Well, it's been 6 1/2 weeks since Jake's birth and death, and I am really doing pretty well, I think. I have to put the "I think" in there because I am really a tad superstitious and don't want to jinx myself. There are definitely times I feel sadness, and there is a sad ache I feel when I think about Jake, but overall, the good days/times outnumber the bad now.
Of course I have no way of knowing if I am grieving in a normal and healthy way, I guess time will tell. I pray that I am. It hit me one day that maybe the reason DH and I have done relatively well is because we had the benefit of knowing beforehand that it was going to happen. Of course there is no way to fully prepare yourself for the death of your child, but compared to what could have been, I think we were blessed to have had some idea that it was going to happen. I can't imagine if we had gone the whole 9 months thinking everything was fine, prepared the nursery, bought a ton of diapers, and then whammo! our world completely shattered. Or losing your child in a car accident or something else completely unexpected. This happens to folks everyday, and my heart just goes out to them. I simply can't imagine the shock and grief. Instead, we had the terrible sadness and irony of knowing that our child was alive and kicking and hiccuping away inside of me, but once he was born and in the outside world, it would be the end. The hospital gave us a book called "When Hello Means Goodbye" and that pretty much sums it up. But I am still grateful that we did have a little bit of advance warning....that probably sounds weird. But it probably allowed us to "come to terms" with what was going to happen and maybe caused us to cherish that time with Jake more, even if it was a sad time, and even though I don't really feel like I was able to fully enjoy those last few weeks because my pregnancy discomfort and pain was so terrible.
I think a lot about this. We had so little time to spend with Jake here on earth, and I feel like what time we had was overshadowed by shock due to the emergency/urgent circumstances of that day. So in some ways, I didn't really comprehend and fully realize everything that was going on at the time, and how much I needed to really focus and commit everything about Jake to memory for the future. But alas, I can never get those moments back. I look at his pictures now and feel sadness that I didn't spend more time looking at his feet, his hands, etc. I didn't even think to look and try to see similarities in his features to DH or me, or Austin. His poor little body was not perfect by the standards that most people would call "perfect", but like my mom said, his body is perfect in heaven now. Someone told me that I would feel closer to him as time went on, and I think that is the case. With the benefit of time passed since then, I can stop and think about him in ways that I couldn't at the time, and I can feel his presence in my life even more now. Sweet baby. I tell Jake that I love him every night, and I ask God to watch over him, even though I know that He does anyway.
Of course, that doesn't stop me from wishing I had Jake to hold in my arms again. I think of it as "empty arms syndrome". Maybe I read that somewhere. It is especially hard to read of the other March babies being born now, and wishing that I was cuddling my little one too. I asked the OB who did my c-section (he's not my regular OB, he's the one who I saw at the larger hospital I delivered at) what he recommended as far as waiting to TTC again. Not that I'm thinking of that anytime soon, I know my body needs to heal. But I wanted to know what he thought. He said that studies show that your body has the best results with a new pregnancy if you wait at least 12 months. So he recommended waiting 12-18 mos. I just turned 36 y/o, so I'm no spring chicken. TTC is not on my mind now, but in a few months, I have a feeling it will be. I think it's going to be hard to wait that long, but we'll see.
Actually it terrifies me to be pregnant again. Most things terrify me lately. I remember telling DH on the way home from the hospital that if I stopped and thought about all the things we had been through that week (birth of our child, death of our child, major surgery), I might have a panic attack. And I am still reeling from the trauma. I don't want to think about big things, or make big decisions. I want to live in my house with my little family, and for things to be normal and stable again. I guess that is normal. I read somewhere that people who lose a child are terrified that something will happen to their other children too. I can really identify with that. I don't want Austin to get too far away from me right now. My faith has been shaken a little too, and I hope that's normal too. Friends and family have told us how much they have admired our strength and faith throughout all of this. Well, I don't tell them that it hasn't been that easy. I pray for faith all the time. It has been difficult for someone like me, who has never really had to endure a lot of heartache and hard times in my life, to get used to the fact that my life has now been touched by grief and that it just might happen again. It helps me to talk to people who have been through the loss of a child, to know that they have survived with their faith and sanity intact. Hopefully one day I can help others who are going through this same experience.
You know what helped me? Remembering that soon, and very soon, I would be reunited with my very whole and healthy child...that day is coming quickly...I know it will take heaven for me to meet you and Jake, but I seriously can't wait!
