Thinking of you...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

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Thinking of my babies today... and remembering with a smile...

(to have your baby remembered, click here)

Snow Day

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6am brought some fun news; the library was closed due to all the snow. After the phone rang, I heard the plows as they made the street drivable for folks like Peter who weren't so fortunate. I spent the day organizing the library downstairs. Peter put bookcases together for me and I moved the piano (well, I slid the piano to where I wanted it... I didn't actually pick it up or anything). I reorganized the 2 bookcases that were there and moved them, then organized the half bookcases Peter had put together. They are now where I want them and the middle of the floor is perfect for a rug, some comfy chairs, and a coffee table or ottoman. I'll have to post pictures once we are finished.

Redoing the library meant moving my desk and card catalog (which I use to store office supplies) upstairs to the office. We made this decision since Peter couldn't run the internet cable down from his office to mine. The walls, which are super thick stone, aren't even, so the cord kept getting caught. So, last week, we moved my stuff upstairs. We still aren't finished reorganizing the office, but it is functional and, actually, I don't mind it so much. The only issue is that my books aren't here, but if I really need one, I can always bring it upstairs.

And, in addition to cleaning, my snow day has been full and is quickly coming to an end. We have choir practice at 7:30 tonight, so all in all a pretty full day...

Catholic Social Services called back. They are coming on Tuesday night for our home consultation. Basically, they interview you again, one-on-one this time instead of with other couples, and check out your home. If you pass this step, then the official home visit is next, where they actually inspect your house. I'm nervous about the interview, I can't imagine how on edge I'll be during the inspection. I mean, we live nicely, but you never know what someone will think.

Well, back to cleaning!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

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Last Friday night, we joined some new friends at a couple’s party. The idea was to leave your children at home and come celebrate your spouse. It was hard to be there, amidst the pregnant folks and those who talked about leaving their babies with sitters. What I wouldn’t give to have been able to talk about leave our little ones at home while we snuck out for a party… Who am I kidding; I’d never leave the house.

I told Peter when we left that I’d never seen so many young, pro-life, pro-NFP Catholics in one room. Typically, the mentality is that the 20-30 year old Catholics are the one pushing against the Church on those issues; but not so. The discussion was spirited and folks seemed so committed to their faith.

But, it was still hard. I think the roughest thing was that these were the moms I thought I’d be. The ones who stay home and mother their children while dad goes off to work and comes home to dinner on the table. The ones who raise their children with “good values” and dress them up for church on Sunday. The ones who talk to one another about the prayers little Suzie has learned or that little Joe just learned what genuflect means. That was going to be me, and then I was surrounded by them and realized how little I presently have in common with them. And it hurt. Because I so desperately wanted to be able to smile and nod and have something to talk about. Instead, I talked about the library because some of them knew me from work. Or I talked about the March. Or about how Peter and I enjoy our service to the Church. What I wanted to talk about was how Nicholas called me mommy or how Sophia learned to crawl or that Alexander was sleeping through the night. God, why? Why us? Why anyone?

Today, I had to handle the infant storytime moms for checking out. I have come to loathe this group. I have to say I was never in love with them to start with. Most of them have little (if any) control over what their 0-2 year olds are doing. They let them pull things off the shelves, fight with one another, and be unruly, without ever thinking that they are in a library. These are the tykes who grow into toddler monsters that we, the staff, have to chase around to stop from hurting themselves because mom is nowhere to be found. The moms sit and complain about being moms, being pregnant, etc., and can’t wait to drop their kid off somewhere and grab a cup of coffee together. Once again today, two moms sat and discussed how they wish they could go into premature labor because, as one so delicately stated, they are “so over this”. And, as her companion noted, her son was born premature and he was “fine”. I guess premature birth is overrated. And, because there is nowhere to go, I have to stand there, checking their books out, helping them find what they don’t need, hoping that somehow, by the grace of God, I wont go completely ballistic, telling them what utter fools they are and how they are so blessed to have children that are living and breathing. For once, I’d love to say “Would you prefer that your baby died? No? Then how about you stop our complaining.” Of course, that day will never come.

The worst part is that, unless you go through it, you’ve probably complained at some point during pregnancy. With Nicholas and Sophia, I remember saying just how tired I was of puking all the time. Now, I’d give anything to be in that place again. Why, God? Why us? Why anyone?

At 2am this morning, Peter and I went for our first official Adoration. It was a nice hour. We sat quietly, praying, really there. You’d think that 2am would be tough, but not really. We sat the alarm and got out of the house on time. Then, you get home and go back to bed. But that hour, there’s really the presence of Christ there. You can’t fall asleep. You just are… I like being there precisely for that reason. The problem is that I can’t seem to get that feeling to translate into everyday living. And part of the bigger problem is that I don’t really want to. I’d rather be home, doing housewife things, trying to be in the place that I don’t regret being while pregnant. It’s no secret that I think the stress and doing the heavy work of the library had impacts on my pregnancy. I remember telling Peter that I was quitting at the first sign of pregnancy after Nicholas and Sophia… But I didn’t. So much was going on with family that I didn’t feel like I could. And so, here I am.
Every time I talk to Peter, he tells me to quit. It’s a sweet thought, but it wont work. Quitting means not seeing Dr. Lee. There’s no way we can afford the copays in addition to our expenses if I’m not working. Not to mention other things. So, I get up everyday and come to a place that I used to love but that now fills me with such a rage at times that I cant even talk to Peter about it. Last night, he told me that, even though he likes his job, he wants to look for another one, an hour away, because the pay is better and then I could quit and be happier. Great. Now I have my husband doubting that he’s a good provider. Can life get much better at this point? I sure hope not. So, then we end up in an argument because I don’t want him to think about leaving a job he enjoys and that is stable because he thinks more money will make things better. I have a list of things that would make life better; money isn’t on it.

