Thanks

Thanks for stopping in. There isn't really a rhyme or reason to this blog. It's just what comes to my head as I go through each day. If something I say resonates with you (positively or not), please leave a comment. It helps to know that people care. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Swimming somewhere

So...

I've been considering what to write for a few days. 

I've really enjoyed the last week with Mia.  I loved watching her open her presents. I loved getting to hold her on Christmas morning. I loved waking up and snugggling together while watching Sesame Street.  In so many ways I feel so lucky this last week. Mia is happy and healthy and so very wonderful.  I love her so much. 

I got to walk with her in the snow on Christmas Eve. I got to help her open her stocking. I got to help her leave out cookies for Santa. I got to dress her in her Christmas dress. I got to watch my favorite Christmas specials with her.  I got to enjoy all the best of the holidays with my little girl, and it was wonderful.

Dear God, I miss Charlotte.

There have been so many hard moments this last week.

At church on Christmas Eve, a girl sat in front of me with a small, purple, rhindstone butterfly barrette in her hair...and then the priest said something about loved ones who we wish were here with us this holiday but were in heaven...

It's been windy...but there were a couple of days when I didn't hear the chimes.

It was the testing week again. If this was our month, we could have gotten a positive test on Christmas day. I believed it this month. I think maybe I believe it every month...but I believed it so much. I thought...she'd come back to us...as least in part. I thought I'd get to feel her with us on Christmas.

It's a no for this month.  I'm so tired.

I feel guilty for being sad...being upset. I know I am blessed in so many ways. I have the most amazing, perfect, smart little girl...and I lost the most amazing, perfect little girl. How do you feel when you have everything and you've lost everything at the same time?

I'm going to attempt to start pulling my head out of the sand today.  It scares me...but I think the world may be starting to notice that, in everything except Mia, I've just been treading water since July. I'm mot sure where I'll swim to...but I think I have to move.  At least I hear the chimes today.

Wish me luck...and love. I can always use more love.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Shopping for Charlotte

We finally did Charlotte's Christmas shopping today.  It was hard, but in a good way.  We got a baby swing, two blankets (purple with butterflies), four pairs of jammies (again, with butterflies), a pink monkey lamaze toy, a pink butterfly rattle, and a portable butterfly mobile. We're going to donate it all to a local charity soon.

I cried...a lot...but I'm happy that we're remembering our girl like this.  It was windy today, so I heard the windchimes all day.  I think that means she approves.

Merry Christmas Charlotte--Momma and Daddy love you.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Preparations

I'm finally, officially, on winter break...thank the Lord.  I've been looking forward to the next few days with such anticipation for weeks, now.

Tomorrow afternoon Mike and I are having a date day.  My parents are coming over to watch the Meemers, and Mike and I are going out...just the two of us.  The last time we did this was two weeks before Charlotte was born.  I'm not kidding.  ...well, there was the 45 minutes we went out together to pick up her ashes...but that doesn't count, I don't think.  We're going to go have lunch together (at one of the new places in Stonebridge), we're going to go do stocking stuffer shopping at Target, and we're going to do Charlotte's Christmas shopping.  I know we waited a little too long for that, and it's not quite a date day activity, but I'm still looking forward to it.  Finding the positives.

Tomorrow night we're going to make Christmas cookies and watch Christmas movies.  Mike's never made Christmas cookies with me before...and, while I don't think he'll REALLY enjoy it, I think he'll enjoy the spirit of it.  Mia will get her first chance to sneak some cookie dough. :-)  I need to remember to take pictures with my real camera, not just my cell phone.

Sunday afternoon we're having lunch in Occoquan (a cute little town chock-full of little independent businesses) and going to the Golden Goose to pick out Christmas ornaments and a new piece for my village.  This is always one of my favorite things to do during the Christmas season...everything just feels so full of expectation and excitement.

Sunday evening we're going to see the Bull Run Festival of Lights. We've done this the last 5-7 years or so.  Mike doesn't always get to go, but we've scheduled it for when he's not working this year.  We're going to be turning Mia's car seat around for the occasion so that she can see all of the fun lights as we drive through.

Monday is Christmas Eve, which is actually my favorite holiday.  It's all about family, and being with the people you love, and being grateful and peaceful.  I want to try to go have lunch near the mall...to see all the men panicking and doing last minute shopping for their wives.  I may or may not get to go to church with my parents, and then everyone is coming back to our house to get Chinese food.  That's one of our family traditions, since restaurants used to close on Christmas Eve.  As the sanctity of holidays has wandered, other restaurants are now open on Christmas Eve, too...but we'll stick with Chinese.

And then Tuesday is Christmas.  We get to do presents at home first...stockings and Santa and our gifts and all of that.  Then we're going over to my family's house for a few hours...more stockings and gifts and brunch.  Then we're going to Mike's parents house in the evening...again, more presents and Christmas dinner.

Oh, and Mike's birthday is Wednesday....so I'm going to be (at some point) planning and executing a special meal for him, complete with chocolate cake/cupcakes, as they're his favorite. 

In the midst of all of this, it's also the week when we would find out if we got pregnant this cycle.  I'm a little worried that if it's a no it will put a huge damper on my mood.  I'm trying really hard not to think about that, as I'm still in the foolishly optimistic phase that I go through every month at about this time, but in the back of my head I'm worried.  Luckily, I won't know for SURE that it's a no until next weekend...so I'll get through Christmas with at least a shred of hope.  I'm really hopeful that I'll be able to give Mike a REALLY good Christmas gift, but it seems like as soon as I start envisioning that things go downhill, so I'm trying to put it out of my mind.

I'm so excited for Mia to experience all of this.  I know we're in for a VERY busy few days coming up, and I know we're in for some overtired, overstimulated meltdowns along the way, but the best part of these holidays, for me, are watching my daughter do all of this for the first time.  She sort of gets it now.  She knows who Santa is.  She realizes that she's seeing her family members more often.  She gets that we're excited.  She can eat the cookies.  She can unwrap the presents...

...how wonderful and amazing is that??

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Feeling grateful

My daughter is amazing. It's very tempting sometimes to simply sulk and be angry and withdraw...but my daughter...she's wonderful.

My heart just hurts with love for her. I know that sounds super cliche, but that doesn't mean it isn't true. Sometimes I just feel desperate to hold her and snuggle her and not let go. She's been growing up too fast since the day she was born, but I'm so proud of her every day.

So grateful for her today. I'm grateful for her every day, but some days overwhelm me. I will never take my child for granted.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Really?

Got this in the mail today. Really, Enfamil? Did you not get the memo? Bah.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Calendars

My sister makes a photo calendar every year with pictures of her kids and Mia, listing everyone's birthdays and anniversaries and such.

She called to ask for pics of Mia for next year's calendar.  So as I sifted through the many, many pictures of Mia, I got to July. Just for a second, I considered sending a picture of Charlotte for the calendar.

The thing is, only my mom has ever asked to see her pictures. My dad and Kris looked at one or two of the cell phone pics right after she was born...but not the others. So, yeah, I don't think she's going on the calendar.  I don't think it would occur to anyone that she might belong there.

I also considered requesting that her birthday, July 22 be added as one of the dates...but again, I don't think anyone else gets why it should be there...if they did, they would do it without prompting. If they don't...well if they don't then I don't want it on there...her birthday should be remembered by people who want to love and remember her.

