Sunday, November 28, 2010

Soon, very soon

As soon as I reach 100 followers I will be doing a giveaway.  I can't decide what to give away, but I have a few things in mind.  So hit the follow button & there will be games and fun and prizes here before you know it.

Frustrated, Whiny & Grumpy (There's not much sense here either)

Fair warning: I think the next thirty days are going to be one long 'it's the holidays and I'm not coping well' whine.

I visited my sister yesterday.  Huge self hug for that one.  I haven't seen her since my nephew's birthday on September 18th.  Thanks to the husband I pulled myself together and we had a nice visit.  (We were laying in bed one night and he said, "Hey, are you going to see your sister soon?  She's on bed rest now and could use the help."  He doesn't usually speak his mind on these issues.  I'm glad he shamed me into going).  My sister and I haven't always been close, but when my nephew got sick we started to hang out more.  And she was the best sister a girl can have when I was pregnant with Charlotte.

After yesterday's big outing I've spent today in quiet mode.  (I'm grumpy too.  The husband just hied off to his best friend's house.  This marks evening number two at the bachelor den of iniquity in S. Salem.  I must be a treat to live with right now).

I somehow ended up committing to an hour with each side of the family on Christmas.  I think it is necessary and good and right for me to go, but this morning I realized that attending means I have to buy presents for people.  I can't manage stores, or thinking, or planning, or wrapping, or anything else in that category.  I'm usually the boring aunt who buys my nieces and nephews books.  This year I think I'll be the cool aunt who gifts the kidlets with candy and cookies because I can buy it at the grocery store and most days I can handle the grocery store.  (Add in the thermos with the peppermint schnapps and hot chocolate and I may not get asked back next year).    

There's a massive amount of stress, worry, and fear sitting on my shoulders right now.  I think the holidays plus a number of other things have combined to make life more difficult than normal.  I have to remind myself constantly, or maybe I am being reminded constantly, that life doesn't make much sense, but it often works out as it's supposed to.  And no one will take into consideration my timelines, or goals.  (2 kids by 30 - HA.  I'll be 28 next August and that is awfully close to 30.  How many pregnancies can I cram in between now and then?  None if I can't get pregnant).

And that is what may send me over the edge right now.  Trying to conceive and the mess that comes with it; trying to decide what I want; if it's worth it; if I can handle it; if the husband can handle me attempting to handle it.  I don't say much about my frustrations and struggles with ttc here because many, many people I interact with in real life read this blog, but I have to say this:  I AM SO FRUSTRATED!!  Granted, most of the frustration stems from the fact that my patience and calm nature are on par with the average two year old, but I can't change that.  It's part of my charm.      

When I feel like this, I eat.  I think I've gained ten pounds in five days.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Holiday Letter

In a strange place these days.  I don't have much to say.  Well, it's more like I don't have much I want to say.  I'm sad, confused, and frustrated.  Time is moving so slowly, even though I am begging for speed and a leap forward to January 1, 2011.

We should be buying our tree, and decorating it.  I should be throwing open the Christmas cupboard at the top of the stairs and pulling out all things holiday to strew around the house.  I should be writing my Christmas letter, but those are full of pride, and some bragging too.  We have this, we bought that, we birthed this, we love each other etc. etc. etc.  No one wants the year we've had.

The other day I was talking to the husband and I said, "Maybe if I'm not pregnant this cycle we'll skip the next one."
"Oh, sweet.  We can go skiing in January then."
"Well, I guess.  I just want to spend the holidays slightly inebriated."

Men and women are so different.  There are vast worlds between what he thinks and what I think.  

I don't drink much, but I think this may be the holiday where I become the strange aunt with the flask.  Or a thermos.  I really don't like alcohol, but I like peppermint schnapps and hot chocolate.  A couple mugs of that and I'm full of warmth, love, and coziness.

Perhaps I'll have a couple mugs and make up a holiday letter.  I suspect most of the ones I receive are half fiction anyway.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving

We went for a long walk this morning.  We let Isabel run through the dog park with wild abandon and then we drove a little further into the park, stopped by the river, clipped her leash to her collar and walked next to the river for a while.  It was cold, 35 degrees.  I was wearing so many clothes I couldn't bend my legs very well, or lift my arms.

It's still fall here, but it is so cold it feels like winter.  As we walked down the path the landscape to our right was bleak and winter stark, but the river to our left was overfull and rushing past.  In the distance there was a giant eagle's nest on top of a telephone pole.  Wrapped around the base of the pole was a tall, tangled mass of brambles.  Only way in and out of that nest is to fly.  I wish I could jump high enough to land in that nest, burrow down, be isolated for a while.  I would be surrounded by earth, sky, and birds.  I would be a bit closer to her.

I miss her with every beat of my heart, with every breath in and out, whether that breath be fogged from the chilly outside air or warm with inside air and hot tea.  The tears are close to the surface.  They fell yesterday, they will fall today.

I feel as if I should not be sad.  We have been blessed with so much.  Why mourn one person when I have so many things to be happy about?  Because she is a person.  Or was.  She was breath, life, veins, a heart beating within a tiny chest, and all of the myriad items I am grateful for are just that: items.  And of course I am thankful for every living breathing person in my life.  But no one is her, and she is the only one I carried within me for 38 weeks.

I am grateful for those weeks.  I am thankful for sweet baby kicks and hard little fists against the tight drum of a fully expanded belly.  I am thankful for the memory of her downy head in my hand.

We always forget.  No one is ours to keep forever.

Shuffling through the park today, my feet wrapped in two pairs of socks and stuffed into winter boots, the hymn "How Great Thou Art" came to mind.   



This is one of my favorite hymns, but these lines in particular resonate with me today:

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing; 
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;


I miss her, I miss what I thought would be, my breath catches, the tears fall, but I do not grieve alone.  

Love, thankfulness, grace, and peace.     






Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Holidays and Panic Buttons

Last night I was reading my posts from the last few days.  I think I have whiplash now.  How is it possible to jump between such extremes in that short of a time period without suffering some sort of injury?  Missy recently wrote a post about the extremely dark days, those moments when you just don't think you can go on.  What do you do in a situation like that, she wondered?  Do you call 911?  Check into a mental health ward?      

I have had desperate, dark, scary moments since Charlotte died, but none so bad I want to step in front of a train or walk off one of the bridges that dot the landscape around here.  If I felt that way what would I do?  Honestly?  I would call my midwife.  She's practical and has the ability to stay calm when everyone else is panicking.  She wouldn't put up with my nonsense for a second and before too long I would be back on the straight and narrow, or at least not attempting to jump off it.  Poor midwife mine.  She had no idea what she was agreeing to when she scheduled my first appointment.  Then again, none of us knew.  There was no inkling, no warning, no sign, no idea that life was going to end up this sideways.

The loss community is a cyclical one.  Usually at least one person is having a hard time, but everyone else is willing to circle the wagons and help that person through.  Lately it seems like everyone is scrambling for the lifeboats.  Funny thing is, there aren't any to be had.  We all have to make it through these next few weeks until January 1st is here and we can breathe easy again.  That's a long time to tread water.  

I read a lot of blogs.  Are you reading this?  Do you have a blog?  I read your blog.  (I don't always comment.  Sorry about that).  There is a general theme of panic running through most of the blogs I read.  This is my first big holiday without Charlotte and the thought of living through it has me putting my head between my knees and breathing deeply.  And I've taken the cowards way out.  I salute all of you who are attending family events, hosting family dinners, and putting on a brave face.

This is what I keep telling myself: This is one bad day in one bad week in one really bad year.  This feeling, this day, this moment is not going to last forever (thanks aunt c).  And: It will come and it will go.  It will come and it will go.  Thanksgiving is one day.  Christmas is one day.  It's survivable (thanks r).

And this is what I am going to tell you:  I'm sorry your sweet baby isn't here to celebrate this holiday with you and your family.  I know how happy you were last Thanksgiving.  You were full of love and pride.  The life growing in your belly would be here next year, and you couldn't wait for his or her first Thanksgiving.  You laughed, your cheeks glowed, you were thankful for so many things you thought you might burst.  This year the sight of a Baby's First Thanksgiving onesie has you sobbing in the grocery store.  It's jarring to have so much happen in one year, but you will get through this.  We'll all get through this.  The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas will be tough, but I think if we pull together we'll make it through.  And we can dance on New Year's Day with joy because we won't have to live through another holiday for a long, long time.  I wish there was a baby loss 911 call center.  Or a panic button.  Since there isn't I am so thankful to each and every one of you.  You be my panic button, I'll be yours.    

