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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Irrational and Not Okay

Another rough day. It was cold and dreary. Nate was pretty down this morning and I had a restless night. The house went from pretty good, to a complete disaster today. The girls were whiny and then Cecily chopped of Cordelia's hair. I just didn't feel up to much. I am still fighting a cold and it shows no signs of going away.

I drove down to Nate's office and when I was at the intersection where you turn to go to the cemetery, I thought about him. I thought how his poor little body would be so cold. It felt so irrational. I know he is not there. I just kept thinking about how perfect he was. He was so beautiful, with his little button nose, nearly 9 pounds at birth. Strawberry blond hair and big feet. I can still feel his soft skin. Just so perfect, like he could have woken up any second. Oh, how I wish he had!

It seems so many thoughts I have feel so crazy and irrational. I feel angry about people having healthy babies, and angry at pregnant women for complaining over their discomfort. I know, I did complain a little, but most of them will end up with a pink and crying baby in their arms. I can't stand that my innocence about pregnancy is gone. It does not always turn out.

So today I am not okay. I am so incredibly heartbroken and angry.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Living On The Moon

One of the hardest parts in dealing with Phineas' death has been helping the girls deal with it. Being 4 and almost 3, the idea of death is hard to approach.

When I was pregnant, the girls knew that we would have a baby soon and that he would come out of me. Cordelia was a bit resistant to the idea because she has been the baby for so long. Eventually, they were both excited at the prospect and they would talk about him and then they would use Baby Phineas as a character in their games and play. I knew they would be great sisters.

Then, when I was in labor, the girls were sort of confused, but they got the idea that the baby would come soon and that the midwives were there to "help push the baby out" as Cecily said. Cordelia was particularly interested in what was going on and wanted very much to be a part of it. They were up late and my sister was with them and entertaining them. I was excited that they would be present for the birth.

But, instantly everything changed. My sister, thankfully took them downstairs to play in the basement with their toys while the commotion of the emergency vehicles and moving me out of the house happened. They were none the wiser and they eventually fell asleep.

When I arrived home in the morning, not feeling great and without a baby, they were confused. Eventually they started asking questions about where Phineas was. We told them the hospital but didn't have the heart to tell them much more.

Unfortunately, they were not able to meet him. I think that is one of my greatest regrets, but I am still unsure of how they would have reacted. I thought they would be confused and wonder why he would not, or could not wake up. That their requests to bring him home would be more frequent. Those would always drive me to tears.

After he passed, they continued to ask for him and about him. We told them that he had gone to live with Jesus. I think it would satisfy them, but they could sense how sad we were. Phineas continued to be a part of their playtime. An imaginary baby, really. We showed them pictures to help the understand, but I am not sure how much they get.

Then, Cecily started to talk about how Phineas was "living on the moon with Jesus" and I wondered how she got to that conclusion. Then I remembered a movie that had a character die and her essence floated up toward the moon. In Cecily's mind, that is what happened to Phineas. I am grateful for this.

Still, every once in awhile, the wounds feel raw and open again. We have to remind them about Phineas. Last night, we watched a movie where a character had to say goodbye to his friends and go back to normal life. Cecily started to cry about this, and then started to cry about how she wanted her brother. I felt my heart break once more. We all wanted him so much. I think I underestimated how keenly they feel and know about our whole family's loss.

Sometimes I feel like I have let them down, like I have deprived them of their brother. I hope though, that this is not the case. They have a brother forever.

I hope they continue to keep Baby Phineas in their play. That he will always be a part of us. Even if he now lives on the moon of their imagination.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Handbook For Grief

When your baby dies, no one at the hospital gives you a handbook for how to grieve. Especially not one you barely knew. There is no one to tell you how you are supposed to get through it. No one tells you about the ups and downs and going through the process time and time again.