This sounds like I've already resigned myself to being disappointed.  I know some people won't understand why I don't just insist on putting her birthday in the calendar...but I have a desire to guard it against people who don't remember or care about my Charlotte...so I'll wait and see.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Meh

Lonely. Nothing else to say that I haven't already said.

Friday, December 7, 2012

I was really hoping you would just shut up...

I had a late lunch with some other yearbook sponsors at the end of last year...late June.  As a part of the proceedings, my then-current pregnancy came out.  The yearbook rep was asking if I would be able to make it to the adviser holiday get together this year (which was today), and I told her no, as it was two days after my due date. 

When Charlotte was stillborn, I texted the yearbook rep to let her know as I did with all of the other people I had told...but I didn't tell the other yearbook advisers as I literally see them twice a year.  I don't know them well enough that I wanted to share my personal heartbreak and breakdown with them...

I guess I figured that if I showed up today, clearly not less than a week postpartum, they would be intelligent enough and tactful enough to just keep their mouths shut.  Yeah, I'm stupid. 

The one adviser had clearly forgotten about it and, when I refused an appetizer, asked me if I was "pregnant or something."  I looked down, avoided eye contact, and said very clearly and firmly "no."

The other adviser DID remember that I had told them this, but had somehow gotten the timing lost.  She asked how my baby was.  I thought it might spoil the mood of a holiday event to say she's dead.  I also still do not know or care enough about this woman to tell her about my life.  I played it off like she was asking me about Mia. 

That was a bit of a kick in the gut.  I should have been expecting it, but, stupidly, I felt rather blindsided. 

I'm an idiot.

Mike's letter

For Charlotte's due date, Mike wrote his letter to Charlotte...there was a space for it in her baby book. 
I wrote mine the day after she died, with minimal revision or planning...as I do here. 
That's not Mike. He put a lot of time and thought and heart into what he wrote to our daughter...and he has graciously allowed me to share it here:

My beloved Charlotte,

I am writing to you on the day that the doctors predicted we would meet.  Doctors, like all people, are not always right.  There is so much imperfection and sadness in the world.  Were this a better place, I would be holding you on this day.

It saddens me to think that I will never truly get to know you.  All I can do is imagine what kind of a person you would grow up to be.  It feels so unfair for a life so pure to not be given a chance.  Yet I find solace in the fact that you never had to experience pain or sadness.

Your father is not a religious man.  I do believe that there are things about this world that we, as mere people, cannot understand.  Perhaps it is out of hope, optimism, or just pure desperation, but I believe in my heart that you have a purpose greater than just being our child.  You are our guardian angel.  If we are lucky enough to have another child, it will be because of you.  When our family is blessed with good fortune, I believe you will be watching over us.

I want you to know that your family will always love you.  We may not get to watch you grow, but we will never forget you and how you've touched our lives.  We will celebrate your birthday every year.  We will tell your big sister all the time about her guardian angel.

Whatever road down which life takes us, we will travel it with you in our hearts.  You were too perfect for our world, but you are forever a part of our family.

With so much love,
Dad

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ask me about my daughter

You know those pins that older people wear that say things like, "Ask me about my grandkids" or "Ask me about my golf game"?  I want one that says "Ask me about my daughter."  I kind of want one that says, "Ask me about my dead child." but I don't think that would go over well.  Why don't people ask?  Why don't people acknowledge that I had a child who died?  Why is it so hard?  Do people not realize that by saying nothing they are saying the worst thing of all?  I just wanted to talk about my daughter today...all someone had to do was ask. 

Are you fucking kidding me?

A woman on facebook today posted that her cat died...23 condolence messages in an hour. I posted about Charlotte on October 15...22 messages in two months.  Today, on the day I feel like I need people to notice and remember how it should be...a cat gets more notice than my daughter. I quit life. I....quit.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Not a happy day

Tomorrow is Charlotte's due date...or was her due date.  I guess it still is her due date, though she is no longer due.  She's done.  I think I'm tired.

I'm not sure what to feel...

A part of me wants to delve down into those feelings of sadness and hopelessness and loss and regret.  I want to write and ramble about what I think and how I feel until it's all out of my system and I can breathe again. I want to share my pain with the anonymous people that the stat tracker says read this blog.  Do you care, faceless people?

Another part of me feels like I need to curl up around my grief tomorrow.  Tomorrow isn't a day to celebrate who my daughter was and is.  Tomorrow is a day to mourn the fact that I'll never know what color her eyes are.  Tomorrow is a day to long to hold her in my arms for just one more second of my life.  I don't know that I want to get that sadness out of my system....maybe, just for tomorrow, I should just let the sadness win.  I shouldn't look for relief from the pain.  I think maybe she deserves to have me ache for her.  More weight.

Another part of me wants to tell people about it.  I want to stop random strangers on the street and tell them that my daughter is gone.  I want to tell anyone who will listen, and maybe some who won't, that my angel is perfect but she's gone...she's perfect and she's gone...that seems like a contradiction.  I need people to care.  I know that it doesn't matter what other people think...I know it just matters that I know, and I remember, and I love.  Still, it seems like the world should care.  It seems wrong, in so many ways, that everyone is just going about their lives and my daughter is dead.  I don't want to use a euphemism.  It's a harsh reality.



So where does that leave me?  I don't know.  I don't know what to feel or how to act or what to say.  I'm expected to get through my day like a normal human being tomorrow, but I don't feel like one.  So many people in the world just don't understand.  They can't.  I could never begin to explain, and they wouldn't want to listen.  So how do I function?  I don't know.




I remember you, baby girl.  I miss you, baby girl.  I love you, baby girl.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Just Sad.

I'm sad. Just sad. Charlotte's due date is Wednesday, and I don't know that anyone remembers.  I know it's just a day...and it's not even the right day because she would have been here already by scheduled c-section...but it's important symblically...to me.  I want to talk about her this week...but no one is mentioning her, so I'm not.  Just sad. I miss my angel.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Crazy

I've lost my mind. The fat lady has sung, and I'm not ready/able/willing to accept it. My mind is still seeing things that aren't there.

*sigh*

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Really, facebook? Really?

I get very annoyed with the number of people who like stupid things on Facebook and comment on stupid things on Facebook and ignore everything that I post.  Am I stupid things? I don't think I'm stupid things,  but other people seem to. I posted a video of Mia today looking really cute and eating with her spoon, and she's only 18 months old so I think that's very cool and impressive...and that was 2 hours ago and no one has commented or cared... while the person who posted 17 lolcats in a row now has 20 to 30 likes each and multiple comments and I don't understand.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hiding

I've been hiding.  From life.  From the reality that Charlotte should be here now.  From the reality that we're not going to get pregnant again before her "official" due date.  From the lonliness.

I'm behind on my days of thanks.  Maybe tomorrow I'll catch up...but I don't have the energy for it today. 

Mike's back at work again tonight, marking the first day I haven't seen him for more than a half hour since last Tuesday.  I had a half day last Wednesday, so we got to spend a few hours together before he went to work.  Then I was off on Thursday and Friday, so we got to spend all day together until 4.  He was off Saturday through Tuesday, and then he worked during the day yesterday, so he was home in time for dinner.  Today he's back to work.  It's hard when I forget how much it's a bummer to be here alone.  It's so much easier to be happy and distracted when I have another human to talk to. 

I'm trying to decide what I want to do on Wednesday to acknowledge Charlotte's due date.  I was thinking about going shopping for her Christmas presents.  I plan to shop for her as though she's still here, then donating the toys/clothes/books to Toys for Tots.  I like to think she would like it if her memory helped another little baby that's still here. 

