Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Flood our Hearts.

It's been a strange and surreal week. Christmas came and went and truthfully, because Sam and I set some boundaries with how we needed the day to go, we got through it relatively unscathed. Christmas Eve was hard as going to a church service where you hear/sing and think on the birth of our Savior. The birth of Jesus. Although in the midst of my crocodile tears, I had a huge realization that this same baby is the One that saves me each day from my darkest moments. (sidenote: I know not all who read this blog come from that Faith, and I am so willing to sit and discuss our differences in a manner that would benefit both of us to grow and learn where we each come from. What is NOT helpful is any kind of an email letting me know you don't agree blah, blah, blah....this is OUR journey and the Hope that Sam and I share. So please respect that.) ok...where was I? oh yes, what I have seen over time is that my heart can only be pierced by 2 things. Beauty and affliction. I swing back and forth between those 2 right now. I can't pin point where I am from moment to moment, it's a pendulum. I read in Ecclesiastes this week...."He makes all things beautiful in His time." I often sit and wonder what that timing will be for us and what exactly that means. I am questioning a lot these days. That's a huge part of this and I am ok with the questions. Many go unanswered though and again, only time will and can heal that.

In two months of this journey what I can tell you is I/we have seen growth. And on some days, it is very small, but as long as I move forward and not backward that is all I can work for right now. On a recent trip to Orlando I got to sit up and talk with my wonderful sister, Andrea, to the late hours of the night. She recently sent me an email that said this, "What I do know is that you are a master at teaching us all that life is not only to be lived, but LIVED and experienced, for and THROUGH the good and the bad." (me and my girl Andi in the pic to the right)
When I read it, I had to stop. Was that really what I was doing? If so, I will take it. As my soul takes on this pain, my heart's capacity also grows and expands...crazy, I am making room for more love? To want is to suffer; the word passion means to suffer. And so I am trying to fight my human reluctance and simply listen to my heart. I know that dullness will keep me from the pain of life and what I want out of this is more love and more passion. So bring it. Let it flood my heart. Our hearts.

Part of this journey is how Sam and I choose to remember Juliette. Last Friday we went and got the tattoos above. It was something we had talked about long before we knew Juliette's heart had stopped. I had always wanted some fancy body art, (if you don't have a tattoo, you aren't really "from" Austin) but didn't know what I would want placed on me forever. When this happened, it was clear. This is forever. As hard as is it for me to say. Forever Juliette's mother even though she was gone before her first real breath. Forever.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Just Show Up

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.” Anne Lamott

Today I was reading some Anne Lamont (she's one of my favorites. Her writings are real and her struggle with faith is something I can relate to) , Traveling Mercies and came up on this quote. I stopped and thought how appropriate for now. Right now, I do feel like we are in the dark. Hitting the one month mark this past Saturday was painful. Going through the holidays and seeing the last of the nursery being disassembled...gut wrenching. Remembering that this Christmas we were supposed to be anticipating the birth of our first child and trying to figure out how in my heck will my Presbyterian roots celebrate and reflect on the birth of Jesus. It ain't going to be easy. at all.

Then I read this quote and I think about the last week and some huge steps that I took in returning to life. I showed up to counseling for the second time. Even though I didn't want to, but I showed up. I decided I wanted to get back to my CrossFit gym even though I am aware that this 'baby weight' comes with the painful recognition that there is no baby. And so, I showed up on Friday and Saturday....and again today. I have gotten back out there with running and even though I am slower than I want to be and my hips are still adjusting since delivery...I showed up and placed one foot in front of the other. **I realize these are all workout options but since this is where I also get a lot of my socializing, it was hard for me for the last month to think about returning. I wanted to have a different identity and just run away. Also, the working out seems to help me escape the world of anti-depressants. Again, not a shot down if anyone else has taken these. They are just not for me. Right now. And postpartum is hard and everyone wants to give you the drugs. I say hugs, not drugs. ok wow...I digress.

A good friend that I happen to work with at LIVESTRONG messaged me and told me on Sunday she was proud of me for simply showing up this past week. It helped to hear that from someone else without any prompting and although I am fighting to keep all my emotions at bay when I am out and about....I know that if I just show up, at some point yes, the dawn will come.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” — Albert Schweitzer

Today. December 15. This marks one month of when we found out Juliette's heart had stopped. Also happens to fall on a Thursday. Thursday's have been hard. It's the day of the week we delivered her. Particularly between the hours of 9 and 10 am. And then again at 530 pm which is when we handed her back to our nurses and said the worst goodbye we have ever known. A few weeks ago I told myself I would force myself to show up for the hour of 9-10 am. Whether that be to sit outside and catch some sun on my face, to go for a walk or to write. I would not lay in my bed and wonder if Happy Hour could start that early, but get up and lean...really hard into this pain. I truly believe that the healing will come eventually when I let room for this to happen. And when I lean, I get to know my friend fear a whole lot better, not trying to solve anything, simply trying to discover what it is that God has for me in that moment.