I know that God has a reason and that God will provide. But I am getting so tired. I feel like I’m being drug in different directions, that God is telling me to do one thing but that the means with which to do it aren’t there. I pray and feel like there are answers, yet they are answers that I don’t think I can implement. Part of me thinks that God is going to say ‘Then stop praying if you wont listen.”

Being pregnant again wont fix this. I get tired of folks telling me that it will. I get tired of people worried that I’m depressed. I’m just angry. Who wouldn’t be? A year ago, my life was good; now, I’m trapped in a nightmare that I can’t wake up from. I sleep a lot because it’s the one place where the nightmare doesn’t exist. I’m not destructive, just angry. I want answers that don’t exist and want a life I cant have.

I want more children. But they wont replace the ones I have. They wont take away the hurt and anguish at not having my Nicholas and my Sophia and my Alexander. Nothing will. I hide the way I feel from most people because it is easier that way; I’m sure more children, with enjoying their lives and being there for them, will come with my hurt and grief going a layer below the surface, but not for one moment will it not be there. Why do people who’ve never experienced a loss seem to think that having another baby will suddenly make the world right? Why do people think the phrase “One day, you’ll be parents” is okay to say to parents who’ve lost an infant? Worse, why do people think they can create some sort of mitigating circumstance with “Well, this was all for the best” or “There must have been something wrong with the baby”.

It’s been a long day and it’s only 3pm… I think I’ll go bury myself in books for a while…

Here we are...

Monday, January 26, 2009

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Time has lost most of its meaning and completely its depth. I used to remember days gone by, but not really. Not now. I find myself saying "I can't believe X days/weeks/months have gone by..." To me, life stopped a year ago. My precious Alexander happened and he picked it up for a few months, but losing him hit rewind on my life and I am back, a year ago. Somehow different with three children instead of two, but still, back. The weather is cold again. We have a fire in the stove and cuddle up under the blankets. I am at work. But then there are so many changes... We cry a lot more... Sit in silence a lot more... Fight more, maybe? I don't know... I'm not sure if the discussions we have are fights or more our frustrations coming to light. I don't think they are fights... A fight is more indicative of a disagreement. We aren't disagreeing, just frustrated with how things are... Maybe instead of "fight more", I should say "Are frustrated more..."

We are frustrated right now. We say things, countless words falling out of the telephone or email, how we feel without thought for how those words will make the other person feel. We don't have the answers to the questions, don't have any way to fix things. And how could we? There is no way to fix this. This is a break in our lives that is forever. You don't fix the broken china that is life once your children die; you just try to pick up the pieces, cutting yourself with the shards, hiding the hurt from the rest of the world.

There's very little that holds a lot of meaning for me these days: Peter & our children (the memories of those once here and the hopes of those yet to come), Church... That about sums it up. I'm doing my best to keep up with friendships, but at times, it is hard. Funny thing is, the friendships that are easiest aren't the ones I would have thought. There are a few treasured folks who dont hide from any of this... They are the ones that it is easy to talk to, to try and let out some of the me who wants to hide forever. In that way, I am so lucky.

I pray a lot more. A lot of people have said how things like this destroy their faith in God. At this point, God's about all I have left. I have to believe. If I thought for one second that God had abandoned me completely, that there was no God and that my children's lives were over- that I would never see them again, hold them again, kiss their soft foreheads again... I would die, right now. I couldn't go on without that hope, that belief that they are still with us... That they have not died but been born to real life. That one day, I will be with them. And, so my faith is stronger than ever before. Now, I have a reason greater than myself to believe: them. Peter and I are starting an Adoration assignment tonight/tomorrow. We signed up f0r 2am on Tuesday mornings. So, less than 10.5 hours from now, we will be in church, sitting with Jesus. It is one of the most amazing things to do... It is the one place where I feel so free, so open, so not alone. We've been going to the 2 churches in our area that do it, randomly. During a snow storm, we went to one and they were closed. I was so devastated. I actually started to cry in the parking lot. It had been such a rough day. Peter and I had driven to our church to pick something up (that wasnt there) because I had said that I would. I asked him to drive to the church in Lansdale, the next town over, for some time with the Blessed Sacrament and, even though he wasnt really up for it, he did. We get there and the chapel is dark. I tried the doors but they were locked. And, completely lost at that point, in the cold, bitter, snowy night, I just broke down and cried. It felt like even God had closed the door on me. Peter seemed to know exactly what I was thinking because I remember him saying "God hasn't left. He's still here." We got in the car and he told me that he'd check St. Mary's, which is on the other side of our house. Honestly, I was feeling kind of hopeless at this point, but he was driving and so we went.

The chapel at St. Mary's looked dark but I got out of the car and tried the door. OPEN! Peter parked in the snow and we went inside. A candle flickered in the silence. The monstrance was open and empty. But still, the sense of holiness filled the room. We sat and prayed together. At some point, the door opened and someone else came in, another soul wandering in the winter weather, looking for peace and finding it, there, in that small chapel. We signed up for an Adoration spot the next day.

2am is getting closer with every second...

In less than a week, Nicholas's first birthday will be here. A week later, our consult with Dr. Lee. A week after that, Sophia's first birthday. And, a week after that, Alexander's 3 month birthday. Already 2009 has been full of things that are hard, but beautiful, too. My beautiful children... I'm looking at their pictures on my desk right now. How I love to look at them. They are the most beautiful of God's creatures, and I get to call them "my babies". Amid the hurt, there is such beauty in those words.

And, on that note, I will finish up my work for the day and get ready to go home...

Send your love

Saturday, January 24, 2009

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Another mom mourns today; please stop by and wish her your joy at the one year birthday of her daughter, Ellie, and your sadness at her passing the same day, 2 hours later.