....I miss her.  Some days still more than others.  Today, I miss her.  I wish the wind would blow so that I could hear her wind chimes.  They help fill the butterfly spaces when it's cold outside.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Day 22 of thanks...Thanksgiving

On thanksgiving, i am thankful for the love in my life. Sometimes it doesn't feel like enough...but it's what I need, in times of joy,sadness, and all the times between. 
I think of the movie Love Actually...what I love about that movie is that the love we think we want and need isn't always the love we get...but the love is still there. There may not be a happily ever after or two perfect children like clockwork...but there's love.

You have to be grateful for that.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

10 months for you...

So, in the memoir I read, there's a section when she wrote about other people having children...

I feel like there should be a way to stop pregnant people from doing pregnant people things when you have a loss, or around your due date.  The doctor should be able to go to the woman and say, "Yes, I know it's normally a 9 month process, but Kait can't really handle hearing about your new baby right now, so it's going to be 10 months for you..."  That seems fair.

Charlotte's due date is only 2 weeks away...and I'm struggling a lot more this week with hearing and seeing things about new babies and pregnancies.  I'm trying hard to not be swept away by the "should be"s and remember and be thankful for what I do have...I have a lot of good in my life.  Especially with tomorrow being Thanksgiving...I want to be thankful...

...it's just hard right now.

Days 20 and 21 of thanks

For day 20 of thanks, I am/was thankful for DVR.  I get that this is a stupid/silly thing to be thankful for, but it's nice.  When Mia decides she wants to turn off the tv, I can rewind or pause.  When bath time falls in the middle of Dancing with the Stars, it's OK because it's being recorded.  DVR is a pretty amazing thing.

For day 21 of thanks, I am thankful for Mia.  Yeah, I know, I said her already...but I think she deserves two days.  She's the sweetest, most adorable little person in the world, and I love her dearly.  She's learning to fist bump...seriously.  She also "blows it out" after fist bumping.  I don't think it gets much cuter than that.  She loves her animals, though I caught her trying to ride the dog like a pony today...luckily the dog didn't mind too much.  She is the reason I'm able to be OK.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Days 17-19 of thanks

Darn it...running behind.  Life keeps getting in the way of my unnecessary and unread blog musings...the nerve!


Day 17 of Thanks--I am thankful for that feeling you get when you finally do something you've been putting off for a long time.  I finally folded and put away the last of the maternity clothes, and, while the process sucked and was painful, I feel much better for being done with it.  I also, as always, went ten steps farther once I started the project, cleaning out all the clothes I never wear to give away.  Really, if I haven't folded clothes since August, and something is still sitting folded in the drawer, CLEARLY I don't wear it or want it, and it should go away.  I feel cleansed, literally and metaphorically.  It's a good feeling.

Day 18 of Thanks--I'm thankful for hot showers on a cold day.  There's really not much better than getting into a hot shower when you're feeling a little cold and dreary.  Those are the showers that make you do the crazy, pampering stuff that you usually don't have time for...things like exfoliating your feet, or trying a mud mask, or using a deep conditioner.  It's a good feeling.

Day 19 of Thanks--I'm thankful for technology.  It's a yearbook deadline today, and I am the yearbook adviser.  Much as I whine and moan and get headaches and tear out my hair...I am so, completely, incredibly grateful for computers and the internet and design software.  The thought of cutting and pasting and measuring everything literally makes me shudder.  I am thankful that I am sitting in my own home right now, wearing my fuzzy, polka-dot bathrobe and mismatched fuzzy, pink socks, getting ready to drink a cup of coffee at my desk...not at school with a ruler and a bottle of glue.  Yeesh.  It's a good feeling.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

More legitimate reasons for not folding laundry

I haven't folded or put away laundry since August.

Let me be clear: I have DONE laundry...I just put the clean laundry in baskets which make it to my bedroom but never actually get folded.  Clothes get hopelessly wrinkled, but they're clean and available.  Still, why the sloth?  Why haven't I put these things away?

The loads of laundry I did after Charlotte died were filled with all of my favorite maternity clothes.  See this blog post for my feelings on my maternity clothes.  The thing is, once I'd washed and dried those clothes...I didn't really want to touch them again.

I didn't want to fold a t-shirt and think, "I should be wearing this today."  I don't want to put away the pretty sleeveless top with the lace detail and think, "I was so happy when I wore this the last time."  I didn't want to pull out my favorite black stretchy pants that felt like yoga pants but looked like slacks and think, "I wore this the day she died."

I finally put them away tonight.  I thought all those things.  I thought many other things.  It was really hard. 

It was actually harder than I thought it would be.  If things had been different, I wouldn't be going back to school after Thanksgiving.  I would be preparing for my new baby right now.  I'd be pulling out the baby stuff and finding ways to meld it with Mia's big girl toys.  I'd be washing and folding all of the baby's clothes.  I'd be so many things that I'm not now.  I know my maternity clothes are just clothes, but they've become this painful extended metaphor for my life, my emotions...maybe my sanity to an extent..  I left them wrinkled in the bottom of a laundry basket, hoping that if I just ignored them and didn't deal with them, maybe I could pull them out when I'm happy again.  

But I finally put them away tonight.

Now, to be fair and transparent, I did not put them folded into a laundry basket and into the closet...they're still in the drawers of my dresser.  This was not, perhaps the biggest leap in my healing process...but it was a step.  I'm not ready to take them out of the drawers yet.  I still have hope...probably too much hope, but hope none the less...that I'll need them again soon.  I still have hope that I'll feel Charlotte's influence on my life and be able to wear those clothes with happiness again.  I'm not ready for them to go away.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Days 15 and 16 of thanks

For the 15th of November, my 15th day of thanks, I'm thankful for the wind. 

I know that sounds very odd and granola, but I mean it.  Think about it.  When you need something...a prayer, a hug, a hand to hold...if you close your eyes and feel the wind blow on your face, you don't feel so alone.  The wind is healing.

In Tibet, they hang prayer flags to be blown by the wind, and they believe the wind carries the prayers up to the g/God(s).  They also believe the prayers clean the air of the wind as it passes.  Sometimes they hang bells as well which ring when the wind blows, letting them know that the prayers and mantras are being carried.  It's a beautiful thought.

I have Charlotte's wind chime hanging on my front porch.  I feel toward it similar to a Tibetan prayer flag.  It's my prayer and memorial for my daughter, and, when I hear the chimes, I know that my hopes and love for her are being carried.  I feel that she's near when I hear the chimes sound.  It's comforting, especially when I feel such need of comfort.

The wind is like a fresh start, a prayer, comfort of nature.

_________

For the 16th of November, my 16th day of thanks, I am thankful for Christmas music.

I realize that this is a complete mood shift from the 15th.  My bad...but not really.

The local radio station begins playing Christmas music on the Friday before Thanksgiving.  They start it when Delilah, the nationally syndicated radio host, starts playing it on her show...which is today.  I got to listen to Christmas music on my way home from work today.

I dive down and snuggle into Christmas.  I love the tacky claymation Rudolph, the Boris Karloff Grinch, and poor, sad Charlie Brown.  I love tinsel, garland, and lights (though not blue lights! Christmas lights should not look sad!).  I love setting up my Christmas tree, baking cookies for Santa, and wrapping presents.  I spend far too much money on wrapping paper, ribbons, and tags to wrap the presents I also spent far too much money on.  I wear antlers.  I own a Christmas village.  I have a Christmas door mat.

