Dear Ms. Body,
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Dear Ms. Body,
Monday, April 29, 2013
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Saturday, April 27, 2013
I woke up at 3 a.m. due to contractions every two minutes. My back hurt and I was in exciting pain. This pain brought me joy, as I knew my precious daughter was about to enter into my arms instead of kicking me from within my belly. I called the hospital, told them of my condition and they said to come in. I wake my husband and say, "It's time," with a smile of joy on my face.
We drove to the hospital on the lonely empty road, talking about what it will be like in two days bringing her home in the car seat that eagerly awaits her arrival. We get to the hospital and Nick helps me out of the car. We walk down the long hallway and I have to stop and bend over because of another contraction. When we arrive at the nursing station they prep me with smiles on their faces as we settle in for a long labor and go over our birth plan.
The nurse hooks up the fetal monitor and without a second glance she goes about the business of getting me ready for labor. She has found her strong heartbeat, and the me in this story goes about her life, glossing over this little moment in time as insignificant, because the me in this story does not know that is the moment where the joy of my story ends. But in this story, everything is fine. I contract and go through more pain as I discuss with the nurse and the doctor my birth plan.
I get an epidural, as I do not handle pain well, and my husband and I settle in and watch T.V. as he proudly calls my parents, his parents, and my sister and brother-in-law to share the exciting news. We are almost there. We are almost ready to meet little Nora. My sister arrives at the hospital with pre-emptive balloons and flowers as she is overjoyed at Nora's impending arrival. She hugs Nick and makes a joke about me not having to be fat much longer. I give her a playful, but dirty look and some smart comment, and we laugh and enjoy the last moments left without a child in our life.
Hours later the contractions start to get stronger. The doctor comes in and says the words I uttered earlier, "It's time." I push, and grown, and push, and hold my breath as the labor is hard and arduous. I push again and bear down this time. I hear the doctor say, "I see her head!" and Nick smiles at me while he's holding my hand. He leans into my ear and says, "You're almost there. I love you. You're almost there. You're doing great." I hear him, but don't reply, as I am immersed in the pain.
I push one last time as I feel the pressure within my loins release. I hear some movement from the nurses and doctor and then I hear the most beautiful sound of motherhood. I hear my daughter cry! She is screaming. She is wailing. I see her. I can't take my eyes off of her as I breath heavily, tears streaming down my face, gasping for words. Nick is still holding my hand and crying as we both look at our little girl, our beautiful little girl so full of life. We watch as the nurse puts her on my chest and Nick comes close to Nora and I. He says "She's so beautiful. You did it honey! You did it! I love you." And I reply, "I love you too."
We ooo and ahh over her. We check her for 10 fingers and 10 toes. She has them all. She is perfect, in every way. I feel her warm body snuggle into mine as she settles down and is no longer crying. I kiss her forehead and hand her over to Nick with, "Meet your daddy, Nora. He has been waiting so long to meet you." And Nick puts out his arms and lovingly embraces his little girl for the first time. He coddles her and sways back and forth with her close to his heart, falling in love with the girl he will love for the rest of his life.
Nick and I invite the family in. We pass our new daughter around to greet them all. She meets he Grandpa and Grandma F, and we have to pry her out of Grandma F's arms to let Aunt Kristi and Uncle Zach hold her and play with her. Nick introduces her proudly to his parents, Grandpa and Grandma H. and Grandma H. eventually places her into cousin Hannah's arms. I am proud. Oh, so proud. Proud to share my little girl with our family. Proud of myself for making a human being. Proud to be a part of a life that works so beautifully.
Two days later Nick and I leave the hospital with Nora in her carrier. We leave as a happy family, excited to introduce Nora to her home, her room, her puppy, her life. We walk out, Nick and I hand in hand, me carrying Nora's gifts and Nick carrying Nora in her car seat.
We ride down the elevator with what looks like a sad couple. They move away from us, from our happiness. She turns into him and buries her face in his shirt as I notice a silent tear rolling down his cheek. I look at Nick to catch his eye but he is staring into Nora's. He does not notice this couple, or their pain. The elevator doors open and we step out as a family. The couple stays there, frozen in time. As I walk away, I turn back to see the elevator doors closing on the couple as a muted wail erupts from the woman who is tucked into her husband.
