Sunday, April 17, 2011

Motherhood, re-creation and grief

To say that my journey to motherhood is nothing like I thought it would be is quite the understatement. My journey, so far, has been filled with fear, acceptance, acute sadness, great joy, intense financial concerns and overwhelm. It has required that I re-create myself in the experience. I have always felt fairly strong. This journey has brought me to my knees as it was forced in my face that I had little control on the outcome of many things. I must say though that I was often amazed when I was feeling my weakest and most insecure was exactly when I was told by others that they were impressed by my strength. Interesting how that happens...

It is in this re-creation of self I am forced to rely on things and people in a way I never had. I believe that many/all parents carry a certain amount of fear concerning their children. I also believe that once you have lost a child this fear is intensified. It can cloud my perceptions and take over my decisions, thoughts and experiences. It is within that experience that my re-creation is happening. I must function differently so that I am not swallowed up by my own fears. I must allow myself comfort where and when I can find it. I must allow myself to feel and honor my grief and my son, Eli, and not get lost in it.

One of my re-creations of self is my interest in grief and how it affects us, all of us and just how much healing so many of us need for so many different reasons. I read a paper on the use of hypnotherapy for traumatic grief. It described how the trauma actually delays or can stop the grief cycle in it's tracks, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Having your 11 day old son die in your arms can bring along PTSD. Even though I wanted him to be in my arms at his passing, hearing me, feeling me, I did not want him to die. PTSD intensifies grief but does not allow anyone to move through, leaving the person experiencing it stuck. The PTSD must be managed, healed, released before the grieving person can move forward into healing themselves.

There is too much unhealed, unresolved grief in this world. It makes us strike out at others in loss and keeps us stuck so we fear change, no matter how much we hurt. Sometimes we can't even see another way of living. How do I work within that and not be over taken with it? I believe that is what I am being called to do. Is this how I can honor Eli AND my grief over his loss?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

March of Dimes 2011

This morning was my first March of Dimes walk. And wouldn't you know it - Cold (in the 50's) and raining, in Arizona, in April! My wonderful sister in law, Natalie, came to town to join me in the walk. We got matching tee shirts last night and got ready to walk in honor of Nolan and in memory of Eli and Owen.

Woke up this morning to pouring down rain so I had to nix the plan to have Nolan join us in his stroller. Felt sadness about that. I really wanted this to be something we would do together but keeping him healthy was more important, so........ he stayed home with grandma and Natalie and I braved the elements; walking shoes on our feet, matching tees, rain jackets, scarfs, 1 pr of gloves to share and 1 umbrella.

I was feeling pretty good despite the late night and early morning. We even had enough time for a drive through starbucks.

We got there and wandered around the booths for a bit then I saw it. There it was. The same isolette that Nolan and Eli were in while in the NICU. At first I smiled and suddenly, out of nowhere I felt tears stinging my eyes and there was no way in the world I could stop crying. It surprised me, this sadness, it took my breath away. I wasn't surprised I was sad but that it hit me in 1.5 seconds. One of my babies graduated from that isolette to an open air crib in the NICU and then, the big graduation, out of the NICU to home. One of them did not. Neither did my nephew.

And then, of course, next to the booth with the isolette was the booth with the Angel Garden. They had foam flowers and pens available so that we could write on a flower in memory of our angels. I picked a flower and pen for Eli. Natalie picked one for Owen and we planted their flowers in that Angel Garden. I was crying so openly that a kind woman I don't know came behind me and sweetly, kindly squeezed my shoulder in sympathy. As I looked up I saw she had tears in her eyes too. She was there to plant a flower for an angel she knew. Natalie was right there crying with me. It meant so much to me that she was there and that I wasn't doing this alone.

We walked, we talked, we danced and sang. We cried. We took pictures for strangers and they took pictures for us. And when we finished the walk it was warmer and drier. There were some lone walkers, some couples, some families and some large groups. Many had matching shirts, some had balloons, signs or matching hats. Some walked in honor, some in memory and I even saw some who walked for both reasons, like Natalie and I.

I am so glad I did this and am so thankful to those who donated to both Natalie and I. I will be there next year too.
But tonight, right now, I am going to go to sleep listening to Nolan's breathing and holding Eli's teddy bear.

"Godspeed, little man
Sweet dreams, little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings
Sweet dreams"

Friday, April 1, 2011

Nolan Updates

Nolan is almost 7 months and growing wonderfully. As of today he is 26.5 inches long and 17lb 11oz. He is at the 50 percentile for 7 months. That is amazing since he was 3 months early and is only expected to be at 4 months developmentally!

We had an appt with the pulmonologist today to check his apnea monitor. He did have one very small episode where his heart rate dropped on Sunday but other than that it looks good. :) The doctors believe it is still because of his reflux. But that is improving also. He will be tested again in another 2 months and we will be keeping him on the monitor for another couple of months as I start to wean MYSELF off the safety of it.

His surgeon is so happy with how he is healing from the surgery. He is going to start doing less evasive surgeries like Nolan's when he can since Nolan has done so well. My little guy has about another 3-4 weeks in this helmet before he outgrows it. The therapist working with him is so impressed with how good the shape of his head is. We are hoping he will not need to be fitted in to another one. It'll be tough on him during the summer here in Phoenix .

Last but not least, Nolan is a charmer, he charms everyone, men and women alike. People stop and say "Hi, Nolan" smile and tell me how adorable, cute, wonderful he is. We had a family in the elevator with us when we were leaving the hospital today, a mom, dad and two boys. The dad asked why he had a helmet on. I explained and he asked how he was doing. I said great, he is healing well. The dad reached down to Nolan and fist bumped him saying "Good job!"

Loving my Nolan and missing my Eli.