Monday, October 11, 2010

When Silence Calls

I have been rather silent lately, in terms of writing on this blog. I have had many distractions; most good, some challenging. It's the silence that has called to me to write today. Not just to write for the sake of writing or to hear my "voice", but to greet the silence. To welcome it. To accept it as part of this journey. Life has continued to settle down, but all around me there are more moms who are experiencing loss every day. This week on October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, and a lot of the moms that I know are  speaking out a little louder again. Last year, it was a way for me to accept the love, peace, and support from all our friends at a time when our loss was still so new. This year, it is a way for me to give my love, peace, and support to myself, my family, and also my friends who have become so near and dear to me along this path. I thought I would draw some comparisons from last year to this...

Last year...I felt as though Sterling's stillbirth defined who I was.
This year..I know that Sterling's stillbirth will forever me a part of our family, but does not define me in my entirety.

Last year...I felt embarrased and hesitant to acknowledge that what I was going through was demanding unwanted attention.
This year...I know that emabarrasment and hesitation was a way for me to protect myself from my fears. My reality. And the attention...I needed, so deeply needed.

Last year...I was so concerned about how everyone was going to perceive me, treat me, judge me.
This year...I have grown from concerned to confident. I have taken those perceptions and can openly express that I am not the same person I was a year ago, and as I have changed, I have tried to share with others how that change has impacted my relationships at home, at work, everywhere. This will be a life long process...and I am comfortable with that.

Thats not to say that I am comfortable with my loss. That event will always sit in my heart uncomfortably. I know that may seem impersonal, to call our loss an event...but it truly was. It was a life-changer. August 21st was just another day before last year. Not anymore. Not ever.

Monday, August 23, 2010

You Are Mine

Many beautiful things happened this weekend that really showed me how God is helping me heal on this very emotional weekend. It is Monday now, and we made it through with smiles and tears. My tearful moments came quite suddenly when I least expected them to. Mostly, when I was "about to" end something. We spent a beautiful morning at the beach and it wasn't until we were "about to" pack up to leave that I became very reflective on what leaving that beach symbolized. For a moment I felt as though I was leaving my baby there once again. You see, it was exactly one year ago, at that same beach, that I went into labor and that Sweet Sterling was with us for the last time. This year, it wasn't his little feet kicking in my tummy that I could feel, it was light angel kisses on my face. Tiny trinkles of water being sprayed up from the waves that otherwise, should not have been able to reach my skin. This was a very personal treasure, and one that I am so incredibly thankful for. As we released our balloons into the sky, I had wished that the wind was blowing the balloons out over the ocean, but it was blowing the other direction. Another gentle reminder that this journey is not in my control. None of it ever was...and yes...I do find peace in that too.

Church on Sunday was a lovely service, despite everyone's emotions running high. I was doing fine until we got to the second hymn of the morning. As, my favorite piece of church music ever, the words and notes that brought me such peace and healing during my time of loss, were playing again. As if it was just for me. As my tears poured down my face, I stood alone feeling God's words, hearing Sterling's Voice, and growing  Strength through my sadness. It was the second good cry in as many days. As the pastor shared her peace with us all, she especially gave me a warm hug and held me a few moments longer. I have never felt closer to God. I truly felt like one of his children. "Do not be afraid, I am with you. I have called you each by name I love you and you are mine". Please view the video above for this entire beautiful PEACE of music. It is a wonderful tribute to my son and our heavenly father. Amen.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Happy Birthday Baby Boy

Flashes of light, silence all around

Senses restricted, my physical self bound

My mind had shut off, protecting my soul

A story of birth was about to unfold

The birth of my son, so still so sweet

I was present but absent, I couldn’t believe

That this birth was happening, yet there was no joy

Just tears, and fears of seeing my baby boy

Without life, without breath, surrounded by love

His body was here, his spirit above

I looked through tears to my stillborn son

Frightened and Removed from what just had been done

An operating table, a doctor, a light and my tears

My husband, my baby, my life, my fears

All of these things in just a few minutes past

The numbness of my experience was bound to last

But one year later, on the day Baby Sterling was born

More than anything I can still feel how my heart was so torn

Between this world and heaven, between life and death

Is an existence that has continued with each blessed breath

Not of my son, of the life that was expected to be

But of his father and brother and yes, even me.

