Sunday, October 30, 2011

The First of Many

Before this year, I loved Halloween. The dressing up, the carving pumpkins, the celebrations of Fall. Everything. Now, I am just going through the motions to create a tad bit normalcy for my son. Yesterday, we went to the grocery store to get pumpkins (no pumpkin farm for us this year) and we carved them last night. I didn't cook the pumpkin seeds or anything, just let him carve his pumpkins and left it at that. When I was pregnant with Naya, I was really looking forward to shopping for a costume and dressing up my baby in for the first time. Instead, I bought a small pumpkin and we put it on her grave. I supposed that's what we will be doing for every Holiday from now on.

Perhaps that's why yesterday was so hard for all of us. Everybody else is going on with their normal lives of costumes and parties and celebration while we are sitting here in pain and heartbreak. I suppose this is just a preview of how the rest of the Holiday season is going to be for us. (Yea!) I have absolutely no urge to participate in the Holidays at this point. My goal is to just get through the next 2 months without a complete mental breakdown like I've had over the past couple of days. They have not been fun.

I did okay this week, I went in to work for a few days (four total!) and although I didn't spend the entire day there, I did it. I faced some of my fears. I also went to get my haircut on Friday - usually, not a seemingly big task but for me, it was like facing a firing squad. It went all right at first. My wonderful hairdresser also cuts my stepmother's hair, so she is aware of what happened and did her best to make it seem "normal." Until about midway through the cut when the girl who cuts hair next to her started talking to her client. The girl is about 4 months pregnant (which I could handle because she's not crazy big yet) but the client started talking to her about her profession. She is a nurse in the family birthing center at the Hospital where I delivered. Yep, figures huh? She started telling the girl that she should definitely choose her hospital over the other hospital in town because (and I quote) "it is much better and safer and we never lose babies." My hairdresser just looked at me in the mirror and saw the pain and anxiety in my face and said "I'm going to start talking about something else and I'm going to do it loudly." We spent the rest of the haircut talking loudly about which restaurants have the best Bloody Marys while trying to drown out the lady talking about how "wonderful" her hospital is. After my hair was done, I gave her a big hug and said "can you please tell her what happened when her client leaves and beg her not to go there?" She said she was already going to and that maybe me being in there at that particular moment wasn't just a result of my shitty timing but a blessing because I could provide a warning to someone else and hopefully prevent it from happening again. That's the only way I can choose to think of it without going completely crazy.

Ughh. Life. Please start getting easier. I don't know how much more I can handle.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

After the Storm

Thinking up a title for these things is always a problem for me. I guess I have always had this problem - thinking up a poignant title for whatever I'm writing. This particular title is from a Mumford and Sons song of the same title. Pretty much written for me. I've had a hard day. I'm crying right now writing this.

Nothing hugely significant happened today. Just a normal day - normal for what is qualified as life now. Yesterday, Naya would have turned 3 months old. A huge milestone in the life of a newborn. I dropped Ty off at school yesterday, went to the gym for an hour (great for the aggressions) and then went to Trader Joe's and bought Naya a bouquet of flowers to put on her grave. (Sidenote - took out some of my "anger" on some dumb lady at TJ's. She unloaded her groceries into her Range Rover that was parked next to me and proceeded to leave her cart right next to my car. I was standing right there, so I walked up to her and put my hand on her arm and said "Don't worry. Since you are obviously too lazy to put your cart away yourself, I'll do it for you." Yeah, I never said I wasn't a bitch. My biggest pet peeve is when people don't put their damn carts away.) Anyway, I brought the flowers to the cemetery and sat there and talked to her for awhile and drove home and worked for awhile.

Today, I went into work after dropping Ty off. I actually stayed in the office until around 2pm. Great accomplishment for me. What really set me back was a conversation I had with our social worker from CHLA. When Naya died, we decided to have them perform an autopsy on her to rule out genetic issues in case we want to have another baby. I called the social worker today because they told us the results would take 4-6 weeks and it will be six weeks tomorrow. She told me that she had spoke to the pathologist today and that the results could possibly take another 6-9 months.

