Wednesday, June 6, 2012

How to Move forward

Two posts in one day, I realize people will be shocked. They are two entirely different posts. The first post was for family, this post is a heartfelt outpouring of grief that is best understood by others who have walked in our shoes relating to the loss of a child. Memorial Day was recently. I have been struggling so hard with grief ever since. I realize that feelings I will express here about guilt seem pointless. My head knows what happened to Mason was not my fault. Sometimes it is hard to tell my heart that. No amount of time, or counseling, or prayer seems to completely remove those feelings of guilt. In my case, I had a perfectly healthy baby boy, and my cervix was too weak to carry him to term. I was betrayed by my own body. My son was betrayed by my body. My son died because my body failed both of us. Memorial day seems to have increased the feelings of guilt and thus the feelings of grief. I feel so guilty for not being able to be there at his gravesite on that day. I hate that I had to leave him. I hate myself for the need to have a gravesite to visit even occurred at all. It is a terrible combination and I am unsure how to completely let those feelings go. I have come to realize several things through the counseling I do with other mothers new to this situation. Losing a baby is unfair. Grief is unfair. A grieving person will act unfairly. Friends and family can act unfairly towards a grieving person. Life is unfair. I know that I have been hurt by friends and family while I experienced this journey. There really is no excuse. I always thought before this happened that if something bad were to happen, I would be able to handle it with grace and poise and keep my pain to myself. That was not always the case, as it is not always the case with most grieving people. When a woman goes through the pain of labor and childbirth, it is usually followed by the most joyous event. When a woman is my situation goes through the pain, once the delivery is over, pain even more gut-wrenching begins. The pain of watching my son pass away. The pain of planning a funeral for my child. The pain of attending a funeral for my child. The pain of picking a casket and a headstone for my child. The pain of going to the cemetery and seeing a tiny, fresh mound of earth where my child was laid to rest. I cannot even begin to describe to you the pain I felt on the inside. I wanted to shut everything and everyone out. I thought if I could block everyone out, I could block the pain too. Because of my attempt to block the pain, I also blocked some of the best things about me. I have said before that grief is selfish, and it truly is. A bigger person would have been able to go visit friends and families who had babies in the months after, I couldn't, or wouldn't do it. The thought of going to the same hospital, on the same floor, in a room that looked exactly the same as I was in during the most agonizing and heart-crushing event of my life overwhelmed me. I could not push past the pain and even fear and bring myself to do it. There was one time in particular where I made it all the way to the hospital lobby before I began to almost panic. My throat felt tight, my chest hurt, my knees felt like jelly, and I couldn't seem to take a breath. I did the gutless thing and fled. I am truly sorry for the friends and family for whom I could not support in the way they wanted. It was never meant to cause pain, or anger. Other times I was so short tempered and lashed out. A bigger person would have more restraint. I didn't. I was angry and bitter. I was so tired from crying myself to sleep and then having nightmares when I did sleep. I was tired of cruel comments like "you should be over this" and "you still have two other kids". My fuse was short and there are times where I should have bit my tongue and had more patience. I am truly sorry for that. I still struggle with this sometimes. It seems like I have had a personality change since losing Mason. I struggle to find compassion when others need to vent about their children or babies. I struggle to find compassion for people who I feel should still talk about Mason to me. I struggle to find forgiveness for those that hurt us during that time. I struggle to let Noah and Mina be independent from Jake and I because the fear of losing them overwhelms me. I struggle to let Jamie and Linda go out of my sight with friends because again, I think I cannot survive another loss. I don't know if I will ever be the person I think I ought to. I think we are often times hardest on ourselves. I do know that I am a work in progress and that God has not finished healing me, nor has He finished molding me in his image. To my readers who are here for the same reason, I hear the pain and guilt and even shame in your stories and it hurts me. Yet, I can't tell you to let go of it and move forward because I still struggle with this. All I can do is promise to pray for you as you are molded, and to pray for me as well. There are people I need to seek forgiveness from, and people I need to forgive should they ever ask for it. There are feelings of fear, guilt, and anger I need to let go of and you need to as well. I don't know how, but I do know we will get there. We are not alone, we have a Father in Heaven who loves us, we serve a Risen Savior, and we have each other. We also have the greatest Healer of all whom by his sacrifice on the cross has allowed us to have the chance to be with our babies again. I am trying to dwell on that fact and allow myself to fully feel the joy that comes from knowing Christ. That is my desire for you as well. As always, please message me if you would like further discussion on any of these topics. I will be more than happy to respond offline. Thank you Father for all of these gifts.

