Monday, June 17, 2013

The Love We Carry

I've decided to make some big changes around here. It's time for something new.

As I'm sure some of you have noticed this blog has a weird URL. When I originally made the blog, it was the only name available and so I took it.  It was a very stressful time and, really, that was the LAST thing on my mind. Now, it bothers me.

So, I'm changing it!

I've also been wanting to change the name of the blog for some time now. I've been playing around in my mind with different titles and it finally came to me: The Love We Carry. For our Little Love, Samuel, who we carried for 35 weeks. For the Love we hold in our heart for him now that he's gone, that will be with us for the rest of our lives. 

I hope you like the new look!

From now on, I'll be posting on the NEW BLOG.

Thank you for sticking with us in the good, bad and ugly times I've shared here. It means a lot to know people care about us.

If you're here as someone who loves and supports us, if you're someone who knows this is a lifelong journey with grief, and if you "get it" that Samuel is and always will be our son and we will NEVER stop missing him or hurting that he's gone, then I hope you'll follow me over to the new blog.

All who accept and love us "as is" are more than welcome <3.

Join me on The Love We Carry. 

With Samuel in my heart,

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Little Boy Who Follows Me

It's my honor to share my heart on Still Standing Magazine again today!You can read it HERE.

I wrote about the alternate version of my life where Samuel is here with me and how it intersects my life without him.

He is a love and missed little guy <3 <3

Samuel Evan Fredrickson - Loved with a LOVE that was more than love.

The worst kind of loneliness

This is often my stumbling block. I don't have the words to say how I feel. Sometimes, that leaves me feeling empty and alone. Sometimes, instead of trying over and over again, I just stop trying.

It's very frustrating when, despite my best efforts, people simply don't get it, or - let's be honest - refuse to face the truth of what it's like. Every once in a while, someone (I'm sure "with the very best of intentions"..blah) takes it upon him or herself to "fix me". You know, to "set me straight" about what I should be doing/feeling/saying. You know, to help me move on. (BLAH). 

It's interesting how this always seems to coincide with times I'm *just* starting to feel a bit better. Then, suddenly, out of the woodwork, pops Mr. or Mrs. "well meaning happy helper" to set me back about 5 months by inflicting their completely wrong, arrogant, insensitive and hurtful ideas on me. (You know, becuase they care so much about me and want to help...blah).

**Before I tell you about such an encounter, I want to make a point to say that we have some very supportive and loving friends and family. We are deeply thankful for them and their continuous support and willingness to lay down in the pit of grief right along with us. **

Yesterday, I had a long (longer than I would have preferred) conversation with my father-in-law. If you know him, you know, he's very set in his thinking. He is very religious and it influences everything in his life. Well, after my nightmare the other day at the hospital to see him, he decided he had a lot to say to me. Despite the fact that he had just come out of surgery and was mostly in a drugged state, he apparently was conscious enough to hear what I was dealing with. But, sadly, instead of loving me and hurting with me, he chose to judge me.

He basically called to say I need to: Get help ("you're not the only counselor, you know"), stop being so emotional, learn to control myself, go to church, let people help me, realize God gives some people the gift of children while other just get different gifts, be appreciative for what happened to us (can you imagine??), and celebrate with people who get to have babies. (Plus something about how I need to transform my mind. Apparently that means stop hurting that my son died??)

Let me just tell you right now, I'm no pushover. I mustered up all my strength and fortitude and did my best to push aside the grief fog that's so often overtaking my brain, to come up with logical ways to explain my emotions and experience. I talked to him for a very long time about why what he was saying was so hurtful, WRONG, and judgmental. I hope that he heard me, but I feel in my heart he didn't. It breaks my heart wide open that Samuel's own grandfather does not feel the pain of his death. That he can so easily make light of something so utterly irreversible and devastating. That, instead of helping and support us, he turns against me and coaches Bryan on how to "help" me.

