A beautiful sky, as the balloons float off to heaven for little Austin.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
A beautiful sky, as the balloons float off to heaven for little Austin.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
This time, last year, I was in the hospital, hooked up to machines, receiving blood transfusions, and being reassured that I just had to hold on a little longer. This time, last year, as the day wore on, I went into labor. I went into labor and was scared to death. For the first time, I wasn't sure if I was going to hold on to the little baby, and I feared for my life. This time, last year, I was set to deliver by C-section. This time, last year, almost at this exact time, the contractions stopped, and I held on to hope that I was going to be the "Miracle Baby" story. This time, last year, I began an extremely intense roller coaster of emotions, and I remember almost every waking moment.
I am not really sure how I feel today; it still feels a little surreal. I just know that the next week and a half will be filled with memories of what happened those long days in the hospital, and what might have been.... I miss my little Austin....
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
This past weekend, we celebrated my daughter's 3rd birthday, which she has highly anticipated for the past three months. While the day was extremely fun and she had a blast (how can you not when you are three?), there was an overall tension that I felt in anticipation for her birthday weekend. I know this is due to the fact is that all I could think about was where I was last year at this time... in bed, anxiously awaiting every day in the hopes that I would make it another day through the pregnancy. This time last year, I was naive, innocent, hopeful... and while I was on bedrest and in a great deal of pain and angst over what was going on with my body, I held on to the hope that it would all be worth it for my little one. Amazing how a year later, the circumstances can be so different. I am not as naive and innocent, and it has been an extremely difficult year, but I still hold on to hope... and that hope is what gets me through these difficult times, and the inevitable difficult moments that lie ahead...
This brings me to what has caused me to write tonight, as I feel I am trying to avoid the inevitable and deny that I am anxious about the looming first year anniversary date. My wonderful friend (and grief counselor) called me tonight and said that I needed to get out of my denial stage that the date is approaching, and make sure I have something in place for that day. I know I need to, and I feel like I somewhat have a vision in my head, but I just feel like I want to be able to honor the date, yet not have a day of mourning and sadness. With that said, I know that I want to have people with me that day, and I think the best people and support I need for that particular day would come from my friends, as opposed to family. I just feel like I have had a difficult time relating to my family during this time, and I think this will cause me further stress for a day that is going to be hard enough. But then I feel guilty, in that if my family finds out, will they be offended?
So I guess if you have any suggestions as to what I can do on this day... I would greatly appreciate it! I keep all of you in my thoughts and prayers often.... and am so grateful to have found this blog as an outlet for my feelings.
Friday, April 2, 2010
I have been really busy the past month, which is why I haven't been posting, but I have been thinking about my own grief, the grief of all of the women that read this, and I have kept you in my thoughts and prayers. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to call in to many of the phone calls with the Anchored by Hope group; however, I am following along in my book, and it has brought me so much comfort. It is amazing how the verses selected just make such complete sense, and how very important and real it is to feel all of the many emotions that we all feel.
Anyway, Austin's tree has bloomed, and I found it very ironic that 17 blooms were to be counted as of last night; it does look so beautiful, and I am so grateful for the people that planted it because last summer I didn't realize how much it would really mean to me. Also, this week, Austin's headstone has finally arrived... ugh... that is something I have been dreading, and I didn't think it would be here that soon... nonetheless, it is, and I guess it is time that we finally put it where it belongs.
I hope all of you are doing well and are able to find some peace and most certainly, some hope this Easter weekend. As the flowers bloom and the weather gets warmer, I know the moments of sadness, grief, anxiety and loneliness won't disappear, but at least the dark, dreary, grey and cold days seem to be behind us.... and for this, I am extremely grateful.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
And then I think about how much time has passed; how much time really has gone by since my life changed forever. I think about how far I have come; how far I really have come throughout this whole grief journey. I think about what I really was like those early months of denial and shock, and I am proud of myself for how far I have come. But then I also think about how much the one year anniversary looms, and questions flood me as to what am I going to feel; how am I going to act; am I going to have this "achy" feeling until then? Questions that I know I can't possibly answer; questions that I know I can't let consume me; questions that nonetheless invade my thoughts throughout the day, especially right now.
So, I have been thinking the past couple of days (maybe, it is the return of the warm weather that is kind of bringing things back to me) of how I am going to honor Austin's one-year-anniversary. I was so scared and in denial last year at the funeral; I was so numb to anything; perhaps, this year I should do something that really honors him. Do I keep it small and private to only a few people, or do I plan something that allows my whole family to take part in. (Remember, I have had a hard time dealing with my family, and have been pretty closed off to most of them in regards to Austin.) I don't know, part of me thinks a one-year-anniversary has allowed me the time to work through all of my issues and finally "celebrate" his life. It is a couple of months away, so I don't need to decide now, but I guess that inevitable date has started to creep in my mind.
While I know my grief journey isn't over, considering the thoughts that I have been having the past couple of days, I do feel so blessed to have found some positives throughout this. The whole time, even from the very beginning, I knew God hadn't abandoned me, and I knew that He was going to work through me in ways that I didn't know He could. I knew that I was going to be changed, and I knew that despite the horrendous grief and suffering I experienced, I was a better person for it.
I say this after pondering how I have changed. During the online bible study last Thursday, one of the questions asked us to consider how we have changed, or what positives have come as a result of our situations. One particular blessing that I take from all of this is how I am able to look at almost any situation from a different perspective. As a teacher, I deal with a variety of students coming from different backgrounds and home situations. For some reason this year, it feels like more than ever, I have so many students dealing with loss, grief, anxiety, stress, depression, or some other emotional struggle. While I have always been sympathetic to them, I feel more than ever, I am able to use what happened to me and reach these students in ways I have never been able to before. I don't have to tell them what I went through; I don't have to even talk to them about what they are going through; I can look at them and understand; I can look at them and see the sadness and the pain; I can look at them and actually empathize. I look at them, and see them not as a student in my English class, but as a person, who needs to be reached sometimes at more than just an academic level, but sometimes they just need to know that you understand.
So, as I am sitting here wrestling with my uncomfortable and nagging aches and pains, which I have come to accept is my body's way of dealing with my stress and grief, I do give thanks to God for allowing my perspective to change, and for ultimately allowing Austin's life to give me a way to change how I look and interact with others.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
As I am sure we can all relate, we are constantly trying to find ways to make something unique related to our situation. At least I am. So of course, I knew something was different about today's 17. When I went back and checked, I realized that this is the first Wednesday the 17th since June 17th. I guess that makes sense, considering today marks 8th month.
So, if you can't tell, I am not really in the mood for writing today (going back to work after a 2-week snow break is taking its toll!), but heres to another 17, as my life remains forever changed.
Monday, February 15, 2010
"Hayley says I am a baby at Grandma Chapman's house, and I say No, I am not a baby. And I want mommy to have another baby and baby Austin is not in her stomach anymore. And baby Austin is a baby and baby Jesus is a baby and Austin is my friend, but Jesus is not my friend. (this part made me sad). Hayley is my sister. And my door is open so i can get out in the morning time. She's sad and Mommy's sad."
She gets out of her bed. I put her back and she said her bunny was sad. I asked her why. I said "Were you talking about Austin, and she said yes." She said, "Well Austin and Jesus." I said , Well Austin isn't Jesus." Then she said, "Well, Austin is friends with Jesus. (wanted to cry) I said, "who told you this?" She said, "I did."
I put her back to bed and when I leave the room, she starts talking again. She says, "I am talking about Austin and Jesus and Jesus isn't Austin. I told mommy that Jesus and Austin are friends."
She then proceeds to talk about her friends that are going to come over to her house the next day. I find it absolutely amazing what was going through her mind, as we hadn't even been talking about him or anything before bed tonight. We always say our prayers and remember him, but that was it. Amazing that she makes the connection so simply and can remember so clearly what we have talked about in the past. We have told her that Austin is with Jesus, and I think she equates Jesus to always being a baby (from Christmas), but still the connection is there and she knows they are together.
