Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Secret Garden September Meeting

The Secret Garden is a place for bereaved parents to go for comfort, sharing thoughts and feelings and reading of others' thoughts and feelings offering support and virtual hugs. Sophie, Hope & Carly very carefully pick the topic each month and post on the Secret Garden website and the rest is up to us. Here are my thoughts on September's topic...
What has helped you through out this new life the most. Is it your family? your faith? Support groups? A ritual? Music? Physical activity? A new interest? It could be anything. Tell us about how whatever it is has helped you. Please feel free to share photo's,videos, websites, support group information and so on.
Immediately after Chase's death, my family stepped up to the plate. In less than a day, two of my sisters showed up in the NICU. Patric & I had arrived only a few hours before. Friends arranged for our kids to be with us within hours of us asking the favor. My entire family arrived at my door about a day after Chase passed. I was so quickly surrounded by those whose hearts were breaking with ours and only wanted to be with us, in our presence to offer love and support. My house doesn't even hold that many but everyone piled in, no complaints, and I felt a level of protection that I have never felt before--completely surrounded by the people that love me most in this world. Though I was still in shock, physically and emotionally, from what happened and what was happening, I constantly had someone there with me taking care of me and the kids and Patric. I don't think I could have made it without that immense support. Though I know not everyone would want that....it was what I, we, needed.
As reality set in and time passed (after the first week) I needed answers. I read several hundreds of pages of medical reports from my records, the hospital records, Chase's records, the NICU's records....talked to doctors and nurses and friends....all to find out what happened to me and what happened to Chase. I needed something scientific to reason with what happened. I could not stand to listen to another "God's Plan" explanataion or "he was needed in heaven" story from people who had no idea what I was going through. This was certainly painful, but it was also therapeutic. I got (and still do) cold sweats and would shake when I asked people about the day I was in labor and the surgery and some times I would break down talking about it but it was part of my greiving process to talk it out. I went through seriuos trauma, not just a tragedy and this was all helping me get through it. I also had a very specific desire for those around me in my small town to know what happened since this was something that involved more than just us, but the doctor, himself, too. The magnitude of our loss is something that separates me from
many people I once called friends. The dismissal of it and that it even happened is something that I can't look past as I live with it every day of my life.
I developed several photos of Chase while he was in the NICU. This also became therapeutic I guess. I have just a few of him in Ruidoso and I only have a few of him with his eyes open. But I have my favorites and I have blown them up and hung them in my room or created different memory keepsakes with them. He is every where I look and not in the few photos I have up, but in the places he was supposed to be present, the cupboard that was supposed to hold his bottles, the bath that was supposed to be baby-friendly, the car that was supposed to hold his carseat, the sisters that were supposed to be holding him and brother that was supposed to be at home playing with him and the daddy that was supposed to holding him on his chest, not a new little puppy that has recently called our place home. And then I see him in the rainbows, the birds, the butterflies, the clouds, the mountains, the storms, the wind....everywhere.
I have always exercised and this has definitely helped me. However, every time I go on a run, my mind is replaying some episode of Chase's life with us. Sometimes this is good and sometimes I have to force myself to think about other things or concentrate on music. The support I have received from other bereaved parents has helped me tremendously. Writing to and reading about the daily struggles of other moms who feel the same as me has given me comfort in that I know others are on this same path I'm walking. When I think my thoughts are crazy or my emotions are out of hand and read a blog of another babyloss mom who feels the same exact way, I am comforted and know that I'm not the only one in this dark, lonely place. As every babyloss mom relates, I am grateful for that resource but I certainly wish that I never knew any of them.
My biggest comfort of all is also the most painful one and that is Chase. My focus is on my baby. I think of him when I'm sad. I think of him when I'm happy. He will never leave my heart, my mind, my soul.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mean People suck

