Four Weeks

4 weeks. As much as I tell myself not to keep track, I can’t help it.

Fridays are so weird for me right now.  My weeks of pregnancy turned over on Fridays, and then…I delivered Gregory on a Friday, four weeks ago.  And now, it’s Good Friday.

I used to love Friday.  It was my favorite day of the week.  Even when it was Holy Week and it was Good Friday.  But now…now, Friday means something different for me.  Now, I am sad on Fridays.  Now, it’s a marker of time gone by since something so painful happened.

I try to make it through Friday without thinking about the fact that it’s Friday.  But then I realize that it is ridiculous to try to do that.

I keep wondering at what point Friday won’t feel like this to me anymore?  When it’s been 6 months of Fridays?  When the due date (which was a Friday) passes?

Today, I thought about the fact that Christ gave so much more for me — for us — and for our sins, that it almost feels selfish to mourn the loss of my baby boy.  But then I realize that is kind of silly, that of course I would and should mourn the loss — the loss of being able to mother my son, being able to love him and teach him and pray with him. Instead, I must try to understand and learn how to pray and ask for his intercession (I haven’t quite figured this out).  I mean, sure, in theory, it makes sense to me — but in practice, I just haven’t gotten a handle on it.  Maybe it’s still too close, too fresh.

I look toward Easter Sunday and look forward to feeling happy again. I’ve smiled and laughed with my family over these past few weeks, at times. But genuine happiness — the kind the fills my heart — has still not yet returned.  I’m not sure this Easter Sunday will bring that, but I will be hoping to feel it on some level.

May the Risen Christ bless you on this Easter Sunday.  God bless.

 

The Way Time Passes

I returned to the therapist I had seen for quite a few years through Catholic Charities last night. I know that I am the kind of person that needs to talk things out with someone…or write them out here…or something like that. I hadn’t seen her since early in 2012, so we spent the time mostly catching up and going through the events in my life that had happened since she last saw me.

10 months passed so quickly. I had been promoted at work, gone through a very busy and important time at work, coached Sarah’s team in volleyball, gotten Dani started in swim team, gotten Helen going in Ballet.  I now have a middle-school child, a 3rd grader and a 1st grader.  Dominic is 4 now, Vincent barreling down to age 2.  It was crazy the things I caught her up on — quite a bit has happened in my life in the last year.

But, of course, it was the experience of conceiving, carrying, delivering and burying Gregory that made the passage of time stand out so clearly. As I relayed last fall and all the happenings, I mentioned a meeting I had with a woman I consider kind of like a spiritual mother figure for me as I struggled with what aging does to my sexual relationship with my husband and also pondered with some assistance how age impacts the discernment process with regard to being open to life in our marriage. I marveled as I relayed how my mindset had evolved over the course of 4-6 weeks, and how we had — in an unguarded moment — opened our marriage up to another baby, and how we discovered that God granted that request. I discussed my feelings as I adjusted to being a mother of six instead of five, my pondering on how it might affect me at work, at home, with the children I already had.  I laughed as I relayed Sarah’s reaction when we told the kids — she was really quite cute, but since she knows what had to have happened for a baby to result, I could just see the typical teenage-meanderings on that with regard to her parents working through her facial expressions.

We had a fairly uneventful Christmas season so I just kind of fast-forwarded through all of that, discussing the first prenatal visit for Gregory, the treatment of my low progesterone, the second prenatal visit in February with the kids, the faint heartbeat, and then finally arrived at the day we found out Gregory had passed.  As I told her about that and the things that happened afterwards, she marveled at how quickly everything happened.  I had only just recently started to think about that myself.  I mean, we discovered that Gregory was dead around 12:15-12:30 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon and by 6:09 a.m. the next morning, I had labored through the night and delivered him.  And we were checked out of the hospital early that afternoon.  

That’s a whirlwind 24 hours.  But, it felt like a lifetime to me.  I didn’t think the time was passing slowly at the time, but perhaps it is because I remember every little detail that it seems like two or three days instead of one. Only 24 hours after we left the hospital, we were sitting in the rectory planning Mass and burial with Father. Less than 24 hours after that, we were in the Funeral Home making those arrangements. And 24 hours after that, we were finalizing the plot at the cemetery. Finally, the next day about 30 hours later, we were in Church partaking in the Mass we’d planned.  Forget whirlwind 24 hours — talk about whirlwind 5 days.

