The Third Month

Monday, November 3, 2002

Yesterday at church when I saw my friend K. holding her baby and touching his hair and kissing him, I just was acutely reminded of what I had lost. I will never hold Abigail or kiss her again. I will never see her smile at me. At one point, watching her and her baby I looked away, down at my hands, and saw my locket and the thought, ďthereís my babyĒ flashed across my mind. Itís not fair. I can tell that she loves him very much, but I loved Abigail very much, too. Why does she get 4 healthy children? I donít want to take away any of her children, I just wanted mine, too.

I canít be mad at the world, especially at those trying so hard to help. When I think about it, the comfort of others is so wonderful; it is something I need so desperately now. It soothes and brings some peace and comfort. It doesnít really take away the pain; it just makes it a little easier to bear for a while. But really, nothing anyone else does will really have that much bearing on the pain. They canít make it hurt less, or make it end sooner. And I donít think they can really make it hurt more, at least not that much more in relation to how it already hurts. So I really need to lighten up on what others are doing or not doing. If they do the wrong thing, itís not really going to make it much harder. But if someone does the right thing, it wonít fill the void that Abigail left, but it will meet a need. And it will be a salve; a balm that will soothe and will help fill another void that already existed but wasnít noticed before. And it will feel so good.

I am realizing that it feels better to cry than to maintain the depressed, zombie feeling that I get when I get sad. Itís OK to cry. And now that I am really feeling the extremes, the sudden ups and downs, now that I am not so strong as I seemed to be earlier, I find it easier to share. Iím not so self-conscious on the board or even with friends. Is it because I have started opening up and the result is so comforting? Is it getting a little easier? I am feeling so much closer to many people now. Maybe because I am realizing I am not that different after all. Iím not falling apart, but I am hurting. And it is good for me to share that and not hide it. I am really learning some things.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

I feel like such a pathetic basket case. Either Iím a depressed zombie who doesnít care about anything except lying on the bed and staring, or Iím crying, or Iím getting really, really irritated if anyone or anything distracts me from my staring or crying. Nothing is really truly fun or enjoyable.  I am not even really looking forward to going on our annual cabin with the family, other than meeting my friend from the board. It will be nice to see everyone, I suppose, but I really want to meet her. This is all so exhausting and so incredibly hard. Stop the ride; I want off!

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Yesterday I had breakfast with another mom, T., who lost her baby. I enjoyed it so much. We are definitely going to get together again when I get back in town. It is so nice to really be looking forward to things!

Friday, November 08, 2002

I don't think we can really understand what it means to have faith and to trust in God until we are forced to. And most people really aren't forced to. Sure, they have "trials" but those are really just part of life and little annoyances. It is only when we really meet a true trial that we start to learn what true faith is. And it is NOT what we and everyone else have always thought it was - being happy, unflustered, never raising our voices, "spiritual", with that serene, calm peaceful demeanor that the movies always give to Jesus. That isn't faith, that is dreamland. Faith is a desperate plea for help, "Lord, don't you care that we are perishing?" Yes, he does. But he doesn't promise to calm the waters, just to let us hold on to him and make sure we don't drown. Faith is when we grab on to him with all we've got left, and when we hang on for dear life as the waves batter and beat us, and as we keep slipping under, because we know he will pull us back up again and again if we don't let go. And that is what we are doing when we ďstruggleĒ with our faith. We are hanging on! And we are learning what real faith is because we are realizing that we just can't do it without God. And someday, when we are not being pulled under so often, we will have realized what true faith is, and we will never again think of it the same way, because now we see.

Saturday, November 09, 2002

This morning we finally got to meet my friend A. from the board and her husband. I was so excited; I could feel my nerves once we got in sight of the Bob Evans where we were going to meet. I wanted to see pictures of her baby right away, and she was so precious. It was really enjoyable to talk with them and to hear their story.

It is so uncanny how similar our situations are, and how alike our philosophies and attitudes are. At one point, she said sometimes it didnít seem real; that she would suddenly realize it was and say, ďI had a baby and she diedĒ. That is exactly what I have said, too. We also talked about how hard it must be for our friends to deal with our ups and downs Ė they try to take cues from us, but we are so manic Ė depressive that they might just get tired of dealing with it. I just feel such a connection with her, and I see their faith in God through this as well.

