The Tenth Month

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Looking back, I have just come through a couple of AWFUL months where I was just depressed and down and just felt like crap all the time. And I feel as if the storm has ended and the clouds are breaking up and I can see the sunshine again for a little while. Not that I'll now live happily ever after. But I hadn't seen any sunshine for months, and now it feels so good to see it at all. It reminds me that it is there and that someday I'll see it most of the time like I used to. And that is a huge change for me, because I am not just telling myself this but I am truly FEELING it from inside and BELIEVING it. And several people have told me they can see how much better I am doing lately. I just truly don't think I am going to go through another period that is quite so dark, quite so low, or quite so long again.

The biggest change in my life is that I am coming to peace with Abigail's life and death. I am seeing what a gift I have been given to be her mommy. I am seeing how I have been deepened and strengthened by my grief, and I am seeing how much better a person I am becoming. As much as this has hurt and still hurts, I don't want to go back to who I was before or who I would have been if Abigail had been healthy. I think God has been working in my life through all this and has been giving me more compassion and appreciation for what is really important in life. I am astounded at how shallow I was and my life is so much richer now because of the relationships and choices that I am making because of losing Abigail. This is not something I have felt from the beginning; it just hurt too much. But now I have started to heal somewhat and I am starting to understand it. Our babies are a huge gift and I am only now really starting to appreciate that.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Last June 3 was the day we went for our Level II US and talked with the genetic counselor and it was the first time we heard the words Trisomy 18. On the way in to work it all came back to me so clearly and suddenly; it really took me by surprise. I remember the counselor standing in the doorway during the US and the tech saying to her, "I saw her open her hands," and the counselor saying, "that's a good sign." And I remember wishing I had seen and hoping she would do it again so I could see and feel some sort of assurance. Then when they saw no markers except "maybe a little excess fluid around the heart" we were so optimistic. And then we went to make the appointment to get the fetal echo and the Dr. was going on vacation and we couldn't get in until June 19. I remember thinking there was no way I could wait that long; I just had to KNOW, but I was also really thinking, inside, that she was OK and didn't have it. And so remembering all that so vividly made me cry all the way to work. I really didn't think today would effect me like this. I guess it's reliving it and just remembering how sure I was that she was OK. It wasn't supposed to happen like this.

So I went to a friend as soon as I got to work and talked about it with her. And after about half an hour of talking and crying, I felt so much better. I was actually smiling and feeling OK again. I think I'll probably be kind of uneasy and weepy all day, but I'm going to be OK. This is not a bad thing, just more grief work. And I need to let it run its course so it can heal me. I'm finally at the point where these things are starting to make me stronger instead of just knocking me down.

But this is just the beginning of my flashbacks- June 19 is when we had the fetal echo and found her heart problems and had the amnio, and July 2 is when we got the definite diagnosis. And so I figured July 2 would probably be a significant day for me, but I was surprised by how today has affected me. I guess I thought I was just doing so well that it would be no big deal. Guess I should just be more aware and prepared in the future.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Yesterday the plaque arrived for Abigail's playground – with a typo! I was really upset this morning when I found out that it will be at least 3 weeks to get a new one. This is not a big deal - they'll get a new one in a month or so. And the playground isn't even finished yet. So why am I sitting here crying about this? Just getting it is an emotional thing anyway, and now I have to go through it again later.  And I almost feel like something happened to Abigail. Maybe it's my protective instinct - I can't protect her but I can protect her things. It's as if I can't rest until it is just right because it's hers. Steve said, “to them it's just a plaque with a typo but to us it is very upsetting.”

So I told Steve I just needed to talk this out and work through it, then I'll be ok later in the day. He said what stresses him out is that every day he is afraid of what I will open or see, etc. that will cause an emotional response. And I told him to not be afraid of it anymore, because I'm not. Now there is just a little bit of logic and reason deep inside that contains the emotion a little. It just keeps it from going completely hysterical and out of control and helps me regain control easier. So when those things come up, I look at it like pulling off a band-aid: better to do it fast and hard. It will hurt more for a little while, but then it will feel better. And I think it's better to just go ahead and get emotional and cry and talk it out until I don't feel the need to anymore. And then I'll be basically ok. But he has to get used to that and learn that indeed I will be ok in a little while. This whole thing just takes so much adjusting.

