Friday, October 17, 2014

Capture Your Grief - Days 15, 16, 17

Day 15 was Community.  And I did something different than what carleymarie suggested.  I really wanted to light my candle at 7pm.  But my husband and I took our son to Monterey for the night and at 7pm we were sitting in a restaurant.  But its okay because we were having a wonderful meal together as a family.  And at 7 o'clock, I pictured candles burning and took moment to think of the women who belong to this community with me.

Here's what I did do.  I posted this on Facebook: "In February of 2007, when I was 20 weeks pregnant, Greg and I found out that our baby would not live. I don't talk about this very often, but October 15 is a day of remembrance and awareness for pregnancy and infant loss. And it feels right to, maybe just this once, publicly remember a little life who means so very much to me."  And I posted this picture.

I was very nervous to do this.  My heart was pounding as I posted it.  But I did it.  It was a big step for me.  And it felt good.  And the likes and comment I got from my community were wonderful.

Day 16 was Retreat.  I did retreat from the internet yesterday until we got home from our little trip.  Retreat is actually something I don't need to work on regarding my grief.  I'm very good at "retreating" (also known as avoiding) from negative feelings.  Butt hat's the thing I've been forced to work on.  And I'm proud of how far I have come.  It took feeling a hurt so big it could not be avoided.

Day 17 is Explore.  I really love this topic because its something I think I have done over the years.  I love this article by carleymarie.  Love, love, love.  This is one of those article I read and feel like I could have written it (if I were a better writer).  Which isn't to say that my grief journey mirrors hers. But the way she describes the journey of grief and how it can heal you really resonates with me.

"Lay there for a while and focus your attention on gratitude. I am not asking you to be grateful for the fact that your child died, because that is absurd. But what I am saying is start thinking of all the things you are grateful for in your life in general."

I have thought something like this many times before.  That I can't say I'm GRATEFUL that my baby died because that isn't really how I feel and it feels wrong to say.  But I am definitely grateful for the things I've learned.  And I'm grateful for feeling more grateful.  I like myself more now than before.  I'm the happiest and most at peace I've ever been.  Which is funny because in many ways, life is harder and more complicated than its ever been.  But its also more wonderful than its ever been.  I don't know.

This is me in San Sebastien, Spain almost one year ago.  I choose this for my photo today because, while I may not have always approached exploring my grief with open arms, I am much more accepting of the process than I ever have been.  And this trip was so incredibly wonderful.  I went with one of oldest and dearest friends.  I'm so grateful to her and my husband and our family and friends who made this trip possible for me.  It was 10 days of excellent travel - great food, beautiful sights, amazing art.  But it means more than that to me.  I finally felt physically good enough to do a a trip like this.  And after many years of struggle, I deserved to do something like this.  And am blessed to have a husband and friends who knew that to and really encouraged and enabled me to go.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Capture Your Grief - Day 14

Yesterday's prompt was "Dark/Light."  The two sides of grief.  I feel like a wrote a post that fits this prompt perfectly. And for the life of me, I cannot think of a photo to post.  I would post a newborn picture of my son because he is what brought me back into the light.  He brought the color back to my world and filled the hole in my heart.  But the reality is, its more complicated than that.

Okay so I had to walk away from writing this post because its a school morning and I needed to get the kid ready to go out the door.  But my husband is off today so he's driving him.  They drove away and less than a minute later I hear my phone ring.  Its my husband's phone but I hear a cute little voice say "Hellooooo!"  Finn called to tell me there was a rainbow outside.  He knew I would want to see it so he called to tell me.

Beautiful.  And perfect for today (actually yesterday....).  The little boy who brought the color back into my life called to tell me there was a beautiful rainbow that I needed to see.  Oh how I love that child.  And I wish I was a better writer so I could do this metaphor justice but I'll do my best:  At the end of the storm of grief, there will be light again.  And sometimes a beautiful rainbow.  And storms will come again, its inevitable.  But so is the light.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Capture Your Grief - Catching Up!!

Well, I've fallen behind again.  If I was just doing this on Instagram or Facebook, I feel like I would do a better job of just posting daily.  Instead, I'm trying to pick the "perfect" photo, write something every day...and life just gets busy.  Why am In to posting it to social media?  I'm not sure.  I've kept my grief journey largely private.  And sometimes social media doesn't feel like the place for me to talk about it.  And I don;t say that as judgement on anyone else who uses it.  I appreciate seeing posts from people about it.  I love this project that Carley Marie is doing and I love looking at other people's posts.  It's just hard for me to do it.

