Monday, January 30, 2012

Certificate of Birth

On Friday, I got Allie's birth certificate.  Well, not really her birth certificate, but a Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth.  I really wanted one and back in April, but after a few months, I realized one was not coming.  I think the laws have changed now and in the state of Pennsylvania, at least, you automatically get one.  But that was not the case last year.  Once I started to do research, it was not that difficult to get...a $9 application fee and some general information about Gary and me and the hospital where we delivered.  It took several weeks but it was totally worth the wait.

I love having this certificate.  I am not sure what to do with it - it's not something you frame, that I know.  I have looked at it a few times since it arrived, rubbing my fingers on the paper and over her name.  I feel like between the lines it says, "Hey world!  I was here!"  It might be silly, but I like having a formal something to say that she was indeed here.

So much of my world is defined by the daughter that I had but that is not here.  My family, friends, coworkers...they all know the pain and agony of our past 9 months.  Most of them were at a baby shower that was thrown for us, either at work or at home.  Most of them have cried with us at least once.

Most everyone that is, except my new boss.  She started at my company last Spring, probably when I was out on leave.  She has been a great mentor these past few weeks and I really enjoy working with her.  But I do not think she knows.  I have wanted to tell her, but there is no real way to bring it up in an everyday conversation.

New boss:  "Today we are going to learn how to train a time management class."
Me: "Speaking of time management, did I tell you how I lost all track of time when my daughter died?"

See...it doesn't work!

The thing is, I want to tell her.  I want her to know.  But then, a teeny tiny part of me, likes that she does not know.  That she does not see me with pity or sympathy.  That she just sees me as a hard worker who is determined and smart and (maybe) funny.

One of these days, there will be a conversation where it will come up.  I know it.  I want it to.  Allie's story is my story.  Allie's existence is my existence.  But for now, I will savor the time at work when I am just learning the job and making a name for myself. When I am so focused on learning what I need to do and what I want to do and how it all comes together that I do not have time for anything else.

And at the end of each day, I will become "me" again.  I can come home and look at the pictures of my baby girl, and write about her, and remember her.  I can look at her Certificate of Birth and know that she was not just a figment, but she was real.  Even if she just lived inside of me, she was real. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy / Sad

More than friends...my "sisters"
My birthday was this past weekend.  It was also the first snowfall PA had seen in 2012.  But in spite of the ice and the snow, we managed to celebrate my birthday in style.  My college roommate drove up from Virginia and my sister-in-law drove down from NJ.  3 of my close friends also managed to make it out.  We started at a local winery for some tastings and then went to a neighborhood place for margaritas and Mexican fare.  There was not a lot of sobriety in our little group. It was super fun and I was very thankful Gary offered to be our designated driver!  He dropped us off and picked us up and was happy to do it.

As with anything I do these days, there are highs and lows.  So halfway into my second cactus painted glass, I started to feel sad. Sad that this was not the way I was supposed to celebrate my birthday this year.  I mean, I probably would have gathered the girls for a night out, but it would have been different as our baby would have been home, tucked soundly into her crib.  Or earlier in the day, before we went out, maybe we would have bundled her up and let her see what the snow felt like on her face.  I'll never know.  In the midst of being happy and enjoying myself, I was also sad.  Am I proud of the tears that I shed at dinner as the waiter tried to run as fast as he could from the table? Not particularly. But am I ashamed?  Nope.  Not really!

Gary went out of his way to make my day special.  He brought me flowers last week to work which was such a nice surprise.  I was knee deep in my first week in the job and it was such a treat.  He remembered a song I liked on the radio and looked up the artist and bought me their CD.  He wrapped my presents which was so cool as ususally we are so excited to give each other gifts that they are given in the origial Amazon box that they arrived in...

Last night my mom had dinner at her house for us to celebrate my birthday with the family.  Ella was there and looking so cute and when we all clapped as I blew the candle out on my birthday cupcake, she clapped, too.  My heart melted as I had one of those happy/sad moments.  Happy that my niece is thriving and sad that there was no cousin there to play and clap with her. 

Yesterday was 9 months since we said hello and goodbye.  How can 9 months feel like an eternity?

Bittersweet...happy/sad...highs and lows...no matter what you call it, it's all so damn hard.  I laid in bed last night, thinking about how lucky I am to be loved by so many, and how unlucky I am that my daughter died.  I know one has nothing to do with the other.  And as my mom pointed out to be when she called to wish be a happy birthday, we were not singled out for this tragedy.  It just happened.  It is what it is.  It's horrible and awful and a whole lot of things that there are not even words for, but my daughter did not die because of anything that I did...she just died. 