It's strange, really.  For someone who feels so alone sometimes, it's strange to get so enthralled by a holiday that is all about friends and family.  I don't know why, but I never really feel unloved on Christmas.  Something about the holiday, and listening to Christmas music, makes me feel like I am wrapped and cozy in a large, fuzzy, metaphorical blanket.

Actually, I much prefer Christmas Eve to Christmas...strange as that may sound.  Christmas is about gifts, traveling between parents' houses, and some form of traditional, gluttonous meal.  Christmas Eve is about being with the people I love.  We have lunch out, watch men struggle at the mall to find last minute presents for their wives/girlfriends/mothers/etc, go to church (which is really all about singing Christmas songs and being joyful), eat Chinese food, unwrap ONE present (traditionally jammies, but it's negotiable), set out cookies for Santa, and go to sleep: warm, loved, grateful, and happy. 

I will own that I had a brief moment of sadness...this Christmas was supposed to be different...and listening to the Christmas music briefly took me back to my daydreams in June and early July...what Christmas would be like with a new baby.  Charlotte was due December 5, though she would have been born at the end of November because she was to be a scheduled C-section.  She should have been here for Christmas.  A part of me isn't quite as excited this year, knowing that someone is missing...and will always be missing.  An inordinate number of Christmas songs are about birth and motherhood (rightfully so), which slightly tampers my enthusiasm...

...but still...

Christmas music is something to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Days 13 and 14 of Thanks

For my 13th day of thanks, I'm thankful for books.  All kinds of books.

I'm thankful for the very, very bad brain candy I just finished last night by Nora Roberts.  I'm thankful for Jane Eyre. I'm thankful for Goodnight Gorilla (even though I read it no less than 6 times last night...).  I'm thankful for books that are made into movies that will never do them justice.  I'm thankful for books with tangible pages and dust.  I'm thankful for books that exist in electronic impulses (I don't get computers, but that's how I envision it).  I'm thankful for the book with the worst name ever (Empty Cradle, Broken Heart) that had the most helpful message.  I'm thankful for the memoir (An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination) that put into much more eloquent words the thinks I wanted to say but didn't know how to express.

I'm grateful I live in a place where books are plentiful and I have a job that allows me to not be picky.  When I was a little girl, my mom rarely let me get a toy...but I was always, always allowed to get a new book.  I want to start that tradition with Mia, and I hope one day she'll be thankful for them, too.

_____


For my 14th day of thanks, I'm thankful for hope.  I have a quote on the blog post I did about other people's words that I really like for hope: “Hope is the feeling that the feeling you have isn’t permanent.” ― Jean Kerr

That's true.  Really, all hope boils down to a desire for happiness, contentment, fulfillment.  If one has hope, it means that one is missing happiness or contentment or fulfillment.  I hope for many things.  It's not that I'm unhappy or discontent or unfulfilled, really...it's that pieces of me are.  We all have so many dreams and wishes...and some of them will come true...and some of them will only ever be dreams and wishes.  But we can always hope.

I hope that I am always happy and sure of my relationship with Mike.
I hope that Mia grows up healthy and smart and confident.
I hope that Charlotte knows she was loved.
I hope that we're able to have another child.
I hope that I'm able to forgive the people who weren't there for me when I needed them.
I hope that I have a positive impact on someone's life.
I hope that I will write something, someday, that will have an impact on someone other than me.      
I hope that I will matter.

Hope is a beautiful thing.  When it's all you have, it seems so frail and transparent...but it's not.  Hope is the backbone of our soul.  Why else to live, if not to hope? ...I am waxing philosophical at the moment... I hope you won't hold it against me.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Insecurities

Yes, it is a three post kind of day...though the first one was about my days of thanks, so it doesn't really count....



My biggest personal insecurity is with the sincerity of friendships.  That seems a weird thing to be insecure about...but, yeah, that's about right.

When I was a little girl, my best friend was popular.  I was not. When you're little, it doesn't really matter all that much.  Kids play together, and it is what it is.  I didn't notice anything weird, nor did I care.  Then there was middle school...I hit puberty...or, rather, puberty hit me...with a massive weight gain and a loss of good eye sight.  Suddenly I was the fat girl in glasses.  I also got a short haircut right around the same time...so I was the fat girl in glasses with a white girl afro.  For the sake of complete transparency, here is me in 7th grade:


So, at this point, as my self esteem (rightfully so) began to plummet.  And then...

I don't know how it came out or why.  I don't remember.  Maybe I blocked it out.  At some point at the end of 7th grade or beginning of 8th grade, I realized that the vast majority of people I held as friends didn't like me.  At all.  They hated me, in fact.  They hung out with me and acted like my friends because they liked my best friend, the popular girl.  They thought I was annoying, nothing more.  I almost wrote nothing more and nothing less there...but they obviously did think of me as something less.

People I had thought were my closest friends smiled to my face and talked viciously behind my back.  No one told me.  I was "that girl".  The one everyone dislikes but no one bothers to tell.  It becomes a joke, how stupid an naive "that girl" is.  The one everyone makes fun of...but no one tells.  I was living my life believing everything was fine, I had friends, I was happy. 

Then it all, inexorably, shifted.

This event has shaped my life.  Since this moment, I have had a very hard time believing in the veracity of friends' claims to enjoy my company. 

When I am hanging out with "friends", I spend the majority of the conversation analyzing.  Am I talking too much? Am I being annoying?  Did they just make a face?  What did that face mean?  Should I leave soon before I overstay my welcome?  Should I even be here?  Was I invited out of societal politeness?

When I call someone about getting together, I wonder if they are agreeing out of a sense of obligation or if they actually want to spend time with me.  If I am the person doing the contacting for two or three events in a row, I put the person on a mental watch list, trying to let them off the obligatory hook of politeness I may have accidentally stuck them on. 

This extends to my family.  I notice when someone does something out of the ordinary, shows me special attention, and I can see the puppetry at work behind it.  From several of my siblings there is much more of a familial obligation than genuine affection and caring.  I try not to hold it against them...they don't really know me, anyway.

The only person I don't put in this category is Mike.  Literally, he is the only person I don't worry about...and it took me many years and many, many reassurances before I put him in that category.  He is the only one with whom I am just ME...not worried me, or insecure me, or analyst me. 

Really, in some ways this insecurity has made me a better person... 

I try very hard to listen to other people...a remnant of not believing that anyone really wants to hear anything about me.  I found myself sitting for 45 minutes after a meeting at school listening to a woman tell me about the problems in her life.  Her house flooded, her daughter was in a car accident, her son doesn't want to take his senior pictures.  I don't know that the woman learned anything about me. She didn't ask and I didn't offer.  I like to think that maybe she felt better after she left.

I am generous to a fault...a remnant of wanting so badly for people to like me, even just a little.  I treat to meals, buy people coffee if I think they'll like it, gift silly things for people just because.  I feel very uncomfortable when people pay for things for me.  In a way it feels like I'm bribing them for friendship and I feel guilty about my impure motives for my generosity. This of course hurts the credibility of the friendship further, which is a nasty, perpetual cycle....but I think I do some good along the way, too.


I will bend over backwards (not literally...) to make someone's life easier...a remnant of trying to prove my worth.  I remember when I was 14 or 15, my sister was home for Christmas and complaining about the lack of mayonnaise in the house.  Note, my sister is ten years older than me, and thus capable of going to the store to get some.  She didn't.  I walked the mile to 7-11 and bought her mayo.  I think she might have thanked me for it.

