Friday, October 15, 2010

Still realizing

I've had lots of thoughts roaming through my head that I've wanted to share on here and just update you on where my heart and mind are lately.

It's been just over two weeks since we lost baby. We're learning that mourning and healing are not just a nice gradual upward curve that will lead us to "be ok" and feel "normal" again, but more like up and down and then back and a few steps forward and then a big slide down and feeling ok one minute and then totally sad the next. We're changed forever by this experience, so we're finding a new normal and trying to figure out who we are now and what this means in our story. Parts of this will remain with us for the rest of our lives, but other parts will heal and be renewed and we will go on from here step by step. We just know we can't have expectations about that process- either on ourselves or on each other.

We spent most of the week after the miscarriage up north at my family's cabin in Lakeside. Being outside in the forest, the clean air and the crisp sunshine were good for me, good for my soul in ways I can't really articulate. And it was good for both of us to have time alone together away to rest and reflect. We also had a little memorial for baby. It had been Ryan's idea to bury baby at our special tree- an aspen tree near A-1 Lake that we found when we were dating that Ryan carved our initials in (see it on the trunk in this picture?) and that we've revisited since being married. It's an absolutely gorgeous part of the forest, it has a lot of sentimental meaning to us and it's a place we can go back to when we want. So with very heavy hearts we put our baby into the earth at the base of that tree. It felt horrible and so final, but it was beautiful at the same time (there weren't any flowers around so I gathered some ferns and leaves to put on it instead). All I could think was that I wanted baby to come back. I didn't want my baby to be in the ground, I wanted my baby to be in me. It was another way to say goodbye, and I wasn't prepared for how visually impacting it was- how final it looked- filling the hole in, standing there staring at the freshly dug earth and then walking away.

To bury baby was very physical. Our baby was a human being with a body. I honestly have to keep reminding myself of that. Because I had such minimal physical experience of her/him (never heard their heartbeat, saw an ultrasound, or felt them kick), it was mostly a mental and emotional experience. And that makes it feel not very real sometimes, like it was all just in my head and a real baby never existed. But baby was very real- I did see them with my very eyes after he/she came out of my body, though it was shocking and horrible- and we put a real little human body into the ground. This may sound like crazy talk to you- but it's the kind of thing I've been processing through. It all happened so fast I really end up thinking "Was I really pregnant? Did this really happen?" And reality is: yes and yes.

During the first days I kept weeping (and weep again right now thinking about it again) over how little time we'd had with our baby. Exactly because of what I just described above, I just wanted more time with them, more time so that I could feel them, know them, hear them, be with them. I even thought- "Even if you have to go away, can't you just stay a little longer so that I have some tangible memory of you?" Just a little longer.

Having our baby with us was so sweet and so miraculous and so surreal, but then it was all so short, like it was just the blink of an eye. Too good to be true, and then it was gone. So intense, and then it was just over. With so little to hold and remember. We have no memories of our baby, only memories of our own emotions and thoughts and dreams and laughter. And oh how we wanted to know and experience him/her!!!! But all the wanting in the world won't bring them back now.

A good friend came to visit us in the ER, a friend who understands my heart in all of this, and in talking with her I actually realized that I don't regret being pregnant. I don't wish that it had never happened. I don't wish that I could go back to the time before I got pregnant. Being pregnant, as short as it was and as limited as the experience was, was the most miraculous experience of my life. To know that my baby was created inside my body, that it's cells divided and kept multiplying, that my womb became their cozy little home, that all of their vital organs were developing with the help of my blood and my oxygen and my nutrients, that a person was developing inside me, that fingers and toes and eyes and a tongue and skin were all there, and especially that this was OUR precious baby, part me and part Ryan and that we were experiencing this miracle together.

Before I got pregnant all I could do was try to imagine what it would be like, or hear from other women what it was like. But nothing could have prepared me for the mind-blowing miracle that it really was. And for Ryan and I we had this awareness that it wasn't just the two of us anymore- but there was this plurality. Even when I would be alone it was like I had this little guy along with me, along for the ride for whatever I was doing that day. And now with baby gone, there is a very deep sense of a void, that someone is missing.

But I don't regret it. My heart became a mother's heart in those short weeks. Ryan became a proud papa in those short weeks. We were changed by the miraculous knowledge that we had brought a child into this world together and that we loved him/her more than we ever thought possible. We had witnessed the miracle of life, after wondering for so long if we would ever taste that sweetness. So we wouldn't trade even the 8 short weeks we had with baby. We'd give anything to have baby back with us now, but we're thankful for the time we were given. We're changed forever.

Since there are so few memories to hold on to after losing a baby this early, it is recommended to create a memory box to keep anything that represents the baby or things that were given or written etc. My sister had started one for the baby she lost and knew it was an important idea so she bought me a little slender box and gave it to me just a few days after our miscarriage. (My sister is wonderful.) And we've been adding things to it: all the cards we've been sent, petals from the beautiful white roses Ryan gave me the day we came home from the hospital, the two positive pregnancy tests that had brought us such marvel, a letter Ryan wrote to the baby after the miscarriage, my journal that I had been writing to the baby during the pregnancy, the card that came with the orchids Ryan's parents sent, photos of the special aspen tree etc. But I keep catching myself thinking still that this is something we're saving up to give to our child later on. Strange isn't it? Then I have to remember- no, this is something just for us, to be a marker to remember our baby, to remember the love and prayers that were poured out for him/her and for us. Our baby is gone and will not grow up to see this later on. I guess parts of my brain and heart are still catching up to that reality.

It's good for me to process like this. So I'll keep writing when I feel up to it, even thought it may not be too frequent, and I'd be blessed to continue to have you reading this, along for the journey.

I love you ladies and thank you all so much for the emails and texts you've sent. I don't know if I'll be able to respond to each one, but please know that it means so much to hear from you and we do feel very loved and supported.


(This photo: After we buried baby we drove up to Greer and spent the day around there, ate lunch at Greer Lodge and visited this little creek spot that we'd been to before. We're smiling here, which is proof that life does go on after miscarriage, something I never could have imagined before.)

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