2 months

Friday, January 23, 2009

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Happy 2 month birthday, my sweet Alexander. Would that you were here, I would kiss you for all the days you were with me and hug you even more. Instead, my hand is on my heart, in the hopes that you can feel the warmth of me there.

2 months. 1,475 hours. 88,500 minutes. 53,100,000 seconds. 2 months. A lifetime without you. Life with you seems so small in comparison, but I'll take it. If those 5 minutes, those precious 300 seconds are all that I get to have with you on this earth, then they are mine and I treasure them.

Today, I had a melt down. I'm sure that some of it is because of the March yesterday. Peter and I went to the March for Life yesterday. As many of you know, we are the coordinators of our parish's Right to Life committee and the March is one of our largest activism activities. It was a lot of work, but so worth it. What a moving experience. But the hardest was walking by the signs of the babies, some older than our little ones, some younger, who have been killed in the sake of "choice". What about their choice to live??? The hardest part is the realization that my babies, in the womb of another, could be killed. I cried as I passed by those signs, the images of the poor, innocent babies, the children who may have cured Aids, found a remedy for famine, who may have brought peace to the world, these babies who were murdered. But I also found hope in the faces of the hundreds of thousands who came out in support of these little ones. Maybe our voices will be heard. Maybe one day.

Coming home, there were some stresses from family that had to be addressed and we went to be tired and, at least for my part, restless. Waking up this morning, the realization that not only my precious baby boy but also my sweet twins were gone was too much. I cried, I stayed in bed, I didnt want to move. Peter, at a loss for what to do I think, gave me Maggie (panda bear) and Tippy Mickey (bear he had as a little boy) and just held me close until finally having to go to work. Afterwards, I still slept late into the morning before finally getting up and going to work.

Tonight, we are visiting friends for a late night party, but first, we will celebrate our little one with a very craved dinner of tuna salad sandwiches and tomato soup. I'm looking forward to that a lot.

Simply Good Café

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

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Peter and I met for lunch yesterday. I was working a split shift, so I left the library at noon and drove to him; then, we went to North Wales for lunch at a tiny café. Many moons ago, this café was known as Café Betsy and they served the best quiche ever. Betsy had studied in France and her food was divine. The shop was small, maybe 5 tables? At most, it held 12 people. And, because the food was so awesome, it was always packed. A few weeks ago, we drove by and the little sign was perpetually on “closed”. Alas, we thought, the economy took out another small business… Then, recently, an email that Café Betsy was reborn into Simply Good, a café serving many of Betsy’s signature dishes (like her quiche!) but also an assortment of middle eastern foods. So, we went. And the food was great. But that isn’t what I remember.

What I remember is that Café Betsy’s was the last place I ate before my son, Nicholas, was born.

February 1st was an interesting day because it was the first weekday I’d taken off in a while. Scheduled to work the Saturday after, I’d scheduled myself off for Friday and made plans to visit with my mother-in-law. We’d decided to invite Peter to lunch with us and, because of its proximity to his workplace, we’d selected Café Betsy’s. We joked with her as I relaxed in a chair by the door, hands on my stomach. I don’t remember what I ate or drank (probably quiche and lemonade, but who knows…), but I remember feeling so secure in myself, in my pregnancy, in how perfect life had become. We went home and I took a nap, before Peter came home and spooned up to me. We slept for a few hours before I took that last trip to the store to satisfy a craving.

As that time of year draws closer, everything is familiar. The bitter chill. The icy roads. Even the tiredness. It reminds me moment after moment of that night and makes me question whether or not anything I could have done could have possibly changed the outcome. The rational part of me says 99% not; but it’s the 1% that the irrational part holds onto.

And so, yesterday, we returned for the first time in almost a year, to the place where we ate our final meal before our precious baby boy, our son, Nicholas, was born. We sat at a different table… A table for two instead of for three… And I stared for a long time at the empty table by the door. And I remembered. The smells, the warmth… All of it. For that one moment, I was back, a year ago, and I could do something different to change all of this. But it only lasted a moment and then I was thrust back into this world with someone asking what I’d like.

I’d like my children back.

Today, I shared my precious ones with a complete stranger. I had a storytime at the Library (my childrens person had a meeting so I had to do it). A woman came in a little early with her three children. It was rough to see them. The youngest was a little girl, able to walk on her own but still little. Maybe 18 months? 2 years? Putting on my bravest face, I smiled and asked her what her name was as she waddled towards me, big smile, arms out. (Did I mention the library is part of a very small series of towns? I'm called Mrs. Haytko by the kids and the parents will actually come in and introduce their children to me.) Her mother turns from across the library and says "Sophia". My heart fell into my throat, but I said "What a beautiful name you have... That's my daughter's name." She giggled before running off to some other part of the library. Her mother brought some books to the desk to checkout and making, what I assume she felt was normal conversation, asked "How old is your daughter?"

This is the question I dread. I know that no matter what I say the other person is going to feel bad for asking. And I dont want them to. I love my children; I want others to know them. The only way they can is by asking and hearing, but still... It is hard... And so, I say the words she didnt expect or want to hear. "She died as an infant."

She was quiet for a second before exclaiming how horrible it was. "An infant..." she said, finally. "I'm so sorry; that is horrible." Then, she asked, "Do you have any other children?" Ah... Lady, you are so sorry you asked the first question; you're probably really going to regret the second... "We have two sons as well; but," I said, before she could ask, "they died as infants as well. They were all born premature."

