April 12, 2010

It's Been a Long Time

Dear Friends,

I know it's been months since my last post...and that I promised an update would be forthcoming soon. Honestly, I don't have any good reasons as to why I haven't been writing...I think I just needed to have a little space. I needed to try to find a way back to the person I was before my son lived...it's not been an easy road...I've certainly learned that we can't put the past behind us...It's just not possible. No matter how hard I've tried to bury my sadness...it comes back in the most unpredictable ways...

On Saturday night, Ryan and I sat down and watched an old movie classic, Saturday Night Fever. One would think that as harmless and so unrelated to my experience as that movie was to my life...It wouldn't have garnered any kind of emotional response or meltdown. But it did....probably the worst I've had in months. During a particular dance scene, Ryan started laughing and, as I watched his smile and his movements, it triggered the most upsetting episode of tears that I've had in quite awhile. I didn't see him as my husband at that moment...but I saw him as the little boy I've viewed in many home movies...chubby cheeks, wide eyes.. I'd seen him this way in old family movies we've watched together...Ry was such an adorable little boy. But, in that moment, my thoughts shifted to Christian. My sweet boy whose face I will never forget... I saw him a little older...in a fit of laughter...looking sweet and innocent. It hit me hard...and I was snapped back to the reality of my life..of longing for moments I will never share with my little boy.. and it hurt so much. It has never stopped hurting.

That's why I'm writing to you today... I've been trying to ignore my pain. But the reality is this is my life. This quiet sorrow I've been trying to hide....it is who I am.

There is a dichotomy which is evident in all that has transpired over the last year and a half. On one hand, many people have suggested that I am a strong person for absorbing this loss and advocating for the beautiful life of my son.. But the reality is that I have been wounded...of course, it's not a mortal wound.. but it is permanent. Today, I am weak in my resolve to grow from the death of my son. I struggle each day with how I am going to project myself to the world. Will I be strong or will my eyes be puffy from the tears I've shed as I relive the terrible day my son died in my arms. Today, my eyes are puffy.

Dichotomy? I think so....how can one be strong...and weak? How can I feel like I've experienced the most amazing and joyful time of my life with God's very presence surrounding my family in a veil of sweetness...and then feel choked with sadness and despair over loss so deep? This was the deal... I made my peace with God... let me know my son.. and I will remain faithful to His plans for our lives. I will never doubt God's plans for my son..because I know Christian's life had purpose. But what about me?

My friends, last year was a tough year. I felt that I had truly lost my way. I want to share with you some of the things that have happened over the course of the year...I have been hesitant to share them with you...I wanted to project a person who could overcome grief and see sunshine and God's glorious promise of life. I wanted to make all of you proud of me. But, in doing so I have denied my right as a mother ...as a human to grieve. So, here it is for all of you know...good, amazing...and bad.. This has been my year.

Of course many of you already know that 4 months after Christian died, I broke my wrist...and it couldn't have happened at a worse time. I'd been so sad during that time. Honestly, there were many, many days where I sat in one chair...looking out at my son's garden for hours on end. I remember sitting down with my coffee in the morning and getting up when it was time to go to bed..barely conscious of the time and only briefly noting the shadows that crossed the room from morning til night.

To tell you the truth, I was afraid to go to sleep. The last day my son lived on this earth continues to haunt me...even to this day. And I've had nightmares about those final moments. He died so many times on that Friday...each time I held him and kissed him thinking he died. And he would struggle to come back to me and his father . I know he didn't want to leave us. I remember begging him one final time to please stop fighting. I felt so powerless to help. I would have traded my life for his...gladly. Just please, God, please take my little boy...don't let him suffer anymore. I remember the way he sounded when he took his last breath...I remember the last noise he made...a soft whimper.. And then he died. And a part of me died too. I've held these things inside for too long. My sweet, sweet boy died in my arms and I couldn't do anything to save him. It will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Those months afterwards were hell. It was an effort to move and I spent so much time thinking of ways I could check out of this life so that I could join my son in heaven. The thought consumed me for months.

When I finally had my surgery in January, my mood seemed to elevate somewhat because I was feeling better about my injury and I wasn't in constant pain. Truthfully, Ryan and I had made the decision to try InVitro once more and were scheduled for our cycle in March. I scrambled to try and get healthier so that my chances of getting pregnant would be increased. I shoved all the feelings I'd been holding on to in the back of mind and focused on healing. We only had a month to prepare.

I've always been an athletic person...and getting back in the gym would be a natural way for me to relieve the depression which seemed to lay claim on to my well being. But shortly after starting a workout regimen, I hurt my back. Probably the most excruciating physical pain I've ever been in in my life. I couldn't move. Even now I shudder when I think of that pain....I would rather break my wrist a thousand times over than to have to withstand another back injury.. But nevertheless, I completely reverted back to depression. I had to stay in bed for almost a week...trying to relax my muscles enough to be able to move again. The slightest movement sent unbelievable pain coursing throughout every nerve in my body.

It was also during this time that Ryan and I had to start our InVitro cycle.. I could barely sit in the car to get to my doctor's appointment. And it took every ounce of strength I had to lift my legs in the stirrups for my exams. But I did it. And after about a week and a half...the pain in my back subsided enough to where I became more mobile.

When we started our IVF cycle...I was definitely on the mend...but had to endure daily injections of hormones in my stomach...I had done it before..but for some reason, this cycle was painful. Each day, 2x per day I got my shots..and a little bruise on my belly where Ryan would stick me. And I kept saying it's okay...we're going to make another baby. It will happen.

