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.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I feel scattered mostly these days... and this blog post should be indicative of that.

The other morning I counted the days.  Wolfie would have been about 5 and a half months now.  Mostly I don't count the days.  It hurts more to know the milestones I'm missing.

Sometimes between last I wrote and now I found how to dress better for my new size.  But I also found that tucking my new drooping belly flap into a sweet new pair of jeans is just a temporary way of distracting me from the truth.  I eventually take those off and get into the bath, the combination of seeing my buoyant stomach fat and the feeling of the warm swirling water reminds me of the water birth. 

So on this other morning, after counting the days and having a somber bath, I decided to sit in the nursing glider and open the drawers of the baby's dresser one by one and look at some of his things.  I hadn't really sat there except to tie my shoes since everything happened.  Mostly it felt sweet and nostalgic like looking at old family videos even though some of those family members have gone on to heaven... but then it all changed when I got to the bottom drawer.

In the bottom drawer are the socks, shoes, and other small accessories.  Buried under a few pairs of socks and caps was a pair of shoes that Ben and I had purchased together.  They were this faux-leather stuff.  Childish primary colors... but they had a little soccer ball design on the velcro flap that held them closed.  I remembered that Ben and I had bought them together.  We bought them with an unrelated little outfit at this church rummage sale and they were the first things we had bought for our boy together.

You see, I mostly lose it thinking about how happy and untainted, unstained by sadness our little world was then.  The little soccer ball shoes had glistened with our joyous they sit quietly in a little drawer.  

I've also been occupied with the thought of death lately.  It truly is a terrible curse to be aware of your own mortality.  It makes me feel frantic... like a game show player in a mad dash to grab all the cool stuff before the buzzer goes off.  But at the same time I haven't much zest to enjoy many of the "finer" things this world has to offer.

I busy myself with video games, crafty work, managing our little house, spending time with good friends, watching movies, and trying to make plans to do the things I think I should be doing.

I've had this deep-seeded need lately.  I want to walk.  I mean... really walk.  I want to walk so far, stop to eat a few times along the way, stop to sleep, wake up, and then keep walking some more.  I don't want to run.  I don't want to do anything that requires a ton of fancy equipment.  And I don't want to just hike up Stone Mountain or Kennesaw mound some afternoon... I mean... I want to WALK... like across an entire state at least.  I want to put one foot in front of the other for hours and days on end.   I don't want a deadline.  I don't want to feel rushed or hurried.  I just want to walk and enjoy the walk... but for a really long time.  Like a slow-moving endurance trial.   I don't know what it is, but this need to walk and walk is in me.  I discussed it with a friend today and I think it's going to happen sometime in the near future.  Of course we're going to prepare our bodies and minds for such an undertaking.... but I don't think there's too much we really need besides working feet and legs...and a desire to keep going.   It's something to look forward to.  It's something new.  It's dangerous... a little exciting... a little daunting... but it's something I gotta do.  I just have to.  Otherwise, I'll never know why I'm being drawn to it so randomly. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

does not compute

If my inner emotion were a computer, my screen would be blue and it would read,

Error:  Does not compute.

I do not understand why babies and little children must die.  For all the reasons I could muster, it doesn't fit into my feeble understanding of how God cares for us.  Why these little innocents must shuffle off cannot be part of God's care for those who are left behind (or if you see one's time on earth as a gift, then also those who are taken).  I have a hard time with the question of whether or not God has his hands in this or not.  On one hand, I wonder if it's part of some divine plan, which upon facing eternity in happiness and in the presence of all that is holy will become not only evident but like a small thing to me (but not until then).  In this scenario, death is not only a part of God's plan but God has created death to go along with our mortality, and he intends to use it for some greater plan. 

I have a hard time believing the above scenario.  I am not utterly convinced that God wants us to experience death, the loss of death or the pain of it in order to glorify some great plan... I think he loves us greatly as individuals (not just small pieces in a greater machine or plan).

  On the other hand, I wonder if perhaps death and the horror, shock and pain of death were like the cancer upon God's good creation (one which God did not intend but did allow) and seeing as how God did not intend for this to happen to his most beloved, all will be reconciled when the enemy is destroyed.  In this scenario God collects the perfect spoils of this spiritual war and redeems them in heaven.  But in this scenario, God is not responsible for the induction of death (the creation of death).  Whether we cast it upon ourselves at the beginning of his creation, or whether it a product of the enemy (or both), God saves us ultimately from it...that which he did not intend for us to endure.   

But if this is the case then why, God?  Why are we waiting?  How much terrible harm can be done on the most pure and beautiful things ever to exist before you rescue them (us)?

I feel inclined to believe that we were not created to handle death well.  This is why it does not compute.  I cannot fathom my own demise, nor can I even begin to understand or grasp the death of another.  Not only that... but I hate death.  If given the chance I would wish it all away from the face of the earth- never to harm another again. 

Is our emotion energy?  Where does the pain of death go?  Some people like to talk about the circle of life (with or without God in it)... where is the spot in the circle for the pain, anger, rage, frustration, hurt, bewilderment, and turmoil of death?  Do all of our tears go back into the earth too?  Are they recycled into life-giving water? 


Here is where I am right now.  An error screen. 

But maybe that's the best place to be.  I'm not entirely sure that I'm *supposed* to compute.  This event doesn't register in my earthly equation... and besides I'm not very good at solving formulas anyhow.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

peter gabriel

So, I am well aware that my perception of things like music have changed since losing Wolfie, but I just had to share these two songs with you all. 

When my father died, I was really moved and touched by a song by Peter Gabriel.  The song is called Mercy Street.

"dreaming of mercy street
where you're inside out
dreaming of mercy
in your daddy's arms again
dreaming of mercy street
swear they moved that sign
dreaming of mercy
in your daddy's arms"

So, someone just posted this next song on Facebook for those who are grieving.  Dang, Peter Gabriel... you got me again.  The lyrics to this song are absolutely so real to me.  

"I Grieve"

it was only one hour ago
it was all so different then
there's nothing yet has really sunk in
looks like it always did
this flesh and bone
it's just the way that you would tied in
now there's no-one home

i grieve for you
you leave me
'so hard to move on
still loving what's gone
they say life carries on
carries on and on and on and on

the news that truly shocks is the empty empty page
while the final rattle rocks its empty empty cage
and i can't handle this

i grieve for you
you leave me
let it out and move on
missing what's gone
they say life carries on
they say life carries on and on and on

life carries on
in the people i meet
in everyone that's out on the street
in all the dogs and cats
in the flies and rats
in the rot and the rust
in the ashes and the dust
life carries on and on and on and on
life carries on and on and on

it's just the car that we ride in
a home we reside in
the face that we hide in
the way we are tied in
and life carries on and on and on and on
life carries on and on and on

did I dream this belief?
or did i believe this dream?
now i can find relief
i grieve 

Friday, July 22, 2011

cruel dreams and alternate universes

Last night I had a cruel dream.  I've had a few of these lately and they seem to be getting more frequent.  In the dream I have a baby.  The baby is mine.  I hold it and feed it.  I look at it, I lay it in a crib.  I kiss on it and touch it.  The baby morphs and changes shape, growing older or younger, getting chubbier or skinnier.  All the while I am kind-of lacking in emotion about the whole thing.  I can't feel joy or pain... nothing.  It's just the actions.  It's just me and the baby going through the motions.  The baby isn't necessarily Wolfie, but in the dream I know that this is my baby.

I had these kinds of dreams all the time when I was pregnant.  I think most women do, whether they've already had children or not.  At the time I loved them and I thought it was indicative of a psychological connection to my little one I was carrying.  I would wake up with a warm fuzzy feeling, rub my belly, feel Wolfie moving around or kicking and usually talk to Ben about how I just couldn't wait for him to arrive. 