This fucking crushed me. 6-9 months! Are you fucking kidding me?! For me, these autopsy results represent an end to this. I mean, I know that this is going to emotionally stab me in the fucking chest everyday for the rest of my life but I was hoping for some sooner "closure" to at least some answered questions in a timely manner. But FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!! 6-9 months! More! Of this! Of not knowing shit and just torturing myself with questions! Of wondering if it is ever going to be safe to try again?! Of being stuck in the same god damn stalemate of not knowing anything! Of not sleeping and torturing myself with all of the what ifs! I seriously can't fucking take this. The past three months of my life have been absolute torture and now it can prolong this for an additional 6-9 months?! No. The Pathologist is getting a call directly from me tomorrow. I can be a persistent and annoying person when I want to be. Be prepared Pathologist. Be prepared.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Checking In

Another week down. And what a week it's been. My sister was in town from Africa (she lives there - long story) and she kept me sufficiently occupied. We started off the week quietly. Dan went back to work and I worked from home. I actually ventured to the office for a few hours Tuesday morning. It was hard and I couldn't stay that long but I did it. It just felt eerie - almost like I was soundly back to my "old life" but with half my heart missing. I spent the drive home crying. That's pretty much how it is - act normal in front of other people and completely lose it in the car. Par for the course for us mom's with angel babies.

What else? I joined a gym. Been there a few times this week. It's nice to slip on some headphones and run on a treadmill. Release some of my aggressions. My fuse is so short these days and it's probably much healthier to expend my energy at the gym rather than blow up in people's faces. I can't handle people's ridiculousness right now. Problems just seem petty and pointless and my filter is almost non-existent. Something I need to work on and hopefully the gym (and my counselor) can help.

That was another thing I did this week - saw a new counselor. I really liked the other one I was going to but she was pretty expensive so I looked into some free counseling provided by our local hospice program. I definitely liked the new counselor but I could tell she was a little overwhelmed when I told her my story for the first time. It's really weird telling my story - it does seem almost unbelievable. Like a movie. When I'm retelling it, I feel like its impossible that I have lived through what I have. But I did and I am here, trying to move on and live.

Most of the time I feel like I'm just going through the motions of the day. Smiling when I'm supposed to smile, laughing when I'm supposed to laugh but not really feeling anything. Numb. I hope that this will start receding but the pain is still too fresh. The normal parts of my life that I enjoyed so much four months ago are so meaningless now. Hopefully, this too shall pass.

Now for the excitement of the week. Ready for this - it's a doozy. I was sitting in my office getting some work done on Thursday when I started hearing this weird noise by my desk. Went on for awhile and I every time I turned down my music to listen for it, it would stop. Finally, I figured out it was coming from my file cabinet (the one holding all of our "important docs" - you know, birth certificates, mortgage papers, tax returns, etc.) I opened the drawer and the files looked chewed up. Toni and I started lifting the files up and we saw it. A long skinny tale running toward the back of the file cabinet. Yep my friends, we had a mouse. Toni ran to the store and brought back some traps. We were going to put them in the file cabinet when we saw it again. A very LARGE mouse. A field mouse whose body was a good 8 inches (not including the tail). We screamed, shut the door to the sun room/office and called my dad in hysterics. He came over and tried to move the file cabinet, the mouse ran out and went under the couch. When we moved the couch outside, we notice tons of mouse droppings and that it had burrowed a hole in the couch and was probably living in it. We still aren't sure where the fucking thing went but at least I know it's not in my house.

Long story short, Dan and I spent hours cleaning and disinfecting the room. We scrubbed the floors, threw out the couch, wiped down each and every book in our bookcases, etc. I'm still not sure what to do about the files though. The mouse ate quite a few of them and peed and pooped all over the rest. I don't think I can throw these documents away (kind of need our Birth Certificates, etc.) so I'm still trying to figure out what to do. Oh, the joys of my life. Two steps forward and three steps back. Luckily, all these weird, crappy things that have been happening to us have just now become amusing. As I said before, after what we have been through, you can't sweat the small stuff.