During all of this...I continued to push past my grief. I didn't want to think about it although my internal torment showed through in other ways. I started losing a tremendous amount of hair... and my skin broke out in a rash that would ultimately take me 8 months to get rid of. Physically I was in horrible shape and I was tired.

My IVF cycle only produced 3 eggs... again, another tick against my emotional well being. My nerves were frayed and I was on edge. But, by time we were ready to "launch"...we had two viable fertilized "A" quality eggs that were implanted into my uterus.

Ryan and I were ecstatic...all the physical challenges I'd faced up to that day seemed to disappear and Ry and I were confident we would be making babies again. This was my last chance. Ryan and I have exhausted our financial resources trying to have a family...and time was not my friend. My biological clock was ticking loudly. And I felt the weight of this on my shoulders.

Sadly, it was not to be. In April, my cycle came and my hopes for more biological children were dashed. I had failed. It was a bitter disappointment and I hated myself. I beat myself up wondering if it was my fault...I was injured...I was depressed...I wasn't healthy.

But mostly, I quit asking God for help. During this time, I needed his help. I needed Him to make me feel special...the way I felt when I was pregnant with my son. Back then, I spent a lot of time talking to God and he was there with me...helping to buffer the uncertainty and pain of the future. But somehow, during my time grieving, I'd backed away from my relationship with God. It was a tough and lonely time. Part of me wanted to know Him more...and yet I looked for other things to divert my energy to.

I learned that without God...there is no healing. We are only kidding ourselves if we think we can do it on our own. Trust me, I know... I've tried.

Also, I had been seeing a grief counselor to help me deal with the pain of those last hours with Christian... too much to bear. But in April, when she diagnosed me as being "severely depressed" and suggested medication, the fight in me began.

I was so outraged by the notion that I could be labeled as being, "severely depressed". I wanted to scream at her and ask if she had ever lost a child. I had earned the right to be depressed...the battle scars I have on my heart aren't there on their on volition. The idea of it all made me so mad...that it spurred me to get better...what ever that meant to the outside world. I think it was at this point that I realized perhaps sharing too much of my life may be detrimental to me... I didn't want to be judged and I felt my counselor was doing just that.

In a way, I believe that's why I couldn't write much last year. Each time I wanted to open up about what was going on with me...I felt paralyzed by fear. I didn't want to be judged for not being strong enough or faithful to God enough.

I am so sorry for being absent. Even though most of you don't know me personally, you are all my friends. You have supported me and cried with me.. You have laughed with me and have patiently listened to my stories. And I haven't trusted you enough to let me be me. Even now I am ashamed of the words I write. I'm sorry.

From late April until now, I have spent much of my time trying to suppress the emotional roller coaster of events that continue to shape my life. I have been focused on getting healthy...which has eliminated virtually all of the dark and dangerous feelings I kept bottled up inside.

Getting fit and healthy again makes me feel good about myself and my life. So I go to the gym...I eat right...and I've lost nearly all the weight I gained during my pregnancy. Some days it feels as though I've climbed Mt. Everest to reach the place I'm at today...many weeks I plateau..and revert to a place and time where sadness grips my heart. Saturday was one of those days...but it's okay. I am finally able to open up out my trials this past year.

I feel good about it...reconnecting with all of you has been long over due. And I've missed you.

I started working again which has made a world of difference in my confidence. Before getting back to work...I had HUGE anxiety about being in public... about talking to people... about being away from home. After Christian died, I separated myself from my circle of influence here in Naples...I shopped in different grocery stores, I got my hair and nails done at different salons.. I didn't want to run into anyone who knew my situation because I couldn't bear the look I got...that look of pity. I hate that I'm telling you this, but you need to know. I shut out some pretty amazing people in my life. People who mean well and who care about my family. I shut them all out because I didn't know what to say. All is well....things are great. Really? Really.

At work, I got my confidence back...I am blessed to know some pretty awesome people who have embraced me for all that I am. Today, talking to people is no problem. I can do that. Completing a thought ...no problem, I can do that too. And taking care of myself...I can do that!!

I guess what I am trying to share with all of you is that....the whole process of grief is not a steady climb to eventual healing. I will never be the same as before. I can be happy, sad, very sad... and still be hopeful that tomorrow will bring a better day.

I have fought through a lot of pain, physical and emotional, and have hard earned proof that even in the midst of despair we can find the strength and grace to handle anything that comes our way. BUT we cannot do it without our FAITH in God. I truly lost my way last year. But each day, my life continues to get better.

I miss my son. There isn't a day that goes by where I don't think of him. Each night, my husband and I kiss his bear goodnight... and his garden is just magical. I can't wait to show you pictures of his special place...I honestly believe God has his green thumb on our little plot of land. Before Christian's garden, Ryan and I couldn't grow a weed...and my son's place flourishes..everything flocks there..birds, squirrels...I've even had a couple of ducks! It's a source of comfort to me each time I look out my window!

So I know this post is long...but let me close with this...I've had quite a year...good, bad, amazing... I still feel optimistic that life will only get better. I know I will see my son again...I see him in my husband! What a beautiful reminder that we made this incredible little boy together.
My relationship with Ryan continues to blossom....he is the most amazing person I've ever known.

And....Ryan and I are parents...Christian is our little boy. Perfect, beautiful...amazing! And he is going to have a little sister, Maya... Yes, friends, we are adopting a little girl from China....

More good news to come...

Love you all,