonder if the taking apart is leading up to a huge meltdown. I have learned that with grief it is two steps forward, five steps back. I am wondering if I have a momentous backsliding moment coming my way.

And, well, I probably do. It’s nearly been two months. I can see the two month mark in the distance, coming at me like a freight train, and I have a feeling it's going to knock me off my feet. I never know whether I should be sad on the Friday that marks two months or on the actual day. For the one month mark I went all out and was sad from the Thursday before the Friday until the actual day. Five days of absolute sadness and madness. It was wretched. I do wonder if I predict bad days and so they are bad. I wonder if I am doing this to myself. Then I remember what a friend told me: there is no wrong way to grieve. Anticipating a bad day does not make it so. There is no pattern to grief. Bad days are followed by good days are followed by mediocre days.

I don't know what stage of grief this would be labeled as, but I can tell you I am in the stage where I want to get away. I am tired of living in this space of overwhelming emotions. I want to claw my way out, breathe some fresh air, rip the mask of grief from my eyes so I can see clearly once again.

My grief has contorted itself into so many figures and yet it has new ways of surprising me. I am hoping to lose this phantom soon. The false kicks, the false remembering that makes me think Charlotte is here with me. (But if I lose the phantom will I lose my daughter? What if they walk hand in hand? Perhaps the shadow baby carries the memories and to cast her out is to lose all). I believe the taking down of the nursery will help. It was a huge block for me, an absolute nightmare. Every time I faced down that door I felt like I was living in a land sketched by the Brothers Grimm. Behind that door was a twisted forest, a sad haunted place where this deep unrealized, unnoticed, unaware of until I carried Charlotte, desire to be a parent resided. Now the door has been flung open and the trees have been felled.

Next I hope to come to terms with her ashes. I don’t want them here, but I don’t want to scatter them somewhere either. Truth is, I don’t want any of this. No one does. But I am here, this is where I find myself in the twenty-sixth year of my life. Completely broken open, torn apart by grief, a mama without a child. I have been shaken to my core, but I have not shattered. Thank you to those who are holding me together. Those who admonish me to be gentle and kind to myself. Those who say over and over I understand, I am here, I am listening. And to one specific person: Thank you for going back into the hospital room, kissing my daughter and telling her how much she was loved. When I didn't have the strength or heart to do it you did it for me and I am forever grateful.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A definition

After writing such a raw letter to Charlotte I am feeling the need to define my boundaries. I suppose this is a little bit of a welcome, a little bit of a thank you, and a little bit of mind the flowers.

This is my church. I’m too torn up inside to go back to real church so this will have to suffice for now. This is my therapy. I’m not up for real therapy so I am resting here and with other blogs and receiving much healing from that. This is where I go to commune with others who have lost their babies. Be they from here, or the Midwest, or the UK, or some other corner of the world. When I sit down to write I know there are those reading my words who know exactly how I feel and as they read they are abiding with me.

After posting ‘This one hurts’ I fretted about what people would say, if they said anything at all. It was not easy to put that much raw emotion on the page. What ends up here is only a fraction of what I write. A few days after Charlotte died I wrote in my personal journal about how I didn’t kiss her and how guilty that made me feel. For a long time I felt it was too shameful to share. But I’m finding that through sharing I am healing.

I never know what to expect after I hit post. I don’t know how many people read my blog (number of followers is not an accurate prediction), but each comment soothes my soul. (Except for when immediate family comments. Sorry all, love you, and if you want to read this it’s fine, but I need you to stay quiet).

And the messages that were sent back my way after I wrote the last post stitched up a little piece of my broken heart so quickly I didn’t realize it was happening until I woke up this morning and noticed a little less jaggedness. That huge cloud of shame has shrunk quite a bit. I would say it’s merely a wisp of a cloud now, still hovering, still present, but aware that others know it is there.

Good friends, family members, strangers, all are welcome here. Just know this is my space, it is sacred and I am very protective of it. I need this space. If you need to come sit here for a while because you are worried about me, or wondering how I am, or missing your baby and looking for someone who has experienced what you are experiencing, I welcome you. It is good to have you here, but please be gentle.

Friday, July 2, 2010

This one hurts

Charlotte,

A blog post over on Glow has set my mind to spinning baby girl. A large cloud of shame hovers over the hours immediately after you died. I was in pain, confused, lost, so damaged and just wanting to go home. I love you so much baby girl, but in those hours at the hospital I didn’t want to have anything to do with you.

