The Second Month
As the second month started, I was amazed that I was doing as well as I was. I was very, very sad, and I cried every day, but I still had very joyous memories of our time with Abigail and was very thankful for the time we did have. I was surprised to realize that my life was not “ruined”. I attributed it largely to the Lord and the prayers on our behalf. He was providing comfort and peace through this most difficult trial.
Sunday, October 6, 2002
Today our gospel meeting started at church. At one point a member hurried over to me and started telling me about her problems. I was horrified; I just wanted to run. I focused on trying to listen and asking a couple of questions, but I didn’t have any real feeling of concern for her. I was barely able to handle my own life. And suddenly I was totally falling apart. Just about every song we sang made me start to cry.
When we went for the covered dish lunch, I was still struggling. Part way through the dinner, two other moms nearby were talking about their babies and it just got too hard for me. I had to get out of there. Now. So I hurried outside and cried for a few minutes. Then I came back in, and seeing my 2-year-old daughter Sarah pushing a stroller around got me going again. I realized I was just standing there by a table, looking around the room at all the happy chatter, and feeling like I was on another planet. I kept watching and feeling like the room was getting smaller and moving farther away. It just struck me that everybody is normal, but I am not. I am not ready to be normal. And that made me immensely sad.
I am still shocked by how quickly my emotions reacted to the overload. I knew I had been doing well in general up to this point, but I didn’t realize exactly how much work and energy I was putting into it. Being asked to give a little bit more than I had showed me how hard this really is and how hard I’ve had to work just to get through each day.
Wednesday, October 9, 2002
I couldn’t get the sciatic pain in my leg to loosen up enough to do the treadmill. That’s when I had a flashback to the day before I collapsed on the floor in pain and was confined to bed back in August. I was convinced it was happening again. So I just lost it. I totally fell apart. I started crying hysterically and sobbing and saying “why, why, why”. I felt that all the coping mechanisms I had found – exercise, visiting people, working on the website, the message boards, scrapbook – were being taken away from me if I got confined to bed again. And I was convinced I couldn’t handle it. I was so mad; I was hitting the chair and crying. Steve said, “little eyes are watching” and I just said, “I’m sorry, I just can’t be an example right now.”
I went to the doctor to get something for the pain and then stopped at my friend K.'s house. We just sat at the kitchen table and she let me talk. She didn’t say a whole lot, but let me go on and on. Then she finally said, “You’ll have to find another way to deal with things.” I said, “I know, and it probably won’t be as bad as I’m making it.” But I needed someone to let me get it out and to let me feel sorry for myself for a little while and to let me cry. I felt a lot better after talking with her.
I think that day was an early step in God’s long task of softening me.
Wednesday, October 16, 2002
Well I was right. I had reinjured my back. This time I can stand for a couple minutes but can’t sit at all. So we ended up buying a laptop so I can be in touch with the world. Being injured has almost been a blessing. It is giving me time to lie around and work on the computer. So I am spending a lot of time on Abigail’s website and on her scrapbook. I’m also able to read the message boards and keep in touch with a lot of people via email. It seems that all of these things are helping me, even though I am stuck mostly in bed and definitely at home. I know this has been hard on Steve and the kids because he is pulling my load and we are both impatient with the kids; we need time away from them.
I also have been able to read a book that I have found really helpful: "Losing you too soon" by Bernadette Keaggy. She lost 5 babies before her first healthy child was born, and some of the things she said really spoke to me. In the last chapter, she writes, "You see, answers aren't the real issue. Clinging to God through all of life's circumstances and helping others do the same - that's what's important."
Wednesday, October 23, 2002
I’ve been handling Abigail’s death pretty well, crying often, but not all the time. I think it is partly because I am not looking ahead but am taking it a day at a time. But I keep finding out what a toll that is taking on me emotionally. I have enough reserve to deal with Abigail’s death, but it is taking just about everything I have. When I hurt my back again 2 weeks ago, the thought of being confined to home and not getting out to go to church was overwhelming, largely because I looked ahead and it became too much to deal with. I completely lost control and cried hysterically until I was too exhausted to cry anymore. But then I regained control again. So I wavered, but was still able to recover and get back on an even keel.
Having done some physical healing and getting back to church once after a week off, I was getting really excited about getting out and about again. Then yesterday we found out that Nathan has chicken pox. So he cannot go to school or church for a week (or two?). That means I cannot go to church, either, since Steve has to be there. This time, faced with being stuck at home, I had no anger or tears. But I could feel the walls going up as the depression started to set in. It’s like I am emotionally pulling the covers over my head and going back to bed. I don’t want to know anything or see anything or feel anything. I just don’t care anymore. My energy is all used up. I guess depression is my body’s response when I have exceeded my emotional capacity, the way to protect it from being overloaded anymore.
I know my back is now healed enough to start to get out and go visit some people outside of church times. Steve is encouraging me to do that. But I am struggling with the depression; even though I know it will make me feel better, I just don’t want to see anybody. Just like I always enjoy our fall party that was scheduled for this Saturday. We were going to postpone it due to Nathan’s chickenpox, but I told Steve to just cancel it. I don’t even want to have it. It’s so ironic that the very stress that put me over the edge (being isolated from everyone) is my response now that I’m depressed. My head knows I should fight this, but I just don’t know where I’ll get the energy.
