Fifteenth and Sixteenth Months

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Wow, itís been a long time since I journaled. And I KNOW itís important for my emotional health. But it just seems like I have to do everything else first, then sit down and do this and so I donít get to this. A. says itís the same for her. I have posted some, and emailed a little, but mostly just been depressed. Work has been AWFUL Ė so much pressure and I have been either losing it in anger or just very down. Friday morning I was fighting back tears as I voiced my frustration to my boss.

I was nearly in tears all day Thursday and Friday. Usually I do better those days. But Steve was planning to go hunting all day yesterday, and I think I wasnít looking forward to my Saturday. I totally lost it first thing when I got up and the house was a total mess. I threw an apple against the fridge and it smashed into pieces. The kids went running away in fear, and I called A. to try to calm me down. She helped by telling me Iím not crazy, and she told me to call someone and not to be alone. So I called K.

That evening I got onto the board and connected with A. for a chat. We talked about depression. Am I depressed? I mean do I need to pursue medication? The melancholy, blah feeling persists, but I still have interests in some things, some fun, some excitement, some joy. They just go back to the blah part. So is that depression? Or is it just grief? Should I look into medication? Maybe I should ask J. what she thinks.

Maybe itís just the pressure from work. I donít have time to grieve, and everyone is pressured at work. And Steveís right about the new T18 site: it is another full time job. Well, not quite, but weíre making lots of decisions and putting lots of energy into it. But as I told A., it doesnít feel like its using energy. She said itís because itís my PASSION.

I really AM excited about going to A.ís house next weekend; Iím just not giddy about it (yet?). She said sheís been almost giddy since M. suggested we come there instead of Toledo. And she said she knows how I felt Ė sheís going around telling everyone: ďMindyís coming, Mindyís coming!Ē It really will be great to be there. Last week we giggled and giggled about things. But this past week, it hasnít been funny. Not much has. I really want to have fun when weíre together; I donít want to be all depressed and morose. I hope it will be that way. The other times when weíve gotten together Iíve been doing well. Maybe just the fact that we are getting together will help me?

Friday, November 14, 2003

Another long stretch since journaling. I kind of feel the need to do it, but Iím so busy with the site and stuff that I donít take the time to do it. A lot has happened. Last Wednesday I talked with J. about depression and we determined that I am mildly depressed. And she basically encouraged me to look into medication. She said I had really worked hard to do this, with my walking and my journaling, but that work was really stressing me and that it wasnít a sign of failure or weakness if I pursued medication. She said that medication would take the edge off and would help me not care so much about things at work, so I wonít get so stressed about them. I wasnít convinced completely, but was ready to consider it.

Then Wednesday night was the ďWalk to RememberĒ in New Phila. T. had asked me to read ďThe JourneyĒ and say something as part of it. S. and T. went with me. It had turned cold and we started at the funeral home, then lit candles and walked to the courthouse. There was a childrenís choir there; they sang, then I said my thing, then they sang again and we walked back. After we blew out our candles, we each received a rose. Two women came up to me afterwards, both having had a stillbirth 5 years ago. One said it would get easier, that she could tell I had faith and that time and God would help me through. The other said she had been there to watch her daughter sing and that my words had described how she felt and that it helped her to hear them. She began to cry and gave me a hug. What an interesting contrast Ė one who has dealt with it and started to heal and one who has not.

The next day, Thursday, C. came busting into my office saying, ďyouíre on the radio!Ē WJER had been there and did a little news piece on it. They mentioned me and a little of my story and played a clip of one part of it: ďBut no matter how we got here, no matter how glad I am for those 5 days, we are all standing here today with the same thing: empty arms and aching hearts.Ē It was very strange to hear it on the radio, but kind of cool.

And I got the DVD back of Abigail and Mountain of God. I also had her make VHS copies and so C. and I watched it at lunch. I cried, especially when I saw some of the video that I hadnít seen much before. I think the video is really pretty good.

Then it was finally Friday and time to go to A.ís! The week had gotten better and better, largely because of the anticipation of going.

