Grief comes in waves. There is calm in between, times where life seems normal - like nothing happened. Times where I can enjoy my family, and my blessings, even times where I can laugh. However, when the next wave hits, it really comes. The hard part is not being able to control when it hits. Some days it leaves me gasping for air, because I am not prepared for the intensity of these emotions. It hits me driving in the car, or while at the grocery store. It hits when I see a new mom carrying her newborn, or walking by the baby section at Target. It hits when I have to drive by the hospital... There is no escaping grief. The reminders, and the waves will be there for the rest of my earthly life.
Yesterday, Madeline told me she wishes this never happened, because she is tired of being sad. She is tired of crying. Most days I feel the same way. I am SO tired of crying, of being sad....and the reality of it, is that some level of grief will ALWAYS be there, for the rest of my life. This experience has literally changed me forever, and there is no escaping it. I know it is still fresh. I know that time will make it easier. But it will always be there. One friend who lost her little 2 year old a couple years ago describes it as "The absense of presence". When a child is missing from your family, you miss them. When they are gone, you feel it. Your natural instinct wants them back with you. It is a void that never leaves your heart. It is constantly there. That has been the biggest adjustment for me this week, is missing my child who I never got to know in this life. Yet, somehow, I DO know him, because I MISS him.
The night before last, I had a dream about our baby Cameron. He just kind of popped in to one I was having. I turned around, and there he was in Tom's arms. Tom was holding him so that he could face me. The first thing I noticed was his big blue eyes - like his sisters'. He appeared to not have much hair, but I soon realized it was only because it was light in color - like Madeline's. I held his chubby little legs in my hands, and said "I have missed you so much this week, Cameron!" He looked up at me and smiled. That was it. When I awoke, I found comfort in seeing him, and I found pain in it. It is the reality of what could have been, but never was meant to be. It's the reality, that the only time I will ever be able to hold my baby boy in this life, will be in my dreams. Those are hard realities that I continue to struggle with.
Yesterday, Tom had to go to the funeral home to sign some paperwork. The funeral home. It is a place you never think you will have to go to, especially in regards to your own child. I am grateful he has the strength to take care of everything right now, because I do not. He said it was hard being in the same building that he knew Cameron was in. They asked him if we wanted to view the remains. Can you imagine for a moment how painful that is? Knowing that your child's remains are in the other room? We have chosen not to see them. It is not how we want to remember him, or know him. The baby I saw in my dreams is how I want to know him, and now, how I do know him.
I have so many new perspectives on life. On people. On family. On pain, healing, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. I suppose that is the only good that comes from experiences like this...the growth. The new appreciation that you gain for your family, for your testimony, and for Eternal truths. For that persepctive, I am grateful. It is healing to write out my feelings, however random they may be. It is easier for me to write about them at this point, than it is for me to talk about them.
It is ironic how this event in my life is taking place as the leaves change before my eyes. The cycle of life is ever evident when I look out my window. It is a beautiful and vivid autumn this year in Colorado. It has been a slow progression, but I have learned the more slowly the season changes, the more beautiful and spectacular it is. Yesterday, while driving I was so touched by the beauty of the reds, the bright yellows, even the purples contrasted against a bright blue sky - against a snow covered Pikes Peak. It was breathtaking. It brought me to tears. These leaves are dying, I thought. They are dying, yet they are SO beautiful. They are blessing everyone's lives right now with their beauty, and with the reminder of God's greatness, and His love for us. It was a small reminder that this change in my life will be slow as well. It will hurt, it does hurt - but in that slow progression of change, there is also beauty.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
This is a blog post that other people are supposed to make. Not me. That would have been my thought on Monday, until Tuesday....when my family's life changed forever.