And now the silence. The I-am-so-sorry-I-asked silence. The how-dare-you-put-this-on-me silence. The get-me-the-hell-away-from-this-woman silence. I'm okay with that. I deal with it all the time. Most of the storytime moms avoid me like the plague, especially the pregnant ones. It's like they think that I have the plague... That what killed my babies might spread to them if they talk to me or look me in the eye. Some women wont even let me help them, as though my touching of the books they are checking out might somehow infect them and their children, both unborn and born, with something horrific and terrible.

But, then she said something else. "How old were they? When they were born?" I told her and I told her how long they lived with us. She asked if the doctors could help us going forward. And, because she didnt hide from it, didnt run away, didnt try to negate them, I told her the thing that no one seems to get because no one tries to get close enough to know. That I wouldnt trade any of it, not one bit, if it meant that I never had them at all. That I love them and that my life is better because they were in it. And she smiled. And then she shared that she knows the hurt, too. She had three miscarriages and her heart is still raw; her eyes still carry the scars. Before she left, she told me she would pray for me.

I dont know if we will ever speak of this again or if we will walk by one another with a nod and a sad smile, with the knowledge that we both have suffered an agonizing, unimaginable loss. But I will remember her babies, and, because she cared enough to ask, she will remember mine.

Anniversaries...

Monday, January 19, 2009

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For those who may not know, Peter and I celebrate three anniversaries (outside of the whole, "when we met" sort of thing). June 17th is the "real" one, when we exchanged vows to love forever; September 25th is the "wedding" one, where I wore the white gown and we partied before heading off for the weekend; and Jan. 17th is the "Catholic" one, when we had our nuptials blessed sacramentally.

Saturday, we didn't really do much. Well, I didn't do much. I think Peter worked on things for one of his classes and did some stuff in the office upstairs, but I slept on the couch. We went to Mass in the morning, prayed the Rosary afterwards, and did some work at the church, then we went shopping for some incidentals. Then I took a nap. For 4 hours. We'd planned to go to to the movies, so we caught a late afternoon showing of "Defiance", which was a good movie but was hard to watch (in a "Schindler's List" sort of way...). Finally, we had dinner with friends, since the 17th was the only free night they had.

I didn't sleep. I stayed awake (as did Peter quite a bit) and watched the minutes tick off to Alexander's 8 week birthday. And then I cried. A lot. Peter and I were awake together for it and we held and talked. We were serving at church, so we ended up there by 6:30am. I was there until 1pm; Peter left, but only for an hour in the late morning. And he brought me back a special gift.

I collect Willow Tree figurines. For our anniversary, he added a special one to my collection. It's called "a tree, a prayer" and has the following prayer included: May you find strength, beauty, and peace in each day. Strength, Beauty, and Peace. Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander. What a beautiful sentiment for every day. I have this on my desk at home, along with "Remembrance", which my dear friend, Meg, gave me. It has three strands of greenery, one each, she said, for my special little ones.

They are just so lovely... Over the years, friends and loved ones have given me different ones, each which I cherish. Peter's mom has given us one for each child, which are in our bedroom. I love to feel the textures and just remember as I hold each one.

Wisdom of the World

Friday, January 16, 2009

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My daughter was the wisdom of my world. Gaea Sophia, Greek for "Earth Wisdom", was this beauty in a world so cruel, calm in my storm. Hope where I was hopeless. After her twin brother died, I thought that I would die right along with him. I remember laying on the table at CHOP, as the doctors fought to stabilize my little munchkin, and looking up at the kind EMT who had carried Nicholas in the helicopter, who had nodded to me the entire journey that "yes, your little boy is okay", he slowly shook his head and began to cry. At that moment, I wanted to die. I wanted to let go and he said, softly, "Your other baby is going to be okay." And suddenly, amid the chaos, I felt her move. When he stepped away and Peter brought my beautiful baby boy to me to see, up close and personal for the first time, it was as though our little Sophie heard her daddy's voice and leaped for joy. She moved, as though to say "Hold me, too!"

Throughout the hospital stay, I held her, snug in my belly, my arms around her. She would sometimes find my hands and curl up in a ball. Othertimes, she would swim incessantly from side to side. Later, we wondered if she was looking for Nick. If Peter wasn't holding our son, I would hold him, one hand around his blanket, one hand on my stomach, so that I could hold both. I grieved but I couldn't grieve completely. Sophia gave the me hope that from our pain, we could still have joy. I wondered constantly how I would ever explain to my daughter that her brother had died... That I couldnt save him... That I couldnt keep them both safe... But then she would move and I would wonder if she could still talk to him somehow, if they could still be together someway.

She gave us so much in the two weeks we had her before she was with her brother again. For those two weeks, even though we were broken, it was the hope that she gave us, the strength from her older brother, and the belief that, no matter what, they were both safe and loved, that got us through.

And today, my little girl would be 11 months old. It's hard to believe 11 months have passed since her birth... That, in 2 weeks, her big brother will be a year old. My God... All that has happened... All that has changed... In a week, it will be 2 months since I gave birth to Alexander... Wow... To me, life stopped so long ago that seeing the pages on the calendar go by is just another reminder of how much of me has gone. Life goes by so slowly when you are childless and want a baby; having children changes everything. They grow up so fast and you grow older without even realizing it... Even when they are in heaven and you are trapped in the world below. It's made all the harder because, for you, the time until you see them again goes by so slowly and you feel each day drag on like the eternity that it has become...

This time in February, I was laying in bed, in the midst of the early signs of labor; my back felt like it was going to split open... Five hours later, my water broke and a half hour after that, the EMTs were called. At 6:08pm tonight, as I am on my way home from work, I will remember the culmination of 4 hours of hard, back labor: the birth of my daughter. It was during her labor that the realization that "Yes, labor is hard," came, immediately followed by the words that I hold in the silence of my heart, "but you can do it."

