Thursday, October 8, 2015

31 Days of Grief: Day 8

If he had been healthy, today would have been baby Charlie's due date.  But he came 21 days early, the same as his big sister Evie.

Since due dates tend to be somewhat fluid, even in the best circumstances, and since none of my babies came on their due date (Micah was the closest at one day before his due date), I don't feel overly emotional or attached to this number on the calendar.  I also know Charlie's days were written before the beginning of time and that September 18, 2015 always had his name on it.  

But, because of what today might have been, I find myself wondering afresh what life would have been like with Charlie in it.  

Chances are, had he been healthy, we wouldn't have been surprised at his gender.  There would have been enough fluid for ultrasounds to see all they needed to see.  And he may have had a different name.  Before the 20 week ultrasound, I was trying to sell Josh on the name Archer Alan.  Super cool, right?!  But Charlie is very sweet and fitting for my heaven-boy.  And I love the name connection with two wonderful patriarchs.

Would he have been a good eater and sleeper?  Would he have been easygoing?  Would he have enjoyed car rides or had a specific way he liked to sleep?  Would he be smiling at his siblings?  Would he have soothed quickly at the sound of his daddy's voice?  

I suppose these things will always be left to wonder.  But I know, no matter what he was like, he would have been a special addition to our family.  We will always miss what could have been <3 

Me and my little men <3
(Micah enjoying his breakfast)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

31 Days of Grief: Day 7

There's something about going through a really hard thing that makes you want to connect with others who have gone through, or are currently going through, really hard things.  I find myself needing to read stories about people who really see life from a new perspective because of some real hardship.  I know everyone has hardship - that's life on this earth, right? - but I mean hardship in the way that makes others say, "I don't know how they went through that."  That kind.

I accidentally found this book on amazon while searching for halloween costumes for my kids (go figure).  Amazon suggested this book based on others I had purchased.  It's the hardship story of Laura Story, the woman who sings the song, Blessings.  Anyway, I read one paragraph of the book and fell totally in love.  I can't wait to read the rest.  Here is that first paragraph from the book, When God Doesn't Fix It.

The call that changed my life happened around noon in February 2006.  I was in St. Louis attending a conference with two of my coworkers.  They sat in the front seat of the rental car with the radio on; I was in the backseat checking my phone messages.  As we headed to Panera Bread for lunch, I noticed a voicemail from my husband, Martin, and I called him back.  That's when he gave me the news that dramatically changed the course of our lives and the lives of those closest to us.  

We're all just one phone call away from learning the results of a test or the news of an affair, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or a thousand other ways our hope can be shattered.  

In that moment, we think life as we know it is over.

The truth is, life, as we've yet to know it, has just begun. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

31 Days of Grief: Day 6

I found this little information sheet as I was cleaning up my bedroom today.  It was an information sheet in the folder the hospital sent home with us.  The folder was entitled, Information and Resources for Grieving Parents.  I hate that it's the second time we've received that folder.  I hate that others have to go home with it too.  

Anyway, this particular sheet is colored lavender and labeled, Four Phases of Normal Grief: Feelings and Indicators.  There is a footnote citing where this information came from: Glen Davidson, Understanding Mourning, 1984*.  So, while it might be dated, I found a lot of this to be true for myself and wanted to share.  

Four Phases of Normal Grief: Feelings and Indicators

1. Shock and Numbness
(most intense during first two weeks)

Attention span is short
Concentration is difficult
Decision making is impaired
Stunned, disbelief
Time confusion
Failure to accept reality

2. Searching and Yearning

Sensitive to stimuli
Anger, guilt
Restless, impatient
Irritability, resentment, bitterness
Weight gain or loss
Sleep difficulties
Aching arms (in pregnancy loss)
Obsession with getting pregnant again
Preoccupation with the deceased
Time confusion
Palpitations, headaches, blurred vision
Lack of strength
Perception confirmation is the key to helping

3. Disorientation

Feelings of going crazy
Social withdrawal 
Awareness of reality
Weight gain or loss
Sense of failure
Difficulty concentrating
Feeling ill
Lack of energy

4. Reorganization/Resolution

Sense of release
Renewed energy
Able to make decisions easier
Eating and sleeping habits reestablished
Able to laugh and smile again
Reinvesting emotionally 

If I had to guess where I was, maybe in that third phase.  That sounds a lot like me these days.  I don't feel like I'm going crazy, but maybe that's just because I've been here before and am all too familiar with the me brain no worky phase of grief.  And I'm tired.  

Anyway, I am very grateful for information like this to help people like me realize their grief symptoms are completely normal.  I'm looking forward to that last "resolution" phase very much.  Until then, the only way through is through.  

*I have not read this book myself but it did receive decent, although few, reviews on Amazon

Monday, October 5, 2015

31 Days of Grief: Day 5

Tonight I find myself thinking of my time with Charlie.  More specifically, I find myself wishing for hindsight and a second chance at some things.  Our time with him was so brief, did I really take the time to drink in all his alive moments?  The adrenaline/endorphin rush that occurs after giving birth creates a sort of out-of-body type feeling, at least for me.  Did that prevent me from being totally present in his moments here?  