Yet, as whirlwind as it sounds as I describe it, it felt like a lifetime. The tears, the searing pain in my heart, the “punches to the gut”, the overarching sadness of everything…made it seem like time stood still.  As I think about it, it is very much like when we bring a newborn home — time marches on, we’re caught up in diaper changes, and bottle feedings, and sleeping in the recliner with a baby on our chest, and checking temperatures, weight…we measure time in hours and while it passes the way it always has, it feels very, very slow.

I wonder why it is that it seems that way. I’m sure it has something to do with our human nature, the way we process what we are doing — the stress and the magnitude of the joy or suffering, whichever it might be.

Either way, I’ll wrap this up because I’m starting to ramble.  I do wonder when time will speed back up for me.  I know it will — it’s the nature of it — but I haven’t noticed it yet. I was giving compensation information to my team the other day and reminding them that we’d already had our performance reviews.  I kept saying, “It feels like so long ago, but it has only been four weeks…”

On Monday, it will be one month since I delivered Gregory. In some ways, I want the date to get here so that I can get through it all. In others, I just want to stay five days away from it. 

On that note, I thought I would share with you all a picture of my Mother’s Ring.  Craig bought this ring when our family had only been blessed with Sarah and Dani.  I remember looking at him and feeling so grateful for it, but questioning why he would get it right at that point. And he answered my unasked question with, “It’s a ring that is easy to add on if/when we have more children.” And so it has been.


Due to the timing of Gregory’s birth/death, I still do not have a duplicate birth stone. My November birthstone is in the middle and I have July, August, February, January, June and now March. I didn’t tell them where to put the Aquamarine stone, but when I received it back and saw that it was positioned at the top, it seemed perfect. 

No worries, my little Gregory, I don’t need the ring to always remember you — for you are forever in my heart — but I have a way of sharing you with the world this way.

I Hold His Hand While Jesus Holds My Heart

I didn’t make it through Mass this weekend without crying. Again.

I asked Craig when we pulled into the driveway as we arrived home, “Will I ever make it through Mass without crying, ever again?” 

And he said, “Yes.”

Being Catholic is such a beautiful thing. I have told people in the past that sometimes, as a “Cradle Catholic” I tend to think I may have taken for granted all the blessings there are in our Faith. Now, as I experience the beauty of our Sacraments with a gaping wound in my heart, I feel more sure I must have taken some of the blessings for granted. Because if I hadn’t, I’d probably never have made it through Mass without crying.

Receiving our Lord in the Eucharist, since losing Gregory, has been the most heart-wrenching yet comforting experience in my life. The Eucharistic prayers, the Sanctus, the Our Father and the sign of peace, the Agnus Dei have all touched me in some way over the past three weeks in such a way that I am overcome. I keep thinking it is grief that I am overcome with, but as I reflect on it, I’m not so sure. Yes, in the main, I am grieving a tremendous loss. But what I’m noticing is more of an awareness of the prayers I say and the fact that Jesus is fully present — Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity — to me at that moment. I am keenly aware that this is my one and only chance to be with our Lord and it’s as close as I’m gonna get until the day, God willing, I can look upon His face.

The awareness is also connected to Gregory. I’d be a fool to think otherwise, since I never had this keen awareness until I experienced the loss of my son. I didn’t have words to comprehend the awareness and what it meant with regard to Gregory until a woman who brought us a meal in the week following Gregory’s death said this: “I bet you feel really close to him (Gregory) at Mass.” And the tears came because my first thought was that I seem to feel separated from Gregory at Mass. The awareness that I am able to be one with our Lord in the Eucharist seems to illuminate this great chasm between heaven and earth for me right now. Because Gregory is in heaven and I can’t be there with him, it feels incredibly far away. But her words made me think of it differently. Instead of feeling the space between heaven and earth, perhaps it fills that space and provides an avenue for me to be closer to Gregory, closer to Jesus. That makes sense because Jesus instituted the Sacraments to provide a way to be closer to Him. 

