August 4, 2011

Questions Answered

So, I asked you to ask.. and you did.. and now I'm here to answer.

How is J dealing with it?
**I can't speak for J myself... so for the first time, he will make a cameo appearance :)
 Well being the person I am I tend to hold things in most of the time.  And being a guy I took the role of being the strong one for Tabby.  I credit being able to deal with our loss, better than most people, to my faith.

I know their is a plan bigger than ours and it was in that plan for her to be here only 7 1/2 months.  As Tabby says in another question, if and when we have another one, I will still always be nervous and it will stay in the back of my mind.  But only time will tell.  So in short I am dealing much better than most.  Just taking it one day at a time.

How do you deal as a couple?
It's not easy by any means. There have been many situations where we have bumped heads and been at each others throats. The thing about grief is that it is very individual and personal. Each person has their own way.. I am very external, J very internal. I always wanted to talk about feelings-he didn't. There were days where we were thousands of miles apart and it felt like all we did was argue and bicker. The thing is, you have to force yourselves to communicate. To talk through the hardest of hard. And so we have had our knock down drag outs.. we were exhausted in the end but accomplished. The key that I found is that I have to respect his process just I expect him to respect mine. In the same token we have to meet in the middle. I can't ask him to sacrifice certain things if I'm not willing to do the same and vice versa. It's very easy to say, "we've been through so much, we can make it through anything" The key is to MAKE it work. There are no magical things or words to solve our problems.. we have to trust in one another to be each others rock when the other is shaky - It's a shit tough road to travel. The  best we can do is keep the lines of communication open. And that's the key thing I think. The divorce rate amongst baby loss parents is something like 80% We have both agreed from the moment Savanna died is that we refuse to be that 80% We had already become a SIDS statistic.. that's where it would stop. So if you take divorce out of the equation completely then it never becomes a solution.

Has the babysitter talked to you guys at all?
We actually stayed in contact with her for about a month and a half after Savanna died. I tried speaking to her the night it happened after we got back home from the hospital. But she was a sobbing mess and was trying to explain how it all happened. All I heard was bubbles from her nose and mouth and I lost it.. I couldn't continue on in the conversation I was still in such a state of shock. Finally a couple weeks later.. after the funeral and the Thanksgiving holiday she came over to talk with us. She walked us through the chain of events. We allowed her into Savanna's room and we allowed her to keep one of the blankets Savanna used at her house. She is a single mom and her kids were going away for Christmas, so we invited her over to stay with us and be with our families. As time drew on I began to notice patterns. Regardless if she was doing things purposely or not, it was affecting me. She was guilt stricken in her grief I began to feel like she was comparing the fact that Savanna died in her care as being worse then it being my daughter. I was quite angry all the time and finally talked to a chaplain about it. He advised that I not speak to her anymore. She was attached to a bad memory. So each day I take steps forward but as soon as she is brought up or we talk I take 3 steps backward, that day begins to replay all over again. Even though I know she did nothing wrong, and she did everything in her power to save my little girl, it still felt like she took her.. and now she was taking my grief too. The only thing I had. So I decided in January that it was best if we cut ties. We have not spoken or talked to her since.

Did the babysitter come to the funeral?
No she did not. The funeral was three hours away and she is a single mom with two girls. Although she expressed how much she wanted to be there it was not possible as the funeral was in the middle of the week and her children were in school. We did, however, make a copy of the slide show and video for her that was shown at the service.

How many kids do you want?
We would like to have two more children.

Will you do anything differently that you didn't do with Savanna?
Boy that's a loaded question! I think about that quite often.. What could I have done differently with her. And what it comes down to is this... nothing. No matter what the circumstances, where she was at, who she was with, what she ate, what she wore.. her FULL life was only meant to be 7 months and 15 days. As a human it's so hard to fathom this thought. Our imperfect minds conceive a FULL life to be that of 70 or 80.. it's completely taboo for a parent to bury their child.. but I have come to accept that 7 months and 15 days was Savanna's full life. With that being said, when we chose to have another I'm most certain I will be highly paranoid and scared. But in the end doing anything differently isn't going to change whatever outcome  his/her life will be fated to. I have no control over it. All I can do is love them unconditionally and make sure they know of their big sister. Because the thing is, all the tips on reducing the risk seemed null and void to us. She used a paci.. she was a roller so putting her on her back side or front didn't matter she slept how she was comfortable. She was crawling and trying to pull up. So the 'odds' were against her. Yet here we are. Things like bumpers and pillows and blankets in their crib.. sure I'll probably keep those things out. But at the end of the day, I have no control. So I will love them with my whole heart, and cherish each and every moment.

