December 3, 2008
I've been wanting to write this post for some time now...but, as I mentioned previously, the words have not come as easily as they once did. I feel as though my writing has become stagnant over these last several weeks with my constant reflections on heartache and despair.
It's almost as though I'm manic! I bounce between feeling great to feeling down right awful. I can't tell you how many times I've caught myself laughing hysterically over something silly or funny only to find myself crying pitifully in the next instant. It's frustrating!! There have been many days where I've truly felt like I've lost my mind! I'm constantly trying to convince myself that what I am feeling is normal and healthy.
At any rate, I guess I needed a break. I've needed to figure out how to function and be a part of a world that continues to move forward without me. I go through the motions each day...brush my teeth, make my bed...live my life...but my actions are mechanical. And emotionally, I've checked out. I wish time would stop only for little while and allow to me grieve over the loss of my son. Then, I would be okay... I wouldn't feel like I've been left behind. I get so panicked when I think about all the "catching up" I need to do. Ahh...my life sucks right now. These are lonely times for me. Hours tick by seemingly at the blink of an eye. There are days when I don't move...I don't do anything. And then I feel guilty because I've wasted the day. It's a vicious circle that I constantly move in... so many different emotions I experience on any given day. And I am tired.
But you've heard all this before...I keep saying the same things over and over again. And I suppose, I feel like there is nothing more to my story that I could offer you...nothing positive that you could take away from my experience. It's partly the reason why my posts have been slow in coming. I hate sounding like a broken record. I'm sad..you get it. That should be the end of it right? I wish it was that simple.
Thankfully, I have an amazing husband who has big shoulders that I can cry on! He's been great! He makes me laugh. He tells me I'm pretty...even when I know I look like hell. He has an unlimited supply of hugs and seems to always know when I need one. He's been a blessing to me. My heart just swells with love when I see him tinkering in Christian's garden. You have to understand, Ryan is a "man's man"...he's the proverbial bull in a China shop! But in Christian's garden, he is so careful. His gestures are so tender and loving...like little hugs for his boy...as he tends to the plants which have become rooted in this special place...It's a joy to see. I watch him from the living room window...not wanting to intrude on these quiet times he shares with his son. I know Ryan needs his time too.
The good news is that last month, we finally started seeing a grief counselor. I've learned so much in such a short period of time. Our doctor has given tools to help us deal with the grief process. No medication...just lots of positive dialog. At first, I was apprehensive about going to see her. I thought, for sure, she would tell me I'm crazy or, at the very least, depressed. But that wasn't the case at all. In fact, I'm learning that everything I've been going through is normal and healthy. Grieving is a 3 year process. I never knew that! I've been unrealistic about my own expectations... and I'm learning to be patient with myself.
Most importantly, seeing a grief counselor has helped my marriage tremendously. The doctor has a way of pulling out information...or better yet...interpreting information that Ryan and I both share so we can better understand where each other is coming from. It's a bumpy road... but we are managing. Good days...bad days...it's all part of the journey toward healing.
My son's beautiful life has been temporarily overshadowed by this grieving process. I knew it would be hard to deal with his death...but I never imagined this life that I'm living now. I don't know what I expected...I guess, I thought I would be more prepared because I knew Christian was going to die. I underestimated how much he would impact my life. I was so naive! But I am getting better. And, one day, my posts will only be happy recollections of the amazing time I shared with my son. I'll get there...I promise!
I still have more to share...but I think I'm going to give it a rest for tonight. You have lots of rambling to digest in one sitting... but I'm hoping that, at least, I don't sound like a broken record anymore. Baby steps... I've said it before... You've been so patient with me. I love you all! Thank you...thank you...thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for your continued prayers!
December 1, 2008
I'm sorry I'm a day late on my promised post. Yesterday, Ryan and I spent the day decorating our home for the Christmas holidays. This has always been one of our favorite times of the year with the both of us eagerly awaiting the holiday season! Each year, Ryan and I make a big production of putting on our Santa caps, turning up the Christmas music, and unpacking boxes of decorations, ornaments and lights. It's a day of "holiday preparations" complete with eggnog and home baked cookies. I think this year we probably over indulged in the sweets, though..as we both went to bed with stomach aches!
As soon as Ryan got home from the fire station yesterday morning, we headed off to find the perfect Christmas tree! And, although, our trek only took us as far as the Home Depot parking lot, we carefully picked through the selection of fresh cut trees to find the perfect one. Ryan was such a good sport...patiently indulging my requests to pick up and twirl seemingly dozens of trees so that we could be sure of selecting one with no bald spots! My poor husband is usually covered in sap and pine needles by the time we are confident that we have the right tree! It's a big event for us every year and loads of fun! It's funny to watch people stare at us as we break out in spontaneous "Charlie Brown" dancing (you know what I'm talking about) to the Christmas music blaring over the speaker system... We love Christmas!
Even our dogs, Maccloud and Roxie, eagerly anticipate the coming holiday! As soon as I hang their stockings on the fireplace mantel, they maintain a steady vigil...constantly sniffing and nudging each stocking for treats and toys. We always get a chuckle when Ryan and I come home after being gone for a while...only to find Christmas presents removed from under the tree and laying around the living room. Although, the presents are never opened, curiosity and excitement seem to get the best of our dogs at times... Just like children I've always said!
At any rate, like every year in the past, this year was a buzz with activity... I blanketed table tops with garland and candles... Ryan hung lights...and we decorated our little tree...fussing over every little detail.
I wasn't sure how I would handle the events of the day. Most certainly, I thought I would fore go any kind of celebration this year, especially since Christian died only a short time ago. But, it is because of my son that Ryan and I have maintained the traditions we've so thoughtfully crafted over the years. Christian would have loved Christmas time!
There were several moments throughout the day when my thoughts wandered to my son...Tears filled my eyes as I thought about how he would have loved all the twinkling lights on the tree. By now, my son would have been able to focus a little more clearly and would, probably, have wondered what all the activity was about.. I can picture his little head wobbly and unsteady as he gazed up at his mom and dad... These pictures are so clear in my mind... It's hard to believe... still...that he is gone.
Ryan says that as long as we have vivid memories of Christian...he will always live on in our hearts...and he will always have a presence in our lives. I know he is in heaven and I know he is well, but the selfish part of me wishes that I could hold him again...even if only for a moment. I hardly let myself wish for these things anymore because the emptiness I feel is so overwhelming. The sting of loss so great is still fresh on my heart...and I will never forget my son. When he died, part of me died too. But, at least I have my memories...