The me now is different, in a way hard to tell

The me now is stronger, more faithful and well

The me now will forever love, think and enjoy

The moments I had and will have with my boy

As he turns one year old in heaven today

We send him our Kisses, our love, and I will pray

That his spirit in heaven has allowed him to see

His family and friends sharing such love for thee

We speak of Sterling each and every day

He continues to be with us in remarkable ways

Through sights and sounds, and sometimes even dreams

This birthday should be celebrated as strange as that seems

He deserves to be honored, remembered, and held

Within my heart, my mind, and those that felt

Such sympathy and sadness for him and for us

We thank you, we love you, we can’t say enough

For the special people in our lives who helped us to

Keep loving, keep healing, keep pushing through

To this wonderful moment where I can now see

That birthdays are birthdays, and he will always be with me.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Circle of Support

These last 11 months, people have entered into our circle of support, and some have left.  Each has undoubetdly played a very special role along our journey of healing. It is hard to imagine what it would have been like if our circle of support was any different that what it was. Than what it will continue to be. I am a firm believer that every soul enters our lives for a very specific purpose. Often in may be for a lifetime, usually it is for a matter of days, weeks, months or years, and once in a while, a soul joins yours forever and lives within you.

I begin questioning myself when I meet new people who have entered into my life: When do I tell them about Sterling? It's been 11 months since he was born into heaven. I am now meeting and developing relationships with individuals who know nothing of my loss. I almost feel that by NOT talking about Sterling, that they will have a false impression of who I am...this all because...he is part of me. By not acknowledging him, I am not sharing a part of who I am. Then the questioning continues: Will this person want to become part of my circle of support? What happens if they do and then they leave? How do I greive the loss of support along with the loss of a child? These are so many questions and fears that will sometimes work their negativity into my mind so that I go into protection mode and just say No Thank You, I'm Fine Just The Way I Am.

And then I remember the saying, "it is better to have lost love, then to never have loved at all". This desire and need to love is my life force, just as much as my breathing and beating heart.  I remember that it is because of my capacity to love and accept others just as they are, that I hope for them to accept me just for who I am as well. Even if this me is different than the me they knew before my loss will happen countless times in my future...the only me they will know is the me after my loss.

I know none of this should really matter. People come, people go. But once you have lost a child, this ideal "goes" out the window. There is no rationalizing it. There is no explaining it away. Whether it be the loss of a favorite belonging, the loss of a car, the loss of a friend, or the loss of family...they will all forever be reminders and triggers of the loss of our child. And then it's the support that is so important, and that keeps pushing me through.

Maybe I like better the idea of a Support Continuum. Over time, the organizational structure of support may change as well as the level of intensity, but there is no point where the beginning meets the end. I don't think I will ever reach a point on my continuum where I will say No Thank You, I'm Fine Just The Way I Am. Even if my fears drive me to think it.

So, 11 months after the stillbirth of my son, I will keep reaching out and reaching within. I will always continue to heal, grow, learn, and appreciate each and every persons' purpose on my journey. You may not even know what purpose you play...heck..I may not even know until that moment. That moment when my mind, heart, and soul opens up and it all makes sense. But one thing is for sure...WE will forever be grateful for YOU. Always.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

White Butterflies

August and I have had several visits by a white butterfly while playing in our back yard this summer. Everytime that we see one, I can't help but think of what the white butterfly symbolizes for us mothers whom have lost a baby. There are so many meanings, so many interpretatons, but if you strip all that down, it is simply another reminder of our Baby Sterling.

