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, February 22, 2015

Selfish and Judgemental

There is still a part of me, a larger part than I would like to admit, who yells in my head everytime someone pretends to understand what it was like. Someone who thinks that because they've experienced death they know what I went through. There's a person in my head that screams:

"No, you don't understand. This was my child. She died. I named her. I felt her move. I told her I loved her every day that she lived. She lived in me. She died in me. I went through labor knowing that my child was dead. The first time I saw my daughter's face, she was dead. The only time I ever held her in my arms, she was dead. I didn't get to plan a birthday party or a wedding or a graduation party or any of those fun things, but I did get to plan her funeral. That's not normal..."

I know that lots of people go through lots of things. On an intellectual level, I know that what happened to me and to my daughter and to my family isn't that special. But there's still that loud selfish part of me that just wanted to yell at the world, that just wants to try to make people see how horrible and dark and macabre any of that was to go through...and is to live with. 

With every passing month, passing year, it fades from people's memories. And there's a part of me that still, everyday, is amazed that I'm still going on. That I'm managing to get up everyday and live my life and be a normal person. It still harder everyday then I can understand or explain. When people don't acknowledge it or don't notice it, I just wish I could make them feel for one second, just one second in their life, what I feel and what I felt and what I will continue to feel for the rest of my life. If they knew how hard it was, maybe they wouldn't pretend to understand.

And the thought makes me feel very selfish

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Feeling Weak

One of my biggest problems in working through loss and in creating a new life for myself has been with self-worth and motivation. Some days I feel really good. Other days, like today...

I have to remind myself that I'm not special. Everyone has things they have to get through and live with. In quiet moments, I find myself denying this in my head....No, your issues aren't the same as mine. No, what I went through and continue to go through are catastrophic.  Why don't you people see that? ... but it's inaccurate.  I'm not special.

I am still surprised people don't care and/or are so resistant to allowing her to be a part of my life.. I know Charlotte died over two years ago. I still want to talk about her though. Sometimes I mention her in conversation with people that know about her...just because it's real, and you should be able to say real things.

The look that comes over their face generally is like they just heard me pass gas while talking and are pretending not to notice.

I said something yesterday about having given birth to three kids, and the person I was talking to literally froze as though I had pointed a gun at her or turned her to stone. I'm bothered that so many still want it hidden, even unconsciously.

Worst, it makes me question my worth.

Am I trying to be broken so people will pity me? I don't think so, but I worry that's what people will/do think. I don't talk about Charlotte like I want sympathy, or at least I don't intend to, but I worry about the perception.  To me, she's just my daughter. She died, but she's still my daughter.  She's not a secret, or taboo, or a hidden pain. She's just a little girl.

Are the people I've chosen to surround myself with not actually that interested in what I have to say? This is an old issue for me. Real friends (and family, though that's a different issue) would want to be there for me and support me in whatever way I need, even if it takes them out of their comfort zones. Right? Isn't that the cornerstone of friendship: wanting to support your friends when and how they need it? So, what does that say about me? It's a cold reality to notice that, when you really need it, most of your support base falls apart.

I think that is why today is a weak day. In the beginning, right after Charlotte's death, when I really needed support and compassion all the time, it was really apparent that it wasn't coming. My isolation and lonliness were glaringly obvious, and it fed my depression which went generally unchecked. Now I don't need constant support. I've beaten back the depression most days. Many friendships have formed or reformed over the scars of abandonment because I don't feel constantly let down by those around me. Every once in a while, though, those friendships scrape at the scars. In those small moments where I still expect a little compassion, when I mention Charlotte's name, when I say I had three children, when I forget that people don't want to be friends with that part of me, it still cuts. Not as fresh, not as deep, not as painful, but I still can bleed and be made to feel weak. Or allow myself to feel week, depending upon your viewpoint.

I want it to be different.

I feel like maybe it's a defect in me. If I were a cooler person, more fun, more worthy of being someone's friend, maybe they would be willing to embrace my damaged edges. I have a Facebook friend who also had a daughter who died before birth, and the support she gets is astounding.  Is she inherently better than  me? Does she choose her friends more wisely than me? To be honest, people on Facebook get more support for a pet's death than I got for my daughter's death. That must be on me somehow.

Right?