The oh-so-close-yet-so-far-away effect creates the tears. It is almost as though I could touch my sweet boy, but…I can’t.

Going to Mass and receiving the Eucharist have been an important, non-negotiable part of my weekend much of my life. It seems, however, that only now that I’ve lost something precious, do I even approach some sort of understanding. It’s not that I didn’t care before, it’s more like I thought I DID understand it. It seems to me that I now have a very different level of understanding — one with pain, suffering, loss, and tears. 

My desire for the Eucharist was strong before. 

My desire for the Eucharist is now urgent, or perhaps a bit more fervent.

It is almost like it’s my lifeline — even with the sadness it evokes and the tears that come that I cannot control. 

The Eucharist is the way I feel connected to Gregory. It’s the small way I get to be with Jesus — just a little bit, just like Gregory is with Jesus.  It’s a time where I feel like I can hold his hand while Jesus holds my heart.

Tenth Avenue North

7 Quick Takes – 45




— 1 —
It is March Madness time.  Do you have your brackets ready?  So, this is the first time in many many moons that I just filled one out (and not 50).  And here it is:

For the record, I am a KU alum so I always pick KU to win.  Only twice in the last 25 years have I been right.  But that is not gonna stop me from picking my Jayhawks to win it all.  So much fun, and right now, the tournament is a nice distraction from reality.

— 2 —
CREDIT
Yes, we’re going to Disney with the older four kids.  Kind of crazy I know.  This trip was planned in January.  The only change I’ve contemplated was going ahead and bringing Vincent, but Craig talked me out of that with the reminder of all the things we’d have to stop for a baby and such.  But, I think it will be nice to “get out of Dodge” for a bit and regroup, recoup, recharge, whatever so that life can move forward.  Not that it hasn’t been (it does whether I am ready or not) but my heart hasn’t been in it.

— 3 —

Weight Watchers update: my first week went well.  I dropped 9.9 pounds.  I wanted to be happy about it, but my heart wasn’t really in that either.  I know coming off pregnancy, hormones stabilizing, losing some water all played a part.  Oh, okay and the fact that I stopped drinking beer and eating pizza probably helped, too.
 

— 4 —
We have one more Stations of the Cross event for Lent tonight at our parish.  I think they are doing live re-enactment because Sarah volunteered to be a part of it.  I wonder if I will get through without the tears tonight?  Hmm, we shall see.  There’s a fish fry following, YUM.  Our Knights of Columbus put on one of the best Fish Fry’s around, I think — baked fish, boiled shrimp — very good and they have cheese pizza for the kids, which my younger ones enjoy.


— 5 —
Sometimes I wonder why I had to have Gregory on a Friday.  Fridays were always my favorite day of the week.  I guess they still are, but there is sadness on Friday for me right now.  Today it’s been 3 weeks. 
— 6 —

Two weeks off work start at 4:30 this afternoon (if I can manage to get out of the office by then!)  I’ve never taken a two-week vacation before.  I’ve had many-week leaves of absence and such, but never had two weeks scheduled out where I plan to do all sorts of fun stuff.  I am excited — in my own little subdued way.

— 7—
Thank you notes — tell me what you think.  So, I wrote down a list of every name of people who did things for us while we were going through Gregory’s death, funeral and burial.  We had friends keep children, we received home-cooked meals, flowers, plants, tons of cards, people scheduled Masses for Gregory — we have been blessed!  I have started writing thank-you’s but didn’t know if there was etiquette for thanking someone for stuff at a time like this.  I guess my question is, what about the cards…do I acknowledge cards with formal thank-you’s? or just when I see those people, let them know I received their card and thank them?  Just something I never thought I’d have to worry about that I don’t know the answer.

Thank you to Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary for hosting 7 Quick Takes today.

 

Breast is Best…Until It Isn’t (A Guest Post)

I’m a bit pleased that I can interrupt this grief-fest with a reprieve from sorrowful meditations to present to you a post on motherhood, Mommy Wars, Breastfeeding, Formula feeding, whatever label you’d like to put on it.  I have some thoughts swirling for a post on grieving during Lent, some more reflection on the Sacraments through loss, and a painful realization that losing my baby may have been the very thing — perhaps the only thing — that was going to lead me to Heaven.  But, those are quite a bit heavy for this Thursday and I was surprised that I embraced the opportunity to write this post at this time.