Should we have invited everyone in so soon?  Should I have savored my little boy longer, with just Josh?  Should we have waited?  If I had known we would only have thirty minutes maybe we would have done that part differently.  I don't know.

Did he know?  Did he know he was loved?  Did I kiss him enough in those few minutes?  Did he recognize my voice and feel comforted?  Was he afraid at the end?  I know I wasn't the one holding him when he passed.  I kind of hate that.  I wish it had been me.  

It's so hard, having someone with you for such a short amount of time.  I hope he knew how much he was loved, is loved.  I know, even if he didn't, it doesn't matter anymore.  He only knows love now, and perfection.  That's pretty great.  I guess it's just for my sake that I want to know the story from his perspective.  I hope he would have good memories from his time with us.  I remember feeling the same things with Evie.

I suppose one day I will get to hear.  I'll get to hear from both of them.  And I hope their words describe the love they knew and felt while they were here.  Because they were both loved so, so deeply and treasured and wanted so, so very much.  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

31 Days of Grief: Day 4

I stayed home from church today.  Josh was on call and our church is too far outside of his 45 minute travel window and honestly, I just wasn't ready to go to church without him yet.  The weather was terrible.  And a lot has happened in the two weeks since Charlie passed away and I just felt like I needed to not stretch it today.  I think it was the right choice.

I was able to tackle some of the last boxes that have been hanging around.  The box that held my pantry and baking items.  The box that had lots of my books and decorations for my room.  And the giant box of kids toys that we haven't unpacked until now and I was wondering if maybe I should just throw it away if we've gotten along this fine without it.  But I'm glad I didn't because a lot of our favorite bedtime books were in there.  We've been surviving on the same five since we've moved in so I'm glad to have those favorites on the shelf again.

We cleaned and organized the playroom and put fresh vacuum lines on the carpet.  Micah and I played a great round of Hi-Ho Cherry-O (I won, by the way, and then we had to have a talk about what it means to be a good sport).  I made dinner.  Before he went to bed Micah and I perused pinterest for playroom decor ideas and boy bedroom ideas.  It was so fun to see his interior decorating preferences.  Not surprisingly they involved lots of primary colors, superhero-themed pictures, and anything that incorporated lego display shelves.  I love that kid.

Now I'm sitting here writing about my day with 30 Rock playing in the background because sometimes Liz Lemon does wonders for the soul.  

Today felt pretty ordinary.  I was thankful for the chance to set up house a little more and make this place a little more like home.  It's been really rainy lately but I've been thankful for its drizzly monotony - it feels peaceful and calming to me.  I need that.

Today was full of ordinary things.  It felt good to do those things.  And I will continue to do those ordinary day to day things until I start to feel a little less robotic and a little more present in them.  I know one day things will feel different.  It just takes time.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

31 Days of Grief: Day 3

From Life Interrupted, by Priscilla Shirer:

Have you looked at other people around you and wondered why you've been asked to endure a route that appears different and more difficult than theirs?  Are you wondering why everybody else gets such an easy time of it while you're left to struggle with something so hard to handle?  Are you asking, "Why would God do this to me?"

But, see, your significance is at stake.  He's reworking our bland resumes as we speak.  He has asked us to walk this road because it's the one through which a homemaker, a single woman, a math major, a grandmother, a country girl, a taxpayer, a first cousin, or a part-time employee becomes a person with a story more than her resume, a story only God can tell.  

You are not just an information form.  Not just data entries and check boxes.  You are the precious child of a living, heavenly Father who intervenes that you might show forth His greatness and glory.  Your life may be a bit distressing at the moment or more overwhelming than you'd prefer, but this is the setting where God's creativity turns ordinary people into timeless classics.

Therefore, you are neither confined by your resume nor allowed to hide yourself behind it.  Like Jonah, there's more to you than you realize.  And this interruption - I mean, intervention- may be where you find that out.

Hold high the inkwell.  He's on to something.  Let Him write.

I'm not going to lie, there are times when this concept, the idea that God uses His people to write stories that propel others to change and to bring more to Him, isn't very comforting.  To be perfectly honest there are emotionally weak days when this concept makes me feel like a pawn in a cruel game and I just can't even go there.  Some days.

But there are other days when I get along with this truth.  After all, in times past I have stood in a church sanctuary and sung, with all conviction, words like "take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord for Thee" and "Have Thine own way, Lord, have Thine own way".  In all sincerity I offered my heart and services to the Lord and He took me up on it.  I can't really argue with that.

And Scripture promises great rewards to those who can withstand these earthly trials, these "life interruptions", the Lord specifically assigns to each person.  And if I really believe in eternity, as in, a forever life after this one, I can make these investments, even painful ones, with full knowledge of these eternal rewards.  If I keep my eyes on Heaven and what awaits me there - no tears, two beautiful children, a Savior who paid the ultimate price, and possibly even a roomful of treasure I can swim in, Scrooge McDuck style - I can keep perspective during hard times, grieving times, like this one.

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

Those plans, those prosperous and hopeful times might not be realized until Heaven, but they're coming.  I know it.

Friday, October 2, 2015

31 Days of Grief: Day Two

I don't have a lot to say today.  I think this video is really perfect.  It's so important for us to remember that people have a story, everyone has pain.  Always be gentle, kind, and understanding ... you never know what someone is enduring.