Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Down Time

The sadness/depression stage is a complicated one.  I've found that people are very shaken by sadness.  After Rip died, I cried a lot (still do sometimes) and it would really alarm people.  My doctors kept asking if I felt depressed...well, yeah.  How else should I feel?  The thing is...my child died.  Would it not be more alarming if I wasn't sad, didn't feel depressed?

Even though I don't think I was ever unusually depressed, I do remember a time around Christmas when I was driving back from work.  A car kind of swerved into my lane and I swerved to avoid it. For some reason,  that brought me a huge sense of relief...it was kind of like, "Okay, the sense of self-preservation is still there."  I think maybe from that point forward, I realized that losing Rip wasn't going to kill me, and I better do the best I could with the life I was given.

As I've said, the sadness I feel now is pure and sometimes much needed.  I miss Rip and that is all there is to it.  But sometimes I also feel sadness for Gracie...not that I think something will happen to her, because truthfully I don't, but when you have lost one child unfortunately you always know what it would feel like to lose another.

The bottom line is that sadness does not scare me like it did in the beginning.  I know now that it will not overtake me, that while there are always times I will be sad, happiness is still right there. The truth is, I need my down time.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Raw End of the Deal

The bargaining stage is one that maybe I don't understand very well.  I never did the stereotypical "I promise I'll do XYZ, if Rip can come back".

But as I said, I have definitely had moments where I wondered what I could have done differently.  Thankfully, even knowing what I know now, I have had a lot of peace that there is nothing else I would or could possibly have known then that would have changed the outcome.

I think one form of bargaining I did right after we lost Rip, and still do to some extent, is turn to books for answers.  In the first few weeks and months I read all sorts of books about pregnancy loss, stories from doctors, psychiatrists, other parents...and I think I was really just looking from some answers about why this happened to us.  As if something in one of those books could give me the reason I lost my son, why Anne lost Rip.  And maybe, on a subconscious level, if I could just figure out the why, there would be some way for me to fix it.

I do find myself doing a lot of bargaining these days on Gracie's behalf.  I have absolutely done the stereotypical if...then thing with this pregnancy.  I think I have promised everything that isn't nailed down for the healthiness of this child.

And I think she will be healthy, but I don't think it is because of any deal I make...nor do I think we lost Rip because I failed to make the right deal last time.  There is nothing I would not have given to get Rip back.  Maybe part of the healing during this stage of grief is knowing that there are some deals you just can't win.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The (not so Incredible) Hulk

I am not a confrontational person.  Right after Rip died, I just couldn't work up anger.  People were angry on my behalf, Parke was angry, my friends and family were angry...but I think of all of the stages anger is the one I have skipped the most.  Maybe the worst is yet to come, but there was never a period where all I felt was anger.

Now, don't get me wrong...there have been times of short-lived REAL anger.  There have been times that I have been furious with God, angry at the right people, angry at the wrong people...but for me, behind the anger is mostly disappointment and sadness.

Rip got an infection in the hospital after he was born...so far we have not been able to have a meeting with that hospital to explain what they think happened.  Does that make me mad...yeah, absolutely.  But it's hard to explain that anger- is what they tell me going to change the outcome...no, unfortunately not.  But maybe it would help me to know that what happened to us is not going to happen to someone else. I don't blame any one person who worked with Rip, it is more anger at a place...and where does that get me?  Again, I think it is maybe more disappointment than anger...it makes me wonder when people will ever learn how much can be gained by the words "I'm sorry".

But I guess I feel like anger isn't going to get me anywhere.  I also just can't seem to associate Rip with true anger.  He is and always will be such a good thing.

I love Rip.  I love Gracie, and I love Parke.  I love my little family.  I'm not incapable of anger, I just feel like there are more important things and people to take care of right now.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Everyone deserves a break now and then

The denial or shock stage I felt right after Rip died was absolutely necessary in getting me through each day, and the kind of denial I go through now serves an equally important purpose.

For me, those first few days of denial kept me sane...it was the bubble wrap stage, where I couldn't feel anything and somewhere deep down I knew that was saving me.

Over the past months there have been moments of real denial.  Moments where I think about what could have gone differently, where a different decision could have been made, and maybe this whole thing would have never happened.  I have those fleeting moments where I think maybe I can still fix this, there has to be some way to make the outcome different.

But I know I can't.

So for the most part, denial for me now is a choice.  Not that I for one minute deny Rip.

When I was younger, and I got into a situation that scared me or made me uncomfortable, I would pretend I was in a play.  That is kind of what denial is like for me these days...it's pretending I am just a normal pregnant girl, shopping for normal pregnant girl things.  It is allowing people to exclaim over my bump and just taking a moment to be excited with them. It is allowing myself to be the me that other people, who know nothing about my situation, see for a few minutes. It's not so much running away from what has happened, it is taking a break from the bad parts.