Friday, June 6, 2003

I have been thinking about the “aura” that our T18 babies have that healthy babies don’t. It is as if they are so innocent and holy, being with God, and getting ready to go back to God that they almost didn’t really come all the way here. They just came far enough across the veil to touch our lives then they went back across to heaven. And God’s grip on them was so strong that we could really feel His presence with them. And I think that’s why we were at such peace most of the time when we were with Abigail and not hysterical; because God was there, so close, giving us that peace.

Tonight Steve finished the baby swingset, which is an A frame with 2 baby swings on it. When I got over there I was looking at it and it was kind of breezy and the swings were swaying in the wind. And Steve said to Nathan, "Look, Nathan. Abigail likes her swings."

Tuesday, June 16, 2003

I have been feeling so good lately that I haven't been journaling much - or emailing either. Big mistake. Just like I need to do my back exercises every day even if I'm feeling ok, I need to journal whether I feel the need to or not. Between that and getting really tired I just lost it again last night. Anger and frustration. No one was home, which was probably why I let it go so much. Screaming, shouting, throwing things until I actually got light headed. I pounded my hands on the desk and my watch loosened up and I got mad and threw it. I actually went outside and threw it repeatedly against a brick until the crystal finally broke (those Timex's ARE indestructible). It was very satisfying to break something. Then I decided I'd better journal and calm down. And it helped.

When will I learn: grief is still with me, waiting, lurking, ready to pounce when I least expect it. And I have to keep ready to deal with it by journaling, even when I feel good. That keeps me strong and helps me handle the grief and anger in a better way. This really is a long process. Yes, I have come a long, long way. But the road is really just beginning. And I am not healed yet. Healing, yes. Better, yes. But I still have a long way to go. If I think about my back, I realize that it is much stronger than when I first hurt it. And basic day-to-day activities are no problem anymore. And so I start to think that my back is "good as new". But then when I pick up Sarah or start to shovel mulch my back starts to hurt and I realize that it is still hurting. Yes it is healing and it is much stronger. But it is not where it used to be (and probably never will be) but it will get stronger in time.

And I think grief is the same way. I can handle basic activities so much better, without so much energy, that I actually have a little energy to devote to "fun" things. And I start feeling more normal and seeing that I can handle things better so I try something more challenging. And then I realize that I am not yet "good as new". There is still a lot more healing to be done. But I am encouraged that I even had the strength to TRY things; several months ago I couldn't have.

One thing that I think is stressing me: Abigail’s Playground dedication. I am planning it and sending out invitations and looking forward to it, because once again it will be a focus on Abigail. I now really understand why people have memorials, not that they don’t remember but it is a time for others to remember as well. Most other times others don’t remember. But I am nervous about if it will rain, how many people will come, what to do, what to say. And, most of all, I am concerned about feeling let down afterwards - the anti-climactic feeling. This is bringing Abigail to the forefront again and afterwards she will disappear again. And I dread that. I have to stop doing this. I need to live in the moment and enjoy it instead of worrying about afterwards. It’s so odd; I managed to do it while Abigail was alive, but now I am having more trouble. Or maybe not. Maybe I am just anticipating it - like I did with Abigail - and I WILL live in the moment at the time. I am just forgetting that I also worried and anticipated and feared before her birth. And maybe since I have learned from experience how far down I can go afterwards, I fear the “afterwards” more.

I had another, nonAbigail, emotional moment, but it was very intense. Sunday night after church, Sarah was playing on Abigail’s Playground and it was time for us to leave. Steve couldn’t cajole her into coming, so we loaded up the van and decided to drive around the building and go pick her up by the playground. That was a mistake because everyone else was gone and when she saw the van driving she started crying and running over toward the front of the house. And as soon as I realized what she was thinking, it just tore me up. She was terrified that we were leaving without her! I called to her as we approached, but she was so upset. I jumped out and hugged her and told her we weren’t leaving we were coming to get her and that we would never leave her. It took a while but she calmed down. Then when she was getting into the van, I started to cry. I was so sorry we had made her so afraid. And I couldn’t stop crying. Then Nathan said, “Great, now 2 people are crying!” I hope I don’t ever have to see such a scared look on her little face again.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

This week has been a little rougher. I have felt on the verge of tears but not quite able to cry. I hate that feeling. Then this morning I was able to cry as I flashed back to last year when we had the fetal echo and the amnio. I was doing so well but today felt more down and depressed. But not like before. And I seem to be able to recover some. I guess I’m more melancholy and contemplative. The memories seem so long ago and yet just like yesterday. There is no joy in these memories; even in the sadness there is joy in remembering Abigail’s birth and death. These memories just remind me of the death of our innocence. We were still so sure she would be ok, but just had that nagging concern.