Today, I would like to direct you to my dear friend, Sarah‘s blog, Fumbling Toward Grace, where I have written a guest post!  Sarah is running a series on Mommy Wars.  I have been so pleased thus far with the contributions she has had and am honored to be a part of it, too.  Communication in this area of the so-called Mommy Wars is sorely needed, unfortunately, because many times we get sucked into our judgments before we even know we have them! And then, we perpetuate them out of a misguided sense of pride.  I congratulate Sarah and all the other women contributing to an end of the Mommy Wars.  Being a Mommy is hard enough without all the extra baggage we heap on each other!!

************************************************

As I prepared for the birth of my first child, everyone asked me if I was going to nurse. “Of course,” I would say.

Along with completing the hospital’s birth preparation classes, I signed up for the breastfeeding class, too. From what I remember of that breastfeeding preparation class, I received a few booklets, they discussed different position holds for nursing, and told us all, “And don’t even let formula into your house – it gives you an out.” I left the class thinking, “Yeah, I got this.” Because the class told all of us that breastfeeding was NATURAL, it was the HEALTHY way, our babies would be getting the BEST START! The judgments started there, now that I look back on it.

Fast forward to my first three weeks with my first-born child, and I was a wreck. Breastfeeding felt anything but natural, and healthy or best start be damned, my child was starving and fussy and the only way she was getting anything was from a bottle anyway. The first night at home, my baby girl didn’t get anything to eat. My breasts were engorged and she sometimes seemed to latch on, but my let-down was slow and she was impatient. I couldn’t relax because I was sleep-deprived and had no idea what it meant to have a slow let-down. I was pumping all day and we were giving her breast milk via a bottle. Supply wasn’t my issue this time around, thank goodness, but my emotional state could not handle this continued pumping-only breastfeeding relationship. And it killed me, emotionally speaking, that my baby wouldn’t nurse at the breast. What was the point of this nursing thing, if not to get the bonding that they all said was so important?

As we transitioned to formula…READ MORE

 

Dull Focus


How is it possible to love you so much
When I never saw you smile, or heard your sweet cry?
I never even felt you move,
Or felt your hand wrapped around my finger.

There are so many things I miss about you already…
I miss the snuggles I’ll never get from your face on my chest.
I miss the cries that won’t wake me in the middle of the night.
I miss saying, “Bless the baby!” because I’ll never hear your baby sneezes.
I miss the giggles and the laughter you’d surely share with your brothers and sisters.

Sometimes the tears just well up in my eyes.
And I don’t want to stop them.
Not that I could.
Sometimes I just sigh…for no reason…take a huge breath and…
Let it out.

Sometimes I am irritated by everyone because I can’t just sit still and miss you.

Most of the time, I am sad.  Just so very sad.

The books I read tell me someday the sadness will lessen.  
But right now, I don’t know how that can be.  
I put on a smile and I face each day.

I put one foot in front of the other.
It’s been my mantra for so many years now,
And only now, since I lost you, my son,
Does my heart understand how truly difficult that can be.

 

7 Quick Takes – 44 (First-Times-Edition)




— 1 —
It’s the first time we’ve had a Pope named Francis.  I am really excited about our new Pope.  I would be excited about any Pope, I know, but I think it’s so very awesome that he took the name of Francis.  I am floored that we haven’t had a Francis before.  It seems like a perfect name for a Pope.  But maybe we haven’t had one before because it’s the perfect name for THIS Pope.  It was emotional to learn of his election and then wait to meet him on T.V. Wednesday.  Oh, who am I kidding…everything is emotional for me these days.  It brought me a feeling of peace to learn the name he chose.