So whenever a white butterfly takes the time to fly around us, we take the time to say "Hi, Baby Sterling" and take a deep breath. In that split second I feel as though I am sharing the same moment with August and with Sterling at the same time. I wish for more of those moments, but will always appreciate those rare occassions that we are blessed with. So precious, so pure, so rare. Exhale.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gone Just As Long

Its been 9 months since Sterling was born still. I have now exceeded the time since his birth/death versus  how long he was alive and part of my working womb. I don't know what significance that information has, other than it means something to me. Just something. He was to be our 2nd child, carefully planned to be born happy and healthy before my 35th birthday. Today is the day after my 35th birthday. Yes, I did have my second child, but I don't truly have him. Not the way I wish for. Not the way I want his brother to remember him. Not the way...yet...its the only way that I have. And I have come to terms with that...9 months later.

Now, I really am affected when August brings up Sterling out of nowhere. He now has conversations with him, and shares those with Christopher and I with such sweet abandon. I treasure those sweet with sorrow. ..recently, so frequent. His soft words still bring tears to my eyes, but at the same time they bring a warmth to my heart. A warmth that only August, as Sterlings Brother, can bring. Thank you, my precious boys....what a wonderful Mother's day gift.

Mother's day....I had fleeting seconds of sadness...knowing that the entirety of my motherhood is not livingly represented. We drove past several cemetaries and I observed multiple funerals happening this past Sunday that is meant to honor those whom have lost mothers. I hope that those families can some how still let the sun shine down on them. I still look for my rays of light. My children. My future. My life. I wondered briefly if that is something that children who have lost a parent traditionaly do on Mother's Day. Go visit their mothers, grandmothers, foster mothers, adopted mothers, surrogate mothers...there are so many types of mothers....and then mothers of babies lost and of babies living. Maybe even mothers makingmore babies. I'm rambling....sorry. General summation....I am so proud to be a mom. It is awesome. I hope to be a mom to more. 9 months ago, I planned to be a mom to more. I was ready. I was willing. I was so excited. And then I lost that life...but I did not lose mine. I have found the will and desire to go to that place again. We shall see what conversations are to be had...all I that I will be listening.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

If I Had You

When I first received the CD that had this song on it, I immediately flipped to the lyrics to read hopefully words that would somehow comfort me. I really don't like "what if's" though. In fact...I despise them, more so than ever since Sterling. So what caused me to gravitate toward a song with that title?  I think that I was looking for something to relate to. Anyway....even if it meant that I could some how interpret or twist words and phrases into significant meaning for that moment. Today...this song is being released as a single, and the CD that it was originally on is being re-released with several re-mixes of previous songs. Re---re-----re-----If I had you.....there is no replay, remix, release for the aftermath of losing a child that anyone ever should experience. Yet we do...and these are some of my replays....

I replay in my mind the moment that I saw you for the first time.
I replay in my mind seeing you in your bassinet, so still, so covered, so present...but not.
I replay in my mind your dad. His tears. My numbness.
I replay in my heart the sinking feeling when your heartbeat couldn't be found.
I replay in my heart the sharpness of realizing that what's done is done.
I replay in my heart the longing for more..more moments...more time...more courage...more babies....more...more...more

I don't walk around replaying these moments every day. Usually they hit me in spurts. And then they are gone. Just as he is. But he was...Still Born.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Fear Factor

Ask any parent, what is their number one fear? Losing their children. As I listened to Pastor Jim talk about this message today at service, I began reflecting. On the loss of Sterling. On the fear of losing August. On facing the fear of loss probability/possibility in future journeys through pregnant-hood. Yes, I made up a new word..but pregnancy truly is more than just a state of being for a temporary amount of time. For some, pregnant-hood is the only level of parent-hood ever reached.

I am blessed that I have August and that I am able to experience the joys and the fears of parenting.
As he turned 4 this past weekend, I watched him whirling and twirling with excitement and yes...fear...on some of the rides at Disneyland. Talk about entering a world for the first time and havig no idea what to expect, and the willingness to just jump in, feet first, strapped in tight, and TRUST that mommy and daddy are right and this will be fun and safe. Even if it's a different ride than the circus train, which is so predictable, so fun, and yes, even though we never rode it before, so familiar.

