Thursday, July 16, 2015

Happy 9th Birthday Robert Allen!

My baby Robert Allen, 
Another year has passed and I am one year farther from the first, last and only time I got to hold you. It makes me so sad as I try to remember everything about you. How you looked, the feel of your skin on mine, your tiny heel and the little arch in your foot. It's so hard to remember it all! And I hate that! I wish I could remember those hours with you perfectly!!

But the other side to each passing year is that I am one year closer to finally getting to see you again! And not just see you, but hold you and get to know you! It is so hard to have a child that you never got to know. 
I wonder what you would look like. Your dad? Me? Or perhaps one of your siblings? Would you have blond hair like most of your brothers and sisters do or would you be like Cori with dark, almost black hair? I'd bet he'd like to have a brother who shared his hair color. I'm sure you'd have beautiful, blue eyes. . .all of your siblings do. But would they be more grey like mine and Sterling's or a bright blue like Emmy's or Cori's? Would you have a lot of freckles across your nose like Emmy, Sterling or Kailyn or just a few? I try to imagine you but I just can't. I only see the impossibly, tiny baby that I briefly held and tried to memorize in those very short hours before we had to leave.
And what would you be like? Would you love soccer and sports? Or would you prefer music and books? Or a combination? Would you be a momma's boy or a daddy's boy? What would your favorite subject be in school? Would you be a cuddler like Eddie and Joe? Who would you be? 

I think the thing that I look most forward to is one day getting to hug and kiss you! To look into your eyes and hear you say "I love you, Mom". To finally get to discover who my little boy is. I don't know you but I love you as much as I love any of your siblings and I just can't wait to find out who you are. 

I hope that you know that I think of you every day, and that is not an exaggeration. Not a day passes that you aren't in my thoughts. You are as much a part of me as each of your brothers and sisters. I love you because you are my son. 

I wish so much that you were here, and that I could watch as you grow up. I wish that I had more memories of you than just a lifeless body. What I would have given to have had even a few moments with you in this life! To have felt your breath and heard your heartbeat! It is so hard that those are experiences that I will wait a lifetime to have!

One day, though, I will have them. . .it may seem like an eternity, but someday I'll look back on this and realize that it was just a blink. 

Thank you for all the things that you taught me about being a mom and appreciating the moments that I do have. Because of you, I learned how to understand grief in a new way and to really empathize with those who have gone through the loss of a child. I've learned that even though no two circumstances are the same, the loss of a child whether in pregnancy or after birth, is the same. It is the grieving of all the things that we will miss. Breaths, heartbeats, first smiles, first words or steps, riding a bike, going to school, dating, weddings and grandchildren. All those milestones and memories that inevitably are lost with the death of a child, those are what we grieve. We don't grieve the memories we already have, just the chance to make more. 

I miss you baby boy! More than I could ever tell you! More than I could even hope to show you! You are my sorrow and my joy; my despair and my hope. You are the child we never had, the one that we let go and said goodbye to before we ever got to say hello. Yet, you're the one that is always with us. I carried you while your heart beat and now I carry you in my heart. 

I love you sweet angel! And someday, our family will be together forever but until then, know that you are loved and never forgotten!!

Love Forever, 
Your Mommy

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Not So Happy Birthday

It's my birthday today which you'd think would make me pretty happy, or at least cheerful. . . but I'm not. And honestly, the day has been pretty good. My kids and hubby sang me Happy Birthday when I woke up. There were cupcakes from the Sister Missionaries this morning along with another stirring rendition of Happy Birthday. I had an awesome time this afternoon when several of my friends surprised me with going out to lunch which also included a birthday hat, light up glasses, a large birthday button for me and more yummy cupcakes! (Thanks Katie and Brooke!) There was also the video text from my sister in law singing to me or the phone call from my best friend Danna. And there was also the encore chorus of Happy Birthday from my family with the cupcakes Rob got for after dinner. I should feel happy...

But I'm just not feeling it today.

Today, even though it's my birthday, all I can think about is that two weeks ago I had to have emergency surgery to remove my ectopic pregnancy. . . my baby. And as hard as it was last fall to miscarry this is even worse and I think it's because this time I let myself hope. 

Last September I had started to miscarry within days of finding out I was pregnant. Not much time to be hopeful. This time I had over a week to hope that everything was ok. 

Sometimes I don't like hope.
Sometimes hope just hurts.