I see this pain and have a moment of dejavu. In my heart I feel as if it is a familiar kind of agony, but in my life I have never had to experience such grief. We have made it to the parking lot. Nick says, "Honey, can you open the back door, I need to fasten Nora's seat into the car." I am jerked out of the eerie feeling that I know the couple in the elevator, that I know their pain. That thought is fleeting now as I hold onto my beautiful daughter giving her kisses as her daddy fiddles with the car seat.
We are a happy family. We have the rest of our lives in front of us. We are surround in love and joy. We are whole. We are safe. We are together.
That is the way it should have been.
Friday, April 26, 2013
In setting aside a time for grief and focusing on accepting my emotions without judgment, I am giving myself the gift of healing by allowing myself permission to grieve. In doing so I am opening my heart, allowing my emotions of loss and sorrow to be heard, and permitting my body and mind to process deeper the pain and longing I have for my dead daughter.
Thich Nhat Hanh, a famous Zen Buddhist Monk, poet, author, peace activist and spiritual teacher describes the process of meditation as “looking deeply into what is there and understanding the source, the deep cause of it, the nature of it.” Meditation has allowed me to understand that my grief is so powerful and painful because the source of my grief is rooted in love. The true nature of my grief is longing for a love beyond words. The love of a mother for her child. That is the nature of it. That is the root of my grief. It’s beautiful really, and mediation has helped me come to terms with this.
Besides allowing time for me to tune into my body and mind to connect the two in my effort to self-heal, meditation also provides other wonderful health benefits that we all could benefit from during a time of grief. Many studies have been done on the power of mindfulness living and meditation. Research shows that meditation reduces stress, improves the immune system, can reduce the physical symptoms of chronic pain, lessens the symptoms of depression and anxiety, and recent studies indicate that meditation can actually rewire your brain to be more content. So even if meditation doesn't soften your grief, it can still improve your overall health and state of being. I know that I need this right now.
Ultimately, mindfulness is the practice of accepting life just as it is whether we are elated with joy or stricken with sorrow. The practice of being mindful is returning one's attention to the present moment over and over again; this type of practice I believe can really benefit the mourning process. Meditation I have found is a great way to be intentional and purposeful about experiencing the entirety of grief.
I plan to continue to incorporate it throughout my healing process. I suggest you try it. The only harm it could do is make you more content. I think it's worth a shot.
If you don't know how to mediate I have included a link below on how to get started. Then once you learn the basics of mediation you could try the guided meditations linked below. If you are intrested in going deeper in your practice I have also recommended some books in the resource section.
I personally really like the Daily Mediation for Working Through Grief book by Maratha Whitemore Hickman. You can use this book daily to reflect for a moment on your grief before you go to bed at night or maybe right away when you wake up in the morning by reading it's short passage or quote for that day. It really isn't associated with sitting mediation, but I have used it to each day by reading the passage for the day before I practice my sitting meditation. I find it insightful.
Quick Instructions on How to Meditate:
How to Meditate
A Place of Refuge Mediation
Meditation for Grief After Baby Loss
Grieving Mindfully by Sameet M. Kumar, PH.D.
Daily Meditation for Working Through Grief by Maratha Whitmore Hickman
Thursday, April 25, 2013
In the dream I was giving birth to him. He was moving in my belly. As I lay there on the hospital bed, with Nick once again by my side, I was getting ready to bring my next child into the world, and I was scared.
I looked down at my once again swollen belly and all of the sudden I could see the outline of a baby through my skin. There he was, a boy! I could see his arms, legs, face, body, toes, fingers, and yes, his little manliness.
Then it was time to deliver. It was time for him to come into this world and fear washed over me. In the dream, I blacked out. The next thing I remember is I was standing up and out came a baby that the doctor caught. He was ALIVE! He was breathing, and screaming, and moving! He was ALIVE! He was ALIVE!
