Saturday, May 3, 2014

She's here! Greta Susi is here! (birth story and many emotions included)

On April 29th, our rainbow baby, our daughter, our second child was born - and everything was perfect.

She came a week late.  She weighed 9lbs, 4.5oz.  She was 20 inches long.

Probably the most remarkable thing is that she was born just one day shy of (the day before) her brother Wolfgang's birthday.  In fact, she was only about 12 hours shy of being born at the exact same time of day as Wolfie.  Ben and I were talking before she came and wondering how we would feel if she was born on his birthday - which of course, we'd love.  But I also remarked that if she came the day before then they could be "next to" each other, but we'd still have a special day for each.

She's been home for a few days now and it has been remarkable to say the least.  I probably underestimated the amount of simple anxiety I would have over things like how she's breathing, her body temperature, whether she's getting enough food or is dehydrated, etc.  I think when you have lost an infant, a lot of those simple anxieties are highlighted a little more.  I'm sure I'm not the first parent to check every five minutes to make sure my baby's chest is still rising and falling like normal...but it just feels like I'm in a category all my own on things like that.  

And despite any worries I have, she is perfect, beautiful, healthy and totally worth all the worry in the world.  

Birth Story ahead!  

I was 39 weeks and 4 days when I went in for a routine ultrasound on a Friday.  Everything looked great except that her fluid was a little bit on the lower side of things.  Normal amniotic fluid levels are between a 5 and a 10... and mine was at a 4.5.  Our amazing doctor gave me a couple of choices but was up-front about the risks and odds of each.  He said I could either go home and drink plenty of fluids over the weekend and try to get my levels up myself.  I'd then have to go back on Monday to check on things... but that if my fluids had not improved or if they'd even gotten worse I could be limiting my birthing options at that point (a slight hint that a cesarian might be necessary).  Or, I could go home a pack and head to the hospital right then to get hooked up to some IV fluids and also just go ahead and get an induction going.  This was recommended because he felt that she was already big enough (more than big enough) and that we has already discussed my plan to not allow this pregnancy to go further than 41 weeks because of our previous loss at 42 weeks.  Since 41 weeks was just 10 or so days away, he offered it up as an option.  The thought of going home to rehydrate on my own and then possibly failing in that endeavor and endangering the life of my baby frightened me... so I called my husband and away to labor and delivery we went!

We got in on Friday afternoon and were met with a whole host of the most amazing midwives and nurses.  They got me settled and on a little fluid drip, and checked my cervix - which was 3 cm already but very high and hard to reach... and almost not effaced at all.  One of the midwives, Mika, applied the Cervadil (a cervical ripener) and the process began.

Before anything was rocking and rolling, I was met with some disappointment, though.  I had the opportunity with Wolfie to labor in the birthing tub, or attempt a waterbirth so long as the Pitocin drip had been stopped and I was contracting on my own.  When I asked about the tub when I got there I was informed that this would not be possible for me, as given our history it would just be so much easier to manage and monitor me and the baby without the tub.  This was never communicated to me during my pregnancy, and I had been using a lot of positive visual imagery involving waterbirth to work through my anxiety about the birth - so I was really hoping for it.    A bummer, but safety was our goal - so after lamenting about it for a few minutes, I was on-board.

Overnight, I started having contractions.  On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say they registered in at a 2 or 3 on my pain scale.  The next day, the Cervadil was removed and since I was contracting, they had me walk around the hospital to see if I could just continue on my own.  After walking and birth-ball bouncing for about an hour, it was clear that my contractions were waning - so they started me on the Pitocin.  They gently nudged the dosage every half-hour, and this went on for hours.  But the the 2nd evening, I was up to a fairly high dose of Pit but like one of my midwives said, "You're not even batting an eyelash at these contractions."  So they decided to bump me down to a low dose overnight, allowing my system some time to breathe and then bump me back up in the morning.    Unlike the 1st evening, it was clear that I was exhausted and sleep-deprived.  They gave me Ambien to help me sleep... which can I just say is UHMAZING.  I didn't just sleep, I went out like a light... like 3 glasses of red wine OUT.   During the night I dreamed about a clear mask over my face and a horrible smell.  I grabbed at the mask and lifted my mouth out of it and took gasps of clean air, then placed the mask back on my face.  So, apparently at some point I was laying on my side and while Greta was not in distress or anything, they thought she could do with more oxygen, so they put the oxygen mask on me.  When I woke up I had to ask if it was a dream or not.  Oh, Ambien... you're a hell of a drug.