In the beginning, I had no control over my emotions.  Now, being able to take five or ten minutes to check out from anything painful is one of the biggest ways I have been able to heal.  Denial is always talked about as such a negative thing, but I feel like everyone deserves a break now and then.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Life's A Stage

Right after we lost Rip, I paid a lot attention to the "stages" of grief...denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.  I kept trying to figure out what "stage" I was in, and how fast I could get to the finish line.  As months went by I was told, and learned, that you cycle back through the stages time and time again.  I'm still cycling away, but each stage feels so much different ten months later than it did in those first days, weeks, months.  I like to write how I am feeling down, it is just my way of seeing progress and figuring out all of these emotions that keep swirling around.  So anyway, that's what I am going to try to do over the next few days...but for now, I am just going to enjoy that white chocolate macadamia nut cookie that is calling my name (9:30 in the morning is an acceptable time for that, right?).

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's The Final Countdown

As I have said many, many times, patience is just NOT my strong suit.  When I am waiting on something, I almost always look for shortcuts.  For instance, if you are leaving for fabulous vacation on a Saturday, and you are currently stuck in a sucky slow Tuesday...well, you can't really count the day you are in, or the day you are leaving...therefore, you are leaving for vacation in a mere 72 hours! Which sounds SO much better than 5 long, tortuous days.

So, especially with our healthy report on Wednesday, clearly being pregnant is not torture...but sometimes it can be pretty close to a sucky slow Tuesday.  I am just so ready to have a squirming baby in my arms sometimes it feels like it will never happen.

Today, I am 20 weeks and 4 days pregnant...meaning I have 136 days until my due date.
Of course, I will be having a C-section, so I have to subtract a least 7 days..
And, vacations and holidays never count, so I pretty much have to subtract at least two weeks there (awful lot of holidays in the fall, you know)...
Then there is my birthday, which is pretty much a week-long celebration, so 7 days there...
Also, weekends are almost like holidays, so let's say roughly 20 weekends between now and January 2nd leaves me with no choice but to knock another 40 or so out of the count...
And THAT'S not even taking account days off for baby showers, nursery decorating etc. etc.

Honestly, when you really think about it, we are practically running out of time here!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Relief Doesn't Even Begin To Describe It....

Words like thankful and relief do not even begin to describe how I feel about yesterday's doctors appointment.

We heard words I have NEVER heard in either of my pregnancies, words like "perfect" and "great".  Every scary thing that has been a possibility until  now was as ruled out as it ever gets in pregnancy.  We left the appointment and I almost did not know how to feel...I am a normal pregnant person, I have never been a normal pregnant person before.

This time last year, at 20 weeks pregnant, I was not allowed to be further than a ten mile radius from a hospital...eight weeks later I was in the hospital for 6 weeks.  I was not allowed to walk around, much less walk for exercise.  I had to sit at my desk with my feet propped in the air.  I would not trade one minute of that time I was on bed rest with Rip, because it gave me time with him that I did not realize I would not have after he was born...but it was scary, and I was about as far from a normal pregnant person as you get.

Today I am wearing 4 inch leopard platform shoes.  I got up early this morning and power-walked through my neighborhood.  I am meeting a friend for dinner tonight and will keep my legs firmly on the floor.  I don't have to get into bed unless I want to.  It still feel a little unreal to me to Just. Be. Pregnant.

But I am, just a normal pregnant person, carrying a healthy (and very active...she put on quite a show yesterday) Baby Girl. Relief doesn't even begin to describe it.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What are you so afraid of?

I've realized there are a lot of bogus quotes and cliches when it comes to fear...

"You have nothing to fear but fear itself"...umm, actually I can list on two hands things that I  fear, and none of them are fear itself

"Fear not"...easy for you to say

"Fear doesn't exist anywhere except in the mind"...then why does my stomach hurt?

"What are you so afraid of?"...how long do we have?

"The thing we fear we bring to pass"...don't try to pin this on me

The thing I've realized is that fear is inevitable, at least in my situation.  There is a quote from C.S. Lewis that I liked: "No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear".
I am scared to go to the doctor tomorrow.  I feel about that fear similar to the way I feel about crying.  I don't like doing it, but it is necessary and getting through it almost always makes me feel better.
So, for lack of other options, I am going to "face my fears" and all that jazz.  But I don't have to like it.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Evolution of Gracie

I've never been a big "music person"...I like music, but I rarely know who sings what, and until now it pretty much served as background noise.