And so today, we celebrate our little girl's 11 month birthday. This morning, I made her favorite breakfast, the cream of wheat that personally, I'm not a huge fan of but that I would have given my right eye for during the 2 weeks we had with just little Sophie inside. Tonight, I'll cook, and we'll remember her and love her and pray for the day that we see her again.

A Mom Needs Your Support

Thursday, January 15, 2009

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Please visit and let this mom know you are thinking of she and her family.
http://prayforbabydavid.blogspot.com/2009/01/he-was-fighter.html

The Road Less Traveled...

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Have you ever had an encounter with someone so dumb that you wished you kept some sort of suicide tool in your handbag? Dear Sweet Jesus, some people are just... I don't even have any words to describe!!! (This is actually in reference to a non-baby stupidity, although I have stories for baby stupidity as well...)

Last night, Peter and I had an encounter with someone who just... Wow, where do I begin... Talks to hear themselves talk... Is so self-righteous and self-important that they can't even begin to see how absolutely unintelligent they sound... Has no concept of conversing because they are so busy talking at you that they cant talk with you... Apparently doesn't know how to speak in complete sentences (or maybe doesn't realize that you need a subject and a predicate, or at the very least something more than a string of nouns...) I'm all for poetic license (I mean, check out my blog for goodness sakes!) but when you are trying to have an intellectual conversation, at least make an attempt to make sense.

The sad part is that I dont even know if the person realizes that they are so inept. Which makes it no less frustrating. UGH!!!! We were both so frustrated last night that we were actually glad to have to go to church for choir practice. Because at least we could unwind with friends and spend the evening surrounded by warmth and love. It's a good choir group. We're all friends and a lot of us get together for dinner or to simply hang out, outside of church.

For those who have emailed asking if Peter and I are okay or just to simply send love, thank you, thank you, thank you. We are okay. We both grieve differently and we understand that about each other. I have an "irish temper" and the same is true of my grief. At points, it just builds us so much that I have to just let it rush out so that I can cope. I only do it with Peter. He understands this and works with it. He is different. He actually will nestle into getting held sometimes before he just unwinds with his tears. On most levels, we know what the other needs and are able to provide that. At work, he is okay to just sit in his office, with his light off, and spend moments where he can privately grieve when those moments hit. I can't because of the public nature of my job, so I end up bringing that home, building it up, and eventually having a really bad day. We're working through this.

We aren't really "therapy" types, although we did talk about it. It would be a waste of time for us. Peter just doesn't open up to people and I just dont give a damn to. We both pray a lot; as my grandmother would say, Jesus is the ultimate Counselor. What we have found, however, is that those who have lost children, even those who cant open up to others, feel like they can talk to someone else who is orphaned, too. We find this a lot with older women, whose losses were basically met with "get over it, have another baby" and who were unable to really grieve, and with men, who feel like they cant really talk about it (outside of with other fathers who understand) for fear of being perceived as weak. Countless people have talked to us because they feel like they can let it out finally. And, in that, we both have found some peace in all of this. Peace that our journey through this, our openness with this, has given them leave to finally grieve and let their feelings come to the surface. Peace that our pain and our suffering is redemptive for someone else. And not just redemptive in the hope that our suffering eases the burdens of humanity in a metaphysical sense. This redemption is more physical, more real.

Tomorrow, Sophia would be 11 months old. I cant (wont) lie and say that it doesnt hurt and that my heart doesnt get ripped from my chest every moment that I realize my babies are dead. I cant tell you that I dont look back on the last decade of marriage and count the 8 children that live in my heart... the three I held, the three I said good-bye to before they had even really started to grow, and the two I fell in love with but never got the chance to adopt... and feel such a loss that words dont even begin to describe... But, in this journey, I feel like we are helping others and that takes the edge off. Helping the unborn in our Respect Life pursuits, helping those who grieve, helping those who had no one to talk to... Perhaps this is our road less traveled.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth
Then took the other as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet, knowing how way leads onto way
I doubted if I should ever come back
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference
-Robert Frost

Blackbird

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

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Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly...
Black bird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see...

This is one of those songs that even now I can't listen to without crying. It used to make me think of leaving home. In my graduation card, my mom had written the single word "blackbird". But now... How it calls of going on when we are broken... Now, it is just a daily struggle without the hope of feeling like you can go on. The Long and Winding Road is another one that I find hard to listen to, yet Here Comes the Sun, as hard as it is to hear, reminds me of our children, so I make myself listen.

It's been a while since I've posted, and for many reasons. Things havent been so great this week. Monday, I just had a complete breakdown at work. I really want to leave at this point. Dealing with everything is getting to me and the realization that I would have to deal with storytimes, including an infant storytime where it seems like every mom in the group is ready to pop with another baby, was weighing heavily on me. (Ah, the joys of a lack of staff...) Peter and I were on the phone and the realization that I was still working and probably would be for some time hit, and I just broke down into sobs. Had other people been in the building, I'm sure they would have called the county library. It was that bad. Well, after that, it was as though the true depth of my numbness and pain set in. I functioned at work, but when I came home, I just stopped trying. After all, who the hell was I trying to impress? Not Peter, who has said over and over again that he wants me to be "me" at home. Well, not so much... I don't think he realized what that really meant.

I'm pretty good and playing a decent version of the real me but without the deep pain when I'm at home. It's not a fake me, like the me at work, it's a me that can, on some level, deal with the anguish and at least find a way to make conversation, clean house, etc. It's the me that still cries because she hurts but can pretty much hold in the wails of a woman who is lost and without purpose. It's the me who gets excited about the Respect Life group and working at the church and is able to feel peace and hope and all those wonderful things by being there. It's the real me, just a better looking version. It's not the me who gets out of bed with wacked out hair and in need of a shower; it's the me who is clean, with a gorgeous hairstyle, and a classy outfit. Still me; just better looking. Not quite the fake me who deals with the rest of the world.