Sometimes, I admit that a part of me died that day as well.  I will spend the rest of my life trying to get that part back.  For Allie.  For Gary.  For me.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ebb and Flo

Ebb and flow or ebb and flood is a term used to describe the movement of water, often in relation to natural tides. It is commonly used metaphorically.

I have talked about water in the past - feeling under water and not being able to breathe. This week, I heard myself use the term "drowning"...yet another metaphor involving water.

We had out last session with our grief counselor on Monday as she is going out on maternity leave any day. (Insert irony here). We LOVE her and at this stage, do not want to see anyone else. So we are planning to wait till she is back to work, unless we have an urgent need to see someone else, in which case we can call the center and make an appointment.

Maybe because it was our last appointment for a few months or maybe because this month marks 9 months since we held Allie in our arms, but it was a rough session. It's one that even now I cannot really put into words. And if there were the right words, I am not sure I would write them as it was so personal and so intimate that it seems almost rude to share.

What I can tell you is this...our counselor said there is a popular expression that people in her field use..."stop shoulding all over yourself". Take the word "should" right out of your head. No more...I can't celebrate this occasion or that event because I should be home with an infant...no more I can't be happy because I should be with my baby and I am not. No more thinking like that. It gets you nowhere and it's just not healthy.

I am trying to reprogram myself and it's hard. But I am taking it one step at a time and sometimes I find that it works. As for the others, come on - it's only been a few days! I am working on it!

The other thing I can tell you is this...my husband was worried back in April that he was going to lose everything - his baby and his wife. I heard him say this before, but I am not sure I got it. I do not think my brain would let me process it. I get it now, G. I am still here. You have rescued me from the choppy waters. I hope I have done the same for you. Now let's dry off, lay in the sand and start this next chapter of our lives. Let's take care of each other and keep healing and when the time is right, be parents. Our journey is just beginning in so many ways. I love you.

And with that, I am packing up my desk as my new job starts on Monday. I am super excited and anticipate being super busy. I will write when I can - rest assured! Until then...heads up everyone. You never know when another wave is coming.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Wanting

I am a materialistic person. I love Coach and Tiffany and Uggs and well, anything with a label. If the celebrities have it, I want it. If someone I know has it and I like it, I want it. It's not a great trait, but I think the fact that I can own up to it is huge. At least I know this is not my finest quality!

When I was 15, I wanted a leather bomber jacket. It was the kind with the map on the inside...can you picture it? It looked kinds like this pic from Ebay. It was hard to find which is funny as back in the day (1989), they were all the rage! Anyway, 25 of my closest middle school and junior high school friends chipped in $10 each and low and behold, I got my jacket! I had a great party and I remember it like it was yesterday. I wanted that jacket so badly and I got it!

A few years later, I wanted a Discman. I was in high school then and probably still wearing my awesome jacket. I remember that party, too, and I remember getting my discman. I was so happy! I had to buy a special adapter so I could play music in my car, but it hooked up perfectly to my Sanyo boom box with detachable speakers at home. Depeche Mode, The Cure and REM never sounded so good!

Eventually, I stopped asking my friends to pool their hard earned money from working jobs at the Ground Round or the grocery store or any of the retail stores at the local mall and I either got what I wanted myself or from my family for Hanukkah or my birthday. But I remember that feeling of wanting something badly and knowing that I could get it if I really tried.

Years later, my mom and brothers told me what a pain in the ass I was...begging for gifts and talking about them all the time. I, of course, do not remember it that way at all! I thought I was cute!

My dad was not around for me when I was growing up. A bitter divorce and child custody issues with my mom left me being raised solely by my mom and step-dad. I think in some ways, I felt entitled to certain things as I did not have the love of a dad. The truth is, I was entitled to nothing that could be bought and it's been a hard lesson for me to learn.

So where is this all coming from? Well, my birthday is in a few weeks. And can you guess what I want? I want a baby. I want a baby so badly. All the people I know could pitch in all the money they have and I still will not have a baby on my birthday this year. And that makes me so sad. I was so sure I would be pregnant by now. I was sure there would be a baby on the way.

The other day, Gary suggested we look start to look into adoption. I am ok with that and I think I might, but I have not given up the hope of conceiving and carrying a baby that would biologically be Allie's little brother or sister. Not yet.

So here I am. A few weeks before I turn 38 years old. While I would never wish to be a teenager again, I sure do wish for those birthday's where I could ask for what I wanted and know I was going to get it. Is that so wrong?

Learning to Love Yourself No Matter What

One of the problems with being a writer is that I use words as therapy. By writing my thoughts and feelings, I can often make sense of the w...