This year, our Christmas tree over looks Christian's garden. Instead of my son snuggled in my arms this season, I must find comfort in knowing that he is in a better place. I'll admit, it's not always easy to do. On most days, I struggle with my emotions...always ready to give into the despair that has gripped my heart. Of course, my son and his precious memory always rescues me from my sad thoughts. I cling to the knowledge that I will see my son again one day...I just never thought my life would turn out this way. I miss him so much. I know my son is watching over us... and laughing over our silly antics of the day. And I'm glad for that.
November 27, 2008
I'm sorry that it's been quite some time since my last post. I wanted to drop you a note to let you know we are still here.
These past few weeks have gone by in such a blur of activity. I have much to share with you but I am finding the words are harder to write. I am working on a new post which I will have up and running by Sunday... lots to update you on these past few weeks.
For now, I wanted to let you all know I miss you and I am hoping you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. I have MUCH to be thankful for on this day (and every day). My son , Christian, was a life time of blessings and I give thanks to God for the miracle of his birth and his life.
See you on Sunday,
November 6, 2008
First, let me start by saying thank you for all the supportive comments and well wishes for my family and my birthday. It is absolutely amazing that you have become my life line these past weeks....especially in my darkest moments. I don't know any of you and yet I can count on you as if you were childhood friends for compassion and support. I am truly grateful.
After my last post, I decided to attend my first SHARE support group meeting here in Naples. I think I was at the point where I felt if I didn't start letting people get close enough to help me, I would soon self destruct with my own feelings of hopelessness and grief. Of course, Ryan and I scheduled time with a grief counselor at the end of the month, but I felt some sort of intervention was probably wise before then. I've been in pretty bad shape lately.
SHARE is a nationally based support organization for parents dealing with early pregnancy and infant loss. I'd been hesitant to seek out any personal contact with this group mainly because I was nervous about sitting in a room with other parents who have lost children. I haven't handled Christian's death very well and to hear others share their own stories of pain and loss...well, I just didn't think I could handle it. It breaks my heart when I read personal stories of loss from families who have reached out to me here on the Internet. I am always left emotionally crushed and crying a puddle of tears. I couldn't imagine looking at someone face to face and hearing their story. I was completely fearful of falling apart in front of people I didn't know. Thankfully though, I pushed through my fears and doubts and went to the meeting.
Because Ryan and I hadn't spoken to each other in days, I decided to go alone. Although I was sad at the time, in hindsight, I'm glad I went by myself. It allowed me to speak freely about my grief and get fresh perspective on what I'd been feeling these past weeks. Ryan has been working overtime trying to "fix" me... He wants to protect me and help heal my broken heart...but I haven't allowed him interfere with my own grieving. I guess that's why he "tinkers" so much... he likes to fix things - objects that are broken... and it helps him with his own feelings of loss. But I'm not an object...and the way I feel changes so radically on a day to day basis. I believe, in some ways, it makes him sad that he can't fix me too. I've tried sharing with him that I have to go through this process... I MUST go through this process...but I know he hates seeing me so sad.
At any rate, it's created this huge silent space between us... filled with emotion but no words... It's hard not being able to speak openly with your best friend and it makes me sad to think we had arrived at this place despite our efforts to be supportive of each other.
Before I met with the group, I felt as though I was going crazy! I felt "mental" and wondered if, perhaps, I needed to rethink medication for depression. I know that sounds terrible but being emotionally lost really does tend to play on every weakness and every doubt we possess. And I really have felt that I've lost my way.
But at the meeting, as I listened to other mothers speak about their children, I learned I am not unique in my journey with grief and loss. Women were talking about issues I've been too afraid to speak about...too afraid to share with people out of fear of being judged. I learned I'm not going crazy after all. And most importantly, I learned that what I'm feeling is normal. Prior to Monday evening, I never thought I would ever know the feeling of what normal is again. Of course, this is my new normal..but it feels good to know I'm going to be okay.
Initially, I struggled with finding my voice as I began sharing my story...Christian's story... with the group. I cried openly as I shared how much I missed my son. All the hurt poured out of my heart as I said out loud and brokenly, "My son died 10 weeks ago." I shared my feelings of helplessness as Christian lay dying in my arms. And I shared the emptiness I feel when I close my eyes at night. Everyone understood exactly how I felt. It was good to share. Strangely, the experience felt much differently than when I share my feelings openly on the Internet. When I'm writing, my thoughts never get verbalized out loud. There is something very healing when you give your feelings a voice.
We talked for about 2 hours before the meeting ended. And afterwards, I was emotionally drained... but in a good way. I felt as though a huge burden had been lifted from my chest.
Unfortunately, I could not express my relief to Ryan when I got home. I slept in Christian's room again and prayed that God would help me find the words to heal the silence which had been driving me and my husband apart.
The next morning, however, Ryan made it easy for me. He really is a wonderful man and I am so blessed to be married to him! He came into the room with a cup of coffee and a shy smile...it was such a small but tender gesture. His little peace offering made way for me to reach out and meet him at least half way. He made breakfast for me and we made small talk with each other...trying to ease the awkwardness we both felt...but not feeling completely comfortable.
Shortly after we ate, I headed out for a day of pampering for my birthday. I received a gift certificate for a day at the spa and so I indulged myself with a massage and facial. After the emotional release the evening before...the pampering I received at the spa was icing on the proverbial cake... I was complete mush when I finally headed home!
It was late in the afternoon before I actually saw Ryan again. We headed off to Home Depot to pick up some items I needed to complete some home projects around the house... and as we headed into the store, Ryan stopped in the middle of the parking lot and pulled me into his arms. All he said was, "I've missed you". We stayed like that...hugging each other close for several minutes completely oblivious to traffic moving around us. I'm sure we were a sight standing in the middle of the Home Depot parking lot holding on to each other tightly!!
I can tell you the ice finally melted between us. Weird as it sounds, it felt like I was home again. We went about our shopping as if we had never skipped a beat. By the time we left the store, we were laughing and teasing each other like we always do.
