Monday, April 30, 2012

Fake it to Make it

I have a pile of grief books by my bed that I have skimmed through.  Most have been very helpful and in one I read of a mother who had experienced loss and she said in the beginning you just have to "fake it to make it".  That really stuck with me because I realized that is basically how I get through the day.  I mentioned what I read to Whit and he agreed that he does that a lot too.  You just have to.  Sure we have really laughed or smiled about something.  But overall to get through the day we have to just survive and that motto is really how we have been doing it.  I feel like I am a different person now.  I know having children changes you, but our change has been different.  I feel like there is an "old Hayley" and now a "new Hayley" with the change happening as soon as Polly came into our lives and was so quickly taken away.  This experience was what one friend called "very maturing" for us.  We no longer assume a normal, uneventful pregnancy is rewarded with a healthy baby you get to take home.  Our faith in many ways has been shaken.  But that doesn't mean we believe less, just we are more cautious, if that is the correct word to use.  I have looked at pictures of myself before we had Polly and since she went to Heaven and I just feel like I look different.  Like the changes have affected me physically.  Even our wedding photos I look at the old Hayley and just think "she had no idea what was in store for her".   Whit and I just assumed when we were ready we would start a family and that would be that.  Of course there are risks in pregnancy and we were aware of that, but you just never ever expect something as terrible as this, and you definitely never expect your child to be the one it happens too.

Whit and I have been blessed to not only have our supportive friends and family stick by us, help us, cry with us, and hold us, but we have been so fortunate to have meet so many new friends because of our daughter.  These new friends have also experienced first hand the grief of loss and encourage us as we are still in the beginning stages of our journey.  We have learned that many have felt how we do and that we are not alone and our feelings are normal.  That has been such a comfort because many times we feel like no one understands.  Grief makes you feel so isolated from everyone else.  But we are so thankful for the people who have stuck by us.  We may not have called you back yet, or responded to your email or card,  but we have felt all the love that has been sent to us.  In many ways the 6th month has been the hardest on this journey.  To know half of a year has gone by since Polly was with us, since we felt the excitement and anticipation of being parents.  That is such a long time but also no time at all.  And without our faith in God, our belief that we would see Polly again restored to perfectness, and the support of those who love us, we would not be able to make it......or for now fake it to make it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Different Type of Parent

Sweet Polly would have been 6 months old on the 11th this month.  It is so weird to look at our lives and realize how different things are.  Whit and I both knew that 2012 would be a different year for us with our little family but each milestone makes it so clear how different our changes are from other new parents.  Whit and I consider ourselves parents.  It is a hard question to answer when we are asked how many children we have.  We have a daughter although she is not with us, she was here on this Earth for a short amount of time and she will forever be a part of our family. Only 18 friends/family were able to meet her.  She has a Christmas stocking, an Easter basket, and a has a nursery.....all unused.  It is just so different from a parent who has their baby with them.  I would imagine those parents wouldn't think twice about that question, but for us it is one that allows us to talk about Polly but also brings sadness.  You don't want the looks of pity or to make the person feel bad, but at the same time you do want them to know about your child.  Polly will always be included in the number of children we have.  A fellow mother of loss told me that it is hard to answer that question and it seems that no matter how you answer that question, whether you say "I have 1, she is in heaven" or "We have no children", you always seem to wish you answered the question the other way.  I honestly don't ever remember being asked how many kids we have until after we had Polly.  We probably were asked that but just never really paid attention.  It was an easy answer that I didn't think twice about.

I have also become painfully aware with how I cannot relate to other new moms.  While I can relate with the pregnancy part, having gone through a pregnancy with Polly to term, but as soon as the baby is born crying and healthy, the relation I have is not there.  Sometimes when I hear others talk about their experience I realize how different mine has been.  And it isn't that I don't want to hear about their experience, but it still catches me off guard when topics are discussed that I can not really relate too.  Everything from breast feeding to surviving on little sleep.  I pumped and know what that is like, but that is about it.  I never breastfed, never got the opportunity to even feed Polly a bottle.  She had to be off ECMO to have my milk and then it was given to her through a tube in her nose.  I can understand lack of sleep also, but not in the traditional sense of having a baby not on a schedule.  I had lack of sleep from the stress of worrying if Polly would make it, when she would come off ECMO, what would happen to her little body as a complication to all of her invasive treatments.  Some of the realizations from being around other babies really catch me by surprise.  My sweet nephew was born in January and we went to see him at the hospital.  He was crying when I saw him and I suddenly realized, which sounds silly, that newborns cry.  I was overwhelmed with the realization that I never experienced Polly cry.  When she was born she was limp and gasping for air.  I heard something that sounded like a squeak as they moved her to the bassinet to clean her up and that was it.  You could see her trying to cry, but no sound came out.  I have been around babies and know they indeed cry, but it was something I guess I forgot about.  And then realize that is yet another "normal" thing that we missed out on.  It just hurts my heart to think about those things.  So even though I expect certain things with being around new parents/babies, things still surprise me. Another example is how we received her birth certificate and death certificate around the same time.  That is just not normal.  They are side by side in our files.  Along with her 500+ pages of medical records.  Again, just another thing that most parents don't have to deal with.  It is hard being different.  I would have loved to just been another little happy family starting out, blinded by all the risks that pregnancy and delivery can bring.  Loosing our baby has really matured us a lot.