I am a stay at home mom and I help my husband put on a big motorcycle event every May and an even bigger one every September. He promotes, organizes, markets and does everything to put this event on and I help in a very limited capacity--mostly at the time of the event and the few weeks prior. My vent today, at this particular moment, is that I just don't get people. Since becoming a stay-at-home mom, I have really lived in la-la land and I wish I could do that during these few weeks that I help my husband...but I can't. People are people and I just don't get how it pays to be nasty. I try to teach my girls how to deal with people, how kids can be mean, but if you are nice, they might not be. I tell them, give people (other kids) one chance to be nice, maybe 2 chances if you can stand it but after that, don't let them be mean to you....and walk away. Remove yourself from the situation. Well, this is a lifelong lesson. People DON'T change. And I'd like to rephrase that...some people NEVER GROW UP. How does it pay to be mean? I realize in the business world, you might have to. But as a consumer, unless your life or health is at stake, how does it pay to be mean?
If I don't understand something, anything, I have always tried to simplify. Take away the cloudiness, make it clearer. And since I lost Chase, I really live my life this way. But i just don't get it.
A few minutes ago I had a group of people walk in to my counter and want to come in to our event. My station is not for that; you have to go to another station to pay and enter. They were put off. Completely. Put. Off. It is a beautiful sun-shiny day, the first we have had in about 6 days, and they had to leave my station, walk outside around the building to the front to pay. All six of them made it a point to tell me how ridiculous it was they had come to my station and had to go somewhere else to get into the event. Two of them told me how complety awful this thing was organized and that we run this event terribly and we should have signs up telling them where to go.
Hmph. I was speechless. I just smiled at them as they left my station muttering disgust.
Nevermind the THOUSANDS of people that have been coming to our event all week who SAW our signs and knew EXACTLY where to go to pay. Out of probably 1000 people who had come to my station this week, they were the ONLY people to tell me this.
Why did he say that to me? Why did he feel like he needed to make me feel awful? I don't get it? Was it so awful to walk about 50 steps outside in the ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS sunshine to go where he was supposed to? I just don't get people.
Like I said, I know I live in la-la land when I hope and wish that people were nice. I just would never even THINK of saying something to someone like that....especially with the specific intent to try to hurt them or make them feel bad. Again...I just. Don't. Get it.
This isn't a perfect world, we don't run a perfect event, we can't control the weather, so yes, there were other complaints and other people that yelled at me or lied to me or challenged me about something this week. But these people, I just didn't know what to say to them. "Look here, read this SIGN." "Ten THOUSAND people came in before you and found where THEY needed to go." or "You are a fricking idiot and I'm not going to apologize for that." But I said nothing. I smiled and they walked away. And I thought of my baby boy. Chase wouldn't want his momma to be upset about this. And I closed my eyes and gave him a big squeeze. Just what I needed. Almost.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Song for Chase

I made a new playlist when I found this song. I could literally curl up in a ball somewhere and listen to it over and over again all day long. I read on Sally's blog that Annie Lennox had given birth to a stillborn so I googled it to find out more about it. Patric really likes the Eurythmics and I wanted to listen to her music again with the new ears that I have. Every part of me has changed since I lost Chase...especially what I hear when I listen to the same songs I have listened to for years. Now they seemed to have a whole new meaning.
Love Song For A Vampire
Come into these arms again and lay your body down
The rhythm of this trembling heart is beating like a drum
It beats for you it bleeds for you it knows not how it sounds
For it is the drum of drums it is the song of songs
Once I had the rarest rose that ever deemed to bloom
Cruel winter chilled the bud and stole my flower too soon
Oh loneliness Oh hopelessness
to search the ends of time
For there is in all the world no greater love than mine.
Love o love o .... still falls the rain
Love o love o .... still falls the night
Love o love o .... damned forever
Let me be the only one to keep you from the cold
Now the floor of heaven is laid the stars are bright as gold
They shine for you they shine for you they burn for all to see
Come into these arms again and set this spirit free

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Things People Say...

I think all of us who have bean dealt the tragedy of losing a child have experienced awkward moments or things that you can't believe people say. Having said that, we know that no one really knows what to say at a time like this. No one. However, I also don't know how to react to some of the things people say. The truth is, though, sometimes there are no words. And sometimes things are better left unsaid. And that doesn't mean to fill the silence with nonsense, but just that silence is golden. I don't know about other moms who have lost babies, but there are times I don't want to talk at all. If I can't talk about Chase, I don't want to talk. And most people don't feel comfortable talking about dead babies. I don't want to talk about other people, things, or what is going on. I don't want to talk about anything. There are times I do want to talk. And I babble. Or I think out loud. But because of my personality, I have tended to withdraw from society. I turn down offers to get together with large groups. Small groups are okay. And I have to feel comfortable or I won't go or worse yet, up and leave. But I wanted to share a few things that people, not knowing what to say, or thinking they have words to help, have said to me. Words that I ignore, or act like they were never said to protect them from feeling bad. And why? I'm the one who is hurt. Why must I feel the need to protect others. Protecting others is what got me in this awful nightmare. That's the way I feel, anyway. Those words though meant to be of comfort, are sometimes words that make me disappear to my own little corner of the world, grab my Chase blanket and cry....

