June 29, 2011

toxic vomit

People make comments. They speak words. Phrases. Sentences. Whether they are happy, sad, mad or worse grieving. There are comments that are sometimes made by a "non"-griever that seem to sting. The naive-ness they encompass and somehow think their 'magic' words will heal you and take your pain away. They think they are being helpful...

she's in a better place
at least she was only a baby.. you didn't get to know her
it's like when my dog died...
-->insert awkward look/uncomfortable stare
how do you do it? i would just die (thanks for making me feel like i'm handling this all wrong)
i just can't imagine... (i don't want you to imagine.. i never want anyone to know this pain)
(here's my favorite) just move on/you'll get over it
you're not ready to have more kids.. it's too soon
(and the other end of the spectrum) just have another kid, you'll get over it faster

The list could go on for days. I have learned to simply block those people out. Either out of my mind or out of my life. Knowing the non-bereaved's ignorance to the situation kind of gives a sense of dismissal. They truly are trying to help.. but just don't know how to. So they extend and reach for any piece of satisfaction to try and help. It is in 'most' (not all) people's genetic makeup to want to help and to fix. This situation can neither be helped or fixed. It just has to evolve into it's own outcome.

With that being said.. I can almost excuse most comments. I have done my best to educate people what to say and not to say. And I have seemed to get a very positive response. If it is something that is completely uncalled for, I will make a point to say so. Otherwise, how will someone know??

Now onto what I really wanted to vent about. Like I said.. I can expect certain things to come from an outsider.. I certainly don't expect these toxic words to come from a fellow angel mommy. This is the second time something like this has been said to me and I just had to get it out. It's been bothering me since last night.

As most of you know, yesterday was the day when Savanna has been gone longer then she was alive, not only that--she would have been 15 months yesterday as well. So needless to say, it was a tough day. I reached out to one of my online support groups (names will not be used to protect privacy) about my day.. and just how broken I was. Not only are these angel mommy's but SIDS mommy's as well. We all share a different kind of connection. (although I feel connected to so many BLM's whose little ones were taken by a different kind of tragedy) Most of the postings stated how they were thinking of me, some remember the day and gave advice, others spoke of how they are too dreading that day.. and then there was a comment that blew me away. Stopped my breath dead in my throat. --at least you had your little one for 7 whole months, i only got mine for 2--

Wait! What? As if I don't appreciate the 7 months that I had? So it should hurt less because I got 'longer' time? I was baffled. You see.. this exact same thing had been said to me just 7 months ago.. at Savanna's memorial service. And I didn't say anything. I wasn't going to stand by this time.. I stood up for myself but was left with a burning sting all the way through the night and up until today.

I realize this person is grieving as well.. I am too.. so are all those others that are a part of the group. But to deflect the anger onto another that is hurting and so vulnerable. I came extremely close to removing myself from the group.

Ultimately.. there is no 'comparison' At the end of the day we are all broken hearted, empty armed, and lost. We have no babies to hold, no diapers to change, no bottles to sanitize. We visit a grave or carry our babies with us. We have molds of their hands and feet, snippets of hair, final footprints. We've seen our precious babies with tubes down their throats, lifeless and cold. No breath of life and glossed over empty eyes. At the end of the day that's what it comes down to. Whether it was 2 days, 3 months, 2 years or 20 years.. it all hurts. So although some may think this.. and righfully so in grieving anger many things come to our minds... think before you make the comment out loud.. think how you would feel. What kinds of feelings would they pull up. What kind of emotions would you encounter if such jargon was thrown your way.

Although I know how easy it is to get wrapped up in our own grief and pain.. we must not forget--there are others grieving and in pain too. Whether or not you chose to be there for those people is a personal preference. But either be there or don't. There are no halfsies. Make a choice and stick to it. It will be much more respectable in the end.
I'm going to leave you with something one of the moderators posted after this comment was made. It was well said and so gracefully put...  

"i know that we all had different circumstances surrounding the loss of our children. i know we all lost them at different times in their lives. but i think it's important for us to remember that we are all in the "same" pain. losing a child is the most unnatural thing in the world. it doesn't matter if we had them in our arms for 6 days, 6 mins, 4.5 months, 7 months, etc. we are all broken because they are gone. and we are all trying to figure out how to continue on without them. there is no "right" time to lose a child"

Peek-A-boo with daddy

June 27, 2011

Today turns into tomorrow

Today she has been gone 7 months and 15 days.. her age when she left this world. Tomorrow she will have been gone 7 months and 16 days... Gone longer then she was alive.

In the past couple weeks I have been moody, anxious, emotional, and just all over the place. J receiving the wondrous benefits of all the leftover emotions.