Sometimes I want to be harsh with people. I want to use the harsh words instead of euphemisms. I want to tell them about what it felt like to go through labor and delivery, to writhe in pain that seems unending, all while knowing your child is already dead. I want to tell them how it felt to call a funeral home and make arrangements for the transportation of my child's body. I want to tell them how I imagined her lying cold and alone in the morgue and how I didn't take her little hat home with us so that she could stay warm. I want to tell them how I held my breath every time I listened for a heartbeat when I was pregnant with Ethan, how I felt weak with relief every time I heard it. I want to tell them that I still cry when I think about the fact that my daughter is dead because it never stops hurting. I want to tell them that for a solid six months after she died it was a fucking heroic feat that I managed to get out of bed every morning and care for Mia and live my life. I want to tell it was and is incredibly hard. I want to tell them that they made it worse....

On weak days, the power of my anger still surprises me. The people who called me strong seem like liars on weak days.

Tomorrow I'll be better. Weak days are only days two years later, they aren't weak months.

I wish I felt as strong as the people who DID and DO support me seem to think I am. I want to be the person they seem to think I am rather than the vitriolic, bitter, weak version of myself I am as I  write this. 

Sometimes I feel like I'm a fraud on weak days.

Friday, February 6, 2015

No longer appreciating noble sacrifice

I just finished reading the Divergent trilogy. I hated the third book. (Note-spoilers ahead)

First, I hated the general plot of the third book. It was just bad. The allure of the first book, for me, was a relatively normal girl surviving. It was small. She didn't take on the world (too much) or society or much of anything else. It was more about her identity than about major sweeping political movements. Book two pushed the envelope on that. Book three was painful. Suddenly we're starting a revolution and taking on the post-apocalyptic government and challenging widespread social norms? Reign it in dude. She's a teenager.

More importantly, I struggled with the ending. I embraced the ending of the Hunger Games. I appreciated the broken symbol learning to survive in the new world with the logical relationship choice given her experiences. The ending of Divergent I couldn't get behind. It hinged on the concept of noble sacrifice. I used to get behind that. I used to find the romance and the bravery alluring. The scene in Man in the Iron Mask when they charge the line, accepting their deaths and showing such bravery, used to be beautiful and honorable to me.

Yeah, sorry, but fuck noble sacrifice.

Watching a main character learn to live with the loss of the love of his life isn't romantic. His symbolic goodbye is not liberating, as I think was the intention. I know this series couldn't really end with a happily ever after, but...I have a hard time appreciating a book in which a character in which I invested three books of my time just dies. She's dead. You killed off the protagonist.  No. Nope. Not ok.

See...there's no nobility in grief. When we view the new, improved world through the eyes of a grief-stricken man, I can't really appreciate it. I wonder if that was the point? Every major shift in the world is viewed, of necessity,  through the eyes of grief. Real life rarely even has happy endings....even if it is happy.

But I want that from a book. I want a happy ending or a cathartic crying jag. I don't want a reality where the main character...goes on. Deals with life and death and grief. I know what that feels like, and it's hard. It's more bleak sometimes than the post-apocalyptic world in which it was set, especially at the start. I don't need fiction for that.

I'm mad about her sacrifice. Death is not noble. ..or at least, I've lost perspective to see it as such.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Windchimes

Right after Charlotte died, I remember looking online for something special for her. I wanted something that would be prominent and have an important place in my home to serve as her memorial, without seeming dark and Gothic and negative. 

I considered many things: a garden stone, a small statue, a plant....knick knacks seem to lack value, though, and if my thumb isn't exactly dark brown,  it is at least a concerning sickly olive color. Killing Charlotte's memorial tree or bush or flower just seemed far too darkly symbolic.

 I finally decided on a wind chime. I wrote about Tibetan prayer flags in October 2012 as a part of my reasoning for choosing windchimes. Please read about my rationale HERE, as  I love the spiritual and symbolic significance.

Every time the wind blows, I think of my little girl. I don't know what she's trying to tell me in those moments, but it's become my reminder to stop and step back and observe myself, my family, my life. It makes me want to be a better person. A better Mom. Someone an angel could be proud of.

I read a post on the grief and loss board recently from a woman who was mad about her friends at work giving her a wind chime. It actually made me a little sad. A tiny narcissistic part of me wonders if they got the idea from reading my blog. Silly, yes, but it was disappointing how much my most healing symbol became such a point of pain for this woman. 

I want to be reminded of Charlotte. When the wind blows and the chimes sound, I can hear theM throughout my home. It never fails to make me smile. Charlotte is saying hello. She's always near.

I always quietly say the same thing:
"I hear you, baby girl. I love you, too. I will never stop thinking of you. Thank you."



Sunday, January 18, 2015

Feeling like myself...I think.

I think I'm starting to feel like my old self again.

That's a strange thought, because I'm not sure what my old self is, or when the last time I felt it was. I'm not even sure if it is my old self, because I have no real, clear conscious memory of it.

