So.........six months ago I remember laying in a hospital bed at St. Alexius Medical Center frustrated and emotionally and mentally exhausted. I had failed the first attempt at induction at 42 weeks of pregnancy. I began to wonder if our baby girl was hanging on for dear life in there. At 8pm we restarted the induction process and once again failed.....a vaginal delivery was just not in the cards for our dear Gracie. After 24 hours of pitocin I hadn't even dilated to one cm......it was off to the delivery room. On the eve of what should be Gracie's 6 month birthday with her mommy and daddy here on earth, a person cannot help but think about how drastically our lives have changed in the past 6 months....what a difference a half a year has made. Gracie should be here with us giggly, cooing, rolling over, playing peek a boo with her Daddy and quite possibly cutting some teeth (I was an early teether). But once again reality takes over and you look around and she's not here. Instead there is a granite head stone with my daughter's name and birthdate engraved on it at the cemetary. The room we have sitting empty waiting to become a nursery some day is still sitting empty. I have been told the 6 month mark is one of the hardest and I won't lie (I never do)....it is. There is something about a half of a year passing by without your baby that really hits hard. The problem is once again that they world doesn't stop when yours seems to stop. Even with the help of medication I have not been able to sleep more than 3-4 hours a night this past week....but somehow I drag myself out of bed and go to work and try to function somewhat normally. What I would like to do is crawl back into bed and just stay there....for various reasons besides being tired. When 5pm hits, I get to go home....to my safe haven.....a place where I don't have to pretend everything ok. A place where the only other person in the world that knows how badly it hurts to lose Gracie is waiting for me....my husband. There is a sense of relief when I pull into the yard.....I don't have to pretend anymore....I can just be me. I am thankful for my job because it does make me get back into somewhat of a routine and rejoin the world, but on the other hand trying to function during times of stress is difficult. This past week the anencephaly world lost a beautiful soul named Katie. She defied the odds of anencephaly and lived for 9 months.....over the past 9 months I have grown to know this little beauty through facebook. I feel like I know her personally and her family regardless that we have never met. I have noticed that when a family in the anencephaly world that I have grown particularly close to loses their child it stirs up a lot of emotions and it tends to throw me back to Oct. 20th. I relive every minute I had with Gracie.....her smell, her movement, her grip on my finger, and the noises she made. I think of every visitor that came to see her and all the things we fit into her 15 hours including her birthday party her Godfather Dan, Auntie Marcy, and special sister Alex had for her in the hospital. I remember her last breath....I remember Sarah listening for her heartbeat and it was gone.....all of those things are so fresh in my mind yet. The hurt is so raw.......... I would love nothing more than to stay in bed tomorrow and let the hurt just be there, but I will not. I will get out of bed and I will go to work and I will partake in life. As difficult as it may all be with all of those memories there, I feel Gracie would want nothing less of her mother. It's easy to tell the brain that Gracie is gone to be with Jesus and that I should be so happy about that because she has no pain or suffering there......but the heart tells me such a different story. My heart aches so badly for the child that we had wanted so much that it does feel like it's breaking. You hear the term, "suffering from a broken heart" and think of it as a figure of speech, but it is something that is very real. Ask any mother or father that has lost a child and they will tell you that you literally feel like your heart is broken in two. There is a real ache in your chest when you think of the child you should be tending to instead of doing so many other things.
I created this blog to continue to write out my true feelings and rare hurt. I created this blog to let people into a world that they will most likely never have to be part of. I do not sugar coat things because I want people to know exactly how Jeff and I feel and what we are going through. I do this for one very simple reason.....to spread awareness of infant loss and how it really impacts people's lives. "Back in the day" infant loss wasn't discussed and people were told to "get over" their child......this was of course said in pure ignorance. A lot of the moms in the anencephaly group that have blogs have them to do the same as I do....to their feelings out, but at the same time to spread awareness of what it is like to lose something as precious as a child. You do not have to have your child with you for many years to love them any differently or any more than how much we loved our Gracie in the 15 hours we had her. A parent's love in the same no matter how much time you have with them. Our Gracie was a perfect mix of her mommy and daddy. The hurt is as real today as it was 6 months ago.....we are learning how live all over again with a whole new way of thinking. We hope that Gracie's story continues to impact everyone as it did 6 months ago.