I really just hate this whole thing and can't help but be kind of angry about it. You can tell me all you want about God's plan or how everything happens for a reason. I get that! I KNOW that with every fiber of my being! But what some people may not understand is that even with all my faith and all my understanding of the Plan of Salvation and knowing that my Heavenly Father loves me and that there is a purpose and a plan; even with all that, it still hurts. . . a lot!! The Gospel simply doesn't insulate, protect or prevent us from having to grieve and feel the same pain as anyone else who suffers a loss. 

This is a kind of pain that no one can understand unless they've been there. Even then, those who have been here, all handle and experience things differently. And that's ok! But part of the process in grieving is FEELING all of it. The Gospel does not remove the excruciating pain of grief. Even Christ wept when Lazurus died and He knew he was going to bring him back to life. I mean, you want an eternal perspective, you can't get much better than Christ himself and He still wept in sorrow. Even He who knows the plan from beginning to end grieved, so why would it be any different for us?

I have faith in my Heavenly Father's love for me. . . but I doubt it too.
I know my Heavenly Father loves me. . . but it feels like he hates me sometimes.
I know He doesn't hate me. . . but I'm sure pissed that this happened again.

Basically, I'm angry that despite trying to avoid having to go through this kind of suffering I have to do it again.

I'm hurt that He let this happen. He has the power to have prevented this, to have performed a miracle and saved this baby or He could have stopped my tubes from ever reopening, or He could have ensured that they'd opened completely allowing the baby to implant in my uterus and not my tube. There are any number of points in time in which He could have intervened and saved me from this heartache. . .He could have prevented all of this, both times, but He didn't. And, yes, that makes me sad and hurt and angry. And I suspect that this may bother some people to hear. Or it may make them worry about my mental health or the strength of my testimony. Rest assured, I'm ok, or at least as ok as I can be.

My faith is strong. My testimony is intact but as my best friend pointed out when I discussed this with her, "Grieving is ugly!" Yep, really, really ugly. Feel lucky that even if anyone reads this you are getting only a tiny dose of all that ugliness. There's so much that I don't say, that I don't tell and that you simply can't see because it's also very private and personal. Sometimes, though I just need to vent; not for the benefit of anyone reading but for me.

So, you don't need to worry that I'm going to stop believing in God or leave the Church. I am secure in my understanding and knowledge of the truth of the Gospel. I know that eventually, with time, I won't be angry. I also know, because I've been here so many times before, that this is simply part of the ugly process of grieving.

Which always leaves me with the big question of "Why?" Why did it happen and why didn't He intervene?

I've been told that sometimes these things "just happen" and I do believe that as a consequence of living in a mortal and fallen world, these things do happen. But I also have to believe that if He chose not to intervene that He has a reason and a plan (and it better be REALLY good!). If I have to do this, then He must have a purpose. Otherwise I'd be left with the reality that He didn't intervene because it didn't matter or He didn't care, neither of which can be true. Because Heavenly Father would never allow us to suffer unnecessarily. There is always a plan and a purpose. Sometimes (a lot of the time) we just don't get to know all the answers. That's the hard part because if I could just understand the "Why?" then maybe I could get on with life faster and suffer just a little less.

So that is where I'm at right now. A day that I should be celebrating I'm left grieving and a little angry. But slowly, surely, maybe tomorrow or next week or next year I will move on. The peace that the Gospel brings and the knowledge of Heavenly Father's love for me will soften my anger and bring peace to me. I will get there. The journey isn't a pleasant one but it is survivable. And I'll probably even be a better person for it.

But for right now, for tonight, I'm just going to be a little angry and a lot sad.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Sometimes Practice Does NOT Make Perfect

In case anyone is wondering, there are just some things in life that doing over and over and over does not make you any better at. Pregnancy loss would be one of those. In this instance practice most definitely does not make perfect, well, at least in respect to handling it. Frankly, I suppose I'm really good at the miscarrying part, just not at the coping part.

It's been a really rough week or so for me. Physically my healing is going great. My incisions seem to be doing well. I'm back to driving and doing normal daily things. I'm not quite up to going back to the gym yet, but give it another week or two and I'll be there too....but my's just not healed. Not that I'd expect it to be or maybe even really want it to be.