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Snowy Day


- Winter Song -

This is my winter song
December November never felt so wrong
Cause you're not where you belong 
Inside my arms 




Monday, November 22, 2010

11.22.10

Traveled over to McMinnville for a hair cut and lunch with a former co-worker today.  Of course it's absolutely miserable outside on the day I finally decide to leave the house.  I drive over to McMinnville often enough I actually had to pause and figure out where I was going in town.  Let's see ... it's Monday.  It has to be hair and lunch day.  Thursdays is naturopath day.  

While I was waiting for my friend to get her hair done (we worked together and use the same stylist) I dashed across the street and browsed in the bookstore for a while.  I miss working there, but when I think about going back to work I cannot imagine functioning well enough to make it every day.

I'm in a strange routine right now and I think it's going to take something huge to break me out of it.  I'm functioning like this.  It may look like a rut from the outside, but from where I'm standing, deep in that rut, it feels pretty darn good.  I don't have many commitments, which is probably necessary since I still cannot put dinner on the table most nights (I can pretty much handle chicken and pasta at this point.  It's ridiculous, but anything more complicated is out of my range).

I want a year before I have to do anything I don't want to.  Is that asking too much?  Whenever anyone mentions something I am uncomfortable with I find myself protesting.  I don't have to do that!  I have a year, one year.  And at the end of that year if I need another one, I get it.  

I'm demanding.  I refuse to apologize.  Most everything is non-negotiable.  I want to be alone most of the time.  I liked to be alone before she died, but now it's tipped over into something more.  I understand Thoreau and his pond now.

I was reading Eric's latest post over on Glow about the line between depression and sadness.  Then Hanen commented on my last post and mentioned the very same bit from Glow.  Have I crossed over from sadness to depression or is this just a particularly difficult time for me?  Is this one of those if you have to ask ... moments?

All I want to do is sit on the couch, think about how much I miss her, and eat brownies.  The problem with grief is that no one hands you a little booklet that explains how long a certain behavior is okay.  I can't pull out her memory box, sift through it, extract the dead baby handbook, and search the table of contents until I find: Chapter 5, Section C: Permissible amount of time to miss baby and sit on couch motionless eating brownies.

If it worked that way, I'd be a lot less lost.  But that's the beauty of grief, right?  It's a process, and my process is not the same as anyone else's.  The downside of it is that I'm not sure if I'm still sane.

The tears have lessened.  The deep, dark aching sorrow has lessened.  That's good, I think.  I was reading the latest Cathy Lamb the other day and this quote jumped out at me:

"Is there a certain amount of tears we have to shed for the horrendous times in our life and if we don't shed those tears we can't move on?  Why do the tears have to revisit us now and then?  Why do we feel better after crying sometimes and other times more hopeless than ever?  Why does life have to get so painful that we think we're going to choke to death on our own tears?"

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sorrow

My heart has been torn from my chest, my eyes are no longer eyes but vacant pools of moistened salt, my limbs ache.  I am paralyzed by grief; that heavy blanket which rests always on my shoulders like a grand cape, except it is not glorious, but a burden.  I am weighed down, unable to move, choosing to stay motionless so the grief cannot bring me to my knees when I attempt to walk.  Despite the heaviness which settles over me like a fog and anchors me here I am, paradoxically, at sea. 

I am tired, sad, worn out.  The same emotions cycle over, around, and through me.  Self doubt is prominent.  She died because I failed.  I lack something.  Not just someone, but something.  There has to be a reason she died.  It's me.  It has to be. 


I'm so tired.  I don't want to swim against the tide anymore.  I want contentment, but it is nowhere to be found.  I'm so sad.  I know grief comes and goes, but it is so present and loud right now I cannot find peace.   


  

Thursday, November 18, 2010

11.18.10

In an attempt to quell a common fight around here the husband reconfigured how our Internet works.  We can both be online now without messing up his video games, but I can only access my blog, e-mail and a certain social website which I am loath to be so attached to.  I can't even read or comment on other blogs.    

This has forced me to do other things with my time.  I wrote about Charlotte's birth for a while this morning.  Then I started feeling panicky, and sad so had to leave it be.  When I reread what I wrote days after, when I look through the medical files I cannot see what went wrong.  I wonder if I missed something.  She had hiccups all the time towards the end.  I had no idea that was a sign of distress.  I don't think I even mentioned it at my appointments.  Could that be what caused her lungs to fail?  How many times will I write it out before I see that there is no answer?  It's like I expect to find a glowing indication of what went wrong somewhere in the words, but no matter how many times I shift through all it amounts to is medical jargon and general wreckage.        

After abandoning my piles of paper on the couch I listlessly cleaned the house for a few minutes.  Then I opened my e-mail and saw a message from the husband with a link.  There is a house for sale two blocks from here.  He wants us to consider buying it.  WHAT?  WHAT?  I can't click on the link so I am sitting here fretting instead.  It's two blocks away.  I could slip on my rain boots, put the leash on Izzie-Pie and walk over there to look at it, but I'm too lazy to put on jeans and I will not walk around my neighborhood in the pouring rain in pajama pants.  For some reason strolling about in plaid pajama bottoms, a blue fleece, and black rain boots with pink polka dots in the middle of the day screams crazy to me.  I'm pretty sure the good citizens that live near us know all is not right with this house and its occupants, but I like to maintain an illusion of put togetherness.  I'm pretty sure I still have one toe in the world of the sane.

He knows me well enough to follow up that e-mail with a plead for calmness.  He blathers on about how he knows I don't like change, this is just an idea, the house will probably need a lot of remodeling, it probably won't happen, but it is something we should look into.  Meanwhile I'm breathing into a paper bag, only pausing long enough to sputter, "But, but we were going to remodel this house!  I like this house!  We like this house!"  He can't hear me, but I can imagine him standing before me, feet spread apart in a wide stance, one hand outstretched in an attempt to ward off my reaction.  He's smart.  He e-mails me from work hours before he comes home so that when he does walk in the door I'm too tired from worrying to fight.

I like this house.  I have bazillions of books.  I don't want to move them all.  When Charlotte died I wanted to move, but not just from this house.  I wanted to move out of my life.  Now I worry we will lose her if we leave here.

We are going to walk over to take a peek in the windows tonight.  Maybe I'll fall in love.  

When this all amounts to nothing in a week or two please don't remind me how much energy I wasted fretting.        

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Be Here Now

When Charlotte died I was handed a huge, messy indescribable pile of emotions with a note attached that read: This is your life now.  What the note failed to to impart was how complicated sorting out the pile would be.  After Charlotte died every day became a choice, and not just every day, but every action too.  I live each day question by question.  Am I going to shower today?  Am I going to leave my house today?  If not the house, how about the bedroom?  Am I going to continue breathing, or is this very moment the one when I give up?

Charlotte's death provided me with the opportunity to know myself, truly, deeply, and in a very uncomfortable way.  I am acutely aware of how I feel, what I want, what I don't want, what I can handle, and that what is manageable today may not be tomorrow.

Now that it's been six months since she died I feel like I've sorted out some of the messy emotions from that towering pile.  I want to hand it back with my own note attached: I'm doing the best I can.  I am making the choice to exercise, spend time with friends, write, read, laugh, cry, and explode with anger.  I am learning that even the negative emotions bring good, and some healing.

If I could tap my heels, spin in circles three times, and find myself in a world where she lives I would do it without hesitation.  But this is where I am now.  Right here.  On the carpet in front of the fire I built in my living room.  Looking over my shoulder all the time isn't going to change anything.  Trying to see into the future isn't going to change anything either.  I need to be here now.  It's not that bad of a place to be.  I have everything I need.  I just have to accept that I cannot have everything I want.

I don't love my life, but I like it.  I like the piles of books in my living room, the border collie curled up next to me, the husband who works hard so I don't have to, the friends who make the hard days livable, and the good days something to celebrate.

I do love being alive.  It breaks my heart that Charlotte never had the chance to live.  She'll never breathe in the smell of rain which permeates this town we wanted to raise her in.  She'll never make me proud, or angry.  She'll never know love, or heartbreak.  She'll never stand on the shore before the wide open Pacific Ocean and feel infinitesimal, or stand at the base of Mt. Hood and marvel at the snowy heights.  She'll never experience the wonders and pains of Earth, but she will always be in heaven with the angels.

