Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A bad dream

I had a nightmare--and I woke up in the shower. Sitting in the tub, the water falling on me like warm rain. My awful dream started out with me taking my kids to Subway for a free lunch. But they didn't understand the concept that this was a free lunch, subway school coupons for a free kids meal. Cuz they didn't want a kids meal, they wanted a 6-inch sub just the way they like it. I, myself ate the kids meal with my little one and let the older kids have what they wanted. Then my dream goes to the girls playing with their friend at our house. They are talking about taking piano lessons and my oldest says that she had to quit because my mom couldn't afford it anymore, in a nice pre-teen sort of tone. My jaw hit the floor. Where did I mess up in rearing my kids? Where did she not learn the value of a dollar? How spoiled exactly are my kids?
Then my dream goes to my daughter asking for a not-so-healthy snack. I tell her that I just cut up 2 bowls of fresh fruit and they are in the fridge for her to eat. She tells me, with her friend right beside her, "nevermind. And those grapes you bought today are disgusting." What? Did I not teach her how to respect me? Does she not know how she can politely tell me she doesn't like something I've fixed or bought for her? Where, where did I go wrong? My dream entails a few more of these moments where I question my parenting skills and then culminates with me exploding. On her. I lost it. I have to hold my hands behind my back to not touch her while I used very frank, very inapporpriate words to tell her what she has done that has so hurtfully disappointed me....and made me so inexplicably mad.
Then, in my dream, I miss Chase so bad. I am mad becuase he was taken from me. I am mad, so mad, at the doctor who took him from me. I want to scream and yell at him, "why?" I want to break things. I want to just cry and cry and cry and do. I ache inside. I can see myself holding Chase, my nose on his forehead, looking at his face, touching his tiny fingers and toes, squeezing his chubby legs.
I just want to go away somewhere. But I don't want to go away to some beautiful, relaxing place....where I get fixed. Because I won't ever be fixed. I won't ever heal from this. I want to go away to nowhereland. I just want to go away and be alone. See no one, do nothing, just get away from what happened. But I can't. Because it happened. It happened to me and there is nothing I can do about it, but deal with it. I read somewhere: you may fall down 7 times, but get up 8.
So I woke up in the shower. And I realized this wasn't a dream at all. It was my day today. But it's about over, though not quite. And I'm okay. Working on fixing things with my oldest. We have some talking to do. I have some stuff to "get over." We will make-up. It's okay, really, to have bad days? I am told. But it doesn't feel okay. Not when you realizing you are living your worst nightmare.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The grace of God

Part of grieving is always dealing with people or situations where no one knows what you have recently gone through. I have often wondered why it is I behave or respond to people the way I do. How it is that I don't just go crazy and scream in hysterics or cry uncontrollingly. The innocent, harmless questions people ask like, "how many kids do you have?" are all of a sudden so hard to answer. Reading other blogs, I realize that I am not the only one who struggles to answer this question. I am so proud to have 4 kids. They are all so beautiful. But I feel uncomfortable because I don't want more questions to come....like how old are they or where are they right now? It hurts to talk about someone who is a part of our family, but not with our family. And you don't want the person asking to feel bad or worse yet, have to explain to them (a complete stranger) what happened. Sometimes it's just easier to give less information. Then sometimes it feels good to unload. Sometimes it feels good to talk to a stranger. Sometimes it is the last thing I want to do....is talk.

I feel in shock most days, that this really happened. I feel guilty for the free time. The time I should be bathing, feeding, rocking, taking care of someone who would be completely dependant on me. It's an emptiness. Some days the reality has definitely set in. Sometimes I really feel like I have 1 less child than I should. Chase is gone and I will never see him or feel him again. I think about him all the time and I have to get used to the fact that I will feel like this forever. I will live like this forever. I will sleep with his blanket every night, sometimes under my cheek, sometimes clinched in my heart, one hand on my scar. I will talk to him every night before I go to sleep. I will see him in my mind sometimes all the time, and sometimes not. I will never stop missing him, though.