Now, it's bittersweet.  While it's wonderful to get to experience these things in an emotionless dream-state, I eventually have to wake up not only to reality but to my true emotions.  Why do the dreams continue in the face of my loss?

The dreams are somewhat connected to this other feeling that I have a lot now in reality.  It's a perception I have of myself.  Sometimes I just feel like I'm the "alternate" in the alternate universe somewhere.  I feel like somewhere, far away, the "real" Brooke is taking care of Wolfie, getting spit up on, doing endless loads of cloth-diaper laundry and being a real mom.  I feel like I'm the alternate.  The ghost of the real Brooke.  The side of the story that went wrong and split off from the main branch.  In the air there lingers a scent... like a transparency laid over my actual life... that I'm supposed to be a mom right now.  That I'm supposed to act and be different.  This universe can feel the other one.  It wants to even base decisions on it. 

For a split second I want to say, "No, I can't do that right now because I'm a mom now and moms don't do that."  This could be about anything from getting drunk to couch hopping.  Childless, married women can do things that moms typically can't.  I have a hard time remembering that I am still childless.  My natural inclination is stuck to the alternative universe.  I'm stuck on a ghost, a transparency of a life that wasn't to be.  It was all planned out.  The fantasies were all played out, too.  Our plans and hopes and dreams and ideas of having a child.... all those things in reality come with things, responsibilities, chores, limitations.   

It's hard to shake it.  It's hard to accept that I don't have those things.  It's hard to get drunk or go couch hopping because it just doesn't feel "right".  Like, it's going against the natural order of things. 

Get married.
Enjoy marriage.
Get pregnant.
Enjoy pregnancy.
Have baby.
Be a mom and do "mom" things.
Enjoy being a mom.
Raise family.
Enjoy family.

My alternate universe:

Get married.
Enjoy marriage.
Get pregnant.
Enjoy pregnancy.
Have baby.
Lose baby.
Total confusion. Plans derailed.  Go back to step 2.  Uh what? 

Maybe the dreams are working hand in hand with this weird universe I'm in.  I mean, the road's not supposed to be easy, is it?  I keep feeling like one day I'll wake up from reality.  I'll gasp for air, roll over and touch Wolfie as he sleeps in our co-sleeper, glance at my snoring husband, breathe a sigh of relief... "oh thank goodness it was all a dream" and go back to a peaceful sleep. 

No no.  I'm well aware that I'm living in reality, friends.  It's just a strange thin feeling I have sometimes.  Or maybe it's a fantasy.  Or maybe it's a dream. 

I have cruel dreams and I live in the original universe.  I lost my baby and I'm dealing with that.  My life was not meant to be so simple.  I don't follow the natural order of things. 

Monday, July 18, 2011


 Dear Wolf, it was about this time last year that you were conceived.  You were just a little simple-celled thing rapidly dividing and growing, releasing hormones and affecting the world around you.  For three days straight my kidneys were aching and I knew something was up.  

I was pondering all this stuff this past weekend.  On Saturday Ben and I were stopped behind someone in traffic who had "PSLM139" on their license plate.  I said "psalm 139" out loud because it seemed a little silly to me.   It's not like I have the bible memorized or anything... and I found it a strange thing for a personalized license plate.    The next day we went to church and wouldn't you know it?  Psalm 139 was the first bit of scripture to be read in our liturgy for the day.    I mean weird.  Weeeee-urd.  

This has only ever happened to me one other time in life.  My friend Andrea and I were driving around many many years ago and I was complaining (as usual for those days) about being single.  Unlike Atlanta, everyone I knew in Columbia, SC had already gotten married by the age of 23.  So there I was, 25 and not a good man in sight.  Anywho, I'd just finished a rant and we stopped behind this huge cadillac and the license plate read "BENNETT".  That's my maiden name.   Yeeeahhhh.   I mean what are the odds of that?!  Like God telling me to simmer down and enjoy being a Bennett for a while.

So I guess God likes to speak to me through license plates sometimes.  

From Psalm 139:

13 For You formed my inward parts;
         You covered me in my mother’s womb.

Even before I really knew what was going on in my womb, God did.  A few weeks later two little lines would appear on a test strip and Ben and I would have a better idea of things, but in the beginning all I had was a hunch.  A sneaking suspicion.  
We made Wolfie with our cells and our bodies but God would do with his life what he would.  And Wolfie did a lot with his little life. 

As I'm getting back into the creative swing of things, and trying to get back to work I am struck with the power of creation.  I am constantly in awe of the "life" my creations take on, how other people see them or desire them, or how they influence the world (however small a world that might be).  Just like a baby they are conceived and delivered.  

And so begins an eternal season of remembrance for Wolfgang... beginning with conception.   

It also seems only fitting that until today I'd been too terrified to call the hospitals to make sure that our bills were paid.  I had so much anxiety this morning about it that I was literally shaking while I gathered all the paperwork.   I called around and somehow miraculously, all our bills were zeroed out... nothing to owe.   The insurance has paid for it all.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!  Praise God who cancels all our debts.  Praise God who has fearfully and wonderfully made us.  

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
         Try me, and know my anxieties;
 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
         And lead me in the way everlasting.


Friday, July 1, 2011

lean on

here, you lean on me and I'll lean on you
the hours are long but our days are few
and troubles are heavy and so hard to bare
so let's lean together and learn how to share

here, you lean on me and I'll lean back
the pains are too many to ever keep track
and we can't decide how to act or deal
so let's lean together to help how we feel

here, you lean on me and I'll lean as well
the heartache is not very quick to dispel
and the past has some grievances left to atone
so let's lean together and not be alone

here, you lean on me and I'll lean the same
the world keeps on turning and no one's to blame
and we are but grains in a great sea of sand
we lean on eachother, but it's faith where we stand

--written by me, inspired by my husband.   Photograph was taken by the wonderful and beautiful Que Brown, who was the doula who attended the birth.  She took this picture while I was in the early stage of active labor and I just think the picture alone is worth a thousand words...but I wrote a poem anyway. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

an update of good things

First, thank you to everyone who prayed for me this past week.  I explained in my last post that I was waiting (on panic-attack cliffs edge) on the results of a health-related test.  The midwife called this morning with the results and...

...although my cells are "atypical" she said that it's not intense-enough to warrant further testing right now so what they do is have me come back in 12 months for my yearly like usual.

Praise GOD!  I mean, balls to the wall, hands raised high, dancing like nobody's watching... puh-raeeeez  heeeyum!  On the phone the sweet midwife said, "Well, I hope your day is good now."  Did she know how freaked out I was?  My timid voice and deep inhalation of breath right before she got all the information out must have given it away.  I am just absolutely so relieved that I don't have to end up in a strange OB's office, stripped from the waist down, being poked and prodded, biopsied, squinting in pain, fear filling my psyche and drowning out all logic and reason, and then have to wait AGAIN on the edge of a panic attack for what seem like days on end to hear those results.

Now, "atypical" cells still are not 100%... but I'm counting even the small miracles here.  Apparently, from the research I've done, I am guessing that the cells were the lowest grade of abnormal, meaning it's nothing to be alarmed about yet, but yearly monitoring is a good idea.  Even if I do end up eventually having to have those scary things done, at the very least it won't be *right now* just two short months after I lost my first child... just two short months worth of grief and sleepless nights... just two short months of thinking about death and having a hard time with that.  It's too soon.  Too soon for me to have salt thrown in my open wounds.  Thank you God.

