7

The Mail

Keeping this blog has been such an emotional release for me. Every time I go to write something I usually have stewed on it for awhile. The challenge with this stewing method is that grief is a stew of a million ingredients, and pin pointing the one I want to write on is often overwhelming. As I am sitting here on this gray day I’m not even sure of what I want to write about. My love for Ella has once again brought me here to share. Missing her has compelled me to share my heart, and to continue to be vulnerable. I could be unloading my dishwasher, doing chores, working on my music, but I want to be here. Maybe this process of writing my feelings makes me feel closer to her. It reminds me of how much I love and miss her. Writing and sharing with the world at large is saying her life still matters very much to me. She is my beautiful baby girl. 

If things had ended differently I would be posting pictures no doubt, and archiving and wondering at her little life. I don’t see a reason to not carry on with her in my heart and life in any way that  I can. 

Today I got a fetal heart rate monitor in the mail. Jason and I are expecting again and tomorrow we will be 19 weeks. I will talk about the beginning of this pregnancy in a later post–for now I want to focus on the last few weeks and the next three. I have been swimming in an ocean of emotions. Waves of grief, waves of joy, waves of sorrow, waves of longing, tidal waves of fear. Taking the little doppler out of the box and practicing finding the babies heartbeat did bring a certain sense of relief once I felt it, and I am hoping that this little device will offset my panic attacks in between fetal movement. 

The dread that has been plaguing me these last few weeks is unlike anything I have ever experienced. The thought enters my mind “what if the baby has died,” and sure enough the warm burning all encompassing poison of my reality and experiences proves it true. There is almost no room for hope when you are in the depths of dread. There is no way to see around it. It’s a wall impossible to climb. It shuts out faith. It shuts out light, and it is one of the loneliest places to be on earth.

Leading up to the last few weeks the pregnancy has been in the back of my mind. I don’t plan on buying things, I don’t have a pregnancy plan, there are no showers planned, and I’ve been taking it one day at a time. It was possible for me to do this because it was almost like the reality of this new baby hadn’t set in yet. That is a luxury as well as a curse that I no longer have the privilege of controlling. This precious baby is moving everyday, and the movements are unmistakable. The little kicks are so special to me. But they remind me of what it feels like to not feel anything. Ella died around 22 weeks, and I remember for the two days leading up to my appointment I was incredibly paranoid. I honestly had no idea what stillbirth was and I thought there was no way that she had died…but I knew she wasn’t there. I NEVER want to feel that again. 

The only thing that is different between that time and this time is that I now know what could lay before me. Before I was naive, and I believed in miracles to a certain extent, maybe I believed I was immune, and invincible. Now I know how weak I am. Now I know how much losing a child hurts. Now I know what it feels like to deliver a stillborn baby. Now I know what it looks like to see my husband pass out from grief. Now I know that an empty room is such a painful reminder. Now I know how much love hurts. 

It’s inevitable for me to think like this when Ella was my only child. I’ve never had a baby alive in my arms. I’ve never had to worry about nursing or diaper bags. Instead I made funeral plans, and look at a tiny ribbon that was on her head after she was born–the only tangible thing I have of her is a little spot on the ribbon where her skin touched. 

There has been an unspoken count down in my head leading up to 22 weeks. I know that anything could happen after that, and I will just have to continue to live one day at a time. But until then, I am just waiting, holding my breath, trying to love and cherish every minute. That’s all we can do anyway.

Well I guess these are the words that have chosen to come out, and these are the words and thoughts at the top of my heart. 

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8

The Darkest Days

In my grief journey there have been some days, conversations and tears I’d just as soon like to forget. I don’t think that I should be allowed to forget these times though.. they make me who I am. I was thinking about maybe the darkest day in my grief journey, and I feel compelled to share the utter depression I felt–in hopes that maybe you will feel less alone.

Jason my husband and I started trying to get pregnant again this past January. It took almost three months for my period to come back, and I had started to fear that it would never come back, and that I would never be a biological mother. My body had let me down, and didn’t have a lot of confidence in waiting for it to “deliver” so to speak. We tried to get pregnant for four months unsuccessfully. Following others stories about infertility I know that four months is nothing…some mothers try for years, decades even unsuccessfully. My heart breaks for them and relates in a very small way to their monthly dread and hope cycle.

