Sunday, February 16, 2014

February 16th, 2014

I guess I kind of decided to "end" my blogging.  But I'm not positive why.  Just because these posts don't go into our book doesn't mean they aren't helpful for me.

My "youngest", Andrew, turned 3 last month.  It was super tough on me.  As much as I've been prepared to expect hard times I am still surprised by them.

Just thinking "my youngest" bothers me.  My youngest isn't supposed to be 3.  My heart still feels like my youngest is supposed to be 18 months.

As these situations arise I feel myself trying to fend the thoughts and emotions off.  I try to reflect for a moment, but ultimately fight away the sadness.  I expect myself to be able to keep carrying on, being present. What I don't seem to understand is that Abigail is still with me.  That embracing my sadness, my confusion is "being present".

So I had another opportunity today to live in the present with my emotions.  I'm supposed to be a baby shower today (but I didn't have childcare).  Just before church started my friend told me she lost her baby.  She's 12 weeks pregnant, it's been a long 12 weeks with lots of complications and may ultrasounds telling her that everything was fine.  Just as she starts to relax and trust the pregnancy, she loses the baby.  My heart broke for her.  Then I sat down right behind a couple who just welcomed a child 5 days ago.

I was feeling overwhelmed by babies.  By the beauty and the pain associated with these precious blessings.

Then, as our pastor asked for prayer requests my daughter, Natalie, asked me to have him pray for Abigail.  I was paralyzed.  I didn't know how to raise my hand and ask, I had the fear that comes from being an adult.  So I encouraged Natalie that she could ask for the prayers.  Her little hand went up (being so brave because she was really feeling unsure of what to say), and I was so touched by her desire to pray for her little sister.  A little sister that she has never forgotten about and continues to miss.

That was the last nudge that I needed.  I just sat there with tears streaming down my cheeks.  I wish I could say I was feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity we were given to love Abby, because I am. I wish I could even say that I was feeling heartbroken because I miss her so much, but I have so few memories of her that that doesn't really feel accurate.  My tears flow full of confusion.  I am filled with gratitude and with sadness.  But mostly I am aware of a deep void, unfinished business.  I was ready to love her for my whole life, I am still figuring out how to do that without her... without new experiences.

Oh, how I wish I could just hold her one more time.  Just close my eyes and feel her in my arms.  Just stare at her and breath her in.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

August 24th, 2013

A friend just reminded me that I haven't written in a while.  She asked how we are doing.  It's such a complicated answer.

First off, we had a beautiful time spreading Abby's ashes.  I'm so glad we waited a year so we could really connect with the moment.  Both sets of our parents, both of our brothers and my brothers family, and our good friend Beth were with us to remember Abigail.  They had all been very involved in our journey, so it was a fitting group.

My most meaningful moments were had during the hour before we went for a short hike.  I sat at the base of Rainier, warmed by a beautiful day, and just absorbed the mountain and it's new meaning.  My daughter is now part of that amazing mountain.  My tiny little baby, who barely had time to breath our air is now helping to nourish life on Mt. Rainier.  It's a beautiful circle.

Trever then climbed Rainier with 4 friends.  They made the push to the summit without camping (their first time doing that).  It was a long/tiring trip.  He said some of the group acknowledged they were only sticking with the climb for his benefit.  Trever was deeply touched by the commitment and generosity of the whole group.  When they made the summit they had time to remember Abby, and Trever left the last pinch of her ashes on the top.  It was a very emotional trip for him.

A week or two later we were flying home from a trip.  Trever was sitting at the window watching as we passed Mt Rainier.  He said he was completely overcome by emotion.  Tears streamed down his face as he thought of our new connection to a mountain he has loved for so long.

We are "ambushed" by grief at the most unexpected moments.  Luckily I think we both find more comfort than anguish from those moments.

The grief helps us connect to a reality that is so hard to comprehend.

The other day I was unloading the dishwasher and suddenly I was thinking, "did I really have a baby who died".

It's shocking, it's sometimes overwhelming, it has changed me deep in my soul.  And sometimes I cannot comprehend that any of this journey actually took place.  I feel so fortunate and so sad all at the same time.

I think I've mentioned it before but I am so thankful that we had 19 weeks to embrace Abigail.  I'm so thankful that we knew her story would be different.  I believe it was a gift from God.  I always believed I would not want to waste any of my time being pregnant with worry.  I knew I would obsess over the unknowns if I knew that we had complications.  I was wrong.

I cherish the memories that I created.  I cherish the fact that I was able to slow down and be present even when life was so busy around me.  I'm thankful that my kids had a deeper connection to a sister that they only shared brief moments with.

Spending time being thankful for all that we had makes me so sad for what we don't have.

Natalie told me she wished that Abigirl had spent more time with us.  She shares her thoughts at times that I cannot figure out what prompted them.  And she can't articulate it.  I'm sorry her heart hurts, and thankful she loved her sister so deeply.

And I think more than anything, I'm thankful to know that we survived.  That each of us is able to be engaged with our life, to still find joy and love and happiness.

That what I would have assumed would have easily devastated me, has really made us stronger.  We are stronger as a couple, we are changed for the better as individuals.

Our little Angel taught us so much.  And I'm so thankful we were given the chance to let her change our understanding of our world.

Some moments are filled with sadness, some with joy, most with longing.  I don't think there are many moments that I am not remembering Abby, thinking of her and relating my life to the impact she had on me.

Because we were able to embrace the joys (and spend time preparing) we are left with less pain that I would have imagined.  This is still one of my favorite quotes:

"So this is my life.  And I want you to know I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be."  The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

July 27th, 2013

Trever and I had a very interesting conversation about the pain we are feeling.  It's such an intense pain, but I feel at a loss when I want to explain it.  The experience is so complex, so much beauty mixed with the sadness and longing for Abigail.  It all happened so quickly, and really the journey was so wonderful.  I feel like a crazy person because sometimes I seriously sit and wonder where my deep sadness comes from... how can I be so sad while loving my life so much and also treasuring our beautiful story???

