A new normal

April 16, 2010

So, I made through a whole week of work for the first time since losing Hosanna!  I feel like this is a huge milestone in my journey.  To some it may seem like a small feat, but to me it’s very big!  Going to work has been one of the most difficult parts of my grieving process.  I’m not sure why work was so hard, but for some reason that is the place most of my anxiety decided to lay.  This week was the first week when I didn’t wake up every morning thinking, maybe I’ll just quit work.  This week I actually enjoyed going to work (minus a few minor speed bumps at the beginning of the week).  The past few days have been the first days when I didn’t wake up in a panic about going to work.  The first few days when I didn’t have to force myself out of the apartment in the morning.  These past few days have been very hopeful for me.  I really feel like I’m getting to a new normal.

It’s be two-and-a-half months since losing Hosanna.  I miss her every day.  I fear the future of being a parent (or rather, the possibility of not being a parent) almost every day.  I’ve cried at least a tear or two every day.  BUT the good news is – those things don’t dictate my day.  I can have my tearful moments, but still have a ‘good’ day.  Like this morning, I cried on my way to work over something I heard on the radio that reminded me of Hosanna, but I got out of the car, went into work and had a great day!  These are great things!  Sure, I cry.  Sure, I have moments…but that’s just it, they’re just moments. Not a whole day or days.  I praise God that I am truly getting back to a new normal.  And that I am truly feeling good.

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“I get knocked down, but I get up again.  You’re never gonna keep me down.”

I never thought a song like “Tubthumping” would ever come in handy during the biggest trial of my life.  But that’s the line that keeps running through my head during some of the most difficult times.  Who new some of the most comfort could come from a song about getting drunk?  No, really…I find most of my comfort from more inspirational songs and passages from the Bible, but I find it humorous that I often find myself humming the Chumbawumba tune.

This past week has been the most difficult one since discovering we were going to lose our baby.  I think it’s gotten harder because I expected it to get easier…if that makes any sense.  I thought that by now (or much earlier), I would be better.  I thought I would be able to live my life with Hosanna as a memory.  I didn’t know things were going to be this hard or last this long.  Now, I know in the grand scheme of things, it hasn’t been that long.  But to me, it feels like I’ve been in pain forever.  I have had trouble remembering when I felt happy and difficulty seeing the happiness that will come again.

Last week I fell harder than I’ve fallen before.  I had four really good days, and then I got knocked down so hard, I thought I had broken every bone in my emotional body and that I couldn’t get back up again.  I had moments (many of them) when I felt God had abandoned me.  I felt that He was throwing dirt in my eyes, water up my nose, and salt in my wounds.  He was trampling on me…at least that’s what it felt like.  There were a few days there when I really couldn’t gather myself together.  I mean, I had a few minutes, sometimes hours, when I felt okay…but even during those times, I had this looming feeling of despair.  Those were the darkest days.  That’s when I really felt like the sun wouldn’t shine again.  That this was going to last forever.

But then those days passed, and the sun did shine.  It’s shining right now!  Spring has come, if for no other reason than to give me hope.  God has pulled me out of the depths of my pain.  God sent amazing people to me.  My husband, my mom, my dad, my in-laws and all my family, my church, my friends, my boss, my coworkers, my counselor.  Anyone in my life has helped me.  You have helped me!  Even if we’ve never met, you’re helping me right now by reading my ramblings.  Thank you for helping me feel the sun.  Thank you for bringing God’s love to me.  Thank you for letting God use you…even if you don’t know that He is!  If you’re in my life, if you’ve helped me…you’ve been used by God!  Thank you.

Several people have expressed concerned (and rightfully so) for me and my emotional/mental health recently.  I know my blogs and Facebook updates have not been the cheeriest lately.  I’ve come to realize that the only times I’ve been posting updates have been when I’m down, BUT I wanted to reassure everyone that I am not always down (although, if I was, I think it would be somewhat justified).  Mostly, the only times I’ve felt the need to write something have been moments of sadness.  However, there have been several days of being okay, if not good.

Yesterday was a good day…I felt somewhat like my old self.  Work was good.  It was the first day I didn’t cry at some point.  For the most part, I felt comfortable working with my students, and I actually had moments of confidence (which used to be common).  After leaving work, I had a reassuring doctor’s checkup, wherein she told me that everything looks good physically, and that what I’m still feeling emotionally is completely within the realm of normal grief.  We left that appointment with much relief.  Today has been a good day, as well.  The sun is shining and there’s a hint of spring in the air.  Although this morning I felt a little uneasy, the day has turned out to be a good and peaceful day.