Thus is the mind-set that a parent after loss must try to take into pregnant-hood again, and overcome the fear factor. If she chooses to do so, that is. Sometimes, when defeated, it is so easy for me to throw my hands up in the air and say that if I can't have it my way, then I don't want it anyway. The truth is, there is no "my way". There never has been. There is Gods way, and my path. My path may be filled with whirling and twirling, and yes, I must TRUST too that His way will lead me. I am not alone. I have an amazing husband, an incredible team of co-workers, friends, and collegues, and I have my son. Correction---I have my sons. And when they are not by my side, I miss them like crazy. Each seperately, each differently...sometimes at the same time.

Its the love that I experience with August that makes me want, more than anything, to love another child. Not just any other child. My child. Our child. I'm also starting to realize that its more than that too. The love that I feel from my son to me, and that I see from him to his dad, gives me purpose. Just as much as he needs us, we need him. To love a living child. Love. Unconditional. Conventional. Pure. Constant. Reciprocal.

I know, deep into my heart, that Baby Sterling loves us. Just as I know God loves us. Some days I can feel their love. Other days I have to try harder to open my spirit and my senses to them. But all days, no matter what, I cannot hold them. I cannot look into their eyes and see my purpose. And that makes me sad. I think, no, I know, that it always will. But sadness can be tolerated, accepted, and even understood. So can fear. Yes, it may always be a factor, but I cannot let it be a deciding factor. I choose not to. Its not my way. Its not my path. But it is my reality. And that is OK.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Past 6 months...

Today is the 6 month mark. Upon reflection, these past six months have been filled with such heart felt moments. No superficial feelings of loss or lonliness, just the draining, energy absorbing, sadness and longing for feeling differently, not necessarily better. 6 months ago I could not even identify a feeling that I was having. I couldn't discriminate, distinguish or even describe what was going on in my mind, and more importantly my heart. I was numb. I couldn't handle the question "how are you?". My therapist told my husband to just ask me "If I was having a feeling", that way all I had to do was answer yes or no. That was my cognitive level. I culdn't even do choices. Only yes/no questions. I think I felt like my life had no choices at the time. No control. No ability to change anything.

Now I do have choices. I can change, I am changing. Every day. I am able to even do "fill in the answer" types of questions regarding my feelings. Its not easy. It doesn't come easily. But its emerging. I can FEEL it. Thats a big change. I can feel once again. I can even feel excitement for things to come. I am beginning to have hope.

At my Jenny Craig weigh in today, I met a huge milestone. My response..."It's not real until it is sustained. I could wake up tomorrow and be no farther ahead than I am today." I think that statement is subconciously, now a bit more conciously, my driving force of acceptance to just be. Just be me today. Not the me of yesterday. Not the me of tomorrow. 4 months ago I couldn't do that. Shoot...I didn't even know who "me" was....But I now know that its my drive, my determination, my support system, my ability to choose how I feel, and miraculously, to look at what tomorrow may bring as "what may happen" vs. "what should happen". How do you even compare the loss of a child to the loss of weight. You don't. But I just did. A lot of "Butts" in this post. Hmmmmmm.

2 months ago, I stopped being able to write about my feelings. It was to hard to feel. Now that I could tell the difference between anger, sadness, frustration, love, enjoyment, peaceful, in turmoil, etc...I didn't want to feel the intesity of each emotion. One day, at my bible study, those wonderful woman got to feel all that pent up intensity in one shot. I needed that release, but didn't even know that I did. They knew. And they allowed me to let it all out. To let it all go. To open the door to moving forward. Thank you so much Kristie, Leehsa, Katy, Amy, Michelle. And thank you to God. I didn't know what I was missing, until I could feel it. Gods love. Sterlings love. Achored by Hope.

Last month was all about me. Me finding out what I needed to do to move forward. To let go of my fears of what moving forward means. To really consider what moving forward means for me. To understand that moving forward does not always mean to let go. I wrote a letter to Baby Sterling and that was the only way that I finally was able to come to terms with what I was holding on to and what I needed to say/do/feel to honor him. I would like to share that letter. On this date, the 6 month anniversary of being born to heaven.