The next morning, they checked me and I was at 5cm... but still hardly effaced at all.  They started bumping up the Pitocin again but literally nothing was happening.  They got almost all the way back up to the dose I'd had before but my contractions were nowhere to be found.  That afternoon one of the midwives came in and said, "OK, I don't want you to worry or anything but we need to have an awkward conversation, sweetie."  Uh oh.  My mind immediately went to cesarian.  Crap... she's going to recommend surgery.  My heart raced.  "I think the best thing right now, is let's do an ultrasound and check those fluid levels.  If everything is OK, then I really think the best thing to do is send you home to allow you to get some real rest, let your body reset it self, and see how the next week goes.  Who knows, you may go in to labor on your own now that we've sort of 'primed' you."  Thank goodness!   My Ob came in to do the ultrasound, and my fluid levels were way up.  They unhooked me, discharged us... and we went home with a baby still in my belly.

The following week was a strange dream.  Ben had already taken off of work since we had no idea that an induction could fail.  At that point it was awkward for him to go back just for a few days so he just stayed home with me.  We walked a million miles, ate spicy eggplant parmesan, and did everything in our power to get her to come on her own.  

Greta had other plans.  At 6 days past my due date, I went to the midwives and also for another ultrasound to check on Greta.   Everything was beautiful.  It was clear that she was calm and happy in there.  My cervix was still at about 5cm, but it had lowered quite a bit - still not very effaced but lower and easier to reach and for baby to lower to be born.  Ben and I discussed our options - clearly given losing Wolfie we were in no emotional position to continue to wait it out and risk going to 42 weeks again.  We opted to schedule another round of induction for the following day (putting me at exactly 41 weeks).

We arrived at the hospital at 8am and they got me prepped.  No Cervadil this time - straight to the Pit.  Again, they slowly eased me in to it... but it was clear that things were going to be different.  My body started responding immediately.  Contractions were happening - and they were actually painful enough that I had to stop and focus.  I had developed a little technique of kind-of traveling outside myself and telling my body and my mind what to do.  If you were in the room with us you would have seen me gripping the side of the bed chanting over and over, "pressure pressure pressure pressure good pressure, bring the baby down, bring the baby down, open up, open up, open up, relax, relax, relax, relax".

At some point during the afternoon, though, the chanting stopped and the slow breathing control began.   Even though things were intensifying, both Ben and I still thought that she would not be born very soon.  Mentally I was preparing to be in that state for hours on end.   Shortly thereafter they started backing off of the Pitocin.  My contractions continued to build... I was doing it on my own!  They had just removed me completely from the Pitocin when our midwife came in at 5pm.  It was right then that it felt different - as scared as I was to take the next step in this painful journey, I had to be honest with her and tell her that I really felt like pushing.  She checked me - I was at about 9.5 cm dilated and almost completely effaced - "Your cervix is like almost gone... go ahead and push!"

I checked the clock with each contraction.  20 minutes or so went by with me holding my knees back on my own.  The baby was getting lower.  My water still had not broken.  They put up the squat bar on the bed... but I just used it to put my feet up.  After pushing a couple times this way, they offered me a little twisted sheet to use as a "rope" to hold on to with my arms so that I could also "curl" my body upwards and really get to work.  Once the rope was handed to me, things got real.  