I think I needed this reminder today, as the drive home from work today, I couldn't seem to keep my mind off of him. And I thank God that I have this sweet little girl of mine for the precious reminder that Austin is indeed with Jesus, and they are in fact, friends!
Friday, February 12, 2010
God's Lent Child
"I'll lend you for a little while
A child of mine," God said--
"For you to love the while she lives,
And mourn for when she's dead.
It may be one or two years
Or forty two or three;
But will you, till I call her back,
Take care of her for me?
She'll bring her charms to gladden you
And--(Should her stay be brief)-
You'll have her lovely memories
As a solace for your grief.
I cannot promise she will stay,
Since ALL from earth return;
But the lessons taught below
I want this child to learn.
I've looked the whole world over
In search for teachers true;
And from the things that crowd
Life's lane-- I have chosen you.
Will you give her all your love?
Nor think the labor vain?
Nor hate me when I come to take
This lent child back again?"
I fancied that I heard them say
"Dear Lord, Thy will be done.
For joys Thy child will bring
The risk of grief we'll run.
We will shelter her with tenderness,
We'll love her while we may--
And for the happiness we've known
Forever grateful stay.
But should Thy angels call for her
Much sooner than we've planned,
We'll brave the grief that comes
And try to understand."
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
With that said, I found myself folding down several pages, as several passages spoke to me, and resonated with everything I have dealt with or felt over the course of this long journey. So I feel compelled to share the quotes that captured me and why they moved me in the way that they did. There are some quotes that I have far more to comment on than others, while some need no words or thoughts, they just speak to me. This is quite a long post, but for those of you who have read the book, I think you will understand why...
"The human capacity for burden is like bamboo--far more flexible than you'd ever believe at first first glance."
Until this year, I hadn't experienced burden, and while that sounds very negative to think of my situation, or what happened with Austin as a burden, that is sometimes how it feels. Sometimes it was more than I thought I could bear; there were times in the few months after he died, that I didn't think I could make it through the pain, the unshakable burden of grief. As this quote states, my capacity was far more flexible than I ever envisioned, and I am so thankful it was because while the pain has been unbearable, I continue to make it through.
"We are not the first parents to lose a child. But we are the first parents to lose our child. And that makes all the difference."
This needs no words.... just brought tears to my eyes.
"If you were me... and the medical ethics committee handed you back a piece of paper with a suggested course of action that would save your son's life, would you question them further... or would you just jump at the chance."
For me, as I have expressed before, I don't have a lot of regret as far as Austin is concerned, nor do I spend much time dwelling in the "what if's." However, it is inevitable that the human mind will drift to the "what if" scenarios, and this passage struck me in that I wish I never had to make a decision. I wish that there was a course of action that could have saved Austin's life; I wish so greatly that I could have jumped at a chance to have given him a second chance or even a fighting chance at all... I know the decision I made was the right one; deep down I do, but the whole life support issue still gets to me, and I know that is something that I need to trust that God was there with us the whole time, and we really weren't the ones making the decisions.
"It doesn't take a whole long life to realize that what we deserve to have, we rarely get."
This quote caught me in the sense that the word deserve is such a "catch 22," and I think this is a rather cynical way of viewing life. Did I deserve to have a son, I guess anyone would say, sure, I deserved to have him. On the other hand, do we rarely get things we deserve or desire; I would choose to disagree, and say that often times we do get what much more, as opposed to "rarely."
"Change isn't always for the worse; the shell that forms around a piece of sand looks to some people like an irritation, and to others like a pearl."
What good possibly come from the loss of an infant? What good could possibly come from the horrendous pain and suffering that comes with losing a child? I will tell you that the loss of Austin has changed me profoundly, and while I hate that it happened to me, and I hate that things turned out the way they did; my change in the way I look at life and other's situations is a positive change, as opposed to the immense irritation I once thought this whole situation was.
"We hadn't been going anywhere, and the place we wound up was awful and still I wouldn't have traded that week for the world."
"Not that... Because you know what it's like to not have any control over your body."
Control...something I always thought I had, and something I realized I had to let go of.... you see, the entire time I was pregnant with Austin, I had no control over the bleeding, I had no control over the outcome... and as still as I sat and as much as I stayed in bed, what happened was going to happen, and I had no control over it. The day he was born, I had no control over that. The weeks and months of pain and suffering; I didn't have control over. I tried to believe that I had control; I wanted so badly to have control over my body and my emotions, but I knew I had to let go at some point.... let go for myself, let go for others, let go for God to use me in ways I never knew were possible.
"That in addition to the piece of me that's always wanted Kate to live, there's another, horrible piece of me that sometimes wishes I were free."
Whew... this was a rough one for me to read because this explains exactly how I felt those two weeks in the hospital. I thank God I didn't realize how sick I was; I thank God it wasn't until the end that I wasn't scared for my life because naivete in this case was a good thing for me. You see, until I realized that my life was in danger, I would have done anything to hang on to my little boy. With my whole being, I wanted to do everything I could to keep Austin and allow him the chance at life, but I would be lying that there was also a piece of me that was scared to death and wanted to be freed of the nightmare. I wanted to be freed of the fear of the unknown; I wanted to just have answers. For this, I have felt guilt because in the moments right after Austin was born; I was just so relieved to be free... I was so relieved to be "done," to have answers and to know I was okay. This probably has been the most difficult part of my journey of grief.
"That Kate's death would be the worst thing that's ever happened to me... and also the best."
Note best would be too strong of a word for me... but I think you understand the idea.
"Nowadays I can hardly remember what that old house looked like. I walk out the front door and never recall the streth of months that the gaping lot stood out, conspicious in its absence, like a lost tooth. It took some time, you know, but the new owners? They did rebuild."
I use this metaphor, as I am the gaping house that stood empty and lost for several months. That is exactly how I felt, no matter how I disguised it, no matter how much I put on a "front" that things were okay. I was lost and empty, and didn't think I would ever rebuild. There are still times, even eight months out, that I still have this feeling. But just as an empty house gains new owners, I feel like I myself am a new owner of my body, spirit, and mind. I have learned to deal with the empty, achy feeling, and I have learned that I am going to continue to rebuild...and rebuild...and rebuild.
"I realize that we never have children, we receive them. And sometimes it's not for quite as long as we would have expected or hoped. But it is still far better than never having had those children at all."
Interesting way to look at it, but so very true, in that we truly are receiving these children from God, and we may never understand why they were taken from us, but as hard as it is to remember, because God knows it is for me, but they truly belong to Him, and not for us to "have."
"In the English language, there are orphans and widows, but there is no word for the parent who loses a child."
"Grief is a curious thing, when it happens unexpectedly. It is a Band-Aid being ripped away, taking the top layer off a family. And the underbelly of a household is never pretty, ours no exception...See, as much as you want to hold on to the bitter sore memory that someone has left this world, you are still in it. And the very act of living is a tide: at first it seems to make no difference at all, and then one day you look down and see how much pain has eroded."
And this is what I was left with, as tears were streaming down my face and the book came to a close, and I realized that this summed up the past year of my life. I am so grateful I didn't read this book in the hospital when I was given it, as I wouldn't have understood the depths of it, and it wouldn't have placed much meaning in my life. (It also would have made me way more depressed and sad, which is probably why I cast it aside in the first place.) I guess today, or even the past month, I have been able to take a step back and realize just what a difference the time has made; and can see how far I have come... physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Monday, February 8, 2010
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose"(Romans 8:28, NIV)
Life can be full of ups and downs, twists and turns. We've all had to face challenges and difficulties. But did you know that everything you've been through up until now is getting you prepared for what God is going to do in your future? Nothing in your life has been wasted. Every disappointment, every setback, every person that did you wrong, every lonely night, God is going to turn around and use for your good!
During the difficult times, we grow and mature. That's when our faith is stretched and our character is developed. God didn't send that hardship, but He'll use it to get you prepared for your next step. Those adversities will help make you and mold you into the person you are called to be.