Monday, October 17, 2011

And We are Back

Well, we are back from our trip to Puerto Vallarta. I had reservations about going at first but I am glad we went. Despite the Hurricane that hit early in the week (yes, this seriously happened. Remember, I have the worst luck in the world.) we managed to have a good, relaxing time. It was nice to get away to a place that: a) no one knows us and therefore doesn't know what happened and
b) small talk is almost impossible since my espagnol is terrible.
We spent most of our time in Mexico swimming. Even through the Hurricane. I would say I spent at least 5 hours a day in the pool. My hands are still wrinkled. It was a relaxing and reflective time for me. It's funny, when I was pregnant in Naya, I had the biggest urges to be in a pool even though I'm not a big fan of swimming. I think she may have been a swimmer if she had been able to grow up. In a way, floating on my back in the pool and looking up at the palm trees swaying while the rain fell made me feel physically connected to her again. Not to get all Freudian but maybe it was the womblike atmosphere of the warm pool that provided the connection that I am desperately needing. My body aches for her in a way I can't even attempt to describe.

And now, we are home. Ughhh. Home. Back to reality. Back to work (me from home and Dan from the office). Back to the fact that we are parents of a child that has passed away. As I said before, that was a definite positive of Mexico although in a strange way, it was also a discomfort. Unfortunately, that fact that we have lost a child is now and always will be a defining factor of our lives and personalities. And people can't tell that just by looking at us. I almost want to wear a sign that says "we just lost our baby - please be nice to us and ignore that fact that I might start crying over nothing in a moment." Because that's how it is. I can go through a good portion of the day without crying but it creeps up at weird moments. And it's weird for anyone who may be around me at that particular point especially if they have no idea what happened. I am just the strange lady crying in the grocery store line or eating dinner with her husband.

It happened quite a bit in Mexico too. I talked Dan into ziplining on Friday. He hates heights but trusted me enough to go and we had fun. I cried though. I was getting ready to go down the longest line in the park and the guide asked me if we were enjoying our Honeymoon. I told him that we weren't on our honeymoon and had been married for a year. He said "Oh, just on vacation then." I just smiled and let the language barrier act as my scapegoat. I really didn't want to get into a conversation about why were there in my broken spanish.  He strapped me to the pulley on the cable and gave me a push to send me accross. I cried the whole way.

Friday, October 14, 2011

One Month

It's been one month. The longest and worst month of my life. I wasn't planning on writing at all this week as Dan and I are gratiously taking advantage of the use of a family friends' condo south of the border but it's been running through our minds all day. Even though we did our best to distract ourselves (zip lining and corona) it's still there and I am sitting here writing on my cell phone instead of watching the sunset over the Pacific. Thank you for everyone who contacted us today and remembered one of many milestones that we have to get through. (i can't even begin to explain how much it sucks when the life that you used to love has become a life of just getting through the day. This is definitely not getting easier.) Your love gets us through this. Today, when we were on the zip line and waiting on a platform for our turn, we saw a hummingbird for the first time while we have been here. I know it was her. I love you baby and I miss you so much.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Misery Needs Company

I don't think anyone could ever possibly understand the excruciating pain of losing a child unless you have gone through it. It's completely indescribable but when you meet someone who has gone through it, they know EXACTLY what you are feeling. That pain is completely universal in this new world that I am grudgingly a part of. Right now, I am sitting here in the lovely home office that Dan put together for me during my eighth month of pregnancy and trying to get some work done. I'm listening to Pandora (which I do constantly) and the song Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton just came on. I have long known that the song is about his son's tragic death but today, I felt it. I heard his lyrics for the first time. I felt his emotions and could completely, 100% relate. And it's exactly what I am going through. My baby's gone and I am, at least physically, still here trying to figure out what the hell to do with myself.

