Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Time

Time is such a funny concept. Sometimes I lose all track of time and other times , I am all too aware of the time. At work, I am very aware of the time. 2 hours till lunch or 3 hours till I can go home. On the weekends, time matters, too. I can get 1 more hour of sleep in the morning or stay up an hour later at night since I do not have to get up as early on the weekends.

Then there is last week this time, last month this time, last year this time. There is also the forward looking time…next week, next month and next year.

Since Allie died, I have been consumed with time. The 37 weeks and 1 day that I carried her under my heart. The hours that I was in labor. The moment I said hello. The minute I said goodbye. The weeks since we came home without her. The time I was home on FMLA, buried in grief.  The time I went back to work.  How long I have been back at work. The time it took my scar to heal.  The time till I got my period back.  The time till we can try again.  The time in between the tears.


I am the kind of person that wears a watch. Since my first Swatch  , I loved knowing what time it was. I am also a planner so I like to know how many hours a certain task will take. Time was a friend of mine. Now I feel time slipping away…and it’s sad to me.

I want to "Turn Back Time" as Cher once sang so well.

If I could turn back time
If I could find a way
I'd take back those words that hurt you
And you'd stay

Well, that does not really apply as I never said or did anything to cause this loss.

Maybe I can put “Time in a Bottle” like the great Jim Croce crooned:

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day
Till Eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

Yeah, that sounds nice. Just Allie, Gary and me. Saving the days to spend together. I like that.

Time will one day be my friend again. I yearn to mark time in terms of joy again. I am hopeful that I will be able to.   In time, I will.

Friday, August 26, 2011

PTSD

Sometimes I feel like I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  When I looked it up online, this is what I found:

PTSD can occur at any age. It can follow a natural disaster such as a flood or fire, or events such as:
  • Assault
  • Domestic abuse
  • Prison stay
  • Rape
  • Terrorism
  • War
I certainly did not experience any of these things, and yet they agony of carrying a baby to term and losing her, makes me think that I could have it to some degree.  I only hesitate as I do not want to offend anyone who actually does, like our brave men and women who fight for this country every single day…

Right before we went to Chicago, I treated myself to a manicure.  I went to a new place as I was worried that someone at my old place might ask me about my baby.  It’s really kind of silly as I never went to the old place that much and I doubt the people there had any idea who I was.  Still, I was worried so I went somewhere new and fresh.  As soon as I sat down, the woman started asking me all kinds of questions.  Normally, I am the kind of gal that can’t shut up, but on this day, I just wanted to relax and enjoy the pampering and not talk.  But my mom raised me to be polite so I replied to all her questions.  Did I just get off work?  Yes.  Did I work nearby?  Yes.  Was I married?  Yes. Did I have any kids?  Pause, pause, cough, mumble, stutter.  No.

Oh Allie.  I lied.  And I have been keeping it inside me since.  It was easier for me to lie than deal with the questions that would have followed. Where is she?  How old is she?  So I lied.  And I felt so damn guilty about it.   I now live in fear that someone else will ask me about my daughter and that I will not be able to answer them.  I so want  to answer truthfully.  But any time I am in a situation where I feel like the question is coming, my face gets hot, my hands sweat, my vision gets blurry and I start to panic.  Terrific.  I am creating my own panic attacks!

I read another blog where a dad also lied when asked about his daughter.  I guess it’s survival.  He felt his daughter knew and was not upset.  Allie, I hope you knew I meant no harm by it as well.

So what's the verdict? Is there a name for what we have?  Addi's Mom and Margot's Dad and Kayla's Mom and Leo's Mom and Collin's mom and all the new friends I have made since Allie died...do you know what I mean?  Is it PTSD?  I don't think so.  Maybe there is no name.  Maybe you do not know what I mean.  In either case, that is ok.  The less people that know this pain, the better.  

I had an x-ray today for a possible fracture in my foot (I still think it's just a sprain but it's been a few weeks so it was time to get it checked out).  The woman taking down my information asked me my name, date of birth, marital status and I waited for it.  ASK ME IF I HAVE ANY CHILDREN!  I was nervous and anxious and scared and I felt the familiar symptoms.  But I was ready to say YES!  Yes, I had a daughter.  I loved her like no other.  She was all that is good and pure.  But the woman was done with the questions.  She gave me my insurance card back and told me to wait till they called my name.  Next time, Allie.  I will be ready next time. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Water

Some days I feel like I am under water. It’s hard to breathe at times, knowing that I am here and my baby girl is not. Gary calls it a “wet blanket”…the feeling you have when you are enveloped in grief. It was so awful back in April that I thought that was all I would ever feel. Most days now are better, but every once and a while, I can almost hear the water rushing in as it crushes me below the surface. If I stop and think about it, it’s just so sad. We had so many hopes and dreams planned for our little girl who never even got the chance to take her first breath. It’s unimaginable.