I do beleive that we are given a special grace to handle these types of things. My sister was with me shortly after Chase died when an acquaitence hollered at me, "hey, congratulations!" and pointed to what appeared to him as my "bump." She was aghast at what I must have felt. I felt a big hole in my heart; I completely forgot about what my belly might indicate. But I kept walking, gave this kind man a thumbs-down signal, said, "nope!" and never looked back. I was sorry that he tried to be nice....or happy for me. Because it was anything but a happy time for me. After Reese was born, I'd respond to that comment with, "nope, just had him a few days ago!" with a huge smile on my face. This time, however, I was filled with sadness. But like this rose from a rose bush I received at my baby shower, God has given us grace. There are beautiful things in this world---just sometimes they are hard to see.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Be Kind

I found out today that my little boy "preferred his head to the left with right upper extremity bent at the elbow." I can see it in my head so clearly. And I ache because I did not know that. I have to read it in a consultation report because I did not know that about my little boy. But somebody else did.

I have been feeling lots of emptiness lately. I sat watching Karly at gymnastics Thursday with my knees bent and my feet up on the bleacher in front of me. My elbows were on my knees and all I could think was how Chase would be right there in my hands, looking up at me, watching me. I felt an emptiness without him there. I pull my hands to my chest and they are empty. Chase is supposed to be there.

I spoke with a woman a few days ago who has been on a journey in many ways like mine and she described this feeling as suffocating and many times it is. If my life was any different than it was right now, I don't know if I could survive this grief. I am so thankful that I have the girls to constantly check on me. I have Reese, "my little boy on earth." They give me so much to look forward to every day. So much to smile about. The funny things they do. The sweet things they say. The wonderful memories they make. I can keep going because of them.

I wrote one of our NICU nurses a long letter thanking her for everything she did for us when Chase passed and trying to explain to her my behavior that day. I don't know that anyone knows how to behave in moments like those but I do know that there is no way to prepare yourself for it. I received a letter from her yesterday commending Patric and I on how well we handled the situation for all 4 of our kids. She said, "Healing from his loss will take forever. Be kind to yourself. Do not have regrets, but cherish the memories you do have..." She is right--just like she was right on a lot of things that day. But it's hard. It's so hard to not have regrets when I had just 3 short days with him.....I can recount that time in minutes. It's hard to be kind to myself when I wished I touched him more, sang to him more, talked to him more, kissed him more, smelled him more......more of everything. It just went so fast. And now at times it goes so slow. But I do cherish those memories. I have to. That's all I have. I miss him so much.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

it will never go away

There is no way to know how to act, feel or think when your child dies. It's not something you are prepared for. There is nothing I do during the day that I don't see Chase in my mind. Nothing. We all pile into the car and I turn around to back out.....he should be there. I go to somewhere with lots of kids....there should be one more little one here. We sit down for supper.....he should be there. We go play at the river....he should be in my bjorn. I take a shower....I should have already bathed him tonight. We go to bed....he should be in his crib.

I am walking around with a hole in my heart. I feel like it's a third eye, some people see it, some people don't. I wish for anonymity...it makes me hate my small town.

There is no script. For anyone. I loathe the awkwardness. People see you with a smile and think, "I thought she'd be sad." People see you sad and think, "she's not doing very well." People see you and wonder when you had the baby, and you tell them, "he didn't make it." There is not much anyone can say in any conversation about anything that I don't think about Chase a thousand times. I can relate everything to the baby who is supposed to be in my arms.

And I get angry. I get angry to a degree you can't fathom. I get angry at people, I get angry at decisions, I get angry at Chase's demise. And what am I supposed to do? Chase is gone. There is nothing that will bring him back.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My reasons changed...