That I should have to explain why Samuel's death is horrifying and deeply painful is absurd to me. What is wrong with your head, heart or soul if you are not massively outraged and devastated by the loss of an innocent life - especially one of your own grandchild? It's beyond my ability to comprehend that people act like it's something to just "get over"; a bad thing that happened in the past and should no longer influence me today. That people do not understand the emptiness in my soul, the irreparable damage to my heart and mind, and the deep sadness that can never be undone, leaves me flabbergasted.  I want to scream: "What is it that you don't get! My BABY DIED!"

Now I know I can't trust him with my heart. In a moment of deep sorrow - from the bottom of my soul and out - I sobbed at the injustice of a baby being born while my beautiful little Samuel had to die. It was an overwhelming visceral response - one I could NOT control - that should have allowed them to see and hear the deep ache in my heart. For reason I can only assume are motivated by self-protection (I get it, I'm a walking talking reminder that life is completely outside of our control and God does not answer prayers like we believe he does and sometimes those we love the most are stolen away forever for no reason whatsoever - no one wants to face that reality), he chose to push back instead of embracing the reality of my hurt.

Much to my disheartened chagrin, this is not the only encounter I've had like this. I hope will all my heart something  I said to him lands and he begins to realize the truth. But there is only so much I can do. (And, really, it hurts me too much to have to keep fighting that fight.)

If you are reading this, listen to me. When you criticize my grief, all you're doing is adding to my burden. Your critique minimizes my great loss (which I will not allow you to do) and leave me wanting to never be around people again and much more anxious than I'm already feeling. Is that what you are going for? Despite your intentions, that's the result.  More often than not, these types of comments are for your own self-protection - to distance yourself from my reality -and it has nothing to do with me. So, please, leave me out of it! You have no right to tell me how I "should" be grieving. I am the one whose life was changed forever, it was my heart (among others) that was shattered. If you want to know what it's like, ask me - don't assume or pretend you know - and I'll try to tell you. There is nothing on this earth as heartbreaking or damaging to the mind and soul than the death of a loved and wanted baby. Our family will never be the same again and I'm the one who has to face it every moment of every day for the rest of  my life.

If you want to be apart of our lives, you have to realize Samuel is a HUGE part of it and always will be. We will always be missing him and there will be times when the pain of our loss will come out in physical and emotional ways. To feel is to be human.  I love and miss my baby.  I will not, under any circumstances, allow the ignorance or incorrect opinions of others to stop me from expressing that deep love and the hurt left by his death.

If you don't like it, GET OVER IT.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Too much!

Today was rough. R O U G H.

It started out ok. Today was my sisters' 21st birthdays. (For those that don't know, I have twin sisters). I thought it would be nice to take them out to dinner, so we made plans to go to the Melting Pot. I was looking forward to a nice night out. (This is not the rough part.)

The following day is my brother's 21st birthday (long story short, they are adopted and happen to have birthdays only 1 day apart) and Bryan was going to take him out to our local amusement park for the day.

We came up with the plan to stay at a hotel in the cities overnight, since I'd be out with the girls tonight and he'd be out with my brother tomorrow. No need to drive several hours back and forth. Plus, it's nice to be out of the house.

Okay, now to the rough part.

I woke up this morning to learn that Bryan's dad was being taken in to surgery. He has been successfully battling  cancer for the past few years but has recently had a few problems. I immediately began packing up all our things and trying to get us out the door to go to the hospital to be with his mom. We needed to have everything for our overnight stay, but we also wanted to get there as soon as possible (we live about 1.5 hours from them). We threw our stuff together and rushed to be with them.

As we got there, we learned the surgery had been successful - thank goodness!! - and that he'd be in a room soon. Since we knew he was out successfully, and since we hadn't had anything to eat all day, I dropped Bryan off and went to pick us all up something to eat.

When I returned, I was walking to his room when I turned the corner and came face to face with a mother in labor and her husband. My heart stopped for a moment, but I rushed by them, doing my best to pretend they didn't exist while secretly cursing the day I was born and wishing to disappear forever.

I got to the room - Bryan was in the hall -  and his mom pulled me aside and said, "I just wanted to let you know there is a new baby in the room across the hall. Bryan has asked the nurse to keep the door closed" (apparently he explained why and she was very accommodating). "Of course there is" I thought, but just said, "okay, thanks". I felt the all too failure pain in my heart but did my best to just brush it off. We were there for his dad. I did my best to put it out of my mind.