One or two pushes in using the rope and Ben said, "I can see her head... in the bag of waters.  I see her hair swirling around!"  "Really?!" I said.  The midwife said, "Reach down and feel her."  I reached down and felt what I can only describe as a bit of a water balloon, Hah!  It was joyous.  I burst into tears.  "Oh my god I want to hold her!" I exclaimed.

I didn't know it then, but there were only 7 or 8 good pushes left.  At one point, the midwife said, "She's almost here, she's right there." and I looked down at her between contractions.  She was holding up a tissue to shield from my bag of waters.  My waters still had not broken, but on the second-to-final push they did.  When they did, the baby stayed put.  Normally in birth the baby comes down and out a little when you push and then back in a little when you rest.  But when the water burst, she stayed... she was crowning! 

The crowning was a new level of pain.  My midwife could see this and said the most profound thing I've ever heard, "This is your new normal.  Just get used to this new normal and adjust to it.  You can do this."

I let go of the rope as I couldn't take it anymore.  I was beside myself with pain... but still somehow present in all of this.  I let the sensations establish themselves for a few seconds.  I felt the burning, I reached down to add some counter-pressure on my own during my final push.  I knew this push would be the last - I just knew it.
Reaching deep inside, and forcing all my will-power over the edge of what I thought I could not handle (but did), I curled up, I curled inward, my mind went blank.

The next thing I remember is opening my eyes to the most beautiful sight any mother could ever see... her newly born baby laying on her stomach, looking right up at her, crying with opened eyes, reaching out to be held.  

Many many many joyous exclamations, many many tears, many many declarations of disbelief for how easy and quickly this went.  So much love. 

 It was 5:47pm.  I had only pushed for about 45 minutes...only 15 minutes or so of which was really very intense.  We had done it.  Greta is here.            

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Something you should never EVER say to a pregnant woman (that folks say to me ALL THE TIME)

So there I am - shopping or waiting in a checkout line.  My mind is probably somewhere in worksville thinking about all the things on my to-do list that require my immediate attention at home.  I sense a presence near me, another shopper or an employee.  I count the seconds until they speak up about the bulging appendage I make no effort to hide...

"Is this your first?"

Le sigh.  Random stranger, you have presented me with a very difficult mental dilemma... and you don't even know it.  You're just trying to make small talk with me - you probably have kids and want to relate to me in some way.  Or maybe you think I look great for a pregnant woman, so you feel warm and fuzzy in the aisle and want to express to me all your warm fuzzies.  I know you have good intentions but here is what you've actually done to me.

This is a YES or NO question, basically.  I actually have three options though, on how to answer this (in general).  Here they are:

Answer "YES, this is my first".  I have just lied to you with a straight face and a little smile.  I have just added you to the long list of strangers I've decided to opt for a lie about my first child ...that pile up on one another in my little white lie bank - contributing to an ever-fading emotional attachment to this memory.  I feel horrible inside that I have just denied the existence of my dead child.  His memory enters my mind... but like the ghost from Christmas past he is here to show me how horrible I've become.  I have prevented you from feeling guilty about bringing up a tragic event in my life... but at the same time I've opened the door for you to give me all kinds of pregnancy and parenting advice because now you think this is my first child.  Now you think you can tell me "Oh the third trimester is the WORST."  Now you think it's OK to say, "Well the labor is painful but is is SO worth it."   YES I KNOW.  You don't have to tell me because I've already been there and done that... but my little white lie has dug me in to a little hole here... and I'm just praying that this checkout line moves a little faster so that I don't have to tell you any more lies.  Random stranger, you don't know this... but this brief exchange will haunt me for the rest of my day.