Those months were the darkest days for me so far. I would be dreadfully afraid that I was pregnant–so much fear and uncertainty. Then when I wasn’t I would crash. Really crash. The days after I got my period I couldn’t stop crying, and the anger and bitterness really tormented me. My family would know how much of my hopes and happiness depended on those little stupid pregnancy tests. I felt so out of control. On one hand I wanted to be a mother more than anything I’ve ever wanted in my life, and the other hand I wanted to be Ellas mother. The thought of having another baby both soothed me and terrified me–made me feel like a betrayer. The emotions were so complex, and they still are.

There is one day that I thought I might have really given up on life. Jason and I were downstate and I had just finished a productive day at a friends recording studio. I felt good actually, my spirits were up and inspired by shared creativity. My husband came to pick me and then told me that some people we knew were pregnant again, some people that already had a perfect baby girl, and weren’t even trying to get pregnant. Some people that were very close to us.

I don’t think I need to explain that the news about our friends was just a match that lit the bomb–but it probably would’ve exploded some time sooner or later. I am happy for them…but at that time I wasn’t thinking about them. I was thinking about myself.

Unless you’ve been here you will never understand my reaction. But I flew off the handle. I was so angry at God. Why would He allow hundreds of babies to be aborted every year and not give me the one that was so desperately wanted? How could He allow drug addicts to have perfect babies that they could care less about, and make my well cared for baby stillborn? How could He give healthy babies to mothers who threw them in the trash, and not give me a healthy baby that I would love and care for? How could He let someone just get pregnant without wanting it like I did? Where was the justice?

My heart had never felt so disappointed and broken. I felt like the future for me was sealed, and there was no hope in it. I felt so out of control–I had hit this wall that I could NEVER climb over. I felt like God didn’t want anything good for me. That He had no joy for me. That He had broken my heart again…let me down again…overlooked me again…set me up again. Honestly, I told Jason I just wanted to die.

Then I felt like a joke. My self-esteem had really plummeted. I can honestly say at that moment and the moments that followed I hated God and I hated myself. I couldn’t stand the person I was. I felt so let down by myself. I felt like a failure…and that everyone knew I was a failure.

I slammed the car door and Jason and I drove. I had all these thoughts racing through my head. The hell of the past and losing Ella, the hell of having no hope or love in the future. We drove in silence and I sobbed. We parked at a Panera, and it actually started to rain. You know the kind of sobbing where snot and spit are pouring down your face and your voice changes into that deep scary voice you hardly know? I finally found words and I began to yell. I told Jason that I hated God…I said “I fucking hate God. I don’t want to believe in Him anymore.” It breaks my heart to write these words. I love God…He has been my closest friend, and I know He has heard every silent whisper and sob. It breaks my heart that I treated Him like this. I actually yelled at Him and told Him I didn’t want to see the rain. I felt like it was Him sending a sign to me about my sweet Ella. I felt Him there. I felt Him saying that she was ok, and that He was still in control, but I hated that sign–because I didn’t want to trust anymore. I told Him to take away the rain–make it stop. Make it stop raining.

A day later I was still very sullen and in utter despair. I talked to my mom and dad on the phone and I sobbed to them–I poured out every broken piece of my soul and what followed was powerful.

My mom told me to put my armor back on. She reminded me that Ella was ALIVE. She told me that Ella was wanting me to keep my faith and my hope–and to fight the good fight so we can see each other again. She extolled me. She reminded me of my hope. She encouraged me to my feet–and reminded me to just stand if all else fails.. Stand firm in my faith. Those days past, and I fought for my joy, and my peace, and my faith. I truly contended for every step I took. Life is hard, and for those who say that faith is a crutch for the weak–Faith is the hardest thing to hold on to. I think that the strongest amongst us are the ones who allow themselves to be carried by faith. They clothe themselves in faiths ashes, and blood and tears. It’s no small feat, and faith is certainly not for the weak. Such a paradox, because I know that when I was at my weakest my faith was proved to be the strongest.

