Monday, January 27, 2014

I Ache for Balance.

Well, whenever I decide to just let the blog go for a while, it always seems something comes up and I need to write.  And I'd rather do it here than in some notebook thrown in a drawer somewhere.  It feels safer here, which is really dumb, because this is the internet.  But there's an intimacy to blogging I can't quite articulate.

So yeah, here I am.  This is what this space is for and why I haven't shut it down quite yet.  I know some people who keep blogs open even if they only post once a year so who knows, I have to stop pressuring myself to make a decision about it and just blog when I feel the need without concern with how often or how seldom that turns out to be.

Decided to clean my room.  It needed done.  Like, really needed done.

My life hasn't been "normal" ever since my first pregnancy back in 2009 that I miscarried.  Ever since that trauma, it's been a roller coaster of TTC, high risk pregnancy, stillbirth, raising a surviving twin, grieving the babies I lost, trying to piece my life back together, subsequent pregnancy after loss which carries its own bag of crazy, and now this past year adjusting to a major job switch and having a new baby at home / raising a toddler / grieving my first boy. 

*wipes brow*

The dust is finally, finally, finally KIND OF starting to "settle".

Of course that doesn't mean much, does it?  Typing it out like that, it makes perfect sense to me and almost feels...Good?  But that doesn't mean I just picked up this shattered life and pushed the pieces back together like some haphazard puzzle.

It just, it is what it is.  Our family has been redefined by our rainbow, obviously, but we still miss our first son.  Some days more than others.  It ebbs and flows. 
But I haven't had an ugly cry for a while.

I'm starting to kind of pin some recipes on Pinterest and even watch some mindless garbage on TV and laugh about it, all good indicators of progress with my grief.  So I figure, I gotta get back on the cleaning thing.  Especially with two kids at home, I need to be a better role model.

I figured that I might come across a thing or two that would trigger my grief and/or flashbacks while cleaning, which is why I probably put it off for so long. (Although my husband mistakenly believes I'm just lazy.  He can be really bad at connecting dots.)

I did come across some tokens of remembrance.  Most of the items were cards and little pins and trinkets people have given me over the past two years, stuff that should have gone into Elias's remembrance bin but never made it there for one reason or another.  Items from the first year of ugly raw grief had been put away but nothing after that point basically.

So there they were, and I was okay with that.  I glanced briefly at the items but mostly just felt like, "Yup, there's that thing.  And that thing.  Gotta start a pile for the box."

Then I saw the papers.

Charts.  And charts.  And charts.

With numbers, graphs, and way too much information.

Where I used to track my basal body temperature and any signs that I thought might indicate a pregnancy.  Dating back to my pregnancy with the twins. 

And that pretty much gutted me.

I saw the "PREGNANT!" scrawled out on one of the charts, and the subsequent month where I continued charting simply because I had suffered a previous miscarriage and knew that dropping temps could indicate something being off.

Ever the cautious one.

Ever the cautious one, for thirty seven achingly long weeks, only to lose my son anyway, because those are the cards the Universe dealt me.

Three years out, I realize the Universe wasn't targeting me, so maybe I shouldn't sound so angry at It.  But being angry at Statistics doesn't feel right either.  I suppose I have worked through most of my anger, so much that I don't need a target for it anymore, but those papers.  Those stupid meticulously kept records of my body's rhythms.  They seemed to mock me tonight.  Seemed to be laughing at me and my ever believing that anything could possibly be truly within my control.

I just tried so damn hard.

I tried harder at having those babies than I've ever tried at anything.

Bringing my twins home meant more to me than anything in the world.  To this day, losing my first born son feels to me like the biggest failure of my life.  I wonder if I will ever not feel that way.

Mentally I know it's not my *fault*.  But because fetal-maternal hemorrhage is so rare and not very well understood, it's extremely difficult for me to put to rest some of those questions, doubts, and feelings of guilt that still, to this day, creep in.

And I just didn't really need to see those meticulously kept basal body temperature charts.

Don't get me wrong, I am well aware that I am lucky to have been able to conceive on my own.  Well aware.  But those papers were painful reminders of my former self, the self that took pregnancy on like it was simply going to be an exciting journey ending in pure joy.