We made my birthday dinner together and I opened cards and gifts. One particular envelope was simply addressed, "Mom". I figured it was a card from my dogs as I receive one from them for every occasion. But, as I opened the card, I read the words, "For My Mother"...it was a card Ryan got me from Christian. I can't tell you how beautiful the words were that I read...just absolutely precious to me. I closed my eyes imagining my son telling me the words I know I will never hear from him. And although there were tears on my cheeks and the too familiar pain in my heart...I was happy.
My friends, it was a good day.
I wasn't brave enough to take the first step toward healing my relationship with my husband...but thankfully, he took the first step for me.
I did finally seek out a support group for help with my pain... and it was good.
We are moving forward...tiny little steps ...but we are going forward. Thank you my friends for helping me and my family along the way.
November 3, 2008
Tomorrow is my birthday. Ryan and I haven't spoken to each other since Saturday... we are oceans apart because of things said and left unsaid since Christian's death. We are the best of friends and have been through a lot together. We giggled like children when we found out we were pregnant. We cried tears of joy the moment our son was born and we wept bitterly in each other's arms as our child took his last breath.
We've been through so much... How can we come this far and not be able to talk to each other? There are so many things I don't understand.
I know everyone grieves differently... I've heard it a thousand times already. How can anyone prepare for loss so great? Our son died. My voice falters and my eyes fill up with tears when I say those words out loud. But must my relationship suffer because my grief is different than Ryan's?
I can't tell you what is wrong. I honestly don't know. And I don't know how to fix it.
I know many of you have been praying for me and my family. God hears our prayers. I pray for healing...my heart is broken.
My wish for tomorrow is for Ryan and I to speak like the friends we used to be...can still be. Pray with me my friends...
November 2, 2008
I've been thinking about you a lot lately...more so than normal. I'm a tinkerer...one that tinkers. I wonder if you would have been one too. Our garage (aka...man cave) is perfect for tinkering from welding, woodworking, engine rebuilding, to just putting air in a bike tire. If it can be broken or built we can do it in our MAN CAVE.
Son, I think of you and I working on your first bird house up to your first hot rod. So many things I can imagine doing with you. I miss you son...
Yesterday I was looking for your star with my telescope and it was to far for me to see. So I started to think. I might not be able to see you with my eyes open or touch you with my reach, but I can close my eyes and see you in my memories and touch you with my faith, this gives me peace.
Our physical features are not what have made us different, it's the gift that God gave us...the gift of everlasting life and the faith that it will be there when we are ready to join him.
Son, I know we will meet again and in the mean time I will keep you in my thoughts and speak to you with my heart.
October 29, 2008
The words to that song have new meaning for me...
Friends of ours named a star after our son, Christian, and had it registered with the Stellar Registry! The weight of this wonderful gift hit me hard this morning as I stood outside just before sunrise... The stars shown so brightly as they lit up the sky.
On the certificate reads the words:
Time has taken me from you
Although not very far.
Know that I'll be watching you
Through sunshine and the brightest star.Maybe one of them is my little Christian watching over me and his daddy...letting us know that he is well. It makes my heart feel good to believe that anyway.
October 25, 2008
Last week, Ryan attended a Critical Incident Stress Management workshop at the fire station which taught firefighters how to recognize individuals who have difficulties dealing with stressful situations associated with their jobs. Issues like post traumatic stress disorders and dealing with death were among some of the subjects discussed.
Of course, Ryan thought of me and our situation as he learned about many of the signs and symptoms of someone struggling with coping issues.
During one of his classroom breaks, Ryan phoned me to let me know that, perhaps, we needed to seek help in dealing with our own grief over Christian's death. I'm not sure why, but I was mad at him as he rattled off the laundry list of symptoms he'd just learned about. I kept insisting that his class didn't apply to me because our situation was different. Christian was our son and I had a right to feel terrible. I had a right to feel depressed.
I was so defensive during our conversation and I could hear his frustration building as his loud sighs permeated through my rantings of denial and pain. And, although the tension was mounting between the two of us, Ryan pressed on telling me about the instructor in the class and how he thought she might be the person to help us with our pain...my pain. It was at about this time when I completely shut down and stubbornly tuned him out out... I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to hear that I needed help. And it completely crushed me when I realized that my husband was worried about my own emotional well being. I felt like a failure because of my inability to cope with the loss of my son.
After we hung up...I paced around the house screaming out my frustration. I yelled and cried out loud...wishing I could purge the hurt and pain that has occupied so much of my life these past several weeks.
MY SON DIED. I've been to Hell and back these past several months with endless hours of worry, sadness, anxiety..and feelings of loss. Ryan and I have been on an extreme roller coaster ride for the past year. So much sadness and unbelievable joy in such a short period of time. Not to mention that, physically, my body is still adjusting back to normal after 9 months of pregnancy. I am a mess and I have a huge emotional battle scar on my heart.
As I vented my anger out loud and alone in my house, I fell to my knees started crying. I cried like I'd never done before. I released every bottled up emotion I'd been hanging on to over the past several weeks. I let it all out and I let the tears fall until I had nothing left... my spirit was truly shattered at that moment...I was broken.
And then, I started praying. I prayed to God for help. I prayed for strength. I prayed for my marriage. I prayed for other families who are experiencing the same tragedy and I prayed for healing for all of us.
It was some time before I actually picked myself up off the floor. Ryan was right, we needed help... I need help.
My friends, I am not proud of the way I've dealt with Christian's death. People tell me that I am strong and I am an inspiration. But the truth is I am not strong at all. I cry privately...afraid to show my tears because I don't want people feeling sorry for me. I cry in the shower when Ryan is at home so he won't look at me with sad eyes...although I know he knows. I've been hiding out at home...afraid to run into people who don't know about Christian.
For some reason, I feel as though I deserve the way I'm feeling. Ryan and I went down this path with our eyes wide open. We knew our son would not survive Trisomy 18. We chose life even though we knew it would ultimately lead to pain and heartache. Even now, I would still make the same decisions over and over again...because my son was worth it. He was worth every tear I've shed since his death. I love him so much! I just didn't know that it would be so hard to pick up the pieces of my life and put them back together again after he died.
No, I have not dealt with this very well at all.
Yes, I do need help. I've been too stubborn to admit it. I realize this now.
I only want to honor my son now that he is gone. I want him to be proud of his mother and that means I need to help myself. I need to take this experience, hold it close to my heart and become stronger because of it. It doesn't mean I'm moving on...but, it does mean I have to move forward. I must for my own sake and well being. Christian would want that.
