Tuesday, June 19, 2012

For my Caleb Benedict

I heard this song recently and couldn't stop thinking of Caleb. It's strange because the words talk all about hearing and seeing your baby, which obviously I cannot do. But the line that stuck out to me was "I could never count all the ways that you changed me, baby." Caleb made me a mother and he defines so much of my motherhood. He has changed me more than any of my other children will. I just miss him today a lot. Like one of those days where your heart doesn't stop aching. So in honor of my sweet little boy here is a song for you. I will always love you!
Last picture I have of the                                  sweet baby boy
 two of us while he was still alive

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Grief at 13 months, 24 days

I wrote previously on where I was in my grief journey at 8 months. I wanted to keep doing these updates from time to time to chronicle for myself where I am at and also for others who are walking this journey too. Maybe it will help another person out there to feel more "normal" after reading these posts during their journey.

13 months and 24 days. I can't believe its been over a year. It seems like just yesterday that I held him and birthed him. But then somedays it seems like it never happened at all, just something that I made up.  That seems to be the trend these days- some days Caleb feels so real and it's overwhelming to think he is really gone. Other days it feels almost easy to forgot the whole thing happened. Just pretend we are a happy family of three with our beautiful healthy daughter and that life is great.

I'm still sad. Still don't really know how to do "happy." I feel more comfortable at funerals than weddings; at sad things more than happy events, at cemeteries more than baby showers. I just feel most like myself when I am faced with suffering, either mine or others.

I'm broken. I feel like the first year after losing Caleb was like lying in a hospital bed after a bad accident. You know its bad, but all you can do is lay there and heal and try to stay alive. Now, after a year, I have survived. I am out of the hospital bed and the bandages are coming off for the first time. I knew the damage was bad, but now I am seeing it for the first time. And I'm horrified at just how broken I am. There are days when I don't think I will ever be whole again. And so the rehab starts. The "learning to live again" starts. And its hard. Re-entering into the land of the living is awkward and exhausting. I just feel like I have so far to go, so much work to still do, so many questions to still ask.

As far as my energy goes, most days it's back to normal. I don't really have to think twice about running to the store or going to the mall. If I encounter hard situations, I'm usually able to bounce back easily. Social functions still seem to drain me. I used to be such an extrovert and now, well I would rather just stay inside. The conversations, the small talk, the updates on people's lives- it all makes me tired and requires a lot out of me. Just interacting with people still feels unnatural. Still feels like trying to ride a bike for the first time. I'm still scared of where conversations could go and that leaves me anxious. Caleb seems to be on my mind and consume my thoughts about 70-80 % of the day. I am either thinking about him,missing him, or reliving some part of that day. Its like a constant soundtrack in my mind that is stuck on repeat. I don't mind it so much anymore, almost used to it.

I hate the word dead. It seems to be all I hear- dead end, dead right, dead serious, battery is dead, dead weight. I never noticed before how often the word "dead" is used as an adjective. When I hear it, it feels like a stab every time.

At 13 months and 24 days I am comfortable with failure. I used to think that the effort you put into something would equal the outcome. Now I know you can do everything right and still get a poor outcome. You can try your hardest and still fail for no good reason and that's just the way life goes. I accept that more now.

Pregnancies are hard, but I am getting better. I don't think I will ever be able to think pregnancy is fun or exciting or something to look forward to. For me it will always be something to get through. I have had to mourn that lately.I just think differently with pregnancies. A friend recently told me that two relatives in her family were expecting at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The first thought I had was, "that will be so hard when those babies die. The holidays will be forever ruined." I just hate that that is where my mind goes first. Then I have to take steps backwards into the "normal" person side and tell myself that most babies live. Its exhausting. I have also had to grieve certain aspects of my birth stories that will always be different. I will always be induced, I will never know what natural contractions without pitocin feel like. I will never have my water break on its own then have to rush to the hospital. Small things, but still things that need to be mourned.

My brain still seems slow. I have caught myself driving and all of a sudden I don't know where I am going. Like completely forget what road I am on and why. Then I concentrate and think hard and it comes back to me within seconds, but it still feels scary. It is hard for me to admit that I am weak.  That I can't remember birthdays or send thank you's like the old me used to. That I don't have it all together,that some days the best I can still do is just get dressed.

I'm no longer scared of infants. Now my fear is of babies that are about a year old, especially boys. I will always see Caleb in children that would have been his age. Sometimes I can find beauty in that, other times it just breaks my heart.

I still want to shop for him. In stores I gravitate toward the baby boy stuff automatically. And sometimes I actually believe I am still shopping for Caleb. The other day I saw the cutest baby boy bath toys and thought "Caleb would love those." Then in about 3 seconds it hit me- he doesn't need those, remember he is dead." Oh yeah- how could I forget? But I do. Its as if my heart and mind can't get the message that he is really gone. I am still nesting for him, preparing for his arrival, even though he is never coming home.

Our life is getting back to "normal." Less nights spent crying, more night spent eating dinner then going out for ice cream. Prayer seems to be harder these days than ever before. It seems that when I was in the midst of the storm, I clung to Jesus and He was so close. Now that we are out of the storm and on safe land, I have a lot of questions for Him. A lot of things I want answered that I know will never be answered. Prayer seems to be so intense and intimate these days that the most I can do is an hour a week.  Every Sunday afternoon I sneak off to pray a holy hour. I love this time and I dread this time. It requires me to look at my life and really bring those things I don't want to talk about, up with Jesus. I usually leave the hour exhausted mentally and emotionally. It is hard work, but I feel like we are making progress. It is necessary work in order for me to keep a relationship with Our Lord.

I love Abigail. Her life is so tied with Caleb's and every day I am thankful for her. She has helped fill that hole in my heart that longed for children. At the same time, I am a little obsessive about her dying. Transition phases seem to be when the fear and terror come out the most. When we first brought her home, when she started sleeping longer at night, when we transitioned her into her crib. I always think she is going to die. Its not a matter of "if" for me, its a matter of "when." Some days I can control how I think and give it back to God. Other days I just hover over her make sure she is still alive. I just don't want to bury another child and now that I know how fragile life is, it scares me. I know babies can just up and die with no warning, for no reason.

Mostly at  13 months and 24 days I just want to be done with this whole grief thing. I am desperate for the world to know just how hard this is, living every day without my firstborn. But everyone and everything moves on, and while I know people don't forget, they still move on. I want to show people just how hurt I still am and how much healing I still need-but I don't know how. I have given up on the "old" me ever coming back, but sometimes I feel pressure to bring her back. To delete the sad story of Caleb and just get on with it already. I guess right now I just want people to know-its still so hard, just a different kind of hard. There is more light, but the damage from the storm seems to still be extensive and all around.

That's where I'm at - 13 months 24 days.