Day 11 - Altar
I don't have an altar honoring my baby.  I have my tree and I have a blue stone heart next to my bed.  And that feels like enough for me.

Day 12 - Music

Day 13 - Season
The season I associate with my baby is the end of winter/beginning of spring.  That is when we lost her - March 7.  Here in California, the beginning of March can feel like spring.  Its when my tree sprouts.  Its when some flowers start blooming.  There can be days of cold and rain and a gorgeous, warm, sunny day the next.  Even now, seven years later, March 7 is a sad day for me.  I feel a little more tired, a little quiet.

This was our gorgeous jasmine plant at our old house - the house we lived in when we lost the baby.  When it bloomed you could smell it a half a block away.  I took this picture at the beginning of April in 2009.  We were doing our third round of IUI with injectables and I was feeling tired, discouraged, angry.  But not his day, the sun was shining, the jasmine was blooming and I felt happy for a moment and hopeful.  And that was the month we got pregnant with Finn.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Capture Your Grief - Days 9 and 10

Yesterday's prompt was "In Memory."  I already used a picture of the mosaic I made so I today I will post a picture of my beautiful Japanese Maple.  Our dear friends, Jon and Joanna organized buying this for us after we lost the baby.  They and a few other of our best couple friends pitched in and gave us this beautiful tree.  Its one of my most precious possessions.  We don't have a grave or photos but we have this tree.  And every year its first leaves sprout right around March 7.  Its perfect.

This was on March 7, 2012.  The "Plant Hope" was a gift from another dear friend maybe a year or two after we lost the baby and were really struggling getting pregnant again.

I'm not sure that our tree actually matches the prompt so I will also post a picture of Greg and I after we did the March of Dimes walk.  After we got the diagnosis, I spent countless hours on the internet learning about our baby's condition.  One of the websites I ended up on was the March of Dimes.  I saw that they were having a fundraising walk at the end of April.  It felt like an important thing to do.  We raised almost $2000.  A really good family friend walked with us and our parents were waiting for us at the finish.  I honestly don't remember much about the day but I remember feeling good about doing it.

Today's prompt is "Support."  If I knew how to make a collage I would make one filled with all the wonderful people in my life who gave me support.  People who loved me and held me when I cried, brought us food and flowers, sent cards, took care of my classroom and allowed me to miss 2 weeks of school without a worry, remembered the first anniversary, didn't say dumb things....I could go on and on.  Instead of more photos or a collage I don't know how to make , I'll do this: Greg, Mom, Dad, Shirl, Stacy, Anjee, Joanna and Jon, Brad and Boo Boo, Maureen and Jack, Patti, Aunt Linda, Lisa, Kathy, Kathie, Heidi, Carolyn, Kathy, Faith, BK, Julie, June, Jennifer, Jay....and I know there are more.  I am so blessed to have lots of support in my life.  And going through losing the baby and then infertility made me appreciate the good people in my life like I never had before.  I'd like to think it made ME a better friend.  I learned how to be a better friend from so many people.  And, in a few cases, I also learned what NOT to do.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Capture Your Grief - Day 8

Today's prompt is "Resources."  I'll start with this picture:

This was our wedding day.  Nine years ago today.  And since my husband was one of my greatest "resources" after our baby died, it seems like the perfect photo for today.  At that time, we did not know anyone who had gone through what we were going through.  Our parents were very supportive.  We have a large circle of very close friends who were also there for us and I appreciate my family and friends so much.  I will never forget the people who sent us food and flowers, the ones who said the right thing, the ones who remembered the first anniversary.  But we still felt isolated and lonely.  Maybe that's an inevitable part of grieving, I don't know.  But Greg was going through it with me.  Which isn't to say we have had the same grief journey.  But it happened to both of us and we went through a lot of the grieving together.  When we went to kid parties he understood how hard it was.  When someone made a (unintentionally) dumb remark, he felt a knife in his heart too.  He was my greatest comfort and support in those initial months.  I really think it brought us closer.

The only other resources I found were online.  I found Mel's list of bloggers and it opened me up to the world of blogging.  I found women who had lost babies.  A few who had babies with anencephaly.  And had trouble getting pregnant.  People like me.  It made me feel so much less alone.  The first night I found the list I think I read for three hours straight.  Thank God I found that list.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Capture Your Grief - Day 7

First I was three days behind now I'm getting ahead.....tomorrow is going to be busy and I already have my photos picked out so I'm doing it tonight!