I guess some people may think that's really weird, I mean, who wants to feel sad, right? But it's all I have left of this baby. Well, that and a pregnancy test which I can't bring myself to throw away because then it's like this baby never was. (Go ahead, judge me, I don't mind.) For those who don't understand you should read "The Myth of Getting Over It" by Steven Kalas (or click HERE for an audio version on youtube). It's a very short read but very profound and an excellent explanation of grief. Anyway, there's a part in there that I think perfectly describes the way I feel:
You don’t want to get over it. Don’t act surprised. As awful a burden as grief is, you know intuitively that it matters, that it is profoundly important to be grieving. Your grief plays a crucial part in staying connected to your child’s life. To give up your grief would mean losing your child yet again. If I had the power to take your grief away, you’d fight me to keep it. Your grief is awful, but it is also holy. And somewhere inside you, you know that. (emphasis added)
So, although I don't want to be sad, to not be sad would, in essence, be like losing this baby all over again. Eventually, I know that I'll go on with my life. You never actually "get over it" but you do "live on". Right now though, I've spent the last week reliving the previous week (does that make sense?) On Tuesday I was thinking, "One week ago I was still pregnant and thought everything was fine." Then on Wednesday I thought, "One week ago it all fell apart. It all started in Walmart...the first time I spotted" (Which is slightly ironic since I was also in Walmart the first time I started bleeding when I was pregnant with Robert Allen. Note to self: Walmart is bad for pregnancy.) And then all came crashing down. At some point I'll stop looking back at the calendar thinking, "One week ago_________."or "I would be _____ weeks along now." For now, I just feel bipolar. Fine one minute, sad the next. And I can't help going over the events of Wednesday and Thursday over and over in my mind. It's enough to make me crazy.

Anyway, you'd think that'd with all my practice in the arena of miscarriage and loss that I'd have it down. The grieving process, I mean. But every time, it catches me off guard and I wonder how it can hurt so much! How is it that I can hurt so badly and still go on with my life like it's just another day. And then the roller coaster of it all! Ugh!

Sometimes I'll be going through my day and I'm like, "Hey, I'm feeling ok today...maybe this won't be so bad." Then an hour later it hits me, "Jennifer, you lost a baby. Remember how you had already started to choose names? And your kids were so excited!! And now Kailyn and Eddie want to know where the baby is and why it's not coming and where the doctor put it when she took it out. And by the way, what kind of idiot tells their kids they're pregnant ESPECIALLY when they have a history of miscarriage??"

And in those moments I just cry.
And it's painful and ugly and raw.
And no one wants to see that.
And I don't want anyone to see it either.
It's just too raw to share.
But it's just too heavy to carry alone.
It's just not FAIR!

There's a song that I love right now by Callee Reed called "The Waiting Place". I've loved it for months but it's especially poignant right now for me. The whole thing pretty much fits my life at the moment but the two verses have been repeating in my mind over and over. Initially, when I first found out I was pregnant again, the first verse stuck out to me:
In my moments alone I ask, why me?
All the hospitals, doctors and tests
The endless uncertainty
Is a miracle too much to ask
When I've been faithful in the past?
I've been faithful, I've lived my life the way I should and kept the covenants I've made.  I follow the Savior and try my best to do what I know I should. And I've stayed faithful even when I've had the most sacred things in my life ripped from me. So why can't I have my miracle? Just this one time I wanted that miracle for this baby to be born alive and healthy at full term. But then, despite my prayers and pleading and the prayers of others, His answer is no. I'm faced with walking an all too familiar path. And now, this second verse is what runs through my mind:
In his moments alone he asks, why her?
Why all the suffering and pain
When surely God has a cure?
Pleading each time he prays,
Please stop testing my weakness this way.
I know God could've performed a miracle and I could have had this baby. I KNOW that it was within his power. I also know that He has His reasons for staying His hand. But I just want to cry out to Him, "Please stop testing me this way! Pick something ELSE!" I've been here, I've done this and I can't do it anymore! Why is it always through death and loss that I get tested? My dad, Robert Allen, my now 4 miscarriages. Could I maybe have a different trial? This one is just so hard!

But we don't get to choose our trials. I guess if we did we would probably choose wrong...or at least too easy. No one really wants to suffer, right? But this seems cruel at times.

I know that God isn't cruel. I know that! One thing I have felt most sure of during this is that He LOVES me and He doesn't like or want to see me suffer or grieve. But at moments it's hard to remember that and I want to be angry at Him; to blame Him. I take some comfort in knowing that when I do feel this way, He understands and He can handle it. And when I'm done with my temper tantrum and come to my senses, He'll be there waiting to hold me and guide me through this familiar journey. I just really wish I didn't have to take this journey again because it really, really sucks! Hopefully I'll do it right this time and I won't have to do it over again. Of course, that would take a miracle of it's own since I'd have to completely regrow one or both of my Fallopian tubes! And I don't think I want that miracle.

Robert Allen