When Ryan came home from class I began asking him questions about the doctor and told him I wanted to see her. I think he was surprised by my willingness to hear more about her. But I also know he was glad that I was receptive to getting help.
So here it is, my friends. I am taking it one step at a time... no more denial... I am seeking out help because I certainly don't have all the answers. This is too big for me to handle on my own. And so we move on to another chapter in our story...
October 23, 2008
This week has been a nightmare for me. I wanted you to know I'm still here and have much to share with you, but I will not be able to sit down and write at length until possibly Saturday or Sunday.
Our computer system crashed in our business and I am having to re-create every single transaction we've done since February. I've been eyeball deep in paperwork and still have a mountain to go.
Truthfully, it's been a good diversion from obsessing over my grief... but I wish it was a better diversion than panic over our business!
Although I am blurry eyed from looking at numbers all week, I am hopeful to be back on track by Friday...
Thank you so much for your emails and notes... I am truly grateful that you are still thinking of me and my family and continue to life us up in prayer. I have received some AMAZING words of comfort, poems, and friendship from all of you. You keep me going when there are days I don't feel strong enough to move forward on my own. Thank you.
Each day, we experience the miracle of prayer and truly feel God's presence in our lives. Thank you again...
October 18, 2008
Last night, my husband and I decided to take our boat out for an evening cruise for a little "us" time because we haven't had that in such a long, long time. After Christian died, we talked about getting away, just the two of us, but never really made any plans to do so. We've been trying to get back to normal...back to the same old routines...but, what we've really been doing is spinning in circles. Not moving forward...just suspended between celebrating Christian's life and mourning his death.
For me, I've been hiding out... I've been staying at home afraid to get out for fear that I would have to explain, yet again, that Christian died. Saying those words over and over again does not get easier, trust me. What's worse is the look of pity I receive afterwards...the awkward moments...and finally, a rushed attempt to scatter...to be anywhere but near me.
I understand that people aren't trying to be mean or rude. It's a natural tendency to feel uncomfortable in such a situation, but it adds to my feeling of isolation. Every day I try to venture out to do the most menial tasks... shopping, banking, just regular everyday errands and, on most days, I come home in tears.
People always want to talk about new babies...and they have a million questions. With faces lit up, they ask, "How old is your baby?", "Boy or Girl?", "What is their name"... and gush all sorts of congratulatory comments! And then I tell them the news and it's as if my child just turned into an alien.... no more smiles...no more questions... no more engaging conversation... no more looking you in the eye.
What happened?? My beautiful and precious boy is still beautiful and precious... he is still a joy... I have amazing stories I can share...and I was Blessed to have him.
Awkward silence... and then I skulk away like I've done something wrong.
I know people feel bad for me and family... They are hurting too... It's a terrible thing to lose a child. So I've been hiding out... avoiding the stares... avoiding the silence.
But, yesterday, my dear husband suggested we go on an evening cruise...and it sounded GREAT...just what we needed.
I'd had another one of those moments I previously described after picking up Christian's baby rattle which I had engraved... Fresh air away from everyone sounded perfect and I needed the pick me up.
And so, off we went. As we were cruising along the coastline toward downtown, I reclined back in my seat just marveling how gorgeous the day was. I smiled up at the sky taking in big gulps of fresh air. Overhead, little fluffy clouds dotted the brightest and bluest sky. I couldn't help thinking about Christian... and how I wished he was there with us enjoying the moment... and then it happened.
I sensed his presence so close to me I could almost feel him...it was that tangible. I sat up and looked around... and opened my eyes and ears. I mean, truly opened my eyes and ears to everything going on around me.
On the radio, George Strait's song, I saw God Today, was playing. And at that moment, I heard the words to the verse, "...the flashin' lights, the honkin' horns all seemed to fade away in the shadow of that hospital at 5:08, I saw God today....". At the same time, I noticed a little rainbow hovering in the foamy spray of water which splashed beside our boat as we cruised downtown.
I hollered at Ryan and we just stared at each with goofy grins on our faces... completely immersed in that moment. We sang along with the song...out loud and off key...laughing and smiling away. We felt God around us and we felt Christian with us...
My friends, Christian was born August 18, 2008.... at 5:08 p.m.
I am constantly amazed by how God chooses to continually reveal himself to us... Throughout our entire journey with our son, we have felt His presence. He's held us up when we were at our lowest points when Christian was alive...and now he lets us know he has not abandoned us after Christian's death.
It was a great moment...
BUT...for reasons I don't fully understand yet (obviously), God has a way of bringing home the point that life has it ups and downs... and it's okay.
Not that I was thinking about it too much last night. But, on our way home from dinner...we were the lone boat on the water engulfed in complete darkness...hugging the coastline in very, very rough water. I felt like Ryan and I were Gilligan and The Skipper out on the 3 hour tour... I had my feet wedged in between the seat cushions trying to keep from bouncing out of the boat... a white knuckled death grip on my seat and glaring at Ryan for purposefully trying to hit every tidal wave that ventured near our boat. (Not that he was trying to do so...but I still had to blame him, nonetheless!)
I guess what I'm trying to say... is that our outing as perfect as it was in the beginning...still had it's bumps in the road... I think that's what God has been trying to tell me... There is beauty in everything.... I just have to notice it...BUT, there is always a balance... it makes us appreciate the good that much more.
I don't believe in coincidences...
Last night was amazing...
"I saw God Today"...
October 14, 2008
Someone sent this video to me anonymously and I wanted to share it with you because it's beautiful. You will have to pause my playlist at the bottom of my blog in order to hear it correctly. May this video touch your heart as much as it has mine.
Thank you and much love to the person who sent it to me.
October 10, 2008
I know it's been a few days since my last post... I've been processing a lot of frustration and despair...even anger on occasion. On most days, I feel better when I share my feelings through my writing because I have received so much love and support from all of you...but it seems I've just run out of words to write these past several days.
There is a very lonely side to grief that I am learning about these past few weeks. I feel there are days when no one can possibly understand what I'm feeling and I can find no comfort from anyone around me. Even sharing my feelings with Ryan has become difficult to do. I find myself having to check my words just in case I sound bitter or sorry for myself. I don't want to have stress in my marriage so I've kept these feelings to myself. This is not an emotional place I thought I would ever experience. Certainly, I thought it would get easier with time.
Time heals all things, I know... Perhaps, it will even heal my broken heart someday.
But I think time can be so cruel too...