With that said, tomorrow may be a harder day, and I’m prepared for that.  Tomorrow is March 5th, which is one month from the birth and death of our sweet Hosanna.  In some sense, I cannot believe it’s been a whole month, but in the other sense, it seems like she’s been gone for an eternity.  I am geared up for it being very tough tomorrow, but I have felt more hope in the past couple of days, so maybe it will not be as tough as I expect.  But, if it is is as tough as I expect, I know it’s okay to cry.  It’s okay to take a few steps backward if need be.  But I also know that’s okay to pick myself and keep going, and that does not mean I love Hosanna any less.  Moving on with my life does not mean I don’t miss my baby incredibly much.  But I can’t be sad forever, what good does that do?  I can choose to let myself feel happiness (which I have).  I can choose to let myself have hope for the future (which I do).  I can choose to get on with life…and I do choose to get on with life.

Easier…not really

March 1, 2010

Everyone keeps saying, “every day will get a little easier”, but that’s not my experience.  Every day is its own day.  Every day is different.  But each day is not easier.  It seems as if I take a step forward one day, and two steps back the next.  There’s been two okay days in a row, and then the third day I get knocked back down.  Just when I think I’m starting to feel a little better, it hits me a again.  I don’t know what to expect from moment to moment.  Sometimes I can be having a good time, and then a thought of Hosanna enters my mind and I get overwhelmed.

I’ve never experienced such a life altering tragedy, so I’m not sure how I’m going to continue grieving.  Each day I battle with myself.  Should I be more over this than I am?  How long will I be so sad?  When will I stop crying so much?  Should I see it as this…Gosh, it’s already been a month…  or  Wow, it’s only been one month…?  All I know is that I’m not over.  I’m still grieving.  It’s harder, but easier at the same time.

I’ve learned to not expect too much from myself.  I shy away from having too much confidence in being better.  Not that I’m not confident that I can’t or won’t have better days…I’ve just learned that I can’t assume that because I have one good day, every day from there on out will be a good one.  When people ask me how I’m doing and I say I’m doing well or okay, I always want to tag on, “right now”.  Because I may not be doing so well if they were to ask me again in 10 minutes.

But I guess, overall I’m doing pretty well.  There are still hard moments, many of them…and I know that’s okay.  It’s okay to cry.  It’s okay to admit that I’m hurting.  It’s okay to not be 100%.  It’s okay to not be okay.

Normal?

February 25, 2010

It’s been some time since I’ve felt like blogging and had time to blog at the same time.  It’s in part because I’ve felt like things are getting back to normal a bit.  It’s weird, because as much as I want to get back to normal, I am overwhelmed at all that normal has to offer.  Can I handle all that my life consisted of prior to losing Hosanna, for more than a week or so?  Can I truly sustain this pace of life, now that my energies have been so depleted?  What makes normal so abnormal is how uncertain I feel about my capacity to handle it, which leaves me feeling unsettled.  It’s inescapable — the more I want things to be normal, the more unsettled and dissatisfied I feel with the way things are.  The more I sit and accept the fact that normal will be abnormal for some time, the more I want God to give me that instant fix, and the more I strive for it myself.

Frankly, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that God and others owe me something.  When I ask God for something in prayer, part of me wants to tell God that answering my prayer is the least He can do for not saving Hosanna.  When a stranger or another person is hateful to me, part of me wants to shock them with what has happened in my family within the past month, just to make them feel terrible about themselves.  After all, the world owes me, right?  I know that in order to avoid bitterness, and to keep from allowing myself to be defined by my past and my tragedy, I must work through these feelings and come to terms with the fact that no one owes me anything.  The kindness that God and people offer me is not because I deserve it, but because they have chosen to be kind.  I am exceedingly grateful for that kindness.