I'm not sure exactly what to think. This moment has been haunting my memories probably since her birthday. Next to watching her breathe for the last time, planning her funeral, seeing her in a casket and laying her to rest... this day I have dreaded most. Even more so then the one year angel-versary. Mostly I think because by the time that big one year comes around I would have lived through and 'survived' the most heart breaking and gut wrenching milestones without her. And now we come to a point that she will have been dead longer then alive.

It's today that I try to hang on to the notion that she lived. That she was alive. That she continues to live in my heart and in my memories. It's tomorrow that I try not to dwell on the fact that now we are making new memories. More memories without her then with her. It's a realization of the reality of this life without her. Family vacations we had planned, birthday parties to organize, first days of school and brown bag lunches, PTA meetings, teenage rebellion, the birds and the bees talk... all ripped from my fingertips. I barely got to get a hold of any of it. I got a tease.. a small taste.

How I wish so deeply she was here. And how I wish so whole heartedly that time would stop. That the Earth would stop revolving, that the season would cease to change. Change means time is passing.. passing without her. I still can't seem to wrap my brain around the rest of my life without knowing her. Without loving her the way I want to.

Everywhere I look I see her. Each day I am asked about her. Each time someone new learns of my ill fated destiny as a forever heart broken empty armed mama. Life always made so much sense.. I always knew what I wanted. And I had it all. Until November 12th.

7 months and 15 days. Seems so long in a linear perspective.. but when I think of the memories and the moments created in those 7 months and 15 days they hardly seem enough.

Although I have laid her death day to rest.. I cannot lay her to rest. I don't ever want to let go and I want the world to continue to remember who she is. Yet, I feel as I remind them, I am burdening them. I wear my heart on my sleeve and my feelings around my neck. Always watching what I say.. taking it all with a grain of salt. I hate the look and the awkwardness.. the uncomfortableness and the sympathetic 'I'm so sorry' Although most I know completely and whole heartedly mean it.. when you hear it every day for 7 months and 15 days.. it seems to lose its light, its meaning, its worth. I can almost guarantee what they will say next.

I must make a confession. One day about a month ago... I denied her. At least that's how I felt. I went to the donut shop across the street from my job to get a bite to eat. The owner (a very friendly man.. who has come to know me as a regular now) asked me where we were from.. were we military... and the ill-fated question.. do you have any children. I said no. And carried on the conversation. Many of you may gasp, may look at me differently, may think how could I? In that moment.. I didn't want that look, that awkwardness, that empty apology and pity. I thought, maybe this is easier? As I left the shop I felt broken. I felt like I betrayed my daughter's memory. All to save myself the monotonous rig-a-mo-roll of the same conversation I've had way too many times. I sat outside my building feeling like I was crumbling into nothing. I was ashamed and still am. I apologized to her continuously as I sat alone on that concrete slab. Wishing I could take it back. Much as I wish I could take back her death. But if there is one thing I have learned there are no backsies in this life. You are given what you are given and you either take it like a champ or you take it and turn from it. Either way.. it's still going to be there when you turn back.

I didn't go into that shop for a couple weeks.. Finally I mustered up the courage to go back. He remembered me but didn't remember that conversation. He proceded to ask me the same questions. This time I said yes I have a daughter. How old is she? She was 7.5 months when she passed away. [Insert all the awkward looks and sorry's here] I left.. still feeling broken, still shattered still heart broken. Still guilty.  Almost as if I could make up for what I did. Somehow trying to make a wrong I did a right. I found myself again sitting atop the concrete slab. Still questioning myself. Wondering what kind of person am I becoming?

I'm still trying to figure it all out. What I did find after my conundrum is that regardless if I tell or I don't tell.. It still hurts it still sucks and those people will still continue on with their lives. I will either be the girl with no kids or the poor girl with the dead daughter. But ME, I will still hurt. So where do I draw the line? It hasn't gotten any easier to say that my daughter is dead. I don't think it ever will. But today.. today I met a patient at work who lost his 10 year old daughter to bone cancer. She would have been 40 last week. We shared a moment. I didn't have to get the hollow sorry or the wondering eyes. We sat there for a moment quietly and held hands as we both said a silent prayer. From that moment I knew, I would never deny her for who she was ever again. The moments of awkwardness and the many unnerving looks are worth it for those moments. Where you seem to connect with another human being in a completely different arena.

And so I am left with my thoughts and my wondering. I'm not really sure where I was going with this post and realize it is completely all over the place. But I just had to write something. I had too much on my heart that I needed to detox from. Perhaps there are others that have experienced my situation and yet are scared to admit it for fear of being ostrasized. That's the thing about grief though.. it's unpredictable.