It's been 7 weeks since my son passed away... a lot of time has gone by to help me process my sadness, but to me, this time has been a drop in the bucket. My feelings of loss are just as intense as the day Christian died. Only now, I find myself crying alone... trying to hide the fact that I'm not coping with Christian's death very well.
It's been 7 weeks since my son passed away...and I can't smell him on the clothing he wore at the hospital anymore... Each day I sit beside his bassinet and touch his things... I smell his caps, booties, onesies... everything. His scent has faded away. I am clinging to anything which will keep my son close to me... and time has not been my friend through this process. My son is gone and I feel so alone.
It's almost as if I've been two different people these past weeks. I've been trying to be upbeat and positive..."moving on with life" so to speak. But, truthfully, it's a cover. I think it's what people expect from me... or, at the very least, I think it makes people more comfortable to be around me. And so that's who I am...publicly. I've learned to be some semblance of the person I was before because I think it makes everyone feel better....everyone except for me, that is.
Inside, I feel as though I am withering away. I've been through a lot this past year... My struggles didn't start with Christian's birth and death... it has been a series of events over several months... and everything is weighing on my shoulders.
My feelings are like an open wound that has started to fester with the infection of bitterness... Unbelievable pain. And I can't stand the way I feel anymore.
Eventually, I had to sit down with Ryan and have "the talk" just as I am now having "the talk" with all of you... Finding the right words to begin with was not easy... I stumbled several times before the words would flow and before I could share the parts of my heart which I have been closing off to the world.
It's seems odd that I would have to remind my husband of what we'd been through all these months, but actually, I had to remind him of what I'D been through... he's been holding my hand from the very beginning...but even he couldn't understand the depth of my injury...not until I shared it with him...
I started reminding him of our journey through infertility...the unsuccessful treatments...the stressful days of overwhelming odds... I reminded him that we didn't have children because of ME... a botched medical diagnostic surgery 4 years ago left me with so much scar tissue that it was a physical impossibility for me to conceive naturally.
When we finally sought the help of another fertility specialist, his candor set the expectations of conceiving children through In Vitro with very low statistical odds... but we forged ahead...we wanted to have children. For me, the pressure of knowing we had an uphill battle was stress immeasurable. I was an emotional mess during that time. So much pressure!
Then, we got pregnant...and we did great... we had twins growing inside me. A reprieve from the emotional turmoil of the previous months and years...and then one of our twins died. Was it something that I did or didn't do... Sadness...disappointment...hurt... all these things I felt. I still feel them to this day. I wonder if my stressful nature helped to contribute to the loss of Christian's twin.
But we had Christian...and I put EVERYTHING I had into my baby boy... I did everything I knew to do to make sure our son would be healthy... but, in April, when we learned Christian was sick with Trisomy 18, life changed in the most dramatic way.
I guess we found our faith at that point... we relied on luck previously...but had no comfort when we became "unlucky". Faith helped us to make the difficult decision to carry our son to full term. I say it was a difficult decision because we didn't have a lot of support early on from our specialists. Carrying a terminally sick baby without much help from your team of doctors is a hard road to travel by yourself. So much uncertainty... Most of what we learned about Trisomy 18, we learned through the Internet and through other families who have experienced the same situation.
And, although our faith has helped to buffer our feelings of despair and surround us with people of amazing courage and strength, I was still hounded by the realization that my child would soon die from a terrible disease.
I carried my child just below my heart for nearly half of my pregnancy knowing that he was terminally sick and there was nothing Ryan and I could do to save him. He would die no matter what.
During those days of my pregnancy, I thought only of my son. I embraced every single day with joy because my son was growing inside me and I didn't want to let him down. Even though my heart was breaking... I wanted to be strong for Christian. I ate well, stayed active, read to him, sang to him, and rubbed my belly as if to reassure him that his mommy was happily awaiting his arrival into this world... even though it meant that saying hello to my son, meant that I would soon be saying goodbye.
I have been through a lot. My whole family has been through a lot. Not to minimize what pain they are feeling, but I have traveled most of this journey alone. Ryan has been beside me 100 percent, but physically I have traveled this journey alone. I am more aware of that now than ever before. Emotionally and physiologically there is much work to be done on my part.
I am trying to unravel all the months of hurt, disappointment, and despair that has gripped my heart. I've put on a "brave" face and have gone on with life, somewhat... I've read books on bereavement and grief. Ryan and I built a memorial garden for Christian. We put pictures of him throughout our home. We've watched videos of him...just so we can be reminded that our son was not a figment of our imagination...that those precious few days were real.
And I've prayed. Oh how I've prayed. I've cried out to God asking him, "Why my son?", "Why us?".... And I am still waiting on the answers...
I am alone. The feeling covers me like a blanket. I don't have other children I can embrace and be thankful for... I have the ashes of my son locked away inside a little brown teddy bear that I hold close to me...wishing it were my son happily gurgling away in my arms. That's it. I have the memories of 4 days and 3 hours with my beloved little Christian. And I am terrified that those too will fade just like his smell from his precious few belongings...
So you see...I've been quiet... trying to sort through these emotions. I am grateful for the support and love...but I am sad. I'm trying not to feel sorry for myself... but, perhaps I am sorry for my self. Should I feel this way? Am I being dramatic or selfish? I don't know anymore. Life is moving on and I am digging my heels in...unable to move forward "for me" yet.
I'm trying to be strong for everyone else...but it's not working for me... I only feel further isolated.
Ryan's sister had her baby on Sunday and I couldn't visit them in the hospital. I am happy for her and her family but bitterness chokes me because I miss my son so badly. I feel terrible.
Everyone is excited about the newest addition to our family and it's as it should be. It's a joyous and exciting time for new parents. I remember vividly how I felt just a short time ago. But my son died... I am not excited. I hate the way I feel.
Good friends of ours are struggling with infertility... disappointing results and another failed attempt. I feel their pain with such intensity because Ryan and I have walked in their shoes. I hate the way I feel.
All these additional emotions compound my feelings of despair.
My friends, I am struggling. Perhaps, the road to healing often has its periods where there are high and low moments and I am just at a low point. I don't know.
I just know that I needed to share with you my journey once more...perhaps you have better insight as to how I'm feeling, what I'm feeling...and hopefully how to get better. Obviously, I don't have the answers.