Four months ago, when I found out I was pregnant with #4, I was shocked, surprised. Maybe even a little resentful. We had three beautiful, and healthy children, and we felt our family was complete. I have a history of very high risk pregnancies, and we just weren't ready to take the health risk of bringing another child in to our family. I was scared when the doctor told me I was pregnant. I cried. It took a few weeks for the news and the reality of this pregnancy to sink in, but when it did - I was deeply in love. I had faith that this was God's will, and He would take care of us. By 12 weeks I had had two ultrasounds already, and each one of them showed a perfectly healthy and happy baby, bouncing around and adding joy to my life. I was excited, we were excited as a family. We began thinking about names, and Hayden lovingly called the baby "Baby Brudder". We didn't know if the baby was a boy or a girl yet, but we felt like Hayden knew. At three years old, he was already talking about the baby every day, and hugging my growing baby bump. He was in love, too. The girls had visions of babysitting dancing in their heads. Tom and I were really at peace with this new addition, and excited about the future with four children.
Tuesday, October 12th, 2010 was a rainy and chilly day. The first day to really feel like fall all season. Hayden and I were so excited to go to the Fire Station with his preschool group. We had a great morning touring the station, talking with the firemen, and being with friends. I vividly remember feeling the baby move that morning, and feeling like my life was so blessed. I was more excited though, for my OB appointment later that morning. I had hopes of another ultrasound, and brought Hayden with me for the first time, so he could "see" his "Baby Brudder" too.
We waited a long time to see the doctor that day. When we finally did, we had fun talking about Hallowe'en and Hayden's new Thomas the Train costume. The doctor asked Hayden if he wanted to hear his baby as she got out the doppler to hear the baby's heart beat. Hayden sat reverently and intently on the chair waiting for the "swoosh, swoosh" sounds I told him to expect. They never came. She tried, and she tried. She even got another doppler, claiming the first had low batteries. But, only one heartbeat could be heard - my own. Surprisngly though, I wasn't very worried. Just last week, one of my pregnant friends had the same thing happen - no heartbeat. However, her ultrasound proved that everything was fine, and mine would too! We walked across the hall to the ultrasound room, excited to see that same happy, healthy baby that I had seen for the past few months. The first thing I noticed was that the baby was very still. Perfect, but sleeping. He had to be sleeping.... Then, I noticed the absence of sound, no swoosh swoosh of the heart beating. Then, it hit me, there wasn't even a heart beating. I couldn't see it, like you normally can, his whole body was was still and silent...."Have you been bleeding at all?" the tech asked me. I knew in that moment that my baby was gone. "No" I said. "You can't find a heartbeat, can you?" I asked. "No. I'm so sorry." The rest was a blur. I remember talking to the doctor about making plans to be induced at the hospital the next day, but all I kept thinking about was having to tell Tom, the kids, Hayden... She claimed that the baby looked perfect, and by it's measurement and state, it passed away some time that morning. I remembered feeling it move that morning. The realization that it passed on within the last hour or so was devastating. I held it together. I didn't shed a tear at the office. I could be strong, I can do this. Other women have gone through this, close friends of mine have gone through this, I can be strong like they were. Hayden and I walked out of the office in to the cold rain, and I lost it. I sobbed. Not just tears, but the vocal gasps and cries that you never thought you could be capable of. Little did I know just how many tears I would shed in the next few days. It took all I had just to buckle Hayden in to his car seat, and to drive home. It was a blessing that Tom came home for lunch just as we were pulling in to the garage. Tom saw Hayden first, and was smiling ear to ear to see his little buddy....in that moment, my heart broke, because I knew in the next second he would look over to me, and his life would change forever. I remember the look of shock and dismay as Tom saw my face, and I buried my face in his chest, and sobbed...."we lost the baby". We hugged, we talked, we cried, we planned. It was not something you "plan". Where do you even start? Thankfully, we have amazing friends and family. With a few calls, we quickly had friends to watch the kids, and promises of meals to come. My wonderful mother-in-law, Jimmie, dropped everything, and drove 10 hours from Flagstaff, AZ to be with our children while we went to the hospital the next morning.