We found we have fellowship with them, sharing a knowledge and experience that few others have. And because of that fellowship, we understand and appreciate their baby in a way that others cannot. And they appreciate Abigail, as others cannot. Everyone else is looking in from the outside, but we are able to really understand the precious gifts that our babies are. And it is so wonderful to have someone else seeing our sweet babies with the same eyes that we do, not with pity but with joy - because we know the secret of the gift - yet tempered with sadness because we know the loss. In this way, we can truly share them with each other, as we canít with anyone else.

Another thing I realized is that when we are with others, even if they are really trying to understand, we have to let them know what we want them to do, how they should ďbehaveĒ. They are watching us for cues: do we want to talk, or do we want to joke and ďbe normalĒ? They are aware of the elephant in the living room and everyone is afraid to talk about it until we do. And so the burden is on us - always on us - to give them the cues. And the burden seems so heavy because so often we either donít know what we want them to do, or what we want changes mid-stream. So we always carry this burden that makes it tiring and draining to be with people. When we are with those who have been in our shoes, we lose that burden. There is no more elephant in the living room, no more forbidden topic. They are no longer deciding what is and is not ďproperĒ to say and do just by reading our signals. What a relief of pressure! They understand how thoughts and emotions shift with the wind. And what a joy it is to feel comfortable sharing whatever we feel like saying with someone who truly understands!

Sunday, November 10, 2002

This evening while at the cabin, there was a tornado warning in our area. While we were in the bathroom, Nathan told everyone to get down and that we would be safe if we got down. I felt a strong pang of fear as I looked at him and Sarah and thought about what could happen. I had to struggle to suppress the panic that I felt raising inside me. I started to pray, and I just thought, ďThis canít happen againĒ. In a few minutes, the guys told us that we could come out since it had passed mainly to the south of us. When we came out, I nearly started crying in relief and emotion. It is awful to think that I CAN imagine what it would feel like if I lost one of our kids in a tornado.

Saturday, November 16, 2002

Today I went to visit the cemetery for the first time since Abigail died. Itís not that it was too hard for me before; I just hadnít felt the need. I think my cemetery visit was related to going back to work. I haven't really been affected by "anniversaries" of Abigail's birth and death so far, but going back to work made me realize she would have been 12 weeks old. And that's when I came back to work with my other 2 kids. And that they were just starting to sleep through the night. And that usually I would be arranging to express milk at work. And that I have been more weepy lately and was I ready to come back and concentrate? So I just wanted to go there and cry. And it was a "good" cry; that is, I felt better afterwards.

Monday, November 18, 2002

I have been working like a crazy woman on Abigailís scrapbook. I think I kind of want to get it finished before I go back to work tomorrow because I wonít have much time to work on it afterwards. And so I have really gotten into it and have completed it right up to where we went to sleep holding her at home. The next page will be when she died. And now I have no desire to finish it. I suppose I will someday.

But I did want to share it with my girlfriend K. It has a lot of journaling in it, and all the pictures we took. I was a little nervous about showing her; some of the early pictures of Abigail were when she didnít look so good. But it ended up being an incredible afternoon looking at the books. She took the time to read the entire thing, journaling and all. I was so touched that she would take the time to do that. And I was glad when she told me which picture was her favorite and asked for a copy of it when I was ready to give it to her. That means more to me than she knows.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Today I went back to work. My goal was to make it through the morning production meeting. The day started out kind of hard, but it got better. When I walked in, I saw that 3 coworkers had cleaned my office and gotten me flowers. They later said, "We hoped it would make you smile." I told them it actually made me cry. Then another woman from the shop walked in and said, "Welcome back, how are you doing?" She left, then came back in about 5 seconds later and said, "No second thoughts" and gave me a hug. So of course, I cried a little more. Then one of the ones who got me the flowers walked in and gave me a hug. More tears. Then she said, "it's almost time for the meeting". Great!