How amazing is it that for her 38 weeks in this world she only experienced love and warmth?  She'll never know the heartache I feel every day I wake without her.  She'll never have to decide if this is the day she will give up.  All she knew was light, warmth, gentle hands, soothing words, and a wet, comfortable world (Although I worry she felt some pain in the short amount of time she lived).

I am here.  She is gone.  I will always stretch my arms as high and as far as I can in an attempt to reach her, but I will also try to find contentment in the beauty and simplicity of her short life.  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thankful: Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope Monthly Writing Challenge

November's Topic:  It’s easy to focus on all the negative things that come from losing a baby, but have you discovered any ‘blessings in disguise’ throughout your journey? What can you find to be thankful for related to your loss?

I've been staring at this prompt for a while now.  I'm on the couch, running my hands through my hair, wondering what I have learned, and what I am thankful for.  I can't come up with anything, but I am obsessing over the fact that my hair smells like wood smoke all the time now.  Yesterday a baby grabbed my hair, tugged it towards his mouth.  I love those little baby tugs, (I initially wrote thugs - yes love baby thugs too) even though they are not hers.  I am thankful for smell, touch, taste, warmth, life, but those are all general things to be thankful for.  We're all thankful to be alive.  

********Thinking********

Okay, I have two things to be thankful for.

I am thankful for my health.  Charlotte's death was the catalyst that finally sent me to see a naturopath.  I'm the healthiest I have ever been and I thank God everyday for Dr. B and her kindness.  She took my broken body and held me together until I was well enough to hold myself together.  The first day I met her she leaned forward with kindness blazing from her eyes and said, "I want to rescue you and put you back together."  She has, and I am so grateful for it.     

I am also thankful for everyone who has walked next to me since Charlotte died.  When she died I swiftly learned who my friends were, who would be there for me, laugh with me, cry with me.  The sheer number of people who surrounded me was overwhelming.  I felt as if my friends had been crouching behind the walls in my house, and when I needed them they pushed on the walls until they crumbled, and stepped forward to help me through.  

In those first few weeks I was never alone.  Family and friends, both old and new, sat with me, held my hand, let me cry, rage, and be silent.  And even now, six months after my life flipped upside down, I am surrounded with love.  I wish my friends could've stayed behind the walls, but I am so grateful to them for coming through in such a mighty way.  

Since Charlotte died I've done my best to tell people how much I love and appreciate them.  I've tried to send notes, cards, e-mails, text messages, but I never feel like it's enough.  So here's a quick thank you:  

Friends, Family, Midwives, Mamas, 

Thank you for ice cream, books, conversations over lunch, walks with the dog, long talks, tissues, care packages, cards, e-mails, text messages, hand holding (so much hand holding), Wednesday mornings, freezer meals, the willingness to be with me even when it's difficult, speaking her name, remembering the special days, asking what I need, knowing what I need even when I don't, showing up, crying with me, crying for me, your time, and your love.  I will carry your kindness with me always.           

  

 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tears

It's been a long time since I've cried.  Tonight I burned dinner, threw a fit, tossed a partially frozen chicken breast on the ground, which hit the husband's foot, and burst into tears.  I really need to stop acting like a two year old in the near future.  I don't know what happened, but I went from slightly depressed to insanely upset in two seconds flat.  Haven't had a level four meltdown in a while.  I forgot how unpleasant it is.  The husband helped me finish dinner, didn't comment on the fact that I cried all the way through, and is now cleaning up.  All this even though I smashed his toes with a chicken breast.  I collapsed on the floor in front of the fire after dinner and cried.  Still here, still crying.  I guess it was time.  

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Six Months

I'm not sure what I want to say to you this month, baby mine.  Daddy built a big fire this morning to warm the house.  I lit the three candles in your nook and this corner of the house is cozy and warm, but oh so empty.  I wish you were on the rug in front of the fire, fat baby legs kicked up in the air, your face turned so you can feel the warmth, the simple beauty of wood, fire, and sweet smelling smoke.  You will never know the simple beauty of anything on Earth, but you are experiencing the spectacular beauty of heaven.  I am trying to be grateful, and remember how wonderful it is that you got to skip the pain of this life and be reunited with our loving Father so soon after birth.  I know it is selfish to want you here, but I still ache for you dear heart.

I cannot believe we have lived six months without you.  Before too long it will be twelve months, an entire year lived with broken hearts and empty arms.  Your Daddy doesn't speak of you very often, but his heart is torn open.  He misses and loves you very much, sweet girl.  When I want to feel you close to me I reach deep inside and pull out the memories of your birth.  Do you remember your daddy catching you as you slid into this world?  It was the proudest moment of his life.  Your slight body in his strong hands, and just below the capable hands of the midwife who has been just that since you died: capable, strong, one more person standing between us and wrenching, debilitating sorrow.  We miss you Char-Char, but we're surrounded with love and compassion and we are still breathing, though each breath is shallow and aching.

The center of the house is warm, but your nursery is cold, closed off, the heating vents shut, the blinds drawn. It's not even a nursery now, but a room full of furniture, random items we don't need, everything baby related, a jumbled mess of  broken hope.  Every time I step inside to grab something I stare at the floor so I don't have to see the stacks of baby items, all of the things we never used, the books I will never read to you, the clothes you will never wear.  The hope and sorrow shoved into that room takes my breath away.  There is a thick white jacket in the closet.  It was spring when you died, but I wish I would've wrapped you in that coat.  If only I had gathered all the clothes, wrapped them around you, burned them with you.  They were supposed to be yours.  What use are they now?

When we went to the grocery store the other day we loaded our arms with bags so we wouldn't have to take the cart out to the car with us.  As we were walking across the parking lot, soft rain falling on our shoulders I hesitated and looked around for you.  For a moment I thought we had left you in the cart.  Even now, six months after you died, six months since the day I realized you would not be coming home with us, I look for you, and worry we have forgotten you.  You should be here, our arms should be filled with you and your things.

I will always look for you, baby girl.  I will always feel your absence, and there will always be a space next to me where you should be.  I know I said I don't believe in signs anymore, but if you ever want to come back, or pause and let me feel your presence, that space will be there.  As day turns into night, as weeks become months, and months years I will remember your sweet baby weight rounding out my belly, the feel of your small head as you prepared to enter this world, the soft blanket wrapped around your cooling body.

I wish I had more, better, stronger words.  Mama-baby love is inexpressible, but my love for you is so strong I believe it saturates the atmosphere, and rides the waves of air and clouds straight to you.  I love you, baby mine.    

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Writing Our Story


I printed out this stack of paper today.  I am slowly reading through it, marking good spots, and bad.  This is what I have written since Charlotte died.  Add in everything I've written here, and I have had a lot to say these past six months. (Every anniversary my mother-in-law leaves a package on my doorstop.  Yesterday I received flowers and that sweet little bird ornament.  I just had to show it off).

I have made the big, scary, and rather overwhelming decision to see how dedicated I am to my writing, and to this story I am living now.  I want to turn that bunch of papers into a book.  I don't know if I possess the skills, but I'm willing to try, to give it my all, and see what happens.  Maybe this book will never leave my family, but if I finish it at least I can say I wrote a book.  That's always been a dream of mine.

The husband and I have pushed through and are once again on solid ground.  I was worried the six month anniversary would be really difficult, and maybe tomorrow will be, but today there is peace and calm here.  The fire is burning and the candles in her nook are shining brightly.  There is no word, sentence or paragraph that will replace her, but the stack of paper next to me takes me to a time when she was alive, when she had breath, and life, and I had joy, anticipation and hope.      

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sister Mine

My sister is 24 weeks pregnant with a little girl.  She has a uterine septum, which the doctors were going to fix, but before they could she conceived this little darling.  (This baby was created around the time Charlotte died.  They tried for two years, gave up trying, and then she found out she was pregnant).  The doctors warned her from the beginning that the pregnancy may not be viable.  Her first is considered a miracle baby, and there is concern that this one will not survive.  I haven't written about her before because she wanted to keep the pregnancy quiet for a while. On Sunday she went into labor.  They were able to stop the labor, the baby is okay, but she is on bed rest.  It is incomprehensible to me that we could both lose our daughters in such a short time period.  So I don't think about it.  Instead I think of her little girl surviving, fighting to the end, and blessing her parents lives.  The doctors want her to make it to 35 weeks, if possible.