You may be experiencing tough times today, but remember, nothing is ever wasted. Have the attitude that says, "This is a new day. Things are shifting in my favor. This difficulty is not going to stop me. It's going to promote me. It was meant to bring me down, but I know the truth; God is going to use it to lift me up and lead me into victory all the days of my life."
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Needless to say, yesterday, I was home with the girls, and I decided to do a craft with them. (As I have noticed some others indicate, this past year, I have defintiely felt like a sub-par Mom, in that the television has been on a great deal, and I just haven't been able to connect with them as much as others may think I could/should. I can't tell you how many people say, "Your two little ones need their Mommy so much," and while I know this is true, I can't help but feel some guilt in that I can't be as emotionally available to them as I may have been).
I digress.... but this is what prompted my craft activity with them. We decided to make hearts for Valentine's Day, in which I ended up doing the majority of the cutting and taping onto the windows, and I must say, it does look really cute. As I was cutting the hearts (I did it the "old school" way, of folding the paper over and then cutting half the heart), I realized, that is indeed how my heart feels.... broken and in half. While the pain has definitely lessened, it is still there, and I just feel so broken. Broken because I can't fix this pain; broken because my heart has never before felt so much pain, anguish and sadness. My heart really is broken, and I guess as with any part of your body that is broken, time will heal, but I just feel like this one is taking a long time, or far longer than I ever expected.
Until today when I spoke with someone at work (my former Spanish teacher, as I teach at the same school I attended in high school), and I was going to talk to her about something related to a student, and after awhile, she just asked how I was doing, and if I was ever going to try again. Only certain people can ask that question, and it just felt so easy and natural to answer her. I should have known that she understood the pain. She went on to tell me that twenty-five years earlier, she lost her son after some complications, and had to deliver him. As she recalled parts of her story with tears in her eyes, we both just understood so clearly how broken our hearts were and are. Even twenty-five years later, she said she still thinks about him and what happened, and I guess as always, that brought me some perspective.
It has only been seven months; I lost a son; I lost Austin; my heart isn't going to heal over a couple of months, or even a couple of years. It might be broken for awhile; I hope that the intense physical pain will continue to lessen, but in talking with her this morning, I realized I am always going to have a piece of my heart ache for my son, as I am sure all of us will. While I may continue to have a broken heart, I am so blessed to not be broken in spirit because although the depths of this pain is unimaginable to most; I do know that I have learned so much from this experience. I know that I will continue to learn from this experience, and perhaps that will be my next post... what I have learned so far from the past several months.
Until then... I hope that I can take this snow storm for what it is worth, enjoy the time with my husband and two little girls, and enjoy the complete and whole hearts that cover our kitchen windows.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
There is something about the snow covering the ground without a marker there that just makes me sad. I know I need to order it; I don't know what I have been waiting for. Well, I do know, it is really expensive, but I think it is something else too. I think I know that once that is ordered, once it is placed, it will become more final to me. I think I need this to happen, so I hope that this snowy day will push me to make sure we don't have another snowy day without his grave being marked.
While I defintiely don't feel like I have to visit his grave in order to be with him or think about him, I do know I don't go nearly as often as I "should" or "want" to. Again, I think if we had a headstone, that might make it easier to go there. It is hard to go and just stare at an empty, small space. Hmm, so maybe that is why the snow falling is causing me to feel uneasiness today, as I know there are things that I still need to do, and there are reasons for me still feeling unsettled.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
I go home, shower and get ready for my hair appointment. I come back to the same location where the previous incident occurred, and as I was parking the car this time, I completely misjudged and hit the car to the right of the me. "Are you freaking kidding me?" What the hell was wrong with me. The second time in one day, really, this is not really happening. I go inside the nail place (I frequent that location often too), and I ask if any of the women drive that particular car. Of course, one of them does, and yet again, it is the exchange of the insurance information. Thankfully, my attitude remains the same, "Oh well, bad luck."
When I went into the hair salon, the woman who cut my hair couldn't beleive what had happened, and she asked, "Do you have a lot on your mind or something?" Oh geez, did she really want to ask that question... I should just refer her to this site to understand what "a lot on my mind means." Anyway, I explained to her that my hair will not stop falling out, and she asked if I had a pregnancy, and I said yes. She said that it is normal, and I said still seven months out, and she said, yes, usually until about ten months. UGH! So then when she asks how is the baby, she inevitably knows that I have a lot on my mind.
You see, the little things that happened earlier (minor car accidents) are probably the result of just that: too much on my mind. Because you see, no matter what I am constantly reminded of Austin and the events that took place this year. Take my hair for instance, the constant falling out of my hair is an everyday occurance, which as a normal post-pregnancy event wouldn't usually bother me. Now, it annoys me even more because I am still losing the hair, and my body still goes on and my hormones are all still there post-baby, yet it is all magnifed that much more becuase there is no baby.
So... the constant clutter on my mind is always there; does it ease at times, of course, but lately the "clutter" or "Austin" has been on there non-stop! It isn't always a bad thing, but I can tell you it does add a lot of stress to my every day life.
So to avoid adding any more stress, I will make sure my husband drives tonight, and I will enjoy the date night that is defintiely needed after the craziness of today!
Friday, January 22, 2010
Andrea~ I hope you will find this as therapeutic as I have found online journaling to be... xoxo!
Monday, January 18, 2010
Although Sunday was a restful day, and I was filled with peace, the inner turmoil and sadness returned yesterday and have continued throughout the day! I don't know what it is; I guess it is when I am alone and with my thoughts that I am just genuinely sad. It doesn't matter if I am exercising or sitting in my classroom after a long day, my mind immediately turns to him and sometimes it just still feels so overwhelming. Where I have come so far, at times I feel like it is all replaying over and over again, and it is never going to stop.
Last night, I asked my husband if he thought we were ready to have a baby; I know I am not yet, but I just wanted to see what he would say. He said probably not for another three-four years; not the response I was soliciting, and I guess that too made me sad. Sad because never before would getting preganant provide such fear, apprehension and uncertainity. Sad because it is so daunting to look at the "next one" and really believe that it is possible. Although it is sad, the glimmer is that I can actually think about having one, which I know I have a come a long way if I can find some hope in another child.
As I write this, I am also sad because I return to grad school tonight, and it is back to the building where I had a really bad bleed and an ambulance had to come.... it just brings back the flood of awful memories that were part of this whole long process. Of course, I am just re-living that day, where the bleeding became serious and I realized how long of a battle it was going to be; of course then, I still thought it was all going to be worth it.
Well, I wish I would have posted this on Sunday, on a much happier, lighter note, but we all know how quickly emotions change, so I am sure you will understand.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Tonight, as I checked my email, I found out my sister is pregnant with her seventh child.... sadness, bitterness, anger, annoyed, envious are probably all the emotions I felt as soon as I read the email.... I knew this day would come when someone else in my family would have the "next baby," but I just didn't think I would feel this bad about it. That is all I can write for the moment; I am so sad and frustrated... I feel so tainted and jaded when it comes to pregnancy, especially when it seems so "natural and normal" for everyone else.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, - act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead! (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
As I went over the verses with my class, I couldn't help relating this to my own life, and surprisingly, I had the courage to share with some of my students what exactly happened. (Of course, I spared them many details, but I did disclose how this has been a very "trying" time period in my life, and as Longfellow as suggested, instead of giving in to the sorrow, I have had to be courageous and brave to get through this difficult time. I have had to continue living in the moment, keep going to work, taking care of my kids, moving on with my life. Are there times when I don't want to do anything; of course, but as Longfellow suggests, time keeps going, and I have to make the most of this situation that I have been dealt.
As Longfellow states, we are born into this life not for pure enjoyment, but rather that both happiness and sorrow are two states that are inevitable in every human's lives. Of course, one of the most intense sorrows any person will ever feel is losing their child, but it is important to remember this outlook on life, in that tragedies happen on a daily basis, but what makes a person heroic is to live in the moment, and be courageous despite the strife and difficulties one is enduring.