13

“Why Don’t They Care?”

I woke up this morning with a throbbing sliver in my mind. A little thought that had crossed my mind and kind of embedded there–causing some minor swelling, irritation, and hurt. Grief makes us more sensitive…most of the time I am afraid to admit to this. The vein of loss and grief that runs through my whole body is covered by a very thin piece of skin–rubbed the wrong way, or slightly knicked and  everything goes bloody and wrong.

Emotions, and tears aren’t as on the surface as they were five months ago, now they dwell much deeper. But it really doesn’t take much to bring out the sensitivity and pain. The thought that I had at 6 AM this morning which kept me up was “Why don’t they care?”

A few months ago I made some really great decisions for myself–I got off of facebook and quit following anyone on Instagram who was a new parent. This decision came after about three failed attempts to get back online and cope with what I saw. Every time I would log back on my grief would make the sweet images of babies feet and happy mothers a tidal wave of unbearable sorrow. I didn’t need that. I made the decision and I feel like it has made me more free to grieve on my own terms. It’s important that we as loss moms maintain some kind of control no matter how small.

Well after doing this for my own sanity I couldn’t help but notice that some people quit following me back. They were no longer commenting on my pictures, videos, or even my blog here. This sounds borderline narcissistic to me when I read it back, but I think the root of this hurt is the fact that I am so sensitive right now and have been since Ella died. My expectations for others probably are too high, but once again the people I am talking about were close to me. That’s why it hurts, because I notice their absence. I hear their silence loud and clear. Silence is the worst thing for a grieving mother to hear. So the thought occurred to me–what would cause people I love and care about to quit following my life and quit caring? Did they really think that I don’t care about them and they are just cutting me out? Did they lack the ability to comprehend why I would remove their feed from my life? Was it really impossible for them to imagine how painful dozens and dozens of pictures of their new family would be for me? I am left guessing that they didn’t understand anything, and that has to be ok with me.

My struggle to remain authentic but pure of heart has been one of the most agonizing trials and fires I’ve ever been through. My heavenly Father has tenderly reminded me time and time again to apply His grace to every situation that stings, and that healing balm of grace will make all wrongs right. It’s so hard to walk this out, and I fail miserably. But I want to love so unselfishly. I want to assume the best. I want to keep no record of wrongs–because I see this as the only right, true, and good way to live. The latter–being bitter, unforgiving and justified is a lonely, cold place to be.

So where do I go from here? How do I let go of the hurt of people acting like she was never here, and I have a “problem.” How do I overlook no calls, cards, or texts on Mothers day. How do I forgive silence? How do I assume the best when it so blatantly feels like the worst wrong that has ever been done to me? I honestly don’t know. A miracle I suppose. Grace is a miracle no matter how we look at it–it’s undeserved favor, love, and forgiveness. I do know that past hurts I have written about on here have been removed–and I feel free of them. I can only hope and walk towards the goal of freedom from judgement and bitterness. It’s ok for me to be hurt ,disappointed, disillusioned and let down–but the fork in the road is always bitterness or grace. I am hurt at their silence and reluctance to say her name. I am hurt that I no longer receive any texts, calls, or comments acknowledging my grief–and their own. In my eyes they lost too, but it feels like her life was so insignificant to them. That’s what hurts the most. Right before I fell back asleep I thought to myself–maybe they would miss my sweet Ella more if I wasn’t her mother.

This post has reminded me to check in on those I’ve been silent with. If you have not experienced a loss their are practical ways of being there and being supportive. Little notes checking in, a meal, an invitation to open up, a sweet text message that says “I’m thinking of you today,” or “I miss her too.” Cookies, flowers, cookbooks, and cheese are always nice too :)! I have a wonderful family member who sends me care packages of goodies almost every week. I realize not everyone can do this, but it is such a healing ministry for me–to know she cares. She doesn’t have to say a lot, but her actions exude love and compassion.

Well thats enough processing for now. I am going to try and live my day in the most free way I can. I miss my daughter–and her life has changed me. She has added so much more depth and compassion to my soul. This is an eternal gift that I can take with me across the threshold of life and death. She has been a part of my refining.