How I wish I would’ve been more aware, more put together. I didn’t want to hold you, because you were dead and I didn’t understand why I needed to hold my dead baby. I am glad I held you eventually, but wish I would’ve held you closer.

I really wanted all of the midwives and apprentices to hold you. Four of them came to the hospital with us and I wanted all of them to hold you, see your sweet face, and spend time with you. I thought it was necessary and important for them to do so, but I could not understand why I needed to do so. I hope you felt their immense love.

I am sorry you were clothed in a unisex outfit the hospital provided. You were wrapped in a beautiful pink quilted blanket, but I wish I had thought to bring a blanket and outfit from the birthing center for you. I selected many sweet outfits for you, but you never got to wear them. I had four or five in the bag we brought to the birthing center because I could not settle on a favorite. And I had no idea how small you would be. That was another scary thing for me baby. You were tiny. Fully formed, full term, beautiful, but tiny.

We have beautiful pictures from the hospital, but I wish I had a better one of the two of us. The entire process confused me and I could not cope with the reality of your death. I was in shock and so tired baby. I hope you understand why I was less than present in the moment.

I didn’t want to be in that hospital room. I wanted to be back at the birth center with you alive and in my arms. However, when I was asked if I wanted to return to the birth center for pictures I said no. I also didn’t want to take you home with me. I am so sorry little bird. I should have kept you close to me as long as I could. Someone should’ve pried you from my arms. Instead your daddy laid you in a bassinet, I was helped into a wheelchair, and I left that hospital room without looking back. I am so sorry I did not stay until the people from the funeral home came to pick you up.

I will never regret having you at the birth center, but I am sorry you had to be transported alone. I am sorry you died alone, without your mama or daddy there. I hope you weren’t scared, or in pain, my little bird.

My biggest regret? I never kissed you baby. Not once. I was too freaked out by your cold deadness; by the reality of your slowly blackening finger and toenails. I cradled your head in my hand, I tentatively touched your hands, your feet, but I never kissed you. What kind of mother does that make me?

I feel like I failed you in so many ways Charlotte. I am sorry you could not live outside my belly. I am sorry I never kissed you my little bird. I hope you know how much Mama loves and misses you.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

How?

I've been averaging a book a day since Charlotte died. I cracked a new book tonight and was faced with this:

How do I hold your hand and stay
How do I heal
That death
In May

This day
This night
This hour
Long due

This ink
This page
This prayer
For you ...

From a poem by Christina Reihill

How do I heal that death in May? Spiraling into a Friday - maybe this one won't be as bad?

Not fit for public viewing

Went to the eye doctor today. Tried to skirt around the dead baby issue, but it didn't work out for me. After telling the person who comes in before the doctor (what are those people called?) I was on prenatal vitamins and my thyroid medication was different from what was noted on my chart she was rather confused. "Are you pregnant?" she asked me. I shook my head no. She paused for a moment, waiting for me to elaborate, and then left the room.

A few minutes later she came back in and said, "Do you have a baby?" I started crying. She started crying and said, "I'm a community crier. I'm trying to stop. I'm really sorry." She made crying sound like an addiction: "Hi, I'm one of those people you see at the eye doctor before the actual doctor comes in. I've been a community crier most of my life. It's been zero days since my last community cry."

It was awful and awkward and the awkwardness was compounded by the fact that I couldn't see. Being in a panic inducing situation and not being able to see your way out of it sucks. I would've left the room, shot down the hallway and hit the parking lot at a dead run, but I couldn't see the community crier sitting two feet in front of me, much less the door.

After that incident the appointment dragged on and on. Community crier ducked in and out of the room a couple times. The doctor came in, dilated my eyes, and then I was sent to the waiting room. After my eyes dilated a different person fetched me and put me in a different room to wait for the doctor. I didn't see the community crier after that. I have to go back next week. Hopefully the entire office will know not to ask if I have a baby.

I drove home, crying through my dilated eyes, and crashed into my safe spot on the couch. Through hazy, blurry eyes I read this: "There are fulcrum moments in life when you can feel your world pivot in a new direction. Everything that mattered doesn't. There is no adjustment period between the old and the new ... Here is how your life will go from now on." Thank you for that, Sloane Crosley.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sad, but calm

I'm sad today. Melancholic. Not cry, cry, cry sad, but calm sad. One of the definitions of calm is to be nearly or completely motionless. That's how I feel tonight; as if I am pinned to the couch, unable or unwilling to move in case a shift in posture will trip calm sad into cry sad.

