Thank you to Angie from Still Life with Circles for starting this topic & opening the doors for many of us to share our honest thoughts and feelings. Check out her page for many other baby loss moms participating in this project (everyone is linked up at the bottom of her post). It's been encouraging to me to read many of the other stories. Many moms who are further along in this journey give me hope as to what I one day will reach. And many others who are around the same time as me make me feel not so alone in what I am currently experiancing. It's been theraputic to just sit down and pour out my random thoughts.
I started this blog when we got Noah's fatal diagnosis. I wanted a way to keep others up to date as it was sometimes hard to keep relaying the same info over & over. I have since used it as a way to openly express my feelings in regards to where I'm at in my grieving but I also throw in other day to day things as well. I guess you could say that's sort've reflects my life right now, a mix of the everyday things with grief tossed in the mix.
I am realizing that by me being so open, there are some out there who have been judging me & putting me down for things I say. Honestly, I really don't care. I have tried to be as honest as I can be for the benefit of others who are also walking this same painful path as me. I know what a lifeline it has been for me to read the blogs & converse with other baby loss moms & see that I am not alone. I hope to be an encouragement to those coming behind me and to help someone else like I have been helped by others who have been open with me. So despite those few negative people, I choose to be open & continue to share. What benefit would it be to me & others to slap on a fake happy face all the time & not be honest in what I am experiancing?
I have contemplated the question, just where AM I right now? The answer to that question can depend on what day, even what hour you ask me that. Even as I write this out I find it hard to gather my thoughts in a way that makes sense. Today, I am feeling pretty good. Days ago, not so good. It just really depends.
The other night we were under some severe storm warnings & a tornado watch. Usually that never bothered me. But I guess with how bad it's been happening to others across the country, I did feel the need to take it more serious than I had before. I was in the process of cleaning up from supper. The kids were all aware of what was going on with the weather. I noticed they had all quietly went and grabbed their "Noah dolls" and the clothes Noah wore. They sat around clutching them. What they hadn't noticed till later was that I had sort've done the same thing. I went into Noah's room and got his blanket, hat and the book with his hair clipping in, put it all in a bag and had it sitting nearby in case we had to take cover downstairs. The thought of possibly losing those few tangible things of Noah that I can hold, brings me to tears. That's just a glimpse of how life has changed for all of us. We just do some things differently now. Maybe years down the road we wouldn't have done that. But that's just where we all are at right now.
Looking back, I can see the slow progress I have made. Grief isn't something you get over, it is forever attached to you when you lose a child. It's always there. Somedays it's tucked into a back pocket, just quietly poking at you on occasion. Other days it's clutched in your hand, front and center, forcing you to handle it then and there.
I have learned if you try to fight the wave of grief when it hits, it will take you down and almost drown you. I am learning to allow the grief to weave in and out of my life as it needs to. To swim with the current of grief until I hit calmer waters. This means there are days when I don't shed any tears and am I grateful for that. But there are days when it just drains you trying to do the simple, everyday things. Sometimes there are things that trigger the wave of grief. Other times there is no specific reason that I end up in tears. I am learning to accept that it is what it is and that however I feel each day is just where I am supposed to be at in that moment. For whatever reason, God chose to bring our family down this path. I am just trying to learn to handle what we've been given. There is no manual on grieving just as there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Everyone does it differently as well.
At times I find myself floundering in trying to figure out just what is the new normal now. Who am I? Gone is the innocence of life and the cliche that "that will never happen to me". Noah has reminded us of just what is meaningful and precious about life. He has certainly changed my outlook on a lot of things.
I admit I am jealous of those baby loss moms who have a huge network of support from family. I can see how a great support system can really make a big difference in terms of how they handle things and grieve. Neither Kevin or I come from a family like this. I am truly thankful for those few family members who have reached out & have continued to help.....who talk about Noah, acknowledge his life & keep tabs on us still....who proudly have his photo up & count him as one of the nephews, grandchildren or great-grandchildren......
Who simply remember Noah.
Nothing makes me more happier or prouder than someone who mentions Noah's name & includes him in whatever it may be, no matter how small it may seem to someone else. Seeing his name written on a Christmas card made my heart soar or someone making a donation or doing something in his memory shows me he is just as loved and valued as the rest of my kids. I love talking about Noah and including him just as much as I love talking about the older kiddos and including them in things. In our eyes, there is no difference. I have 5 kids (almost 6, Lord willing). And it will always be like that.
If Noah were here in my arms today, people wouldn't think twice to mention him or comment/like a facebook status about him. WHY is it so hard for people to do that now just because he died? He is just as real to us now as he was 10 months ago. People around us need to accept the fact we will not stop talking about him or including him in our every day lives. I am tired of feeling like I have to tip toe around in what I say or do just because others around us are uncomfortable in handling grief and death and our sometimes raw emotions. I shouldn't have to feel like I need to hold my feelings in for the sake of making someone feel at ease. Us talking about Noah, whether it's happy memories or reflecting on the sad ones, is a way of coping and healing. Trying to surpress that just makes things worse for us.
We have had people walk out of our lives due to those very things since Noah died. Some people simply can't handle grief and all that comes with it. Like the saying I came across recently said "when you are up, your friends know who you are, when you are down, you learn who your friends are." Grief is not something for the faint of heart. Grief is dirty, hard. Precious are those people who aren't afraid to get in the trenches with a grieving person and walk alongside of them, however long it takes. God has brought people into our lives because of Noah, he has strengthened some relationships of people who were already a part of our lives, and he has taken some people out of our lives which I can only assume are for our benefit and growth.
Simply put, losing a child is not something you "get over". There is no timetable on grieving. It is an ongoing thing, just some days it's more prevalent than other days. I am SO thankful to the people who have chosen to stick by our side no matter what, through all the ups and downs these last 10 months have thrown at us. I am thankful they can see the beauty through the ashes and aren't giving up on us.
In some ways, I long to go back to how things were 13 months ago, anxiously anticipating a new baby. I hate how I feel some days. Don't get me wrong, I do have days where I feel good and get things accomplished. I appreciate & cherish those days! But on those tougher days where grief rears it's head to the surface, just trying to do simple things can be difficult. Add on to this is that I am at the same gestation now as I was last year with Noah. It brings back a lot of memories. At times, I feel like I am where I was last year at this time. Being due with this baby on the day he died gives us mixed emotions. On one hand, I feel like it was a sign from God & Noah. On the other hand, it is hard as we get closer to Noah's 1st birthday as well as being the end of this pregnancy. Those end-of-pregnancy hormones mixed with some of the tougher days of grieving makes for a yucky combination at times I think.
Another aspect sometimes people forget about is, is the kids and how this has all impacted them. I could be having a good day emotionally but then one of them make break down crying which then can sometimes trigger me into tears. It breaks my heart that I can't take away their pain or do anything to lessen it.
But in the same sense, I wouldn't trade this last year at all. The lessons Noah's life has taught us and are continuing to teach us are priceless. We have grown as a family, individually and together. I have gotten emails from complete strangers who have been encouraged by Noahs testimony that they happened to come across it on the internet. And that makes me thankful! I want his story of strength & what God has done to be heard by others. It is my prayer to share with others our journey, both the good and ugly, so that they can see the hand of God in our lives. While I don't have the answers as to why it all happened to us, I DO know there is a greater reason. One I may not know of on this side of Heaven. Our faith is what has gotten us to where we are right now. I'm not sure where I'd be right now without it.
So where am I? I am here, just trying to do the best that I can where I am right now. Today I am feeling good and I am thankful for that. I am just taking things 1 day at a time.