Answer "NO, this is my second child"... but you see I have to follow that up immediately with "BUT MY FIRST CHILD DIED," to prevent you from asking how old my first child is... giving me yet another opportunity to just lie to you.  I have just made you an intimate partner in my grief.  I have given you just a enough information (he's dead) to peak your interest.  "Oh goodness I'm so sorry.  How did he die?" is sure to follow.  Now there's no way for me to explain this quickly.  I'm just trying to get some shopping done.  I have to stop what I'm doing and give you the essentials (so as not to leave any other questions out there).  "I carried him to 42 weeks but when he arrived he didn't breathe.  Doctors said there was a lack of oxygen at some point and he sustained extreme brain damage.  But we got to be with him for 5 days before we 'let him go'."  Now that I've wrinkled my brow for you and regurgitated a painful memory for you, I get to listen to you say something nice about death or grief.  oh joy.  There's a small chance that you, random stranger, have had a personal experience with baby loss.... and now I have to hold off my shopping even longer to relate with you and feel your pain as well.   If that's the case then HOW DARE YOU ask me if this is my first!  Random stranger, you don't know this... but this brief exchange will haunt me for the rest of my day.  

Answer, "Well sort-of... not really."  You have just asked me a basic yes or no question and I have given you the most ambiguous answer in all of humankind.  You are already very very nosy... you are sure to ask me more questions.  I have just made this exchange worse for myself... now it's not only painful but awkward.  Great... I cannot win.  At this point I have to either tell you everything or be a complete asshole and say something like, "I'd rather not talk about it."  Can you imagine?!  Here is this perfect stranger just trying to make smalltalk and I have totally ignored their sweet intentions in favor of "teaching them a lesson".  This won't change anything.  I'll leave this exchange feeling like a stubborn, angry, grief-nazi.  Shoot.  I'd rather just leave depressed or guilty for telling a white lie... at least that way I won't have to feel like I've got a major stick up my butt about nice people just trying to talk to me.  At least this way I'll still feel approachable.  Random stranger, you don't know this... but this brief exchange will haunt me for the rest of my day.

Although no studies exist showing the percentage of all child-bearing women who suffer pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or neo-natal loss due to SIDS or complications due to premature birth, I'm willing to bet that out of all the women who have ever been knowingly pregnant at any age, any time, with any range of health issues or not... it's probably at least something like one in ten.  At least.  And I'm only saying that because that seems to be about the going-rate for women who have a similar baby-loss story to share with me if I end up divulging the truth about my loss.

So, please... don't ask a woman if this is her first child.  This pregnancy could be her fifth... or tenth... in a long line of painful memories too heavy to burden you - a random stranger - with.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

our 2nd child, our "rainbow" baby

We are excited to announce that we're pregnant!  I'm already 13 weeks along, am no longer feeling icky, and am really looking forward to a nice, big belly.  This is our "Rainbow" baby.

"What is a rainbow baby? A Rainbow Baby is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope."


We know that some of you may be curious, or have questions.  I've put some of the anticipated questions below in case anyone wants to know.  The questions get "deeper" as they go along, so read up as much as you desire. 

When are you due?  Will you find out the sex?  Do you have names picked out?  Are you feeling any morning sickness?

I'm due April 22nd (this is just 7 days after Wolfie's expected due date and 8 days before Wolfie was born).  Yes, we plan to find out the sex on December 5th.  Yes we do have names picked out.  If it's a girl we will name her Gretta Susi (Susi means "wolf" in Finnish!), and if it's a boy we will name him Fox (we don't have a middle name picked out yet for a boy... but we're considering Lawrence because my dads name was Larry).  And since I'm already 13 weeks along, I am not feeling any of the general "ickyness" that I was feeling about 4 weeks ago.  I feel great and everything!

So, you're due pretty much the same time you had Wolfie.  Does that freak you out a little?

Well, yes and no.  It freaks me out that the universe, God, the force, whatever has seen fit to place us in this strange position.  But I'm going to choose (in so much as I can forcibly choose) to see it as a blessing.   I dunno... call it a little kiss from Wolfie or something.   I end up thinking a lot about Wolfie in April, of course.  I think he'll seem closer to me as I near the birth of this baby and although that brings the pain of it closer, it also keeps him close.  We already have a child.  Although he has passed, it will be nice to have my heart full of him too as I make room in my life and my heart for this next one.   Not to mention, my father passed away on April 9th... I mean, April is a big month for reflection for me... and for keeping spirits close at heart.  