Life is a beautiful thing that should be cherished and treasured. Does that mean that life is always going to be full of beautiful things; absolutely not! How do we get through these unpleasant times, I feel the last two lines are what I truly need to remember, although they are so difficult during my most painful moments. I know that I have to let go of the past, and letting go doesn't mean forgetting what happened to me. However, I have to let go and realize it is a part of life that has changed me, and go forth and live in the present. I need to continue to follow my heart, and probably the most important, Trust in God overhead. At times when the grief is so overwhelming, it is hard for me to let go and believe that God understands my sorrow, and that God is there for me. It is hard for me to become so wrapped up in MY pain and aches, and just yearn for it to be over, rather than turn it over to Him and allow Him to work it out for me. While I have gotten better, it is still a challenge for me on a daily basis.
As I am sitting here right now writing this, I am watching the coverage on the news regarding the Haiti earthquake. My heart aches for this country, that as a whole, has endured so much pain and suffering. Why? Why does this continue to happen to them, is what I immediately want to ask? Again, this poem resonates in that, tragedies are going to occur, and we must rely on the spirit within us, no matter how battered we are, as well as our Lord to help us overcome the tough times.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Haiti, as well as every individual that continues to endure the challenges and often painful times of Life. While there is deep sadness and tragedy, I still choose to realize the goodness of all tragedies, as often these unfortunate times truly test and show the beauty of the human spirit.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
I remember coming across this song as I was trying to get back in shape around month 3 of this grief journey of mine. I was on a run trying to just get through a mile without worrying about my cramps, or neverending aches and pains, and this song helped me endure. I realized that I was going through an enormous amount of pain and suffering, but I also knew that there was light, and while the tunnel may be long, I was going to get through it. About three months later, and still trying to get back in shape (ugh!), I listened to that song today and realized how long my tunnel must really be. (sigh!)
Anyway, after working out today and coming home, I couldn't help but have the achy feeling again. As I laid on my bed, I tried to get some energy to go to the mall to help my sister get her ring sized (she is newly engaged), I found myself laying there and tears just falling from my face. No explanation, but instead of questioning, I let them fall. Oh, how I miss my little one today. I took the ten minutes by myself, and instead of being afraid of feeling, I just felt. I read some other women's blogs, felt a little better, and went to the mall. I did a little retail therapy ($20 purple pumps), and came home to rest with the girls. I had a little talk with Hayley about Austin, as I feel like I never shared enough with her about him. We talked about him and she said if Mommy has a baby again, she wants it to be a girl. I get that sentiment, and sometimes when I can even get to that place of thinking about having another one, I almost think the same thing.
Perhaps my body feeling the empty feeling was preparing me for tonight, as we met our new niece tonight. (She was born six weeks early, and we hadn't met her yet because she couldn't be around little children, and I admit I was a little nervous to meet her.) We went to the high school basketball game because Aaron's brother is one of the coaches, and I held her.... all tiny in pink and reminded me of Hayley and Alyssa when they were oh so little. It was the first time I have held a baby since I held Austin. That is kind of hard to believe considering the size of my family; I hadn't held an infant since June 17th.
As I held her and touched her sweet, little nose; her long fingers; her tiny feet, I couldn't help but long for my angel. I couldn't help but think about how close they would have been (if he had been born on time), and I couldn't help but wish to have my own little baby. It didn't hurt as bad as I thought it would (I think anticipation always is worse), but I think it didn't hurt as bad because it is a girl. What hurt was watching the girls interact with her, and to watch Alyssa get jealous when I held her. What hurt was holding her and having the two girls beside me as I held a little baby, and for as much as I don't think about the "what ifs" too often, I couldn't help but think of what might have been.
So perhaps that is why I had an empty, achy feeling this morning and throughout the day. Perhaps it is because while I am now able to see light at the end of the tunnel, I still know I have a long way to go, but I know I have to just "keep holding on."
Friday, January 8, 2010
Anyway, when we really looked into what the word romanticize meant, we came to a very different meaning than what most would think. Initially when you hear the word romanticize, you think of happy things: flowers, romance, love, etc; however, to truly romanticize something is to glorify something, and almost make it better than it really is. For instance, we often romanticize the good parts of our lives when we look back in nostalgia on the "good, old days," and forget the hard parts of those days or any difficulties we may have encountered. Instead, we make those days sound a lot better than they were.
With that explanation in mind, I realize that is why I had such a difficult time dealing with my emotions in that the few months following Austin's death, I wasn't able to "romanticize" or "glorify" Austin's extremely short life because of all the horror and trauma I experienced. While everyone else close to me was able to look at the day as a blessing, or a miracle, or Austin as an angel, I couldn't get past the part that it was awful and I lost something so special to me that day because of all the blood and trauma that had occurred. While I was able to see some positives in that day right away, I still wasn't able to make it a beautiful moment or even think of Austin as a beautiful baby. As a result, I have felt such guilt for not having that initial "loving" feeling toward him. I wasn't able to look at his brief birth as my son; I was ashamed and just wanted to block this whole situation out of my mind.
As the months have gone on, I now feel like I have come to a new place in my journey. I miss Austin~ I sometimes just wish I could have held him longer, or wasn't so "weirded" out on the day he was born. Sometimes I wish I wasn't so numb in the hospital, and I wasn't so relieved for my life to be spared. I am thankful that now I can think about Austin and not have all the negative thoughts come into my mind. When I look at his picture now, I can see the beauty in his face.... and as I was driving home from work today, the words of Beyonce resonate in me, as this whole experience was by far a "sweet dream," but I feel like I can now look at it as more of a beautiful nightmare. While I will never be able to romanticize the experience, I do feel like I have moved to a place where I can glorify Austin and remember the peaceful image of him sleeping that will forever remain in my heart.
(I told you that almost any song or story can be related to this experience... )
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
I came across this in an email message this morning, as I was doing my morning devotionals and prayers. It said the following: "Broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect."
For awhile during the initial and very painful stages of my grief journey (months 2 and 3), my heart was literally hurting. I had so much pain in my chest and heart area, and I truly believe I had a broken heart. Of course, you often hear this term figuratively and I never really understood true heartache until I lost Austin. If you had told me that my broken heart was going to make me a stronger person, I wouldn't have beleived it. Now, looking back, I realize that this whole experience, my completely shattered and broken heart , has provided me so much strength and has allowed me a whole new perspective on life situations. While I have always been a very sympathetic person to many people, through my loss and my own heartache, I have now grown extremely empathetic to many individuals, not only those who have lost a child, but those who have lost anything in life.
All throughout this journey, I have wanted it to be over... I kept saying and pleading with God, "Please just let me be done with 'this,'" "Please just let me me put it behind me." I was so set on handling this "perfectly" and being so strong. After reading the above passage, I realize there is such joy in being imperfect and realizing that I have to relinquish the desire to be perfect and be in control, because that is just it. The only way for my broken heart to heal is to lean on God and the support of others, and until I started really doing that, I was only going to look at my broken heart in a negative light. Six months out, I can see that God's healing power is working through me right now, and I can also see that this broken heart of mine has taught me more about life and the human spirit than I ever thought I would learn.
So, here's to all of us with broken hearts; may we continue to learn and grow from our crushed dreams and hopes of our little ones, and continue to come out of our grief journeys as we become stronger, wiser and more compassionate individuals.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
While it was hard to deal with everything, I thought I was fine. I truly felt that this happened for a reason, and that this was God’s plan. I knew I didn’t know the reason, but I was comforted knowing that I had my faith, and that everything would be okay eventually. Little did I know, I was in the first stage of the grieving process; which is denial and shock. I guess I just thought that I was okay because things started to hit physically in a weird way. I began to have some serious chest pains and I truly thought I was having a heart attack. I was at the fountains at Fairfax Corner, and I had to sit, that is how breathless I had become. I was scared to death. I called my doctor and when she told me I had to go to the hospital; I began to panic. I don’t want to go back there; I was so tired of feeling sick; I just wanted to feel normal. This was on July 7th, almost a full three weeks since everything had happened. For the first time since then, I began to panic about my health. Why couldn’t I just get over this?
