So I realized after I wrote the last post that I gave everyone the info on what is going on, but not the practical coping mechanisms that are helping me.
Self care is a big one. I am trying to get plenty of rest and pamper myself as much as possible.Sometimes this means longs showers or listening to praise and worship music over and over again. I make sure to have at least one comfort food in our cabinets for stressful times (pop tarts right now!) I try to make simple meals that don't require a lot of ingredients or steps. Usually I make a double batch so that we can freeze it and have it later. Anything I can do to make things easier on us is helpful. Remember- decision making is not our strength right now, so the less we have to make the better.
We made a "not to do" list. This has taken huge pressure off of us as far as maintaing the house goes. So far things like fixing our garage door, making the bed, and other minor things are on this list. I highly recommend this for couples in our position. It takes away the burden of guilt from you over things that really can wait just 5 more weeks.
Distractions! We try to distract ourselves as much as possible. It is hard with a pregnancy after a loss because you are not doing the "usual" things getting a nursery ready or washing clothes or making endless runs to babies R us. So, some days the best way to get through it all is to try to forget it is happening. My husband and I have both bought computer games to play (diner dash for me!). I know it sounds childish, but the relief that comes with just forgetting the stress even for an hour or so can help so much. We have a few shows online that we watch each week. Right now we decided to re-arrange our basement and set up a work bench for him and a craft corner for me. This new project helps distract us on the weekends and gives us something to do. I am also sewing like crazy which is a good distraction. I have found that using my hands helps gets my mind off of things.
Change of scenery- Lately it has been tortuous to try and sleep. Since I know Caleb died sometime while I was sleeping, that time of night becomes such an agony for me. I was really at my wits end and felt like I was going crazy because it was getting to the point of me crying and breaking down at night about how I don't want to go to bed. I would wake up in a panic all through the night and overall just live in terror. I knew I could not do that for the next 5 weeks, so I got the idea to switch things around. Our humanity is so linked with our surroundings and senses. So I got a new nightgown, new pillows and sometimes sleep on the couch. I would really recommend this to women even though it sounds silly. Changing things up makes my humanity realize that this pregnancy is different.
Prayer- this one has been hard and like any time in life when things change, your prayer life has to change as well. I can no longer sit in silence before our Lord for an hour like I used to. I get to anxious and the enemy starts to plant too many seeds of doubt in my mind. I find reading spiritual books hard now because my mind simply cannot take in and process things. So, the rosary is what I have turned to. Again, it uses my hands, requires little to no memory or effort. I like the repetitive nature of it- it seems to soothe me to say the same thing over and over again.
Also, making sure to stay in a state of grace is important. We try to go to mass 6 out of 7 days a week. I have to be honest and say that most days its all I can do to get there. I show up but have no energy to actually participate in the mass. I lean on the community to say the words for me as I follow along in my heart. I usually cry during the whole thing. I beg God for his grace through the Eucharist. I trust that by me just showing up His grace is abundant and will overcome this hard time. Also, going to confession often allows more grace to flow in our lives and gives me the clarity I need right now.
Listening to inspiring talks. I have the radio in our kitchen on a lot to drown out the silence. I have a new found love of 88.5 moody radio. It is a Christian station that has very inspiring preachers during the day and has lots of scripture quoted. Their messages always help me to stay on track. In the first few weeks after Caleb died, I decided to "medicate" myself with God's word one way or another every 4 hours. It could be listening to talks, reading scripture, anything to help me re-focus. I thought every 4 hours was good because that is usually when medicine starts to wear off. It really helped get me through the days until Nate came home and I have found that now I am back to that same old routine. It is so important for me to stay on track with the truth.
Scripture- I have really clung to scripture during this pregnancy. These last few weeks opening up the Bible and trying to find somewhere to start reading seems overwhelming. I find myself constantly going to the psalms for comfort. My favorite one right now is psalm 31(especially verses 9-16). I also read daily psalm 126. I plan on having Abigail's footprint stamped over this verse at the hospital after she is born. It is such a great psalm of hope.
When I can't have the Bible with me, I have a few verses I've memorized to help me get through things. These can help when we are in appointments or when I get anxious. Right now my favorite verses are "The One who gives the call is faithful and He will accomplish it," 1 Thessalonians 5:24. I also like "Very well, see I am on the watch to fulfill my word." Jeremiah 1:12. This last one I just found the other day. God asks Jeremiah what he sees and he says "the watching tree." My footnotes tell me that the almond tree in the Hebrew times was known as the watching tree because it was the first to bloom in Spring as if it hadn't slept and been on watch. I love this imagery because I feel constantly on watch to make sure Abigail is alright and the thought that God is on the watch to fulfill His promises fills me with hope.
Another thing we are doing to try to cope is playing things safe. After 9 months of grief, we have gotten pretty good and knowing how to avoid land mines, not always, but most of the time. Things and events that would drain us or cause us to have to navigate through, we just say no to right now. We need all the energy we have to get through these next few weeks, so keeping things simple is important. We also try to have things to look forward to each week. A simple meal out or a date night can really help make the weeks go by.
Playing with the dog- we just love our Siena! She is such a good distraction because we can take her on walks or to the dog park.
So there is my list of hopefully helpful tips on how to endure the last few weeks of a pregnancy after a loss. Right now my main prayer is that God speed up time! Until February 24th (induction day) though, these things will have to get us through.