October 1, 2008
For Christian's remaining ashes, we put them in a marble baby block which the cub keeps vigil over... This memorial for our son keeps him near to us always....
It's been a few days since my last post... To say that I've been in a "funky" mood is putting it mildly. I'm not sure how I feel... mad, maybe... or just tired of feeling sad.
Whatever it is, it finally got the best of me on Monday evening... Ryan and I were watching Pete Wilson's video, Rocked to my Core, for probably the hundredth time and I just felt overwhelming sadness.
Unfortunately, I expressed my feelings with uncontrollable anger. Actually, both Ryan and I exploded and ultimately lashed out at each other... I don't think we were angry with one another...it just came out that way. I broke the remote control to the TV in several pieces and Ryan shattered a large mirror. Truthfully, I don't know which is worse...the fact that we have to deal with 7 more years of bad luck or that we now have to get up to change the channel on the TV! (Okay, maybe that's my poor attempt at humor... )
At any rate, we ended the evening not speaking to each other and eventually sleeping in different rooms. I felt terrible as I tried to make sense of what just happened in our home. And, after several hours, I finally fell asleep...with no answers and no comfort.
The next day, Ryan and I cleaned up the mess we'd made the night before...and went about business as usual. It's funny (or not), but we never talked about what happened...I guess we just figured it was one of the up and down moments so many people have told us about.
Right after Christian died, many people warned us that tragedy has a way of hurting even the strongest relationships, but Ryan and I thought we would be immune to such things. We are the best of friends and we have been through a lot together. Not to say that we are on shaky ground because that certainly is not the case...we are rock solid. But, grief does tend to make everyone act and react differently. I understand what people were trying to tell me now.
My mind has been working overtime trying to understand my feelings... and I am so emotionally tired. Perhaps it's my own fault for not finding emotional peace through all of this... I am just not ready to quit talking about my son. I'm not ready to let go. I know he's gone... I will never again be able to hold him or feel him snuggled close to me. And I am so sad.
I don't want the day to come when remembering what he felt like and what he smelled like becomes a distant memory. It's as if I am suspended in this dark place because of my fear of that happening. Perhaps only time will soften this fear and I can eventually find the peace that has eluded me so far.
For now, I have been trying to get physically healthy...hoping that getting back into shape will help to ease the sting of my broken heart. Getting back into the gym has been a good diversion... "sweat therapy" is what I call it...although my muscles feel like they are being tortured! But, like everything in my life these days, I'm sure it will get easier with time.
As for the garden, it's mostly complete. Ryan added lighting and mulched the beds... Time and TLC will have Christian's garden growing beautifully... I'm sure we'll post more pictures soon.
Take care for now,
September 26, 2008
We planted Blooming Jasmine, Italian Cypress, Juniper, and Costa Rican vines...
The teddy bear is actually called a "comfort cub"... Some of Christian's ashes were placed in a heart shaped gold locket which is inside the bear's chest. It's a way for Leah and me to have a part of Christian with us always. We hug him, tell him we love him, and kiss him goodnight every evening. He even watches football with us on Sunday!
Christian's garden faces our home... he will forever be a part of our family...
Christian, Roxie, MacCloud, and Me...
September 22, 2008
Today marks 1 month since Christian passed away. It's a tough day. Ryan and I have been trying to stay busy these past few weeks... mainly focusing on the garden and each other. Each day, I try to stay focused on the joy my son brought me and it truly helps. We really jammed so many good moments into the 4 days he lived on this earth... it's easy to smile when I think of him.
Ryan and I started our day by visiting Heather Donlan's studio and picking up several photographs she had taken while we were at the hospital... I will never get tired of looking at all the images of Christian. Right now, they are my lifeline... I especially love the videos... hearing his noises and watching all the little faces he made makes my day... especially when I feel sad. Moving forward has been the most difficult thing to do... but it is getting easier.
After Christian died, I thought I would die too... it certainly felt like it. Grief brings about the worst kind of pain... everything is hard...very hard! But, the pain does subside. Slowly, I am learning to breathe again and I am finding my way back to a new kind of normal.
I don't think I'll ever be the same person I was before Christian came into my life... and that's okay. I'm still trying to figure things out... still trying to figure out how I move forward in a positive way.. and I'll get there.. I just need more time.
For now, Ryan and I stay busy...we completed the pergola in Christian's garden today! Now that we have the foundation set (fountain, pergola, and stones)...we'll be able to start planting! So far, we've decided on Blooming Jasmine for the pergola but we have yet to decide on all the other plants! Hopefully, we'll be able to make decisions this week and have everything planted by the weekend!
We should have better pictures of the progress in the next few days or so.
Thank you again for walking with us in our journey with Christian. I really can't express how much it means to me and Ryan that you have continued lift our family up in prayer. I have read the most beautiful and uplifting emails and letters from so many of you and they have helped me to deal with the loss of my son. At my lowest moments, you have lifted my spirits and I am so grateful!
I have had a tough time personally writing to many of you who have taken the time to write, send us gifts and even hand made cards... Please know, I'm just having a hard time finding the right words to thank you! I am overwhelmed by your generosity and feel that anything I say is inadequate! Just know that I love you for caring about my family!
September 20, 2008
We hope to have it done by the end of next week. We'll keep the pictures coming.
September 18, 2008
Ryan's Battalion Chief came by..,,
Our Pastor and family friends came by....
Dear friends came by...
Young friends came by.....
More Aunts and Uncles
a firefighter "uncle"
More "uncles" from the fire station....
And even more friends....
Christian's fan club...
Christian's "uncles" from the fire station....
September 17, 2008
Tomorrow marks what would have been Christian's 1 month birthday. It's hard to believe a month has already passed since I gave birth to my son.
It's hard to put into words how I feel... I suppose I should start by telling you that I am so Thankful that God blessed Ryan and me with our son, Christian! Our little boy really was more than we could have ever hoped for.
After years of trying to have children and even after our attempts to adopt a little girl from China...Ryan and I started thinking perhaps we weren't meant to have kids of our own. My heart hurts as I write these words because I remember how desperately we wanted to fill our home with many children and how hopeless we felt because we had none.
But we didn't give up ... we kept trying ... until finally, with the help of our fertility specialist we conceived Christian. Actually, initially, we were pregnant with twins!