I have been back to "work" for about 2 weeks. I thought I could do it. I thought I'd want to do it, keep my mind busy, get my bank account back on track.
I tried an early afternoon shift. I tried a late afternoon shift. I tried the late evening shifts. But I can't do it. My mind is elsewhere. I have my favorite picture of Chase, which is an almost life-size head shot that is such a perfect picture (I use that term loosely) of him, so vivid and so clear that it literally captured a moment in time for me. Perfectly. I touch it and try so hard to feel him. I love that picture. Anyway, I have that picture on my desk. And there are always other pictures I have sitting around my desk, sympathy cards, notes, reminders everywhere. I can't work without getting distracted from those pictures constantly. But I'm not going to take them down and clear all of that out. I don't want to. Why would I? I'll never take them down.
I can't stay focused with the internet at my fingertips constantly. Whether I'm researching my experience or reading blogs about the stories of other women who have experienced a similar loss, I just can't stay focused on what I'm supposed to be working on.

And then there is the plain and simple fact that the reasons I am working are just not valid reasons anymore. I wanted spending cash, the freedom to waste money on frivolous things, or to buy cute little baby things, without rearranging our budget, the identity of a working mom. The money is just not important anymore. I'd rather spend that time reading with the kids, or playing kickball, or looking at the stars. My identity is in better perspective now. I am who I am. Whether I work for somebody else or not. I am mom who "stays at home with us". I don't need to bring in a paycheck to make me feel any better than that.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

About Perspective....

A dear, sweet, long-time (not old!) friend of mine wrote me a message about people having a newfound perspective after a tragedy occurs in their lives. I was bothered by the message a bit, only because I feared I had been incorrectly portraying my feelings through this blog. So I went back and read what I had written.

A couple weeks ago I wrote about my perspective that I had after losing Chase. I am thankful for the perspective I have now. But I don't feel like it's much different than the perspective I had before Chase died. I don't feel that this is a "reason" for God or makes it part of any Plan for Chase or me or any one of us. I finally read my pregnancy journal this weekend and I wrote several times about how stressful life was with finances which often lead to arguments, and how many problems we had with this or that in our old house, but I was happy. Happy and blessed with my "perfect" family. My priorities were in check before Chase was born, just like they are in check now. This newfound perspective that I have, I most certainly could have done without.

There are days that are more filled with anger than others. There are days that are happier than others. I know it's hard for even those that are closest to me and that I talk to nearly every day to know what to say to me. Or to not be scared to say the wrong thing. I've been on that side and felt the same way. But there's something about this place I'm in that protects me right now. I hear things every day but I very rarely am upset by anything...even as obsurd or crazy as some of it gets. I know that intentions are good, I make sure and surround myself with only those kind of intentions. I appreciate the thoughts, prayers, phone calls, hugs, cards, & emails. It's just hard. It's part of this process, of living with our loss, of being hurt. But as independant and stubborn as I am, it's nice to feel loved. It's reassuring to feel the support. Because this is not something that is ever going to end. And I don't know how to make this feeling go away.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A 4-year-old's fears

Today I had to promise my 4-year-old little boy that we are not going to heaven. He told Patric he wanted to say a prayer for Chase tonight and I joined them. After his prayer, which is very private, very secretive, we can hardly make out what he is saying, he asks me to say a prayer. After my prayer, I tell Reese that I believe we are going to see Chase again some day in heaven. And he is very determinant that we (mommy & daddy) are only going to go to heaven when we are old. And since we are not getting old (I wish!), we are not going to go to heaven. So, "we're not going to heaven some day, mom," he tells me. Over and over again. He says that dad's grandad is in heaven so he can see Chase, but we are not going to heaven.

The ignorance of youth is beaming from him. His matter-of-factness is almost cute. But I can also sense fear from him. I know he is scared of heaven. He is scared to believe in or act like heaven exists. Because it's a place we cannot just pop in and say hi and then come back home. He wishes it was, but it's not. And he knows that. He knows it's a one-way ticket if any of us leaves him to go to heaven. Because Chase is never coming back. He tells me sometimes that he thinks "Chase is going to get not sick anymore and God is going to bring him back down here to us." But since that can't happen, as far as he knows, the only way we will see him is in our dreams and if we close our eyes and think of Chase, remembering what we saw in the hospital. To comprehend anything else is just not going to happen right now. There are no reasons, no explanations that we have so how could we expect him to try to understand heaven?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dear Chase