Today I miss her, tomorrow I miss her. Everyday I miss her....

June 26, 2011

Letting Go

There are moments.. certain snippets in our days and in time that we are brought back to a moment. There are pivotal moments that we remember.. 'this was the moment when.' The time when we realized we were in love with our significant other, the moment we realized we were meant to be a parent. My moment I wanted to reflect on was when I realized it was time to let go. To let go of the death of Savanna. I talked about it a bit in my last post but I wanted to expand on it. To let those know who are not yet there that the moment does exist. It is by no means easy and the time in which it takes for someone to get there could take longer or less. There is no time frame, no deadlines when it comes to grief. It is personal and it is your own. And although the experiences of Savanna's death are sadly so similar to so many others.. in no way do I know their pain exactly. I can only know my own personal pain, and from that I am in hopes that I can somehow relate. I don't know how they feel, but I do know how I feel.. and any morsel of pain that I feel is incomprehensible.
So let me take you back. Back to the Thursday after Mother's Day. It was the 12th. As many of you know that day was the 6 month angel-versary of Savanna being gone. Another hard day.. and I was having a rather rough time with Mother's Day just passing by as well. I came home to an empty house. (J was still at work). I got the mail and there was a package in their for me from our Midwife O. She sent me a beautiful card with such heartfelt words. The card had come in a small package. As I read on her last line took my breath away... 
"The world is a brighter, warmer, and more loving place because of you."
"I wanted you to have this scale. It is the first thing to touch Savanna's skin besides your loving arms. it has not been used by another baby since her birth so i thought you might like having it."

My hands began to shake and tears welled in my eyes. As I reached into the small box, my hand grazed across soft terry cloth. I pulled it out and found the scale that was used.

A million things ran through my mind. I clutched that piece of cloth and hugged it to my chest. As I fell to my knees and sobbed in the middle of my kitchen floor.. it's as if the Lord himself with Savanna alongside him came down and laid their hands upon me. In an instant, her birth flashed before my mind. Every small detail, every moment. The pain, the joy, the exhaustion, the excitement, the wonder, the anxiety, the nerves, the pure enjoyment and innocence. And in that instant the flash of her sweet face. The first time I laid my eyes upon her as O pulled her from me and laid her on my chest. That moment washed over me. And as the warmth of the Lord and the love of my daughter completely overtook every fiber of my being, it all made sense in that instant. It was OK to let go of her death. She is OK and she's waiting for me. It was OK to let go of the record on repeat from that day. It didn't mean I was letting go of her or the rest of her memories. I was simply putting her death to rest. I was accepting that yes this is my life. And although I wish I could change it, I wish I could take it back... I can't. But most importantly clutching this soft cloth so close to my heart, knowing this was the first thing her sweet soft skin laid upon (next to me) made me remember that she lived.

I have been trying to get that point across to so many others since her death.. and maybe part of myself hadn't come to terms with it. Trying to convince others was in retrospect myself trying to convince myself. But right then and there that May 12th day, I finally realized it. I finally accepted it. And in that small moment of time I let it go. I accepted that this was her fate all along. Whether or not I like it is not the reason at hand. It is the fact that this is what it has to be. And so it became so painstakingly clear. My life is to not be defined by her death but by her life. her life of 38 weeks in my belly and 7 months and 15 days on this earth. That is what is to help define me and mold me into the Christian, Wife, Mother, Daughter, and Friend I am and am becoming. Her life has helped me to become the person I am. And that my friends is what is most important. Her death was and continues to be a painstaking reality. But I don't have to live my life dwelling on the questions, beating myself up and continuously asking why. I'll get my answers one day, not in this Earthly life... but one day I will.
For now, I will live and love for the life my daughter lived, for the life she breathed into her existence. The existence she breathed into me. That my friends is what it is about. 

Here are a few pictures of Savanna just hours old getting her measurements and getting ready to be weighed.

Savanna Dawn Bogue
March 28, 2010 @ 3:57 PM
7lbs 0oz. 19.5 inches long

June 14, 2011

Back again..

