Wednesday, July 30, 2008

This strange grief...

I've been reading lots of books about grief. Specifically about pregnancy loss, stillbirth or early infant death. One thing that keeps getting mentioned in each book is that most people don't have friends that stand by them. People get freaked out and uncomfortable with grief. This topic--the desertion of friends--has been mentioned in every single book.

I'm so grateful that my experience has been so very different. Sure, I have stories of insensitivity to tell. Sure, I have a couple of friends who I considered incredibly close that are obviously uncomfortable and don't know how to deal with me or my loss. But the vast majority of people know exactly what to do: listen. Hang out with me. If I'm sad, let me be sad. If I'm happy, let me be happy. Don't expect me to be "over it."

My advice to anyone who has grieving friends is this: Listen, and try not to look frightened when the topic comes up.

I'm grateful to each and every one of you who have supported me and my family and who continue to do so. My story (OUR story, because it is our shared story,now) is one of hope, healing and the amazing strength of Christian Community.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Miriam's comments...

On her first sewing project.

"Mom, help me; this is rather a mess."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Remembering the First.

5 years ago I was cuddling the most beautiful baby in the world! I had no idea what a earth shifting moment having a child would be; I don't think either Chris or I was prepared for the momentous changes in our lives, emotions, responsibilities. But how glad we were! How much we don't regret it! How priviledged we are to be Miriam's parents!

started her first sewing project yesterday.
self-corrects her grammar, but still says "Jophes" for "Joseph".
throws award winning temper tantrums.
gives amazing hugs and kisses.
loves her hair, but hates to brush it or put anything in it.
plans her birthday parties for months in advance.
is so perceptive is freaks me out sometimes.
loves her brothers so much, she defends them when I discipline them...
and then will turn around and pinch them.
can be incredibly self-absorbed (what 5 year olds aren't??), but still notices when others are sad or when others are having a bad day.
has changed my life.

Happy Birthday, my sweet little girl!

Monday, July 21, 2008

I remember

I have been trying to remember that night in bits and pieces, but everytime I let myself think about it too much, I start to feel physically ill. Recently I was able to sit down and let myself remember things, not detailed, but more detailed that I had been willing to remember before. There is still so much--curling up in bed next to Noah and realizing the baby wasn't moving--that I can't think about in detail, because I feel light-headed, dizzy and rather faint (that seems so ridiculously melodramatic, but I promise you it is how I feel).

This is what came out when I just let myself writing, putting down whatever memory came next:

I remember that night. Sitting on the big orange rocker, tears rolling down my face—hoping HOPING *HOPING* that all was well, when I knew it was not. She was not moving. I put the heaviest book I could find (Harry Potter) on my stomach willing, begging her to kick it off, begging her to wake up from whatever sleep she was in. But she did not move.

I remember pushing, prodding my stomach. Picking up my large belly and letting it sort of drop back down, again willing her to awaken.

I remember getting in the car, already in shock, begging God that they would find the hearbeat and I’d be back home in minutes (but knowing it wouldn’t happen). I remember driving myself to the hospital (waking someone up to stay with the kids would be acknowledging what I already knew—that something was terribly, terribly wrong), my belly rubbing against the steering wheel. Again, no response from her.

I remember wishing I didn’t have to park in the garage.

I remember no heartbeat.

I remember them not showing me the ultrasound.

I remember them looking for such a long time—and I knew without them telling me.

I remember the Dr. hugging me, saying, “I’m so sorry.”

I remember crying then.

I remember thinking I was just crying because it's what she expected.

I remember wanting to SCREAM.

I remember consciously fighting that feeling down.

I remember wishing them all away from me so I could phone Chris, my parents, his parents, everyone in the world.

I remember my need to say it out loud over and over, “my baby’s dead, my baby’s dead, my baby’s dead”.

And then I remember never wanting to have to say it again.

I remember walking to my room, hoping no one would see me.

I remember waiting for Chris, for my doctor, for anyone who knew me.

I remember the nurse crying with us.

I remember wondering why I wasn't more upset.

I remember.

Friday, July 18, 2008

What it has taken away.

My joy in meeting new people.

My love of watching little babies, especially little girls. (This is especially of strangers—those babies I know and love I enjoy, even take solace in spending time with—but how I dread meeting new mamas of little girls!)

My joy in remembering the births of my other children. All I can think about is how terrible and heartbreaking birth is now. I can’t even remember Miriam’s birth (my only non-cesarean birth)—my first! My entry into motherhood!—without thinking of my other little girl and her birth.

Memories are tainted with sadness (as above, other memories seem darker—especially of the 7 months before her death).

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What has come.

Awareness, ever increasing, of how much we are loved.

The chance to go away overnight, sans children.

The opportunity to participate in the happenings at church.

The joy of taking my children to splash in the local pool.

The knowledge that I can, in fact, survive the thing I would never let myself imagine.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

3 Months and 1 Day Ago

On April 15th, my baby's heart stopped beating.
On April 18th, I delivered her.

Those days in between are a blurr.
These days since have been terrible, lovely, heartbreaking, heartening, lonely and full.

A friend last night reminded me that what is simply is. Thinking about what should be or what I should be doing will really serve no purpose.

But I still miss her.