The thing is...all of these things I now do, all of these characteristics I now have, come from a place of selfishness.  I have a hard time taking pride in any of them...I'm not generous because I'm a good person.  I'm generous because that's all I know how to be.  It's the only way I see value in myself.  If someone says they see me as a good person, I squirm on the inside because I don't/can't believe that.

----------------------------

Here's the rub: I am in a place in my life where I really, really need to believe that people honestly give a damn about me.  I really, really need to feel like I have support.  I'm calling in my friendship chips...but my bank is empty. This experience is reaffirming every self doubt and irrational fear that I have.

If people were really my friends, wouldn't they call me? 

If people were really my friends, wouldn't they make an effort to get together with me?

If people were really my friends, wouldn't I feel less lonely than this?

If people were really my friends, wouldn't they have acted the way I would have acted if the roles were reversed?

...now, again, to be fair, not all of my friends have let me down.  To those that have the link to this blog, it's not your fault...I only gave the link to people who really supported me.  You are not among those reaffirming my irrational insecurities...

Thoughts on why my family sucks at support...

So, while I was making Mia dinner I had a brief thought on trying to understand why my family has been so bad at support.  I want to briefly wander through it to see if it makes sense once I've had a chance to really think about it.

I asked (multiple times in multiple ways) for people to talk to me about Charlotte...to let me talk about her.  They didn't.  They still don't.  One of the most awkward, frustrating, and infuriating experiences of my life was spending a week at the beach with my family three weeks after Charlotte's birth...and no one said anything.  No one spoke her name.  No one asked me how I was.  Everyone just pretended like everything was fine.  It wasn't.

I think that part of this is that they don't understand what I want to say, or why.  I think (based on some of the response I did get...limited as it was) that people think I want to talk about how sad I am.  Well, yeah, I'm sad.  My daughter died.  I'm allowed to be sad.  That's only half of it, though.  I want to talk about my daughter.  My DAUGHTER.  She lived, if only in me.  She was loved.  She had a name.  She had a face.  She died. 

When a real person dies...and I don't mean that the way it sounded...I mean someone who was real to everyone, if that makes any sense...when a real person dies, people talk about them.  They remember them.  They cry for them.  They reminisce about them. They don't forget them. 

To me, when my family (and everyone, for that matter) doesn't acknowledge that my daughter lived and died this year, it's as though...I can't put it into words.  It's not that something bad happened to me.  It's that my daughter lived...and then died.  It's not an event...it's a PERSON.  It's a LOSS...my loss.  It's like they can't differentiate the difference between the event and the person, and to ignore her existence doesn't feel like just a lack of support...it feels like a slap in the face. 

It feels like they think she didn't matter...as if she only mattered to me (and by me, I of course mean me and Mike...but it would confuse the matter to use a plural word form here when talking about how everyone else acts).  They care that I'm sad or upset, but they don't honestly CARE that my child, my CHILD, MY child is gone.  I don't want pity; I want someone else to give a damn that my little girl, who looked so much like her big sister, who liked to kick me when Mia was taking a bath, who was so deeply loved and wanted, is gone. 

Yes, I want to tell people about how sad I am.  I want people to care that I am grieving.  This is step one.  But, more importantly, I want people to care that there is a hole in my family that a child should be filling.  The world is a little darker because her laughter will never fill it.  Someone should care about that.

Days 11 & 12 of Thanks

For my 11th day of thanks, I'm thankful for living, literally, less than a mile from a state park.

Less than a mile down the road from our house is Leesylvania State Park, which is a wonderful park right on the Potomac with walking trails, a nice, big playground, beaches, and a little wetland area with turtles. It also has a boat launch, if one had a boat to launch...which we do not.

Mia loves it, and it's close enough that I can decide, spur of the moment, "Hey, let's go to the park." It's so close that I just grab a couple of bottles of water for me and Mia.  I don't even bring my diaper bag half the time.  If we need something that would be in it...we could just come home!

We spent an hour between lunch time and naptime here yesterday, so I'd like to be thankful for it for the 11th.  Here are some pictures of Mia enjoying the park yesterday...


 


 


For my 12th day of thanks, on the 12th day of November, I am thankful that I am blessed with a daughter who is everything an 18 month old is supposed to be.  It's an absolute miracle that people manage to come into this world, and it seems an improbable, astronomical miracle if they aren't struck with some sort of issue.  I know so many families whose children have problems, big and small.  Children who can't hear, or speak, or whose brains don't process things correctly.  Children with heart problems or diabetes or needing surgeries.  My family was supposed to have that with Charlotte's gastroschesis, but she left us to give us a chance for a healthy child.  I don't take this for granted.  I am grateful each and every day that my daughter is healthy, that she is smart, that she is strong, that she is loved.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Days 9 and 10 of thanks

Yesterday, November 9th, my 9th day of thanks, I was thankful for my new stereo in my old car.  I drive a 2000 Accord.  It had a tape deck stereo with 6 programmed radio stations.  No CD player, no auxiliary hookup, nothing fancy.  For my birthday, Mike gave me both a new MP3 player with Bluetooth and a new car stereo that connects with Bluetooth.  It's pretty amazing.  It shines with pretty changing colors, it plays music I actually like, and I was able to install it myself.  Now that my drive to work has increased from 5 minutes (my old school) to 30-45 minutes (my new school), I really needed an upgrade.  One can only listen to news radio so much!

Today, November 10th, my 10th day of thanks, I am thankful for having the ability to spoil my daughter.  Today I went out to get her a small Abby Cadabby plush doll...the pink fairy from Sesame Street.  She loves her.  A lot.  So that's what I went out for.  I also got her three books, a pair of jeans and a shirt, a coloring book and markers, and an animatronic Elmo (that's for Christmas, though...does that count?).  I am very thankful that I am able to do this.  I know that I go over the top, but I love to see her little face light up when she reads a new book...

As a side note, I do plan to pay this one forward.  For Christmas, I am going to go Christmas shopping for Charlotte as I would have if...I'm going to buy her clothes and toys and books.  I'm going to give it to Toys for Tots.  It hurts my heart that I can't spoil Charlotte as I do Mia, but I feel like her little spirit would like to be remembered by me in this way.  If I believe that she was selfless enough to choose to give us a healthy child in the future, I also have to believe that she would want a little baby without parents as lucky as we are to have the material things that are rightly hers.  I wish I could wrap them and put them under our tree...but some baby out there just like Charlotte should have them.

Friday, November 9, 2012

I'll be thankful tomorrow...

I don't think I have it in me to write a thankful post today.  I could do it, really, but I don't have the energy to really reflect on the things that I am truly thankful for..so I think I'll wait.

I'm feeling really down today.  It's another lonely day. A very self-pitying, self-depreciating, low self-esteem, depressed, lonely day.  Someone asked me a while ago (maybe a month or two, now?) what caused the "bad days".  That's the funny (or rather, completely un-funny) thing about bad days.  Absolutely nothing causes them.  Everything causes them. 

For today...

I've gained a lot of weight since Charlotte died...or maybe before she died, too.  To be honest, I didn't lose a lot of the weight I gained with Mia.  But now...good God, I'm enormous.  I can say with relative certainty that, according to all those height and weight charts, I am obese.  Awesome. 

...I will own (here, at least) that I am totally a comfort eater.  I know I should do other things.  Find other ways to seek comfort.  Be productive with my negative energies.  I know this all on a cognative level.  On an emotional level, it's easier to eat a bagel with honey butter.  Again, when Mike is gone to work, and Mia is gone to bed, I am left to myself, with my thoughts, with my emotional swamp.  Pass the trail mix...hold the raisins.  No one likes the raisins.