"So how are you doing?" I don't know why, but just a simple & typical, "How are you?" would be a lot less likely to invoke tears.

"How does it feel to have some free time to yourself?" Are you kidding? Think about it, please, before you say this to a baby loss mama.

"What is your mom going to do, no one to babysit now that the kids are all in school?" My mom comes to take care of the kids for a week every year during our annual event we put on. This year, she was going to get to take care of a 4-month-old baby, feed, bathe, take care of and just oogle over for a whole week. Not so.

"Is your tummy leftover from the baby or are you pregnant again?" I know. You can pick your chin up off the floor now.

"Remember, don't tell anyone you were here." This doesn't belong here but it's one that haunts me...it's what my doctor said to me after he attempted to "secretly" break my water at 38 weeks; instead, however, I bled like an animal and 13 hours later he finally did a stat c-section to a lifeless baby that took 6 minutes of resuscitation to breathe on his own. This is why I have not yet written "Our Story" for my blog. My nightmare is very traumatic.

"Oh yes you did. Believe me, you felt it." Another one--what my doctor said after I awoke from surgery when I told him that I didn't really feel much pain during surgery, even though I did not have any anesthesia. "Your memory will eventually come back," he told me. Another haunting bit of information I could have done without.

Here is one that I got 3 different times when I was about a month after losing Chase from people who were merely acquaintances and certainly did not know of our tragedy. "Congratulations!" with a smile and pointing to my post-baby bump. Oh, how I wanted to be congratulated...but for the birth of my son, not because I still looked pregnant. Another one, "so when are you due?" Ouch.

I think I'm going to keep this list going. The things people say are just unbelievable sometimes. It's usually because they just haven't thought about how I might take it. But maybe it's because I just know so much more than I ever needed to in my lifetime.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Conversations with a heavy heart

Emma told me about a conversation she had on the bus ride home yesterday with the girl next to her. She said she told the little girl she liked her earings and the little girl said, "thanks." Then she started to talk to Emma and told her that her two brothers are sometimes just rotten to her and she can't stand it. Emma told the little girl that she's lucky because it's really harder to live without them and told her she lost one of her brothers. The little girl thought about it, told Emma she was sorry for her and said Emma was right.

I had a conversation tonight that I am not near as proud of, in fact I'm ashamed. I was talking to a mom I don't even know very well about our kids and their activities and I don't even remember how the conversation went in this direction but all I remember saying, and it keeps echoing in my mind over and over again, is "....we lost one in April." She acknowledged that she was aware of this and offered sympathy. I can't believe how emotionless I spoke. I can't believe how those words slipped out and I can't believe I was talking about my son. I must have sounded like a heartless, horrible mother. I am so completely ashamed of myself. It was like I knew I was going to say it and thought it would be the most "tactful" way to say it, but after I said it, I felt like it sounded like I was talking about a fricking dog. I hate myself for it. I can't believe I said that. I don't really care about the other mom, or how I sounded to her. I don't know her that well and I just don't care. But I feel so utterly rotten for having said something so careless about my son. He was here. He was real. He was our miracle...for the 4 days of his short life. And I feel like I just dismissed them. In one short brief, heartless sentence. And I can't take it back. Because there's no one here to take it back from. He's gone. And I'll never get him back. I'm sorry sweet Chase. I love you baby boy and I'm so sorry you're gone. I'm so, so sorry. I love you.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Home Alone

Reese went to pre-school yesterday. A friend asks me, "How does it feel to have some time to yourself at home--just to not have any kids around?" How does it feel? Devastating. That's how it feels. It reminds me of my broken heart, the emptiness, what is missing in my life. Right now I'm busy with work. I'm doing stuff that has to be done. But in a couple weeks I won't. I might need Reese...more than he needs me.

I've had a rough few days. It's probably hormonal...PMS, whatever. That's not what it IS, but that is what is probably emphasizing my emotions right now. I can't even explain my emotions though. I walked out of church Sunday. I started crying and couldn't stop. All I could see was Chase's "box", as the kids call it, with his baby blankets and flowers hung over it. I just had to leave. I got home, cried to Patric some more and held Reese so tight. I am so lucky to have him. I can't imagine surviving without those hugs.

