Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Happy five month birthday, my sweet love.

I wish I had more time to write a post for today, but I'm right in the middle of writing four papers. Yep - four. All due between now and next Tuesday.

Anyway, I feel like I am beginning to say the same things over and over, each month. I wanted to chronicle my feelings on each of Olivia's month birthdays so that I would be able to look back and see how I progressed/regressed/grew, etc., but I'm not noticing much of a change yet.

She still consumes my thoughts on a daily basis. I think I do a much better job of hiding it though, than I used to. I have noticed that the people who used to be nervous and hesitant about talking about anything having to do with babies in front of me have started acting normal again for the most part. And honestly, I don't mind that. I'm standing on such a fine line right now. But it's getting better. I think anyone who has gone through this knows what I'm talking about. I don't want to be treated like a piece of fine china that people tip-toe around and try not to break. I like that people are beginning to treat me normally again. But at the same time, I don't feel normal.

You know what... I take back what I said earlier, about feeling the same as I have for the last couple months. That's not exactly true. I've been sitting here thinking for a few minutes, and I realized something: my level of sadness and grief is exactly the same as it was last month and the month before that (I feel like I just posted at four months, April FLEW by). However, I think that I'm juggling the joy and the grief differently though.

I am happy most of the time. I smile when I look at Olivia's pictures. Instead of thinking about what happened, I just feel close to her when I do things like work on her scrapbook or read books about child loss. Kurt and I have been going out with friends a lot more lately, and also have been doing more things just as a couple. I no longer feel like I can't drag myself out of bed to make it to class anymore. Things are definitely improving.

The times of pure sadness are few and far between. Or at least moving in that direction.

That being said... those times are awful. I may not experience the feeling of being so totally stricken by grief that I can't move as much as I used to, but I feel like they hit me harder. Maybe it's because I was so depressed for awhile that when I would get that upset, that feeling wasn't too far removed from my normal state. Now that I'm feeling happy most of the time, those extreme lows hit me HARD.

A friend that I work with and his wife just had a new baby girl about three weeks ago. My pregnancy and his wife's overlapped a little bit, so we did a lot of talking about little girl things while I was still pregnant. Plus, they already had a little daughter, and he would tell me all about how much fun Kurt was going to have with Olivia. They came to Olivia's funeral. He has been so wonderful since I've been back at work. Always asking me how I'm doing, etc. I could tell he felt weird talking about their new little one, so I started asking him questions every time we worked together. Just because I can't be excited about my little girl anymore doesn't mean that I want to take that amazing feeling away from anyone else. I don't want anyone to ever feel like they aren't allowed to talk about their children.
Last Wednesday, his wife came to pick him up from work, and brought the girls. He was so excited to show his new little one off, and he asked me if I wanted to hold her. I didn't hesitate for a second, I was so excited to meet her! I held her for a long time, probably somewhere around a half an hour. It felt so good. She was sleeping the whole time and just as precious as she could be. I didn't feel sad once while I was holding her.

Then they left. And oh Lord, I broke down. I was working alone at the front desk that night, so I sat back down in my chair and my arms just felt so empty. After sitting there for a few moments, I realized... the last baby that I held was not Livie anymore. And that thought alone was enough to send me over the edge. I cried at my desk for what seemed like hours, although I think it was only about 10 minutes. I could barely pull myself together enough to look presentable to check the clients and therapists out after their appointments, close up the clinic and leave.
A friend told me that this was probably a very important step in my healing process. I had to get that first "holding the baby" experience out of the way. She couldn't be the last baby I held forever, it doesn't work like that. I had never thought about it in that way, and I was so surprised that it affected me so much. It was probably a combination of things though. I remember working the night before Olivia was born, talking to therapists about how I'd be sure to bring her in so they could meet her. In the back of my mind, I was probably thinking I should be doing this too. Sigh.

