Losing the Battle…

October 6, 2009

I heard this quote this morning on NPR:

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places. ” – Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms.

I had forgotten about this book and this quote having read it YEARS ago.  When the person being interviewed said the quote, he was referencing his own war experiences.  He mistakenly thought the quote was a reflection of the character “Henry” and, by extension, Hemingway’s experience of being wounded in a mortar attack in Italy during World War I.

In fact, the quote is made by the character “Henry” in reference to his son being born still, not war.  I realized as I was driving that while the interviewee attributed the quote to the wrong loss for the main character, death of our boys was like a battle.  It was like a war.  I’m hurt, I’m bruised and bloodied.  Hubby is wounded – there exists collateral damage in our life.  There is tremendous loss and a deep well of anger.  There are days when The Battle of Grief and Loss is more costly than any other war I can think of…There are days when I’m sure I’m losing The Battle and those are days I am grateful for The Silent Army…

I just wish The Battle would end soon….

Neverending Grief

September 25, 2009

So last nights’ “Grey’s Anatomy” was all about grief.  One of the main characters, “George,” ended last season by getting hit by a bus and was unrecognizable until minutes before the finale ended.  The premiere showed “McDreamy” unable to repair the damage to George’s brain and the decision is made to call his mother and find out if he is an organ donor.  The hospital is collectively devastated.

The voice over talks about the 5 stages of grief, which I think all of us lost baby parents can agree, doesn’t occur in stages but waves, each one overlapping the other at various times and intervals.  I’ve accepted and bargained, felt guilty and angry, hell, I’ve even denied it happened (then of course, I wake up).  Each character was supposed to represent the various stages of grief.

But the phrase that resonated most with me was something that the character “Meredith” said.  She said:

“The minute you think you’re over it, it starts all over again.”

That’s where I’m at.  I went to the bathroom at work yesterday and sat in the stall and cried.  I hadn’t done that in months – cried at work.  I’m even out of practice.  Used to be, I could cry looking down, with my head in a horizontal position and not ruin my eye makeup…yesterday, mascara was all smeared.  I’m still so mad, still so sad, still so angry.  I want to scream as loud as I can, “what did I do to deserve the death of my little boys?!!??  What?!!?  Why did this happen to me?!!?”  After 18 months, just when I think I’m okay, the grief starts in again.  Nothing new has happened, it’s still the same loss, I’m still the same me I was after the boys died.  Why am I not getting any better?

The difference between me and the characters of “Grey’s Anatomy” is, the accident wasn’t real, their friend didn’t really die, they get to yell “CUT!” and it’s over.  I don’t.  There is no “CUT!” for me.  This is going to be my life forever.  I’m going to always grieve, the boys will always have died, this is my life.

I’m overwhelmed by that fact.

Weather always effects my mood…cloudy and dark makes me sad and sullen.  It’s the depression, I’m sure.

My insurance coverage changed in August.  I knew my employer had to make some adjustments to continue to be able to afford to cover us but I had no idea that it would effect the mental health coverage in the policy.  That’s right gang, no more therapy unless we want to pay for it and with Hubby being laid off, it’s not in the budget.  We might try and do 2 sessions a month once we get a little more “in the black” but right now, it’s not going to work out.  Nothing I can do about it except hope for health care reform that will include a mental health option.  So I’m sullen and depressed with no outlet…yeah.

We have to give up our boot camp sessions too.  We’ve been going 3 times a week for the last 5 months and it’s been great.  I haven’t really lost weight but I’ve toned up a lot.  I’m feeling confident that I can continue to work out on my own.  I have hand weights, a jump rope and 3 dogs who love to go for long and fast walks….I just need to make myself accountable to get up every other morning and go.  We just can’t afford to spent the money anymore.

Which brings me to a realization I had yesterday.  I think I’ve gone “soft.”  I used to not have the luxury of therapy and trainers and ready-made food and fancy coffee.  Since our income increased several years ago, I’ve gotten accustomed to “the good life” – which, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy but I’ve lost my ability to survive.  Part of that has to do with losing the boys – I’ve lost my will to survive, not just the ability to do so.  I think, at some point, I just decided I would float along until I got pregnant again – maybe in the hopes that would make “it” all okay and give me more of a sense of purpose.  I don’t know.  Until a couple of days ago, I was feeling good.  I felt confident that we would be having another baby soon.  I was hopeful, I was almost cheerful, even slightly happy.  But that happiness, like my pregnancies, seemed to end as quickly as it started.  I’m filled with doubt – have I ovulated yet, did we “do it” enough, is this “our month.”  So much doubt and fear and sadness…almost overwhelming…

Maybe I just need to sack up, stop feeling sorry for myself, stop feeling bad about myself and focus on the good things in life, things I want to accomplish.  It’s so hard to do though.  I know you other lost baby mamas and daddas understand this.  It all comes back to that one phrase…”I’m sorry, I’m not seeing a heartbeat.”  It resonates with me constantly.  It effects everything I do.