Yesterday, I felt the tears before they even came. I got up and cleaned the house and tried to keep busy, but I knew I was “off”. Gary had gone to the movies with a friend so it was just Zoe and me at home. I decided to draw myself a bath. We have a nice Jacuzzi tub and it had been a while since I took the time to just soak and let the bubbles do their job. So the temperature was perfect, the bubbles were pouring out and I gently stepped into the tub. And then the tears came. Over the sound of the rushing water and bubbling jets, I cried. And I cried hard. I so miss my baby girl. The hopes, the dreams…all gone. And some days, it’s too sad to think about. Today is her 4 month “angelversary”. Can’t say I am a fan of that word too much, but I think it’s as good a word as any.

Eventually the tears stopped. My tub is surrounded by mirrors (we really have to get rid of them!) and at one point, I saw my reflection and scared the tears away. I am not kidding. Yikes! The vision of my beet red face swimming above the bubbles with my damp hair hanging around my face was enough to snap me out of it.

I got out of the tub and lay on the bed. I cried some more. Then Gary came home and the tears sprung back. It’s been a long time since I have been like that. It was a stormy and wet day and I guess my mood was reflecting what was outside.

Gradually, I felt the mood lifting. We went downstairs, turned on the TV and tucked into some mindless, fun shows. I slowly started to feel myself. I looked at my husband, who loves me, tears and all, and I realized how lucky I am. In spite of all of the grief, I am still so very lucky to have him.

By the time I got in the shower this morning, the tears were gone and the water was cleansing. Another day was starting. Life was moving on. And I was moving along with it.

**Side note: I got a lot of feedback from my last entry regarding Not Nice Lady. Today, a coworker brought us in a big bucket of Hershey’s kisses with the little “Aleph” symbol that Gary created stickered to each and every kiss. She was thinking of us this weekend and wanted to do something special. I am overwhelmed and so touched. All these months later, people still recognize our pain and our loss and know that chocolate and kisses are sure to help! It’s so nice to work with such amazing people. **




Friday, August 19, 2011

Yesterday

I was sitting at my desk yesterday when my coworker told me that her daughter has a due date now. My coworker (we will call her Nice Lady), told me a few weeks ago that her daughter is pregnant. I will admit to a twinge of jealousy, but aside from that, I felt ok. I felt happy for Nice Lady and her family. Nice Lady started to ask me what tests I had when I was pregnant as she is concerned about some of the tests that have been suggested for her daughter. Concerned in that she did not understand what some of them were for. Since I was high risk (I was 36 years old), I had a whole barrage of tests and Nice Lady knew this since she often saw me come and go from various appointments. I was glad she asked me and did not shy away from talking about my pregnancy.

Next thing I knew, another coworker went over to Nice Lady’s desk and started to talk over me. This coworker, (we will call her Not Nice Lady), started saying some of the opposite of what I saw saying. In her opinion, all the tests put the baby at risk and are done for no reason but to scare the mother. I am not sure what else she said as she was rude enough to ignore me during the whole conversation. She butt into a conversation that had nothing to do with her because she felt like she had something to say. Not Nice Lady is not someone I am close with so I should not have been annoyed, and yet I was. She has not said one word to me since I have been back in the office. But she sure has plenty to say now. She who smokes a pack a day (and did during her entire pregnancy, too) is allowed to say what she wants because she has a living baby at home. Guess since my baby died, my opinion does not matter.

I am not sure if Not Nice Lady even knew she was cutting me off, but it stung. When she walked away, Nice Lady tried to talk to me again, but she must have heard something in my voice as she let it go. I put my ear buds back in, blared some Barenaked Ladies, and got back to work. Work, which is supposed to be my escape, turned into a place where I felt my experience meant nothing because my baby died. I lost the right to talk about prenatal testing because I do not have a baby at home. And that just sucks. I sit here with my stomach still stretched out from carrying a baby to term and yet I am not an authority on babies. Sigh.

The world is full of insensitive people. This is not news. But it’s still infuriating!