Yesterday when we took Reese to school, he got scared. He started crying and couldn't stop (I know how you feel, buddy). In a room with just me, him and dad, he just fell into my chest and when we asked what was the matter, he said crying, "I'm just so scared." It was all I could do not to open the flood gates myself. He asked me to stay with him and I told him I would. I promised him over and over I would stay with him until he said it was okay for me to go. He said he didn't want me to go. I promised him with my entire being that I wouldn't leave him without talking to him first and he didn't have to stay if he didn't want to. I had done that with the girls, snuck out of the preschool or left them crying, knowing they would have fun once they got into their activities. But not this time.

I promised Chase so many things in the NICU that I can't live up to. I don't have the opportunity to keep those promises. I will NOT ever again promise my kids something that I can't keep. There was no way I was going to walk out of Reese's pre-school yesterday without him knowing I was leaving, IF he was okay with that. As expected, he warmed up after circle time and gave me the thumbs up. I told him I was going to leave and he was okay with it. All I could think of was Chase...and promises....and how I could not lie to Reese like it felt I had to Chase.

I picked him up just a short while later (the time flew for me, being so busy) and I couldn't wait to have him in my arms. I have constant reminders of the moment Chase died and when I drop Reese off, one of them is standing right there, dropping of or picking up their child. Seeing Reese, though, feeling him, touching, him, hearing him, erases it all, for a moment.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Wise beyond her years....

We had a crazy morning. Actually, it didn't start out too crazy, but it was one of those that got away from us and we were scrambling at the end. The girls got up, different times, had breakfast while I showered. One got dressed, the other wasn't finished yet when I got out. I made their lunches, got dressed and fixed hair and it was time to go. Only Emma didn't have her "stuff" together. She had her homework done, just not put in her backpack and she knew she had swim today but she didn't have her things packed in her bag. And she couldn't find them, either. (I hope this sounds familiar to at least a few of you reading this...) As 8:00 arrives, our scheduled time to leave the house, the girls are not ready and I start to get a little extra demanding (does that sound not TOO mean?). Karly, who was all ready with everything except her shoes at 7:00 am, doesn't have, guess what, her shoes on and can't find them, either. When I say, "Find Them," rather harshly, she throws me some dagger looks and I get mad. She is the queen of dirty looks (yes, the princess I wrote about in my last post). So I decided to call her on this and told her that when she gives me those "nasty" looks, it makes me feel the same as if she was calling me mean names or something. I asked her to not do that. She said she was "having a bad morning" so I told her to tell me that, not give me those looks, and I'd help her. Anyway, we made up and obstacle #1 was behind us.
Now for the whammy. I am all over Emma for not having her school stuff ready and messing around wasting time, making us late for school. I tell her there are consequences for this, from the school, not just me and she needs to be responsible. She needs to have her cap, goggles and swim suit packed the night before, along with all of her homework so we don't have to go through this in the morning. I ask her if she can be responsible. She says, "Yes" and I can tell she knows she messed up. But then she says, "mom, do you get mad at me when you are angry about Chase?" Ouch. Crap--not what I wanted to send her off to school with....in about 3 minutes. I told her absolutely not (I hope so) and that I am always angry about Chase and will be, in some respect, the rest of my life. But I told her that she is what keeps me going every day. Because of her, (and her siblings, and her dad), I can make it through the day, even though I miss Chase so much. Without her, I tell her, I couldn't do it. I need her. I tell her I'm sorry that I got mad at her, but even though I am sad about Chase, I still have to be her mom and I still have to teach her to be responsible and that is what I'm trying to do. I gave her a big hug, wiped her tears, told her how much I loved her and walked her into school. We joked about a few things and she had a smile on when she walked into the classroom.
Ugh. She is one amazing kid. I talked to her teacher briefly when she walked to her desk and told her a little about our morning....and our lives. EJ was all okay when she went in. But it doesn't change the fact of what she's been through and what she knows and how she hurts, too. She has an awesome teacher who is very in tune to her and is aware of how special of a kid she is. I can't even begin to explain to my daughter what she means to me. But I can try to show her every day, while I'm still being mom, too.