The thing is, I am so completely uncomfortable in my own skin right now.  I feel puffy.  I feel bloated.  My wardrobe has been reduced to the fattest of my fat clothes. They look bad, and I am constantly readjusting my shirt so it doesn't cling to my flabby stomach. I don't want Mike to touch me half the time because when he does all I think about is how muffin-top-like I must feel to him.  I am the anti-sexy.

I can't make myself care enough to actually do anything about it.  I'm so disgusted with myself that I...have a piece of pumpkin toast.  I have such low self esteem that I...drink another cup of coffee.  I think I may actually be trying to goad my body into self destructing.  When I was pregnant with Charlotte, I was so careful to take my vitamins, not drink caffeine (even the one cup we're allowed to have), not eat foods that could be harmful, not take hot baths...now, on the other side of loss, I just want to say, "screw it" and let my body fall off the metaphorical cliff.

...I'm wondering where the bottom is.  At some point, I imagine I'll get myself caught with a whipped cream can in my mouth, an empty ice cream carton, and cookie crumbs on my shirt...maybe the shame of that display of pure gluttony will jolt me back to reality.  I am not that person yet...I am still a handful of trailmix as a snack too often kind of comfort eater.  I clearly don't aspire to the disgusting depths of the pure glutton...but I worry that maybe my inner conscience's tendency to say, "screw it" will get me there.

I hope not.  For today, it's just a bad day, emotionally speaking.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Days 7 & 8 of Thanks

It's the 8th of November, and I have two days of thanks

For the 7th, I am thankful for my abilities.  It seems strange to almost be thanking myself for something..but it's true.  I am thankful that I can do a lot of the stuff that I can do.

For example, I can McGuyver stuff.  Half of the things in my house are held together by rubber bands and chewing gum, but it all works.  I'm not afraid to try to do things that I don't know how to do for fear of messing it up.  I'll just mess it up.  If it's broken or undone to start with, what does it hurt if I mess it up a little more, first?  As a result, if you ask me how to do something, I'll help you.  It doesn't matter if I know how to do it.  I'll figure it out as I go.  I just learned how to mail merge in this fashion last week.  I installed my own car stereo with directions not written in English and a YouTube video.  Cool stuff!

I also am very good at being vaguely advanced at things.  I don't excel at anything.  I have nothing for which I can say "THAT is what I'm good at."  I can, however, say to most anything, "I'm not half bad at that."  I'm not half bad at many things: teaching, photography, writing, sports, speaking intelligently, being a wife and mother...I do not excel at anything, really, but I am very, very good at being slightly above average.  I'll take that.

For the 8th, today, my 8th day of thanks, I am thankful for my home.  I was tempted to write my house, but that's not the point.  I love my home.  I love my smart cat, my dumb cat, and my attention-sucking dog.  I love that the comforter on my bed doesn't match anything else in my bedroom in the winter but keeps us so warm.  I love the feeling I get when I finish cleaning the kitchen and the whole house somehow feels relatively clean by association.  I love how lucky I am to have a house and family and love that make my home.  I do recognize it...and I love it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sixth day of thanks

On the sixth day of November, the sixth day of thanks, I am thankful that I don't feel compelled to move to Canada at the moment, as election night winds down.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fifth day of thanks

On the fifth day of November, my fifth day of thanks, I am thankful for my parents.  Much as they annoy me sometimes, much as they say silly things, much as they occasionally make me want to scream, I love my parents very much, and I know that they love me.

They are currently out of town (and have been since October 22) and will continue to be out of town for the next two weeks.  It's strange how much I sort of take for granted that I can usually call them up any given night of the week and ask if they want to go out to dinner...I miss that very much right now, particularly on nights Mike is working and I feel alone.

They're always willing to try to help me out, even when those efforts don't go so well.  I mentioned once in passing that the hinge broke on my bedroom door.  Three trips to the hardware store, four trips to my house, a seemingly infinite parade of power tools and different sized screws later, and my dad had installed a new door...and it almost works, too! 

I worry that my parents won't get to see Mia grow up.  They were 40 when I was born, a rarity in those days, which means that they are now both 71 years old.  I don't think of them as "old", but...really, objectively, they are old.  They live in a retirement community, split a seniors' omelet at IHOP (I'm not kidding) and have been getting AARP in the mail since I was in high school.  I know their time is finite, and it frankly scares the hell out of me...

So, today, I am thankful to have my parents in my life.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Fourth day of thanks...

On the fourth day of November, my fourth day of thanks, I'm thankful for...

This one was a little rough...I woke up this morning feeling not particularly thankful.  On our first cycle of trying again after losing Charlotte, we had a chemical pregnancy, and my period just started up again today.  Woke up a little bitter...

...I've been thinking on it all day though, and I've realized something in it that I'm thankful for.  I'm actually thankful that I was able to be joyous and happy about the possibility of a new baby for one day.  Yeah, I got one day of happiness followed by a huge let down, but I still got that day...  I also am thankful, strange as it sounds, that we had a chemical pregnancy instead of nothing.  That sounds weird. I mean, a chemical pregnancy is really just a super early miscarriage, right?  Shouldn't I freak out about that a little?

I'm choosing not to.  I'm not HAPPY it happened, and, given the choice, I'd obviously choose the easier route of getting pregnant again on the first try, but....in a weird way I can see Charlotte's influence on this.  I've been praying every day that we will have another child soon, and that Charlotte will see her little brother or sister safely into the world...and it's not that we didn't get pregnant this cycle.  We did.  It's that this baby couldn't come safely into the world.  There was something wrong with this baby, and that little spirit is waiting for a stronger host.  In a corner of my head, it's like I can hear Charlotte saying, "See Mom, you're going to have another baby...we're going to get through this together...and I'm protecting you from the bad stuff."

This is what I'm choosing to believe...and I'm thankful for that.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Accepting Blame

This is my third post of the day...yup, one of those nights.

I want to refer back to someone I'd written about a month ago HERE.  A person I had considered a close friend never said a word to me after I told her of Charlotte's death.  Three months later she still has said nothing.  No "I'm sorry."  No "How are you?" No "I remember that you're alive and going through a traumatic experience and I'm supposed to be your friend and maybe, possibly give a damn about that."

So I saw another trivial post from her on facebook today.  Every time I see a silly trivial post from her it makes me angry...she has the time and energy to post about her husband liking a radio station that she doesn't, but she doesn't have time or energy to talk to me about my daughter's death.  Really?  I decided I didn't need this anger in my life, so I decided to unfriend her.

The problem is, I've never unfriended someone before, so I felt the need to preempt my unfriending with a message explaining the reasoning behind it.  This was my message:


I've gone back and forth on sending this message for a while...

I had thought that you and I were fairly good friends. I know we didn't talk nearly as much after I transferred schools, but still...


When I sent you a message, about Charlotte's death, I was really surprised that you didn't say anything. I know that I requested people not say the stupid things, things like, "You can always have another" or "It was just not meant to be", but every other person at least acknowledged that they had received it. They all sent brief, marginally acceptable sympathy messages. 


I thought maybe you were just looking for the right words. I excused it for a long while. The thing is, it's been over three months now, and I truly believe that, if you really did care about me, you would have acknowledged my daughter's death. Really, that seems like a decent, human thing to do, even if you weren't my friend. I know you and Thomas were trying to have a baby, and it's a sore subject for you...but my daughter died. She died. A friend would care.


