Friday, September 25, 2015

What does grief look like?

For me,


I do not want to do anything "normal".  I do not want talk to anyone, I do not want to wear the same clothes or fix my hair the same, I do not want to cook or clean house, I do not want to talk about the weather or plan for the future, I do not want to take care of the animals or teach my kids.  I do not want to live in a world where the unimportant matters. 

My life is not over, I know that.  As I move forward, though, Caroline is left behind in September of 2015 and I am not ready to be out of her moment yet.  I know, "she will always be with me", but it is still her time and I am not ready to go back to business as usual.  How can I anyway?  I am not the same person I was a month ago.  As much as it changes you to become a mom, for the first or twentieth time, it changes you all the same when the baby doesn't come home.   

A month ago I did not know what pPROM is or what it can do to a perfectly healthy baby.  I did not know the pain of losing and burying a child.  I did not know I can not protect my children from death.  I did not know what it is like to plan a funeral.  I did not know what it is like to drive away from a hospital without the baby you just gave birth to.  I did not know what it is like to give birth without a C-section.  I did not know the name Caroline could bring so much joy and sadness at the same time.  I did not know so many things. 

I feel completely foreign in my body.  It is not my own, nor is it Caroline's anymore; I cannot fit into any of my clothes yet, nor do I want to.  My breasts are still swollen and sore from producing milk that will never be used.  The baby bump that was growing, and loved, is all but gone and yet it still takes six weeks for it all to be a normal size.  My hands and feet are still swollen from pregnancy, delivery, and medications.  My right leg is causing much pain (epidural).  The bleeding from delivery will continue for some time, and I am angry at my body for rejecting my daughter.  I feel betrayed by it.  It is both full of life and full of death.   

I do not recognize my face; it does not smile much or see makeup often, its eyes are swollen from tears and heartache, it is pimple-ridden from the change in hormones, and its lines and creases seem so much deeper.

My home is not my own.  It is full of funeral flowers, funeral ribbons, and baby stuff.  It is full of children with glazed-over eyes from too much Netflix.  It is full of half empty water bottles, dirty clothes, and toys on the floor.  It is full of people that I love who are as sad as I am but who show it in much different ways.  It is full of homeschooling books that aren't being touched.  Its yard is full of animals, whom I love, but that I have not seen or taken care of, myself, in weeks.  It, too, is full of life...and death.

Rod goes back to work tonight, the kids have to be taught starting up again on Monday, we cannot keep eating grilled cheese and ham sandwiches, and Sissy is too young to run a house indefinitely, but it's like I have forgotten how, like I'm a ghost.  It isn't fair to them, but is it fair to me?  It's only been ten days!

So this is what grief looks like for me:  PJs and hair buns, grilled cheese sandwiches and Netflix, unanswered text messages, FB messages, and phone calls, responsibilities that go unfulfilled, clinging to my husband, a spot on the sofa or my side in bed, a once an hour breakdown, an occasional anger fit, a short temper, a brain that will not function, and a soul that is crushed...and I'll live in this moment with Caroline as long as I need and then I'll start to find a new normal, one that encompasses both who I was and who I am, one that celebrates that I am the mother of four and grieves that one of those children is not here with me, one that will take much time to find.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

She came...

She came...

...Two weeks after my water broke, unexpectedly, in the middle of the night.

...After two weeks of bed rest and worry.

...In compete silence at 3:48 AM on a Tuesday morning. 

...After 14 hours of labor.

...With only a heartbeat.

...Possessing as much love as I had for any of my other children at their births.

...And stayed for only an hour before slipping into eternity.

...With the most beautiful face and tiny little hands.

...And I'll never be the same again.

Caroline Ava Joy Cox
September 15, 2015 at 3:48 AM
1lb .2oz and 11.5in

The flu-like symptoms began on Sunday night and lasted through the day on Monday.  A call to the doctor produced no results and I continued to worry about what was wrong.

At 1:00 PM Monday a backache began that was not the usual cramping I had been experiencing since my water broke two weeks before.  Again, my doctor told me it was nothing to worry about.

At 6:00 PM, in the restroom, something was definitely not right.  I thought I would deliver her, right there, in the toilet.  Later I was to find out that her foot was being delivered first and this is what I felt.

We headed to the hospital, and by the time we arrived around 7:30 PM, I was in full labor.  The plan of action was dependent on infection or not...I had an infection.  Induction was the only option and they would not intervene on her life because "viability grey zone" was (exactly) one week away.  They were not willing to compromise their expert opinion.  Caroline would be born, alive, via my first VBAC, and would not be saved.  I would watch my littlest girl pass away and there was nothing I could do about that...nothing. 

The on-call doctor. my delivery nurse, April, and the charge nurse were all amazing.  I could not have asked for better.  We got to hold and love on our girl for close to eight hours.  They bathed her, dressed her in the tiniest and cutest little dress, and took pictures for Mommy and Daddy.

When they took her away, so I could be taken into surgery for bleeding problems, a huge chunk of my heart went with her and is now buried with her.  I did not get to see or hold her again and will never, until Heaven.

Caroline was laid to rest on Saturday, September 19, 2015 at 11:00 AM in the most lovely of graveside services I have ever been to.  Her great uncle officiated, the songs "It Is Well With My Soul" and "Sweet Caroline" were played, and there were so many pink and white flowers...exactly what I wanted. 

This same day my milk came in full force and while it is adding insult to injury; the emotional and physical pain are great, I am also so privilege to get to carry Caroline's milk for a while longer.

There is a gapping hole in my heart, mind, and life without Caroline here.  There is no longer a pregnancy to nurture or a little girl to prepare for.  There are no more kicks, ultrasounds or heartbeats.  There will never be birthdays, dresses, dance lessons, baby dolls, graduations, a wedding day, crying, laughing, running, playing, holding her big brothers' hands, or playing dress up with her big sister.  There will never be anything again for my Sweet Caroline, not on this earth, and I cannot breathe at the thought.  But, though it be hard to see right now, I am thankful for the promise that she is with her Heavenly Father.  Thankful that He hasn't left me alone in this.  Thankful for each gift He gave me throughout her life (in the womb and out) and death.  And thankful that He is carrying me.

I miss you, my Sweet Caroline, with every breath I take and every beat of my heart, I miss you.  I am so sorry that my body didn't protect you.  I am so sorry that it betrayed us both.  I pray that you do not even know that forgiveness is needed, but if you do, I pray that you will.  I love you so much.  I will miss you until I see you again.

For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him. 1 Samuel 1:27