There's a lot happening in my mind right now. I haven't slept very well the past two nights because I cannot stop thinking. And when I do fall asleep I inevitably wake up in the middle of the night. I don't know what wakes me up, but I open my eyes, look around the room, my mind starts going and I realize I will be lucky to fall back asleep. I suppose I need to get back on the Valerian root. I was doing so well without it.

It was smoothies at the river for dinner tonight. When it gets warm outside we do this every other week or so. We met up with Jon's good friend, sat on the bank and watched the dogs play in the water. I soaked up a lot of sun, but couldn't shake the sad feeling.

You know, it's not so much Charlotte that I'm sad about right now. Missing her is definitely part of the equation, but today the sadness is for others. There are so many mamas who will never get to see their babies alive. There are so many babies who will be born still. There are so many babies who will die at 10 weeks, 23 weeks etc.

Life feels unfair right now and rather tenuous. Went in for my rubella vaccine and nearly had a panic attack in the waiting room. I feel raw right now, like I'm walking around with no skin. I am jumpy, out of sorts and cranky, but most of all I am sad. And I want to hug everyone who is missing their babies tonight, or fears they may soon be missing their babies, because I know how hard it is.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ducks Meet Row

This morning I set up a couple appointments. We will head down the ttc road soon (I hope) and for the sake of my sanity a few things need to happen before we do. Tomorrow I am getting the rubella vaccine. I know I've had it before, but I have been told I am lacking in that area and I have decided to get the vaccine.

July 16th I am meeting with a naturopath to find out if there is any way to manage my hyperthyroidism naturally. Cue panic attack. I have gone back and forth on this issue for years. I know Charlotte did not die because I have Graves Disease, but I was taking a Class D medication the entire pregnancy. If I can remove the drugs from the equation I will feel a lot better. However, uncontrolled hyperthyroidism can lead to miscarriage. When I talked to my former endocrinologist about ttc and medication, he switched me over to the better option, PTU, which crosses the placenta less. It was his opinion that it was better for me to be on the medication than try to conceive and carry a baby to full term without it.

I hate my Graves Disease. I do not live comfortably with it, but the alternatives are not pretty either. I can have surgery or be dosed with enough radiation to kill the thyroid gland completely. Then I will have hypothyroidism for the rest of my life. A few years ago I made the decision to stay in hyperthyroid land while I had children since it was easily controlled with low medication dosages. Now I'm questioning that decision.

And on the 11th of August we are meeting with a perinatologist for pre-conception counseling. This is entirely for my peace of mind. The husband thinks it is a useless endeavor, but he loves me and is willing to go because I need to talk some things out before ttc. When I told him I wanted to get the peri's opinion he said, "I'm willing to bet money what happened with Charlotte won't happen again and that's good enough for me." I wish I had that confidence.

It feels good to be doing something. I like having a plan in place. I'm trying to keep my anxiety about all of this at a minimum, but it's hard.

I went to a friend's house today. I spent a few minutes with her toddler before her nap time and held her 3 month old when he woke up from his. He and Charlotte were going to be the best of friends. Whenever I hold him I talk about Charlotte and all of the fun things they were going to do together. Today I told him I missed her. I kissed his sweet forehead and said, "Next year I hope to have a precious baby who is here on earth with me." He kicked his little legs and smiled at me.

I miss Charlotte. I feel immense guilt for wanting to have another child so soon after her death. Whenever I talk about the next baby I feel like I should whisper. It feels wrong, secretive even, to want another child.

Last night I was trying to explain this deep desire to my husband and he just couldn't understand it. I am not joking when I say I would get pregnant tomorrow if I wasn't worried about my health.

Three weeks after Charlotte died I was fretting about my desire to get pregnant again so soon. A wise friend told me "I believe a mama's heart holds room for all her babies and all her feelings, happy, sad, bittersweet and everything in between. Follow your heart and create the family and life that is right for you." I need to remember this.

I have my angel baby with me always, but I would like a living baby here with me too. As I wait for these appointments and as I wait to be in the right place to start ttc I'm going to attempt to shake the guilty feelings. I want to bring a new life into this world because I have so much love to give and there's nothing shameful about that.

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