When we lost Christian's twin at 8.5 weeks, all our hopes and dreams for a family rested on the birth of our son... our precious Christian. In April, when we learned Christian had Trisomy 18, an always fatal chromosomal defect, we knew he would never be well here on Earth. There was nothing we could do to help our son and we knew he would die from T18. All our hopes and dreams were shattered and we were devastated. But we loved our son so much...we still couldn't wait to meet him!
It would have been so easy to be angry and turn away from God because of our circumstances. Especially considering that Ryan and I were what I call, "convenient Christians"... we only prayed when we were in trouble... and it went something like, "Lord, if you help get me out of this mess, I promise I'll be a better person." We never had a relationship with God... and we never realized how one sided our meager relationship was... we always asked him for help, but we never gave anything back.
When Ryan and I learned about Christian, we RAN to God... we needed him to help us get through the most difficult time of our lives. This time though, we placed all our trust and faith in Him and we knew He would take care of us. In the midst of the worst news we could possibly receive and after all that we had gone through to conceive Christian, our faith was tested far beyond anything Ryan and I were prepared for.
But we remained faithful... we prayed everyday for God to let us have a birthday with our son. We embraced every day we had Christian in our lives with utter joy and anticipation. Each day I carried him in my womb was a wonderful experience... and I celebrated every ultrasound...kick, hiccup...and even gas pain (although, I don't think Ryan was as thrilled about the gas)... The bottom line is that we truly felt BLESSED by the experience.
God chose us to be Christian's parents and we knew our son would be nothing short of a miracle!
After months of praying for a birthday and remaining faithful to God's plans for our son, we were blessed with a birthday and our son was absolutely beautiful! He had a strong cry the moment he was born and he showed such personality during the 4 days and 3 hours he lived.
I guess what I'm trying to say, is that God never turned his back on us. He gave us a birthday...in fact, he gave us more than we asked for...we got 4 incredible days to be with our son. God has also put people in our lives who have helped us through our grieving process... so many of you have touched our lives with stories of loss and hope... your constant prayers for our family have truly lifted our spirits when they have been at their lowest.
Yes, I am struggling with my grief... I'm sad.. .and I miss my boy so much... But I also want you to know that I am so happy to have had the opportunity to know my son. I loved holding him and telling him that I love him... I kissed him a thousand times before he died and I held him as he took his last breath. I will always treasure this experience for the rest of my life.
September 15, 2008
Ryan started working on Christian's memorial garden this weekend. His sunburned skin and the blisters on his hands convey how this has truly been a labor of love from father to son.
Christian's garden has a beautiful water fountain and stone bench so that we can have a place to reflect and remember all the precious moments we shared with our little boy.
It's a work in progress as we still have plants to plant and a pergola to build for shade...but it's really coming along. Ry and I have really enjoyed searching for things to put in Christian's little garden. We were deprived of the opportunity to create a special nursery for our baby boy... so, in a way, this is the nursery we never had... One kind nurse made castings of Christian's hands which we are having bronzed for his special place. Already, it feels so peaceful...
I sat there yesterday after church and felt my son close to me as I stared into the fountain. I know I will spend countless hours there daydreaming of my beautiful boy. I'm sure Christian is looking down from heaven...eyes twinkling and approving his daddy's work.
September 11, 2008
I feel like I'm teetering on a seesaw... I felt pretty good about my earlier post and had some energy to do a little work around my home... Not bad considering that most days I don't feel good about anything and have little energy to even get dressed...
And then the mail came... we received more cards and letters which have been such a great source of comfort for Ryan and me..., a water bill, the funeral home statement, ...and Christian's birth certificate.
It's IMPOSSIBLE to feel good about anything when it feels like you're getting punched in the face every day. ... I received my son's death certificate before I even received his birth certificate. We received his medical card from our insurance company yesterday, letters addressed to Christian from the hospital...the hospital he DIED at... and I've even received a bill for him. My son was 4 days old and he has a bill in his name!
No grief counselor can offer words that ease the sting of getting on with life after my son's death. How much must I endure before I completely snap? I'm angry and I'm upset.
Is this the way to healing? Every book I've read about dealing with grief talks about the emotional side of loss... but few address the business of getting back to normal... I checked. There are no chapters regarding mail call or what to say when your not-so-observant neighbor asks when he can come visit your new baby (That happened as I was walking back from the mailbox today).
It sure feels like I'm in the "Anger" stage of grief. Not a good place to be.
September 9, 2008
It's difficult to put into words what I am feeling today. I guess I must start by telling each of you that I love and appreciate you so much for each email and comment I've received over the past few days. I've spent time reading and re-reading each note... taking in everything that you've written and feeling a renewed strength to work through my pain.
Please forgive me for not responding to each of you personally... Just know that you have touched me deeply with your kindness. We are weaving an intricate bond of friendship together...and it has a far reaching and much greater impact than I ever imagined possible. Thank you so much for your words of comfort and your friendship!
It wasn't easy for me to admit that I've been struggling to keep it together since Christian's death... especially in such a public forum like the Internet. But I am glad I did...the support I've gotten in return has been immeasurable. Thank you so much for the many prayers and emails... You are all amazing people and great inspiration to me!
My steps toward healing have faltered, but then again, it's a tough road I am traveling on. My son died 3 weeks ago... and I know it's okay to be sad.
I thought this journey would be over once Christian passed away. But in truth, it's only just begun. The true test of my faith and character really began on the day Christian died. And there is much I still have to learn.
As parents, Ryan and I made the most important decision that we could make for our child...and that was choosing his LIFE over any other option available to us once we learned Christian had Trisomy 18. Some would say we chose the hard path...but, there really was no question in our minds that it was the right thing to do. And we were rewarded greatly by our decision...God blessed us with a beautiful son.
When Christian was born, we didn't see an imperfect little boy... we saw a Miracle. Words can't describe how wonderful the feeling is when Ryan and I look at pictures or videos of our son and we see each other in Christian's features. We created his life together...there is no sweeter feeling or stronger bond than that. Through our tiny little boy, God has taught Ryan and I more about faith, hope, and unconditional love than we ever thought possible.
I have much to be thankful for. And even though I have stumbled along this path toward healing, I am still moving forward.
September 8, 2008
I'm not doing very well... I am sinking into a black hole and I don't know how to help myself.
I've been beating myself up for days now... thinking there must have been something that I could have done to help my son as he lay dying in my arms... I've been tormented by that day. I remember his last moments so clearly...the little whimpers he made...just before he closed his eyes forever. My son died in my arms...and I've relived the moment each day, a thousand times a day ever since. And, I don't know what to do to help ease my suffering.