On the way to the hospital, I was crying my eyes out… I had been so strong, why did this have to keep happening? I feared that something was seriously wrong with me. When we got to the hospital, they took me right away. They took an x-ray and then took blood…. I was so sick of getting blood drawn at this point. I was so nervous and couldn’t hold back my tears in front of the doctors…. What was wrong with me? When they came back to tell me one of my blood levels was high and that could be indicative of a blood clot in my lung, I thought I was going to die. Oh my gosh, would if I have a blood clot? Is that what caused everything? Am I going to die? I tried to stay calm, but I was so damn tired of being strong; I was so tired of hospitals and tests; I was so tired of being polite and not asking questions, I was just so tired. They wheeled me back to get an indepth chest x-ray, where you were injected with iodine and then sent through the machine. I was nervous as anything and was shaking. It was the weirdest sensation that went through my body; thankfully the technician warned me that it was a weird feeling. I anxiously awaited the results, and was relieved the doctor didn’t find anything. He said my chest was all clear and I was good to go. He said I had bronchitis (I now think that all of the stress was causing the chest pains). He prescribed me some medicine and I was on my way. Thus began the longest two weeks. I took the rest of the week off, I had started tutoring, and realized I needed the week to heal. All this week, I was anxious; would if something was wrong with me? What if they missed something? Would if they missed it like the bleed? Then the back of my head would start hurting… oh my gosh, would if I had a clot in my head or a tumor? I am not an anxious person usually, so this was killing me. Why was I having all of these thoughts; I truly thought I was going crazy!
That weekend came; I called my priest on Friday night, and told him I was just having a really difficult time…. I was so anxious and scared, and I was feeling guilty for even having these feelings. If I really trusted in God, why was I so scared? If I was reading the Bible, especially passages about fear and anxiety, then why wasn’t I able to put them to work? He helped me out a little, and we planned to meet the next day. At this point, I wasn’t sleeping well at all; it was terrible. The next day, Aaron and Hayley got sick with the flu; oh my gosh, how was I going to take care of them now? Aaron couldn’t even get out of bed and Hayley was laying around crying. My sister came over to take care of Alyssa, and I tried to help them throughout the day. Meanwhile, I was still struggling to keep it together. That night, I couldn’t sleep…. I was an insomniac… I couldn’t sleep. I called my sister, and she slept with me on the main level. Sure enough, the next morning I was sick as could be. I was so weak and I felt like my body was really rejecting everything. I called the doctor again; at this point, I was paranoid that something was wrong with me. I should have known that if Aaron and Hayley had the flu, then of course, I was bound to get it. My anxiety had gotten the best of me. The doctor said to go to the hospital, as I would need fluids just to be careful…. The people at the hospital thought I was crazy probably. Once again, I had to re-explain the story and why we were being cautious. Any other time I threw up, I wouldn’t have gone to the ER, but this time it was different. I was so scared of having health problems; I was so scared of being sick.
They gave me some fluids; I had only just been there five days earlier; there was no need to run any tests. Of course, I was thinking, what if something came up in those five days? I couldn’t sit still. They prescribed me pain medicine; I didn’t want to take it. Was this just the answer to everything? When I finally got home, I was still exhausted, and felt very weak. It took me a long time to fall asleep; usually when you have the flu, that is all you do is sleep; of course not me. The next day, I stayed home from tutoring again…. I started to feel better, and for the first time in awhile, I fell back to sleep; a miracle. That night I went to a student’s swim meet; I thought I was better. I still had a nagging feeling in my chest, and just didn’t feel right. I felt like I had acid reflux or a bruised muscle in my chest, so I just thought it was all physical. I went through the entire week like that, in pain and scared that something was wrong with me.
That Thursday night, 7/16, I stayed up the entire night. I was terrified something was wrong; I found comfort reading the Bible, but I couldn’t fall asleep. I don’t know what was on my mind; I was just thinking that something was wrong with me, and I would end up back in the hospital again. I should have known that it was my body trying to grieve, but I couldn’t think like that; I was fine after all. No one had prepared me for this process; I thought everything would be fine once I was out of the hospital. I was still awake at 5:45 that morning; I got up and went to work. I decided to go to church first. Instead, I sat in the parking lot and cried. I finally got out of the car and talked to the pastor for a little while. He assured me that I couldn’t be beating myself up about it, and that everything was going to take time. That is what everyone was saying; it will just take time.
I got to work (tutoring), and I was exhausted. I had been up for over 24 hours… I barely made it through the day. I was irritable and scared. My chest was killing me; I felt like I had severe acid reflux, and it wouldn’t go away. I tried to drink a ton of water; it wasn’t working at all. Finally, the day was over… I drove to my mom’s to pick up the girls. I felt so sick; I just wanted to curl up in a ball and fall asleep, but I was wired. I didn’t know what to do; I felt like I was going crazy. When I got to my mom’s, I tried to play it off like I was fine. I didn’t want to lose it in front of her… I sat at the kitchen table, and thought that I would be fine as the girls finished their lunch, but I just couldn’t. My chest was killing me & and I just wanted to lay down. I laid on the couch, and her friend, Sue, called. I told her that I needed to talk to Sue. I didn’t feel comfortable talking to my mom… I knew she was worried, but I just didn’t want to open up to her. Sue came over and I started to cry; I didn’t know what was wrong; I didn’t know what to say to her, but it was comforting having her there. I just felt terrible and I was told that nothing was wrong with me physically. I didn’t know what to expect… the heaviness in my chest just wouldn’t go away. I left the girls at my moms and went home. On the way home, I called Aaron and my sister, Colleen. I asked Colleen to come over, as I knew it would take Aaron too long to get home from work. I remember crying on the phone to my friend, Bridget. I just wanted to talk to someone, and I just wanted someone to take this pain away. When Colleen came over, I tried to drink some water and calm down. I made some tea thinking this would help calm me (again, I wanted quick fixes). I had never felt this sensation before. When Aaron got home, I just lost it. I was crying my eyes out, I remember walking up to my bedroom and just collapsing on the stairs, literally sobbing my eyes out. I couldn’t explain it. Was it because it was the one month anniversary? Why would my body not just get over it and be done with all the pain? I didn’t want to hurt anymore. They got me into bed, and I just cried and cried and cried. I couldn’t stop crying. They finally convinced me to call my OB, in which she prescribed me an anti-depressant… It was good to hear her voice, and she reassured me that I would get through this difficult time. I was desperate; I emailed Julie from school, knowing that she was a grief counselor and could maybe help me. I thank God that I realized I needed help on that day; I needed someone to listen to me, and I needed to start talking to someone. I think I was too proud to admit that I needed help, I wanted to do this all on my own, and even though I know I needed God’s and other’s help, I was too stubborn to realize that this whole ordeal was too much to handle by myself. Julie called me back immediately and said she was willing to help me… I was relieved. She told me that it was going to be a long road, but that the medicine would help, and that I needed to start sleeping again. She explained to me that chemically, my body was way off, with all the hormones and all the trauma that had happened. She told me that I was probably suffering from post traumatic stress disorder because of all of the trauma I had dealt with in the hospital. I was so thankful that I would have someone that could look at this from another perspective. I instantly felt comfortable with her, and I knew this was going to be my start on the road to recovery.
What I didn’t realize was that it was going to take time. The medicine wasn’t going to work right away, the talking it out wasn’t going to help immediately. However, even though I have learned a lot through this whole trial; I have still had a hard time dealing with patience. I wanted a magical pill to take all the pain away, and the time I wanted to pass quickly. That weekend was a tough weekend; I felt like I was in a fog; I wanted to talk to anyone that would listen. I talked to people I knew had some postpartum with their own children; maybe they would understand. It helped to listen to other’s stories and to realize that I was still normal.