I don't expect you to say anything. I don't need anything from you. I just wanted to unload the burden that's been on my heart, because I feel like I have enough of a burden to bear, and this one shouldn't be mine to carry.

Instead of an apology, or an explanation, what I got was basically a defensive rant about the way in which I told her.  She was offended that I hadn't "bothered" to tell her I was pregnant in the first place, and then I told her of Charlotte's death though a group message which she felt was "Inappropriate, impersonal, and awkward."

OK, I will grant you that it's a jarring message to get, but you don't get to judge the form of the message when the content of the message is that my daughter died.  Sorry.  It's not about you at that point.  It's not about what you wanted, expected, or thought.  When you hear that your friend's daughter died, your job is to offer support and sympathy.  Period.  I mean, really, most people would do that if they heard a stranger on the bus had lost their daughter. (as a side note, I hate that euphemism)

It made me realize something about myself.  In any other circumstance, I would have accepted the blame.  It happens a lot: I call someone on something they did wrong.  They deflect the blame back on me and I end up feeling bad about myself when I didn't do anything wrong.  Not this time, though.  I refuse to accept blame for the stupid crap other people did in this situation.  It's not my job to make it easier for you to support me.  Sorry, dude, it's just not.  My daughter died, and I can grieve any damn way I want.

The problem is, as I went to put all of this into words, she blocked me on facebook....and I am left holding the bag of blame.  Damn it.  So, here was my thought out and heartfelt response, which she won't ever read:

Don't you DARE tell me that sharing the news of my daughter's death with you, however I chose to do it, was inappropriate. Just don't. 

I had told, besides family, a grand total of five people I was having a baby. I had a miscarriage at thirteen weeks before having Mia, and I am thus (now more so) incredibly hesitant to share pregnancy news. Charlotte was stillborn at five months. I went through complete and total hell, during which time I debated sharing her with anyone. I decided to tell the people I thought were my close friends, but I did not have the strength, mentally, physically, or emotionally, to do so multiple times. I can understand not wanting to say things offensive and honor my wishes, but in the three months since I told you my daughter died, you never said one word to me. Nothing.

I'm not coping with a situation, I'm grieving...and please don't use that to disqualify what I'm saying, because I am entirely lucid on this point.  The thing is, you go through your entire life believing that, when and if you truly needed it, the loved ones in your life would be there to support you. It's an incredibly lonely and painful experience to realize that many of them wouldn't be.

I don't want to tread repeatedly on these points, but I want to make clear that I don't accept blame in this. This isn't my fault. However awkward you felt, however hard it was for you, it was many, many times harder for me. The thing is, by deflecting the blame in that way you're making it about you, and this one thing was really, truly about me, about my family.  

Realization about trying to conceive after loss

I just had this epiphany in the last few days...

...when one is trying to conceive after a loss, things are harder, and I think I realized why.  When one is trying to conceive after a loss, one has already had taken from her the thing she wants...a baby.  So then, in trying to conceive again, it's just trying to reclaim what should have been yours already. 

It's almost as if one has lost thousands of dollars at the blackjack table...a win isn't a win because you're already so far behind.  You start to feel desperate.  Any loss is a blow. Any setback seems huge.  Johnny Knuckles, the bookie, is breathing down your neck and you feel like, if you don't win it back soon, he'll break your legs.  OK, I took that analogy too far.  I do that.  But it's not far off, either!

...but it's more than that.

When one is trying to conceive after a loss, the pressure and desire are so much more heightened.  Every cycle, she tells herself that this will be the one.  She has to.  If she doesn't she'll lose hope, and hope is sometimes all it feels like she has left.  The problem is, it's impossible to contain the hope.  The hope grows.  It thrives.  She starts daydreaming about a positive test, telling her husband, feeling the baby move.  Hope is a slippery slope...

When it doesn't work...when the period comes...when those hopes crash and shatter around her...it's like another loss.  It's as though she's losing another baby.  The hope gets so built up it becomes real, and then the reality is gone in the blink of an eye.   It's clearly a different type of loss, as the baby never really existed...but didn't it? 

Third day of thanks

**This is not in order.  I want to point out that, though I started with my husband and daughter, I am not going in any order of preference...and to prove that point...

On the third day of November, my third day of thanks, I am thankful for pumpkin flavored or scented stuff.  When the weather turns cold, and my lawn, which isn't pretty to begin with, fills with decaying leaves, and school starts back up after the glory that is summer...there is pumpkin.  Wawa pumpkin latte, pumpkin roll, pumpkin pie (which is really just a vehicle for whipped cream), pumpkin coffee creamer, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin candles, pumpkin febreeze, pumpkin oil defusers, and so on, and so on.  I start ending sentences with, "...but at least it's pumpkin season."

I have to go back to school ...but at least it's pumpkin season.
I'm freaking freezing ...but at least it's pumpkin season.
It will take me ten hours to rake the front yard ...but at least it's pumpkin season.
I had to wake up in the dark to get dressed this morning...but at least it's pumpkin season.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Second day of thanks

On the second day of November, my second day of thanks, I am thankful for my amazing, beautiful, smart, perfect little girl.  I have so much love for her that my heart just breaks trying to hold it all.  I hope I never, ever take her for granted.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

First day of November...first day of Thanks...

As with my photo journey, I don't see myself doing this every day...but I want to post something I'm thankful for each month of November.  Sometimes I get so swamped in my (selfish) grief and loss process that I forget to take the time to express my thanks.  Don't get me wrong: I am not, in any way, shape, or form, taking any of my blessings for granted.  Still, I dwell on the sadness sometimes.

SO

November 1--Day 1--I am thankful for my husband.

Today I want to express my thankfulness for my wonderful husband.  I usually focus on the Meemers when expressing my joy, but Mike is also a huge part of my happiness every day.  I am so lucky to have him in my life. 

We found each other over fourteen years ago, when we were both in high school.  Though there were rough patches (big, gaping, pot hole sized ones) along the way, once we got serious, engaged, and married, neither of us has regretted a day we've spent together. 

He is the only person, I truly believe, who really knows me for who I am.  He is the only person that I don't worry is secretly annoyed by me.  He is the only person who understands me without explanation or excuse. 

I often wonder if other people out there are as happy and in love as we are.  The answer I always reach is that I hope so...but I doubt it.  If they were, there wouldn't be so much hate an ugliness in the world.  Having a person (cliche!!) be the piece that you didn't know was missing makes it close to impossible to be ugly like that.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Capture Your Grief--Days 16-31 (oops)

OK, though I knew I'd never keep up with a picture a day, I thought I'd do better than this!  Oh well... I think I put it off so long because so many of the images have to be found images rather than images I've taken...Again, oh well.

Once again, here are the days:


If you missed it, my photo journey started HERE, and there are links to take you through the other days.

Day 16: Release
I tried to think of when I felt real release after Charlotte's death...I've realized that it was after I finished putting together her memory box.  I felt like I needed to put her photo album and her baby book and her footprints somewhere important...not just in a bag or a shoe box somewhere.  Putting it all neatly in the box and shutting the box felt like a release to me.


Day 17: Birthday
OK, so, obviously her birthday isn't for a while yet...but here's what I'm planning.  I want to write a letter to Charlotte, thanking her for everything good that's happened this year, put it in a balloon, and release it to her.  We want it to be a happy occasion, not a sad one.  She was stillborn, but she was still born (I stole that from another blogger...)