Looks like a 90% chance of rain today.

I Drank The Kool-Aid…

September 14, 2009

So Hubby and I found out on Friday that we were in for the orientation at the adoption center on Saturday.  We were pleased to see a same-sex couple at the orientation and two potential single parents…made me very happy since a lot of adoption agencies are not inclusive of people of different religions and lifestyles.  I don’t want to be a part of something that excludes….But this agency is a non-profit that handles only open adoptions.  Their policy seems to be no judgments on birth mothers or adoptive parents.  That is the kind of organization I want to support…

I think that Hubby and I had this notion of what an open adoption is and that was making us apprehensive about going that route.  We’ve all seen the dramas on TV, particularly, the LifeTime Channel, right?  Birth mother is a crack addict with no money and she wants to hand over her baby to you – for the right price , of course – and then 6 months later, comes back and says, I want to be a part of MY baby’s life and you will let me or I will get MY baby back.  Yeah, no.  That’s not even close to the truth.  This agency is all about the counseling and the planning.  They counsel everyone – birth mother, birth father, adoptive parents…I loved that they really work with the birthmother about her feelings of loss and grief when she leaves the hospital without her baby.  I know what it feels like to go to the hospital pregnant and come home with no baby.  I would never want another woman to feel that much pain and hurt. 

There would be a planning session about what type of open adoption we can agreed to – could be pictures and notes, birthday parties, monthly dinners, phone calls….it’s really about give and take and what we are comfortable with.  I came to the realization that because I want a baby so badly, I can’t imagine not wanting to spend every single second with my baby and that’s what I was a afraid a birth mother would feel.  The counselor said that oftentimes, the problems becomes not enough contact because the birth mother sees that the adoptive parents are good and loving people and the baby is safe and cared for so they begin to pull away to live their own life.  Most of the birth mothers are between 18-24 and are in school or working full time.  I like that she will always have the option of knowing what’s going on in the baby’s life though and not wondering what has become of the child.

It was not all sunshine and roses though (and I’m not even talking about the money).  They try hard to get good matches for adoptive parents but sometimes they fall through.  I think that will be tough for us emotionally.  The counselor said that we can’t think of them as “failed adoptions,” just bad “first dates….”  Easier said than done for someone who hasn’t suffered numerous miscarriage and the death of twin boys.

And yes, I told the group about our boys.  I spoke of our loss and it was hard and maybe not the right thing to do but I did.  I can’t think about adding another baby to our family without acknowledging the babies we have already.  Right or wrong, good or bad, that’s how I feel.

I can honestly say, after that orientation, I wouldn’t do anything but an open adoption and I probably won’t go anywhere else to do it.

Now, stay tuned as Surviving Baby and Hubby rob a bank….just kidding…not really…no, I am…or not….

The Fraternal Order of….

September 11, 2009

“There’s a special fraternity for those of us who’ve lost spouses and children.” – Joe Biden, Ground Zero, 09/11/2009

Yes, I can tell you what I as doing eight years ago when the families of 3,000 men, women and children were initiated into that “special fraternity.”  I worked for an elected official in Los Angeles – a place that truly believed they were next in line to be attacked.  It was a long and scary 48 hours.  Until March 2008, September 11th, 2001 was the worst thing that had really happened in my life.  It will be a defining moment for my generation.  Yes, I had lost loved ones but it was always a “good” death.  Not surprises, not traumatic deaths, usually an end to some long-suffering illness.  No, September 11th was my first real brush with overwhelmingly senseless death.  Sadly, it wouldn’t be my last.

Now, I’m obviously a much different person.  I belong to that “fraternity” Vice President Biden spoke of – he and I can share in the secret handshake.  I looked at the families of those that lost their loved ones that day and I sympathized.  Several months after 9/11, I shook hands with a woman whose husband was a firefighter who died that day.  I felt horrible for her but I couldn’t understand that level of grief and pain.  I can now.

We are out there, members of this “special fraternity” who have had children die.  You can’t tell us from the rest of the world.  You can’t see the pain we hold in our hearts.  You can’t know the tears we cry at night…or in the day…or all the time.  Only difference is, we don’t have a pool to stand at and read the names of our babies gone too soon.  So instead we write about them.  We write about our pain.  We write about our hopes and dreams for the future even though it doesn’t hold the babies we so desperately wanted and loved.  We read each others thoughts and help fellow “fraternity” members get through anniversaries, due dates, additional losses, failed medical procedures, inconsiderate family members, and unkind friends.  We treat each other – total strangers – with compassion and love because we are members of this “fraternity.”

I guess my point is this.  I hate that I am a member of this “fraternity.”  I hate that there are those of you reading this who belong too.  I’m sorry for the people who lost loved ones eight years ago today for they were someones’ child just like my boys are my children.  But I am grateful everyday for the kind and compassionate words I receive both from my real life and bloggy friends.  I’m thankful to be able to read others words and know that I am not alone.  I’m honored when others read my words and feel comforted.

