Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 25th, 2012

Two months.

The truth is, I've been so busy today I nearly didn't realize what day it is.  As I sit and think about "two months" I realize I've got some strong boundaries up right now.  I'm not feeling much, and that probably isn't because there isn't much to feel.

I can feel myself pull back each time I try to think of Abby and feel the pain that is always just under the surface.  I would say it isn't healthy, but I think it's okay. I know I will let myself feel again, I want to.  I miss the ache of remembering Abby.  Of actually feeling her place in my heart.

I was just cleaning out my inbox and came across this email from July 29th.

I'm writing a sermon for tomorrow on Colossians 2:1-6- "holding to Jesus even when things are uncertain"...and all I can think about is your daughter.  I'm sorry your daughter has passed.  I don't know why bad things happen or why some babies aren't healthy.  I dont have much I can tell you tonight- other than I'm sorry.  I'm sorry for your kids and for the conversations you are having with them now about where Abby is and why she couldn't stay.  I'm sorry for your husband and that awful feeling to have as a dad that you couldn't protect your child.  I'm sorry for your tears, and for your pain as your body prepares to nurture a life that is no longer present.  It all is just terrible.  But your daughter was beautiful.  And what a gift to get a day with her.  I'm sure it was the best and maybe worst day of your life.  I hope you and your husband can cling together, and continue to trust God even when so much seems too difficult to trust.  He can hold you together and pull you through this.  Your joy and hope around this baby have been a strength and joy to many- myself included.

Blessings on your journey.  

It's amazing how just saying "I don't know" and "I'm sorry" is so powerful.  We have people in our life who say "I know, but you just need to....".  Not helpful.  Ever.  But maybe it is for them.  It's clearly not about us when we are given that encouragement.

Everyone means well.  I'm just so thankful that we have people in our life that are able to really offer supportive words.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September 18th, 2012

Sometimes I wonder if I should have been clever and named each of my posts instead of just dating them.  But I wasn't, and I'm not about to start now.  I don't think I would like the pressure of defining a post anyway.  Not in this situation.

But that is all beside the point.

Today I found our copy of the video we played at Abigails service.  I was SO excited.  Admittedly I have been just staying afloat in some areas of life (like organization).  The crazy part of the story is that the video was in a logical place.

Abby's video (for some reason I can't upload the video, I can only put the link in)

I'm so thankful we put this together. I love remembering her life when she was still in the womb, and I love seeing those moments when she was first born.  The celebration was amazing.

The pictures that capture the people who were able to come to the hospital to meet Abby bring me peace.  Remembering how "normal" life felt at the start of the day.  The hope we still had, the joy we had in sharing her with so many people.

Through the pictures I can also remember the moment when we knew the story was changing.  When we started hearing the hard news.  She was forgetting to breath.  The feeding tubes were unsuccessful.  And then when I watched her stop breathing for the first time.

It's not captured in the pictures but I will never forget the moment I knew she was gone.

And I can almost feel the complete and consuming pain I felt after I had adjusted to the truth that she was gone.  After we had run out of distractions and there was only room for the truth.  I just held her and let my entire being fall into the grief.  My heart has never felt pain so pure.  I'm so thankful I had the time and the safety to just embrace that moment and feel the pain so completely.

During the last (almost) two months it has been easy to focus on where we are now.

Watching this video was a wonderful way to remember more of the story.  To think about the anticipation: the joy and the fear of pregnancy.  And to feel the amazing love that we had for her, the gratefulness that she was born alive.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

September 15th, 2012

Last night I had some good conversations about Abby.  (I didn't make an ass of myself)

I'm in a good place right now.

I think our journey seems more tragic to other people.  It doesn't feel tragic to us.  I remember at the beginning when Trever thought we were "being positive about a negative situation".  And then one day he said "I don't think of this as a negative situation anymore".

He was, he is, right.

Our experience wasn't negative. It's not something tragic in our lives.  It's something beautiful.

I'm so thankful for the experience.  For being able to embrace life and all it has to offer.  For being able to show little Abigail that we love her, and also to honor the life she was meant to have.

Sure I wish that her life had been longer.  But regardless of it's length, it was still a blessing to me to share in her life.

