Sunday, January 28, 2007

David and Goliath

"David knew he could slay Goliath because he had already faced the bear and the lion."

I wish our pastor would warn us before he decides to use us in a sermon. :) Today he talked about David and Goliath--- how David stepped forward to slay Goliath, because he had already killed a bear and a lion, with God's help.

Our pastor mentioned us in his sermon--- how we faced our Goliath in the last year. Our loss, our relationship, and finally, the blessing of this pregnancy. I cried. Oh, how I cried. What's interesting is that I didn't know what the sermon was about. And my Sunday School lesson that I taught today was about loss and suffering and how God is faithful throughout those times.

I dunno. I'm reliving this week, last year, in my head. It tears me apart, but I still think that it is only in exposing the wounds that they can be healed.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


My grandpa died two years ago yesterday.
In two days, it will have been one year since we found out about Henry.

I find the timing so interesting for some reason.

My grandpa and grandma played a big part in raising my brother and me. There were times we called them "Dad and Mom." A lot of who I am was shaped by my grandparents.

When my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, I can't say that I was too surprised. He had been losing weight and having pains for a while. He'd also been losing his memory and had beed diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I'll never forget teasing him about his memory loss (we could do that, he knew he was losing it and would make fun of himself) and telling him that I had to do something while he still remembered who I was. He looked me straight in the eye and told me that he would never forget who I was. And you know, he didn't.

I'm an organizer by nature. When my grandfather got it in his head that he HAD to have his office upstairs rearranged and organized, my mom tried to do it with him. That didn't last for very long. I went upstairs with him and let him direct me--- "Move that filing box there. Move those papers here. I want that. Marji needs that." For two hours I moved things with him and really, I still don't know why. Nothing was really changed when we were finished. But that was 2 hours that I got to spend with him. And I got to pretend to organize him. :) There really was no organizing Gpa. You'd think a military man would be more disciplined... but Gpa was a pack rat. And a junk food rat. It wasn't unusual to see a pile of papers beside the bed and a box of Crunch N Munch right beside it.

It took Grandpa eight weeks to die from the time that he was originally diagnosed with cancer. They live 7 hours away from me, so I went to their house every other weekend during that time. My mother had moved in with them to help take care of Gpa, and sometimes she just needed a full night's sleep. So I would try to give that to her.

I was certain that I would find out that I was pregnant right after Gpa's funeral. I just KNEW I would have a baby to name after him, a baby to carry on his spirit. At this point, my marriage wasn't so bad, having a baby would have been a good thing.

But I wasn't pregnant. And depression hit hard when Gpa died. I knew all the platitudes, but it didn't stop me from being angry that my children wouldn't get to know this wonderful man whom I loved so much. I have a tendency to shut down when I can't handle emotions. So that's what I did. I shut down emotionally. And that was the beginning of the roughest times for my marriage.

When I found out about Henry--- his incompatibility with life--- all I could do was scream at God --- "This was supposed to be a happy memory to offset my Gpa's death!" I was so angry. So very angry. Angry doesn't really even begin to describe the emotion. Blind rage.

But you've read the story of how I got past that anger and rage.

And here we are, that time of year again. I find that I'm a bit melancholy. But not angry. Not even sad, per se. I ache inside and I pull out Henry's hand and feet prints. I cuddle the blanket he was wrapped in. I look at the funeral notice with the picture of my grandpa that stays on my dresser. And strangely, I take comfort in those things. I did have a baby to name after my Gpa. My Gpa's name was Henry and my baby boy was Henry. It doesn't matter that I didn't get to see him grow, or that he was stillborn. He was still my boy and he is named after one of the best men I've ever known. And there's comfort in that, somehow. There's comfort in knowing that they're together, in Heaven, and my Gpa can play with his namesake in a way that he wouldn't have been able to play here on earth. That's my comfort.

I'm making it. I'm breathing. Grief is with us for a long time. But when we embrace it, roll with it, instead of fighting it, it heals so much faster.

Friday, January 12, 2007

And life goes on.

So I looked and saw that my last post was June 21st. Two days before Henry's due date. Two days before I found out I was pregnant again.

Yes, I found out I was pregnant on Henry's due date. And I'll be delivering this baby on February 17th, fifteen days after Henry's birth and death.

As I read through the old posts, my tears began to flow. Because the emotions are still there, somewhere below the surface, but still there.

I didn't intend to get pregnant again. We didn't think I could get pregnant without fertility assistance. Everyone says, "God's timing!" and "God's grace and mercy." And yes, those are indeed wonderful things. But throughout this pregnancy, I've questioned those things.

You see, when I was pregnant with Henry, I was very unhappy with my marriage. I resented the fertility treatments that I was undergoing, feeling like I was doing this in an attempt to save my marriage and to keep my husband happy. Once I got pregnant, I resented that too. I dreamed, during my moments of extreme sickness (and there were many, let me tell you) that I would have a miscarriage, that the tests were wrong. I didn't want to stay in my marriage, and I knew that having another child would complicate the leaving process that I had planned in my head. It's not that I didn't want the baby-- I love babies and I truly view them as a blessing. But in addition to this one being a blessing, it was a block to leaving my marriage as quickly as possible.

But still I planned to leave. I've never been one to let obstacles stand in my way. If anything, they make me more determined. So I saved my money. I made inquiries about places to live. I checked out job opportunities in a different city. I researched day care costs and utilities and everything. I was serious.

And then January 27th happened. As the doctor said those words, "This condition is incompatible with life," I felt my heart collapse. I was all set for a weekend away right after the doctor's appointment. E was going to his grandparents for a week or so, and I was meeting them in a different state with him. While I was in that state, I was going to stay the weekend and "have a girl's weekend." Yeah, what I was really going to do was look at apartments and job prospects. Remember, I was serious.