Because of the age of the baby (almost 16 weeks), the plan was to induce labor, and deliver the baby in tact so we could see and hold the baby before saying goodbye. It was recommended for closure. As scary as the whole impending experience sounded to me, it was the last thing I had to look forward to. To hold my tiny little baby. To kiss his tiny cheek, to look over his perfect little body before handing him back to heaven. They put me on pitocin to start labor. A day went by...Tom and I spent the time talking, sharing, laughing, crying....it was a bitter/sweet experience. Despite the tears, and the sadness, I could literally feel the hundreds of prayers I knew were being said on our behalf. I could feel the hugs, and I could feel the Lord's arms around me. Losing a child is devastating, and it is the most painful thing I have experienced in this life, but I was learning it was also one of the most spiritual, and one of the most sacred experiences. The feeling I felt could only be described as the feelings felt in the temple. It is holy, it is pure, and you can feel the Spirit, and angels buoying you up. I was at peace, I was also heartbroken. The tears wouldn't stop, but I felt loved. Throughout it all, I felt loved.
Day two went by. My body just didn't want to give this baby up. I wouldn't respond to the highest doses of pitocin. The normal dose is 50 cc's, and by day 2 I was up to 250! No contractions, no pain, no progress... They began to worry about Pitocin toxicity in my body, they couldn't continue with these high does. It was apparant my body was not going to go in to labor on it's own. We knew the only other option was to have surgery - a D&E. After 12 weeks they call it a dilation and extraction, because there is more tissue. They didn't want to wait for this to take it's course at home because I have a history of hemorrhaging, and it could be very dangerous situation if that were to happen. For the first time during this process I was mad. I was angry. I wanted to hold my baby...please, at least give me that!! I knew with surgery, there was no chance of the baby being in any condition to hold. That's the reality of it. I was crushed. It seemed so unfair to go through all this, and to not even get to see my baby at the end of it. I wasn't mad at God, I was mad at my body. I was mad that I was being forced in to a choice that I would NEVER make otherwise. I shut down. I shut Tom out, I shut the nurses out. I cried, and cried, and cried. I was exhausted - physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Day three. Surgery. I have never had surgery. I had my wisdom teeth taken out, that is about the closest I have come. The thought of being put to sleep scared me more than anything. I like to be in control of things, and being put to sleep while you trust your life in a strangers hands is about the worst situation I can think of. I don't have many phobia's in life, but surgery is one of them. However, the closer it came, the more at peace I was. The anger and fear was replaced with trust and faith. How thankful I am for the calming effect of the Holy Ghost. It is real. How grateful I am for the Plan of Salvation, for the knowledge that families are eternal. I know now, more than I ever have that it's real. I came to grips that we wouldn't see or hold our baby, but for whatever reason, that was God's plan. Perhaps for us, seeing the baby would have been too traumatic. Maybe what we thought we needed, was not best. After the surgery, I felt relief, sadness, peace, gratitude. I realized that even though I would never hold my baby in this life, I carried him within me for four months. I did touch heaven. I wrapped him up within me, I loved him, I gave him a body, I kept him safe as he wiggled his last wiggle, as his spirit returned home. I can't think of anything more sacred. For all this, I feel blessed. I feel gratitude for this amazing experience. Loss is never easy, in any form. It does, however have the capacity to change us for the better if we allow it. I am trying. I still hurt, Tom still hurts, our children hurt. I imagine that won't fully go away in this life, but there is peace in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it so real and so tangible. Our little baby is still part of our family. I am the mother of four children. It just so happens one of them went home much sooner than we ever anticipated. I am okay with that. We never did find out the sex of the baby, but we have always felt, and have had it confirmed in our hearts that he was a baby boy. We named our baby boy Cameron Joseph. Tom's brother, Joe, passed away in April at the young age of 34. It has been a difficult year for our family. I believe now that perhaps Joe went home early in preparation for Cameron's arrival. They are together, and how sweet it is to know this. God is good, and He is merciful.
The only option for tiny baby's who pass too soon is cremation. We are having Cameron's ashes placed in to the teddy bear that the hospital gave us to take home. Our children don't know this, and we probably won't tell them until they are old enough to understand, but for now they will feel comfort when they hug the bear, and Tom and I will know they are hugging much more...