Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Only One?

I feel alone. Sometimes I wonder if I am the only one that still misses my girls. I wonder if anyone else sees their little faces in their mind? Or wakes up in the middle of the night out of a dead sleep and cries quietly for them? Does anyone else imagine how old they would be now or what they might look like? Or ever mention them in conversation? Am I the only one?

I think day and night about my girls. Our family feels so incomplete. My arms are empty. The house is too quiet. I live with a constant awareness that something very important is missing. Two somethings, that can never be replaced. And this feeling is not going to go away. Part of healing is learning to exist with this permanent feeling of loss. It is like the man who loses a leg. He may learn to walk again, but always with a limp. I too am learning to live with the loss and function again despite what is so obviously missing. But for the time being the best I can do is emotionally limp along.

I feel like my girls were but a vapor on this earth. They came and left so quickly. Too quickly. Yet I grew so attached to them. It is such a miracle how instantly I loved them. There is no explanation for how I could love two little someones that I barely even knew so much. I missed out on so much with them. I never heard them cry or coo. I never fed them. I never dressed them. I never put them to sleep. I never gave them a bath or took them on a walk. I never learned their moods or routines. I only ever held each of them once. I never even looked into Ellie's eyes. Yet I loved them with all my heart. And that love is now equal to my pain. And I feel like I am the only one.

If anyone reading this ever thinks about or misses my girls will you please leave a comment? I would love to know what my girls mean to you or what impact they have had on your life. It would comfort me greatly.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Anniversary

Today is my fourth wedding anniversary. When I was pregnant with Aubrey and Ellie I would tell my husband that we must be crazy having three kids under the age of three before our fourth wedding anniversary. Life was just flying by. Our son was two and finally sleeping well at night. We bought our first house. We had two eight month long deployments behind us. And we had twins on the way. It had been an unexpected wild ride but it was full of blessings.

But then two of our blessings were taken away. Our whirlwind life came to a sudden and instant standstill. The future we had come to expect was altered in a blink. Our lives changed forever. Our babies were gone.

I still have a hard time accepting what happened, that our lives took such a tragic turn. When I woke up this morning I still had that heavy feeling on my chest, the one that reminds me that today was not supposed to be like this. My fourth wedding anniversary was supposed to be celebrated with two identical four month old little girls. Just like my son was supposed to have his sisters at his birthday just a few weeks ago. And my husband was supposed to turn 36 this month with three children in his arms, not one. And I will turn 29 in just a few months without my two girls. Every milestone only intensifies the tragedy of what was lost, of what will never be.


Time keeps going by, but life has yet to feel right again. And I don't think it ever will. How do I move forward with a life that never feels right? How do I live out the days that were not supposed to be? Honestly, I don't have answers to those questions. I can only do my best to let God walk me through these hard days and carry me past each milestone as they come. I don't really want to do it, but I know I need to do it. And that I can't do it without God to help me.

I guess I just resent God's help sometimes because I feel like I didn't want this kind of help, I wanted the kind of help that allowed my girls to live. It is difficult to cope with such deep feelings of disappointment toward God. But they are real. And truthfully I am not angry, just deeply hurt. Losing my girls broke my heart. Why is God so willing to help mend my broken heart but not prevent it in the first place? It is confusing. But I have faith and I trust that God will lead me to a place of healing, even if that healing comes without understanding. I accept that some things are outside of my understanding, that I will never have all the pieces to the puzzle.

In the meantime though I just try to be as real as I can be. God knows my heart anyway so I don't hide it from Him. And I know He will be patient with me as I vent my disappointment and allow Him to carry me through a lifetime of how it was not supposed to be.

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Year Resolution

The holidays were not as difficult for me as I thought they were going to be. I had hard days, sure. But over all, the holidays were a pleasant time for me. Now that the holidays have passed I feel like I've been blindsided yet again by my grief. I walked around for the first week of the new year in a fog. I felt exhausted. I could not get anything done. I couldn't keep my thoughts straight. I cried on and off throughout the day, especially in the shower. The shower has always been my secret crying place. Mostly I felt sad and disconnected for days in a row. I just really missed my girls.

I could tell that I was struggling. I could feel it. Then one morning I broke down while on the phone with my husband. It is still so hard for me. I'm overwhelmed with my grief. I just can't seem to snap out of it. I don't know what to do. My husband consoled me and offered his understanding. He reminded me that it has only been six months and not to rush my grief. I got off the phone knowing that I still had more healing to do and that I needed more time to do it. I needed to rethink some things. I needed a plan.

So I set a New Year Resolution: To Grieve.

Its a resolution I hate. I never imagined starting out any new year with this kind of a goal or mindset. But nonetheless it is necessary. It isn't that I have not let myself grieve because I have. But it is clear to me that I still have a long way to go.

Looking back I realize that I put too much pressure on myself to rejoin normal life. I tried to jump back into full function mode too soon. Some of the things I did, like run a half marathon and attend a GriefShare group, were beneficial for me. They served as physical and emotional outlets that helped start my healing process. But some other things might have been too ambitious. They didn't help as much as they exhausted me or distracted me. This year I want to do a better job of protecting myself and guarding my healing journey. I want to give myself permission to rest, to take care of myself, and to resist distracting myself from my grief.

Someday I will regain my strength and focus. Someday I will be able to return to a more normal way of living. But that day is not today. For now I will lighten my load and let healing be my top priority. Next year I want a different resolution.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Memories

Yesterday was my son's birthday. He is three. I cannot believe that three years have flown by so quickly. I remember, like it was yesterday, him kicking incessantly in my belly. When I was pregnant he often got the hiccups in the middle of the night and kept me up at strange hours. Since I was awake I would talk to him. I loved it. The day he was born was the most amazing moment of my life. Everything went just as I had hoped. He was healthy and perfect. As all parents know, something in you changes when you see that little face and count all ten fingers and ten toes. Life takes on a whole new meaning and suddenly everything is crystal clear. I was a mom. Forever, with all my heart, I was some one's mom.