We were all in the room waiting for his dad to be brought in from recovery. He was pushed in and what do you know? The nurse pushing the bed: hugely pregnant. Oh, lord in heaven, of course she is! Deep can do this...(horrible thoughts to myself).

I pulled it together - again - and just looked away. Then, they asked us to step out in the hall while they got him in bed and adjusted. We did. (I'm sure you can see where this is going...)

We're all standing there talking when guess which door opens? That's right, the new baby's door. It's cries filled the hall and I literally felt faint. My heart started thumbing and my legs felt numb. Without even thinking, I started sobbing. And sobbing. And sobbing.

There was an empty room just next door, so I turned and bolted in. Sobbing and heaving and gasping. It was horrible. HORIBLE. I wanted to run out the door and leave, but they were all there and our car keys were in his dad's room. It was ugly. Bryan came in to hold me and comfort me. "I know, I know, I know" he said.  (Who knows what on earth his family was thinking). I cried and cried as my heart broke for the 9 millionth time. I tried to pull myself together but it was just too much. Too many babies... way too many fricken babies. There is only so much I can take and the barrage of babies was just too much. I cried and cried and cried.

After a while,  I got it together enough to come back out to the hall. Puffy wet red faced.

But guess what? Just as I walked out, someone opened the bleeping door again! New baby cries, more ripping noises from my heart. I was so overwhelmed I frantically started looking for the fastest way out but could only go back in the room and sob all over again. What a fricken nightmare!!!! I honestly wished I could die. Right there on the floor. I wished with all my might. I begged whoever could hear my thoughts, please, please, please, just let me be DONE! But, alas, I'm still here.

As I cowered in the dark bathroom of the empty room, with Bryan holding me and tears streaming down my face, I heard through the wall more sounds from the stupid baby's room. If that baby was sent to earth to rip my heart out, then it succeeded.

What a horrible nightmare! If I never hear or see another baby in my life, that would be perfect.

I felt like such a mess. We were there for his dad and there I am having a nervous breakdown in the other room. But such is my life. My ugly, horrible life.

Once again, I pulled myself together enough to go to his room. We got in there safely this time with no sounds from the stupid baby (have I mentioned I hate that baby?) and were able to be with him for a while.

All I could think is why on earth is a new mother in the same wing as a man who just had stomach surgery?? Oh, yeah, because I was going to be there. Clearly, whoever is in charge of how things run in life has it out for me. (Have I mentioned I them too??)

No one said anything to me. I guess they had no idea what to say.

We spent time with his dad and after a while left so he could rest. Thankfully, he is doing as well as he can.

We left and headed to the hotel. I grumbled and hurt and thought of all the ways I could die and wished I would just stop existing all the way there. Again, no such luck.

We checked in and I just went to sleep. What else can you do when your life is a horrible, ugly nightmare?

I woke up and felt a little more able to function.

I pulled together all my inner resources and was able to take my sisters out for a nice night. (Guess what? Our waitress...also pregnant. Someone please just let me die in peace!!)

I'm done. I can't take one more baby or pregnancy or happy family. It's not okay with me. I'm not sure why I try to leave the house. After we get home tomorrow, I'm never leaving again.

Everyone can just keep on living their happy baby-filled lives without me.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

An Anonymous Gift

We just received a gift for which I have not enough words to express my gratitude. It's a gift of money in an amount I'd be embarrassed to say out loud. My mom presented it to me and said it was from someone who cares about us but won't let us know who they are. I am still in shock about it.

She forwarded a bit of the message that came along with it. She edited out the names and refuses to tell me who it's from.