Well, this was the me out of bed. For the few minutes I was at home before we went to church, when the better looking me came out (although it was a struggle) and then went back into the "real" me at home. I was sad, didnt' want to talk, and just wanted to lay around. So I did. Everything hurt and I just didnt have the energy to pretend that it didnt.

Come Tuesday morning, I woke up feeling just as sad, and not over my meldown. I got showered and was getting ready to leave when, while I was in the midst of making Peter an english muffin for breakfast, he said"So when are you giving your notice." To which, I'll admit I gave a smart ass reply, "Funny" was answered and went on about my business. Then he goes into how nothing is worth having me like this every day, etc., etc. To which I reply, again, smart ass, I realize, that sure, I'll quit my job and also give up the aspirations of us adding to our family because CSS sure as hell wont place a child where the family cant meet their financial responsibilities and if I quit, we wont be able to afford the copays alone to see Dr. Lee even though our insurance covers everything. To which, he replied something along the lines of how I'm not an effective or good parent this way.

Now, being the rational thinker I am right now, I know that he didnt mean it the way it came out of his mouth. But, what I heard was "You are a bad parent". And I flipped. I grabbed my lunch and tried to get out of the kitchen. He stepped in front of me to which I reply that he'd better get out of my way because I need to leave. That he cant say that to me and even expect me to stay. He moved. Well, once I'm in the living room grabbing my stuff together, I cant leave bad enough alone and yell how dare he judge me. At least I didnt finish the thought. Then, as I'm leaving, my bag catches on the table by the door and pulls it out, causing the children's u/s pics to fall and their little statues to turn over. Well, now I really freak out. I'm crying, he's crying. Eventually, I'm not sure how, we ended up on the floor. I remember screaming and wailing so much that my throat hurt (and still hurts). The worst part was that I couldnt even stay home because of staffing and payroll issues, so, in the midst of this hell, I got up and left. I heard him sobbing from outside, at my car. I go back inside, we hold for a few minutes, and then, once again, I leave. All this before 9am.

We talked throughout the day, about our misunderstandings, about the expression of grief. By last night, we were better with one another. But now, I'm back to being the "better me". The me who can't even openly be grieving on the level that actually heals because I am grieving in a way that is better for the others involved. And maybe, who knows, that is better. I'm the type of person that can even convince myself of the role to play, and perhaps this person is better suited for a life after loss than the deeply rooted me that came out on Monday. And, perhaps this me will beat the other one into such a corner that I wont have to worry about her for a while.

For those of you who may have just stumbled onto this blog and think it is my battle with Multiple Personality Disorder, I hate to disappoint. I'm just an orphaned mother who is dealing with her grief.

But, onto other things (says the well dressed version!)... We had our Respect Life group meeting last night and, even though I find this hard to believe, we have filled the bus we are taking to Washington in a week! When Peter and I started this, we were told how the bus was rarely even halfway full, yada yada yada, and to get the smallest bus available. WELL! We have filled that bus and have had to upgrade to another bus, which we very well may fill also! As this group is the one thing that really energizes me to action, it's a great feeling to know that so many have come out to take part in this and that we have played a role in that. I'm nervous about the March, especially because it is so cold, but we shall see how that goes! Once that is over, the focus changes to bringing the FOCA legislation into perspective and delving into deeper avenues of outreach.

We have choir practice tonight. It's horrible, but I'm so tired that I'd rather just sleep in. Of course, that doesn't work out so well when folks are depending on you. And, we are starting the music for Lent and Easter, which I really enjoy. Adoramus Te is one of the most beautiful pieces we sing...

Our application for fostering was received and is being "reviewed". God only knows what that means. Once that is over, they will call us to set up a time for a home visit. Who knows what they will think of us? The application didn't ask if we have other children. I can't imagine what they will think to see the pictures of Nick and Sophie and Alex... to see the nursery that is missing a baby... to find the twins' room perfect except that it is empty... But, I suppose these are things that they have to see eventually.

On a medical front (TMI alert), the CM has tapered off. I think that I've had an estrogen crash. To back up, I dont normally produce enough estrogen or progesterone naturally to cause ovulation or menstruation. Hence, the seeing of an RE and the drugs to conceive, etc. After Nick and Sophie, I actually produced enough to cause a period before we went back to Dr. Lee. Then, blood work showed enough Estrogen to use Clomid instead of Gonal-F. This led to a chemical pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage. This baby would have been due on Sophia's birthday and we felt she was a little girl... After that, no more estrogen/progesterone, so we went back to Gonal-F and that whole regiment. I think that has happened again, although not on the same scale. I havent had a period, but CM production is a result of estrogen, so I think that the increased CM was a result of that. Now that it is tapering off, I think that my estrogen levels have dropped. I really wasnt keen on doing another Clomid cycle, since it made me feel rotton, so perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. I can't believe we are less than 4 weeks from seeing Dr. Lee again. That seems like so far away, but I know how quickly weeks can go by.

Where do you find the strength on this journey? God, I wish I knew. I dont even know how I get out of bed and come into work everyday. And continuing on the path to expand our children... Where does that come from? Among the fear and the helplessness, something comes out and presses you forward, convinces you to try. Somewhere, from deep inside, the hope that "everything will be fine" convinces you until you can believe it for yourself, even in spite of everything else.

Sophia's 11 month birthday is Friday. Where did that time go? That means that Alexander's 2 month birthday is around the corner and that the month is almost over. Where has my life gone???

Am I Still Here???