Also, more little praises, I got accepted into an awesome craft fair (which will take place in September in Greeneville, SC ... ).  I did this fair last year and it was THE best craft fair I've ever done in terms of sales.  Although this may kinda sound like mundane business news (I mean, last year I did over a dozen awesome craft fairs), I still haven't even done one single one since the beginning of 2011.  So, this will be my first for the year.  Not being able to do them has taken a little toll on my ego.  I looooong to be out in the public, peddling my wares.  Makes the heart feel full of goodness.  So, joy of joy,  there is something actually exciting for me to look forward to.  Having lost my mojo in so many ways, I'm so thankful to be emotionally interested in something since Wolfie passed.  I've even come up with new designs!  Behold!

       Yay for life!  Yay for my health.  Yay for art!  Yay for people wanting to have my art!

Affirmations are such a must for me right now.  In the face of grief and depression they are like tiny little emotional Martha Stewarts, coming into my mind to make everything look nice and help me create a bunch of "good things".

So thank you all, from the bottom of my heart for praying for me.  It worked!  But regardless of the outcome of this test, your prayers have impacted me in so many good ways.  In the midst of being on the verge of sad tears all the time, I am often on the verge of happy tears just thinking about all the amazing people who love and pray for us.    (And for the record, I think that is the BIGGEST testament to the power of prayer... not just that we won the outcome we wanted but that my heart was affected by God's love regardless of the outcome). 

Oh, the tears they will come, but why not let them be happy tears sometimes?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Please pray for me...

I'm sorry to all the boys (and boys at heart) that read my blog but this next post here is going to contain some "women stuff" that make make you a little sqeamish.  That being said, I really need some prayer for a health-related matter.  Read on if "women stuff" doesn't bother you.

I saw the midwives today for my 6 week check-in.  I was particularly nervous about this visit for a number of reasons.

1.  Having lost my baby it's always hard going and being around (possibly) other babies and a waiting room full of pregnant women because they don't know my situation.  Also, I was paranoid that the nurses that check me in (not the midwives) would forget who I was and ask me about the baby (which one did ask me if I was still nursing today... I had to tell her that my baby died under hushed breath).

2.  Some of the things I had done during my pregnancy to help speed labor up (the cervical sweep and the insertion of the Cervadil) were particularly painful.  I also had stitches removed just 3 weeks post-pardem that hadn't dissolved like they were supposed to.  That was actually way more painful that I think it was supposed to be because I think (and I'm not quite sure because I couldn't see what was going on) my labia was clamped with forcepts so she could have a free hand to cut and remove the stitches.  I think it was the clamping that hurt... I could feel the stitches coming out but that didn't really hurt.  These were all performed by a midwife there (who has left to join another practice now since that visit I had 3 weeks ago) but I was nervous that anything else would hurt badly as well... and unfortunately for this midwife, I've associated her with being in lots of pain.  Like I said, she was no longer there... and my visit today was totally pain-free...but that might have only been due to the fact that I was only having a routine thing done.   Which leads me to the last point (the routine thing)...

And here's the biggest reason I was nervous...

3.  Back in September I had a pap smear during one of my first pre-natal visits.  The results came back abnormal.  When results of a pap come back abnormal, they write "ABNORMAL" in big bold uppercase font down the side of a whole sheet of paper.  It's daunting, even if it is common.

Any who... turns out I am HPV negative.  Which is a great thing because being HPV positive would have greatly increased the chances of these abnormal cells to being cancerous.  I'm negative but that doesn't mean they couldn't be bad.  I mean... Wolfie, Ben and I have all just become statistics (rare statistics) and I'm not about to take any "low odd" scenario for granted ever again.

So I had another pap smear today to test to see if those abnormal cells are still there.  According to Margaret (my midwife), there's about a 50/50 chance that the fact that I had a vaginal birth, and the cervix was stretched and constricted and had increased blood flow, that these abnormal cells may disappear all on their own.  But there is a 50% chance that they're still there.

If they're still there, I will have to be referred to another practice to have another procedure done to check the abundance of these abnormal cells on my cervix and depending on what they see, possibly have a biopsy done.


I need your prayer.  Please pray that the results of this latest pap come back normal.  Please pray that I don't have to be poked and prodded anymore.

But most of all... please pray that I won't have ANOTHER reason to be filled with worry, fear and anguish.  I am just so sick of all the stress.  My emotional wounds are still fresh...please pray I don't have to add "worrying about cancer" to that burden.

Please pray.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Dishes wait one to two days in the sink.  The laundry bin overfloweth.  Dust and dog fur balls collect in the corners that are bigger than your fist.  The toilet desperately needs scrubbing.  The fridge finds itself fairly empty these days as I'm often uninspired to shop for food let alone cook it.  My work (sewing) is literally moving at a snails pace.  I can't even be bothered to shower as often as needed or make my hair pretty or put on makeup or anything either.  If it weren't for a few friends who call and schedule things to do with me throughout the week, I doubt I'd bother getting out of my pajamas (or even changing them day to day) for days on end.  I would probably literally just mull around the house, a stinky mess...and I'm talking about myself, not the house.

Now some of you might say, "You've been through a lot.  You need to take it slow and take your time with things.  Don't stress the little things and focus on yourself and feeling better.  No need to stress yourself out with a to-do list or deadlines."

But sooner or later "taking it easy" turns into neglect. 

I think I've reached the peak of the mountain of neglect and I'm slowly working my way down (I hope).  I'm chipping away at a long to-do list... but trying not to stress out about it. 

In some ways it makes me feel better to work and accomplish things.  To clean and feel fresh and new after a shower.  But to be honest, it's not much of difference to me compared to how I feel just wallowing around not doing much at all really.  You see, I've lost my mojo.  I used to be so excited about so many things.  I used to have desires.  I was a woman with a plan.  A woman who knew what she wanted.  Now, not so much.  Most nights, I couldn't even tell you what I wanted for dinner even if money were no object...I've nearly lost the ability to be excited about anything.  I feel numb.  But I hate to feel numb.   I know I was so much better-off full of life and color.

I am taking some strides to get there though.  This week I went out and spent time with friends.  One-on-one little get-togethers are best for me right now... and I am glad for some great friends to spend time with out and about.  I even visited a friend and new mom (and her baby which is only a few weeks old).  We sat and talked for a bit while she held the baby and I was really happy and peaceful about it all.  It was making me depressed to not to be able to see my new-mom friends.  I'm glad I did that... I'm glad I took a few little steps and got to see her.

Tonight I am also going to apply for the first craft fair of the fall season.  It's a big thing for me even to apply, honestly.  It's hard to imagine getting down to the nitty gritty of all that hard work just like last fall... but it has to be done.  I CANNOT be a little housewife.  I have to make money or we won't be able to survive.  Yes, it's stressful.  Very much so, actually.  But I have to do it.

It was nice being able to neglect things for a little while, I have to admit.  Maybe from time to time I will neglect certain things.  That's fine, I'm sure.  But in general, I think it's time to get back to the world.  To get back to living.  To work and move and feel productive.  To make things and do things and not feel like such a waste.   


Sunday, June 12, 2011


As Fathers Day approaches I am filled with thoughts about my dad. 

Since everything with Wolfie has happened I've had two life experiences that play themselves over and over again in my mind.  It's fair to say that my mind is nearly obsessed on them... re-playing them time and time again when the rest of the world is quiet.  One is this fresh and vivid clip of Wolfie's birth.  The other is an older clip... but yet somehow still preserved... of my father's death.

My dad, after battling like a warrior for years with Parkinson's disease and early onset Alzheimer's, went to be in heaven on April 9th of 2005.  He was only 69 when he died and I was only 24.  I'd only even been a real believer in God for a year before he passed. 