The next two weeks had been a battle; some days were worse than others. Thankfully, Melanie came into town again, and she helped me get through some of those long, sleepless days. She assured me the medicine I was taking was okay, and she just helped me with everything. One night at dinner, I just sobbed uncontrollably; it was during this time that I couldn’t go anywhere without crying; it was so unpredictable, and the emotions would just come without any notice. It was terrible, but I knew that I needed to feel all of these feelings. I relied so much on Melanie and Colleen to help me through this rough time. They had the perfect balance and always seemed to know the right things to say. There were times these weeks that I thought I would never get through; the days seemed so long. mc
Since that day, I have realized that this is going to be a process. Are there days that I am still incredibly impatient; absolutely! I want to be able to do everything I did before, but I also know that my body needs time to heal. I continue the need to talk about it; I continue the need to be by myself and to be able to share my story. This whole journaling has helped me realize the ordeal I have been through.
At this point, what am I still worried about… I worry that I am not okay physically, especially when I have chest pains or headaches. I worry that I will not be okay. I worry that I have strained relationships with certain members of my family, and I feel guilty for that. I sometimes worry and feel guilty that I didn’t have a connection with baby Austin. I am learning that it is okay. I worry that I won’t be able to be back to where I was physically before I got pregnant. I wonder when this will stop consuming me, and I wonder when I can have a conversation with someone without it coming back to what happened to me. However, I do know that right now, it does help me to talk about it.
It was an extremely emotional day, a day where I had to deliver a baby, say goodbye to him, share an intensely awful and horrific moment with not only my husband, but almost my entire family… all while trying to be strong and just worrying about if my girls were going to be okay. I was scared for my life because I knew what a dangerous situation I was in. Words can’t express the intense feelings of sadness and grief that occurred on that day, and continue to occur. When I think about it, I think all because of what sounded like a “normal” bleed, in which they couldn’t do anything for me. Again, I truly believe that God has a plan for me and my family, and I may not understand the reasons right now, but I know that my family has an angel watching over them now. I know that this happened for a reason, and I feel like I have already learned so many things as a result of it. I know I am going to be stronger, I also know that it is okay to feel a variety of emotions and that I need to allow myself to feel the hurt and grief that I have felt the past two months. Some days are better than others; I thank God that I have enough faith to realize that there was a purpose to this; I thank God for giving me the support system that I have, and for allowing myself to let my guard down to express my feelings. I know that I will continue to have “bad” days, but I also am learning to deal with it. I hope that someday I can help others that have or go through a similar situation. I know the last time I went to the cemetery, I immediately noticed how many new graves were there… it saddened me, but it made me realize I am not alone. Not that I would ever want anyone to go through what I have been through, but it helps me realize that there are others that have been through it. Sometimes I wish I could just reach out to those people, as I know I have been blessed to be able to deal with it the way I have. But as with everything, I know I need to be patient… I need to work through my own issues and grief, and realize that down the road, God will allow me the opportunity to work with others and to share my story in the hopes that it will help others.
While I will never forget this experience and I know I am a changed person as a result, I do look forward to the day where these emotions don’t consume me, and I am confident that day will come. I truly do miss my little baby, but I am also grateful that he didn’t suffer and that God blessed me with the courage, strength and wisdom to get through such a horrific and traumatic experience.
We then went to Starbucks to grab a drink. I had a hard time focusing in there and trying to act like I was fine. I just didn’t feel like crying in front of my family, nor did I feel comfortable. I was having a hard time when people were taking pictures of all the nieces and nephews running around, and I was just sitting there having to be around everyone. Again, I wanted to be around people, but then had a hard time when I was around them.
When we went home, the girls went down for naps, and Aaron and I were just on the couch. I couldn’t take a nap; I didn’t want to fall asleep. You know that feeling you get when you just don’t want to miss anything, so you stay awake, that is what I was having. Little did I know that I was anxious to fall asleep; in reality, there was nothing to miss, but I didn’t want to have to fall asleep, forget about things and then have to wake up to the reality of what was going on. I guess in my mind falling asleep allowed me to forget about things, only to wake up and remember what a bad situation I was in.
Once again, I was scared for the blood transfusions, and the nurse didn’t seem to get it to drip right. Ugh, what should have taken two hours took over four hours, and I still had to receive another unit. I was frustrated, but then tried to remain calm. Once again, I would be receiving transfusions late at night…. Only temporary, I would try to remind myself. My sister, Melanie, stayed with us all day. I remember not crying very much, and just trying to not think about it. It wasn’t that I wasn’t thinking about it; I was just so relieved that I would actually be going home, and that I was getting out of the hospital. That day seemed like a really long day; I was excited to be going home. I remember playing Scrabble with Aaron that night… it was good to pass the time with no television and so that the blood transfusion wouldn’t be on my mind. We had a good night that night, and it was good to just be with him.
The next day I awoke early; I was anxious to leave. I knew I would have to get my blood drawn again, so I took a shower. The transfusion must have worked because I was able to stand by myself. Wahoo…. It was only 6:00 though, and I was all dressed and ready to go. I should have known how long hospitals take. Once again, a waiting game began. I talked on the phone, checked my email a million times and waited for the doctor to come check me. I was extremely tired of waiting and kept asking the nurse when she was coming. I mean, all they had to do was press on my stomach and I could leave. This was getting ridiculous; I just wanted to be out of there. Needless to say, the doctor never did come up, and we didn’t get out of there until 3. It was very weird walking down the hallway to our car; I hadn’t walked outside of the hospital room in over a week and a half, and it was very surreal, as I saw many dads carrying car seats, and we were walking out without a little one. Oh well, at least I was going home to see my girls.
We stopped at Starbucks on that very hot day; yumm, I needed a coffee. It was weird walking into a public place; I felt like I needed to tell everyone, yet I just wanted to be alone. Our car ride home was good; we listened to some good Christian music and just talked about our excitement to see the girls. When we walked in the door, I remember just hearing Alyssa chattering away with Melanie; when she came down to see me, she was sooo excited and gave me a big hug. I was relieved to see my little chatterbox, and she was so adorable. Hayley was at the park, but she soon came back, and was surprised to see me. She had been a little shy through this whole situation, but she quickly warmed up. She asked if I was home for good, and then it was back to reality. They wanted to go outside, so we walked Melanie to the car. Hayley immediately asked if I could walk okay, then is it okay if I wear heels. That’s my girl J We took them inside and told them we wanted to talk about something. Even though they were so young, we felt it was important to tell them what happened. As I told her what happened, we all started crying. Hayley seemed to grasp what was going on, and we gave them each a baby blanket so they would remember him. We showed her some pictures, and she cried really hard. Next thing we knew, she was out fast asleep on the couch. Aaron then took Alyssa upstairs and they slept in her room. I was by myself and in a daze. I didn’t know what to think, or what to do, I was soo sad. I just wanted to find someone to comfort me, while I was relieved to be home; I also didn’t know what to do or how to feel. I remember going outside with the girls later that night and sitting on the porch; they just wanted to be outside again, and I just didn’t want to face anyone. I kept my sunglasses on so as to not really meet eyes with anyone. Eric and Colin came over to help bring our car to the shop, and I was relieved to see familiar faces, and to laugh for a little bit. We then were by ourselves, as a family. We cried again at bedtime, and I explained to Hayley that crying is a normal reaction, and that sometimes Mommy and Daddy get sad. She then went to sleep, as Aaron and I went downstairs to relax in the family room. I remember not really wanting to go to sleep, but feeling so exhausted and glad I was in my bed that night.