Thursday, January 8, 2009

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I'm still here. Work is a lot on my plate right now. (THANK YOU, JO, for dropping off dinner for us. You are so selfless and I feel priviledged to have a friend like you. Jo made homemade soup and rolls, and dropped them on our porch, because she said that going back to work was hard enough without worrying about dinner as soon as I got home. What a dear friend. ) I can't process all that is going on. I'm exausted and fall into some cross between a restorative sleep and being awake, so that the time goes quickly by, but I hear the world around me and am still totally exausted when I "wake up". Last night, I actually slept, thanks to Peter's arms, but it was too short of a sleep and I am still so very tired...

The only thing I've been able to focus on is the Respect Life stuff I work on for Church. Peter and I head up the RL committee, and working on that stuff is the only thing that really brings me any sense of purpose. I feel the kids with me when I am working on it or am at Church. And, as I posted in a previous post, I feel like I am being led to work on that on a more full time basis. Of course, is it that I really am being called or is my mind playing tricks on me??? I dont know...

I had begun writing after Nick and Sophie died, but when I became pregnant with Alex, I couldnt work on the manuscript. It was too much to discuss their labors, their dying... I could do the positives of their little lives and their pregnancies, but not the heart-wrenching stuff... It was too much and I couldn't do it. I've opened the file again. It's so hard.

Peter and I bought what will be the photo album for baby#4. It's shades of blue. Not because we think the baby will be a boy (after all, the journal for baby#4 is pink), but because we liked the book. And the journal was a gift. They are blank. I look at them with the hope that we'll be able to continue expanding our family in God's time and that we'll both be strong enough to endure what happens, be it what we expect or outside of what we can fathom.

On that note, tomorrow will be 1 month until I see Dr. Lee.

Tonight, we are driving down to the Archdiocese. For years, in addition to our adoption desires, we've talked about being foster parents. But, when the time came to "do" something, we've always backed away, believing that we couldnt handle loving and parenting only to lose the child in the end. God has shown us that we never know how long we will have our children, in spite of every good intention and action. Not only that, but it breaks our hearts to know that children feel unloved; ours have felt loved every second of their existence. If we can give even a small portion of that to another child or many children, then our hurt is worth their happiness. And so, on Monday, Peter called, and we are going down tonight for Orientation. It may all come back that we dont meet what they are looking for, but at least we will try. And, frankly, foster parenting is part of the Pro-Life mission as we see it; we should respect all life. And a child who needs love and a home- if that isn't important, what is???

I've been a recluse in my office at work. I can't even exit the office without feeling anxious and sick to my stomach. I hate helping people. I can't even believe that I feel the way I do, especially because this was the job I always wanted and, up to a year ago, I loved it and felt good at it. I was ready to leave to mommy with no regrets, of course. But this... This apathy... This is horrific; and heaven knows, it isn't good for the library. I've got to fish or cut bait soon. This can't continue. They think I'm fine (or maybe that is what they want to think) and I'm not fine. I'm falling apart inside, and no one can or will see it. They just keep piling up tasks and I keep doing them, just to stay hidden in my office.

Have I mentioned that Mother Nature has a new trick she's playing? It's called "Am I Pregnant???" Because I don't ovulate naturally, it's pretty damn unlikely that I've gotten pregnant on my own, however, that doesn't stop Mother Nature from her monumental mind game of giving me the symptoms I've had during each pregnancy: increased CM, tenderness, abdominal soreness and a strange crampiness that isn't like menstrual cramps (not like I have enough of the hormones needed or the lining built up to even have a period anyway...), nausea, nose dryness and stuffiness... The list could be longer, but there's already enough TMI on the page. Take a pregnancy test, you might say. But here is the kicker. I cant registere a positive on a pee test for whatever reason. With Nick & Sophie and with Alex, every urine PG test was negative. Even when I knew my hCG was through the roof because of the blood tests. I took test after test, hoping to see that positive. (I know, that sounds kind of funky, I guess, to waste money on tests, but I really wanted to see it, I wanted to be somewhat "normal" like other people). So, I've taken tests (3 actually) and they are all negative. Not that I'm surprised. But it still makes me feel so sad and angry. Like, I can't even be not-pregnant like everyone else.

Well, I guess I'd better get ready to meet Peter and leave for the city. Traffic is never a pretty thing, and I have to run the lint brush over my black sweater. I moved boxes of used books today to pass the time and I look like a dust ball fell all over me.

I love you, Nicholas. I love you, Sophia. I love you, Alexander. I just felt the need to say that.

Is this living or simply life?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

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Today hasn't been a good day, which follows yesterday, which wasn't too great either. A lot of tears. Downright sobbing. To the point of nearly puking. And I didn't even bother to get out of bed until an hour ago.

The grief physically hurts. My neck and shoulders hurt so much that I can barely move at times. I feel like an old lady. (On a side note, when I was in TN, my feet were hurting so severely that I thought I wasn't going to be able to walk and, without a word, my mom suddenly geared up for a foot rub. She rubbed my feet for almost an hour and afterwards, they didn't hurt a bit. It's amazing how much our mothers know us when we don't even know ourselves.)

Just when I feel like I might be able to breathe, it all hits again like a ton of bricks. Some moments, like right now, as I stare at their pictures, I feel okay. Not great, but okay. I'm up and showered. I'm dressed (well, in PJs, but still dressed). We're planning to go out and buy stuff to make my stepfather's DELICIOUS rice pilaf (and yes, I'm going in my PJs.) I haven't eaten since yesterday afternoon; I'm hoping that making the rice will get me in the mood.

I feel like I'm gasping for air at the top of Mt. Everest. Like I can't breathe, like every breath I manage hurts and freezes my inner core. I'm nothing but thousands of cold, icy shards, each one poking at my insides, cutting away what might still be left behind.