My dad, until he got really sick, was a chubby, kind-of jolly and half-serious fellow.  Always whistling and singing like a songbird.  He enjoyed being in the sun and his leathery, mole-covered, usually red hide bore the proof of that.  His hair had been gray-ish from the day that I could ever remember, and the hairs around his neck curled up and out like cherub's locks.  His beard was almost always salt and pepper - mostly white.  After he came inside to cool down from being in the hot sun, spooning leaves out of our pool on a warm summer afternoon, he'd sit in his special spot on our sectional sofa (this was Dad's spot, nobody else could sit there).  And when I was three I'd climb onto his lap, breathing in the scent of Banana Boat tanning oil, as if he'd taken a bath in it.  I'd lay on his arm and investigate his chest hairs.  They were white and gray... he called them his "dogwood trees".  

It's a long story (isn't it always?) but I'd had a particularly rocky teenage life...the kind that kept me, sadly enough, mostly somewhat "emotionally estranged" from my parents.  That's the best way I can put it.  Emotionally estranged.  Such that when his diagnosis came while I was in college, I didn't find it urgent enough to visit my parents back home as often as I *really* should have.   After all, as much as I was concerned, my family didn't hug much.  We weren't big on kissing and touching.   I just didn't feel as "connected" to them as I do now... now that I know from Jesus what love really is...and now that I know from life what loss really is.

When he passed I was at his bedside in the hospice along with my family.   Once the moment of his transition had come and gone, I hung my head and tried to pray.  But my mind was blank.  I couldn't muster up the mental words.  Nothing came.

Then it began, first slow like a creeping in on my body and mind and then rushing over me like a strong current... were thoughts of childhood and moments I'd long since forgotten of my father and I. 

The time he surprised me and picked me up from school, in his polyester slacks waiting for me and leaning against his beige towncar parked right in front of the school buses I hated to ride.  The time I left my Barbie horse in the backyard on the ground and he stepped on it.  I cried and he scolded me for leaving it there but I knew he was right.  The feel of his sweaty neck as I clung to it riding piggy-back somewhere.  The sight of him floating in waterspace through my foggy snorkeling goggles, pointing at a sanddollar in 4 feet of crystal clear Florida ocean water.  The stinging smell of his cologne and the excitement that filled the air as I waited for a babysitter to arrive, mom and dad going out to do something fancy by themselves.

All of these and more, many many more, flooded my mind.  Like when someone says "My life flashed before my eyes."  Yes, that's what it felt like.  Only it felt like something being pulled through me.  Something combing right through the strings of my heart... something that wasn't from within me.

As soon as it stopped I felt peaceful.  I realized I'd been given a gift.  God had sent me back all the good times all at once for me to hold tight to.  The warm arms of all those memories wrapped me generously.  I didn't cry then for my father's death.  It would be months later before I would cry.

I think about Wolfie and Ben.  I know what kind of father Ben is.  He's the  kind of father that would  create a lifetime of those good memories.  The kind of memories that wrap you in comforting arms when you need them like I had with my dad.  It's besides the point that he didn't get the chance to create those with Wolfie.  It doesn't disturb the fact that he is that kind of father...the best kind.

I'll be celebrating Father's Day a little differently than most of you.  But the sentiment is the same.  Love on your father, and show him love.   Tell him you love him.    Spend some time with him and enjoy the memories.   


Friday, June 3, 2011

thoughts on pain tolerance

I'm about to eat a whole sandwich... and half a pain killer.

Seriously for about two whole months now I think there is something seriously wrong with my left wrist.  I don't remember injuring it but sometimes my thumb gets "stuck" when I open it too wide (like to grab something) and when it "pops"... ugh... shudder!... back in to place it is so painful it makes me want to punch a puppy in the face.  And I love puppies. 

So this morning when I instinctually reached with my left hand in a swift jerking motion to grab something that was about to fall off the table, I did something that made it hurt worse that it's ever hurt.   I decided to finally medicate it artificially for the first time.  A friend gave me two Vicodin pills weeks ago for my wrist, and I'd yet to take them.  Dang, I'm so glad I had them!  Because after this happened with my wrist I wanted to punch a whole litter of puppies in the face! 

As I cracked this pill in half, I tried really hard to remember if there was ever a time in my life (outside of giving birth) that I'd ever taken prescription pain medication that wasn't just a higher dose of tylenol or ibuprofen... I'm talking the "scary" kind of pain medication.  The kind rich ladies get addicted to.  Nope, I never had until the day I gave birth to Wolfie and after everything was over... after I'd gone through the entire ordeal without one gram of pain medication... I took a Percocet.... well, actually I just took half of one.

Some friends of mine have remarked that they think I have a high tolerance for physical pain.  I have tattoos (not as many or in many "painful" areas like some other friends I have), and while I remember them being painful, I don't remember feeling like I couldn't "handle" the pain.  I don't even remember feeling at any point like I needed to complain about the pain.  Maybe I just don't remember.  Que, my doula who was with me at the birth, told me that I never asked for any pain relief during the entire labor.  To be quite honest, asking for it was quite literally out of the question in my mind.  But even though I knew it to be an option, of course, I never felt like I "needed" it.  I just handled whatever came my way.

So, I am thinking about my wrist.  And I am thinking about how I've just been handling it for months now.  I mean, it's pretty painful.  At first I complained about it a lot.  I gasped and flinched every time it hurt.  I expressed my grievances to Ben often.  But in the last week or so (until this morning when I made it much, much worse) I hadn't really reacted to the pain even though it hasn't gotten any better.  It still hurt like a mother-effer every single day.   But I'd managed to get through my days recently without expressing the pain.

And I thought about this... whether maybe the pain actually had gotten a little better or whether my perception of it had gotten easier. 

And I couldn't help but relate this to emotional pain too.  I don't think the pain of losing your child will ever be "less" than it is at any given moment.  But how we handle the pain, or how we tolerate the pain, or how we perceive the pain becomes easier with time.  We get used to it.  We learn to use the other wrist to lift things that are heavy.  After weeks and weeks (or years and years) we know what to expect from the pain.  We know where it's coming from.  We know how to react.  We can channel that into other things.  We can express our pain in more thoughtful and intentional ways.

And maybe good things like spending time with friends, gardening, having a laugh or enjoying a delicious meal with your husband are the emotional equivalents of pain medication.  Nice, naturally-derived pain medication... for when "going it alone" does not suffice.  A prescription written by Jesus and filled at God's pharmacy.  Ok, now I'm just getting cheezy.  But seriously.

I've also learned from tolerating pain that it also changes your perception of other painful things.  One of the days when Wolfie was in the NICU our friend and priest, Dale, was pushing me in my wheelchair to the cafeteria.  We were rolling through all these hospital corridors... the sights and smells that reminded me of my dad when he was ill and dying.   Scary stuff.  But I didn't feel that way at that moment.  I remarked to Dale that I don't think I'll be as scared of hospitals anymore.

Pain sucks.  It has a purpose, that's for sure.  It lets us know that part of us is hurt or injured.  We need to feel the pain otherwise we might keep injuring ourselves (like the disease of leprosy).  Really painful things can burn or sting for a while.  It changes you.  It makes you think about things differently.  You might grow or learn to absorb the pain in "quiet" ways.  You might medicate.  You might re-injure yourself one day.  You might do painful things on purpose to acquire something or experience something you want to experience.

Maybe there is some bio-physical reason for why some people "tolerate" pain (or seem to) better than others.  But who's to say what is "better"?



Wednesday, June 1, 2011

the envious leper

The past few days a new emotion has begun to rear it's little head in my life... envy.