— 2 —
Wednesday was my first day back to work.  I walked in.  My chest got heavy, I needed deep breaths and I wanted to walk right back out.  I didn’t know how to prepare myself to go to work, and so…it hurt my heart to be there, not pregnant, seeing everyone and everything I had seen for the last time not knowing that Gregory had died.  I entered my office and put my things down and just walked out around the perimeter of my floor, breathing deeply, tearing up a little, telling myself, “I have to go back to work sometime.  It’s never going to be easy.  Just get through today.”  I fought back the tears at that point.  I grabbed my rosary and wrapped it around my wrist and held onto the Crucifix for dear life.

About an hour later, I was reading e-mails, catching up, and I came to two that had February 28th and 12:17 and 12:35 on them.  My ultrasound started on February 28th, scheduled for 12:15 and it was over by 12:35 and my heart was broken.  So, I got up and started walking.  I wasn’t sure where I was going, but I needed to find some place where I could cry.  I walked up the two flights of stairs to a spot where there are chairs where people sometimes go to take personal phone calls.  I sat there for awhile, letting some tears out, but mostly trying to contain them.  After that I asked if it was all right if I left early and my boss was so understanding and said “Absolutely”, so, I made it through the rest of the day (stopping to go and watch our Holy Father’s first blessing).

— 3 —

I went to Confession for the first time since Gregory died on Wednesday.  It was weird and I hope to write more clearly about it.  But, I hadn’t been since December 4 and it is Lent so I knew I needed to go.  While I hadn’t spent much time in the past two weeks sinning, I had stuff I just knew I needed to confess from before that time.  But, when life changes so dramatically, so quickly and so traumatically, it’s hard to remember.  I think that is why I had always gone to confession right before going in for inductions with my other children.  It just seemed right to labor and deliver with a clear conscience and a pure soul.  Confessing wasn’t really on my mind before we went into the hospital to deliver Gregory, though. 

— 4 —
I actually made it through a Rosary for the first time since Gregory died on Wednesday.  When I packed before we went to the hospital to deliver him, I packed my Bible, my Shorter Christian Prayer book and my Rosary.  I tried a few times to pray, and even though I know all the words to all the prayers of the Rosary, they just wouldn’t come.  On Wednesday, when I left work, I went straight to Church and pulled out my Rosary.  I cried heavily, but made it through the Glorious mysteries.  I even made it through a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, too.  In hindsight, I think I really really needed that prayer and the fact that I prayed it is probably what helped me get to confession a little bit later. 


— 5 —
Tuesday was the first time I ever read Wisdom, Chapter 4.  On recommendation of my doctor (yes, I know that’s so cool 🙂 ) I picked up my Bible and turned to the Book of Wisdom and found Chapter 4.  The first part was a bit difficult to read, but then, the heading of “On Early Death” appeared right before verse 7.  Here are verses 7-15:

“But the just man, though he die early, shall be at rest. For the age that is honorable comes not with the passing of time, nor can it be measured in terms of years. Rather, understanding is the hoary crown for men, and an unsullied life, the attainment of old age. He who pleased God was loved; he who lived among sinners was transported— Snatched away, lest wickedness pervert his mind or deceit beguile his soul; For the witchery of paltry things obscures what is right and the whirl of desire transforms the innocent mind.  Having become perfect in a short while, he reached the fullness of a long career; for his soul was pleasing to the LORD, therefore he sped him out of the midst of wickedness. But the people saw and did not understand, nor did they take this into account.”

The parts that look like this are the parts that continue to repeat in my brain.

— 6 —

I wrote my first thank you note. Well, it is really a letter.  It turned into four pages. It’s to my doctor. You know, I always think I should write and thank him for everything after I’ve had a baby, but that’s about all I’ve ever done…think about it.  Yesterday, I sat down with my pen and my paper and I wrote him every bit of thanks that I thought I owed him. I felt the need to thank him for sharing in our sorrow as well as our joy in our lives. I can’t imagine going through pregnancy, birth and…now (sadly), a loss of a child without him.

— 7—
This is my first time writing Quick Takes since we lost Gregory.  I’m trying to get back into some semblance of a routine.  About the only thing that is routine so far is that every time I do something for the first time since we lost Gregory — doesn’t matter how mundane or how big time it is — it is hard. So. Incredibly. Hard.  As much as my life changed the minute my children have been born, my life changed that much, and then some, the day we lost Gregory.

I am linking up with Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary today.