I wrote this post two months after Charlotte died, now over two years ago. Since then I've been absolutely blessed to have a happy, healthy, beautiful little rainbow baby, my son, Ethan, and Mia, my little princess, continues to be healthy and happy and smart and beautiful. I still have a husband who loves and supports me and makes me feel special and important. I have a million things to be thankful for. It's overwhelming how lucky I feel every day....but I've been living as the embittered woman in mourning from the above mentioned post.

For....wait for it...OVER FIVE YEARS I have been giving myself permission to feel overwhelmed and depressed and defeatist. I really truly believed that I wasn't capable of doing better. Allow me to give you a few examples...

1) Working Out: Since Mia was born, which was 2011, I allowed myself to believe that I didn't have time to work out. It makes logical sense, and I could easily explain it away. I can only work out when she's asleep (still true). This means I can work out during nap time or after bedtime. During nap time I'm either still at school and/or on my way home, and after bedtime is my ME time...and everyone deserves me time, right? Especially working moms whose husbands work night shift.

2. Cleaning: While I am always happier when the house is clean, again, I told myself I just didn't have time. Cleaning takes a lot of time, and I just didn't have that time with Mia (and then Ethan) running around and just undoing it anyway. I did only what was absolutely necessary as late as was absolutely possible. When we ran out of forks and/or there was no more room in the sink, I did dishes. When the playroom was unnavigable I put away the toys. When the bathrooms were on the edge of total embarrassment, I cleaned them. And so on and so forth. For the last few years, my housekeeping has been walking the edge of eww. I am not proud of this.

3. Laundry: This one is bad. As with housekeeping, laundry has been done in this house as a matter of necessity. When we run out of underwear, I do laundry. Unfortunately, unlike forks, I didn't do ALL the laundry. I just did enough to keep us in underwear. This means the clothes on the bottom of my laundry pile have been there for a while. As in over a year. At one point i bought my husband more underwear to further put off how much laundry I had to do. I am not proud of this. I am confessing this to serve as a cautionary tale.

4. Food: As said in the above-mentioned post, I am a comfort eater. I am conscious of this. Since my first miscarriage in 2009 (hence the six years) I had gained up to...wait for it...70 pounds. Now, to be fair, some of this is pregnancy weight that never went away (as though it is the weight's job to go away and not mine to send it on its way). For the last six years, I have mostly considered myself a lost cause. I'm a mess no matter what...bring on the cheesecake. 

I have been vaguely surprised that my husband hasn't had more reaction to this. I think a part of me had been waiting for him to say something...like I wanted him to be the catalyst for my changes. This is dumb.

Now, I have had brief flirtation with not failing at life over the last six years. They usually last about two weeks, during which I shift into gear and briefly remember what it's like to be a functional human being.  At the end of those two weeks....I kid you not....I have gotten pregnant. Every time. First with Mia, then with Charlotte, then with Ethan. Tomorrow marks two weeks since I have been actively trying to be a real person again. I had my tubes tied after Ethan, so, barring an act of God, I won't have an excuse to back down this time.

They say it takes 21 days to make something habit. If I can make it one more week, maybe this new lifestyle will become habit.

Here's a typical day in the new Life of Kait:

5:30-6am-Wake, shower, and dress in the clothes I organized by outfit on Sunday night so it is ready to go.
6:00-6:30am-Wake and dress kids and grab premade lunch and breakfast from fridge. Grab kids' cups and granola bars, also set out in advance. Take kids to daycare.
7am-2pm-Work
2:30-3pm-Work out with other teachers.
3:30-5pm-Tidy house and put away toys.
5-8:30pm-Time with kids
8:30-11:30pm-Put away toys and tidy, do dishes and fold laundry, deep clean one room, set out things for tomorrow, and relax.

Ironically, I feel like I have more time and energy now than I did before. I feel more confident and content because I'm not going home to a house that embarrasses me and makes me feel like I have a million things to do.

I don't remember the last time I felt like this. That is not, in any way, a hyperbole. I don't even know if this is my old self. At some point in the six years of relative apathy, did the counterfeit, lazy me become the "real" me? 

Please note: While I have been lazy and apathetic, I have loved my husband and my children with reckless abandon. I have never taken time with my family for granted, and I value every day spent with them.

How long does the current me, the one I'm actually PROUD of, have to last to become the new me? This is NOT  a New Year's resolution. This is just a new start with a new set of priorities. It's socially acceptable to allow New Year's reolutioms to lapse. I don't want to do this.

One more week, I hope, will make it a habit to care about what my life is like.

Dear faceless community of people I hope are reading my words. Yes, you. I need you to care. While I should be able to sustain a good lifestyle for my own sake, and that of my family, it's hard. I need external support.