Well... wow! Where have I been??  I have received so many emails and messages in the last couple months checking in. I cannot tell you how much it warms my heart to know complete strangers find time enough in their days to check on me and see how I am doing. Well... life has been giving me something to be busy about! With the recent new job, the training was intense and the hours were something to get used to. Waking up at 3 AM and not getting home until 4 PM (sometimes 7 PM) took a toll on this 8-5 girl. The couch was like quicksand. As soon as I sat.. that's all she wrote. I wasn't getting up and I wasn't going to do anything else that required too much thought or effort. Unfortunately my little safe haven suffered. Oh how I have missed this space. Each night I would go to bed thinking about what I would have blogged about. I have finally gotten it together, and here I am... hopefully at full force again. There's blogs to catch up with, people to talk to and things to be said. So I am happy to say I am here to stay.. and although I may not have a blog a day as I did before.. there will be more then one every couple months! After all, I owe it to this space and the wonderful people I've 'met' to a part of my healing.
Well, this past Sunday was 7 months. 7 months since she's been gone. That point is coming where she has been dead longer then alive. She lived for an entire 7 months and 15 days. I'm not sure why this 'milestone' ways so heavily on my heart. More then Mother's Day or even Easter. I dread this day more then I even dread her first angel-versary. Mostly I think because it signifies time lost. It means we have begun to make more memories in her death then in her life. That is what pains me most. I will have more memories of going to her gravesite, of sending balloons to heaven, of sitting in her room trying to imagine her still there.. then I will of actual feasible memories of her. I won't get to see her first steps, her first day of school. I'm only left with my imagination. And now that it comes that she's been gone longer then she was alive.. I am forced to realize the reality of my life.

I can say though, that I do have better days now. Not so many bad. Surviving has become second nature. In the beginning, it was an everyday struggle. Now it's a kind of new normal. Although the sting doesn't hurt as much, the hole doesn't seem quite as hollow, and the black hole seems to have started to form a bottom.. there are days where the black hole bottoms out and the light disappears. I suspect it will always be like this forever and ever. That's something that I can't seem to wrap my whole brain around. As of now, I have gone 7 months and 2 days without her. I have made it to this point when I didn't even think I would make it through a single hour, day or week. So to keep going.. well it should just get easier right? That's what I hope for. And for the most part it is more bearable. But it's the quiet moments that it becomes difficult. It's the moments of stillness and empty that I miss her most. The times when I come home to an empty home and clean floors. The holidays don't seem to bother me as much. It's the smaller stuff I miss. It's the small stuff that matters.

Her room still remains her room. Her smell still ever so present. It's faint, but it's there. I can't imagine not walking into her room and not smelling her sweet smell. All her things still in their places... I have thought about boxing it up and putting it in the attic. I even went so far as to get boxes. I placed her blankets from the linen closet in there and her bathroom stuff.. but that's as far as I got. I can't bring myself to physically take her clothes from the hangers hanging in the closet. I can't take her dirty clothes out of the hamper and wash them and put them away. I can't move the pillow from her changer that still has an ever so apparent imprint of her sweet little head. I can't take the diapers out her diaper holder. The powder, the butt paste, the wipes and warmer are still in its place. I can't imagine it being any other way. I know she's gone. And I know she's not coming back. But if I pack it all up.. it feels as if I'm packing her up with it. I've accepted her fate, I've accepted my 'new life' but I can't accept the fact that I have to let her go. To me, if I let go.. I'm letting go of all she was and is.

I have finally gotten to a point that I've let go of her death. Every now and then a flash of that night will succomb my mind, but I have let go of finding any meaning in it. It used to be that I re-ran that day over and over.. figuring out what I could have done differently. If I was just a couple minutes later or ahead.. maybe if I fed her something different.. or dressed her in something differently. Maybe if I burped her longer or even less.. maybe I should have stayed home. I have now come to accept that no matter the circumstances, the place or the time. She still would have gone. There was nothing I could have done to change that. As a mother it seemed an impossible conclusion. I am her protector, her caregiver. But in 7 months, the results haven't changed. And beating myself up, questioning my abilities as a mother didn't change a damn thing. It still remains--it is what it is. Finding an 'answer' as to 'why' or 'how' will not change the outcome. So, I have let it go. Let go of the death. Let go of the questioniong. And in doing so, I have found that it doesn't mean I love her less. It doesn't mean that the other good memories will go away too. What I have found is that the good memories have come flooding back. Small details I had forgotten came into focus. It's like that file folder in my mind finally got unlocked. And now, I can be happy when I think of her. I can smile when I see her picture. I can laugh as I think of all the good times. And I can do this without the horrendous day of November 12 haunting near.

It's not to say I don't think of that day, I do. Who wouldn't? But I no longer question that day. I allow that day to be what it is and I don't let it define who I am. I don't let it define my daughter's life. Because that's the thing.. I know she died.. I am reminded of it everyday.. but what I want to remember and I want the world to know is that she lived. She lived and she loved and I am thankful everyday for those 7 months and 15 days she was allowed with me.

I just love her face in this one. She had many of them!