When/if you have more kids will you leave them with a sitter or be a stay at home mom?
Another one I have though so much about. Somehow in my mind there was a point where I thought, had she been with me she wouldn't have died. I would have saved her, that's what a mother does right? We are the protectors, the guardians of our children. But like I said before, it wouldn't have had a different outcome. So, to be point blank, I am not a stay at home mom person. I tried it.. and although I absolutely loved every moment I had with Savanna, and am so thankful for it... I was driving myself crazy. I didn't want it to get to a point where I resented her. I remember driving home from work everyday so excited and as soon as I would walk in the door I would see that smile. And it made that whole day away from her so worth it. Now please don't twist my words. Stay at home moms are admirable and courageous and the hardest workers I know. Every person has their calling, has their niche.. it's just not mine. I wish it was... BUT as I've learned through this grief journey... our plans don't always work out the way we want them to, or think they will. So once baby number 2 sparkles it's way into our lives.. my whole mind set could change. But as of now.. I will continue to work and she/he will go to a daycare program.
I hope this gives you some more insight into our little world and you're able to get a little more understanding of this journey. I hope it can help you to help another close to you. Just remember, sometimes the most healing words to a grief stricken, heart broken loved one are the silent ones.

**I will continue to answer questions as they come in. Email, FB me, or comment on the blog. Again, your inquiries will remain anonymous

August 3, 2011

Silent Story

The eyes are the keeper of the soul. Look into someone's eyes. Sit face to face, join hands, and in silence just look. You'll be amazed at what you see, what you find, how much you can learn about the fear, pain, joy, sorrow, and happiness they have experienced in their lifetime.

I was elected senior class president in high school. So the summer before, all the officers got to go to StuCo. camp. It was a great way to learn leadership roles, and how to be a better leader, activities to help get your school involved in pep assemblies and rally weeks, fundraising and community service ideas. It was a way to network with other student council groups from around the state. Rather then bunking up with your own classmates, they put you in rooms with different people. You were put into groups for activities and competitions, you were put with different people other then your classmates. At first, it was awkward, uncomfortable and I personally hated it. But then I started to embrace it. These people were awesome. They each had their own stories. They were people I probably would have never run into, or even thought of trying to strike up a conversation. This camp forced me from my comfort zone.

On one of the last days there, there was an activity they had everyone do. It sounded so silly when they started explaining it. Being it our first time at this camp, we all kind of laughed it off and just though ok we'll do it, the faster we get it over with the faster we get to go home. The whole camp (of about 200 or so students) split up into two groups. There was an outside circle and an inside circle. Each person was face to face. So basically you had a partner. You then joined hands and for 5 seconds you just looked into their eyes. At first I didn't see the big deal, thought this was corny and had no idea what kind of 'lesson' they were trying to teach. First person, we looked, 'switch' they said. The outside circle took a step to the left, the inside circle took a step to their left, therefore switching partners. Gazing into another persons eyes.. 5 seconds 'switch' again a new person. finally byt he fifth or sixth person, it started to sink it. It was my aha moment. You couldn't help but be tearful, you couldn't help but squeeze that strangers hand a little tighter, you couldn't help but to give them a hug before you switched partners again.

The eyes are the keeper. The eyes share a story. A silent story. In the tears that are shed, they are tears of a person's life. Memories they hold to their heart pouring from their tear ducts. As I gazed into each of these people's eyes, I saw that. I could see behind the facade of a happy person, there was hurt. Behind the smiles and the crazy clown kid, the pain. The trials and tribulations they have gone through. that person was equal..

And now, I think back to that moment and think about my silent story. In the days after Savanna died, I thought for sure I had a post-it note on my forward. I was the girl with the dead daughter walking around and everyone knew. Sure I had my share of crap growing up, who doesn't? There were times as a teen and young adult that I thought my life was crashing down around me. In my past relationship I was mentally and verbally abused... I had hit rock bottom.. But here I was years later.. walking around.. having just buried my 7.5 month old daughter. It's a different feeling then rock bottom. It's inexplicable pain, constant heartache. I wonder now, what kind of story do my eyes tell? Do they tell the story of a girl who had the 'perfect' life and then it all crashed down in an instant? Is it the story of the girl who was mentally and verbally beaten but came out on top? What kind of pain in my tears are there now? As I think about that.. i think about the stories of others. As I walk through wal-mart and I see the solemn faced woman, or the perfectly happy couple, the older couple holding hands, what are their stories? what kinds of memories, fears, thoughts and happiness do their eyes lock away? how many of these people have hidden compartments in their hearts of hurt they cling to. Grief they can't let go of. Pain that still hurts. Voided chambers in their heart left open.