For those that are reading this, I am so sorry if everything I write seems really sad.  I guess I am that....sad.  I do have happy moments, I have honestly laughed at jokes or had a smile on my face, but to copy what another mom has said which puts my feelings into words, it is like you can smile in pictures and been genuinely happy, but the sparkle has gone from our eyes.  Loosing your child changes you, you have experienced the worst unexpected loss imaginable.  My sparkle is gone, but I know there will be happy moments in my life again.  And I can put an honest smile on my face or cry happy tears when I think of that glorious reunion Whit and I will have with Polly when we are all in Heaven.  And I think that is how we get through this, because we know and believe 100% we will see our sweet baby again, and hopefully get the opportunity to raise and take care of her, like every parent wants to do.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Tough Day

Just wanted to vent a bit, but I had a tough day today.  I just really miss Polly today.  I miss her every day but some days it is unbearable, and this was one of those days.  I would give anything to have her back with us.  To have her healthy.  I am still just in shock that she was so very sick.  What are the odds of something like this happening to your baby?  Fortunately not likely but for us, we were on the wrong side of those odds.  I also feel like people don't understand me.  I think I could describe my feelings until I am blue in the face but until you have helplessly watched your baby fight for life only to loose the battle and you are left with so much emptiness could a person understand.  I feel like I am isolating myself from everyone else, but not on purpose.  Easter was hard as expected.  I can't even enjoy holidays right now, it just hurts too much and all I can think about is how Polly should be here with us.  I am starting to realize that this is something that you don't "get better" from, you don't "get over it", and time is not healing my wounds.  I have noticed that you get used to things but that is about it.  You don't wake up one day and feel all better.  It is difficult because I think people assume that one day Whit and I will be healed.  Like since we are doing normal, every day things that we are "all better".  That is far from the truth.  Whit and I are just trying to learn how to deal with our grief.  Whit always reminds me that Polly wouldn't want us sad all the time and that we need to make her proud.  I unfortunately don't feel like I make her proud.  I am sure I will one day, but on days like this I just want to sleep all day to not think about how empty our lives feel.  Anyways I didn't mean to write so long.  Just had to get a few things off of my chest.  I miss you so much sweet baby.  I love you!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I still miss her

So this is my attempt at a blog.  The idea of it was honestly overwhelming to me.  Where do I start?  What do I say?  I know having a blog isn't difficult, but for me even the smallest things that take the tiniest amount of effort can overwhelm me.    I am hoping this blog will help me to collect my thoughts and try and learn from what God is teaching me.  It is so easy to get overwhelmed in life, I think if I can see everything written down then I can actually take something from it.   So for anyone who is actually taking the time to read any of this, sorry if I am not the best "blogger".....I'm learning as I go.  :)

With each passing month, things get easier and yet harder.  Its kind of weird.  It is almost as if I finally get used to the month, the holidays that are in it, the season that goes with it and then it changes.  Like I can't keep up with all the changes going on in my life.  Polly would have been 6 months old this month.  I still cannot believe that she is gone and this is the life I have, being categorized as a childless parent.  I cannot even begin to fathom the many things I will never get to experience with her.  I wonder what she would have been like now.  What cute things she would have done.  How much more she would have captured our hearts after the 1 month we had her.  How big would she be?  Would all of her hair be red by now?  Would her eyes have changed color? Which toys would have been her favorite? I just have so many questions.  I wish I had more time to get to know her and watch her grow.  But for now all I can do to feel close to her is to talk to her, sit in her room, look through her keepsakes, and kiss her pictures.  I just miss her, may be more now than before.  Last year it seemed like any holiday or special occasion I would think that next year Polly would get to be a part of it.   Like Easter for instance, I LOVE Easter!  It is such an incredible holiday for so many reasons.  I love the meaning behind it and how it is in the spring when things are reborn and renewed.  I also love that there seems to be an endless list of things to do for Easter with children.  Everything from teaching them about Jesus and why we celebrate Easter, to egg decorating and hunting, and feasting with family.  You dress your little ones in cute colorful outfits especially picked out to be their "easter outfit".  I had so many plans of making memories with our little family.  Polly I know was going to love cooking like me, so I pictured us decorating Easter cookies with her, despite the fact she would be too young to really take part in it.  It didn't matter, I'd make those memories.  So this Easter, it is hard for me to really do anything.  It is hard to celebrate.  This holiday is still special to me, and always will be.  But for me there is one tiny Easter basket missing.  I can say the same about any holiday really, but Easter was one of those daydreams I had before Polly was born.  Along with Christmas, birthdays, Thanksgiving, really any special day.  Polly changed everything, and I am forever changed because of her.  I just miss my sweet baby.  Every single day.