I still went that weekend, but I spent most of it crying instead of hunting.

When I came home, my husband was in shock, just as I was. Yet, I kept myself distant from him, even then. I couldn't allow him to see my guilt, my grief, my confusion. If he knew that there were times that I had dreamed of losing this baby, how would he treat me then? The divorce surely wouldn't go so well, right?

The next week and a half was a whirlwind of doctor's appointments, discussions of procedures, evaluations of risks, and eventually, decisions. Thank God my mom was there to be a buffer and a support, and thank God E was with the other grandparents. We barely functioned during that time.

I wish I could say that giving birth to Henry with Aaron by my side, holding my hand, healed our marriage. I wish I could say that as he held me, I realized what a gift he was to me. But instead, it sealed me off more from him. I pushed him away even more.

But circumstances change. And one night, a night of brutal honesty, I told him everything. How I was planning on leaving, how unhappy I was, how I hated myself, what I had done to destroy our marriage... everything.

And he looked at me. He was hurt. He was angry. But he looked at me, and he said, "Do you want to try to make this work?" And I said, "I don't know. I guess so. I mean, we have to try, right?"

So we started counseling. His view was that we could and would make it through everything together-- losing Henry, my anger, my resentment, my unhappiness with our marriage. I wasn't nearly so optimistic. I had seen my parents try and fail. I knew it wouldn't be as easy as I wanted it to be. I was ready to give up before it began.

But we pushed forward, and by May, we had made progress with our grief and with our marriage. I still wasn't convinced that I was staying in my marriage, but I knew that was mainly my pride speaking. After all, how could I be so convinced about leaving my marriage, and then change my mind a few months later. I'm not that wishy washy, right? I had to tell myself that I had to keep my options open.

So in May, the inner turmoil got to be too much. I still ached, still wanted my baby-- the baby that I had resented! Oh, talk about guilt! My breasts were still producing milk. I had lost a boocoo of weight, and I was functioning very well on the surface. But not inside.

I came home from work sick on day. E wasn't with me, he stayed at daycare and a neighbor brought him home. As I sat on the couch, depressed, reading about Potters Syndrome and the chances of reoccurance (we had been talking in our counseling about whether or not we wanted to try again) the darkness overwhelmed me. I became frantic. I just wanted out, forever. I looked at the kitchen knives, but pain scares me. I looked in the medicine cabinet, but Aaron had thrown everything out soon after we lost Henry and I was wanting to die along with him. I finally thought, "The garage, the car! I can be comfortable." And so I got in my car. Closed the garage door. Turned on the car, rolled down all the windows, and listened to my Christian radio station. I cried. I got hot. I went inside for a few minutes--- thought about what I was doing--- texted Aaron. And climbed back in the car. Total, I was there for nearly two hours with the carbon monoxide filling the garage and the car. Aaron by this point, knew what was happening and called 911. They came, they took me to the hospital, and by God's grace (yes, God's grace!) there were no permanent physical damages. But they kept me in the psych ward for three days.
And there, my life changed. I was lonely. I was desolate. I was lost. All I had was God. Aaron could visit some, and I could use the phone. But there were crazy people who stalked you if you sat and talked on the phone for too long. So I stayed in my room for the most part and thought. And wrote. And cried. And begged God to heal me. That was my turning point. That was my lowest moment. That was when He reached down and pulled me close to Him.

When I got out of the hospital, the grief over Henry was still there. The grief and guilt from my actions were still there. My anger at Aaron was still there. But this time, I was acknowledging those feelings. I used to stuff them down, pretend they didn't really exist. And by stuffing them, I was giving them too much power over me.

It's amazing how a brush with death (even a voluntary brush) can change you. You appreciate life a bit more. You see the beauty in your child's eyes more. You see what your husband is doing to change things. And you see how selfish you are. And it humbles you. Humbles you right down to your knees.

A month later, we found out I was pregnant again. I was scared beyond belief. Why would God give me another child, knowing I had tried to kill myself just a few weeks before? Surely His clock was a little off? How could I deal with pregnancy again when I still grieved for Henry? Was this grace? Was this mercy? I didn't understand.

His grace was in forgiving me for my selfishness. And because He forgave me, because I asked for forgiveness, He gave me the greatest gift. Another chance--- a chance to see E grow up-- and a chance to love another baby again. His mercy has been evident throughout the past 8 months. When I've thought I would die, when I've thought I would suffocate from the pressure inside of my heart, He relieved me. He allowed me to see what was really going on inside, and He cradled me as I faced myself.

God's timing. God's grace. God's mercy. Only when we look back can we really see them.

Why did He let me get pregnant with Henry? Why did He let him die? Why did He give me free will? Ah, that's our God. I wanted to be pregnant in a mistaken attempt to save my marriage. He gave me the free will to make that choice, even if it wasn't the best one. Did He cause Henry to die? I can't grasp that concept. I believe He allowed life to take its course because of our actions. I do know that had I not lost Henry, I would no longer be married today. I would have left soon after he was born. I know this in my heart.

Now, my marriage is happier than it's been in a number of years. It is stronger, healthier, revitalized. We still have our problems, but our counseling has helped us learn how to communicate about those problems--- instead of letting them suffocate us with their silence. This pregnancy has been easy! And it's a baby girl--- which allows me to love this baby without feeling guilty. If it had been a boy, I would have felt like it was a "replacement" baby. But she's not.

I know the next few weeks might hit me hard. It'll be the anniversary of a lot of things. But I'm gonna try to acknowledge those emotions and roll with them, instead of fighting them. And I'm gonna give those emotions over to God, allow Him to filter them for me, and give back to me what is healthy and good to feel.

Life, thankfully, goes on.