I lay awake for hours going over the events of that Friday...struggling to cope with the decisions Ryan and I made. We signed the Do Not Resuscitate on Thursday because we didn't want Christian to be put on a ventilator if he stopped breathing. We only considered his quality of life and I didn't want to interfere with God's plans for my child. But I never realized how difficult our decision would be... I thought Christian would die peacefully in his sleep. Never had I imagined that he would struggle for several hours before it finally happened. I know that Trisomy 18 can't be fixed or healed...I know it's fatal...but I feel so much anguish at my helplessness...
I remember begging the nurses to help him...knowing there was nothing that could be done to save his life. I know without a doubt that any one of the nurses who surrounded me that day would have moved mountains to help us if it were possible to do so. But still, I am Christian's mother...why couldn't I have done something to save him... I will never forgive myself.
I had no idea how difficult this road would be when Ryan and I decided to carry Christian to term. Not that I would do anything differently... Even though I only had a few days with my son, I will cherish those times for the rest of my life... But, I miss him so much. My heart is aching... and there is no relief.
How do I pick up the pieces of my life so that I can function normally again?? How can I move past the events of Friday?
Please tell me something that might help me... I feel so terrible these days.
Ryan and I celebrated 6 years of marriage on Saturday... It wasn't the kind of celebration one would expect for an anniversary or special occasion, but, it was still a special day for us.
September 5, 2008
Tomorrow is my 6th year wedding anniversary... It's also the original due date my doctor gave me for Christian's debut into this world. How differently things have turned out.
The reminder popped up on the screen of my blackberry today...not as my wedding anniversary, but as Christian's birthday. Another reminder... another ding on my heart.
I really am trying to get better emotionally, but everything reminds me of what I don't have...and that is my son. I feel terrible today.
September 3, 2008
Love in Him,
September 1, 2008
It's been 4 days since Christian's memorial and I am still trying to come to terms with the loss of my precious boy. Ryan and I have spent countless hours looking at photographs and videos taken of our son...so thankful for preserving what few moments we had with him. Our tears mingle together as we talk about our boy. His life was such a paradox...so many hopes and dreams shattered, but yet, he was an answer to many prayers...A birthday we never thought we'd have. Again, such pain and joy... two emotions which will forever be linked together.
There are no words of comfort which will help to ease our broken hearts. Not today, anyway. I miss my son so much.
Just before morning, I went into Christian's room and curled up with one of his onesies... I held it close to me taking in the smell of his lingering baby scent and wishing that I was holding him again in my arms. I closed my eyes and rocked back and forth as I remembered how he felt snuggled against my chest...the weight of his body so slight as it lay against me. I remembered the little noises he made and the softness of his skin as it touched mine. I will always cherish these precious moments with my son. Too few memories... but, they are all I have.
At times, the emptiness I feel completely overwhelms me.
I remind myself constantly that I must walk and not run through this journey...that it will take time to heal. But it is a lonely process. I am emotionally and physically tired... drained of every emotion except pain and grief...they are my constant companions.
It's such a contrast to how unbelievably happy Ryan and I were just a short time ago. The birth of our son was an amazing experience...A lifetime of joy felt in the 4 days and 3 hours our son lived on this earth. Ryan and I share our favorite memories of him often... we love how his hair looked after we took off his hat...wild and messy and just plain adorable. We loved how milk used to accumulate in the corner of his mouth after a feeding...and we loved how he used to peak at us with one eye open...seemingly shy and curious at the same time. We loved how he used to point his little index finger... a trademark he adopted early on... even while he was still in my belly. There are so many little things that we will never forget! He had such a large personality for one so tiny! I can only smile as I think of him.
I know that losing my son has permanently left a scar on my heart...but I it's a scar I will gladly bear... I had my son for 4 glorious days... God blessed me and my husband with an amazing little boy... and to feel this pain is a reminder of the best days of my life.
I don't know what God's plans are for my life as I move forward through this journey...but I do know he does have a plan. Already I feel changed by this experience... another paradox... fragile and tender hearted as I think about my son.. and stronger as I absorb how Christian's life has impacted me forever.
To my dear friends who have remained faithful in this journey with me...thank you so much for your continued prayers and support for my family. There are simply no words which can adequately express how grateful we are for each one of you. Ryan and I feel your love and appreciate how you've embraced us...especially my son. Thank you for caring and keeping vigil over our broken hearts. We Love You All.......
August 29, 2008
Tomorrow is Christian's Celebration of Life memorial... I've been praying for strength to help me get through the second most difficult day of my life... But, I'll admit, I'm having a tough time... a really tough time.
As I think about what I'd like to share about my son, one thing continues to resonate in my mind...and that is the legacy he's left behind in the hearts of many. Ryan and I are so completely humbled and thankful by the generosity of so many of you who have shared your hearts, your love, and your prayers for healing with our family.
When we learned Christian was diagnosed as having Trisomy 18 in early April, we were devastated. Everything we read and knew about the chromosomal defect was dismal. It wasn't something we would be able to fix through the miracles of medicine and we knew that our son would not have a long life here on Earth. But the thing that struck me hard was the medical phrase, "Incompatible with Life". It's harsh... completely void of any compassion for the families who are impacted by this terrible defect.
One thing Ryan and I were not willing to accept was that Christian's life would be a foregone conclusion... We weren't willing to accept that, just because T18 was considered incompatible with life, our son would not have a full and meaningful life. It's the main reason I started sharing our story with you... I've had little time to share my son with the world...but I wanted his life to have an impact...I wanted him to matter.
My son, my 4lbs., 14 oz. bundle of spirit and joy certainly HAS made an impact on so many people. He's made a difference to people he's never even met. My heart warms when I receive notes from complete strangers telling me they are more tolerant of their own children or they hug their kids more often... just because they've read our story. People have written notes letting us know their plans to volunteer for the Trisomy 18 organization or March of Dimes... people have even donated money in Christian's honor to the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Foundation. All these loving gestures from people my son has touched. I can go on and on with so many amazing stories of how people have been impacted in various ways. My son matters!
I am so proud and honored to be Christian's mom! And I am honored to call you my friends and family.
So, as I wind down this evening and begin thinking about what tomorrow holds... I will pray for strength and courage to get through the day and I pray the Lord provides me with the right words to honor my son.