So I composed myself for the morning production meeting and made it through. I wavered once, but thought, "focus on the meeting" and did OK. After that, I went through a gazillion emails and started to get back into things a little. By afternoon I was actually doing a little (emphasis on little) work. And at one point, I thought, "I do like this." So I left for home feeling pretty good about work, but by the time I got there, I just felt tired and overwhelmed again (where will I get the energy to start these projects, etc.). We'll see how tomorrow goes. I have taken to telling people I am doing OK and that I'm up and down. That way I'm not acting as if I'm "fine", but most of the time I don't have to give any more information than that.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

This grief thing is so weird. Today I am feeling so "normal" again and it feels so good. I know that this "high" won't last, but it is so hard to understand why I can feel this good sometimes.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

It has been a really tough weekend. Starting on Friday at work, I was emotional most of the day, and all afternoon I was trying to do a little work but spent most of my energy fighting the feeling that I was about to burst into tears any minute.

Then last night, we had Thanksgiving dinner for our church. I'm just not ready for big social gatherings yet. I mean, I do OK for a while, but then I feel like I'm standing 20 feet back and just overlooking the room and thinking, "I don't belong here." And then any little thing sets me off. I ended up having to escape to the restroom several times. And people were so incredibly supportive, but it was still really hard to rejoin everyone.

During his sermon in church this morning, I couldnít handle it either Ė I just walked out, crying. I didnít decide to walk out; it was almost involuntary. Going back inside was really hard, just as it was the night before. Those are very humbling experiences.

Monday, November 25, 2002

I'm learning that grief is very sneaky; just when we think we understand it or have learned to predict part of it, it just pulls a 180 on us and we're back to spinning around in circles again. I just keep telling myself that the changes mean I am moving along, even if seems to keep getting harder.

I've also thought a lot about "finishing" things related to Abigail. Part of me says I need to get moving on things, but another part is afraid of finishing everything. And I know that she doesn't really need anything from me now. I have already given her everything I can, and it was enough - she made it to heaven! But I'm not ready to stop trying to take care of her. So what I am doing now, even if it's in her memory, is really for me. When living children grow up, parents have to "let them go", and I've seen how hard that is for many people, even though it's kind of a gradual process. If they have that much trouble, no wonder we are having trouble letting our precious ones go so suddenly.

Another mom on my board stated that the pain she feels connects her to her baby. I think I agree: although others are hurting for Abigail, no one else is her mother and has the pain I have. In a way it kind of reinforces my relationship with her; only I get the "honor" of that kind of pain because only I am her mother.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Today is Abigail's 3-month birthday. I am surrounded by people here at work, but am very lonely. I have noticed that I don't have any of the joyful feelings anymore when I think about Abigail, just incredible sadness. For a long time, I really felt happiness when I thought about her and the sadness was just an undertone. But lately it has reversed, and I'm not even sure the joyful undertone is there at all. It seems that everything I say or think has this bitter irony to it now that wasn't there before.

Since I started back to work last week, it has been very up and down, but so is everything. At times I feel really normal again - the people I work with have my same sense of humor and we often get carried away and start laughing hysterically. I realize how much I missed that - it feels so good! But then I have to go back and work in my office, and it is really lonely. The extremes make it so hard.

Saturday, November 30, 2002

I have switched to deep, deep sadness about Abigail. And I just feel so lonely and isolated Ė I REALLY need people. Maybe the holidays are making it worse, maybe the 3-month mark; maybe this is just where I am right now. We took the kids to a movie today and I was looking at Sarah and Nathan and thinking about how much I love them and that it doesnít seem real that Abigail died. This is just so unreal and unbelievable.

I feel like I am just trying to pass the time to pass the days away. I understand doing that waiting for Abigail to be born, but now I am not waiting for anything. I look forward to my days off, but only because I donít have to be at work and concentrating. When I am home, I just want to go back to bed. I guess I am depressed.

I just hate feeling like this Ė the sadness and depression. Crying is better, but feeling so blah and sad and uninterested is just awful. I just want to shout and cry and scream to get out of that depressed feeling.

Someone on the board had commented that the 3rd month was the hardest for her. That has definitely been true in my case. This is like nothing I have ever experienced before, and like nothing I had ever imagined. And my emotional swings have made it so hard to be back at work.

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