When I got pregnant with Aubrey and Ellie I instantly became three people's mom. It was amazing. I felt so blessed. So honored. So special. It had already been such a privilege to be my son's mom I could only imagine the joy of raising Aubrey and Ellie. I anticipated the day of seeing their little faces and counting their little toes. Would it be as amazing as the day my son was born? Would I love them more than I already did? I was counting down the days...

And the day came. But it was nothing like I hoped it would be.

My son was born four days before his due date. My girls were born 107 days before theirs. My water never broke during my entire labor with my son. The midwife broke it for me when I was pushing him out. My water did break with my girls, suddenly and prematurely, and that made my labor impossible to stop. I gave birth naturally to my son. No surgery, no medication, no medical intervention, just eight hours of miraculous hard work. My girls were born by emergency classical C-section. The surgery was our best option to save their lives because they were both still breach as they should be so early in gestation. I held my son against my chest the moment he was born. The midwife handed him right to me. He cried and squeaked. It was music to my ears. I was out, completely under anaesthesia, when Aubrey and Ellie emerged into the world. They were handed directly over to strangers; doctors and nurses that swept them away to the NICU. I never saw them until hours later already hooked up to machines and tubes. I had to wait days and days to hold them. I only held each of my girls once, as they left me for heaven. And I never heard my girls make a single noise. I never heard them cry. My son weighed 7 pounds 11 ounces and was 22 inches long. My girls were not even a pound and a half and were only 12 inches long. I nursed my son within a half hour of his birth. I never nursed either of my girls. I took my son home from the hospital two days after he was born. He was beautiful and perfect. I have never been so proud of anything. I never got to take my girls home, and they never left the hospital until the day we put them to rest. But I am still proud of them. I show everyone their pictures. And I miss them terribly.

It is hard to cope with the disappointment I feel in losing Aubrey and Ellie. The whole experience was the exact opposite of what it ought to be, of what it is supposed to be. Their birth, their life, their death, was all a nightmare. The days we had with them were so traumatic. So painful. So scary and uncertain. Yet I am thankful for every second of knowing them. Despite all the pain, I am thankful for those two little girls.

And knowing them and having this experience with them has made me even more thankful for the miracle that was my son's healthy pregnancy and birth. I see now that God blessed me with those hours of labor. That all the tears and sweat were a gift to me. My son is a gift yes, but so is my birth experience with him. It was my honor to endure that pain, not only for his benefit, but for my own, so that I could have one memory, one experience, of what giving birth is like. Of what seeing a healthy baby come into the world feels like. To have something so special and miraculous to reminisce about and hold on to. I guess God knew how much my son's birth would come to mean to me. Having a healthy baby is truly a miracle.

I always assumed that I would get to keep any baby I had. I never thought that a baby of mine would ever die. Certainly not two babies. I still struggle accepting that both of my girls are gone. Why? I just don't understand how my first pregnancy went so perfectly and my next pregnancy went so tragically. It is just one of those things I guess. Just something that happened. Something painful and sad. Something that I can't change no matter what. All I can do is hold on to the good memories. I have my son in my arms and my girls in my heart. And that will have to be enough for me.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Aubrey and Ellie's Milk

On New Year's Eve Day I got to meet, for the first time, the family and little girl that got my girls' milk. When Aubrey and Ellie were alive I pumped my milk for them, saving it for when they could have it. After they died I kept pumping my milk anyway. I just couldn't bring myself to stop. I don't know why. But for seven weeks I pumped my milk every three hours and stored it all carefully in my freezer. Before I knew it my freezer was full of milk. I could not bare the thought of pouring it down the sink. It needed a home. It was time to find a baby that needed my girls' milk.

I made some contacts and in a very short time I received an email from a family that had adopted a little girl that was struggling a bit to gain weight and stay well and they eagerly wanted to find breast milk for her. It turned out they did not live far from my home town so I took all the milk to my mother's house and the family came and picked it up from there. I was not able to meet them at that time though and we made plans to meet sometime in the future.

While visiting my family for Christmas we were finally able to meet. I took my son to their beach vacation home and we had a wonderful afternoon. The family was so gracious and their little girl was so sweet. I loved finally putting a little precious face to the milk that was for my girls. I felt so blessed to have found them, to find a specific family and a specific baby to give my girls' milk to. A baby that I could meet and hold and remember. A family I could stay in touch with. A part of my girls lives on in that little girl and her family and that comforts me. Aubrey and Ellie have touched many lives, not just mine.

I know my girls' milk was deeply appreciated by the family for many reasons and I could not help but feel honored to give it to them. We are all sad that such tragic circumstances brought us together, but also blessed that something so good could come out of something so sad. It is just another example of the good God is accomplishing through my daughters' deaths.

I recognize the good God is doing but I would be lying if I said that it feels good. It feels a little sad too. I can't help but miss my girls. There is so much that I don't understand. I would have been more than happy to pump extra milk for this little girl if she needed it so badly. It seems so extreme that Aubrey and Ellie's death allowed this little girl to get the milk she needed. There has to have been another way. But that is not how this all works. What happened happened. I know my daughters' deaths had nothing to do with this little girl. And she needed milk and I had milk so God linked us together for all our benefit. She got what she needed and I also got what I so desperately needed...a little more peace in my heart. And that peace helps my heart heal. It really does.
 
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