Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Not okay

Why is it when people ask how I am doing I say okay? Sure I just had 3 weeks go by that were bearable and a few times I was honest when I said I was okay. Maybe I am okay, maybe this is my new okay, feeling like a am the only one experiencing a freekin' tsunami while everyone else lays on the beach in the sun. I was looking out the window this morning at the trees. I was just telling my mom moments before how I feel sick about going back to work next week, because a heap of stress is waiting to dump on me. As I blankly stared out the window the large tree in our backyard came into focus, suddenly it's nakedness became very evident (as if I hadn't noticed it's leaves falling)and I began to feel like that tree looks. Naked and vulnerable before the world. My life is like this season, all my beautiful leaves have fallen off and I am left standing like that tree to face the cold bitter winds of sorrow. I feel vulnerable beyond my own recognition. I don't want anyone to see me like this, I don't even recognize myself. Just like that tree there's no hiding my bare branches. My leaves represent all the moments I will not get to spend rocking my Audrey to sleep, brushing her hair, hearing her voice, giving her advice, and the million other things moms do with their daughters. My leaves are in the ground now, never to return to me in this life. I can only pray that I can weather this storm and hope that someday I will see spring and summer in my life.I know waht to look for, I've seen them before. Right now though, I am NOT OKAY! Because I don't have the courage to say it out loud I must write it down. It is not okay with me that my baby girl is playing on the streets of gold instead of here with me! That is selfish but true. My heart is broken. Can you imagine? Someone says, "Hi how are you?" I reply, "Heartbroken, how are you?" Or, "Not okay, thanks for asking." Do people really want to know? Are they still just making conversation when they ask me or did that magically change to a sincere question when we lost Audrey? It depends on the person, but my pain has made me too stupid to notice the difference. Suddenly I feel as though I don't belong in society because I don't know how to answer our culture's token question. And God forbid someone NOT ask, that would only confirm my status as an outcast. And what about meeting new people, when they ask, "Do you have children?" That's a loaded question. The other night we went out to celebrate a friend's birthday and the question did come up when we met some of her other friends, I kept it simple and said no. Am I chicken? Maybe. Perhaps I want to keep her and her memory all to myself and only talk about her to those I know and love. No, I'm just crazy - 'cause if that were true why would be posting this for total strangers to read! It is what it is. How do you define "have"? I just wasn't ready to break the news - we are unable to see our children, they live in heaven.

God has promised me certain things and I have to stand on faith that he meant them for me to have here on earth. Someday I will share those things with you. But for now I must tread through this pain and have hope for my future.

"For I know the plans I have for prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, November 23, 2009


My last post was titled "In the beginning" that was JUST the beginning, for I spent 7 more days in the hospital fighting infection. I had many ups and downs with fever, chills, shaking violently and hours of feeling good- well physically as good as possible after a major surgery. The hours following Audrey's birth and death were filled with confusion, shock, saying the right things and making the kind of decisions I never imagined we would be forced to make....burial or cremation, service or no service, and if we did choose burial then where, if we did have a service which funeral home, who would we wish to attend? And what about pictures, did we want someone taking pictures of Audrey, did we want her to be with us in my room, did we want to be involved with bathing her, dressing her? I felt too disassociated to engage in these decisions that would thrust me into reality. Perhaps the morphine paralyzed all of me, or was it grief, or both? All I knew was that in my chest was a deep abyss - I felt half dead. Or was it half alive?
How could one go on living with such pain? How could I escape it? Possibly the best place for me for 7 days was the hospital, despite what I thought at the time. I thought I knew pain until Audrey's death - boy was I mistaken, this has been the worst kind for me.

We decided to allow Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep to come in and take pictures of Audrey in an ivory satin gown I picked out from the hospital's selection provided by volunteers for situations such as ours. We kept her in our room the entire next day and I held her a few times although it was very hard for me, I thought I was being too morbid. We first said we wouldn't have a service as we didn't want to draw attention to ourselves or ask people to attend a service of a baby no one knew. I mean- who wants to ask people to do such a thing as feel sorry for you! Well, thank God we came to our senses - we chose to bury her in a baby section of a beautiful cemetery and we had a graveside service open to whoever wanted to be there. We allowed people into our pain. Now I can't imagine having it any other way, the love we received from friends, family and coworkers was unexpected - not that we doubted we had such love available - but it was a great feeling to get a hug from people we never imagined would be there. So, that was Sept. 26th - the day we buried our daughter, a week after I came home from the hospital. Putting it this way helps me remember. Looking back I wish I would have held her even more, because when I came home is when an even deeper pain came over me. It was then that my arms started to ache to hold my baby girl. This is not figuratively speaking - I mean literally ached with emptiness. Grief is strange like that I guess.
I am so thankful for those who have made bereavement training possible for hospital staff and to the staff directly involved with Jamie, Audrey and I, they were AWESOME . I am thankful for those who developed the concept of the NILMDTS photography. I would be lost without these gorgeous photos. I am thankful to Hamilton's funeral home who only charged us for Audrey's casket. I am grateful to the city of Des Moines for doing away with the fees associated with burying a baby. I am also grateful to Flowers By Anthony for giving us our casket spray. It is beautiful to see a community give to hurting parents. When it felt like God had abandoned me, there were all the people who showed they care. I must not interpret my numbness as his absence. He said so himself. Now if only I can believe this enough to act like it.

"Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matt. 28:20
" Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13:5