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 16th, 2013

I feel like a crazy person.

One minute I'm "fine" and the next minute I feel like my world is crumbling around me.  I'm patient and loving towards my kids, and then short and frustrated.

My pain is bubbling up through the surface.  And it's manifesting itself into anger and intolerance.  I just want to escape from myself.  I want to escape from the pain that I'm fighting to ignore, the pain that I really just want to crawl under the covers and embrace.

Oh, I just feel so damn dramatic today.

I am having so much time just living with the pain because I really can't put words to it.  I don't have clear memories to attach to the ache in my heart.  I can't describe the moments that I'm missing because there are so many.

Abigail would probably be trying to learn to walk.  She'd be watching her sibling and wishing she could keep up.  I would be overwhelmed and distracted, I wouldn't realize how lucky I was.

I'm left feeling thankful, lucky and sad.

I was asking Andrew to get some plates for Nathan and Natalie this evening.  I wondered what it would sound like to ask someone to get plates for Andrew and Abigail.  They would have become little buddies. When Natalie and Nathan were gone to school they would have developed a partnership.

We're talking about Abigail more lately since her birthday is coming up.  We'll be spreading her ashes next week.  I can't even fathom it.  I want to make sure I'm really present in the moment, that I don't distract myself worrying about anyone else.  I get that right, don't I?  Everyone will have their own experience to work through, but I don't want to hold anyone's hand.  I don't want any expectations on me, and I don't really give a damn if I disappoint anyone.  But I will care afterward.  And I'll be frustrated.  I hope no one puts me in that situation.

Right now my anger is palpable.  I want to say that I'm not angry about losing Abby.  But maybe I am, maybe I still haven't given myself permission to be angry and I need to.  I'm just consumed with my sadness and empty arms... but I feel angry at the people around me.

I'm so thankful that I don't feel any anger at Trever.  Not being angry at him is one of the many blessings in my life, in this story.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

July 3rd, 2013

There are moments that crush my soul.  It's often a moment that is so beautiful feels devastating.

Today the kids and I went to the river with my dad.  As we walked into the camper Natalie said "Look it's Abby" (or maybe she said "Look, Abby is in here").  Nathan instantly perked up and swung around saying "where?".

When Natalie showed him that she was talking about a picture of Abigail he visibly deflated.  Then he said "Oh, I thought she was really here. I wish she was here."  He went to say something about how amazing that would have been.  You could see that his little heart had really responded to Natalie's first comment.

All I could say was that I wish she was here too.

I keep a wall up most days, when the wall cracks and I get a glimpse into my pain it's almost too much to handle.

I can't believe it's almost been a year.

Monday, June 17, 2013

June 17th, 2013

Abigail's birthday is getting closer.  I feel myself getting anxious.

We're planning to spread her ashes on her birthday.  I just know it's going to be a big mix of emotions.

It will be so unsettling to hold that little bit of her, to revisit the intensity from a year ago.  Not that I don't revisit our experience often, but this will be different.

I can't believe it's almost been a year.  I can't believe it's really over, that we met Abby and she left us.

I still ache for the chance to meet her again, to hold her, kiss her and stare at her.  I still ache for the hope of another child.  Not a hope for another child, but the hope we had at the start of our pregnancy with Abigail.

I can so clearly remember the day I realized we were probably pregnant.  And the moment we knew.  I "knew" she was a girl.  I had never felt a belief like that with my previous pregnancies.  I'm not sure what made me believe there was a baby girl growing in me, maybe it was just an unacknowledged desire.

And the moment we found out the baby really was a little girl.  Our little moment of joy after learning that the baby had Trisomy 18.  It exhausts me just remembering back to the intensity of those days.

I can't believe the journey we've had.  What I wouldn't do to go back.  To experience life when I thought I would have four babies in my house.  To go back and just feel Abigail moving around in me.  The hope, the fear, the everything about it.  I think the anxiety of being around people, being in public, was the worst part.  Clearly not the *worst*, but really it kind of was.

A year ago I wanted time to go as slow as possible.  I wanted my little girl to stay safe in my belly.

Some things have stayed the same.  I'm still begging for time to go slowly. So I can embrace each of my kids, so I can try to connect with each of them daily, so I can not acknowledge that it's been a year since I've held my littlest baby girl.

Friday, May 24, 2013

May 24th, 2013

I was just staring at Abigails picture.  It's strange how long I can go through the days just knowing her picture is in front of me but not really looking at it.

And then when I start to look at her, I can't turn my eyes away.  I want to touch her so badly, I think I stare at her in hopes that I can feel her through my eyes.

It's been 10 months.  It's hard not to play the what if game.  What would Abigail be like at 10 months?  We'd be getting ready to take her picture with a sign for her age.  Would she be pulling herself up, grabbing all her siblings toys?  Drooling on her sister's babies.  Natalie wants a sister so badly, would she have been more patient with her baby stages?

Would Abigail have been giggly and excited every time her siblings came around.  Would she be sleeping through the night? (My kids have never slept through the night as early as I would have liked, but I treasured those cuddles in the darkness).

I wish I could transport myself back and relive that one amazing day.  I wish I could feel her in my arms and run my finger along every inch of her body.  To memorize every little thing.  I wish I had gotten more sleep in the days we were waiting for her, so I could have been more alert, more connected to the time we were able to share with her.

It's hard not to let the regrets and disappointments become overwhelming.  It's hard to just accept what was, and embrace the positive moments.  To know that I did hold her, stare at her, love her with every ounce that I could.