The death of our innocence began a year ago – it seems like forever, or was it yesterday? Today I am back there again, remembering things I didn’t even know I noticed: his gestures, her words; glimpses of scenes I don’t want to remember. I see it again through my own eyes, but also from afar, as if watching a movie where I am the reluctant star. The scene plays on: we are still hopeful, still don’t know for sure, so sure she’s OK. Stumbling through life in a stupor. Could they tell? Could they see it in my eyes? Could they sense what was inside, or did I hide it well? My mind replays the scenes again and again. That we still had hope then makes it almost unbearable to remember. The journey to the death of our innocence began today.   

Friday, June 20, 2003

Today was a very tough day. C. came back to work today. I was uncomfortable but looked at the pictures of the baby. I want so badly to let it go and be comfortable with her again. Maybe soon. Then I had another emotional call with the lady about the plaque – arguing about expediting the shipping. I asked if she couldn’t have it Fed Ex’ed and she said we would have to pay for the shipping. I told her I didn’t care if it was $1000, I just needed the plaque before Saturday. She told me not to get upset, that she didn’t know we needed it by June 28. I wanted to shout that it was supposed to be here by the end of May but you screwed it up. But I didn’t. Afterwards I was very upset and started crying. I called K. to get my composure before I had to go to a meeting.

Then after the meeting, I came back to my office and worked for a little while. Then the weight of the whole day fell on me and I just wanted to cry. I felt so sad, down, and depressed. It was so disappointing. I thought I wasn’t going to go back there again, but it sure felt like it today. I couldn’t quite shake it and feel good. S. called me and she was having a bad day, too. We were both crying on the phone. What a picture! :-) Things just made me sad. Seeing babies in Wal-Mart. Seeing C.’s baby pictures. Seeing any babies. Talking with S. While we were talking, I was overwhelmed with how much this sucks and hurts and how unfair it is. And I just want to fight back, but there’s nothing to fight. The outrage at the injustice, the pain of the loss. Like S. said, we were doing so well, and the pain seems so much sharper now. It’s the contrast. I just dread the crashing afterwards. We will make it, though; we were both laughing by the end. It helps to talk and cry.

Monday, June 23, 2003

At lunch I went to Rainbow Rentals to order the helium balloons for the dedication. I have just felt melancholy lately. Not really depressed. Not real sad, but melancholy. Picking out the balloons and seeing the “It’s a girl” balloons gave me that pang. I thought I would start to cry, but I didn’t. Looking at the picture collage of Abigail on my desk gave me the same feeling. Also, listening to my CD’s does the same. Those same songs can make me feel good and want to sing out, or they can make me want to cry, or I can feel kind of melancholy and in limbo like I do lately.

I just kind of do want to cry, but I don’t seem to be able to do it. I tried calling a few people today, and no one was home. So I thought I would journal. I AM doing well, really. I am stronger and better able to function. Monday is hard because I usually don’t talk to my safe people on Sunday and then I have to try to work on Monday. I guess I am just frustrated that I don’t seem to be able to do normal everyday things without needing contact with my safe people every day. Others aren’t calling or contacting me all the time; I’m always contacting them. Why can they do it and I can’t? Am I refusing to move on? K. said who cares if I need to do that? That’s just part of it. Why do I always question myself so much?

Am I not relying on God? I think I have more faith than ever; I just hurt. And it’s really not been that long yet. Why can’t I follow my own advice to do what I need to do without regard for what others think about it? When someone else has a need, I can be strong. But when no one else does, then I am weak. And I still need a lot of TLC and I am not getting it unless I ask for it.

