Friday, December 30, 2011
I've been thinking about what I want to write about for quite a while on here and it seemed like after the past 5 months of journaling I had developed writers block! I could have written a lot about how we tried to cope and get through Christmas, but the words weren't adequate to describe those feelings. And now the new year is upon us and it made me start thinking about things. Jeff and I are both looking forward to 2011 coming to an end and praying for 2012 to bring us some happiness. We will never regret carrying our Gracie to term and meeting her but it was the most difficult and the most joyous thing either of us have ever done. I find myself sitting and staring at pictures of her and wondering how she would have been as a two month old baby. How would her features have changed and what would her personality be like. Last year as we started the year 2011 we had gone through all the fertility testing and were finally going to be able to take some medication to help us try and have that baby we had longed for. We really thought this would be the toughest part of our year and after we found out we were pregnant we really did think the hard part was over....well the rest is history on that topic. In the past as the new year would roll around I would think about all the things I was going to change and like most never really followed through on them as most were rather petty when I look at things now. You don't go through the loss of a child and come out the other side the same person. I have discarded petty behavior and petty items in life, as they are just not something I want to waste my time on and I just don't tolerate a lot it in my life anymore. Things have more meaning to me now....so when I look at the new year rolling around and start thinking about what the year will bring my husband and I, it's not the same old small things I used to think of.....like losing weight (I'm just going to be a girl with meat on my bones and that's all there is to it) or going on a trip or anything of that nature. I want some peace in my life along with some happiness and the feeling of contentment. I want my soul to be able to heal. I think sometimes life can sweep us along and we can lose touch with our faith a bit. I have never been far from my faith but I have learned to rely on it much more heavily after what we have gone through. On Christmas Eve, Jeff and I went to mass in Napoleon at my home parish. It was what I was terrified to do as I knew there would be lots and lots of babies there with the holiday. I didn't do as badly as I was anticipating and at one point in the mass I prayed to Gracie to give us a sign she was with her mommy and daddy at church. The minute I asked this of our little girl, Jeff jerked his arm that was touching mine and I looked over and he had large goose bumps on his arm and he said he has gotten this tingling sensation up his arm that went down his spine. This happened to him two more times afterwards. During the closing song it happened to me. I do not feel that this was a coincidence by any means....I know this was Gracie giving us the sign we had longed for. What a special Christmas gift our daughter gave us. Our faith in God is what has carried us through this year and it is what we are carrying into the new year with us. We pray for a much less stressful new year than the year we are leaving behind and we pray for some much wanted happiness in our lives. We both feel very fortunate that we came through this life changing event a stronger, more loving, and more faith driven couple than when we entered it. We plan to enter the New Year as a joined force and we continue to muddle our way through this journey together. No one told us marriage was going to be easy. I used to ask my 90 year old patients in the hospital what is the key to marriage and after the good old joke cracked by the husband of, "Keep your wife happy" they would all tell me the same thing...."love." They all told me to love your spouse unconditionally and I do and he loves me back. We are fighters....not quitters. We are hoping 2012 is kind to us and blesses us with the family we long for. We are hoping with our beautiful angel up in heaven to help us out that this time around will not be as difficult. We feel blessed to have had our daughter and no matter how difficult it was to lose her, we will never regret our decisions we made in the year 2011. So with this new year, comes new dreams.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Time is something that something that tends to pass by extremely fast or it can drag on depending on the situation. I don't know about many of you, but I get those periods in my life that seem like they happened a long time ago but at the same time you can recall everything like it was yesterday. Tomorrow marks 8 weeks since Gracie was born.....that seems so hard to believe. I can recall every minute of the day and I can recall every feature of my daughter's face and body like I was just holding her a minute ago. At the same time it feels like my daughter has been gone for so long and yet my heart still hurts so badly. My mom said to me exactly what I had been thinking the other day....it's almost like Gracie was a dream and at times we have to wonder if everything that took place really happened. All around our house we have reminders of our daughter...from pictures (many), her ornaments on the Christmas tree, her memory chests, and gifts we have received in her memory. There are so many things going on right now that my mind is having a hard time dealing with and processing everything. I go back to work next week Monday for the first time in two months. I've been at my job for a little over two years and there is very little I don't have a grasp on at the clinic, but yet I find myself very anxious and almost panic like about going back to work. I love my job and I love my co-workers ( I am one of the lucky ones that has great co-workers that are my