I haven't seen my sister since September.  I don't have the courage, there's simply too many triggers.  I also possess an irrational fear that I kill baby girls.  And with her little one's life hanging in the balance it all seems more precarious and dangerous.  I am trying to find the bravery to visit her soon.

Her bed rest situation is made more difficult by the fact that her husband is living and working in Idaho right now.  The entire family moved there for a while, but with the pregnancy being so risky she is back in Oregon where her specialists are.

When - if - I work up the nerve to see her I would like to take her some words of encouragement.  If you feel like you have something to say, if you have been where she is, or if you just want to add a bit of sunshine to her life will you please send me an e-mail or mail me a card to pass on to her?  (If you need my address please e-mail me).  I would like to put together a little packet of hope and love for her as she waits and hopes for her little girl.

I don't know what happens to a family that loses two babies.  What happens to grandparents who lose two granddaughters?  What happens to sisters who have to say good-bye to their babies too soon?  My dear sister has lived under the cloud of my nephew's cancer for four years now.  To have this on top of that seems excessive, but sometimes life just is excessively painful.

When I was in the hospital my sister came to say hello and good-bye to Charlotte.  She walked up to my midwife and said, "Don't worry, I know what to do.  Bad stuff always happens to our family."  My midwife was a bit stunned by her comment, but right now it certainly seems as if the cards are stacked against us.

Please send prayer, love, light, hope, good wishes, and anything else you may have in your arsenal.    

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Looking Back

Sorry for the inundation.  Some days I just have more to say than one post will contain.

Reading through my archives has left me feeling shivery and out of sorts.  Looking back I see my struggle to come to terms with her birth, and this sad, broken body it left me with.  On the 12th of May I wrote about how anxious I was to meet Charlotte


I had four friends due before me.  Now that they've delivered I feel like my turn should come tomorrow.  My little one is still small, at 37 weeks she was thought to be 5 & 1/2 lbs.  If she needs to grow a bit more I understand, but I am getting restless!

At 8:30 am the next day my water broke.  At 10:10 am the day after that she was born.  And at 11:37 am she died.  I was so numb at first.  When I read my words from those initial days I wonder who that person is, where she's gone.  I was so calm, so accepting of her death.  I don't know when exactly it happened, but as the shock wore off I entered a place of deep painful grieving.  I never, ever want to feel that way again.

After she died there were so many concepts to work through, and so many ideas to integrate into my life.  I spent weeks sitting on the couch staring into space.  I went over and over the facts.  I had a baby, the baby died, the baby is ashes, I agreed to burn my baby until she was ashes, I asked them to cut my baby open to see if there was anything wrong or if a random swipe from nature felled her.  I had a baby, the baby died - over and over it played in my head; a constant monotonous thread I couldn't turn off.

I was stunned.  I am stunned.  Some of the memories are so vivid.  The day after she died, a Saturday, two midwives came to my house.  They prepared a hot herbal bath for me.  I climbed in and stared at the towels folded on the back of the toilet.  One white, one green.  One of the midwives came in, knelt next to the tub and said, "Oh, look at your little belly."  I did, and I wondered where Charlotte was, why she wasn't there anymore.  The midwife, that dear kind soul who walked me through my birth classes, who taught me to accept birth, to revel in it, washed my arms and legs.  There was still a little bit of blood on me, mine, or hers, or maybe both - our last commingling - and as it washed away I lost another piece of her.

That night, the details are hazy, the memory confused, I woke at 3am and wandered the house sobbing.  I ended up in the nursery, trying to find the baby, sure she would be there.  I had horrible cramps, more like mild contractions.  I sat in the rocker, pressed a heating pad to my stomach and wailed until I woke my husband up.  I felt as if I was birthing her again.  I couldn't stand the memories, the pain, the general discomfort.  I remember walking through the house, so sure she would be around the next corner, in the next room, but this house is only so big, and every room was empty and cold.

It rained for weeks after she died.  It felt as if the skies were mourning our baby girl.

I could go on and on.  I want to hold every memory I have of her close.  I feel like my moments with Charlotte are granules of sand which I cannot hold onto despite my tightly clenched fists.  All I have left of her now is ashes.  They used to frighten me, but I want them near me all the time now.  I cradle her urn in my hands.  I walk past, pause, wrap my hands around it, and speak to her.  The cool sides warm in my hands instantly.  The contours of her urn will always remind me of her sweet, downy baby skull.  When I was laboring in the tub my frustration mingled with the intense pain and I told everyone in the room that she wasn't going to come out.  Someone told me to reach down and feel her head.  I reached down and wrapped my hand around it.  A wave of peace enveloped me.  She would be born, she was being born.  I wish I had a sweet infant head to caress, but there is only a cold urn which I cradle and kiss and bring warmth to.

I miss her, as I always do, but tonight the sorrow feels heavy as it is loaded with memories of dissipating moments.
      

11.11.10

Yesterday's post garnered a huge (for me) response.  Thanks for the love, support, and advice everyone.  The suggestion that came up again and again - seek counseling - is rolling around in my head and I am mulling it over.

I am writing this on the floor in front of our new wood burning stove.  In the near future I am going to tire of flopping down on the floor in front of the fire, but right now I'm loving it.  I have tea, my laptop, and the new Vanity Fair.  I would like to stay curled up here forever, but I have to drive to McMinnville for a doctor appointment with Dr. K.  I was supposed to see Dr. B, but she scooted off to Haiti unexpectedly.  All of the caregivers in my life seem to have this propensity.

I spent my morning going through my archives in a vain attempt to pick my favorite post for the 2010 Creme de la Creme.  I don't love going back and reading what I've written before.  It feels a bit shameful and awkward.  If you feel so inclined please tell me what your favorite post of mine is.  I am hopeless at making decisions, and while I have one or two posts picked out right now, I could use some help picking the best.  Also, I'm just curious to know what you think of as my best post.          

The best part about the Creme de la Creme?  Anyone in the loss community can enter.  It's a celebration of writing, and an acknowledgement of what we put out there each and every day.  I love it.  Make sure you head over and submit your favorite.  I can't wait until the list goes up on the 1st of January.

This is a jumbled post.  Most of them are like that these days.  Still not doing great here, but doing the best I can considering the overwhelming stress and grief that comes along with my life these days.  At least I have tea, Vanity Fair, and a roaring fire.  And a sweet dog friend who loves the new fire.  She pulled a piece of kindling from the basket next to the fireplace and has been chewing on it all morning.  She is enamored.  It's a good reminder: sometimes it's the simple things that make life worth living.    


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Unraveling

I feel like we're unraveling at the seams here.  I am hesitant to write this out, but I believe in honesty, and I want to be as open as possible about this grief journey so here it is: we're falling apart.  Or rather, the husband is falling apart which is causing a domino effect and we're both out of sorts.  Sometimes it feels like the loss community shies away from the husband topic.  It's all - he's great, we're great, we're making it through, we're fine, sunshine, and love.  Well, there hasn't been much sunshine around here lately.  He's struggling, he's shut me out, and I have no idea how to bring him back, or if he should be brought back.

I see that he is spiraling and I can’t do anything but watch.  Perhaps this is how people feel when they see me falling to pieces.  Helpless, useless, shut out.  I cannot speak of her, I just can’t, so I too am guilty of shutting down and blocking out the world.  And when you find yourself locked in the grief spiral it’s impossible to get out, reach out, speak, deal with what’s happening.  You just have to brace yourself, hold on tightly, and hope it doesn’t last too long.  

It started in Seattle, but I'm not sure why it started.  On Sunday it will be six months since she died.  I thought that was causing all of this, but he said he doesn't pay attention to those things and that he had no idea it would be six months on Sunday.  Maybe he knows subconsciously?  Yesterday he said it feels like when she first died.  He said he forgot how bad it feels, and he doesn't want to feel like this anymore.

He's mentioned compartmentalization lately, and how he's had to hold it together while I fall apart.  Does he need to fall apart for a while?  I feel guilty because I brought her up while we were driving to Seattle, and he can't talk about her like I can.  He shut down halfway through the conversation, but I missed the cues and kept talking.  Maybe I just pushed him too far.