My Dearest Baby Boy,

I have written about you. I have written for you. I have written poetry because of you. But today, I write to you for the first time. My dear baby Sterling, you are so greatly missed. I know that you hear my prayers, I know that you can feel my love, yet I fear that I am holding in that which I owe to you. It breaks my heart to live with the fact that when you were born I could not bring myself to cradle you in my arms, to dress you, to feel your skin upon mine, to kiss your sweet lips. I was so afraid. I was afraid of facing the reality. From the first moment that I had the choice to see you, to hold you, to show you how much I cared, I didn’t. Throughout our bible study, which I believe you have been watching and guiding me through along with our Lord, I have been unable to face the guilt that I have felt for making those choices in those moments. There is nothing that I can do, other than to ask for forgiveness and ask the Lord to take the guilt and the pain away, and to tell you all the things that I need you to know so that I may let you go peacefully…for I seem to be holding on more than that which I DID NOT DO.

I am in a constant search for direction. Even though I am moving forward I am not leaving you behind. When I share my fears with your daddy, he tearfully says to me, “Sterling is where he belongs. With us. I am not ready to give his remains back to the earth, the sky or even the universe. I need him with us”. I understand that, yet I find strength in knowing that I have fully given you to our Lord. I trust in Him, I know that you are in a place safer than we could ever provide. I protected you for 8 months, and we will protect your honor, your memories, your existence, for the rest of our lives.

I met with a pastor this past week. I shared with him how I feel unworthy to be your mom. How I feel like I am paralyzed by my inactions. He clearly said that it is in Gods grace that I was able to do what I did, that I am able to do what I can now, and that will enable me to do what is ahead of me, as I follow His will. Faith is Trust. Trust in that God will always be there for me. That God has and will always be there for you and for our family. Worthiness is not a factor.

This is your gift to me, my dear boy. I have always known what I “need to work on”, but have never had the courage to truly face my fears and accept me for me. You have opened the door for me that I have held closed with lock and key for so very long. You have shown me not what I am not, but what I have the capacity to be. I have so much love for you, my son. I promise to release that love to you, and not only keep you close to my heart, but to let our love, a mothers love, free myself from the past. To allow myself to look forward. To have faith. To have hope. To have joy.

How do I stop writing this letter? I want to keep this going on and on and on….its amazing how something so hard to start, can be so hard to stop. I love you Sterling. Always.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Threads of Hope

This month has been a tricky one so far. I'm crusing along, happy that 2010 is finally here. Focusing on what is going on around me, rather than what is going on inside of me. Losing weight. Good. Following my new work schedule. Check. Exercising and Dieting. Confirmed. These are the things that help keep me focused on the "outward". Those, movies, and figure skating. Huge distraction this month with the National Championships and all. I also find though that I am finding comfort in getting back to the "normalness" of my days. SO much so, that I can ALMOST fully enjoy what I am experiencing rather than dwelling on what I am missing. I don't find myself going through the motions as much anymore. My face isn't covered with quite as thick of a veil right now. I am living, I am breathing, I am greiving. Even though every day isn't filled with dispair.

One might think that is a sign of healing. Of clearer perspective. Of a more positive outlook. That "one" was me. Until I am given a sign that I musn't forget about the me that is inside. The me that still cries silent tears. The me that continues to feel unsettled. The me that is. Me. I have homework to do. I have resources in place to gently allow me to grieve and heal at the same time. I just don't have the teacher who gives me the grade in a circle at the top of my blog to acknowledge my effort or progress. Nor should I. I do have faith, even if I don't have hope. I know where to find messages of hope, even if I can't quite open the pages. What is holding me back? What am I holding on to? Why does hope have to mean letting go? Or doesn't it? Maybe that is where I have it wrong. Maybe that is why it's so hard for me to let go..because the hope is missing. Or is it the other way's so hard for me to be hopeful, because I haven't let go.

I am currently participating in a bible study. Funny how part of the name of the study is "Threads of Hope". I like the idea of "threads". I like the idea that it is the threads of hope that holds all the "other pieces" together.  I like the idea of God weaving the pieces of my life together to create a very specific quilt. Without Him, my quilt would just be the "idea". I need to get over the idea and get on with the doing and praying and yes...the letting go. Whatever form that may take.