I won't pretend that there won't still be sadness, but right now I am just full of joy.  I can't help but to smile as I look at her picture.

And I love to listen to my children talk about her.  Natalie was rambling on in the backseat tonight about how Abigail was littler than she is.  I'm so glad she still talks about her.  And it's awesome that she will always have someone in our family that was smaller than her.  She also talked about how she got to hold Abby, how we all took turns.  How she sang her a song when she held her.

I love it.  It warms my heart so much that the kids can remember her and embrace the moments that they shared.  That they can remind us that she is always in our hearts, so we don't have to be sad.  She is always with us.

It's true.  She is a part of our story.  Life is made up of so many stories and she will always be one of the most treasured stories in my life.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September 12th, 2012

Okay, so I did it once, and thought it was a fluke... then I just did it again.  This could be trouble...

Today, someone inquired about me just having a baby.
"I did"
"Oh, did you have a girl or a boy?"
(cue: uncomfortable smile creeping onto my face.  She clearly doesn't know the story).
"I had a girl." <long uncomfortable pause>

Because how do you drop that bomb?

"Um, she died." (accompanied by LAUGHTER... really, a smile and laughter as I said that.  It's horrible, I don't know why I keep responding that way.)
Look of horror on girls face.
"No, no, it's okay! (it is????) We knew she was expected to have a short life..." (my explanation wasn't that smooth).

I clearly need to have a mental script to get through this scenario when it catches me off guard.  Continuing to have a silly grin on my face and laugh while I deliver shocking news is not going to work.  I know it comes from being nervous, I just know I'm about to share really unexpected and uncomfortable information.  But I don't think I'm helping the situation at all.  It's not like the person can join me and laugh.

The upside?  My best friend made an ass of herself also.  She just looked over at me with a "what are you going to say?" face and we both started laughing together.  (she had heard the story from a few days ago).

That's what best friends are for, right?  To let you know you're not alone, to let you know you are lovable even when you're being completely socially awkward.


Monday, September 10, 2012

September 10th, 2012

Thinking of my sweet girl today, missing her.

What a precious gift she was.

I'm so thankful there is joy, love and appreciation to accompany my sadness.

Saturday was wonderful, we brought out the guest book and shared stories about Abby with friends.

Talking with Trever we realized that we answer the question "How are you doing" so often.  But that doesn't leave much room to talk about Abby's wonderful life.  It's her life and the time we shared with her (even before she was born) that are so important.

So we're trying to spend time talking about her, about our love for her.  Not just about the ache in our hearts.  The longing to hold her.

She was so darling.  Just a tiny little thing.  And those eyes, we were so thankful for how much time she spent with her eyes open.

The joy of her birth was so intense.  I've loved all of my children, and cherished the moment we met them.  But this was the first birth with such a big unknown.  To have Abby born alive was amazing.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Special Needs Children

I used to see children with special needs and feel curious about them.  I'll be honest, part of me has always been thankful that my children don't have special needs.  It's a scary unknown.

I read this yesterday:
Actually, when I think of our situation, I really don't think of our ‘Trisomy journey.’ I think of our ‘Ella journey.’ Ella, the little girl who wasn't supposed to live. Ella, the little girl who pruned our friends, and made new ones for us. Ella, the little girl who made our sons more compassionate kids. Ella, the little girl that made me a better person, in every aspect of my life. For some reason Ella doesn't make us sad, even now"

It really touched me.  It's true that what others see as a hardship can be a blessing.  And "pruning your friends, and made new ones for us" is a benefit to your future.

When we were at the zoo last month I found that I looked at the children with special needs with a longing in my heart.  I'm always wondering why we didn't get more time with Abby, and what that time might have looked like considering her T18.

I know we did everything we could think of to embrace her life and to celebrate her.  I'm confident we gave her the life that was written for her.  I just wish her life had been written with a few more days or weeks, or longer.

So now when I see a child with special needs I feel a connection to them.  I feel a extra bit of love for the life they are leading.  It's still a scary thought since it's unknown what that would really be like for our family.  So I'll be honest again that it's still a bit terrifying to consider another pregnancy and what our life would look like if we had a child with special needs.  But I also know, from getting a glimpse, that we would embrace the differences and find the blessings.  (we're not planning another pregnancy)

September 7th, 2012

Today I got this great idea... we should wear shirts that send a clear message.  Depending on the day mine might say "Just Ask" or "I don't want to talk about it" or "Yes, I really am happy today" maybe "Feeling Sad, but you don't need to fix it".