I remember in the NICU with one of my kids, I saw a picture a grieving mother had drawn of Jesus sitting in a rocking chair, rocking a baby and smiling...what better arms to release Jake to then the arms of your Father who also is holding you even now.
But I am still grateful that we did have a little bit of advance warning....that probably sounds weird. But it probably allowed us to "come to terms" with what was going to happen and maybe caused us to cherish that time with Jake more, even if it was a sad time, and even though I don't really feel like I was able to fully enjoy those last few weeks because my pregnancy discomfort and pain was so terrible.
Kim - I agree with everything you've said here. It's not weird. It makes perfect sense to me. I think being prepared for what was going to happen and not having to experience a sudden loss did help us to both cherish the few hours we had with Caitlin and it helped us to heal a bit too.
I remember saying to the OB a few minutes after Caitlin was born that I felt lucky and then I said to her, "I know that sounds weird given the situation, but I really do feel lucky." I told her that I felt lucky because we were getting the chance to meet our little girl and most parents who lose a baby, don't ever get that chance. She smiled and nodded her head in agreement So go ahead and feel grateful for knowing ahead of time and feel grateful for having the chance to spend some time with your little boy. We've experienced something rare...cherish it.
I realized the other day, that Austin and Jake's birthdays both have the same numbers in them. 5-12 and 1-25. That was a little neat thing that made me smile.
I had a couple of bad nights last week. It really all started when Austin and I were at my parents' house visiting them over Spring Break. It was such a freak thing- we got about a foot of snow on March 22...the 2nd day of Spring. The snow was so deep and incredibly beautiful. Anyway, Austin had fun playing in it and we took some pics, made a video of him playing in it, etc. But I couldn't help but think that Jake would never get to experience doing something like that. And then, later that night, as I was lying in bed, I pictured Jake's grave, in the little country cemetery not very far from my parents' house. I thought of it in the quiet stillness, covered in all that beautiful white snow with the moon shining on it, and the silent flakes falling all around it. Every time I think of that image, it just touches my soul in a way I can't quite explain, and it makes me cry.
It is so difficult to explain how it feels, knowing you held your baby in your arms and had him for a little while, but now he is gone. It's like you were so close, but yet so far away. It's like reaching out for something but it's just beyond your grasp.
Every once in a while, during the day, as I am going about my daily routine, I will have this quick sensation that I am falling, trying to hold on to something, trying to catch something, but nothing is there for me to grab onto. Or I will have a moment of panic-- you know those moments where you think you forgot to pick up your child, or you are driving and you think you forgot to put him in the car with you or something --I will suddenly think to myself, "aah! Where is my child?" I do that with Austin occasionally, but I have been having those moments a lot more lately. They are very weird, unsettling feelings.
DH and I have been talking about Jake's headstone. I would like to get it ordered soon. We talked about it last night, about what we wanted it to look like and what to put on there. We are thinking of having a picture of a lamb etched near the top, then Jake's name and birth/death date, and then underneath, a portion of the verse Isaiah 40:11, which says ...He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart...
My friend sent me this poem back before Jake died, when she found out about his fatal diagnosis. I love it so very much, and I read it often. I just wanted to share it here.
My life is but a weaving
between my Lord and me;
I cannot choose the colors,
He worketh steadily.
Oft times He weaveth sorrow,
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
And I the under side.
Not 'til the loom is silent
and the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
in the Weaver's skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
in the pattern He has planned.
I have hope that one day we will see God and then we can understand why He allows the things He does in this life, or maybe it won't really matter then anyway.
Well, the seasons are changing, and each season that passes takes us a little further away from that cold day in January, the day of Jake's birth and death. I miss him very much still. But like I heard recently from someone who also lost a child, we choose to focus on where he is, and not where he is not, and that makes all the difference. I can't wait to see him again some day. ♥
We've had a lot of things going on recently and we've got a lot of things planned the next few weeks - it helps to keep busy. Austin's 3rd birthday is next week - it's so crazy that that little squirt is almost 3! Thank God for him; he is such a blessing and just makes us laugh all the time. We'll have a party for him next weekend. We planted a little garden, can't wait to see that grow. Then DH and I are taking our first "vacation" by ourselves since Austin was born - just a weekend trip, but still. Looking forward to that. I'm helping my mom with a catering job the first weekend in June and then have a girls' weekend with some friends planned for the weekend after that. I am just feeling more hopeful, no, that's not the word. I never lost hope. I guess maybe I feel more at peace and not so scared anymore.