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 ...  http://www.indiecraftparade.com/ ).  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.