Monday will be 4 months since we lost Allie. That got me to thinking – do we want to celebrate the day we lost her or the day she was supposed to arrive in this world? Gary wants to celebrate the May date that she was due, but I can’t help but realize that she came in April, whether we like it or not. But regardless of the date, what do we do? A party? A balloon release? I have read so many posts from Baby Loss Mom’s and those seem to be 2 of the biggie’s. Well, a party with no baby seems hard for me and I am not sure how the balloon thing would work out logistically. A prayer service? Not my style. A memorial? Oh, that is so sad. I want it to be something positive to honor her and not something to make us all crumble to pieces. Will I be pregnant with Allie’s little brother or sister by then? I so desperately want to make sure that our first born, the love of our lives, gets the respect that she deserves.

Huh. I sure sound like a mom when I read what I wrote. Maybe I do know something about babies after all. And maybe I don’t. But please let me figure it out on my own. Let me talk about my pregnancy and my baby. It’s not the end of the world – unless I let it be. And I won’t.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sad

I was sad today.  Not sure why.  Not sure there needs to be a reason why.  I looked down on my shirt at work and saw one of my hairs on my shoulder.  I realized that I have seen a lot more hair on and around me these days that is not staying on my head.  In the shower, there are clumps.  It never bothered me before, but now it does.  When I was pregnant, I did not lose any hair.  

I am still at war with my body.  I have always battled my weight and now is no different.  Except that I really hate the way I look (maybe because it reflects the way I feel?).  I have been fairly good about working out, but I can’t get the diet thing down.  In that I do not want to.  I know I need to be healthy so I can get pregnant again, but it seems like too much energy to make healthy choices.  I know.  It’s crazy.  I read these words and wonder who wrote them.

I discovered these lyrics the other day from an artist that Gary turned me on to (Ok, truth be told…Gary and “The Voice”!)

"I’ve been a walking heartache
I’ve made a mess of me
The person that I’ve been lately
Ain’t who I wanna be"

I feel like that is SO me! This is not who I want to be!  Most days, I am better, but then WHAM!  Is it hormones?  Probably.  I am still adjusting to not being pregnant.  But knowing what it is does not make it any easier.  Oh, Allie.  How I wish you were here with me.  In my arms where you belong. Or in your crib that Daddy and our friends so happily assembled for you.  

Then I keep listening to the song:

"On my own I’m only
Half of what I could be
I can’t do without you
We are stitched together
And what love has tethered
I pray we never undo"

--Blake Shelton

I love that verse.  I believe Gary and I are “stitched together” and for that, I am so very lucky.  I must never forget what I do have and how loved I am.  Never!!

 
I am sure this mood will pass…even as I write, I can feel it lifting. 

 
Here’s to less dreary days and to more sunshine (and rainbows!).  One day at a time.  For Gary, for me, for Allie…

Monday, August 8, 2011

2 Stories

Over the weekend, Gary and I babysat our nephews and niece so their parents could go to a wedding.  We had the best time.  I was a little overprotective of Maddy (she will be 9 months this week) and I checked on her while she was sleeping more times than was probably necessary.  I think after you suffer a loss like we have, you do not take anything for granted you become very worried over the things that you cannot control.  I am happy to report that all my worry was for nothing and we all survived the night!

The next morning, after a successful night of sleep, we got up, made the kids breakfast and started playing.  The boys with their Lego’s and the baby with anything she could reach!  We were just relaxing and hanging out and enjoying each other.  My youngest nephew who turned 5 in May is quite a cuddler.  It’s the most darling thing when we climbs on you and burrows in.  It’s one of the cutest things in the world.  

Saturday morning, Ryan climbed up on me and patted my belly and asked if there was a baby in “there”.  I sat up so I could look him straight in the eye and I said, “No, buddy.  There is no baby in there.”  He then asked me if the baby that was in there had died.  I said yes, she had.  He asked if I was sad.  I said Uncle Gary and I were both sad, but we are a little bit better now.  He asked is the baby was with God and I said yes.  I felt so happy that he remembered that I was pregnant and that he was asking me questions about Allie.  I sat up straight and braced myself for more.  I can handle this!  I am strong!  Bring it on!!  Then he asked me for more milk.  And that was that.

Today at work, I went down to the cafeteria to get some ice.  I do this every single morning.  Today, as I was waiting to meet a friend, someone walked into the café that I had not seen for a while.  This is not unusual as my company is pretty big and we do not work anywhere near each other.   As I was nearing the ice machine and he the coffee machine, he said, “So how’s the baby?”  I was so taken off guard that I just said, “Uh, what?”  He said, “Uh, you were pregnant and had a baby…how is she?”  He looked at me like I had lost my mind.  I just said, “We lost her.  She was 37 weeks.  She was stillborn.”  The room was spinning and I was on the brink of tears and then he said, “Well you can try again!  My brother and sister-in-law tried to get pregnant for years and now they are having twins!”  I muttered something and eventually he walked away.  I wanted to say – we did not have any problems getting pregnant!  We had a baby!!!  She died!!!!  