Are you considering doing things differently this time?

Yes and no.  For starters I'm eating well this time.  You may or may not have even noticed that I'm getting "rounder"... or maybe you thought I just had a big meal and a pint of bloaty cider or something.  I plan to keep it this way (save the belly, of course).  Last time, I bulked up a bunch in spots I didn't need to put the poundage on.  We weren't prepared mentally or financially to afford endless fresh fruit or frozen banana pops or organic eggs and lean meat.  But now we are.  I'm also taking my prenatals every day... hard to admit that I didn't do that with my first.  I'm also going to enroll in some aqua-aerobics classes - I gotta tell you, I think I'm more excited about that than anything else.  

BUT - there's a lot we will do the same.  yes, the SAME.  I'm with the same midwives and I plan to give birth the same way.  Hopefully I get to receive my baby in the water this time, and also hopefully I don't have to be induced.   I know some of you may say to yourselves, gosh if I were her, I'd just schedule the c-section so I could have peace-of-mind.  In our situation, it isn't called-for.  Rest assured that if it ever were recommended to me by my qualified doctors, I would submit wholeheartedly.   We have been told over and over again that what happened to Wolfie (although the details remain unknown) was an accident, a very rare accident...and that it's not likely to happen that way again.   And everyone agrees that I'm healthy for natural birth, and honestly... after giving birth to a nearly 10 pound baby, I think I'm good at it.   And I'm looking forward to it being easier this time... and maybe a slightly smaller/lighter baby.

Aren't you scared?  What if something tragic happens again?

There's a certain, sad-like strength that the sufferers of tragedy carry with them.  If history ever repeats itself, I imagine these say to themselves, even though the pain is no less than before that "this isn't my first rodeo" and they use the knowledge of grief from their past to suffer through.  Yes I'm scared... but isn't every expectant parent?   It's hard to say what we'd do.... I think it's wrong to definitively say at all.  So I'll take a page from my husband's book and say... "we'll cross that bridge when it comes".... something that I hardly ever, ever say.    Flashes of the "what ifs" come to me at all times... but I'm going to choose (in so much as I can choose) to focus on a positive outcome.  Holding my baby... seeing my baby open their eyes... make noises... move around... and live a happy life.  

Is there anything that I can do?  

Yes, keep us in your thoughts and help us focus on the positive.  We're obviously a little "timid" this time.  We waited extra long to tell anyone (even our family just found out).  And we'll likely wait extra long to set up the crib area and it's also likely that we won't have a baby shower or anything either.... but we literally feed off of the excitement and the encouragement of our family and friends - we need your good vibes.    

And, I just wanted to thank everyone for all the support and friendship over the years.   It has been a difficult 2.5 years emotionally... not gonna lie.  And though it never ends, we can't thank you all enough for every last word, every last gesture.  As always, we look forward to many more "times" with all of you... whether good or bad, such is life - we want to share them with you.





Tuesday, January 1, 2013

looking back... looking forward

For more reasons than one, it's hard to believe that it's been one whole year and 8 months since Wolfie's birth.  The resonance of the holiday season we just passed through still rings in my head.  On Christmas morning I thought about Wolfie a lot...mostly of all the cool new toddler toys that would have been under (and around, and spilling out all over the place from) the tree.

And being that it's New Years Day, I'm feeling particularly sentimental about the 2012.  Last April we marked the milestone of it having been one-year since everything happened.  It was a strange sort-of milestone, filled with fears and anxiety.  At the time I was concerned for my mental health and "losing it" - so to speak, so in an attempt to prepare for any unknown emotional breakdowns, I shut myself in from the subject and did as little outside communication as possible during that time.  And I have to say, I think it helped.  There comes a point where the wound is sufficiently aired out and now it just needs some internal nourishment to further heal.