Day 18: Your Family Portrait
I wish I had a picture of Mia with Charlotte...but she wasn't there.  I guess I'm happy about that, too...but I wish I could have a family portrait with both my daughters.  Instead, here we are with Mia at Easter, when Charlotte was still alive...albeit, not a good picture.


Day 19: Project
As weird as it is to post a photo of my blog on my blog, that was my project...particularly my experience journal.  Writing "Time With Charlotte" was the project I needed to come to terms with a lot of my memories and preserve them, in a way that feels really important.


Day 20: Charity/Organization
I posted about this before...LLOST is a charity that really helped us, though we didn't know it at the time.  See my post HERE.


Day 21: Altar/Shrine
I know that I've posted a picture of the curio cabinet before, but Charlotte's shelf really has become a little shrine for her.  Mike and I aren't hugely religious people, but the angels comfort us.  It's how we see our baby, now.


Day 22: Place of Birth
This isn't exactly our room (or maybe it is...I don't know...but it's the exact same setup of room from the same hospital, so close enough.  I thought of just putting in a photo of the hospital, but the sum total of hours that I got to spend with my daughter I spent in a room that looked like this...so it's not so sad a memory, I guess.


Day 23: Charlotte's Photo
This feels hard to post...I don't know why.  I think it's because, though she was tiny, had a birth defect that caused her death, and wasn't fully developed, to me, she was perfect...and I know that other people won't and can't see her that way.  I remember feeling that way myself...before it was my child.  It's hard to share her with people when I know they can't see her the way I do...but she's my daughter, and I'm proud to be her mother, and I need to be proud to show her photo...regardless of what others think.


Day 24: Siblings
Thank God for Mia.  If I didn't have Mia, I don't know if I would have come out on the other side of this.


Day 25: Baby Shower
Charlotte didn't get a baby shower...she probably wouldn't have gotten one even had she lived...being a second child does that.  Instead, here is what I WOULD have gotten for Charlotte as my own personal baby shower, had things been different. (I have both a Gymboree and a monkey obsession.)
 Day 26: Their Age
Charlotte was 21 weeks when she was born...I'm tempted to lie if ever asked.  People don't see that loss as being as valid as a later loss...but maybe more valid than an earlier loss.  I had a loss at 13 weeks...for me, this was so much infinitely harder.


Day 27: Artwork
I bought this shortly after Charlotte's birth...I love this photographer's work, and the words tore at my heart a bit...in a good way.  I plan to frame and hang the print sometime soon, but I haven't yet.


Day 28: Memory
How does one photograph memory?  I have no idea...so here's one of my most vivid memories.  I found out we were expecting Charlotte on the day The Hunger Games was released in theaters (March 23).  Mike and I were going to go see it the next day, having a babysitter and everything, and I stayed up all night that night so I could see Mike when he got home from work.  I remember talking about our new baby in the car with Mike on the way there...we were so happy.  It's good to look for a good memory, I think.  So much of what I write is about the end...this was the beginning.  I don't regret a second of my time with Charlotte.


Day 29: Music
The Olympics started the Friday after Charlotte's birth.  Do you remember the song that they played (and played, and played, and played) for the US Women's Gymnastics Team?  "Home" by Phillip Phillips (really?  Phillip Phillips?)  That's just one of those songs that you can't help but remember...and I heard it so, so many times in the weeks following Charlotte's birth. I know it's a song that, when I hear it years from now, will bring me right back to those weeks...in the best way possible, if that makes any sense.

Day 30: My Grief
I remember taking this picture...I remember thinking, "This is the only time you will get to hold your daughter...try to look a little happy, damn it."  It was hard.  This is how it came out.


Day 31: Sunset
It started at the beach on day 1...it should end there, too.  It's hard to take a picture of the sunset at the Outer Banks.  It's on the East Coast, and the sun sets behind us.  This is of Mia at sunset...you can see the fading colors and light.  The time at the beach after Charlotte's death was relatively healing...as was this photo journey.  I think this is a good way to finish that journey.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Read a memoir today...

I was supposed to be grading papers during my planning period at school today.  Instead I read a book.  An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken.  I read it, cover to cover, in about three hours.

Wow.

I read a memoir about stillbirth called Life Touches Life and I absolutely hated it.  It was one of the books I was given by LLOST at the hospital. It was all about the author's withdrawal from the world, her decision to not try to have more children, and then, at the end, a very Buddhist metaphor about buckets of water and sunlight that just made me want to scream.  I am not exaggerating when I say I hated it.

This book was different.

The author wrote the book immediately after the birth of her second child, her first living child.  It's about the absurdity of stillbirth, the complete darkness and irrationality speckled with the small spots of brightness.  So many of its pages echoed thoughts that I've had and that I continue to have.

One section in particular cut straight to the root of the root for me.  She was comparing herself to the crazed woman in a gothic novel wearing a bloodied nightgown and rocking her dead baby to sleep while singing lullabies, something out of an Edgar Allan Poe short story.  Here is my favorite piece:

     I remember one lunch with people who loved us in London early on, two of the most excruciating hours of my life.  Nothing but that endless juggling: Other people's jobs and boyfriends.  What kind of wine to order.  This was two weeks after Pudding died.  I might have been something like that gothic character one step short of total ruin: I wanted to rock and sing lullabies and hold out my torn, bloody nightgown and run my hands through my wild hair, and yet I knew you weren't supposed to do such things in polite society.  My hair was uncombed, and my face was puffy from lack of sleep and crying and too much wine, and my clothes were what I'd salvaged from the middle of my pregnancy, because of course even through people might pretend nothing was out f the ordinary I had the body of a woman two weeks postpartum, soft and wide around the middle, and if I'd been one step worse off I might have lifted my shirt up to display my still livid stretch marks.
    But I didn't.  I could feel how uncomfortable my mere presence made people feel, and I couldn't bear it.  So I sat in this Indian restaurant and listened.  Sometimes a piece of palaver came loose and shot straight toward me, and somehow I caught it and tossed it back.
     All the while, all I could think was: Dead baby dead baby dead baby.
     And I know everyone around that table was thinking the same thing, every single person.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Down the Rabbit Hole

Mike and I finally have the green light to try again.  Some people won't understand why we feel compelled to try again as soon as possible, but it makes sense based on the belief system I adopted.  So off we go.

I've already fallen down the rabbit hole.  If one were to go back and read any of the posts I wrote before we conceived Mia, back when we thought we'd never be able to have a baby and when we were still a little lost in the grief of our miscarriage, you'd see how much of a nut I became about the whole process.  I'm already seeing pieces of that now.  I really expected to get through at LEAST the first month before I became a crazy nut...

Today I took three, yes three, HPTs.  As though my levels will increase in an hour.  Not only that, but one of them was a REAL test...the kind that costs $5, not $.75.  I even did the photograph inversion thing.  Never heard of it?  It's when you take a picture of a HPT and invert the colors to negative because it makes second lines a little easier to see when they are shadows of shadows of shadows.  I'm in deep.

I'm a little concerned about the appropriateness of what I clearly recognize as a coping mechanism.  I'm pouring a significant amount of my excess emotion into this process, because I'm telling myself that this is what is supposed to happen.  I'm finding signs everywhere.  When you look for signs, you'd be surprised at how many you find.  I'm painting lines with my imagination.  Just like with signs, when you look for extra lines on HPTs, you'd be surprised what your eyes try to convince you are there.

I'm a little afraid that, when my period comes back, and reality crashes in on my illogical optimism, I'm going to crash.  This is a really stupid coping mechanism...