friends as well), so why would I be so terrified of going back? I have asked myself this over and over and over and I don't have an answer. I think I am more scared of re-entering the world of reality....like I am suppose to be "normal" again and move on. I can't wrap my mind around trying to move on without my daughter. I will never "be over" losing my daughter.... I want to talk about her and remember her with people. She is the love of our lives and we don't get to share our lives with her. She is gone from our site....I know she is still with us in spirit. It is not a coincidence that on some of my more challenging days that I will talk to her and ask her to help us get through some challenging task or difficult emotions and things tend to turn around rather quickly. It is comforting to know my little princess is with our Lord, but still remains very difficult to live with daily. I know you have all heard the saying from people that parents shouldn't have to bury their children....well it is true. The hurt is unimaginable until one has to go through it....it is a hurt on a whole different level. Also in the next week is Christmas and that is so hard for us to imagine without our daughter. I have had nightmares of going to Christmas mass and seeing all the little babies and the little girls dressed in their Christmas dresses and me running out of church crying. Some people may think that it's been 8 weeks and we should be doing better, but the reality of the situation is that we are not doing better. It's almost like everyday makes us miss our baby girl even more. So trying to return to what was my "old normal" life of going to work and celebrating some of my favorite holidays is so hard for my "new brain" to try and wrap itself around. It really is like we are having had to relearn how to be alive and how to be part of society. It has been easy for me to be protected at home out in the country... away from people, but come Monday morning it's like my protection will be gone. I feel like an egg with a crack in it already and it just won't take much for my shell to completly shatter. I know I need to go back to work....my husband told me I need to go back to work....as I think a routine will be good for me again. And once I get my feet wet, working with the public will be good too. Most of my patients are like an extended family to me and they care about us...that is always so comforting. So as my time off from work is coming to a close I can say that when I walk back into work Monday morning I will be a completly different person than the day I walked out there. I am now trying to learn the "new me" and trying to figure out what exactly is normal again. Time has a new meaning to both Jeff and I....we cherish our time together on a whole new level. We don't take time for granted anymore. He has told me how I need to return to the work world, but how much he is going to miss our time at home as well. Gracie has taught us not to take our days together for granted as you never know when those days will be over. We remember Gracie every hour of every day and everything she taught us in her 15 hours of life. Time....what a precious thing.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Well today marked the start of Advent....which means the countdown to Christmas has begun. I will be honest with you all....normally I love Christmas and I love decorating and everything that goes along with the season, but this year it is very hard to get "in the mood" for the holidays. Like most people I associate Christmas with children...their excitement and their smiles. When I found out I was pregnant the last week of January my mind wandered like every pregnant woman's mind does. I found myself thinking of what my babies first Christmas would be like. At the time I didn't obviously know I was having a girl, but my mind wandered to all of those beautiful Christmas dresses the little girls wear to church. At Easter time we knew they was a possibility of our baby having issues but we hadn't gotten a concrete diagnosis (until the week after Easter) so when I went to church my mind began to wander again. I thought next year I will be in church with our little one. I thought of all the holiday traditions that I grew up with and what I wanted to pass on to our children.....that all went up in a poof of smoke four days later when we got Gracie's diagnosis. A parent's dream shattered in an instant....our lives stood still. Our lives still stand still while the world whirls around us. Most days I think we feel like we are in a bumper car ring and getting shoved around from side to side....mostly just existing. How do you get your mind to do what everyone else is doing to prepare for the holidays? I tried going to the mall a few weeks back and left in tears because it seems that every woman with a baby 6 weeks old or less goes to the mall. We don't resent anyone's happiness, but it's so difficult to be around. You see a baby about the age of what Gracie should be and how does your heart not ache to the point that your chest feels like it will explode. This is our daily life....this is what we feel everyday. Some people may think we are getting better, but the reality of the situation is that now that things have calmed down our minds have more time to think about what has actually occurred in our lives. Jeff said the other day to me, "If Gracie was here I could be sitting in the chair playing with her...making her smile." How is that not a heartbreaking statement from my stoic farmer? I cry at the drop of a hat, but Jeff is quiet and then says some very profound statements that make my heart break. We continue to be each other's support systems and thankfully for us, we have very good lines of communication. We always feel we can talk about anything with each other and don't have to be scared to say how we feel. We both are scared about how the upcoming holiday will affect us and frankly how we are going to get through it. Our daughter