I know there is no right way or wrong way. I want to go back to normal but I do not want to forget. As irrational as it may seem, trying to move on can fill me with guilt. Doing normal, everyday things can feel like a betrayal. But then, I think, what is the alternative? To be awash in sadness every moment of the day? No. My friend told me that after her sister passed, she had similar feelings, but that your mind and body want to protect themselves. They don't want to feel pain. So, we escape. And that is OK.

Then, some days are hard. Yesterday was not easy. Phineas would have been 4 weeks old. I imagined a little bit of what my girls were doing at that age. That's when the emotion comes crashing down. In some ways, it is like you are standing on a beach, right where the waves are coming in. The water will pull back and you will barely feel wet and you feel like you can move quite easily. Then a wave comes and you can take it. It isn't too bad. And then there are those waves that take you by surprise. They don't look to bad, but then when they arrive, they knock you over. It is a process that repeats over and over.

Some day, my feet are barely touched, and others, I feel much deeper, with waves of emotion making me almost incapable of control. I cannot allow myself to get too deep, as i know I am a person prone to depression and guilt. Having my girls around from day to day really helps. I think the pain would be unimaginable if I had no other children. I know someday, I will walk higher on the beach, further away from the tide and better able to appreciate it.

I have to convince myself that I can be happy. That is what Phineas would want for me. And I should not feel guilty about it.


Monday, April 19, 2010

A Changed Life

About a month ago, I thought about posting on here about how much my life had changed since I last posted. I was pregnant, we had moved cross country to Connecticut, Nate was working for a film company and we were just trying to get settled in a new place and getting ready for a new baby. If I only knew what would happen.

I can't help but think that, somehow, it was all meant to be. Why? I can't explain, but so many things lined up in such a way that we lost our child. It is so hard to say the words out loud. It is easier to type them, but only just. It has been nearly a month since our little Phineas was born.

It was going well. Things were progressing nicely with labor at home. Baby sounded great and I was almost completely dilated. My midwife encouraged me to get my water to break. After the rush of fluids came a foot and a cord. My whole life changed. What was meant to be peaceful and full of joy became a harrowing ride to the hospital trying to hold my baby in.

I knew from the look on my midwife's face that my baby was dying and I had no way to stop it. I was wheeled into the OR but they had me push since the baby was so far out anyway. Moments later he was born, barely alive. It was so quiet there in the room as they worked on him. I was in shock and freezing, my body shook uncontrollably. Fear gripped me and I just waited to hear one thing, the cries of my baby. But I never would.

He was stabilized but had suffered severe brain trauma due to being deprived of oxygen. They transferred him to another hospital to undergo cold cap treatment. It was his only hope. It would hopefully put off some of the brain damage and allow his brain to heal itself.

I left the hospital 9 hours after he was delivered and agonized over what would happen. The next days we kept vigil at the hospital, hoping for something to change. After his therapy was over, the prognosis was still very poor and we had doctor after doctor repeating it.

We knew the prognosis, but we still felt like there was a reason to hope. We went to church and attended the temple. We felt peace that all would be OK. I struggled with this a bit because we thought it meant that he would be made whole, that he would be healed. I felt his presence, I knew he was there with us. And then, I knew, finally I had peace that all of these promises would be ours, just not in the way we expected.

April 1st, just eight days after his birth, the sun came streaming in our bedroom as I woke up and I just knew. It would be OK. But, it was time for him to go. I could not keep him longer. We told the doctors that we were ready to do "withdrawal of care" the next day.

So on April second, Good Friday, we let him go. They removed the equipment and we held him as he passed, surrounded by family. It seems so strange that I felt more happiness and peace on the day that Phineas died than I did the day he was born. I feel like his life was sacred, that there are many reasons, most, likely unknown yet, why his life was so short.

I miss him so much now that sometimes my arms physically ache to hold him. Sometimes I just fall apart. People are often asking how I am doing. Mostly, I say that I am doing OK. And it sometimes true, other times, it is all I can say.

I think now how much life has changed, but then, how much the same it is. My life feels so different now, but looks nearly unchanged. I have to find a new normal now. One where my son is a presence and a memory, but not physically there.


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