October 29, 2008

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.....

Dear Friends,

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

Getting Help

Dear Friends,

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

A brief Hiatus...

Dear Friends,

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

I Saw God Today....

Dear Friends,

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

Mercy Me Homesick Video

Dear Friends,

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.

Love, Leah

Mercy Me Homesick with lyrics

October 10, 2008

The Talk....

Dear Friends,

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.

With Love,


October 1, 2008

Our Comfort Cub

Many people have emailed me asking about the Comfort Cub we photographed in Christian's garden. The funeral director told us about this little bear...and Ryan and I thought it would be great to have something that is a part of Christian that we could hold and cuddle. I can tell you, Ry and I hold him every single day... there is much comfort in having our little bear with us. The cub has a brass heart shaped locket in his chest which holds some of our son's ashes. The locket can also be engraved.

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....

Ups and Downs

Dear friends,

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,