The next day was Saturday and I had a good night sleep. I got up and dressed myself and the girls. We had to be out early, as Aaron and I had an appointment at the funeral home. I didn’t’ know what to expect, and looking back, I was in a fog that day. My body was so tired from crying and dealing with everything. We dropped the girls at Starbucks with my mom; I still needed my coffee, and headed over to the memorial home. The person we met with was very nice, and thankfully there aren’t many options for a baby’s service. We decided to have a graveside service, and thankfully Fr. Matt (our family priest friend) was going to be there for us. We filled out the paperwork and just sat in the big room at the very large table. I remember trying so hard to not lose it in there, and surprisingly, I didn’t have the urge to; I just was numb. I wanted this part to be over. Next we had to go to the plot of land to pick out where he would be. What an odd feeling; I don’t think I had been in a cemetery before. All of the plots were separated into Babylands, which I thought was adorable. We found the Garden of Angels to be the perfect match, and he was given his small plot of land. We purchased the land, and left the cemetery for that day. I knew we had picked the perfect place, as I love flowers and trees and this memorial park was beautiful. Aaron and I drove to Tony’s for lunch, and I forced myself to eat something… I was exhausted and my head was killing me. At least I had this part over with, and I could relax for the afternoon.
That night, some of my siblings came over for a cookout. It was good to be around people; I needed to be around people. However, I soon realized I needed to be around people that were not so emotional, and that would be there for me when I needed to talk about it, but not ask me too many questions. I needed space, but I also wanted people close by for that security. I remember at one point getting really sad, and going up to my bathroom and just crying my eyes out. At this point, I didn’t feel comfortable crying in front of everyone; I had already done that and didn’t want to do it again. I dried my eyes, and went downstairs; I felt a little better. I played with the kids, and then it was bedtime again. We put the girls down, and Aaron and I sat on the couch and watched some television. The first whole day I had been home; it felt good, but I was tired. It had already felt like a long time since everything happened.
The next day was Sunday, and we went to church. It was tough, and I don’t think I made it through the mass without crying. I just wanted for this pain to go away. Inside, I was dreading tomorrow, the funeral, but I also wanted it to be over. I went to Michaels to get some supplies to make some memorial cards for Austin. I was trying to think of what I would do in a “normal” situation, and I realized that I would have made announcements in the past. I looked through some grief books and found that many people still send out announcements, which helps commemorate the day. I found this to be therapeautic and I was so glad that I decided to make them. I then went to Kathryn’s dance show with all of my sisters. I thought I would be fine; I just wanted to pretend like everything was fine. It was hard to be there with all my sisters; they were laughing and having a good time, and I just couldn’t join in. I wanted so badly to be there for Kathryn, but I just was aching inside. I thought if I could keep myself busy it would all go away. I made sure I went to the bathroom when they were taking a picture; the last thing I wanted to do was pose and smile, especially being around all of them who were in shape and looked good. I drove home with Colleen, She told me she would come over later and help me, and I was so grateful for that. Jacqueline and Melanie helped us too, and it was good to be with them, and to keep myself busy. We finished up the last of the cards at 12:30; I was so tired, but relieved to have something to hand out to everyone at the funeral. I went to bed and remember falling asleep right away that night.
With all the chaos, I was becoming more anxious…. What were they freaking out about? How could things have changed that quickly? Why was no one telling me what was happening? As I was being rushed through the hospital, I asked if one of the nurses knew if Carroll Reed was on call. She was a family friend and I knew she worked in Labor and Delivery. I truly believe God was watching out for me on that day because she was at work that morning. She had just gotten there, and I truly believe the day wouldn’t have been the same had it not been for her. As soon as she got down to the Labor and Delivery triage; things calmed down. She took charge, and I will forever be grateful for her leadership and help on that day. Anyway, I was being rushed through the hospital as they demanded an OR, and then I was taken to triage; once again, a waiting game. If it was that urgent, why was I going to triage.
I finally started to get some answers once Carroll calmed the situation. She told me a specialist would be in from the Perinatal unit, and they would explain what was going on. I was so scared, but again, just tried to remain calm. Finally, a doctor came to me and she told me about what was about to happen. She said that my life was in danger, and that the baby would be delivered today. While I had prepared for this moment for what seemed like an eternity, I was so scared and sad. Why couldn’t I just hold on a little longer? I still remained hopeful; maybe he would survive. Maybe he would be that miracle baby I had been longing for. The difference between specialists and my OB is that they tell it to you very bluntly. No longer did I have the sweet doctor that had helped me throughout the past couple of weeks, but I was faced with some brutal facts. She said I would need to deliver; she said that a C-section might be too risky; that I might not be able to bleed correctly, and could have more of a chance of bleeding out. This surprised me, as I thought it would be the opposite; I would bleed more with a vaginal delivery, but I figured I should trust what she said. She said that with a C-section, the baby might have more of a chance to survive, but it would put me at a greater risk. She said I would need to make a decision. I didn’t want to make a decision; I wanted the decision made for me. I didn’t want to have to choose; I grappled with this as Aaron and I took a moment to discuss. Was this abortion? Was I giving this baby every opportunity to live? I really struggled with this? Was my life more important? Of course, I knew my girls and Aaron needed me, but I admit, I felt a slight bit of selfishness for not thinking twice about wanting my own life. I remember asking Carroll, as I knew she was Catholic, and she told me that I couldn’t think like that, and that my life was important. She said that the church would agree with me on this. At this point, I just needed reassurance, and I was just terrified as to what would happen. When she came back, I told her that we would have the vaginal delivery; I don’t think she was going to let me choose a C-section regardless. Little did I know, I would have to make another decision. She informed me about the baby’s chances of survival. She said the future was very grim for this little one and gave me the blunt facts of what would happen to the baby if we chose to rescuitate him. I thank God that I looked at it from a clear perspective, and I looked at it as another “life” situation. I wouldn’t want the baby to be in pain, and I wouldn’t want the baby to live on life support for an indefinite amount of time, with no guarantee as to what the future will hold. The problem with making a decision was that it had to be made quickly and I would have to sign DNR papers; this is where things began to get blurry. I just didn’t want to make a decision; I didn’t want the responsibility. I wanted the doctors to make those decisions for me; I didn’t want to have to deal with it, and just wanted for it to all be over. Oh, if it were only that easy.
After consideration, we signed the DNR papers, but I didn’t realize how often in the next couple of hours, I would change my mind. At around 10:30, I was wheeled to the labor and delivery room, where I would deliver my little angel. I had mixed feelings, as to some extent, I just wanted it to be over. I wanted the unknown to be over. They informed me how it would work, and that they would start my contractions. At this point, I switched doctors, to a male doctor. Let’s just say he didn’t have the best bedside manner, but at this point I didn’t care. He told me that he was going to start inducing me, and I didn’t realize how this was going to work. I assumed he would use pitocin, but instead, he used another drug, in which he inserted rectally. Hmmm, I didn’t realize that he was going there, so that alone freaked me out. Once that was over, I just wanted the pain of the contractions to stop. He then explained that I would have an epidural; I was in all of this pain, and I was still freaking about the epidural. Would if they didn’t get the right spot? Can I do this without the epidural? I finally realized that I was going to be okay and knew the epidural would be fine. I never gripped the nurse harder as I remained as still as possible. This whole situation was just so surreal. I forgot to mention that at this point, I had a young nurse, but the doctor felt it was necessary to have an experienced nurse, thus I had Mary. While I was relieved that I had the experience of someone who had been in the profession for a long time, it also added to the seriousness of the situation.
So here we were again: Waiting. I just wanted it to be over at this point (have I said that enough?) But here I was just trying to relax and think about something else. I remember calling Hayley and just longing to be with the girls. They were happy as could be, and I was grateful for this. It was the last day of preschool for her, and she had her show. She was so pleased that her aunts were going to be there for her. I was so appreciative that they were safe and happy. I missed them so much, and just wanted to make it through this to see them. I also just talked with Aaron and my parents. I was relieved that my mom had come, as she had been there for Hayley and Alyssa’s birth, and she was always eerily calm as she paced the room. My dad was also there, and I was relieved to be with him. I am really close to him, and I knew he was nervous. Every half hour, he would leave the room, little did I know how scared he was. I must say I am grateful for how well everyone hid their fear that day.