There are no meetings for Apathetic Anonymous. Hi, my name is Kait, and I am bad at existing.

Nope. Not a thing.

I've shared a lot of things here that I'm not proud of. Things that I am downright ashamed of. I did that to make myself accountable to someone. You now have a window into my motivation and my excuses. Don't let me slide, faceless readers.

I am starting to feel like my old self again. I think. Or maybe, I'm starting to feel like the self I want to be. I think that's ok, too.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

I wonder

I struggled with emotions towards my nurses during Charlotte's birth. They were very nice and considerate, but it just felt so routine. I felt like I was unspecial.  That's not a word.

I remember vividly hearing the nurses and orderlies and anesthesiologist chatting, perfectly normally, on the way to the OR for my D&C to remove the placenta, less than 2 hours after Charlotte's birth. The normalcy of it was surreal. I wondered if they remembered that I was awake.

I was angry in the following weeks. I felt like I should have mattered more. Like I was just a statistic. A cautionary tale. Easily forgettable.

I read this article tonight. It makes me wonder. Do my nurses remember me? I remember them. Lori and Roberta. I have no clear memory of what they looked like, but I remember them. So do I believe, "...if you've ever been the family that didn't take your baby home, please know -- please really know -- that there's still a nurse out there thinking of you."? 

I don't know. I'd like to think that's true. It never felt that way, though. I wish it did.

I remember someone commenting one time that the nurses really did care. I think maybe it was on my original Time with Charlotte writing, as I have a brief aside somewhere in the middle about how it felt routine.

I asked Lori how often they dealt with people like me. Births like mine. She said sometimes they go months without one, and sometimes... She told me there was another woman down the hall like me.  

Was the routine a coping strategy?  Are nurses allowed to show emotions? Do they allow themselves to feel the emotions? 

For me, I felt the most emotionally unstable and overwhelmed as I have ever felt. While the nurses were very nice and very respectful, I think in a way that their lack of emotion made me feel like my emotions weren't valid. To the medical community, I was just another day at work, though a sad one.

I like the idea what they really cared. That they might remember. That what happened to my family was big enough to warrant a real reaction. 

A part of me has always been a little ashamed of how much a part of my life this became because it wasn't even particularly noteworthy in the hospital in which it happened, or so I assumed. It would be nice if that assumption was wrong.

Everyone thinks they are special...how many really are?

On Becoming a Rainbow Mother

They call a child conceived after a loss a rainbow baby. It's the beauty after the storm.  I embrace that terminology, mostly because it's the commonly accepted vernacular.

I don't think it's the baby himself, though . The death is the storm, but not the baby.  No stillbirth mother, to my knowledge, views her child as a storm. The death is the storm. The chance of new life, the happiness and joy being, at least in part, restored by a new pregnancy, a new baby, that is the rainbow. The Mama finally feels the rainbow. To be clear, the rainbow doesn't erase the storm, nor does it make us forget. The rainbow is simply a moment of beauty and grace.

I hate, with a passion, when people, consciously or not, dampen the spirits and happiness of a rainbow mother. 

A "normal" mother is showered in love and happiness and excitement. If anyone even thinks of miscarriage or loss, they would never say it. You just don't say that to a pregnant woman. Ignorance is bliss. It's all hugs, and kisses, and congratulations, and tears.

A rainbow mama, particularly a stillbirth rainbow mama, doesn't get that. She's scared, but this is her rainbow. She deserves celebration and joy as much, if not more, than the "normal". Why, then, is it so hard to come by?

Voices are hushed. In lieu of exuberance and excitement there is a quiet promise to pray for you. In lieu of congratulations and hugs there is a worried look in the eye, a tightening of the mouth, a pitying tilt of the head. In lieu of joy there is doubt. In lieu of hugs there is a distant arm pat.

This is bullshit.

We are not broken. A rainbow Mama NEEDS to celebrate. A rainbow Mama has already lost a child. Why must she lose her hope and joy as well? Why must she be made to fear more than she already does? Why must she get less? Why must it be this way?

Please, just hug the rainbow Mama. Tell her congratulations and MEAN it. It's not that hard.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The journey doesn't end

Right after Charlotte died, in the midst of all of the haze of anger and sadness, I got this feeling that I was embarking on a long journey. Like each day living with and coping with my grief was a footstep that was taking me somewhere. Months later, I started to feel like you do on a trip....so anxious to get there so that you can enjoy the beach or wherever it is you're headed.