I don't like to be a jealous person.  But sometimes I am so damn jealous of people who don't know this pain.  People who get to take those charts and put them in a scrapbook lovingly, giggling at the silly notations about feeling gassy or moody or whatever other clues they had to their pregnancy in advance. 

I will never ever understand why some people get to skate through pregnancy, childbirth, and mothering their children without any losses while others endure multiple losses and traumas. 

I miss my son so damn much. 
I miss what could have been.
I'm sorry for everything I could have been to him.  I ache for all that we lost, the years we should have been able to spend loving one another.  The bond he may have had with his sister.  The experience of raising twins.

I guess I am far enough out from having my rainbow that I am allowing myself a bit of a grief resurgence of sorts.  I don't know grief's "place".  I hate how coming across some pieces of paper sends me to ugly cry territory. 

I ache for balance.  And, dare I say, integration.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

His Third Birthday: Acts of Kindness

I have to be completely honest.  This was the gentlest birthday so far of them all.  I'm not sure if it's because this is year three, which logically should be easier than years one and two, or if it was more circumstantial.

Evy and Will have had a rough time with getting sick a lot this winter season.  And they were sick AGAIN the week of Evy and Elias's birthday.  So I was mostly just worried so much about the kiddos that I didn't really have time to dwell, relive things in my mind, or pore over Elias's photos like I perhaps would have otherwise.

The love I feel for my children may be equal, but the time I devote to them certainly isn't, and that's just life.  The living are much more demanding than the dead, after all.

Once the children were feeling better (had to reschedule Evy's party and all), it was my turn to get sick.  And sick I was.  Sinus and ear infections, tonsillitis, and the flu.  All at once.  On Evy and Elias's third birthday.  At the time I felt like the Universe was just hating on me again (oh, the ego in such thoughts!).  Then of course I came to my senses and realized people get sick.  And it was simply my turn.

To be fair, we did things in remembrance the day before, on December 8th, because as a family we've decided he should have his own day and Evy her own day as well.  This may not make sense to anyone else, but I don't care, because even if they were both here I would want them to both feel special, as individuals, and I would downplay the twin thing surely.  The happy and the sad have their places, and they intermingle with one another every day, but compartmentalization still helps us feel like we are more properly celebrating Evy and grieving Elias and not "cheating" either of them of those things.

So on Dec. 8th we purchased a toy to donate to Toys for Tots in Elias's honor.  We decorated a tree with ornaments given to us in his memory.  My husband gave me a gorgeous Precious Moments figurine.  We went to the remembrance park where his name and butterfly are engraved, and we said a prayer, letting three baby blue balloons go into the sky for our first born son who would (should?) be turning three.

It felt about as "right" as any of those things can feel, because none of them ever really feels "right".  Your child dying never feels "right".  But what helped was knowing we were honoring him, that he still had his day. 

The best part of Elias's day was that, for the first time, I decided to hold an "Act of Kindness" Facebook event in Elias's memory.  I almost didn't want to mention it here, because words fail to express how incredible it really was.  There's nothing I can type here to communicate that to anyone who might read this blog. 
Here are just a few of the countless things people through Facebook did in honor of Elias on or before his birthday:
Cash donations were made to St. Jude’s, toys were donated to children’s hospitals and Toys for Tots, gifts and cash donations were given to women in shelters, jewelry was purchased and given to newly bereaved mothers,  students “adopted” two needy children to shop for for Christmas, elderly were visited at nursing homes, food banks were donated to, lunches and goodies were made for children at school, money was given toward grocery bills for elderly, donations to March of Dimes were made, a family with a NICU baby was sponsored, and cards were made and given to hospice patients and families.
I wasn't sure if anyone outside of the loss community would participate, but they did.  And it was wonderful.  It brought my heart so much peace to know that good was being done in Elias's name, that he would never be forgotten, that his legacy would be so much more than pain and sadness in the hearts of those who loved him.  I don't have pictures of it all obviously, but here are a few pictures that were shared on his event page that touched my heart:


And his ornament this year:

Loving you for three years, baby boy.  For the son who taught us the true meaning of unconditional love.