I don’t know why I’m not yet used to the vacillating emotions. One minute I feel like I don’t really need the support group or counseling any more, then the next I feel like I should be doing better than I am. The reality is I am still grieving and it is still very fresh. I am learning to adapt, but it is still hard.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

This morning I was concerned about how uncomfortable I have been feeling around C. So I went to talk with her about it. I don’t want to feel that way. I am frustrated that even though I am really doing so much better, I still appear to still be totally pathetic since she got back. So we got to talk. I told her I knew it was hard for her to hear all the stuff about babies dying when she was pregnant and I know that she doesn’t want to hear it all now. I also don’t want her to be afraid to say things about her baby - she deserves to have that joy. I told her I am OK, I really am. She just needs to be OK with the fact that sometimes the things she says may make me cry. But other times I will be happy with her. And we both said we liked how close we had gotten and we don’t want to lose that. And of course I cried a lot. We talked about how our different worlds should be able to coexist. So we agreed that we still want to tell each other things, but there will be times that she won’t want to hear it or I won’t. And we need to keep talking about it so neither of us gets angry. And after a hug we both felt much better.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Tonight I discovered that A. is planning to come to Abigail’s Playground dedication! Steve isn’t very good at that clandestine stuff so I figured it out when he asked me where I would stay in New Phila. I told him, “She can’t stay in a hotel.” And he said, “How many kids do they have?” and I said, “The whole family’s coming?” And that’s when the butterflies really started going in my stomach. I wandered around a little, straightening, and then I went into the bedroom, lay on the bed, and started to cry. I was so excited and so touched. I couldn’t stop the emotion or stop crying. I just kept sighing and saying, “oh man” and “I can’t believe she’s coming!” I had sent her an email earlier telling her that I was sending her an invitation to the dedication; “I can always dream, can’t I?” But I really didn’t expect her to come; it was over 4 hours away! I guess I didn’t realize how much people’s presence, especially hers, meant to me. Steve told me that she said it was ok if I found out. With the emotional reaction I had, I am really glad that I did find out. I don’t know what would have happened on Saturday if she had just shown up!

Thursday, June 26, 2003

When I got to work, I went in and said good morning to C. and said, “A.’s coming!” And she kind of stumbled over her words and then said, “Good, now you can send her better directions than I did.” So even SHE was in on this! A little later, I decided to call A. So when she answered, she said, “how are you?” and I said, “great” then I asked, “What’s going on?” and she answered, all innocent, “What do you mean, what’s going on?” and then I said, “You’re talking to everyone but me!” And we laughed and she said something about not being able to keep it a secret and I said, “I can’t believe you’re coming!” And as we talked, I said, “You HAVE to stay with us.” So we talked about it and she agreed to stay and I just kept saying, “Oh, man. Oh my gosh.” The emotion was incredible. She has no idea just how much that meant to me. Then I talked to R. later and found out she was coming, too. I was so glad to have both R. and A. coming! I hadn’t realized until this point how much their presence meant to me.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

I haven’t felt this excited in a LONG time. It felt so good to be this excited. We had a few things to do to get ready and I was trying to keep the kids busy while we did them. We were just finishing attaching the ribbon at almost 3:00 when M. and A. arrived. I didn’t feel the emotion I thought I might. I was just in a dream, and I think I had worked through the emotion over the past few days. I met her kids and introduced her to mine.

After a little while, I showed her the balloons and told her we were going to release one for Marie, too. And she started to protest, but I told her, “Yes, they are together and should be today, too.” And I asked if it would be ok and if she would come up and do it with me and she agreed.

Things started speeding up then as more people started drifting in. I was just SO HAPPY to have such a beautiful day, A. there, and all those people coming because of Abigail.

I didn’t get to stay with anyone too long to talk, but I was just beaming with everyone there. Was I ever surprised by some of the people that came! And a little bit later, I saw two of my coworkers getting out of the car carrying a cake. It had Abigail’s picture on it and said, “Abigail Grace, we celebrate your life.” I later found out that C. had printed it out from my computer on my printer after downloading it from the website because they didn’t want to take one of my photos and possibly damage it! I was so touched that they would do that. Everyone thought the cake was planned, but I kept telling everyone that it wasn’t.

