Friday, August 22, 2014

Two Years Ago

I woke up this morning replaying August 22, 2012.
I took the day off of work. I noticed that morning that I hadn't felt Barrett move in a few days, but that is pretty normal for 18 weeks so I didn't think much of it. I did sit down on the couch with a flashlight and try to get him to move, but it didn't work. I remember thinking "Oh well. At least I get to see him later!".
I told my husband to go on to work. I wanted him to save his off days for when our son was born. I remember what I was wearing...maternity jean shorts and a flowing turquoise tank top.
I stopped by a friend's work to drop off a book. I excitedly left early for my appointment. I couldn't wait for my anatomy scan and to see my baby again.
When I went back, I had a new nurse. It was her first week. She found his heartbeat on the Doppler. I was at peace. It was only a few minutes later that I would find out that she had actually just heard mine. It wasn't Barrett at all.
I sat in the chair outside the ultrasound room and listened as the other family inside screamed excited cheers when the technician told them their baby was a boy. I smiled and sighed as I rubbed my own belly...full of pride that I was carrying my first son. I could feel that pregnancy glow.
Moments later, my life was changed. I knew before she said anything that something was wrong. I've had a lot of ultrasounds and their hearts are easy to see beating away on the screen. I didn't see that. He didn't move. And the technician excused herself.
You know the rest of the story if you've been following the blog. I sobbed in the room alone. I somehow managed to choke the words out to my husband on the phone. I went to another room and sobbed some more until the doctor came in to discuss when I wanted to deliver him.
My husband followed me home where we would pack our bags for the hospital. Just as I had announced our pregnancy months before, I had to tell the world that my baby died. I had to. Because who wants to deal with "How did the anatomy scan go?" when you're in labor to deliver a baby who has died?
I labored all night. I remember watching coverage on a hurricane and some show on Animal Planet about building extravagant fish tanks. I read my Bible on my iPad. I did everything possible to distract myself. I wanted to be somewhere else.
Two years ago, my life changed forever. I am a different person. I became a different kind of mother.
It was one of the hardest days of my life. Maybe the hardest. It's hard to choose between that, his birth, and his funeral. But it's in the top three for sure.
At this time two years ago, I never imagined that here, two years later, I would be picking out balloons and flowers for his grave tomorrow. Who expects to bury their baby?
But it's not all heartbreaking and gut wrenching.
Two years ago, I didn't have some of the amazing friends I have today that I met through Barrett and their angel babies.
Two years ago today, I had no idea the incredible ministries that exist for families of miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss.
Two years ago, I never would have considered training to be a bereavement doula.
Two years ago, I didn't value time with my children as much as I do today.
Two years ago, I didn't value the miracle of pregnancy and birth like I do today.
Two years ago, I had pushed away from my relationship with God, and He brought me back through Barrett.
Two years later, God is changing lives through Barrett.
I'm so thankful he's mine. I love being his mom.
I can't wait to hold you again sweet boy.
post signature

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Struggle

Can I be real tonight? I need to be. I need to visit a place that I've pushed away. One of those dark crevices in life that you try to forget.

With the death of Robin Williams, there have been some good discussions. He was an amazing, talented man, and his impact is obvious if you've logged on to the computer in the last twenty-four hours. He brought an insane amount of laughter to other people while he struggled with his own demons. There have been discussions of mental health and depression, and I'm glad to see those good discussions. But I have seen a few that disturb me. I've seen a few call him selfish or putting down people who are talking about him. I instantly know that those people have most likely never dealt with those demons of depression and mental illness. It's not selfish when everything in your head tells you that you are a burden.

The truth is, while I don't regularly struggle with depression, I KNOW exactly why people get to that point and why they don't reach out. I do.

In high school, I battled eating disorders for years. Eventually I wound up in a hospital. It was a daily struggle that consumed every thought I had. And there were several times that I was just tired. I was so tired of fighting the constant battle in my head. Everything made me tired, and several times in my life, I wanted to give in; to give up and say "I surrender". I wanted to surrender to those demons I battled in my head. But I didn't reach out for help. I saw the looks people gave me. Why would anyone help me?

