Wednesday, February 27, 2013

First Birthday

Abigail's first birthday was yesterday. We celebrated her party on Saturday. I feel so grateful that I have her to celebrate.  I remember thinking I would never get to see a first birthday.  There were aspects of grief that made her birthday hard-the fact that Caleb didn't get one-or at least not one like I would have liked to give him. The weird feeling that while Abigail is growing up-Caleb remains forever an infant. He never changes. And then the unknowns of all the questions that flew through my head:

What would his party have looked like?
Would we have thrown a big party?
What would he have been into?
Would he have been walking already?

As I was grabbing one last item from our attic the morning of her party-I caught this out of the corner of my eye. It was in the pile of his clothes that I plan to make a quilt out of.

Birthday Boy-12 months in size-tags still on it. I can't remember if I bought this or if he got it as a gift. Either way- we all thought he would wear it. I have clothes for him all the way up to month 24! I still have clothes upstairs in my attic for my dead child that he still would not have fit into yet! It all seems strange to me...

Sometimes I think there was some wisdom in the olden days of keeping stillbirth a hush-hush topic. Things like this-trying to live in parallel worlds- have the ability to make a person a little crazy. But then I think- having two kids makes anyone a little crazy. Yes, I parent Caleb very differently than Abigail-but I still parent him. That is why I am thankful that the tide is turing in some sense on the secrecy of stillbirth. I am free to share him with the world, even if it doesn't look normal.

Speaking of which, here is an excellent article published recently on breaking the silence of stillbirth. Still amazing to me that

 "about26,000 pregnancies end in stillbirth in the United States each year, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. That’s about 1 in 160 pregnancies. More than one-third of these deaths are never explained. To compare, SIDS takes the lives of 2,500 babies each year in the United States."

There really needs to be more done to help spread the word about stillbirth. So if you feel like sharing the article, please do.

In summary-I feel relieved that I made it through Abigail's birthday. Now I can start to gear up for Caleb's birthday. We are planning a small weekend trip for his birthday this year. Just the three of us-probably to St. Louis to visit the zoo. I'm not exactly sure yet, but I know I want to leave. I don't want to be here for year two.

There is one thing I know-that Caleb was smiling down on his little sister Saturday at her party. I imagine he laughed with the rest of us as she inhaled her cake! Feeling grateful for both my children today, but still wishing they were both here...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

This week

Loving this song this week. I don't know why, I just love it. Its been a somber week here and somehow this song sums up how I feel, the sadness but the hope that remains.

Far-off hymns and funeral marches sound the same again.
My ears are worn and weary strangers in a strange land
and I need a new song. I need a new song.

All I am is breath and vapor and shadow.
All I have is what I need and this I know.
I need a new song.
I need a new song.

Waiting in the night for you. Burning in the sky for you.

There's an aching in my body, within my lungs.
This web of bones around my heart is coming undone.
I need a new song. I need a new song. 
I'm waiting in the night for you
burning the sky for you. Waiting in the night for you
I'm burning in the sky for you. 

Words are failing... my melodies falter; 
my voice is breaking; my heart is burning...
Because blessing and honour, and glory, and power and praise and
worship. They belong to you.
I need a new song.
I need a new song.
I need a new song..

Friday, February 15, 2013

Walking With You Week 6


For the final WWY post in this segment, we will share our experiences with longing for another baby to fill our empty arms. Some experienced a subsequent pregnancy after loss. Some may be fearful of embarking on that journey again. Some may not be able to have another child, whether due to infertility or other reasons. Some may have found that having another baby, however precious a gift, was not the key to healing the grief. Can you experience hope and healing…even if there is no rainbow after the storm? 
I read this on Monday and have been mulling it over  ever since. After Caleb died I wanted to be pregnant again immediately. I wanted to risk everything again because I wanted a live baby! We were so ready for a baby and I really couldn't see how we could live without someone to fill that space. I remember specifically while holding Caleb that I prayed that God would fill my arms again quickly. 

And He did-something that surprises me still and I don't know why. God gave us another child just 10 weeks after Caleb was born. I think that is about the quickest it could have happened. Because of how close Caleb and Abigail were it still feels like it was just one really long pregnancy. When Abigail came home alive and well it was such a relief. All  of those wants and desires of my heart and longings for a child were now filled. 

Fast forward to a year later-Abigail is almost one and for most people this is probably when thinking about another child starts happening. At first we felt the same way- we said that when she is a year we might start trying again. But now that year is here and trying is not something I want to do. I have recognized within just the past month how much healing my heart still needs. Im terrified of pregnancy and really the way I was starting to deal with it was to ignore it= as in I will go anywhere but there....I realized that God wants me to go "there," which is what I wrote about a little earlier this week.

So we are working through all that right now. I guess with Abigail I was still willing to take chances, I mean what did we have to lose? But now that we have a healthy, live child-I'm selfish. I don't want to lose another baby-I don't want our family to go through that again- I don't want to put Abigail through that.It is harder to justify taking that risk again.

 I know that the other side of the coin is that the baby would live and add so much joy to our lives. But I still have a hard time believing that. I thought once I was able to bring a live baby home I would actually start believing that it can happen. But I was wrong-turns out that having a stillborn child trumps the live birth and my heart still struggles to believe that babies really do come home.

