Saturday, May 28, 2011

This Side.

It's been a while.
Eight years this September since my life went in a direction I never imagined it would.
Eight years...

Over that time, I have had about every emotion, every feeling a person could have (and then some). And even through all the suffering and pain, I have come out stronger and better on this side.

I truly believe that every person that I have met- every small interaction (be it a small conversation with a stranger or an email with someone I will never meet) has somehow changed me- in one way or another- formed me. Every single event has brought me to this moment and who I am right now- as I type these words.

And because I am writing this on my "Pause" blog, it would make sense that I talk about that person- that moment- that helped me realize that each person- each moment- has a lasting impression- no matter how long that person was in your life-
It may be just a moment-and yet that moment will change your life~ forever.

I remember being at the cross road- and just like Robert Frost wondering which path I would take but being in such a fog- probably not able to make much of a choice one way or another- probably forging a new path entirely- on my hands and knees...

Recently at a support meeting, I met a new mom. A young mom- just 19. She had just lost her baby- the feelings were so raw- so new. She was there with her mom and her daughter's father and my heart broke as her mother questioned aloud, "WHY?" "Why would God do this? There is no purpose? There is no reason."

I felt the heaviness- and recognized my old friend, despair. I wanted to reach out and somehow tell them- tell them all- hang on! It will get better!!! But I didn't dare. I remember those were the words I hated most- "It will get better 'in time.'" Will it?

The truth is- it did, and it does- but not the way the phrase makes it seem- I learned to live with it- deal with it- and see the blessings in spite of it. So in that moment, I prayed and searched for some way to let this broken family know that it does get better- it can get better- and you can find purpose...

I looked in the mother's eye and shared my story...

15 months after I lost my Andrew, I had a little girl. A healthy little girl who was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I experienced a delivery as it "should be" and even commented on how bright the operating room was (such a foolish thing I realize now since of course the operating room when I delivered Andrew and Jonasen was equally bright- but had a dimness about it to me...)

We went home with our (now) babies and after a few weeks, my daughter started crying... and crying... and crying... and nothing would soothe her. We walked miles of floor with her. We took her on drives. We put her in her swing next to a running vacuum to drown out her cries. Nothing helped. I felt like a failure. I could not soothe this little babe. I was doing something wrong but try as I may, nothing worked. I was exhausted and frustrated and heartbroken. Perhaps I was not cut out for this. This was too much. Perhaps I wasn't meant for "babies".

It was in those moments that I would walk with her- pat her on the back and whisper in her ear, "It will be OK. I will outlast you. I know what it's like not to have a crying baby. I know what it's like not to have a crying baby. I know what it's like not to have a crying baby."

It was in those moments that I realized that anyone who said they would never shake a baby, never had one.
I told them this story.
I looked her mother in the eye. Perhaps the next time- your daughter will walk a floor like I did and she will tell her baby, "I know what it's like." And it will make a difference.

I don't think that I would have shaken my daughter had Andrew been here (truthfully my daughter would not probably be here had Andrew been here). But I do know that it was Andrew's life and death that got me through those painful nights- who gave me patience- who helped me realize...

I am thankful for my laundry, because I have clothes to clean.
I am thankful for my aching back, because I have a garden to tend.
I am thankful for my busy schedule, because I have children filling it up.
I am thankful for tears, because I had someone to love.
I am thankful for a boy who left, because he left me this~

You can look at others and think that their grass is greener.
But I've looked around- I've seen their side- and I know- though there are loads of weeds- and patches of dirt around me, I wouldn't change a thing!

The grass is greener right where I stand.

I don't know if I would have seen this side, had it not been for that moment- that brief moment when I held him in my arms- held him close to my heart and said goodbye-
For now.

(Thank you Geoff for reminding me of my "quote" on facebook- this is the story that reminds me that THIS side- the one that I am on, will forever and always be as green as I make it- and it is beautiful!)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Juggler

I am usually a glass half full girl-
I see the rose not the thorns.

The rainbow not the storm.

My grass is always greener.



And yet life has been heavy on me and that which weighs on me most is my dear Nan. My Grandma Jonasen (1/2 of the "Jonasens" my twinless twin is named after).

She had a heart attack.

And then surgery.

And then another heart attack.

And surgeries are no longer safe to do.

Her dementia will get worse they tell us.