I encountered depression again when my son died. I can tell you right now that the only things that kept me from surrendering to that place again were Audrey and the thought of seeing Barrett again. I knew Audrey needed her Mom and when I see Barrett again, I wanted him to be proud of me, not disappointed. I needed to live so he could live. But I exhausted myself fighting those demons once again and surrendering them to God daily. 

In both instances I was, and still am, judged harshly. The small town gossip got back to me. I heard who was whispering "She won't eat. She must be crazy"  or "She's still not over that? She's got problems". I heard your words. I felt their sting. I internalized the tears and pushed forward. No wonder people don't talk about it. Why would anyone reach out for help when it seems everyone around them discounts their pain?
The struggle is real. And to discount it because you've never experienced it only makes the problem worse. It confirms for the struggling that they need to internalize it.

I've seen countless posts today of "Reach out. Someone will help you". But, do you see why they don't? We make a big deal out of it in the wake of a tragedy, but then mental health goes right back to being a taboo topic in every church pew and beauty shop. When does it stop? How about today? Why not now?

Don't wait for someone who is struggling to reach out to you. Hold out your hand. Ask how they're doing. Learn the signs of depression.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
post signature

Monday, August 11, 2014

August 10th

Yesterday was another one. Another day in August that draws my mind toward Barrett with such a powerful force that it consumes me.
On August 10, 2012 we had our gender reveal for Barrett with a Pinterest worthy cake and decorations.

We had a great time full of smiles and laughs telling our family that the first grandson/great-grandson was on the way. We revealed his name with a cute little onesie that I will always cherish.
It was such a happy day, and in my mind I try to soak up those memories of my last few days alive with him.
August 10th fell on a Sunday this year and instead of my tattered red Bible, I reached for my beautiful Bible that a precious friend gave me in memory of Barrett. It seemed like another way I could carry him with me yesterday. It is a reminder to me of where he is waiting on me and that I will see him again.
August hurts so bad. But I am blessed. I am so thankful that God chose me to be his mommy.
There will be many more Barrett posts this month because this is his month. He consumes my thoughts. But I don't write them for your sympathy. Sympathy doesn't ease the pain. I write them because I need to keep his name alive. I want people to read his name and speak his name. And in turn, I want them to speak His name.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
Psalm 127:3
post signature

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

August 6th

I've been dreading this day. The weight of it pushes on me every spare second of every day when my mind has a moment to think. Today is the first of many "anniversaries" this month regarding Barrett.
On this day two years ago, I was so happy. I had traveled to Tuscaloosa for an ultrasound of our baby. He looked so perfect. I was able to watch him on the screen for an hour. I found out he was a boy. I ran in a local store and purchased two boy outfits in my excitement to show my husband. It was a perfect day.
Now, though it was a wonderful day, two years later it still brings me to my knees. I've snuck off a few times today to let the tears run down when I tire from holding them back. My makeup from today is long gone from my face.
I'm tired. Fighting emotions is tiring. Grief is tiring. Burying a child sucks. It does. I wouldn't trade my life for any other in the world. I am blessed to be Audrey, Barrett, and Cate's mom. But it still sucks. He should be burying me one day.
Grief isn't fair. It's not fair that I have to drive to a cemetery to visit my son. It's not fair that he's gone.
Grief is sickening. There have been moments today that I felt physically sick. I wanted to crawl in the bed and wish it all away. I wanted to hold him just one more time. I need him.
Grief is normal. All of it. No matter how you grieve. It's been almost two years since he died and I'm feeling it worse than I ever have. I feel like I'm drowning in the grief. Every spare second I have my heart races, my chest feels heavy; I need him here with me. The full picture of the puzzle is broken without his piece.
Losing him has been like finding myself all over again and having to figure out who I am again. But part of me now, is Barrett's mother and always will be. I'm not sure the journey of figuring out how to parent a child who isn't here ever ends. It's exhausting, heartbreaking, but at the same time fulfilling. No matter the heartache, he is still amazing and I was blessed to have him for a few months. Though it hurts, I am proud to be his mom. I long for the day when I can hold him again; when I can exchange these painful tears for joyous tears.
post signature