Summer Begins!

Tomorrow is the last day of fourth grade for Jamie and Linda. Linda has made significant progress academically since she began her medication. She is still very behind, but we are encouraged. The kids will be taking summer band. We went to the school to be fitted for instruments. I had a short list of instruments I was trying to "steer" them to because I was trying to think of long-term scholarship potentials. I called and spoke to my former college choir/band director and asked him what instruments he had the hardest time filling scholarships for. I was ultimately ruling for the French Horn, but it was not to be. Jamie ended up selecting the trombone and Linda (in a surprising turn) picked the baritone. They will go to daily band lessons for a few weeks this summer to get a jump start before the school year starts. I really hope they stick with it because I must admit, I see dollar signs when I think of the chance for scholarships. Next month, Jamie and Linda will turn eleven. Pre-teen years have begun. Linda especially had begun to "blossom". It was time to have a detailed puberty talk with her. This was no fun and I was dreading it. Linda's emotional and social maturity does not match her physical maturity and so I had to be very careful in how I presented this topic. I did a lot of research and finally selected a book by American Girl called the body book for girls. It covers the girl's body from head to toe and addresses puberty without the topic of sexual intercourse. I liked that fact. It also discusses hygiene for every part of the body from shampooing to deodorant. I cannot seem to get Linda out of the shower now! She handled the talk very maturely I thought. We discussed "periods" without making it seem scary. We talked about how to use feminine products and created an "emergency" kit out of an old pencil case. She knows to talk to Mom, or the school nurse and knows how to use pads. She also knows that all she has to do is tell Jake that she needs to talk to Mom if it happens while I am at work and she has any questions. I think she is well prepared and it will hopefully go smoothly. Jake thinks he doesn't need to have the talk with Jamie yet. I am trying to find out what time is a good age for boys. I have all sisters so raising boys is brand new territory. Speaking of boys, Noah is all boy. He loves trucks, tractors, sports, transformers, anything at all that fits under the boy category. We are beginning to realize that he is exceptionally bright. His language and speech skills are very advanced for his age. He also loves to be read to and only has to hear a book a few times and then it is memorized. We are looking into preschools for next year for him and Mina. Mina is all girl. Jake says she is all Mommy. She loves animals (especially cats), nail polish, pretend make-up, dress up, jewelry and anything sparkly. She is very sassy at times and does not take guff from anybody, no matter how much bigger than her they might be. She can definitely keep up with the boys, but is all girl at the same time. She has an amazing fashion sense already and is very picky about her outfits. I tease that she picks cuter outfits for herself than Jake does. She loves Linda and follows her around faithfully. Linda actually loves to play with her and most of the time they play well. I have spent several years collecting Fisher Price Little People for the kiddos. We are getting quite a collection of both modern and vintage. Linda will sit with Mina and Noah and they will play with these sets for hours. We have about 25 different sets- barns, zoos, castles, houses, carwashes, airports, amusement parks, malls, just about anything you can imagine. I am constantly looking in thrift stores and amusement parts. Jake keeps busy with fishing, shooting league, and his metal detecting. He has found a lot of cool stuff. I am keeping busy with my glass projects. In addition to a huge panel I am working on, I have also started creating garden gazing balls out of bowling balls and glass. The demand is high for those and people keep asking me for them. I get funny looks buying five different bowling balls from thrift stores. That is a big update for today. I will finish the post with some pictures.