I get frustrated when he acts like this because it's not his role.  He's supposed to have everything figured out all the time, and he's supposed to be the rational one.  If he's falling apart does that mean I need to be the calm one?  No one handed us a manual when Charlotte died.  We received a lot of love and support, but no one explained the day to day exhaustion grief brings, or how relationships have to be set aside for a while.  Marriages take work and we don't have the time or energy to work on ours right now.  We're limping along, well these days it's more like crawling along, leaning on each other for support, and trying to reach some arbitrary date in the future when we will feel better.      

I know this will pass, but right now we're in the middle of it and I can't see a way out.  He took the day off work because he had the dentist this morning.  We're going to spend the afternoon with friends.  I hope it will help him feel better.   

I don't know who all reads here.  I know people who know us in real life read this.  I think I need to add in a request for space and privacy right now.  Please don't suggest counseling, or ask how we are doing.  We are having a difficult time right now, but we will make it through.  We've always come out the other side before.  I have no reason to doubt this time will be any different.  It just looks bleak from where I'm sitting because I can't see the parameters of the problem, and I don't know how long this dark time is going to last.          

  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

11.9.10

Feeling a bit better today than I did yesterday.  This post is going to be a bit random and nonsensical.  It's insane around here today.  We are finally getting our wood burning stove put in today and there are strange men running in and out of my house at this very moment.  They're speaking rapidly in Spanish, and I am sitting at my kitchen table writing this and hoping they don't ask me any questions, because I know very little Spanish and even less about stove installation.  I am also freezing because the heat is off and the door is wide open as they run in and out and around the house.  I can't wait to build a giant roaring fire tonight while the rain falls outside.  It's going to be blissful.

We have tentatively decided to stay in this house much longer than we thought we would.  We are going to start finishing the basement this winter.  If that goes well we are going to remodel the kitchen.  If we are still standing after that renovation we are going to transform the two bedrooms and one bathroom on the main floor into one big master bedroom, bath, closet.  Big goals, big dreams, and we'll do most of the work ourselves which means it will be at least five years before we finish everything on the list.  And maybe after finishing the basement we'll throw our hands up in frustration and move out.  If we finish everything we will have nearly 2,000 sq. feet, two bedrooms, a laundry room/bathroom combo and great room in the basement, kitchen, dining room, living room, bedroom/bathroom/closet combo on the main floor, and one big family room on the third floor which can be used as a bedroom since it has a closet.  Whew.  Our lives turned upside down when Charlotte died.  Our five year house transformed into our - who knows how many years? - house, and all of our plans and ideas shifted dramatically.  We are trying to make the most of it, and adapt accordingly, but most days I want to tear my hair out.

Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope is having a Holiday Gift Exchange for babylost parents.  Please go here before the 22nd of this month and sign up.  The holidays are a difficult time of year, (I barely survived Halloween) and this is a great way to connect with other parents.

I'm going to steal an idea from Kristin over at Dear Stevie.  My "followers" (such a strange term) list has grown quite a bit lately, and I don't know who many of you are.  If you feel so inclined please leave a comment, share your blog, let me know who you are.  The readers of this blog help me get through the day.  Thanks for the love and support.        

Monday, November 8, 2010

Feeling sorry for myself today.  On Sunday it will be six months since she died and it seems like it is going to be a bad day.  I don't feel horrible, but I don't feel good either.  I'm keeping up with the housework, I'm doing the laundry right now actually, but I am a mess.  I haven't showered or left the house in a couple days.  I don't want to do anything, but sit on the couch and wait for the future to come around.  The future has got to be better than this.  Today is better than five months ago, so five months from now has to be better than today.  I haven't cried in a long time.  Maybe I would feel better if I cried?

We're having people over on Friday night.  It's the first time since Charlotte died when I will have to clean my house, be a hostess, act a little bit normal.  One of the couples we are having over are good friends and I don't pretend to have it together around them.  They've seen me at my worst.  They came over two days after she died and after seeing me like that there's nowhere to go but up.  I know half of the other couple really well, but the other half I've only met once.  Tomorrow morning the workers are coming to put the stove in.  My dead baby's ashes are in our living room.  Will that make anyone uncomfortable?  If you're not used to it, that could be disconcerting.  It took me two months to get used to the urn, the pictures, the tangible representation of a dead baby.  Is it too much to welcome someone into our home for the first time and have dead baby reminders scattered around?

I thought I would be functioning better by now.  How do I look from the outside?  Do I look put together?  I feel like I am barely making it through each day, but maybe from the outside it looks effortless.  There's a small group of women who lost their babies around the same time I did.  I marvel at how well they are doing - perhaps they do the same for me.  I typed that sentence and then laughed out loud.  There's no way anyone would look at me and think I am doing well.  The other day that woman at the Y commented on how well I am handling it all and I thought, yes, yes I am!  I am doing marvelous considering the circumstances.  I don't believe that today.  I really am feeling sorry for myself.  I feel sad, but it's not the desperate sad of the first few weeks.  I don't ever want to feel that way again.

The other day I was flipping through radio stations as I drove the back roads on the way home from the bookstore.  As I flew past the turnoff to the birth center this song came on.



I don't know why moments like that take my breath away.  It doesn't mean anything.  That song plus that turnoff at a moment when I am thinking of her doesn't mean she wants me to know she is okay, but I wish it did so I make it true.  I don't really believe in signs, I don't think she is going to flit down from heaven and let me know she is okay.  When she first died I felt her around me all the time.  The first few months I believed in signs, in visits, in reassurance from above.  Now I hold no illusions that every bird is her, that every butterfly means something if I can just capture it and hold its fluttering body in my hands.  I don't find comfort in that anymore.  I don't find comfort in much anymore.

When Charlotte first died I couldn't process what happened.  I couldn't think about her death without falling to pieces.  Now I can say I had a daughter in May, she died shortly after birth, with no trace of emotion.  My lip doesn't even quiver.  I don't shower for days at a time, and I want to sit on the couch forever, but my lip doesn't quiver.

This post is long.  Congratulations if you made it this far.  I'm wallowing today.  As always I could shrink this massive post to three words: I miss her.            

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gone

I have a difficult decision hovering over me.  My ability to make decisions dissipated when Charlotte died, and so I find myself seeking help, asking for advice, hoping someone will make the decision for me.  If I have learned anything from Charlotte's death it's that we shouldn't take this life for granted.  Every breath is a gift, every moment on this Earth a blessing.  I am torn between the need to retreat, and the reality of needing to spend time with family.  

We went to Seattle this weekend to see family and friends.  I am trying to do this more often.  When I see people I wonder if it will be the last time.  I am acutely aware that people die in countless senseless ways.  That sometimes a first breath can also be a last breath.  That love cannot bind someone to this Earth.  That wishing is useless.  That hoping doesn't matter.  We come, and we go, and sometimes that moment is one and the same.  In my attempts to understand Charlotte's death I have stood next to death, walked around death, questioned its purpose, and its reality.  I have yet to understand, but I think there is a hint of acceptance.  A small, minuscule even, hint of acceptance.  When Charlotte died I was born to a new life of loss, grief, and never ending love.  I don't understand this place, but the view outside my window isn't as foreign now as it was six months ago.    

As we drove North we talked about his grief and mine.  He said losing her at sixteen years would've been harder.  I wish we would've had sixteen years.  Or at least sixteen days.  Or even an hour with her living and breathing in our arms.  He said it would be difficult, if not impossible, for him to compartmentalize the loss if we had had sixteen years.  I think of her all the time, I wade through the grief each and every day, but he pushes it aside so he can function.  He is keeping us together while I grieve.  His grief isn't less, but it is unrecognizable to me.  I can talk about her for hours.  He shuts down after a few minutes.  He slides her into the Charlotte box in his mind and closes the door.  I haven't figured out how to close that door.  He doesn't have as many memories of her as I do.  He didn't carry her with him everywhere he went for thirty-eight weeks.  Had she lived for sixteen years maybe neither of us would be functioning. 

Grief is selfish.  I am selfish.  I want everyone to bend themselves around my life and my grief.  I want the apology without asking for it.  I want to vent anger without repercussions.  I want to speak her name without carving a swath of awkwardness around me.  I want to feel less isolated.  I want to remain motionless so that she can always find me if she wants to stop by and say hello.  I want her to know I am always here, and I will always love her, even if I am the only one who remembers her short life.     