I took a deep breath and came back to my desk and called Gary.  He was amazed this coworker had not heard.  It’s been 3 1/2 months after all.   But it is what it is and I think I handled it ok.  I went back to my desk and I did some work.  Because really what else was there to do?

Life goes on...the key is to go along with it as best as you can.  That is what I learned today.

Maddy - the morning after we babysat...happy and safe! 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Memory Box

Dear Allie,

Today I write to you and not about you.  Not sure why, but I feel like mixing it up a bit!

I have been feeling a kind of peace the last few weeks.  Ever since we got back from Chicago, I think.  I have been able to be myself again with my friends and be able to really enjoy my family.  I can embrace your cousins and love them, not because they replace you, but because I know you would have loved them, too.  I can be genuinely happy for my friends that are expecting babies within the next few months and even be parts of naming discussions for them.  You would be so proud of me!

Daddy and I are getting excited about the prospect of making you a big sister and we are enjoying each other as much, if not more so, than ever before.  We are starting to have hope again and it feels nice.  I went to my regular doctor last week to have a physical and make sure I am taking good care of myself and I am happy to report back that I am!

So it is with this new calm, I decided it was time to finally look through your memory box that we got when we were in the hospital with you.  Piece by piece, we went through all that we have tangible of your existence.  I held up the blanket they wrapped you in and felt in against my check.  I folded the onesie they dressed you in and it brought a smile to my face.  I saw the id bracelets that were meant for us – one for you, one for me, one for daddy and exhaled deeply.  They were all still intact and have never even been worn as you died before we even had a chance to put them on.  I saw your tiny little perfect footprints and touched them with my fingers.  I saw your hand prints, too, and put my hand on yours.  I saw the card that would have gone in your bassinet that said your name, size, weight…and I loved seeing it.  You really were here, although for much to short of a time.  But you are real and you were here.

We threw out the papers about grieving that came in the box.  At this point, we have found ways to cope with the agony of losing you and have a great support system.  We really like our grief counselor and are pleased with the progress we make in our sessions.  I have many bookmarked websites, lots of "favorite" blogs and some books and pamphlets, too.  I have also connected with other parents who have experienced what we have and one mom in particular who I think will be a lifelong friend.

We threw out the plastic flowers that came in the box as neither of us felt they had any true meaning.

Slowly we repacked the box.  We carefully put everything back, along with every single card we got honoring you.  There must have been to 50 of them.  We added the autograph we got for you from a semi-famous musician we met back in February.  He was the first person we told your name to and we were so excited to tell you about the experience one day.  We added the outfit we were going to dress you in when we brought you home.  We added the picture of the stick that said the glorious word “pregnant” that we used to announce your arrival to some family members.  We added a picture of me with you in my belly, standing with your Aunt Lauren and your cousin Ella, before she was born, too.  In went a letter from your cousin Ryan to me, wishing me a "nice baby".  Your 2D and 3D ultrasound pictures went in the box – all of them but the one we keep in a frame in our office upstairs.  We added the book about Wonder Woman that Daddy was going to use to teach you how to read.  I remember how happy he was to tell me that he ordered that very book.

The last item in the box was your CD of pictures.  The hospital was wonderful – they took over 35 pictures for us and put them on a CD.  The last time I looked at them was the day we got them…the same day I was discharged from the hospital without you.  But before we packed them away, it was time to see your face again.

The first image opened and there you were – dark hair, fair skin, bigger than I remembered!  You were so beautiful.  You were the best of your daddy and me.  But you were also so much more still that my brain allowed me to process back in April.  The image I have of you in my heart is the one I prefer – it’s you, but better.  It’s you through my eyes and not through the lens of a camera.  Still, we scrolled through each one and ohhed and ahhhed.  We talked about one day showing these photos to our loved ones, but not yet.  For now, they are ours and our loved ones also have images in their heads, I am sure, that we do not want to disturb.  

So in went the CD and we closed up the box.  We stored in in the fireproof box that Daddy has for safe keeping.  It will always be ours as you will always be with us.

I love you, sweet baby girl.  Thank you for reminding me how much love I have in my heart.  I promise to honor your memory with all I do and all I am and make you proud of me.  I am so very proud of you.

Love always,
Mommy

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