These thoughts make me slow to judge someone else. Sure I get into my tyrants and judge away. But after Savanna passed.. I had a better understanding. I'm sure there were days that I was not presentable to the public.. I wonder what those people thought of me? So now when I see pictures of the family on the back of the windshield, or the in memory of stickers, or the carseat in the back, or the solemn faced couple walking through the store.. I no longer, or at least I try, not to make abrupt judgements and conclusions about that person. My hourney ahs been hard to get to where I have been.. it's been mixed with pure joy and happiness, tragedy and sorrow. Pain and hurt, love and compassion. No one else could have walked my journey, for it is my own. Just as I could not have traveled someone else's. We are each individual in our paths that we walk. The pathway has been paved with our specific footprints waiting for us to step through each barrier and trench.

The death of your child makes you, forces you to view the world differently. Makes you look at people differently. Pushes you to be different. This 'opportunity' is never taken with open arms and is always forced upon our laps.. As I have stubbornly and unwillfully accepted this fate.. I have found that people are who they are. Whether we agree with their choices, their beliefs or their decisions.. their path is still paved and they are taking the steps they were always meant to take. Their path is individualized for them. their DNA of life. So the next time someone is having a bad day, they are flying off the deep end, or the cashier at work doesn't smile as big as she usually does, think about their silent story. Look into their eyes and see what's on the other side. You'd be surprised.

Don't believe me? Just try it, you'll surprise even yourself.
Now, I wanted to open this up with questions. I have seen several other people do this on their blogs and thought it was a great idea. A way for you to learn more about me. So in a comment or email ( or fb message (whatever you feel most comfortable with) ask me a question. It can be anything. It can be about Savanna or myself, about SIDS, or her death. About her life, or grief. ANYTHING! And after each post I will answer those questions.. leaving the person anonymous. I write on here as a way to get m y thoughts out there. aS a way to chronicle this path to remember there wer darker then dark moments but to also remember there ware good and happy moments. I never thought it would grow to the place it has become. I am so grateful for the constant love and support i feel from so many that read. Both family, and friends as well as strangers. So this 'interview' is for you. So the door is open and the canvas is blank... ask away!

Remember I'm raw and real and to the point--if i feel that a question is out of line i will say so.. but i will promise to keep all inquiries anonymous.

August 1, 2011

So What's Happening...

Well.. once again I strayed away from my virtual sanctuary. For good reason though I promise... we are understaffed at work an therefore there are more hours to be filled by all others. What does this mean? Mucho overtime.. on top of the 60 hour work weeks I'm taking 2 online classes. Oh and raising a husband *wink* did I mention keeping the dog from eating the cats head? So yes.. at the end of the day--rather then study the nutritional values of this that or the other.. or solve for x,y or z I have decided to blog! So i'm just gonna give y'all an update on what's going on. And that same instant hopefully sort through the cluster of thoughts rummaging through my extremely flooded brain.. sooo bear (or bare?) with me...

PS prepare for long winded-ness run on sentences and crappy grammer.. there's much to tell.. and as always its raw and real and my reality

Lately I have been having a lot of dreams. Not just any dream though. Dreams about Savanna. Most would say.. well that's wonderful! But in one moment I love that I dream of her, and in the next I hate it. Or do I just hate that I have to wake up to the shitty reality? Hmm.. maybe a bit of both? Anywho, after she died I prayed and I prayed for a dream of her. I begged God to allow visions of her to come to my mind. I was having so much trouble at that time remembering all the good, instead I had the terror images of tubes and caskets and marker stones in my minds eye. (in afterthough I think He knew I wasn't quite ready to handle the dreams yet) I'm not sure how long it was before I finally had a dream about S, but it was always the same. She started off dead in my dream, then she would come back to life. It was a miracle, but in my dream it was some what of a norm. I remember that in each dream I would run to her, someone else would be holding her.. but it was like we were in one of the fun houses with the wacked out mirrors. Only this wasn't fun. She was always just out of reach. It was always different people, in different locations at different times of the day. She was always wearing the ducky pj's we buried her in.. so I'm guessing this was subconscience bringing to the forefront of my mind my reality. She would always be as close to my heart as could be, but never in arms length any longer.

Eventually those dreams stopped. Part of me was grateful.. waking up with the voided bleeding hole became emotionally draining. that same feeling of knowing she was so close but out of reach brought back the moments of when I first saw her laying in her casket. Her casing, but not her.

