"Life isn't about surviving the storm...it is about learning to dance in the rain." Anonymous

Monday, December 1, 2014

Five years

I love and hate December 1st.  I hate it because it is a painful reminder of the most devastating loss I have ever encountered.  I love it because the person I lost was born that day.  In the true fashion of grief, my emotions are conflicting.  I have learned along this journey that there is no rhyme or reason for grief emotions.  Happy one minute, sad the next.  Guilty for the happy moment.  Blessed to see the other beautiful things in your life, but always wanting the one not here.  Mad at the world, but thankful to be a part of that crazy, mad world.

Today is my Elizabeth's fifth birthday.  Five years ago, we were heartbroken and devastated.  I can't think about that day and this journey without crying.  In fact, I am crying so hard right now as I type.  Oh my, I have learned so much about so many things.  I guess you can say that she has taught me along the way.  I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be sitting here five years later writing a grief blog and talking openly about my story.

I think the biggest lessons I have learned are:
  1. I have absolutely no control over my feelings, but I do have control over what I do with them.
  2. I have a village of people to talk to.  I have met this village over the past five years.  I probably would have collapsed without them.  We hold each other up.
  3. I am not to blame for any of this.  I think when the loss of a baby happens, the people grieving try so hard to find a reason or someone to blame.  I chose to blame myself.  My body was the one that failed.  My placenta decided to implant in the wrong place.  My  beautiful little girl was perfect, but lived in an imperfect womb.  I don't know when the blame went away, but some time over the last couple of years, I came to realize that I am not at fault.  I would have done ANYTHING in my power to change what happened.  Anything.  Some things are out of my control.  That doesn't mean the whole situation doesn't still stink.  It is really horrible.  And horrible things happen everyday to well meaning, good people.  I have commented before that I wish God would write my plan down and put it in my mailbox so that I could be prepared :)  That is just not the way this life works, though, is it? 
  4. I would do it all over again, just to have the time I had with her.  Of course, I wish the outcome could be different and I could have her every single day.  But, I would never wish our time had not happened.  She was a living reality for the time she lived in me.  I have those memories and they are precious.  I had a favorite maternity shirt and I remember feeling her somersaults.  She would have been a gymnast, like her sister.  I have never felt such movement, ever!  I have a memory box that has grown every year, because we add to it all the time.  I never knew that I could parent a child who is not here.  I have learned to do this.  To cherish seeing her name in print, to remember her birthday, and to speak her name whenever I can to whomever will listen.  She was special and yes, I would do every single wonderful and heartbreaking minute all over again.
  5. Anyone who doubts that an unborn baby has an amazing story to tell just has not listened long enough.  Their stories are incredible and they impact everyone--their doctors, nurses, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and especially their parents.  Every day in the US, 70 babies are stillborn, which means that every single day, 70 families are devastated and 70 sets of parents are sitting in a hospital grieving a loss that affects every aspect of their lives.
A couple of years ago, I wrote about the elephants and how they come together in support of each other when one of their tribe loses her baby.  They all lay their trunks on her in silent support
 and none of them move until she is ready to get up and walk away. 

What wonderful creatures!

 I have also made reference to the "mean wells" - those people who really do mean well, but can say things that are not supportive at all. 

Occasionally, I look through Elizabeth's memory box.  I can't do it often, but when I do, I am reminded of all the people who have taken the time to say her name or write her name in a card.  The day after she was born still, my daughter's 2nd grade class sent me this:


Each child traced his or her hand and wrote a message on it.  Then they made them into a bouquet.   Many of these precious 2nd graders even wrote Elizabeth's name in their message :)    My heart is so full reading these.  Elephants come in all shapes and sizes, don't they!  I have my own village of elephants who have gotten me to where I am.  And where I am is right here, still standing, somewhat broken but strong.  I am here and everyone around me, including the mean wells, have gotten me here.  They have each been a part of my journey.
Happy 5th birthday, my sweet baby.