Please don't take it as I am suicidal or anything. I'm not. I'm sad but I wouldn't even say I'm clinically depressed. I am just trying to survive with a huge part of me missing. And it hurts. It hurts to see life going on around me, just as it was before. It hurts to see other's people babies or pregnant women and thinking why isn't that me? What did I do to deserve this? Why does everyone else have their babies and I lost mine. Am I being punished for my behavior? Am I being punished for not having faith? If I decide to have another baby, is this all going to happen again because it's what I deserve? It sucks really badly because I have a 4 week old niece that I can't bear to meet yet. It hurts way too bad and I feel so guilty about it. But I can't control it right now. It's funny. Sometimes, I tell myself that I'm not really going through this. This was all something that happened to someone else and I'm going to get my normal life back tomorrow. But then I wake up and everything is still the same. It sucks.

Today, I met with another woman in my area that is a friend of a friend who also recently lost her baby. It was both and wonderful and terrible to talk to her. Wonderful because she was great. We talked, we laughed, we cried. We got each other. Terrible because I had to meet an amazing person such as herself because we have both lost babies. That's how this whole thing has been. I've met an incredible amount of amazing people and made some amazing friends but all because I lost my daughter. It's so fucked up.

I also got the comment today that I have been dreading the most and that has caused me to become a bit agoraphobic. The coffee shop that we met at today was one that I would go to quite frequently while I was pregnant. I didn't even consider that and walked in and ordered my drink. (I would like to say that it was tea or even coffee but I ordered a beer.) The girl said, "Oh my gosh, the last time I saw you, you were so pregnant. How's the baby?" I just paused, dumbfounded. I mean, what do I say? She wasn't trying to be mean. She honestly had no idea and I had no idea how to answer without a) bursting into tears or b) sounding like a bitch.  I just said I had a little girl and we spent 7 weeks with her in the NICU but she ended up passing away 3 weeks ago. And then I apologized to her because the look on her face was so sad and surprised. And then I burst into tears and walked away. I am just terrified at how many times I am going to have to repeat this scenario.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mood Swings

I thought I was bad when I was pregnant with Naya. During that first trimester, Dan was so afraid to talk to me as he never knew if he would be dealing with a crying mess or exuberant mother-to-be. Although, I didn't really recall it at the time, my hormones were so out of wack, that I never know who I would turn into from one moment to the next. Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde was inhabiting my body. Luckily, it cleared up when I moved into the second trimester.

The feelings that I have now are actually quite similar. I am mostly a crying mess. Sometimes, I am an angry mess. Sometimes a lethargic mess. Sometimes a drunk mess. Sometimes a catatonic mess. I have, however, lost the exuberant part of me. She is long gone and it scares me that that part of me will never come back. I feel like I am just watching the game of life going on around me and I wonder if I will ever feel like playing in it again. My pain is so raw that even doing simple things like leaving my house and going to the grocery store involve way too much energy. Especially because I have to mask my feelings so I don't look like a crazy person. It is unacceptable to start breaking down in line at the grocery store (which I did) and start a conflict over the price of ground turkey (which I did too.) Sidenote: the people at Vons in Nipomo are not very nice.

I have spending most of my day, sitting at my computer in our home office. I do work most of the day and spend the rest of my time researching Sepsis and what happened to Naya. There is not a lot of information out there, especially because I'm looking for families that have gone through a similar situation. I have found some and most of their children pulled through because they were diagnosed very early on before even leaving the hospital. It makes me sad and mad but thankful that at least their children made it and they can offer me a little bit of information. Once the autopsy comes back, I can at least start trying to fit all of these puzzle pieces together rather the just connecting the edges.

I have also joined a number of online groups that deal with infant loss, since we have no physical groups in the area that are specific to infant loss. While these groups are helpful, some of them make me a little angry. Most sites lump miscarriages in with infant loss and I hate that. I don't, in anyway, want to discredit any pain that anyone might be going through but holding/touching/bringing home a seemingly healthy baby girl is so much different then losing a child in a first-trimester miscarriage. I saw her, I held her, I kissed her, I smelled the sweet scent of her skin and heard her cry. I have concrete memories of her laying in her crib, on my bed and in my arms. I physically saw the person she could have become. I have connected more with the SIDS parents even though they are going through a different struggle, as for the most part, their babies passed at home in their sleep and I had to sit through the hell ride of the NICU and watch my baby get sicker and sicker everyday. I realize that the end result is the same though - we have all lost a child that we desperately wanted and loved. We all feel empty and that part of us is gone and will never return. We are all part of this shitty club of child loss and it's one that we all would do anything to get out of. But we never can. We will always be parents who have lost a child. It happened and nothing can change that. We just need to somehow figure out how to possibly go on.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Over but Just Beginning