And though I see my spunky, youthful, 7-years-to-a-century old Nan hooked up in her hospital bed- (surely a reason to see the glass half full)- something is wrong... with me.



The balls that I am juggling are flying above my head and I wonder which will drop first.



I think that life is like this.

It goes in waves of ups and downs and even the most optimistic of all can have days where they are angry, terrified, drowning in the tide.

And life is like this. Feelings are like this. They aren't right or wrong, they simply are.



If I can hold the balls up, tomorrow I will be going to our local support group (the one where I found myself again)- hoping to help others. But it can be so hard to give when you feel you have nothing in you.



So please.



Don't tell them:

At least they have another at home.

At least they know they can be pregnant.

At least it was just a miscarriage.

At least it happened before you really "knew" them.



It will get better in time.

It is still so early.

It is still so fresh.

It happened for a reason.



While some of these (may) be true, it is not what they need and your well-intentioned words may fall on ears that are closed- on ears that are having a half empty day- on hands that are grasping for balls as they slip away from them one by one...



Sometimes it is enough to just tell them you're thinking of them.

Tell them you remember them.

Tell them you're praying for them.



And then just be.

And listen.

For when the balls stop bouncing, and they gather them all again,

they just may have something to say,

And it may be their words that help them find themselves-

And see what they DO have.



Just be.

I feel his arms wrap around my neck.

I close my eyes.

I remember.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Remembered.

It is a day so many of us have dreamed of- pictured ourselves being showered with gifts of dandelion bouquets and cards with painted hand prints- Mother's Day-

And yet for so many of us this day has not been what we thought- As we come up on yet another Mother's Day, I want you to pause and remember-

Remember the woman who lost her mother and though she may be surrounded by children, she is missing her mentor, her friend, her mom.

Remember the woman who lost her child and though she may be surrounded by children, she is missing the child who would have been- her daughter, her son.

Remember the woman who lost her dreams and though she never was pregnant she dreamed, and wished and prayed only to have her life take a different path.

They will be around you this mother's day- and you may not even know it-
Will you remember them?

I think back to that first mother's day. The one I had dreamed of. I had thought I would have had a flower pinned to my blouse as I sang praises to the God who blessed me so with two babies in my arms. How different that day was for me. I sat- a flower pinned to my blouse- singing praises to the God who blessed me so with one baby in my arms. I knew that this was not the day I had expected- far from it-, and yet I tried to play the part and I could look at my son and be thankful that he was- for I still remembered those moments they told me he was not.

But it wasn't long before my tears began to fall. I could see him out of the corner of my eye as his shoulders began to shake and he blotted his eyes with his handkerchief- My Grandpa- My Grandpa Jonasen- My living son's namesake. He looked over at me, with my son in my arms and he burst into tears. For he- more than most in that church- knew what I was going through.

His wife had done this- gone through 28 mother's days without her son- killed two months before I was born. What had that been like for my Nana? Sure I was a welcomed distraction that first mother's day for her (much like my Jonasen was for me) but what was that first mother's day like without her son. He had died in October. Had people remembered her in May?

This Sunday there will be a woman having that first Mother's Day or maybe she's had many- a Mother's Day far different than she had expected- and she may be watched- as other's wonder what to do... what to say... or she may be forgotten- as other's wish her well not knowing what lies behind her smile- the wonder- the dreams of what Mother's Day COULD have been.

I hope you remember.

Wishing you a peaceful Mother's Day-
And that you will be remembered-
For your strength
For your grace
For your love

Remembered.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Choices

Today is the International Babylost Mother's Day and I knew I would probably write something... I never know quite how my posts here will be received but this one is one that I have thought about for some time- and I have felt little nudges here and there to write about it- so I prayed about it and I am hoping that in some way you will open your heart to the story that I am going to share. Sit with it. You may not agree with my words but please read them.

When I was pregnant with my last child, the doctors and nurses would ask questions for filling out my chart. I would explain that I had been pregnant 5 times, had two losses and that the baby I was carrying would be (God-willing) my fourth living child (he was). These numbers could get confusing, so I would go into greater detail about Andrew being stillborn at 39 weeks, and losing E in my first trimester and having a D & C. On one occasion, the doctor was trying to get it straight and said to me, "So you had a twin pregnancy with one stillborn which equaled one living child, then two more living children, one abortion and then this pregnancy."
"Um what?? Abortion??"
I didn't realize that that was indeed the procedure that I had. It didn't matter that my baby was technically gone on my medical chart is says: Pregnancies: 5. Abortions: 1.