The possibilities are endless and could be very helpful in group settings, or even at the grocery store.

Aside from that thought I have also be pondering how I work through my emotions.  I've had a couple friends ask me if I allow myself to feel my grief.

My first instinct is to answer that I do.  And I think that is mostly true.  But given time to process and consider the answer I'm not completely sure.  I definitely allow myself to be present in whatever emotion/mood I'm in.  But my answer to someone who asks me how I'm doing will inevitably be "fine", even if that's not the case.  I really have to force myself to give a more authentic answer at times.

Even though I believe that I need to embrace how I'm feeling, I don't necessarily go the distance.  I stay closer to center.  I try to close the door when the tears start.  I noticed it at my doctors appointment this week.  As I started to cry (which came unexpected), I immediately worked to shut the tears off and start explaining myself with words.

I think it's easier/safer for me to use words that express myself physically.  And I think I do this out of a fear of being "too emotional".  A tag that was given to me growing up.  I have always felt like it was a negative attribute.  But I watch my daughter, and you could easily tag her with "too emotional", but she's not.  She is perfect, and she really expresses how she is feeling.  I want her to be able to work through her emotions, but I don't want her to learn that she should hide them.

When you work hard to learn to hide your tears, you also end up hiding your giddiness.  I feel like I've put boundaries up and I stick to the middle of the scale for emotions.  I'm not positive there is a reason to change that at this stage of life.  Just as much as I want to embrace my daughter, I also want to embrace myself.

Since I'm a big believer in personal development I'm going to have to balance embracing myself with learning to feel my sadness.  To allow myself to just stare at Abby's picture and feel the pain, feel the regrets, feel the love and accept all of it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September 4th, 2012

Trever and I went to the doctor for my six week follow up.  Today is also the first day that we'll be going to Nathan's school and I'll be around all those people who last saw me pregnant.

I knew the school part would be difficult, I've actually asked Trever to not work any overtimes so he can be with me.

I didn't expect going to the doctor to be tough.  I figured we had seen him already so I would be okay.  I knew it would be strange, and probably a bit sad, but I was surprised by my emotion.

Of course there are women with babies at the OB.  For some reason I am more emotional around babies who are strangers to me than I am around babies from friends.  Sitting in the waiting room, looking over at the infant car seat nearby made me very sad.

I "should have a baby with me".  It's a mental pity party that I throw now and then.  It's funny that my mind doesn't default to "I wish I had a baby with me.".

As we walked towards our appointment they pulled the baby out of her seat.  That tipped the scale.  I felt so emotional.  I cried a bit after getting weighed, not because of the number on the scale but because it was my first moment alone.  Then I cried a bit more when our doctor came in.

I always try to put words to my feelings.  Someday I'm going to learn that feelings can't always be explained, and they don't need words for clarification.

It feels good to cry sometimes.  It feels good to acknowledge that I wish I had a baby, that I want to hold a baby, that I'm sad that Abby died.

I am so sad that she died.  I miss her, I miss being pregnant with her.  And I'm so sad that our time with her in this life was so short that I have trouble really feeling the memories of holding her.  As I place my hands on my belly it is easier for me to remember the emotions associated with a budding pregnancy than it is to remember the weight of her in my arms, or the softness of her skin.  I can describe it to myself, but I can't feel it.

September 3rd, 2012

I'm so touched that Abigail is such a big part of Natalie's life/thoughts still.  Anything that is special to Natalie is getting packed up so she can take it to heaven for Abigail.

Today she sat in one of her swimsuits telling me how she was going to save it for Abigail (I don't think the kids ever call her Abby, only Abigail).  Normally Natalie will ask me what they have in heaven (books, parks, beds, etc.).  Today she just sat and talked about how she would bring two swim suits, one for Abigail and one for herself.  Just in case they have a pool in heaven.

I'm glad that she is able to love her sister through her hope and belief that she will be with her again.  I wonder how long this stage will last.  How long with Abby be at the front of her mind?