We got started a little bit late, but it went well. Steve talked about the history of the playground and thanked everyone who had helped, whether physically or financially. Then I spoke about why we were there: joy – and introduced the bubbles. I didn’t know quite how to tie it in or how people would take it. I had originally thought I would encourage the grownups to join in after the kids got theirs, but for some reason I didn’t say it. And I didn’t need to. Before long, most of the adults were blowing bubbles, too.  Everyone was enjoying it and there were bubbles everywhere. I don’t really know how long we did it, maybe 15 minutes, but we watched for when the interest started to wane or kids started to wander.

Then Steve rounded everyone up and said we were ready to dedicate the playground. I said that we were going to release the balloons in memory of the babies and then turned to cut them off. While they had been tied on, they had gotten tangled, and when we held them together, they were all 4 tangled together. We started trying to untangle them, but realized that we couldn’t, and so I said, “I guess they are just meant to be together.” I motioned for R. and A. to join me, and we each held on to the balloons. Then I said, “We thank God for these children of joy.” And we released the balloons. And everyone watched them go up into the beautiful blue sky, up to heaven. It was a little emotional, but not like I had thought it might be.

Then Steve reviewed the rules with everyone and then I cut the ribbon and said, “Let’s play!” And the kids just took off running for the playground then. Evidently N. had started with the balloon animals pretty quickly, which I wanted, because before long the kids had spotted him and were migrating over to him. They were all very well behaved, standing in line and waiting for their turn. I gave R. and A. the other copies of the tags that were on the balloons for a keepsake.

Everyone seemed to be having so much fun, and I was having the most! I was just soaking in the people, the kids, the joy, the weather, everything. It was so wonderful to have everyone gathered there because of Abigail on such a joyous occasion. And it was SO WONDERFUL to have A. and R. there. I truly enjoyed mingling with everyone; at one point my cheeks hurt from smiling so much. Look at pictures from the dedication.

After I had introduced R. and A., I later noticed they were together. And later all 4 of them were together, with their husbands. No surprise, really. As the evening waned, the 6 of us found ourselves sitting together. A. had some pictures of Marie’s headstone that she was showing to R. And R. had brought pictures of Savannah that we looked at. They were both apologetic about getting out their pictures, and R. didn’t want to go get Savannah’s because they didn’t want to infringe on Abigail’s day. But I told them, “Don’t be silly - go get them; I want to see them.” There would never be a better time to look at them than right then – who knows when we’ll be together again. I so enjoyed that time we all had together. And A. and R. said they and their husbands said the same thing. What a blessing to have us all together.

When we got home, A. had brought me several things, as if just coming wasn’t enough!  One was a bracelet she made for the day. She made one just like it for her, with 2 butterflies representing Marie and Abigail. And she and the kids made a garden stone for Abigail, with Marie’s birthstones embracing Abigail’s. They made one just like it for Marie, with Abigail’s on the outside. It was really neat because Nathan and Sarah had made garden stones at VBS this week, and now I have one for each of my kids. After getting the girls ready for bed and putting them back in again and again, we sat down to look at Marie’s scrapbooks. They are so beautiful. We also looked at Abigail’s book, and stayed up and talked until 1:30 am then finally went to bed.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

M. and A. went with us to church and had to hit the road home at noon. We took a few pictures, and then they had to leave. And then I started to cry. We said we would still be planning a girls’ get together sometime soon. Steve and M. would also like to get together for fishing. The visit was so short – the dedication and church kept us from being able to really spend much time together. But we WILL get together to do that.

We headed over to a restaurant for lunch and I was crying. I told Steve I needed to just spend some time in the car and for them to go in. I think I probably sat there for about 15 minutes, just crying and processing the emotion of the whole weekend. So I finally went in and was still emotional. But I wasn’t depressed. And I didn’t fall apart. And it didn’t send me over the edge. I was just sad that it was over and needed to process it and feel the sadness for a little while.

The whole weekend was just a dream. We got the most beautiful day to dedicate the playground. We had wanted it to be a real time of joy, a time to remember not that she died but that she LIVED. I wasn’t really sure how it would go, but I thought it went better than I had even imagined. It was so touching to have so many people there for Abigail and to have us all having fun because of her. I am so thankful to everyone who helped us make those memories. The warmth and love from that time will stay with me for a very long time.

Back to Path to Healing | Next Month
Main Grief Resources | My Grief Journal | Other Grief Writings
Stories - ours and others:
Resources and Information