He was small, but he was alive. He was healthy, and I was in a different kind of shock then last time. I couldn't believe it. And then I woke up.
In bed, in my awake state, I was overwhelmed with the emotions of my dream. I was happy...I was sad...I was scared...but I was hopeful.
I felt like I could do it. I could bring an alive baby into this world. Maybe my dream was a sign of hope, that life will be different. Or maybe it was my mind rewriting the past for a wishful present. I believe it was a sign; a sign of a future that is possible, no matter how scary.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
As a mom to a first child who was stillborn, at times I feel as if people don't want to hear Nora's birth story, as it is also a story of death. People don't want to talk about death or be reminded that life holds no promises, even in the happy times of pregnancy. But in order for me to grieve and heal properly, I believe my story, like any other mother's, must be heard. That is why when Anna from The Birth Story Project published a version of Nora's birth story on her blog, tears flooded my eyes. By posting Nora's birth story with other mother's stories of live successful births, Anna validated my experience. She had shown me that even though Nora is not with me, that my birth story was an initiation into motherhood just like other women whose babies lived. I thank Anna for that.
For a few posts this week I plan on exploring my experience with birth, both in my dreams and in my life, in different ways. Re-shaping and discovering what it is like to frame the story with different words and a different lens to see if the words I chose to use change my emotions about it. Stories have power and when we tell our story over and over again we not only processes it more deeply but we also subconsciously change parts of it and reshape the story to fit our reality. I look forward to reshaping my story in an effort to heal and integrate the emotional pain and beauty of Nora's birth into my life.
Below is the story I submitted to The Birth Story Project. It is a different version of her birth but told from a place of beauty and joy.
At first there was hair. I could not believe there was hair! It was fine, like cobweb silk, and dark, the color of chocolate, like her father’s. Her head was coned shaped from passing through my birth canal after 12 hours of labor, with 3 hours of arduous contractions and painstaking pushing. How I worked so hard to meet her, not just this day, her day of delivery, but also the 9 months leading up to this moment. I had sacrificed my youthful figure and moments of comfort for her. I had suffered through moments of anxiety and the long 9 month journey that was a test of my patience. I would do it again in an instant. I would do it again for this day, when she entered into my arms and the cold cruel breath of this world brushed against her skin.
She was stillborn and I was still proud.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." -John Bingham
Monday, April 22, 2013
Oh Nora, how I miss those times. How I miss you. I hope that you are safe wherever you are. Nora, I don't believe in God in the religious sense, but some how I know that you are still with me, in some shape or some form. If it is even only in my memory. But I still feel you, not like I feel you in my body, but I still feel your presence.
Good night honey. I will love you forever.
Love Always & Forever,
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Just as Lindsey is inspiring others by sharing her grief journey, our uncle is inspiring others as he fights Parkinson's. For the past 15 years he has taken his diagnosis of Parkinson's and used it to motivate him and others to work towards staying active and finding a cure.
Last year he put together his first Parkinson's 5K and Half Marathon near Madison, WI, which raised over $17,000 to fund various Parkinson's projects. They put together the run again this year and Lindsey, Nick, and my husband, Zach, are all participating. (I am stuck at an all day class and could not go...bummer).
Our uncle, Bobby Nasett, was also awarded the Jefferson Award for Wisconsin this year. His story is inspirational, and can provide motivation to anyone facing a tough situation but refuses to let it get them down.
To read more about our Awesome and Inspiring Uncle, visit this link.
Good luck to all the runners and volunteers today!!
-Awesome Aunt Kristi
Friday, April 19, 2013
I am taking a break today due to the fact that I had a hard day yesterday.
Well, hard does not really give it the credit it deserves.
You see, I am frustrated. I feel at times that people who have not walked in my shoes really don't understand the depth of my pain. They don't understand that I will be forever changed but not changed at all. They can't seem to comprehend that I am not ready, nor should I be ready, to be 100% of who I used to be before the death of my daughter. It has only been a little over 3 months. My daughter should be in diapers now and I should be dropping her off at daycare, instead she sits in ashes on her dresser in an empty nursery.