Envy brings a lot of other friends to the party including shame and anger.  Sometimes envy makes you wonder if perhaps your "have not" has something to do with you not being as worthy to receive as those who "have"... feelings of self-deprecation follow.

Envy also furthers your pain because it denies you the residual joy in other people's lives. 

I hate myself for feeling this way.  I've never... EVER...felt this "wrong" about anything in my whole life.  I'd never wish our circumstance on anyone ever, but it's very hard to witness or enjoy some of the good things that are happening to some of our friends, even some of our family members.  I am served a plate full of loveliness, and I want so very much to share in this feast of happiness with them... to laugh and smile and say things like "I am so happy for you".  Because I am happy for them.  I want things to be normal and I want to be the Brooke I usually am.  I want to be able to congratulate people and celebrate with people and bless people and let them know that I am happy.  I wish I could be happy.  I wish I could say that I was happy for someone.  But I cannot because it's a painful happy buried under tons and tons of hurt and anguish- topped off with a cherry of envy.   What the forefront of my mind really wants me to say is "I am so envious of you."

Sometimes when the thoughts get hard I turn to the internet and search around for others who are enduring something similar.  Even if only for a little while, I find a few blogs or a few forum posts and I read about the pain, the hurt, the envy of other women who have also lost a baby.  I see other moms respond to that mom, relating their own loss and expressing how everything we feel is "normal".   It's like we're all wandering around and we sometimes have to huddle together in caves to feel safe.  Be with our own "kind" for a moment so we don't feel so alone in our pain.

I'm going to take this "leper" analogy one step further, here. 

I am sure eventually my wounds and scars will fade and heal (at least on the outside).  And time will gradually fade this tragedy like something that's been bleached by the sun.  But for a while I don't think I'll be able to attend certain celebratory social functions.  It terrifies me that what has happened to us would become the topic of conversation (or thought) at an event which is supposed to be somebody else's moment of joy, feast of happiness, "big day".  I don't want my sadness to steal from that.  So, I willingly hide out in the cave... the cave for other envious lepers. 

But let me make a few distinctions. 

1.  I will not always feel this way.  Some day I will be well enough to come out.  I go into my "cave" when I need to heal.

2.  I am in too much pain to spend much time around little babies right now.  So, I am sorry to my friends who have little infants- I may decline to hang out for long periods of time.  Your joy is beautiful, your precious one is the light of your life, it envelops you through and through as it should.  One day it won't be hard for me, but for now I have to recognize that I am weak, and some things are a little too hard.

3.  I will willingly withdraw myself from functions and conversations that I find painful.  But that doesn't mean that I don't want to talk about things.  I'm big on talking and communication and I find that it usually helps.  Don't be afraid to talk to me.

4.  I am envious some times now but I am not delusional and I am not hateful.  It might be hard for me to be around other babies but that's not because I want those other babies... I want my Wolfie, and no other.  But watching other babies reminds me of what I will not have with Wolfie...what Ben will not have with Wolfie... what Wolfie will not have.  Even something as simple as seeing another baby looking around at the world reminds me that Wolfie never got to open his eyes.  He never got to see me, really.  And I harbor no hatred in my heart.  I am not the kind of person who converts pain to hatred. 

I want nothing more than to be normal... but I realize that isn't possible right now.  And I also realize that how other people may interact (or not want to interact) with me will be affected.  I have no clue how these things are "supposed" to move forward but I promise to do my best and just be myself and if all you who love me will do the same then I think things will be OK.  Do whatever feels right to you... even if it's awkward (because God knows I'm going to be mostly incredibly awkward for a long time now).

Sending you warm wishes from my cave. 


Saturday, May 28, 2011

the baby's things

Today, along with some grocery shopping, we went to Home Depot and got some plastic bins to store the baby items in.  We came home and while Ben put the groceries away I went upstairs to "start".  I snapped a few images with my crappy camera phone. 

For some reason I don't want to forget the way everything looked. 

After moving some things around and taking pictures, I started looking around for what I wanted to pack up first.

Ben was still downstairs.  I stood really still for a moment and stared at the crib.  For the first time today I was still.  I had spent so much time and energy preparing this little area of our home, and now I was about to dismantle it.  I was about to pack everything away and shove it into the back of my closet.  All these adorable things... all these bright wonderful colors that I could just stare at and stare at for days.  Colors designed to make you happy.

I crumpled to the floor slowly,  and shook with sadness and anger.  It has been 4 weeks since I gave birth... and it stings me like yesterday. 

All these things... the baby's things... each one designed to bring joy, comfort, perform a task.  Each one in quiet limbo. 

Ben could hear me crying and came upstairs to comfort me. 

"Just look at all these wonderful things.  I don't have a baby for them.  I'm so sad."

Some things sit right where we left them either in the haze of preparing for the birth or in the haze of preparing to try to create some memories with Wolfie in the NICU.  Some things are just hanging out because I arranged them there to wait for the baby.  Some things are just hanging around in limbo, still in packaging... having been intended to be opened by now under normal circumstances.

I had a good cry and with Ben's comfort and help, together we began the first part of packing things... slowly.  It isn't done yet, and I think we intend to do this slowly over the next three days. 

I've never been very attached to "stuff".  I'm surprised that all the "stuff" was able to upset me so much.  I just think it's what the things represent... what they remind me of.   Stuff is just stuff but your baby can never be replaced.  And the hopes, memories, expectancies, fantasies and dreams about your baby that are all attached to that stuff are important and hard to deal with too.  The stuff is nothing, but how it makes you feel is hard.

Even Hatchet knows this isn't just stuff.  She knows it's the baby's things. 

Part of this is a healing thing and part of it is a wounding thing.  Every day things change so much.  You'd think you'd get used to changes at some point but you never do, and every change is just as hard as the next. 

But someone you love comes and rubs you on the back until you catch your breath... and a slobbery dog licks your wet, teary cheeks and you take a deep breath... and everything will be OK. 

Slowly... slowly... everything will be OK.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

the nursery

I have a problem and I need your help...

It seems only natural that we should pack up all the baby things.  We decided that we want to keep all the baby things we have because everything we received is perfect and wonderful and we will have children some day.   Until now I've not had the motivation to pack it up.  But today I had decided that I would clean out our closets (Ben and I have separate closets which are actually very spacious and deep), and I would pray that I'd be able to store most of it in the back depths behind our hanging clothes.

Today I spent the day upstairs in our converted attic bedroom gutting my closet of clothing, shoes, linens, old purses and doo dads, organizing everything all over our bed and some on the floor, simultaneously watching Sleeping with the Enemy and other random things from our VHS collection.  Once I had purged my possessions of stuff I didn't want anymore and somewhat put some order to the chaos, Ben came home from work.

I came downstairs to discuss with him what to do next and was hit with a wave of emotion.

 You see, I had already contemplated the thought of going through all the baby things and packing it all away and I'd already imagined what it would feel like and how I would feel doing that.  I was already expecting that I might shed a tear or two, or maybe have a few big breakdowns if I slowed my packing down enough to think about the objects I was putting away... if I took the time to think about the little socks, smell the baby shampoo, read a bit of the story books... yes, if I took the time to do those things I'd certainly need to cry it out.  I can't avoid doing things because it might make me cry.  Leaving all the baby things out for Ben and I to view every time we pass through the nursery area to use our upstairs bathroom, to bump into in the middle of the night when you can barely see your way from one side of the room to the other, to stare at months from, we don't have a nursery you can shut the door to.  We don't have a separate room for a nursery... what we had was a corner of Ben's office area, which is actually in the open space of our converted attic bedroom, which you have to walk through to get to our bathroom.  No, it would not be right to have the cloth diapers, unopened bath toys and pacifiers, sweet little stuffed animals and all the adorable swaddling blankets gather dust as they watch us day in and day out pass them by.