will not be with us for Christmas here on Earth. Our minds know we shouldn't be selfish and want our child here with us and that we should be ever so grateful that she will be with God, but your heart tells a completly opposite story. Your heart wants your baby here with you...and then your mind kicks in and makes you feel almost selfish about thinking that way. I know there are many long months of healing a head for us both as this loss will not "go away"....it will most likely never go away, but we will learn to live with the loss (or so all the books tell me). A lot of people don't know how to act around us or what to say....what I can tell you is ask about Gracie. We want to talk about her. She is the love of our lives, just like your children. We had her for 15 hours but we made a lifetime of memories and we want to share them. I was looking through some of her photos the other day and noticed one I hadn't before. It's one where she was caught in the middle of one of her yawns. It's such a precious moment that was caught from her life. So as we go forth into this holiday season we are going to try and prepare our minds and hearts for what is coming, but that is hard to do. I didn't want to set up any decorations this year as I don't have much "holiday cheer" in me, but with my husband's help and support we put our decorations up together. We had received a few different ornaments with Gracie's name on them for gifts and they all have their places of honor on the tree. We will not have our daughter physically with us for Christmas but we will have her spirit and her memory with us.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Today it is four weeks since our beautiful Gracie blessed us with both her life and her death and it is also the first day that I am starting my new blog site. Writing has been so therapeutic for me throughout my pregnancy and coping with the loss of my daughter, so I wanted to continue my "therapy" and documenting how our lives are changing. At 32 years of age I can say that I have had to learn to deal with some very difficult things. Although I feel like I am drifting along in life these days and that I can't get my feet back on the ground, I have found out from my fellow anencephaly mommies that this feeling is normal. As I've stated in my caring bridge journals, I am a very Type A person and have always been quite sure of myself and who I am. I cannot say at this point in my life that I really know who I am anymore. Jeff and I both say we feel "lost in life" and that we don't know where we fit anymore. Fortunatly for most of our friends, they don't know what we are going through.....we have said countless times in the past four weeks that we hope that they will never have to know what we are going through. We are fortunate though that we have a great group of friends that empathize with us and support us. Tears find us frequently and almost on a daily basis......Gracie literally took a piece of our hearts with her to heaven. One thing I have found that has brought me comfort is the book, "Heaven is For Real." It was easy reading and extremely comforting to me after losing our little one. It is a true story of a 3 1/2 year old that had a near death experience and what he experienced in heaven. There is nothing like heaven from a child's point of view...especially when you have lost a child. The boy describes how Jesus sat him in his lap when he got to heaven and explained things to him. When I read this part of the book I got goosebumps. When Gracie was dying I told her to go to Jesus and he would take care of her and that it was ok for her to go. I remember right after she died I said to Jeff, "She went from rocking in our arms, to rocking in Jesus' arms." Reading this book really confirmed to me that this most likely happened when our baby girl left us. The little boy in the book talks repeatedly about how much God and Jesus love the children. In my mind I know my little girl couldn't be in a better place, but my heart tells a different story. My heart aches for her so terribly and no matter how much my mind tells me that it's selfish to want her here with me, it still aches. I don't think any parent ever wants to be in our situation....it's not a natural progression of life. The parents are suppose to go first....not the children. We are not suppose to bury our baby....but we did. And now we learn how to cope with this all. The phrase "You're never too old to learn something new" is definatly true for us. We will obviously still be "Jeff" and "Missy" and most people will think we are still the same people, but we are forever changed mentally, spirtually, and emotionally. Change is always a difficult a thing, but I think it will be a good thing as well. When you go to church after something as life altering as losing your child, your view on why you are there and the words you are saying take on a whole different meaning. Not that it didn't mean something to us before, but there is a different way you feel when you are there. I do get asked a lot if I'm ready to go back to work and my truthful answer is no. My mind is not mentally ready yet and thankfully Dr. Witt has written for me to be off for 8 weeks. I have another month to heal my mind and my soul before re-entering the work world. At this point it is mentally difficult most days to just get through life at home and to throw work into that would make it extremely difficult. I have a difficult time focusing on anything really and sleeping has been a challenge. I know none of this is abnormal for what I am going through, but it does make life more of a challenge. With this blog site I hope to continue to heal through writing and spread Gracie's message and not let her memory be forgotten. At the bottom of the page there is a slide show of some of our favorite photos from Gracie's life. We want to continue to celebrate our little girl's life and as the title of the blog states....keep Everlasting Grace in our lives.