But our year wasn't all discourse and sadness.  Ben and I both work a lot, and while our jobs and responsibilities may come at a time-management and sacrifice price, we are both very grateful that we don't have to worry about many things involving that.  Plus, I think we can both agree that it's nice to be able to fully immerse yourself in something other than your own thoughts during the daily grind.  Our jobs have been almost the only protein we consume in an otherwise poor diet of daily life... they're good and they're keeping us feeling healthy and good. 

But if I had to sum up 2012 in one word for myself it would be "dislocation".  Or, at least, that's the one word that's really sticking out for me today.  I don't feel disassociated from things... I feel dislocated from them.  Like an arm that's come loose from a socket, I'm still there in sinew and flesh, but the bone has come loose, and I'm hanging limp and although I can still feel everything I don't feel like I have the proper connection to do anything about it.

Most of the dislocation has been self-inflicted.  And it's made us into shut-ins.  A small part of me wants to go out, spend time with friends, dance the night away, etc... but mostly I just want to watch TV and fall asleep.  Depression?  Maybe.  Getting older?  Maybe that too.  Lazy?  Yes possibly.  I feel it happening to my life as if I'm being slowly injected with some kind of sedative... and I'm struggling to keep my eyes awake in life and not completely fade into hermit-dom.  But I am unsure how to stop it.  The bottom line is that the motivation to go out and "have fun" just isn't there.  We can arrange to do fun things together, but the shoe of life has almost completely lost it's shine.  Is there no more marrow for us to suck?  Is all the world now painted black?

but then...

in the quiet drive-time during a better-late-than-never vacation just a few weeks ago....

Ben and I started talking about our dreams.  Mostly our dreams involve business and enterprise in some way.  I suppose some couples talk of gardens and numbers of bedrooms... but at this juncture in life we talk of work.  It was such a break-through moment, but you'd never know it with us.   We realized that our dreams can be combined into one epic life-dream... and that they are feasible.  We realized that all our other dreams can be grandfathered in at some point too.  We've been crawling around in the dirt of our sorrow and our unknown futures for a while now, and this one discussion drew an outline for the structural support for beams for the floor for the foundation for the ground-level of our newly decided life-dream.  The plan is a little shaky and we're not too clear how to get from a to zed but the light of a goal shining through an open window is all we may need to climb out of this dislocation.

And another open window too.  Since everything I've not only been shut-in but also shut-off.  I haven't honestly wanted to get pregnant again... for fears... for grief... for lack of zeal.  I worried that if we had another little one that my emotional lachrymose would rob our second child of the deserving excitement.  I didn't want to bring a precious baby into my jaded, tarnished, and depressed world.  And it's taken me this long to consider that my cup never empties for love... and certainly never empties for desire for a child despite my brain trying to convince me it's "not a good time".  So, here's a little open window.  It's the same open window we left cracked when we got married... maybe the stork will come, maybe it won't.   But now I'm open to it, and actually... to tell you the truth... a little excited about what that may hold.  But even in that same breath I tell you that I cover that joy and excitement with rationality... after all, we've already been shown that joy can be ripped right out from our grasping hands.

So, here's to a new year.  To healing.  To finding joy, and keeping joy.  To open windows and life-dreams.  To relocation and going out and having fun.  To gardens and good jobs.  To having energy and spending time.   May all the marrow of life be yours.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

ok i will try

I've always been really good at putting myself in other people's shoes.  It may take me a few moments... but if I actually have a few moments in the day, I can find my mind easily drifting to another time, another life... another pair of shoes.

When I was younger (and embarrassingly enough, even to this day) I would act out conversations, situations, drama and actual events in the bathroom or in front of the bedroom mirror.  I would usually "act"  and voice out all parts of a conversation.  But they were usually mostly monologues anyways.  Where I get to indulge totally high-ego style... like someone was interviewing me for a documentary... about me.  Chances are, if I'm nervous or excited about a particular conversation or interview that I'm about to have, I will have already acted it out while taking a bath or driving to the grocery store. 

That being said, it is really rooted in my desire to feel "prepared".  But this past year I've been fraught with one particular "scene" that I cannot make peace with.  I cannot squeeze the fear out of this event to come by rolling it over and over again in my head like a remake of Groundhog Day.  I try to imagine it, I try to even breathe and hold my posture or imagine what my body might be feeling when this particular thing comes. 