Omer, our community's dear friend and member, died last week. There is much rejoicing that his life was 90 years full and that his death was not dragged out for longer than a few rough months. We will miss him.

His memorial service was yesterday. Grief is selfish in its very nature and my grief is no exception. While remembering this loved man, I couldn't help but remember our wished-for child. For a second I wished that she would have lived 90 years, that she would have touched so many lives, that she would have had family and friends gather to remember her with such love. And then...She didn't live 90 years, only 7 short months in my womb, but, BUT, she was loved. She did have friends and family gather to remember her and grieve her loss. She did touch people; her loss touched people. Our grief and how we choose to bear it continues to makes its mark.

Grief is selfish, but I am not alone in my grief.
I am not alone.
We are not alone.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Bees Knees.

This last week has been rough. This weekend, especially. I was exhausted, incredibly emotional...crying at the drop of a hat, getting completely and easily overwhelmed. I know some days, some stretches of days, maybe even some weeks will be like this, but I'm not prepared for it. I seem to hit the rough patches just as I feel I'm getting a handle on things again.

Writing has been good for me. Even though I feel like crawling under a rock and hiding for a while, I think the discipline of writing, even if it's unrelated to Hazel, is good, healing and even rejuvenating.

A month or so ago, I had a conversation with some women online who are doing some interesting homesteading experiments. I shared a bit about what we (Englewood) are doing in the city of Indianapolis. One of the things I find most fascinating is the beekeeping. Our friends Mary and Debbie took a beekeeping course and purchased a hive. The bees are kept on the roof of our church building.

The bees have access to all sorts of plants. We have fruit trees(apples, pears, peaches, cherries) planted throughout the neighborhood. We also have a community garden that has a variety of veggies and flowers. And, of course, all the green grass is accompanied by the bees seem quite content here.

Mary uses the beeswax to make lip balm and hand cream. Debbie and Mary also extract honey from the hives for our use, as well.

Even though we're not a rural community, we are trying to do a little urban homesteading as we're able. Pretty neat, huh?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Back Again

Chris has been out of town for a few days and I've really enjoyed some time away from my addiction--the laptop. I'm figuring out how to balance my use of the little device...

I spend way too much of my time worrying about what others think. What do they think of me? What are they thinking when they make *that* choice? Why hasn’t she said anything about Hazel; I know she knows? Do they think my kids are nice? Do they think my kids are turning out okay? Do they think I’m a good parent?

I am also the sort of person who thinks big—I want to make these clothes, these curtains, this jam, this paper, etc—but often doesn’t follow through with those big thoughts. The jam got made because someone else finally jumpstarted the project. The clothes got finished because I desperately wanted my kids to wear them to my brother’s wedding (oh, that desperation is not so healthy a catalyst).

The combination of these two traits is going to undo me. My children are so very important to me and I think big thoughts about them, too: what things we’ll do, what we’ll read, how people will think of us (positively, of course!), etc. All of this results in way too much though and very little action. I can not parent my kids with tension and desperation and self-centeredness and ugliness. I’ve got to get this (meaning me) under control.

I’m just not sure how to do that.

Get up off the couch. No more internet during the day. (?? ack!) Chris took the laptop with him while he was out of town and we got so much accomplished.

Ease up a bit…quit telling them what to do all the time. (Does it really matter if people think they are mismatched and dirty?)

Let them talk. Quit getting so caught up in my own useless thoughts that I miss what they want to talk about.

I hope those are useful things. Honestly, if any of you who read this have any kind of useful ideas, please share them. I don’t care if you have kids, how old they are or how well you think they’re turning out—I need some help!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Sir (Skinny) Cat.

We've been adopted by an adorable little tabby cat. She (ummmm...we actually don't know which gender, yet) is a lovely, loving, wonderful kitty who has taken to our children quite well. One the day she showed up, Noah was carrying her around upside down and she didn't even complain--amazing!

Every time I ask Alex what he wants to do for the day he says, "Play with the kitty!"
Miriam is in love; Noah is in love; Alex is in love; Chris has always wanted a cat.

I think this one is here to stay. The only decent picture I could get of this active kitten was when it was asleep. Isn't she adorable?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Soft(?) Pretzels

I made soft pretzels with my children. Sort of. I learned a couple of things (always learning, us parents).

1-Always Always read the entire way through a recipe, even if you think you've been baking long enough to wing it a bit.

2-Don't assume that because your airbake sheet takes forever to bake cookies that it will do the same for your pretzels.

3-Don't assume that natural light begats good pictures.

The results--edible, but not exactly soft, pretzels, grainy pictures, happy kids.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

July. July?!?!?

I can't believe it's July. My two olders start kindergarten in just a little over 6 weeks. Ack! Their grandparents asked if they could visit for a week, too; so we'll have two huge things coming up. They've never been away from me for more than 1 night, except for when Hazel was born and I was in the hospital--and then they came to see me (and Hazel, once she was born) every day.

I also can't believe it's July, because I still feel stuck back in April. My brother getting married in June and passing Hazel's due date has helped me mark time a bit. Sometimes, though, I'm surprised by the realization of how much time has passed--11 weeks. Almost 3 months.

I can't go down this road too far or I won't be able to find my way back. Mostly, I feel peaceful about it now, but I cling to my sadness sometimes, too. It's one of the only things that binds me to Hazel.