No, it's right to pack it all away in our circumstance.  If only we had a separate room then I would just shut the door and leave it all the way it is... to wait patiently until the next baby. 

  But one little thing about this scenario which I had not imagined was what we would do next.  After all the baby things are put away, we will have an empty space.  It's a small and awkward empty space, mind you, but it will be empty nonetheless.   It's a converted attic so the walls slant in to the center of the room, so we can't hang any thing from the walls or use any furniture that's any taller than a crib or a desk. 

So here's where I need your help.  I have no idea what I should do with this space.

I don't want to just leave it empty for too long... I mean, I can only imagine that a sad, empty space (in my metaphor-loving mind) will only serve to remind me of my empty womb, my empty nest.  Sigh.

Should I just organize the space and then cover everything with sheets or something so we don't have to look at it?  That's kinda depressing, though.

We don't have any exercise equipment and we're joining a gym soon anyways so we can't really use this as a fitness area or anything.

I already have a studio downstairs all to myself for all my crafting and sewing pleasures (and some crafting and sewing frustrations too).

Ben's records and stuff have to stay downstairs because in the summer sometimes the heat is so bad that this upstairs space gets hot enough to make you sweat while you're sitting.

And, we don't really have any non-baby furniture that we don't know what to do with.

We've racked our brains trying to come up with ideas.

Not sure what to do.

Monday, May 23, 2011

nothing fits

Ben is out of town for work for the next three days so I thought I would spend most of the day out in pursuit of trying to find some clothes that could possibly fit me.

I thought for some reason it would make me feel a little better to feel cute again.  To not have to pull up the maternity jeans again.  To not actually look pregnant anymore because I'm basically still wearing all the maternity clothes I had because it's all that fits me since I gained so much weight.

I still have this belly.  If you didn't know me you'd probably assume I was about 4 or 5 months pregnant.  The maternity stuff I have to wear certainly isn't helping that.  I've been a plethora of sizes in my life but I honestly can't recall weighing this much or being this big.  I'm not ashamed of my body, but my body is making it hard for me to find clothing that fits the way I want it to.  And that is making it really hard for me to feel pretty right now.  And the depressive nature of all of this, and the reminder of having to wear maternity clothing is certainly adding another layer to my grief.  And every day I feel less and less like the rainbow sherbet I always imagine I am, and more and more like boring vanilla... not even good vanilla... like the cheap stuff with horrible ice crystals stuck to it and a terrible freezer taste, but you deal with it anyways because it's all you've got... that boring vanilla.  I don't care so much about being fat... fat can be exercised away.  But the thought of being (of looking) boring makes me feel ill.

My pursuit today was long and fruitless.  I spent the entire day trying stuff on.  Sweating like a pig in H&M (seriously, what is up with that place being like a sauna?), being sorely disappointed in Old Navy, finding absolutely nothing at all my favorite thrift stores, having a hard time of it in Target, and then finally being brought to tears in a smelly dressing room in Ross.  I found a pair of jeans at a thrift store for three bucks that probably won't fit me for another month or so because of the belly, and two regular old t-shirts at Target to replace the maternity ones that are useless now that I've slobbered oily salad dressing on them. 


I am tired of this.  A really deep and sad kind of tired that reaches back into my teenage history.  I didn't have the answer to it then, and I still don't.  All I know is that it's a million times harder now that I'm also dealing with losing Wolfie.  I know that life is forever changed for me, but I was once the girl with blue hair.  I was once a force to be reckoned with sporting knee-high Dr. Martens and a fist full of ideas.  I was once a bad-ass mamma jamma... and you could tell with just one glance.  Even then I drove my parents crazy with my pursuit to express my true self outwardly, and I guess now the fight lives on.   But some days I get tired of fighting... and I cry for a while in a dressing room.

Ben and I plan to join a gym really soon.  We both know that it will help us to have healthy minds if we are pursuing healthy bodies as well.   I look forward to eating healthier and hopefully going back to my pre-pregnancy size or maybe better.  But I'm not the kind of girl who likes to wait to buy pretty clothes for when the "goal" is reached.  I want to feel pretty NOW.  There's no reason to wait for it.  I can feel pretty now and then when the weight is gone I can feel pretty then too.  May as well be greedy about it and have pretty clothes no matter what because for me feeling pretty and loving on myself and pampering my outside helps me to feel even better on the inside... and when I feel good on the inside I'm more likely to stick to an exercise or healthy eating plan. 

But when you spend all day trying to find some "pretty" that fits and you don't find it... well... that's a major let down. 

I left Ross after pulling myself together and decided to head home.  I got in the car and when I started it up a Fleet Foxes song came on right at the beginning of the song.  It's this song off their new album and it (for some reason) reminds me of Wolfie. 

I like to think that things happen for a reason and I was meant to hear that song in it's entirety on my drive home after feeling so low.   It made me reflect on what happened today a little deeper, and it put my mind at ease just a little bit.  The lyrics mix with thoughts of my baby boy and when the song changes at the end my mind is high up in the clouds, wandering through the future when I get to see him again. 

And then, pretty dresses and dressing room mirrors seem so far away.  A left-over belly and a hopeless day of retail torture seem easier to endure. 

What are all these small issues, anyways, compared to the big things? 

And nothing fits me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

all the what ifs

Right now the hardest part of this journey is dealing with the "what ifs" that attack my thoughts and memories like cruel predators. 

I do find myself daydreaming all the time about everything that's happened... going all the way back to the day we learned we were pregnant.  I guess I can't help that I want to go back to a time when everything was laced with such happiness and promise.  Where everyday I was just so filled with excitement, bursting with pride for all the things that were happening to me and my body, joyfully anticipating a whole new life ahead of me, seriously enjoying every minute (yes, even enjoying the labor).  Unfortunately though, each thought of remembrance that I indulge in cannot end without me thinking of a way to fix it all... thinking of alternative choices that I could have made, or wondering "what if" I had done this or "what if" I had done that... would Wolfie have lived?

I have these thoughts most often just as soon as I wake up.  In the morning, as my eyes are slowly adjusting to the sunlight coming into our bedroom, my brain is soaking in seratonin, and if I've had particularly good dreams, probably a little oxytocin too.  Good thoughts creep to the surface with the sunrise.  Birds are chirping outside our window, and I am half asleep... and I can't help but think of the most precious thing in the world.  It's a new day, I feel so refreshed, and I want to immerse my every thought in the memories of Wolfie.  But even just a few minutes of dancing sweetly in memories with Wolf, of holding him, or feeling him kick me while I was pregnant, of his smell, or his sweet little pink lips or chubby knees... as my brain wakes up... as my eyes come into focus on the room around me... I am reminded of the cruel reality.  "But wait!" my mind yells... "I want to stay here, I want to be with him, I want to have him," and my mind starts to try to find ways to mend the circumstances.  My mind looks for things that could have been done differently.  And like a sad, wounded bird my mind flaps around on the ground, going nowhere and injuring itself further instead of resting or holding still to mend itself.  I don't know why it does this... but it does.  I'm sure I'm not the only one in the world whose mind does this. 

I want to list a few of these here.  I'm doing this because I know some others who may have been through this or may go through this might somehow find relief that they are not the only ones with thoughts like these...