The last few weeks I have been going to a yoga class on Thursdays, with my favorite teacher, Leeah Taylor. (I like to say her name Leeahhhhhhhhh, because that is how deep she encourages me to breathe when I step onto my mat.) Coincidence? She teaches a class from 9-10 am. I have found comfort in going to yoga in the last few weeks because it is a workout, its a way to sweat but NO interaction with people. I don't have to talk, I don't have to tell people about my tears rolling down my face, and there is no judgement in this workout. It's personal. It's very private.

For me today this hour was....dare I say it?.....beautiful. We set an intention at the beginning of class and for me it was simple. I wanted to just know love. I wanted to take in the last month and wanted to kick my own ass into being receptive. And I did just that. With every stretch, posture, downward dog I was discovering fear in an entire new place.

At the end of class I laid on my mat in savasana, or final resting pose. The tears came and they rolled down both sides of my face. I had this wash of emotion that was controllable but needed to come out. I thought through so many of you that have stepped in over the last 6 weeks for our family. I was overwhelmed with more tears and well....yes, gratitude. Per the quote above, my flame has temporarily gone out (and I am OK with that) So many of you have stepped in and let me know this will change me. Forever. In what way is still to be determined as we continue this journey and we ask God to flood our hearts. Again I am OK with this timeline, I feel no rush.

What I think is important that in the midst of deep grief and loss, for just a moment you can find gratitude. And since its Thursday.....it's gratiThursday for me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Grief vs. Fear vs. Emptiness

"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear."
- C.S. Lewis

It's been awhile since I actually posted on my blog. I have been writing and journaling quite a bit but as I have approached a large amount of anger, it seemed appropriate to keep those posts to myself, for now. (and it's not because of what you might think of me, I could honestly care less. It's simply because this kind of anger needs to be private for now.)

I've been handed, sent and offered many things to read. And quite honestly...in my opinion, most of the garb out there on grief is (said in my best English dialect)...RUBBISH. At least for ME I have found it to be. The stages of grief seem to laughable for the most part right now. I seem to go through all of these said "stages" in the course of one to two hours during a day and then wake up the next day moving through it again. These books walk you through...what is normal. Well, maybe for that person that wrote the book, but for me and my journey right now, I'm not your normal. And if what these books list ARE indeed, "normal", well....why start now? I have never been that.

I think the toughest thing for me right now is the fact that I am not just in pain or suffering but have to keep on thinking about the fact that I am in pain/suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief. Do you follow?

And then there is fear. Fear of seeing people that may not know what has happened. Fear of stupid. (I could go on for this but I think you can know what I mean) Fear of decisions moving forward on trying again. Fear of going back to your workplace. Fear of encountering anything involving babies in public. It's all consuming at times. And fear mixed with grief then brings in words like postpartum and depression and anti-depressants......and then you have fear that you now have yet another label attached to you. It's not enough that you lost a baby prematurely, it's that now you have to say "I have postpartum"

And then finally I feel a tremendous amount of emptiness. I had a counselor ask me..."where are you right now?" And I replied with "Well, I still feel like I am in my wheelchair at the hospital doors, leaving. I am sitting with a box of created memories from 8 hours with Juliette. I am sitting there with my empty arms, yet it feels like I have a 40 pounds pressing down on them. I am sitting next to a woman in a wheelchair holding a beautiful baby boy. And I am sad. I am envious. I am afraid I will never be in her shoes. 2 woman, 2 different endings to their day of delivery. For me, that is where I am." My counselor was taken back by me responding in the physical sense rather than the emotional sense. But I know with the picture I gave her of where I was, she understood where I was emotionally. I was stuck in that place. In the hospital.

In the book Emma, by Charlotte Bronte she writes, "There is, I am convinced, no picture that conveys, in all its dreadfulness, a vision of sorrow, despairing, remediless supreme. If I could paint a picture, the canvas would show only a woman looking down at her empty arms."

This is where the last 4 weeks have taken me in this journey called grief that I don't believe has any "normal" journey. I have more to say, which will come next with a trip that Sammy and I were able to take this past weekend.