RaeAnne, Bryan and baby Samuel's story has touched out hearts in a very
deep way.  We have cried with them, cheered with them, prayed with them,
we have hung on every word, we have thought about that precious beautiful
little boy and the impact his life and story has made in our life and the
lives of thousands.  It seems so horrible that someone would have to go
through this to make a difference in so many others lives but Samuel's
story is not being wasted.  Oh no not one little bit.  Every heart beat
and kick, every item of clothing, the crib, the chair, the books, the
music, the verses RaeAnne shared, the bitter bitter tears she and Bryan
and all of you have shed are not wasted.  They are pointing to love, deep
deep love. 
We would like to do something special for them.  We don't know their
exact needs but they do.  We would like it to be anonymous so that it can
be celebrated as a gift of love not concerned with who gave it.  Let us
know what would be helpful.  Maybe to help with her All That Love Can Do
project.  Maybe something for their house.  Maybe a bill paid off that is
hanging over there head.  Maybe just for fun money.  Let us know how we
can make an impact in this story.  It would be our pleasure to do this
for Samuel and his mama and daddy.  
Looking forward to your response. 
I simply have no words. There are so many things we can use it on. We're tucking it safelty in the bank until we can find a way to use it in a way the honors the gift to it's fullest extent.

Here's my problem: How do you thank someone if you don't know who to thank?

If you are the person who gave the gift, please know it has touched us deeply. I cried when I read the words you wrote about Samuel. This gift means the world to us. I wish I had deeper, more meaningful words to let you know how much it means. I have no way to repay such a kindness, or to match your generosity. I wish I could tell you in person. Thank you. Words are not enough to say that fully. Thank you.

We send our love to you. Thank you for caring for us.

with Samuel in our hearts,
Bryan and RaeAnne

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

on Rainbows

I'm really frusterated tonight. Really, really, really frustrated.

I was cleaning today and I went to vacuum Samuel's room. It's not really a big deal, I do it all the time with the rest of the house. Today, I bent down in his closet to reach to the back corner with the nozzle and I just about lost it. I'm not sure what it was specifically, but I just was overcome with anger - rage, even - and a massive wave of sadness. Why is he not here? I did EVERY SINGLE THING that a person does to have a baby. Every. Single. Thing. Including giving birth. But, no baby to be found anywhere in this family. I'm so outraged. How can this have happened? Where is he? I looked around at all his things I and I could just throw up. I'm so tired of their unused newness. I miss him desperately.

Instead of having a one-year-old, I have nothing to show for it all except a bunch of unused stuff.

I realized something: if I ever want to use any of it, I'm going to have to do this all over again. All of it. And with ZERO guarantee of a good outcome. (And, really, zero guarantee of even being able to get to the point of beginning again. No one said if you have one baby you'll be able to have another).

There is something happening in my circle of the babyloss world. People are having their rainbows. I'm starting to hear announcement after announcement of people who lost a baby around the time Samuel died, saying they are expecting a new baby. A rainbow is a beautiful thing. It's hope that you can go on to add to your family and find some joy in the pain. But for people like me who don't have one, it's also just another group I'm no longer apart of. Now there are two sets of people I don't fit in with. Great. I'm very happy for most of them (no, not all. Sometimes I think people get pregnant way too fast just to try to fill the void. Babies are not replaceable. Bodies and hearts need time to heal before you should even think about doing it again - in my opinion). I know first hand how much these babies are deserved, loved and wanted. That's wonderful to know these hurting mamas will soon have something to fill their empty arms. But all it does it remind me how painfully empty mine are.

Right around the time of his first birthday last month, it was like people suddenly felt they had permission to start asking us if we're going to have another baby. I could practically feel the you think they'll try again?!? Some were bold enough to actually ask us. Some just asked people who know us in an attempt to gain "insider information".

Let me just nip that in the bud right this second.

WE are the ONLY ones who will make that decision. WE will let YOU know if we decide to add to our family. WE will not feel pressured to do something we don't feel ready for, just because YOU think it's time. Of course we want a baby to raise. We had a baby. It's not our fault he's not here. It's incredibly defeating to do everything we did and to end up where we are. Not really a motivation to do it all over again. It's extremely emotional to think of everything involved in having another baby. We know what can - and does - happen all the time. Not all babies live. You don't get a free pass just because you lost one already. We have lost our innocence and know far too many people and stories to be so naive about it. Just because most everyone we know pops out babies like it's nothing doesn't mean it'll be smooth sailing for us.And even if we do get to keep a new baby, we'll always be missing Samuel. Our family is forever broken; someone precious will always be missing.