What if I had chosen to induce my labor earlier?
What if I had paid better attention to my diet and not gained so much weight?  Would I have been able to deliver him quicker if I was in better shape?
What if I had agreed to the cervical sweep earlier instead of delaying it a few days?
What if I had pushed harder while I was in the tub?  Would I have been able to deliver him quicker if I had somehow focused better?
What about that time I missed the bottom step on our porch and landed hard on my feet, jolting all my bones and muscles?  Did this have something to do with it?
What about all the painful walking I did to try to induce my labor the week before I went in to be induced?  I was told that Wolfie was already low in my pelvis, so did all the walking and birth-ball bouncing pinch his cord somehow?
What about the fact that when I received the cervadil to ripen my cervix on the first night of the induction, and I was made to lay somewhat on my back (slightly reclined) for a good while- did this put Wolfie in a bad position that caused this?  I've been told that laying on your back is bad because it could restrict blood flow.
What if I had waited longer to deliver naturally without induction?  This might have led to a c-section or a traumatic birth... but would it have saved his life?
What if I had gone to a chiropractor like so many had suggested to me? 
What if I had been drinking the red raspberry leaf tea for the duration of my whole pregnancy instead of just the last week?
What if I had done a better job of taking my prenatal vitamins?
What if I had not taken the castor oil?  Or taken more of it?
What if I had done a better job of getting us into a birthing class?  Would the extra knowledge somehow have helped?
What if I had done a better job of doing prenatal yoga?  Would I have been able to open up my pelvis more?  Would this have helped?
What about my pelvic girdle pain?  Did this have anything to do with it?  What if I had done more to help with that pain?

...and many more...

But perhaps the most painful of all the "what ifs"... because for some reason it cuts me to the core... and I don't believe in it, I really don't but trust me... if you were me, if you were in my shoes right now you would hear this too:

What if you had not insisted on a natural or low intervention birth?

Because behind this "what if" is a little evil voice... a tiny little devil... so faint you can barely hear him... he says, "your decision to do this naturally, your decision to go with low intervention... your decision killed your baby".

I see myself in an uncomfortable OBGYN's office.  I see myself laboring with an epidural, my feet up in stirrups, scared out of my mind.  I see myself, being wheeled to the OR with a blank, nervous stare across my face - like that hispanic lady I saw on her way there when Ben and I were headed to the NICU for the first time.  I see all of that... and sometimes in the fantasy I see me holding my baby hours later, selfishly crying because I didn't get the birth I thought I would.  Lamenting that I didn't receive the natural oxytocin benefits.  Dropping a few tears... but ultimately not having a care in the world because Wolfie is there.  And other times I see all of that... and I still see the same outcome.  I see a blur of nurses filling a room, only this time it is an operating room.   I still don't see my baby.  I still don't get to really hold him.  The opposite extreme didn't save him.  In another fantasy I have a home birth.  Same thing with two different outcomes... either Wolfie lives because things were different or he still goes to heaven because that was God's intention all along, no matter how hard I tried or didn't try.

I goes without saying that all of these things are hurdles I will have to jump if I get pregnant again.

Ultimately I come back to earth and stop and be still for a while because I know that God is in control.  Like all of you I do my best not to listen to or entertain those little devil voices.  I have them, I acknowledge that they are there but I do not act on them, and I seriously work very hard not to dwell in them.  But they do come up.  Living this out is not just a daily challenge... you hear, "pick up your cross daily".  Well, I'm reaching for it just about every 5 or 10 minutes these days...because my life was already so drenched in Wolfie, I'm not sure my thoughts of him will ever dry up.  

Somewhere there is a peace out there for me... probably through some counseling, or maybe with just some time and lots of prayer.  The peace will help me see that I did do my best.  It will help me move on from the "what ifs".  It will help me to daydream about the memories I wish to cherish without ending in a nightmare of "what ifs".

I have a lot of work ahead of me, I can tell.  But I am so glad that I am willing to keep working at it. 

My mother says I should have been a lawyer because I'm utterly relentless.  She also says my Native American name should have been Rides a Dead Horse, because I hate the thought of giving up.  I am thanking God for that.


Monday, May 16, 2011


This past weekend was spent with friends and their amazing family in the mountains of North Carolina.  For several days my mind danced with green moss, good conversation, tall trees, adorable kids, charming mountain streams, fellowship with food and a nice change of pace.  I thank God for such amazing people in the world.

While we were there I realized that the grief travels with me.  Although, it was lightened and made easier by comforting friends and scenery, it is a weight I will bear forever.  How heavy it feels depends on so much (or maybe it's nothing at all?) at any given moment.


Today is Monday and we just got back to our house from picking up our son from the Cremation Society.  When Ben handed the little wooden box to me to hold on our ride home he said, "It's a lot heavier than I thought it would be."  I agreed.

A few moments later in the car he touched my leg because I had gotten quiet.  I told him I was just thinking about Wolfie.  A few more minutes later I choked up and through the lump in my throat I was barely able to utter, "I hate death so much."  "What's that honey?" Ben asked.  I took a deep breath.  "I just hate death so much.  I hate everything about it.  There's nothing there to make me feel better.  I don't want to picture our baby rotting in a casket and I don't want to picture him in a pile of ashes."

Sometimes on these little rants I feel like such a whiner.  There's a little old lady in my brain (like a little old lady from the Great Depression who's been through much more than me) who yells back at me, "Quit yer bitchin'.  You're so blessed.  There are so many others in the world who suffer more than you."  But it just makes me feel so much better to complain.  Thank God my husband is so good at giving me a sense of validation and helping me to feel like it's OK and everything I do is totally normal.

We turned onto our street and as the car moved me I felt the weight of Wolfie's little wooden urn in my hands again.  We had never actually picked up or held this box we chose while it was empty, but I assume that most of what I felt must be his weight and not the wood.  I dropped a few more tears because the weight felt good.  A bittersweet good because although I wanted to hold him, I desperately wanted to hold him the regular way... the normal way... both of us alive.

After a few seconds Ben said, "But his heart isn't in there... or his eyes."  This unexpectedly brought a little smile to my face.  The thought which brought on the smile was like some weird camera shot going from an extreme micro-close-up of a tiny human heart pumping blood, zooming out to show a little baby's chest rising and falling, zooming out to show a little girl being held by a loving mommy and daddy, zooming out to show the hospital building they were in, zooming out to show the neighborhood, the city, the world... and then dropping back down suddenly in one swooping quick zoom to the top of our car bouncing into the driveway... me balancing the box in my two hands and barely breaking one tiny smile.  It made me feel better.

With heavy hearts... heavy hearts...

As we pulled up to the house and Ben put the car in park, I took another deep breath.  Every moment feels like an important one.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Never the Same Again

Since last I wrote two things have become perfectly clear to Ben and I.

First, it's hard to recognize and acknowledge what your mind or body even needs when you're grieving... and second, things will never be the same again.

When I stand or sit for too long since the birth, things start to hurt.  I'm never sure what I need to do.  I've never been the kind of person who naps in the middle of the day.  Napping always makes me feel groggy... it will ruin a perfectly good day for me if I fall asleep before I'm ready to really sleep for 8 hours or so.  But the other day, I allowed myself to be horizontal on the couch for a little while and it was what my body needed.  It wasn't standing or sitting.  Darnit, body... why couldn't you tell me that a few days ago when I was getting frustrated with the uncomfortableness of it all!