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Is Birth Dangerous?

I've been thinking about birth a lot lately.  Somewhere in those hazy months of May, June, or July I watched a Boston Med - a bit like a real life Grey's Anatomy - episode that focused on the maternity ward.  One resident said, "Giving birth is the most dangerous thing a woman will do in her lifetime."  Really?  How about those of us who get in a car every day?  Cars are dangerous machines, and we humans are apt to forget that.  Shortly after this quote a baby's heart rate decelerated and the mother was rushed to the operating room for a C-section.  Once there the heart rate stabilized, and they decided to wait a little while before doing the section.  They didn't tell the mother anything.  The people in the room walked around, looked at the fetal monitor, talked amongst themselves, and even, if I remember correctly, started talking about something else.  Eventually one of the residents turned to the mother and said something about the little guy giving everyone a scare.

When Charlotte was born the professionals in the room transitioned from calm to frantic in an instant.  Midwives and apprentices came out of nowhere and within seconds everyone was attempting to save her.  The entire time they worked they told us what was happening, and what they were doing.  They asked her name.  They told us to talk to her.  They talked to her.  I remember someone touching my arm and showing me something shiny.  "We're going to wrap her in this to keep her warm."  She was wrapped up, placed on the gurney, and gone.  All I could think at the time was, Why are you showing this to me?  Go, go now!  She needs help!  When I think about that moment now I am so grateful that they took the time to tell us what was happening, what they were doing, and why.  They were working on her as they were speaking, but they were still letting us know what was happening to our baby.  It is because of this that we spoke her name, which caused her to open her eyes and look at us briefly.  I will carry that moment with me for the rest of my life.  I got to see her dark eyes.  She heard my voice, and her daddy's voice, and she responded.  She knew we loved her.

I've been thinking about Charlotte's birth a lot lately too.  It was beautiful, calm, and quiet.  It was exactly what I wanted.  She was born into a room full of love.  Is it selfish or somehow wrong to want that again?  Was it selfish to want it with her?  Even though I am not pregnant right now I can't help but wonder what I will do next time.  And that brings up more questions.  Why is it so difficult to have a natural birth in hospital here?  Why aren't water births allowed in more hospitals?  If I birth my next baby at home will people criticize me?  Will people like me less if I have my next baby at home and he or she dies too?  Will I like me less?  Will I be able to forgive myself?  Is a section at 38 weeks the best thing for the baby?  Is it the best thing for me?

We've been lucky to avoid criticism for having an out of hospital birth with Charlotte.  If people feel like we made a poor choice they haven't been stupid enough to say so to our faces.  (To say something would be spectacularly unwise.  There's a lot of rage rocketing around in my little self right now).  I like to think the compassion, love, and kindness that flowed from my midwives to us after she died is part of the reason for that.  It is often said that we do not understand love until we bring another human who is solely dependent on us into this world.  I didn't understand compassion until Charlotte died.  In the days and weeks following her death my midwives wrapped me in a blanket of love and kindness.  They bathed me, rubbed my back, made me smoothies, talked to me, hugged me, and loved me through the dark days and weeks after she died.  My primary midwife is still taking care of me all these months later.  I've talked about Charlotte's birth with my midwife over, and over, and over.  Through the talking has come healing, and closure.  Most doctors simply don't have time for that.  (My midwife doesn't really have time either, but she squeezes out a few moments here and there to see me, which I appreciate).  I have surrounded myself with caring medical professionals and I think seeing a regular OB would feel like settling.  It would always leave me wanting more of a connection, more compassion, more care.     

I birthed Charlotte without fear.  I am sad, and more than a little bitter, that I won't be able to birth my next without fear and worry.  I hope no one will fault me for needing my midwife near me for my next pregnancy and birth.  I'm not sure where exactly I stand in regards to birth.  I think every woman has to decide what is best for her.  I'm not about to tell anyone to have a home birth, or a hospital birth.  Birth is sacred, beautiful, and personal.  I hold Charlotte's birth close to my heart.  Birthing her without medication and feeling her slide into the world is one of the few things I have left.  I am so grateful my body's instincts were respected and acknowledged.  I will always remember the love surrounding Charlotte as she was born.    

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mad World

I am having one of those days where I can't make sense of life, of why certain things happen, of why we are so helpless no matter how in control we think we are.

I read a tween novel about infant loss yesterday.  In 1963 in rural North Carolina the narrator's sister is born too soon and dies.  She isn't allowed to hold her, or even see her.  When her mother asks to hold the baby, they tell her it is against hospital policy, and refuse to let her see or hold her baby.  Road to Tater Hill is a good book about sudden loss and what comes after.  I cannot believe how much I related to the main character, even though she is 11 and I am 27.  I lost a daughter, she lost a sister, but it's painful either way.  Sometimes I get so lost in my grief, in what I have lost, I forget there are others who are sad too.  Grandparents, aunts, and uncles, friends who watched my belly grow.  My midwife who recently told me she thinks about us everyday.  I am not the only one carrying guilt, lost dreams, and sadness.

In the book the mother is so lost after the baby dies, the narrator wonders if she has lost not only her sister, but her mother too.  Am I that distant?  Is refusing to participate in holiday events doing a disservice to me and my family?  Since I have no other children is it okay to spend a year in hiding?  Am I being selfish?  Is that selfishness okay?  Usually books aimed at 9-13 year olds don't cause a crisis of the soul, but this one affected me.  The first paragraph: "For months I had wished and wished the baby would be a girl, a little sister.  Maybe I shouldn't have wished so hard.  A boy might have lived."  We've all been there, right?  I will always wonder what I did wrong.  Many, many people have told me I did nothing wrong, but I still wonder.  (Side note: I was e-mailing back and forth with the author this morning and she said the book may not be available in paperback if enough pre-orders don't come through.  If you think infant loss awareness is important consider requesting this book in paperback form from you local library or independent bookstore.  It's scheduled to drop March 8th, and I think it is an important book about grief, loss, and acceptance of things we don't understand).

Also on my mind today: My heart is breaking for Lily Allen and her loved ones as they mourn the loss of her baby boy who was stillborn.  There are people saying she shouldn't be a mother, that she caused her baby's death.  My heart is breaking for her.  Isn't it enough that she lost her baby?  Where is the compassion, the respectfulness owed another human who is suffering?

And one more thing - Laura, who blogs over at Transient Zeitgeist, lost her sweet Gwen on the same day I lost my Charlotte.  She also said good-bye to her sister-in-law far too soon on that same day.  And a few days ago her brother-in-law chose to end his life.  Laurie has been a great comfort to me since Charlotte died.  I've always felt close to her, and her e-mails brighten my days and sustain me.  Please think of and pray for her and her loved ones as they navigate their lives without three of the people they dearly love.

The world doesn't make sense to me right now.  I don't know if it ever will again.



 



      

Sunday, October 31, 2010

10.31.10

I don't really like Halloween all that much.  It's too commercial, and I don't particularly like the dark undertones.  If you look beyond the costumes and candy, however, today is when the veil between worlds, between here and what comes next, (heaven?)  is supposedly the thinnest.  If only I could reach across, and speak with her, hold her, remind her how much I love her.  It is selfish of me, but I want her here.  And I wish I believed that she would come to me today.  I am losing the details of her short time here.  The memories of her beautiful birth are fading.

That poem by e e cummings that reads, "i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)" runs through my mind constantly.  I carry her heart in my heart, and sometimes it weighs 1,000 pounds, but sometimes, oh so rarely, I feel her spirit, I feel her heart, its contours, its curves, I remember listening to it beat, and then I feel weightless; like if I take a deep enough breath what binds me to this earth will snap and I will join her.  And no longer will I carry her heart in my heart - I will carry her in my arms.  Maybe I don't need to reach across, try to grasp her sweet baby fingers tonight.  Maybe believing I will see her again someday is enough.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Stay or go

Last night I brought up the holidays and whether or not we should stay here or go elsewhere.  And the world exploded around me.  There was shouting about the beach vs. the mountains, (living so close to both can be tricky) about saving vs. spending, and some harsh things were said by both of us.  Eventually the husband extracted the core issue: "How do you expect me to make this decision for you when you don't know what you want?"  I don't know ... magic?  I know I don't want to sit around with family and open presents and have dinner.  I know I'm not able to do that yet.  We talked for a long time last night, and decided to stay here, but take things slowly.  Maybe when Christmas rolls around I will feel up to spending time with others, even though my heart will be missing.  We are going to lay low on Thanksgiving, and on Christmas he may go visit family without me.  He said he's waiting to see how I am doing that day.  I told him I could spend the day at the movie theater if I didn't feel too bad.  He said I would be like my mother and that water ride at Disney's California Adventure.  "You'll come out, buy another ticket, fill up your unlimited popcorn bucket and go around again," he said laughing.  If I remember correctly my mom stayed on that ride until the park was closing down.  Hey, if you're having fun, and there's no line, why stop?  We've worked everything out, all is well and peaceful here once more, but I cried a lot last night.