Fast forward to several months later. These last couple weeks Savanna has sparkled her way back into my dreams. but this time much differently. Again she starts out gone in the dreams, but somehow a miracle happens and she's alive. In one of the dreams I think out loud.. I wonder if she remembers me. And in the same moment those thoughts dribbled through my mind I look down at the dining room floor and there she is. Sitting there playing in the dirt from the plant.. (go figure.. it's totally how she was!) I called her name, fingers crossed, breath held, body filled with tension hoping she would remember who I was.. she looks up at me and I see those beautiful blue eyes, and slowly her lips spread into a wide and toothless grin. The recollection and connection that only a mother and their child can share. I was able to scoop her up and I remember just holding her so tightly. Kissing her all over her little face trying to remember all her little details and then in my dream I realize I'm only in a dream. So I squeeze her longer and as hard as I could and then I wake up. This dream has happened several times.. sometimes she's in her crib, sometimes on the floor, sometimes in her bouncer. But always she will smile at me, I will scoop her up.. and then BAM the realization that it's only a dream.

I'm not sure if it means anything or if my subcon is just pulling forth what I've wanted it to for so long. And now that I have it.. I'm not sure I want it anymore. I wak up feeling empty and sad. Just wishing for one more moment  with her. Wishing I could wake up and walk into her room and see her curled up in her bed. For now, I guess, I will take it for what it is.. I will ry to cherish these moments.. even if they're just imaginary.. for now that's all I got.


Savanna's stuff. Her clothes. Her bibs. Her shoes. Blankets. Burp cloths. Diapers. Wipes. Toys. Bouncer. Boppy. Bumbo. Diaper bag. Hats.. etc. etc. et-freaking-cetera. It's all been piled up in her room since the day she died. The Friday that she passed, I asked one of my friends to come to the house and put all her stuff in her room. I couldn't bare to look at it. The thought of just coming into the house without her was painful enough. I didn't think I could look at the high chair she just sat in and ate breakfast a mere 10 hours earlier. Or the Pack N Play she peacefully napped in the day before as she spent a day off with daddy. The blankets sprawled on the floor she first learned to roll and crawl. The thought of that.. seeing that.. remembering those memories but only having a purple box and not her with us? It just didn't seem bearable.

Then her room just started to become a storage. As we collected things from her funeral.. they floated their way into her room. I hardly ever went in there unless I absolutely had to. And sure it killed me to walk in there knowing she wasn't there, but more then anything I wanted to savor her smell. It was the only plausible thing I could physically 'grab' onto besides a picture. It was a way I could still feel like she somehow lived on. It was also a reminder through those trecherous waters that she was real. It took me 3 months before I even took the dirty diapers out of the diaper genie. Call me weird or gross.. but anything that made me remember she was real, I kept. All her bears and stuffed animals, bows and ribbons from her funeral and memorial service were all tucked away into her room. Dirty clothes still in the hamper, bows hanging on the walls, her indention from her head still on the pillow. Besides the things added to the room, nothing had been changed. The last sheets and blanket she slept on still tucked away at the crib. The baby monitor still in its place. Clothes hung in the closet, clothes still in the dresser, diapers still in their specific spot. All where it should be. Everything where it was supposed to be had she still been here. Only she isn't here.

We hope to continue to grow our family again one day. And in order for me, myself and I to feel like I could really grasp the concept of possibly having another child one day.. I felt that I had to pack up. It was something that had been nagging at me, heavy on my heart. A piece of the puzzle that needed to be sealed. There is no time frame, no right or wrong way to do it. But for me in my personal journey I felt like this is what I needed to do to try and somehow continue to move forward. To somehow maybe slow the quaking ground a little more and possibly shy the shadows even further into their darkness so that the light may be able to shine just a tad bit brighter.

So I went to Wal-mart and bought pink storage bins. I saw them and immediately thought they were very fitting. My very best friend T came over to assist me. I knew I couldn't do it alone, J was at work. I wasn't sure what to expect or how I was going to react. I imagined myself curling up into a very small ball holding all of her things and bawling. Only that didn't happen. Instead.. as we went through the clothes that she had grew out of, I was able to share memories. As I pulled out her little shoes and hats, happy times came to mind. I pulled out the hat that she wore the day she died, and instead of picturing her lifeless in the ER room, I was able to picture her that morning with her sweet smile. And as i pulled all of the things off of her crib and finally took the blanket and sheet off a wonderful and glorious thing happened. The room that had started to fade of her smell.. had an instantaneous blast. It was as if all the things sitting atop the covers had held in her scent. T and I both looked at each other and just smiled. I knew this was her, cheering me on and supporting me. Letting me know it was OK to move forward. It doesn't mean I'm moving on without her. Even in the smallest of movements, the teensiest of an action she is somewhere nearby. It will never be in the way I desire or want, but I'll take what I can get. So we finished packing her things up, I placed it all in the closet. And closed the door. I dusted off the empty dresser, ran my finger through the spokes of the empty crib, and took down the pillow off the vacant diaper changer. With eyes filled with tears, a heart breaking once again, I was somehow filled with hope.

I had made it this far. And I will keep on going. Because I've said it before and I'll say it again... she is SO worth it.