All the pains and stuff that I feel physically just remind me of what's not there, of what we've been through.  A nice little bodily reminder to help me keep those emotional hurts right on the surface of my mind.  I'm not allowed to bury it.  I'm not allowed to swallow my emotional pain because my physical aches and new body all point giant neon arrows at it.  This isn't such a bad thing, though.  I'm glad I can't do that.  Being "present" for the whole process (a process which I suppose actually never ends) keeps me in a healthy frame of mind.  However, I think the human emotion-scape was meant to mentally "check out" every now and then.  It's funny to say this, and perhaps some of you who've walked through extreme grief may relate, but in the last few days we've had to force ourselves to "check out" at times... via watching actual TV (catching up on some episodes of The Office) or playing an arcade game on the Xbox.  A quick trip to Publix for a change of scenery and a bag of grapes.  We have to really listen hard to try to detect what our minds and bodies need right now.  Me personally, being full of drama and definitely full of swirling hormones and all kinds of emotion right now, I have the tendency to want to lay or sit quietly somewhere and just think... just think...think until I cry.  Which is perfectly fine and I wouldn't feel guilty for doing it or anything but if I literally did that all day I'd be pretty miserable... and I don't think Wolfie wants me and Ben to be miserable.  And I don't think Ben wants me to be miserable, and I certainly don't want him to be. 

Food tastes different because we treasure it.  Music sounds different because the vibrations and the lyrics have become more poignant.  Friends become more precious than gold.  A sunny day is a reason to thank the Lord. 

Today I did a load of laundry.  It was my first since everything happened.  Mom came to our house while I was still in the hospital and washed everything for us then but even a week later we needed to wash some things.  As I was bending over transferring things from the washer to the dryer, I got the urge to cry.  I had done so much laundry in anticipation of Wolfgang's arrival.  I washed all his cloth diapers, washed all his clothes... washed all my clothes, everything.  I had prepared my mind to be doing one or two loads of laundry per day by now what with the cloth diapering that I desperately wanted to make happen.  Our sad, wet clumps of clothing going into the dryer.  Mostly dark colors like black, gray and brown.   I wanted those clumps to be mostly baby blue and light green. I wanted to see some prefolds stuck to the inside wall of my washing machine from the spin cycle.  I wanted to have to reach really far in to the bottom of the washer drum to fetch one teeny tiny grey sock that was halfway wedged under the agitator.  I hadn't expected this.  I hadn't expected that my laundry would make me sad.

So, you see, even doing laundry is forever changed.  The sadness will wax and wain, surely.  But, I'll never forget.  How much more so are all the important things in my life changed now.  I haven't even begun to get back to my work, my sewing.  I can't imagine the wave of things that will change there. 

We thought we were on this road.  We saw it straight ahead.  We saw a little baby Wolfie, breastfeeding, late night wakings, daddy cuddle time, frustrations with carseats, giggles and smiles... all the myriads of things you expect to come with your first child.

But the road split off.  An eternal exit ramp.  We are getting farther and farther away from that other road we were on.  There are no brakes, no reverse... we're not even driving this thing anyway.  We're on a new road now.  Nothing will ever be the same.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

Today it is Mother's Day.  Our baby boy, Wolfgang, went to be in heaven at just 5 days old last Thursday.  We held his memorial service yesterday. 

I still feel compelled to write.

Since the birth of Wolfie things were a blur of hope, doctors, crying, wheelchairs, hugging and holding on to one another, beeping and chiming monitors going off all over the NICU, despair, nurses, taking in the sights/feel/smell/warmth of our son, finding it uncomfortable to neither sit nor stand as I heal, anger, spending time with family members, guilt, reading all the amazing prayers and support from our friends, and thankfulness.

The body.

Sometimes in the quiet when we were at home, when my heart had settled from the chaos of the day and the enjoyment of spending time with our precious one at the hospital, I would lament and cry because... and I'm not sure I can ever do this feeling any real justice... well, I would literally feel like every cell in my body knew that a baby was supposed to be there... in my arms, within arms reach.   Even my pinky toe would sort-of emotional ache.  The kind of strange physical thing you might hear about when someone has an organ transplant from another person and then suddenly has new urges or new cravings (as if their tissue carried with it life experiences)... that kind of ache.  It's in all my tissues.  My body says, "Something is missing here" and it cries out uncontrollably.

Still though, I feel my body healing.  The last week has felt like three.  I have to remind myself that only a week has passed.  I think I'm healing very well for it only being a week.  The birth was hard, he was a big boy.  I pulled all my neck muscles and experienced a full-body soreness I haven't felt since the day after I started an intense fitness bootcamp.  But every day gets a little better, and every day I can count more physical blessings. 

The mind.

God is good.  I am so crazy blessed with good friends, good family, a loving and caring man of God for a husband.  Without these, my mind would suffer.  There is a big difference between suffering and pain.  I am not suffering.

I won't pretend, however, that everything is completely kosher in my mind.  We all have dark voices inside that like to try to sway our nerve.  In these days mine sometimes try to ease their greasy fingers into the door, to open it wider, to make me hear or think that some part of this was my fault.  To make me think there was something I could have done differently to save my son.  Some other choice I could have made.  Some other way I could have been.  Who of you wouldn't trade in anything... anything in the world... to keep your child?  No birth plan, c-section scar, terrible birth experience, amount of pain,  embarrassment... nothing... nothing would have kept me from choosing to have him.  I don't care about any of that stuff because I would have gladly given it all up to save him.   And then my mind is put to ease, I am reminded that no matter what I do, or have done, it isn't up to me.  God's will is most powerful.  I did the very best I could do.  I guess I did more than some expectant mothers would do.  Last night, in a conversation, I was reminded of all the women who are so careless with their pregnancies.  Who don't value the gift they've been given.  Who drink heavily or don't eat well.  Who smoke crack or otherwise consciously choose put their precious baby in danger.  Some of them still have beautiful, healthy babies.  It isn't fair.  But it isn't up to me.

Dear friends, don't worry.  Ben and I are sure to seek some grief counseling.  I am told that guilt is a perfectly normal emotion to experience during the loss of a child.  It's just my mind trying to find a way out, a place of blame, a resting place so it can stop churning, stop seeking.  I don't honestly blame myself, but at times I do feel weak... I guess it's to be expected... and that's Ok as far as I'm concerned.

The spirit.

During the memorial service we took communion.  Ben and I received first and then sat down.  I was in a slight daze.  I gazed at Wolfie's pictures on his little shrine and thought hard about his little soul.  For a while at the hospital I imagined it hovering above his body, listening to us sing to him and read to him.  Feeling every kiss and touch.  There in the middle of the service, I felt him somehow high above me, but reaching down, like a little thread draping down... or reaching through... neatly weaving little stitches in the middle of my soul.  Sewing us together forever.  I leaned in closer to my husband's shoulder, and I also felt the stitches connecting me to him tug a bit tighter, pulled by an Almighty hand...all the seams becoming stronger.       

Our friends in the communion line kept coming... and coming... and coming.  Just when I thought, "Surely the line must be getting to the end," it kept coming still.   I hadn't really looked behind myself to assess just how many people were there for Wolfie... for us.  We had entered the sanctuary earlier but the measure of everyone's support for us in that moment had yet to hit me until the fog of my mind had lifted just enough to absorb it.  The love... the support... the outpouring of everyone's heart... my God... we felt it all.  We feel it all.  It wraps us in blessed comfort such that I have never experienced before.  Everyone remarked at how "strong" we were being.  No... we were being strengthened... by all of you.  Every prayer, every thought, every kind word, every hug,  we breathe it all in.  They have nourished our souls.

The road.

One day at a time right now.  I cannot tell what life holds for us now.  We sit and listen to records, we talk, we eat, we sleep, we spend time with loved ones.  For now, that's about all we can do.  Eventually we will celebrate, we will indulge, we will venture out, we will dance, we will not feel the sting of loss as incredibly sharp as it grabs us now.

I'll leave you with a quote I'm stealing from another friend's blog... because I feel that it completely describes... well...  everything.

"We do not have to die to arrive at the gates of Heaven.  In fact, we have to be truly alive.  The practice is to touch life deeply so that the Kingdom of God becomes a reality."

-THICH NHAT HANH (from Living Buddha, Living Christ)