After we lost Rip, I was amazed by how much music helped.  There were songs that made me cry, made me smile...just basically got me through whatever emotion I needed to get through.

That trend has continued with pregnancy, so yesterday I put together a "Gracie Playlist" with all of the songs that remind me of the time when she was just a dream, songs that remind this pregnancy, and then songs that give me hope for holding her in my arms.

I wanted to save that list here, in case pregnancy brain takes over and I forget...


1.     Have a Little Faith- John Hiatt 
2.     Just Haven’t Met You Yet- Michael Buble
3.     Bright Side of the Road- Van Morrison
4.     Not a moment too soon- Tim McGraw
5.     Rainbow- Jack Johnson
6.     The Sound of Sunshine- Michael Franti
7.     Let it Be- Beatles
8.     Three Little Birds- Bob Marley
9.     Wave on Wave- Pat Green
10   Feel My Love- Adele
11  What a Wonderful World- Louis Armstrong
12   Everything- Michael Buble
13   Isn’t She Lovely- Stevie Wonder
14   Baby Mine- Alison Krauss
15  Gracie- Ben Folds
16  Amazing Grace- Leann Rimes version
17   Miss Grace- The Tymes

Thursday, August 11, 2011

You Gotta Believe...

I will  admit, prayer confuses me.  One of the first things I am going to ask when I get to Heaven is why some prayers work, when others do not.  It is something that I have struggled over and over with since we lost Rip.  I've seen prayers work, in my life and in miraculous ways in other's lives...but I always come back to "why not us".

We have our next "scary" appointment on Wednesday ( I say scary, but it is just an anatomy scan...I know I should look forward to these appointments, but they scare the bejesus out of me).These days, I pray almost constantly for Gracie.  I ask other people to pray all of the time.  But it can be a fight, always wondering why should this time be any different.

I keep praying, and despite everything, I feel like it is the most important thing I am doing for Gracie.  Because I always come up with the same answer to all of those questions...you gotta believe.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sappy

Sappy just about sums me up these days.  It is a combination of sad and happy that seems pretty inevitable.

These days there is just a very pure sadness when it comes to losing Rip.  I think enough time has gone by so that I am finally strong enough to feel this sadness.  I lost what was most precious to me in the entire world, something that is absolutely irreplaceable.  There are mornings when I wake up crying for Rip, and there is definitely a release in that.  I need to miss him.  There are also so many bittersweet moments...knowing that we will be taking down his nursery... knowing that while my feelings for Rip will never change, I will inevitably have less time to concentrate on just him when the new baby comes.  Even moments like being at the beach with my family, or going to a friend's baby shower leave me a little weepy.  There is just no easy way around missing him, and that is sad.

But I am also so happy.  I love this little girl more than I thought possible.  She is a little spit-fire, always moving...legs, arms, popping up all over my belly.  I can hardly get out of bed in the morning, I enjoy lying there and feeling her wake-up so much.  I am like some kind of addict...okay, I will get up after one more kick, okay one more, one more...it's a wonder I've made it to work at all.  All of this activity is such a blessing, it helps my mind and my heart knowing she is in there growing away.  I talk to her all of the time, "we" go shopping and I swear she hops around a little more every time I find yet another adorable dress, hat, bow.  I am all too aware that those bittersweet moments...time at the beach, baby showers...would be nothing but bitter without this little bundle of joy. There are smiles in our voices that I was so worried would never be there again.  She is truly an amazing Grace.

So a lot of crying, and a lot of laughing.  There are worse things than being sappy.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Dance, Darlin' Dance!

My great-grandmother, Nanoo (aka Louise, Gracie's namesake) had a solution to change.  Her advice to my mother growing up was always to "Dance, darlin' dance!"  My mom explained to me that by this, she meant no matter what opportunity or challenge came your way, it was your job take it.  No matter the outcome.

Yesterday in church we sang one of my favorite hymns, "Lord of the Dance".  Listening to the refrain,

Dance, dance, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance, said he
And I lead you all, wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance, said he 

  
I was reminded of my Nanoo's saying.

I am not a dancer by nature (we have the high school dance team videos to prove it), and up to this point I have almost always taken the easy road out, either because I was afraid things would change, or that they wouldn't.

I would like to think these days I am dancing just a little bit more.  Not  in a "what have I got to lose" kind of way, because I know now how much can be lost.  But more in a "who knows what I will gain" way.  I have to believe that there is somebody leading this dance I am in, and the best thing I can do is jump in feet first and keep them moving until it is time to stop.  I can almost hear my great-grandmother clapping along.

Hopefully one day when Gracie is facing her own challenges, I can tell her all about her great-great grandmother...and how to Dance Darlin' Dance!