I also notice how unsettled I feel when I hear of things that happen to people close to me.  When I see good happen to someone, part of me wonders why it couldn’t have happened to me.  When I see disaster strike someone close to me, I wonder whether God has just been on vacation for the first part of 2010.  And believe me, I’ve seen much of both within the past month, and I call out to God for justice on behalf of all of us who have been rendered powerless at the hands of a fallen world’s evils.  Within the past month, God has allowed me to stare evil in the face in so many different ways, and I wonder why He’s allowed me and Julee to walk this path.  I wonder why, not in a “what’s the greater purpose of this suffering” kind of way, as if I need every event in my life to have meaning and to be part of God’s plan, but in more of a “couldn’t I have been afflicted in another way” kind of way.  I don’t expect to ever have a satisfactory answer for that question, and the trite Christianisms of “God closes a door to open another” or “God has a plan” do more to anger me than give me peace.  I cannot imagine a God that requires tragedies like this (and so many others that we’ve seen in our world just this year) as integral parts of some “plan” for our lives.  That understanding leaves me with the same question, “couldn’t there have been another way?”

Truth is, I don’t think I’ll have an answer, but I do have a God that understands and seeks to comfort those who are afflicted.  He has done much to comfort me, though I still have more moments of unsettledness than moments of peace.  I ask you to pray that peace overcomes discord, and that evil is overcome by good for so many in my life and around the world who are in a season of pain.

Two Weeks

February 20, 2010

It’s been two weeks.  I have mixed feelings about it too.  I’m sad, and of course, still devastated at the loss of my daughter, and I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since losing her.  But that fact that it’s been two weeks means we’re two weeks healed.  It means we’ve moved forward two weeks…we’ve survived two weeks.  It means we’re two weeks closer to giving Hosanna a little brother or sister (however far away that may be).  I still miss her so much and no that will never go away no matter how many weeks pass.  This week was the hardest week since finding out we would lose Hosanna.

I tried going back to work on Monday, and it was way harder than I thought it was going to be.  I didn’t make it a full day at all this week.  I was worried before going back that I would be way sensitive to the kids hitting me or tantrumming, but it didn’t even have to get to that.  I cried in the car on the way to work.  I cried when I got to work.  I walked around like a zombie.  I couldn’t even play with the kids.  It was so hard just to be there.  I knew it was going to be hard, but it was nothing like I ever imagined.  I guess going back only one week after losing Hosanna was too soon.  But I think it may always be “too soon”…and I’m eventually going to have to do it some time or another.

When I first heard the news of Hosanna’s fatal condition, I felt as though God was testing me.  I was reminded of the story of Abraham and Isaac.  God asked Abraham to take his only son, Isaac (the one he had waited many, many years for), to the altar and sacrifice him.  God told Isaac to give his son to Him.  And Abraham was ready to obey.  Abraham took Isaac to the mountain and was prepared to sacrifice him to the Lord.  But when Abraham was about to kill Isaac, God sent a ram.  God told Abraham to stop, and to sacrifice the ram instead.  God honored Abraham’s faith and obedience by providing for him.  (Genesis 22)

I prayed that God would do the same for us.  I mean, I guess I didn’t expect a ram, but I was hoping that  God would heal Hosanna.  I thought if I was obedient to God, and was ready to give her up to Him, that maybe, just maybe He would heal her before we could really give her up.  That was really early in the process, and those were really fleeting thoughts.  I knew that God wasn’t going to send us a ram, but I really wanted one.

I tried bargaining with God saying, “If You heal her, I will tell all the world.  I will not be silent.  I will bring You glory.”  I knew this wasn’t what I needed to do, though.  I knew that I needed to glorify God even if He didn’t heal Hosanna.  And that is what I’m trying to do.  I want to bring glory through loving and trusting Him through this time.  I also want to glorify Him by being honest…honest with my anger and sadness.  He can handle it; He knows how I’m feeling anyway.  There’s no sense pretending I don’t have those feelings.  There’s no sense in trying to hide it.

God wants me (us) to be honest with Him.  He welcomes it.  But through this sadness and anger, I also am honest and know that He still loves me, and that I love Him.  I know this time will pass, and I know that He will restore us and bring joy back to our lives.  He will honor us and bless us with a healthy child, one day.  One day, He will.  One day…

One Week

February 12, 2010

It’s been one week since Hosanna was born and died.  I look at her pictures every day.  I imagine holding her every day.  I cry a little bit every day.  But still I feel myself slipping back into a sense of normalcy.  I’m able to laugh more and be silly more.  I’m so ready to feel normal again.  I will never forget Hosanna, and I don’t want to.  But I do want to be happy.  I do want to feel joy.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sad all the time.  There are moments of laughter and happiness.  But those are sandwiched between sadness and pain.  That’s what I want to go away.