Oh... Another thing that I haven't talked about yet - I have debated on whether to share this or not, because I don't want to offend anyone.
A couple of weeks ago, Olivia's hospital held their annual rememberance service for children who have passed away over the past two years. We got a letter in the mail a couple of months ago telling us that it would be coming up, and asking us to submit a picture of Olivia for the video they were going to play. I was excited, at that time I thought I would love to attend another memorial service for her. As the day got closer, I started dreading it more and more. It crossed my mind the day before that maybe we should just skip it. But, I had submitted pictures for the video, and I didn't like the thought of her picture being shown without her parents or family members there. In fact, thinking about that now really bothers me. Anyway, we got there, and there were long tables set up where you could display some things that belonged to your child, or things to honor them. I just brought the small shadow box that I made and a framed picture. I was worried that I was bringing too much, so I packed it into a tote bag. That way, if it was excessive, no one would have to know and I could put it under my chair.
Man, was I wrong. You know those tri-fold cardboard poster things that you use for presentations in school? Some families had those decorated with pictures of their kids. Some parents had filled up almost entire tables with toys, clothing, stuffed animals, pictures, scrapbooks. I set ours up, and walked through the rows of tables. At first, I thought oh this is so nice. But then, I felt like it was table after table of teeny tiny babies with leads and tubes. I looked through an absolutely beautiful scrapbook that a mommy made for her little boy, and could feel myself starting to lose it. I went and sat down next to Kurt to stop myself from getting overly emotional.
There were lots of chairs set up in front of a little stage where someone was playing the piano. TONS of people were filing in and either sitting down or walking over to look at the tables. While we were waiting for my parents to arrive (We drove there with Kurt's mom and sister), I started looking through the program, and I absolutely could not handle it. Before I could even say anything, Kurt took the words right out of and told me that he thought he might need to go wait for me outside. He told me that he knew I needed to stay, but he didn't think he could handle it. I said that I needed to leave too, so I packed up the tote bag and we left. My mom had been worried that it would be too upsetting but she, my dad and grandma were on their way down to be there for us anyway. I called her as soon as we got to the parking garage and told them that they should just turn back around.

Okay, this is the part where I'm afraid I'll offend someone. I am sure that these kinds of rememberance services are comforting for some parents. We, are not those parents. We aren't the "cry and wail in front of others" type of people. The actual service hadn't even started yet, and people were already bawling out of control.
What really got me, was when I saw that "Baby Mine" (the song from Dumbo, for those who don't know) was going to be sung during the service. That song used to make me cry when I was a little girl watching that movie with my parents. No way in *heck* would I be able to make it through a live performance of it in a room full of other mothers who have lost their babies. There was going to be meditation, and this reading where the parents and family members were all supposed to chant "we remember them".

I do remember her. I remember her with joy every day that I'm alive. I don't need to sit in a room and recite that over and over. Maybe what I wrote about above sounds nice, but to us, it was a completely morbid atmosphere. I guess I had awssumed that it was going to be an uplifting service. But to me it felt like... You know what the atmosphere is like at an extremely sad funeral? Imagine that times about 40. That's what it felt like. 40 funerals in one hospital cafeteria. A couple hundered adults and children,  no one smiling. We are past that stage in our grief, I guess.

I don't mean to sound judgemental. Everyone grieves differently, and like I said, maybe that sort of thing is comforting to some. I suppose it is, or they wouldn't set the service up in such a way. So again, I apologize if you have attended a service like this and loved it. I don't mean to offend you. It just wasn't our style. Honestly, we cry enough on our own. I guess I was also disappointed... I was hoping for an uplifting service that would make me feel close to Liv, and instead we left feeling extremely uncomfortable.

Okay, wow. That's definitely enough for one night! This is the longest post I've written in a while and I meant to just write a short one! Sorry that I turned it into such a rant. I started this blog to write about my real feelings about what we're dealing with... so I guess some of those feelings are bound to be icky ones :).

I love you, Livie Beans.


The McNeil Family said...

Wow, Betsy!! You must feel purged right now. This is a really long post. ;)

I completely understand you feelings about being in a gathering like that. It isn't our style either. As Brendon says, "I only share my grief with one person." And really?? Baby Mine? I have always cried to that song... that part is the reason why I cannot watch Dumbo. I end up in on the floor having convulsions in a teary, snot-ridden mess. ;)

You are doing so well. With every post, you get stronger, Besy. And yes, you might say the same things about Olivia, but that is how you carry on her memory. We don't have years of stories about our babies. But what we do have is just as inportant. And everytime we tell the story, we remember something that we might have forgotten about the day before.

I am so proud to call you friend.

Much love,

Elise said...

I know what you mean about balancing on a fine wire, I actually have a song about that I was thinking of posting soon on my blog. I also don't want people to tip-toe around me, but I don't them to forget my little peanut. Definitely hard =(

I understand what you mean about that not being your type of service. That wouldn't be the type of service for my DH and I either. We would definitely feel uncomfortable in that situation.

Happy 5 month birthday Olivia!

Lara + Chris said...

God, this post made me realize I'm never going to be able to watch Dumbo again, ever. I bawled at that part from the first time I saw the movie, years before I even knew what loss really was.

I'm still in the "more bad than good" times, but the good times are slowly starting to come...and I kind of hate them right now. I know that will change, and I look forward to it, but I think I know exactly what you mean when you say that the good times make the bad ones worse.

I might be going to a memorial service that is held twice a year by our hopsital/the funeral home that handles the arrangements. I don't know, though...I like the idea that I can leave if I need to and I'm grateful for you giving me "permission" to do so if I needed. :)

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