The weekend was great. The kids had a lot of fun together; we couldnít get them to go to bed the first night, but we didnít want to, either. We had a lot of time to just hang out and talk, and the kids had a ball together. We talked a great deal about this whole experience: what it was like for the guys. It was good for all of us. A. and I worked a little on Marieís website Ė I showed her how to create and edit pages and she caught on right away. Sunday we went to church with them. Their church is really big, and it was quite different from our small country church. We spent the afternoon trying to get the kids to take a nap; the guys watched football while A. and I worked on the website. Monday morning before we left, A. and I went to the cemetery and then stopped by their church to meet her SIL. It was a wonderful weekend. I am so thankful for our friendship with them.

One of the things A. and I had talked about was the medication question. I told her what J. had said and that I was thinking more about it, but inertia was preventing me Ė I didnít want to go clear up to the doctor. And just when I thought I needed it, I would have an upturn so I would put it off. She was strongly encouraging me to do it, but I still wasnít completely sure. I think it was pride Ė like it was nobler to do this without medication or something.

And the next morning, as soon I woke up and realized I was back home, I starting falling, fast. I got that hopeless feeling Ė that Iím on this treadmill that will never end. And by the time I got to work, I was totally overwhelmed and stressed again. So I decided to call the doctor and go in to talk about medication. I guess it was good that I felt so bad Ė I had just about talked myself into doing it, and if I had done well, maybe I would have chickened out again. So I went to the doctor and told her what I had been doing and she said I was doing the right things but we needed to take care of the chemical part. She said she was surprised I had waited as long as I had. So we decided to start some medication.

I think just making the decision relieved some of the stress. I started feeling better then and have been overall feeling better since then, although I have been VERY tired. Hard to know how much is from the medication and how much is from my lack of sleep.

A. emailed me Thursday that she was crashing and burning with me. Her neighbor had her baby and it hit her a lot harder than she expected. I called her and we talked about it. I could just feel it with her Ė I remember how hard it was when C. had her baby. After we hung up I couldnít get it off my mind, so I wrote The Circus and posted it on the board.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Life is sure strange. I have really been doing pretty well lately. I think the medication is helping. I am not nearly so irritable or overwhelmed as I was before. And Steve and I are really enjoying just being lovers again Ė Steve said itís an escape. And I think heís right. Then itís just him and me, no kids, living or dead. None of that matters at that time. Just us and our relationship and that we are still in love.

And now I am feeling a lot better overall, too. This past week at work, C. and I found these hideous Christmas decorations and hung them up in everyoneís offices. We were laughing hysterically, and itís really what we needed.

Last week I saw J. again and I was doing a lot better. She said she had looked at the website and said it was really neat. She commented particularly about the birth plans, that it would have been helpful to have something like that when her baby was born. She said that she was right at an anniversary time (19 years) and so she has been thinking more about it lately. I wonder what the anniversaries are like after 19 years. I should ask her next time.

And last Saturday we had the Thanksgiving dinner for church. I posted this on the board the next day:

I just wanted to share about an experience I had last night. Every year our church gets together with some neighboring churches and has a thanksgiving dinner followed by a time of singing. My husband being the minister, I had no choice but to go last year, even though I wanted to be anywhere but there. I ended up spending most of the evening crying in the restroom Ė all the questions about your family and your kids were just too much to take. But this year was totally different. The most telling thing was that a friendís niece was there, born about 6 weeks after Abigail. And of course, I couldnít keep my eyes off her. I ended up helping her toddle around the room, and several people commented how she ďcould have been mineĒ with her red hair. I had a few rough moments: watching my 3 year old, Sarah, take her hand and walk with her was hard and my eyes filled with tears, but it was OK. It felt GOOD to hold her and be with her. And I enjoyed the evening. Even my husband commented about the contrast with last year.

So I just wanted to share this with everyone who is where I was last year. It DOES get better.

Yesterday was thanksgiving, and it was just our family. I called S. in the morning Ė it was her husbandís birthday. It was going to be a tough day for her Ė they were going to take some balloons to the cemetery then she was going to a friendís for dinner. The friend and his mother had both lost spouses so she felt she would feel comfortable there. I told her that sounded really good. She said that seeing J. was helping her. Interesting how it didnít help her earlier, but it does now. We just have to keep adjusting as time goes on.