Every so often, they would come and check me. I wasn’t dilating as quickly as I thought. I was used to having babies very quickly, so again my impatience was creeping in. I just wanted for this whole nightmare to be over. I had also talked to the neonatologist about my decision for the baby’s life. He answered all of my questions, and was so nice and professional. When I didn’t know what questions to ask or what to do, Carroll would help me and reexplain everything. However, the neonatologist reassured me that he would be present at the birth just to make sure that my decision was the correct one. (Usually if you sign the DNR, the neonatologist doesn’t come.) However, he could see that I was extremely unsure of what I was doing and he realized the impact of the situation, and what a difficult situation it was.
While I was waiting for the delivery, the doctor said that I needed more blood, and I received more blood transfusions in anticipation for the amount of blood I was about to lose as a result of the delivery. This time the blood was rushed to the room and arrived in the cooler. Wow… I definitely didn’t need to see that, and even though I should have been used to transfusions, I was still petrified receiving the transfusions. I received these ones at an extremely fast rate, and within three hours, I received three units. This time, they also hooked up blood warmer; I didn’t care, as the nurse was having a hard time hooking it up. I remember thinking, what is the difference, “cold blood/warm blood,” Just get it in me.
So while I was waiting, there was still a lot going on. At around 2:30, my friend, Marie, happened to come by. She had come to visit me not knowing what was taking place. She worked in the postpartum unit of the hospital, and immediately came to my delivery room. I could tell she was hurting that I was having to go through this, and she held my hand and comforted me. I asked her some questions about it, and she continued to be there for me, and talk to the other nurses. It was a relief to have someone there that I knew for over 15 years in my room. I knew that I was in good hands, having two nurses that had a personal relationship with me. Things moved quickly after Marie arrived and I felt such intense pressure. I had never felt that kind of pressure before, and it was terrible. I thought I was going to explode, and I told Marie that I needed to go. At this point, the doctor wasn’t in there, but she finally told him that he needed to come in. Later on, she told me, that I wasn’t screaming or acting like it was painful, so they didn’t think it was coming…I am just not very emotional when delivering a baby… I just kind of take the pain quietly. Anyway, I distinctly remember it being somewhat chaotic right before the birth. People rushed in, and I remember watching the doctor put on his mask and gown, and it seemed like an eternity… I just remember thinking, could you please hurry up? No sooner had he gotten it on, did everything just come out. I remember thinking that for such a little baby, this shouldn’t be so painful. Boy, was I wrong. As soon as I pushed, everything came out, and as soon as his little head came out, I knew at first glance, that he was just too little. I feel like that was God’s way of telling me that I made the right decision, and that little Austin was destined to be our angel. As soon as he came out, they rushed him to the back room, and I was grateful knowing the neonatologist was there. Immediately after, the doctor pushed on my uterus, and I just remember blood gushing everywhere. It was all over his mask, all over the floor; everywhere. Apparently the bag that holds all of the afterbirth was not clamped down, and the blood was absolutely everywhere. As disgusting as it was; it was somewhat humorous amidst all of the sadness. I remember laughing a little, as it just really showed how crazy the day was…. I mean sorta fitting for the entire day. I remember just asking him, am I okay, is it all out? Did you get everything out? He said in a very confident way that he was sure that the bleed came out completely. I couldn’t believe it; a sense of relief washed over me as I realized that I was okay, I realized that I wasn’t going to die. Little did I know that this was just the beginning of yet another battle I would face.
After they got the vitals of little Austin; they wrapped him and handed him to me. Perfection is how I describe him. Honestly, he was so normal looking. His little face reminded me of Hayley’s, and he truly was an angel. He looked so peaceful and calm, and I just felt so weird the whole time. I was grateful that he looked so normal, but it also was a very surreal feeling, as if he was this perfect, why couldn’t he make it? How does such perfection not survive? Even though I knew deep down he was too little, it was still hard to see him like this. I don’t know what I was expecting; again, I don’t think you could ever prepare yourself for it. At this point, it was just my parents in the room. Aaron was extremely hesitant to hold him, and I was just sitting there sobbing. At one point, I just couldn’t hold him anymore. I remember giving him to my mom or someone else… it was just too hard. At this point, I let some family members know, and they were on their way to the hospital. We didn’t know how to handle it; but we knew that family members would come sometimes, so we felt that we would do that. I was relieved to have some comfort and some people in the room, but I wasn’t really prepared for how hard it would be to see the people that I love in such a horrific situation. How can one ever be prepared? I thank God that the nurses had the wisdom to handle such an awful situation; I mean they were affected too that day, as none of them had joy being in the room. Almost everyone had shed tears, and that made them seem more human and real to me. I thank God that they took pictures, as I didn’t think I wanted the pictures. I didn’t realize how important those would become.
So once family had been called, my siblings and Aaron’s parents arrived. Each and every time someone new came in, the wave of emotions hit, and I just sobbed and sobbed. Each person that came in was crying too, so that didn’t help. I have always been one of those people that cry when I see someone else, and this was definitely no exception. While it was comforting to see my siblings, it was so hard for us all to be gathered at such an intensely emotional time. They all held the baby, and passed him around. It was very weird watching them do this, as I tried to keep composure (which I didn’t.) I remember trying to take my mind off of things by making a joke here or there or trying to ask about something unrelated to the situation. It didn’t work very well. People came in and out, and people left. I was glad that so many people came, but it was also really hard, as I just didn’t know how to react, and I was just so exhausted in general. I was so tired of crying and I ached everywhere. My best friend, Didi, was the last to arrive. She had been there for the other two babies, and it was fitting that she was there for this one. I was so grateful that she came, and I needed to see her so bad. She held him in her arms, and was just so good comforting me. As I said goodbye to Didi, I realized it was already 7:00. I was exhausted, and as Austin was in my arms again, I realized how quickly he was changing. He had started to become bluer, and he seemed to be changing by the minute. I asked everyone to leave the room, so that Aaron and I could be with him. Again, a huge wave of emotion hit as I sobbed my eyes out knowing this would be the last time I would hold him; knowing that this really was the end. I knew that this was the moment that we needed together, and that it was also the time that we needed to let go. As the nurse took him away, I felt a little bit of relief, as I realized that this was such a difficult time, but that I was finally not wondering what was going to happen.
Slowly, some people came back in the room. I didn’t’ know what I wanted; I wanted some of my sisters there, so that when I was transferred to my room, they would be with me. I needed a distraction, and I needed to laugh… I needed something to ease my pain in that moment, and I wanted them there. Little did I know, that it would take two hours to get transferred to my room, and little did I know, that the hospital didn’t take Baby Austin away when I had asked. This was hard, as he was in the back room of the hospital room. I thought that was just temporary, but they didn’t take him out until I almost left the room. This was extremely painful for me, as I felt guilty that I wasn’t in there holding him. Sometimes I feel like I should have been the last to hold him, and yet, it was my mom and sister that saw him last. I try to tell myself that I want to remember him as he was, peaceful and perfect, and I wouldn’t have wanted to see him the way he was when he changed. I had a hard time knowing that he was in there for so long, while I was just feet away from him. I was so annoyed that I was still in the room, and I was so annoyed that they hadn’t taken him away, yet I didn’t say anything. Here I was patient and just waited, like I had gotten used to doing. (See, I never really let anyone know how impatient I was; I never complained or said how I was really feeling, maybe because I didn’t know what I was feeling.) By this point, I was so ready to be in my room that I couldn’t wait to get out of that horrible room. There were still blood stains all over the floor, and I just didn’t want to be in that room, with all those bad memories. Finally, they moved me to my room, and my sister, Melanie & Kim and Tony came to the room.
Here, I was given some Percocet, and I was more than relieved. I needed to not feel anything at this point, and it made me loopy, which I needed. I ate some food, the first of eating in two days, and I was able to get through the next couple of hours without crying. My visitors left and Aaron and I just held each other and talked. I finally got some sleep. I didn’t sleep too long that night; I woke up and was sad, but didn’t cry. I just was so glad to be in my own room, and to be feeling somewhat better from everything that happened.