Sunday, August 29, 2010

Going To Own It

Meeting new people has been very hard since Noah died. The inevitable question always comes up. “So, do you have children?” I dodge the question. In fact, I dodge talking to people I don’t know most of the time because I hate going down this road. I don’t want to talk about my loss with strangers.

I feel bad about this because I am usually an outgoing person who loves meeting new people. Growing up, we moved around a lot, and being able to elbow my way into conversations and quickly find my niche of people was a very important survival mechanism. This new way of living goes against everything I know.

We are new in our neighborhood. We have lived here about a year and a half. We know surprisingly few neighbors. That is pretty pathetic because this is a very social group of people we live around. We chose to live in this area because it was full to the brim with families. There are a million kids out riding their bicycles together through the neighborhood, or walking over to the pool in their flip flops dragging beach towels behind them, or heading to school in the mornings carrying musical instruments and science projects. We knew our kids would have a mountain of friends and activities to participate in living here. I know they are curious about us, these families. But I can’t stand their questions because I don’t know how to answer them.

So here’s the new plan. It has been a year since Noah died so it isn’t quite as fresh. When people ask me if I have kids, I am going to acknowledge that I have an older son that passed away. Anyone who would become a friend of mine would have to know this about me anyways. If you come to my house, there are pictures of him up in every room. He may not live here, but he still counts in my heart. Strangers that I meet on the street who I would likely not become friends with, I don’t know that I would go into that much detail. Anyone else, however, is going to get the true story. If they want to know more than that, I will share it, but I am not going to pretend Noah didn’t exist. And I am not going to cut us off from getting to know new people either, so it is time for a little more information and honesty from me. I think I am ready for it finally.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Relationships Change

I wish I could take all of the credit for some of the grief pearls of wisdom that get posted here. The fact is that my healing has been a collaboration. Things I have read, things talked about in grief groups or counseling, things said in passing between me and others whose opinion I trust and respect. I think it’s the only way to get through these devastating losses is to rely on others as we try to process what has happened. There is always inevitably someone who has experienced this too, who is further along in the journey, and feeling far more well adjusted about it all that doesn’t mind sharing their wisdom. Some of what they say are things that I am ready to hear, and some of it isn’t. When it is said again and it strikes my ears and finally rings true, I am able to let another piece of it go.

Something I have been hearing a lot, that is finally able to stick deals with the relationships we have with our loved ones that have passed. I have heard this thought a few times and it finally is beginning to take in my consciousness. I went through a phase this last year where I was very interested in reading people’s accounts of their near death experiences. What does it feel like to die? What do you see and experience? My motivation behind this was that being a good mother, I wanted to know where my son was, and in more detail than the tidbits in the bible about heaven. I wanted a human perspective from people who saw it. I talked to a few folks who had lived this. I also read a book called “90 Minutes in Heaven” about a pastor that had died for 90 minutes and came back to tell of his experience. The main thing that stuck out to me is the relationships we have here on earth. The old phrase goes “you can’t take it with you,” well that isn’t entirely true. Your relationships go with you. Commonly, people see loved ones that have died before them first when they die.

I wonder about Noah because he was only here for such a short time. Who came to greet him? Maybe Chris’s and my loved ones? Maybe there is time that the soul spends on that side of heaven before you come to be conceived and born? Maybe he had connections there? Who knows.

But, given this, the pearl of wisdom that keeps being repeated to me is this: the soul doesn’t die. The body dies, but your spirit lives forever. So, when your loved one dies, the relationship doesn’t. It just changes. This is finally a comforting thought to me. Noah is a very relevant part of our family. He always will be. I will always keep pictures of him up around our house. We will always celebrate his birthday, and we will find other ways to recognize his place in our family. We will never give up on him, and with this belief, it validates that choice that Chris and I have made. He is out there somewhere, and he will come back to us when it is our turn to pass on someday. All of the love we feel for him will not die, and it shouldn’t.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Family Planning Issues

Chris and I have been married for eight years. For many of those years, we have really been on the fence about what we want in terms of our own immediate family. There were so many years where having children just felt overwhelming and out of the question. Then, I turned 30, had a third-of-the-way-through-life crisis and got Chris on board to just have one baby, and Noah resulted. I will never forget the bliss of those four days. The bliss of his whole life really. It was such a joy to be pregnant with him and watch him grow. After he was born, I was absolutely, and totally sunk. I loved him more than I ever thought I could love anyone or anything. He was amazing and fascinating to me. Chris felt the same way. We were just giddy over being his parents. The whole “having children” thing had lost all of its sense of impossibility. How could we not do this? Then, just as we realized that that kind of joy in life was possible, it was taken away.

We have always known from the beginning that doing this again was necessary. Life would be meaningless without it. The rewards far outweigh the potential for heartache and struggle. Of anything in our married life, we both felt a strong sense of solidarity in this. We didn’t know how we would get there, but we just knew that we had to get there. Now we have Aaron.

Sitting here, pondering what the future may hold, and wondering if Aaron will for all intents and purposes be an only child, there is so much emotion around that thought. Where we used to be terrified to think of a house with children, those thoughts are long gone. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have more? The sad thing is that that may just not be an option for us. The only way to for sure have a healthy baby is to do in vitro fertilization. That process costs an arm and a leg.

Some say “just do it the old fashioned way, and then do the amniocentesis to see if he/she is healthy.” But what if he/she isn’t? What then? I would never have an abortion. (Yes, I have been asked that question!) MCADD is 90% treatable. It makes for a long hard road of special diets, lots of visits to the ER, and a lifetime of specialists monitoring everything. I think of a woman in one of my grief groups that lost her son at the age of 25 from diabetes. As long as he lived at home, she knew she could micro-manage his care, and make sure he did everything he was supposed to. But, someday it would be time for him to move out and live on his own. He would have to be his own primary care giver. As luck would have it, he went into diabetic shock, and he was alone, and he died. I would always live in fear of that potential future. MCADD works the same way. He/she could go into metabolic shock, and as we learned from Noah, it can all go downhill so quickly.

Can you knowingly create a sick child? One that will struggle for a lifetime with an illness? I don’t think I can. So that leaves us with in vitro fertilization, and maybe winning the lottery someday so we can do it again. The money we needed to do it fell out of the sky and landed in our laps once. I don’t know that it will happen again. Our hearts aren’t entirely wrapped around this yet. Likely because we are still in the battle, fighting to get our one healthy child. Maybe he will come and fill our hearts and he really will be all we need. He may have to, because this very well may be our last shot. All we can do is live and see what happens or not.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I always notice

It has been a little over a year since I lost my boy. I have learned to be a part of the world again. I smile, laugh, and act “normal” around people. I can do this with ease where I couldn’t a year ago. It isn’t fake. I do take joy where I can get it. I have learned to do that. Those moments are precious. No matter what I may seem like on the outside, rest assured that I always notice. I always notice that there is someone missing from my dinner table every night. I always notice at family gatherings that he should be there needing attention in the chaos. I will always notice that my younger son should have an older brother that is here playing with him and antagonizing him when I am not looking. I always notice that there should be someone I feel guilty over leaving behind when I go to work in the morning. I always notice that as I drive around town running errands that he is not there in my back seat babbling away in his baby talk. I always notice that when I do laundry on the weekends, that his small socks and outfits are not mixed in with our adult sized clothes. There are so many places where he should be in our lives. I always notice when he isn’t there. You may not, but I always will. I am his mother and I will never forget my child.