I've recently realized that this journey doesn't end. There is no beach, not really. I did set out on a journey, but it's one that just goes on. The scenery has gotten nicer. The drive has become more comfortable.  But there is no destination. (I am illogical bothered that in my last paragraph I talked about it as a journey of steps but have now mixed my metaphor by placing myself in a car. Once an English major, always...)

I don't mean this as bleak as it may sound. It's not that life is this unending journey of pain. Far from it. It's just that there is no end point. There is no point at which I will arrive at the end of my daughter's death and say, "I'm here!" The journey of grief is one that becomes a part of my journey of life, and that's ok.

I still miss Charlotte every day. I still think of her every day. She's my daughter, and being her mother is as much a part of me as the color of my eyes.

I love being her mother.

That said, some days the journey is still hard. Some days I need someone to remind me that I'm still moving. Some days it's harder to appreciate the scenery.

The journey doesn't end. It just goes on. I'm learning to embrace that.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tiny moments

When I feel really down, there's almost always a tiny moment that redeems me.

It was cold, windy, and damp this morning. I'd stayed up too late to finish The Fault in Our Stars, with which I was thoroughly underwhelmed. I was assured over and over again (granted, by students, but still...) that it was wonderful and would make me cry SO hard...and, despite a few quiet tears, I just found it a little depressing. No real cathartic sobbing, as I was promised. I had a bit of a tiring day yesterday, so two hours sleep felt pretty paltry. We had four delayed openings right on the heels of a two week winter break, so the 5am alarm was even more jarring. Long story short (too late) it was a rough morning.

In the dark of the driveway in front of the day care lady's house, Mia asked, "Is Charlotte watching out for me, Mama?" So simply, as if she'd asked why it's dark out or where is her grandma. It's too cold for butterflies. I don't know what her little head was thinking about. I quickly answered, "Of course, sweetheart. She's always looking out for us, isn't she?"

She nodded. "Yeah," she said, "Charlotte's nice."

Yes, she is, Mia. You're right.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Assumptions on Stillbirth Funerals

I got a Kindle book yesterday. Have been reading more over winter break. Since I have amazon Prime, I decided to try the free book borrow feature, and I found one that was a stillbirth mommy memoir. This is apparently a genre. A small genre, but a genre none the less.

The book begins with the funeral. Here is where I need to own up to my assumptions. I jumped to the conclusion that, since they were having a funeral (casket, readings, burial, etc), she was a full-term stillborn momma. She wasn't. She was just like me. Well, not just like me, but like me in duration of pregnancy....two weeks less, actually, which is technically a late term miscarriage instead of stillbirth. No one will ever say that to her, but it's accurate. I don't know why. It's a stupid distinction, if you ask me, and I maintain that mothers be allowed to feel and mourn however they want. But that's not the point...

We didn't have a funeral for Charlotte. I didn't want to. There is no decision more painful and surreal than deciding what to do with the body of your dead child. It was literally a consious step-back moment that I remember from that day in the hospital. How do you even explain that to a funeral home? No one ever expects to make that decision, so it's a very absurdist situation. Or it at least feels it.

I felt like no one really knew her or loved her the way Mike and I did. I didn't think people would understand. I didn't think people would understand how to mourn for her in the way I needed to mourn, so I didn't want to see them screw it up. No one ever questioned our decision.

I found myself jealous of this random writer-woman and her funeral with a tiny casket. Charlotte was cremated. That was my choice. I couldn't understand or handle the thought of having her be away from us. I wanted to keep her with me. The first few days were the hardest, when we waited for all the paperwork to process and her body to be sent to the funeral home for cremation. I just wanted her with me. I brought her cremains to the beach with us when we went to the beach two weeks later. I just wanted her nearby. The closest we had to a funeral was placing her cremains in the silver heart box I picked out and later arranging her shelf on the curio cabinet. No mourners, besides her parents. No casket, just a little box. As a side note, there is a catalogue of urns that the funeral home had of all shapes and sizes, including cremain jewelry: keep your loved one with you (quite literally) every day. Nope. Not me. I considered a tattoo, but that's as far as it went. She's with me beyond physical, I know.

But still...I was jealous of this woman and her funeral. I wonder now if our reticence to have a funeral made it seem like we didn't want to mourn in a traditional sense. I wonder, if we had a funeral, if people might have understood more. I wonder, if we had a funeral, if maybe it would have legitimized or at least formalized our pain that I'm still so surprised people just didn't understand.  I wonder, if we had a funeral, if things might not have been so lonely and disappointing.

I wonder, if we had a funeral, if people still wouldn't care or wouldn't get it. I wonder if people would even come. I wonder if that would be worse.

I don't know if I'll read the rest of the book.