My midwife stopped by this morning with a painting she made for me.  It's a conception painting, meant to bring peace and comfort as we try to conceive.  It has beautiful words and phrases too.  Maybe it's more of a mixed media peace.  I am not an artist.  I thought about including a picture here, but decided not to share it.  For now it is mine, and mine alone.  It is beautiful.  Love it, love her.

After visiting with my midwife we took the dog to the park for some play time in the rain.  I love fall in the Northwest.  I know, I've said it many, many times, but it is truly beautiful here.  Then I mixed up a batch of chili in preparation for the Ducks football game tonight.  I love, love, love this time of year!  I don't like chili, but the boys who are coming over love it.  I am feeling good today.  Last night was rough, but we worked through a lot, and we're back on good terms.  I am finally over the flu.  I felt well enough to have a cookie for lunch.  Life is okay, and right now that is enough.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Clarification

I was going to leave this particular topic alone, but I received an e-mail this morning that made me realize I need to clarify my position.  A few days ago when I wrote about the comparison of losses I did not mean to imply that my loss is above everyone else's because I carried Charlotte for 38 weeks and went through labor and delivery before she died.  My loss is above everyone else's loss because it's mine.  Does that make sense?  She was my child, and I built hopes, dreams, and wishes around her life.  I understand that those dreams start as soon as the positive on the pregnancy test appears.  I am not trying to invalidate first, second, or third trimester losses.  I understand that we have all been shattered by our losses.

Perhaps your pregnancy was over before you had a chance to tell anyone.  Perhaps you were presented with an adverse diagnosis when you went in for your twenty week scan.  Perhaps your baby’s heart stopped beating at fifteen, twenty, twenty-six, thirty-six, forty-one weeks.  Perhaps your baby died shortly after, or during, delivery.  Perhaps you laid your sleeping baby down for a nap only to discover a still child an hour, or two, later.  Perhaps you said good-bye to your baby, but his or her twin came home with you.  Perhaps your baby was born too soon to live outside your womb.  Perhaps your baby survived for weeks in the NICU, but never came home with you.  No matter your story, no matter how you arrived here, in the land of the lost, your child is not in your arms and you are a grieving parent.  I don't think that reaching a certain week marker equals the right to grieve.  We all have the right to grieve our children no matter what week, or year, we said good-bye.    

Also, whether or not you have other children does not matter one whit in my eyes.  I understand that living children do not replace the child that is gone.  There will always be someone missing in all of our families, and in all of our lives.  

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Frustrated and sad

Fell apart last night.  Initially I thought it was because I was on day four of the flu and could not handle one moment more of my stomach hurting.  Then it became about this cycle not being the one.  Granted it's not over, but I'm pretty sure it's not the one.  Then it became about wanting to get pregnant again, and wondering if I am doing it for the wrong reasons.  Then, as it always does, it circled back to the starting point: Charlotte.  I haven't had a huge cry in a good long while.

I think I needed to release some of my emotions about trying to get pregnant again.  It is so unfair that we're here again, less than six months after her birth date.  I've also come to the realization that no matter what I do, no matter what I believe in, or how much I wish it, the next baby won't be her.  And the next baby wouldn't exist if she had lived.  (If there is to be a next baby.  Have to toss that out there).  Two cycles down and I am a mess.  I feel like everyone else in the April/May/June loss world is pregnant again (well, those who want to be).  I know there are others, and I know many of them have been trying longer than me, but it still feels rather lonely back here.

I think part of my frustration stems from the fact that I got pregnant right away with Charlotte.  First try, didn't really have to think about it.  Wanted it, got it, but didn't get to keep her.  Now that I've worked through some of my issues about having another baby I would like to be pregnant again.  (During the summer I wanted to be pregnant again so I could curl up at Bella Vie and have my midwives coddle me for nine solid months.  Then I realized I would see them once a month, not every day, and abandoned that idea).  If only it were that simple.  I know a lot of people who would like to be pregnant, but that hasn't changed anything, or sped up the process.  There is no magic here, just science and what seems to be random luck.  I hate biology.

Tonight another blm and I were talking online about ttc and trusting God and His timing.  I'll never figure out why His timing isn't my timing.  I'm also wrestling with the fact that He never promised us children.  Some people get nineteen chances, but maybe we were only blessed with one.  (And I'm still unsure about how He fits into this whole mess.  We went back to church that one time, but haven't managed to make it back since.  I can think of one word to sum up that whole situation right now: ambivalent).

The other night I got wrapped up in thinking about everything a friend has, and everything I don't have.  I try not to do the - she has, they have, I want, stamp feet, and pout - thing, but sometimes it happens.  No one's life is perfect.  I feel so bereft, so empty, so left behind, so useless, because I am looking through the dead baby lens.  And this lens is so clouded with salty tears, grief, and hopeful wishes I can't see what is front of me.  So I am always looking back to what could've been, and the baby I should be holding in my arms.       

  

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Whine

Today is worse than yesterday.  I think.  I can't really tell.  I feel all over miserable.  I asked the husband if I was going to live and he said yes, because existing as I am right now is not sustainable.  Why does he use such big words when I have the flu?  All I can eat is soup and crackers.  I am so sick to my stomach all of the time, but I haven't thrown up since Sunday so I guess that's progress.  Skipping Aquafit tomorrow.  Just the thought of the pool and all the movement that goes with it makes me feel ill.  Going a little crazy from the isolation here.  Felt okay when I woke up this morning, but now my head is all feverish and I am so nauseated I feel at sea.  Okay, whine over.  Back to reading the new Sara Gruen and watching bad movies.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Recovering

An evil round of the flu attacked me Saturday night and I am just now starting to feel better.  It seems to be a 24 hour strain, but it knocked me flat.  I was up all night Saturday, throwing up every twenty minutes.  I couldn't even keep water down.  I wasn't able to keep my tinctures down either.  I hope this doesn't adversely affect my thyroid health.  The last time I was this sick was sometime during my pregnancy with Charlotte.  I don't remember when exactly, but I do remember curling up on the bathroom floor, hands on my stomach, crying because I couldn't eat or drink, and I was worried about harming the baby.

In the middle of the night I was laying on the bathroom floor thinking about how I was going to throw up again, but I didn't want to, I just wanted it all to over.  Then I had a flashback to labor, how it hurt so much, and I wanted it to be over, but I knew I had to work through the pain to have my baby girl in my arms.  Then she died.  I started crying, then I threw up, and it was a mess of snot, tears, and sickness, and frustration.  I can't even get the flu without thinking about how my baby died.  She overshadows everything.  I don't think it will be this way forever, but for now it is, and I find it frustrating.

One strange result of this entire mess is that I no longer have my post-partum belly.  I don't know where it went.  I am wondering if the disappearance is temporary.  I'm not quite back to the way I looked before, but I'm a lot closer now.  I was so sad to lose my flat stomach to pregnancy since my pregnancy ended in loss, but now this morning I feel like I've lost another bit of her.  

I am very weak, dehydrated, and I have a sore throat, but I was able to eat something this morning.  I was starving last night, but I didn't want to throw up, so I didn't eat.  I am going to lay in bed, drink lots of water, listen to the rain, watch movies, and read.  I hope the worst of it has passed.  I hate being sick.


      

Saturday, October 23, 2010

10.23.10

This is going to be one of those posts with zero continuity and little sense.  I have a lot on my mind today.

This afternoon I realized it's been two years since I started this blog.  I had very, very few readers before Charlotte died, and I didn't write very often.  Now this space means a lot to me and I've met many people through it.  Thanks for reading everyone.  And if you comment know that your comments often get me through the day. 

