Daydreaming…

October 27, 2009

I posted this over at Glow in the Woods and then thought that many of  you might like to read it as well…

This afternoon, I sat at Fosters having a bowl of soup and daydreaming.  I love Fosters.  It’s bright and airy and reminds me of a coffee place I used to go to when I was in college.  I can smell espresso and pastries and pizzas being made in the oven.  There are large open tables with mis-matched chairs and college students, studying history or math or something.  Probably chemistry.  I hated chemistry.  They have their futures in front of them, I think, bright shiny futures – futures full of promise, hope, good times and hopefully, nothing bad will ever happen to these people.  Just as they are sitting here at these tables with the mis-matched chairs, wallowing in clean, pure, happy youth, I sat at tables with mis-matched chairs many years ago.  Years and years ago it feels like.  So long ago that I feel like that wasn’t even me – I’m not the same person I was back then.  I dreamed of working as an environmental attorney, I struggled with my math homework, I dated someone who didn’t appreciate me for me, and I made bad choices (that ended up having benign consequences looking back).  I dreamed of getting married to a wonderful man and having babies, living in a house, not struggling to pay my bills.

Some of what I dreamed has happened – the amazing husband, the cute house that’s all mine.  Some of what I hoped for hasn’t.  Actually, I guess it did but not in the way I thought it would.  I look in the mirror and I’m not that girl in a coffee house in San Diego wondering what I’m going to wear to our next formal because I can’t really afford a new dress.  I’ve gained weight, gone is my cute little size 6 self that ran the beach in a bikini without thought.  I’ve got gray hairs that refuse to stay hidden under an expensive dye-job.  I’ve got pain in my eyes.  It’s the eyes that are the most different, I think.  I don’t have wrinkles like you might think.  Instead, I have a hollowness – an emptiness – that looks back at me from the other side of the mirror.  It’s all my pain and grief and anger and loss and it’s manifested in my eyes.  I smile at people and that smile doesn’t reach my eyes like it used to.

I look around amongst all of these young, bright faces and see another woman sitting alone.  She’s clearly older than I am as evidenced by the fact that she’s lost her battle with gray hair and surrendered to a lovely silver running through her brown curls.  She’s reading (or maybe, like me, pretending to read).  I catch her eye and smile.  She smiles back but her smile doesn’t reach her eyes either.  I wonder, “what happened to you?  Why do you have pain?  Did your babies die too?”

It all comes back to them.  My boys and the fact that they died.

No amount of daydreaming in a coffee house can change that fact or the pain in my eyes.

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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.

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.

For those of you who don’t know, The Secret Garden site is for parents of lost babies to go and write about their children.  Oftentimes, we don’t get to talk about some of the things we want to because we don’t have anyone to talk about them to.  This month’s Meeting topic was something that Hubby and I thought about on Sunday in anticipation of starting the adoption process.

If you created a bedroom for your baby tell us what it was like.

We had planned to have the boys stay in our room until they were older.  Our bedroom at that house was huge so we thought a “co-sleeper” on each side of the bed would be perfect.  Then Baby A died.  We decided that we would turn the corner of our bedroom into a nursery for Baby B.  We got a crib and a changing table that Hubby put together for me to look at while on bedrest.

Did you have it ready for them before they were born?

Yes, eventhough Baby B died at 22 weeks, his changing table and crib were ready, his Winnie the Pooh pictures and decorations were on the walls.  I had folded all of his nightgowns, onsies and diapers into baskets….I thought I had more time to make up his bed and I had a baby shower coming up so I didn’t buy any linens…

If so how did you cope coming home to it without your baby?

Not well.  I came home to look at an empty crib.  I remember laying down on the bed, in front of the empty crib and changing table and sobbing to the point that I leaned over and threw up in the trash can.

Did you pack it all away?

I had to.  We were in the process of buying a house when Baby B died.  We closed on the house a week after we lost him so all of the “nursery” had to be packed up and moved with no baby.  I made Hubby take down and move the furniture and the car seat and all of their baby clothes to the new house.  I didn’t want the movers to touch any of their things.  It wasn’t rational but I didn’t care.  I took one night when Hubby was at karate class and packed all of the onsies and nightgowns people had bought me or given me, the tiny little Tevas that Hubby at gotten me to cheer me up when A died into storage bins.  I cried so hard and so loud that my neighbor heard me and came over and held me for an hour. 

What is your baby’s room now?

In the new house, we put all of the baby stuff into what will be the nursery and shut the door.  We bought the house 18 months ago and I haven’t been in there since.

If you are trying to conceive again, or are pregnant again how do you feel about setting up another room before your baby is born?

Since we have been talking about adoption, I know that we have to have a place for our baby to come home to so I know it will have to be done for the homestudy.  I worry about that.  How am I going to face walking in there and looking at things that should have been the boys?  I’m hoping that I can call on friends and family to make it something fun and joyful.  I think with more people there, I won’t be tempted to look at the sadness but focus on the happiness.  Since, we are also still actively trying, I have also thought about that.  I have it in my head that I won’t put a nursery together until I get passed 22 weeks.  Then the baby will have lived longer then his/her brothers.  I don’t think that’s reasonable because I know I will be excited about another baby and want to make up a nursery since I really didn’t get to that for the boys but I know that I will be terrified too.  I don’t know.  I guess I just want to find out…