I know it's been a few days since I have written a post but we had a very busy weekend. On Friday, we buried Naya. We chose to have her cremated and we bought a beautiful pink marble urn for her remains. We had a short and private ceremony for our family and a few friends. I can't even describe how surreal and difficult that day was. Burying your child is not something I would want anyone to experience. I have been to the cemetery to visit her everyday since. I don't really say anything, just sit there and cry in disbelief that my child is really gone and in this grave. I know people have been telling me that she is not in pain anymore, which is true but I still think that this is a nightmare that I can't wake up from. Denial, yes I realize that, but reality is just too hard to deal with at this point.

I know others will tell me that she is in a better place and I really wish I could believe that. I don't really want to get into a whole religious discussion because, again, that is not the point of this blog, but I am not nor have never been very religious. I am not going to go into detail with my beliefs on here but lets just say that they haven't changed. Life is still a mystery that I don't believe we can ever figure out. No matter how hard we try to understand why things happen, we can never know for sure.

Anyway, enough on that. On Saturday, we held a beautiful memorial service on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and entirely fitting of my baby girl. We had so many wonderful people come out to support us and remember Naya's short little life. If you were there (even in spirit) thank you. We could literally feel your love and we appreciate it. We want to give a big thanks to my friend Ryan for doing a wonderful job officiating the service. I don't know how you did it man but we were blown away by the beauty of your words. You have a gift my friend. I also want to thank Melinda for the wonderful flowers and Lori and Connie for helping set everything up. You guys are amazing. Also big thanks for my wonderful family - my mom, Nancy, Bill & Bobbie for flying out here from Chicago to support us through this. You provided us with a much needed distraction and for that, we are incredibly thankful. Also to Brooke and Lisa, our wonderful nurses from CHLA, thank you for going above and beyond by being there. You both are remarkable people and as I said before, you are now stuck with us in your lives. Love you guys so much and hope I didn't just get anyone in trouble for calling you out. You have no idea how much you have helped us during this time. I will never, ever forget it.

The day was just perfect despite the little hiccup at the end. I probably shouldn't write this on here because it ruins the ambiance of the day but it is a perfect example of the luck Dan and I have. Immediately following the service, police began showing up and scoping the cliff out right behind us. Turns out that they had just found the body of a man that had been missing for a few days. Yes, I am serious. This really did happen. Un-freaking-believable but par for the course in my life at this point. I didn't let it bother me too much but I felt very sorry for the wedding that was setting up to take place after our event. You can't make this shit up folks.

I spend most of my days thinking (believe me, I wish I could turn my brain off but that is not going to happen for awhile - despite the prescription for Ambien that I have and am too afraid to take.) It's so strange how you never really know how wonderful people are until something tragic happens. The outreach that we have had is absolutely amazing and our family, friends and community have gone above and beyond to support us. It is truly mind blowing and we are incredibly blessed to have you all in our lives. Nothing can make this better but little things do help. I know that I have already grown from this. I am definitely not sweating the small stuff (like the wonderful "discovery" at the memorial). It just doesn't matter. After what I have been and still am going through, all the old grudges and heartaches and little bullshit just seem so inconsequential. So pointless when we all have such a short time here and we never know when it's going to end. I hate that I have had to go through this in order to see this but I am going to be grateful for any positives that come out of it. I can't comprehend how to handle this any other way. But, as I said in another post, grief has many stages and changes rapidly. Perhaps this is just how I am feeling today. Everyday is a new struggle with a different emotion. Can't wait to see where I'm at tomorrow (yes, that is sarcasm).

I miss you baby. You are never out of my thoughts.

PS - Sorry for the stream of consciousness form this post took. Hope I didn't lose anyone in my rambling.