I miss you Chase. I miss you sooooo much. You had such a bright future, loving parents, fun sisters and a brother awaiting you so patiently. And we miss you. With all our hearts, we miss you. You are almost 2 months old now. I'm sure you would be smiling at us, making noises, watching your sisters and brother run all about the house and listening to all the noises outside. Kate, Spot, Angel and Sundae, and Harold Jr., I can't forget the fish, would all have gotten used to you by now, wanting your attention as well as ours. We would be toting you all around, every where we go. Mom would be holding you, but I'm sure I would have had to let your siblings hold you, too. Way more than the girls held Reese when he came home. We were all so ready to meet you. And when we finally did, we were sad to see you in such dispair. We looked past it, though, and we saw you. Our brother, our son, our little baby boy. You were instantly a part of our family. Even before you were born you were. But to finally get to feel you, see you and smell you, we were so happy you were here. But so sad you were hurt.

Now, when we close our eyes and see you, we see our perfect little Chase, unscathed by medical intervention. Healthy, chubby, smiling, kicking and looking all about. We know you are up there watching us, looking over us, with us wherever we go. We feel your presense. You are in our hearts always. I love you Chase and I miss you. Please, please, please visit me in my dreams. I long to see you again.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Time Away

I've been visiting my sisters for over a week. I've been doing a lot to keep myself busy, to keep my mind busy. There doesn't seem much that does not in some way relate to Chase, or remind me of him somehow. I love being with my sisters and nieces and nephews and watching the kids play together. Somehow, though, I am sad, watching everyone going on when something is missing, not only in my life, but in each of their's, too. Their newest little cousin, little nephew or grandson is missing.
There are times when I feel a moment coming on, and I brush it away. It's too easy to do because there are so many kids around that need soemthing or our project (clean-sweeping my sister's house) distracts me. I feel like it's building up, though. I really want to go back up to the mountain and have time up there where I feel close to him. I picked up my picutres of him that I carry everywhere and if I go a while without really looking at them, then when I finally do, I feel like I'm going back to a place that is ugly, dark, scary, threatening....everything I don't want to think about or remember. I want so bad to turn that "place" into something happy....I got to see my little boy for 3 days and hold him for a moment before he passed. But that sounds crazy. I don't know how I will every be able to think of those moments and be happy. How is that comforting? How can it be? So many tubes, monitors, IVs and blood in some of them, catheters; so many technical terms, meetings with specialists and the staff, so many questions about this drug or that tube, a tiny babe, yet a chubby, healthy looking perfectly formed infant lying there amidst a jungle of today's most advanced medical technology, trying so intricatly and delicately to save his life. It makes me feel nauseous. Sometimes I get really cold and start shivering, like I did in the hospital when it was all happening.
I've been journaling alot, trying to remember those last moments he was in my tummy, I used to love feeling him kick. That was my favorite part of being pregnant. (okay, it was the only part I liked about being pregnant) I remember hearing his heartbeat on the monitor all day long. And then when the monitor went silent. I remember seeing him in the hospital before he was transfered....remember seeing him for the first time. How I instantly bonded with him.....for those few short seconds.....probably less than 300 seconds. Seems like nothin'. But I will never forget it. I remember those 3 days in the NICU when I saw him, touched him, smelled him, talked to him, sang to him, recited him Reese's favorite story that he had heard millions of times already in utero. Time has passed. But the feeling, the hurt, the hole in my heart, hasn't changed. Nor has it gotten any easier. The kids are always checking on me. Thank God for them. But after talking to Emma a couple days ago, I really got a piece of her perspective. The pain she feels from losing a sibling; a baby brother. And I realized her pain is so different from mine. I ache for her. I know she thinks about him alot. I know she prays for him every night. Reese and Karly are really here for me. They hurt when I hurt. They've been sleeping with me since Patric went home for a few days, keeping me snug and warm. I can't imagine not having them. And after what happened with Chase, I feel so incredibly lucky to have them. I feel so lucky to have had those 3 without complications and that they are healthy. So incredibly lucky.