Monday, September 07, 2009

Grief Chronicles, Volume 5

1. If I had known then what I know now…

There is so much to learn once you discover that you are pregnant for the first time. The doctors throw all these tests at you and ask you if you want them or not, and you are new at this, so what is the right thing to do? We weighed this out and had a hard time making decisions on it. Now that I have been through what I have been through, here’s my advice: if your insurance pays for it, do it. If your child has something, there may not be anything you can do about it while you are pregnant, but you can have the benefit of knowing up front and have time to go track down the best specialists on whatever your child has so that they are in place from the second your child is born. It would give he/she a fighting chance. We wished that we had had that opportunity. They don’t test for MCADD when you are pregnant (which, God willing, will change if we have anything to say about it), so there was no way we could have known. But, screenings will only get more and more broad in what they look for as time goes on, and if you can possibly avoid seeing what life is like in my shoes, trust me, do what you can to avoid this agony. We were 1 in 15,000 pregnancies. We never thought this would happen to us, but it did. As I have said before, the worst really can happen, so please go out and do the best you can for your children, and get tested for whatever screenings they have available.

2. I have a knot in my stomach when I meet new people.

Why? Because I wait for the question that inevitably comes up. “So, do you have children?” Here’s my dilemma. I love my son. I am proud of him. I do not want to hide him, or feel like I have to hide him. I carried him for 9 months. I loved him, nurtured him, and took care of him for 4 days. He existed. He mattered. I feel sick with guilt denying his existence by saying “no” to that question. It isn’t true to say that anyhow. I have been saying “I had a son, but he passed away.” Then, the person who asked gets all awkward, asks questions that I don’t want to answer, gives me a hug, tries to say something comforting, asks me how long ago this happened, and when I say “June” the awkwardness starts all over again. Sometimes, I even make the other person cry with this information. Then I cry. The whole thing is terrible to go through. I am an open person, and am not ashamed of my life or my son’s life in any way. I just don’t want to have to tell it over and over again. It hurts me to focus on the painful parts of his life, and when I am going along through my day feeling pretty good, and this happens, it sucks me back down again. I hate that. I know it is unrealistic to ask not to meet any new people for a while. I am new in my neighborhood. I am new at my church. I am going to have to work through this time and time again. Anyone who wants to get to know me and be my friend is going to have to know about this. Many times when this happens, I am in the company of a friend or family member. They tend to know the person I am telling this to, so can you help me by priming your friends before they meet me so I can avoid this whole process? Or tell them after I walk away? It would sure save me a lot of heartache. I know that this is my story and I can tell as little or as much of it as I like, but I always get caught off guard, get flustered, and then am just sick with the internal dilemma of how much do I feel like telling a perfect stranger today?

3. I am scared about forgetting him.

I have felt a growing fear that over time, I will forget all of the details of Noah’s short life. I love my son, and he will be a part of me forever. I have no doubt about that. It is just that so much happened those four days of his life. It hurts to look back and remember it all, but if I don’t do it now, time will pass and the memories will fade, and then Chris and I will be scratching our heads some day when we can look back and not have it hurt so much and wonder what happened those four days with him. For most new parents, those initial days are such a whirlwind. Those of you that have children, do you remember very much detail about what happened those first few days? They are all we have, so it is so important we do this now. So, I have spent the last couple of days making myself write the hardest story I have ever had to tell. I am his mother, and it is my responsibility of passing his story down to whomever wants to hear it. Chris and I, our family, our friends, his future siblings (God willing). It must be done. The last couple of days since I have tackled this project my heart and brain are so fried, I am hardly capable of doing anything productive afterwards. I feel satisfied that I have it down now. I am doing his baby book and am adding in pictures, while still a hard task, it is easier than the writing side of it. I love scrapbooking, and I have to say, it is so far turning out to be the most beautiful one I have ever done. It gives me pride to tell his story this way.

4. Never too late to send a note.

Some of you have sent me a card, email, or called recently now that it has been several weeks, and have apologized profusely for waiting so long. The grief process is very lengthy, and after the first initial weeks after Noah’s death, communication has kind of tapered off from everyone (which is ok - please don’t feel guilty!). It is nice to know that you guys are still thinking of us, and so it is never too late to send a note letting us know that you care. Honestly, I still have some pretty rotten days, and to open up the mail box or my email and see a kind note has helped me feel like I am not so alone in this. So, no apologies necessary from you. Thank you for thinking of us.

5. Thanks for the extra care.

I want to thank you all for the care you have put in your words to me. My favorite notes I have gotten have been from those of you who have, for example, sent me an email saying “so sorry for your loss” and other kind things. Then, 10 minutes later sent me another email saying “Please forget the part where I said xx. I didn’t mean to say that you xx. I really meant to say xx. Oh gosh, not sure what to say, except sorry!.” It reminds me why I am friends with all of you and why I love you guys so much. I am an incredibly awkward person myself, who always says the wrong things in any given situation, so I completely understand! It just shows how much thought, care and effort you are putting into your words to me. I see that you really do care, and want to say something to make me feel better. Thank you.


Anonymous Emily Gibson said...


I still think about you everyday. Your blog is a constant reminder to enjoy and savor every moment, even when frustrating.


6:38 PM  
Anonymous Robin Heinen said...

I continue to be amazed at the grace with which you are handling this. I hope that Belinda passed along to you that Amy acknowledged Noah in her programs at the wedding. His name was right next to my moms and I thought it was very sweet. Everyone here loves you guys a lot! I hope work goes well for you! Robin

10:27 AM  
Blogger Alyce said...

I think of Noah every day; his picture is on my refrigerator..a real place of honor at my house!
I'm so happy you're taking the time to write his story... I wish I had written the stories of all of my kids' births. What a great idea! Love, Alyce

3:50 PM  
Blogger Morgan said...

I just wanted to let you know that you and Chris are on the Brown 3rd floor prayer board and have been since I arrived at Princeton. You've got support on the East Coast!

1:06 PM  

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