So you might ask me ask what I need you to know.
Well, I need you to know that I am doing pretty damn good for someone in my position.
I need you to know that I am not over it and I never will be.
I need you to know that you can't even begin to understand if you haven't walked in my shoes.
I need you to know that I am not the same and please don't expect me to be.
I need you to know about the pair of shoes I wear.
They are ugly shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.
They are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
There are many pairs in this world.
Some women are like me and ache daily as they try to walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so they don’t hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think about how much they hurt.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Now back to the theme of the week - Meditation
During my month of mediation I have tried multiple different guided meditations online. I have found some I really like and some that I don't find fitting. I have yet to find one that truly relates to my situation of grieving the loss of an infant or unborn child. Sometimes in the meditations I do like the guide will ask the mediator to think of happy memories of your deceased loved one in order to bring comfort to you. I understand that this part of the exercise is supposed to bring healing, but for me it is painful because part of my grief is not having many memories with my child.
Meditations that bring up pain are okay, as in meditations you are supposed to sit with whatever emotions arises, but I thought grieving parents of baby loss like myself might need a more focused guided mediation specifically that relates to the situation we, as grieving baby lost parents, are experiencing. If mediating on grief works for you, please feel free to try the guided meditation below. If you would like to meditate to the audio version please click on the link at the bottom of the page.
Namaste (The Light in Me Greats the Light in You),
A Grief Mediation for Parents Grieving the Loss of Their Baby
Sit in a comfortable position or lie on the floor. Take a few deep breaths and release. On the exhale release the thoughts and feelings from the day. As you do this, let the muscles in your neck relax, your shoulders drop, your face soften, letting tension you are holding in different parts of your body go. Feel yourself lighten as you continue to focus on your breath. As you inhale through your nose bring the breath deep into your belly, filling it with air like a balloon and then slowly exhale through your mouth. Fall into a rhythm with your breathing. Breathing comfortably, at your own pace, and in your own time.
As you breath and feel comfortable in this space, begin to let whatever emotions arise come and go. Accepting that they are there, noticing them, and then releasing them. Letting go of judgement of your thoughts. Just accepting them as they are and letting them pass. Now, when you are ready, invite grief in. Notice what emotions arise as you summon up grief. Grief can bring up many emotions. Emotions of love. Emotions of loss. Emotions of sadness. Emotions of happiness. Let them all arise. Sit with them. Accept them. Ask them what they have to teach you. And then let them pass, when they are ready to be released.
Now imagine your child. Hold your child. Spend time with your precious baby here. Caress their hair. Take in his smile. Look into her eyes. Listen to their giggles. Embrace the feelings you are having with your child in this moment. Let them come and enjoy this moment with your child. If you would like, tell your baby all the blessings they have brought into your life. You can share with them all the love you have for them in your heart. Listen closely to your child, they will reassure you they already know the depths of your love. They will reassure you of their safety and that all is right with the universe. They will tell you that you are forgiven by them as there is nothing to be forgiven for. They will tell you that they hope you can find peace as they will let you know they already are at peace.
Spend as much time with your child in this place and moment as you like. Connecting with the spirit of your child. Softening some of your grief by accepting its presence. Making peace with your emotions. Healing your body and soul.
When you are ready slowly bring yourself back to the present moment. Remembering that this time with your child is always available to you. You can visit your child in this place whenever you like. Until you greet them again, remember what your baby has taught you. Remember that your baby is at peace and hopes that you find peace within your grieving heart too.
It maybe easier to listen to this mediation in audio format. To do so please visit the YouTube audio mediation of this script by clicking on the picture below.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
As I felt the tears fall from the base of my chin down to my chest and roll down and graze my breasts a thought came to mind, “This is where she was supposed to be. She was supposed to be there, feeding, suckling, living against my breast, but she wasn’t there.” I let the thought go as I pulled my left hand to my heart and my right over where she used to live, my now empty uterus, her lonely home no longer in use. I cried more deep silent tears and I inhaled and exhaled as I immersed myself in their wetness, yet warm pain.