It's raining!  It's supposed to rain for the next few days.  I love the sound, the smell, how it looks from my front window.  The rain is falling, candles are burning, and I am reading a fabulous book.  I am content. 

We ended up going to the birthday party last night.  The family with the baby couldn't make it.  After all of the guests left we watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail with our friends.  I've said it before, and I've said it many times, but I'm going to say it again: I love these friends, and I am so grateful to have them in our lives.  

Now for two serious topics:

Haiti is in the midst of a cholera outbreak.  I've written about my midwife and her work in Haiti before.  Another midwife from the same birth center will be headed to Haiti in a few weeks.  The birth center in Haiti is scheduled to open at the beginning of November and they need supplies so they can deal with this new crisis.  Please keep this organization in your prayers.    

Emily over at Aidan, Baby of Mine  wrote a post about "Dead Baby Math" today.  I am so glad she was brave enough to say what I've wanted to say for some time now.  I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, I don't want to upset anybody, but I do the same thing Emily does.  When I hear of a loss I compare it to my own.  I think there is something uniquely awful about going through a normal birth and delivery only to have the baby die soon after.  I probably feel that way because it happened to me, but I can't seem to shut off the part of my brain that insists my loss is the worst, and that no one can understand what I am going through. 

Grief is so insular and selfish.  I'm sure everyone thinks their loss is the worst because they are in the middle of it and can't see a way out.  We're all living day by day, hoping to find a way out of the deep sorrow to a calmer place.  I am not trying to lessen anyone's loss.  I just want to stand beside Emily and say, "Me too."  I hope I haven't offended anyone.        

  

Friday, October 22, 2010

Blessed

This has been a strange day.  A really strange day.  When I retrieved the mail from the bin in the closet there was  an unmarked envelope with $1,750.00 cash in it.  I nearly wet my pants from terror.  A while ago, maybe two months after Charlotte died, a random box appeared on our doorstep.  We opened it without realizing it was not addressed to us.  Inside many wrappings and packagings was what we thought were drugs.  We know next to nothing about drugs, but it certainly looked like it so we called the police.  We received a stern lecture from the officer about opening packages not addressed to us.  He could not deduce if it was drugs or not, they whisked it away, and that was that.  So, when I saw the envelope and opened it to all of that cash I nearly fainted.  I spent the day in a state of panic, trying to figure out where it came from, if it was legal, if it was counterfeit.  I also watched Friends and cowered on the couch every time the dog barked.  When the UPS guy dropped off a package and pounded on the door I was curled on the couch with a blanket over my head hoping the end would be quick and painless.  (I read too much and I have a very active imagination).

After a day of worries and much speculation on Facebook I received a message from someone named Angel Blessing who had created a bare minimum Facebook page.  The contents:

  Acts 2:45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

Psalm 66:20 Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me! 

Psalm 27:5 For He will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; He will conceal me under the cover of His tent; He will lift me high upon a rock.

Isaiah 32:18 My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. 

This gift is from God's hand, not man's. All glory is His, as are all things. He gives to those whom He chooses. He loves those whom He chooses to love. He loves you both dearly, faithfully, and eternally.

I feel a tiny bit guilty for having this money in my possession since we don't really need it.  For some a chunk of cash that large would provide an opportunity to buy groceries and pay the bills on time.  For us it is a blessing, a wonderful appreciated blessing.  The husband's response when I told him it wasn't drug money?  "At least we won't have to spend it on a handgun."  

We will be donating some of the money to the deacon's fund at our church which helps those who need it pay the bills, buy groceries, and generally keep their heads above water.  As for the rest, we will wait and pray before we spend it.  Feeling the love today.  Thank you to the person, or persons, who created this interesting, terror filled day for me.  I don't get out of the house much.  I need the entertainment.  

Instincts, holidays, sunshine

I am learning to trust my instincts.  We were supposed to go to a birthday party tonight, but I received an e-mail this morning letting me know the baby girl that sent me flying into the bathroom in tears a month ago will be there.  My first response was to go anyway, to fight through, because that is always my initial response.  Then I paused for a moment, took a deep breath, and realized the thought of going made me want to throw up.  So, no birthday party for us.  I'm sad we won't be going, but I don't want to end up huddled in my friend's closet again, and I'm sure the hostess would like to avoid that too.

I am learning to follow my inner voice, and listen to what my heart wants.  It's hard, I miss out on a lot, but it's better than ending up in an uncomfortable situation.  I am limping along just fine right now, and it is best if I can avoid triggers and sensitive moments.

In the middle of the 2ww right now.  Not harboring any hope.  Well, maybe a small bit that seems to seep in no matter what.  I think I missed the opportunity this go round.  I don't know where my brain went this month, but it is definitely not here.  I had it in my head that it would be horrible if I wasn't pregnant again before Christmas.  I am now realizing just how unlikely that is.  It's nearly Halloween, which means Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner and the chance of achieving that goal is dwindling.  I am dreading Christmas.  I mentioned this to a friend last night and she said, It will come and then it will go.  True, but hard to remember.  I was so excited for Christmas last year, and this year I want to avoid the entire season with its joy and goodwill and merriment.  

I thought it was going to rain today, but I woke up to another day of sunshine.  I am going to spend my day reading, watching TV, and snarling at nature.  I am so ready for the rain to start, for fall to truly begin.  

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Nature of Grief

There are moments when I throw my head back and laugh so hard tears come to my eyes.  At that exact second in time the grief is lifted and life is okay.

Last night we rolled the rug up and moved the furniture against the wall in preparation for the chimney install guy. We had a big open space in our living room so we decided to dance.  Isabel didn't understand what we were doing so she ran around in circles barking, and trying to get between us.  She hates being left out of family moments.  If we're hugging she wiggles in between us, if we're talking on the couch she walks up and puts her face on my knee, tries to climb in my lap.  After a few laps she managed to separate us.  She jumped up and put her paws on the husband's shoulders as if she was saying, my turn, my turn!  I laughed so hard I had to cross my legs.  This is what having a baby has done to me.  I can't laugh too hard, or sneeze, without repercussions not seen since kindergarten.

The other night I went out to the backyard to chat with the husband’s friends.  They were helping him unload some wood he got from one of the cardiologist’s he works for.  (His house is huge.  His son was having his soccer practice there when the guys showed up).  I love these boys (Someday soon I will have to stop calling them boys as they are all 30, or nearly so).  They treat me like a sister and I love them for it.  After they unloaded the wood they had to go back to their house to get the husband’s car.  I rode along.  There is something to be said about riding in a truck with four men who are discussing the new rules about child and spousal abuse in (Abu Dhabi? Dubai? The guys weren’t sure), why someone at the driver’s work wants him to date her granddaughter, and how they feel about polygamy.  It was gloriously fascinating and endlessly entertaining.  From them I have learned that guys will talk about anything if you ask, and sometimes they will be more forthcoming and honest than women.  And they make me laugh no matter how sad I am.  A few weeks after Charlotte died we met up with one of them at a local restaurant.  This one tells the best stories, especially when he's had a few drinks.  That night I drank too much and laughed so hard I had to cross my legs.            

Then there are moments when I remember how all encompassing my loss is.  I can't explain how thirty-eight weeks with a growing baby instantly morphs into a lifetime of loss and sorrow, but I know it does, and I know how much it hurts.

I had a horrible dream last night.  I was pregnant, hugely so, and I was waiting for the baby to die so I could birth it.  I was going about life, calmly shopping, but waiting for the life inside of me to pass.  I started bleeding.  I called the husband and let him know it was time, that the baby was dying just as we had expected.  I called my midwife, but she wouldn't come, she refused to help me.  I was on a street somewhere.  I asked the people walking by to help me.  They kept going.  I was alone, the baby was dying, there was nothing I could do.  That was the entire dream.  I was bleeding, the baby was dying, but I couldn't get help.  I have had so many frightening dreams since Charlotte died, but this one was the worst.  I feel residual terror just thinking about it.  I think what scares me the most is that I knew the baby wasn't Charlotte.  In the dream I was watching myself walk around asking for help.  My belly was huge from the side, but when I looked at myself head on, my belly was a gaping wound, and I was empty inside, no baby.  I woke up gasping, sweating, terrified and on the verge of tears.  

This is the nature of grief.  Joy and sorrow mixed together until it is impossible to tell if I've laughed so hard I'm crying, of I am simply crying.  

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