But I would give anything to be able to turn in my membership pin….

I love this time of year – the beginning of September which leads to Fall and October and Halloween – which is my absolute favorite holiday.  August is over and that’s a relief and it’s too early to worry about Thanksgiving and Christmas and the inevitable depression that will come from missing the boys.  September on the beaches in North Carolina is ridiculously lovely and Hubby and I usually take advantage of the lack of tourists to head out there at least a couple of times before the warm weather is gone.  Here at home, the leaves change to amazing jewel tones that this California girl didn’t think occurred in nature.  I marvel at the fireworks show that the trees put on.  October brings Mullet Festival (the fish, not the hair) and the informal family reunion.  In years passed, I have dreaded going but this year, I’m looking forward to it.  My best friend, M, will be coming for the State Fair in mid-October and I can’t wait.  And then Halloween…my favorite…I’ve already planned costumes for us and priced new yard decorations.  The mums are in bloom already and I need to put some in the yard…Fall and mums to me is like milk and cookies.

But my heart is heavy.  I thought I would be pregnant again.  All the way pregnant – not just the slightly pregnant that my body seems to be fond of but really, truly and totally pregnant.  But not yet, not that I know of anyway….

My birthday was yesterday and I haven’t cried that much on my birthday in I don’t know how long.  I cried for the boys, I cried because of an insensitive comment said to Hubby in my presence that morning (“So Hubby, got anymore offspring?”), I cried for Craig and Mirne and baby Jet, I cried for the baby that would have been had I not miscarried in December.

In the midst of all my tears, I laughed a lot too.  I was reminded how loved I am.  I was reminded that in the midst of all the pain that I feel, people care for me, people think of me, people root for me.  I had over 60 messages on Facebook wishing me a happy birthday, numerous cards came in the mail, and I got a ton of phone calls throughout the day.  For someone feeling all alone with her grief, that’s powerfully healing. 

I think the hardest I laughed yesterday was when I got my gift from Hubby.  Hubby saw my post about wanting to learn the violin or mandolin so he found me a beautiful violin for my birthday and a woman to give me lessons at lunch.  He said that he thought I needed “a little more music in my life.”  He’s right.  I know I don’t deserve him.  He’s amazingly kind, thoughtful and caring.  I’ve never met a man like him. 

Over dinner, I said to him, “I can play the violin for our baby when he won’t stop crying.  You know?  Play him to sleep.”  That’s the first time I let myself hope for a future baby in a long time.  I surprised myself when I said it.  It’s been months since I thought of OUR baby actually happening again.

So, next birthday, I will be playing a concert (using the loose definition of “concert”) at my house.

Hopefully, our baby will be there.

Okay, Well, Maybe Not…

August 26, 2009

We got the information on adoption over the weekend.  The amount of money required was not horrific.  The problem is that we need SOOOO much up front to even get started (I think, I can’t really understand the whole “process” since the information packet seemed to be a mish/mash of flyers).  I think we need to hear what they say at the information session.  It’s a lot of money to swing upfront and I don’t think we can borrow from family members even with the promise of the tax credit to pay it back.  I applied for an increase in my Care Credit card but I think it was such a large amount over what I had for my Lasik, they were like, “oh hell no lady…”  I also applied for a Visa from the National Adoption Foundation but I heard from the bank folks downstairs that no one is getting any credit from anywhere so I shouldn’t be surprised if it was denied…and it was….great….

So now I am looking into “additional income sources” to build up the adoption fund – no people, not porn…I am a Reiki practitioner (this is a good blog that talks about Reiki if you care http://reikiblogger.com/).  I did it in college to make some extra money and that was when no one knew what yoga was, let alone Reiki.  Basically paid my sorority dues.  The more I think about it, the more I wonder if getting back to Reiki would help with my own healing.   Part of me is scared because every time I have done treatments on myself, I’ve cried a lot and had a lot of “backlash” (basically it’s the grief and sadness working it’s way out but it’s still very painful).  I’m chicken to work through some of the stuff I need to work through but I know there will be no healing without it.  If I were my own client, I would scold me but I do enough self-hating on my own so I won’t add that to the list.  Now, I just need to see if this type of thing will fly in a recession…

I also wussed out on the group therapy session that I was going to attend with http://ourbabyboy25.blogspot.com/  I couldn’t face standing up and saying, “Hi, I’m Martha, my twin boys died and I’m really screwed up….”  I couldn’t do it this month.  I’ll work up to next month.  My friend, F heard me laugh today, she said it was something she hadn’t heard in months….I realized, I really don’t do it that often anymore…I’m treating life like a river and I’m just floating down it without any expectations.  It’s a nice image but not really how I’m used to living.  I want to look forward to the future but I can’t – actually, more accurately – I don’t know how.