Sunday, December 19, 2010

Grieving like a Tree

"One of the things we learn from studying the growth of trees is that during seasons when conditions are ideal, trees grow at a normal rate. However, during seasons when growing conditions are not ideal, trees slow down their growth and devote their energy to the basic elements necessary for survival...
What do you suppose pilots do when they encounter turbulence? A student pilot may think that increasing speed is a good strategy because it will get them through the turbulence faster. But that may be the wrong thing to do. Professional pilots understand that there is an optimum turbulence penetration speed that will minimize the negative effects of turbulence. And most of the time that would mean to reduce your speed. The same principle applies also to speed bumps on a road...
Therefore, it is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions."
- "Of Things That Matter Most, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor of the LDS First Presidency

I was so grateful to come across this article this week. My mind immediately went to the last two years of my "hermit life." At first people understood the need to withdraw. But sooner than I felt I was ready, I was prodded to "get out more," or I was whispered about for not "getting on with life" quicker. It's understandable, I guess. We live in a very fast paced world where people moving on to the next thing is not applauded but expected. Also, I didn't lose a "child," right? I mean, I "didn't even know my baby." I cannot tell you the anger these statements create inside.
Reading about the tree rings explained my journey perfectly. It's nature's way to slow down in hard times. It's not about sulking; it's about survival. In order to preserve what's left after the storm, you have to slow down and nurture the essentials.
As I have been on the road of child loss for two years now, may I share with you my heart. Don't expect permission or even understanding for your actions now. Unfortunately, losing a baby is so rare (not rare enough) and so different than much of the pain society experiences, most people will ignorantly judge you from afar and certainly be more than happy to give their two cents. People naturally relate their own trials to yours, not realizing they can't compare. Some people don't see the power or devastation of this baby loss storm.
Do what feels right. I felt, and still feel, like the only way I can get through life now is to simplify. That includes my daily schedule. I don't go out as much. I don't answer the phone as much. I don't do anything as much. And while I am overjoyed raising my new baby Trey, still I have not felt any urge to revert back to my old life.
I loved reading about parallels in nature. I want to be like a strong tree someday, rooted and solid. But I've been in a drought for a while. Now is about focusing on essentials. When my life is over, if it is dissected, I hope there will be many rings; history of a richly lived life. The rings that mark the lives and losses of Jackson and Claire will no doubt stand out. They may look like profound times of weakness. But to me they mark when we dug deep and found the most strength we ever had. When starving, your roots drive deeper into the hard ground, where many around have never gone, to find saving water.
I hope nature can encourage you as it has me. I hope you who are suffering will be affirmed on your journey. I am sorry for our pain, but aren't our babies worth it? I love my kids! I am proud to be their mother. I love my whole family and I feel my angel babies with us and a part of us every day.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

December 6, 2010 Candlelight Ceremony

We went to Scottsdale Shea's 4th annual candlelight ceremony in remembrance of our lost babys' last Saturday night. We didn't attend last year. That time away left me really looking forward to this special part of Christmas. It was simple and beautiful. All the amazing parents and family members were sitting within a border of luminaries. Special songs were played singing specifically to our children. Yummy refreshments were set out (my daughter helped to herself to at least 5 brownie bites while we were talking with other parents!). Becky Norris, mother of Delaney and Laney's Legacy spoke to us. A few of the things she said really echoed my own thoughts.
Recapping her tragedy and delivery in the hospital she said she felt and Intensity of emotions she has never experienced before. That struck me. That's exactly it! I've NEVER, NEVER experienced pain like what crushed me as soon as we learned Jackson's heart was no longer beating.
With subsequent pregnancies, or following fatal diagnosis' there is a heightened awareness and hope for every kick and bump inside.
Leaving the hospital was one of my hardest days--it was terrible to see my baby go one way and I go another.
A mother's love never dies.
Loss is like a wound: at first raw, vulnerable, excruciating. But then it scabs over and daily life gets easier. But if anything provokes it, it's tender and the pain comes back like it's a fresh wound.
Sharing my heart and opening up about my experiences has opened me up to support and strength from others.