I am excited to see how God heals and shapes my heart as I try to turn this over to Him. I know we want more kids- I just think the timeline of that will look very different than we originally thought. In the meantime I feel so blessed to spend each day with Abigail and for once in my life I am not wanting anything. Im content, something that I know could only have happened with God leading me.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Unexpected Feelings

I've had this post rolling around in my head for a while. One of the main reasons I write here is to chronicle this grief journey with all its ups and downs. And so as Christmas drew to a close and the new year began I was surprised to be feeling- heavy?anxious?extremely fearful? panicky?I have had a few flashbacks and feel the suffocating panic take over. They literally take my breath away and I have to remind myself to breathe. And what are the flashbacks of? Abigail's pregnancy. Weird? Not anything to do with Caleb (yet really everything...). I was so confused by it all that I went and saw my counselor. She pointed out that Abigail's pregnancy had been so traumatic and that since her birthday is approach (same season, same month) all those triggers are bringing back the feelings of her pregnancy. My brain/body/emotional tank couldn't deal with much during her pregnancy and so now, even a year later, it is slowly all coming to the surface. All the fear, anxiety, etc.

Wait....So you mean I have spent all this time trying to heal from my son's stillbirth and now I have to focus on healing from my live daughter's traumatic pregnancy? Does this ever end? I asked my counselor if I could just shove it all under the rug. Her response- yes but it will just get messier!

So I am really trying to work on this. As in-I am allowing myself to remember Abigail's pregnancy when the flashbacks come. To feel the panic, to re-direct that panic and talk myself down off the ledge.  And as her birthday is now just two weeks away I feel so many things are so similar. I am remembering every detail of those last few weeks before her delivery. The fear is so close again. Sometimes before I can even reason with myself I am convinced I am still pregnant with her and she is going to die. I was terrified during that whole pregnancy. Truthfully, it is just starting to sink in that she came home alive-even though its been a whole year. I never thought she would make it, but she did.

So grief from stillbirth and then more grief intertwined with traumatic subsequent pregnancy. I really did not see this one coming, but now that it is here I am trying my best to work through it. I know in the end if we ever want to have more children then I have to deal with this. I have to bring my fear from that pregnancy (and any future pregnancies) to the Lord and really let him work on my heart.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Walking With You Week 5

February 4, 2013 ~ Mirror, Mirror ~ The Comparison Trap

Mothers often fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to one another. This is a trap many women fall into. We compare our families, mothering styles, fashion sense, careers or lack thereof, bodies, etc. Even mothers with babies in heaven compare the way we grieve our children. I know…sad…but we do it, if we’re honest enough to admit it. So, how can we find freedom from this? Sharing is a start…telling the truth…admitting the struggle. I think, then, we will see that we all love our children, regardless of how we choose to remember and honor their lives…whether publicly or quietly…with big parties or simple moments of remembrance. Be real on this week’s post, and let’s free ourselves from the trap of comparing!

Hmm..where to start. I compare lots of things. I compare my old self to my new self. I get mad or frustrated because I am not the person I used to be. Just last week I had the stomach flu. The awful 24 hr bug. The old me would have pushed through it, complained a little and moved one. The me after being through grief was just pathetic. I was scared, terrified that really it wasnt just the flu, that maybe it was something more. I called my husband so much that day at work-each time to tell him how scared I was! So silly b/c it was just the flu. I was a mess.....all because of a 24 hr illness that really is But it brought back so much-fear, anxiety,unknowns. And so I compared. Told myself how well the old self would have handled things and then felt lousy for the next few days. I am hard on myself and as much as I try not to be my own worst enemy, I still am.

I compare myself to others who have lost babies. I still have a deep need to talk about Caleb. I see other BLM who seem to be all moved on with their loss and not needing to be vocal as much as I do. Then I think "maybe I should just really move on with this." Stop dragging things out by writing on this blog. Just be done and stay quiet about what happened. Its hard to justify your feelings when you do not see them mirrored by others. 

I compare our life and the way we raise Abigail to the way others do. I get jealous that they don't have to think the way we think. I get angry that they can count on getting pregnant, staying healthy, and bringing that baby home. Babies/fertility/bringing live baby home/pregnancy- are all so hard in my world. They bring up such complicated feelings and sometimes I just wish I didn't have them. 

I struggle with planning our family. There are so many people I was pregnant with when carrying Caleb that are pregnant now. I always feel guilty for not sticking to that timeline. I feel like there are two family timelines-the one we should be on if he lived and the one we are on. It's weird to see the life you thought you would live play out in others. I have really been praying for grace lately to accept our family timeline that God has given us. Also I have been able to see that we are different, almost like we have a handicap because of what happened. Getting pregnant and the decisions that go along with that are going to be a lot bigger for us-bottom line. So I have stopped looking around for the most part, but it still creeps in.

Lastly, body image. The last 11 months have probably been the hardest I've ever had with my body image. I know I had two pregnancies back to back-both full term. But somehow that still doesnt make me give myself any slack. I had two babies, but only one to show for it. Sometimes I think people wonder why the weight is not coming off, I mean Abigail was born 11 months ago! Get it under control already. But I can't-even though I try. I guess this is just part of mommy hood, but its hard not to compare my body to others who have had babies and lost the weight so easily.Hard not to get bitter that they had live babies and then lost the weight. I just keep telling myself how much God loves me and He is the creator-if he wanted my body a different way he would have made it that way, but He didn't. 

Wow-so I guess I compare more than I thought! This was an interesting topic, one I am going to spend more time in prayer on. Hoping others can relate to all this somehow!