Friday, April 6, 2012
So it is Easter time.....it's always been a fun holiday in our family and it's one of my husbands favorite holidaya as well. I think it will always be a little bit different for the both of us as we have both spent a great deal of this past week thinking about how different life was a year ago at Easter time.We knew at that time that there was a possibility that there was something wrong with our Gracie but still had the bit of hope to hang onto yet. Last year after I got off of work we drove to Bismarck and went to the clinic to have the life changing QUAD blood screening drawn. Dr. Witt had told us that if this test was off then we would have the option of having an amnio and then we would have our answers we had been looking for since March 15th. I think a lot of mother's tend to sense when something is wrong with their child and I was no different. I knew the test would come back badly, but no matter how much you make your brain think something your heart feels things all together differently. We went to Napoleon for Easter and as we sat in mass on Easter Sunday I looked around at all the babies....the little boys in their suits and the little girls in their beautiful Easter dresses and my heart couldn't help but make my brain think about us having a little one at Easter mass next year. I thought about how different our lives would be and how we would have to do things differently on the farm with our schedules. We on Monday at work on my lunch break I got the call from Dr. Witt that my test results were some of the lowest numbers he has ever seen on the QUAD screen and if we still wanted to do the amnio to get answers we could do it that week. I managed to hold it together for the phone call and I hung up and looked across the lunch table at my friend, Sarah and I had the total nuclear melt down at that point. Jeff was between Bismarck and McClusky and was stopping at the clinic when he got back....he had no idea what he was walking in on. We are lucky in the fact that God blessed us with Sarah as our friend and she sat us down and helped me tell Jeff some of the hardest news I have ever had to tell someone.....especially someone that I love with my entire heart and soul. We decided to do the amnio so we had some concrete results and we could start to deal with the reality of the situation. We went in that same week on Thursday and the standard protocol is to do an ultrasound to locate the placenta positioning and the babies' position and that is where the tech could plainly see our baby Gracie had anencephaly. The walls started to crumble in at that time and most days they feel like they continue to crumble in on top of us. I've been told the 6 month mark is the one of the most difficult times to go through and as the days mount to this milestone it is harder and harder to think, sleep and function. It's like this overwhelming event is creeping up on us. We talk of Gracie all the time at our house and are surrounded by photos and momentos of her, but only on occasion does my stoic husband say something to reveal how much he is truly hurting. Last night as we sat at the kitchen table out of the blue he states, "I miss Gracie and I miss holding her. I want her back so I can hold her again." Two sentences.......my heart ached for him. With so much going on at the farm now with calving and getting ready to go seeding, you tend to lose your feelings and emotions in the hustle and bustle. The Easter holiday really stirred things up at our house this past week and you can't help but relieve every single moment of how things occurred last year at this time. Sometimes I wonder how in the world we have managed to make it this far without completly losing our minds. I believe two reasons why we are managing to go on with life (so to speak) is first of all our faith in God, and second of all our true and unending love for one another. I speak highly of my husband often when I write about our loss, but nothing that I write is untrue. We are each other's best friends and each other's soul mates. I don't take that for granted as I know how fortunate I am. When either of us have a bad day with missing our daughter (me more often than him) we are always there for one another and are literally the shoulder the other cries on. There are not a lot of people that can relate to what we are each feeling and I know as we sit in mass on Easter Sunday we will both be thinking about the same thing as we see all of the young couples with their babies in church. We will both be feeling the same ache in our hearts and that feeling of emptiness. This past week a Bismarck magazine publication called Inspired Woman came out with a new issue. On the front cover is my sister in law, Cheryl and I......Cheryl wrote into the magazine when they had a contest on who inspires you. Cheryl wrote about Gracie and I and won first place. Gracie's story is not touching many, many, many more lives which is exactly what God's plan was for her. Here is the link in case you haven't read it yet: http://www.inspiredwomanonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/IW-April_2012.pdf My head knows why things happened with Gracie the way that they did, but my heart tells another story. My heart is one of a mother that longs to hold her child and see her precious face again. I see it when I close my eyes at night and it is the first thing I see when I open my eyes in the morning. Her face is in my mind as I go to work and take care of so many other people at the clinic and it is in my mind as I cook supper every evening. The image of her yawning and smiling enters my mind so often as does the image of her proud Daddy as he brought her into see me for the first time in the operating room. My mind drifts to her so many times during the day.....my brain knows she is gone, but my heart doesn't know how to deal with that realization fully. There will always be a little hole in our hearts from losing Gracie...I believe she took a piece of it with her to heaven and someday when we are together again our hearts will once again be whole.