Saturday, September 14, 2013

Two Years

Today, was the two year anniversary of Naya's death. In some ways, it feels like it was only yesterday and in others like it was decades ago. All day, I have been thinking about how different it feels from last year. How different I am. How I have grown, have learned and have changed from a year ago. 

I am not sure i can even adequately describe how heart wrenchingly awful that first year is, although I am sure if I go through my posts, I could probably put myself there again. I can remember the feeling of waking up everyday wishing I was dead. How I spent most of my time constantly searching for any little sign of her, even though I knew she was gone. That first year is very irrational. You are thinking that you have the power to bring them back, be it by the sheer force of your pain or the amount of anguish in your heart. You believe that if you somehow think the right thing or retrace your steps in the right way, you might somehow figure out a way to turn back time and make their death never happen. You spend that first year living in your head, reliving your worst nightmare over and over just in case you might be finally able to find a way to think yourself out of it. You are in such denial that you can't/don't want to conceive of the idea that life is going to continue without your child. You don't want to face that reality because of how badly it hurts. 

The second year has been much different. That feeling of tremendous despair isn't there anymore. I don't know if it was just having Rhone or the fact that I had made it through a whole year without her but I was able and ready to start living again rather than just going through the motions. I learned to love, to laugh and to feel real happiness again. And, despite the guilt, it feels good. I want to live. I want to wake up in the morning and see my children and my husband and live my life. I will always wish that she was here but I have come to a place where I realize that she is not coming back. Maybe it's acceptance or maybe it's just dealing with reality. I still search for her but it's not in the same desperate way as it was in the beginning. I search for her because it makes me smile. Thinking about her, although it brings tears to my eyes and a pain in my heart, makes me happy. It makes me feel close to her. It makes her feel real and I have learned to treasure that. Despite the fact that she is gone, Naya will always be me daughter and part of our family. I will always love her and miss her. I am thankful for all she has given me. The relationships that have grown, the extra love that I feel for my children, the beauty that I see in nature, my sense of responsibility as a citizen of the world -  the person that I am becoming is because of her and for that, I am grateful.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Keeping Busy Helps Me Forget

My little sister posted a "why you no update your blog" meme on my Facebook wall last week so I figured I should do some sort of update. I have had a busy, busy summer but in a good way. In all honestly, updating my blog has been the last thing on my mind lately. After I put Rhone to sleep and finally experience that sweet relief of "free time," I have to admit I've been using it for less than admiral purposes (mainly drinking a beer, watching television and playing Peggle, all on my bed). But I figured that I better write something to let everyone know what has been happening.

So the last time I wrote, Dan had just been laid off. Let me tell you - what a blessing in disguise! Yes, we had a hard month and paying Cobra is a bitch but he is finally out of that place and moved on to bigger and better things in a new work environment. Instead of working 70-80 hours a week, he is now home by 5:30 every night and has an actual work/life balance. Rhone loves all the new daddy time he is getting and I love seeing him while it's still light out. Thank you all for the support and positive thoughts thrown our way.

I also made a big decision this summer. I have decided that I will return to school (in the next few years) to obtain my MSW to eventually get a job as a social worker in a NICU. My goal is to attend Berkeley, so I have spent the summer making some initial preparations. I ordered my transcripts, started studying for the GRE and began volunteering at the hospital where Rhone was born. Right now, I am in Labor & Delivery and will begin in the NICU in the next few weeks. I am not doing much (stocking closets, putting together forms, doing discharges) but I actually really like it. Not that there hasn't been any tough moments. On my first day, a baby passed away and they happened to bring him in the nursery as I was getting a tour. It definitely startled me but I handled it surprisingly well and managed to ask the nurses questions about what they do for families after babies pass and if they offer any support. I am going to be involved in setting up an infant loss support group at the Hospital now, so I guess it was serendipitous that I was in that place at that particular time but still. What a freaking coincidence. I was proud of myself for holding it together at the time but I cried all of the way home. It was my first test of seeing what I am going to have to deal with and I am not sure if I passed or failed. I do know that I am probably never going to not cry on the way home after a baby dies.

Naya's birthday was on July 24. It was actually a really nice day. We had hummingbird cookies made for her and did a balloon release at the cemetery. Although it was another marker of what we have missed out on it was nice to spend the day reflecting on her. I do have to say that the good days have been more frequent than the bad but I still miss her desperately.

Dan and I also decided to visit CHLA for the first time after we attending a friend's wedding in SoCal in early August. I was incredibly anxious as we drove up to the hospital but the experience wasn't as terrifying as I thought it was going to be. While we were there, we visited with one of her nurses and walked around the healing garden and down the street towards the Ronald McDonald House so we could look up to her room. We talked about how weird it was to be there when we are in such a different place emotionally. While it was the place where she died, it is also the place where she was alive and where she was loved by so many and that brought us great comfort and hope. I am looking forward to returning this fall to present the hospital a plaque from the March of Dimes dedicated to their NICCU in her memory.