I'm so tired of being the person that everyone else wants me to be. So very tired... I can't cry because they don't want to see it. I can't stay in bed all day because they need me to get up and show that I can. I'm just so tired... I could sleep forever and still be tired. And that's the worst of it; I don't sleep anymore. I just lay there, sometimes with my eyes open, sometimes with them closed. But always awake. I can't tell you the last time I had a "good" sleep; yes, I can. It was 1am on November 23rd. I slept until 3:30am, when I woke up to a contraction and Alex was born soon after.

This morning, I was plagued with thoughts of the first on-call doctor I saw, the idiot who told me that I "needed" to walk around, even after she'd seen that I was dilated. Of course, who is more of the idiot? Her? Or me, since I actually listened to her. I look at that and I can't even blame her. I should have said no. I should have demanded a bedpan and put the bed in inversion myself. I'm enough of a reader that I should have done that. I still can't believe I got up and went to the bathroom twice. Was that was started the inevitable? Was that what let him drop to the point that only my water breaking was enough pressure to get him back inside completely?

The questions today are merciless; the blame that follows, inevitable.

A dear friend of mine sent me a card with the following quote by Arthur Schapenhauer written in her beautiful manuscript: "The deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arises from the feeling that there is in every individual something which is inexpressible, peculiar to him alone, and is, therefore, absolutely an irretrievable loss." That about sums it up...

I've been home from work since the 19th of November. I worked that Wednesday and was admitted to the hospital that evening, so I've been out of the office, as it were, since. I've worked from home several hours a day since coming home from Alex's birth. I am due to go back on Monday morning. I really don't want to. I feel horrible because, in today's economy, people want gainful employment and I just have no desire to go back. The anticipation is like someone pulling out my fingernails. After Nick and Sophie were born, going back to work was the worst thing in the world. Everyone told me how going back would help, how I'd be glad that I did. Bull. It was the worst thing, for both my psyche and the me that shown to the outside world. I loved my job. All I'd ever wanted to do, work wise, was run a small library. Getting that opportunity (and getting it before I'd hit 30!) was so awesome! It allowed for Peter and I to move into our dream home. Best of all, the expendible money meant that we were able to help those in our family who were struggling and couldn't make ends meet. We always had planned that, once the kids were born, I'd quit my job and we'd make things work on less. But... I don't think that's possible and, while everyone was telling me how much I'd benefit by going back to work, I think it was a simple cost-benefit analysis that made them encourage me to return. Anyway, I was miserable. Every day was a new layer of hell on earth. And, because I was so miserable at work, I was miserable at home. I rarely cooked and mostly just sat on the couch. Cleaning didn't really happen until the sheets HAD to be washed and we were out of clean clothes to wear. And that was pretty much it. I'd dust up if people were coming over, but mostly, we just existed in whatever was. If paper fell on the floor, I'd step over it; if the counter was dusty, I'd use another. Then, Alexander came along, and suddenly the reason to live was there again. Things were better. Work was still pointless and I came home miserable, but I was able to overlook it because Alex made the world a better place and I was living for him. And now, like my precious Nick and Sophie, he is in another world, making it a better place, and I am still here.

I dont want to go back and I feel roped into doing so. I feel like there is no choice. If I don't go back, then how will we meet our financial commitments? How will we help those who need help? Peter has said that if I really dont think I can do it, then to give notice and then we will find a way to make it work. But still, I cant make myself do it. And I know that next week will be hell. I know that it won't make anything better to go back and that, whatever pieces of me are left, will be widdled away. That I will have to be someone else who can deal with the horrible parents and the crying babies and all the nonsense, because the real me can't. The real me can't even be with the people she loves without putting on a different face. The real me still wishes she were in bed right now.

And so, I write. Because there is nothing else to do right now. Because this is the only way that it will come out, and it needs to come out. Because I dont have the physical voice to share it with even my dear, sweet husband. But he's coming downstairs; so I'd better find a voice because he'll know something is wrong the minute he looks at me.

Back from TN

Friday, January 2, 2009

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We left for TN on Christmas Day in the afternoon. We started off Christmas with the Christmas Eve Mass, where we lit candles for our beautiful babies and for all the babies who are mourned for this season... It was a lovely service. Then, we served the 7:30am Christmas Mass, again a lovely service, and then had breakfast with Peter's parents and my dad. They took us to the airport in the afternoon (then went to Peter's aunt's for dinner). We flew to TN (via Chicago) and my mom and stepdad met us at the airport.


We spent a week together, and it was a good trip. Mom and Dad are excellent hosts, and we enjoyed delicious meals and wonderful conversation. We even learned to cook a few dishes along the way! :) We saw my grandmother, and even went on a road trip with her to the cemetary in Alabama, where my grandfather and his family are buried. We visited many people dear to us (if not so near mileage wise) and I'll even be guesting on a radio show about southern women that a friend of mine does. She'd like me to start my own and who knows, perhaps... We'll see. I'm a talker...


We arrived home last night, after a direct flight that took less than 2 hours. It was Nicholas's 11 month birthday and, as soon as we arrived home, we started cooking 'his dinner'. Couldn't let a day go by. But as we pass this mark, I realize that the next time we celebrate his day, it will be on his real birthday... One year since he was born, since this precious baby boy entered the world and changed us forever. I miss them so much.


There is so much to catch up on that I feel irresponsible blogging this morning, so I'll conclude for now and pop back on once the laundry, etc. is finished. I'll leave you with a picture from December 20th, when Peter and I went to NYC with friends. I'm the girl who's dead behind the eyes. It's so wrong to smile when you feel so broken inside.

beautiful boy...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

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Today, my dear son Nicholas would be 11 months old... Wow... Where has that time gone??? We just returned from TN and are having his dinner- at 10pm... I miss him- and his siblings- so much. I just dont even know what to say.