I’m planning on going back to work on Monday.  I know I need to do it, but I’m scared.  If I had a job that wasn’t so emotionally draining, it wouldn’t be so bad.  But being a special education teacher has it’s own strains and stressors.   I’m nervous for the first time one of my students hits me or scratches me.  I’m nervous for the first tantrum I endure.  I’m nervous for the screaming.  These things are emotionally draining in and of themselves, but put on top of the emotional weakness I’m already experiencing….I’m nervous as to how I handle it.  I don’t want to break down in the middle of my classroom.  I don’t want to lose my patience with my students.  But I’m afraid I won’t be able to go back to the teacher I was.  I’ve been changed, forever changed, and I’m scared how that will affect me as a teacher.

I have amazing bosses and staff who care deeply for me, and I know they will support me and help me through it.  And for that I am incredibly thankful.  Going back to work will hopefully bring that sense of normalcy I’m looking for.  And maybe getting back to work will help keep my mind off of the sad things.  I just pray that I will be able to dedicate myself to my students in the way I did before.  I hope that I will be able to focus on things.  I will need God’s strength to help me get through the days, and I know He will help me.

It’s over. Or is it?

February 9, 2010

I have to say right now that I’m doing better than I thought I’d be doing right now.  After hearing the news of Hosanna’s condition two weeks ago today, I had thought that I’d be a total mess even now.  I am thankful that God has brought us this far.  This weekend, while it certainly brought its sadness and tears, brought with it a sense of relief.  All last week, Friday hung over our heads as an inevitability to be dreaded.  Right now, while I know there is much grieving yet to be done, I am thankful that this part of our journey is behind us.  It carries with it the possibility of moving on and of seeing better days ahead.

After my daughter’s birth this weekend, with the mental and emotional toll it took on me, I find myself exhausted and weary today.  I am physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, but I also find myself weary of grieving.  I’m tired of crying.  I’m tired of being sad.  There is a large part of me that wants to get beyond this as soon as possible and get on with our lives.  I want to feel like myself again.  I understand why a lot of people want to stuff their grief in a suitcase and sit on it.  But I know if I do that, it will come back when I put my guard down.  I want to escape, but I know I can’t.

As I face what uncertainties lie ahead, I take comfort in knowing that God, who, in the process of redemption, weaves good from evil and order from chaos, grants us the opportunity to do the same.  It’s been said that children can teach their parents as much as parents teach their children.  Hosanna, in two weeks, has gotten more people praying than I ever will, and has taught me more about how a love so strong can sometimes cause pain.  She has taught me what a wonderful, amazing, and faithful woman her mother is, and how I wouldn’t want to be going through such an awful time with anyone else.  And I’m sure there are many more things to learn along the way.

An unconventional blessing

February 9, 2010

They say that losing a child is one of the most devastating things one can endure.  Having experienced this loss, I believe that to be true.  Hosanna made me the happiest and saddest I’ve ever been.  How can something so small, something that has only existed for a few months have that strong of an impact on someone?  Hosanna has changed my life, and although I’m sad now, I hope that when I look back on this time with her, I will be remember the joy that she brought me.

God gave me a gift – a precious and amazing gift.  She may have just been with me for a short time, but I know that I wouldn’t trade that time.  That might sound strange for me to say, but I love her so much and there is no way I would say I wish I never knew her.  She is my baby, and even though I never got to rock her to sleep or feed her, I love her.  Even though I will never hear her cry or laugh, I love her.  I love her in a way I never knew possible.  I love her more than I love myself.  God chose to take her away from me, and I don’t know why.  But even so, I don’t regret loving her, I don’t regret all the moments I had with her inside me.  I don’t regret the physical pain of delivering her, and I don’t regret the tears I’ve cried for her.

Sure, I’m not going to say I don’t wish thing could’ve been different.  I’m not going to say I’m happy with the way things turned out.  But if I had to choose between this pain and never knowing Hosanna at all, I would choose the pain.  I’m not sure I would’ve said that two weeks ago, but now that I’ve made it through the worst part of this experience, I would say that I’m grateful for the blessing that Hosanna was…and is.  No, she’s not a conventional blessing (if there is such a thing), but she has taught me more about love, sacrifice, and selflessness than anyone or anything ever has, and quite possibly ever will.