This thing I keep thinking about is my own death. 

I guess it doesn't help to think of it... but for some reason with the loss of my son I cannot help but ponder this crazy burdensome thing no less than once per day.  I will often replay my memory of bearing witness to my father's passing.  And I will hypothesize on how I might find myself in the moment which is to be my last.

My imagination reaches through the visual and the sensory and begins to unearth a strange kind of fear.  A panic rises up in my gut... but  I can always catch myself a few seconds into the panic. 

"Listen, where are you?" I ask myself.

"I am driving in the car." I tell myself.

"Good, are you alive?"

"Yes, I am alive."

"Then don't think about death until you need to, Ok?"

"Ok I will try."

Next I will usually take a deep breath and try to shake off the heeby-jeebies, turn the music to something upbeat and focus on the world around me.

Focus on the world around me.  And that's the gist of what I've been doing lately.  Trying my best to absorb myself in work, friends, movies, videogames, my husband and our doggie.  Every-so-often I have a few minutes of "quiet" and my mind drifts to Wolfie, and then to death.  Maybe the void of our loss pulls me in.  Maybe it is too difficult to keep it away from my own imagination.  "Try not to think of it, " you may say.  It just isn't going to happen that easily.

We are coming up on the one year mark next month.  I'm still not sure what to expect emotionally.  Wolfie was born on April 30th.  And he passed on May 5th.  And then mother's day falls on the 13th this year.  I don't know if I should hibernate, try to distract myself or just wait and see... but for sure it will probably be difficult for me to communicate about it directly with anyone.  So, I apologize in advance to anyone if I seem distant or absent emotionally.

There really are a lot of great things happening in my life right now and most of the time I'm totally focused on those things.  As always, there's a give-and-take and I do my best to sort through the pieces.  Don't we all? 


Monday, December 26, 2011

toes and toys

Today is the day after Christmas.  This month, I've busied myself with work, work, and more work.  Oh, and gifts and buying gifts and buying more gifts.

But on Christmas Eve, I sat quietly on the couch while Ben played a videogame.  I was waiting for him so we could go to a friend's house.  I realized this was the first I'd had time to sit and really think all month.  I looked up at Wolfie's few pictures on the wall.  His little toes, curled up in the palms of Ben's strong hands stared back at me.   And I realized the great difference in what would have been this Christmas and what is.  I glanced at our tree.  Ben brought it home for me a month ago because he knows how much celebrating things means to me.  He knows I really enjoy decorating the house and making everything all warm and fuzzy for a month.  But even with all it's colorful lights and ornaments it all felt empty.    A few small presents to each other, and a few scattered gifts for family members we'd yet to see... but no toys.  No staying up late to assemble a bouncey gym thingy.  No stockings this year.. I couldn't bear to see them hanging all alone without a little one for our baby.  I remembered the little squishy talking soccer ball I'd bought last spring.  I used coupons to get it at a discount and even though it was for 6 months and up, I decided it was perfect for a Christmas gift.  "We can just put it into the closet until then and it can be one of his gifts for Christmas!" I'd told my husband when he questioned my shopping decision. 

Then, I mourned for that.  It seems so silly to be crying over a toy.  But really I was crying over the lost memory (future memory) of giving it to him.  Seeing him instinctively try to shove it into his mouth as babies do.  Getting drool all over it.  Watching his reaction as it activated and talked to him when he squeezed it.  Glancing at my husband as we both laughed and thought to ourselves what a wonderful life it is. 

I'm glad I have an appreciation for the "tradition" of religious holidays, as it were...the presents, the family get-togethers, the food, the tree, etc.  Those things actually kind-of make it easier to be honest.  Because honestly, right now, I cannot jive with the spiritual side of it at all.  I mean, all the songs are about the BIRTH of a child.  Angels sing about a BABY arriving.  And even on the pseudo-emotional but not too religious side, Santa comes to bring little CHILDREN toys.  You go to church, you're going to hear a sermon about a baby arriving into the world...successfully.  You're going to sing songs and imagery of a sleeping little baby Jesus in a manger are going to fill your thoughts.   It's just too soon for me.

