Friday, March 9, 2012

Same journey, different scenery

It's hard to believe Abigail is almost 2 weeks old. Even harder to believe I should still be pregnant, as my original due date wasn't until March 17th! I honestly thought we would never get through the pregnancy, but we did and are so grateful for a live, healthy baby. The journey of grief continues though. I guess I thought that maybe (just maybe!) when she was born things would be easier, not harder. However, these past two weeks have proved the opposite.

One thing I can say is the anxiety is GONE! I really can't believe how great it is to have that weight lifted. There is a lightness that I feel that is allowing me to re-enter the land of normal people and things. It took a few days for me to realize she was actually out of me. In the hospital one morning I freaked out because I hadn't felt the baby move in a few hours. Then I looked over and realized its because she was out! I guess it took my mind a few extra days to catch up with my body. And sure I worry about her while she sleeps and check on her about 100 times a day, but since I have never had a child die outside of me, I can put that fear into the  "probably won't happen to me category." Its funny how we can trick our minds into believing things.

But the grief over Caleb is still so present, if not more. The anxiety that went along with Abigail's pregnancy allowed me to re-direct some of my grief. Once she was out alive and well, it was like a tidal wave that hit me. I remember sitting in the hospital room only about two hours after delivery crying my eyes out because I missed Caleb so much. The stay in the hospital brought back so much of Caleb's birth that I had tried not to think about. The weird things- anything to do with my senses came flooding back to me. The hand sanitizer smell, the same hospital gown, the same tray of food, the same room set up- all of it brought me back to April 14th. Grief is so related to our senses and I felt it strongly in the hospital. I also had this great desire to go search the hospital for Caleb. Since that was the last place I saw him at, I wanted to see him again. Irrational, I know, but still there.

Having Abigail here only makes me realize how much I missed with Caleb. It has also shown me that people are not replaceable. Yes, she fills the hole in my heart for a child, but there is still another hole for Caleb that she can never fill.  I hoped that once she was here, Caleb's death might make more sense, but in reality its just left me more confused. The anger I dealt with this summer is back. The other day I was so angry I wanted to go out back and smash something, anything. I want both of my children and the questions and anger swirl around and around. I try to sleep when Abigail naps, but as soon as I lie down the questions and flashbacks flood my mind. Its exhausting to say the least. I feel like there are two of me- one who takes care of Abigail and one who grieves Caleb. Still can't figure out how to make those two into one.

Another thing that I didn't see coming was that awful question "is this your first?" I had gotten so good during the pregnancy dealing with the random strangers that ask you about your pregnancy. I was able to answer their questions quickly and then re-direct them before they asked if this was my first baby. But now, there are a whole new world of people to explain my story to. Pediatricians, lactation consultants, nurses, insurance people. Everyone seems to ask "Is this your first baby?" I think we answered that question about 30 times during our hospital stay. And it's alight, its just exhausting. What do you say? Right now I say "my first living child." I don't really like that answer, but I'm too tired to come up with a better one. And it may seem like no big deal, but for me each time I hear that question, it brings up everything again. And until you have had to see countless people's faces drop in sadness and horror every time you mention your child, you just can't understand how hard that question is for someone who has lost a baby.

We got out to visit Caleb's grave this week and it was just what I needed. Having Abigail here and seeing how much she needs me made me wonder if Caleb ever existed. He didn't need anything after he was born, and so in a weird way my mind wondered if I had made him up. But seeing his grave, changing the decorations, and just being there with him made my heart so happy. It verified for me that I did have a son, and he is a part of our family still. I think that is the hardest part, wanting people to remember him. I am not a first time mom, I have a little girl and a little boy. We are a family of four, even though you only see three. Abigail is the little sister, but also the oldest living child. Remembering Caleb and finding ways to mother him will continue to be a challenge but one that brings my heart such healing. I am already looking forward to his birthday next month.

So here we are- a live baby. A sweet little rose from Heaven sent to us so soon after our storm. And we love her, and we still miss him. And we are healing, but we are a far stretch from being healed. And we are grateful, but we still have questions and anger that come up. Grief...ugh I am so tired of it, but there is no way around it- only through it. I know God is faithful, that I can continue to say. The  first mass reading the day Abigail was born was the story of God making a covenant with Noah and his sign of a rainbow to signify that covenant. You can read the reading here.  God continues to hold us through this next phase of grief and even reminds us of the rainbow after the storm.

 Caleb's flag I made him. It says "Big brother Caleb"
 My two babies
 Caleb's tombstone reads " Do not let your hearts be troubled, 
You have faith in God, have faith also in Me."

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