I enjoyed the day. It was very low-key. I played some games with Nathan and watched Finding Nemo with Sarah (the first time I had watched it all). I also putzed at some stuff for the board Ė the database and data analysis for weekly reporting. Just something I needed to do and needed some time to mess around with. So it was a peaceful, lazy, enjoyable day.

And I had promised Nathan that today we would put up the Christmas tree. And so we got out the Christmas CDís and the tree. I was pretty up about it. We were laughing that we live a mile from a Christmas tree farm and we have an artificial tree! The kids were having so much fun putting on the branches. And of course half the lights didnít work (why we donít just throw them away and buy new each year is beyond me!) so Steve got frustrated. But I didnít care Ė we used some colored and some white and still some are out, but the kids love it, so thatís all that matters anyway.

Then we started putting on the ornaments. And we have a couple of Abigailís and I put them on. One was a gift last year and it had a picture of her in it and said, ďBabyís first ChristmasĒ. I wouldnít have picked that ornament out, but I appreciated that they thought of her and it WAS her first Christmas even though she wasnít here anymore. Well, that ornament got to me. Looking at her picture and that saying made me realize this should have been her SECOND Christmas. She should be here toddling around. We should be leaving the bottom branches of the tree bare so she didnít pull things off. And I started tearing up and Steve asked if I was ok and I said, no. Then I felt a very strong urge to just start sobbing Ė it just sucks. But all the activity kept distracting me and I couldnít let the emotion flow.

I watched her video again and although it gets easier each time, it struck me how I only knew her as a newborn. She barely was awake; she hardly opened her eyes. She didnít move much and I never got to see her smile. At least those who had them for a couple months got to see them smile. I would have LOVED that.

In the video when they were removing her IV, I thought of how she trusted us to take care of her and make the best choices for her. Did we? When we removed the IV was it the best thing to do? She was counting on us Ė did we let her down? Sometimes I wonder. Not that our goal was to keep her here longer, but my gosh, we DIDNíT FEED HER! We thought that trying to prolong her life here was just selfish; we didnít want her to suffer and we didnít want her to go through any painful procedures. I usually feel good about our decision, but sometimes it just gets muddy and I wonder. I wish there werenít any decisions.

This time is very strange. Itís not at all like last year. I donít dread the holidays. I am enjoying things to a great degree. But sometimes the sadness hits me really hard again, and it feels so weird to be enjoying things, to be feeling pretty good. It just doesnít seem right. I imagine I will have this weird juxtaposition for some time.
Iím doing ok, I really am. I wish I wasnít forced to be away from my daughter until heaven, but Iím glad for what she and God have given me. Iím going to have lunch with N. tomorrow. I wrote her a poem; I hope she likes it.

December 10, 2003

As Christmas nears I am starting to get my usual holiday guilt about not decorating Abigail's grave. I have been very strange about the cemetery; in 15 months I'll bet I haven't been there 10 times. I just usually don't feel the need to go there; she's not really there anyway. But then suddenly I will feel like I HAVE to go, RIGHT NOW.

But along with this lack of need to go, I rarely put anything on her grave. We didn't even order a headstone until last summer - I just didn't have the energy to deal with it. And it was finally placed on her birthday, after they messed it up and nearly made me lose my mind.

But anyway, my point is, I am usually OK with not going or decorating. But as holidays approach I feel like I'm SUPPOSED to do something. And that if I don't, people will think no one loves her. (There I go with that "people will think" stuff again!).

I always think it is so special when people have traditions of visiting every month and taking something or having special decorations. I just don't think about it myself.

December 12, 2003

I have mixed emotions about "moving on". There are so many things that are hers in my mind - "I wore that when..., We did that when...., We got that for her...." - and it is hard to move farther away from those things because it feels like I am moving farther away from her. On the other hand, I also am excited about new things - fresh starts - and that more and more I am feeling that instead of moving away from her I am getting closer. Somehow, I am feeling her with me more strongly as time passes and knowing that she is with me always - no matter what - feels really good.

I often feel like I am a 3 year old like Sarah. She is so torn between being a big girl sometimes and other times needing to be a baby. Sometimes I feel so good about moving forward; I feel ready to be done being so sad and to really enjoy life again. And then other times I feel like I'm not ready - I still need TLC because I'm still hurting - and I want people to give it to me.