And yes, it's probably going to be too soon for me to connect spiritually with Easter where God not only loses his son but his son gets to come back to life.   And most of all I will be avoiding anything to do with Passover.  Although the blood of the lamb covered our door, God did not spare our first-born son.  I'm sorry.  It's just too much.  

Now, I know that there is more to spirituality than all of this.  But right now, I am consumed by this grief spiritually speaking.  I cannot really see the forest for the trees right now.  Hopefully some day the bitter waters that flow through my heart will cease... maybe never.

In the mean time, I am happy to have my head down and work.  I am relieved to have a break from my thoughts daily.  The frustrating thing is that this usually means that I have a lot less time to hang out with friends.  But I am growing in this.  It feels good to grow again after having felt depleted for so long.

I turn my thoughts to Wolfie's toes.  In the 5 days we were blessed with him, I got to kiss his toes about two-dozen times.  He had enormous feet for a newborn baby... his foot barely fit inside the little clay foot imprint box that we were given.  As painful as it is to think of his listless little body, it's easier than thinking of him happy and alive compared to the empty space where he should have been.  His toes were there... the moment with the soccer ball this Christmas morning was not.

I remember lightly kissing the top of his big toe.  I am so thankful for that.   

Monday, November 14, 2011

mad at God

I am mad at God.  There I said it. 

If God is my "father" then I am like a child who in a moment of complete joy and blissfulness was struck across the face by my father's hand with full force.  I grasp my cheek and look up to my father, with tears filling the corners of my eyes, and lump filling my throat.  After a brief glance, searching my father's face for a reason for such a hurtful act, I run from him.  I find a quiet place where I can listen to myself cry...and wait for an explanation.

I am mad at God.  There is no way around it.  If any human person ever took from me what was taken, I would probably go insane from the murderous spirit that would dwell within me.  I would never want to murder anyone... or suffer anyone unto death purposefully... but I would wrestle with that rage for the rest of my life.

Why should it be any different then for God? 

I would not displace my love for God, and my gratefulness for all that he HAS DONE for me... but now within and around and amongst all that love is an anger too. 

I love you... but I'm extremely pissed at you right now.

So, it's kinda hard for me to sit in church with this going on in my head.  I think that the key to spirituality is the relationship you have with your creator.  And of course, anger and hurt are parts of relationships.  But I don't see too many places in church where I can take out some of my anger.  Wouldn't it be great if there were also punching bags near the alter where we could let out our frustrations and then a little area with pillows and a box of tissues where we could curl up in a fetal position and cry and scream like toddlers throwing a fit?  And then afterwards, there would be ice-cream and someone we love would take us to get wasted on red wine so we could just fall asleep like a sad mess.  That might be cathartic for me... or difficult.  But in any case that's the level of craziness that I need in order to really open up and show my "true feelings".   Mostly in church I'm just a shadow of how I really feel... because how I really feel would involve lots of screaming and crying... probably snot flying out of my nose and me making all kinds of horrific "crying faces"....and I guess I'm just really not comfortable with sharing that side of me with everyone. 


I guess you could say that the "routine" of life has gotten easier.  But the same emotion still lingers with nearly the same intensity on the inside.

Have you ever fallen in love?  You know how suddenly every song you hear is somehow related to that person?  How every little coincidence is suddenly meaningful to your situation?  This is what it's like for me... only it's not about love.  It's about the death of my son.  Everything that happens, every song, every event, every little thing... I can't experience it without considering how it relates to Wolfie.  This has left a permanent print on everything that happens in my life...even my memory of the things that happened before.  It has simultaneously altered both the perception and feelings of the past, present AND future.

It's a weight on my heart that will be there until I die.  I just have to carry it.