Reading over this, I see how it is all about me, me, me. I don’t want it to be that way, but I think it just emphasizes how hard it is to lose Abigail. Even though God has given me peace, I still miss her so much and have to exert an incredible amount of energy to deal with it. So the outward appearance of strength and peace is not false, but it is coming at a high price.
Friday, October 25, 2002
I have been doing a lot more crying this week than I have in a while. I watched the video of Abigail for the first time yesterday. I cried when I saw her in the delivery room. I didn’t realize we had gotten video then. Abigail looked so bad; we were hardly talking at all, just looking at her. I think it’s because we thought she was dying and we were just stunned and didn’t know what to do. But most of the video is of the day everyone was there and she got her bath. And that part made me laugh; it was just as I remembered it - a fun time enjoying her. I just wish we had more on video.
And early this morning I was realizing that I have started thinking more this week about how I am feeling and not just about reliving Abigail’s story. I am realizing how this is affecting me and how important everyone’s support has been. I think talking to others really helped me realize how much I am longing for their support. I come across as independent and I tell myself that’s how I want to be, but I am learning that I really don’t. But it is so hard for me to let people in.
God is giving me the strength to get through this. But he is doing it more through others than I would have initially thought. And I am glad. It feels so much better to be strong with others’ help than to be strong on my own. The ladies on the board always talk about how they are different after losing their babies and that eventually they consider it a gift. I didn’t realize just how different it would be.
Saturday, October 26, 2002
My emotions are so conflicted. I want to be with people, and when there is a gathering I want to go. But I also don't want to go. Then when I go, if they just talk about "happy” things, I get frustrated. Don't they know my heart is breaking? But if they ask me about Abigail, sometimes that is too hard, too. So I don't really know what I want from people.
Everyone was so supportive because I was open and talked easily during the pregnancy. And I really have been doing pretty well afterwards, but I have been really private as well. Maybe it's because there was so much to do beforehand (doctor visits, birth plan, funeral plan, etc) that I could talk about the tasks. Now there is nothing to do, just things to FEEL. And it is really, really hard for me to open that part up to people. Maybe over time it will become more natural and won’t feel like such an ordeal.
I never imagined God would use Abigail in this way. I knew I would learn about love, but I thought it would be about love for her, not for me. It really seems He is softening me through this since I refused to be softened on my own.
Sunday, October 27, 2002
Steve and I had a good lunch at Bluebird, and we got to talk about his load right now and how he can't be taking on any more at this point in time. I don't want him to think he can do all he used to or wants to right now because he just can't. He gets overload like I do, but his comes out in being really irritated with everything. He said he's really impatient with other people's problems right now and he keeps forgetting everything. I told him that's grieving - it's not just crying.
We just talked about how hard this is; even though we're pretty stable, it takes so much out of us. And it will continue to do so for a while; it's not like it will suddenly be over and get a lot easier, so we have to learn to adapt to it. I am really glad we had that time to talk - it doesn't seem like we've been able to do it much lately.
Thursday, October 31, 2002
Last night I told Steve that I wouldn’t change anything at all about Abigail. That seems strange, but if she didn’t have T18, she wouldn’t have been the Abigail that we knew and loved. She would have been another baby, and we would have loved her, but it wouldn’t have been her. The T18 was part of who she was; how she looked, how small she was, how she barely made any noise when she cried, and I wouldn’t change any of it.
Steve said that the song, Visitor From Heaven, says, “we think of you and smile”, and he said he hoped I would be able to say that, too. I told him that a lot of times I do. But most of the time, when I think of Abigail, it is a real mixture of emotions. I feel joy as I remember her, and I feel emotional and sentimental, overtaken by how much I love her, much like I do sometimes with my other kids. At the same time, I feel sadness – no matter what, always the sadness - that she is gone. So most of the time, there is a real bittersweet feeling when I think or talk about Abigail. And how I respond depends upon which feeling is the most prevalent at the moment. When it is the joy, I am able to smile and talk about her “normally”. When the sentimental emotions are strongest, I usually can talk pretty well, but I often end up crying. But it feels good to cry like this; it is a release and I end up feeling better.
But sometimes, and it seems to be happening more often lately, the sadness takes over. And when it does, there is usually no warning. There is a sharp, stabbing, almost physical, pain in my heart. Then the sadness engulfs me like a tidal wave and knocks me over with its force. It is as if I am just realizing for the first time that my baby has died and I am completely overwhelmed. And then the flood of tears comes. But these tears do not help; they are of desperation and compulsion, out of my control. They do not comfort and cannot be stopped. The force of the sadness, its ability to come so quickly and completely take over, stuns me. I have never felt anything like this before.
I think this month I realized that even though I had all that time to prepare, I guess I was still in shock after she died. I had been mostly reliving our time with her. But this month was when the shock wore off. It was when the sadness hit me more, all of a sudden. It was when I stopped wanting to relive it and just started feeling sad. And I started wondering if I had been in denial. But I really think it was just the shock. And, as painful as it was to come out of the shock, it means I am moving along. And that is good.