I have found that so many things in my life are now bittersweet. But all the emotions feel so much deeper and richer, and I really appreciate that part of it. I think it is a gift to now feel things so deeply, because not only the pain is deeper but also the joy.

December 13, 2003

Lately I have been thinking that I am so glad I didn't have to choose HOW this whole experience would play out. I mean, I'm glad I didn't have to decide if I would rather find out before or after birth, if I would rather have it be my first or my last child, if I would rather have minutes, months, or no time with my child, etc. I'm so glad those things were out of my control. I remember while I was pregnant wishing there wouldn't be ANY choices about her care - that I almost wished she had something that was 100% fatal so I wouldn't have any decisions. But as I look back now, I am really glad things happened the way they did for me.

In some strange way, finding out ahead of time made my pregnancy with Abigail more joyful than my other kids', and the birth experience too. It's because she was such a miracle - I treasured every kick and movement - "you're still alive!". And I was just so proud of her for being so strong that the love I felt for her is unbelievable. Holding her was the closest I have ever been to God. I could tell, just by looking at her, that she didn't belong here; she belonged to God - she's His. And so holding her really helped me feel a closeness to God and feel His love. It's very hard to explain to anyone else.

December 18, 2003

I've just been missing Abigail a lot lately. It's a lot of little things, really. At church we just promoted the 3 year olds out of the nursery class, leaving my girlfriend's 2 year old and 2 occasional others in the nursery class. And she was annoyed that her son will be by himself in the class most of the time. And I was really irritated with her. I didn't know why until I realized that Abigail should be in that class with him. If my daughter wasn't dead, this wouldn't be a problem. I'm not angry with my girlfriend, I'm mad that Abigail isn't here.

And the other night I was kissing my son goodnight. He is now going through a phase where kisses and hugs are only ok for bedtime. Anyway, I was telling him I love to give him kisses and how I love to kiss Sarah's soft cheek. And then I just burst into tears because I want so badly to kiss Abigail's cheek, too.

And then the other day I was at lunch with some people from work, including the new boss whose wife is expecting their third baby. And so of course the conversation headed to what it's like to have a third, blah, blah, blah. And of course I got that stupid pain in my chest and just wanted to disappear. Naturally, I had just gotten back from the bathroom so I couldn't go again. Thankfully, C. changed the subject before I lost it. But I am so jealous of those who can talk so easily about their kids and pregnancies, completely oblivious to what it is doing to us inside. How long will it be until that pain stops?

It's just not fair and it just sucks. I think I'm gearing up for a good cry. I can't quite get it started yet, but once I do I think it will help.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Posted on the board:

I sure had no idea it would all be like this. No wonder others don't understand us. And boy do I understand the feeling of wasting time with the family while we feel crappy. I keep thinking it's not fair that my other kids not only lost their sister but their mom as well (so to speak).

But in the big picture, it's not really that long. This is my second Christmas without Abigail, and it's totally different. No, I'm not holly jolly all the time; there are tears and sadness. But I am also enjoying the season; I am interested in things again. And it feels really good to feel good. And I think my family and I appreciate that so much more than we ever did before, because of how it used to be.

Monday, December 29, 2003

As the New Year approaches, I am cautiously optimistic, in great contrast to last year. I am spending more and more time enjoying life and carrying Abigail with me. Sometimes she isnít the center anymore. Oh, sheís always there, but sometimes not the center. It feels good, but very, very strange. And kind of scary.

I am shedding the pain, like taking off a heavy coat. But not too eagerly: what if it gets cold again? What if I need it? Itís so familiar, so warm, so oddly comforting. What will I hold on to if itís gone?

Did the butterfly feel this way as he broke through the cocoon and glimpsed the sky? As he contemplated what lay ahead if he just spread those wings and tried them? Was he afraid, or did he eagerly leap into the air and begin to soar?

I feel like Iím on the verge of soaring. I so want to, but Iím afraid to let go. Afraid to leave what has become so familiar. Afraid to soar because soaring also might mean crashing. And wonít it be harder once Iíve soared?

The butterfly must have had some fear, but he did it. And now he is soaring. Another step in his journey; another step in my journey.

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