 I loved seeing my dear sister in loss. She also delivered twice at Scottsdale Shea in one year (she lost twin boys and a little girl). Susan Friedlan served us both in the hospital and connected us. This year, we were both there with our little "miracle baby's." It was precious to hear them in the background cooing even as I cried. She and her husband are amazing. Every parent there and each one who's given back a baby inspires me and strengthens me.
Does Trey know how special he is to us? He was a little doll at the ceremony. Did he sense his siblings there?
I was, the first year I attended, torn up seeing families seated with us but holding their own baby. Now I am sensitive and slightly shy as we hold one, keenly aware that his presence there may cause pain to others. I hope he gives them hope. But I know nevertheless it's painful to see a little replica of what has been taken.

A reading from the ceremony:
In the rising of the sun and in its going down,
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
In the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring,
In the blueness of the sky, and in the warmth of summer,
In the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
When we are weary and in need of strength,
When we are lost and sick at heart,
When we have joys and we yearn to share,
So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us, as

National Share Office

Moving On? November 1, 2010

Grief experts say don't move for at least a year after you've lost a child. While at first being surrounded by painful reminders/memories drives you away, you may come to miss them if you flee too quickly. Our whole house is a reminder of our babys'...the kitchen where I tried to get creative with healthy recipes that I could stomach; the couch I camped on a lot; Jackson's well-prepared nursery, then Claire's more timidly prepared nursery, next Trey's "nursery" that was simply a junk room because we were unwilling to prepare another nursery. The bathrooms - we all know about those and pregnancy memories! The closet, where I frequently changed outfits as I grew out of them faster than I could hang them up. And for me, the biggest daily reminder of my life carrying my children-the staircase. Weird?
It was so laborious to get up stairs when I was pregnant. Jackson's giant feet were lodged under my lungs throughout his stay with me and I could never catch enough air. Stairs would make me dizzy! Pitiful to the normal person, but so it was during my pregnancy. I climbed and climbed, counting the days left til I would have my baby safely on the outside and be able to get back to racing up and down the stairs while cleaning up after my sloppy children. When the "safely in my arms" never came, the stairs became a memorial for my memories, hopes, and now cherished times with the little ones. There was not one day that I didn't turn the corner on my staircase and look at Jackson's precious photo on the wall with my other kids. Painful for a time, but I needed him to be there with my others. All too soon there was a tinge of guilt that tiny Claire's picture wasn't added to the wall. But she was so hydropic, a large photo might disturb people.
It was a year and 4 months after Claire died that we moved. (That's why I haven't blogged in a while.) As we prepared to leave, I grew emotional realizing that I was about to leave many tangible reminders of my life with my kiddos. I feel like the 5 years in that house brought nothing but pain with it. But then, for us who have lost our children so early, pain may be most of what we've got to hold on to. That doesn't sound right. What I mean is, though the memories of planning for, making (he he) and growing babies are now framed with pain, they are all I get in this life with my kids and I am fiercely protective of them. I have a terrible memory as it is, so I need all the reminders I can get. So while we were thrilled to get away from the shattered hopes and empty baby nurseries, part of me will miss that hallowed space where my children lived with us. That was their only home.
I love my new house. Losing children has changed me greatly. I no longer care for many things I once valued. We moved to simplify our life. We are in walking distance to my husband's work now. We are in a one story now! We are close to the freeway and close to the city. How wonderful to imagine that if I ever were in need of a high risk Doctor again I would be 10 min away instead of an hour! So while I am elated to "move on" and not get painful visual reminders each day, I feel quite aware of the seriousness of leaving our sweet babys' first home behind. I'm grateful that we kept the house (rented it out) - I'm not quite ready to cut all ties with my mecca of baby memories.