Lately I have seen and heard a lot of messages about abortion and pro-life. One of my favorite quotes (By Dr. Seuss) is "A person's a person no matter how small." I have never referred to my children as embryos or fetuses. If you have been reading for a while you know how I have a strong relationship with God, I am a Christian and yet sometimes the actions of other Christians make me sigh and make me want to run and hide.

I have seen bumper stickers that say when the heart starts beating, I have heard of the horrific things that happen during an abortion. I wonder what purpose those things serve. I wonder if they have changed the minds of someone with a healthy pregnancy facing such choices- and still it all makes me cringe when I see it- and it's usually because of her.

There are many people in this world who have changed me- sometimes it is just a story that sticks with me- one that I can't shake- and every time I hear someone say the word abortion I do not think of that doctor who wrote it on my chart- I think of her.

She had a stillborn just like me. It was her first pregnancy after years of infertility. He died while she was in labor and she knew it but she labored still- he was a large baby- nearly 10 pounds- and she labored still. She labored for many hours and at last held her son. A son she had dreamed about. She held his lifeless body on his birthday, Christmas Day and said goodbye. She and her husband went home alone.

She was older and wanted so much to be a mother that they tried again and after some time finally got pregnant. This was it! It was finally her turn! And then she went to that 20 week ultrasound- the one where 'normal' parents go to see cute pictures of their babies- learn the gender. She went to that 20 week ultrasound where people like us hold our breath wondering what horrible news could possibly await us.

For most of us- bad news does not happen twice and I do want to stress that so many of my friends who have had a loss have gone on to have healthy full-term babies (myself included 3x over)- but that was not to be her story. She learned at that 20 week ultrasound that again she would labor and deliver a dead baby. For the ultrasound showed that something had gone terribly wrong in her child's development. His brain did not develop. It was not there. In short he had no brain.

And after the shock she was faced with a decision- she could continue the pregnancy (as I know some moms have) or she could end it. After as many days as she possibly wait, she chose the latter. She cried when she spoke of it. She cried that she had to make that decision but she said she couldn't do it again. She could not labor again and deliver a dead baby. Not again. Her body could perhaps survive it- but her heart (broken again) could clearly not and as I write this I wonder how she is surviving today...

Looking at her, I felt so much sadness. I couldn't imagine having to make such a choice- and if faced with it and in her shoes I don't know what I would do. She was grieving so much and I could feel the weight in the room and felt helpless to lift it from her shoulders. All I could think was that they were ok. They were whole now- that she would see them again.

Her shoulders slumped as she spoke of her church. The church that had turned their back on her. For she had had an abortion. And though she needed their comfort they could not give it to her. While she hated that she had to make that decision, she stood by it still- for no one knew her pain- I clearly didn't and I was not about to judge her for it. I will not judge her still.

And that is why when I drive behind those bumper stickers and open those emails about life I get a lump in my throat and it is hard to swallow. I haven't talked to her in years but I wonder what she thinks when she sees them- if somehow it brings it all back- though then again it is something that never does leave us... our children.

So please- the next time you forward something on or think about slapping a bumper sticker on your car think about her- and others who have made that choice with a heavy heart- with a heart that wanted a baby more than anything-

The problem is until you've walked in her shoes... you won't know. So please don't judge. Just be. Be supportive. Be kind. Be loving. For that is how you share God. Embrace those who are hurting and listen- for their story just may teach you something. Perhaps we as Christians should not judge but offer support and love and offer another way- For even that word "Abortion"- that was something that brought her so much pain- from the loss of a baby who was already gone, to the loss of a church community that was so supportive during her first loss and to the loss possibly of faith...

This world used to be so black and white for me... and as each year passes it becomes a little more gray. I try to make sense of it and sometimes the pieces just don't fit together- at least not as neatly as they did in my youth- before I knew. Before I knew her.

Thinking of you who made that choice with a heavy heart- and those who went and delivered still. There is no easy choice- but you are all mother's and I remember you on this- your own Mother's Day. Thank you for sharing your stories with me- with others- for they change us- make us pause- change us hopefully for the better.