So all this is to say that I'm hurting tonight. My arms ache for my baby. The one I had already. The one who should be here now. My little Samuel. Maybe, in someway,  also for the ones I hoped to have all along. I'm extremely angry he was snatched away from me for no reason. I'm frustrated that other people are just getting pregnant left and right and I'm not in that group. I'm angry that it has to be so very hard for us while other people just breeze right through it. It's not okay that this happened and there is no one to blame. Sometimes, I just want to stop existing. That would be so much easier.

My heart hurts. My soul is enraged. My life is empty. There is nothing I can do but keep going.

Such is my life.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A million things

I've have a million things to say, but can't seem to find a way to get them out. I've come here time and time again the last few weeks to get it out, but the words don't come together.

The fuzz-brain of grief combined with the meaninglessness I feel every day has taken it's toll on my ability to find the words. But tonight I've decided to try. This is why:

I've noticed something lately in the babyloss world. Grieving mamas feeling as if their time is up. Like they have lingered too long and their feelings are not what they "should" be. I've heard the exact same sentiment from several people: "I feel like I have nothing new to say. Like people think I'm a broken record and should be done by now" (or something to that effect).

I have to be honest, I've been succumbing to that same feeling too. Like I "should" be moving on and "done" with this.  Like people are as tired of hearing about it as I am of feeling it. So I've keep it inside. Why bother to explain the same thing over and over again.

But here is the truth of it all: there is no moving on. Every single day I wake up to the same empty life and hurting heart. Every day I wish nothing more than to be spending time with my son. To watch him grow, learn and explore. Every empty day my heart hurts more and more. There is no end. There is nothing I can do differently. There are times when I WISH I could "move on". To stop hurting and feeling so lost and empty. (Please don't misunderstand that for wishing I could forget about Samuel!) What makes it so hard and the reason grief is what it is, is that it's permanent. I will have to do this for the remainder of my life.

So I got to thinking, why should I feel badly for talking about it? I'm the one who has to face it every day. It's my life that's been forever changed...why pretend for the sake of people who have no clue what it's like for me? Anyone who grows tired of hearing about it can just walk away. (As so many have done; lucky them to have such an easy life). So I'll write for the people who are walking this same ugly path. The ones for whom there is no escape. The group in which I am a reluctant but permanent member.

My grief is different now. There are moments where I feel as if I can actually do this. When I think I can find a way to incorporate his death into our lives enough to keep going and making a new version of life for us. But it's usually not more than minutes or hours after feeling that way that I'm back to sobbing my eyes out and screaming inside for life to be different. There is no escaping the feelings. This is not how it should be. There is no way to forget that.

I miss him all day every day. Most days, it's all day long. He's the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last thing I think of before going to sleep.

There is always this alternate version of reality going on in my imagination. One where he was never sick. One where he lived and lives on. I can see it playing out all day long: this little shadow of our life as it should be. A big boy with a toothy-slobbery grin, chunky legs and busy little hands. I can hear the sounds that are constantly missing. The "dadadada's" and the laughs and the fusses. The banging and rattles and crashes of toys on the floor, and dishes on the highchair tray. I can smell the cheerios, and diapers and sweet "all-clean" baby-after-bath smells.

I'm still so angry. It seems that everyone on this earth is having babies right now and every single day it haunts me. Why us? How on earth did this happen to us? I have no idea how to ever be around babies ever again. For the protection of my already broken heart, I have to stay away.

It boggles my mind how I can be living such a nightmare all the time, while most everyone else has no clue what it means to hurt like this. It's a very hard way to live when the way you feel all the time is mostly indescribable.

If I could only find the words to say how utterly empty, meaningless and pointless life seems when the joy of your life is stolen away for no reason.

I guess the only way to say it is this: imagine all the joy and happiness, busyness and meaning, hope and love that comes from a new baby. All the plans and dreams of their life, the goals for how to raise them and play with them and enjoy them.

All of that dies when a baby dies. What remains is the opposite of all that. And there is nothing you can do about it.

All the while, you watch as everyone around you lives that very life. That's why there are no words to describe it. It's the shattering of your soul and heart. How could anyone "get over it"?