Today's prompt is "Sacred Place."  One of the difficult things for me about pregnancy loss is the lack of traditions or ceremony or special places.  There is no grave.  There was no funeral.  There are no pictures (except for two ultrasound pictures and a few of me pregnant which I can still hardly bear to look at).  I think those are all important parts of grieving a loss.

For a while, I did not have a sacred place.  And technically, I still don't.  But the beach or near the ocean has become a special place for me.  A place where I can breathe deeply and find some quiet and clear my head.  There is something about the coach - the crashing the waves, the salt air, the bigness of the sky and the ocean.  Its like you can't get away from yourself or your thoughts there (and I mean t hat in a good way) - there is nothing else but you and water and sand.  And almost every time I am at the beach or near the ocean I think of our baby.

And what's funny is that I used to dislike the beach.  I hated the wind, the sand, the cold water.  Looking at the water or sitting and doing nothing bored me.  I did not appreciate the beauty or the bigness.  And I can't pinpoint the exact time when that changed, but I know it was after we lost the baby.

This was in Hawaii on one of our sunrise walks.  Those morning walks were some of the most precious time from that trip.  It was just Greg and I.  And when he would go off and take pictures, I would walk ahead on my own and we would be alone together.  It was so beautiful and peaceful.  And I felt my baby there.

This is down by the bay where I go walking at least once a week - sometimes with Finn, sometimes with one of my good friends, sometimes alone.  This is a place where my head clears and I feel calm. Its not the same as a beautiful beach in Hawaii but the water is blue and the sky is big.  These are my places.

Capture Your Grief - Days 3, 4, 5 and 6

Sooooo I got a little behind.....

Day 3 - Before

This was October 8, 2005.  Our wedding day.  I remember looking at our wedding pictures maybe a year after we lost the baby.  And I looked at our faces and our smiles and saw us laughing and joking and having a truly wonderful time.  And I remember thinking "we look so innocent, so young, so happy, so unaware of what's coming."  I was definitely different before.  Losing my baby and the difficult journey to becoming a mother to Finn changed me in so many ways.  Mostly for the better I think.  I think (I hope) I have more empathy and less judgement, more appreciation and less complaints, more love and commitment and less fear.

Day 4 - Now

I'm very content with who I am now and the wonderful life I lead.  And by "wonderful" I don't mean perfect.  There are highs and lows.  But I think I'm better at feeling my feelings.  Before, I think I tried very hard to avoid negative feelings.  I lived in fear of being hurt and so I made lots of choices based on that - trying to avoid getting hurt.  Losing the baby was a hurt too big to avoid.  In a way, I'm grateful for that.  I think I live a more honest life now.  And swimming in the depths after we lost the baby has really helped me appreciate the good times.  I'm grateful for even just a good moment.  And I think I'm more aware, more focused on healing and growing.  I often wonder if that would be the case if we hadn't finally gotten pregnant and safely given birth to Finn.  Because truthfully, he brought me out of the dark.  Having him in my life is when I finally started to really feel better and experience joy again. 

Day 5 - Journal

No picture for this.  I'm allowing myself to slack on pictures for days 5 & 6).  I have always WANTED to write more than I actually wrote.  After we lost the baby I did journal a little.  I had to.  I had to get some of what I was feeling out of me.  That's when I started reading blogs and discovered that there were lots of women out there like me.  It was immensely comforting.  I don't write much anymore.  I feel pretty good so I don't need it and life can be pretty busy.

Day 6 - Books

I read a lot of books after we lost the baby.  I'm a book person.  When I have a "problem," I read about it.  So after the baby died, I read grief books, when we had trouble getting pregnant, I read infertility books, and now I read parenting books.  The book that really stands out for me is Joan Didion's "The Year of Magical Thinking."  I had never in my life felt the way I did after we lost the baby.  I was lost.  And I felt very alone.  That book helped me understand that grief is a process and that there are not just mental effects, but physical ones.  I remember feeling like my brain was broken.  I had trouble finishing my sentences, couldn't come up with the word I wanted to say.  I forgot things.  And I never used to be like that - I had always been very quick and able to do 37 things at once, I remembered everything.  That book made me feel like I wasn't crazy, that what I was experiencing was normal.